Thursday, December 5, 2019

Did This Jar of Blueberries Survive the 1882 Cyclone?

The Grinnell Historical Museum holds many fascinating artifacts that reflect the town's past, but none is more intriguing than a jar of "canned" blueberries that allegedly survived the 1882 Cyclone. If you recall any of the stereograph photos taken in the wake of that horrible tornado and the total devastation that they depict, you can appreciate how amazing it is that a glass bottle escaped the fate of so many stone and frame buildings. Perhaps it is too amazing: might the owner of the blueberries have perpetrated a historical scam upon us? How can we know that this jar of blueberries was in Grinnell that dark night 137 years ago?
Jar of Blueberries Said to Have Survived the 1882 Cyclone
Grinnell Historical Museum 1968.7.1
I confess to wondering the same questions, and so I decided to see what I could learn about this apparent survivor of 1882. Today's post reports on what I discovered.
The explanatory label that stands beside the jar of blueberries in the Museum identifies the donor, Frank Pearce, whose unnamed mother evidently lived in Wisconsin, and intended to relay the blueberries as a memento of their Wisconsin origins to her unnamed sister, who was living in Grinnell. But who was Frank Pearce and who was his mother? His mother would not be a Pearce, since that was her husband's surname. Her sister might also have been married but in any case was not a Pearce. The only place to begin, therefore, is with the donor, Frank Pearce. Who was he?

The 1878 Grinnell city directory knows no Pearces, but the 1880 US Census locates a certain Andrew Pearce, then 20 years old, living with his widowed mother and doing farm work in Washington Township, just outside Grinnell. Seven years later—November 23, 1887—this Andrew (A. J.) Pearce (1860-1929) married a 33-year-old widow by the name of Delia Havens (1848-1922). Since this was her 2nd marriage, Havens reported, as required by the Iowa register, her maiden surname, which was Hatch; the names of both her father—James Hatch—and her mother—Jane Adams—also appear in the register.
Return of Marriages in the County of Poweshiek for the Year Ending October 1st, A.D. 1888, pp. 10-11
Three years later Delia—a nickname derived from her baptismal name, Cordelia—gave birth to Frank Deverne Pearce (1890-1962). Could this have been the Frank Pearce who many years later donated the jar of blueberries to the Museum?
Photograph of Frank Pearce (1890-1962) in 1912 Cyclone
Frank Pearce was born in Grinnell in 1890–eight years after the Cyclone—and attended Grinnell schools, but graduated from Tipton High School before he entered Grinnell College from which he graduated in 1912. After studying engineering at Iowa State University, Frank held positions in several Iowa locations before settling in Mason City where he died in 1962. Given his date of birth, Frank himself could not have seen the Cyclone. Was it his mother who carried the blueberries?
Delayed Birth Record for Frank Deverne Pearch
Frank's birth record reports that his mother, Cordelia Hatch, was born in Waukegan, Illinois. If this was the mother of Frank Pearce who sent blueberries from Wisconsin, shouldn't she have been living in Wisconsin rather than in Illinois?
Extract from 1880 US Census, Racine, Wisconsin: Nathan Haven Household
Actually, the 1880 US Census did find in Racine, Wisconsin Nathan and Delia Haven. "Delia Haven" is not exactly "Delia HavenS," but the coincidence of both the unusual given name (Delia) and the very close surname (Haven vs. Havens) makes tempting the conclusion that this is the same woman who seven years later married A. J. Pearce in Grinnell. True, the 1880 census reports Delia's age as 28, which means that in 1887 she should have been 35, not 33 as the Pearce marriage record indicates. However, handwritten errors on census forms and marriage records are not rare, so it is possible that the same woman who married A. J. Pearce in Grinnell in 1887 was living in Racine, Wisconsin as Mrs. Haven (or Havens) when the 1882 Cyclone blew through Grinnell.
Extract from 1860 US Census for Iola, Wisconsin: James Hatch Household
Evidence from the Hatch family makes this conclusion inescapable. The 1860 US Census for Iola, Wisconsin identifies the household of James Hatch and his wife, Jane A. [Adams?] Hatch, which included five children: Ellen, 18; Harlan, 15; Cordelia, 12; Cornelia, 12; and Adelbert, 8. Evidently Cordelia and Cornelia were twins, both born in 1848 in Illinois, as was the mother of Frank D. Pearce, the former Cordelia Hatch. Almost certainly, therefore, the 1860 census identifies for us Frank Pierce's mother who, although born in Illinois, had lived in Wisconsin where in 1880 she was living with her first husband, Nathan Haven.

The census record therefore also reveals the names of Cordelia's sisters—her older sister, Ellen, and her twin, Cornelia. This fact raised the next question: had either of these Hatch sisters married a Grinnell man? Wisconsin records do report that on December 4, 1870 Cornelia Hatch had married  Henry Pitman of Grinnell. The record also identifies the bride's parents, James Hatch and Jane A. Hatch, the same people recorded as parents in the 1887 wedding of A. J. Pearce and Cordelia Hatch Haven.
Extract from 1880 US Census for Grinnell, Iowa: Henry Pitman Household
Who was Henry Pitman? The 1878 Grinnell directory knows a certain "H. Pitman," said to be living on 3rd Avenue, east of the railroad, and working in a Grinnell market. Although the directory names no spouse for Pitman, the 1880 US Census for Grinnell found Henry Pitman on Fifth Avenue in Grinnell where he was living with his wife, Cornelia, age 32, born in Illinois. Mrs. Cornelia Pitman, therefore, was born in Illinois in 1848, just like Cordelia Hatch/Havens. Cornelia Pitman and Cordelia Havens (later Pearce) must therefore have been sisters--twin sisters—one of whom lived in Wisconsin and the other in Grinnell.

When the great Cyclone blew through Grinnell on June 17, 1882, two storms converged on Grinnell, one entering town from the southwest, moving slightly north until it reached Eighth Avenue, and another from the northwest, heading southeast, wrecking Iowa College buildings. According to the Herald, "the rain came in floods, as if a water spout had burst...The wind and rain and blinding lightning continued so furious...that it was scarce safe for those whose roofs staid [sic] over them to open their doors." As the tornado moved into town, "the northwest quarter of the town was laid flat...scarcely anything was left standing..." (Grinnell Herald Extra, June 18, 1882). The Henry Pitman house on west Fifth Avenue was one of those destroyed by the storm. According to press reports, "Pitman's house was completely leveled" (Rutland Daily Herald, June 19, 1882), and, according to The Independent, "the house and barn were split up like kindling" (June 22, 1882).
Stereograph photograph of the Henry Pitman residence after the 1882 Cyclone
Photographer D. H. Cross, Des Moines; scan courtesy of Byron Hueftle-Worley
Initial press accounts mistakenly identified some survivors as having died, and allowed that "Mr. Pitman [was] probably fatally injured" (Chicago Tribune, June 19, 1882).
Grinnell Herald, June 20, 1882
In fact, however, the only fatality in the Pitman household was Hattie, the Pitman daughter who was just a little over three years old. Her gravestone in Hazelwood Cemetery acknowledges the storm as having killed her.
Gravestone of Hattie Pitman, Hazelwood Cemetery (2019 photo)
Her older brother, Samuel Arthur (usually known as Arthur), was gravely injured—broken ribs and severe bruising—and several times over the next few days the Herald reported on the boy's improving condition. He did recover, as did his father, whose injuries were even more extensive. According to the newspaper, Pitman's "shoulder was dislocated and horribly jammed, [his] arm [was] broken, [and his] chest and hip injured. His case is extremely serious" (Grinnell Herald, June 20, 1882). Evidently Pitman remained conscious, because the Herald quoted him to help illustrate the tornado's effect: "Henry Pitman says he seemed to go up, up, as though he never would stop, then down until it seemed that he never would get back, and then he knew no more for some time" (ibid.).

Perhaps most interesting in the news of the Pitmans' disaster was the presence of Pitman's "wife's sister." The sister-in-law, as we discovered above, was Delia Haven of Racine, Wisconsin, as the newspaper confirmed (even if it mangled her husband's initials; however, it bears noting that another side of Hattie Pitman's Hazelwood gravestone remembers Louie Havens, son of "M. N. & C. Havens"):
Grinnell Herald, June 20, 1882
Alas, no newspaper account seems to have mentioned the blueberries intended for Mrs. Pitman. But there is a later reference to the blueberries, which, even if it does not prove that the blueberries were in Henry Pitman's house in 1882, does confirm the Pearce family's confidence that their blueberries had weathered the big storm.

In 1957 the Mason City Globe-Gazette published a small article about a "Jar of Blueberries." It seems that the blueberries' owner, "Frank D. Pearce, 242 Willowbrook Drive," had a jar of "canned fruit [that] came out of the ruins of an uncle's home, destroyed in the Grinnell tornado of June 1882" (Globe-Gazette, July 10, 1957). According to the newspaper, the blueberries "were brought to Grinnell by Pearce's mother from her home in Wisconsin. She was a visitor in the home of a twin sister, Mrs. Henry Pitman. This was before her own [second-DK] marriage" (ibid.). Although the article mistakenly reported that one of the Pitman sons died from the storm, this mistake must depend upon Frank Pearce's erroneous memory of an event he himself did not witness. In other respects, however, the Mason City account squares with the details we have so far been able to excavate from records.
The 1957 Mason City report also adds a few words about the jar itself, which allow us to turn our attention to the jar. Almost as a throwaway, the newspaper describes 
The "Gem" jar, of glass and with a covering which resembles rubber or plastic, [and which] appear [sic] to have been a predecessor of the Ball or Mason type of fruit jar which came into rather common use around the turn of the century (ibid.).
The lid on the Museum's blueberry jar is neither rubber nor plastic, but appears to have a glass insert tightened with a screw-on zinc band. Lettering on the side of the jar clearly announces it as a Gem jar ("THE GEM").
Side view of Museum's Blueberries Jar (2019 photo)
Jars with this lettering (as well as those that show simply "Gem," "New Gem," and "Improved Gem") were all made by Hero Glass Works for the Consolidated Fruit Jar Company.  Production of jars with this legend began in 1867 but continued into the 1900s (Bill Lockhart, et al. "The Hero Glass Firms," p. 222 [])—which means that the Grinnell jar might, or might not, have been produced before 1882.

Some help on dating the jar comes from its base. Gem fruit jars produced in the nineteenth century bore a variety of readings on the base that identified dates of patent; the earliest date recorded is November 26, 1867 (ibid., p. 220). The Museum's blueberry jar bears this oldest marking, but adds—as some Gem jars did—"PAT DEC 17 67 REIS SEP 1 68" (ibid., p. 223), although a (torn) Museum accession tag and some accumulation from a previous leak of the contents diminish legibility. In other words, this jar was produced sometime after September 1868. These particulars coincide with Creswick's Gem jar no. 1054 (Alice M. Creswick, The Fruit Jar Works, 2 vols. [Muskegon, MI: Douglas M. Leybourne, Jr., 1995], 1:66) and Roller's no. 461 (Dick Roller, Standard Fruit Jar Reference [Paris, IL: Acorn Press, 1983], p. 134).
2019 Photograph of the Base of the Museum's Blueberries Jar
Gem jar lids also frequently identified patents, as does the Museum's own Gem jar, whose glass insert and zinc screw band lid lists all the following patents along the outer rim: PATD FEB 12 56; DEC 17 61; NOV 4 62; DEC 6 64; and JUN 9 68. Around the inside, slightly depressed center the following patents are legible: DEC 22 68; JAN 19 69; SEP 1 68; and SEP [8?] 68. All these patents applied to Gem jar lids (ibid., pp. 240-42; Creswick, 1:66), indicating at least that the jar and lid were consistent with one another (rather than some different lid having been applied to a Gem jar when it was refilled), and confirm a date of origin no earlier than January 1869. The fact that the Museum jar has a screw-on lid helps establish a narrower date of origin. According to Julian Harrison Toulouse, "The Gem" jars with this sort of lid were manufactured between 1870 and 1880 (Bottle Makers and Their Marks [NY: Thomas Nelson, 1971], p. 222), meaning that the Museum jar was made before the 1882 Cyclone.

The very center of the Museum jar's lid contains a manufacturer's mark that resembles an "O" with two short wings rising left and right (or, viewed the other way, as a fancy "Q"). 

2019 Photograph of the Lid of the Museum's Blueberries Jar
The manufacturer's mark, which I did not succeed in locating among bottle makers' marks, may one day establish a firmer date for the jar's manufacture, but nothing in the patent dates (all of which precede June 17, 1882) on the base or lid contradicts the possibility that the jar was in use when the Cyclone reached Grinnell. And, since a number of later patents applied to newer versions of the Gem jar, it seems certain that this jar was made well before the Cyclone. Of course, it is nevertheless possible that a jar of this age had been saved and re-used many times, perhaps even decades after the 1882 Cyclone.
After the tornado blew through town, Grinnell tried valiantly to pick up the pieces and get back to normal as soon as possible. Funerals filled the first few days; on Monday, June 20, for instance, a mass funeral for 14 victims convened at the Old Stone Church, but other mourners gathered in other churches and in homes left standing to bid farewell to the Cyclone's victims. The many injured by the storm overwhelmed the medical facilities then available, so the high school was put into service as make-shift hospital, and city offices served as a temporary morgue. Meanwhile, a hastily-assembled relief committee was organized to collect and disburse donated funds as quickly as possible to help homeowners rebuild. Victims were urged to deliver the specifics of their losses to the committee, which then attempted to share fairly the donations that had poured into town.

The Grinnell Herald, in cataloging the reported damage, included Henry Pitman, who, along with the death of a daughter and injuries to everyone else in the household, declared that he had "lost everything. House gone, value $1250, furniture and clothing, $800" (June 23, 1882). In September the newspaper published a long list of persons to whom the relief committee had granted money. Many recipients received less than $100, mainly to replace movables lost in the storm, and none received more than $2000 to rebuild a house. Against the $2000 he claimed in loss, Henry Pitman received about half his loss—$950, not counting whatever lumber and other goods had been made available (Grinnell Herald, September 8, 1882). The money was evidently sufficient, because by August 15, the newspaper reported that Pitman's new house was one of several that were almost rebuilt. 
Out in the west part of town, in one group, stand the new houses of Arthur Neeley, Andy Foster, Mrs. Nicholson, Henry Pitman and Mr. Alexander. All of them will be neat and comfortable dwellings, and are nearing completion (Grinnell Herald, August 15, 1882).
Cornelia's sister, Delia Havens, also submitted a claim to the relief committee for personal possessions she lost to the storm. Among other things, Mrs. Havens lost her sewing machine, for which (along with other unmentioned items) the authorities allowed her $200 (Grinnell Herald, September 8, 1882). Blueberries received no mention.
Extract from a report of the Cyclone Relief Committee (Grinnell Herald, September 8, 1882)
In addition to flattening houses and killing people, the cyclone had lifted into the sky numerous items of personal property, sometimes depositing them miles away. The Grinnell newspaper noted when articles were found, and reminded locals that all "estray [sic] articles found after the cyclone are to be deposited with the authorities at the engine house for identification" (Grinnell Herald, July 4, 1882). Quilts, cows and horses, and personal papers all came to the notice of the newspaper, which advised owners to come collect their property.

One Pitman "relic" of the Cyclone that emerged after the storm did appear in the newspaper. In November the Herald announced that someone had found Henry Pitman's watch several blocks from the Pitman home.
Grinnell Herald, November 5, 1882
Discovery of the watch months after the Cyclone hit town was certainly remarkable and newsworthy. But would not readers have been equally fascinated to know that, even in a house reduced to kindling, a jar of blueberries had survived intact?

Of course, a glass jar could not easily have survived being lifted into the sky from Henry Pitman's house and dumped unceremoniously elsewhere. It seems more likely that, if the blueberries were recovered, they were found among the ruins of the Pitman home. Had he been uninjured, Pitman himself might have found them as he surveyed the wreckage, but, as he was so injured by the Cyclone, it seems unlikely that he was able to scramble among the stones and timber of his former house. Alternatively, the owner of the blueberries, Mrs. Havens, might have tried, but she too was injured, if not so severely as Pitman, so she probably did not uncover the Wisconsin memento herself. Therefore, if the berries were found as claimed, it seems more likely that some workman, attempting to clear the debris, located the remarkably unharmed glass jar, perhaps in what remained of the Pitmans' basement. Sadly, if this discovery occurred, no one got word to the newspaper.
I admit that I would like to conclude by affirming that the Museum's blueberries really did survive the 1882 Cyclone. I mean, wouldn't that be a great story—a humble glass canning jar that avoided the fate of glass windows, wooden houses, and stone basements? And that 137 years later is still here, mute testimony to survival against powerful odds?

Unfortunately, the available evidence is not sufficient to allow me to say unequivocally that the blueberries now preserved at the Grinnell Historical Museum miraculously survived the 1882 Cyclone. They may have, and certainly a 1968 report from the Museum announcing the donation of the blueberries did not question their authenticity (Grinnell Herald, September 5, 1968). 
Extract from an article about the Grinnell Historical Museum (Grinnell Herald-Register, September 5, 1968)
Other records make clear that Mrs. Cornelia Pitman's sister, the future Mrs. A. J. Pearce, was visiting the Pitmans in 1882 from her Wisconsin home, and that many years later, her son, Frank Pearce, reported that the blueberries in his possession had been his mother's and that they had survived the 1882 Grinnell Cyclone.

Moreover, nothing about the jar now in the Grinnell Museum contradicts the possibility that it was in Grinnell as early as 1882. The details of the Gem jar all point to manufacture sometime before 1880, which means that the Museum's jar could well have been here when the fearsome storm destroyed so much of Grinnell.

And nothing in the story or in the jar exposes the blueberries as a hoax. Indeed, all the evidence leans toward authenticating the Museum's jar...but falls short of absolute proof: although we might expect that discovery of an intact canning jar might have generated news in the numerous reports of the storm's impact, nothing from the 1882 records mentions the blueberries and their miraculous escape on that dreadful evening in Grinnell 137 years ago.

We are left, then, with a measure of uncertainty. Every time we look at the cloudy, dark contents of the Museum's jar, we can only imagine the remarkable history that might have seen this jar into the twenty-first century.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Grinnell Football Takes It On the Chin...

Readers of this blog will perhaps have heard that, part-way through the 2019 football season, Grinnell College canceled the remainder of the games on this year's schedule. After losing the first three contests by a combined score of 114-3, the Pioneers found themselves with so many injured players that the depleted squad could hardly compete, and the football players elected to quit rather than risk more injuries. Responding to the players' complaints, college officials have committed themselves to support the football program better and field a competitive team next year.
Photograph of Iowa (Grinnell) College Football Team, 1906 Cyclone
Canceling the rest of the 2019 season was grim news for the college's fans, perhaps especially Grinnell College athlete-alumni. But it could have been worse, and, in fact, it was worse in 1904. You might be surprised to learn that back then Grinnell played a variety of big-time football opponents, including both Iowa state university teams, the University of Nebraska, and the University of Minnesota. In fact, it was the October 22, 1904 game against Minnesota that set a record little to be wished-for by Grinnell football enthusiasts: by beating Grinnell 146-0, Minnesota set the high-water mark for point differential against a football opponent. How Grinnell received this humiliating defeat and how the players responded are the subjects of today's post.
In this blog I have often pointed out how the past differs from the present, and how we ought refrain from coloring in the past with today's palette. Football constitutes an excellent example of this warning, because today's football is very different from the game played in the early 1900s. The photograph of the Iowa College team (above) makes clear some of those differences, including the scant protections the 1904 players wore. For instance, the tiny leather "helmet" (which at the time was, in any case, voluntary) hanging from the hands of the man in the front row is world's apart from today's helmets, and the same might be said of the rest of their uniforms: there were no shoulder pads or hip pads, nor anything beyond the cloth uniforms the men wore.

Lest one infer from the lack of protective equipment that early American football was a low-contact sport, it bears remembering that serious injuries and even fatalities were not uncommon. As Aaron Gordon wrote recently about football in the early 1900s, "It was an ugly game" that may have killed as many as 20 players in 1905 (Deadspin, 22 Jan 2014: Gordon cites as an example of the unrestrained violence an incident in the November 25, 1905 Harvard-Yale tilt. Harvard's Francis Burr was set to receive a Yale punt when
Two Yale defenders bore down on the helpless Burr, one of whom, Jim Quill, punched him in  the face, shattering his nose. The other player, according to John Sayle Watterson's College Football: History, Spectacle, Controversy, citing contemporary newspaper accounts, "delivered a body blow with his feet which knocked Burr 'senseless'...No foul was called on the play.
There were at least eleven football-caused deaths that year, and a host of injuries, many of them quite serious. Part of the explanation is that, in an era that did not know (or allow) the forward pass, most offensive plays involved some form of the "flying wedge" in which a mass of players bunched together and ran directly at the defense, which tried to resist the moving mass by forming its own mass—all this without protective clothing. Rule changes (like allowing the forward pass) instituted in 1906 helped in some ways, but other aspects of the on-field violence remained.
1907 Cyclone entry for Ernest Jaqua, member of the 1904 Grinnell College Football Team
Like most teams of the era, the 1904 Grinnell football squad was small, usually numbering fewer than twenty players.  As was common elsewhere at the time, most players played both both sides of the ball instead of the specialist squads (offense; defense; special teams) now universal in college football. Surprisingly, scoring also differentiated yesterday's football from today's. For example, in the early 1880s a touchdown gained a team only two points, whereas a field goal counted for five. Gradually the scales turned, so that beginning in 1912 a touchdown was worth six points and a field goal just three. When Minnesota conquered Grinnell in 1904, a touchdown was still worth just five points, so the Gophers' 26 (!) touchdowns accounted for 130 of their 146 points, the rest coming on point-after-touchdown kicks (they missed several). Had the 1904 game been using today's scoring system the loss would have been even more one-sided.
Lineups for the October 22, 1904 Grinnell-Minnesota Game (Minneapolis Star-Tribune, October 23, 1904)
1908 Cyclone entry for Wilford Bleamaster, member of the 1904 Grinnell College Football Team
But what about the 1904 game? Exactly how did Minnesota so completely dominate Grinnell, which, local fans might remember, had been victorious (24-0) against the University of Iowa in the first football game west of the Mississippi? Well, for starters, the 1904 University of Minnesota football team was no pushover. Although Minnesota began its season by playing against a team of Minneapolis and St. Paul high schoolers (Minnesota winning 107-0), the Gophers proved to be almost as unstoppable against more potent opponents. That year Minnesota defeated South Dakota 77-0, Lawrence 69-0, Carleton 65-0, St. Thomas 47-0, and North Dakota 35-0. Against some stronger teams Minnesota was less successful, but won every game: 28-0 over Wisconsin, 17-0 against Northwestern, and 11-0 against the University of Iowa. Minnesota also beat Nebraska (16-12), the only team all season to score on the fearsome Minnesota defense. Over the course of the season the Gophers scored a total of 724 points to their opponents' total of....12.  So, in being overwhelmed by the Gophers the Grinnell Pioneers were not alone. The 1904 Minnesota football squad was very good.
Chicago Tribune, November 27, 1904
It was not always so, however. In 1899, for instance, the Pioneers managed to play to a tie with Minnesota, 5-5.  In 1900 Grinnell lost to the Gophers by a score of 26-0, and in 1903 Minnesota won again, 39-0. In 1901 they did not play one another, but in 1902 Minnesota pasted another powerful loss upon the Iowa College footballers: 102-0. One understands, then, why the Grinnell newspaper offered a caustic prediction on the eve of the 1904 game in Minneapolis: "The Iowa College football team left this morning for their annual drubbing at the hands of the University of Minnesota" (Grinnell Herald, October 21, 1904).
1907 Cyclone entry for Arbor Clow, member of the Grinnell College 1904 Football Team
In fact, as the Scarlet and Black noted in reviewing the Grinnell team's opening game of that season, the Grinnell team was young and inexperienced.
The men, by loose and inconsistent playing, sometimes exhibited their rawness and ignorance of the game. This was due to the fact that this year they have few old heads to steady them (Scarlet and Black, September 24, 1904).
1907 Cyclone entry for Ross McDonald, member of the 1904 Grinnell College Football Team
Minnesota, by contrast, fielded a veteran squad that included "plenty" of "two hundred pound men of respectable speed" (Scarlet and Black, October 26, 1904). The student newspaper went on to report that Minnesota repeatedly employed the  "flying wedge" to drive through the Grinnell defenders.
In almost every play a half back or a tackle or an end would be buried in an invincible phalinx [sic] of interference and usually the ball stopped only when the man with the it [sic] out ran his guards and exposed himself to tackle (ibid.)
Compounding the effect of Minnesota's experience and size were the Grinnell mistakes. According to the S&B, Grinnell lost the ball "on fumbles as often as it was gained that way" (ibid.). While the Gophers marched down the field for twenty-six touchdowns, Grinnell's longest gain of the day was Ernest Jaqua's four-yard run.

When the Scarlet and Black next reported on the football season, the prose sounds eerily prescient of the 2019 team's fate. Describing the "increasing gloom" of the previous two weeks, the campus newspaper noted that
Hardly a night has passed without a man being dropped from the squad for one cause or another.... Injuries have been largely responsible for the rapid diminution of material... Carlson, Clack, Gilley, Barber, Shifflett, Clow and Bleamaster have been lost in rapid succession and their positions have fallen to men as deficient in weight as in experience.... The fortunes of the scarlet and black seem at complete low ebb... (Scarlet and Black, October 29, 1904).
Despite the numerous injuries, the 1904 squad bravely (and perhaps foolishly) played on. The results were not pretty: Drake won 67-0; Iowa State won 40-0; Iowa won 40-0; and Simpson closed out the campaign, winning 12-6. Reporting on the Iowa game, the campus newspaper regretted that "The game was simply a repetition of that old, old story which we have heard so often. Grinnell was outweighed and at times outplayed but nevertheless fought on..." (Scarlet and Black, November 16, 1904). Looking back over the season, the student journalist thought it "a remarkable fact that any team should survive at all, after receiving the defeats that Grinnell has" (ibid.).

Not all the team's fans were able to view the season with this much compassion. At least one athlete-alumnus (William Pierce 1899) wrote the S&B to express regret at the team's failures. Noting that in football of that era
weight has been made such a factor in the plays that speed is discounted; but the day is not, and never will be, when speed and spirit, coupled with discipline, which alone can make teamwork and physical condition perfect, will not increase the strength of any team by 50 per cent (Scarlet and Black, November 9, 1904).
Complimenting himself on the many hours he himself had devoted to football practice back in the day, the alum waxed philosophical:
When you go up against the cold facts in the great game of life you will find that the race is not to the swift, nor to the man with a record but to the man who...has the true staying qualities; [sic] just such as are engendered by football discipline (ibid.).
We cannot know what the members of the 1904 team thought of these sententious remarks. Certainly the team seems to have rebounded, fashioning winning records over the next few years. During the 1907 campaign, for instance, the Pioneers posted a 7-2-1 record, and had the pleasure of defeating Simpson 75-0 (although the University of Iowa that year bested Grinnell by a score of 45-0). Therefore, it seems clear that the humiliation of 1904 did not short-circuit future Pioneer football, and future teams—aided, perhaps by the 1906 rule changes—enjoyed new successes.

Consequences for the men who played during that 1904 season, and endured the Minnesota shellacking, varied. Some, like Wilford Bleamaster '08 (1881-1973), Ernest Jaqua '07 (1882-1972), and Wade Shifflett '08 (1883-1946), continued to play football at Grinnell, taking that experience with them into post-graduate life. Jaqua, for example, who hailed from tiny Reinbeck, Iowa, went on to acquire an MA from Columbia University, a divinity doctorate from Union Theological Seminary, and a PhD from Harvard before becoming in 1926 the first president of Scripps College. Bleamaster stayed closer to sports, serving as football coach at Carroll College (now Carroll University), Alma College, and the University of Idaho before settling in Corvallis, Oregon to coach high schoolers. Shifflett, a Grinnell boy, in 1917 left the Midwest for Napa, California, and there made for himself a very successful career in the lumber business.

Other members of the 1904 team left college without having graduated. Steadman Noble x-'09, for instance, who as a first-year had played much of the 1904 season as quarterback and handled most of the kicking duties, left Grinnell, and by the following autumn was working in St. Paul, Minnesota. Emory Auracher (1884- ), who had played several positions during the 1904 season, also left college before graduation, and by 1909 was coaching football in South Dakota. Had these men left college because of their 1904 football experience? For now, we can only wonder.

However, as seems likely from comparing the different life journeys that these men took after 1904, we may imagine that each of the twenty or so men had a unique perspective on the punishing football campaign of 1904. None of them, I am sure, would have wished to have been part of the humiliation visited upon them that October day in Minneapolis. But some of the veterans of the 1904 season found a way to work that experience into the rest of their collegiate career and into successful careers thereafter. Others may have found it less easy to reconcile the football nightmare with their personal ambitions, or perhaps they discovered new interests that took them away from the violence of the football field into other, fairer fields.

In any case, the 1904 record of the Minnesota-Grinnell game did not stand long. In 1916 Georgia Tech pinned upon tiny Cumberland College (now Cumberland University) an even more humiliating defeat, 222-0, which still stands as the highest point differential ever in a college football game.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

How We Used to Work...

The recent Smithsonian traveling exhibit—The Way We Worked— that visited Drake Community Library this summer got me thinking about how work has changed over time in Grinnell. It is easy to think how computers have affected today's work, but what about further back in time? Had Grinnellians of an earlier age experienced similarly dramatic change in their work world? As I thought about it, I wondered if I might use the occupations identified in the Grinnell censuses to see how work in 1940—the most recent census available—could be distinguished from work in 1870 Grinnell. Today's post examines some of those changes.
Early Settlers of Grinnell (ca. 1870): front row, L-R: Ed Wright, Caerlis Fisher, R.M. Kellogg, Levi Grinnell; 
Back row: Henderson Herrick, W. M. Sargent, Ezra Grinnell.
Drake Community Library Archives, Miscellaneous photographs, Collection #17-6, People (Digital Grinnell)
The 1870 US Census found a total of 1482 people in Grinnell, a town that was not yet twenty years old. Many (most?) of the town's first residents were hardy individualists who had abandoned the social bonds of the east coast to hack out a living on their own. Founded on the rich soil of the prairie, Grinnell had from the beginning an agricultural bent, and the census gives some shape to this orientation. The 1870 census found in town 31 farmers and 17 retired farmers, along with another 16 men who described themselves as farm laborers. In the townships that stretched out from the town still more isolated farmsteads headquartered efforts to tame the prairie.

Although the lure of successful farming brought many settlers to town, J. B. Grinnell had another reason for choosing this particular spot to found Grinnell: he had word that railroads would pass through this territory, bringing with them new jobs as well as excellent connections for Grinnell's residents and nascent businesses. Of course, the railroads did come—the first train reached town in 1863—and they brought with them numerous jobs. The 1870 Grinnell census counted 35 railroad employees as well as a railroad ticket agent and four men involved in railroad construction. Over subsequent decades the railroads also brought new settlers to town, encouraging the growth of Grinnell.
Photograph of the First Train to Arrive in Grinnell, June 1863
Drake Community Library Local History Archive, McNally Photographs, Collection #1, Series #1-3 (Digital Grinnell)
If farming and railroads provided much of the original ballast for the new town, Iowa College, which officially moved to Grinnell in 1858, added substantial heft. The 1870 census counted 95 men and 46 women as attending the college. The town's public schools, which in 1870 were still in their infancy, accounted for another 60 male and 83 female students. Of the remaining men in town, 52 listed their occupation as "day laborer," which meant that on any given day they might—or might not—have work and a day's wages.
Horse-drawn Buggies at Service at Original Congregational Church (Before 1877)
Drake Community Library Archives, McNally Photographs,  Collection #1, Series #1-3 (Digital Grinnell)
In an age that preceded the automobile, trades connected to horses and horse-drawn vehicles were very visible—and necessary. In 1870 Grinnell there were 13 blacksmiths (and one retired blacksmith), five harness makers (and one apprentice harness maker), one saddler, and eight wagon makers. Five teamsters, two draymen and two livery stables also contributed to an economy that depended upon horses. Among the trades which in a pre-industrial economy governed production, carpentry was dominant: 32 men told the census-takers that they were carpenters. No one in 1870 Grinnell plied the trade of plumbing, because there was not yet either a central water system or sewer system.
Undated photograph of McNally's Meat Market, 915 Main St., Grinnell
Drake Community Library Local History Archive (Digital Grinnell)
Seven shoemakers worked in 1870 Grinnell, along with six butchers, four painters, and four tailors. Two glove-makers, two plasterers, two photographers, and two jewelers (and an apprentice jeweler) added to the local mix. Of course, there were lawyers—five—and physicians—five—along with four clergymen; there was just one dentist, but four hotel keepers. One college president, one superintendent of schools, 23 schoolteachers (mostly female), and three college professors helped round out Grinnell's 1870 professions.
Interior of Bailey-Rinefort Hardware Store, 914-916 Main Street, Grinnell (ca. 1902)
Drake Community Library Local History Archive (Digital Grinnell)
Grinnell in 1870 could also boast a variety of businesses. Eleven men counted as dry goods merchants—this when most clothes were still hand-made—and nine grocers had shops in town. Eight men ran lumber yards (thereby enabling carpenters to do their work), six owned hardware stores, five operated drug stores, and three men were produce dealers. But there was just one banker, two (male) bookkeepers, one postmaster, and one realtor. Similarly, there was just one printer, a single machine dealer, one gardener, one coal merchant, and a single cabinet maker, among others.
1881 Photograph of Alta Ingersoll Matteson (1829-1899) who "kept house" for her husband & family at 5th and West
Grinnell Historical Museum (Digital Grinnell)
1870 Grinnell offered women many fewer work opportunities, a reflection of a society that was strongly gendered. Far and away the most frequent calling attributed to women in 1870 Grinnell was "keeping house," to which the census assigned 226 women. Fifteen more told census-takers that they were "Assistant housekeepers," and another 40 worked as domestics. Other female occupations also hewed to the gender stereotype: seven women were milliners, two were seamstresses, and two were dressmakers. Fifteen other women were school teachers, and three more were music teachers. Several women operated boarding houses or rented rooms, but there was just one waitress, one washerwoman, one "kitchen girl," one cook, one (female) bookkeeper, and a couple of clerks. In other words, most women in 1870s Grinnell stayed close to the hearth, and relatively few worked within the town's cash economy.
By 1940 Grinnell's population had reached 5219, more than three times the size of the 1870 town. More important than the change in size, however, were changes in technology and therefore changes in what constituted work. Traces of occupations known to the 1870 census remained in 1940. For example, 1940 Grinnell still had blacksmiths (four), a single harness maker, and just one shoemaker. But liveries were no more, and wagon-makers, too, were gone. In their place the 1940 census included all sorts of jobs that had no mention whatsoever in 1870, and demonstrated a reorientation of work—away from artisanal trades and increasingly toward specialized factory work and the sale of manufactured goods. This change, in turn, encouraged a growing professionalization and stratification of labor.
Undated Photograph of Grinnell Canning Factory, founded in 1912
Drake Community Library, Local History Archive, McNally photographs. Collection #1, Series #1-3 (Digital Grinnell)
Some of Grinnell's earliest factories (like Spaulding and Grinnell Washing Machine) had already disappeared by 1940, but other factories in town—like the Canning Factory, the Morrison-Shults Manufacturing Co., and Lannom Shoe Factory—exerted a powerful influence upon the twentieth-century work force. For example, at least 28 men in 1940 worked as machine operators or machinists, and the census counted almost 200 men employed as "laborers" and another 18 as "employees" (all without the support of a union).

By 1940 manufacturing itself had changed, the assembly line having displaced the artisan-like workshops that had prevailed earlier. Within a single factory one could discover a broad range of specialized tasks, none of which had existed in 1870. In the Morrison-Shults factory, for example, the manufacture of gloves now required numerous specialized jobs. The 1940 census found within the glove factory "cutters," "finishers," "polishers" and "glove liners." There were also stitchers, trimmers, lining sewers, fitters, and those who did hems and fancy stitches. Likewise, the shoe factory, organized on the bones of the old Spaulding works, had jobs with names like cutters, stitchers, eyelet operators, insolers [sic], sanders, rounders, hemmers, sewers, finishers and shoe trimmers. Overseeing all this specialized work were managers and supervisors, differentiated in title and pay from factory labor.
An undated photograph from the Glove Factory shows male supervisors overseeing women sewers
(Photographer unknown) Grinnell Historical Museum
No one in 1870 claimed the title of manager, but 1940 Grinnell had 38 of them, assisted by 20 foremen. Similarly, supervisors had been unknown to 1870 Grinnell, but in 1940 there were nine of them, as well as a handful of inspectors. Although there were a fair number of shop owners in 1870 Grinnell, there were no "proprietors" named in that year's census. The 1940 census, however, assigned that title to 62 men (along with 14 "owners"). The overwhelming majority of these proprietors operated stores that sold the increasing variety of manufactured products. For example, Ben Tarleton operated Ben's Tire Shop at 719 4th Avenue, and Frank Mitchell sold Buicks and Pontiacs at Mitchell Motor Company, across the street at 716 4th. Star Clothing at 918 Main and Preston's Clothing at 801 4th Avenue were just two of five stores and three department stores that sold ready-to-wear clothing.
Ben's Tire Shop, 719 4th Avenue (ca. 1950)
Digital Grinnell/Poweshiek History Preservation Project
A similar consequence of changed patterns of manufacturing was the growth of jobs in sales. The 1870 census identified nine men as "traveling salesmen," but in 1940 more than 100 Grinnell men counted as salesmen. Men like Virgil Jones (1912-1995) might drive all over the West in search of buyers for the output of the Lannom Shoe Factory. The numerous salesmen reflected both the arrival of mass production and the reorganization of the work force, assigning more jobs to people who sold the increased factory output.
1930s (?) Photograph of Delivery Truck for Grinnell Dairy, 934 Main Street
Drake Community Library, Local History Archive, Main Street Slides, p.8, slide 13 (Digital Grinnell)
Although horses dominated travel in the nineteenth century before trains supplanted them, the twentieth century gave birth to the automobile and its cousin, the motorized truck. This technological transition had its impact upon the work force in Grinnell:  in 1940 71 men listed their occupation as truck driver, and another 48 had jobs as mechanics. Of course in 1870 there were no gas stations, but in 1940 Grinnell a handful of "filling stations" (the 1940 city directory counted 16!) employed fifteen (or more) men as attendants. Horses, which had been at the center of transportation in 1870, had become instead a means of recreation and entertainment.
White Star Filling Station, Northeast corner of 5th & Main Streets (Opened in 1917; by 1940 known as Hunter's Garage)
Poweshiek Historic Preservation Project (Digital Grinnell)
The proliferation of electricity and telephone networks meant that in 1940 there were ten men who worked as "linemen," and another man who supervised them. Three men had jobs reading the meters that measured electricity and water use, jobs unimagined in 1870. The census also found a half-dozen men who worked as electricians and an electrical engineer was also at work in 1940 Grinnell. The census found three women who worked as telephone operators and several men ran the telegraph.
Catherine Haines at Switchboard (ca. 1950)
(Photographer Unknown; PHPP, Digital Grinnell)
Against this background of increased mechanization and industrialization, agriculture remained important in 1940 Grinnell. The census that year counted 50 farmers (both active and retired) who lived in town. But there were also "meat cutters," a livestock buyer, and a meat packer, who worked for a packing company, indications of how agriculture was increasingly penetrated by factory methods. Carpenters also had a strong presence: the 1940 census counted forty men as carpenters (compared to 32 carpenters in 1870). The frame houses that today still define most of the town's housing stock remind us that carpenters continued to play a vital role in twentieth-century Grinnell. And by 1940 many—although far from all—houses demanded the services of the sixteen plumbers known to the census. The backyard biffie was on its way to extinction as city sewer systems found their way beneath the city streets.

Work in 1940 Grinnell remained highly gendered, although the census reveals that the gender boundaries were breaking down. The category of "keeping house" disappeared from the census, but census-takers did find 45 female housekeepers and another 25 women who did "housework." Eleven women worked as maids; 26 as waitresses (the 1940 city directory identified 15 "restaurants and lunch rooms," another indication of a changed work world), and 33 as "seamstresses," work which brought women's labor increasingly into the cash economy. Industry also helped break down old gender stereotypes: in 1940 at least twenty-seven women reported that they worked as machinists or machine operators, occupations unknown to nineteenth-century Grinnell women.
1940 Photograph of Ina Sprague (1891-1979), longtime teacher and principal of Davis School
Grinnell Historical Museum; Roger Preston, Photographer (Digital Grinnell)
Teaching continued to attract many women: the 1940 census counted 67 women teachers (including five at the college). For a long time Iowa school districts required that women teachers not only remain unmarried (I. N. Edwards, "Marriage as a Legal Cause for Dismissal of Women Teachers," The Elementary School Journal, v. 25 [May 1924]:692-95), but some even demanded that they "not keep company with men." It was no coincidence, therefore, that female teachers like Nettie Bayley (1878-1961), who taught for fifty years in Grinnell, went their whole lives without marrying.
Undated Photograph of Nettie Bayley (1878-1961), Longtime Teacher and Principal of Parker School
Professionalization within the economy also meant employment for people who created and curated business records, coincidentally bringing more women into the public work force. Skilled work as bookkeeper, for instance, in 1940 pulled eighteen women into the same work environment as men. Sales had a similar effect, occupying 22 Grinnell women in 1940. Another twenty-eight women worked as clerks, fifteen were secretaries and fifteen more worked as stenographers, all of them keeping track of orders, invoices, and correspondence that mushroomed with the local economy. Women in 1940 Grinnell were also found within the professions. Wilma Rayburn, for example, was one of the half-dozen lawyers in town, and Martha Derr practiced dentistry (although the 1940 city directory does not include her among the seven dentists it lists).

The 1940 census also offers a contrast with 1870 in another way: the Depression and election of Franklin Roosevelt meant that the federal government got into the business of creating jobs. In 1940 27 men worked as laborers for the Works Progress Administration (WPA; later Work Projects Administration). One man told census-takers that he did road work for WPA, but it seems likely that many of the 21 ditch-diggers the census found were also working for WPA. Here, too, however, work-place stratification was visible. One man reported his job as a WPA administrator, for instance, and another man was a WPA foreman.

Women, too, gained wage employment from the WPA, although many of these jobs perpetuated old stereotypes. There was, for instance, a WPA female cook and two WPA housekeepers. Six women were WPA seamstresses, and three were WPA-funded teachers.
Grinnell boys at work in NYA workshop
(Pictorial Highlights on the Iowa NYA, Theodor P. Eslick, State Administrator [n.p: Federal Security Agency, n. d.), p. 28.
Federal dollars also sustained Grinnell jobs in the National Youth Administration (NYA). According to newspaper reporting, NYA supported as many as 40 local men between the ages of 18 and 25. "The Grinnell project offers workshop training in wood working and refinishing, mechanics, welding, painting and other types of vocational training," the newspaper announced (Grinnell Herald Register, September 19, 1940). As elsewhere, some men landed supervisory jobs, but most of the youth worked further down the ladder. The 1940 Grinnell census found one man working as an NYA administrator, another as an NYA county foreman, and a third as an NYA recreation supervisor. Among Grinnell women the census identified an NYA-supported typist and an NYA-funded teacher. NYA also supported sewing projects, involving at least two women identified as NYA seamstresses and two more who identified their NYA job as "sewer." Late in 1940 the Grinnell sewing room (829 1/2 Broad Street), which had been headquartered above the Broadway department store on Broad Street, was closed down in favor of a new NYA project intended to "give girls between the ages of 18 and 25 practical experience in cooking, sewing and other phases of homemaking" (Grinnell Herald-Register, September 19, 1940).
Census reports cannot fully describe the changes in work over time; inevitably some occupations bleed across these chronological boundaries. But a comparison of 1870 Grinnell jobs with those reported to the 1940 US Census does show an enormous transition over those seventy years. Most work in early Grinnell depended upon the individual: farmers and artisans in the main could control their work space and output, and, like the many day-laborers available to the market, found themselves vulnerable to changes in the larger economy. Work in 1870 Grinnell was also strongly gendered, with most women confined to the domestic sphere, working outside the cash economy. Although the railroad reached Grinnell soon after its founding, most men and women of 1870 Grinnell depended upon horses for most of their travel, which is why small barns or carriage houses (along with outhouses) stood behind so many Grinnell homes.

By 1940 Grinnell was much more closely tied to the world beyond the city limits. One world war had already affected town, and another was imminent. The trains came and went with ever greater frequency, and airplanes had become common sights in the sky. Grinnellians rode trains and planes, but also drove their cars and trucks all across the country. Increasingly automobiles occupied those backyard carriage houses, and outhouses disappeared as indoor plumbing became common. Production processes gave men and women new specialized jobs, and called others into jobs selling factory output. The larger factory labor force gave rise to differentiation within the workplace as managers, supervisors, and directors scaled the ladder. Although the bonds of the domestic sphere remained strong in 1940 Grinnell, the new economy, thirsty for factory hands, drew many women away from the hearth and into the public work force, a trend that World War II would hasten and expand.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Death Comes to Tiny Acres...

A former colleague of mine would sometimes explain the literary meaning of "pastoral" by referring to the local newspaper. There, he said, the complex, villainous world of the modern city was absent; in its place the quiet rhythms of nature proceeded without interference. If big-city tabloids shouted "Murder" and "Crime," the local newspaper whispered the casual stories of living and loving.
Grinnell Herald-Register, July 3, 1967
At least occasionally, however, even small-town, rural newspapers must deal with unexpected, unwanted violence, and that's what happened in June 1967 in Grinnell. Against a background of the pastoral—news of weather, weddings, baseball and groceries—the newspaper headline shrieked of murder and suicide. But let's start at the beginning.

Undated photograph of Tiny Acres, Grinnell, Iowa
Sometime in the mid-1950s a local entrepreneur had the idea of building a roller skating rink in Grinnell. Apparently begun under a tent in Central Park, a more durable rink soon took form on the north side of Highway 6 just west of town (on land now occupied by Iowa Valley Community College). By 1956 groups of college students were enjoying skating parties at the rink, which gradually came to include a cafe and a small manufacturing facility.
Scarlet & Black, October 5, 1956
Behind this new venture was Farrell Murphy (1908-1970) who was born near Ewart, had attended Grinnell schools and in 1937 had married Edith Smith (1902-1971), a Newton woman. Over the years the couple had operated several skating rinks in central Iowa, but Tiny Acres was the last. The rink advertised a trained chimpanzee who would routinely skate along with the visitors, occasionally stopping to help pick up someone who fell. The chimp was known to smoke cigars and cigarettes, as well as ride bikes, motorcycles and go-carts. When skaters took a break to enjoy a cold bottle of pop, they could laugh at the chimp's antics, savoring, perhaps, the pleasures of pastoral life.
Along with the restaurant and small factory that made up Tiny Acres, Murphy decided to add some modest apartments. As it happened, at the same time Grinnell College had begun to dispense with the army barracks first acquired in 1946-47 as housing for married students who enrolled after the war. Already in 1950 the first four of the college barracks had been moved from the south side of 8th Avenue to make way for the new science building. Another four units—each containing four three-room apartments—remained standing on the north side of Eighth Avenue, east of Darby Gymnasium (where the Joe Rosenfield Center now stands).
Aerial view of campus, 1957 Cyclone. Barracks visible just to east of Darby Gym
In 1954 the college advertised the sale of several barracks. Murphy decided to purchase these buildings, and move them the mile or two that separated campus from Tiny Acres. Apparently the barracks first came into use as a motel, advertised that way in the 1957 college yearbook.
Advertisement in 1957Cyclone
But Tiny Acres never appeared as a motel in the telephone directory yellow pages. Instead, the barracks functioned as apartments: four three-room apartments in each barrack. Although the photograph is smudged, obscuring the the roller rink, the adjacent apartment buildings (former military barracks) are clearly visible in an aerial photograph.
Undated aerial photograph of Tiny Acres; Apartment buildings on right, east of the roller skating rink
Apparently renters who settled here were not prosperous, as many did not have their own telephones. According to the 1962 General Telephone Directory, for example, only three of the fourteen units then occupied had telephones; in 1970 just five of the twelve occupied units had their own telephones.
Which may explain how in 1967 a young couple, newly arrived in town, took up residence at Tiny Acres. Bobby Gene Mullins (1946-1967), just twenty years old,  had most recently been working for A. F. Schepmann Construction Company in Okabena, Minnesota. Born and raised in Georgia, Bobby Gene had evidently pursued an itinerant life, collecting jobs where he found them.
Bobby Gene Mullins, 1961 High School Yearbook, Atlanta, Georgia
How long he had worked in Minnesota I could not learn, but he had evidently gone there in part to take his girlfriend, Carrie Ann Black (1953-1967), away from Georgia. In Grinnell Bobby Gene was stringing wire for Southern Bell Telephone, although whether through his former employer or through some other contractor no one said.

When Bobby Gene and Ann (as she preferred to call herself) reached Grinnell in mid-June, Ann was only fourteen years old, and already the mother of a one-year-old boy, James Stanley Black. Newspapers reported that Ann had married when she was only eleven (or, according to other papers, twelve), and in 1967 was said to have been "separated" from her husband. I could find no record of Ann Black's marriage, so perhaps it was never formalized in law, given the girl's age. Her husband was another Georgian by the name of James Calvin Black.
James Calvin Black (1944-1994), 1960 yearbook of Roosevelt High School, Atlanta, Georgia
How they met and what led to their separation I could not discover. But Calvin (as he liked to be called) left his name in the records, having collided with the police on several occasions. In the spring of 1961, for instance, he was convicted of three counts of larceny of an automobile, and served a year in the state penitentiary. In 1970 he was sentenced to three years imprisonment for aggravated assault, so Calvin was not exactly a model of good behavior.

His "wife," Carrie Ann Bryan, was born in 1953 in Bladen County, North Carolina. The Grinnell funeral record lists Fort Bragg as her place of birth, indicating that her father had probably served in the army. What later brought her to Atlanta and an acquaintance with Calvin Black and Bobby Gene Mullins I do not know. Her youthful marriage and pregnancy and the rapid dissolution of her marriage hint at a troubled life, but little else about the young mother is public.
Stanley James Black, Bobby  Gene Mullins, and C. Ann Black;
Polaroid snapshot reprinted in Grinnell Herald-Register, July 3, 1967
These, then, were the young people who arrived in Grinnell in June 1967, playing the parts of husband and wife in a Tiny Acres apartment. The newspaper reported that there was some conflict, leading young Ann to take her baby and seek refuge in a neighbor's apartment. It was late afternoon and Ann and her neighbor, Neola Carroll (1916-1979), were watching television, the baby on the floor before them. The apartment door opened, and Bobby Gene entered, a "coverlet" draped over his arm. Ann was lying on a sofa which Bobby Gene approached, stepping over the baby, by now asleep on the floor. Bobby Gene bent down to Ann and said, "Honey, I got a present for you." He threw off the coverlet, exposing a .22 caliber pistol, and quickly shot Ann twice in the head. He then put the gun in his mouth and fired a third shot.

Neola Carroll rushed out of the apartment, screaming for her husband, yelling that "he shot her." Eddie Andersen (1911-2004), who managed Tiny Acres for Farrell Murphy, ran to the apartment with Mr. Carroll. Upon entering they found the little boy, awakened by the shots and shouting, standing by the sofa, "pulling at Ann's dress."
Photograph of Mrs. Everett Carroll and James Stanley Black, Grinnell Herald-Register, July 3, 1967
The murder-suicide at Tiny Acres was not the only crime of its kind in 1967 Iowa. Early in the year, police in Webster City had found the bodies of Mrs. Matilda Petzel and her husband, Harold, who had shot his wife to death before taking his own life (Waterloo Courier, January 3, 1967). In April folk in Lamoni learned that a Graceland College (now Graceland University) student from Iran, Hassan Rajabali, had taken a .22 caliber pistol to his former girlfriend, Sally Gladfelder, and then killed himself (Des Moines Register, April 29, 1967). And a little more than a month after the Grinnell killings, the Cedar Rapids Gazette carried a story of a retired grocer in Appanoose County who had murdered his wife before killing himself (August 7, 1967).

So Iowans were not without knowledge of events like these; they understood that the pastoral calm in which they spent much of their lives could be suddenly penetrated by a grisly killing of the sort well-known to big city folk. Still, the shock of the Tiny Acres killing caught people's attention. 

And yet the victims were all outsiders—strangers, really—who had parachuted into the calm of small-town life, bringing with them the alarming detritus of the big city. Their bodies disappeared quickly from Grinnell, soon taking their rest in cemeteries far from Iowa. By the time the Grinnell newspaper published the story, Carrie Ann Bryan Black was already buried in Briar Branch Church Cemetery, Bladen County, North Carolina. 

Bobby Gene Mullins found his final resting place even sooner, being interred July 1st at Oak Hill Cemetery, Cartersville, Georgia.
Even little James Stanley was soon gone, his grandmother carrying him to her North Carolina home where the public record soon lost track of him.

Back in Grinnell the dreadful events of June 29 soon passed from consciousness. The newspaper published no follow-up, the celebrations of the July 4th holiday wiping out the grim image of the orphaned one-year-old and his dead mother. The pastoral rhythms of nature and the countryside once more dominated the pages of the newspaper, leaving behind this rude incursion into the pastoral calm of central Iowa.

PS. Special thanks to Cheryl Neubert and Monique Shore for getting me the high-quality scan of the Grinnell Herald-Register article to replace the illegible microfilm copy, and to Steve Budd who first brought Tiny Acres to my attention.