Tuesday, September 12, 2017

David Gaines “Mule” Stover (1903–1968) My 1st Cousin Twice Removed on My Father’s Side

David Gaines "Mule" Stover dressing a pig. Photo from The
Portal to Texas History website
David Gaines Stover Jr. was born in Stephens County, Texas on July 31st 1903. His middle name is his grandmother’s maiden name and that is the name he used as an adult – he was known as “Gaines Stover”. Gaines was the son of David Gaines”Bud” Stover, Sr. and Nancy “Nannie” Williams Stover. He had an older sister Joanna who was also named after their grandmother, Joanna Gaines, and a younger brother Eugene.

His Youth
When Gaines was six years old he appeared on the 1910 census living with his parents, siblings, a Campbell cousin, and his Uncle, James Williams – his mother’s brother. At that time the family was living on a cattle ranch stock farm in the 8th Precinct of Shackelford County, Texas. Gaines left school in 1915 having completed the 7th grade.

According to Thomas Cisero Harris, age 90 and living about a mile from the Stover Ranch, Gaines had a prize mare when he was about 16 that he “thought the world of”. One day a Jack (mule) owned by his father bred Gaines’s mare. Gaines was so mad that one night he went to the ranch and castrated the Jack, and Gaines's Dad never found out who had done it. This story was relayed to Thomas by A.W. Tipton. The way Mr. Tipton told the story Gaines never told his father what he had done. Apparently Gaines's father was known to raise some of the best mules in the area and the castrated Jack was his best sire!

In 1917, his family moved to Crystal Falls which was probably near the family ranch on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River in Young County, Texas. His father still owned the ranch but they lived in town most of the year and spent summers on the ranch. They were living in Albany when the 1920 census was taken. Elizabeth Campbell, David and Nannie’s foster daughter was living with the family, as were Harvey and Geraldine Piper from Oklahoma who rented from the Stovers.
Rancher equipment on display in the Albany Museum

When I asked Thomas what he recalled about Mule he said, “Mule was something else – I remember Mule.” Then he told this story. “Gaines would go off drinking. He’d go to the Fort Worth Livestock show with his cousin A.W. Tipton, known as Tip, and he wouldn’t have much money. He’s go into a hotel, run up a big tab and then he’d skip out. He was ornery as hell evidently.” But Thomas added, “Gaines was very friendly and you couldn’t keep from liking him, but you couldn’t trust a word that he said.” “He was a fun guy but his character was a little loose.”

When the 1930 census was taken Gaines age 26 and his sister, Joanna age 27 were both still living with their parents in Albany.  This was during the depression and neither was employed. His brother Eugene had died on February 16, 1920 so did not appear on the 1930 census.  According to the census their father was raising cattle on his ranch.

First Marriage
On July 25, 1935 Gaines married Aleen Osborne “in a quiet ceremony at the home of their friends Mr. and Mrs. Howard in Eastland, Texas”. The news story that made the announcement said that Aleen lived in Hillsboro Hill, Texas and was the sister of Albany’s doctor Clarence Osborne. Aleen was the daughter of John E. and Hattie Osborne. She was born in Texas in 1909 and married Gaines when she was 26. I found no other stories or mentions of Aleen in the archived newspapers, or on the Ancestry or FamilySearch sites.

In April of 1940 Gaines and his mother were living together in Albany next door to Gaines’s sister Joanna and her husband Hugh Ayers. So, apparently the marriage to Aleen had ended by 1940. Gaines’s father had died in 1938 so Nannie was listed as the head of the household. On the census Gaines was identified as a manager at City Lake but I don’t know what that was. I do know that in 1936 Gaines was the proprietor of the Riverside Inn and he applied for a package store permit to sell liquor at the Clear Fork of the Brazos Bridge which was on Throckmorton Road in Shackelford County.
Jane Lenoir at the Fort Griffin Park told me about The
Portal to Texas History website

While visiting Albany in 2017 I learned about the website Portal to Texas History. It is a tremendous resource for information about the Stover family and Gaines in particular who was very involved in the community. While there I also learned about David’s nickname, “Mule”. Even though it had been nearly 50 years since he died, I encountered three people who were familiar with him – that nickname and the man were memorable. I entered “Mule Stover” and “Gaines Stover” into the online newspaper archive and a list of 87 entries came up.

Many of the news items were about quite ordinary events, for example the Albany News published an article listing the names of persons who renewed their subscription to the newspaper. Collecting these myriad tidbits about Gaines paints a vivid picture. He was single much of his life, had no children, he was very involved in civic and political activities, he had a lot of friends, he attended the Matthews Memorial Presbyterian Church, and he served as a pallbearer or “honorary pallbearer” at a remarkable number of funerals -13 were published, mostly on the front page.

At one point Mule’s ornery reputation was well known – so he couldn’t live in town. Instead Thomas Harris says Mule had a structure with a screened in porch on his family’s ranch where he lived. He didn’t own a car and relied on friends to bring him groceries. Gaines was a great cook and would cook anything anyone brought to him. Thomas recalled that Mule’s friends would come out to the shack and they’d spend two or three days drinking and eating what Mule cooked for them. Thomas also mentioned Mule’s sister, Joanna and said, “she was normal, she wasn’t anything like Mule.”

Civic and Community Life
Gaines was active in his community all his life. The Albany News reported on his involvement in several different civic groups. In February of 1934 he attended the Cow-Horse Races event sponsored by the Albany Lions Club. According to the news article races between horses and automobiles and horses and people took place with the horses typically winning. In 1954, Gaines was elected to the position of “Tail Twister” of the Lions Club, and he chaired the food committee at that same meeting.  Gaines was a member of the Hereford Association and frequently attended live stock events and auctions. In July of 1938 Gaines attended the rodeo in the neighboring community of Stamford. In 1943 he was the auctioneer at an event to raise funds for the local school athletic association. Gaines attended a steer roping contest in San Antonio with his friend Mrs. Lella Landers in 1964. In 1965 he paid $49.65 for a cow to help raise funds for the Youth and Livestock Association. In 1967 he attended the 4H and FAA (Future Farmers of America) Livestock Show for Shackelford County.  One year later, on February 29, 1968 the paper carried two stories about Gaines on the same day – one reported that he was one of the bidders at a livestock show and the other was his obituary.

One headline that struck me as rather cruel was a front page story headlined “Seven Men Fail Army Physical”. It listed the names of the local men who had failed the Army physical in July of 1942, so these men were ineligible to join the service and serve during World War II. The article made a point of saying, “… and the number will need to be made up by the county at another date.” Those who passed “… returned to Shackelford to take the 14-day furlough granted all selectees who asked for it. They were to return to camp July 27”.  This seems like a brutal humiliation for the men who would continue to live in their community during a time of heightened patriotism. Gaines was one of the seven.

So, how did he get his nickname “Mule”? One of the news stories that ran on February 18, 1965 was about the 13th annual Fort Griffin Fandangle celebration. This is quite an event in Albany that continues to this day – people I met there in 2017 encouraged me to attend “to get a real sense of the place”. The story about the Fandangle in `65 noted that “the backstage crew consisted of Mule, Mutt and Ox” – nicknames for Gaines and his buddies R.C. Hammack and W.M. Emmons. I assumed Gaines got his nickname because he was notoriously stubborn but when I talked with Thomas Harris about Mule, I asked, “How did he get his nickname?” Thomas told me, “Well, he could bray like a mule. He could make a mule ashamed of himself. Gaines would rear back and bray like a mule – you could hear him for miles.” 
President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson
at the Lambshead Ranch owned by Gaines' friend Watt Matthews
while attending the Fandangle. Photo from The Portal to Texas
In 1949, Gaines was chair of the Fandangle Parade. A June 1950 headline claimed “Thousands in Albany for Fandangle Parade”, and said, it “was the largest crowd ever assembled in Albany.” Gaines and three other men had planned eight floats depicting different aspects of old times. “Each float depicted phases of frontier life in a humorous manner”. For example, there was “an old-time barbershop, complete with cowboy taking his Saturday night bath in the backroom.” Gaines managed the same event in 1950. In 1952 he hosted Mrs. Ragland who came to Albany to sing at the Fandangle that year. In 1953, Gaines and his wife Valma hosted Mr. and Mrs. Everett at that year’s Fandango.  Gaines and his friend Joe Cunningham were in charge of the event in 1954. Apparently, it was so memorable that year that the press was still writing about it as preparation was underway for the 1961 celebration.

One of the groups I was surprised to read that Gaines was quite involved in was the Albany Garden Club. Garden Clubs are typically chaired by and appeal primarily to women but Gaines was a member as early as 1951 when he attended a talk on “Flowers for Home” and saw a flower arranging demonstration at the American Legion Hall. In 1953 he attended an all-day Garden Club event at the G.B. cabin on Lake DeLafosse where the new club officers were installed. One of the reasons he may have participated in the Garden Club could have to do with the fact that he married Mrs. Valma Cramer who was also a member of the club.

Second Marriage
When Gaines was 46, The Albany News reported on their marriage and honeymoon in Mexico. They were married June 29th 1950 by Reverend J.A. Owen of the Matthews Memorial Presbyterian Church. The ceremony took place at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Warren Willingham. Before the marriage Valma lived in Sweetwater, Texas and had worked in a hat shop in Dallas, Texas. She had also been married twice before. Her maiden name was Finnie. She first married a Wyatt, then L.C. Cramer on June 3, 1933. In the fall of 1951, Gaines purchased a lot in town from H.C. Arendt – possibly in order to have a home built for his new wife.

The paper carried stories about the new Mrs. Gaines Stover in 1953, `54 and `55 but none after that. They continued to mention Gaines Stover, but he attended events alone or with other family members – not with Mrs. Stover.

In the 1940s he attended a fundraising event to raise money for a new community swimming pool and donated $10. Gaines was a member of the Fort Griffin Know Your Neighbor Club and auctioned off pies and a Lone Star quilt made by Mrs. Grethe to help pay for improvements made to the club. That was in 1962. He sold tickets and collected donations to the President’s Ball to raise money for the March of Dimes. I recall my mother telling me about Dad taking her to the President’s Ball in Oakland when they were courting – she was quite impressed with Dad at the time.

Social Life
Gaines was very social. The Albany News frequently ran short stories about people who visited him, people he went to see and places he went. The first of these news items appeared on Christmas Eve of 1936 when the press reported that Roy Rodriquez had visited Gaines. In 1942, the paper reported on a quail supper that Gaines and E.Z. Jeters hosted for a group of their friends.  Mr. and Mrs. L.H. Hunt visited him in August of 1943. We know that he spent a few days with Mr. & Mrs. Reid locker in Woodson from a news clip dated July 20, 1944. 
Mule Stover fishing. Photo provided by Judy Compton

That same year Gaines accompanied Lt. Gene Maudlin to Cherry Point, North Carolina when Maudlin entered the Marine Corp. We know that Maudlin survived the war because of a story from October 1947 about a month long fishing trip at Eagles Nest, New Mexico that he, Gaines, Carroll Putnam and Hugh Martin enjoyed. The paper also reported Gaines’s 1961 fishing trip on the Clear Fork of the Brazos, where his father’s ranch was, with friends Tom Alston and Rassie Martin. Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Cauble of Snyder were guests of Gaines in October of 1948He had visits from Roy Hagin of Wichita Falls in `59, and from Mr. and Mrs. L.J. Hunt in 1965.

Gaines was also a guest at his family and friend’s homes. He spent a few days in Woodson at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Reid Locker in 1944, spent New Year’s Eve at his sister and brother-in-law’s home in 1962, and spent Thanksgiving with them and his foster sister and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. J.O. Roberts in 1964.

Gaines was also politically active. I found 3 news clips listing Gaines as having endorsed candidates for political office  including Dan Moody for the US Senate, Omar Burlson for Congress, and George Bush when he ran for the US Senate in 1964. 
Another photo of  Mule from The Portal to Texas History site

Death and Burial
Thomas recalls that later in life Mule “straightened up” and moved to town, but he would drive out to the ranch to visit the Tiptons in a big Dodge car. He sold the family ranch to the Lester family. Jane Lenoir at the Fort Griffin Park had heard about Mule from her grandfather. He told a story about Gaines and a group of old men sitting on a bench in Woodson - they would sit there all afternoon talking. Some locals called it the “Dead Pecker Bench.”

Gaines died from a heart attack on February 26, 1968 – the same year I graduated from high school. Apparently he’d been sick for quite a while because the Albany News reported that he was admitted to the hospital on three occasions – in April of 1963, and in April and September 1964. His obituary appeared on page one headlined “Gaines Stover Dies Suddenly”. He spent the day before with his best friend Watt Mathews. They had dinner together at Gaines’s home. He was 64 when he died. The obituary said, “Mr. Stover had friends throughout West Texas, and was known for his wit, and as a friend said, “he had a genius for helping people”. The obituary included a long list of family and friends who attended his funeral service. Gaines is buried in the Stover plot of the Albany Cemetery with his mother, father, sister, and other relatives.
Watt Matthews in his family cemetery. Photo from The
Portal to Texas History website.

But, even after death the press continued to write about “Mule”. I found an article from 2002 in the Remember When column written by Joan Halford Farmer that featured Gaines’s best friend Watt Mathews. A fourth of the article was about their friendship. Watt was a member of the Board of the First National Bank. He would attend meetings there and then stop by Gaines’s home – “the best cook in town.” They’d have dinner then “sit and visit over a toddy after supper.” The news story went on to say, “When television was fairly new, Watt was very critical of the new pastime. But every time he came to Mule’s, he would avidly watch news and other programs flickering on the square screen. These two good friends sometimes had the hottest arguments I have every witnessed, but they loved each other like brothers.”
From all I’ve read and heard, I think I would have liked David Gaines “Mule” Stover and been proud to call him a cousin of mine.
Gaines's headstone in the Stover Family plot

Stover Family plot in the Albany Cemetery
Sources include: The Albany News, Shackelford County Leader, Breckenridge American, the US census for 1920-1940, his obituary and death certificate, a marriage record for Valma and L.R. Cramer, Ancestry and FamilySearech websites.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Joanna Thompson (1772-1834) My 4th Great Grandmother on my Father’s Side

Joanna Thompson McGehee's headstone - thanks to
Clem McNure who posted this photo on the Find-a-Grave
Joanna Thompson was born on April 28th 1772, probably in South Carolina. I don’t know a great deal about her life but want to post her story now because finding her Last Will provided the clues I needed to identify the father of Joanna Gaines and a whole new branch of our family tree that includes several other Gaines, Waller and McGehee ancestors.

When Joanna was 17 she married Benjamin Waller who was a third generation resident of South Carolina. Previously the Waller family had been in Virginia until Benjamin’s grandfather, Edmund Waller moved the family to South Carolina in 1793.

Joanna and Benjamin had six children – she was pregnant with the youngest when Benjamin signed his Last Will. Their first child was a daughter born in 1789. She was named Elizabeth Thompson Waller after her mother but went by “Betsy”. Next was another daughter, Matilda born in 1794 and three years later, my 3rd great grandmother Hulda Waller was born.

The next three children were all sons. John Harvey, named after his grandfather, was born in 1798, Guilford born in 1800, and the youngest, Benjamin F. Waller was named after his father. From the records I’ve found it appears that all of the children were born in South Carolina – probably in Abbeville, which was originally known as the Ninety Sixth District. Abbeville County is in the northwest corner of South Carolina. 
Abbeville County, South Carolina is in the northwest
corner of the state
Benjamin Waller Sr. signed his will on March 1st, 1804 and died shortly thereafter, leaving 32 year old Joanna with six young children. Fortunately, Benjamin was a wealthy man at the time of his death. On the 1800 census he owned 13 slaves and other property. In his will he left a total of 15 slaves to his wife and children. He also left his wife “two good feather beds and furniture, a cupboard and furniture (except his glasses), two iron pots – one small and one large, a Dutch oven and pot hooks, and one pair of fire dog tongs and shovel”. Everything else was to be sold and divided equally between his wife and children. He named Elizabeth as their guardian, unless she remarried in which case one of his executors would become their guardian. His executors included James Watson, Nathan Lipscomb and Abraham Marshall.

Interestingly, shortly after Benjamin’s death Joanna married Stephen Watson, the brother of James Watson – one of the three executors. Stephen was a cotton farmer in Abbeville. This marriage did not last long because Stephen died. He signed his Last Will on February 9, 1807 and was dead by March 10th when his estate was sold. His will stipulated that his estate was to be dived equally between his wife Joanna and his daughter Peggy Watson.

One of the documents in Stephen's probate packet was an Estate Account Balance. It was prepared by Stephen's brother William Watson and friend John McGehee. The value of the estate was $2171. It named Joanna and Charles McGehee as Peggy's guardian. This document was dated March 16, 1812, so Joanna had married for a third time to Charles McGehee.

Charles was born in Virginia in 1769. He was also an associate of her first husband Benjamin. I know this because Charles is mentioned repeatedly on the probate documents left with Benjamin’s Last Will. There are multiple entries in the Estate Accounts showing payments to Charles “for the Boarding and Cloathing (sic) of B. Waller’s sons” for the years 1811 and 1812. These accounts also show that Charles paid the estate of Benjamin Waller for the use of Clay during the years 1811 and 1812. Clay was probably one of Benjamin’s slaves.
Cotton Day late 1800 in downtown Abbeville where cotton and cotton seed
were sold. Joanna and her husbands probably grew cotton on their land.

Charles and Joanna had three daughters. Almena McGehee was born on January 10, 1810, Nancy McGehee, birth date unknown, and Joanna who died as a young child in 1828.  Charles died January 29, 1816, so it was another relatively short marriage that lasted about five or six years.

After Charles' death Joanna remained in Abbeville. She appeared on the 1820 census and was listed as the head of the household. There were 6 other white persons living in her home. Names, other than the head of household, were not recorded until the 1850 census. Prior to 1850 the census only showed the number of males and females by age brackets. Given the information shown on the census the others living with her were likely her five youngest children.  In addition, Joanna had 7 male and 7 female slaves to help with the farm and household. In 1820 Joanna was 48 years old and was living near to her son John H. Waller and her son-in-law Hiram Gaines.
1820 Abbeville Census showing Joanna, her son John H. Waller and her son-in-law Hiram Gaines

Over the years Joanna celebrated the marriages of her children - Matilda in 1816, Hulda in 1818, Almena in 1827, and Nancy sometime before 1830.

Joanna prepared her last will and testament on July 13, 1828. She named hers sons-in-law Seaborn O. Sullivan, husband on Nancy Sullivan and William B. Brooks, husband of Almena as her executors. She left money to her three grandchildren Joanna and Margaret Gaines and Guilford Waller. The balance of her estate was to be divided equally between her two youngest living daughters Nancy and Almena.

Joanna also suffered the deaths of three children during her lifetime. Her youngest, Joanna died when she was 46, Hulda and John, from her first marriage died when Joanna was 57 and 58, also her son-in-law Hiram Gaines died in 1829 – five years before Joanne died on August 27, 1834.

The Bill of Sale included in her probate packet, that I found at the Abbeville County Court building, itemized the items sold as part of her estate after her death. Those items included seven slaves including a man named Fielding ($450), three boys, Elijah ($600), Robert and Gabriel each ($500), one woman, Chloe ($400) and two girls ($450) and Mary ($325).
This is the Last Will and Testament of Joanna McGehee

Her estate also included 1 Bay Mare, 1 Sorrell horse, 1 Bay Horse, a pair of mules, 25 sheep, 20 head of cattle, and 46 hogs, plus 3 stacks of fodder, some corn and wheat. Two parcels of land were sold – one 95 acre parcel and one 140 acre parcel. Farm implements included a lot of hoes, a plow and harrow, a cutting box and knife, harnesses and bridles, a road wagon, a grind stone, and 2 axes.

Household items included a lot of crockery and teaspoons, 1 walnut desk, a dining table, sideboard, mantle clock, glass castors, tea board and glass pitcher, a set of Windsor chairs, a lot of furniture and curtains, a large walnut chest, 3 sets of beds and bedding, a looking glass, wash bowl and pitcher, a square table, a book desk and books plus a few items I could not decipher.

Joanna is buried with her third husband, Charles McGehee in the McGehee Family Cemetery in Greenwood, South Carolina.
Joanna's signature from her husband Charles McGehee's
probate documents
Sources for this post include: 1790, 1800, 1810 and 1820 censuses; Stephen Watson, Joanna and Charles McGehee's wills and probate documents, Benjamin Waller's Last Will, Abbeville marriage records by Larry Pursley, and the Find-a-Grave website.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Joanna N. Gaines Stover (1826-1902) my 2nd Great Grandmother on my Father's Side

Joanna N. Gaines Stover holding her grandson Lewis Wood
Pattillo 1890
Joanna Gaines was born in 1826 most likely in Abbeville, South Carolina. I believe she was named after her grandmother, Joanna Watson Thompson. The town of Abbeville experienced two fires in 1872. The first on January 19th destroyed some of the public records and according to the Abbeville press “the second conflagration on November 17th consumed the remainder”. So, I have neither proof of the exact date nor location of Joanna’s birth. I do know that her parents Hiram Gaines and Hulda Waller were married in Abbeville and that Hiram witnessed Joanna’s grandfather’s will in 1815 in Abbeville. Also, Hiram appeared on the 1820 census for Abbeville. After the fires marriage records were gleaned from historic newspaper notices, by a dedicated genealogical researcher named Larry E. Pursley, to whom I am very grateful. He published three volumes of marriage records – the first in 1980 with 7500 records and the most recent in 2003 contained 10,600 records.
Trinity Episcopal Church in Abbeville
was constructed in 1842 so Joanna
would have known this church.

When Joanna was about two years old her mother Hulda died. Very sadly about a year and an half later her father Hiram also died leaving Joanna and her sister Margaret as orphans. Her aunt and uncle Nancy McGehee Sullivan and Seaborn O. Sullivan adopted both Joanna and Margaret, according to a court record dated January 9, 1835.  Joanna would have been 9 at the time of her adoption. I believe her sister Margaret was probably a little younger. Joanna also had a half brother William H. Gaines, the son of Hiram and his second wife Elisabeth Waller. William died in 1855 at the age of 34.

The next record I’ve found for Joanna is a marriage license dated January 10, 1848. On January 13th she married David L. Stover (see my first blog post on David dated June 28, 2013). On that document she was listed as Joanna N. Ganes. At that time it was not unusual for there to be variations of surname spellings – Gains is another common spelling. On Ancestry, some members show her middle name as Narissa. I have found a few documents that use “N” for her middle name but I have not found any document with the name Narissa on it, so I don’t use it.
This home built in 1815 existed at the time Joanna lived in
South Carolina as a young girl

Joanna and David were married in Madison County, Florida. For years I’ve wondered why in Florida? I now know that Seaborn O. Sullivan was from Florida, so it is likely that she and her sister moved to Florida after their parents died, and that is where she and her family were living in 1848. That begs the question – how did she meet David L. Stover who lived in Carter County Tennessee – the two counties are over 500 miles apart? I do know that David’s brother, Samuel M. Stover married Joanna’s Cousin Caroline Brooks in 1851, so clearly the two families had a connection.
Joanna N. Gaines and David Lincoln Stover marriage license, 10th day of January 1848

After their marriage the couple settled in Tennessee. They appeared on the 1850 and 1860 censuses living in Carter County. On the latter census it showed them living in the town of Elizabethton, the county seat.

Their first child, a daughter named Sarah was born ten months later in November of 1848.  They had a son, William “Win” about a year after that. Then on July 18, 1852 my great grandmother, Carrie Brooks Stover was born. Clearly her middle name is a reference to the Brooks family connection. After Carrie, Joanna and David had three more children – two girls and one boy. Mary was born in 1854, Elizabeth about 1856, and David Gaines “Bud” Stover was born in December of 1855.  All of their children were born in Carter County.
1850 Census from Carter County, Tennessee showing David, Joannah, Sarah E. and Win G. Stover
Joanna’s husband David died in November of 1858, shortly after Elizabeth was born. So Joanna was a widow at the age of 32 and had six children to take care of – the oldest of which was only 10 years old. In his will, David left his farm to his 3 year old son David, though he did stipulate that Joanna could continue to live there as long as she remained a widow and he noted that David “shall be subject to her will in the management of the farm and business”. He made Joanna responsible for “managing the farm and all his Negroes.”

The will also called for “advice and consent of my brother’s Samuel Murray and Daniel Stover, or three competent and disinterested judges, should they not be living” for any big decisions she might need to make. David’s will also addressed his children’s education, he stated, “In the management of the farm and in the education of my children I desire my wife to consult and be guided by advice of my brothers S.M. and D. Stover.  I do not specify any particular mode but would prefer private teaching.” Notice that he said, “my children” not “our children”. The same was said about Joanna in her grandmother’s will – she and her sister Margaret were identified as Hiram’s daughters. According to the will, if Joanna were to remarry or die his brothers would become their guardians, and his brothers would take over management of the farm.
1860 Census after David had died. It shows Joanna N. Stover, Sarah E.M., Carrie B., Mary J., David G.
and Elizabeth W. Stover
Joanna continued to live in Elizabeth and manage the farm for at least twelve more years because the family appeared on the 1860 and 1870 censuses. In 1860 Sarah was 11, Carrie 7, Mary 6, David was 4 and Elizabeth was just 2. Win had died and did not appear on the 1860 census. By 1870, Elizabeth had also died. Sarah was still living at home at age 21, Carrie was 17, Mary was 15, and David 14.  These must have been difficult years for Joanna. No doubt she had help from her brothers-in-law but they had families of their own to care for. Fortunately, the family was comparatively wealthy, having inherited money and property from David’s father William who inherited the money from Isaac and Mary Lincoln. Probably Joanna was able to hire others to help her manage the farm and even run the household. She would have owned several farm and house slaves. The 1850 Slave Census shows that David owned seven slaves.

1870 Census Carter County - Joanna is 45, Sarah 21, Carrie 17, Mary 15 and David 14. Also living in the household
are Ruth McCloud, her daughter Carrie Cox, and a 15 year old domestic servant Louisa Nave.

Also, the Civil War took place during this difficult time. Her family was divided by the war. Her father-in-law William Stover and his youngest son Samuel Murray both supported the Confederates while David’s other brother Daniel Stover was a Colonel in the Union Army. Had Joanna needed their guidance it may not have been available or the two brothers may have disagreed with each other. The Civil War had devastating impacts on the entire country. Joanna must have been a very strong woman to have endured it while raising five young children alone.
This covered bridge existed when Joanna lived in Carter County and still
exists in 2017. It spans the Doe River in downtown Elizabethton

By 1880 much had changed in Joanna’s life.  Her three daughters were all married. More significant the entire family was living in Texas. The farm in Tennessee, where the Stovers had lived for five generations, had probably been sold or was possibly lost due to high taxation after the war. Joanna’s eldest child Sarah was living in Stephen’s County, Texas while Carrie and her husband James William Pattillo were in the neighboring county of Tarrant, Texas.

In 1880 Joanna appeared on three different census forms, and each provided different information and some different “facts”. The first census was taken on June 9th and 10th of 1880 when Joanna was in the 91st District of Tarrant County Texas with her daughter Carrie and son-in-law James W. Pattillo. Their son Wirt W. Pattillo was born in May of 1880, so probably Carrie was there to help with the birth and care of her daughter and grandson.

By June 24th and 25th, when the second census record was created, Joanna was in Stephens County living with her daughter Sarah and her husband Winfield Scott Tipton and their three children – Maude age 9, Eugene 7 and Robert 5. Joanna’s son David “Bud” was also living in the Tipton household.
This architectural remnant is from the 2nd County Courthouse
in Stephens County Texas where Joanna lived with her son and
daughter. This building existed at the time Joanna lived there.
The third and current courthouse, where I did my research,
 can be seen in the background.

By September 22, 1880 James and Carrie had moved to Handley, Texas also in Tarrant County. Joanna had returned to their home and was recorded for the third time on the 1880 census. It is probable that Joanna was there because Wirt had died and Joanna again wanted to help care for her daughter. There was also a servant living in the Pattillo household at this time named Charles Hinton.

The discrepancies recorded on these three official documents provides an excellent example of how false facts can be created. On the first census Joanna’s age was shown as 60, and her and her parent’s states of birth were all recorded as having been in South Carolina. On the second census she was only 52 years old, Joanna had been born in Florida and both parents were born in South Carolina. On the third census, taken 3 months later, Joanna was age 54 – which I believe is correct, she was born in South Carolina which I believe is correct, and both of her parents were born in Virginia. I have yet to find proof of where her parents were born but it is very possible that Virginia is correct.

1880 Census taken June 9th & 10th in Tarrant County, Texas

1880 Census taken June 25th and 26th in Stephens County, Texas

1880 Census taken September 22 in Tarrant County, Texas

In 1890 or 91 Joanna and one of her daughters, probably Sarah, travelled to Los Angeles, California to see  her daughter Carrie and family including a newborn son Lewis Wood Pattillo, my grandfather who was born March 18, 1890. By that time, Joanna’s son-in-law James had a well-established concrete finishing business called Pattillo & Lovie in Los Angeles.

Ten years later Joanna was back in Texas living with her son David and his wife Nannie on their ranch in Stephens County. Joanna died in March of 1902 at the age of 76. She was buried in the Tipton Family Cemetery close to her daughter and her son’s ranch. There are eight Tiptons buried with her. The cemetery is located on a private farm and is enclosed by a decorative wire fence. 

Mrs. J.N. Stover Jan. 1926 - Mar. 1902

 Tipton Cemetery in Stephens County, Texas where
Joanna is buried is surrounded by mesquite trees.
Ranch home of David "Bud" Gaines Stover where Joanna
was living in 1900.
Author’s Note
It gives me tremendous pleasure to be able to publish this biography for Joanna Gaines. I have been waiting to do so until I could include the names of her parents and siblings. Joanna is the 43rd person entered into my genealogy program, so I’ve known of her for a very long time. But, until I made my extended cross-country genealogy journey in 2017 I had been unable to find any trace of Joanna’s parents, siblings or any other relatives.

While in Albany, Texas where Joanna’s son and grandson lived I visited the city museum and inquired about the Stover family. The archivist brought me a thin folder.  One of the items it contained was a story from a newspaper article written by James D. Jenkins. I was familiar with that name because I’d encountered one of his descendants during my genealogy research, so I felt confident that what he’d written could be relied upon. The headline was “Lincoln’s Family” and the story was about the descendants of Isaac and Mary Lincoln who lived in Carter County, Tennessee. In this article Jenkins wrote “…and David Lincoln (Stover) married Miss Josephine Gaines, a first cousin of Caroline Brooks ….”. He noted that both Caroline Brooks and Miss Gaines were from “prominent South Carolina families”. A few days later, after pondering this new clue, I decided to include the state of South Carolina in my trip.

In my research I had one reference to Abbeville, South Carolina so I decided to visit the courthouse in Abbeville and look for the name Gaines. But, before I got to South Carolina I started looking at South Carolina records at the East Tennessee History Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was there that I found the will of Joanna MeGehee that included a reference to Hiram Gaines. The will identified Hiram as Joanna’s father. Initially, I was cautiously optimistic that I had finally solved the mystery that had challenged me for so many years, but after finding a few additional clues I was confident that I’d found Joanna’s family. In Abbeville I found the documentation for her adoption and much more material on the Gaines family.

Tipton Cemetery with Steve Harris in the background. Steve
is a rancher who lives nearby. He found me and took me to
the cemetery. I never would have found it without his
generous help.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

William Gilliat Thornally Jr. (1875-1944) – Part 1 Family Life

Will Thornally Jr. 
William was the eldest child of Mary and William Thornalley. He was named after his father who was also William Gilliat. William had three brothers – Harry, John (my grandfather), and Samuel. He also had two sisters Charlotte and Rose. William was born in San Francisco on July 12, 1875. Four years later he appeared on the 1880 census with his family when they were living at 278 Bush Street in San Francisco. By 1888, the family had moved to Oakland and was living on Bray Avenue (now 34th Avenue) near the Old County Road (now Foothill). My mother Lottie Thornally, Will’s niece, referred to him as Uncle Bill while his sister Charlotte called him Will. 

When Will was 16 he appeared in the City of Oakland directory listed as working for the Guerney-Minnesota Thresher Manufacturing Company. His father also worked there at that time. In the 1892 directory he was listed as an apprentice with the same company. Between 1896-1900 Will and his father both worked as carpenters for the SP Company which I presume refers to the Southern-Pacific railroad.

Will as a young boy

When he was 23 we know that Will spent time in Dawson City, Alaska because Will’s granddaughter Ann Thornally Brurud has a copy of a letter Will’s sister Charlotte sent him while he was there searching for gold. The letter was dated August 1, 1898.  Will was part of the “Klondike Stampede” that began in July 1897 and attracted 100,000 men seeking their fortune. Dawson City was one of the many boom towns that sprung up. It quickly grew to 30,000 by 1898. You can read more about the Klondike stampede and Dawson City from this link. The Klondike gold rush ended in 1899 as miners left to search for gold in other places. Since Will was listed in the 1900 directory, he apparently gave up on mining and returned home to pursue more pragmatic endeavors.
The Klondike gold rush 1899 from Google

By May of 1904, Will had established himself as an independent building contractor. He was 28 when the San Francisco Call newspaper reported that he had won a contract with J.R. Leavens to build a two-story wood-frame home with a basement for William A. Jones. Their bid for the project was $4691. A summary of the homes, commercial properties and other buildings that were constructed by W.G Thornally Jr. is provided in Part 3 of this blog post that follows.

On Will’s voter registration dated September 12, 1918 he signed his last name with an “e” at the end. He also included the “e” on a bid for a construction project that I have. But, the press nearly always omitted the “e” and I don’t think his younger brothers used it. On the voter registration Will was described as being tall and stout with blue eyes and brown hair. His granddaughter Ann remembers him as a big, impressive man with a loud voice.

Marriage and Family Life
Will married Agnus Visalia Damm on October 29, 1903 in the First Congregational Church in Fruitvale. (You can see a photo of the church in the post on Mary McGowan Thornally, August 2015). His younger brother John was his best man and Agnus’ friend, Mrs. Joseph Kreig of Alameda was the maid-of-honor. Will and Agnus honeymooned in Salt Lake City, Utah before returning to Oakland. Agnus was the daughter of Joseph Damm and Maria Giboni. Agnus was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 2, 1881 and moved with her family to 10th and Harrison Street in Oakland’s Melrose District sometime between 1883 and 1896.

Joseph Damm and his wife were both from Germany. According to his 1896 voter registration record Joseph was short – only 5’4” tall. He had a medium build, brown eyes and light brown hair. He was 51 years old at the time, so was born in 1845. Joseph was naturalized on July 17, 1883 in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. In 1896, his occupation was in the dairy industry. In 1903, he was a school board trustee in the Melrose District of Oakland.  According to his grandson, Ralph Thornally, Joseph died in 1924, presumably in Oakland.
Agnus with Ralph
Maria was the daughter of Anne Christina Hansen and Peter Giboni. Peter was born in Italy in 1830 but his family immigrated to Germany in 1844. He died at the age of 45 on February 4, 1876. Anne was born in Eschiveiler by Ihole, Germany and died at age 41 on April 4, 1872.

After the honeymoon Will and Agnus made their home on Bray Street near Tobler – this was part of the Thornally Tract that had been purchased by William Sr. in 1886 from Watson A. Bray. Each of the Thornally children owned property and homes in the tract. In 1918, Will and Agnus moved to 3027 E. 16th Street. Then in 1925 they moved to 832 Paramount Road, which is where they raised their two sons Ralph and George.  

Thoranlly family home at 832 Paramount

Ralph William Thornally was born on March 18, 1905. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley campus in 1928 and became a mechanical and electrical engineer. He was also an amateur ham radio operator. On the 1930 census his occupation was recorded as a salesman in the “investment” industry. He worked for the National Park Service in the San Francisco office for 25 years designing heating systems for park buildings. Ralph lived mostly in Oakland but also San Francisco and Berkeley for short times. He married Gladys Peck in 1931 and had one child, a daughter Ann. Gladys died of ovarian cancer in 1951. Ralph married Sylvia Rush. He died in 1986 at the age of 81 and is buried at Mountain View Cemetery. Ralph saved everything that he inherited from his father – for which I am very grateful.
Ralph and George (right)

George Francis Thornally was born on November 10, 1907. He attended Oakland Technical high school and the University of California at Berkeley where he was a member of the Phi Phi fraternity. George served in the US Navy as a lieutenant Commander. Professionally he owned a Studebaker car dealership in Honolulu, Hawaii. He married and divorced Efale Taber and they had two children – a son George and a daughter Efale. He married a second time to a woman named Simone – last name unknown. Ann recalls that George married a third time to a woman named Paulette – last name also unknown. George died October 15, 1981 in Honolulu.

Agnus died at the age of 53 from uterine cancer on December 12, 1934, and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery with her husband. Their grave is near two of Will’s brothers and their wives - John and Emma Thornally, and Sam and Delphine Thornally. Their fourth brother, Harry is also buried at Mountain View but he and Blanche are in the mausoleum.

Sources for this 3 part series on Will Thornally Jr.: US census, newspaper archives available at the Oakland library, Google, voter registration records, and photos and documents shared by living relatives.

William Gilliat Thornally Jr. (1875-1944) – Part 2 Civic Life

Will Thornally Jr.
Will got involved in civic affairs as a young man and continued to be very actively engaged in public service throughout his life. His civic activities began on April 9, 1901 when, at the age of 26, he was elected as a trustee for the Fruitvale Fire Department. At that time fire protection was provided by volunteers who lived in the community.

The Oakland Tribune reported on August 2, 1907 that Will was Sargent-at-arms of the Bridge Club - an organization supporting W.B. Bridge for judge in the Fruitvale District. Bridge had been a school trustee and had two schools built in Fruitvale. As a county supervisor he was known for being “an aggressive worker for public betterment”.  (reference: “Greater Oakland” by E. Blake)
Historic photo of the Fruitvale fire station from Google

On September 3, 1903 Will was a member of a jury that sentenced Victor Walkirez, an African American man who murdered Elizabeth Leroy, to life in prison. This was a high-profile and controversial case of the times – many felt the defendant deserved the death penalty but one juror believed Walkirez was insane when he committed the murder, so after two weeks and three ballots the jury agreed on a sentence of life in prison.

Will’s life-long involvement with the Free Masons began in 1903 when he was 28. On December 23rd he was installed as a Junior Warden of the Fruitvale Lodge of Masons. The news clip from his election provided the following information: "Fruitvale Lodge of Masons installed the following new officers last night: Worshipful Master, Andrew Frost; Senior Warden, Hugh Frazer; Junior Warden, William G. Thornally; Secretary, Henry Tyack; Treasurer, P. H. Blake Sr.; Senior Deacon, E. Spence de Pue; Junior Deacon, Cornelius Carew; Marshal. George E. Lund; Senior Steward, Arthur P. Snow; Junior Steward, Charles Hughes; Tyler (sp.), John McArthur.”  San Francisco Call, Dec. 23, 1903.
An architectural detail of the Mason symbol on the
Fruitvale Scottish Rite building built by Will.
I’ve tried to learn more about Will’s involvement with the Masons without success. I toured the Masonic Temple around 2008 and was told that they were happy to share historic information about their members. Twice I have reached out to the Masons and provided them written background material on William Sr., Will Jr, Harry and John Thornally who were all members, but I’ve received no response. I do know from other news articles that Will continued as a Free Mason and rose in their ranks – more on that below.

The Fruitvale Board of Trade appointed Will to the organizing committee on June 6, 1904. At their first meeting they were making plans to send delegates to the statewide trade convention in Sacramento. The Board of Trade was a civic organization similar to the Chamber of Commerce or Rotary. That news piece read as follows:
“The spirit of progress is abroad in all of the different communities on the eastern Bay Shore. District organizations for advancement of the county at large and sections in particular are being formed where none have existed before, and old ones are being resurrected into new life. The people of that delightful section known as Fruitvale are the latest to organize for the development of a district that has many natural advantages and needs but to be advertised to be appreciated. The Board of Trade of Fruitvale has been formed, with Adolph Lorsbach as president……”     San Francisco Call, June 6, 1904

On June 9, 1904 the following news item appeared in the Oakland Tribune. I am not sure what it means.
“At the conclusion of the 2nd meeting of the Fruitvale Board of Trade W.G. Thornally presented the board with a unique emblem in the shape of a substantial hammer to be used in hammering down and exterminating jointly and individually all knockers found on the streets of Fruitvale or vicinity. The gift was accepted and placed in a conspicuous place. 10 new members were taken into the organization. The meeting was then adjourned until next Thursday.”                           Oakland Tribune, June 9, 1904 p. 8

Will was appointed Deputy Constable by Constable Thomas Carroll on July 27, 1904 when he was 29 years old. His appointment came about after two other constables were dismissed after engaging in a battle with two burglars who were trying to rob the Sather Station. This was reported in the San Francisco Call.

On March 6, 1905 the Tribune reported that Will was running for a clerk position on the Melrose Sanitary District board. His father was the Sanitary Inspector for Fruitvale from 1903 to 1910. Melrose was another community similar to Fruitvale. Eventually both were annexed into Oakland.

On January 17, 1906 the Tribune ran a story headlined “Worshipful Master W.G. Thornally”. The story was about the planned construction of a Mason Building in Fruitvale. The headline suggests that Will was now a leader in the Oakland Masons. Another news piece published in August of 1906 reported that Will was a candidate to be a delegate to the Republican County Convention representing the 15th District of Oakland. The article did not say if he was elected.
Will's Worshipful Master pin
from the Masons

In January of 1910, Will was on the executive committee of the Eastside Improvement Club of Greater Oakland. The club's mission was to advocate for "trade at home, adequate fire and police protection in the outlying sections, better lighting facilities, reasonable street improvements and just and able representation on the City Council”. In July of that year he, and a group of men, founded the Young Republican Club – a group that would endorse and support candidates for office. Will was selected as the first club President.

Young Republicans in Annexed District Form New Alliance

OAKLAND, July 12.— With an initial membership of 280, the Young Men's republican club of the annexed district has been organized in Fruitvale with the following officers: William Thornally Jr., President; Bill- Hackett, First Vice President: George Zimmerman, Second Vice President; M. E. Jacobsen, Secretary  and treasurer. An executive committee, "composed of Hackett, Zimmerman, T. Rossi, William McKeon and Edward Lemieux, was also appointed. The new political organization will meet every Friday night in Lund's Hall, above the Fruitvale post office, until the election in November. Candidates will be invited to address the club at each meeting. No candidates will be endorsed until a few days before the election.                              San Francisco Call, July 13, 1910.

A year later, on March 11, 1911 a Tribune article identified William G. Thornally as president of the Representation Club of Greater Oakland. I suspect this was the same club begun in 1910 with a new name because the story was about their meeting to endorse Peter C. Frederickson – a candidate for Commissioner of Oakland. Harry Thornally was also mentioned in the article as being a member of the executive committee. The Tribune ran a full page political ad for a few days in May of 1911 that was paid for by the Oakland Progressive Club. It listed the names of all who were endorsing Frederickson. William Thornally Sr. was among the group.

The Native Sons of the Golden West was another active organization in Oakland at this time. According to Wikipedia, “The Native Sons of the Golden West is a fraternal service organization founded in 1875, limited to native born Californians and dedicated to historic preservation, documentation of historic structures and places in the state, the placement of historic plaques and other charitable functions within California.”  In February of 1912, they were planning a street fair and carnival that was to be held in Fruitvale. Will was mentioned in a news clip and identified as a member of the finance committee for the fair. The event was planned for April 29th to May 4th and would take place on the Derby property located between Fruitvale Avenue, E. 14th Street, East 12th Street and Sausal Creek. 

1912 was an exceptional year for Will. He was 37 years old and made the news frequently. In my research I found several articles about his myriad civic activities. It is also the year his company built the Saint Joseph’s Home – an entire campus of impressive brick buildings that still exists today. See the following post about Will’s professional life.

Will and Agnus with sons Ralph (standing) and George. From Ralph
Thornally's collection.
In July of 1912, the Representation club hosted a barbeque to promote candidates. The event was hosted by Mayor Frank C. Mott. He and several others spoke including State Assemblyman Frank M. Smith. The event took place at Leona Heights and consisted of “athletic events, speeches and general merry making” according to the news report. Will was part of the committee that planned the event.

Also in July of 1912, Will signed a petition as Vice President of an anti-recall group. The group was planning an event to support Mayor Frank Mott. It was to be held in conjunction with a suffrage event at MacDonough Theater. The news article summarized all that had been accomplished under Mott's leadership, including construction of the 12th Street dam that created Lake Merritt.  About 100 years latter my firm help lead an effort to reconfigure 12th Street which I renamed Lake Merritt Boulevard on our illustrative drawing. The name stuck and it is now known as such.

William J. (sic) Thornally Jr. was one of a very long list of Oakland residents that signed a petition against the recall of Mayor Frank Mott and two City commissioners. The Industrial Workers of the World or I.W.W. had mounted a recall campaign as part of their advocacy for workers to take over their work places “using any means possible”. This would have been a very controversial issue of the day. The headline read: “Solid Citizens of Oakland Out With An Appeal” and the story began …

“OAKLAND, Aug. 2.—A final statement to the men and women who believe in good government and the triumph of law over disorder and anarchy was issued today by the Citizens' Municipal Committee. Attention is called to the pernicious doctrines of the I. W. W., who are the prime movers in this recall election which has been instituted against Mayor Frank K. Mott and Commissioners F. C. Turner and W. J. Baccus. ……

The statement is as follows: TO THE CITIZENS OF OAKLAND: On August 5. 1912 There will be held in this city a recall election initiated by members of an organization known as the Industrial Workers of the World, and commonly known as the I. W. W. The pretended justification of this election is to recall certain officials of the city of Oakland, and elect their successors. The real object, however, is to demonstrate to the people of Oakland and to the country that the I. W. W. and their sympathizers control the city of Oakland and cannot be interfered with, no matter what they may say or do.

"The question for you to decide is before you, and as you have determined so must you cast your ballots. You may vote for the recall of the mayor and two commissioners because they enforced the law of the city that prevents the use of vulgarity and profanity in the public streets. You may vote against law and order and the right of the police department to enforce the laws on the city statute books. "On the other hand, you can vote against the recall and to retain the city officials who put a stop to the vile and filthy attacks that were being made on all forms of religion, decency, public morality and the flag of the nation. You can enlist under the stars and stripes or under the red flag of anarchy."

As one of Oakland’s business and civic leaders Will signed the petition and was actively engaged in opposing the I.W.W.
William Knowland
In August of 1912, William was elected as a Vice President of the newly created Knowland Club. The purpose of the club was to get William F. Knowland re-elected to congress. Knowland was the son of Joseph R. Knowland – publisher of the The Oakland Tribune and as such probably the most powerful man in Oakland. William F. Knowland was appointed to the United States Congress in 1945 to fill a vacancy created when Hiram Johnson died. He served in the US Senate until 1959. Previously he was a California Assemblyman from 1933-35 and a state senator from 1935-39. In the 1950s Knowland was considered as a possible running mate for then President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s second term.

The 1914 directory listed Will as Vice President of the General Contractors Association of Alameda County.
A group of business men from Ralph Thornally's collectioin.
Will Thornally back row 3rd from the left.
Ten years later in August of 1924, Will announced the start of construction of a new building that would house the California Builders Exchange and noted that California was the only such group to own their own building. The cost to build the building was $150,000. This announcement was made at a barbeque held at the newly constructed sanatorium in Livermore – built by Will’s company.

Will’s obituary noted that he was a member of the Sequoyah Country Club and the East Bay Breakfast Club. His niece Lottie Thornally was grateful that her uncle Will arranged for her wedding reception to be held at the Sequoyah Club. The Breakfast Club still exists today.
One of the buildings on the Sequoyah Country Club campus

The obit also noted that Will was a member of the Aahmes Shriners – a group associated with the Masons. Today, this group of Shriners is still active and is now located in Livermore. Their website tells us that, “The earliest records show that the idea for a Shrine Temple in the East Bay first materialized around 1907. The Shriners Imperial Council granted the charter on July 12, 1911 with the name Aahmes, which means "the moon is born.” The Aahmes Shriners Temple was first located in Oakland in a series of temporary locations until the organization purchased a property known as the Defenders Club at 13th and Harrison Streets. The first meeting was held in that Temple in April 1920.”  The Shriners' official philanthropy is their Shriners Hospitals for Children including a 22-hospital pediatric healthcare system specializing in orthopedics, burn injuries, spinal cord injuries, cleft palate surgery, and medical research.
Interior shot of the Sequoyah Country Club

So, in summary Will was a member and leader in the following groups:

Aahmes Shriner, member
California Builders Exchange, Vice President and President
Deputy Constable for Fruitvale
East Bay Breakfast Club, member
Eastside Improvement Club, member of the executive committee
Free Masons, Junior Warden, Worshipful Master
Fruitvale Board of Trade, member of the Organizing Committee
Fruitvale Fire Department, Trustee
General Contractors Association of Alameda County, Vice President
Knowland Club, Vice President
Native Sons of the Golden West, finance committee member
Oakland Builders Exchange, President
Oakland Progressive Club, member
Representation Club of Greater Oakland, President
Republican County Convention, delegate candidate
Sequoia Country Club, member
W.B Bridge Club, Sargent-at-Arms

I too have chosen to be involved with a number of civic and professional groups and know from experience that each demands time and commitment. For every event that was reported it is likely that Will attended numerous meetings and spent hours planning and preparing for these events. Like Will I own a business in Oakland but I have three business partners that help me manage and operate that business. Will had a business partner very early in his career but mostly we worked independently and with great success. Clearly, Will played a key role in helping Oakland become a great City – he was a leader and a builder. I admire his efforts and accomplishments and know that my mother held him in very high regard. The post that follows this one describes the buildings that Will’s company built in Oakland, Alameda and in other nearby cities.
"Cheaper Gas Aids Builders, 22 May 1938". Will, President
of the Builder's Exchange, on left

Will’s wife Agnus died in 1934 when he was 59. After her death he continued to live in their home on Paramount Road in Oakland but by 1940 he had moved to Berkeley and was living in a nice Mediterranean-style apartment building at 1700 LeRoy Street.

Will died on February 16, 1944 from a heart attack. The newspaper reported that he collapsed on the sidewalk at 15th and Franklin, very near my office which is on 17th between Broadway and Franklin. He was taken to Highland Hospital where he died. At the time of his death he was living at 377 Lenox Avenue in Oakland. The funeral was held at the Clarence N. Cooper Mortuary and Chapel at 15th and Fruitvale Avenue. Will was buried with his wife Agnus at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.