Monthly Archives: May 2012

Letters, She Wrote Letters (Aunt Tady, with a cool picture)

Over the past year or so, my nephew John has been bringing me “stuff” to sort through that he has found while going through his late father’s “things”.  One larger plastic bag included several sets of letters belonging to my Aunt Helene Estes Mitchell McNew Schumer (yes, that’s three times).  I have always known that she had gobs of friends, both male and female, and she evidently wrote to many of the young men when they went off to World War II.  Among those men were Bob Theobald, whose name I had always heard growing up, and Al Blamer, too.  These two men had sent her back the most letters.  Al was with the 336th Bomber Squadron, eventually in France, and Bob was in the U. S. Marines, serving in various places in the U.S.  I don’t recall his going out of the country, but he might have.  He was a Sgt. in the Corps, and I find him particularly interesting because he and his future wife shared a double wedding with Aunt Tady and Uncle Estil.  In the picture below they are from L-R:  Bob (Robert L.) Theobald, his wife Estelle (called Lucky), unknown bridesmaid, Erma Unknown, who would become the wife of Tady’s cousin, James Estes, Aunt Tady and Uncle Estil.  The brides dresses are identical as are the bridesmaid’s, and although I do not have a firm date, I know from the letters, that the wedding took place in Cincinnati in December of 1943.

As I read and looked at these letters, especially Bob’s and Al’s, I began to wonder if there was any way I could restore them to someone in either man’s family.  I went on to and looked for each man.  I found family trees in which each appeared and contacted the “owners” of those trees, asking if they, or some other family member, would like to have the letters.  Both put me in contact with nieces by marriage of both men, and the letters now safely reside in their care.  Both women have contacted me to say how much they appreciated my doing this for them.   I have shared copies of the picture with Bob’s relatives too.

I consider Aunt Tady to be one of my surrogate mothers.  I got her “show business” genes, and she was my “Auntie Mame” for those of you who know that reference.  I hope I did what she would have wanted done.  I miss her on Mother’s Day too.


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Prohibition and The Remus Affair (I told you the topics would be varied.)

In the past television season we have been treated to some really well done series, not the least of which was Ken Burns’ documentary concerning the period in American History known as Prohibition.  One of the more interesting parts to me was the one which spent a great deal of time relating the story of “The King Of The Bootleggers”, George Remus.  To make a long story short, Remus was a Chicago lawyer who decided to cash in on the profit to be made from prohibiting people to drink alcohol in the 1920’s and moved to Cincinnati to do so.  I had heard of Remus off and on during my lifetime, as my dad had come to Cincinnati when he was fourteen ( about 1923) and had never really gone back home, although he lived with his family at least some of the time.  He was, as I like to say, “raised rough” on the streets of that town, and his wife and children had no idea what all he did during that time (except work as a chauffeur for B.H. Kroger at one period).  He seemed to know a lot about George Remus, however, but that could simply have been because Remus was a larger than life figure in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky and everyone knew of him if they didn’t actually know him.

My biggest problem with Remus was not that he was a bootlegger, but that he made “beau coup” bucks from it and used it to manipulate those around him, including his second wife, Imogene Brown Holmes and her daughter Ruth Holmes, whom Remus adopted.  Remus was finally imprisoned, I can’t recall exactly for what, and during that time Imogene and an FBI agent who was working on the case, cleaned out his coffers, and when he got out of jail, he found Imogene was suing him for divorce, intending to take the money and the FBI agent, and run.  Things didn’t work out that way, however.

On October 6, 1927, Imogene had a court appearance concerning the divorce, and was on her way to it with her daughter Ruth, when Remus literally had his driver run their taxi off the road in Eden Park.  Both women fled away from the vehicle, but Remus caught up with Imogene and despite the pleas of her daughter, Ruth, he pulled a gun and shot Imogene 3 times at close range in the abdomen, then went back to the car and left the scene.  When the Remus car had run the taxi off the road, it had also caused a minor accident, and the men involved in that were standing by as witnesses to the whole thing.  Ruth pleaded with them and the taxi driver to help her get her mother to  the hospital, but only one man helped her do so.  Of course, it was too late, and Imogene died shortly after her arrival at the hospital. 

Remus was taken in to custody and sentenced to trial.  Being a lawyer, he decided to use an insanity plea (a very new thing in those days), and despite the testimony from eye-witnesses, including Ruth, that it was cold-blooded murder, the jury acquitted him on grounds of insanity.  He went to a mental hospital for about 6 months and was released, to continue his life, albeit not as a bootlegger, remarried and lived until 1953.  Ruth legally changed her name back to Holmes, and lived with her mother’s sister.  She finally married, but died young of a mistaken blood transfusion. 

What does all this have to do with anything?  Well, I find so many things wrong with this at so many levels it’s amazing.  When the jurors were polled they seemed to indicate that Remus was justified in shooting his wife because she had cheated on him and taken all his money.  This is even an opinion prevalent today when I look at message board comments concerning this:  Remus was right to shoot her, because “she done him wrong”.  The other thing I find particularly appalling was that he shot her in such a cold blooded fashion in front of her daughter, whom he had adopted and supposedly cared about.  Yes, Imogene knew he was a bootlegger when she married him, after divorcing her husband and him divorcing his wife.  And yes, she did collude with the FBI agent to take his money, but no one deserves to be hunted down and murdered as she was, by anyone, no matter what that person has done. Remus committed murder and go away with it.Greed makes anything possible and apparently, legal.

Now please understand, I am making no claims of involvement of my father in any of this.  (Lord knows there’s enough illegality involving whiskey running on my mother’s side of the family.)  I am simply saying that I heard about it from him and my mother, as well as the documentary, and that on learning further about him and Imogene and Ruth by doing some genealogy work, I believe he was a man who got away with killing his wife, when he really deserved some better punishment.  He was a cold-blooded, cowardly murderer, who cared more about himself, his business, and his lavish lifestyle, than he cared about anyone or anything else, and let nothing stop him from getting his revenge. 


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The Kenton Connection (genealogy)

As many of you who are family know, we Moores are related to the famous Kentucky pioneer, Simon Kenton, through his sister, Jane, who would be my generation’s four greats grandmother.  Both Simon and Jane were born in Virginia, near Bull Run Mountain, in Farquar County.  They were the children of John Kenton/Kinton, most generally thought to be from Ireland, and Mary Miller, who was born in Virginia as far as can be told. John and Mary were the parents of the following children:

William, born 1737;Mary, born 1740; Jane, 1742; Frances, 1744; Mark Kenton, Jr. born 1749; John Kenton, 1751; Simon, 1755; Benjamin, 1757; Nancy, 1759.

Simon Kenton, as he grew to manhood, was well over six feet tall, with red hair and great strength and endurance.  When he was sixteen he got into a fight with another man over a girl.  Simon knocked the man out and thought he had killed the man, so he ran away from home, and took himself into the vast, mostly uncharted and unpopulated lands west of the Allegheny Mountains, into Ohio and Kentucky, about the year 1771,  He already had skills as a frontiersman and he honed those skills even more by his years spent in the wilderness before the American Revolution. At that time the Shawnee was the principal tribe in central and southern Ohio, and Simon came to know them perhaps better than any other white man of the time, unless it was Daniel Boone.  During this time in the wilderness, Simon took the name Butler as his last name, and the native tribes respected him for his courage, strength, and frontier skills.  During the course of his time spent in the wilderness, he was taken captive several times and made to run the gauntlet (which is really gantlet, but I can’t convince people to say it correctly, as a gauntlet is long cuffed glove, which was usually thrown down rather than run).  Most men who ran the gauntlet, which involved making one’s way down down the center of two lines of yelling, screaming Indians, many of them women, who did their best to impede your progress by beating you with various instruments, tripping you and otherwise harrassing you.  And, oh yes, I forgot to mention, you had to do all this naked.  If you made it, you gained  the respect of the tribe and were shown favor.  I once read that Simon Butler/Kenton was so successful at running it the Indians would make him run it as a show piece for visiting dignitaries from other tribes, etc.

It was Simon’s knowledge of the Indians and the frontier that made him so valuable to men like Jim Harrod and Daniel Boone in the early years of Kentucky’s settlement.  He was present at the Siege of Boonesborough in what became known as the year of the Bloody Sevens, 1777, and saved Boone’s life when an Indian shot Boone in the ankle, breaking it, and making him unable to run back into the stockade to escape the attack.  Simon Kenton simply ran over and picked Boone up (probably over his shoulder in some fashion) and carried him back inside the fort to safety, while the Indians continued their assault.  Many historians have said that Simon was probably the greater frontiersman of the two (Kenton and Boone) but that because he had kept a low profile under an assumed name, Boone was able to garner much of the glory that Simon deserved.

Sometime around 1780 Simon Kenton was making his way through the wilderness and came upon a camp of men who invited him to share a meal with them and spend the night around the campfire.  During their time together, one of the men mentioned that he had come west to find his brother who had left home some years before under the mistaken idea that he had killed a man in a fight over a girl.  Simon listened to him talk and after assuring himself that the man was indeed one of his brothers, identified himself in such a way that the man believed him, and they had a great reunion.  (I am not certain which brother it was, but I think it might have been Mark Kenton, Jr.)  Shortly thereafter Simon decided to return to Virginia to see his family, and to bring as many of them back to settle in Kentucky as he could get to come with him.  By that time, Simon had acquired land both in what would become Mercer County, Kentucky, and up around Limestone, on the Ohio River near the present site of Maysville. 

When Simon returned home alive and well his family was, of course, happy to see him, and many of them took him up on his offer to return to settle in Kentucky on his lands.  One of those was his sister, Jane Kenton Owens Laws, the widow of Jeremiah Owens, who had remarried Thomas Laws.  She and Thomas and their Owens and Laws children took Simon up on his offer, and 1783 left with him for Kentucky.  There were other family members and friends on the flatboat trip down the Ohio, including his parents.  Somewhere along the river journey, Mark Kenton, Sr. died, and they buried him where he died.  His wife, Mary, went on to Kentucky and lived until 1808.  When they reached Limestone, Simon found too much Indian sign, and so he took his party on farther south to his lands in Mercer County, and that’s how the Owens/Laws merger got to where they needed to be for our family genealogy.

Jane’s eldest son, Jeremiah Owens, Jr., was married twice, first to Sally Moss and then to Margaret Pittman.  It is the second marriage, to which was born one Nancy Jane Owens, that is of interest to us.  Nancy Jane Owens married William St. Clair Moore, my generation’s great great grandfather, and it is their house that sat on the hill above the Salt River in what is now Boyle County, for many years, until some idiot razed it and build a McMansion.  There was a family cemetery nearby which was read a long time ago, but I don’t know what happened to the stones from it, since there were some. Jeremiah and Margaret are buried in another cemetery and I have pictures of their tombstones as well as Margaret’s parents, though whom comes the Abraham Lincoln connection, if you believe one set of facts, or not, if you believe another.  And that, my dears, is The Kenton Connection.

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