In memoriam: Keith Black (1942-2016)

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Details on my father’s memorial service will be posted here in the coming weeks.

This overview of my father’s life is a work in progress. So far I’ve covered his early childhood: 1942-1949, and I’ll be continuing chronologically as I have time. If you’d like to share any memories or stories, whether privately or for inclusion in a biographical post, please leave a comment below.

You can also sign Keith’s guestbook and see his obituary here.

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Mystery photo #4: C.A. & Rose Prettyman

Today’s mystery photo is only partly a mystery. Well, mostly a mystery, really. But I do know some things about the photo.

In this photo, a dashing gent in a flat cap, knickerbockers, a leather car coat and argyle socks is showing off a pan of something while posing between two women. The hats and clothing of all three is evocative of the fashions of the Roaring Twenties (roughly 1925–1932), and the little bit of the automobile that we can see also looks like a 1920s-to-earliest-1930s model.

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G.I. Prettyman (1887–1977)

George Irvin PrettymanGeorge Irvin Prettyman (or G.I. Prettyman, as my grandfather told me he liked to be called) was my grandfather’s uncle. I recently learned that a cousin was looking for some information on G.I. and his wife Frances, and I discovered that while I had some new information for him, a lot of what I had was contradictory and could use some dedicated research. For instance, my grandfather William Prettyman once told me that his uncle G. I. Prettyman didn’t make it past the fourth grade, as he was needed to help out at home on the farm. However, according to a contemporaneous biography (Minnesota and Its People, 1924, by Joseph Alfred Arner Burnquist),

[G.I.] “was reared and educated in Hewitt, attended the grade and high schools of the town, and then took a course in a commercial college at Little Falls, Minnesota. He was then sixteen years old and after completing his education entered the banking business and continued in it until 1911…”

I’m hoping that relatives reading this summary of what I’ve learned about G.I. Prettyman may be able to contribute considerably more than I’ve presented here. Please leave a comment below if you have additional information or stories about G.I. Prettyman or his family.

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Alonzo Bailey, an American industrialist

Alonzo Bailey's HouseWith the new year, I’d like to get back in the habit of writing more blog entries on family history. I thought that one way I might gather up steam is to profile some new ancestors that haven’t yet been featured on the pages on this blog.

To start things off, I thought I’d write up what I know or could learn about my great-great-great-grandfather Alonzo Bailey (1799-1867). I thought this would be a quick blog post to research and write, as I knew next to nothing about Alonzo when I started writing this post over a week ago, but I’ve since realized that I’ll need at least three blog posts to cover what I’ve learned about this previously mysterious yet now impressive and fascinating man. Because of the growing size of this post and the ongoing discoveries I’m making, I’ll declare this post done for now and will update it with new information as I find it.

Alonzo Bailey was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, on December 14, 1799, to William Bailey (1768-1848) and Lucretia Tracy (1774-1859). He was the eldest of a family that would grow to include six children—three sons and three daughters. Alonzo was the first-born child in William and Lucretia’s young family, and he appears to have been a honeymoon child, having been born nine months and a week after his parents were married on March 6, 1799, in Franklin, Connecticut. Continue reading

Luke McMurry and the University of Illinois

The Elephant, 1870Luke Robinson McMurry was a well-travelled and multifaceted person who had his fingers in a great many pies, as I continue to learn. I’ve noted elsewhere his childhood journey overland from Kentucky to Indiana, his migration to Illinois after marrying Elizabeth Miller, his appointment to the Executive Committee of the Agricultural Society of Effingham Countyhis wholesale millinery and straw goods business in Chicago, his founding of a narrow-gauge railroad in Effingham, Illinois, in 1867, his mysterious departure to Arkansas with his family, and his journey to the Washington territory with his sons several years after his wife died.

Thanks to an unexpected find—an entry for Luke in the University of Illinois’ 1916 publication, University of Illinois Directory: Listing the 35,000 Persons who have ever been Connected with the Urbana-Champaign Departments including Officers of Instruction and Administration and 1397 DeceasedI’ve recently learned of another enterprise he was involved in—the founding of the University of Illinois. In this volume, I found Luke’s name enumerated as a Trustee of the University of Illinois from 1867 to 1873:

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A new photo of Joseph and Jane Askew

Joseph and Jane and grandkidsToday’s post highlights a photo that my second cousin once removed Ruth Rogers recently scanned last fall from the collection of family photos she received from her mother Ruth (Manfred and Hope Askew’s daughter).

Col. Joseph Askew was the first distant ancestor I researched as a boy, and I’m always delighted when I find a new photo of him. Until this photo, I knew of only eight different photos of the Colonel (dozens and dozens of prints and illustrations derived from these, but only eight distinct photos). Today’s photo is number nine.

This is definitely the latest photo taken of Joseph and his wife Jane—he’s clearly much aged beyond the photos I have of him from 1909 and 1910.  Since he died on September 21, 1911, I’d estimate that this photo was taken in the year of his death—1911. Given the outdoor setting and the warm weather clothes being worn, especially by the children, I’d guess that this dates to either summer or early fall, 1911. It may well be the last photo taken of Joseph before he died.

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Mystery photo #2: Boy and girl with doll (part 2)

I wrote my first post on this mystery photo two and a half years ago. Thanks to my grandmother’s memories, as well as a great find made by my second cousin once removed Ruth Rogers in a set of family photos now in her possession, I can now declare the case closed on this mystery.

This mystery photo was actually identified last Fall, but the preparations, anticipation and excitement of becoming a new dad led to me setting this blog aside for several months until just a couple of weeks ago.

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