Sunday, November 28, 2010

Two Early Sheriffs Shot Down

Two of Lucas County's four sheriffs between 1870 and 1889 were shot down in the line of duty.

Gaylord Lyman and William B. Ramsey were shot down when attempting to make an arrest.  George F. Holmes served nine years, and Joe R. Landes served eight years with both retiring from office.

Sheriff Ramsey was in the second year of his term when he was shot down by John M. McGinnis near Freedom, which was located eight miles southwest of Chariton.

Prior to March 1888, John M. McGinnis had been considered an industrious, honest and law-abiding man.  In March 1888 McGinnis had been judged insane and taken to the asylum at Mt. Pleasant.

He escaped in September of 1888 and fled to Missouri.  McGinnis came back to the Freedom neighborhood in the spring of 1889 and started working for J.G. Stafford.

Several people later testified McGinnis appeared to be of unsound mind in his actions and conversations.

McGinnis had threatened to kill Park Inobuit, James Burley and Andrew J. Swainey.  His also threatened W.O. Woods, a neighbor who later went to Chariton and filed charges.

The date was June 28, 1889.  Sheriff Ramsey was issued a warrant at 9 p.m.  Two constables, Dennis S. Myers and Eugene Nafus accompanied Sheriff Ramsey to the home of Henry Blous (who was guardian for McGinnis).

The whole party then proceeded to the Stafford farm, arriving there around 3 a.m.  Apparently the three lawmen rode horses from Chariton, getting into Blous's buggy for the last part of the journey.

On the buggy ride, Blous testified that "Sheriff Ramsey handed me a revolver and told me if I get into a tight place, all I had to do was pull the trigger."

Upon their arrival at the Stafford farm, Blous and Myers went to the south side of the barn.  Ramsey and Nafus went to the north side of the barn.  McGinnis and three other hired men were sleeping in the loft of the barn.

The lawmen waited for daylight, at which time Sheriff Ramsey called for the boys to come down from the loft.  C.J. Wisser, Elmer Stafford and Henry Catron did, but McGinnis remained in the loft.

Elmer Stafford told Ramsey that McGinnis was armed and that he slept with a revolver under his head.  Stafford also told Ramsey that McGinnis would shoot.

Blous convinced McGinnis to come down from the loft.  Sheriff Ramsey, Nafus and Blous then met McGinnis at the north door of the barn.  As Ramsey talked, McGinnis brought his left hand from behind his back with his revolver in it.

Ramsey stepped back saying, "Don't shoot, John," but McGinnis pulled the trigger of his 44 British Bull Dog, fatally injuring Ramsey.

Nafus then shot McGinnis, injuring him slightly.  McGinnis turned to his left, shooting Nafus in the side and wounding him seriously.

McGinnis then turned and aimed at Blous, who drew his revolver and shot McGinnis in the forehead.  McGinnis died shortly after 9 a.m. June 29, 1889.

William B. Ramsey was born in Ohio March 1, 1844 and came to Lucas County in 1855.  He was a veteran of the Civil War, having enlisted in the 3rd Iowa Cavalry.

His first wife was the daughter of William Skidmore.  They had three children.  His second wife was the daughter of O.S. Frazier.  They had four children the eldest being 14 years of age.  Ramsey was buried in Liberty Township June 30, 1889.

Matilda Lyman, Sheriff Lyman's Wife

The sheriff was born January 10, 1828.  He was elected Sheriff in 1861 when he defeated John May 541 to 486.  The last time Lyman was elected, in 1869, he defeated W.J. Hall 895 yo 596. He was elected four times.

George F. Holmes succeeded Lyman on July 25, 1870 and was sheriff until 1879.

One more note on the horse thief Hiram Wilson, concerning the horse:  the horse was stolen from Fabius, Marion County, Mo.  It was 15¼ hands high, cream colored, had four white feet, saddle marks and a dark mane and tail.

The picture to the right shows Mrs. Matilda Lyman, standing in front of her residence.  She was the wife of Sheriff Gaylord Lyman.

The house appears to be a common example of the 1860's.  It had a plain board fence and wooden gate around the house.  The chimney has loose bricks laying on the roof and the wooden shingles appear to be of low quality.  There is a wooden sidewalk running by the house.

Several prominent people had more elaborate houses with picket fences and at least neater shingles.  Their houses appeared to be painted, with some carving and shutters were common on the windows.

Sheriff Lyman's house had no shutters and didn't appear to be painted, but the sheriff was probably underpaid.

Mrs. Lyman's maiden name was Conat and she was born in Pomeroy, Meigs Co., Ohio February 8, 1834.  She died on the same day in 1911, Mrs. Lyman had much tragedy in her lifetime.

Her husband was shot down at the age of 42.  Two of her five children preceded her in death and her sister Matilda Stephens died at age 38, leaving seven children.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Original Armory Building Also Serves As A Garage And Even As A Skating Rink

This appeared in the Chariton Leader, Tuesday, March 10, 1992, written by John Pierce

     Company H of the Iowa National Guard was organized in April of 1895.  Col. Warren S. Dungan was the driving force behind the placing of a Guard unit at Chariton.
     Col. Dungan came to Chariton in 1856.  A practicing lawyer, Dungan was active in many county civic and political affairs.  He was an eloquent speaker and was called upon whenever a crowd gathered.
    Col. Dungan also strived at every occasion to preserve history, requesting the citizens of Lucas County to send their family histories to the newly organized Lucas County Historical Society of 1901.
    This society was the first county historical society in the state, with Col. Dungan being elected president in 1902.
    Dungan was elected state representative in 1861, but resigned when the Civil War erupted.  He was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel, and served with distinction from September 1852 until May of 1865, when he was made brevit colonel of volunteers.
    Col. Dungan was mustered out of service in July of 1865 and returned to law practice in Chariton.  He was again elected to the Iowa Legislature as a Representative in 1880 and 1882.
    Dungan was elected state senator in 1889; and, while a member of the Twenty-third General Assembly, drafted the bill to place the battle flags of the Iowa Civil War regiments in hermetically sealed glass cases in the capitol.
    This bill was passed the next session of the Iowa Legislature.
Dungan Procures Guard Unit
    In 1893, Col. Dungan was elected Lieutenant Governor of Iowa.  It was during his term as lieutenant governor that Col. Dungan was able to procure a guard unit for Chariton.
    Dungan had tried unsuccessfully for several years to acquire the guard unit, but as lieutenant governor he was able to pull the right strings.
    H.O. Penick was the first commander of Company H and soon had his men drilling for the public to see.  Company H was usually requested to march in the Fourth of July celebrations.
    With equipment arriving from the state, plans were made for an Armory building.  A site was selected two blocks south of the square on Main Street.
    Now known as Main and Armory, the building sat on the southeast corner of the intersection where the Richard and Kaye Stout home is presently located.
    The Armory faced west, with the cornerstone being laid Sept. 19, 1895; and the dedication taking place on Dec. 20, 1895.
    One item of note concerning the temporary headquarters of Company H, it seems a bull was running loose on the square on a hot day in August of 1895.
    Upon turning a corner of the new courthouse, this bull caught his reflection in a basement window on the northeast corner.  The bull apparently took a dislike to this newcomer and promptly charged, breaking a window in what was described as the temporary meeting place of Company H.
    Company H was called to active duty in the Spanish American War, and also hosted two encampments in the Fifty-Fifth Iowa National Guard.
    Both encampments were held at the Burlington reserve grounds west of Chariton, now the Country Club area.  The first encampment was called Camp Lincoln and was held in July of 1909.
    The second encampment was called Camp Castle and was held in July of 1913.  Company H was mustered out of service in May of 1915.
    Should Company H cease to exist, the Armory was to be sold, with the money going toward the proposed Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
Armory Begins New Career
      With Company H now mustered out, the Armory began a new career.  It had always hosted dances and, later, basketball games, now it became a roller skating arena as noted in the ad, which appeared on this page in the newspaper.
    By the end of 1919, the Armory had become a garage with H.E. Gookin as proprietor, Ross Stevenson and Paul Laing were partners in the Armory garage by 1925, with Laing buying out Stevenson in 1926.
    Paul Laing then ran the Armory garage until Miller Ream bought him out in 1941.  Laing went on to become a deputy sheriff and then sheriff of Lucas County.
    Paul's brother, Dean, worked for both Paul and Miller Ream at the Armory garage.
    The Armory burned on Dec. 31, 1943.  The building was a total loss with damage estimated at thirty thousand dollars.  Miller ream lost 13 cars including six 1942 models.
    Others losing cars included Dr. A.L. Yocom, Juanita Cooper and Andy Bradford, all of Chariton, and H. Whitlatch of Columbia and Harold Ginsburg of Ottumwa, who lost a motorcycle and side car.

    John Pierce, who lives in rural Marion County between Chariton and Columbia, has been a history buff since his high school days.
    Born in Chariton, John has compiled an extensive collection of historical information on the Chariton area.  He also has direct family ties to the Lucas County Historical Society; his mother Marlene Stevenson , was the curator.
    He has given talks on local history to various area groups.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Where the Big Coffee Pot could be found

This picture shows another Chariton business, Joseph A. Brown's Stoves, Tin and Hollowware Store.  It was located north of the northwest corner of the square on what was then Harrison Street (now called Main Street).  It was easy to find in Chariton as an ad of that era encouraged shoppers to find the store at the sign of the "Big Coffee Pot."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

North Side of Chariton Square 1869

The North side of the Chariton square as it was in 1869.  Starting on the west end of the square was the A.D. Gray grocery store.  Like several of the merchants of this era, he handled a variety of items including boots and shoes.  A washtub hung by the side of the door.

The second door of the A.D. Gray building housed the dental office of Doctor J.L. Hagin.  A small sign to the right of the doorknob said, simply, DENTIST.

The second building had no identification on it, but since W.H. Huyek had an auction business and a consignment shop on the north side - and with several articles stacked in front of this building - we might hazard a guess that this was his place.

A sign on the third building said that it was a law office.  In early 1869, Chariton had nine law firms, helping a young and growing community understand laws and define justice.

Information taken from ads placed at that time help to reveal who was located in the law offices.

J.W. Wilkerson, George P. Walker, Branner and Baker and E.E. Edwards were all located in the old brick courthouse.  W.H. Maple and E. M. Thorpe and Sons were on the west side of the square.

A.H. Stutsman was on the southeast corner of the square, upstairs, Warren S. Dungan was on the northeast corner of the square, upstairs.

That leaves the north side location to the Stuart Brothers of Chariton and Albia, whose ad said they would practice in all Courts of Southern Iowa and in the Supreme Court.

The Stuart Law Firm remained in business from March 1860 to November 1961.  Judge William C. Stuart and his family donated all the pictures John Pierce used in his articles about the history of Chariton.  This book remains at the Lucas County Genealogy Society and is available for reading.  The pictures and articles in this blog came from this book.

The fourth building was Mrs. M.A. Hatcher's Millinery store - or, as her ad stated, an Emporium of Fashion.

There are several possibilities as to what was in the fifth building.

The Lyman and Cook and Co. had a bank located on the north side.  In addition, Jesse Lewis had a general contracting business with a shop located on the north side, and Mr. B. Horn had a house and sign painting shop located on the north side.

The fifth building hardly looks like a bank, but it would be only speculation as to who was located there maybe then as now, an empty storefront?

The sixth building was the L.F. Maple Book Store, dealer in books, wallpaper, window shades, stationery and notions.  He also stated that he had a fine circulating library.  By December of 1869, Maple had located to his more familiar spot on the west side of the square.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lucas County Courthouse

The second Lucas County courthouse replaced the old log courthouse built in 1850.  It was located on the east side of the square just south of the alley.  Jack Jennings and his Turner's clothing store was located in this building when John Pierce wrote these articles.

In June of 1858, the citizens of Lucas County voted 588 to 71 to build a new courthouse on the public square.  This brick structure would be sixty foot square, two stories high with a bell tower, and was to have cost around thirteen thousand, five hundred dollars to build.

Actual costs pushed this figure closer to twenty thousand dollars.  The builder was W.T. Wade, with County Judge Ethan Gard supervising.  Under Judge Gard's direction, the foundation was made of logs.  This was something new in architecture and proved to be the building's undoing.

After about ten years, cracks appeared in the walls to the extent that many believed the building would collapse.  Sheriff Gaylord Lyman rented a church where court was held.

When the courthouse didn't collapse, court was again held there until 1891.  On November 11, 1891 the Board of Supervisors ordered county offices to be vacated.  Supervisor A.M. Wheeler was appointed to find suitable rooms, which he did at a cost of one thousand dollars per year.

The records and offices were relocated to the upper story of the Dewey block, which was the east end of the south side of the square.  This arrangement continued until the present courthouse was completed in 1894.

The picture of the second courthouse shows the north and west side.  The second floor of the south side is where Hiram Wilson, murdered of Sheriff Lyman, was hung.

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Men, Whiskey, and Women" 1868 Conspiracy Foiled

by John G. Pierce

Much information for the following story was taken from the Dec. 10, 1868 Chariton Democrat with Jonathan Faith as editor.  The Democrat offices were located upstairs in the old brick courthouse.  Subscription rates were two dollars a year, in advance.

A Plan to Murder, Burn and Rob Chariton

With several strange men congregating in Chariton in the fall of 1868, local citizens became suspicious.  The Civil War had been over but a mere three years, during and immediately after which raiders had burned and robbed several towns in nearby Missouri and Kansas.

With such history in mind, one can see how the suspicions of the citizens of Chariton were well founded.  The strangers, incidentally, were most noticeable around the Opposition House.

Four places were targeted for robbery:  The Courthouse safe, Frank Stewart's Store, the Bank (which would be either the Lyman, Cook & Co. bank or the F.W. Brooks and Co. bank) and finally the Opposition House itself.

The plan began to unravel, however, when a cook in the Opposition House overheard gang members discussing blowing open the Courthouse safe.

Sheriff Gaylord Lyman was notified, and while concealed in the kitchen, overheard conversations between two of the perpetrators about robbing the bank.

Later, when authorities were satisfied their suspicions were correct, four people were arrested (although several others were also believed to be involved).

During the trial that followed, two people turned State's Evidence: Mary Jane Boyd, wife of a convict and apparently a "lady" of the Opposition House and J.H. Carr, the bar tender at Musselman's Saloon.

Thomas Bliss, described as an old resident of Chariton, was tried and acquitted.  Only Edmund Holden was convicted.  He was 23 years old and apparently a drifter.

Testimony during the four-day trial revealed that Holden was going to shoot Musselman when he robbed his place, and that Holden was to get $1,000 to blow open the Courthouse safe.  Holden further stated that he was used to this kind of business.

In his closing statement, Holden stated "that bad whiskey, bad company and damned bad women had got me into this scrape."

Monday, November 08, 2010

Early Growth, Prosperity reflected in 1869 Chariton Square

This building, owned by Joseph Brown, housed two businesses: the Brown and Pritchet Meat Market and the office of the Chariton Patriot.  Located on the northwest corner of the square, this was considered a "new" building.

The Brown and Prichet Meat Market, was located downstairs and was apparently a popular gathering place.  Possibly the picture was taken on a Wednesday as people gathered for the latest news, or maybe a fresh load of meat was due in that day.

The office of the newspaper, the Chariton Patriot,   was located upstairs of this "new" building and the paper was published every Wednesday.  Terms of subscriptions were two dollars a  year, in advance.  George B. Ragsdale was the editor and Moses Folsom was the proprietor.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Russell Iowa Historical Society

Be sure you check out the new blog for the Russell Iowa Historical Society.  Click on the following link.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Our Family History Rooms at the Chariton Library

The Chariton Public Library is very proud to have a wonderful organization in its Family History Room in the basement of their building.  This organization, The Lucas County Genealogy Society, has gathered and kept records on residents in Lucas County since 1976.  

There are hundreds of family history books, a well indexed list from local newspapers (which is on the Internet and available to everyone at ) military books, pictures and much more.  The response to this on-line site has been amazing.

These two rooms are very crowded, so last summer several of the volunteers met at the library for a "Clean-up Day".  They cleaned shelves, moved stuff around and now have a little more room.
The Family Sheets and/or Family Histories are now on the south wall and wrap around on the West wall for about a foot.  The Military books and records are now in the north room.  The other states items are now back in the stack room as they weren't being used.  They are still in the process of getting all the other things that were on the south wall into the north room or on the west wall.

They think it is a big improvement and hope everyone will come see the changes.  They can now accommodate researchers better, which they really enjoy doing.

The information in this room would not be available if it were not for the volunteers.  The organization is very proud of these people and all they do to keep the information organized.  They work constantly adding more and more to this collection.

Be sure you schedule a visit to this part of the Library the next time you are in Chariton.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

City of Lucas Park

The wind has been blowing some pretty strong gusts across most of Iowa this week and we all know it is finally getting temperatures down near normal.  While driving along Hwy 34 through Lucas yesterday I noticed the glistening waves on the small pond in front of the Lucas City Park.  (I am not sure of the name of this park; it might be the John L. Lewis Park because there is a sign with his name on it in the park).  Anyway here is a picture I thought  some of you might enjoy.

City of Chariton

Origin of Name of This City
Annals of Iowa for October, An Historical Quarterly, Gives the Answer


Lewis and Clark in Their Famous Expedition, went up Missouri River and Noted Chariton River in Diary

This article appeared in the November 10, 1927 Herald Patriot Newspaper

In 1804 when the Lewis and Clark expedition went up the Missouri river and passed the mouths of the Chariton Rivers they noted the name in the diary they kept describing their trip.  In the "History of the Expedition of Lewis and Clark." by Elliott Coues, the original diary is published and the editor makes notes.  On the origin of this name we quote from Vol. 1, pages 19 and 31 as follows:

June 10th, 1804 we passed Deer Creek and, at the distance of five miles, the two rivers called by the French, the two Charatons; a corruption of Thieraton (read Charretin), the first of which is 30, the second 70 yards wide.

June 24, 1804, we passed at eight miles distance, Hay Cabin Creek, coming in from the south, about 20 yards wide, and so-called from camps of straw built on it.  To the north are some rocks projecting into the river, and a little beyond them is a creek on the same side, called Charaton Scarty - that is, Charaton like the Otter.

This word has never been satisfactorily explained; certainly the explanation attempted in the text is itself a misprint or other blunder.  It might be either Charieton or Chariatan; the former is given on page 347 of the orig. ed.; the latter would match Gasconade, as applied to another river.  The various forms in which we find it add to our perplexity.  Thus it is the Cheraton of Collo in 1796; Charieton is Perrin du Lac's style in 1805; Lewis' map of 1806 has Charliton; Clark's 1814, prinis the two Charatons; Brackenridge 1814, gives Chareton or Chariton, p. 211 and p. 265; Long, 1823, Charaton; Nicollet's map, 1843, Chariton; some of the spurious Lewis and Clark books make it Chareturn; Gass strikes out for himself with two Charlottes, p. 16; Pike, 1810, is satisfied with two Charlatans; Lapie, 1821, has but one river, which he calls R. des deux Charlatans.  I only discovered what it ought to be on consulting L. and C.'s MSS. (see note under date of June 24th.)  The name has now settled into the form Chariton for both rivers, for the county, and for a town.  The two rivers were formerly distinguished in French as Grand and Petit Charletons (so Perrin du Lac); they have also been called a Great and Little, and West and East.  They are probably the pair of rivers called les rivieres aux racines by D'Anville, 1752, though his map runs them separately into the Missouri.  These rivers reach the Missouri through Chariton county, with Howard county adjoining at the confluence.  The Chicago and Alton R.R. crosses the Missouri a little below this point, and both Charitons are crossed above by the Wabash, St. Louis, and Pacific R.R.  The streams are sort of straight, north and south, parallel with many branches of the Grand River, which comes into the Missouri a little higher up.  This is the main drainage into the Missouri of the rise to 1,000 to the west and the north.  East of the Charitons the drainage is into the Mississippi.

See note at the date of June 10th.  Since that was penned, I have come into possession of all of the original manuscripts of Lewis and Clark, which Nicholas Biddle had when he wrote his book, and several other field notebooks, which were at the time in the hands of President Jefferson.  These throw new light on the puzzling word "Charaton."  On June 10th Clark wrote:  "passed the two rivers of the Charietons, which mouth together;" on June 24th he wrote:  "Charreton Carta," as the name of the creek now in question.  Lewis' MMS, yield us "Charetton" in one place and "Shariton" in another.  Now when ABiddle struck these snags he upset, and wrote a letter to Clark  (now before me) dated July 7th, 1810, asking: "What is the real name and spelling of the stream called Sharriton Carta and also the two Charietons?  Get some of the Frenchmen at St. Louis to put them down exactly as they should be printed."  Clark's reply I never saw; the upshot as above printed has hitherto defied conjecture.  But the meaning is now clear.  For "Charaton Scarty:" read Charretins ecartes, i.e., two creeks, each named Charretin, which are separated or divergent in their courses though emptying together into the Missouri.  There are a pair of creeks in Clay county, Mo., which exactly answer this description, and are in just the right place.  Then for the attempted explanation, "like the Otter," read simply, "like the other," i.e. like the two other rivers called by the same name, having one mouth, though they are separated (ecartes) in their courses.  The word Charretin (also Chartin) will be found in any good French dictionary.  It is a derivative of Charrette, which we have seen before as a place named on the Missouri.

Chariton Square Looked Different in Late 1860's


In the late 1860's Chariton was in a period of rapid growth and change.  The railroad had come through Chariton in 1867 and the Civil War had ended a couple of years before that.  Wooden structures were being built to house businesses that were rapidly coming to this town.  Two brick buildings belonging to Matson and another to O.L. Palmer were located on the square.  Matson's was located on the west side of the square, while Palmer's was on the east side.

The picture above shows the east end of the north side of the square.  None of the buildings are now standing.  The first building on the right was a hardware store, followed by an empty lot.  

Wm. McDermit's boot and shoe manufacturers occupied the third lot.  The fourth lot housed the Alex Rogers' furniture manufacturers.  If you were to look close you might see two straight-back chairs dangling from the furniture store front.

The fifth lot housed the G.W. Black Hardware Store, and it and the empty lot next door are still in the G.W. Blake family via the Blake Johnson Family.

An unknown business occupied the seventh lot.  The "new" building, on the final lot, belonged to Colonel Dungan, and was occupied by M. Schworn's General Merchandise business.

The Opposition House, located in the building on the Northeast corner of the square and was of special interest.  Thomas Musselman ran the hotel, restaurant, saloon and apparently a "house of ill fame."  It was located where the Charitone Hotel is now.  (There will be more about the Opposition House in following stories).

A few additional points regarding the photo:  In 1869, the street on the north side of the square (now Court Avenue) was called Madison.  Also, it is interesting to point out the board fence and hitch rail around the courtyard.  The fence was necessary at that time to keep hogs, cattle and horses out of the courthouse yard.  There was also a wooden boardwalk across the street.

Directly north of the old brick courthouse was something unusual - but most certainly a necessity in 1869:  a double outhouse.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Richmond Family of Chariton

This is a story about Romulus Rufus Richmond and his wife Lillie Jones Green. 

Lillie was born in Missouri on July 4, 1862, the daughter of slave parents, but was buried in Chariton, Iowa.  Lillie's grandmother, Charity Green was born in Kentucky in 1800 and was sold several times as a slave.  Mrs. Green died at the age of 103 in Omaha, Nebraska.
In order for her father to escape from slave owners, he was sent further south.  Lillie managed to escape with her grandparents and five aunts and uncles.

On December 29, 1880 R.R. married Lillie Jones Green in Wisconsin.  The Richmond's came to Chariton in 1887 from Lancaster, Wisconsin.  Romulus and Lillie were the parents of ten children, Scott, Grace, John, Lillian, Joseph, Henry, Macco, Tom, Booker and Florence, also known as "Petey".  They made their home at 224 South 11th Street and she continued living in this home after Romulus past away.

Lillie worked as a cook for almost 50 years in the Burlington Depot Hotel and the Railroad Café, both in Chariton.

In addition to being a minister, Mr. Richmond was an inventor of some note.  He was the holder of 3 United States Patents including an automatic machine gun and 2 cemetery burial devices.

His first patent of April 2, 1895 was for an apparatus to lower or raise a coffin into a grave with the use of straps and cables.  

His second design, patented December 8, 1896, was an automatic rapid firing machine gun.  The gun was capable of firing 200 shots a minute. 

Another invention was a machine that cut and mined coal with the aid of cranks.  The machine did the work of three men.

Richmond's third patent was for a burial device and was awarded to him by the US Patent and Trademark Office on March 30, 1897.  This invention was used to separate the yellow colored earth from the black dirt, so the black dirt could be used on top of the grave.

These burial devices were of much help to Mr. Richmond during his tenure as sexton of the Chariton Cemetery.

Romulus R. Richmond died before 1910.  Several family members are also buried in the Chariton Cemetery.

Daughter Grace Shilton Richmond died in February 1904.  After graduating from Chariton High School in 1901, Grace became a teacher and taught in Missouri.  She died as a result of a cold that she received while attending the funeral of her fiancé who died in a mining accident.

John Richmond died in 1932 at the age of 47.  He was a WWI veteran and was gassed and wounded in battle.

Shortly before brothers Tom and Booker were inducted into the army during WWII, their sister Lillie Nevada Richmond passed away in January 1942.  Lillie was born October 7, 1888 and was a member of the Christian Science Church.

Henry was a Sgt. in WWII and served in France and Germany. He died in January 1946, following an automobile accident.

Macco Richmond served as Lt. in France for 2½ years in WWI.  A train east of Chariton hit him in February 1954.

Tom Richmond, like his brother Henry, was a mechanic.  He was also a WWII veteran.  He died at age 55 in September 1957.

Just 2 weeks after Tom died, Booker, the last living son of Romulus and Lillie Richmond, died in Des Moines just 26 days before his 53rd birthday.

Booker T. Richmond graduated from Chariton High in 1925 and went on to attend Coe College, Grinnell College, Marquette University and the University of Iowa Law School.  In 1930, he passed the state bar exams with the highest score of the 15 Iowans to take the test at that time.  He played basketball and football at CHS.  He was a member of the undefeated debate team at U. of I.  He practiced law in Mason City and Des Moines.  He was also a WWII veteran.  Booker was born just a few months before Booker T. Washington spoke at the Chariton Chautauqua in 1904

Florence Blanche Richmond was the last surviving child of R.R. and Lillie.  Many of us knew her as "Petey".  She died at her home on September 17, 1979 at the age of 85.  She was born in Chariton and lived all her life in this vicinity.  She attended school through the 8th grade but did not further her education so that she might help her mother and younger brothers and sisters of which there was a civil engineer, a school teacher and an attorney.  "Petey" never married.  She gave of her time and love to those who needed her; never expecting anything in return.  If there was stress or sickness in the neighborhood she was always ready to lend a helping hand.  She was a firm believer in God and read her Bible daily. 

The Richmond children stayed close with their mother long after their father died.

Lillie celebrated her 78th birthday in 1940 with a large party attended by her many friends.  She died in 1952.

I referred to a compilation written by Melody Wilson of the Chariton Historic Preservation commission in 2008, for this information.  It appeared in the Richmond Family History Book at the Lucas County Genealogical Society room in the basement of the Chariton Library.
From the Chariton Leader - Nov. 4, 1947

Ex-Slave Tells of Wisconsin Flight in the 1860's

Chariton Woman Tells of Early Experiences

Last summer Mrs. Lillie Richmond took her annual trip to her old home in Wisconsin. While
there a reporter for the Lancaster, Wis., Herald interviewed her and we are reproducing it with the permission of the publisher.

By Mrs. David Chichton

Lancaster, Wis. - Meet Aunt Lillie Richmond, an ex-slave and proud of it. Aunt Lillie was 85 on July 4 and she says, “All I know about slavery is what my folks told me. It’s kinda like something out of a story book.” But the familiar story told and retold among her own people, makes her heritage of freedom seem very precious. She was double proud also to have two of her sons in World War I and one in World War II.

Aunt Lillie’s home is in Chariton, Ia., where she owns a comfortable house earned by 25 years of cooking in Maggie Downard’s railroad café. When summer comes she gets a longing for her old home near Lancaster and there’s always a warm welcome waiting for her at the Bemtown township farm where three generations have lived, now occupied by her niece, Mrs. Dick Lewis.

History for Centennial

Mrs. Lewis is writing for the Wisconsin Centennial a history of her people, some of whom have been in Wisconsin ever since it became a state in 1848. Aunt Lillie is helping her with the little details which come to mind about her arrival as she sits and quilts or mends. “She’s a beautiful seamstress,” says the niece. “When she comes, I get caught up on my sewing like magic."

In Missouri, back in 1862 when she was born. Aunt Lillie relates, “Freedom was sort of in the
air, Black folks were sort of getting restless. Not that they weren’t treated all right. They had no complaint. I’ve heard grandfather say so many and many a time. It was just that they were restless and wanted to be on their own."

So they saved and saved, pennies, two-cent pieces, three-cent pieces and nickles and dimes, until one day, among them, they had $50. That was their stake, and a lot of money. That night, Grandfather John Green and Grandmother Lillie Green, and their five grown children, Hardy, Tom, Amy, Francis and Sarah, and grandmother’s brother, Tom Smith, struck out for the north and freedom, walking, all except baby Lillie, who was carried in her grandfather’s arms.

Their immediate destination was St. Louis, where grandfather had gone numerous times with loads of apples. After walking all night one of the boys, by “hook or crook, Aunt Lillie says, came up with a team and wagon. Elated, they piled in, but then troubles were not over.

They were helped here and there, by friends of the underground, but they also heard that the Bushwackers were on their trail. They made the best time they could but were beset with anxiety every mile of the way, for fugitive slaves were fair prey for a lawless element that roamed the countryside during the war years in Missouri.

Finally they reached St. Louis safely, Grandfather went to a man he had sold apples to for years and knew to be honest and friendly. “Grandfather said he wanted to ask a favor and the man said he would be glad to be of service, “ I want some one to see to it that this team and wagon is returned to the plantation,” Grandfather said.

“The man smiled and said, John, if you took a dozen teams and wagons it wouldn’t pay you for what you justly have coming to you.” But grandfather would have none of that and made the man promise to get the team back to the plantation, which he did.” Aunt Lillie said.

First Train Ride

The Greens boarded a train, the first they ever had been on. They landed at Dunleith, now East Dubuque. They spent their first winter on a farm near Bloomington. Some of the boys fought in the Civil war. In 1870 they bought the homestead now occupied by Mrs. Lewis and her husband.

Aunt Lillie’s husband, dead for many years, was Romulus Richmond. He studied for the
ministry and preached for some years. They had 10 children, whose raising fell largely upon Aunt Lillie’s broad shoulders. She is wise in the use of common medicinal herbs and homemade remedies. “I had to be,” the laughs,

When the children were old enough she went to work in the railroad café, where it was nothing at all to turn out 30 to 40 pies in the forenoon in addition to the regular cooking. Her smile was known up and down the line and there was genuine regret when she retired three years ago - Grant Co. Herald.