Sunday, August 2, 2009

Deadly Gander at a Dead Gander

Given the journalistic standards of the era, I have no idea if any part of this story is true. I will attempt to confirm the burial through the VA. And my apologies for my own headline above. From The Newark Daily Advocate, February 17, 1897, page 2:


A Union Soldier’s Mascot at the Siege of Knoxville.

A 42-year-old gander belonging to William Moore of Cocke county, Tenn., has just died. It was with Burnside’s troops during the war and used as mascot at the time of the siege of Knoxville. The death of the gander was not unexpected by the ex-Federal soldiers, and arrangements have been made to bury its remains in the national cemetery.

When the dead fowl arrived at the depot, Burton McIntyre, a colored servant, was with the soldiers who claimed the fowl as it put in its appearance at the depot upon the arrival of the train. When the box containing the fowl was taken from the car, he played on his violin “Marching Through Georgia.” When McIntyre saw the lifeless gander, he dropped dead.

Update on the story
The staff for the National Cemetery in Chattanooga, which administers the cemetery in Knoxville as well, was unable to confirm that a gander or any other animal was buried in the national cemetery. Current rules would, of course, prevent such a burial today, but the person I contacted said anything was possible in 1897 and they would have no way of knowing. I sent a copy of this article to them for their own reference. The validity of the story remains unknown.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Execution Averted

Jesse Cole, according to information compiled by the Sevier County Library, killed Samuel Scott Large in a logrolling contest of some sort in 1887. Sentenced to hang, The Washington Post published a mention of a reprieve. While only temporary, I have found no record that Cole was ever executed by the State of Tennessee. Public sentiment, at least some of it, appears to have been on Cole's side, and a song apparently resulted.

While not related himself, the murder victim, Samuel Scott Large, was the father of William Harrison Large, who married into the Matthews branch of my family.

From The Washington Post, December 24, 1888, page 2:

His Life Saved by a False Affidavit

Chattanooga, Tenn., Dec. 23. – Jesse Cole was to have been hanged Saturday at Newport, Tenn., for the murder of Samuel Large, but was respited almost at the last moment on the affidavit of Mrs. Waxlead, on the strength of which Gov. Taylor reprieved him for sixty days. Yesterday at Knoxville she made another statement, in which she says she does not know Cole and never saw him. It is believed that she was paid to make the affidavit, which saved his life. Rioting was imminent in case he had been hanged.

From Songs and Rhymes From the South by E.C. Perrow, reposted at


(From Kentucky; mountain whites; taken down from singing by E. N. Caldwell; 1912)

To one and all, both great and small, this story I will unfold;
It makes me sad to think about the doom of Jesse Cole.
They lodged him in the Knoxville jail; it is a dreadful charge;
He says that he is innocent of killing Samuel Large.
It's true it's sad to think of such a death to die;
Yet men could shun those reckless crowds, if they would only try.
Cole has a wife and children to leave as many a man has done.
Those bloody works for which he is to hang some other might have done.
He says upon the witness-stand they swore his life away.
Every knee shall bow and tongue confess at the coming judgment-day,
In the gloomy walls confined to stay until that dreadful hour,
And then his soul must fly away to meet the Higher Power.
All on that day his devoted friends will stand around, perhaps his troubled wife,
This enough to make the sinner turn to live a better life.
Parents teach your children while in the tender years [youth?]
To try to shun all evils and always tell the truth.
Teach them there is a God to fear, it's always best to think,
Also beware of gambling-cards, and always shun strong drink.
God fixed a way for all to live; He suffered on the cross,
Grace to every soul he gives; He would that none be lost.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Forgery in Chicago

Atlanta Constitution, July 17, 1910, page 10:


For Two Weeks His Whereabouts Unknown.

Man Who Attempted to Pass Carolina Bank Checks in Chicago Son of a Prominent Family and Well Connected.

Newport, Tenn., July 16. – The first intimation that the family of W.S. Clark, of Newport, had that he was in Chicago, and in trouble, was received today. For two weeks his whereabouts have been unknown, and his relatives were becoming much concerned. He is the son of a prominent family, and is well connected.

This morning D.G. Allen, of the Newport Produce Company, received the following letter from Ware & Leland, of the Chicago Stock Exchange, dated July 15:

Had Letter of Introduction.

“We were presented today with a letter of introduction signed by the Newport Produce Company, per yourself, introducing Mr. A.R. Swann. Mr. Swann has been in our office several times today, and it rather occurred to the writer this his intended actions on the market were somewhat more liberal than usual. We, therefore, took the matter up with you over the long-distance telephone, and late this afternoon we had a wire from Newport stating that Mr. Swann is entirely reliable, but, at present at home.”

Letter a Forgery.

Mr. Allen wired Ware & Leland, in response to the letter, to arrest the man presenting the letter, as it was a forgery. He had no idea at the time as to the identity of the said Clark. It was learned today that Shell Clark, as he was known at Newport, had been in bad health for seven or eight years, and it is believed that he is mentally unbalanced. His wife left him two months ago, taking her 7-year-old son.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Suicide Epidemic

The suicide rate at the close of the 19th century was about the same as today's rate, but the understanding of mental illness was primitive at best in 1899.

In March of that year, the Newport area apparently experienced at least three suicides in 3 days, but only one was reported in detail in the Atlanta paper. No details are currently known of the other two suicides mentioned below.

Atlanta Constitution, March 14, 1899, page 3:


His Children Find Him Hanging In His Bedroom.

Knoxville, Tenn., March 13. – (Special.) – James M. Clark, a wealthy and leading farmer of Cocke county, today committed suicide by hanging himself. Clark has of late suffered a mental aberration. This, together with the fact that his wife is reported to have deserted him a few days ago, is considered the cause of the suicide. He was found dangling from a rope, in his own bedroom, by his five children upon their return from school. This is the third suicide in three days in this locality.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Homemade Get Out of Jail Free Card

D. W. Boyer, below, seems likely to have been David Washington Boyer, Jr., son of David and Nancy Boyer, who are not related to me. The 1910 Census shows him safely still in prison in Nashville. I was not able to find, on a quick search, what became of him after his new sentence described here.

Atlanta Constitution, April 26, 1900, page 9:

Judge Childress in the Case of D.W. Boyer at Nashville

Nashville, Tennessee, April 25. – (Special.) – Judge Childress today refused to grant a writ of habeas corpus in the case of D.W. Boyer. This is a unique case, in which new points are involved. Boyer murdered is father in Cocke county in 1891, threw his body in a sinkhole, forged deeds to his property, and said his father had gone west. When the body was found Boyer was arrested and sent to the penitentiary for ten years. With outside assistance he forged petitions, letters and even forged court seals on forged papers, on which Governor Turney granted a pardon. The news of the pardon brought vigorous protests from Cocke county from the very men whose names had been forged. Governor Turney undertook to revoke the pardon and Boyer, being captured in Memphis, was returned to the penitentiary after a brief absence.

Judge Childress decided today that if the allegations of fraud and deceit were sustained the pardon was absolutely void. Attorneys for Boyer will appear.

Atlanta Constitution, December 4,  1901, page 1:

Sent Up on One Charge, Released on Another.

Newport, Tenn. December 3 – Wash Boyer, of Cooke [sic] county, who succeeded in securing his release for the state penitentiary in 1896 by means of papers alleged to have been forged by himself, has been sentences to ten years in prison. The sentence is for the alleged forgery of deeds to the property of his father, whom he is charged for having killed.

The supreme court held that Boyer could not be indicted for the forgery of the papers securing his pardon, as none of the persons whose names were forged were injured thereby.  

Sunday, May 3, 2009

How Not To Get Married

In 1928, two articles appeared in The Washington Post regarding miscreants from North Carolina getting involved in a shootout with the police chief at Alex Buda's restaurant in Newport. Buda, whose sons Bill and Z would also be well-known in the area, ran the establishment for many years.

I am not entirely sure of the exact location of the restaurant in 1927; the article mentions that the shootout occurred on Main Street, but, for many years, his son Bill ran a restaurant called Bill's Restaurant on Broadway next to Newport Hardware:

View Larger Map
Bill's Restaurant on East Broadway

However, Alex's World War 1 draft registration card indicates a connection to the Busy Bee Restaurant, which, at least in the 1937 Newport Phone Book was on Church Street, which would explain the Main Street mention:

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Church Street: Location of the Busy Bee Cafe in 1937

Although the full story is not clear from the two articles below, Wash Turner, also known as B.C. Cline, had been serving time for bank robbery at the State Penitentiary in Raleigh, North Carolina, and escaped. He and two other men, including Wade Davis, also known as Wade Price, then robbed a bank in Norman, North Carolina.

About a month later, Turner and Davis drove up to Buda's restaurant and ordered sandwiches to go. Newport Police Chief Bill Bell apparently recognized Davis from information issued from Knoxville. He started to arrest Davis, placing him in handcuffs. About that time, Davis's wife, Lois, as well as Turner's girlfriend, Essie McDonald, all from North Carolina, drove up in a second car about the time that Alex Buda walked outside his restaurant.

Turner pulled a gun an open fire; Chief Bell returned fire, and, at the end of the melee, all four North Carolinians were wounded along with Bell and Buda. Turner escaped, abandoning his car nearby and fleeing into the woods; the others were apparently captured and sent to the hospital. Turner soon, though, turned up in the local hospital with pneumonia, apparently contracted from exposure while he was hiding out after being wounded.

Under his alias, B.C. Cline, Turner married McDonald in the hospital. Shortly thereafter, the sheriff from Norman, North Carolina, identified him as the bank robber. Although described as "gravely ill", there is no 1928 death certificate in Tennessee for him, so he perhaps survived. Cocke County marriage records, though, indicate that the marriage record was voided and the money for the license returned.

The Washington Post, March 23, 1928, page 1:

Police Chief, 2 Women and 3 Men Victims in Newport, Tenn., Affray.

Newport, Tenn., March 22 (A.P.) – A Newport police squad today sought B.C. Cline, of Asheville, N.C., believed to be hiding in the woods nearby, wounded in the chest, following a shooting affray on Main street here which sent five persons to the hospital late last night.

Cline fled in his automobile after engaging in a pistol dual with Chief of Police Bill Bell, but deserted the car on the outskirts of town.

The wounded in the hospital here today are Police Chief Bell, shot in hip; Wade Price, of Pleasant Garden, Tenn., leg fractured by bullet; Mrs. Lois Price, his wife, shot in abdomen and thigh; Miss Ruth Johnson, Asheville, N.C., bullet in skull, and Alex Buda, an innocent bystander, shot in left side.

Chief Bell said the shooting started after he had attempted to arrest Price on advices from Knoxville, when Price and Cline drove up to Buda’s restaurant and ordered sandwiches sent out. Cline, he said, opened fire as Price was handcuffed, just as Mrs. Price and Miss Johnson drove up in a second machine. Bell emptied his pistol, and in the cross-fire all were wounded including Buda, who had just stepped out of his restaurant.

The Washington Post, March 26, 1928, page 1:

Bridegroom Identified as Bank Robber and as an Escaped Convict.

Newport, Tenn., March 25 (A.P.) – Within a few hours of being married in a hospital here today, a man who physicians said was “gravely ill,” was identified as a member of a trio which robbed a North Carolina bank. He also was declared to be an escaped convict from the North Carolina Penitentiary.

Wash Turner, alias B.C. Cline, of Marion, N.C., and Miss Essie McDonald, also of North Carolina, and undergoing treatment for bullet wounds, were married, and a short time later, Sheriff J.S. Braswell, of Norman, N.C., identified the man as one of three who robbed the bank of Norman February 21.

Turner and his bride and W.E. Davis, alias W.E. Price, and his wife were wounded here Wednesday night during a pistol battle with Chief of Police W.I. Bell, who was also wounded, as was Alex Buda, a bystander. Davis also was identified by the sheriff as implicated in the Norman robbery.

Turner, physicians said today, was gravely ill with pneumonia as a result of exposure following the battle.

Sheriff Braswell said Turner was an escaped convict from the North Carolina Penitentiary at Raleigh, where he was serving a term for bank robbery.

Turner’s bride probably will be blind in her left eye as a result of her wound.

Both Davis and his wife, physicians said, will recover.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cocke County Children Treated for Rabies

Rabies has been a known disease for more than 5,000 years. In the 1800s especially, canine rabies was particularly prevalent, especially in Europe. In truth, though, the fear of rabies was much worse than the actual chances of contracting it; people were known to commit suicide upon being bitten by a dog to avoid the possibility of rabies. It was in that climate of almost irrational fear that Louis Pasteur introduced the first vaccine in 1885.

In 1909, eight children from Cocke County were bitten by a rabid dog. Just a year earlier, a Pasteur Institute had opened in Atlanta, and the community pitched in and sent the children there for treatment. Pasteur himself had died more than a decade earlier, but institutes named in his honor were opened in a number of U.S. cities that focused primarily on rabies treatment and sometimes research.

The article below is from The Atlanta Constitution, page 9, on February 12, 1909. The identities of the children are not given.

Citizens of Newport, Tenn., Raise Funds by Public Subscription.

Eight children from Newport Tenn. who were bitten by a dog suffering from rabies have arrived in Atlanta for treatment at Pasteur institute. A dog of W. F. Stanberry, of Newport, disappeared last Saturday after having bitten Mr. Stanberry’s child. Several other children were also bitten. The dog was finally killed and his head sent to a specialist in Atlanta who, after examination, pronounced the canine was afflicted with rabies. Immediately a public subscription was raised and the children sent to Atlanta for treatment in the hope of saving their lives. They are all doing splendidly.

View Larger Map
Newport to Atlanta, about 219 miles by modern roads

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Legless George Samples

In keeping with the George Samples theme from yesterday, there was another George W. Samples, a nephew of the policeman, who lost both legs in World War 1 -- and became a taxi driver in Newport. George was a son of James Alexander Samples (also known as Felix Alexander Samples and Alexander P. Samples) and Elizabeth Watts.

Newport Plain Talk, 5 July 1938, page 1:

Death Comes to City’s Legless World War Hero

Geo. Samples passes away at home at noon Sunday after an illness of several months

Was wounded while Allies were breaking Hindenburg Line – Left on battlefield as dead but later picked up by members of home company – Funeral this morning

Newport’s best known ex-soldier is dead. George Samples, legless World war veteran, passed into the Great Beyond at his home shortly after noon Sunday after an illness of eight weeks. Mr. Samples’ health began failing last September, but he was able to be about until approximately two months ago. Growing weaker Mr. Sample was taken to a Greeneville hospital, where he took treatment for two weeks. Seeing no chance for the stricken man, attending physicians had him removed to his home here last Wednesday where he remained until the end came Sunday.

George volunteered his services to his country along with scores of other Cocke county boys in May, 1917, joining Capt. Thurman Ailor’s company of volunteers which was formed here. For weeks the company drilled at the fairgrounds before being called to camp. After entering the regular army camp, the local compann [sic] became a part of Headquarters Company, 120th Infantry, and was sent to Europe. The group saw action in Belgium and France. During an attack on the Hindenburg Line on September 29, 1918, George fell with what was thought to be fatal injuries. Mike Crino, well known local musician, who was with an ambulanee [sic] crew, went to the scene of action shortly after the charge, and looking over the site where he thought the Cocke countians had been he found Samples with both legs badly mangled. He picked Samples up and rushed him to a base hospital, where the injured limbs were removed by an operation.

Returning to the States afterwards, Samples underwent numerous operations on his legs, and at the time of his death he had undergone 17 major operations, and both legs had been removed almost at the hips.

Handicapped as he was, George was able to drive a care expertly. He devised equipment to attach to an automobile, making it possible for him to start the machine, feed the fuel, change gears and stop the call, all with his hands. Samples applied for a patent for his “contraption,” but someone in another part of the country had patented a similar device shortly before.

For a number of years, George drove a taxi, mostly just to have something to do. Being a great baseball fan he attended practically every game the Newport Canners played last year, including both home stands and road games. He and Mrs. Samples opened their home to the players and a number of the baseball boys roomed there last year and thus far this year. George only witnessed a few of this year’s games, his failing health prohibiting him from attending.

Due to inactivity by the loss of his leg, Mrs. Samples’ kidneys and other organs became lax and a kidney ailment caused his death. He seemed to be in the best of health until within the past few months. He was well known and loved by all. He was very jovial, and oftimes [sic] kidded about his shoes hurting his feet, his toes itching, or some other joke about his feet or legs of which he had neither.

George attended practically every state convention of the American Legion, and several of the national meetings. He always received a big hand when he appeared in public at all of the gatherings. During the state convention in Knoxville on Labor Day, 1933, George took part in the parade, being pushed by two local boys. The thousands gathered in that city for the meeting gave George a greater ovation than anyone else. At that time the NRA was new and every place advertised, “We do our part.” Over each of the wheels of George’s chair signed reading “I did my part” were placed and these attracted much attention.

Mr. Samples was married to Miss Edwin [sic] Robeson several years ago. They have one daughter, Carol. Mr. Samples’ mother, Mrs. Alex Samples, made her home with them. George was very devoted to his mother, wife and daughter, always doing something for their pleasure. Surviving are also four brothers and four sisters.

Military services were conducted at ten o’clock this morning in the Cocke County Memorial building with Revs. J.L Chaney, S.C. Amick and Will Weaver officiating. Burial was in the Union cemetery. The American Legion was in charge of the services.

For detailed family information and all genealogical evidence, visit my family file entry for George W. Samples.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Policeman Samples Killed

There were two men named George W. Samples in Cocke County of nearly the same age, and they can be hard to tell apart in old records; they were first cousins. I believe, though, that the George Washington Samples (24 August 1859-15 October 1914) who is the subject of the articles here was the son of Reuben S. Samples and Elizabeth W. Hatley, making him a first cousin to my great great grandmother, Amanda (Samples) Allen. As such, he was brother or half brother to four other men, including at least two, James Wiley Samples and Felix Alexander (aka Alexander P. and James Alexader) Samples, who stayed and left family in the Newport area.

George, then, was the son of one of the several Samples brothers who died in the Civil War. His father, Reuben, actually survived the campaigns along the Mississippi only to succumb to dysentery in Nashville just weeks before his unit was dismissed after the war.

George married Paulina Starnes in Cocke County in 1877 and soon set off for Texas. Paulina died sometime before 1900, and as was common in the era, George seems to have left his children with various relatives in Texas. He returned to Tennessee and married Elizabeth Moss in Cocke County in 1903. They had several children who were raised in Cocke County. George became a policeman and was killed in the line of duty in 1914. His family from that point is difficult to trace, but at least some of his children from his second family ended up in an orphanage out west.

The articles below, from the Newport Plain Talk, cover the shooting and George's death. Although George was a policeman killed in the line of duty, the articles suggest a different mentality in that era, where the difference in social standing between the shooter and the policeman caused the incident to be dismissed as "one of those accidents that come up."

October 14, 1914, page 1:


Policeman Samples Shoots Mel Rutherford and in Turn is Shot by Rutherford

Mel Rutherford of near English, and Policeman Samples are perhaps fatally wounded as a result of a pistol fight today at noon.

The Policeman had arrested a son of Rutherford and had taken him to jail and was followed by Rutherford. In the jail the father and son engaged in a fight with Policeman Cureton and Samples. Samples shot Rutherford as they clinched and Rutherford then took Samples’ pistol away from him and fired. One shot was by each and the balls entered the stomach of each and passed through the bodies. Rutherford’s wound is perhaps the most dangerous as it is an inch or two lower down. Cureton drew his revolver and prevented Rutherford from firing a second time. Rutherford walked out of the jail and into the court house year and their awaited medical attention. The policeman was able to walk down stairs and into the sheriff’s office. Both men are about fifty-five years of age and have families. Rutherford is the father of three living children, two daughters and a son. Samples has been married twice and has three grown children and six small ones.

October 21, 1914, page 1:

Policeman Samples Dead – Mel Rutherford Getting Well

As a result of the shooting of Wednesday, October 14th, Policeman George Samples is dead and Mel Rutherford, the man shot by him, is getting better and it is believed he will soon recover. Both men were shot in the stomach with a 38-calibre Smith & Wesson revolver.

The trouble was in the jail and came up over the arrest of Rutherford’s son, who came to town to attend the fair and became intoxicated and was placed under arrest. The boy had not been accustomed to coming to town and when arrested pulled back and tried to keep the officer from taking him to jail. Extra Policeman Joe Cureton assisted the chief and the young man was taken to jail, but not without difficulty. He was struck several times with the policeman’s billy. Friends of Rutherford reported this to him and he at once hurried to the jail where an attempt was being made to place the boy in a cell. The lower door of the jail was open and Mr. Rutherford had no difficulty in getting in, and as he approached the officers told them it was his son they had under arrest and that he would give bond for him or put up the price of a fine and take him home. As [he] reached the top of the stairway he shoved Mr. Samples back and was at once shot, the ball ranging downward and passing through his liver. He then grabbed Sample’s pistol and fired, the ball passing through the stomach. The shooting occurred about the noon hour and both men were rushed to a Knoxville hospital, when an operation was performed on Rutherford. It was not thought necessary to operate on the policeman, as his wound was not considered very dangerous.

Mel Rutherford has been an officer of the law in Cocke county for many years and it has always been a custom that when a drunk man’s friends offered to take care of him to give him up to his friends, especially if this be the first offense. Mr. Rutherford knew this custom and anticipated no trouble in getting his son, but the policeman had worried some with the boy and was in a bad humor. In fact, both men were mad and trouble started easily. Mel Rutherford was not drinking and is considered one of the best citizens in the English community He had the interest in his son that any father would have and while the tragedy is deplorable, sentiment places little blame on Rutherford. It was one of those accidents that come up even after it is over it is hard to blame either side.

George W. Samples.

George W. Sample[s] died at the Lincoln Memorial hospital in Knoxville last Thursday night about eight o’clock from a wound which he received on Wednesday, the 14th. Mr. Samples had at all time as he saw the right. He was about sixty years of age and leaves four grown children by his first wife, two sons and two daughters. They are: Miss Ila Samples, Chilloco, Okla.; Mrs. Frank Henson, Tulsa, Okla.; J.R. and G.C. Samples, Amorilla [sic], Tex. By his last wife, who is living, he leaves seven small children. He was born in Cocke county but went west when a young man and their spent twenty years, coming back to Newport after the death of his wife. For more than twenty years, he was a Baptist preacher. He was an uneducated man and struggled in a simple way to walk in the straight and narrow path. He was a very strong man physically and a man of strong passions. As policeman he had only to be convinced that it was right to do a thing and the thing was done.

The body was sent to Newport on Friday and held until the following Monday in order to give his son, Robert, a change to get here from Texas. The funeral services were held Monday afternoon in the Baptist church. Rev. J.W. O’Hara conducted the services and interment was made in the family cemetery near the poor farm.

For detailed family information and all genealogical evidence, visit my family file entry for George Washington Samples.

Correction to James Harvey Walker Photo

James Harvey Walker, a 4th great half uncle of mine, was the apparent subject of a recent article I posted about an accident on the way to a funeral. I included in the article a photo, not from the newspaper, but one which I received from a granddaughter of his, Adelia Knight, several years ago.

Tim Walker wrote me questioning whether the photo was, as I noted, of Jim and his family or of his brother Milton Green Walker, who was a member of the state legislature from Cocke County and principal there.

The photo here includes, without a doubt, Jim on the left and Green on the right, although the photo was taken many years after the earlier picture.

Although the photo in question was passed down through Jim's family and not Green's, when compared with another known photo of Green and his family from a few years later, I too believe that the photo I posted earlier is more likely to be Green's family, not Jim's.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Body Hurled from Coffin

My Walker line is not from Cocke County and is documented on a different Web site. However, two brothers, James Harvey Walker and Milton Green Walker, sons of my 3rd great grandfather, Edward Walker, Jr., and his second wife, lived in Cocke County for a number of years, where both were principals and teachers, among other things. Green served in the Tennessee State Legislature from Cocke County.

Jim, the older of the two, owned a grocery store, a hotel, and two livery stables and perhaps other properties. He married Mary Adelia Phillips in Grainger County and moved to Cocke County in the very early 1890s. I am reasonably certain that he is the undertaker mentioned in the following article. For more information about him, see my Biography of James Harvey Walker.

This article was published on page 1 in the Atlanta Constitution on June 16, 1902. The photo here, including Jim, his wife, and probably their two oldest children, was probably taken about a dozen years before the events in the article. The photo was not in the paper but was provided by Adelia (Guthry) Knight, his granddaughter. Despite the dire description, Jim died at age 85 in 1939. Correction: The photo here is probably of his brother's family; see the full correction.


Funeral Car Breaks While Descending Steep Hill.


Another Casket and Hearse Had To Be Obtained – Undertaker is Hurt.

Newport, Tenn., June 15. – (Special.) – Today while bringing the body of the small son of Hunley LaRue from Parrottsville where he had died while visiting his relatives, Undertaker J. H. Walker suffered a painful and peculiar accident.

He had started down a long hill, with the coffin containing the body inside the hearse, when some part of the hearse suddenly broke and it toppled over, throwing the casket out and spilling the remains on the ground. The undertaker was caught under the wreck and dragged to the bottom of the hill by horses that at once ran.

The funeral procession following was compelled to view the horrible sight without being able to furnish aid. Undertaker Walker was seriously injured about the head and body and is in a very precarious condition.

Another casket and hearse were obtained and the funeral continued.

View Larger Map
Parrottsville to Newport (about 7 miles)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Former Mayor Involved in Shooting

This is another in a series of postings of articles of local interest, although the parties are not known to be related to my family. Originally published by The Washington Post on May 18, 1908, on page 1.


Prominent Asheville Citizen Fatally Wounded in Row.


Haywood County Representative Wanted Street Combatants to “Fight It Out,” and Resented Efforts of Waynesville’s Former Chief of Police to Separate Them – My Be Hiding in Mountains.

Special to The Washington Post.

Asheville, N.C., May 17. – Henry Abell, a prominent citizen of Waynesville, N.C., was shown down in Main street at Waynesville by David L. Boyd, representative of Haywood County in the North Carolina legislature. Boyd fired two shots into Abell’s body.

Abell is reported to be dying, and Boyd is said to have fled the State and is believed to be hiding in the East Tennessee mountains. The sheriff of the county and a posse are searching for Boyd. Tried to Stop Fight.

Tried to Stop Fight.

The shooting was the result of a fight between a man named Leatherwood, of Waynesville, and a nephew of Boyd. Abell attempted to part the fighters and Boyd became enraged at him. He tried to force Abell to let them “fight it out.” Abell persisted in his efforts to separate the combatants.

Several blows were struck and Boyd drew a gun and began firing at Abell. There were several eyewitnesses, though when the shooting began the crowd rapidly dispersed and gave Boyd a clear field to escape.

Boyd is fifty years old, and was formerly mayor of Newport, Tenn. Abell is a brother of Dr. J.F. Abell, and was formerly chief of police of Waynesville.

Haywood County, North Carolina, about 40 miles from Newport

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bigamist Minister

As far as I know, the subject of the following article is not related to me. However, from time to time, I will be posting interesting articles like this one from Cocke County and the surrounding area. This article was published on page 1 of The Washington Post on March 8, 1905.

Sentenced to the Penitentiary for Violation of Pension Laws.

Knoxville, Tenn., March 7. – Rev. Benjamin W. Ashley, a minister of the Christian church, residing near Newport, Tenn., was given a sentence of fifteen months in the penitentiary in the Federal Court today for violating the pension laws. In investigating his case a pension examiner discovered that he was a bigamist. After Ashley had been placed on the pension rolls a North Carolina woman claiming to be his wife made application for a division of the pension. Ashley swore she was not his legal wife, but that his wife was a Tennessee woman. Investigation proved that Ashley married his first wife in 1865, and had never obtained a divorce, but had abandoned her thirty years ago, marrying a second time after coming to Tennessee to reside. He pleaded guilty of perjury, and may be prosecuted for bigamy when he has served his Federal sentence.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Asa Allen and Amanda Jane Samples

Asa Allen was born about 1863 probably in the Fairgarden or Jones Cove area of Sevier County. The son of Polly Ann Allen, his father is unknown. He had an older brother or possibly half brother named Dave, and there may have been a third sibling who died young. Nicknames were quite common at that time, and he was apparently called Acey.
Asa Allen as a young man

Amanda Jane Samples, called Mandy, was born on January 10, 1874, probably in Jefferson County probably somewhere off what is now US 411 between Bush Brothers at Chestnut Hill and where she and her husband would eventually settle off Upper Rinehart Road near the Cocke County line.

Thought to be Amanda Jane (Samples) Allen; photo courtesy Mary (Allen) Maloy

Amanda was the daughter of William Jasper Samples and Rachel Griffin. Rachel died when Amanda was just 5; William remarried, to Mary Edmonds, but he died about a year after Rachel, leaving his widow to care for Amanda and her two brothers who were not her children -- with just $30. Apparently, William had been ill for quite some time and had few assets. Mary (Edmonds) Samples, unable to care for the children, sent them to live with different uncles. Amanda grew up in the household of her uncle Samuel Harrison Griffin. Mary (Edmonds) Samples did, though, share a portion of the pension she received for William's Civil War service with the children, although she was not legally required to do so. She would later become the second wife of the children's maternal uncle, Thomas Benjamin Griffin.

Asa and Amanda Jane (Samples) Allen with son Randolph

Asa Allen and Amanda Jane Samples were married in Jefferson County, Tennessee, on August 22, 1889; she was only 15, and he was about 26. Nine months and 5 days later, they had their first child, Randolph, born May 27, 1890. Their second child, Rachel Parlee, was apparently born in August of 1892; the photo above was probably taken when Amanda was pregnant with Parlee.

Jefferson County marriage book entry for Asa Allen and Amanda Jane Samples

Although other moves are possible, at present, the couple is thought to have first purchased land on what is Beecarter Road in Jefferson County, although the exact location is not known.

At some point while Randolph was quite young, Asa swapped his land for land on what is now called the Upper Rinehart Road, including what is now called Marshall Way. It is this farm where Randolph and Parlee were raised and where Randolph later raised his own children.

Asa died of unknown causes, apparently in 1899. Although Randolph was about 9 when his father died, no one remembers him discussing why his father died. Certainly, tuberculosis, typhoid, accidents, and many other possibilities were common at that time. Asa's date of death is assumed given that he is listed as "Asa Allen" on the 1899 tax list for Jefferson County, while the 1900 entry on the same list is for the "Heirs of Asa Allen".

According to Randolph's daughter Gertrude, Randolph begged his mother not to remarry, but as a young widow with a small farm, Amanda had few options. She became the second wife of Isaac Newton Holt on November 8, 1899, in Cocke County.

Cocke County marriage book entry for Isaac Newton Holt and Amanda Jane (Samples) Allen

As far as is currently known, Ike (pictured at right) and Amanda lived on the farm that Asa had bartered to obtain. The location is known, although the house was torn down and replaced perhaps in the 1920s. A few months after the marriage, Amanda became pregnant by her new husband.

Ike Holt was, well, a story for another day, but according to the story told by Randolph to some of his children, Ike sat drinking and playing cards while Amanda died in childbirth. In fairness to Ike, men typically had little to nothing to do with births in that era. Both Amanda and her daughter, Daisy, are buried in the Allen Cemetery on the old farm. Neither grave is marked but both are known.

The family has long thought that Daisy perished at birth along with Amanda, who died February 10, 1901. However, more recently, evidence has suggested that Daisy may have lived a few years. Specifically, Randolph's daughter Daisy remembered Randolph talking about a sister who died at about age 3 of an intestinal blockage. The comment, which no one else has been able to recall, could refer to Daisy Holt, to an unknown child born to Asa and Amanda, or to a child that Ike Holt had by another wife.

Tellingly, though, is the location of Daisy Holt's grave, and, for that matter, the fact that she was not buried in the same grave. At that time, if a mother and child died in childbirth, they typically would be buried in the same casket. Daisy was buried in her own grave. Moreover, Daisy's grave is not next to her mother. Instead, the graves of both Asa Allen and his brother Dave are between the two, and Dave lived several years after Amanda died. So Daisy Holt seems likely to have lived for some time.

Exactly who raised Randolph and Parlee at all times is not known; Ike may have raised them continuously, although he did not remarry for about a year and a half. Certainly, though, for a majority of the time they were orphaned, Ike did raise Randolph and Parlee. At some point, Randolph took over the farm and bought out his sister. Randolph continued to own the property until he moved to North Carolina in the early 1940s, although he appears to have rented it out and moved around for quite some time as his children were being born.

For the latest and complete research, see Asa Allen in my Family File.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dave Allen

David M. Allen, called Dave, was the oldest of the known children of Polly Ann Allen; his father is unknown. He was born about 1857 probably in Sevier County around Fairgarden / Jones Cove near the Cocke County border, and he grew up in that area. The Census enumerator in 1900 recorded his birth date as October 1848, which is inconsistent with all other evidence of his age, but the apparent error may point to an actual birth date in October 1858.

Not a great deal is known about Dave. At age 13 in 1870, he was attending school in Sevier County, but he is sometimes listed as literate and sometimes as illiterate depending upon Census. There are no known examples of his signature or use of an "X" either.

He has not been found in the 1880 Census, although there is a David Allen, age 1, living in the same household as his mother. This David may in fact be a bad entry in the Census and may be Dave.

A David Allen of the same age, though, can be found in the state prison in Knoxville; there are no family legends that indicate that Dave ever got into any sort of legal trouble but I have, just today, requested information from the Tennessee Department of Corrections to see if the man in prison in Nashville might be our Dave Allen.

Quite possibly, though, Dave was working for someone else and just wasn't counted on that day. While every Census is supposed to represent where people were on an single day in time, in reality, especially then, the enumeration could take several months. By the time the enumerator reached where Dave had been on the official enumeration day, he may well have moved on and his presence not mentioned to the enumerator. In short, single men who worked on other people's farms were often missed in the Census.

The exact timing and circumstances of Dave's death remain something of a mystery. Several children of Dave's nephew, Randolph Allen, remember their father telling them that Dave outlived his mother but that, shortly after she died, Ike Holt, with Randolph along for the ride, took Dave to the poor farm, where he soon died. He was taken home for burial and is buried under an uninscribed stone on what is now called Marshall Way near the Jefferson/Cocke County border off what is now called Upper Rinehart Road.

His mother is known to have been alive in 1907 although apparently ill by that point, and neither she nor Dave appear in the 1910 Census, suggesting that he died sometime between 1907 and 1910. Randolph's story also suggests that Randolph himself was somewhat young and perhaps not married; Randolph married in 1909, again suggesting the 1907 to 1910 timeframe for Dave's death.

The family story is not clear as to whether Dave was taken to the Poor Farm in Cocke County or in Jefferson County. Most records for both poor farms have been lost, and his name does not appear in the few remaining mentions of the farms in county court records in either county.

For the complete and latest research, see David M. Allen in my Family File.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Polly Ann Allen

Polly Ann Allen, pictured at right, was my 3rd great grandmother. She was born about 1834 probably around the Fairgarden/Jones Cove area of Sevier County, Tennessee, to Alfred Allen and Elizabeth Fox.

Polly Ann might have been as young as 6 but certainly was under 16 when her father died, leaving her at home to help her mother make a living and raise her younger siblings. By 1860, her mother was taking in washing, and Polly Ann was weaving to earn money.

She never married, but she had two sons, David M., called Dave, and Asa; Dave was born about 1857, and Asa about 1863. Family stories, attributable directly to her grandson who knew her, name only the two children. However, the 1900 Census indicates that she had a third child; if so, that child presumably died young or at birth.

Births out of wedlock were not particularly uncommon in that era and, in fact, did not carry quite the stigma that would be attached later in the Victorian era. Unfortunately, knowledge of the circumstances of the births has been lost. Family legend indicates that Asa's father may have been a Fox; however, since Polly Ann's mother was also a Fox, some confusion may have arisen. For that matter, no one is certain whether Asa and Dave had the same father.

Polly Ann lived for a long time with her mother, then a nephew, and then her son Dave. She might have lived for a while with Ike Holt, who was raising her grandchildren, as one family story indicates that her grandchild Randolph sometimes cared for her while Ike's third wife, who was not related to her, would not bring her water. Polly Ann probably died in or shortly after 1907 in Jefferson County, Tennessee. She is buried in the Allen Cemetery on what is now a gravel road called Marshall Way off Upper Rinehart Road just over the Cocke County line in Jefferson County. While there is a tombstone on her grave, the stone is not inscribed.

View Larger Map
Fairgarden/Jones Cove Area (Sevier County, Tennessee)

For the complete and latest research, see Mary Ann Allen in my Family File.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Jim Bagby, Jr.

I wrote a long article for the Newport Plain Talk that was published in three parts shortly before the 2007 World Series; this is the third of the three parts to be published. For my latest research and full details, see James Charles Jacob Bagby Jr. in my Family File.

James Charles Jacob Bagby, Jr., was the son of Jim Bagby and his wife Mabel Margaret Smith, the latter being a native of Newport, Tennessee. He was born 8 September 1916 in Cleveland, Ohio, while his father was playing for the Cleveland Indians.

Jim Bagby, Jr.

From a young age, Jim was coached by his father to be a pitcher. Even in 1934, his father said, “I’m sure he’s headed for the majors. He’s a great prospect. He has control and confidence, his curve ball is as good as mine was, and he’d rather play baseball than eat.”1

Jim Jr. played with the Dixie Amateur League in the summer of 1934, winning ten and losing five for Montgomery, and he would soon be playing in the minor leagues, first for Charlotte in 1935, Rocky Mount in 1936, and then Hazelton in 1937. For Hazelton, he won twenty-one games and lost eight, with a 2.71 ERA in the New York-Penn League .2

His performance did lead him to the majors, playing first for the Boston Red Sox in 1938. Expectations were high given his famous father, and some writers suggested that expectations might be too high given his famous father, as many sons had not been able to live up to their fathers’ legends.3

In fact, though, Jim performed quite admirably in that first year, winning more than his well-known teammate Lefty Grove. As a rookie, he was the starting pitcher for the Red Sox opening game, a rare honor not given again to another rookie by the Red Sox until 1998.4 Jim was a sensation in the first season but was used primarily as a relief pitcher in the next two seasons, 1939 and 1940.

In 1940, he was still playing for the Red Sox and was a part of an event that still inspires baseball trivia questions: the one game in which Ted Williams pitched.5 During the first game of a double header that the Red Sox were losing badly to Detroit, Red Sox manager Joe Cronin wanted to rest his pitching staff, calling Williams in from left field to pitch and sending the pitcher out to left field; that pitcher was Jim Bagby, Jr. Also that year, he became the first of only three pitchers to date to be credited with three put-outs in an single inning.

Before the next season, as part of a major trade involving several players among three teams, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians, joining the team for which both his father and uncle had played.6 He would play for Cleveland for several years, and he was picked as an all-star in 1942 and 1943, leading the American League in starts both years.

In 1941, his first year for the Indians, Jim once again was an integral part of a legendary game. Joe DiMaggio had managed a hit in fifty-six consecutive games, still a record today. One of those hits, his twenty-eighth, had been off Jim Bagby. But, more importantly, Jim Bagby was on the mound when the streak ended. Starting pitcher Al Smith and finishing pitcher Jim Bagby, with some help from the infield, held DiMaggio hitless on July 18, 1941.

World War II posed many problems for baseball, with many players serving in the armed forces and many others working in war industries during the off season; Jim, for instance, was a tool designer for Bell Aircraft in Marietta.7 Some biographers note that Jim served as a Merchant Marine in 1944 and, as a result, missed most of the season. Press coverage at the time, though, presents a more complicated picture.

Lou Boudreau was a premier shortstop for the Indians, having made his major league debut with them in 1938. In fact, it was he who fielded the last ground ball that DiMaggio hit, in his last at-bat, in the game where the streak was broken. He was named player/manager of the Indians in 1942, causing considerable friction as some other players who had applied for the position quit the team, and some of the remaining players were not particularly happy with the decision.

Jim also had a feud with Boudreau, although that feud appears to be for completely different reasons and began in September 1943. In Jim’s version,8 the feud began when Boudreau fined him $100 for not taking a warm-up run before a night game in Washington. Jim had already done his warm-up run before Boudreau showed up at the park. Jim wrote to a sportswriter that “he never took that fine off, and from then on I said what I thought.” Boudreau responded that Jim was out of shape and that “Jim and I don’t see eye-to-eye on some things.” However, Boudreau also said, “I’d rather have a disgruntled winner than a happy loser.”9

Despite Boudreau’s comment, he did shop Jim to other teams, coming closed to trading him to the Detroit Tigers in December 1943, but Boudreau called off the negotiations immediately when Al Smith, another strong Indians pitcher, was reclassified as 1-A, being immediately eligible to serve in the military.10

After the failed trade, Jim went public again, expressing his dislike of Boudreau and desire to be traded.11 He then demanded more money from the Indians and became the last holdout in the American League two months later. Instead of signing, he requested “voluntary retirement for the duration”12 in March 1944. At the same time, he applied to become a Merchant Marine, with the service indicating that he would have to wait three weeks for examination and probably another week after that to enroll if accepted.

A month later, Jim announced that the Maritime Commission had accepted him and had ordered him to report in early May.13 In the meantime, he had been working out with the minor-league Atlanta team. He reported to the Commission, but he resigned in July, and immediately reported to his local draft board for induction into the Army.14

The next day, the press reported that, while Jim would not state explicitly that he was rejoining the Indians, he did say, “I’m through being bull-headed. From now on I’m going to do all the listening. I’m sorry I had all that trouble with Manager Lou Boudreau last year, but it won’t happen again because I have learned to keep my mouth shut.”15

And the next day, the press reported that Jim had reported for his preinduction physical at Fort McPherson in Georgia. The head of the local draft board indicated that Bagby himself requested the examination, but also noted that recent quotas for the draft board had not been high, with enough registrants in the twenty-six and below age group to fill the quotas; Jim was twenty-seven.16 A week later, Jim was rejected from the Army and rejoined the Indians, with catcher Jim McDonnell being optioned to a minor league team to make room for Jim on the roster.17

After rejoining the Indians, Jim continued to perform well but never again reached the heights of his previous seasons. After the 1944 season, the Jim was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Vic Johnson, who was another pitcher, and an undisclosed sum of cash.18

He was a starting pitcher for the Red Sox but pitched fewer innings than the other starting pitchers that year. However, the Red Sox won the pennant that year and went to the World Series against the Saint Louis Cardinals. The Red Sox would lose the series four games to three, but, in game four on October 10, Jim was called to pitch in the third inning, marking the first time in history that both a father and a son had pitched in a World Series game.

Following that season, Jim was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a fee reported to be in excess of the standard $10,000 waiver fee under which he had been offered. The season with Pittsburgh would be his tenth and last in the major league, surpassing his father’s tenure, but the United Press article at the time of the trade felt the need to describe him as having “never fulfilled the hope that he might become as great a pitcher as his father.”19

Oddly, his father had ended his career with Pittsburgh as well, and, in the end, both father and son played on exactly the same three major league teams, although in a different order.

After Jim left baseball, he became a golf pro. In 1982, his cancerous larynx was removed, and he was unable to talk again, but his wife could read lips and talked for him,20 especially when reporters would inevitably call in the Julys to follow in order to discuss the end of DiMaggio’s streak. Jim said he threw “just fastballs” and that “Joe hit one of them hard, but he just hit it at somebody.”

Jim died 2 September 1988 in Marietta, Georgia. In 1992, Jim Bagby, Jr., was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.

Footnotes (omitted when article was published):
1 The Washington Post, “Jim Bagby Heads Jim Jr., 18, to the Majors”, 5 November 1934, page 17.
2 The Washington Post, “This Morning... With Shirley Povich”, 13 January 1938, page X17.
3 The Washington Post, “Jim Jr. Due to Stick”, Dillon Graham, Associated Press, 4 April 1938, page X17.
4 The Houston Chronicle, “Around the AL”, 11 April 1998, page 6.
5 The New York Times, “Question Box”, 13 August 1984, page C4.
6 The Washington Post, “Walker Goes to Cleveland in 3-Ply Deal”, Shirley Povich, 13 December 1940, page 24.
7 The Washington Post, “Pitcher Says Their Dislike Is Mutual”, Associated Press, 20 January 1944, page 18.
8 The Washington Post, “Pitcher Says Their Dislike is Mutual”, Associated Press, 20 January 1944, page 18.
9 The Washington Post, “This Morning... With Shirley Povich”, 1 December 1943, page 18.
10 The Washington Post, “Tribe Deal for Bagby Collapses”, 3 December 1943, page 14.
11 The Washington Post, “Pitcher Says Their Dislike is Mutual”, Associated Press, 20 January 1944, page 18.
12 The Washington Post, “Indian Pitching Ace, J. Bagby, Requests Retirement for Duration”, 9 March 1944, page 8.
13 The Washington Post, “Bagby To Be Called By Merchant Marine”, Associated Press, 12 April 1944, page 10.
14 The Washington Post, “Jim Bagby Resigns Maritime Service; To Take Army Exa[m]”, Associated Press, 12 July 1944, page 8.
15 The Washington Post, “’I’m Through Being Bull-Headed,’ Says Jim Bagby”, United Press, 13 July 1944, page 8.
16 The Washington Post, “Bagby Reports for Army Physical Test”, 14 July 1944, page 10.
17 The Washington Post, “Indians Make Room for Bagby”, Associated Press, 21 July 1944, page 10.
18 The Washington Post, “Bosox Get Bagby From Cleveland”, United Press, 13 December 1945, page 12.
19 The Washington Post, “Bosox Sell Bagby to Pittsburgh Club”, United Press, 12 February 1947, page 13.
20 The New York Times, “Views On Sport; A Mystery Man in the End to DiMaggio’s Streak”, John B. Holway, 15 July 1990, A7.

Sarge Bagby (James Charles Jacob Bagby)

I wrote a long article for the Newport Plain Talk that was published in three parts shortly before the 2007 World Series; this is the second of the three parts to be published. For my latest research and full details, see James Charles Jacob Bagby in my Family File.

James Charles Jacob Bagby (1899-1954) was not from Newport; instead, he married a Newport native, Mabel Margaret Smith, who had moved to Birmingham, Alabama, and was a sister to Clarence Ossie Smith. Jim would have a successful career in the majors, and the couple would have a son who did as well.

Jim Bagby in 19211

Jim was born 5 October 1899 in Barnett, Georgia,2 the son of William H. Bagby and Minerva Rocker. He started playing professionally a year before Clarence Smith, in 1910, for the Augusta Tourists in the old South Atlantic League, but the same season was transferred to the Hattiesburg Lumberjacks in the Cotton States League. Under manager Link Stickney, he won five games and lost eleven. In 1911, though, for the renamed Hattiesburg Woodpeckers, he led the league with wins, twenty-two, while losing sixteen under managers George Moore and Carlos Smith.

After that performance, he was called to the majors, playing in 1912 for the Cincinnati Reds under manager Joe Tinker and owner August Herman. He played his first game on April 22nd and pitched reasonably well that season but pitched only 17.3 innings and failed to impress the Reds management. He was sold for $750 to the minor league team in Montgomery, Alabama, on August 17th that year.3

Presumably sometime while playing for Montgomery, he met Clarence Ossie Smith who was playing for Birmingham, and he would marry Clarence’s sister, Mabel Margaret, a native of Newport, Tennessee, on February 10, 1913,4 about two months before Clarence got his first chance in the majors with the Chicago White Sox.

By 1913, Jim was playing for the New Orleans Pelicans. In his first season with New Orleans on August 19th, he was trying to catch a fly ball and crashed into his own second baseman, breaking Jim’s left arm;5 thankfully, he was a right-handed pitcher, but he missed part of the season due to his injury.

He signed again with New Orleans the next season6 at a time when his brother-in-law was abandoned in California. In 1914, he achieved twenty wins and nine losses, and, in 1915 when Clarence Smith joined him in New Orleans, he won another nineteen games, with Clarence winning twenty for the Pelicans that year.

His performance got him called up to the Cleveland Indians on July 22, 1915,7 with him reporting to the Indians after the end of the Southern League season. His brother-in-law Clarence Smith would join him on the Indians in the middle of Jim’s first season there.

By the time that Clarence arrived, Jim had already established himself as a strong starting pitcher, pitching in forty-eight games, winning sixteen and losing sixteen, with an ERA of 2.61, and three shutouts. By the end of the season, Jim was fifth in the American League in terms of the number of games pitched, fourth in the number of saves, and second in the number of games finished. He was a very controlled pitcher; he rarely struck out batters, but he very rarely walked them.

While 1917 finished his brother-in-law’s major-league career, it proved to be a very good year for Jim. He won twenty-three games, including eight shutouts, with thirteen losses and seven saves and an ERA of only 1.96; he even managed to bat .231. He ranked in the top five in the American League that year for the number of wins, games played, inning pitched, games completed, and batters faced. His ERA was fourth best in the league even though he was first in the number of hits allowed and was second for the number of home runs allowed.

In 1918 and 1919, he continued with very solid performances. In 1918, he pitched in a league-leading forty-five games, winning seventeen and losing sixteen with six saves, two shutouts, an ERA of 2.69, and a batting average of .212. In 1919, he pitched thirty-five games, winning seventeen and losing eleven with three saves and no shutouts, an ERA of 2.80, and a batting average of .258, including the first of his two home runs in the majors.

About this time, he picked up the nickname “Sarge”, not because of any military experience but because of a character, Sergeant Jimmy Bagby, in the Old Judge Priest stories by humorist Irvin S. Cobb. Some of the players had seen a show on Broadway, which quite possibly was Boys Will Be Boys, which ran in October and November of 1919 at the Belmont Theater on West 48th Street.

1920 would be the high point of his career. He led the league in innings pitched and games played; in fact, he won 31 games; since 1920, two other pitchers, Lefty Grove (1931) and Denny McClain (1968) have tied that total, but no one has beaten it. He lost only twelve and pitched thirty complete games with three shutouts and an ERA of 2.89; he batted .252.

In 1920, the Indians were on track for their first pennant win ever in one of the oddest races ever. On August 16th, with the Indians in first place and playing the third-place Yankees, the Indian’s shortstop, Ray Chapman, was hit in the head by a pitch by Carl Mays; he died the next morning and remains the only major league player killed during a game. The Indians suffered a slump after the game but were able to recover.

1920 Cleveland Indians; Jim Bagby is seventh from left.8

Then in September, Chicago White Sox were challenging the Indians in the pennant race when the Black Sox scandal of 1919 was exposed, revealing that a number of the White Sox players had participated in a scheme to throw the 1919 World Series. Despite the pennant race, Sox owner Charles Comiskey immediately suspended the players who were later banned from baseball for life, ending the White Sox challenge.

The same day that the Black Sox players were suspended, September 28th, Jim got his 30th win, against the Saint Louis Browns; on October 2nd, Jim won his 31st and last regular season game, clinching the pennant for the Indians.

The next week, the Indians were playing the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series. The first three games were played at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Stan Coveleski was credited with the Indians win in the first game, but the Dodgers took the next two games, including game two, when Jim was credited with a loss against opposing pitcher Burleigh Grimes, a legal spitball pitcher who was, in fact, the last person allowed to throw spitballs when he retired in 1937.

Moving to Cleveland for game four, Coveleski again delivered a win for the Indians, and game five was a rematch between Jim and Grimes. The game became legendary. In the bottom of the first inning, Jim’s teammates Charlie Jamieson, Bill Wambsganss, and Tris Speaker, were on base when Elmer Smith hit the first grand slam home run in the history of the World Series.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Jim himself was at bat with Doc Johnston and Steve O'Neill on base. Jim knocked a home run into center field, becoming the first pitcher to hit a home run in a World series game.

And, in the top of the next inning, Bill Wambsganss, the Indian’s second baseman, made an unassisted triple play; not only was it the first triple play in World Series history, he made all three outs himself.

Jim pitched the entire game while Grimes was relieved in the fifth inning. Jim actually gave up thirteen hits but only allowed one score, when, with one out remaining in the ninth, Dodgers player Ed Konetchy got that thirteenth hit and drove in a run. Cleveland had also managed one more run in the fifth and won the game 8-1 in front of a hometown crowd. With Duster Mails and Stan Coveleski throwing shutouts in the next two games, the Indians won the World Series five games to two.

Jim’s career never again achieved the same heights. In 1921, though, he did have another brush with fame that was barely recognized at the time9 . At this writing (2007), Barry Bonds is rapidly closing in on Hank Aaron’s record 755 career home runs. In 1974, Aaron had beaten with much fanfare the previous record set by Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth himself took the title in a nearly-forgotten game in 1921 – with Jim Bagby on the mound.

The record prior to Ruth is somewhat in dispute; to many, including the New York Times in 1921, the relevant record was held by Gaavy Cravath, who had achieved 119 home runs in his career in the modern, post-1900 era. Historically, three other men had higher numbers, but the ball parks, the balls, and other aspects of the game were very different before 1900.

In any case, at Yankee Stadium on June 10th, 1921, Jim Bagby threw to Ruth when Ruth hit his 120th home run, breaking Cravath’s record. The New York Times mentioned the record only as a small blurb.10 In total, Jim would be pitching for three of Ruth’s 714 home runs.

Overall in 1921, Jim performed reasonably well but gave up considerably more runs than in prior years; he won fourteen games and lost twelve with an ERA of 4.70. In 1922, his ERA leaped to 6.32, and he won four games and lost five in a season that was cut short for him by appendicitis in August.11

In December 1922, the Indians sold him for an unannounced price12 to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He pitched only occasionally, winning three games and losing two with an ERA of 5.24. In September of the next year, he was released as a free agent and signed first with the Seattle Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League.13 He continued to play in the minors for Atlanta, Rochester, Jersey City, Newark, Monroe, and York. He retired after the 1930 season as manager of the Monroe (Louisiana) Drillers in the Cotton States League.

For the most part, he spent the next several years managing his cleaning and pressing company in Atlanta, and he also owned a gas station. In 1941, though, he returned to baseball – as an umpire in the Coastal Plains League.14 He suffered a stroke in 1942 and suffered bad health for the rest of his life,15 although he recovered enough to work in a couple of department stores in Atlanta.

Jim had another stroke and died July 28, 1954, at Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Georgia; he is buried in Westview Cemetery in Atlanta.

A year after Jim’s death, his widow, Mabel, had an association with one of the most controversial television game shows in history. “Strike It Rich”, hosted at the time by Warren Hull, invited destitute people on to answer a few questions and win some money. If they failed to win, they could appeal directly to the home audience, who could call in with donations. The show received substantial condemnation but lasted for a number of years. In 1955, Mabel, a diabetic, had lost both of her legs, and Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch agreed to play in her stead so that she could afford a better wheelchair and a sewing machine. He won her $300, and the Indians donated $100 and an Atlanta clothing company, $200; another Atlanta company donated a portable sewing machine.

Jim Bagby, Sr., was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1982. In August of 2007, he will be inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame.

Footnotes (omitted when this article was published):
1 Library of Congress
2 World War 1 Draft Registration Card, James Charles Bagby, Augusta, Georgia.
3 The Atlanta Constitution, “Bailey and Waldorf Are Now Property of Crackers; List of Optional Players”, 18 August 1912.
Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: Baseball, Revised and Expanded Edition, A-F, David F. Porter, editor, 2000: Greenwood Press, West Port, Connecticut
5 The Atlanta Constitution, “Thompson Wins Fourth Straight By Trimming Birds In Saturday’s Game”, 20 July 1913.
6 The Atlanta Constitution, “Catcher Yantz Sold to Toledo Ball Club”, 28 January 1914, page 7.
7 The Atlanta Constitution, “Jim Bagby Sold to Cleveland Team”, 23 July 1915, page 8.
8 Library of Congress.
9The Virginian Pilot, “A Record Homer from a Long-Ago Era That Hardly Anyone Noticed.”
10 The New York Times, “Curves and Bingles”, 11 July 1921, page 10.
11 Danville [Virginia] Bee, “Bagby Has Appendicitis”, 23 August 1922, page 7.
12 The New York Times, “Landis is Firm on Meeting Date”, 6 December 1922, page 25.
13 The Washington Post, “Indians Release Bagby”, 12 September 1923, page 14.
14 The Washington Post, “Old Sarge Becomes one of the Boys in Blue”, 1 June 1941, page SP2.
15 Atchison (Kansas) Daily Globe, “Sports in Brief”, 29 July 1954, page 7.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pop Boy Smith (Clarence Ossie Smith)

I wrote a long article for the Newport Plain Talk that was published in three parts shortly before the 2007 World Series; this is the first of the three parts to be published. For my latest research and full details, see Clarence Ossie Smith in my family file.

Clarence was born 23 May 1892 in Newport1 to William Bruce Smith and Margaret C. Dennis. Both of his parents were born in and married in Sevier County, but they lived in Cocke County for decades; Margaret’s parents, John Edward Dennis and Miranda Hartsell, were both born in Cocke County as well and descended from early Cocke County families.

Clarence was the third of the eight children who lived and the only boy in the family. He was first cousin to, among many others, the late Newportians Vella Allen and Ed and Royce Dennis. His father, Bruce Smith, was a carpenter in Newport as were Bruce’s brothers-in-law, John Joshua Dennis and Joel Leonard Dennis. When Clarence was about 10, the family relocated permanently to Birmingham, Alabama, where Bruce was a contractor, eventually working for himself.

The family’s new city had a baseball team, the Barons, which was a member of the Southern Association, a now-defunct league that was among the higher-level leagues of the era. The 8-team league included Birmingham, the Atlanta Crackers, the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Little Rock Travelers, the Memphis Chicks, the Nashville Vols, and the New Orleans Pelicans; typically, the eighth team was either the Knoxville Smokies, the Mobile Bears, or the Shreveport Sports.

In 1908, Carlton Molesworth became the player-manager of the Barons, and he would manage the team until 1922. Although he had pitched briefly in the National League for the Washington Senators, he played outfield for the Barons in addition to being the manager. Over the years, he built what is considered one of the strongest organizations in minor league history.

In 1909, A.H. “Rick” Woodward purchased the Barons and quickly built a new stadium, Rickwood Field, which was the first concrete and steel stadium in the minor leagues and is today the oldest professional baseball stadium still standing. The stadium was finished in time for the opening of the 1910 season.

Bruce & Margaret Smith family about 1908; Clarence is the one son, sitting with the dog. His sister Mabel is presumably in the photo, but her appearance at this time is not known.2

Clarence Smith got a job in that brand-new stadium in 1910 – selling drinks in the stands as what was then called a “pop boy”. A huge baseball fan, he took the job to be able to attend all the games. During practices, he would sometimes pitch to the players, and Molesworth, the player-manager, quickly noticed him. Molesworth signed Clarence in the spring of 1911 for $90 per month, farming him out to the Anniston (Alabama) Models of the now-defunct Southeastern League. From then on, Clarence would be known as “Pop Boy” Smith.3

In Clarence’s year with the Models, the team won the pennant, and Molesworth credited that win largely to Clarence’s pitching. They beat out the other teams in the league, which consisted of the Models, the Bessemer Pipemakers, the Gadsden Steel Makers, the Huntsville Mountaineers, the Rome (Georgia) Romans, the Selma Centralites, and the Talladega Highlanders.

After his year with the Models, Clarence in 1912 reported to the Birmingham Barons and began pitching for the team. Molesworth said of Clarence that year, “My opinion is he’s going to develop into a wonder and there’s nothing to keep him from getting into the big league. He’s only nineteen years old.”4 That season, for the first time under Molesworth, the Barons won the pennant. A letter from booster William Millikan to Clark Griffith, the legendary long-time manager of the Washington Senators, gave much of the credit to Clarence and outfielder Jimmy Johnston.5 Griffith expressed an interest in getting both for his team, but expressed little confidence in being able to sign either player.

Clarence Smith as a White Sox player in 1913

Instead, after just two years in the minor leagues and shortly before his twenty-first birthday, Clarence made it to the majors with another team, the Chicago White Sox (also known as the Americans during the era) as a pitcher; he was their youngest pitcher that year.

Nixey Callahan at the time was the manager of the White Sox, then as now an American League team. Charles Comiskey, who built the first Comiskey Park in Chicago, was the notoriously frugal owner who forced the players to, among other things, pay for laundering their own uniforms.

The White Sox had a pitching staff of thirteen that year, lead by the talented Eddie Cicotte who six years later would go down in infamy in the Black Sox scandal. Pitchers at the time threw in far more games than in the modern era and with often far more damage done to their arms. As the youngest, Clarence himself got very little playing time, playing in just fifteen games and pitching a total of thirty-two innings throughout the season.

Clarence’s performance for the White Sox was quite respectable, but Comiskey was apparently not very happy with his entire relief pitching staff. He was looking to create a powerhouse team, which would win the 1917 World Series and then famously throw the 1919 World Series. By midseason, Comiskey apparently was already trying to pare down the number of pitchers, and the White Sox roster by the next season was reduced from thirteen pitchers to nine. In fact, Comiskey ended up keeping just his five starters and one relief pitcher, pulling three new pitchers from the minor leagues.

The Atlanta Constitution reported on July 3rd that year6 and again the next day7 that Comiskey offered Clarence to the Atlanta Crackers, a minor-league team in search of an exceptional pitcher, for $2,000, a high sum at the time. The offer was sent the night of July 2nd and accepted by the Crackers on the 3rd. However, in a game on the 3rd against the Detroit Tigers, Clarence performed exceptionally well, and Comiskey reneged on the deal. While Atlanta probably had legal claim, they were not about to anger Comiskey.

Chicago Americans/White Sox, 1913, team photo; Clarence Smith is sitting third from left.8

Later that month, Clarence created a minor stir by playing with the Coulon Athletics, a semi-pro team, violating American League rules. But the president of the American League, Byron Bancroft “Ban” Johnson decided that, although several players had been fined the previous year for the same offense, Clarence was “just a youngster” and did not know he was violating the rules, so he was forgiven without consequence.9

That December, a rumor was floated again that Clarence would be sold, this time to the Chattanooga Lookouts,10 with the Crackers still being quite interested in him. However, Comiskey kept Clarence on the White Sox through spring training in California in 1914. Allegedly, during a game in California, the San Francisco fans taunted Clarence to the point that he retorted, “I should worry; we'll be back in the United States next week.”11 Unbeknownst to Clarence, Comiskey decided on March 30th to leave him in California after spring training.12

Clarence was sold at that time to the Venice Tigers, owned by Edward Maier and managed at the time by Hap Hogan. The team more commonly was known as the Vernon Tigers but played in Venice in 1913 and 1914 in the Pacific League. The Pacific League apparently was the closest to becoming another major league without becoming one, and it could often offer salaries high enough to keep players from going to the majors.

Clarence was not happy in California. Billy Fritz, the baseball writer for the Oakland Tribune, called him “fractious”13 and taunted him in the press over his “United States” remark,14 and Clarence would also chafe from his lack of playing time.15 While Hap Hogan made it clear that he was not trying to sell or trade Clarence, he also indicated that he would not object if Clarence found a better deal. Apparently, Clarence did, and sometime around late 1914, he ended up with the pennant-winning Portland Beavers in the same league under Walter Henry McCredie. Rather soon, Portland sold Clarence to the New Orleans Pelicans, with the sale completed in March 1915.16

Clarence apparently welcomed the move to New Orleans, where his brother-in-law, Jim Bagby, had gone after his year with the Reds. Jim had been a sensation in New Orleans, winning twenty and losing nine in 1914 for the Pelicans, and Clarence then followed up with the incredible feat of winning more than twenty games in two consecutive seasons; he won twenty and lost twelve in 1915 and won twenty-three and lost thirteen in 1916.

In the midst of his hot streak in 1916, Clarence found himself late in the season being called to the majors again, when he was sold on August 19th to the Cleveland Indians.17 His brother-in-law, Jim Bagby, had also gone to the Indians earlier that season. Being called up so late in the season, Clarence had little opportunity to pitch, especially since the Indians had seventeen pitchers on the roster. He pitched only five games, with one win, two losses, and one save; he started three games and finished two, pitching a total of 25.7 innings.

In Cleveland both years, Clarence played under manager Lee Fohl and owner Jim Dunn. Early in the 1917 season, despite his incredible record in the minors, Clarence apparently began to lose his arm. Fohl placed him on probation in late March because of his inability to “hold the mound”18 that year. Clarence played a few more games, but played his last major league game on May 2, 1917, oddly enough against his first team, the White Sox, and was sent back to the New Orleans Pelicans.

How long he played for the Pelicans the second time is not currently known. In 1921 and 1922, he was a manager in the West Texas League, a short-lived Class D league that functioned from 1920-1922 and 1928-1929. He and Roy Brashear were managers of the Ballinger Bearcats in 1921 with the team moving from Mineral Wells to Balinger on May 19th that year. The team won 57 and lost 72, finishing fourth of six teams at 15.5 games behind. In 1921, Clarence was manager for the Sweetwater Swatters, who had led the league the prior year; they won 62 and lost 73, finishing fifth out of eight teams at 24 games behind.19

On February 16, 1924, Clarence died suddenly at his home in Sweetwater, Texas. His body was brought back to Birmingham for burial at Elmwood Cemetery. Details about his personal life, including whether he married or had children, are not currently known.

Footnotes (omitted when this article was published):
1 World War 1 Draft Registration Card, Clarence Ossie Smith, New Orleans, Louisiana.
2 Photo courtesy Janice (Dennis) Hance who inherited it from her father, Ed Dennis.
3 The Atlanta Constitution, “Clarence Smith, Baron Hurler, Got Starts While Selling Drinks at the Birmingham Ball Park”, 27 June 1912, page 13.
4 The Atlanta Constitution, “Clarence Smith, Baron Hurler, Got Starts While Selling Drinks at the Birmingham Ball Park”, 27 June 1912, page 13.
5 The Washington Post, “Johnson is to Twirl Against Virginia Nine”, 15 March 1913, page 8.
6 The Atlanta Constitution, “’Pop Boy’ Smith Bought by Locals”, 3 July 1913, page 10.
7 The Atlanta Constitution, “Comiskey Backs Down on Locals”, 4 July 1913.
8 Library of Congress.
9 The Atlanta Constitution, “’Pop Boy’ Smith Will Not Feel Iron Hand”, 7 July 1913.
10 The Atlanta Constitution, “’Pop Boy’ Smith May Go To The Lookouts”, 17 December 1913, page 10.
11 The Daily Review [Decatur, Illinois], “Late Stories of the White Sox”, 1 April 1914, page 5.
12 The Atlanta Constitution, “Clarence Smith Sold”, 31 March 1914, page 9.
13 The Oakland [California] Tribune, “Billy Fitz Says, Says He”, 31 March 1914.
14 The Oakland [California] Tribune, “Diamond Flashes”, 10 September 1914, page 12.
15 The Oakland [California] Tribune, “Baseball by Billy Fritz”, 31 July 1914, page 18.
16 The Atlanta Constitution, “Farrell’s Decisions”, 14 March 1915, page 5b.
17 The Washington Post, “Indians Buy Players”, 21 August 1916, page 6.
18 The Fort Wayne Daily News, “Rookies and Regulars”, 28 March 1917, page 14.