Friday, February 21, 2014

A Box of Senators

My dad had this old Muriel Senators cigar box for many years that he kept mementos in. Many of the items were from his early days in the Army and Air Force.

One of the more interesting was a telegram he received 76 years ago today.

It is dated February 21, 1938 and was sent to him at the U.S. Army base, Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas by the U.S. Senator from Florida, Claude Pepper.

He knew Claude Pepper from his days in Taylor County, Florida where my dad was born.

Pepper was born in Alabama in 1900 but moved to Perry, Florida in the 1920s after graduating from Harvard Law School. He opened a law practice and in 1936 was elected to the U.S. Senate. They were only 12 years apart in age but when he sent this telegram he and my dad were at opposite ends of influence.

My dad had been in the U.S. Army for only two years, while Pepper was near the height of his power. He was a close friend and ally of FDR and known as one of the most liberal members of Congress.

That came to hurt him a few years later when he was voted out of the Senate after his opponents accused him of being a Communist. Both he and my dad had the nickname "Red," for different reasons. Pepper made a comeback in 1963 and served in the US House of Representatives for 26 years.

Telegram from Senator Pepper
The telegram says Pepper had contacted Brigadier General James Chaney who at the time was the Assistant Chief of the U.S. Army Air Corps. My dad had called Pepper to ask his help so that he could stay in in the U.S Army Flight School. He had been told they were washing him out so he did what he could to try and stay in. It didn't work and the local Colonel introduced him to a shovel for going outside the chain of command.

Dad had learned to fly several years earlier. He had to drop out of college because he ran out of money. Starting college in 1930 was bad timing considering the depression that was just getting underway.

Daddy at Randolph Field 1938
He got a job delivering bread to grocery stores in Florida and met Harvey Dobbs, a competitor from another bread company. They became a life long friends. Harvey's father had a plane in Miami and took Daddy up several to teach him to fly. Trying to get into Flight School was one of the reasons he joined the U.S. Army in 1936. Again, timing worked against him as the standards for pilots in 1938 were very high since there were not many planes and those they had were WW I leftovers.

If he had been born a few years later when they were trying to fill the cockpits of all the new planes being built to send to WW II battle areas, he no doubt would have made it without any problem.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fast Train Out of Town

Thomas Coipus "Capers" Urquhart‏ was the husband of my great grandmother's sister. He was born November 14, 1881 in Mitchellville in Manatee County, Florida and died February 15, 1953 in Tampa, Florida. His parents were James Glover Urquhart and Ida Jane Delegal. Thomas is buried in the Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Tampa.

He married Maggie Laura Lundy on April 14, 1903. She was the daughter of William Augustus and Margery Henry Lundy.

Thomas Coipus Urquhart - Railroad Office
Thomas and Laura's daughter Eva was the first cousin and good friend of my grandmother Edith. They maintained a lifelong correspondence, exchanging letters, photos, etc. When my grandmother died she still had all the letters in her old trunk.

Thomas Urquhart worked as a Railroad Agent in Tampa, Clearwater and later Jacksonville, Florida. On the census records he was shown working for the Tampa Northern and Tampa Gulf Coast Railroads. As part of his duties as a Railroad Agent he also operated the Telegraph. This photo shows him in the Clearwater office around 1915 sitting next to the Telegraph machine.

A few years later, he was sitting at the same desk when someone tried to kill him by shooting a shotgun through the small window.

I found this 1918 Tampa newspaper article about the event. It's not often that you find something new about a relative from an old newspaper that matches with a photo of them. I doubt that anyone in the family has heard this story.

I don't know what the motive was, if it was personal or not but he moved to Jacksonville soon after this.

Saturday, December 28, 1918  Tampa Tribune Page 4

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Going For a Stroll

My daughter is expecting our first grandchild to arrive in a few months. We sent her one of the new Bob Motion Travel System stroller, car seat combos a couple week ago.

The price of these things has gone up a bit since we bought them for our kids. My first car was close to the price of one of these strollers!

The marketing genius has created a demand not just for  safety and better ergonomic design but one you can use as a running stroller, with one touch folding, one hand lifting, cup, iPod and phone holders.

It reminded me of this photo of my mother in her stroller. It was taken in 1925 on the porch of her grandparent's home in Cortez, Florida.

This thing looks like a wicker basket on a wagon but was in fact a stroller. It had wheels with spring suspension and a handle to pull her around. If they got going too fast on the shell road, it had a seat belt of sorts that kept her from falling out.

She has a big smile on her face so she must have liked the thing.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Timing is Everything

Guyton Fulford is not related to me but is the gg grandfather of a friend in Florida. I researched his family because of the common surname when we were trying to figure out if we were related.

 75th Regiment GA Militia Roll 1862

Guyton was born on August 26, 1818 and died on September 22, 1887 in Grady County Georgia. Guyton was born in Georgia but his father was born in Pitt County, North Carolina. Most of the Fulfords in South Georgia and North Florida are from this Pitt County family.

Guyton served in two wars and filed to collect the Land Bounty he was entitled to for the first one shortly before he died. His claim was apparently denied for lack of paperwork.

Today it would be very easy to prove his military service because so many records are available online. I was able to obtain this 1862 Civil War Muster Roll from the 75th Regiment Georgia Militia in a matter of minutes. He was 44 years old when he enlisted so he could have avoided military service because of his age.  

1841 Florida War
The Civil War Pension law in Georgia didn't cover the aged veterans until 1894, seven years after Guyton died. Before that they only paid a pension for those who lost limbs or were 100% disabled.  

The 1841 enlistment for the Florida Indian War was almost as easy to locate. It showed he was a Private in the First Regiment Florida Mounted Militia. His first Cousin Wyche Fulford, who later settled in Taylor County, Florida enlisted with him in the same Company.

I don't know if the folks in Washington denied the Florida War Bounty Claim because they knew he had served with the Confederate Army or if they just said no because the paper trail wasn't good enough.

Federal Pension Index
The old US military records were organized in the 1930s as part of the New Deal government program to put folks back to work. Before that many folks were out of luck trying to prove their service if they had lost their original paperwork.