Sunday, June 21, 2015

Thomas N. Yarberry's Photograph

© Kathy Duncan, 2015

I published this photograph in an early post. It is a copy of a photograph of Thomas Newton Yarberry that was sent to me by Kate Carson in the mid 1970s when I first started doing genealogy. I published it because it was of much higher quality that the photocopied version that I was seeing on the internet. I've noticed since then, that many on ancestry are using this clearer version, so it's nice to know that people really do read this blog. 

Thomas Newton Yarberry's accepted date of birth is 27 January 1813; the source is a family bible researched by Kate Carson. According to the census, Thomas was born in North Carolina. He married Elizabeth Renfro/Rentfro in Gibson County, Tennessee on 22 April 1841. They were in Hempstead County, Arkansas by the 1850 census.

This photograph has always intrigued me. One of the things that I've always wondered about was what on earth was going on with his coat. Was it really as tattered and torn as it looks? Why would someone put on his worst garment to sit for a portrait, especially since people had very few pictures of themselves made in the nineteenth century? In looking at the bottom of the portrait, I always thought I saw damage that suggested that this is an ambrotype that someone had opened, damaging the paper on the back. That would mean, Thomas's photograph was damaged not his coat. That, however, was just a theory. Until the actual photograph came along for someone to look at, I only had a semi-educated guess. I proceeded to wait....oh, about 40 years or so.

Then, as luck would have it, a reader of this blog, and distant cousin, contacted me and sent me a digital copy of the original to which she temporarily had access. Isn't it breathtakingly wonderful?

I requested that she take pictures that would allow me to see the full photograph and its case. In return, I received the following two pictures, showing both the inside and the outside of the case.

Inside of Thomas N. Yarberry's photo case:

Outside of Thomas N. Yarberry's photo case, which I think is probably embossed leather:

At last, I had enough information to begin trying to date this photograph. Why is that important? For starters it would give us a clue as to how old Thomas N. Yarberry was when the photograph was taken and perhaps some insight into the occasion for which it was made.

I started with that area at the bottom that always looked like damaged paper to me. I blew up the bottom edge which you can see below. Definitely looks like damaged, thick paper:

The presence of this black paper identifies this as an ambrotype photograph. Ambrotype photographs were only produced for a decade, between 1855 and 1865. The image was directly on the glass with a thick piece of black paper or cloth behind it that made the image visible. That narrows this photograph down to 1855 - 1865.

Can the date range be narrowed further? Yes. Before 1859 the mats around ambrotype photographs were plain. Beginning in 1859 they began using fancy, embossed mats like the one around Thomas N Yarberry's photograph.

In 1859, the preservers around the mats became more elaborate and ornate - like the one around Thomas Yarberry's photograph.

Based on the type of photograph and its setting, Thomas N. Yarberry's photograph can be placed in a narrower date range: 1859 - 1865. Based on the wide range of ages given on the census, Thomas N. Yarberry's birth date can only be narrowed to 1813 - 1818. He would have been 41 - 46  in 1859 and 47 to 52 in 1865. However, if we stick with his accepted birth date of 1813, he would have been 46 in 1859 and 52 in 1865. His photograph features a man with a receding hairline, but no gray. It is hard to say what the occasion is for the photograph. It could be the Civil War. Did he serve in some way? So far, I have not found a service record for him unless he is listed under some tortured spelling of Yarberry.  He was possibly too old to serve. Is it a photograph for a son to take to war with him? Is it for his 50th birthday? Still a lot of questions without answers.

I anticipate that people will use this photograph without permission. However, I do ask that you site this blog and that you leave a comment below.

Happy Father's Day to all our fathers, living and ancestral.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Eugene A. Hurt, Division Freight Agent

© Kathy Duncan, 2015

I was shopping in an antique mall in Waxahatchie, Texas when this little red souvenir glass railroad lantern jumped out at me. It was the perfect Father's Day gift for my Dad, who is a Santa Fe Railroad retiree. On the front is the name "Jean Hurt," and on the back it is inscribed "G.C. & S.F.R.R. 1915." After I got it home, I tried to locate information about Jean Hurt and struck out. Too many Jean Hurts on the 1910 and 1920 censuses, many of them women, and none of them seemed to fit any Jean Hurt who had worked for the Santa Fe.

I gave up, wrapped it up, and put in the mail to Dad. He opened it this morning and called to say thank you. He also told me that G.C. & S.F.R.R. was a division of the Santa Fe called Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad. He told me that their headquarters were in Galveston and suggested that I focus my search for Jean Hurt there. He also told me that the G.C. & S.F.R.R. division in the 1960s started at the Oklahoma border and ran south toward Galveston. Being able to focus my search in Texas was the bit of information that I needed. 

At first, nothing turned up in the census. How could Jean Hurt be a phantom? Then I started running through newspapers. The first item to bubble up to the surface was the following article, announcing the promotion of E.A. Hurt. 

I nearly ignored this article, but then it occurred to me, almost too late, that if Jean was short for Eugene, then E.A. Hurt might be my man. More searching revealed that his name was, in fact, Eugene A. Hurt. 

In amassing information on E.A. Hurt, I discovered that he was a native of Tennessee, who seems to have first found employment with the Gila Valley and Globe National Railroad in Arizona. In the spring of 1899, he was the assistant to the G.V.G. & N. superintendent, Benjamin Jones. They had just moved the superintendent's office from Geronimo, Arizona to Globe, Arizona:

By October 1899, Superintendent Jones was ill and E.A. Hurt became the Acting Superintendent:

By December 1899, Benjamin Jones had returned to work, and E.A. Hurt presumably returned to his position as assistant and cashier.

 By the spring of 1900, Superintendent Jones had resigned, probably due to his prolonged illness, and E.A. Hurt had become an agent. Note all the reassigned positions in the article below. A shake up was definitely afoot:

The article below indicates that E.A. Hurt had resigned earlier in January of 1900. Possibly, he had returned and resumed working for the G.V.G.& N. in March.

The U.S. census indicates that E.A. Hurt was still in Arizona in the summer of 1900:

3 & 4 June 1900, Ft. Grant, Bonita Towns, Graham Co., AZ:

Hurt, Eugene Head M W b. 1872 38 S b. TN fb. KY mb. TN - RR Station Agent

By 1901, E.A. Hurt had permanently left Arizona and was living in the Oklahoma, Indian Territory, working for the Santa Fe Railroad. In July of 1901 he was the agent at Dougherty, Oklahoma.

An the end of 1901, E.A. Hurt and his brother George C. Hurt married the Barnes sisters in a double wedding ceremony:

A briefer, clearer article about their wedding appeared in the Fort Worth newspaper:

Between 1901 and 1904, E.A. Hurt had moved to Sanger, Texas. In 1904, he was made agent for the Santa Fe in Midlothian, Texas:

The Hurt family continued in Midlothian for several years. Eugene A. Hurt's father William died and was buried in Midlothian in 1906. His mother was buried there in 1916. I have not researched his parents, so I do not know when they arrived in Midlothian.

19 April 1910, Midlothian, Ellis County, Texas:
Hurt, Eugene A. Head M W 37 M-8 b. TN fb. KY mb. TN - Agent, R.R. Station
-----, Rose C Wife F W 25 M-8 b. TX fb. KY mb. VA

In 1910, The 20th Century Protector Co., of Midlothian, TX published an advertisement, featuring E.A. Hurt, Agent G.C. & S.F.R.R.'s enthusiastic letter about their product along with a picture of E.A. Hurt in his convertible automobile!

In 1911, 20th Century Tire Protector Co. published an even longer and more enthusiastic letter from E.A. Hurt. It is possible that this is the original letter, and the 1910 letter was an abridged version.

In 1915, E.A. Hurt was still the agent at Midlothian. Click here to see a picture of him at the Midlothian depot. This would have been the same year that he received the little red, souvenir railroad lantern.

On 10 Jan 1916, the Midlothian Oil and Gin Co. caught on fire. E.A Hurt had several burning boxcars moved away from the building so that they could be put out. See link above for more information.

E.A. Hurt's WWI draft registration card revealed his full name: Eugene Augusta Hurt and a permanent address in Paris, Texas. This seems to have been a temporary relocation for the Hurts.

In 1920, E.A. Hurt was promoted to division freight agent and moved to Houston:

In 1922, E.A. Hurt was ill enough that it was noted in the Santa Fe Magazine that he was in the hospital at Temple, Texas:

By 1923, he was back at work. Apparently, enough bridges had been washed out that year that when they were repaired the Santa Fe felt the need to notify the public that repairs had been made and the railroad was ready to resume shipments north to Kansas and west to California.

By July 1923, freight was moving, and E.A. Hurt was overseeing shipments of watermelons from Lee and Lee, the largest watermelon growers in the world:

On 20 Dec 1924, E.A. Hurt's wife Rosa Cleveland (Barnes) Hurt died of complications after surgery. She was 40 years old. Apparently, they never had children. She was buried in Midlothian near E.A.'s parents. E.A. Hurt continued working as the Division Freight Agent for the Santa Fe in Houston:

Eugene Augusta Hurt died in Midlothian, Texas in Mar 1929 at the home of his sister:

He was buried in Midlothian beside his wife. His little lantern has been kicking around somewhere for the last 90 years but is now at home with another Santa Fe Railroader.