Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Revolting Discovery. Paupers Buried in Nude Condition 1888

Memphis Appeal, March 25 1888
Paupers Buried From the City Hospital in a Nude Condition

Supt. T. McCarney, of Calvary cemetery, made a revolting discovery yesterday and one that confirmed vague reports he had previously heard. About two weeks ago information reached him that the remains of persons who died at the city hospital were being interred without a stitch of clothing to cover their nudeness.  Mr. McCarney, though dumfounded (sic), was loth (sic) to credit the reports and took steps to have it verified or disproved at the earliest opportunity.

Before proceeding further it will be proper to explain how and what persons are given burial in Calvary cemetery. It is the last resting place of the Catholic dead, and wisely governed by rigid rules and regulations in every respect. As a general thing, paupers are intrusted (sic) to County Undertaker Walsh, and interred in potter's field. Where the person in his last illness calls in a priest, however, the attending divine gives the undertaker an order to bury him or her in Calvary cemetery in a Christian manner.

The opportunity of Supt. McCarney came yesterday.  On Thursday J. Sullivan died at the hospital. He was placed in a rude box coffin, conveyed to the dead-house attached to the institution, and Undertaker Walsh notified. Yesterday morning the wagon bearing the remains was driven up to the gate of Calvary, and the driver notified the keeper of his mission, producing his order signed by Father Moran, of St. Peter's parish.  The box containing the remains was removed and carried into the house, according to instructions from the superintendent, and this official notified of its presence. Then came the investigation resolved upon.  Mr. McCarney removed the lid of the box, and found--the reports confirmed.  Within, and perfectly nude, reposed the corpse of Sullivan.  the horrified superintendent came into the city and inquired of Mr. Walsh's foreman where he got the body.  "At the hospital," replied the foreman.  Mr. McCarney left the establishment, and a few moments later made the disclosure to an Appeal reporter.

Dr. Small, of the city hospital, was called upon for an explanation.  He stated that he was ignorant of Sullivan's condition as regards clothing when buried, but that it was the custom to wrap the sheet upon which the person died around the body for burial. When informed that not even this had not been done in the case of Sullivan, Dr. Small professed astonishment.

"What disposition is made of the clothing worn by patients when they enter the hospital in case of death?" the doctor was asked.

"They are stored away for use by other patients when needed, " he replied.
Originally posted in the Memphis Appeal, March 25 1888.

As for J. Sullivan, the mortuary report said he was male, 30 years old and that he died from peritonitis.  The Shelby County Register of Deaths could only add that he had been in Memphis but a week, was single, and a native of Massachusetts.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sarah Grant Burned to Death, Perhaps Oldest Person in the Community, 1879

"An old colored woman named Sarah Grant, between ninety and a hundred years of age, perhaps the oldest person in this community, met with a horrible death about sunrise, at a house in Chelsea, on the corner of Sixth and Keel streets.  She was supposed to have been in the act of kindling a fire, when her clothes accidentally ignited.  She screamed loudly, and the neighbors rushed into the house, too late to be of service, the fire having enveloped her body, literally roasting her alive and causing death in a few minutes.  The old woman's husband died during the late fever, at the age of 102 years. Esquire Agnew held an inquest upon Mrs. Grant's remains, a verdict being rendered in accordance with the foregoing."
Originally posted in the Public Ledger, January 21 1879

Mrs. Grant was interred January 22, 1879, at Elmwood Cemetery in what was then known as the "colored" section in grave 6, 380.  Her name was listed as "Allie Grant" age 90.  The undertakers were Flaherty and Sullivan.  The Shelby County Register of Deaths listed her name as "Alice Grant."

Her husband perished in the Memphis Yellow Fever epidemic of 1878.  Cleburn Grant, age 102, died September 18.  The underaker was Walsh and Mr. Grant's address was "6th and Keel."  His place of burial is unknown.

A search of Memphis City Directories revealed a Clifford Grant living at "Keel, nw corner 6th, C" in 1879.  He was a driver.  I wonder what relationship, if any, he was to Sarah and Cleburn Grant.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Former Tennessee Governor Arrested at Memphis Brothel, 1913

Painting by P. Mortimer Thompson,
Tennessee Portrait Project
Former Governor Malcolm R. Patterson, who was arrested in a Memphis brothel and presented in the police court, felt so thoroughly disgraced and beyond human pardon that he sought it from a higher source and has joined the Presbyterian church.  there is nothing like exposure in such matters to bring men to their senses.
Originally posted in the Richmond Climax, September 19, 1913.

Malcolm Rice Patterson was born June 7, 1861 in Alabama and died March 8, 1935 in Sarasota Florida.  He was the son of Confederate Cavalry Officer and US Congressman Josiah Patterson and Josephine Rice Patterson. Patterson had three wives: Sarah Lucille Johnson, Mary W. Gardner and Sybil Isabelle Hodges.  Wife Lucille died at the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville TN from a pistol shot wound Mar 15 1899.  She was interred at Elmwood Cemetery. Sibyl died Aug 6 1906, cause of death was ovariotomy.  Mary died September 12 1956 from pancreatic cancer.  She and Sibyl are interred at Forest Hill Midtown with Malcolm

Interesting tidbits:
His son, Malcolm Coe Patterson, was arrested in Seattle and charged with fatally shooting a liveryman. (Source: The Day Book, Dec 9 1911, Chicago Ill) Malcolm C. was born about 1888, his mother was Lucille, the wife that died from the pistol shot in Nashville!  Malcolm became an attorney and died in Memphis from complications that occurred during an appendectomy.  He's interred in Elmwood with his mother.

In 1908, Governor Patterson played a controversial role in Obion County with the Night Riders. He personally led the guard into the county in order to capture and imprison the Night Riders.

At one time Governor Patterson had been a supporter of "liquor forces" even vetoing a bill while he was Governor that would have made Tennessee a dry state.  But in 1913 and after he was arrested at the brothel in Memphis he became an anti-liquor crusader and spoke against it whenever possible.  In 1916 he was the lead speaker at the Grace M.E. Church where headlines proclaimed "Ex-Governor to Wallop Booze."  The meeting was held under the auspices of the Anti-Saloon League and was known as the "Dry America" rally.  (Source: Harrisburg Telegraph, Oct 7 1916).

And he had a very interesting nickname...Ham Patterson!

Ham Patterson--Democracy's Champion
His plumage bright, he's ready to fight with a heart that will never quail,
While his republican opponent,
The trusts' great exponent,
(Evans by name, of Force Bill Fame)
In principle wrong, though in boodie strong, in the end must surely fail.
-Thos. C. Hindman
Originally posted in the Comet, June 7 1906, Johnson City Tenn

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ten Fat Ladies Wanted, January 1886

Advertisement for Crosby's Dime Museum.
Originally posted in Memphis Appeal, January 30 1886

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Most Popular Memphis Belle Married Last Evening, Jan 3 1878

The most popular belle of Memphis--the universal favorite of society--was married last evening to a young man no less esteemed and admired by the entire community.  The Central Methodist church, No. 181 Union street, was besieged by an immense concourse of people, intent on catching a glimpse of Miss Ella Bolling, second daughter of Mr. R. Bolling, secretary of the Home Insurance company, and her intended husband, Mr. John Poston.  The marriage of this couple has been the universal topic of conversation in the social circle for the past two weeks.  The prominence of the parties induced everybody to indulge in confidential disquisitions on the all-absorbing theme, and the comments and conversation were complimentary in the highest degree, because the young lady was admired and beloved by all, and the young gentleman was well-known as an honored member of one of the oldest and most respectable families of the city.  It was therefore not surprising that the church was packed with invited guests, all anxious to secure prominent seats.  The crowd without was nearly as large as that within, while Union street, for a hundred yards, was blockaded with carriages.  Precisely at half-past three o'clock the bridal cortege reached the church, which they entered in the following order: Bride and groom, Mr. John Poston and Miss Ella Bolling.  Attendants:  Mr. Shall Poston and Miss Lizzie M'Combs, Mr. Louis Frierson and Miss Kate Poston, Mr. Will Anderson and Miss Blanche Speed, Mr. Branceh Martin and Miss Emma Etheridge, Mr. Samuel Pepper and Miss Mary Wormeley, and Mr. Hugh Pettit and Miss Emma M'Combs.  The ushers were Mr. Ralph Wormeley and Mr. Richard Wright.  Mr. and Mrs. Bolling, the father and mother of the bride, occupied a front seat, where was also seated the mother and many other relatives of the groom. Prof. Perring was at the organ.  As the bridal party presented themselves around the altar, they were met at the sanctuary rail by Rev. W.T. Bolling, the bride's uncle, who proceeded with the ceremony, uniting the couple for life with the symbolic rings.  Mr. Bolling, the officiating minister, is a stranger in Memphis, but his admirable and commanding appearance, and the impressive manner in which he performed the ceremony, occasioned much inquiry as to who is the elegant stranger.  The deportment of the bride was most graceful.  She carried to the marriage altar the manners which have made her a universal favorite--a highbred mein and queenly bearing, and yet plain and simple.  She was very tastily and becomingly attired.  Naturally of lovely appearance, she was, yesterday evening, a model of grace, gentleness, amiability and simplicity. The bridal presents were numerous, useful, beautiful and some of the costly.  It is useless for us to speak of the groom, John H. Poston.  He has a commanding person, ranks among the most popular, upright and promising young men of Memphis, and is every way worthy of the prize he has won, for which there were so many worthy contestants.  In an hour after their marriage, the young couple left on the train for Little Rock, where Mr. Poston was called on business, thereby blending a bridal tour with one of business, which certainly presages industry and success in life.  A more popular or promising couple were never before married in Memphis, and if they are not prosperous and happy in life it will not be for the want of the prayers of numerous friends.
Originally posted in the Memphis Daily Appeal January 3 1878

John Hamil Poston was born September 25 1851, the son of prominent Memphis attorney William King Poston and Mary Letitia Park.  During the Civil War, after the fall of Memphis, the Poston home was under Union control and often used for meetings.  According to stories the family silver was hidden on the second floor away from the Union soldiers.  William King Poston died in 1866. For more information about him and his colorful life be sure to visit his memorial at findagrave.

Ella Bolling was the daughter of Robert P. Bolling, a successful Insurance Agent, and Mary Wheless. His brother was Rev. Warner T. Bolling, a distinguished member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and though the article indicates he was a stranger to Memphis that was far from the truth. During the Civil War W.T. Bolling was first attached to the Harris Zouave Cadets, a company of the prestigious 154th Senior Tennessee Regiment out of Memphis.  After the war he joined the Memphis Conference in 1868 and was a distinguished representative for twenty years. During the later part of his life he was a regular contributor to the Sunday Commercial Appeal with a byline called "Reflections."  So he was definitely not a stranger to Memphis! You can read more about him on his findagrave memorial.

Among the bridal party was Emma Etheridge, the daughter of U.S. Congressman Emerson Etheridge who represented Tennessee's 9th District.  

Ella and John would have three children, Mary, Susie and John Jr.  Ella Bolling died June 10, 1891. John is still living in Memphis in 1900 and head of a large household:
John Poston, head, born 1851, widowed, storage merchant
Mary B. Poston, daughter, born 1880
Susie B. Poston, daughter, born 1882
John H. Jr., son, born 1885
Mary l. Bolling, sister-in-law, born 1866, works at a music studio
Mary W. Bolling, mother-in-law, age 67, widowed
Bolling, Sibley, nephew, born 1873, bank clerk

John Hamil Poston Sr died in El Paso Texas on April 29, 1918, at the Hendricks Sanatorium.  Cause of death was pulmonary tuberculosis.  The Hendricks Sanatorium was established in January 1915 for "cases with reasonable chance of recovery.  Patients were charged $30-$50 a week and the occupancy was capped at 50.  His remains were brought back to Memphis and buried next to his wife in Elmwood Cemetery.