Eveline’s Senior Year: Musical Notes

I shared a photo of my grandmother Eveline Coates’ high school graduating class in Mystic, Iowa a few weeks ago. Along with the photo and her diploma, a couple of other mementos were saved. One is the program for the Junior-Senior Banquet in honor of the graduating Seniors. It was interesting to see how World War I seemed to be the overarching theme of the festivities. I decided to take a deeper look at what her life may have been like during the 1917-1918 school year. There was a lot going on, a war and the beginning of an influenza pandemic to name the two biggiesSee:
Eveline’s Senior Year, Part 1
Eveline’s Senior Year: The Draft and a Carnival
Eveline’s Senior Year: A Look Around Town

Italian Street Musicians, 1877 – LSE Collection On Flickr Commons (Sepia Saturday 618 Prompt)

The town of Mystic, Iowa, where my grandmother Eveline Coates was born and raised, was a community that included many immigrants lured by the coal mining boom in the early 1900s. The 1910 census of Mystic details residents born in England, Scotland, France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Wales, Canada. Poland, Austria, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Cuba. A few of those countries were represented by only one resident – but certainly this was a diverse community given that the population in 1910 was 2,663. Eveline’s parents were members of the immigrant community as well, having been born in England.

I inquired about photos of the bands in Appanoose County in a Facebook group and was told that there is a photo of a Mystic Italian band. The poster promised to share it. I am waiting. That would have been the perfect match to the prompt photo. Oh well…

The nearby town of Rathbun included a significant community from Croatia and had a Croatian band. I haven’t found a picture of that band either. Below is an undated photo of the band from nearby Brazil, Iowa.

Brazil, Iowa band. Accessed from Facebook

The county seat was (and is) the town of Centerville, connected to Mystic by the Interurban. The Centerville band gave frequent concerts and the band also traveled to the smaller towns in the county to provide musical entertainment, often on special occasions. It is not unreasonable to wonder if Eveline might have gone to Centerville and heard the Centerville band perform or have taken in some other musical entertainment there.

Centerville was often the site of traveling carnivals, which seem to always have included a band that gave daily concerts. Dano’s Greater Shows featured an Italian band, the bandleader’s name misspelled in the advertisement that ran repeatedly in the newspaper. I think it should be D’Andrea or D’Andreas.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 12 July 1917
Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 20 July 1917

Eveline must have heard the Centerville Band perform in Mystic – during Memorial Day festivities, for example:

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 11 June 1917

Maybe Eveline heard the Centerville Band at a fundraising gathering hosted by the Red Cross later that June.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 22 June 1917

Of course, most of the local high schools had bands and I can easily imagine that Eveline attended most of the events where the Mystic High School Band performed.

The booklet History of Mystic, Iowa 1887-1987 includes a photo of the Mystic Symphony (sometimes referred to in the newspaper as “Mystic’s little orchestra”).

History of Mystic, Iowa: 1887-1987

The caption dates the photo as 1919 and provides the names of the members, who were of primarily French and Belgian ancestry. The symphony musicians appear to encompass a wide range of ages – from children to young adults. I think there is more than one family of Pirottes included, but I haven’t put in the work to verify my suspicions.

In 1916, a Victor Pierrotte, perhaps father of the Victor in the symphony photo, is reported to have leased space in the Lyric Theater to show movies and is described as “one of the band boys” who is willing to show up and play upon request.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 1 July 1916

Victor Joseph Pirotte and Victor Emile Pirotte became naturalized citizens in January of 1920, so perhaps this adds credence to my father/son theory. If that is the case, they were both “band boys.”

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 27 January 1920

George Pirotte, standing next to Victor in the symphony photo, seems to have unwittingly lived without benefit of marriage vows for two years, possibly not having a clear understanding of the laws and customs of his adopted home. Oops!

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 26 May 1920

Members of the Mystic Symphony shared their musical talents in a variety of settings. In April of 1917, Lizzie Coster, Clemetine Pirotte, Constance Van de Van, and Victor Pirotte, all performed as soloists or as part of a duet at a meeting of the Foresters of America – and were likely members of the school orchestra.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 25 April 1917

Newspaper clippings reveal connections between members of the symphony and my families – none specifically to Eveline, but to her siblings, her future husband, his sister, and probably some cousins. Also, one of the Pirotte families lived on a lot adjacent to Eveline’s family. Below, Eveline’s younger siblings Bernard and Blanche, were recognized for perfect attendance at school along with a Rampelberg, a Pirotte, and two Costers.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 4 June 1919

Eveline’s future husband, Thomas Hoskins, attended a party of the Junior Philatheas of the Christian Church, and so did Victor Pirotte.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa, 26 Feb 1920

Eveline’s younger sister Blanche and future sister-in-law Ethel Hoskins, attended normal school in Cedar Falls with Felicia Pirotte, and Lizzie and Clemence Coster. They travelled back home together for the holidays.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen, Centerville, Iowa,

Looking into the musical ensembles and their members provides one more little glimpse into the life of my grandmother. I have never heard that Eveline played a musical instrument, but music was integral to her community and, by extension, to her. These school mates and classmates grew up together, had siblings who were friends, attended many of the same activities, and were simply well-known to one another. The diverse backgrounds among her friends and classmates would have greatly influenced Eveline’s experience of her town and shaped her outlook on the the world at large.

Visit others who have written and shared old photos in response to the prompt photo here: Sepia Saturday.

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.

Sepia Saturday: An Uncle I Never Knew – The Rest of the Story

The month of January and a health emergency declared in the state of Washington because of a measles outbreak had me thinking about an uncle I never knew.

This is the last post in a series about my uncle Wilbur Thomas Hoskins, who died at five years of age due to complications following measles. You can catch up here:
A Tow-headed Boy
Who was with the family?
Funeral Record
The Salvation Army Offers Assistance
Letters of Condolence
bills to pay

I first introduced Uncle Wilbur in this photograph, taken when he was three months old and in the arms of his parents, Eveline and Thomas Hoskins.

Eveline, Wilbur, Tom Hoskins

A few months after Wilbur’s death, my mother was born. Only one of the other five children born to Eveline and Thomas knew Wilbur – Albert, whose fourth birthday was the day of Wilbur’s funeral.

Front: Montell, Eveline, Wilma 2nd: Albert, Tom Back: Doris, Roy

My mother and I lived with my grandparents from the time I was two to almost eight years of age. I never saw any pictures of Wilbur or heard about him that I remember. I’m sure it was my mother who told me about him sometime later. Mom gave me three bits of information that stuck with me: Wilbur died of Bright’s Disease; my grandfather had a “nervous breakdown” after Wilbur’s death; and my grandfather vowed he would never give another child his name. (Wilbur’s middle name was Thomas). I’ll take these one at a time.

Cause of death:

It wasn’t until I got a copy of Wilbur’s death certificate that I learned that measles was contributory to Wilbur’s death – preceding the nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) listed as cause of death. Bright’s Disease, the cause of death given by my mother, is a historical classification of kidney diseases that would be described in modern medicine as acute or chronic nephritis.

Sometimes death certificates contain errors, but I feel confidence in this one. Having the receipts for payment of bills to Dr. Bissekumer, I can match the signatures on the death certificate to the receipts and I also know that he saw Wilbur on more than one occasion. He was the attending physician.

My grandfather had a nervous breakdown:

I emailed the remaining members of Wilbur’s generation (one sibling and his wife, and two spouses of siblings) and no one recalls any photos of Wilbur displayed in the home. Uncle Roy thinks it was his brother Albert who told him about his dad’s breakdown and he and his wife don’t remember any conversations about Wilbur. Albert’s wife recalled a conversation she had with my grandmother:

I believe it was your grandmother who told me your grandfather suffered what was then called a nervous breakdown, it seems soon after Wilbur died and he spent some time in a facility, then I assume needed to stay nearby after his release perhaps for further treatment and that is when he stayed with Ethel and Mark. It would seem likely that your grandmother moved back to Mystic sometime around this time because of the lack of money. I can’t imagine how torn she must have been.

I haven’t been able to find documentation to fill in the gaps on this. There is that odd postcard from a health resort in Excelsior Springs, Missouri that just says “Wilbur” on the back. This was saved for a reason, as was the notation of Wilbur’s name on the back.

Excelsior Springs is not close to either Rockford, Il or Mystic, Iowa. Did Grandpa take a trip to Excelsior Springs in hopes that the mineral waters and baths would bring relief and healing to his suffering? Might he have spent some time in treatment here?

The one thing I did find was a receipt from a doctor in Rockford for an examination in August. This was apparently a family practice clinic. Grandpa could have gone for an illness or to seek help with his depression or whatever form of distress his grief manifested.

So where were each of my grandparents in the months after Wilbur’s death?

Receipts from a doctor’s office shared in my last post, show a change of address for my grandfather between the January 29th payment and the April 12th payment, moving from the home he and my grandmother shared on Church St. to the address of his sister Ethel and her husband’s home on Kishwaukee St.

The 1930 Census, taken April 5-7 shows my grandfather listed as a lodger with his sister and brother-in-law.

Of particular interest is the D in the column for marital status. No other evidence of divorce and not part of our family story. I wonder who provided information to the census taker and how they worded their answer to the question. Whatever was said by whom, the clear indication is that my grandparents were not living together at that time. Tom was in Rockford and Eveline had returned home to Mystic.

I also found a Mortgage document dated 30 April 1930, although on the reverse, the year looks like 1931 – so I’m confused. What do you think?

date on front

date on back

If it is 1930, then my grandfather made a trip to Mystic where they signed a mortgage on a piece of property. If 1931, then it was the following year.

My mother was born July 7, 1930 and I have a photo copy of the birth announcement sent to Grandpa to let him know of her arrival. He was in Rockford when she was born. The address is to the home of his sister Ethel and her husband.

And the receipt to the doctor above places my grandfather in Rockford at least through August.

Albert’s wife put me in contact with Ethel’s and Mark’s daughter:
I do remember hearing about Wilbur’s death but not more than you have already. You are correct that uncle Tommy stayed with my folks for a time as did my uncles from both sides of my family. My folks were the first to go to Rockford to find work during the depression.  I don’t think uncle Tommy stayed too long with them as the other brothers arrived  to find work and bring up their families.

So I can’t confirm that Grandpa spent time in a facility, only that he lived with his sister Ethel and her husband for a time after Wilbur’s death.

None of the other children had family names, so I guess that nugget was true. Grandpa seemed to feel it bad luck.

Of more interest is how my grandparents dealt with their grief and loss over the years. As noted above, no photographs or mementos of Wilbur were visible in their home.

Albert’s wife : Your grandfather never mentioned Wilbur in my presence; Al had indicated that his Dad had never gotten past that loss.  It hit me as I was putting this together that he was very vocal about the bad things that happened to him and for lengthy periods of time after but this was not one of them.

Your grandmother spoke to me just once about Wilbur; I don’t remember the circumstance but was likely sometime after Stephen was born. She was very matter-of-fact, rather dispassionate I think. She said that Wilbur had been very sick with what was then referred to as red measles and he didn’t get better. 

I always thought of my grandfather as a worrier. I would help my grandmother with the dishes and he would interject, “Be careful. That knife is sharp.” Or, “Be careful crossing that street.” or “Don’t get too close to the road.”

My grandmother, on the other hand, gave me the sharp knife to dry, sent me down the street on errands, let me try my hand at ironing (for which I carried a scar on my forearm for a good many years), among other things. She was not overprotective. Although very loving toward me, she was also not overly affectionate. She held me in her lap in her rocking chair by the window, but did not smother me with kisses. We played games together, but I got no advantage for my young age. She didn’t tolerate whining (see 1st Grade Hairstory) or crying that she thought excessive or without good cause. “Go upstairs if you are going to cry. I don’t want to hear it.” She stayed at home and worked hard in the house and in the large vegetable and flower gardens. Practical. Down to earth. Hard working. Disciplined routine. I loved her dearly and I know she felt the same about me. Hence her name used in the name of this blog.

I picture her as the one who had to be strong. The one who carried on. The one who had no choice but to do so. There was a young son to care for and a baby on the way. Perhaps this set the pattern for how she lived the rest of her life.

Although there were no pictures or remembrances of Wilbur visible in their home, all of these photos and papers were kept tucked away in a safe place.

Things I may have missed or gotten wrong: 

Maybe Albert was with my grandparents and Wilbur in Rockford. My belief that he stayed in Mystic with his grandparents I assume I got from a conversation with my mother. Al’s wife remembers this: Your grandmother said Al had them (measles), too, but he wasn’t nearly as sick. I had assumed that Wilbur got sick first and Al got them from him but if the boys were not together with their parents then that might not be true.Your grandmother didn’t provide any details and I didn’t ask questions.

I’ve probably made mistakes throughout this series. I’m always open to correction.

Better days:

I received this nice photo of my grandparents with Ethel and Mark after making contact with their daughter. Taken some years later, in better times.

Tom, Eveline, Ethel, Mark

My grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1973, surrounded by most of the kids and grandkids. Unfortunately, I was not there.

And this last photo, which almost kind of matches the prompt photo of two people with big smiles. It is one of my favorites of them.

And here I lay to rest the story of an uncle I never knew, Wilbur Thomas Hoskins.

Wilbur, Eveline, Albert

April 3, 1924-January 18, 1930

Vaccinate. It saves lives.

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.

Chris and Max, Taken At Fulham Town Hall, 1949 (Third Party Album)

Please visit other participants at Sepia Saturday where you may find photos of big smiles or big stripes or big ties!

Sepia Saturday: An Uncle I Never Knew – The Salvation Army offers assistance

The month of January and a health emergency declared in the northwestern U. S. because of a measles outbreak had me thinking about an uncle I never knew.

This is a continuing series about my uncle Wilbur Thomas Hoskins, who died at five years of age due to complications following measles. You can catch up here:
A Tow-Headed Boy
Who was with the family?
Funeral Record

Wilbur (standing), Eveline, and Albert Hoskins

In the funeral record kept by my grandmother, she documented that the clergy who conducted the funeral service for Wilbur was a Salvation Army captain. I contacted The Salvation Army Central Territory Historical Museum to ask a few questions about what the funeral might have been like. Just as promised, I received a helpful email this past Monday from Major Gloria Stepke, Historical Museum Aide. I will quote her email and add some comments.

“It is most interesting to try and understand what a child’s funeral would have been like in 1930.  The English speaking officers in Rockford during the time in question were Ernest and Annie Millman.  The Millman’s had a teenage daughter and son.  I have tried to recreate this sad and difficult time that your Grandparents went through.  When their son died perhaps a nurse or doctor thought that they needed some assistance in what to do next.  Perhaps that is how they got connected with The Salvation Army.  They had not been in Rockford very long to have found a church(home).  In those days some churches would not do a funeral service for someone who was not a part of that congregation.  During the Depression a lot of people would not have the money for a funeral home service or to buy a burial plot.  Sometimes people donate grave plots to The Salvation Army and they are used for the purpose of burying people who cannot afford a grave plot.” 

I think her suggestions ring true – especially that a doctor or nurse may have referred them to The Salvation Army. And, although I found a receipt for a casket, embalming, and hearse, as well as medical bills, I did not find a receipt for a cemetery plot. If my grandparents were offered a burial plot, I know it would have been very helpful to them and much appreciated.

I haven’t been able to find any photos of the Millman family, but I found them in the Rockford city directory and census records. Ernest and Annie were both immigrants from England and I can imagine my grandmother feeling a connection to them because both of her parents had also immigrated from England. The Millman’s older child, the teenage daughter Olive, is listed in the 1930 census as doing clerical work for The Salvation Army. This leads me to wonder if she might also have attended the funeral to assist, or as a “Lassie” – but that is purely imaginative wondering.

“Now about the funeral service in the home on South Church Street.  I would assume that this was your Grandparents home.  In the early days the deceased person was laid out in a casket/wooden box that was set in the Parlor/living room.  Family members would view the deceased loved one there.  The funeral was held there as well.”

“I am not sure what your religious affiliation is but The Salvation Army does not use a liturgical form of service.  The Salvation Army Officer could have read from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 10, verses 13-16, these words,

“People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.  He said to them, “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  And he  took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”  

If your Grandparents did not profess ‘Faith in Christ’ the officer might have challenged them to read the Bible and find a church to worship in.  He would have also invited them to The Salvation Army the following Sunday and given them the time for the service.  I am sure they would want to be with their son (again) some day.” (My grandparents had an affiliation with a church in their home town, so they would have professed their faith.)

There may have been one or two women to sing during the service, perhaps with accordion or guitar.  The two songs that might have been used are, “In the sweet by and by”  and  “Safe in  the arms of Jesus” 

You can find several versions of “In the Sweet by and by” online, but I chose this one with just the few female voices and simple instrumentation because it seems most like how I imagine The Salvation Army Lassies might have sung – although without the Southern accent.

Major Stepke was kind enough to include the lyrics to both hymns in her email:
Safe in the Arms of Jesus
Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe on his gentle breast
There by his love o’ershaded,
Sweetly my soul shall rest.
Hark! tis the voice of angels
Borne in a song to me
Over the fields of glory,
Over the jasper sea.
Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe on his gentle breast,
There, by his love o’ershaded,
Sweetly my soul shall rest.
Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe from corroding care,
Safe from the world’s temptations,
Sin cannot harm me there.
Free from the blight of sorrow,
Free from my doubts and fears;
Only a few more trials,
Only a few more tears.

At the grave side The Salvation Army officer would conduct the ‘committal’ service’.  The singers might sing again.  The officer would say, “As it has pleased Almighty God of His great mercy to take unto Himself the soul of this young boy, we therefore commit his body to the grave (some earth can be thrown on the coffin while this is being said) earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our body, that it may be like unto His glorious body, according to the mighty working whereby He is able to subdue all things to Himself.” 

There are no photographs to document the funeral in the home or the presence of Ernest or
Annie Millman or The Salvation Army Lassies. Wilbur was buried at Willwood Cemetery in Rockford, Il. His burial location in Division K Tier 1 Space 1. A few photographs were taken at the graveside.

In the previous post, I noted that there were probably three floral arrangements given in tribute to Wilbur. These three seem to be placed at the the head, foot, and center of Wilbur’s grave.

In the background, a car is visible that may have been the hearse – at a cost of $9.00.

My grandfather, Tom Hoskins, kneeling at his son Wilbur’s grave. The center floral arrangement is without the flags in this photo.

Tom at Wilbur’s grave

Another view of the gravesite, this time with my grandfather and his brother and sister.

Tom Hoskins, Ethel Hoskins Bland, Warren Hoskins

One last photo from the burial. Unfortunately, part of my grandfather’s head was cut off.

My grandmother does not appear in any of the photographs. She may have preferred not to have her picture taken. She, or her sister Marjorie, may have taken the photographs.

No headstone was placed to mark Wilbur’s grave. I contacted the cemetery several years ago and got the plot location and the cost of placing a marker. I’ve wondered if this is something other family members would want to contribute to in memory of Wilbur and my grandparents.

I am grateful for the assistance my grandparents received from The Salvation Army in their time of need – and for the assistance I received from the helpful museum staff.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday. Please visit other participants and see what they have cooked up in response to the prompt photo.

Sepia Saturday 459 : 2 March 2019

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.