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.

Friday, October 11, 2019

"Grinnell Boy Killed by Cop"

Grinnell Register, June 22, 1920, p. 1
The headline from the front page of the June 22, 1920 issue of the Grinnell Register calls to mind today's news about police encounters with African Americans. But the 1920 happening had nothing to do with African Americans, nor did it involve a policeman, despite the headline. The newspaper reported that early Saturday morning J. T. Watt, a detective employed by the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad, had accosted a nineteen-year-old white man by the name of Harry Sanders in the Marshalltown railroad yards. According to the detective, Sanders
started toward the viaduct by the Union station and was told by Detective Watt to stop. He did not heed the command and he was told a second time. He [Sanders—DK] at that time pulled a gun from his pocket...and opened fire. Watt shot the back. The boy was rushed to a hospital but died before reaching the hospital (Grinnell Register, June 22, 1920).
Investigation later proved that Sanders had never fired a shot, despite the fact that Watt had managed to put two bullets into Sanders's back. Nevertheless, the local coroner's jury quickly cleared Watt of wrongdoing. At first the dead man's family offered no objection to the results of the inquest, merely asking that his body be released quickly for burial in Grinnell's Hazelwood Cemetery. Before the summer was out, however, Sanders's mother came to see the situation differently, blaming Watt and the railroad for "wrongful death."

Gravestone of Harry R. Craig, Hazelwood Cemetery (2019 photo)
A second aspect of the story is less visible in reportage of the time. If today you walk Hazelwood Cemetery in search of the gravesite of Harry Sanders, you will be disappointed; the military headstone that stands over the dead man's grave identifies him not as Harry Sanders, but as Harry R. Craig. And in that exchange of names is buried another story that complicates—but also helps explain—the tragic events of 1920. Today's post will examine both parts of the story.
Details of the shooting emerged at the coroner's inquest, held in Marshalltown Sunday morning, hard on the heels of the shooting. Taking evidence from seven witnesses, the three-man jury issued its finding: 
Sanders came to his death by being shot by J. T. Watt, special agent for the M. & St. L. R. R., and that said shooting was in self defense and fully justified and this jury exonerates him (Marshalltown Evening Times-Republican, June 21, 1920).
The difficulty for the coroner came from the fact that, despite Watt's original claim, Sanders had not fired a single shot, but had been shot twice in the back. How could Sanders have threatened Watt's life while facing away from—or running away—from the detective?
Marshalltown Union Depot (ca. 1910)
The key testimony came from J. F. Casey, who worked for the railroad in the Marshalltown yards, but was nevertheless described as an "impartial witness." According to the newspaper report, Casey alleged "...that Sanders had threatened the life of the officer...." Casey testified that he had seen Sanders "fingering a revolver as he moved down the platform of the union station, that he saw Sanders turn his body and raise his hand. ...Watt fired when he was twelve or fourteen feet back of Sanders" (ibid.). Although Casey did not say that he saw Sanders fire or even raise a gun toward Watt, after the shooting, Casey said, he did see "Watt pick up something [!] which lay by the man's side, presumably a revolver" (ibid.).

Watt's own testimony confirmed most of his original account. What was surprising was the Marshall County Attorney's request that Watt act out the encounter before the coroner's jury, with Watt playing the part of Sanders, a proposal that allowed Watt to represent what he claimed were his victim's actions. A key deviation from his original testimony was Watt's concession that Sanders had not in fact fired a gun at him. However, he alleged that Sanders had "partly turned and pointed an automatic at Watt, the officer shooting and firing as Sanders slipped the safety catch on his gun." Furthermore, 
when the officer reached Sanders after he had been shot, Sanders held the .380 automatic in his right hand, which lay across Sanders's stomach, and a .32 caliber Savage automatic lay on the ground by Sanders' left hand (ibid.).
Another witness "displayed the guns taken from Sanders...All were loaded, the Smith & Wesson used by Watt having two empty cartridges" (ibid.). The witness did not point out what was obvious implicitly: although Watt's gun proved that two shots had been fired, Sanders's guns could not confirm that even a single shot had been fired. 
Grinnell Register, August 30, 1920
Initial reporting gave no evidence that the dead man's family contested the explanation of the shooting. In fact, Sanders's stepfather, James Craig, seemed to admit that Sanders, who lived with Craig since 1904, "had always been a good boy," but had lately turned wild. Craig noted that at seventeen young Sanders had enlisted in the coastal artillery, and had served briefly in France in late 1918, "On his return home," Craig continued, "he was a changed boy, having developed a wild spirit of adventure..." (Marshalltown Evening Times-Republican, June 21, 1920).

But if the Craigs originally accepted the officials' story of Sanders's death, they later changed their minds. Marshalltown newspapers reported that over the summer a private detective hired by the dead man's family had been in town to seek evidence with which to charge Watt and the railroad (Marshalltown Evening Times-Republic, August 26, 1920).

It was no surprise, then, when in late August Mrs. Craig petitioned to have Sanders's body exhumed from Hazelwood Cemetery and brought to Newton for "further examination." The petition alleged numerous errors by Marshall County officials, but the chief allegation was that "J. T. Watt...shot Sanders in the back without provocation" (Grinnell Herald, August 31, 1920).
Undated photograph of Jasper County Courthouse, erected 1909-1911
Accordingly, Sanders's body was exhumed Friday, August 27 from Hazelwood, taken to Newton for a second autopsy, and by Saturday, August 28, was returned to the Grinnell cemetery. A Jasper County inquest convened in Newton that Saturday afternoon. Among the witnesses heard was Frank Woods, who had been awaiting a train at the Marshalltown station the night that Sanders was shot. Woods testified that he had seen Watt run by the ticket office, and almost immediately thereafter he had heard a shot. He ran out to see Watt "standing at Sander's [sic] head, holding a revolver in his hand... He saw no weapon in Sander's hand or about his person..." (Grinnell Register, August 30, 1920). The next witness was John Casey, who had earlier testified at the Marshalltown inquest. As he had said then, Casey reported having seen Sanders being pursued by Watt. "He saw Sanders trying to turn, raising his arm at the same time. Officer Watt then shot two times. The witness could not see whether Sanders had anything in his arm when he raised it... He could not say...whether Sanders made any attempt to shoot" (ibid.). Other testimony offered no new information; Watt and Marshall County coroner, E. M. Singleton, failed to appear at the Newton inquest, despite having been subpoenaed.

The Jasper County coroner's jury then issued the following verdict:
Harry Sanders was shot to death June 19, 1920 while running away from John T. Watts [sic], a special agent for the M. and St. L. Railway company at Marshalltown, Marshall County, Iowa (Grinnell Herald, August 31, 1920).
The Newton finding confirmed the fact of the shooting, but omitted the exoneration of Watt that was included in the original Marshalltown verdict. Less helpful to the Craigs' case was the fact that the Newton inquest failed to identify a crime or to fix blame, a result that allowed one newspaper to describe the verdict as being "without teeth." For a time it seemed as though the Sanders case would wither. In early September the only newspaper articles to mention the inquest dealt with whether or not Marshall County would reimburse Jasper County for the $131 expended for the Newton inquest (it did not).
Marshalltown Evening Times-Republican, August 30, 1920
But then, as commentators had expected, in mid-September Sanders's mother filed suit, charging the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway Company with wrongful death and seeking $25,000 in damages. However badly authorities had treated Sanders and his family, the sum Mrs. Craig sought—something more than $300,000 in today's dollars—was eyebrow-raising, and contrasted sharply with her immediate reaction to her son's death.
Marshalltown Evening Times-Republican, September 13, 1920
The case did not come to trial in the Jasper County courthouse until February 1921. When finally convened, the hearing was brief, with the plaintiff—Gertrude Craig—contending that Sanders "...was not a 'bad man,' and that it was not necessary for Watt to shoot him." To make this case the plaintiff depended upon the testimony of R. A. Hill, who was also employed by the railroad but had not testified at either of the inquests. Hill claimed to have witnessed the entire event, and said he saw Watt searching Sanders when the victim started to run, after which Watt shot him twice in the back. This fresh testimony seemed to establish the plaintiff's case powerfully.

The defense, however, depended upon the testimony of Sanders's partner, Harold Fay (1905-1975), aka Walter LaBelle, who had been apprehended by Watt at the Marshalltown train station the same night that had Sanders died. Fay confessed to a series of robberies carried out with Sanders in the weeks before the shooting. Brought from Anamosa State Penitentiary, Fay testified to the details of their June 1920 crime spree in Poweshiek and Marshall counties, admitting that the pair had acquired four guns. Sanders had two of them, Fay told the court, but whether Sanders, when apprehended, had the guns on his person Fay did not know; he "presumed" so (Cedar Rapids Gazette, February 16, 1921).

Bystanders might have thought that testimony was sufficient to oblige the judge to take some time to evaluate the evidence, but Sixth District Judge D. W. Hamilton promptly issued a directed verdict against the plaintiffs. The judge was clearly unimpressed with the plaintiff's case. Perhaps because he suspected that Mrs. Craig was using the courts only to chase money, he took the opportunity to chastise the dead man's mother for having initiated the suit in the first place, and for having disturbed Sanders from his grave (Sioux City Journal, February 19, 1921).
Was Gertrude Craig motivated by the chance to win a jackpot from her son's death? Quite possibly.

Records from the 1920 shooting make no mention of the dead man's biological father; only the death certificate specifies that Harry's father was "Chas Sanders," but who was he?
Death Certificate for Harry Sanders, June 20. 1920
Newspaper notices from the Marshalltown shooting reported two different locations for the funeral of young Harry Sanders. The Grinnell Herald located the funeral at the residence of Charles M. Pugh, who lived at 1411 Third Avenue, Grinnell. The Marshalltown newspaper, however, reported that "Funeral services were held at 2 o'clock Sunday afternoon from the home of [Harry's—DK] grandfather Charles Sanders" (Evening Times-Republican, June 21, 1920). The only Charles Sanders found in the 1920 Grinnell directory was Charles Jacob Sanders, who lived at 1419 Third Avenue, the next house east of Charles Pugh's home where the Herald had mistakenly assigned the funeral.

Charles Jacob Sanders (1850-1922) and Susan (Campbell) Sanders (d. 1903) were the parents of Charles H. Sanders (1877-1919). Although they lived in town in 1920, the Sanders family had earlier farmed in Pleasant Township, and census inventories report that young Charles H. Sanders helped on the family farm. In 1897 he enlisted to serve in the Spanish-American War, and returned safely to central Iowa in 1899. The 1900 US census found him back on his father's farm, a single, 22-year-old farm laborer. It is certain, therefore, that Charles H. Sanders was in the vicinity of Grinnell in 1900, the same year that Gertrude Hulbert conceived a child with "Chas Sanders." Holding Harry's 1920 funeral at the home of "his grandfather," Gertrude Craig made sure to associate Charles H. Sanders with her dead son.

But why did she put the burden on Harry's grandfather instead of his father? For one thing, Charles H. Sanders himself was dead, having died in a December 1919 accident in Kansas City. Two weeks before his death Charles H. Sanders had written to his parents, assuring them that he was "well and trying to live a better life," a hint that he had experienced some difficulties. Records prove that, although he had married and generated a child, the marriage was not successful; his death certificate confirms that he was divorced. Charles had pursued several occupations, apparently none with much success. Probate records show that when he died, the total value of Charles H. Sanders's property was $100, barely enough to get him buried. The company for which he worked at the time of the accident settled with the estate over a claim of negligence, paying $700, about half of which went to pay lawyers and others involved in settling the estate.

But if Charles was a pauper in 1919, he seems to have been ever poorer in 1901, the year that Harry Sanders was born.

Gertrude Craig, who in 1920 claimed her son's body and later filed suit for her son's wrongful death, had been born Gertrude May Hulbert (b. 1883), the third (and last) child of Samuel J. (1850-?) and Phoebe (Pugh) (1857-1908) Hulbert. The couple had married in Mahaska County in 1872, but had divorced sometime prior to 1887 when Phoebe Hulbert remarried, this time taking as her husband Martin McKibben (1869-1933). The 1900 US Census found 17-year-old Gertrude Hulbert living with the McKibbens in Grinnell at 734 Elm Street. Evidently Gertie, as she was often known, had joined her stepfather's household after the Hulberts divorced. No longer in school, Gertrude in 1900 was said to be working as a "laundry girl" in town. This was the time when she encountered Charles H. Sanders; exactly how or where they met we do not know.

But before the next census visited Grinnell in 1905, 21-year-old Gertrude had married James Craig, six years her senior and an 1890 immigrant from England. The marriage record from March 23, 1904 reports that it was the first marriage for both bride and groom. 
Return of Marriages in the County of Poweshiek, for the Year Ending December 31, 1904
The 1910 US Census found Mr. and Mrs. Craig living in Hickory Grove Township, just west of Newburg. Telling officials that they had been married for seven years, the Craigs reported three children: Blanche, 3 years old; Wilma, 9 months old; and Harry, who was 9 years old. As court records prove, 18-year-old Gertrude Hulbert had given birth to Harry in April 1901, three years before she married James Craig.
As early as 1843 the Iowa legislature included in its Revised Statutes "An Act to Provide for the Support of Illegitimate Children." The original statute envisioned jailing men who, having been declared responsible for a child's support, failed to provide that support. This last measure was later removed from the law, but otherwise the statute remained within the Iowa code.
1924 Code of Iowa, eds. U. G. Whitney and O. K. Patton [Des Moines?], 1924, p. 1507
(Title XXXIII, Chapter 544, "Bastardy Proceedings")
In turn-of-the-century Iowa, men sometimes learned about this statute the hard way—facing in court the women with whom they had had sex. Nevertheless, in an era that did not know DNA, proving parentage was not easy. A 1900 case heard in Des Moines, for instance, reproved plaintiffs for bringing into court a three-month-old baby who was said to bear the defendant's resemblance.
Marshalltown Evening Times-Republican, December 22, 1900
But when a woman's claim proved persuasive, courts could impose a heavy penalty, as happened in a 1901 case from Mt. Pleasant in which the jury awarded a woman $4500 at the conclusion of a bastardy proceeding she had initiated (Ottumwa Tri-Weekly Courier, March 7, 1901). Similarly, in May 1902 a LeMars man was ruled the father of a baby born two months earlier to his unmarried, young neighbor (Sioux City Journal, May 23, 1902).

Gertrude Hulbert followed this same course, filing charges against "Charles Sanders" in Iowa District Court in September 1900 when she was two or three months pregnant. Following the law's prescription, the Poweshiek County attorney immediately "commenced proceedings for bastardy" against Sanders.
Marshalltown Evening Times-Republican, September 22, 1900
Court records indicate that trial was postponed at least four times before finally being heard in November 1901 when Gertie's baby was already six months old. What evidence the state produced and how the defendant replied the record does not say. However, the court clearly fixed responsibility upon Sanders, requiring him to pay Hulbert a total of $1800 ($100 each January 1st through the child's eighteenth birthday), plus interest for any delays in payment.
Iowa District Court Journal, Poweshiek County, 1899-1903, Book L, p. 431
The court journal clearly fixed responsibility upon "Charles Sanders," without identifying the defendant as "Charles H. Sanders." But a brief notice that appeared in the Des Moines Leader just three weeks after the bastardy hearing provides a clue: a Grinnell man by the name of Charles H. Sanders declared bankruptcy.
Des Moines Leader, December 20, 1901
Nothing in the obituaries of Charles H. Sanders or Charles Jacob Sanders admits the birth of the illegitimate boy in 1901. But bankrupt Charles H. Sanders, the man who died penniless and who admitted that his life had been filled with ruts, is nevertheless the best candidate for the paternity established by the courts in 1901.

And if his 1901 bankruptcy deprived Gertrude Hulbert Craig of the financial support decreed by the court, we may better understand her desire to file wrongful death charges against the railroad, even if she harbored no special affection for her son. Money awarded for a successful wrongful death suit might have helped compensate for the failure of Charles H. Sanders to support his illegitimate son. 
For Harry Sanders, the story ended with his death in 1920. Except for the exhumation carried out in August 1920, Harry has slept peacefully in his Hazelwood grave ever since. For many years his grave went unmarked, but in 1932 Gertrude Craig petitioned for a free military headstone upon which was remembered not Harry Sanders, but Harry Craig, the name under which he had enlisted in the coastal artillery in 1918. For the other stars in this play life went on, ripples from the events of 1920 spreading ever more widely.

Already in December 1920 J. T. Watt learned that his wife of nine years, the former Ellen Surtess, had filed for divorce (Marshalltown Evening Times-Republican, December 18, 1920). In the meantime, Watt had changed employers, leaving the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad to become a detective for the Northwestern Railroad. Early summer 1921 his new employers transferred Watt from Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids where he had jurisdiction over most of the railroad's Iowa lines (Cedar Rapids Gazette, June 24, 1921). Watt remained in Cedar Rapids until at least 1925 when the Iowa census found him living at 307 E. Boone with a new spouse, the former Irene Piper (1894-1939), two years his junior and also previously married. But in the following five years things changed dramatically for the Watts: the 1930 US Census found them in Tucson, Arizona where Watt was selling hats and Irene was working as a nurse. Renting a home at 1214 N. Second Avenue, the Watts hosted six female boarders. Watt may have moved to Arizona for reasons of health, because we know that at some point after 1935 he entered the Veterans Hospital in Whipple, Arizona where US census officials found him in 1940. He died at the V.A. facility March 2, 1944, a victim of "chronic, advanced, active tuberculosis." Having served briefly in the US Army in the last months of World War I (ironically, just as Harry Sanders had), Watt was buried in Prescott National Cemetery, Prescott, Arizona.

Gertrude May Hulbert Craig also ended her life far from the scene of Harry's 1920 death. If in 1920 she was living in Kellogg, Jasper County, the 1925 Iowa census found her and her family in Marshalltown; in 1930 they were still residing in Marshall County, but had settled in Liscomb, a small town north of Marshalltown where James Craig was selling automobiles. No later than 1935 they were back in Marshalltown, living on East Linn Street. But soon Gertrude and her husband moved to California, following their daughter, Blanche Hopper (1906-1994), who with her second husband had settled in San Pedro. James died there in 1955, killed by an automobile, and Gertrude followed two years later, breathing her last in Long Beach Community Hospital May 8, 1957. Both were buried in Green Hills Memorial Park, Los Angeles.