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All My Children


     Loretta’s daughter, Rosemary “Todi” Jackson Hughes, remembers her grandmother, Margaret:
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     Will and Margaret’s children became the Arvin clan’s next generation. Following the strong example set by their mother, they continued to care for one another during her lifetime and for many years after her death. They were all seriously affected by the Great Depression—some worse than others—and by events from which there was no escape. But they helped each other through these trials and troubles, and in the end the family survived. They were good people.    

Mary Ann, the first-born child, was driven and ambitious. She became a child of destiny. She was born 3 December 1879 in the log cabin built by her grandfather during the Civil War. She spent her first few years there, until her father and mother built their own cabin on the land. The family moved to a home on the outskirts of Loogootee, Martin County, in 1899, and Mary is listed in the U.S. Census of 1900, as living with her parents. At age 19, she gave her occupation as “Sales Woman.” She had already finished 8 years of grade school and four years of high school in Loogootee (most likely at St. John’s Catholic School.) She was most interested in history and mathematics, and that’s where she received her best grades. After graduation, she attended Teacher’s Normal School in Loogootee, but rather than become a teacher, she had taken a job at Larkin Brothers general merchandise store in town. She tells us later that her starting salary in January, 1900, was $260.00 per year, but by 1907 it had increased to $390.00. She was talented, poised and hard working, and she began to think about larger fields to plow than there were in Loogootee, Indiana.
     Her younger brother, Louis Edward, moved to Kansas City in 1906, and his sweetheart from Loogootee, Catherine Moran, soon followed him there. They married in September. Mary heard all the stories about this exciting, vibrant city, and she yearned to take advantage of all the opportunities that were available there. But her father was bedridden, and her mother needed her at home. Then her father contracted tuberculosis, and it resulted in a tragic, lingering death for him in early 1907. As Will was near death, Louis and Catherine came back to help the family. In talking with them, Mary began to realize that the family’s very survival depended on the jobs they could find in Kansas City, which was a virtual boom town at that time. The three of them convinced Margaret to relocate, and Margaret made her decision. Together, they could put the plan into action.

    It took some doing, but the entire family relocated to Kansas City in June, 1907. Everyone except Margaret and the baby, Loretta, found what they had to have: employment. Always a high achiever, Mary attended Central Business College, at 8th and Grand Blvd. in Kansas City, and learned stenography. The details are unclear, but she was employed as a stenographer either during or after her attendence at the school. Or both.
     Mary’s first employer might have been the Pioneer Trust Company, a large downtown bank located at 1014 Baltimore. The records of the Jackson County Recorder of Deeds show that in December, 1908, Mary A. Arvin bought a one-half acre plot of undeveloped land southeast of the city limits. (The location is today the south half of the block bounded by 57th St., Myrtle Avenue, 58th St. and Mersington.) She paid $1,600.00 for the property. Then, she immediately resold it for the same price to the Pioneer Trust Company. The details of this transaction are unknown; perhaps she was acting as an agent/employee of Pioneer Trust.
     In February, 1909, Mary’s real business life in Kansas City began in earnest. She started working as a stenographer for the T.W. Ballew Lumber Company. The boss’s son-in-law, Benjamin C. Hyde, had recently moved to town and lived at 116 E Morningside Drive in a fashionable area on the south side of the city. He was being groomed to take over the business. Ben C. Hyde would soon become a mover and a shaker in Kansas City, an active member of Kansas City’s upper social class. The company later enlarged its business interests from lumber to real estate loans and insurance. “Benjamin Carroll the secretary and treasurer of the T.W. Ballew Loan & Investment Company. He has become thoroughly familiar with many forms of investment and is a prominent figure in the financial circles of his adopted city. He is also a director of the Security National Bank and has many other interests....Mr. Hyde is a member of the Kansas City Club, the Kansas City Athletic Club, the Blue Hills Country Club, the Mission Hills Country Club, the Noonday Club and other prominent organizations. He is fond of golf and various phases of outdoor life.”27

     Mary proved to be a very competent and stalwart employee at Ballew. She fit in well and was dependable. The City Directory shows her working as a stenographer at Clark & Bates in 1911, then at George L. Davis in 1912, but the principal of the companies was really Ben Hyde all along. Mr. Hyde had recognized her talents early on, and he gave her new assignments and promoted her again and again. Her starting salary was $780 per year in 1909, double what she had made back in Loogootee at Larkin Brothers. By October of 1912, it had risen to $1,200 per year.
     At that time, Mr. Hyde promoted her back to T. W. Ballew (now called T. W. Ballew Loan & Investment Company), made her his personal secretary, gave her the title of cashier, and increased her salary to $1320 per year. T.W. Ballew Loan & Investment was now located in the prestigious, newly-built Waldheim Building, shown here, tall and white, in this view looking northeast, at the intersection of fashionable “Petticoat Lane” (11th Street) and Main Street.

     In December of 1918, Mary Arvin, age 39, and Charles S. McClung, a 49 year-old traveling salesman for the Columbian Hog & Cattle Powder Co., were married. He sold vitamin supplement powder in wholesale quantities to feed stores in his territory. The ceremony took place at St. James Catholic Church in Kansas City. Her sisters, Loretta and Genevieve,  were witnesses. Their first year of marriage, Charlie and Mary lived in an apartment building at 913 Holmes Road, about a mile east of her office. The next year they moved a little west, to the Densmore Hotel, at 908-914 Locust Street, a comfortable, informal place within easy walking distance of her office. Charlie liked it there.

     Benjamin Hyde’s younger brother, Arthur M. Hyde, a successful businessman and politician from Trenton, Missouri, was elected Governor of Missouri in 1921. A Republican, he served his term, then came to Kansas City to join Ben in his business enterprises. By this time, Mrs. Mary A. McClung had become an indespensible member of Benjamin Hyde’s team. Her star continued to rise. She was one of his most competent and trusted employees. She herself now held his old title of secretary-treasurer of the T. W. Ballew Loan & Investment Co. (Ben was now president.) Mary and her husband, Charlie, could now afford to stay at the Hyde Park Hotel, out south at 36th and Broadway, one of Kansas City’s finest. Mary found her work to be not only challenging, but also very rewarding. For his part, Charlie may have felt a little uncomfortable in this crowd, but he just let her run. He really had no choice. There was no stopping her.

     In 1927, Mr. Arthur Mastick Hyde burst upon the Kansas City business scene as president of the newly formed Sentinel Life Insurance Co., also located downtown at 318-320 East 10th Street. This company would be well connected, well capitalized and politically correct. Arthur was the former Governor of the State, and Ben had been the Superintendent of Insurance for the State of Missouri since 1921. The new company’s debut was announced by way of a large display ad in the business directory that year. Again, Mary was given a challenging assignment. Now she would be Arthur’s personal secretary, and she would help him establish this new enterprise. Her salary was increased to a stellar $2,100 per year.
     In keeping with her new status, Mary decided that she and Charlie should move back downtown, to the very up-scale Baltimore Hotel, perhaps Kansas City’s most prestigious place to live. “For three decades the business and social life of Kansas City centered around the Baltimore Hotel, located between 11th and 12th on Baltimore.” Mary loved the glamour of it all. Charlie, well, not so much.

     Then, in 1928, even bigger wheels began turning. The Republican Party chose Kansas City as the venue for its national presidential convention, which was held in June. As former governor of the state, Arthur Hyde was named an at-large delegate, and attended the four daily sessions of the convention. Another exciting development: the Baltimore Hotel became the headquarters for the leading Republican candidate, incumbent Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover. Although Mr. Hoover had never run for office, he was the most popular figure of his time and a natural candidate for the presidency. He was nominated on the first ballot. Senator Charles Curtis of Kansas took the nomination for Vice President.
     That November, the Republicans won in a landslide, and a lengthy interregnum began. In those slower moving times, the President-elect did not take office until March 4th of the following year. Over the winter, Mr. and Mrs. Hoover spent a month’s vacation in Florida, on Miami’s Belle Island. Arthur M. Hyde was one of the many people invited to visit Mr. Hoover during his stay there. In an unexpected move, Hoover offered him a job in his new administration: Secretary of Agriculture. This was an important post. Agriculture made up about 25% of GDP in those days. Half of all America was rural, many homes without electricity or indoor plumbing. The job offer was stunning news, but Hoover made no public announcements, and Arthur Hyde kept it to himself, although Mary may have known what was up.
     One by one, the cabinet nominations became known, and finally only the Secretary of Agriculture remained a mystery. While the national press was still speculating, the local newspaper, The Kansas City Star, had the privilege of breaking the story. It ran a front page spread on Saturday, March 2nd, just two days before the inauguration. The story had a two column headline,
HYDE TO THE CABINET and a three column wide sketch of the new Secretary-nominee. The story continued inside, with a picture of him and his family. In the next few days, there were more stories about him as the excitement built. The city, the state, indeed the entire midwest was abuzz with the news. Mr. Hyde and his family went off to Washington to attend the inauguration, which was held on Monday, March 4, 1929.
     The Vice President and the cabinet members rode in the inauguration parade from the Capitol down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, where they were guests at a luncheon held by the new president. Cabinet members received $15,000.00 per year, plus the use of a motor car with a chauffeur. (The new president was going to serve without pay, a first.) The next day, Tuesday, March 5th, Arthur M. Hyde’s nomination to Secretary of Agriculture was quickly confirmed by the United States Senate. (Congress was also controlled by the Republicans, and had been for a decade.) On Tuesday, he met with William Jardine, the outgoing Secretary, who showed him around. The Department’s Chief Clerk, R. M. Reese, administered the oath of office. Jardine told him that the Department of Agriculture had about 40,000 employees, but that he only needed to make two appointments—or, more correctly, recommend that the president make two appointments—that of the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture and his personal stenographer. The rest of the employees were under Civil Service. We don’t know how long it took the new Secretary of Agriculture to select his Assistant Secretary, Renwick William Dunlop, but we are certain he knew right away who would be the perfect choice for his stenographer. She was always up for a challenge. Her name was Mary.
     We can also imagine that, in the next few days, Secretary Hyde made a long distance telephone call to Mary, perhaps while she was working at Sentinel Insurance back in Kansas City. (“Hello, Mary? This is Arthur....”) He made her a blockbuster proposition. He asked her if she would accept an appointment by the President of the United States to the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture, to work with him, Arthur Hyde, as his personal secretary in Washington. The appointment would be effective April first. Mary was stunned, then apprehensive, then intrigued, then excited, then convinced. Her drive and ambition ultimately told her this was the opportunity of a lifetime, which it absolutely was. Over the next few days, she talked it over with Charlie, and the decision was made. She had to go, there was no way she could not go. Charlie seemed to be OK with it, but said he would stay in Kansas City, at least for the time being. That old inferiority thing started eating at him again.
     After a sleepless night or two, Mary called Mr. Hyde back and let him know she was up for the challenge. Delighted, Secretary Hyde asked his new Adminstrative Assistant, F. H. Spencer, to handle the details of Mary’s appointment. He made Mr. Dunlop the Acting Secretary of Agriculture. Then he left Washington, bound for his old home town of Trenton, Missouri.


                                                      letter  return  Personal History  Oath  Classification  back  

      After all the paperwork arrived on the desk of the Chief Clerk, R. M. Reese (the same man who had administered the Oath of Office), he made his recommendation to Assistant Secretary Dunlop: appoint Mary McClung to this position. Mr. Dunlop rubber stamped his approval. (Notice that Mr. Reese annotated at the bottom of his recommendation that, under Civil Service rules, Mary would not acquire competitive status or become eligible for any other position. She had come into the government’s employ via Presidential Appointment, rather than by way of a competitive placement.) An official Notification was typed up for Mary.

     Meanwhile, Secretary Hyde returned in triumph to Trenton, Missouri, where now everybody was his friend, stayed overnight, then went on to Kansas City, arriving on March 25. An artist’s sketch of Arthur M. Hyde, Secretary of Agriculture, appeared in The Kansas City Star newspaper on March 26. A story about Mary’s appointment as his secretary ran on the front page of that same edition of the paper. The following day, March 27, Mary’s picture appeared in the paper. It appeared in other papers across the country as well. (This one the Niagara Falls, New York, Gazette.) These were heady times for everyone in Kansas City, especially the Arvin family.
     In the next few days, Mary packed up all her belongings and was preparing to leave. There was a snag of some sort, so she sent a telegram to Mr. Spencer on Friday March 29, to let him know she would be delayed. Then when everything was finally ready, Mary kissed her husband goodbye at the station and boarded a train bound for Washington, D.C. Poor Charlie must have been in a daze.
    She arrived on Monday, the first of April. She had sent Mr. Spencer another telegram, giving her arrival time, so that the chauffeur could pick her up. Soon, she found herself being shown around the Headquarters of the United States Department of Agriculture. It was all a dream world. She must have felt like she was Alice in Wonderland.
     The official record of the Department of Agriculture notes that, “Mrs. Mary A McClung, who until recently was secretary to Mr. Hyde as president of the Sentinel Life Insurance Co. of Kansas City, Mo., has accepted appointment in the office of the secretary, to succeed Miss Patricia Parker, resigned.” 28 (Miss Parker was William Jardine’s niece.) Mary was now working with her same old friend and boss in a thrilling new environment. She had been appointed by President Hoover to the office of the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States, as a Junior Administrative Assistant, CAF-7 (Clerical-Administrative-Fiscal, Grade 7). The salary was $2,600 per year. Remarkable.
     April was the time of year for the annual efficiency ratings, and Secretary Hyde himself had to evaluate Mary’s performance. Although they had only been there for a couple of weeks, he knew what kind of a job she was capable of. After all, she had worked for him for over a year back in Kansas City. He gave her very high marks  back. Yet, even as Mary became accustomed to, even began thriving in, this vortex of federal power, something was happening to Charlie back in Kansas City. Soon they would both pay a terrible price for her presidential appointment.

THE SUMMER OF 1929      Early on, the president proposed a major piece of legislation, the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929, and this put Secretary Hyde in the thick of the administration’s efforts to pass this landmark bill, which would establish the Federal Farm Board. As Congress was on the verge of passing this bill, Mary attended Mrs. Hoover’s very first garden party, held on the south lawn of the White House.

                                                             invitation    response    article    letter home    page 2

    The following day, 15 June 1929, the Farm Board bill did become law. Secretary Hyde was now the hero of the new administration. Time Magazine put him on the cover of its August 5th issue and ran a flattering feature article about him. ( It was such a glittering, extraordinary time in Mary’s life. She took her two weeks’ vacation and returned home to Kansas City to be with Charlie and see her family. They stayed with Margaret, who was living at Zetta’s home on Tracy. It was a wonderful time for them, yet somehow Charlie had changed. There was something wrong, something different. He was not the same. After Mary said her goodbyes and returned to her world in Washington, Charlie Mac did not go back to the Baltimore Hotel. He had made the decision to withdraw from that world. He went to live back at their old place, the Densmore Hotel. Then, he made another decision....
     On Friday, September 6, Mary got a phone call in the middle of the night. Tearful and in shock, she made hasty arrangements to get back home as soon as possible.

     Saturday’s edition of the morning paper carried a front page story:
CHARLES S. M’CLUNG DIES. Friday night, three deputy sheriffs had found Mary’s husband unconscious in his car parked by the side of a rural road south of Kansas City. They called an ambulance, but he died before it arrived at the scene. Physicians said death was probably due to natural causes. The coroner said there were no outward signs indicating cause of death, and an autopsy would be performed in the morning. The article listed his residence as the Densmore Hotel.

POISON KILLED M’CLUNG shouted the headline on the front page of the Saturday evening paper. “Poison acid caused the death of Charles S. McClung, who was found dying in his motor car last night ... an autopsy revealed today. Dr. Stanley M. Hall, deputy coroner, said the quantity found and the burns in the throat indicated suicide. No note was found....” The story went on to say that Mr. McClung was happy in his relations with his wife and was a trusted employee of the Columbian Hog and Cattle Powder Company. His sister stated he was not despondent and would have had no cause for suicide. Although separated temporarily by her work in Washington, they were known by friends here as a devoted couple. She had visited here last month, and the couple spent a two-week vacation together at her mother’s home at 5439 Tracy. An officer of his company stated that, although Mr. McClung had not been very active in the firm for the last month, he had no cause to be depressed over his business. He recently had returned from a sales trip to Nebraska, where he reported business as “quiet” and said he thought he would “take it easy” for a little while. His sister thought he had been in western Missouri, but that he might have decided to go on to Nebraska without telling the company. Mrs. McClung has been notified and is on the way here from Washington. Charles McClung left the Arvin home when his wife returned to Washington two weeks ago, then went to live at the Densmore Hotel.

     Mary arrived in Kansas City on Sunday night. An article in the Monday paper said that she was unable to give a reason for her husband taking his own life. A coroner’s inquest was set for that day. The funeral was to be held Tuesday, with burial in Mount Calvary cemetery.

                                                              Death Certificate      Services for Charles

    Mary had a proper funeral for her husband, and he was buried at Calvary as reported by the paper. (The results of the coroner’s inquest could not be found in later editions of the paper.) She bought the best marker she could afford for her Charlie Mac, whom she loved, then she returned to Washington. Still grieving, she somehow found the strength to carry on at the Department of Agriculture. Washington was her life now, her only life.

THE FALL OF 1929      As summer turned to fall that year, something began to go wrong in the United States economy. Like Charlie, it too had changed. The twenties had roared for a decade, and during that time no one really detected the subtle differences in the economy until it was too late. In October, the stock market plummeted in a series of stunning crashes. Within months, the confidence of the entire nation was shattered. The Hoover administration was at the epicenter of these dramatic events, everything was happening on their watch. But they were at a loss as to what to do, if anything. Their inaction, some would say, was in fact causing the disaster.
     Through the end of the year, Hoover was in denial, believing the economy was basically sound. In reality it was cascading down upon itself. This was a crisis of leadership. Andrew Mellow, the Treasury Secretary, told the President that the only way to get the U.S. economy back on track was to “liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate....purge the rottenness out of the system.” And Hoover believed. So, purge they did.
     The price of wheat, which had been as high as $4.00 per bushel, went to 10 cents, then to nothing. Small town finances centered on small independent banks, and as agriculture went down, it pulled these banks down with it. There was no Social Security, no unemployment benefits, no minimum wage, no Federal Deposit Insurance. And there was no explanation. You were on your own. At this time, the government did not understand fiscal stimulus. At a time when deflation was the problem, the government cut spending and reduced the money supply to the point where there was almost none of it left in circulation. People pulled their money out of banks and hoarded it, crippling the banks’ ability to loan money, even forcing banks to call in loans already made. This led to loan defaults. Foreclosures. More banks failures. By 1930, the ranks of the unemployed had grown from five million to ten million. Unemployment would eventually grow to 25% of the workforce. In 1931, some public works projects were started, but never were there any direct payments to individuals by the government. It was unheard of.
     The disastrous climax came when Hoover signed a protective tariff law, making foreign sales to the United States almost impossible and causing retaliation by our trading partners. Nothing in, nothing out. The economic disaster which began in America spread through the entire world economy. A Great Depression descended on the land like a new Ice Age.

     Federal employees were not immune. In June of 1932, Congress passed (and the president signed) the Economy Act of 1932, requiring federal employees to take days off without pay. It was known informally as the Legislative Furlough. Mary’s earnings went down by about 8% beginning with the new fiscal year, which started on 1 July 1932. However, there were still some rays of sunlight through the gloom, and they illuminated the White House from time to time. Over the course of Hoover’s administration, Mary was invited annually to dinner at the White House, always a glittering event. She led a sometimes glamorous, sometimes solitary, life in the nation’s capitol.


                         1930 Invitation    Efram Zimbalist   program    1932 Invitation    1933 Invitation    table seating

     When President Hoover ran for re-election in 1932, there was another landslide. This time the Republicans were buried by it. Hoover and his cabinet were swept out of office. Their time had come, and their time had gone. Arthur M. Hyde, now the outgoing Secretary of Agriculture, made plans to return to Kansas City and practice law. Mary, on the other hand, had nothing to return to. Her husband was gone. Unemployment in Missouri was higher than even the national rate. It was frightening. There were almost no single women with jobs; certainly there was nothing which could match what she had at Agriculture, even with the furlough situation. Washington was her life. She had some serious discussions with her “superior,” and told him she wanted to stay with the Department. Arthur Hyde had always considered Mary a motivated and competent employee, able to handle her responsibilities in an effective and confidential way. He knew the pain she had gone through, the loss. He said he would recommend that she be appointed to a position in the Department of Agriculture without regard to Civil Service competitive rules for placement (but still giving her the protection of being a Civil Service employee.) True to his word, he did make such a recommendation to the president, and President Hoover agreed. His secretary, Lawrence Richey, handled the paperwork, and Mary had won her second Presidential Appointment.
     On Friday, March 3, Mr. Richey wrote back to Secretary Hyde that the deed was done. President Hoover had signed an Executive Order allowing for Mary’s appointment. (The order was later “engrossed” as Executive Order 6070. It was the very last Executive Order ever issued by President Herbert Clark Hoover.)

     Friday was the last day of the Republican administration of President Hoover, and, in fact, the last day of a Republican era. A great change was about to occur in the history of the United States government, and Mary witnessed it first hand. She had been invited to the Inauguration of the new president, the former Democratic governor of the State of New York, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

                         invitation    envelope    program    insert


     Saturday, March 4, the President and the President-elect rode together in a limousine—in icy silence—to the capitol, where Roosevelt took the oath of office at noon. Mary heard him give his famous inaugural address, in which he proclaimed that, “The only thing we have to fear is ... fear itself.” The following week, a new Democratic era began. President Roosevelt was the one issuing the executive orders now. It was a New Deal.

     Mary’s life was intertwined with the historic events that followed. On Sunday, March 5, Mr. Roosevelt’s administration took up the reins of government and found there was much transitional work to do. The president called a special session of Congress, which was now solidly Democratic. It readily agreed to declare a four-day banking holiday, designed to prevent even more money from being drained out of the economy. The president then began to submit many reform and recovery measures for congressional validation, which was readily granted. Virtually all the important bills he proposed were enacted by Congress. (The 99-day session, March 9 to June 16, came to be known as his “First Hundred Days.” It became a yardstick by which future presidents would be measured.) Things were happening in a blur.
     Over at the Department of Agriculture, Mr. Hoover’s Executive Order 6070 was waiting to be carried out. Mr. Handson, Chief, Division of Operation, made a recommendation to the new Secretary of Agriculture, Henry A. Wallace that Mary’s old Presidential Appointment (as an employee excepted from Civil Service rules) be terminated, and that she be reappointed under the new Presidential Appointment. She would, therefore, now be classified as a CAF-7 under competitive Civil Service rules. Secretary Wallace literally rubber stamped it. Mr. P L. Gladmon, Chief, Division of Appointments, notified Mary of her reappointment.

     On March 12, Roosevelt broadcast the first of his famous “fireside chats” over the radio to the American people. The president, in a pecularly conservative twist, had campaigned to balance the budget. He now proposed legislation (The Economy Act of 1933) which would cut federal workers’ pay, among other things. Congress passed it on March 20. It is not known exactly how this effected Mary, but it is certain that these were traumatic times for her, and she felt especially vulnerable. She was on her own.
     And Mary must have known what would happen next. The new Secretary of Agriculture had no intention of keeping her on as his personal secretary. He wanted his own secretary, Mary Huss, for the job. Secretary Wallace met with Mr. Holmon, and they came up with a plan. Jennie L. Weston, who had been the outgoing Assistant Secretary of Agriculture’s secretary, had been transferred to the Bureau of Plant Quarantine on March 9. Now, they decided that she would be transferred to fill a job vacancy (No. 449) in the Office of Experimental Stations. Then Mary A. McClung would take Jennie’s job at the Bureau of Plant Quarantine (No. 448). And this would allow Secretary Wallace to fill the vacancy thus created in his office (No. 450). On March 28, he wrote a letter to the president, outlining his plan. Although it took two weeks for President Roosevelt to respond (he was pretty busy), he did write a letter back to Secretary Wallace, concurring with his plan.
     In due course, Mary had to fill out another Personal History back. Her new job was then classified, and recommended to the Secretary of Agriculture (whose idea it was in the first place.) Mary was then notified of her new job. She was now a CAF-3. The transfer was made “without prejudice,” meaning it was not due to her job performance. The pay was only $1980 per year, and she would be working in the Bureau of Entomolgy and Plant Quarantine as a lowly assistant clerk, keeping track of the printing requirements of that Bureau. But at least she had a steady income with a pretty reliable employer, furloughs and all. Not many folks back in Kansas City could say that, including her family. The average annual wage in the United States had fallen to about $1550 per year in 1933. She buckled down and took on this new challenge, glad to have a job at all. These were scary times.

SURVIVAL      Mary did survive these times, and we know from her personnel file that, in due course, she actually recovered quite nicely. (Her file is now in the custody of the National Archives, in its National Personnel Records Center, located in St. Louis.)
      In 1937, Mary appealed directly to the Civil Service Commission to have her job upgraded from a CAF-3 to a CAF-4. The Commission denied her request. In 1938, the Department of Agriculture asked its employees to fill out a Personnel Questionnaire. page 1  page 2  page 3  page 4. It gives us some concise biographical information about her. Likewise, the 1940 Census gives us more information. She had one year of college and is still living as a “Guest” at the Burlington Hotel. She tells us she lived at the “same place” in 1935, her occupation is “clerical” and she is with the Government. She worked 39 weeks in 1939 and earned $1980.00.
    Mary’s was eventually upgraded from CAF-3 to CAF-4 in December of 1943, and in January of 1944 her pay was increased from $1980 to $2040 per year. As always, her job appraisals were excellent all through this time. This rating  back was typical.
     Contemplating retirement, Mary made a voluntary deposit of $601.55 into the Civil Service Retirement Fund, to get credit for the time she spent in the Office of the Secretary. She had never had any deductions for her Civil Service pension taken during that time, since she had been an excepted employee under Presidential Appointment, and she never expected to draw a pension. The deposit she made at this time would result in a higher pension payment to her when she retired.
     Congress granted pay increases to all Civil Service employees from time to time. This one indicates that Mary’s salary went from $2040 to $2100 in July 1944. It was increased to $2496 in July 1945.
     Historical Note: Franklin Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage on 12 April 1945. Vice President Harry S Truman became president.
     In August of 1945, Mary received a promotion  (reverse) to a supervisory position, a CAF-5. Her pay was now almost as high as it had been back in her glory days with Secretary Hyde. Three days later, she slipped and fell at the Department of Agriculture buiding and was off work for a few days.
     She was promoted  (reverse) again in October 1946, this time to a CAF-6. Her salary had risen to $3021. Her Efficiency Ratings continued to be excellent, year after year. By 1948, her salary was $3476. By August of 1949, it was $3727.20; by November, it was $3825.

     Mary decided to retire at the end of 1949. She was now 70 years old. She had worked at the Department of Agriculture for over twenty years. It was time to go home to Kansas City and be with family. She had some accrued leave time, which was added to her total service time for purposes of figuring her pension. (The actual dollar amount of her pension is unknown.) Reason for retirement was “age,” as opposed to disability. She was still healthy and active. She packed her belongings, checked out of the Burlington Hotel for the last time and caught a train back to Kansas City. The Department of Agriculture prepared one last memo about her, and closed the file.

     Arthur Hyde did indeed return to Kansas City, just as he said he would, and remained there for a year. Then he returned to his hometown of Trenton, Missouri, where he practiced law.29 He died following cancer surgery in New York City in 1947. Former President Herbert Clark Hoover went to New York City after he left office. He stayed for a time at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, then he and Mrs. Hoover returned to Palo Alto, California. Mr. Hoover died in 1964. The original of his Executive Order 6070, appointing Mary to the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture, is stored with his other presidential papers in the archives of his presidential library in West Branch, Iowa (
     Mary came home to Kansas City, stayed with Frank and Loretta for a short time, then moved in with her widowed younger sister, Jennie Strasburg, who lived at the Brookside Hotel. They had very different tastes—Jennie was a very outgoing, social person, while Mary Ann was a quiet stay-at-home type. But it worked for both of them.
    Jennie died in 1958, and Mary moved to 5427 Forest to live with Zetta. They lived together for many years. After an illness, she was hospitalized, and because she was becoming more and more feeble, she was moved to a nursing home at 4125 Rainbow Blvd. in Kansas City, Kansas, where she lived for about two years.
     Mary Ann Arvin McClung died on 21 August 1967 at the age of 86. Loretta and Zetta, and of course Frank, handled her burial arrangements. She now lies next to her husband, whom she loved, but lost, at Calvary Cemetery.

     The Department of Agriculture, much expanded since the days when Mary walked down the front steps on the north side of the building in 1929, is still located on the National Mall in Washington. And in Kansas City, the towering Waldheim Building was demolished in the 1980’s, replaced by this three story office building. The famous name, “Petticoat Lane,” however, lives on.

Louis Edward, oldest son, was born on 3 January 1881 in Daviess County, Indiana. As a boy and as a young man, he helped out on the family farm originally homesteaded by his grandfather Joseph Arvin. When his grandparents died in April of 1900, his father inherited 38 acres of the farm. The family moved to Loogootee in 1899, but Louis continued to farm the inherited land, under his father’s direction and with the help after-school help of his younger siblings. The census of 1900 lists his occupation and that of his younger brother Leo, as “Farm Labor.”
     He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served from about 1900 until 1906. The National Archives was unable to find his service record, but the Veterans' Administration listed him as an “oiler,” a below decks seaman who maintained the engine equipment.30
     Upon discharge from the Navy, Louis returned to his family in Loogootee, but didn’t stay long. Inspired by the advertising of the Finlay Engineering College, located in Kansas City, Missouri, he decided to go to school there to get an engineering license. He moved to Kansas City, Missouri, in 1906, and probably started classes in early September. Bridget C. Moran, who went by Catherine and whose family also lived in Loogootee, soon followed him to Kansas City. None of the details are known for certain. Although they lived on the east side of town, they married at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which is downtown in the Quality Hill District. Why they chose the cathedral is also unknown, but they may have known a priest there. (Here is part of a letter written by Catherine to her sister-in-law Loretta in 1963.) Their marriage took place on Thursday, 19 September 1906.
     Again, the details are not known precisely, but it seems likely that Louis took the “License Course” in the Steam Department at Finlay Engineering College, which was located at 1001 Indiana Avenue. (“Give me 12 short weeks of your time her at Finlay’s, then Success for You.”) This course would help him to “pass the Examining Board in cities of the first class.” Kansas City, with a population over 100,000, was a City of the First Class.31 Upon passing the Board, he probably began working right away as an engineer for the Metropolitan Street Railway Co., at their Missouri River Powerhouse, located at 115 Grand Blvd. The plant worked cooperatively with the college, even allowing students to tour its operations. George E. Lawson, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Powerhouse, was also a trustee of the Finlay Engineering College.
     In December of 1906, the newlyweds decided to purchase a building lot in Oakhurst, a new subdivision located almost to the southeast city limits of the city. They paid $2600.00 for the lot, and the builder went to work. Louis and Catherine returned to Loogootee in early 1907, as Will’s death grew imminent. As mentioned above, Will made Lou promise not to marry Catherine, and he did so. But it was too late for that. They had already started their new life together. After Will’s death, Louis and Catherine assisted Margaret and the rest of the family in relocating to Kansas City.

     A daughter, Kathleen, was born to Louis and Catherine in Kansas City, Missouri, on 7 January 1908. Their home was still not quite finished, and they were still listed in the City Directory of 1908 as living at 1820 Montgall. But by 1909, they were enjoying their new home. The address was—and is—4310 W. 20th Street. It is still standing today.
     Their second child, Paul, was born on 12 January 1909. The City Directory shows Louis working that year as an “oiler” for the Metropolitan Street Railway Company. (It is quite likely that he helped his younger brother, Leo, get a job at the powerhouse, as he began working there in 1909 also.) Catherine gave Louis their third child, Bernard, born on 3 April 1910.

     About 1916, Louis and his family moved to El Paso, Texas. Louis’s draft registration card, dated 12 September 1918, shows his occupation as “Stations Examiner[?]” for the El Paso Smelter Co., which operated in an area about two miles northwest of El Paso known as Smeltertown. “The town began with the smelter built in 1887 by the Kansas City Consolidated Smelting and Refining Company. Eventually, it became more important as a smelter for both lead and copper ores from the American Southwest. At the turn of the century, the Kansas City company merged with several other firms to form the American Smelting and Refining Company [ASARCO], which operated the smelter since that time.”
     Also in 1916, they had borrowed $500.00 from Catherine’s father, Michael Moran, perhaps to facilitate their move, secured by a lien on their home in Kansas City. They repaid him in January 1920, whereupon he signed a Release  page 2, recorded in Jackson County, Missouri. It states that when they signed the note, they were “then of Kansas City Missouri.”    

     About the time Louis was filling out his draft registration card, he left his job with El Paso Smelter and went to sea again. He had found employment with the Dollar Steamship Company, commonly known as the “Dollar Line.” It was founded by Captain Robert Dollar, who had aggressively expanded his company from one ship to a large fleet over the years as he established a trans-Pacific business. According to Loretta, they moved to the port town of San Pedro, California, which was later absorbed by the sprawling city of Los Angeles. The U.S. Census of 1920 shows they have moved up to the Los Angeles downtown area, and live at 811 W. Temple St. (No longer standing.)
     Dramatically enlarging his fleet, Dollar purchased seven ocean liners in 1923, then he added eight more in 1926. Each was named after a U.S. President. The Dollar Line carried over 45,000 passengers in 1926. Dollar continued to buy additional companies and signed lucrative mail contracts. His company was the most profitable on the seas.
     By 1930, Louis and Catherine had relocated to Oakland, California. Louis is shown as the Chief Engineer on a manifest of Dollar’s President Monroe when it arrived in New York City on 5 July 1932, after crossing the Pacific on the last leg of an around-the-world cruise. Typical ports-of-call on this voyage included Naples, Marseilles, Bombay, Shanghai, Manila, Honolulu, San Francisco and the Panama Canal. His “length of service at sea” is shown as 15 years.
      The Great Depression exacted a severe toll on the Dollar Line. Two new liners were placed in service in 1931, but sailed at only half capacity on their maiden voyages. Robert Dollar died in 1932 and was succeeded by his son Robert Stanley Dollar, but the decline of the company could not be reversed. By 1935, it was offering Round the World Cruises for as little as $854.00, First Class. In 1937, the SS President Hoover ran aground and was written off as a total loss. By 1938, the company was $7 million in debt, with interest increasing it by $80,000 per day. The U.S. Maritime Commission assumed control of the company and renamed it the American President Lines. At some point in the decline of this once great company, the career of Louis Arvin ended.
     Louis and Catherine moved to San Franciso sometime in the late 1930’s, and he now styled himself as “Lewis” Arvin, as shown on the 1940 Census. They paid $25 per month for their residence at 1122A Market Street (no longer standing), very close to St. Boniface Catholic Church on Golden Gate Avenue, a church with a heavy concentration of German nationals. Lewis was listed as a Lessee and Catherine as a Partner, both in the Hotel industry. He had two years of high school (Finlay Engineering), she had four. They earned no wages in 1939, but did receive more than $50 in income from sources other than wages (e.g., from the operation of the hotel.)
     Lewis died on 15 October 1942. He is buried at the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California, just northwest of the San Francisc International Airport. Section L, Site 5458 (indexed under the name Lewis Edward Arvin). His headstone indicates he was a Lieut. Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve. (Search Find-A-Grave.) Catherine, who survived him by thirty-one years, died in October 1973. She is buried next to her husband in Site 5457.


Rose Emilia (“Emma”) was born 5 March 1882 on her parents’ farm in Daviess County, Indiana. She moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where, at the age of 21 she married Henry Earl Phibbs, who was 28. The ceremony was performed by Fr. John Gallagher, a Roman Catholic Priest. On their application for a marriage license, made the same day, Henry listed his occupation as Barber, and Emma as Dress Maker. They both listed their address as 412 W 4th St. (This location has been demolished to make way for an Interstate highway.)32 

     In Will Arvin’s obituary, written in February 1907, they are described as living in Middleton, Ohio, which is about thirty miles north of Cincinnati. When they signed the deed on the family home in December, 1908, they are shown as “from Butler County, in the State of Ohio.” (Middleton is in Butler County.)

     By 1920, they had moved to the bustling city of Los Angeles, California, which was undergoing a boom much greater than what Kansas City had experienced. They lived at The Rutland, a boarding hotel located at 1839 Main Street. By 1930, they had moved south, to a home at 135 East 77th Street. They were still living there at the time of Margaret’s death in 1931. (They are pictured here with another couple. Emma is in the dark dress; Henry is not wearing a hat. Here is a current image of the same residence.) His occupation was still listed as a barber, she a seamstress. By 1935, they had moved back to the downtown area and were living at 528 W. Washington Blvd., in Los Angeles (no longer standing.) They had no children. Emma Phibbs died 16 May of 1938, and is buried in Calvary Catholic Cemetery, 4201 Whittier Blvd., in East Los Angeles.
     After her death, Henry, now 65, married a woman named Margaret, now 51. Henry had an 8th grade education, Margaret, eleven plus. In 1940, they were still living at 528 W. Washington Blvd.


Joseph Leo (“Leo”) was born 8 January 1884. He went by his middle name, Leo. (Did his deeply religious mother give him the name in honor of Pope Leo XIII, who reigned at the time?) Like his older brother and sisters, he lived on the family farm in Daviess County, Indiana, until 1899, when the family moved to a house on the outskirts of Loogootee, Martin County, Indiana.
      He married Cecilia Almyra Cannon (daughter of Isaac Cannon and Melinda Clements), born and raised in Daviess County. They married on 1 July 1903 in Loogootee. They lived with William and Margaret at their home. They had three sons, Joseph Bemil (1904-1975), Louis Emil (1905-1964) and Dellis Sylvester (1907-1976). When William Henry
died, they all moved to Kansas City with Margaret and her children. Dellis was just an infant, only a few weeks old at the time.
     Leo and Almyra established their own household in a rental home at 1714 Wabash. Leo, of necessity, quickly found a job as a laborer. By 1909, his occupation was shown as machinist in the city directory. Then in 1910, he was listed as a helper with the Metropolitan Street Railway Company. With the assistance of his older brother Louis, he had found work at the Missouri River Powerhouse, where he would remain steadily employed for the next thirty years.
     The boys attended St. Aloysius Catholic Grade School until they each graduated from the eighth grade. Family tradition holds that Almyra, who went by “Mida,” couldn’t see much advantage to their continuing on to high school, and encouraged them instead to find jobs. (Although Dellis, the youngest, did attend Manual Training High School for a time.)


THE POWERHOUSE      J. Ogden Armour, heir to the Armour Packing Company, purchased the Edison Electric Light & Power Company in 1900. He used this company to power both his Metropolitan Street Railway Company and his Kansas City Electric Light Company. Armour bought out several competitors and in 1903 built a new power plant at 115 Grand Boulevard. It was known as the Missouri River Powerhouse. The plant would provide both steam heat for downtown businesses and electricity for The Metropolitan Street Railway’s electric motorcars.
     Emphasis was placed on the operation of the street railway, but with fares held to only 5ȼ
by the city, The Met was never able to earn an adequate return for its shareholders. It went into receivership in 1911. Kansas City Electric Light Co. was separated from The Met in 1916, and emerged from bankruptcy as Kansas City Light & Power Company. In 1919, Light & Power reincorporated, and became the Kansas City Power and Light Company. In 1923 it became known as Kansas City Power & Light (the name it carries today.)
     By 1927, Kansas City Power & Light had a greater need for the power plant than The Met did, and it purchased the plant for a whopping $2,500,000. Power & Light then went on to spend even more money modernizing the equipment. The Missouri River Powerhouse now became known as the Grand Avenue Station. Through all theses changes, Leo continued to work at this same plant.

     On the first day of October, 1919, Leo and Almyra took the plunge and became homeowners. For $2,000.00, they purchased a house at 1408 Indiana Avenue, in the Bernard Place addition. (No longer standing.) And, as the 20’s roared in Kansas City, they led relatively ordinary lives, at least compared to Mary Ann and Louis Edward. Things went well for them. The boys were growing up, and they soon started out on their own.
By 1929, Joe Bemil and Louis were working for their Uncle John Ambrose Arvin. John operated the Yellow Inn Cafe at 1334 Broadway, downtown. He also operated a livery service from the same address, and the boys were employed there as drivers. It was listed as “Arvin Brothers” in the City Directory. The boys both lived a few blocks away, at a boarding house at 1217 Pennsylvania in the Quality Hill district.Zetta’s son, Dennis, wrote a short memoir about John, and in it tells us that,

          During the 30’s and 40’s John operated a trucking company. He had major contracts with the Kansas City
          Journal newspaper and with the “Packer” which also was a newspaper printer. John handled their hauling,
          bringing paper in and delivering the printed matter to the proper destinations. He also did work for Frank
          Jackson Printing and Belger Cartage Co....John also owned and operated a restaurant at 14th and Broadway
          in Kansas City, Mo....We visited his business often and many times would meet with my cousins, Joe Bemil,

          Louis and Dellas Arvin there. We often played cards there at the restaurant in the evenings. On many

          occasions my brother Emmett and myself would help John with the hauling on weekends.

     Then came the Stock Market Crash and the onset of the Great Depression. Leo and Mida lost their home, and by 1930 they were back to renting. They lived at a large brick home located at 1016 Jefferson, in Kansas City’s West Bluffs area. This part of town was known originally as the Quality Hill area, but was now in faded glory. Leo was fortunate enough to continue holding his job with Kansas City Power & Light, a large, stable employer. He worked long hours, seven days a week for $1.00 a day. But the boys were not so fortunate. In 1931, Louis Emil and his wife Eunice were living with Mom and Dad. Louis was apparently without work, and Eunice worked as a saleswoman for the S.S. Kresge Co. Joe Beamil was an ironworker. The 1932 City Directory lists Joseph (iron worker), Lewis (painter), Dellis (laborer) and his wife Julia, all living with Leo and Mida at 1016 Jefferson.
     In 1933, Joseph and Lewis are laborers, Dellis is not listed, and Julia works as a presser for the Bracken Co. (a textile distributor located at 820-822 Broadway, in the Wholesale District.) At one point, Julia apprenticed with Leo's sister Genevieve, who ran a beauty shop. (See below.) By 1934, Leo and Mida had moved to 210 E. 31st Street, and Dellis and his wife Julia lived with them. Dellis Sylvester became a professional painter and worked for different companies. He was eventually employed by the Union Pacific Railroad as a bridge painter. It was an occupation that would carry him up to the Second World War. Joe Bemil and Louis Emil are not listed again until 1938, when Bemil, married to wife Lillie, has become president of the Laundry Workers Union No. 238, and Louis Emil is an “alcohol gauger.” He was employed as an alcohol and tobacco agent for the Internal Revenue Service.

     Leo, meanwhile, worked all this time at the Grand Avenue Station. He was steadfast, competent and dependable, and those qualities led to his assignment as an operator in the quieter, safer confines of the pump house, an auxiliary building located about two blocks north of the main facility, built directly on the south bank of the Missouri River. Working at the pump house was a more responsible position than anything back up at the turbine house. Steady and dependable as ever, he remained a pump house operator through the late 1930’s. However, he never had a chance to finish his career and retire.  

     Joseph Leo Arvin died suddenly, on 17 December 1939, of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was only 55 years old. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery. His obituary lists the residences of his sons, all living in Kansas City at the time. Dellis and Julia now had a daughter named Patricia (“Pat.”) She continues the story in her own words.

     Dellis and his family are listed in the 1940 Census, living at their home at 3503 E 67th St. The census tells us that they own their home, valued at $3200.00. In 1935, they lived in the “same place.” Dellis, who had four years of high school, is a Painter with a Railroad, and Julia (seven years of grade school) is a Presser for a Garment Co. In 1939, he worked 44 weeks and earned $1486.00. She worked 50 weeks and earned $1000.00.
     The Census of 1940 shows us that the independent and resourceful Almyra has already rented a home at 2815 Brooklyn for $28.00 a month and taken in three “Lodgers.” Her education consisted of only 4 years of grade school. She is listed as living at the “same place” in 1935 (although we know this is not true.) She is engaged in “home housework.” She did not work in 1939. Almyra Beeber died in San Diego. Her remains, along with those of her second husband, now rest in a mausoleum there.

William Francis was born 7 Sept 1885. He came to Kansas City at age 21, with his mother and the rest of the family, and found work in his new hometown on the streetcars. It was a demanding job, involving long hours, six days a weeks. In 1909 his occupation is listed in the city directory as motorman (i.e., operator).
     On Thursday the 28th of April, 1910, William Arvin, age 24, married Maud Longacre, who stated on their application for the marriage license that she was 26. Maud was from the town of Nevada, Missouri, seventy miles south of Kansas City. Her life seems to be a series of disastrous social interactions. At the time of their marriage, she had an 8 year-old daughter, Elsie May, in her care.
     William and Maud were married at St. Aloysius Church by Fr. Michael Dowling, pastor. Despite the entries on the marriage license, the church Marriage Register lists the year of birth for both the bride and groom as 1884. The previous day, Maud had been baptized into the Catholic faith. She was a neo emersa in Latin. William’s younger brother and close friend, Michael Sanford, was one of the witnesses to the wedding ceremony. The young married couple then moved to a place of their own at 1705 Wabash, almost across the street from William’s older brother Leo and his family. The following year, William and Maud are listed at 1707 Wabash. In 1912, they moved to a home at 3919 E. 18th Street, where they would remain for four years.
     In October 1914, Maud
on her ownadopted 4 year-old Anna May from St. Anthony’s Home for Infants. St. Anthony’s was a large Catholic institution, located at 23rd and Walrond, which took in abandoned or orphaned children regardless of denomination or race. Children could stay at St. Anthony’s until they were five years old. At that age, the boys were sent to the Kansas City Boy’s Home and the girls went to St. Joseph Orphan Girl’s Home. Anna would have soon been relocated had Maud not adopted her.
     At this time, William began styling himself as “William M Arvin” for some reason, and the annual city directory now lists a William M Arvin. In 1915, William M Arvin lives at 3919 E. 18th St. In August of that year, “W.M. Arvin and R M Arvin his wife” both sign a Deed of Adoption page 2 for a newborn baby boy, William Burke. The child becomes William B. Arvin. Over the next few years, the family, now with five members and “William M Arvin” as head of household, moved from one rental home to the next. In 1916, they lived at 1700 Cyprus Avenue, in 1917 at 3914 E. 18th St. and in 1918 at 2215 Wabash Avenue. 

A DISABLING ACCIDENT      For eleven yearsever since he came to townWilliam had held a steady job on the streets of Kansas City as a motorman for the Metropolitan Street Railway Company. It was strenuous, but he was always there. However, in 1918 he was involved in an on-the-job accident which ended his career with the Met. He was struck by another streetcar or some other vehicle, and his hip was broken. This was a very serious injury. It prevented him from serving in the World War; he never filled out a Draft Registration Card. It also made the motorman job too strenuous for him to continue, and he was forced to seek employment elsewhere. At this time there was no such thing as Workers’ Compensation or Social Security disability benefits. William and his family were simply out of luck and on their own. To his credit, William did find work as a fireman with the Army at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, which is located about 30 miles northwest of Kansas City. Interurban rail lines made commuting such a long distance possible, although it is likely he made less money than he had made with The Met. As a result, the family soon felt a financial strain.

HARD TIMES      William and his family are simply listed in the 1920 city directory as living at 2619 Chestnut
Avenue. However, the 1920 United States Census gives us a more detailed picture. It shows William M Arvin, 33, head of household, and Maud, 35, with their children, Sallie May, Anna May and William B. Arvin. William’s occupation: fireman at an Army training camp. The census also shows an additional family living at the same address, and a widower with his two children boarding there also. All totaled, there are 11 people at this address, which would seem to be beyond the capacity of the little home. Why there are so many living here is an untold story, but it must surely have been because of finances, and no doubt was a stressful situation, even if temporary.
     In May, 1920, Maud appears to have come up with a solution. They would buy the house. “Retta Maud Arvin and William Arvin, her husband” sign a promissory note, agreeing to pay $75.00 per month to the seller of 2619 Chestnut. The note is for $700.00, and it is second to another note signed in February for $1100.00. The total price appears to be $1800.00. How could they ever make these payments? Another strange thing: the Warranty Deed, plat delivering title to the property, was issued to Retta Maud Arvin only. What were they thinking?
     Apparently, this unlikely transaction was never completed, and William and Maud were foreclosed upon by the lender. In the 1921 city directory, we find “Wm Arvin” and “Maud Arvin” living at 3840 E. 15th St. But then, also in 1921, we find “Wm Arvin” listed as living at 4031 Wabash, which is Frank and Loretta Jackson’s apartment. Apparently Maud and William were now divorced.
     They each went their separate ways. William is not listed in the 1922 city directory, and there is no mention of Sallie May, Anna May or William B. Arvin. However, we do find Retta M. Arvin at it again. Retta, stating her age as 33 (although she was perhaps 38 at this time) and Victor Christina, age 29, applied for a marriage license reverse on 17 August 1922. What’s wrong with this scenario? Two years prior, in the 1920 Census, Victor was living with his wife, Mary, their three children (ages 6, 3 and newborn) and his mother-in-law. Now, he was marrying Retta Maud.

      Retta Maud and Victor’s marriage does not appear to have lasted, either. By 1930, Victor has remarried—again—to another woman. We find no census listings at all in 1930 for Retta or Maud Christina, Retta or Maud Arvin, or Retta or Maud Longacre. Likewise, Elsie Mae Arvin is not found. We do, however, find the two adopted children, Anna May Arvin and William “Burt” Arvin, in the 1930 census. They are shown again as adopted children, now living in the household of George and Loretta Wickersham in Mission City, Florida. George’s occupation was listed as “locomotive engineer.”
A NEW LIFE     Despite these painful events, William was able to pick up the shattered pieces of his life and start over. In 1923, he was listed as a janitor for the Unity School, and he lived at 915 Troost Avenue, downtown. The following year, he moved in with his younger sister, Loretta, and her husband, Frank D. Jackson. They had purchased a home in a fresh new subdivision on Kansas City’s south side, at 5430 Forest. (As Loretta’s daughter, “Todi” said, “They always kept a cot set up in the dining room for relatives who needed a place to stay.”) Frank, with his typical compassion, helped William get a job at the Jackson Publishing Company, then located in the McClelland Building, 912 and 914 Grand Blvd., downtown. William proved himself there and is listed in the 1924 City Directory as a foreman with the Jackson Publishing Company. 

     The year he turned 40 years of age, 1925, was a good one for William. Frank and Loretta had helped him when he was down and out, and now he landed a promising job on his own. He was hired as a clerk by the Union Bank Note Company, which was also located downtown, at 600 Delaware Street. Union Bank Note was described in a magazine article of the era as “An Important Industrial Enterprise.” It produced high quality printing, including engraved stock and bond certificates, stationery, colorized postcards and books. William moved downtown to a small hotel at 1221 Washington, in the city’s West Bluffs area, Quality Hill, close to where Leo and Mida would later live. Here, he was within walking distance of his new employer.
     His life soon took another huge turn for the better. He met 34 year-old Eva Ree Sisson, born 7 Feb 1891. She was  also born in Nevada, Missouri, but she had a completely different personality than Retta. She was stable and dependable. They married on 22 April 1925. The marriage license indicates that the ceremony was performed by a minister, although no church is listed. It also indicates that they lived at 1118 Pennsylvania, only a few blocks from 1221 Washington. It was the location of The Burlington, a well established boarding house. Their first child was a boy, born 17 February 1926. They named him William Francis Arvin, Jr. (When someone visited the Jackson’s, Frank was always quick to snap a picture.)
     William is not listed in the 1927 city directory, but in 1928 he is again listed as a shipping clerk with Union Bank Note. He and his family had moved to 11610 E. 14th St., in Independence, Missouri, but it was still an easy commute to work for him on the streetcars. Now, he was just a passenger, and glad of it. As the twenties roared to a climax in 1929, William is listed as the head stockman at Union Bank Note. The family residence this year was listed simply as Independence, Mo.

HARD TIMES REVISITED      Disaster struck again when Union Bank Note, suffering at the onset of the Great Depression, let many of its employees go, including William. He is not listed at all in the 1930 City Directory, perhaps unemployed, but by 1931 he found work as a paper cutter for a company which supplied paper for printers. The listing reads “William (Eva R) ctr Sleek-Warwick Paper Co. r 9812 E 16th.”
     In the depths of this Great Depression, William and Eva Ree had their second child. Their daughter, Mary Ellen, was born 23 January 1932. Then, as the Depression worsened, William lost his job with Sleek-Warwick. He traveled to Kansas and Iowa to find work for a while. In 1935 he went west, to the Big Sky country of Montana, to work on a farm owned by his younger brother and closest ally, Michael Sanford (now going by “SM”) and his wife Lillian. The farm was located north of Billings City. The 1940 Census shows William, listed as a Farm Laborer, renting in Yellowstone County, Montana. Eva Ree, William F. and Mary Ellen live with him. William attended school through the 8th grade, Eva into the 4th. He worked 52 weeks in 1939, did not work for wages.
     At this point, William’s son, William Francis Arvin, Jr., picks up the story: “The farm was not very large, but it was mainly a dairy. We supplied the milk for Uncle S.M. and Aunt Lillian’s restaurant in Billings. We came out to Montana in June of 1936. We also raised hay and garden goods along with the hogs. During WWII, S.M. started selling off the place (now in the center of Billings) while I was in the Navy, right out of High School. Dad and Mom worked the Billings Country Club, Dad as a caretaker and Mom as a salad chef until it closed in the late 1940’s. Dad then went to work at the Northern Hotel as a porter; Mom stayed home to babysit for her granddaughter.
     “They returned to Missouri in 1956, because of the illness of Mom’s mother. Dad worked a few years at the County Club in Nevada, Mo., until Mom’s health began to fail. He retired. Eva Ree died 8 April 1962 in Nevada. Will returned to live in Kansas City for a while, but he couldn’t stand the change in the city. He moved back to Nevada to spend the rest of his life.
     “Dad passed away 31 August 1973 and he is buried next to Mom at Moore Cemetery in Nevada, Mo.”



Elizabeth Jane (“Genevieve” “Jennie”)  was born 22 June 1887 in Daviess County, Indiana. She had polio as an infant, but Margaret instinctively treated her as though she were not afflicted, and she had the drive within herself to walk and play normally just like everyone else. Loretta’s daughter, Todi, remembered that, “She had an inner beauty, rather like Sarah Bernhardt. I loved her!”
    She was just turning 20 years old when her father died and the family moved to Kansas City. Just like the other children, she found employment in her new hometown. She worked as a teller at the Emery, Bird, Thayer Dry Goods Co., a large department store located (where else?) downtown, on Petticoat Lane. She was a manicurist in 1911, then a clerk for Montgomery Ward & Company for three years. In 1915, she became a telephone switchboard operator for the Kansas City Journal newspaper, a job which she held through 1921. She continued to live with Margaret as the family moved to and from their various residences. 

     In September of 1921, Genevieve Arvin, age 34, married 39 year-old William Strasburg. (Cards at the Jackson’s: Frank Jackson, John Arvin, Leo Arvin, Emmett Simms, Sanford Arvin and Bill Strasburg.) Bill was a divorced man, and this was considered a scandal. But Jennie didn’t let that stop her, this was her chance for happiness, and she grabbed it. A Justice of the Peace performed the ceremony.

BEAUTY     Jennie operated a beauty parlor downtown for most of her adult life. She was in the vanguard of what turned out to be a phenomenon in Kansas City: its Age of Beauty. During this time, there was an explosion in the number of beauty parlors within the city limits, as the American economy shifted from an industrial base to one of  conformity, consumerism and individual gratification.” Some called it the Roaring 20’s. Equipped with permanent-wave machines, which used a borax paste and electronically heated curlers to style hair, beauty parlors commanded a pricey $2.00 for a permanent. And they were all the rage. In 1923, the year the Country Club Plaza opened, there were 26 beauty parlors. The professional downtown beauty parlors, where Jennie had her shop, served an exclusive and up-scale clientele. But there were many parlors operated by self-employed women serving the needs of their neighborhoods. In 1924, the city directory listed 140, and by 1926 there were 226. 

     Bill Strasburg had served in the World War, and during the war he had been gassed, which caused lung damage. This may have shortened his life, as he died rather young, in June of 1938, just short of his fifty-sixth birthday. On the death certificate, his employer is listed as the Packer Publishing Company. This is the same printing company with which John Ambrose Arvin had a paper delivery contract. Bill and Jennie were living at the Brookside Hotel (now renovated and renamed the Crestwood Condominiums) at the time of his death, and she continued to live there, alone. The 1940 Census lists Jane “Strosburg” as a resident. She had attended school through the seventh grade, had lived at the Brookside Hotel in 1935, was the owner of a Beauty Shop, and did not work for wages in 1939.
     Though she lived alone, she was always active socially, and she was an excellent Bridge player. At one point, she won a bridge tournament and received a trophy. She was on the board of directors of the Heart of America Bridge Club. When her widowed older sister, Mary McClung, retired from the Department of Agriculture in 1949, the two lived together. They had had very different tastes and interests, but they made it work.
     Jennie died in 1958 at the age of 70. On the day of her death, the papers also carried the story of Pope Pius XII’s funeral in Rome. He was to be buried in the crypt under St. Peter’s Basilica. In Kansas City, Jennie Strasburg was buried at Calvary Cemetery, next to her husband William.



Michael Sanford (“SM”) was born 11 December 1888. He is listed in the city directories as living with Margaret and the rest of his family in the early years. He was a witness (probably the “Best Man”) to the marriage of his older brother, William, to Maud Longacre in 1910.
     About this time, Michael Sanford started styling himself as “SM.” Always a go-getter, in January of 1911, he purchased lots 37 and 38 of Lenox Addition (Resurvey of Kemper Heights), a subdivision located near the southeast city limits of Kansas City. Deed restrictions indicate that homes costing no less than $2000.00 be built there. Today, three houses stand on those two lots. The common addresses are 4601, 4603 and 4605 Wabash. He paid $420.00 each for the lots. To finance his purchases, he signed a Deed of Trust to Security National Bank to secure a loan of $610.00, agreeing to repay it at the rate of $10.00 per month. It was marked paid in November, 1915, according to the books of the Jackson County Recorder’s Office.
     Beginning in 1917, SM is no longer listed in the City Directory. Sanford M. Arvin, 28, and Lillian M. Cope (father Winfield S. Cope, mother Margaret Clark), 28, of Nevada, Missouri, were married by a Justice of the Peace in Billings, Montana, on a Tuesday, 3 September 1918. Two witnesses signed the Marriage Certificate.33
     According to SM’s nephew, Bill Arvin (son of William Arvin), “Uncle S. M. and Aunt Lillian had a store in either Belfry or Bearcreek, Montana, [perhaps the Belfry Country Store, still open today. See Google maps] before they moved to Billings.” They disposed of their lots in Kansas City in May of 1919. SM and Lillian M. Arvin, “of Yellowstone County, Montana,” sold lot 37 of their Kansas City property for $550.00. Then in July 1919, they signed another Warranty Deed, presumably for lot 38.34

     The 1920 Census shows Sanford and Lillian living in a small apartment building at 116 N. 29th St. in Billings, Montana (It is no longer standing.) Sanford has found a job as a bookkeeper for a wholesale oil company. A few years later, they bought a working farm located north of town, at 1904 Rimrock Road. (The location is now within the city limits, the site of an LDS Church. See Google/maps.) In 1921, their only child, a baby girl, was born. They named her Jeanette. 
     In 1930, the Census lists Sanford and Lillian Arvin with their daughter, 9 year-old “Janet,” living in their $8000.00 home at 314 North 31st Street, Billings City, Montana. This home, also no longer standing, was located just across the intersection from St. Patrick’s Co-Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings. About the same time, the always ambitious couple also opened a restaurant, which they called “Arvin’s Coffee Shop.” Nephew Bill tells us, “They had a good business.” Much of what they served at the restaurant they grew or raised on the farm. In 1935, SM’s brother, William, suffering during the Great Depression, came to Billings to work on the farm. The arrangement worked out well, and his wife Eva Ree, son William F. (“Bill”) Arvin, Jr. and
daughter Mary Ellen joined him the following year. At SM’s invitation, Zetta’s two older sons, Dennis Jr. and Emmett, also traveled to Montana to spend a summer working on the farm. By all accounts, they enjoyed the experience immensely. Poor little Joe didn’t get to go. The Census of 1940 shows Sanford, with an education consisting of 8 years of grade school, and Lillian, with 2 years of college, living at 119 ½ N 24th Street, in Billings City, Montana.
     Jeannette married Sterling W. Hall on the first day of March, 1941, “according to the rites of the Catholic Church and State Law.” They married at St. Mathias Church in Moore, Montana.35 The couple later moved to Oakland, California. (Todi lived with Jeannette and family for six weeks when Todi started attending the University of California at Berkley in 1947.) Within a few years, SM began selling off the farm in parts, and they followed their daughter and son-in-law to the Golden State. The homes in that area were built about 1950, and one road is now called Arvin Road, perhaps a tip of the hat to Sanford and Lillian by a developer. “After WWII  they sold out and moved to Salinas, California, where they lived and had a short-loan business. Uncle SM died first [December, 1967], and Aunt Lillian remarried a few years later to a man named Warren (last name). He passed away, and we weren’t notified when she died.” 


Margaret Mabel was born 22 April 1890. She died in her infancy, when she was only eight months old. She is buried at St. Rose Cemetery with her ancestors.


John Ambrose was born 11 September 1891. When his father died in February of 1907, he moved with his mother and siblings to Kansas City, Missouri, at the age of 15. Further schooling was out of the question. Employment was the top priority. He found work at a shoe repair store which was two blocks east of their home. The following year he was hired as a machinist by the Woolf Brothers Laundry, located on the same block as the shoe shop.
     On 25 September 1913, 22 year-old John married 17 year-old Lillie Seeley at St. Aloysius Church. Soon, Lillie was with child. But there was something wrong. Her health started to deteriorate....



Zetta Odessa was born 28 April 1893. Like the rest of the children, she moved to Kansas City with her mother. Despite the fact that she was only 14, she found work as a cashier at the Jones Dry Goods Company, where older brother Sanford worked. In fact, Sanford was probably instrumental in helping her find work.
     At the age of 20, Zetta married a tall, dark-haired, handsome Irishman by the name of Dennis Simms. Dennis, whose family was from Carroll County, Missouri, northeast of Kansas City, was 19. 1900 Census  1910 Census His father had to give his consent to the marriage. They were married reverse on 18 June 1913 at St. Aloysius Church. Zetta’s older brother John Arvin and older sister Mary Arvin were the witnesses.
     Dennis was employed by the Ford Motor Company as a foreman. Ford built a brand new “branch” assembly plant in Kansas City in 1910. This was the first Ford assembly plant outside the Detroit area. It was located at 1025 Winchester, in an industrial park on Kansas City’s east side. As newlyweds, Dennis and Zetta moved into a home at 1004 Agnes, fairly close to the new plant. A few years later, they
moved to a large home on Benton Blvd, also on Kansas City’s east side. Their first child, Dennis Jr., was born in 1916. Their second, Emmett, was born the following year.
     Dennis Sr. was a Travelling Representative for Ford, and must have been out of town much of the time. His Draft Registration card, signed 5 June 1917, gives his residence address as 1323 Prospect, where Margaret and the family lived. Zetta and her two sons had moved in with Margaret at this time.

     Their third child, also a son, whom they named Joseph, was born in 1920. That same year, the young couple moved to Clinton, Missouri. Dennis opened a Ford dealership there. He still had an interest in Kansas City, however. He purchased three lots in Kansas City, perhaps as a speculative investment. The addresses were 4011, 4015 and 4017 Michigan in Kansas City. To finance the purchase, he signed a promissory note for $500.00.
     By 1924, they had returned to Kansas City. They purchased a home at 5439 Tracy, located just a block east of Frank and Loretta, who lived at 5430 Forest. Everything seemed to be going very well for them. However, in 1925 Dennis is listed in a Kansas Census as a resident of the town of Leavenworth. The reason for this is unclear, but may be related to what happened next.

ABANDONMENT      Dennis was Todi’s sponsor at her baptism in April of 1926. That very evening, he ran away with a model from Harzfeld’s Department Store (a high fashion store on Petticoat Lane), abandoning his family, and leaving without a trace. Dennis never explained, never contacted Zetta and was not seen again for years.
     She continued to live at the home, and Margaret moved in with her and the boys. Zetta faced the situation squarely, and decided to go into the beauty parlor business. Hers became one of those suburban beauty parlors, operated by sole proprietors, which dotted the landscape of Kansas City. Margaret cared for the boys (Emmett and Dennis shown here), and Zetta became the breadwinner of this household.
     As you might imagine, things were always a struggle; there was never enough money to go around. Then came the Great Depression. In 1930, Zetta described herself for the City Directory as the widow of Dennis. In his memoir about John Arvin, Dennis Jr. writes:

          During the 1930’s most members of the family were in financial difficulty due to bank failures
          and the depression years. My father had left and grandmother Arvin moved in with us on Tracy.
          This was just one block from the Jackson’s. The failure of the Pioneer Trust Co. was a real blow.
          This resulted in John and the Strasburg’s moving in with us on Tracy for a period of about two
          years. We had the room and they stayed with us until things improved.

     Zetta is not listed in the directory in 1933 and 1934, but in 1935, she emerges again, listed as the operator of a beauty parlor at 5505½ Troost Avenue (a block west of Forest) and living in a rental house at 5427 Forest. They had lost their home, but in a stroke of serendipity, were able to rent a home located almost directly across the street from Frank and Loretta. Now the conglomerate family drew even closer together. Loretta’s daughter, Todi, described this time in her young life enthusiastically as “almost communal living. No door was ever locked and we ran in and out of each other’s houses. We did everything together!”
     Zetta is shown in the 1940 Census, living at 5427 Forest with her two youngest sons, Emmett and Joseph. (Dennis had married his wife, Rose, and they were out on their own. They owned a $4000 home at 4934 Michigan. He had two years of college and had earned $1404 in 1939. He was a foreman of a printing shop, the Frank D. Jackson Advertising Co.) Zetta paid $30 per month rent for her house. She had three years of high school, had lived in the same house in 1935, was the proprietor of a beauty shop and had not worked for wages in 1939. Emmett, who had two years of college, was a printing salesman for the Jackson Advertising Co. and had earned $1000 in wages in 1939. Joseph, who had one year of high school at that time, was a bookkeeper for the Jackson Advertising Co. He had earned $800 in wages in 1939.  

      Several years later, middle son Emmett, who had gone into the car dealership business like his father, was told at a convention that he “was the spittin’ image of Dennis Simms in St. Louis.” Needless to say, this piqued his curiosity and eventually he located his father, who had become a prosperous car dealer in St. Louis. As it turned out, Dennis Sr., who had never contributed a dime in child support all those years, wanted a divorce from Zetta so he could marry another woman.
     To protect Zetta’s reputation, Loretta’s husband, Frank Jackson, made arrangements to drive her to a small town south of Kansas City. There the divorce could be finalized with a low profile, thus keeping it out of the Kansas City papers. It would have stigmatized Zetta if the news had leaked out. All those years, Zetta had raised the boys by herself, with no help from Dennis. Now she only got a small settlement, just a few thousand dollars.

FORTITUDE     Zetta operated her beauty parlor in one place or another in that same neighborhood for decades. By 1946, we find she lived at the south end of the block, at 1209 E. 55th Street, and her parlor was a few blocks north, at 5031 Troost. Later still, when youngest son, Joseph, purchased a home at 5632 Charlotte, she lived there with them. After supporting herself for almost half a century, Zetta finally retired and closed her shop in 1968. In the early 1970’s, the family moved to 2315 W 103rd Street, just across the State Line, in Leawood, Kansas.
     Zetta Odessa Simms died on Friday, 5 October 1984. Two of her sons survived her. (Emmett, who had moved to the Detroit area and established what became Ford’s largest dealership, sold out for one million dollars. He retired rich at an early age, but then brain cancer claimed him. He also died at an early age.) Zetta was the last of the siblings to pass away, and her death marked the end of an era. She is buried at Calvary Cemetery.


Catherine Loretta (“Loretta K”) was born 30 April 1896. When her family arrived in Kansas City, she was only 11 years old. All her older siblings went out into the workplace and found jobs; she alone went to school and helped Margaret at home. She was the only one of the younger children who finished high school. She graduated from Manual Training High School in 1915, at the age of 19. She found a job with the Jackson Publishing Company, owned and operated by Mr. Jay M. Jackson. There she met her future husband, the boss’s son, Frank D. Jackson. The Jackson family was originally from Lorimor, Iowa, but had recently moved to Kansas City.

     Jay M. Jackson owned a profitable publishing business and was active in real estate development himself, both in Kansas City and in Oklahoma, Texas and even Mexico. He had relocated to Kansas City in 1906, taking up residence at the Orient Hotel, 104 W. Ninth St., and working out of a nearby office at the Gibraltar Building interior, 818 Wyandotte. This area was in the heart of the vibrant young city. The following year, he brought his family to Kansas City from Lorimor. They resided at 1015 Agnes, on the east side. (The house is no longer standing. This is its twin, 1019 Agnes. Zetta and Dennis Simms would live up the street, at 1004 Agnes, in 1913. By then, the Jacksons had moved again.)
     In 1909, Jay Jackson made a big move up. He purchased the residence of the late Phillip E. Chappell, a former mayor of Jefferson City, Missouri. The Jackson’s new home was a stately Queen Anne style mansion located at 1836 Pendleton Avenue, in Pendleton Heights, one of Kansas City’s most fashionable northeast neighborhoods. (The home still stands today, restored and maintained in extraordinary condition by its current owners, Dr. Joseph Palazola and his wife, Toye. [exterior, entryway, dining room, library, kitchen, bedroom] During the Great Depression, Mr. Jackson lost the home to foreclosure, and Dr. Palazola’s grandparents bought the residence “on the courthouse steps.”)
     Loretta told me that one rainy afternoon, Frank gave a rose to each of the girls in the office, but for some reason did not give one to her. Then after work, as she was waiting out front of the building for the rain to let up, Frank drove up in his car and asked her if she would like a ride home. “And that was the beginning,” she told me, with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye. Todi said her mother had three goals: to have a new dress, to graduate from high school and to get married. She got all three. Loretta married  (reverse) Frank Dore Jackson on 26 April 1919, at St. James Church in Kansas City. Their witnesses were Harry Coffee and Genevieve Arvin. Frank took to the Arvin family “like a duck takes to water,” and it was one of the best things ever to happen to the family and to Frank. He would become the de facto patriarch of the Arvin clan in the years that followed. His generosity and love for his in-laws knew no bounds.

     As newlyweds, Frank and Loretts lived at 2733 Gillham Road. But they moved to a larger apartment on Wabash to provide shelter for Margaret, Jennie and Mary (imagine the sacrifice!) And when William and John were in their darkest hours, they turned to Frank and Loretta, who welcomed them also with open arms. In 1922, Frank and Loretta purchased a new home in a housing development on Kansas City's burgeoning south side. It was, and is, located at
5430 Forest Avenue.
    Frank had always felt pressured by his father. Although he had never finished high school, the elder Mr. Jackson enrolled him in law school. Frank never set foot on the campus. He left the Jackson Publishing Company, which was eventually taken over his older brother, Merrill, and went to work for the Cook Paint Company, with offices at 21st & Broadway. He worked in their catalog preparation department, where he learned the tricks of the print advertising trade. We find him working there as the 1930 census was taken.
     Cook Paint was not immune to the ravages of the Depression, and a few years later Frank lost his job. (Jay M. Jackson was also deeply effected by the Depression. His business declined to the point where he found he could no longer keep his family home. In an attempt to sell it himself, he produced this sales brochure: outside inside. His efforts were unsuccessful, and he was eventually foreclosed upon in 1932.) Todi said her father vowed “never to work for someone else again” and started his own advertising and printing business in their home on Forest. He was quite talented and outgoing, always able to connect with his customers, and his business prospered. 
     Uncle Frank (shown here with his mother-in-law Margaret) and Aunt Loretta were always beacons of hope, love and understanding for their relatives in times of need. And in those depression years, the need was great. Margaret, John and William all lived with them at one time or another on Forest. Frank helped William get a job with Jay Jackson, and it turned his life around. Frank faithfully assisted Zetta in her times of need. And, in an act of loving kindness which outshined them all, Frank and Loretta raised John’s son, little Robert, from the time his mother, Ruth, died in 1921, to his adulthood. They gave him every advantage. Todi always considered him a brother, although she found it awkward to introduce him as Robert Arvin. Frank wanted to adopt, but Margaret and Loretta insisted he keep the Arvin surname. He was, after all, John Arvin’s son. So, like everything else, they made it work. He was never adopted, and was listed in the 1930 census as a “Lodger.”

     Robert and Todi both grew to adulthood in this warmest of environments. As World War II erupted, Robert joined the Army Air Corp. After the War, he married and settled in Kansas City, just south of the city limits. Todi likewise married and started her own family in town. Frank’s printing business thrived under his energetic drive and leadership, and in 1935 he opened an advertising/printing plant in the old Gibraltar Building, where his father once had his office. Dennis, Emmett and Joe Simms all worked at the plant through the late 1930’s while still living with Zetta at 5427 Forest. In 1939, Frank moved the business to larger quarters a few blocks away, at 906 Central Street. He rented the entire second floor.
     The 1940 Census shows Loretta, Frank and Rosemary still living at 5340 Forest. (Robert had gone on an adventure. He was living and working on a ranch in Sheridan County, Wyoming.) Frank is in the printing and advertising business. He worked 52 weeks in 1939 and earned $3000 in wages. He later incorporated his business as the Jack-Bilt Corporation (“the House that Jack Bilt!”). He later rented, then purchased, the entire 906 Central Street building (no longer standing). At its zenith, Jack-Bilt provided employment for more than thirty people.   
     About 1956, with their nest now empty, Frank and Loretta decided to relieve themselves of the responsibilities of homeownership. They sold their home and became apartment dwellers again. They moved to a comfortable, friendly place on the west edge of the Plaza, the fashionable shopping district established by J.C. Nichols back in the 1920’s, now recognized as America’s first “shopping center.” The apartment building was, and still is, called the Plaza House. They lived in 803, on the eighth floor, to the left, on the rear corner in this photo. Later, at Loretta’s insistence, they moved to a more upscale
address, the Regency House, south of Brush Creek, but still “overlooking the Plaza.” They liked their new quarters, but Frank told me he thought the residents of the Plaza House were a little friendlier.
     Frank D. Jackson, an extraordinary person, died of a cerebral hemorrhage on 25 December 1965, Christmas Day. His loving wife, Loretta, survived him for seventeen years. After his death, she moved to an even more prestigious address east of the Plaza, but again overlooking it. It’s name is Oak Hall. Late in her life, she moved to John Knox Village, an assisted living center in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, a suburb on the extreme southern edge of Kansas City. She died there, on 19 November 1982. Loretta and Frank are buried side by side at Calvary Cemetery.

     In the saddest of times, things changed in Kansas City, and the world moved on.


Continued from William Henry Arvin


Researched and written by Robert Joseph Arvin, Jr.     
  © Copyright A.D. 2011



27.  Walter Barlow Stevens, Centennial history of Missouri: (the center state) one hundred years
       in the Union, 1820-1921
(1921), p 344-349
28.  United States Dept. of Agriculture, Press Service - 1929, “The Official record of the United States
       Department of Agriculture: Volume 8”
29.  Lawrence O. Christensen, Dictionary of Missouri biography (1999), p 419
  Department of Veterans’ Affairs listing on their website:
       National Archives and Records Administration was unable to find a record of his service. 
31.  Howard L. Conard, Encyclopedia of the history of Missouri: a compendium of history and
       biography for ready reference
(1901), Vol. 1 p 627

32.  Hamilton County, Ohio, Probate Court Archive Records, Vol. 167, p 285
  License number 5935, Montana County Marriages, 1865-1960. See Index and image on
34.  Image of this deed not available at the Jackson County Recorder’s Office.
35.  License number 7263, Montana County Marriages, 1865-1960. See for Index and image.


Courtesy of the Library of Congress: Hoover Inauguration, Arthur M. Hyde oath of office, Hoover and Roosevelt ride to Inauguration, portrait of Harry S Truman
Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri. Used with permission: Waldheim Building, Densmore Hotel, Sentinel Insurance Buliding, Baltimore Hotel, Baltimore Avenue 1928, Gibraltar Building
Wikipedia: American Union Bank, Oklahoma dust bowl, Roosevelt fireside chat, Consolidated Aircraft women at work
Mary McClung documents from National Archives Civilian Personnel Records, St. Louis, Missouri
and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum-Library, West Branch, Iowa


Arvin Ancestry Biographical Sketches