George Graham was born in Pennsylvania around 1851. By 1860, his family had moved to Allen County, Indiana, where his 3-year-old sister Anna was born. In 1870, the family still lived in Allen County and 19-year-old George was working as a railroad foreman.
After announcing his intention to reform, George was arrested in 1873, for grand larceny after stealing a horse. He reacted to the guilty verdict with the “utmost nonchalance,” and observed “I guess they have got me this time.” During sentencing he spoke on his own behalf and requested that his conviction be overturned. His request was overruled, but observers were impressed with his oratorical skills and thought he sounded like a “very fair criminal lawyer.” He served a five-year sentence and was released on Christmas Day, 1877. Prison records described George as having a light complexion with light brown hair, gray eyes, and a temperate disposition. He was not a large man, weighing 139 lbs upon his release from prison.
George’s hometown newspaper reported his escapades regularly:
"The notorious George Graham, whose character was portrayed at length in the Gazette last spring is on the docket of the Circuit Court in the role of defendant in a divorce suit. George has not only been guilty of larceny, horse stealing, forgery, embezzlements, confidence games, obtaining money under false pretenses, assault and battery and other similar eccentricities, but has preached, delivered temperance lectures, studied law, been a telegraph operator and an engineer.
He has been acquitted of numerous crimes, been declared insane by an Allen County Jury, &c., but now languishes in the Michigan City Penitentiary. Among the other incidents of his career was his marriage, which occurred in December, 1872. His wife, Sarah Graham, complains in the Circuit Court that he has deserted and abandoned her, failing to provide for her and her child, and has finally been convicted of an infamous crime."
 Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, May 9, 1873
 Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, May 30, 1873.
 Indiana State Prison Records, (Indiana Digital Archives), Book 2, Page 109.
 Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, September 18, 1873.
Emma Molloy was born on the Indiana frontier in the newly established town of South Bend, on July 17, 1839. Her mother died when she was two and she spent the next several years living with various family members until her father remarried. At age nineteen Emma married Louis Pradt. The couple soon moved to Wisconsin where Louis worked as a printer and where Emma learned that her new husband had a drinking problem. They had their first child in 1861 and a second in 1863; by 1864 both children had died. Emma had published poetry in local newspapers while still in her teens. During the difficult time of her children’s deaths she continued to write, using both her own name and the pen name of “Polly Wiggins.”
By 1867 Emma had had enough of Louis’s drinking. She left their Wisconsin home and returned to South Bend where she became a school teacher. Her divorce from Pradt became final that year and in November Emma married Edward Molloy, the editor and publisher of the National Union newspaper. Emma and Edward subsequently bought the newspaper and she became the first female newspaper editor in Indiana.
In 1870 Emma and Edward had their only child, a son they named Franklin. Edward was still the editor and publisher of the South Bend National Union and Emma worked, according to the U.S. Census, as an “editress,” apparently sharing her husband’s duties as co-editor. This was a pivotal year for Emma, for besides becoming a mother again, she also gave her first public lecture. Emma had discovered that she possessed another talent, the ability to speak and persuade. Within just a few years, this would transform her life and make her one of the most famous women in the country.
In 1873 Emma recited an “original poem” at a temperance meeting in Elkhart, one of a handful of public speaking events in which she participated that year. But it was in 1874, the year of the Women’s Crusade, that Emma began to perceive herself as a public speaker, and her journey as a national and international temperance advocate began.
The Women's Crusade was so successful that in November 1874 the crusaders held a convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Emma attended this convention and saw the official birth of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), which became the “largest and most powerful women’s organization” of the nineteenth century.
In 1880, Emma was appointed the chairperson of the new WCTU committee for prison reform in Indiana. This prison ministry aimed to provide men with a place to live and employment upon their release from prison. It was generally believed that if men were gainfully employed they would not return to a life of liquor and crime, but would remain sober and productive members of society. Without help, these “men of weak moral development…[would] naturally drift back into the old channels of vice” and eventually return to prison. In an address to the WCTU, Emma stated her belief in the possibility of reform for these men who, with the “proper care and protection, might be made useful to society.” Temperance leaders blamed liquor for many of society’s ills, particularly crime and family discord; therefore, it only made sense for the WCTU to form its own prison ministry. It was this ministry and her continued desire to be a reformer of men that led Molloy to the Michigan City, Indiana, prison where she met George Graham, who was serving a two-year sentence for forgery.
 Martha M. Pickrell, Emma Speaks Out: Life and Writings of Emma Molloy, 1839-1907 (Carmel, Indiana: Guild Press, 1999), 3.
 John Palmer, South Bend: Crossroads of Commerce (North Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2003), 80.
 Elkhart Daily Review, May 21, 1873.
 Jack S. Blocker, Jr., David M. Fahey, and Ian R. Tyrrell, Editors, Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History, Volume I: A-L (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2003), 685.
 Indianapolis Sentinel, February 5, 1880.
 Indianapolis Sentinel, February 7, 1880.
© 2018 Connie Yen
Postmarked Koshkonong, January 7, 1911 and addressed to Miss May Barnett in West Plains, Missouri:
Will write you a few lines. I got home all o.k. The roads wasn't very muddy, just dusty of course. I didn't have anybody along to push me in the mud. Hope all you young folks will have a nice time and all, not forget me. But all not forget to attend church. May, tell Maud be very careful and not run another fellow off. I wish this card was longer so I could write more. Hope to hear from you soon. May, be sure and use my initials only for safe delivery. From Joe
May Barnett was born in Peace Valley, Sisson Township, Howell County, Missouri. She was 18-years-old at the time of the 1900 census, and lived with her parents and siblings. She was still living in Howell County with her parents in 1940.
The Family Tree Polish, Czech and Slovak Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Family Tree in Eastern Europe
And now for something entirely different...Although I don't have Polish, Czech, or Slovak ancestry (that I am currently aware of), I do have an interest in all facets of genealogical research. Which is why I was delighted to read the most recent book by Lisa Alzo, published in February of this year.
Lisa Alzo is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and genealogist. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh and is the author of ten books.
In chapter 1, Alzo explains the “scope” (10) of the book and what it will do for genealogists in aiding their research. She accurately describes her book as a “roadmap” (10) that will enable those with Eastern European ancestry to navigate through the complicated history and geography of this region in order to find their ancestors. She begins with Polish immigration and includes an informative timeline of their arrival in the United States in 1608. A timeline for Czech and Slovak immigration is also included; these resources are important for providing context for when a person’s ancestor may have left Europe and traveled to the United States.
Chapter 2 leads researchers on their “first steps” (17) to successfully conducting Eastern European research. It not only includes a helpful flow chart that illustrates how to begin the research in Eastern Europe, but also describes basic genealogical practices to help researchers get started on the right track. Alzo also provides research plan suggestions and provides worksheets to help track progress.
Chapter 3 is all about identification. If you can’t determine your ancestor’s “original” (32) name, then your search may be stalled. Alzo expertly helps make sense of possible name changes and differences in spelling that can hinder the search for immigrant ancestors. Once the ancestors name is determined, research can move on to find the ancestors origin in Eastern Europe. Alzo includes numerous helpful tips and internet links that can aid in a successful ancestor search. Again, worksheets are included, this time to record and to help sort out possible name variations and spellings.
Chapters 4 and 5 are history lessons which are so vital to successful genealogical research. Even if you don’t have Eastern European ancestors, but simply love history, these are fascinating chapters. For example, Chapter Five talks about the “Velvet Divorce,” a term I had never heard before but now know refers to the dissolution of the Czech and Slovak republics in 1993. Not only does this event speak to history, but to geography as well, which is the subject of chapter 6. Genealogists tend to love maps, and this chapter is full of information about how to use old European maps, gazetteers, and atlases, as well as numerous links for online maps. These are three well-researched and well-explicated chapters on subjects that are so necessary to successful genealogical research.
In chapter 7 Alzo returns to the issue of names and naming patters. This time she expands on the topic considerably by the inclusion of a language section. Chapters 8 – 11 are about specific records, such as census and military records. The chapters discuss the various types of records that are available and how to find them. The fluid geography of the region makes finding records a challenge, but Alzo provided enough information and research tips to help with a successful search.
Chapter 12 discusses how to research on-site in Eastern Europe, which she has done, and includes travel tips. In winding down the research narrative, chapter 13 is full of interesting and engaging case studies in Eastern European ancestor research. Chapter 14 concludes the book with a discussion of research strategies for overcoming the inevitable brick wall, a problem that all genealogists can relate to.
The book is rounded out with nine appendices which included Polish, Czech, and Slovak language lessons. Other appendices list United States archives, historical societies, and genealogical societies relating to Eastern European research, as well location of archives and records locations in Eastern Europe.
Alzo’s latest book is much more than a simple genealogy how-to guide. From the beginning of the book, beautiful pictures are included that demonstrate history, culture, and family and how the three are connected. Her own experience in the difficulties of researching her ancestors due to “border changes” and “language difference has provided her with her the knowledge to lead researchers through the intricacies of Eastern European genealogy. The end of each chapter includes a “Keys to Success” section, which include quick, helpful tidbits on how to begin or to proceed with genealogical research of Polish, Czech, or Slovak ancestry. Alzo emphasizes the importance of historical context in understanding your family tree and leaves no research stone unturned. This book is a must-read for those with Eastern European ancestry.
You can visit Lisa's website here: www.lisaalzo.com/
On November 22, 1903, the Springfield Republican announced the imminent construction of "a very fine residence" for Paul Nicholas. The builder was A.R. Bowman who projected a cost of $16,000 to complete the beautiful home that would be known as Humboldt Place. Work was completed in 1904.
Paul Nicholas was born in England on Christmas day, 1855. He arrived in the US in 1877 and was naturalized in 1890 while living in Graham County, Arizona. In 1893, he married Roselle Tierney in Morenci, Arizona. Nicholas was almost 38 years old and Roselle was 18.
Though Nicholas was the "superintendent of mines" at the Arizona Copper Company, a trip through Springfield in 1902 led him to buy land west of town and to be a farmer in addition to his work as an engineer. Today, his 176-acre farm is no more, but the house still sits peacefully in a park-like setting on the remaining seven acres.
In the late 1890s, while working for the copper company, Nicholas began to "prospect near Humboldt hill," which was located near the town of Morenci. It is from this mining operation that Nicholas found the name for his new home in Springfield. Initially, the copper vein in Humboldt turned out to be "small and the ore poor in grade." However, the mine eventually made a fortune for the Arizona Copper Company and likely for Nicholas as well.
Even while living in Springfield, Nicholas continued his work in Arizona, where he went on occasional visits to "look after his copper interests." Nicholas and his wife were also busy in the local social scene; in 1908, Nicholas was listed as an "old member" of the Springfield Club, a social organization formed in 1901.
In addition to their frequent activities at the Springfield Club, Paul and Roselle participated in numerous other social events with Springfield's leading citizens. In April 1909, they attended a party at the home of the Frank Fellows family on East Walnut. The guest list also included F.X. Heer (Heer's Department Store), H.B. McDaniel (McDaniel Bank), Holland Keet (Holland Bank), J.T. Woodruff (Woodruff Building), and Miss Annie Abbot.
The couple were members of the Country Club and they also attended numerous events at the Colonial Hotel. Paul Nicholas just happened to be on the board of directors of the Colonial Hotel Building Company. This social whirl appears to have been the norm for the Nicholas family throughout their lives.
In the autumn of 1911, Paul and Roselle took their daughter Murillo to Boston where she planned to attend Chevy Chase College and Seminary. The school opened in 1903 and was known at the time primarily as a finishing school. I don't know if Murillo graduated, but two years later she was back in Springfield attending a bridal shower given for her (and two other young ladies) at the Colonial Hotel. Later that week, the three young women were entertained again at the home of Mrs. Holland Keet.
On October 5, 1915, Murillo Nicholas married prominent Springfield banker James Claud McDaniel in her parents "spacious suburban home...west of the city. The wedding was a quiet home affair, but beautiful in its simplicity. The drawing room was beautifully decorated in palms, ferns and baskets of Southern smilax, with large baskets of pink roses."
The wedding march began at 3:30 and the bridal procession descended the stairs (pictured above). Then the bride appeared, with her father, looking "exquisitely dainty in her gown of white satin, made short and draped with tulle, over which the court train of white, embroidered in silver and seed-pearls, hung in graceful folds. She wore a tulle veil with clusters of orange blossoms encircling the head. Her bouquet was of white orchids and lilies of the valley."
The wedding cake was "made in the form of a ring" and was a "marvel of the confectioner's art, with a monogram of the bride and groom upon it in icing. Its center was filled in with white roses and lilies of the valley, out of which a dainty miniature bride emerged."
The wedding was attended by about 150 guests and was likely one of the main social events of the season.
Nicholas is said to have loved plants and added a small greenhouse (pictured above) to the east side of the house. The former greenhouse is still home to numerous plants and is a cozy spot for reading and relaxation.
Paul Nicholas died in 1936 of pneumonia. He was 80 years old. Roselle continued to live in the family home until around 1944, when she sold Humboldt Place and moved to a home on S. Weller. She died of pancreatic cancer in 1954 at the age of 81.
Humboldt house is a two story brick structure and was built in the Neoclassical Style with a main central block and two wings. The front gable is supported by six Corinthian columns. The gable is decorated with a round, stained glass window. This is an uncommon house style for the Springfield area and we are fortunate that this beautiful house is still extant. It is currently on the market; information and more interior pictures are available here.
Ancestry.com. Census Records and Springfield City Directories.
Colquhoun, James. The History of the Clifton-Morenci Mining District. London: William Clowes and Sons, 1924.
Missouri Digital Heritage. "Missouri Death Records, 1910-1964."
Patton, James Monroe. "The History of Clinton." M.A., 1945.
Taylor, Mabel Carver. "Cavalcade of Homes, Part 15." Springfield Magazine.
Photos courtesy of Alyson Yen. Used with permission.
Copyright 2017 by Connie Yen
This gem in the heart of Springfield was built in 1881 by J.E. Tolfree. Two years later, Springfield banker and businessman, James E. Keet, purchased the house from Tolfree and transformed what was originally a fairly standard two-story, Italianate brick structure into the extravagant beauty now known as the Keet-McElhany house.
James Elijah Keet was born in Washburn, Missouri, in 1849 to Josiah Thomas and Elizabeth West Keet. At that time, Washburn was known as Keetsville and was named after Josiah and his brother, James T. Keet. Josiah later moved his family to Springfield where he became a merchant, first in partnership with William Massey, and subsequently with Newton Rountree. Their business became the well-known Keet-Rountree Dry Goods Company. James E. Keet worked for many years as the secretary and treasurer of the family business and eventually served as its president.
By 1886, James Keet and his wife, Katherine Holland, had made substantial changes to their new home. The porch was enlarged and became considerably more elaborate. They added the turret on the west wing, as well as an additional building in back that contained a kitchen and servants quarters. They later added a third floor to the house with a Queen Anne-style roof.
Though the primary renovations were done in a couple of different phases, there were ongoing changes to the house that are typical of long term home ownership. Since the Keet family was prominent in Springfield business and social circles, some of those changes were considered newsworthy.
And indeed he did have a "substantial" cellar, one that included a tunnel! The tunnel extends from the basement of the house to the servants quarters in back. Its arched roof is visible above ground.
Now let's take a look inside the house.
The house contains over 6,000 square feet, including the basement and tunnel area. It contains 5 bedrooms, 5 baths, and numerous fireplaces. Though it is over 100 years old, the house has been excellently maintained and even retains many of the original features.
It may have been in this dining room that the Keet's held their Thanksgiving dinner in 1899. The Springfield Republican reported that "Mr. and Mrs. James E. Keet's guests at Thanksgiving Dinner were; Mr. and Mrs. J.L. Holland, Mr. and Mrs. Lee Holland, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Holland, Mrs. E.J. Robberson, Mrs.Arthur Taylor, Miss Lida Robberson, Miss Emily Otterson and Mr. Jamie Holland." The Holland family were prominent in Springfield business and banking and were relatives of Katherine Keet.
The activities of the Keet family were consistently reported in local newspapers. In June 1888, an "elegant reception" was held in the home of Mrs. L.A. Campbell "at the home of her father, Major McElhany." Mrs. James Keet wore "blue and white French gingham, puffed sleeves and front fichu style, garnished with picot edged ribbon." Major Robert J. McElhany was a Springfield banker; his grandson, Claude, would later marry Katherine E. Keet, one of the daughters of James and Katherine.
Three prominent Springfield families, the Keets, Hollands, and McElhanys, all three bankers and merchants, intersected in this one house. Though this beautiful home is now surrounded by businesses and parking lots, she was once surrounded by numerous beautiful homes. Those homes are no longer extant. Somehow, this house alone survived the expansion of the central business district.
James E. Keet died in July 1900. The St. Louis Republican took note of his passing: "James E. Keet, one of Springfield's most prominent businessmen, died today. He was president of the National Exchange Bank, president of the Keet-Rountree Wholesale Dry Goods Company, and a moving spirit in a number of other [illegible] concerns."
In his 1895 will, James stated that he had complete "faith and confidence in [his] wife, Kate," and believed that she would ensure the welfare of their children; therefore, he left the entire estate to her. In a codicil, written barely a month before his death, he bequeathed one thousand dollars to each of his siblings.
Katherine Holland Keet lived in the house until her death in 1920. James and Katherine's daughter, Katherine E., was already living there with her husband, Claude McElhany. Claude died in 1956 and Katherine E. remained in the family home until her death in 1983.
Now that I have my tickets to the homes tour I'm even more excited to get an intimate look inside some of Springfield's fabulous historic houses! I'll be taking lots of pictures this weekend and will post an update next week. Until then, here is a look at some of the homes opened for the 2013 tour.
The homes tour was especially lovely in 2013 thanks to a blanket of snow. Built c. 1910, the Hawkins-Radecki house was beautifully decorated for the holidays.
This striking Queen Anne home was built c. 1895 and now serves as the Drury University presidents home. The house was threatened with demolition in the late 1970s, but was thankfully saved and restored.
It's not too late to get tickets for this years tour! Click here for information.
is a published author, historian, and archivist who loves books, fountain pens, and old houses.