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I've finally gotten around to transcribing two letters from my great grandaunt, Mildred Carlton "Minnie" Williams Shinn, to her brother, (my great grandfather), Jo Desha Williams.

Some comments before we start...
These letters were written with a dip pen. I am posting photos of each page for two reasons - first, I think it's remarkable that I can read as much as I can of letters written a century ago with a dip pen. I have a dip pen holder and several nibs. I can tell you it is no small feat to be able to finish a string of words without running out of ink, and then not dripping ink on the page when you've dipped the pen anew.

Second, I need some help with some of the words. I have transcribed the letters as she wrote them, including all the commas that were used when a period was needed. (These are some of the longest run-on sentences in the history of writing. Perhaps it was the style of the time for personal letter writing.) I have inserted a blank anywhere I cannot make out a word or words. Please feel free to comment with any suggestions for the missing words.

It cost two cents to mail these letters to Desha from Washington DC to Little Rock. As you will see, every available blank space on the page was filled.

Equally remarkable to me is that the letter could simply be addressed "Jo D Williams Russellville Arkansas" and it got to him. These were the days before zip codes.

I will add editorial comments in regular type after points in the second letter where I have information that will allow you to read the letter in context.

Letter postmarked 25 Jan 1915

 photo 01 25 1915 edit.jpg

My dear Desha,

Hazen is not dreaming dreams or seeing visions, although he is getting pretty near three score and ten, and I am not far behind him, we have just passed our 40 years of wedded life, and when I think of your four children in the parlor, seated upon the green sofa in the corner, when we walked in, looking so prim all in a row, I have to laugh for it seems as though it must have been in the beginning. But I must confess I do not feel any much older, till I begin to think of the great discoveries that have been made electric cars, telephones, autos ____ ____ flying machines and last but-not-least- doing away with the old time bath houses, as Pa always called them, we are strictly sanitary at present. I am enclosing some verses Hazen wrote for the dinner friends thought so fine had Roy run off a few copies, now see if you can come up that in your old days. With many good, and much love to all of you from the Shinn family, your sister, Minnie.

Comments: Hazen was what Minnie called her husband, Josiah Hazen Shinn. Roy was their son. They lost their daughter, Grace Electra Shinn, to typhoid fever at the age of 10 while they were still living in Russellville.
ETA: filling in one blank with the word "sanitary."
Letter postmarked 4 Feb 1915
Page 1
 photo 02 04 1915 p1.jpg

My dear Desha and Maxie,

Your good letters, and box of many good things came as quite a happy surprise, and I can ashure you have been greatly enjoyed by the entire family. I never had so many goodies in all my life before. They just come in time for our quarterly missionary meeting, when we take box lunch at an all day session, and they have been used at several luncheons I have had since my return, and still have my plum pudding for thanksgiving, so you can see I am making good use of them.

(NOTE: According to a biography in History of the Shinn family, by JH Shinn, published 1903, at page 254, Minnie was a member of the Christian Church and active in several ladies' circles of the church.)

I had often wondered if your children ever fully realized just what it ment to care for four extra ones upon a poor salary for only nine months in the year. It was trying to meet this new demand, that we had to open our little store, which proved our ruin for we lost everything as you will remember, and had to turn to our friends with nothing to face the future save our six children, that we still held to, and how well we have succeeded you know.
(NOTE: Minnie and Hazen married in Bridgeport, Franklin Co., KY on 17 Jan 1875. In October that year, their first child, Grace Electra was born. Joseph Roy Longworth Shinn was born on 18 Mar 1880. On 14 Jan 1879, Minnie's mother died, leaving her father with her four youngest siblings to raise. For whatever reason, Jacob Williams was not up to the task, so Minnie's sisters and brothers - Margaret, Mattie, Desha and Julian - went to live with Josiah and Minnie. Minnie's household exploded from four family members to eight. Minnie and Hazen moved to Arkansas in 1882, and then to DC in 1902. Minnie raised her siblings to adulthood.
ETA: "how well" in blank before "how well we succeeded you know.")

The Lord was with us and blessed us in our every undertaking. We have never doubted him and his goodness, and we did not flinch when other burddens came to us, such as Zella _____ Judd, and our own father.
(NOTE: Although I cannot read the two words preceding "Judd," I feel this must be a reference to Hazen's mother, Elizabeth Frances Gilpin Shinn Judd, who died in 1892 in Russellville, and is buried there. Minnie's father, Jacob Williams, died in 1900 in Russellville. So it is likely that from 1885 to 1900, Minnie and Hazen had their son Roy, Minnie's dad and Hazen's mother, and Minnie's youngest brother, Julian in some combination in the household. We don't have the 1890 census to see how many there were.
ETA: "Zella" in one of the blanks preceding Judd.)

We still tried to do our duty as best we could although not all ways understood or appreciated. With all our burrdens and troubles we tried to keep sweet and happy and make the most of life, and have found many pleasures all along the way and many many blessings, such as our lovely trip this summer, and new friends as well as old ones met, and other avenues of services oferred to us, we have not found very much time to lay up treasures below, although trust we may have a few above.

Page 2 (written on the back of page 1)
 photo 02 04 1915 p2.jpg

It seemed sweet to do the one thing that had always been upon my heart, that of moving our mother. This was a duty of love and devotion long deferred, on account of our obligations to the living, though after all of your children have been reared, and well placed in life, and the grandfathers put away, Then we could gather a little unto our selves, and do some things we liked and had always wanted to do, of course we are glad to have all of you share in this labor of love with us, and do you know that she still lives in the heart and lives of the people there as much as ever, after thirty six years.
(NOTE: I do not know where Catharine C Mueller Williams was originally buried. I do know she is now interred in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.
ETA: To fill in blanks in "Then we could gather a little...")

It was our dear mother who was the most ______ of person I heard about during my visit, her life had not been lived in vain, her praises were still sung by all. We counted this duty long deferred the crowning joy of our delightfull ________, and a most happy ending, and do you know that the first letter written by Hazen upon our return was a letter of love and sympathy to a niece, in ____, whose mother died while we were away a half brother's child, to make our roof her home though she wishes as long as her grandfather will stay with him, her mother and grandmother died this year. Hazen will soon be her _____ _____ as the grandfather is very much broken in health. When we thought we had finished our task here the Lord has still further service for us I believe. She is eighteen and a very lovely girl finishes college this year. I am glad to hear that the grandbaby is such a lovely sweet child, guess our next trip will be down to see for our selves, and peep in upon Cedric and Katheline, had a lovely card from her inviting us, have answered thanking her and asking them, know that she must be a lovely girl from all you say, am so glad to hear of their beautiful little flat - know they must be happy, and trust that nothing may ever come but happiness to them, again thanking you for your many good things, and kind words appreciation and love, your devoted sister, Minnie.
(NOTE: The grandbaby was Gwendolyn Williams, daughter of Paul Meek Williams and Ruth Youngblood. Cedric was Cedric Hazen Williams, who must have announced his engagement to Kathleen Kilgore. They would marry on 14 Jul 1915 in Butler Co., MO, but the marriage would not last.
ETA: Words to help complete "...a letter of love and sympathy to a niece in [location] whose mother died while we were away, to make our roof her home though she wishes...")
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Two months prior to the death of Mattie Williams, the sister of Minnie and Jo D Williams (my great grandfather), Minnie's only surviving child died.

He was Joseph Roy Longworth Shinn. He died on 13 Feb 1930 in Washington D C.

Here's a transcription of the telegram sent to Jo D Williams by his sister, Minnie. It was received in Little Rock on 13 Feb 1930 at 9:39 p.m.
NL=Washington DC
James D Williams
2310 Ringo St Little Rock Ark

Roy passed away of heart trouble very suddenly at five pm today. Services Saturday the fifteenth at five pm. Expressing remains after services to Vernon Russellville Arkansas. I am bearing this sorrow very well. My health is as usual. Telegraphing Vernon to make arrangements.

Then, the telegram from the funeral home in DC, received in Little Rock on 14 Feb 1930 at 3:51 p.m.
Washington DC 437p
J D Williams
2310 Ringo St Little Rock Ark

Remains Joseph Shinn leaving Saturday February fifteenth by railway express eleven forty seven pm. B and O no three.
The S H Hines Co.
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It always bothers me when I learn that someone has died alone. Even more so when I learn that they died days before the body was discovered.

And so it was with Martha "Mattie" Williams, older sister of my great grandfather, Jo Desha Williams.

But not only did she die alone, two days before her body was discovered, strangers to her family organized her funeral because my great granddad and his oldest sister, Minnie, did not - would not? - attend.

Indeed, from the telegrams from Hubert Wise notifying them of Mattie's death, it seems Minnie was only concerned with the estate.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm reading this chronology the wrong way.

You decide.
Telegram #1 - received in Little Rock, 15 Apr 1930, 10:18 p.m.
Extra=Chigaco ILL 1009p
J W Williams 2310 Ringo Street Little Rock Ark
Regret to tell you we found your sister Mrs Fisher passed away suddenly this evening, I have taken charge and will follow instructions left in letter by her. Have also notified Mrs Shinn nightletter following.
Hubert Wise 4738 Kenwood Avenue

Telegram #2 - received in Little Rock 16 Apr 1930 12:55 a.m. (This was Wednesday. Mr. Wise discovered the body late Tuesday night.)
NL=Chicago ILL
J W Williams
2310 Ringo St Little Rock Ark
Dear Mr Williams not hearing from Mrs Fisher since I took her home Sunday evening and getting no response by telephone I went out this evening and with the janitor opened the apartment and found Mrs Fisher laying on the floor. I fetched Dr. Thompson who said death had taken place Sunday night. Mrs Fisher has left written instructions to be laid by her husband in Elmwood Cemetery. Also undertaker and service she desired. Will have autopsy performed and coroners inquest will be held in morning. Have enjoyed such close friendship with Mrs Fisher for many years. We shall do everything possible to carry out her wishes and shall await your instructions.
Hubert Wise

This makes me wonder if she committed suicide. I now will have to try and get her death certificate.
Telegram #3, from Minnie Williams to brother J D Williams, received in Little Rock on 16 Apr 1930 at 7:14 a.m.
NL Collect=Washington DC
J W Williams
2310 Ringo Street Little Rock Ark
Please go to Chicago for me and look after Matties affairs. I was looking for her to be with me. I am not able to go. Hope to bear it. Her furniture has just arrived but not her personal belonging have to be looked after.

Telegram #4, from J D Williams to Hubert Wise, 16 Apr 1930
Little Rock Ark 4/16/30
Hubert Wise
4738 Kenwood Ave
Chicago Ills
Received message and nightletter. Carry out completely her instructions. This was her desire indicated to me after her husband passed away. You take charge of all her possessions of every nature including all funds held by her and follow instructions in regard to burial. We will be satisfied with what ever you do and thank you so much for your kindness and attention to this matter. Under the existing circumstances do you think it advisable for me to come. If so advise immediately. We know everything is in safe hands. May God bless you for your kindness to us.
J D Williams

Telegram #4, Received in Little Rock on 16 Apr 1930, 7:17 p.m.
Chicago ILL 710p
J H Williams
2310 Ringo St Little Rock Ark
Dear Mister Williams thank you for your message of love and confidence placed in us. Have arranged for funeral service Friday at one thirty from Lawrence Undertaking Parlors in exact accordance with yours and Mrs Fishers request. It is not necessary for you to come. Every detail taken care of. Letter follows giving full particulars. Lovingly
Hubert Wise

And so Mr. Wise sent J D Williams the order of service for Mattie's funeral. I have not transcribed it, but you should be able to tell from the account that Mattie's friends put much time and effort into organizing her service.
 photo funeral service-page-001.jpg
 photo funeral service-page-002.jpg

Wire from J D Williams to Minnie Shinn, dated 16 Apr 1930
Little Rock Ark April 16/30
Mrs Minnie C Shinn
624 Rock Creek Church Road
Washington D C
Night letter received - have been waiting to get notice from Mr Wise. He advises - Dear Mister Williams thank you for your message of love and confidence placed in us. Have arranged for funeral service Friday at one thirty from Lawrence Undertaking Parlors in exact accordance with yours and Mrs Fishers request. It is not necessary for you to come. Every detail taken care of. Letter follows giving full particulars. Lovingly
Hubert Wise - Now Minnie I could not change their plans - Mattie [illegible] as to all details planned by her as being executed and all belongings will be properly handled steel yourself and you can bear this burden and all will be well - will go later if necessary to wind up affairs better than now - desire to remember her as in life - not in death - now that all details are so well taken care of - the Good Lord has blessed us by her passing in the midst of loving and Christian friends - let us be thankful it is this way - will advise you by wire and mail the b[illegible] just as soon as received.
J D Williams
Address - 2310 Ringo St Little Rock Ark
Phone 4-6343

Telegram #5, received in Little Rock on 19 Apr 1930 at 5:24 a.m.
NL=Chicago ILL
J W Williams
2310 Ringo St Little Rock Ark
Your dear sisters remains were placed beside her husband this afternoon. Service was expressive of her life - dignified graceful and loving. Many beautiful floral pieces indicated the high esteem in which she was held by many friends. Her last wishes have been carried out to the letter an obligation I consider very sacred. Will you please notify law department First Trust and Savings Bank thirty eight South Dearborn street Chicago immediately authority to pay all bills presented by myself? Letter follows explaining this request. Similar request made to Mrs Shinn.
Hubert Wise

Wire from J D Williams to the bank, granting power of attorney to Hubert Wise, dated 19 Apr 1930
Little Rock Ark - - 4/19/30 - -
Law Department - First Trust and Savings Bank
#38 South Dearborn St
Chicago Ills
Power of Attorney is hereby granted to Hubert Wise to act in my place - Pay all bills and accounts incident to the death and burial of my sister Mrs Mattie Williams Fisher out of any funds held by your bank in trust by her and this wire is your authority to honor the checks as issued by him for that purpose on the said funds as held by our bank.

My sister Mrs Minnie C Shinn Washington City D C the only two legal heirs to her estate including myself.

Witness my hand and seal this date Little Rock Arkansas.

J D Williams
2310 Ringo St Little Rock Ark
Phone 4-6343

Wire to Minnie Shinn from J D Williams, dated 26 Apr 1930
Little Rock April 26/30
Mrs Minnie C Shin
624 Rock Creek Church Road
Washington D C
Just arrived home - am sending Special Delivery letter all correspondence from Mr Wise and others - they acted wisely. You do not need legal services - stop that expense for statement will be sent you of all expense - you will receive all over that amount - I have waived my rights by wire to bank last week. We are lucky indeed to have such good Christian friends to do this for without pay - compose yourself - dont worry - all will be well. You are alright and in safe hands for Matties will or request will executed exactly like she directed - You will receive balance some over two thousand without any legal action on your part.
J D Williams
2310 Ringo St Little Rock Ark
Phone 4-6343

That last one sounds to me like Minnie was going to sue Mattie's friends - who organized and attended to all the details surrounding her death, without asking to be compensated - to ensure she got every dime left over from the estate of the sister she wanted to attend her in her old age.

But she couldn't go to the funeral.
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Because of the letters and telegrams from Minnie Shinn to her brother, Jo Desha Williams, I am able to reliably track my great grandparents' movements, and the places they lived.

The 1915 letters place them at their home in Russellville, where they began their married life.
 photo Williamshouse3.jpg

The latest of those two letters was postmarked 4 Feb 1915.

The 1930 telegrams announcing the death of Minnie's son, Joseph Roy Longworth Shinn, were dated 13 and 14 Feb 1930, and sent to my great grandfather in Little Rock, at 2310 Ringo Street.

 photo 2310 ringo street this.jpg

With the letters and telegrams alone, I knew that Desha and Maxie moved from Russellville between 4 Feb 1915 and 14 Feb 1930.

However, from the 1920 census - taken on 10 Jan 1920 - I learned they were already in Little Rock, living at 709 East 14th Street.
 photo 709 east 14th.jpg
Now, I'd like to narrow it further.

I think I'll spend some time at the library, looking through old Little Rock City Directories on Ancestry.
Image from Google Earth, taken July 2015
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I drove 175 miles today on what I was convinced was a sure bet.

I set out to match up a distinctive gravestone with the person whose remains lay beneath it.

It's a turn-of-the-century photo - another unlabeled one from the Williams family photo album.


I was just sure the grave had to be in Oakland Cemetery in Russellville.

Several of my Williamses, including Maxie and Jo's two daughters, Mildred Imognene, and Katherine Leah are buried there.

Why would we have such a large photo - the photo itself measures about 6" by 6" not including its black cardboard mount - unless this was the grave of someone in the family?

Mercifully, our temp stayed under 100 today - it was only 99.

So my first pass through the cemetery was in the car. And none of the tall monuments matched.

So I got out of the car in selected locations and started looking for a monument that could have been broken off, with other stones around it as in the photo. With a raised concrete border around the plot. Or concrete overgrown with grass.

I looked for the fence surrounding the plot in front of the monument.

Or evidence there had been one at one time.

Nothing. Zip, nada, zilch.

But it wasn't a wash...

Because I found Grace Electra Shinn's grave. She was the daughter of my great grandaunt, Mildred Carlton "Minnie" Williams and Josiah Hazen Shinn.

Grace's grave is with her paternal grandmother's, and her uncle's. Her grandma - Josiah's mother - was Elizabeth Frances Gilpin. After she divorced Josiah's dad, she married Samuel Reed Judd. The stone for the family plot says Shinn on one side, and Judd on the other.



But the question still remains...

Whose grave is it?
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Josiah H Shinn Dies in Washington
Former Arkansan Had produced Many Historical Volumes

(From the Gazette's Correspondent)
Washington, Sept. 3 - Josiah H Shinn, aged 68, an employee at the capitol and known throughout the country as a writer of history, died yesterday at his home, 624 Rock Creek Church road.

He was born in Russellville, Ark., March 29, 1849. He wrote for the Arkansas Gazette and Southern School Journal. He established the first chautauquas in Arkansas.

Among his books and pamphlets were, "The South in Public Education," "Illustrated Arkansas," "History of American People," "Education in Arkansas," "Russia at the World's Fair," "English and Russian."

He was registrar for the Arkansas S A R from 1892 to 1894. He was a member of the American Institute in 1894, and an honorary member of the Pennsylvania and West Virginia historical societies. His history on "Education in Arkansas" was published by the government.

He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Mildred C Shinn, and a son, Joe L Shinn. The body was sent to Russellville tonight.

Published on Tuesday, 4 Sep 1917, in the Arkansas Gazette
Mrs. J H Shinn Dies at Home in Washington, D C
Mrs. Minnie C Shinn, aged 78, widow of Josiah H Shinn, formerly of Little Rock, died at her home in Washington, D C early Thursday. The late Mr. Shinn was superintendent of public instruction in Arkansas from 1890 to 1894. He and Mrs. Shinn moved to Washington about 1902 when he accepted a government position.

He was the author of many historical works. He was a native of Russellville, Pope county, and met Mrs. Shinn at her home in Kentucky after he studied law in Cincinnati, O.

Their home was at Russellville and Magnolia, where he was the principal of schools in those cities and they moved to Little Rock when he was appointed to a position in the state Department of Education before his election as superintendent.

Mrs. Shinn was born at Bridgeport, Ky. Mr. Shinn died in 1917. Their son made his home with his mother until his death two years ago. Mrs. Shinn visited in Little Rock last spring. She is survived by one brother, J D Williams, 2310 Ringo street. Funeral arrangements will be announced by P H Ruebel & Co.

Published on Wednesday, 17 Feb 1932, in the Arkansas Gazette

Mrs. J H Shinn
Funeral services for Mrs. Minnie C Shinn, widow of Josiah H Shinn, who died at her home in Washington, D C, Tuesday, will be held at 10:30 Saturday morning at the chapel of P H Ruebel & Co. The body will arrive in Little Rock early today. Funeral services will be in charge of the Rev. J H Fuller. Pallbearers will be: Active - C H Williams, P M Williams, J D Williams, Jr., and Vernon Shinn, of Little Rock, and Eugene Shinn of Russellville, all nephews of Mrs. Shinn; honorary - Henry Martin, G DeMatt Henderson, Tom Howland, Clio Harper, H A Bowman, S J Beauchamp, Arthur E Lee, Martin Critz and D R Fones. Burial will be in Roselawn Memorial Park.
Published on Saturday, 20 Feb 1932, in the Arkansas Gazette
Josiah Shinn, wife Minnie, and son Joseph R L.
Photo circa 1886.
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Last night, I had another one of those moments.

The one where you are looking for one thing, find another, exclaim over it, and then spend the next - in my case - two and one half hours engrossed in something else altogether.

~The genealogy ADD kicked in again.~
In my den, I have this bookcase.


It is deep enough to stack rows of books two deep. I also keep some files in there. One of my shrines is on top of it.

I went into it to clean out some previous years' tax returns.

As I was digging around, and giving things a good dusting at the same time, my half hour project blew up on me.

Because I found a very well-wrapped, astonishingly heavy parcel slumbering in the back recesses of the bookcase.

I took the parcel over to my coffee-table sized footstool and unwrapped it.

It was the Williams family Bible - the one I said DID NOT exist in this post.

Apparently, I wrapped it up in 1998, stowed it in the nether regions of the bookcase, and forgot about it.Maybe I forgot because of the condition of the Bible.

It was coming apart in chunks. The covers had detached themselves from themselves from the chunks of pages decades ago.

I went for the middle - and hit pay dirt.
The Bible was given to Maxie Leah Meek and Jo Desha Williams by Maxie's mother, Mary Emily (Conner) Meek Webb, for Christmas in 1890.


Maxie had immediate entries to write in it. Her marriage to Jo Desha Williams on 11 Feb 1886.

The first death since their marriage - that of their one day old daughter, Mildred Imogene, on 28 Jan 1890...

It was from that page that I found the date, although not the place, of death for Jo's brother, Lucien Eugene Williams, on 27 Dec 1900.

I loved the birth has the undated news clippings of the arrivals of some huge Williams babies.

At his birth, Cedric Hazen Williams weighed a hefty ten pounds.

Paul Meek Williams, born on Christmas Eve 1894, weighed in at ten and a half pounds.

And omigosh...My grandfather, Jo Duffie Williams, weighed twelve pounds.

No wonder Maxie was done after Jo...
LC, you were right.

Cousins, right click and save...


Aug. 15th, 2011 09:35 pm
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One of the Shinns, Henry Alphonso, (he was a cousin to Josiah Hazen Shinn, the husband of my great grand aunt Minnie Williams) was a photographer in Little Rock and Pine Bluff for over 20 years, until he died in 1901.

There's a directory online with the address of his photography studio in Little Rock, along with his residence address.

So I thought I'd see if the buildings were still standing.

They are now hotel parking lots...

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When I went to Pope County to see my folks this past weekend, they loaned me a couple of local history books.

One was History of Pope County, Arkansas. (Pope County Historical Association of Arkansas and Hunter Publishing, 1979.)

I found several entries of interest in the section of family biographies for people in our family tree.

An entry about Joshua Alfred Ashmore at page 136:

Joshua married Sept. 1, 1853 in Gum Log, Nancy Melinda Guest, who had recently come on a wagon train with her parents, Moses Holland Guest...and Sarah Minerva Turner from Milledgeville, Georgia. In spite of his southern wife, Joshua was a northern sympathizer when the Civil War broke out. A target of the "night riders," he hid out in swampy places until he got to the Union Army where he enlisted. He became sick with malaria, and Nancy went to his camp to nurse him, leaving their children, William Anderson (b 1854), Samuel Henry (b 1857), Sarah Elizabeth (b 1860), Nancy Ann (Nannie) (b 1862), and infant Eliza Adelaide (b Jan 1865) at home. She got pregnant while at camp and Mary Jane was born 11 months after Eliza in 1865. Robert Holland was born in 1870.

Joshua died May 11, 1871, never fully recovering from the exposure he endured during the Civil War....
Originally written by Helen Peters Mauk.

More information on page 16 about little Grace Electra Shinn, daughter of Josiah Hazen Shinn and Mildred Carleton Williams:

...About where the pool hall is on Main Street, the Judds lived in a two story frame house. They may have kept boarders, but at least Mrs. Judd fed folks. Every day at noon she would come out of her front door and ring an old fashioned dinner bell, loud and long.

It was at Mrs. Judd's house where I first came in contact with death. Professor Josiah H Shinn, who later wrote a history of Arkansas, was superintendent of our public schools, and his family lived at the Judd home. His daughter, Gracie, was a classmate of mine, and she died at Mrs. Judd's house. Her classmates marched from there to the cemetery, the girls dressed in white, and all of us with a black band on our arm.
Originally written by Miss May Russell.

I learned on page 27 that Mary Ann Shinn was a heckuva housekeeper, but often late with supper.

Mary Ann Shinn Booher kept a neat house. Her table was always set at all times with the plates turned down and the whole table covered with a misquito (sic) net. Her dining room floors, as were all the floors in her house, was scrubbed with a shuck mop end (sic) lye soap as thick as molasses, then rinsed and dried. She had mirrows (sic) hanging on all walls above the washstands. As she passed through a room, she would glance into the mirrow and smooth her hair or dust the puff cotton across her nose that took the shine off. Her one failing was her slowness to get things done. Many times she would be 9:00 o'clock at night getting the supper on the table. Originally written by Geneva Taylor Booher.

And was surprised to read on page 35 of the decidedly unpastoral conduct of the Rev. Warren Washington Strickland when provoked to righteous anger...

It is said the Rev. W. W. Strickland, first moderator of the Sulpher Springs [Cumberland Presbyterian] Church, believed in strict order while he was preaching. During those days there were a lot of ruffians and it was nothing unusual for Rev. Strickland to ask the boys to behave and if they didn't, he would walk back and slap or hit them with his fist and keep on preaching. Originally written by J. B. Lemley.
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A phone call to Roselawn Memorial Park was all it took to find out if Josiah Hazen Shinn was really buried there.

He is. His remains were disinterred from Oakland Cemetery in Russellville, and reinterred at Roselawn on 24 Oct 1931, just a few months before Minnie died.

Which makes me wonder if she had a lingering illness and wanted his remains removed and reburied before she died...

But who is the little girl?

And where is the original stone?

One answer always leads to another question (or 12), doesn't it?
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Can't reconcile these.

One has to be a cenotaph.

Josiah Hazen Shinn is buried beside his wife, Mildred Carleton Williams Shinn, in Roselawn Memorial Park in Little Rock, Pulaski County, AR.

Isn't he?

I mean, I photographed their graves. Personally.

It wasn't an hallucination.

I can prove it.

The stone for the family plot...

Josiah's marker, at the foot of his grave...

Minnie's marker, at the foot of her grave...

So what is this?


It looks like a gravestone for Josiah Hazen Shinn to me.

In another cemetery.

A devoted husband and loving father. He has entered into the fullness of life. He lived a peaceful, constructive and an honorable life and such a life smiles at death. He lived no inglorious life and came to a peaceful and glorious death. He was the bough broken under the load of ripened fruit and such as he have passed into God's acre, the christian's home.

And the earth is mounded up behind the stone. There's a footstone there. Like a fairly recent grave.

Next to a retaining wall very similar to the one that surrounds the (former) Williams family plot in Oakland Cemetery, Russellville, AR. Where Katharine Leah Williams is buried. She was Minnie's niece.

And who is that little girl bearing flowers...
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She is on my maternal side of the family.

I never knew her, as she died in 1932 - two and a half decades before I was born.

Mildred Carlton Williams was the daughter of Jacob Williams and Catharine C Mueller. (It was Catharine's family about whom I wrote on a Mystery Monday recently.)

She was a middle child, if that's what you call the fourth of eight kids.

Born on 30 Jul 1856 in Franklin Co., KY, she was the oldest daughter. Maybe that's why she "handled" so many family issues, beginning with her mother's death in 1876 in Kentucky.

That happens to oldest daughters. From what I know of Minnie (that's what they called her), she met all of her considerable challenges, and soldiered on...

Minnie was a bride of just over one year when her mother, Catharine (Mueller) Williams, died.

She had married Josiah Hazen Shinn on 7 Jan 1875, and had just marked her first wedding anniversary at the time of her mother's death on 14 Jan 1876. She was a new mother herself, having given birth to her first child four months earlier.

One of the thoughts that crossed my mind was that Minnie might have traded her light colored clothing in favor of mourning. There is a photo of Minnie with her husband and son, Roy, that was taken after 23 Oct 1885.


In that photo, Minnie appears to be wearing mourning colors.

As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure of it. Grace Electra Shinn, Josiah and Minnie's firstborn, is not in the photo.

That's because Grace died on 23 Oct 1885, in Russellville, Pope Co., AR, of malarial fever. At that time of year, mosquito season should have been over in that part of the state. Had Grace had malaria since summer?

I just can't imagine having to watch my child die.
Josiah and Minnie only had two biological children of whom I am aware.

But they raised a whole bunch more.

When Minnie's mother died, the newlywed couple took four of Minnie's siblings into their home. They were responsible for five children, aged from birth to 14.

The 1880 census shows the family living in Bridgeport, Franklin Co., KY. The household now included Minnie and Josiah's newborn son, Joseph Roy Longworth Shinn. (By 1882, the whole clan had relocated to Pope Co., AR.)

The same census shows Minnie's father, Jacob Williams, living with his brother, Urban Valentine Williams, who was a phyisican in Bridgeport. In addition to providing for his brother, Dr. Williams' sister, Millie was living with them. (Millie Williams never married. She is buried in the family plot in Frankfort Cemetery in Kentucky.)

I wondered about Jacob. Why had his children gone to live with his oldest daughter when his wife died?

Jacob Williams was only 54 years old when he became a widower. He was a blacksmith in Franklin County who fought in the Civil War.

Maybe he was ill. Perhaps blacksmithing wasn't fetching the income it previously had.

Or maybe he just couldn't raise the children after Catharine died.

I guess you could say Minnie's husband, Josiah Hazen Shinn, was a minor local celebrity of sorts.

A Google search on him brings up all sorts of results.

From The History of the Shinn Family, written by Josiah and published in 1903, this sketch, which presumably would be a self-portait of sorts (pages 252-254):

Josiah Hazen Shinn, eldest child of Josiah Carlock and Elizabeth Frances (Gilpin) Shinn, was born at Russellville, Ark., 3/29/1849; learned to read at his father's knee in his third year; to Louisville, Ky., in 1854; entered school there in his sixth year, being placed in the third grade; to Cincinnati in 1859; passed through the intermediate and high school grades of the schools of that city; graduated at the Ohio Normal School in 1869; admitted to the bar at Cincinnati 1872, but never practiced; he was examined for admission by Stanley Matthews, afterwards Associate Justice of the U. S. at Washington; Judge Hoadley, T. D. Lincoln and Henry Snow; taught school for eighteen years in Ohio, Kentucky and Arkansas; married, 1/7/1875, at Bridgeport, Franklin County, Ky., Mildred Carlton, daughter of Jacob and Catherine (Mueller) Williams.

Mr. Shinn moved to Arkansas in 1882; institute instructor for five years under W. E. Thompson; State Superintendent; President State Teachers' Association 1887; Chief Clerk in office of Secretary of State under Elias B. Moore and Ben. B. Chism 1885-1890; State Superintendent of Public Instruction 1890-1894; received the highest vote cast for any man on the state ticket; established the first State Normal Schools in Arkansas while in this office; organized the Southern Educational Association at Moorehead City, N. C., in 1891, and was elected its first President; re-elected at Chattanooga, Tenn, in 1892; Vice-President National Educational Association 1892; placed specially by the Legislature of Arkansas in charge of the Arkansas Educational Exhibit at the World's Columbian Exposition 1893; appointed Judge in the Liberal Arts Department of the World's Fair by the U. S. Commission 1893; to the Russian Empire in 1894-1895, where he was presented to Emperer Nicholas I, at the Anitchkoff Palace.

Writer for the Little Rock Gazette and Democrat; editor and publisher for ten years of the Arkansas Teacher and Southern School Journal"; established the first Chautauquas in Arkansas at Springdale, Mammoth Spring and Fort Smith in 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901; lecturer 1896 and 1897 in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri; President of Springdale College 1898-1901; was appointed to the Accounts Division, Indian Office, Department of Interior, Washington, D. C., 1901; to the Indian Warehouse, Chicago, Ill., 1902.

Mr. Shinn has published the following books and pamphlets: "The Public School and the College, 1891; "The South in Public Education," 1891; Vassar College, Pamphlet, 1891; "Illustrated Arkansas," 1892; "History of the American People," 1893; "History of Education in Arkansas," published by the U. S. Government, 1899; "Russia at the World's Fair," in English and Russian, 1894, This was republished by Russian governmental officials. "History of Arkansas," for schools, 1895; "Primary History of the United States," 1899; "History of the Russian Empire," for Libraries, in preparation. Registrar of the S. A. R. for Arkansas, 1892-3-4. Member of the American Institute, 1894; Honorary Member of the Pennsylvania and West Virginia Historical Societies, 1894; Member of the Imperial Russian Geographical and Historical Societies, 1894; Member of the Christian Church, a good speaker and a Democrat.

Minnie also got her due in the book, on page 254, at the end of the entry about Josiah. I was glad to see that, and it suggested to me that Josiah looked at her as a true partner.

Mildred Carlton Shinn, also a member of the Christian Church, was prominent in Church and social circles in Little Rock, and other parts of Arkansas; is a woman of strong convictions, and her influence has always been given to the suppression of liquor selling and other forms of vice; progressive in religious matters, she always favored advanced methods for the propagation of the Gospel at home and abroad; a member of the C. W. B. M. of her own church, and of the W. C. T. U. wherever she has resided; of the Society for the Rescue of Fallen Women at Little Rock; of the Co-Operative Club for the betterment of all classes, in which she took an active interest in Social Science and Economics. At the death of her mother, in 1876, she undertook to rear four of her brothers and sisters; Margaret Williams, now the wife of James W. Wells, Bentonville, Ark; Mattie Williams, for eight years clerk in the office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Little Rock, Ark., and still so employed; Jo Desha Williams, now a successful merchant at Russellville, Ark., and Julian Otis Williams, now and for ten years past a compositor on the Little Rock Gazette and Democrat, Little Rock, Ark.

Through all this labor she found time for every good work of the neighborhood and exerted a good influence over the moral and intellectual status of every place in which she lived. Her own house was always in order, and she always found time to aid every good work with her preserce, her means and her whole soul. Two busier people have rarely ever been united as happily as these, and their silver wedding, 1/7/1900, was a milestone in their lives which showed them the appreciation others had for them. Four hundred silver presents from all parts of the United States made the event one never to be forgotten.

I'd like to have known the woman described in Josiah's book. I wondered if her effort to suppress "liquor selling" ever took her to a saloon? There were plenty of watering holes and stills in Arkansas.

But I've never found an old news article suggesting that she teamed up with Carrie Nation, so maybe she found other ways to express her "stong convictions."

Guess I'll find out on the other side...


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Dee Burris Blakley

August 2017

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