Three hundred dollars was a year’s wages for a
and only the most provident could raise it without borrowing it
or selling all he possessed. Most laboring men could better afford
to go to war than to pay the sum. —Fred Albert Shannon
The Organization and Administration of the Union Army 1861-1865
William was born 17 September 1845, on his parents’ small farm in Reeve Township, Daviess County, Indiana. He was the son of Joseph Edward Arvin and Rose Ann (nee Hayden) Arvin. William was probably baptized at Saint Mary’s, Barr Township, Catholic Church, in Daviess County, Indiana (shown here), although there is no documentation from that time.
William’s family had migrated to Daviess County, Indiana, from Kentucky about a year prior to his birth. They became members of the Saint Rose Catholic Parish, which was centered around the little hamlet of Mount Pleasant, located just across the county line in Martin County. William was born in the days before St. Rose had a church building. That would not happen until 1848, and even then it had no priest. The pastor of St. Mary’s Parish tended to the religious needs of his scattered “missions” like St. Rose on a weekly basis, riding on horseback to each of his various missions in turn, on a circuit.
Even without a church building, the Parish of St. Rose had long been in existence. “The history of Catholicism had its birth in Martin County in 1819, when several members of this faith settled at Mount Pleasant. The Parish was known as Saint Rose and Mass was offered in the home of Jeremiah Raney....The congregation became large enough by 1848 to justify the erection of a church.”1
William’s father owned 40 acres of land at the time William was born. In June of 1850, he purchased an additional 40 acres from the Trustees of the Wabash and Erie Canal. This land, located about a mile to the north of his original farm, was surplus to the construction of the canal. (It’s legal description was NE-SE 15-2-5, filed with the county in 1852.) This gave Joseph two separate tracts, totaling 80 acres.
[*] [**] Age Sex Color Profession Occupation or Trade Value of Place of Persons over 20
of each Male Person over 15 Real Estate Birth years of age
years of age owned
cannot read & write
1515 Thomas Arvin 37 M Farmer 200 Md 1
Margaret " 21 F In 1
Mary " 3 " [baptized by Fr. Murphy on Palm Sunday, 1848] "
Theresa " 2 " "
Mary Fields 11 " "
1516 Henry Arvin 63 M Farmer 200 Md 1
Theresa " 62 F " 1
William " 39 M " "
Laura " 15 F Ky
Mary " 12 F Ky
Richard H " 8 M "
Thomas Fields 12
1517 Joseph Arvin 35 " " 300 Md
Rose " 27 F Ky
William " 6 M In
Elizabeth " 3 F [baptized by Fr. Murphy Palm Sunday, 1848] "
1518 Joshua O " 29 M " 300 Ky
Caroline " 29 F Ky
John " 5 M In
Francis " 3 " [baptized by Fr. Murphy Palm Sunday, 1848] "
James " 1 " "
1519 George " 25 " " 150 Ky
Jemima " 26 F Md
James " 2 M In
1520 James " 22 " " 100 Ky 1
Mary " 20 " In
* “Families numbered in the order of visitation.”
** “The Name of every Person whose usual place of abode on the first day of June, 1850, was in this family.”3
The vitality of the little hamlets in the region began to evaporate in the late 1850’s, after a new town was founded in Martin County. It was located just a few miles north of Mount Pleasant. Thanks to the foresight of its founder, this one would quickly outshine the others.
is the county’s only city and has experienced a steady growth since first
being platted in 1853….Thomas N. Gootee, a descendant of French ancestors, is the
founder of Loogootee. He homesteaded the land at the present site in 1818, and was
one of the few pioneers to appreciate the potentialities of the level prairie and swamp
land. Gootee added to his original purchase until he owned 600 acres, and gladly
donated the right-of-way for the railroad….on April 4, 1853…Gootee platted the village.
The development was rather rapid and a post
office was established July 6, 1857….
Loogootee had little to recommend it as the site of future flourishing metropolis until
recognized that the facilities of the railroad would offer shipping and commercial
advantages and moved to the site. Residences which had been moved from Hindostan,
after the plague, to
The naming of the town must have been a “headache,” but there are no official records
pertaining to the origin of the name. The Gootee, no doubt, is in honor of Thomas Gootee,
pioneer who platted the original settlement.4
the origin of the first part of the name range from the “loo” in Waterloo,
where Napoleon was defeated, to “Lowe,” the name of the engineer who surveyed
the right-of-way for the railroad, to DeLoo, who first surveyed the town tract,
to “Lucinda,” Gootee’s wife’s name.
As the town of Mount Pleasant faded away, the Parish of St. Rose lost many of its parishioners. Eventually it was disbanded. “The Parish was finally dissolved in 1857, and the members north of Mount Pleasant were attached to the new Parish at Loogootee, while those living south were attached to the newly established Parish of St. Martin’s.”5 Thus, William and his family became members of the St. Martin of Tours Catholic Parish, which was centered on the tiny hamlet of Whitfield, Indiana. Whitfield, also in Martin County, was only a few miles northeast of Joseph and Rose Ann’s farm in Daviess County.
The new parish of St. Martin of Tours, however, had no church building of its own. The existing St. Rose church building was still used for quite some time, and its cemetery was still available for burials. Several Arvin family members, including William’s grandparents, Henry and Theresa Arvin, were buried there during this time. When Saint Martin finally was able to build its own church, in 1875, the old St. Rose church building was dismantled. Most of its stones were used for the foundation of the St. Martin of Tours church.
It is unclear why Eleanor and
James Summers are living with the Arvin’s, but there was a Rudolphus Summers,
age 39, living nearby. Also living in that household is: Ann Summers, age 25,
Mary E. Haulk, 20, and Robert Summers, 2.
William’s younger brother, Benjamin Francis Arvin, died on 1 August 1861. He was only four years old.
A New Homestead
When William was 18 years old, in December of 1862, his father purchased an additional tract of land. It consisted of three contiguous properties, totaling 190 acres, and it more than doubled his father’s holdings. The new land was located in Section 16 of Daviess County, about midway along Reeve Township’s northern border with Barr Township. The family probably moved to this new land the following year, 1863, and Joseph began building a fashionable two-story cabin for his family. It was described as “rather presumptuous.” Joseph would later plank the outside of the cabin and whitewash the planks, making it one of the first “painted houses” in the area. He operated a store on the ground level of this house. One of the items he sold there was his own liquor, which he produced from a still located on the property. Joseph was an enterprising person, and became quite successful. He and his family prospered.
The Civil War
In the North, it was called the War of The Rebellion. It took not only enormous amounts of money but enormous manpower to sustain. As it raged, President Lincoln began making a series of calls for more troops. Ultimately, he would ask for almost a million men. To satisfy these calls, quotas were set across the country to supply the numbers needed. If, in any given voting district, the number of volunteers did not satisfy the quota (or the district’s bounty offers were not lucrative enough to induce the needed number of volunteers) the balance had to be made up by drafting recruits into the ranks. This was usually accomplished by means of a lottery. Joseph and Rose Ann knew that Will, their oldest son, would become subject to the draft when he turned 20 years of age, in September of 1865. Family tradition, told to me by Will’s youngest daughter Loretta, holds that “We bought our way out of the Civil War. Will’s number came up, and the family paid to get him out. His father and his uncles all pitched in.”
Commutation was available to all, but only the rich could afford to pay the $300 price. Wikipedia tells us that
...men drafted could provide substitutes or, until mid-1864, avoid service by paying
commutation money. Many eligibles pooled their money to cover the cost of anyone
drafted. Families used the substitute provision to select which man should go into the
army and which should stay home. There was much evasion and overt resistance to the
draft, especially in Catholic areas. The great draft riot in New York City in July 1863
involved Irish men who had been signed up as citizens to swell the machine vote, not
realizing it made them liable for the draft.
α Owned Free or Mortgaged
Beginning in 1911, Louis and Catherine are
no longer listed in the Kansas City Directory. They had moved on. In September,
1918, Louis filled out his Draft Registration Card, indicating his
residence was El Paso, Texas.
Emma and her husband Henry are living in Middleton, Ohio, about thirty miles north of Cincinnati. They live on East Third Street. No street number is given; it apparently not needed to identify the house. Henry’s mother, Anna, and his brother, Dewight, are living with them in their rental home.
Phibbs, Henri Head M W 35 M 7 . . . barber barber shop Empl R
__ Emma Wife F W 28 M 7 none
__ Anna mother F W 65 wi none
__ Dewight brotherM W 22 S none
The Years Roll By
Margaret was the head of a large family, and her life was always full. There was always activity, and change was a constant. But following her good example, family members helped each other through all their tragedies and their times of need. As we shall see, there were many.
1911: The children (except for Loretta) were still all gainfully
employed. Mary was a steno for Clark & Bates Lumber Co. Leo was a helper with
Met St. Rwy. Jennie has taken up the occupation of manicurist and probably
worked downtown. John was now an independent, self-employed driver. Loretta was in
school at St. Aloysius. Zetta was a steno at Philips Carey, an industrial
abrasives company. Sanford was a salesman at Jones Dry Good Co. Margaret and the
children all lived at 1409 Garfield.
Leo supported his own family as a helper for the Met Street Railway. They lived at 1710 Wabash (no longer standing).
William was a motorman for Met Street Railway and lived at 1707 Wabash (no longer standing).
Michael Sanford, who started going by “SM” Arvin, was always an enterprising young man, and it showed itself early in his life. When he was just 22, he bought two building lots on the far south side of town, almost to Brush Creek. (The city limits were at 47th Street at this time.) For $420.00 each, he purchased lots 37 and 38 in the Lenox Addition (Resurvey of Kemper Heights) 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.
1912: Margaret and the children still lived at 1409
Garfield. Mary was now a steno for George L. Davis. Jennie was a clerk with Montgomery
Ward and Company. John was an independent driver. Zetta was a clerk at Philips Carey. Sanford was
a clerk at the Jones Store, a large department store downtown.
Leo was a storekeeper for the Met, and his family still lived at 1710 Wabash. William was a motorman for The Met, and he and Maud lived at 3919 E. 18th Street.
and her children still lived at 1409 Garfield. Leo and family were still at 1710
Wabash. William and Maud were still at 3919 E 18th St.
In June 1913, 20 year-old Zetta married a dashing young man of Irish descent named Dennis Simms, who was 19. Dennis had a great job as a foreman with the Ford Motor Co. Since Dennis was considered a minor, his father, John Simms, had to give consent to the marriage, which he did. They were married at St. Aloysius Church, and Mary Arvin and John Arvin signed the marriage license as witnesses. The newlyweds moved to a home located at 1004 Agnes. (Shown here.)
John Arvin, just turned 22 years old, married 17 year-old Lillie M. Seeley, of Kansas City, on 23 September 1913 at St. Aloysius Church. Lillie’s mother gave her consent to their marriage. The newlyweds, Dennis and Zetta Simms, were the witnesses. John and Lillie moved to their own home, located at 1323 Montgall. (No longer standing.)
1914: Margaret and family moved to 1022 Olive Street (shown here), located just
a block west of St. Aloysius Church.
John and Lillie still lived at 1323 Montgall, but Lillie’s health suddenly deteriorated. Pregnant with their first child, she died of eclampsia in the early morning hours of May 4. John was powerless to help her. The funeral was held the following day at St. Aloysius. Lillie and her stillborn child, a girl, were buried at Mount St. Mary’s Cemetery.
William’s wife, Maud, adopted a 4 year-old child, named Anna May, from St. Anthony’s Home for Infants in October.
Dennis Simms was listed as foreman for the Ford Motor Company.
1915: Margaret and family relocated to 1425 Prospect. John, now a 23 year-old widower, moved back in with his family.
In May, Loretta graduated from Manual Training High School. She was the only one of Margaret’s children to graduate in Kansas City. A proud day for all the family.
In August, Maud and William adopted next page another child, a newborn baby boy, William Burke. He was renamed William B. Arvin.
Dennis Simms was still a foreman with Ford Motor
1916: Margaret moved yet again, this time one block north, to 1323 Prospect. John still lived with them, but he had met a young lady named Ruth W. Spake, who had moved to Kansas City from the family farm in Knob Noster, Missouri, after her parents died. They started to make serious plans. Then, as a wave of national patriotism swept the country after bands of Mexicans under Poncho Villa began invading towns along the U.S.-Mexican border, John enlisted in the Missouri National Guard on June 23, 1916. A few days later, without any advance indication, President Woodrow Wilson nationalized the entire United States National Guard. John’s unit was shipped to Laredo Texas, where he was stationed beginning July 7, in an encampment north of the town. His unit never saw action, and on September 26 they were shipped back to Missouri and deactivated. He married Ruth on 16 October 1916, at St. Aloysius Church. The witnesses were Rall[?] Gannon and John’s sister, Genevieve Arvin.
The Metropolitan Street Railway, unable to turn a profit because streetcar fares were held to 5 cents by the city, went into receivership. The Kansas City Light and Power Company was separated from The Met and left to stand on its own. The powerhouse where Leo worked remained with The Met, and its employees survived the reorganization—barely—but Leo was now listed simply as a laborer.
William was still employed as motorman with The Met, and he now lives at 1700 Cyprus Avenue. (View on Google/Maps/Street Level.)
Dennis Simms was listed as “repair” with Ford Motor, apparently on the fast track and learning all aspects of the business. With the birth of their first child, Dennis Jr., they have moved to a larger home at 3005 E Benton Blvd (shown here), quite a fashionable address. They were movin’ on up. But trouble was brewing.
1917: Margaret and children were still at 1323 Prospect. Zetta was
apparently now living there also. She had just given birth to their second
child, Emmett. Dennis’s Draft Registration Card shows he is employed at 1025
Winchester (the Ford Assembly plant), but he was now a “travelling
representative.” He may have been on the road much of the time. His residence
was given as 1323 Prospect.
John was still listed at 1323 Prospect, but he and Ruth moved to Clinton, Missouri, at some point that year.
1918: Kansas City’s residential construction began to redirect
itself from eastbound to southbound. That had always been it’s true
destiny. The Blue River valley created a natural barrier to further expansion
eastward, and developers began to see more opportunity to the south. One
developer in particular would outshine them all: Jesse Clyde Nichols, who made
successive purchases totaling over 4,000 acres of land south of the city limits,
then at 47th Street. J.C. Nichols was responsible for the creation of the
Country Club Plaza, which he designed to be a gateway to his residential developments
to the south. The area became known as the Country Club District.
We don’t know the exact circumstances, but for whatever reason, 59 year-old Margaret E. Arvin, swept up in this great southern migration, left St. Aloysius parish and relocated her family south to 4029 Harrison Street. She moved to an apartment in a new building there, one of several built in a row on Harrison. Of course, she made sure she was close to a Catholic church. St. James Catholic Church, just six years old, was located a block and a half north, at 3909 Harrison. St. James parish was a considered a “suburban parish,” at this time, and was the second largest Catholic parish in Kansas City. Mary, Jennie and Loretta moved with her.
John and Ruth were in Clinton, Missouri, living at 707 E. Franklin Street for a short time. A War Department postcard was mailed to him there, and his Draft Registration Card also lists this address. They soon returned to Kansas City, however, renting a home at 2842 Michigan Avenue. (No longer standing.) Their first child, a boy, was born on 25 April 1918 at Saint Joseph Hospital in Kansas City. They named him Robert Joseph Arvin.
Sanford was no longer listed in the City Directory. He and Lillian Cope (from Nevada, Missouri) were married by a Justice of the Peace on 3 September 1918 in Billings, Montana.
Mary Ann Arvin, 39, married Charles S. McClung, a 49 year-old travelling salesman, in December 1918. The wedding took place at St. James Church. Mary’s younger sisters, Loretta and Genevieve, were the witnesses. The newlywed couple moved to an apartment building at 913 Holmes Road, about a mile east of her office. She worked for the T.W. Ballew Loan & Investment Co., and was now cashier of the company and executive secretary to Ben C. Hyde, the principal. The company was located in this fabulous new skyscraper—a real showcase property—called the Waldheim Building. It was one of the most prestigious addresses in town, located on the northeast corner of fashionable “Petticoat Lane” and Main Street. (It replaced the “American Dental Rooms” building, shown on the left in the 1906 photo presented earlier.) Mary was doing quite well, indeed. She was now earning more than five times what her starting salary had been at Larkin Brothers back in Loogootee, and it was increasing steadily. She may have been earning more money than her husband. Charlie worked for a company located in the West Bottoms, in the Stockyards District. He sold powdered livestock food supplements in wholesale quantities to rural stores in his territory. A mismatch in status like this could cause a man to develop an inferiority complex.
As things began to stabilize and even improve for The Met, Leo Arvin regained his old job title. He was once again a foreman at the Powerhouse, which can also be seen in the photograph, belching smoke into the air. This view is to the northeast, looking toward the Missouri River. Main Street runs north, Petticoat Lane runs east.
William, while on the job working as a motorman for The Met, was in a serious accident and injured his hip so severely that he could no longer work as a motorman. Subsequently, he found employment as a fireman at the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, military base. He was able to work at such a remote location because there was interurban rail service between Kansas City and Leavenworth at this time, but it was a long commute. And the new job probably paid less.
1919: Margaret was still at 4029 Harrison. John and
Ruth now lived at 2840 Michigan with their baby, Robert. William and Maud lived
at 2215 Wabash.
Mary and Charlie McClung moved two blocks east, to the Densmore Hotel, located at 908-914 Locust. It was closer to Mary’s office and Charlie liked it. It was comfortable and convenient.
In April, youngest daughter Loretta Katherine, about to graduate from Manual High School, married Frank D. Jackson at St. James Church. Their witnesses were Harry Coffee and Genevieve Arvin. Frank’s family had moved to town from Lamoni, Iowa. His father, Jay M. Jackson owned a publishing company downtown. He also was a real estate broker who bought and sold several properties in Kansas City. The elder Mr. Jackson led an ostentatious life, and the family lived in a very fashionable home in one of Kansas City’s first eastern suburbs, Pendleton Heights. They even had two live-in servants. The home, located at 1836 Pendleton Avenue, is still impressive today.
On October 1st, Leo and Almyra bought themselves a home, located at 1408 Indiana Avenue. (This home is no longer standing.)
On November 26th, younger brother John and his wife Ruth made a similar move. They purchased a home in Hill Top Addition. The address is 2315 Myrtle Avenue, only blocks away from Louis and Catherine’s old place, and directly south of Mount Saint Mary’s Cemetery. John’s first wife, Lillie, and their infant daughter were buried there. The purchase was subject to a lease, held by a tenant, who was paying $25.00 per month in rent. The lease was set to expire on March 31st, 1920. Then they would be able to move in.
1920 – Fourteenth United States Census
This census was taken in January, 1920. Frank D. and Loretta K. Jackson are now renting an apartment in a building located at 2733 Gillham Road. They are now in Our Lady of Sorrows parish, whose church was located just two blocks north, at 2552 Gillham. Frank describes himself as an employer who has a printing company. Loretta lists herself as his stenographer. Margaret and Jennie have moved in with them.
Address * #
2733 Jackson Frank D Head R M W 26 M . . . Printing own shop Emp
-------- Loreta K
F W 23 M Stenographer
Arvin Margaret Mother in law F W 61 Wd none
Sister in law F W
27 S Operator Telephone W
* Home owned or rented
# Employer, salary or wage worker, or working on own account
Mary and Charles McClung are “roomers,” living at the Densmore, a residential hotel at 908-914 Locust Street. (This hotel no longer exists.)
615 McClung Charles S Roomer M W 50 M . . . Commercial Traveler Stock Powder W
---------- Mary A Roomer F W 40 M Bookkeeper Investments W
Leo and his family are at 1408 Indiana. They own their home, and it is mortgaged. The children are in grade school at St. Aloysius. All three attended St. Al’s through the eighth grade.
* ** π
1408 Arvin, Leo J Head O M M W 36 M . . . Foreman St Ry Co W
-------- Almira Wife F W 34 M
-------- Joseph B Son M W 16 S Yes none
-------- Louis E Son M W 14 S Yes none
-------- Dellis C Son
W 12 S
* Home owned or rented ** if owned, mortgaged π Attended school any time since Sept. 1, 1919
In November of this year, their middle son, Louis Emil, enlisted in the Navy, lying about his age. He was only 15 at the time. He was accepted and shipped to San Francisco before the Navy discovered the discrepancy and returned him to his parents.
William and his family live in a rented home located at 2619 Chestnut. Their adopted daughter, Anna May, now attends school. Retta’s child, Elsie May, is too old for school; their adopted son, William B., is too young. As unlikely as it seems, in this same home, the census taker lists another family and a young widower with his children. Reflecting the harsh reality of their circumstances, a total of eleven people are living at this address. It was bursting at the seams.
2619 Arvin, William M Head 1 R M W 33 M . . . Fireman Army Training Camp W
---- Retta M Wife F W 35 M none
---- Elsie May Dau F W 18 S none
King, Harry C
Head 2 R M W
33 M .
. . Box Maker Wooden Box Factory W
Alice Wife F W 22 M none
---- Harry C jr Son M W 2 2/12 S none
Arvin, Anna May Dau F W 107/12 S Yes none
---- William B Son M W 5 5/12 S none
Cleveland, Thomas I Boarder M W 24 Wd Express Automobile O.A.
---- Gracie boarder F W 4 3/12 none
---- Elmer boarder M W 3 0/12 none
Sanford and Lillian live in a small apartment building at 116 N. 29th St. in Billings, Montana. (No longer standing.)
116 Arvin, Sanford M Head R M W 30 M . . . Bookkeeper Wholesale Oil W
---- Lillian Wife F W 29 M none
John and his family are renting a home at 2842 Michigan Avenue, waiting for the lease to expire on the home they bought at 2315 Myrtle.
2842 Arvin, John Head R M W 28 M . . . Auto Mech In Shop W
------- , Ruth
Wife F W 27 M none
------- , Robert Son M W S none
Soon after this census was taken, John and
Ruth did move into their home. But within weeks, Ruth is diagnosed with
consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis.) John knew the symptoms; his father died
of the disease. They make a decision. They would travel to the southwest,
following the conventional wisdom (and their only hope) that the drier climate
would help her recover. In July, Mary and Charlie McClung buy their home, helping
them liquidate their assets and depart as quickly as possible. They suspect
that Ruth might not have much time left. They vacate their little nest,
entrusting their son, Robert, to Frank and Loretta’s care, and leave town.
Dennis and Zetta Simms live in Clinton, Missouri, with their three sons. They own a home, located at 305 N. Main Street, and it has a mortgage. Dennis’s father John, a widower, lives with them. Dennis is an “employer,” an agent of an automobile company (e.g., a car dealer). No doubt, he sells Fords.
305 Simms, Dennis Head O M M W 26 M . . . Agent Auto. Co. Em
-------, Zeta Wife F W 26 M none
Simms, John W. Father M W 63 W none
--------, Dennis Jr Son M W 4 S none
--------, Emmett Son M W 3 S none
--------, Joseph Son M W 10/12 S none
Louis and his family have moved to Los Angeles, California. They live in an apartment building at 811 Temple Street. (No longer standing.) Their children are in school. (This area is today considered the Historic District of Los Angeles.)
Louis E Head R M W 38 M . .
------- Catherine Wife F W 36 M none
------- Louise Dau F W 11 S Yes none
------- Paul Son M W 10 S Yes none
------- Bernard Son M W 9 S Yes none
Emma and her husband Henry Phibbs also live in Los Angeles, about a mile from Louis and Catherine. They are renting an place in a residential apartment building. The Rutland, located at 1839 South Main Street. Henry is working on his own account (i.e., he is self employed.)
1839 Phibbs, Henry E Head R M W 45 M . . . Barber Barber Shop O A
--------, Emma F W 37 M Dressmaker Gen'l Dressmaking W
1921: John’s wife, Ruth, bedridden and
confined to a sanatorium for persons with consumption in Phoenix, Arizona, took
a turn for the worse. John returned to Kansas City to get their son, Robert, and
bring him to Ruth, but she passed away before he could even get back to Kansas
City. She died on 31 January 1921. Her body was returned to Kansas City and the
funeral was held at St. Aloysius Church, where they were married. 29 year-old
John, now twice a widower, had no place to live, so Frank and Loretta took him
in. Robert was now two years old. The newspaper announcement of Ruth’s death
lists her address as 2733 Gillham, Frank and Loretta’s three-bedroom apartment. Since John had almost no money left, Ruth was buried at Mount St. Mary’s, in the same plot which contained the remains of his first wife, Lillie, and their unborn infant.
William and Retta Maud apparently divorced. They lived at 3840 E. 15th early in the year, but 35 year-old William is now also homeless. The ever compassionate Frank and Loretta took him in also. With Margaret and Jennie also living with them, it is all too obvious that more space was needed. They found what they needed and moved to a large apartment at 3041 Wabash. (No longer standing.) Frank and Loretta’s love and care for their family knew no bounds.
In September, 34 year-old Jennie, always a bridesmaid, never a bride, at last found the love of her life, Mr. William Strasburg. They were married by a Justice of the Peace, presumably at city hall. We know they moved into their own place at this time, but the location is not known. They are not listed in the city directory until 1923.
1922: Frank and Loretta purchased a brand new home, 5430 Forest, in a housing development in the south part of the city. It was only the third home to be completed on the block. They were now in St. Francis Xavier parish, and the church was just two blocks north, at 52nd and Troost Avenue. The same Jesuit community which had operated St. Aloysius Church, the family’s first parish, had moved to this location, built a church and founded Rockhurst College. (The present church building was not erected until 1937. See www.sfx-kc.org/) Margaret, William, John and young Robert continued to live with them. “Bill” Arvin was listed in the City Directory as working in the bindery of the Jackson Publishing Co., owned by Frank’s father, Jay M. Jackson. John was listed as a mechanic for the Globe Laundry.
Jennie Strasburg was the manager of Rockhill Beauty Parlors. She and her husband Bill lived at 4018 Warwick Blvd.
1923: Margaret lived at 5430 Forest with
Frank and Loretta. John and young Robert also lived there. John, perhaps unemployed,
was not listed at all in the directory.
William Strasburg was a “supt.,” apparently the superintendant of 4016 Warwick Blvd., which was connected to 4018. The buildings are no longer standing, but this is an image of the “connected buildings” located just to the north.
William was now a janitor for the Unity School and lived at 915 Troost, east of the downtown area.
Mary McClung was listed as Secretary-Treasurer of the T.W. Ballew Company. She was working for Benjamin Hyde. Mary had worked for Mr. Hyde, in his various business enterprises, since he came to town in 1909. She was now one of his most dependable and valued employees. Her husband, Charlie, was steadily employed by the Columbian Hog & Cattle Powder Co., as a travelling salesman. Charlie was not as driven to succeed as Mary was. No one was.
1924: Margaret was not listed in the
City Directory, but John and William were shown living at 5430 Forest. William was
foreman of the Jackson Publishing Co. John again took up the occupation of “driver.”
Robert was now six years old.
Dennis and Zetta purchased a home located at 5439 Tracy, a block east of Forest. Dennis Jr. turned eight years old, Emmett turned seven, and Joe turned four.
1925: Margaret and John still lived at
5430 Forest, though no occupations were listed.
William was listed at 5430 Forest, occupation printer, but he became a clerk for the Union Bank Note company this year and moved to 1221 Washington (in Kansas City’s West Bluffs area). He married Eva Ree Sisson, of Nevada, Mo., in April.
1926: Margaret, John and Robert continued
to live 5430 Forest. In an unexpected turn of events, Frank and Loretta have
their first and only child, born on April 15. They named her Rosemary, but she
soon became known as “Todi.”
William was listed as printer living at 1118 Pennsylvania (still in the old Quality Hill area in the West Bluffs).
Mary and Charlie moved up again, becoming residents of the Hyde Park Hotel. Mary was doing quite well working for Benjamin Hyde, and she thrived on the challenges of her job.
Zetta was now listed as the only adult resident of 5439 Tracy. Dennis Sr. was not listed. On the very day he stood as godfather for Todi at her baptism, he left town with a model from a downtown department store and abandoned his family.
1927: Margaret moved to 5439 Tracy, to
live with Zetta and her three boys. Robert continued to live with Frank and
Loretta. John and William were not listed in the directory.
The Metropolitan Street Railway had been separated from the Kansas City Light and Power Co. back in 1916, and The Met had retained control of the Missouri River Powerhouse. Since then, demand for residential electricity had increased by leaps and bounds, while streetcar ridership had plateaued because of the rise of the automobile. Kansas City Light and Power Co. (which had become Kansas City Power & Light) purchased the Missouri River Powerhouse from The Met. The price was an astounding $2,500,000. They renamed it the Grand Avenue Station and then spent even more money modernizing its equipment. Persevering through all this, Leo again retained his job. Kansas City Power & Light Co. was now his employer.
Mary and Charlie were still at the Hyde Park Hotel. Benjamin Hyde’s brother, Arthur, moved to town this year, and the two brothers founded the Sentinel Insurance Company. They had the connections to make it work: Ben had been the Superintendent of Insurance for the State of Missouri since 1921, and Arthur was the Republican Governor of Missouri from 1921 to 1925. Arthur was to be the president of the new company. And, because of her exceptional ability, Mary was given the assignment of becoming his personal secretery. The three of them launched the Sentinel Insurance Company.
1928: Margaret continued to live at 5439 Tracy with Zetta and the Simms boys. John again was not listed in the directory, but was also living there. He became a surrogate father to them. In this conglomerate family, his biological son, Robert, continued to live with Loretta and Frank, who became his surrogate parents.
William was employed as a shipping clerk for the Union Bank Note Co. and lived at 10110 E. 16th St.
Mary and Charlie McClung could now afford to move to the Baltimore Hotel, perhaps the most prestigious hotel in Kansas City. This was probably all Mary’s idea. She was doing exceptionally well, moving in some very high-power circles. Soon, even greater things were in store for her. Charlie’s distaste for this lifestyle began to eat on him.
Historical Note: Late in his term, President Calvin
Coolidge announced to the nation: “I do not choose to run for president in
1928.” This blunt statement opened doors for a number of Republican
hopefuls, but none approached the public esteem enjoyed by Herbert Hoover, Coolidge’s Secretary of Commerce. He had a
long record of humanitarian service, although he had never before actually run in
an election of any kind.
The Republicans assembled at Convention Hall in Kansas City in June of 1928. Hoover easily won the nomination on the first ballot. The vice-presidential nod went to Senator Charles Curtis of Kansas. The platform of 1928 was devoted largely to self-congratulation, as the Republicans claimed full credit for the nation’s prosperity. Huge numbers of voters turned out on November 6 and handed Hoover and the Republicans a resounding victory. The Democrats lost by more than six million votes.
Hoover nominated Arthur M. Hyde, former Governor of Missouri and now president of the Sentinel Insurance Company in Kansas City, to be his Secretary of Agriculture. Mr Hyde went off to Washington for the inauguration. His appointment was confirmed by the United States Senate the next day. Secretary Hyde returned in glory to Kansas City to make preparations for his transition to Washington. He asked his personal secretery if she would continue to work for him at the Department of Agriculture. His secretery was none other than Margaret’s daughter, Mrs. Mary Ann McClung. She accepted the offer, and she soon moved to the nation’s capitol. Her husband, Charles McClung, however, remained in Kansas City.
1929: In September, while Mary was
working in Washington, her husband, Charles S. McClung, died.
The stock market crash in October ushered in the Great Depression. The economy was crushed and it contracted drastically. Deflation settled in; times got tougher than ever.
William was the head stockman for the Union Bank Note Co., his residence listed simply as “Independence” [Missouri].
1930 – Fifteenth United States Census
This census was taken in April of 1930. Margaret is living with Zetta and her three sons at 5439 Tracy. Zetta has opened her own beauty parlor continues to make the mortgage payments on the home.
shown in green are conversions of dollars to 2011
money values. www.usinflationcalculator.com/)
* ** π #
5439 Simms, Zetta O Head O 8000 F W 35 M 19 . . . Proprietor Beauty parlor
-------- Dennis Son 108,200 M W 14 S Yes none
-------- Emmett Son M W 13 S Yes none
-------- Joseph Son M W 11 S Yes none
Arvin, Margaret E Mother F W 72 Wd none
* Home owned or rented ** Value of home, if owned, or monthly
rental, if rented
π Age at first marriage # Attended school or college any time since Sept 1, 1929
Sometime after this census, William and
Jennie Strasburg took up residence with Zetta, to share expenses. Margaret’s son Dennis Jr., mentioning his father without a trace of the pain he must have felt, later wrote simply that, “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 Jacksons. The failure of the Pioneer Trust Co was a real blow. This resulted in John and the Strasburgs 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.”
Frank and Loretta still live at 5430 Forest, one block west of Tracy. They have continued to care for Robert all this while. Frank has a position in the catalog preparation department of the Cook Paint Company, located at 21st and Broadway. One of the questions on the census asks if there is a radio set, an amazing new technology, in the home. Its presence is indicated by an “R” on the census form. The Jacksons do indeed have one, and Loretta and Robert are demonstrating it for one of Frank’s advertising pieces.
5430 Jackson, Frank D. Head O 7000 R M W 37 M 26 . . . Advertising Man Paint Co.
--------, Loretta K Wife 94,600 F W 33 M 22 none
--------, Rose M Dau F W 311/12 S none
Arvin, Robert Lodger M W 11 S Yes none
Leo and Mida are renting a home at 1016 Jefferson, located on the West Bluffs of the downtown area of Kansas City. Family tradition indicates that “they lost their home during the Depression.” They also have a radio set.
1016 Arvin, Leo Head R 3500 M W 45 M 19 . . . Pump House Tender Power Co
Wife 47500 F W
------- Joe B Son M W 25 S iron worker Steel Constr Firm
William Arvin is living with his family at 9512 E. 16th Street. They own their home and have a radio set.
* ** ® π #
9512 Arvin, William F Head
O 4000 R
M W 46
M 22 . . . Bindery Forman
------- Eva R Wife 54,100 F W 39 M 18 none
------- William Jr. Son M W 4½ S No none
As the economy worsened, William’s employer, Union Bank Note, “went under” about the time of this census.
John, twice a widower, is struggling back. He is listed as a Roomer at a hotel with furnished rooms at 1334½ Broadway. He operates the Yellow Inn Cafe, below him on the ground floor, at 1334 Broadway. He has no radio set.
1334½ Arvin, John A Roomer M W 36 Wd . . . Proprietor Restaurant
John’s residence was listed in the Kansas City Business Directory this year as 5439 Tracy (Zetta’s
home). He must have moved downtown when he took over the restaurant.
Meanwhile, Louis and Catherine have moved from Los Angeles to Oakland City, in Alameda County, California. They live in a rented home at 3535 Kingsley Street. (Still standing; view on Google Maps/Street Level.) The family has a radio set. Catherine’s parents are described as being born in the Irish Free State (formed in 1922 and from which Northern Ireland opted out.) The Irish Free State would be replaced by the modern state of Ireland in 1937.
* ** ® π #
3535 Arvin, Louis E Head R $45. R M W 49 M 25 . . . Ship Engineer Marine
------, Catherine B Wife $608 F W 47 M 23 none
--------, Paul E Son M W 21 S No Salesman Abrasive
--------. Bernard W Son M W 19 S No Assistant Manager Motion Picture
* Home owned or rented ** Value of home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented ® Radio set
π Age at first marriage # Attended school or college any time since Sept 1, 1929
Henry and Emma Phibbs are still in Los Angeles. They now own a home, valued at $3800.00, which is located at 135 East 77th Street. They have a radio set.
135 Phibbs, Henry E Head O 3800 R M W 55 M 28 . . . Barber Barber Shop
------- Emma R Wife 51,400 F W 49 M 21 Seamstress Dress Shop
Sanford and Lillian are living in their home at 314 North 31st Street, in Billings City, Montana. (No longer standing.) They were across the street from St. Patrick’s Co-Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings. Radio set? Yes.
314 Arvin, Sanford M Head O $8000 R M W 40 M 29 . . . Proprietor News Shop
------ Lillian C Wife $108,200 F W 39 M 28 Saleswoman News Shop
------ Janet M Dau F W 9 S Yes none
Haber, Ann M Lodger F W 21 S No Saleswoman News Shop
# Attended school or college any time since Sept 1, 1929
Mary McClung, recently widowed, is still
working at the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. She stays at the
Burlington Hotel, 1120
Vermont Avenue NW, in the District of Columbia. (“Where living is an
inexpensive luxury. Four squares north of the White House, room and bath, $3.50
$47.35.”) Mary pays $75.00 per month for
her apartment. No radio set. She lists herself as
a clerk for the U.S. Government. This hotel (no longer standing), along with
others in the area, holds many such government employees.
1120 McClung, Mary Head R 75.00 F W 50 Wd 38 . . . Clerk U.S. Gov't
Mr. Arthur M. Hyde, her “superior” in the
parlance of the times, is also listed. He is shown staying with his wife and
daughter at the prestigious Mayflower Hotel, one of Washington’s finest hotels, which is located nearby.
Other residents of the Mayflower include James C. Stone, member of the Federal Farm Board, William M. Jardine, former Secretary of Agriculture, Malcolm G. Gibbs, president of the People’s Drug Store chain, Ephraim F. Morgan, former Governor of West Virginia, Jonathan C. Royle, editor of the U. S. Daily newspaper and Ray S. Wilbur, Secretary of the Interior. Although Mr. Hyde’s rent is not listed, we find other residents paid as much as $500.00 $6,760.00 per month to stay at the Mayflower.
Also staying nearby, at an even more
prestigious address, is Mr. Hyde’s superior and his family.
1931: William worked for Sleek-Warwick Paper Co., and lived with Eva at 9512 E. 16th, Independence, Mo.
Jennie and Bill Strasburg lived at the
Baltimore Hotel, where she operated her beauty parlor.
John’s Yellow Inn Cafe is now operated by one Alf F. Henderson. John is not listed in the directory, and may have sold the restaurant and moved back to 5439 Tracy. There was room available now, because the family lost its matriarch in June of this year.
16 June 1931, “Mother Arvin,” as she was respectfully known by all, was helping
with the St. Francis Xavier altar boy picnic at Fairyland Park, 75th and Prospect
Avenue. Without warning, she suffered a fatal cerebral hemorrhage. There was
nothing anyone could do for her. She collapsed and died immediately.
Her death was solemnly written up in the St. Francis Monthly Calendar. page 23 page 24 The newspaper notice tells us that services for her were held the following Saturday. In the fashion of the times, they began at Zetta’s home, 5439 Tracy, at 8:30 in the morning, and concluded at their parish church, St. Francis Xavier. Margaret Ellen Arvin’s final resting place is in Calvary Cemetery. It was a new cemetery, dedicated in 1923, located only about a mile south of the Simms and Jackson residences. She was interred along its northern edge, where the first grave sites were purchased. In the years to come, several of her children would also be interred near her. Granchildren and even great-granchildren would follow.
After Margaret’s death, youngest daughter Loretta had her father’s remains moved from St. John’s cemetery in Loogootee and reinterred at Calvary next to Margaret, where they remain today.
Margaret did not have an easy life. She had known harsh times, lost her mother, lost her father, lost her husband. She brought the family to Kansas City under difficult circumstances and raised her children here. Though she was a devout Catholic, she saw all her children except Zetta marry outside the church, and Zetta’s husband deserted her on the very day he stood as a godfather for his niece. Margaret’s life was not easy, but she always overcame the obstacles set down before her. Given no great advantages, she triumphed with what she had. Hettie Patterson, the aunt who raised her when her mother died, said it best. In her will, Aunt Hettie called her “my highly esteemed and much respected niece, Mrs. Margaret Ellen Arvin.”
Postscript: All My Children
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.
circa 1927: Mary McClung, Jennie Strasburg, “Little Mary” (a neice who was visiting), Loretta Jackson,
Zetta Simms, Margaret Arvin; not pictured: Emma Phibbs (living in California)
Charlie McClung, William F. Arvin, William Strasburg, [background] Beamil, Louis and Dellis Arvin,
[foreground] Joe, Dennis and Emmett Simms, George _______, Robert Arvin, Frank Jackson, Leo Arvin
Read the Postscript.
Thanks to Lavada Arvin Scott, daughter of Louis Emil Arvin, and Rosemary (“Todi”) Jackson Hughes, daughter of Loretta K. Arvin Jackson, for their research assistance and for providing so many photographs, documents and family traditions.
Harry Q. Holt, History of Martin County (1953), Vol. 2, p 174, 175
2. Fr. Patrick Joseph R. Murphy, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Davies County, Indiana,
Barr Township, Ledger II (compiled by Mrs. Thomas J. Nolan, Miss Pamela A. Nolan,
Mrs. Russell Baker and Mr. Herman J. McAtee from the original records in 1975. Available
on microfilm, number 1255704, from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.)
3. 1850 Census, Daviess County, Indiana, Reeves Township, p 194
4. Harry Q. Holt, History of Martin County (1953), Vol. 2, p 288-292
6. O.A. Fulkerson, History of Daviess County (1915), p 273
7. Harry Q. Holt, History of Martin County (1953), Vol. 2, p 174, 175
8. Eugene C. Murdock, One Million Men, The Civil War Draft in the North (1971), p 172
9. Martin County, Indiana, Index to Marriage Records 1850-1920 Inclusive, Book 4, p 326
11. Fr. Patrick Joseph. R. Murphy, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Davies County, Indiana,
Barr Township, Ledger II (compiled by Mrs. Thomas J. Nolan, Miss Pamela A. Nolan,
Mrs. Russell Baker and Mr. Herman J. McAtee from the original records in 1975. Available
on microfilm, number 1255704, from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), p 70
13. Index to Deed Books of Martin County
14. St. Martin Church History
15. Holt, Vol. 2, p 293
16. Hamilton County, Ohio, Probate Court Archive Records, Vol. 167, p 285
18. Martin County Deed Records, Book 57, p 89-90 As shown in the Index
19. Martin County Order Book I (or 1), page 166
20. Martin County Deed Records, Book 57, p 91
21. Martin County Deed Records, Book 56, p 515
22. Martin County Deed Records, Book 56, p 518
23. Martin County Deed Records, Book 57, p 163-164
24. Monreo Dodd, A Splendid Ride: The Streetcars of Kansas City, 1870-1957 (2002), p 82, 86
25. Carrie Westlake Whitney, Kansas City, Missouri: its history and its people 1808-1908 (1908),
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