A Day Like No Other for (Most of) My Generation

Fifty years ago today I did almost exactly what I did this morning.  I got up, ate breakfast, gathered up my things for school, and went to campus.  On that day however, I was a sophomore at Ball State, and it was the second day of finals.  (We were on the quarter system in those days, and we had finals at a different date than most schools now, even BSU.)  I had a final that morning, I don’t remember in what, and afterward I met some friends about 11:00 at the cafeteria in the old Student Center.  We ate lunch and went our separate ways, planning to see each Monday next. 

We lived on Tillotson Ave, in Muncie, in those days and I got home probably around noon or so.  My mother watched “As the World Turns” which came on at one o’clock and I was lying on the couch, watching it with her.  At about 1:45 or so, just as Nancy Hughes was pouring Grandpa Hughes a cup of coffee (if my memory serves, and it usually does) the screen went to “Special Report”, then immediately to Walter Cronkite, who gave us the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas, while on a visit there, and had been rushed to the nearest hospital, which happened to be Parkland, we later came to find out.  I don’t remember exactly what my reaction was, or Mother’s, but I know that we were shocked at the news, and even more so when it was announced a few minutes later, that the President was dead.  I remember Walter Cronkite taking off his glasses, looking down, speechless for a few seconds, before putting them back on and returning to the story. 

It’s hard to understand this now, perhaps, but those who were my age, had placed such high hopes on our country’s future because of this new young president.  More than the past two presidents, he represented the future that we were to be a part of, and we eagerly looked forward to embracing it with the ideals he inspired.  Although many of us tried to become what he thought we could, I think we failed to see the forest for the trees.  As I read once, “The Devil can set his table anywhere, and any time; he doesn’t need a thunderstorm to do it.”  And “the Devil” made sure we knew that by 1970. (I’m not being religious here. It’s simply a phrase I like.)

This was the first major event of television news and the wall to wall coverage we have become so used to now.  The radio stations were given to playing classical or somber music. For four days, through the following Monday, we watched nothing but coverage of the aftermath and the funeral.  I remember John-John’s salute, and Jackie at Caroline going up to the casket and slipping their hands under the flag to touch it as it rested on Lincoln’s bier in the Capital Rotunda (where our class had visited just the year before).   And then came the funeral, and the casket borne on the horse drawn caisson with the riderless horse (named Blackjack) with the boots turned backward in the stirrups led behind.  And then, to many’s surprise, came Jackie, Robert, and Ted Kennedy, and others whom I’m not sure of, walking along behind these at the head of the funeral procession.  Jackie had swathed herself in black, including a long black veil covering her face, for the entirety of the her time in public, in the true tradition of mourning the dead throughout history.

At Arlington Cemetery the body was lowered into the ground at the foot of the hill in front of Arlington House (once home to Robert E. Lee and his family) and the eternal flame was lit.  I saw a live picture of it this morning, burning brightly against the overcast skies of Northern Virginia.  

I cannot explain  my feelings during all of this, except to say that they were of great sadness.  Our country had lost a president, a woman was a widow, and two young children were fatherless.  At that time, Rose Kennedy has already lost two of her children, and In the coming years of the 1960′s she would lose one more.  But that’s a story for another time, say April 4th.

“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”  Edward (Ted) Moore Kennedy, 1980

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More on the Moores Part One: In Which We Meet Our Slave Owning Ancestor

ImageThis is a photo of my great-great grandfather, William St. Clair Moore, often referred to as William C. Moore.  He was born, probably in Kentucky, on December 23, 1796, and died in Boyle County, Kentucky, on August 19, 1867.  This photo is from a tintype given me by his granddaughter, Mary T. Moore Irvine,  He was the son of Reuben and Mary Bird Moore, who came to Kentucky from Shenandoah County, Virginia about 1792.  When he was 38 he married Nancy Jane Owens, the daughter of Jeremiah Owens and Margaret Pittman Owens. (Jeremiah was the nephew of Simon Kenton.)  She was 16.  I have no record of his being married before, nor of any children, so I can’t account for his marriage at 38; however, my dad had several uncles who would have been this man’s grandsons who did not marry for the first time until their 30′s, so it might just have been the Moore way.

ImageThe picture above is of the Moore homestead, which started out as a log structure, on the right side of what you see here.  After we moved to Kentucky in 1974 we found and visited the house and took this picture.  This was where William and Nancy lived.  (The couple on the front porch are Mr. and Mrs. Crow, who owned the property then.)  The house is gone now.  It was torn down about 8 years ago, and someone built a McMansion over it and the graveyard that was to the right of the house.  William, Nancy, and one of their sons, John, and his wife, Julia were buried there.  But I digress.

William and Nancy had 11 children who are listed on the census records.  One was my father’s grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Moore (T.J.).  And yes, William owned slaves.  The 1850 Slave Schedule census lists his as having the following:  1 male age 40, 1 female age 16, 1 male age 10, 1 male age 7, and one male, age 5.  The 1860 Slave Schedule Census lists 1 male age 46, 1 female age 23, 1 male age 20, 1 male age 17, 1 male age 14, 1 female age 6,  and 1 female age 2.  Despite the different ages listed I am fairly certain that the first five listed on each census are the same people.  The other two are probably her children by the older man.  All are listed as black, so I am assuming that the children were all fathered by the older man, also.  There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of co-mingling of the races.

You will notice, of course, that there are no names for the slaves listed.  Very few owners listed their slaves by name anywhere but on plantation/farm records.  The best way to find slave names is in wills and other probate documents.  I think seeing them listed really brought slavery home to me.

Now, William owned between 5 and 7 slaves in a ten year period, and probably some before that.  The war would have freed them.  How do I feel about the fact that an ancestor owned slaves?  Well, quite honestly, while I don’t approve of slavery, there is nothing I can do about the fact that he owned slaves.  I can only do what can be done at the present time, and move forward with that.  I have been told by many that I should be ashamed of my slave owning ancestor.  Excuse me, but he wasn’t doing anything illegal for the time, and once again I repeat, there isn’t anything I can do about it.

“Moore” later.


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3016 Colerain Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio

John Will (Papaw) Estes 1950 in front of 3016 Colerain Avenue, Cincinnati, OH

(To my family: If I have posted this before, read it anyway.)

This is the address of the house my grandparents Estes lived in from 1942, until Papaw’s death in 1959. The picture is of Papaw Estes in the very small front yard of the house. I’m not sure how he got in there because there was no gate I ever knew of as a child, when I was most familiar with the house. The house was three story brick, with a concrete front porch, railing, and uprights. It had a front door off the porch but also had a front gate and a walkway to the right side of the picture, and a side door off that walkway. There was a small back yard with a narrow garden plot on three sides, and my Papaw Estes had roses planted in the plots on all three sides. There was also a cellar entrance in the back yard. It was on the east side of Colerain just a few doors north of the main intersection of Colerain and Hopple, that section known as Camp Washington.

When John Will and Lillie Emmett Estes moved there in 1942, they lived on the second floor I believe, and Uncle Mose and Aunt Helen had rooms on the third floor. The house was at that time owned by Mr. George Ernst, whom the family ended up calling Uncle George Ernst. His wife had died in early 1942, and, my grandparents moved in with him so my grandmother could be his housekeeper. I don’t know how she came to know about him or that he needed a housekeeper, but nonetheless this is the story I was always told, which was corroborated by my brother Jack. At this time Papaw would have had a job outside the home, and Helen would have been working at Crosley or Wright’s. I know she worked at Wright’s during much of the war, making airplane engines. As for what Uncle Mose was doing, well, I won’t even venture a guess.

By the time I came to remember the house, Mr. Ernst was dead and Mamaw and Papaw lived on the first floor, with Aunt Helen and Uncle Estil on the second, and I guess Mose and Etta Mae and their family on the third floor. After Mamaw died in 1953, Mose and Etta May moved to the first floor, and Papaw took the front bedroom on the third floor.

All the floors were reach by two landing staircases. There was red embossed tile half way up the wall as the stairs ascended to the second floor. I remember touching it each time I went up the stairs. Each of the first two floors had a small closet spaced toilet, with a full bath on the third floor. There was also a large laundry area on the third floor. When we went to visit, Della and I slept on a small bed in that area.

The third floor was where Aunt Helen stored her clothes and kept the costumes for the Briarhoppers. I loved to go up there and stand and look at her clothes and shoes and to touch them almost reverently, hoping someday I would get to have such clothes and costumes. Della, Johnny, Sheila, and I would play along the walkway never going outside the wrought iron gate (I can still hear it opening and clanging shut in my mind) and out in the back yard. Occasionally, when we would be visiting, an old man in an overcoat, with his hat pulled down, would come to the gate and call my name. Oddly enough, I would go to him, once I knew he was my Grandpa Moore. He had found out my dad was in town, and had come to see him. He never went inside the house. They always stood by the front gate and talked, then my grandpa left.

Aunt Helene (she had added the “e” by this time) did fittings and made the costumes in her second floor kitchen. As far as I know, she never cooked there. Actually the idea of Aunt Helene cooking is far funnier than that of me cooking. A lot of coffee was drunk, and cigarettes smoked, in that kitchen, however. Her living room, at the front of the house, was always dark, and she had a dark blue sofa and easy chairs, and a glass top coffee table with sides that opened out. She also had a television, which she would allow us to watch, but only if we sat quite still and didn’t jump around, etc. She was the same way when she worked on my hair, Della’s and Sheila’s. We had to sit still or she’d whack us in the head with the brush.

Of course, you may be curious as to how my grandparents got to stay in this house after Mr. Ernst died in 1949. Actually, he left it to my grandmother, in her name alone. He also left her at least two rings, which she then left one to my mother. and one to Jack. Although I was never told this, I am quite sure that Uncle George Ernst left the house to her in her name only because he knew that if he left it to Papaw Papaw could get drunk and sell it or use it for his own purposes and she would be homeless, so to speak. When I asked Jack if he thought Mr. Ernst was in love with Mamaw he did not hesitate to answer yes. Was she in love with him? Who knows. But he saw to it that she had a home for the years left to her.

Of the two rings spoken of above, the one left to Jack has a most interesting history. Mamaw died in January of 1953 and Jack came back from Korea in June of that same year. He took the ring, which was a man’s ring, and had the setting altered and the diamond remounted into the ring that became Jeannie’s engagement ring, which she wears to this day. The other ring my mother wore until she died and I have it now. I do not wear it because it needs to have the prongs redone so the diamond will stay in it. A task for the near future.

And so there you have the history of my grandparents house as I knew it. After Papaw died in 1959, the house was sold and the proceeds divided up among the children. Aunt Helene remained on the second floor, renting it and the third, for several more years, leaving when she married Uncle Gil Schumer in 1970. The house was torn down about 5 or so years ago, and there is a big Wendy’s and its parking lot on the corner which stretches across the ground on which the house sat.

More memories have come to mind, but this is all ready too long.

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June 30, 2013 · 4:52 pm

Fear of Flying

My mother grew up in an age basically without airplanes. Although they were around they were not nearly as prevalent as they are today.   Her best friend Grace Snapp’s first husband was a barnstorming pilot, whom she ran away to marry, probably sometime in the 1920′s,  and who was soon after their marriage killed in a plane crash. When I was a child, my Nan-nan (Aunt Ann) had a gentlemen friend, Mr. Ed Hewitt, who owned a small plane, probably a Piper of some kind, and he often took her up with him.  She loved it!  Mother had a dream for much of my childhood about a plane coming over our house at Brown’s and falling from the sky, she being able to nothing to help.  That only added to her fear.  Believe it or not, at one time I wanted to be an airline hostess, when I was about twelve and there was a series about it on some television show I watched.  I don’t remember what happened to that idea, but evidently it died a’borning.  As most of you know, I’ve never flown on an airplane.  I love to watch them fly, take off and land, and to tour them on the ground, but I just can’t get myself on one.  Major panic attack time.  I’ve thought about getting drunk and getting on one, like Richard Burton had to, but that would ruin the image everyone has of me! ;-)

Whenever Jeff flies and I know it, I always wonder what my mother would think of it.  Sure, she’d fuss, but since it’s Jeff….but then again, maybe not.  She would, however, at least know that there was nothing she could do to stop it, so she might as well be quiet.  Once she convinced herself of that she would be okay.  Maybe she’s watching him anyway, since he’s so close to her at those times.  I like to think she’s watching over us all, no matter what we are doing.


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Lindbergh, Hauptmann, Mary, Jack, and Me

I just watched an interesting program on the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby on a new edition of the _Nova_ series on PBS.  It had many interesting theories, but no conclusive evidence about who the actual kidnappers were, although Hauptmann seems to have definitely been involved.  I am interested in this case because my mother was, and she talked about it when I was a child.  She never believed Hauptmann was guilty, and she never cared for Lindbergh after he went to Germany to live in 1935 because he came back seeming to espouse the German cause shortly before the war began in Europe in 1939. 

So what, you may ask, does this have to do with anything genealogical in our family?  We weren’t related to any of the players in the piece, of course, but I think it had a direct effect on how my mother cared for her two children.  The kidnapping happened when Jack was about a year old, and Mother always said that while our family wasn’t the Lindbergh’s, the whole story made her especially careful of where Jack went, what he did, and who he was with as he grew up.  I never could understand however how she allowed him to get on the streetcar on Sundays with Howard Knight, his best friend, and ride all over town.  She was none the less protective of him I think it’s fair to say.

Then came little Christine.  I think she was more protective of me than of Jack, and I think it was because I was a girl, and, as she always said, a cute little girl.  (Sorry Tammy, if you read this, but I was.)  At any rate, kept watch over me wherever we went, and always warned me against speaking to strange men.  (There are at least a couple of times in my life that I wish I had listened to that advice a little more! ;-) )  At any rate, I wasn’t to leave the yard with anyone, and if anyone approached me anywhere and tried to drag me away I was to scream bloody murder.  Before I started to school, and because I had a habit of wandering away from her in stores, she had a harness for me which had a strap hooked to the back and a wrist strap for her to keep hold of me.  (Those were not unheard of in the day, and although today it would be deemed child abuse probably, I’ve seen cases where I wish people still used them.)  The one time when I was about 12 and she did leave me alone in the children’s section in the basement of the old Anderson Carnegie Library was the only time anyone ever threatened me, but I’m not going to write about that here. 

At any rate, if my mother, or my father, for that matter, was overly protective of us as children I think it was because they loved us, and wanted us to be as safe as possible, not unlike today’s parents.  The Lindbergh kidnapping, like the Sandy Hook murders, and so many others events, made parents across the country hug their children a little more closely and made them become a little more protective of their “little” ones.

The program pointed out one interesting thing about Lindbergh that I didn’t know, and that was that when he returned to Germany after WW II as a consultant for Pan American Airlines and the U.S. government, he managed to secretly, and under and assumed name, father children by seven German women, said children having come forward in 2003 with DNA proof of their parentage.  He was a great believer in eugenicss, one reason he was so enamored of “The Master Race” theory, and oddly enough, one reason why some people think he might have had something to do with the kidnapping of his own child!

And now you know the rest of the story, about kidnapping, over protective moms, and how traumatic events shape our lives.  And now, I strongly suspect, my mother knows who kidnapped/killed little Charles Lindbergh.


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Christmas Past

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Christmas lately.  Strange huh?  It’s only everywhere you look and everywhere you go.  But no, I’ve been thinking about those Christmas times which are in the past.

My favorite memory of Christmas past is of the one when I must have been about 6 or so, and we lived on George Street, in Anderson.  Jack worked at the hardware store in Anderson and they had a balcony on all three sides of the building where, at Christmas time, they displayed toys.  I remember Jack taking me by the hand and leading me up there.  When we got there he told me to pick out some things I might want for Christmas, so I did.  It was very exciting for me to do this, with my big brother following along behind, making mental notes. (Although I did not know that at the time.)

Christmas came and I awoke before everyone else and quietly crept downstairs to see what Santa had brought.  There was a Toni doll, my table and chairs and my little white china cabinet which now sits in my kitchen.  I then went back upstairs and got in bed.  A little while later Mother came to wake me up, and said, “Get up and lets go downstairs and see what Santa left.”  And I said to her, “No, I’ve already been down to see what I got.”  She gave me a disgusted look and made me get up any way.

Other things I remember about Christmas past:  my Nan-nan always, always, gave me a package which looked like a silver book but when opened it actually contained roll of various flavored Life Savers; the one Christmas were we only had books of trading stamps to buy presents with, we were that poor; the several Christmas pasts that we spent on Luick Ave. in Muncie, and we would invite our landlady Aldean Klug, and the older gentleman who lived in the trailer behind us (we lived in a house) and of course Wayne Smith, and Mother would set the family table with the Blue Onion pattern dishes and have such a good time; the same house saw Christmas celebrations with Mose and Etta Mae and their children, (none of whom speak to me now because of the 2008 election), and Jack and his family. 

Christmas is a special time for me for religious reasons, but it is a special time to remember those we loved and those who are now gone from our sight, but not our memories.

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1937 Cincinnati Flood Letter

Here is a copy of a letter my mother, Mary Estes Moore, a resident of Cincinnati in 1937, wrote to her sister Ann in Anderson, Indiana, on “Black Sunday”, January 24, but never mailed. My mother saved it over the years…

Sunday Afternoon
My dear Sister:
I guess you are worried about us so I will try to write you a little bit and tell you what is going on here. I can’t begin to describe it, but I will tell you that we are alright.

The water is only two streets from where we live, it is on both sides of us. I don’t think it will get to us, though.

You know where I lived in Northside–Well, it is up to the third floors there–There are just thousands and thousands that are homeless. I have all of Bob’s brothers and sisters here with me. They have lost everything, even their clothes. The water is off all except two hours a day, and we are looking for the gas and electric to go any minute. It is not only the flooded districts, but the whole city will be without gas and electric.

We have plenty of coal tho, and they think there will be enough to eat to last for a while. Yesterday we had about six inches of snow.
The city is on a “Sunday Basis”. All industries are shut down, all stores are closed, and all cafe and such–only drug and groceries (sic) stores are open, this to preserve power. The schools are closed too, and are all being used by the Red Cross to house refugees. Most of the churches are too.

There have not been many drowned, but I think that was because everybody in the city has worked together.

Nobody is allowed on the street downtown, and there is no street car service, only buses. It is all just like a nightmare. The radio is continually calling for boats and volunteers to rescue marooned families.

To add to all this misery there is a big fire on the water caused by a big tank of gasoline bursting, and somehow it has caught fire. It has been burning most all day, and has destroyed about ten big factories including one of Crosley’s factories. A number of houses have burned but they got the people out. They say the fire covers about four miles.

It has poured down rain here all day long, and has melted the snow and the slush is about six inches deep in the streets. They have all the street lights turned off and all of the electric signs. All we can do is just sit and wait–for we don’t know what.

Well, Mother and Dad are alright. Of course Helen and Earl are not working. Both of their places are under water. Dad and George are working tho, but they both have an awful time getting to and from work. Well, I could sit here and write all night about this terrible catastrophe that we are all in the midst of, but I guess you hear about it over the radio.

Well, it is morning, and our lights are gone. They went out about six o’clock this morning. I don’t mind so much myself, but the hospitals and telephones are needed so very badly at a time like this. Thank God the sun is shining a little tho, that makes people feel a little better even tho the river is still rising.

Bob and Howard (his brother) have gone out to see if they can do some rescue work. Every man they can get is on the job, and all the boys from the colleges are out. Believe me, it is a tough job. We thought the flood in 1913 was bad, but it was mild compared to this. I heard this morning they had the fire out, but I don’t know how true it is. 32 buildings have burned. Well, I will write again soon. Love to everybody. Kiss the kiddies, bless their hearts. Maybe this will reach you as most of the train service is cut off.

Love, Mary

Mary Estes came to Cincinnati in 1927 with her family, from Bourbon County, Kentucky, where she had graduated high school the year before. The family consisted of her parents, John Will and Lillie Belle Emmett Estes, and her siblings, Ann (Ethel Belle). Mose, Helen, and George. Ann soon returned to Kentucky to marry Frank Boaz, and later move to Indiana. Helen married Earl Mitchell in 1935, later divorced him, and married Estil McNew, with whom she would form The Kentucky Briarhoppers square dance team, which performed for many years on the Midwestern Hayride on WLW radio and television. Ironically, George was killed in an automobile accident shortly after this letter was written. He was returning from clean up work where he worked in the early morning hours of February 4th, when his car hit an oily spot in the street (oil left from the rupture and fire mentioned above) and crashed into a telephone pole, killing him instantly.

My mother was 29 years old when she wrote this letter and had been married to my father, Robert Lee Moore, for seven and a half years. My brother, Jack, was 6 years old. I was not even thought of yet. She and my father lived in a house on Colerain Avenue that was later torn down to make way for I75. It was the one they rented from Mr. Hummel and a few blocks from the Colerain house where Mamaw and Papaw Estes lived for so long. She was correct; the water never got to them, and they were able to have some electricity and water because they were on the lines that went up the hill to the hospitals.
Bob’s brothers and sisters would be Ollie, Margaret, Tommy, Ruby, Howard, and Carl, my Moore aunts and uncles.

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