70 Years Ago Today

1 Jan 1946

Dear Folks—
I’m starting the New Year off right — writing
home.

I don’t remember when I wrote you — seems
it was Christmas afternoon. Anyway, Christmas
night we had a supper that was just about as
good as Christmas dinner — ham, vegetables, fruit
cake, mince pie, plum pudding and ice cream!

Today we had turkey again, but the meals weren’t
very good.

I tried the cognac last week, but it wasn’t
very good and it didn’t help my cold. I had KP
Saturday, and that helped my cold even less. Sun-
day I had a terrible sore throat and cough, and
yesterday morning I could hardy talk, so I went
to the dispensary and the doctor “painted” my
throat and squirted stuff in my nose. So it hasn’t
been a very gala New Year. In fact, I spent yesterday
afternoon and this morning in bed, and have been
in my room the whole time. Not very exciting, but
I feel better. I’m hoping to go to London again
this week-end.

I think they expect to close this field this
month — leaving practically no GI’s in England
(there aren’t many left now). So I suppose I can
expect to be heading off to Germany. However,
tomorrow, I am going to look into the “school

-2-

situation” again. I suppose I can’t expect too
much, but I would like to get one of those
deals as long as I’m here. They’ve had so many,
and always I’ve been “needed”. I’d like to go
especially to Biarritz Univ.* (In So. France
right near the Spanish border). It should have
an ideal climate and I think you can get 3-
month courses, which would last right up
to warmer weather elsewhere in Europe! Only
trouble is, I hear they will probably move
us to somewhere in Germany soon. Then they
are still offering the “French Language” course
at the Sorbonne, and I’d still like to try that.
I hear that six Swiss universities are open to GI’s
now, too, if you’re in Army of Occupation. I hope
to get something anyway! P.S. A Stars and Stripes article
with pictures showed a beauty contest and fashion show
at Biarritz – education a la American! — With a pic
of M. Dietrich, who it said was helping on the staff —
can’t imagine what she could teach, unless it’s some
kind of dramatic work!

I received a letter from you of the 14th and
also the cards sent on the 22nd. You said “here is
some more mail for you.”— I don’t know what
you meant by more, but I have a feeling the
mail is still screwed up. Marge DeLange has a
baby girl (Nov 11th) and is very happy about it all.

-3-

I still haven’t gotten your package. I suppose it
is probably lost forever! I got a box of soap from
Grandma and 2 books and a box of candy from  Aunt
Alice. I haven’t written my “thank you” notes
yet, but hope to get around to it soon.

I’ve got lots of clippings and stuff to
send home soon – some books – and also a birth-
day present for Alice. Oh incidentally, when you
sent the picture of the Dallas Symphony why
didn’t you send the “review” with it??? I
would like more clippings of what’s going on in
Dallas.

Did you get the last money I sent home?
I suppose the “box” hasn’t arrived yet.

I must go to bed now —

Love,
Robert

*From Wikipedia: In May 1945, the U.S. Army’s Information and Educational Branch was ordered to establish an overseas university campus for demobilized American service men and women in Florence, Italy. Two further campuses were later established, in August 1945: the first in the French resort town of Biarritz and the second in the English town of Shrivenham, Berkshire. These three campuses were set up to provide a transition between army life and subsequent attendance at a university in the USA, and therefore students attended for just one term.

Under General Samuel L. McCroskey, the hotels and casinos of Biarritz were converted into quarters, labs, and class spaces for U.S. service personnel. The university opened 10 August 1945, and approximately 10,000 students attended at least one eight-week term. After three successful terms, the university closed in March 1946.

This letter was written by my father, Robert Gordon Campbell, who was in the Army Air Force and was stationed in England during World War II. He was a radio operator and worked in administration—it’s possible that his eyesight kept him from combat duty. The letter was written to his parents who, with his sister and youngest brother, were living in Dallas, Texas where his father was a Presbyterian minister. His other brother, John, was serving in the Navy.

For my sibs: this is only one of many letters that our father wrote home to his parents. And there are photos. Stay tuned. P.S. He did not get to take advantage of the European universities, a fact that I’m sure disappointed him greatly!

In the News

From The Mirror, published in Mason County, Kentucky (Washington, August 13th 1799)

Segars for sale. I wish to inform my friends and the public in general, that I have on hand, in the house formerly occupied by Mr. Machir, nearly opposite the Court House, a large quantity of Excellent Segars, which I will sell on the most reasonable terms by retail, and make a considerable allowance to those who purchase by wholesale, to sell again. And also Tallow-Candles, of the best quality may be had as above. Peter Brough.

For my sibs: Peter Brough was our ggg-grandfather on our mother’s side. The Mr. Machir mentioned in the notice was our gggg-uncle, one of the brothers of our ggg-grandmother, Jean Machir Brough.

A Letter from New York

MERCHANT SEAMEN’S BRANCH
of the
YOUNG MEN’S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION
525 West 23rd Street
New York
——
Telephone, WATKINS 10297

                                                                                                                                Jan 3 1930

Dear Edith and Charlie-

To wish you a Very Happy New Year. This has been to us a joyful Christmas time. First – to thank you for the presents. The tie pleased me very much. I like your taste. The cigars were O.K. I will have to put on my thinking cap to tell just where we have been although your mother may have told you. Christmas Eve we went to Midnight service at St. James. A good attendance – 4 Clergy. We went up to Alice’s from there – got there at 1:30. Georgie was up at 6:30. Well he had quite a time riding his Bicycle around the house. Alice had everything very nice. George took us over to Phillip’s for two o/c [o’clock] Dinner & they went to Mr. Collins’. Phillip had some friends in. We went Bowling & then back for supper. The baby is just lovely. Good natured –  goes to anybody. Saturday Afternoon your Mother & I went to the Camp Reunion at the Plaza Hotel. Quite a nice time – 55 children & parents. Put your Mother on a bus for New Rochelle at 6 pm so then I had the town to myself. Had a little supper and then to a show, out at 10 pm, then went to Arthur’s party & carve his turkey for him. Who should be there but Bill, Katie, & Annie. We all stayed until 3 am. Took a taxi home. Sunday I got the bus at 51st & 8th Ave 11:30 – got to Cyril’s 12:45 for Dinner. Plenty of everything as usual. Talked a while and a game of Pinochle. Cyril got into his head to get down to Bill Reese’s – they had a party, so Arthur got Mildred on the  phone. So she came up with the car & took us down to play Pinochle, your Mother staying at Cyril’s over night.  We left Reese’s at 2 am New Year’s Eve. We went up to Cyril’s to play Pinochle. Alice & George had been to our place for Supper, so George, after leaving Alice at her home, took us up, leaving your Mother at Weyers Mount Vernon. Phillip, Fred, two Reeses, Mr. Weyers, myself, George & Cyril. We played until 2:30 am. I went to Mr. Weyers for New Years Dinner – 18 altold [sic]. Left there at 10:30 after having a pretty good time. I phoned Elsie this morning to have them come down Sunday – the baby Birthday – for Dinner but she said Cyril & Clara was coming over for a late Dinner 5 pm for us to come up. By your letter you also have had a pretty good time. My work at the Y is pretty easy just now as we have put a lots of these fellow out that don’t belong here. Must be a seaman to come here. We had a Dinner for 100 but had a caterer in to do it so I sat down as one of the guest – some class. Hope Charlie had a successful Christmas in his work & a happy one home with the Boys well love to you all.

                                                                                                                       Affectionately
                                                                                                                                   Father

In 1929:
Mother Teresa arrives in Calcutta in January. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre happens in Chicago on February 14th. In March, Herbert Hoover is inaugurated as the 31st US President, and the first telephone is installed in the White House.  In August, Babe Ruth becomes the first to hit 500 home runs, and Anne Morrow Lindbergh makes her first solo flight. The Wall Street Crash of 1929—Black Tuesday on October 29th marks the beginning of the Great Depression. And on November 7th, the Museum of Modern Art opens in New York City.

In 1929, Sophie and Algernon Newman were living at 315 West 24th in Manhattan, and Algernon was working for the Merchants Seamen’s Branch of the YMCA a few blocks west at 525 West 23rd Street. On the 1930 US census, their youngest son Arthur was living with them, working as an electrician for a clock company.

Map marking route from NYC residence to workTo the North is Penn Station and Herald Square;to the East is Madison Square Garden.

Midnight services at St. James Episcopal Church would have been a major affair. The church is located at 865 Madison Avenue at 71st Street on the Upper East Side, a block from Central Park. The first church was built in 1809-10 as a chapel for residents who had summer homes along the East River, and was a simple clapboard building located at what is now East 69th Street and Lexington Avenue. The present church was begun in 1884, was completely redesigned in the 1920s, and was formally reopened on Christmas Eve 1924. When Algernon and Sophie attended services in 1929, it was fairly “new.”

There’s more about St. James here.

After the service, they probably took the elevated train (known as the El) to daughter Alice’s home at 3087 Decatur in the Bronx. (My uncle remembers visiting there in 1942.) Alice and her husband George Collins had only one child, George (Georgie) who was born on Christmas day in 1925. Not only did he get to celebrate Christmas with his new bicycle, but his fourth birthday as well.

From there they went to son Phillip’s apartment at 235 Naples Terrace, also in the Bronx. The baby in the letter is Phillip Algernon Jr., who turned 86 this past January 5th. Elsie was his mother.

Saturday afternoon, December 28th at the Plaza. I wish I knew what the Camp Reunion was! The Plaza Hotel, then as it is now, was a first class luxury hotel and residence. Some of you may remember the Plaza’s most famous (fictional) resident, Eloise.

Plaza Hotel New York City early 1900sPlaza Hotel NYC
Then                                                             and now

Sophie and Algernon’s oldest child, Cyril, lived at 37 Howard Parkway in New Rochelle, in Westchester County. He and his wife, Clara, had two daughters, Gloria and Dorothy. Gloria and my father were a year apart in age, and they were good friends growing up, despite the geographical distance between them. When my parents took my sister and me to New York City in 1960, we visited the family at this same address.

…Arthur’s party & carve his turkey for him. Who should be there but Bill, Katie & Annie—Katie and Annie were Algernon’s sisters, and Bill Baxter was Katie’s husband. Algernon also had a brother Arthur, but I have not been able to trace his locations. It’s possible that this Arthur is his brother, which would make sense with his two sisters being there, but it could also be his son.

Arthur and Emilie Weyers and their daughter Mildred were friends of the Newman family. Both families lived in the Bronx in 1910. When I see Mount Vernon, I immediately think of Virginia and George Washington, but the Mount Vernon that Algernon refers to is a community in Westchester County, not far from New Rochelle.

Charlie, my grandfather, would have preached a Christmas sermon at the First Presbyterian Church in Conway, Arkansas, and spent time at home with the two boys, seven year old Robert and four year old John, my father and my uncle. Edith, my grandmother, would be spending Christmas with her husband and her sons, but away from her parents Algernon and Sophie, and her siblings Cyril, Alice, Phillip, and Arthur.

For my sibs: Algernon George Newman and Sophie Amelia (Larson) Newman were our great-grandparents on our father’s side. Their children Cyril, Alice, Phillip, and Arthur were our great-uncles and great-aunt. Their daughter Edith Harriet (Newman) Campbell was our grandmother, and Charles Milton Campbell was our grandfather.

(Photo credits: Old photo of Plaza Hotel: Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. New view: ‘Plaza Hotel’ by Flickr user cliff1066™. Used under Creative Commons Attribution License.)

Finding Daisy

There is a family story about my grandmother, Edith (Newman) Campbell taking a train trip with her first born son. While stopped at a station, Grandma asked a woman if she would mind holding baby Robert so she could use the facilities. As she retrieved the baby, the realization that she had just handed him to a complete stranger, and thoughts of all that could have gone wrong struck her. This postcard she wrote home reflects that event, even though it’s not spelled out in detail.

1922 postcard of train station in Oroville California

Postmarked July 11, 1922, addressed to Mr C M Campbell, Camden Arkansas 

Tues morning
Having a lovely trip. We are stopping here for 10 minutes. Baby is just fine. Love Edith

Baby Robert was my father. That postcard was amongst the piles of papers and pictures I was going through after his death in 2007. His baby book and more photos were in the mix, and with this new information, I was able to get a better idea of the timing of the trip.

Born May 24th, 1922, Robert was just a month or so old when he and his mother boarded that train in Arkansas, and they were on their way to California, where, according to the stories, Edith’s father Algernon Newman had moved from New York City to try to start a new restaurant at a resort. Other documents confirm that the Newmans weren’t in California very long, and they had returned to New York in time for the 1925 New York state census, so the assumption was that the business didn’t work out. But the bigger question—why in the world in 1922 would a new mother with her infant leave her husband for a couple of months and travel from their home in Arkansas to California? There were no marital problems, and it just seemed odd.

Recent discoveries have uncovered a logical explanation.

I have not had a lot of luck in tracking Algernon Newman’s sisters—Daisy, Kate, and Annie. Snippets of information here and there have helped, but no real documentation uncovered to give me a solid picture. Daisy was especially illusive. Kate and Annie stayed in the New York area close to their parents, but Daisy had dropped off the map.

Last year, a cousin gave me letters that her mother had stored—treasures! In the stacks of papers was a list identifying friends and relatives and the gifts they had given to celebrate the wedding of my grandparents, Edith Harriett Newman and Charles Milton Campbell. Although the last names for relatives weren’t written, they were identified as Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin.

Also in these papers were letters to Edith from her sister Alice Collins on the occasion of their father’s death in 1932. One letter mentions that Daisy flew in for the funeral. The comment was made that it was a surprise since times were tight.

On a whim, I did a quick search on Daisy, using all the names I had for her. I got a hit in the California Death Index for Harriett Daisy (Newman) Odlin, father’s surname Newman, mother’s maiden name Redly. Close enough to Ridley, my great-great grandmother’s name. But in California? I didn’t recall any family stories about a Newman sister in California. And I had never heard the name Odlin.

Armed with a death date, I searched for an obituary. One of the commercial newspaper sites had this from the Daily Independent Journal in San Rafael, California, 8 January 1952, Page 12. Copied from the OCR text:

Mrs. W. H. Odlin, Hikers’ Retreat Owner, Dies in M.V. 

Mrs. Daisy Harriet Odlin, 75, for more than 40 years a resident of Mill Valley, died in a Marin hospital yesterday after an illness of several years. Mrs. Odlin, who was active in club work, operated, for many years the Hikers Retreat on Throckmorton Avenue. Hikers from San Francisco and elsewhere came to retreat, changed their clothes, left their children, and then went hiking on Mt. Tamalpais. When they returned they had showers, donned dressier clothes and went home. Her husband, William H. Odlin, a San Francisco tailor, died in 1922, and her daughter, Mrs. Daisy Wisler, died in 1939. She is survived by a nephew, Arthur W. Newman and two friends, Mr. and Mrs. Mel Pedersen of Stockton. A native of England, Mrs. Odlin had made her Mill Valley home at 25 King Street. Funeral services will be held Thursday at 1 p.m. from the memorial chapels of Russell and Gooch, Mill Valley. Interment will be in Woodlawn Cemetery.

More searching found the information on her husband’s death. On Saturday, April 29th, 1922, the Sausalito News reported that two men, W. H. Odlin and James A. Todd were instantly killed in an automobile accident that had happened the day before. Passengers Mrs. W. H. Odlin and her nine year old daughter Daisy were badly injured.

Additional details were published in the Marin Journal on Tuesday, May 2nd.
newspaper article about the death of William Odlin

This tragic accident happened less than a month before my father’s birth.

So Daisy has been found. There are still questions to be answered, but Daisy now has a story.

In the letters that Alice Collins wrote to Grandma Campbell when their father died, she mentioned that Daisy would be returning home, but that Aunt Annie would be taking little Daisy for an extended time. This confirmed that Daisy had a daughter named Daisy.

And on the wedding gift list?— a silver cake plate from Aunt Daisy and Uncle Will.

Little Daisy was the only child of Daisy and Will Odlin, and she died April 10th, 1939, less than a year after her marriage in June of 1938 to Russell Irvin Wisler, Jr.

I now have a better explanation for why my Grandma Campbell took her new baby on such a long journey at such a young age.  No doubt the family gathered round to help Daisy after the death of her husband. Perhaps Edith had hoped that her mother would be able to come to Arkansas to help with baby Robert. Instead, Robert got his first visit to the West Coast to meet his East Coast grandparents!

photo of Sophie and Algernon Newman, who is holding baby Robert Campbell

For my sibs: Harriett (Daisy) Phillips Newman Odlin was our great-great aunt on our father’s side. Her daughter, little Daisy, was our first cousin twice removed.

Benjamin Franklin Brough

A picturesque character passed from earth when Major Ben Brough died. He was laid away last week, in his ninety-first year. Four years ago Major Brough moved to Delphi from his farm in order that he might be nearer his children, and up to within recent months his figure was a familiar one upon our streets. Age had left its stamp upon him and as he slowly made his way about town with his staff, his favorite cape falling over his shoulders, his felt hat drawn close down and his faithful dog “Sam” by his side he presented a picture never to be forgotten. “Sam” was his constant companion. He loved his master for he took him in and gave him a home years ago when he was a tramp dog, an orphan with no place to lay his head. And when “Sam” died a few weeks ago the fact was kept from the master as carefully as he would have been protected from the announcement of the greatest misfortune.

It is to be regretted that Major Brough never made the more exciting experiences and incidents of his life a matter of written record. No man in Indiana had a busier career or passed through a more varied experience. The story of his life would read like a romance. He had distinct recollections of the war of 1812. He became of age when John Quincy Adams was president. Seventy yeas ago he was a member of the militia stationed at Fort Dearborn where Chicago now stands. There was no promise of a city there then. Men and women who are now old and feeble went to school to Major Brough. Year after year he loaded his corn on a flatboat here at Delphi and floated the cargo down the Wabash to the Ohio, thence to the Mississippi to New Orleans. Once he walked back the entire distance. He was a “forty-niner” and crossed the plains with a caravan of prairie schooners. He walked every foot of the way, and in his skirmishes for game had several narrow escapes from falling into the hands of the redskins. He had an iron constitution and a will to match. It is said that on that trying journey Major Brough never once lost heart. A member of the party recently told me that one occasion the caravan was overtaken by a snowstorm. It was biting cold and there was danger of the entire party perishing. Major Brough got out his fiddle, struck up a familiar tune that was “quick and devilish” and in a few minutes every man in the party was doing the “corn dance” for dear life. It was dance or die and the Major knew it.

Major Brough was a Kentuckian. His parentage was Scotch. His father died at the age of ninety-two. Sixty three years ago. Major Brough was married to Mary Lyon, in Kentucky, and to them nine children were born. The good wife, aged eighty-three, and all the children survive and were present at the funeral. Major Brough came to Carroll county in 1832 and settled on the farm where he lived until four years ago. A volume could be written of his experiences in the “backwoods” of Indiana. The wolves howled about his little cabin at night and the deer sought protection from the mosquitoes in the smoke of the burning logs of the clearing.

In 1833, together with his young wife and babe, (now Mrs. Isaac Griffith) he visited the old Kentucky home. They made trip on horseback, passing through what was then the “village” of Cincinnati.

In an early day he was commissioned Major of the state militia. Though born and reared in a “slave state” he was a firm Union man during the exciting times of a third of a century ago. Three of his sons entered the service. It is related by one of his sons, who enlisted without his advice, that when he told his father what he had done he replied, “I was not going to advise you, but if you hadn’t enlisted I’d have disowned you.” The fires of his patriotism burned high and no sacrifice was too great to assist the cause of freedom. His heart was as tender as a child’s. No poor man ever applied to Major Brough for assistance in vain. He would give in charity his last crust.

Major Brough never made any profession of religion. Yet his faith in a future life was absolute. And he never grew sour nor morose in his old age. He was an optimist. To one of his friends he said only a short time before his death, “If the next life is as sweet and happy as I have found this one, I’ll be satisfied.”

He was a great reader of the Bible. Last summer he would sit for hours under a tree on the lawn and doze and read. Sitting there in the old arm chair with the Bible in his lap and faithful old “Sam” lying near by snoozing and snapping at flies, I can see the picture now.  I always stopped and talked with Major and he would chuckle and laugh and joke with the “Man on the corner.”  He told me many times that he could tell me “lots of things” to put in the paper that would be interesting, and so he could, but he never did and now he never will. He has gone away. He is in his new home and is happy. There he awaits those he loved on earth, whose tenderness and affection kept his mind and heart young and bright and full of hope.

Farewell Major.

Benjamin Franklin Brough was born 18 December 1804 in Mason County, Kentucky,  the fifth child of Peter and Jean (Machir) Brough. This obituary was published on the front page of the Delphi Journal, Thursday, October 4, 1894. I found it as a typed document in a collection of papers in my grandmother’s house. Her husband, my grandfather Brough Patterson, was Major Brough’s grandson.

A biographical sketch in the History of Carroll County, Indiana by John C. Odell, published in 1916, comes close to the obituary, although his age at the time of his death is different:

Benjamin F. Brough departed this life in Delphi, 24 September 1894. He was born in Mason County, Kentucky, 18 Dec 1804 and was at the date of death, 89 years, 9 months and six days old. His parents came to Kentucky from Scotland. He was the last surviving member of his father’s family. He was married in Kentucky to Mary Lyon and they were the parents of nine children. He, with his family, came to Delphi in the year 1832. He resided many years on a farm south of town. He, with others of this county, went to the gold fields of California in 1850; after three yeas he returned home. Mr. Brough was one of the earliest school teachers, having taught school in a log schoolhouse in Delphi in which was held the circuit court. He taught many years in the country schools. He was never known to be sick and died of old age without pain, a case most remarkable, without a similarity probably in the state.

Other items of interest…
~Benjamin Brough is not found on the 1850 census with his family, a fact that puzzled me until I read the obituary.
~My fourth cousin has letters documenting the trips made by her branch of the Broughs from their homes in Kentucky and Ohio down the Mississippi with their crops.
~My brother owns the violin that was passed down through this family, and in a letter my mother was told that “It is all of 200 years old.” However, for that to be true in 1973, it would have had to come over from Scotland, and quite frankly, I don’t believe it did. Still, it could be the “fiddle” that saved lives.
~A photograph of Benjamin Franklin Brough can be seen in the Carroll County Historical Museum online here:
http://carrollcountymuseum.org/photo/item.php?in=107408
~And a photograph in my possession labeled in pencil “Grandpa Brough.” My mother said she was told he was her great-grandfather.

Photo of Benjamin Franklin BroughBenjamin Franklin Brough, date unknown

For my sibs: Benjamin Franklin Brough was our great-great grandfather on our mother’s side.