Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cousin Bait - It Works!

If I ever doubted whether or not anyone ever read these posts, I just have been blown away in the past few months by the number of people who have found my blog and written me to share information.  From distant cousins to fellow researchers, my inbox has been crammed.  I'm slowly trying to dig out from the deluge and post updates to the blog.

Most recently was correspondence from a distant cousin researching the SNIVELY family, which shares common descent from my LAMBERTSON line.  The extent of my database had this person's great-grandmother, without dates of death and only a name for the spouse - nothing else.  Now, thanks to the blog, I've received email with more names, dates and clues and a connection to a branch of the family that had been lost.

Each and every blog post has the potential to reach an audience who may be "googling" the surnames you are working on.  You never know who you will catch.

Black Sheep Sunday: Father Surrenders His Bandit Son

Source: Marion Leader-Tribune, Marion, Indiana, January 11, 1925, p. 1.



George R. Frazer Says That Women Were Not Innocent of Bank Raids

One Visited The Bank

Got Change to See Lay of Ground and Reported the Conditions

"Is this the captain?" inquired a man of Capt. Jake Campbell at police station yesterday afternoon.  "It is," replied Captain Campbell. "Well here is one of the bank robbers," replied the stranger, who was R.A. Frazer of 1224 So. Washington street, Kokomo, who turned over his son, George R. Frazer, 23, as one of the bandits who robbed both the South Marion and Upland banks and who admitted to being a member of the gang, which attempted the robbery of the Noblesville bank.  After turning over his son to the police, the father broke down and cried and at the request of the bandit son, returned to Kokomo at once.

Following the Upland robbery, Frazer fled to Canada and returned to his home at Kokomo late Friday night.  His father learning that his son had been implicated in the robberies and that he was wanted by the authorities, left Kokomo shortly after noon yesterday with his son for Marion.  After the police station was reached, Frazer told Captain Campbell that he would have the chance that he would "blow his (Frazer's) brains out," and precautions were taken to see that Frazer did not get hold of a gun.

Women Knew Plans.

When questioned later he said that the two women, Mrs. Mary Bridgewater and Mrs. Emily Morse, who have been sentenced, knew all about the plans for the robbery at the South Marion bank and that a short time before the South Marion bank was robbed, the Bridgewater women went into the bank to get a bill changed and while there, sized up the bank, getting the number of persons in the bank and the lay of the land.

Frazer was taken to the court house, where a warrant was sworn out and signed by Chief of Police Frank Brandon, charging Frazer with automobile banditry, for having been implicated in the South Marion robbery.  Judge J. Frank Charles was notified that another bank robber was waiting to be arraigned in circuit court and arrived in court a short time later.  A plea of guilty was entered by Frazer and after being questioned at some length by Prosecuting Attorney Jay Keever and Judge Charles, was sentenced to from ten to twenty-five years in the reformatory near Pendleton.

Frazer said that he was born in Kokomo and his home address was 1224 South Washington street, Kokomo, and that he had no regular occupation, having worked at the machinists' trade when he could get work, but had been out of work for several months.  He admitted to having been sentenced from Kokomo in 1918 or 1919 for thirty days on the penal farm for attempted robbery and also was sentenced to the reformatory for from five to fourteen years on a charge of November 20, 1920, from Kokomo, and is now out on parole, hoaving been out of prison since March, 1924.

Looking for Work.

He stated that on the morning November 26, the day of the South Marion bank was robbed, that he was looking for work, when four men, whom he knew in prison, met him in a machine and told him that they were looking for some place to "stick up," but had not decided on the city.  Two women were in the machine, he said, but he did not know them.  Frazer said he told them he was out of work and disguested [sic] and that they asked that they asked him if he knew of a good place to hold and rob and he told them he did not.  He jumped into the machine and came to Marion.  One of the men said that they would drive over to Marion and see if they could see some place that "would look reasonable."  They drove to South Marion and seeing the South Marion bank, decided that this place would probably be all right.  The machine stopped a short distance of the bank and Mrs. Bridgewater got out of the machine and went into the bank where she asked for some change from a paper bill.  While in the bank, she counted the number of people in the bank, noted the location of the side door, the location of the safe and other details, according to Frazer.  She then returned to the car and reported things as being favorable.  A few minutes later the party then drove up to the bank, the men getting out of the machine and going in the bank, while the two women remained in the car.

Robberies Planned.

Frazer told Judge Charles, in reply to a question as to whether plans had been made by members of the gang, while in prison, to rob banks, said that they had talked things over, but had made no definite arrangements.

Frazer is the seventh member of the gang of nine persons, seven men and two women, who took part in the robbing of the Upland and South Marion banks, to be arrested and sentenced to prison.  Sheriff Bert Renbarger holds a warrant against Frazer on a charge of automobile banditry and also against the two persons who have not yet been arrested.

This article is another in a series of follow-up stories to the robberies of the Upland State bank and South Marion bank by a group of robbers, led by my paternal cousin, Harry PIERPONT (1902-1934).  Harry later became famous as a member of the "Terror Gang" with John Dillinger.  These earlier robberies terrorized Indiana during 1924-25.

Black Sheep Sunday – create a post with the main focus being an ancestor with a “shaded past.” Bring out your ne’er-do-wells, your cads, your black widows, your horse thieves and tell their stories. And don’t forget to check out the International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists (IBSSG). This is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

John Spencer Cummings (1860-1944)

John Spencer CUMMINGS (1860-1944) was the son of Wyatt and Margaret (HENSON) CUMMINGS, and the older brother of Eileen's paternal grandfather, St. Patrick Merlin CUMMINGS (1863-1929).  The information I had for him was rather sketchy, and contact by a fellow researcher questioning the relationships of the Pace and Cummings families has given me reason to search for more information.

I found a link to John's tombstone at the FindAGrave website.  This also gives a transcription of his obituary from the Democrat-Argus of Caruthersville, Missouri of Friday, December 1, 1944.  Transcription states his birthdate was February 15, 1869 at Savannah, Tennessee.  This may be a typo, as other records place his birth as closer to 1862, such as the 1870 census of Colbert County, Alabama.  His death certificate is online through the Missouri Secretary of State website:

At first I wasn't sure who the informant, Robert TREECE was, but now thanks to the FindAGrave transcription of the obituary, I know that he was a son-in-law.

John married Dollie BRUMLEY on September 22, 1904 in Hardin County, Tennessee.  She was his second wife.  According to the obituary, they had four sons and three daughters.  I found record of their marriage at FamilySearch.

His obituary states that he married his first wife, Martha Adaline PACE, in April 1877.  I found a record on that may be this marriage record.  This would be taking place in Prentiss County, Mississippi.

John had a total of 15 children by his two wives, according to his obituary.

I still have a lot of research to flesh out these families, but now I have leads for more of Eileen's distant cousins throughout Alabama and Tennessee.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Suggestions And Items To Consider In Writing Your Personal History

This page of tips and suggestions for writing your family history was found in some miscellaneous files by my dad, we are not even sure of the author.   I like the quote from Job that is used: "Oh, that my words were now written! Oh, that they were printed in a book!  That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever!" (Job 19:23).  As family historians, don't we all wish that each of our ancestors had recorded their personal histories and stories to be passed down to future generations.

Suggestions And Items To Consider In Writing Your Personal History

1. Your birth: when, where, parents, surrounding circumstances and conditions.
2. Your childhood: health, diseases, accidents, playmates, trips, associations with your brothers and sisters, unusual happenings, visitors in your home, visits to grandparents, relatives you remember, religion in your home, financial condition of parents.
3. Your brothers and sisters: names, date of birth, place of birth, accomplishments, names of spouses, date and place of marriage, their children.
4. Your school days: schools attended, teachers, courses studied, special activities, associates, achievements, socials, report cards, humorous situations, who or what influenced you to take certain courses or do things you might not otherwise have done.
5. Your activities before, during and between school sessions: vacations, jobs, attendance at church, other church functions, scouting, sports, tasks at home, fun and funny situations.
6. Your courtship and marriage: meeting your spouse, special dates, how the question was popped, marriage plans, the wedding, parties and receptions, gifts, honeymoon, meeting your in-laws, what influenced you most in your choice of spouse.
7. Settling down to married life: your new home, starting housekeeping, bride's biscuits, spats and adjustments, a growing love, making ends meet, joys and sorrows, your mother-in-law, other in-laws.
8. Your vocation: training for your job, promotions, companies you worked for, salaries, associates, achievements, your own business.
9. Your chilren: names, dates and places of birth, health of mother before and after, how father fared, characteristics, habits, smart sayings and doings, growing up, accomplishments, schooling, marriage, vocations, sicknesses, accidents, operations.
10. Your civic and political activities: positions held, services rendered, clubs, fraternities and lodges you have joined.
11. Your church activities: as a young person, through adolescence, churches attended, church positions, church associates, church certificates, answers to prayers, necessity and power of love.
12. Your avocations: sports, home hobbies, dramatic and musical activities, reading habits, genealogy, travels, favorite songs, movies, books, writers, poems, etc...
13. Special celebrations or holidays you remember: Easter, Christmas, national and local holidays, vacations.
14. Your plans and hopes for the future.
15. Your ancestors: your impressions of those you knew personally; a general sketch of those you did not know; father, mother, grandparents, great grandparents, other relatives.
16. Your encouragement and counsel to your descendants: carrying on family traditions and activities; their obligations to their country, church and  family; your suggestions to your progeny and others on honesty, humility, health, diligence, perseverance, thrift, loyalty, kindness, reverence, the Bible and other religious and edifying books; service to fellow-men; your belief regarding God, etc...

Never underestimate the effect you may have on unborn generations in helping them through the trials and tribulations of life by the written word of advice you leave your children, grandchildren,etc.. If you would like them to live upright, honest lives, give them the benefit of your experiences.  Job, of the Old Testament lamented the fact that his words were not written when he said, "Oh, that my words were now written!  Oh that they were printed in a book!  That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever!" (Job, 19-23).  But they were written, and he then gave his beautiful testimony of the Redeemer which has been used countless times as the text of sermons in both Jewish and the Christian worlds.  Your communications to your descendants must be written.  They will also appreciate your life story as a precious treasure, and bless you all their days for it.

17. Hints on writing your life story: tell your story plainly and with directness; write truthfully of uplifting, refined and honorable occurrences and experiences.  Humor helps to make for easier reading.  If you can give the whys of your decisions and changes in activities it may help others.  Illustrate with as many pictures as possible.  Make several copies, or better still, mimeograph or print and give one to each of your children and grandchildren.  Place copies in local and national libraries and/or historical societies.

Monday, October 24, 2011

You Bought What At The Auction?

October 1st found me at an auction over in Jay County at the Portland 4-H Fairgrounds.  The contents of the general store of Murl May in Salamonia, Indiana, which had been shut up as it was since 1952, were being auctioned off by an auctioneer out of Greenville, Ohio.  Because so many of my relatives had lived their lives in Salamonia and Madison Township, I was hoping there might be some items of interest of the LeMaster, Wehrly, Chew, etc. families.  Plus, I just love going to auctions.

I spent nearly 6 hours at the sale, watching the farm-fresh advertising, parts and other items of local interest go for extremely high prices.  Wandering around the sale items, I located a set of ledger books that appeared to be from the store.  

Flipping through the books, I searched the "L" section for entries regarding my LeMaster relatives, and hit the jackpot.  I found listing for my grandfather, my great-grandfather and my great-great-grandfather, as well as entries for great-uncles, etc.  The auctioneer was a long way away from getting to these tables, but I was definitely going to stick around and see whether or not I could get them.

I managed to obtain a few pieces of local memorabilia from the 4-H fair at a very reasonable price - the type of things that could end up on eBay or in a museum.

The Lon Wehrly listed as a President of the Fair was the son of John P. and Catherine E. (LeMASTERS) WEHRLY, making him a 1st cousin 3 times removed.

By the time the sale came around to the tables with all of the ephemera and the ledger books that I wanted, I had been there almost 6 hours.  I was fortunate enough to obtain a couple of sets of loose ledgers for $ 2, that appeared to be from the same store and mentioned my relatives.

I quickly snapped up several other ledgers at similar prices, but by the time it came around to the large ledgers, someone else had caught on and the bidding war began.  Not wanting to let a piece of family history to get away, I was willing to spend what it took, which in this case turned out to be $50 for the two large books.  Not much more than I might spend on a good genealogy book, I tried to explain to my wife and family who questioned my sanity.

When I finally had a chance to bring them home and take a look at what I had purchased, I realized that not only did I have more than one ledger that mentioned the financial transactions of my relatives from the mid-1920s through the early 1930s, but that the ledgers were not from the store, as I had first believed.  Instead, what I had was the ledger books of the Farmers  Bank of Salamonia.  Indeed, I had the records of deposits and withdrawals, including some copies of cancelled checks from the 1920s.  How cool is that!

What a thrill it was to find the record of my grandfather depositing $1 in a savings account for my uncle, when he was just a baby.  There is a lot of genealogy in these records, as the accounts often mention the names of the parents, etc. as well as showing who endorsed the checks and dates when accounts were closed, etc.  At least one administration of an estate in my LeMaster family has been discovered.

I have yet to begin the process of scanning the relevant pages and adding the information to my family history.  Eventually, these books will probably be donated to the Jay County Historical Society.  I've already contacted them to try and find out more about the history of the bank.  The ledger records go up until 1933, I'm wondering if the bank survived the Depression.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Black Sheep Sunday: Bandit Trio Leave Today For Prison

Source: Marion Leader-Tribune, Marion, Indiana, January 4, 1925, p. 2.


Sheriff's Force Start at Early Hour for State Reformatory


Expect to Arraign Two Women and Man in Jail Sometime Monday or Tuesday.

One week after the arrest of the first bank robber in connection with the South Marion and Upland bank robberies, six of the nine bandits alleged to be implicated in both jobs have been arrested and three of the six given sentences of from ten to twenty-five years in prison, who will start on the trip to prison this morning, while the other three, one man and two women are in jail awaiting arraignment in circuit court on charges of automobile banditry.

James Robbins, the first bandit to be arrested, at Lebanon; William Behrens, arrested next at Monticello, and Marion, alias "Red" Smith, arrested at Indianapolis, will be taken to the reformatory near Pendleton this morning over the traction line to begin their long sentences.  They will be accompanied by Ralph Malott, sent up for obtaining money under false pretenses, and Ray Wilson, who was given a sentence for forgery.  They will leave in the company of a sufficient number of deputy sheriffs to insure their safe arrival at prison.

Only three of the bandits who are alleged to have taken part in the robbery of the Upland and South Marion banks, remain uncaptured, but operatives from the Webster agency at Indianapolis, the department at Indianapolis and sheriffs from several counties are on the job and it is believed that the three will yet be arrested, but it may not be accomplished for some time.

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Morse, who were arrested at their home in Indianapolis Friday evening and Mrs. Mary Bridgewater, arrested at Indianapolis Wednesday afternoon, will probably be arraigned in court Monday or Tuesday of this week, Sheriff Bert Renbarger said yesterday.  Morse and his wife have admitted to having taken part in the South Marion robbery, Mrs. Morse remaining in the automobile, while the men went in the bank.  Mrs. Bridgewater has admitted to being in the car with the bandits when they came to Marion to rob the South Marion bank, but said that she was not aware of the bank being robbed or of the nature of the automobile trip from Marion to Indianapolis on November 26, the day on which the South Marion robbery took place.

The round up of the bandits during the past week, in which the active co-operation of Sheriff Renbarger, the Webster agency and the police of Indianapolis and Lebanon took part, was one of the biggest roundups of any gang of robbers which has taken place in the state for some time, all of which resulted from James Robbins displaying a big roll of money at Lebanon a week ago yesterday.

This article is another in a series of follow-up stories to the robberies of the Upland State bank and South Marion bank by a group of robbers, led by my paternal cousin, Harry PIERPONT (1902-1934).  Harry later became famous as a member of the "Terror Gang" with John Dillinger.  These earlier robberies terrorized Indiana during 1924-25.

Black Sheep Sunday – create a post with the main focus being an ancestor with a “shaded past.” Bring out your ne’er-do-wells, your cads, your black widows, your horse thieves and tell their stories. And don’t forget to check out the International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists (IBSSG). This is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Searching for Brazil Sand & Gravel Company Name

I wrote off to the Brazil Indiana Public Library, hoping that they might have city directories going back to the 1920s that would list the name of the sand and gravel company that Harry PIERPONT's father ran.

Harry worked there for awhile after his release from prison before embarking on a series of robberies throughout Indiana in 1924-25.  It appears that his bank robbing partner, William Behrens, may have also worked at this same company.

The response I received back from them was:

One of the ladies did some research and BPL does not have directories going back to the 1920s.  She suggested that maybe the Clay Co Geneology in Centerpoint may have some of those that old.

So, looks like my next contact is the Clay County Genealogy Society.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Family Recipe Friday: Fruit Truck

Today's recipes come from the 1962 cookbook of the Women's Guild of the Salamonia, Indiana United Church of Christ of Christ (Evangelical and Reformed).

FRUIT TRUCK                                          Pearl LeMaster

Wash 1 lb. raisins: Stew in 2 c. water for 15 min.  Add 1 c. cold water, 1/2 c. lard, 2 c. sugar, 1 tsp. cloves, 1 tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. soda, 1/4 c. flour.  Beat mixture, add 1 tsp. vanilla.  This makes a very large and also economical cake.  Bake 30 minutes in moderate oven and cover with caramel icing.

Pearl (SMITH) LeMASTER was my paternal grandaunt, the wife of Gerald Walker LeMASTER.  Pearl was born April 23, 1894 in Jay County, Indiana, the daughter of Samuel E. and Mary E. (BIBLER) SMITH.

Family Recipe Friday – is an opportunity to share your family recipes with fellow bloggers and foodies alike. Whether it’s an old-fashioned recipe passed down through generations, a recipe uncovered through your family history research, or a discovered recipe that embraces your ancestral heritage share them on Family Recipe Friday. This series was suggested by Lynn Palermo of The Armchair Genealogist.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Orcutt-Metzner connection

Initiated correspondence with Mary K. Guinn regarding the ORCUTT and METZNER line, and the connection with Harry PIERPONT.  She sent me a nice printout of the descendants of James Orcutt (1857-1925) who married Samantha METZNER (1857-1890).  James was Harry PIERPONT's grandfather.

Samantha was her name as listed in the 1860 census, when she was 2 years old.  By the 1870 census, her name was listed as Amanda.  I still need to obtain her marriage record from Jay County.  In the 1880 census, she was listed as Amanda. shows the marriage of James ORCUTT to Samantha E. METZNER taking place May 12, 1878 in Jay County, Indiana.  They had three surviving children, George, Lena and Mamie.  Melvin died as an infant and is buried in the Mt. Zion Cemetery, Jay County, Indiana.

After Samantha's death, James remarried to Nancy E. MAYO on December 11, 1893 in Muncie, Delaware County, Indiana.  They also had three surviving children, Carl, Hazel and Lawrence.  Iva died as a child in 1901.

Mary sent me a nice family history report, with a lot of clues for further research. All because I was able to find her tree online and make contact.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Black Sheep Sunday: Two More Bandits Fall In The Trap

Source: Marion Leader-Tribune, Marion, Indiana, January 3, 1925, p. 1.


Couple, Man and Wife, Admit They Were Part of the Gang Which Robbed Marion Bank

Romance Enters Into the Lives of Bandits, Stranger Than the Most Imaginative Fiction, for Girlhood Friendships, and Boyhood Love Affirs, Form Chapters in the Lives of Men and Women In Jail, and of Others Not Yet Captured

Robert Morse, 25, an automobile mechanic and his wife, Emily Morse, 27 years old, were arrested shortly after five o'clock last night by Sheriff Bert Renbarger, detectives from the Indianapolis police force and operatives from the Webster Detective agency at their home, 59 South Lasalle street, Indianapolis, on charges of automobile banditry.  They are charged specifically with robbing the South Marion State bank on the afternoon of November 26, when approximately $4,000 was taken.

Morse and his wife both admitted to being in the gang of seven people, five men and two women, who took part in this robbery, but denied being with the gang at Upland and Noblesville.  They were brought back to Marion and put in the Grant county jail, arriving here shortly after ten o'clock last night.

Although they had read accounts of the robbery at the Marion bank, and arrests the couple did not leave Indianapolis but moved to the LaSalle street address on December 30, from another part of Indianapolis, and they showed no surprise when they were placed under arrest.

Old Schoolmates

Mrs. Morse was the other woman, Mrs. Mary Bridgewater, who is also in jail here, who sat in the seat of the automobile, while the men entered the South Marion bank and robbed it.  It was brought out with the arrest of the Morse couple last night that Mrs. Morse and Mrs. Bridgewater are old schoolmates and that Morse was a sweetheart of Mrs. Bridgewater, before her marriage to her present husband.

The Morse residence was searched by the officers and all that was found of any consequence WAS A BLOND SWITCH, WHICH WAS SAID TO BE WORN BY MRS. MORSE ON HER TRIP TO MARION.  MRS. MORSE HAS A HEAD OF BLACK HAIR.

After the officers had grilled Mr. and Mrs. Morse for some time at Indianapolis, they admitted to having taken part in the South Marion bank robbery.  Morse said that he was an automobile mechanic by trade and that he and his wife had never been in trouble of any kind before and that he was coaxed into joining the gang by the other members of the band.  He said that he received as his share of the loot only $153, while he was supposed to get as his share about $600.  He said that his share was counted out and handed to him by another member of the gang and was told that the pile of money contained $600.

Plans Are Changed

Morse and his wife said that the gang of five men and two women had driven to Hartford City with the intention, at first, of robbing a bank at that place, but changed their minds and came on to Marion, on November 26.  They drove around the city in their Nash car and drove past the South Marion bank several times to size up the lay of the land.

Later they drove up to within two blocks of the bank, Morse said, when four of the men got out and went into the bank, while the two women and one man remained in the machine and drove around in the vicinity and then up in front of the bank.  After the bank had been robbed, the gang jumped into the car and drove to Lebanon and then on to Indianapolis.  They had at first intended to use a Dodge car on the trip to Marion, but this car was wrecked and then they secured a Nash car.

Sheriff Renbarger left for Indianapolis yesterday afternoon and arrived there in the afternoon and in company with detectives from the police department and Webster agency, they drove to the Morse home and made the arrests.

Three Are at Large

The total number of arrests made in connection with the robbing of the Upland and Marion banks, now totals six, four men and two women.  Three of the five men who took part in the South Marion bank are now in custody, as well as the two women and three of the band of five men who robbed the Upland bank are now behind prison bars.  Three members of the gang are yet at large.

Sheriff Renbarger said last night that Mrs. Bridgewater and Mrs. Morse would be arraigned in court on charges of automobile banditry.  Although the women did not actually hold up the bank officers and take the money, under the law they are equally guilty with the men and now face long terms in prison.

While Mrs. Bridgewater told a Leader-Tribune reporter, after her arrest, that she did not know that the bank was being robbed while she was out in the automobile, Mrs. Morse admitted to the officers last night that she knew the men were going out to rob the Marion bank.

This article is another in a series of follow-up stories to the robberies of the Upland State bank and South Marion bank by a group of robbers, led by my paternal cousin, Harry PIERPONT (1902-1934).  Harry later became famous as a member of the "Terror Gang" with John Dillinger.  These earlier robberies terrorized Indiana during 1924-25.

Black Sheep Sunday – create a post with the main focus being an ancestor with a “shaded past.” Bring out your ne’er-do-wells, your cads, your black widows, your horse thieves and tell their stories. And don’t forget to check out the International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists (IBSSG). This is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Couple Escapes Flames In Early Morning Fire

Alexandria Times-Tribune, Alexandria, Indiana, April 21, 1999, page 1.

Couple escapes flames in early morning fire

by Linda Ferris

An Alexandria man was pulled to safety early Tuesday morning by his wife and a neighbor as flames raced through a home on CR 900N.

The single-story, block home of Robert and Barbara Webster, 551 W. County Road 900N, was heavily damaged.  Robert Webster, 68, a stroke patient, was later taken to Community Hospital for evaluation.

Barbara Webster, who had been ill all night, heard the popping and cracking that warned her of the fire, according to Alexandria Assistant Fire Chief Dan Ingram.  Believing the sounds were coming from the kitchen, she checked the microwave first.  Then she went to the attached garage, where she saw flames in the southeast corner.

"She tried putting it out but wasn't able to," Ingram said.  "She tried to call 9-1-1 but couldn't because the telephone line was dead."

A knocking at their door woke Ord and Gloria LeMaster, the Webster's neighbors to the west.  Gloria LeMaster said they recognized the pickup in their driveway, but could not see anyone.  Barbara Webster, Gloria LeMaster's aunt, had already ran next door to the home of Robert and Anna McDaniel, who didn't hear the doorbell.

Seeing the fire, Ord LeMaster shouted for his wife to call 9-1-1.  The call rang in at the Alexandria police station at 4:17 a.m., according to dispatcher Steve Gipe.

Ord LeMaster then headed to the burning home.  "He said when he got down there the house was full of smoke," said Gloria LeMaster.

Robert Webster, who was in bed in the living room, was lifted into a wheelchair by his wife and Ord LeMaster.  The family's dog gave LeMaster some resistance until it understood what he was doing, according to Gloria LeMaster.  After her husband took her uncle out, he looked back to find her aunt had gone back into the house.

"He yelled at her to get out," Gloria LeMaster said.  "It was probably shortly after that the fire trucks arrived."

"By the time we got here, we had visible fire through half the attic," Ingram said.

Calls for mutual aid brought a stream of tankers from Frankton, Richland and Pipe Creek townships.  To facilitate their movement, Ingram said Conrail was asked to halt its trains for about two hours.  The tracks run between the Webster's home and the closest water source, a hydrant on Ind. 9 across from the Hi-Way Cafe.

The fire originated in the attached, two-car garage.  It was ignited by electrical wiring, according to the fire department report.  The Websters' loss was estimated at $100,000.

Assisting Alexandria's firefighters on the scene were Emergency Management volunteers, who blocked the road from onlookers, and Orestes firefighters, who refilled air bottles with the Madison County Air Van.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Grandma Wright's Wedding Dress

The Alexandrian, Alexandria, Indiana, July 1, 1986

Home Tour - Gloria LeMaster, right, presided over the front parlor of the Scott-Malone Place Thursday.  Her grandmother Wright's wedding dress and license were on display, commemorating the fact that while the home was owned by the First Christian Church, numerous couples such as the Wrights were married in the front parlor.  Gloria's two aunts, Clara Ellen High and Barbara Webster, visited the home, now owned by John and Marsha Madden, during the benefit tour sponsored by the Alexandria-Monroe Historical Society.

This article was from a collection of newspaper clippings that my parents have saved for their "Indiana Room" at their home.  My grandparents, Virgil Lee WRIGHT and Edna Muriel "Peach" PIERCE, were married June 15, 1915 in Alexandria, Madison County, Indiana.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Black Sheep Sunday: Hold Woman As Bandit Accomplice

Source: Marion Leader-Tribune, Marion, Indiana, January 1, 1925, p. 1


Was In Auto When Marion Bank Robbed

Mrs. Mary Bridgewater, 29, Denies Complicity in Crime

Married But A Month

Was Asked, She Said, to Take Auto Ride and Ignorant of the Plan

One more thread of the web covering up the identity and activities of the bank bandits who robbed the Upland state bank of $2,500, the South Marion bank of $4,000, the Lebanon hardware store, and attempted to rob the Noblesville bank, was unwound by the authorities yesterday when Mrs. Mary Bridgewater, 29, of Indianapolis, was brought to Marion and placed in jail.

Mrs. Bridgewater, claiming to have been married less than a month, admits she and another woman were in the car when the South Marion bank was robbed.

The woman denies she had any part in the robbery, and says she was not with the gang when the other robberies were committed.

Takes Precautions

Because of alleged statements made about their desire to avoid punishment, Sheriff Bert Renbarger has thrown a close guard around the prisoners.  They are kept separately and are being watched closely.

William Behrens, one of the bandits, under sentence of from ten to twenty-five years, said yesterday he would prefer to take a man's place condemned to the electric chair  than a long prison term.  He has already served time.

Marion "Red" Smith plead guilty in the circuit court yesterday to auto banditry and like his two associates, Behrens and Robbins, was given a sentence of from ten to twenty-five years.

Three men of the gang and one woman are still at large, but it is thought authorities will soon have them.

Sheriff Bert Renbarger is working closing with the Webster detective agency at Indianapolis, and other authorities in solving the robberies.  It is believed the whole gang will soon be behind bars.  Three now await long terms, a third awaits hearing.

With three of the gang of six bank robbers who have infested Grant and other counties in jail and sentenced to prison, the unceasing vigilance of detectives, sheriffs and other officers in attempting to round up the entire gang, met with success again late yesterday afternoon, when a woman was arrested at Indianapolis on a charge of complicity in the bank robbery of the South Marion State bank.  She is Mrs. Mary Bridgewater, 29 years old, giving Indianapolis as her home.  She was brought to the Grant County jail last night by detectives from the Webster agency of Indianapolis, who made the arrest.

Talks to Reporter

According to her story told to a Leader-Tribune reporter last night, Mrs. Bridgewater had been visiting with relatives in the southern part of the state since Christmas and had not heard of the arrest of the three bandits.  She had just returned to Indianapolis yesterday afternoon and was just starting to enter her home when she was placed under arrest.

She admitted last night to being one of two women who occupied the Nash car as it stood in front of the South Marion State bank on the afternoon of November 27, when the male occupants of the car held up the officers and customers in the bank and secured about $4,000.  She denied being with the bandits at the Upland bank and also at Noblesville.

"The men asked me and another woman if we wanted to go on an automobile ride," Mrs. Bridgewater said, "and we replied that we would go.  They did not tell us where our destination was or for what purpose the trip was being made.  When the automobile reached the South Marion bank, the men got out and said for us to remain in the car, as they were going into the bank for a few minutes.  They did not tell us why they went into the bank and I did not know that the bank was being robbed."

Drove to Indianapolis

"After the robbery, we drove back to Indianapolis.  I did not get any of the money which was stolen from the Marion or Upland bank."

Mrs. Bridgewater, who has dark complexion, hair and eyes, seemed to bear out her statement that she had received none of the stolen money, as she was dressed very ordinarily, wearing a long coat of imitation fur.  She said she had been married to her present husband less than one month and that this is her third marriage, and has four children by the former marriages.  She said that she had never been in trouble of any kind before and that last night was her first night in any jail.

The woman stated that she was not well acquainted with her present husband before she married him and that his occupation was that of a lineman.

Marion Smith, alias "Red" Smith, the third bandit, who was arrested at Indianapolis Tuesday afternoon, was arraigned in circuit court yesterday, where he entered a plea of guilty to a charge of automobile banditry and was given a sentence of from ten to twenty years in the state reformatory, from which institution he was released only five months ago, after serving a sentence for vehicle taking.

William Behrens, also known as "Red," who was given his sentence Tuesday afternoon, told Sheriff Renbarger yesterday that he is willing to trade places with some the electric chair...long term in court yesterday morning, admitted to taking part in the South Marion bank robbery, as well as the Upland robbery.  He said that he was taken from his mother when he was only fourteen months old and had not seen his parents since that time and that he had just recently received word that a woman he believed to be his mother, was located in Sedalia, Mo., and that he needed some money to go to that city.  He gave his home address as Brazil, Ind., where he had been employed in washing gravel.

Following a statement made by Behrens to Turnkey Marsh that he, Behrens, would get out of jail if he could find any possible way, has led to extra precautions being taken with the bandits.  Each bandit has been placed on separate floors, with the woman, arrested last night, placed in the women's department.

This article is another in a series of follow-up stories to the robberies of the Upland State bank and South Marion bank by a group of robbers, led by my paternal cousin, Harry PIERPONT (1902-1934).  Harry later became famous as a member of the "Terror Gang" with John Dillinger.  These earlier robberies terrorized Indiana during 1924-25.

Black Sheep Sunday – create a post with the main focus being an ancestor with a “shaded past.” Bring out your ne’er-do-wells, your cads, your black widows, your horse thieves and tell their stories. And don’t forget to check out the International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists (IBSSG). This is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Playing At The Treehouse

Anderson Herald-Bulletin, Anderson, Indiana, July 14, 1996, Homes Section, Section F

Above: Corinne LeMaster, 5, and her grandfather, Ord, play on the teeter totter, one of many playground items the young girl's grandfather built for her.  At right, Corrine goes down the playground's fire pole, which was suggested by the girl's father, Jason, who is a fireman.
These pictures were part of a larger article from the July 14, 1996 edition of the Anderson Herald-Bulletin Homes section regarding playhouses that grandparents built for their grandchildren.  My dad and daughter were part of the feature, although they spelled my daughter's name two different ways and stated that she was my brother's child.  Oh well.  All of the grandkids have enjoyed it over the years and it is popular with all the cousins at the family reunion.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Indiana National Guard Record: Ord Wehrly LeMaster

While checking out the Indiana Digital Archives project, I found out that my grandfather had served in the Indiana National Guard.  I decided to request copies from the archives to see what records they might have, and was pleased with the results.  For only $11, I obtained the follow records:

LeMaster, Ord W., Indiana National Guard Records

It appears that grandpa enlisted on March 20, 1923 from Salamonia, Indiana.  His physical description shows he weighed 142 lbs., stood 5 feet 5 inches, had a ruddy complexion with blue eyes and black hair.  His age is listed as 18 years and six months.  In case of emergency, his father L.C. LeMaster of Salamonia, Ind. was to be notified.

It appears that he served with the 151st Inf. Howitzer unit and the 139th F.A. [field artillery] Med. Dept. out of Portland, Indiana.  He re-enlisted on October 25, 1926 and again on April 2, 1928.  Active duty dates show March 29, 1926, October 24, 1927, April 1, 1929, April 2, 1929 and April 1, 1930.  I wonder if these might refer to re-enlistment dates.

Grandpa was appointed as Private First Class on July 1, 1924; was made Corporal on August 1, 1925; reduced back to Private on January 1, 1926; and finally made Private First Class again on July, 1, 1928.

He was honorably discharged March 15, 1930, expiration of enlistment effective April 1, 1930.

These units served on the Mexican border before the first World War, and I need to research more about them to find out if they saw other active duty service along the border after the war.

One mystery is the enlistment date: grandpa would have only been 16 years old, six months, not 18 years; birthdate was September 30, 1906.  This could explain why he didn't graduate from high school until 1928 - he must have decided to join the service. 

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Black Sheep Sunday: Third Bandit Is Caught In The Trap

Source: Marion Leader-Tribune, Marion, Indiana, December 31, 1924, page 1.

Third Bandit Is Caught In The Trap

Two Bandits Plead Guilty, Get Long Prison Terms, And Third Arrested Yesterday

Thread by thread the web which has hidden the Bandits is being unwound, and "Red" Smith is the third member of the trio to be caught in the trap, with outlook that before the old year has checked out for all time others may be caught, and the end come for one of the most vicious criminal conspiracies in the state, with two women as a part of the plot.

The arrest of Marion, alias "Red" Smith, third of the gang of six bandits who robbed the Upland State bank of $2,500, and the sentencing of James Robbins and William Behrens, two other bandits, under arrest for from ten to twenty years in the state reformatory, for auto banditry, on their please of guilty and the statement that at least two women are members of the gang were the outstanding features yesterday in the work of Sheriff Bert Renbarger and officials in surrounding counties to round up the band, and expose one of the boldest and most high handed conspiracies to rob in the entire history of the state.

The third man to be arrested, who admitted to taking part in the robbing of the Upland bank on December 23, was Marion Smith, alias "Red" Smith, 22, who was arrested at Indianapolis yesterday, upon his return from Springfield, Ill., which he gave as his home, by an operative from the Webster Detective Agency of Indianapolis.  He was brought to the Grant county jail about 7:30 last night.

Two Men Arraigned.

Robbins and Behrens were arraigned in circuit court shortly after 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon, when they entered pleas of guilty to charges of automobile banditry.  After being questioned by Judge J. Frank Charles and Prosecuting Attorney Jay Keever, each defendant was given a sentence of from ten to twenty years in the Indiana state reformatory.  Sheriff Bert Renbarger said last night that he would try and have Smith, the third bandit arraigned in court late today if possible.

Efforts toward rounding up the three other members of the gang are being made in a number of counties.  It was stated last night that one or two women are believed to be implicated in the bank robberies.

Planned "Sure Go."

From what information which could be obtained from the three men under arrest, the men had planned to get together again one day this week and return to Noblesville, where they were to again attempt to rob the bank at that place and it was their intention to make the job a sure go this time, they said.

Smith had just returned to Indianapolis from Springfield yesterday morning and knew nothing of the arrest of Behrens and Robbins.  As he was entering a rooming house at Indianapolis he was placed under arrest by A.M. Larsh, an operative from the Webster agency.

Smith was carrying two suit cases.  He was brought to the Grant county jail last night.

Before coming to Marion he was searched at Indianapolis, where $137.25 was found on his person.  He was again searched in jail here last night and $109 was found hidden in the back of his coat.

Seventy-five cents in change was found in his pockets and when he asked to have the money returned to him, suspicion was aroused that he had more money hidden about his clothes and every bit of clothing which had on and was in the suit cases was searched, which resulted in the finding of the $109 hidden in his coat.  He admitted to having taken a part in the Upland robbery, but denied having anything to do with the South Marion or Noblesville cases.

New Bills Found.

Much of the money found on Smith was new bills issued by the First National bank of this city.

Smith has also served time in the state reformatory on a charge of vehicle taking, being sent up from Paoli, Ind.

Behrens and Robbins were brought into court at 5:15 yesterday afternoon.  The indictment charging them with automobile banditry, which was read to them by County Clerk Sam Connelly, was sworn out by Deputy Sheriff Woody Smith and charged the defendant that on December 23 they unlawfully and feloniously aided each other in stealing and taking away in person the chattels and personal property of the Upland State bank in the form of United States money, the sum of $2,000, and then making their escape in an automobile.

Worked on a Farm.

Judge Charles then asked them what plea they desired to make and both replied "guilty."

Robbins was placed on the stand and questioned.  He said that he was 22 years of age and that his business was that of a farmer, and that he had spent about four years on his father's farm which was located on a rural route out of Crawfordsville.  He admitted to being in trouble before, stating that in 1921 he was sentenced to the state reformatory on a charge of grand larceny and that he was also arrested in 1920 on a charge of grand larceny and before that had been arrested for speeding.  He told Judge Charles that he had not taken any part in any bank robbery except that at Upland and the attempt at Noblesville was his first experience in banditry at the latter place.  He also said that he had taken part in the robbing of the Lebanon hardware store.

His Father Dead.

Behrens, when questioned, stated that he resided with his mother at Monticello, his father being dead.  He said that he had been employed in a textile mill until recently.  He said that when he was a small boy he had been given a suspended sentence on a charge of petit larceny and that in May, 1921, he had been given a sentence of from two to fourteen years at the reformatory on a charge of attempted burglary, he having served the minimum term.  He told Judge Charles that he was not addicted to the use of liquor and that he had not been drinking on the day the Upland bank was robbed.

He admitted that he had taken part in the Lebanon hardware store robbery and that he was in the gang which attempted to hold up and rob the Noblesville bank, but said that he did not carry firearms on that day and denied having any part in the robbing of the South Marion bank on November 27.  He said that the Upland and Noblesville banks were the only ones he had taken part in.

Judge Charles then passed sentence on them and when the sentence was pronounced, neither man gave any evidence of having been affected by the heavy sentence.

It was stated from the jail last night that Behrens had remarked that he might as well be in prison as any place else, while Robbins seems to be effected.  According to the jail officials, Robbins is engaged to be married to the girl who appeared at the jail Monday afternoon to visit him.

More Booty Found.

Sheriff Renbarger received word yesterday from the sheriff of White county at Monticello, that an electric drill, which was stolen from the Lebanon store, and about $125 had been found in a suit case in the room occupied by Behrens at that place.

Robbins talked more freely of his trips with the bandits yesterday and said that he had become acquainted with all of the bandits while at the state reformatory and that for some time after his parole he met two of the members who had been in prison and they told him that it would be an easy thing to rob banks, as they had robbed the South Marion bank a short time before and had gotten away with it, the officers having no clue to work on.  He said that he had no work and that the stigma of having been in prison weighed upon him and that he finally was persuaded to join the bandits, which he did, taking part in the robbing of the Lebanon store on the night of December 22.

Go Through Upland.

"After resting a few hours after the Lebanon robbery we drove toward Upland, went through the town slowly and on to Marion, arriving about noon," Robbins said.

"After driving around town for a short while, we parked our car on the east side of the public square and went into the Club cafe to eat dinner.  After dinner we again got in the car, without walking about town, and drove about again, stopping at a filling station in North Marion, where we talked with Deputy Sheriffs John Schell and Woody Smith.

"We did not know they were deputy sheriffs, but thought they were state highway officers who were looking for the Moon car stolen from Indianapolis, in which we were riding.

When they started following us in their car, we switched around and went west on Highland avenue, coming into town on the Wabash pike.

"The other members of the gang wanted to show me the South Marion State bank which they had previously robbed, and we drove up there, stopping for a minute, while they described the robbery to Behrens and me, Behrens not having been with them either on that raid.

Robbins said that they drove through Upland and south of town and drove back at once, when they stopped at the Upland bank, when two of the men remained in the car and the four others went inside and robbed the bank.  After leaving Upland they started back to Lebanon, but the Moon car became mired in the mud, which they were forced to leave, proceeding the rest of the way in a car which they hired from a garage.

Guilty as the Rest.

Robbins said that he had been persuaded to join the men and that he was as guilty as the rest and that he is willing to take his punishment.

Although he said he was not with the gang that robbed the South Marion bank, Robbins told of the robbery.  He said that a Nash car was used, in which were two women, one being the wife of the leader, and that after robbing the Marion bank drove directly to Indianapolis where they transferred the stolen money, about $4,000, to a Dodge car.

That Grant county has "an excellent system" of roads was given by Robbins as the reason for pulling off the two bank robberies in Grant county.

This article is another in a series of follow-up stories to the robbery of the Upland State bank by a group of robbers, led by my paternal cousin, Harry PIERPONT (1902-1934).  Harry later became famous as a member of the "Terror Gang" with John Dillinger.  These earlier bank robberies terrorized Indiana during 1924-1925.

Black Sheep Sunday – create a post with the main focus being an ancestor with a “shaded past.” Bring out your ne’er-do-wells, your cads, your black widows, your horse thieves and tell their stories. And don’t forget to check out the International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists (IBSSG). This is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.