Monday, December 22, 2014

Remember, O Thou Man ...

One thing leads to another, so I ended up watching again last evening the 2005 film adaption of Thomas Hardy's 1872 "Under the Greenwood Tree" --- the first of his Wessex novels --- primarily to hear two stanzas of Thomas Ravencroft's 1611 Advent carol, "Remember, O Thou Man."

As it happens, I like the film --- pleasant, sunny, good-mannered, lushly set --- but the trials and tribulations of the Mellstock Parish Quire intrigue me most.

The story opens on Christmas Eve as the men of the choir (it would have been unseemly for women to sing in public, let alone in a choir loft) and their instruments set out to carol through the streets of the village.

As it turns out, trouble in the form of a new vicar already has arrived. His goal during the novel will be to boot the choir from its loft and replace it with a new-fangled organ. Romance focuses on a choir member who falls for the new school teacher, also just arrived, who will be pursued, too, by both the dastardly vicar and a rich bachelor farmer.

We get to hear only two stanzas of Ravencroft's 10-stanza carol in the film, interrupted by the contents of a chamber pot, as follows:

Ravencroft (1588-1635) was a chorister, composer and compiler of British folk music and "Remember, O Thou Man" appears first in his 1611 "Melismata." It's not exactly clear whether he composed it, collected it or developed it through some combination of the above. 

It is a rather somber carol, but I like the first stanza best --- in which a somewhat peevish god informs his audience that he's done all he can and it's time for "O thou Man" to repent:

Remember, O thou Man,
O thou Man, O thou Man,
Remember, O thou Man,
     Thy time is spent.
Remember, O thou Man, 
How thou camest to me then,
And I did what I can.
     Therefore repent.

Here's a complete performance by The Sixteen --- a UK-based choir and period instrument orchestra:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Solstice salutations ...

I am in such a quandary over when to go to the woods, light a bonfire and dance around it in celebration of the Solstice, which begins at 5:03 p.m. CST today. Should I have done it last night, on Solstice Eve; or tonight, Solstice evening? And which night truly is the longest?

So many things to think about during a season that's complicated enough as it is.

I looked through the family collection of greeting cards, some of which date to the last quarter of the 19th century, and selected this one as appropriate for the day. It looks better in person, trimmed in silver that does not scan well.

Note the Solstice symbolism --- a frosty winter scene surrounded by a garland of spring robins. And the greeting, oh my, "A Merry Xmas." My great-aunt, Olive McCorkle, sent this to her sister, my grandmother Jessie, during 1910 from Superior, Nebraska, postmarked 2 p.m. Dec. 21. These women were hardly neopagan, one a Methodist, the other a recovering Methodist who had seen the light and joined the Disciples of Christ.

Among a card collection numbering in the hundreds, I found only one with religious symbolism --- a brightly polychromed Holy Family. Most were loaded with holly and ivy, fanciful scenes of English villages, and symbols of spring. 

I'm old enough to remember the great "Xmas" debate --- an early "war on Christmas" skirmish during which semi-literate cranks declared the abbreviation unchristian, overlooking the fact that "X" comes from the Greek letter "Chi," long an abbreviation for Christ. That's related to failure to recognize nowadays that "holiday" merely combines the words "holy" and "day."

Personally, I like all the pagan elements incorporated into our current Christmas celebrations because sometime between the 2nd and 4th centuries A.D. church fathers decided to append aspects of a Johnny-come-lately religion to far older Solstice traditions. So bring on those bright lights and blazing candles, decorated evergreens and front-door wreaths; feasting, wassailing and expressions of good will.

I looked for a suitable Solstice carol to embed here, but failed --- skeptics need to be consistent and I just don't find much in the speculative mumbo-jumbo of neopaganism to recommend it.

So here's the Wexford Carol, which can be tracked back to 12th century Ireland and so is among the earliest Christmas expressions in song. The performers are bluegrass great Alison Krauss accompanied by Yo-Yo Ma.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Time marches on: Mr. Mallory and his clock

Fast away the old year's passing, and it would be a shame to let 2014 go without extending 120th birthday wishes to the Lucas County Courthouse --- and the clock in its tower. We should have done this on May 22, anniversary date of courthouse dedication and the date the clock, carefully tested and timed, started running. But better late than never.

Lucas County supervisors marked the occasion last summer by having the grand old building's stonework cleaned and repointed. And Steve Laing, one of those supervisors, tells me that in the new year the board plans to have an expert in to evaluate the clock and, hopefully, figure out how to get it running at full potential again. 

Wouldn't it be great if, on the occasion of a future new year, the old clock would be able to chime it in again?


Smith H. Mallory announced his wish to donate the clock with little fanfare in a letter to the county supervisors of that era --- H.M. Finch, A.M. Wheeler and P.V. Van Arsdale --- dated Jan. 1, 1894. It read, "Gentlemen: I desire to present to Lucas County, through your Honorable Board, a Glass Dial Clock to be placed in the Tower of the new Court House, to be placed in position free of cost to the county and guaranteed for 5 years. I would be pleased to be advised of your acceptance."

Needless to say, the supervisors accepted.

And The Chariton Herald of Jan. 11 was able to report under the headline "A Timely Gift" as follows: "Some time since the Herald made the query, 'What about a clock for the tower of the new court house?' The same query has been in the minds of many citizens who have gazed upon the idle dials in the tower. But now all these queries are answered in a pleasing manner and all solicitude regarding the county's big time-piece may be laid aside. The problem has been settled by Hon. S.H. Mallory, who has purchased a clock of the most approved make and presented it to Lucas County through its board of supervisors."


The movers and shakers of Chariton, some 50 of them (all men), expressed their gratitude officially to Mallory during a surprise visit to the Mallory home --- Ilion --- during late January. Actually, Mrs Mallory --- Annie --- and the couple's daughter, Jessie (Mallory) Thayer, had been forewarned. The visit was reported upon as follows in The Herald of Jan. 25:

The feeling of gratitude which the people of Chariton feel toward Hon. S.H. Mallory for the generous gift of the court house tower clock, made by him to the county through the board of supervisors, found a fitting expression last Thursday night, when a large number of representative citizens met at the Bates House and proceeded in carriages to Ilion, Mr. Mallory's home. They were welcomed by Mrs. Mallory and Mrs. Thayer and ushered into the elegant home, much to Mr. Mallory's surprise, but he was equal to the occasion and welcomed each one with pleasant word and hearty handshake.

Hon. J.A. Penick having been chosen as spokesman, took the floor after a few moments of social greeting and expressed in fitting language the thanks of the community to Mr. Mallory, for the generous gift to the people of Lucas county. He referred to Mr. Mallory's uniform record of public spirit, enterprise and generosity. The people of the city and county had in the past never entered upon any public enterprise requiring aid without calling upon Mr. Mallory, and never yet had they been disappointed; the response was always prompt, cheerful and generous. The gift of the clock for the court house tower was but another evidence of the generous public spirit so frequently though unostentatiously displayed, and Mr. Penick again on behalf of the board of supervisors and the people of Chariton and Lucas county, thanked him heartily for the gift.

Mr. Mallory replied briefly to Mr. Penick's remarks expressing his appreciation of the visit and its object as voiced by Mr. Penick. He suggested that when the court house is finished and the clock in place, it would be a pleasant and proper thing to hold a public meeting and dedicate the house with appropriate ceremonies, inviting the people of surrounding counties to join with us in the celebration. Mr. Mallory also spoke on the subject of public improvement and advocated paving the streets surrounding the court house square, as a commencement of a system of paving for the principal thoroughfares.

Lieutenant Governor Dungan (Chariton attorney Warren Dungan) followed Mr. Mallory in a few remarks in which this happy thought was prominent: "In the campaign prior to the vote on the court house bond question, the speakers promised the people that if the bonds were voted and the court house built, Chariton would furnish a clock for the tower. We now see that while we were talking the silent man of Ilion was thinking, and the result of that thinking is the present for which we are gathered tonight to express to you our appreciation and thanks."

Mrs. Thayer then favored the company with music, and after a short time spent in conversation the party retired.


The new clock arrived in Chariton by rail from the Seth Thomas plant in Connecticut during Febuary, 1894, and during the weeks that followed was lifted into the tower, assembled, fine-tuned and timed. Much like a giant grandfather clock, which the tower in its current form resembles, it was weight-driven --- although subsequently electrified --- and had to be wound.

The courthouse was virtually complete by late February, 1894, and the supervisors accepted it during a special meeting on the final Saturday of that month. On the Monday following, county officials began moving into their new offices from temporarly locations around the square.

The Herald reported in its edition of March 1: "The new illuminated dial clock, the gift of Hon. S.H. Mallory, will be put in place in a few days, and will be occasion of just pride and appreciation on the part of the citizens of Chariton and Lucas county."


As Mallory had suggested, a public celebration of the new courthouse was scheduled for Tuesday, May 22, 1894, and the courtroom was packed at 10 a.m. for the official dedication ceremony. Mayor Barger called the assembly to order and the Rev. W.W. Whitten, rector of St. Andrew's Church "invoked the divine blessing." After an official welcome from Barger and a performance of "Praise Ye the Lord" by a mixed vocal ensemble, the podium was turned over the Mallory, master of ceremonies for the day.

After speaking for several minutes, Mallory ended his remarks with, "In conclusion I take great pleasure in delivering and giving possession to Lucas county, through her honorable board of supervisors, in pursuance of my offer to them January 1st, last, the town clock that completes the tower of this palace of justice in accordance with the plans and specifications of the architect. This engraved plate is the conveyance. This clock was constructed by the Seth Thomas Clock Company, and guaranteed for five years. It has been tested for two months past and its operation has proved satisfactory to the experts who have had it in charge. At 10 o'clock this morning I set the pendulum in motion, and pronouncing the clock in perfect running order I turn it over to you, trusting that it will truly beat the time, and strike the hours to notify us when to begin our daily labors, call us from labor to refreshment, keep us company during the vigils of the night, and be like Tennyson's brook, 'Man may come and man may go, but I go on forever.' "

Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday bling

My Christmas tree and I both have clutter issues, which become evident this time of year. But one advantage of holiday clutter is that, generally, you can get away with dusting it only once --- when it goes back in boxes.

Favorite Christmas cards were manufactured in Germany for the Scandinavian market sometime around the turn of the 20th century, and circulated originally among Norwegians where I used to live.

Elsewhere, the Holy Family, a gardener elf and the Buddha get along quite nicely, thank you.

I used to collect depictions of St. Nicholas. I'm not sure why. There's room to bring only a few of these out most years.

The tree is height challenged --- it's very small, but looks taller if I sit under it and look upward. I used to have as many as three trees.

An angel presides at the top.

Other angels fly elsewhere.

Ornaments are packed onto it as tightly as possible. Only the bling and several home-mades (by others with more skill, not me) have been unpacked this year.

Eat your heart out, Mary Stierwalt. Here's my flag for the day, purchased during the first gulf war, I'm sure, when everything seemed to be wrapped in red, white and blue.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Veni, redemptor gentium

Not to be Scroogish or anything, but I've got a fairly low tolerance for constant bombardment by music of the Advent and Christmas seasons --- all of which eventually begins to sound, and seem, like elevator music because it can't be escaped during December.

But I've been listening early mornings this week to performances by one of my favorite groups, New York Polyphony.

Here's the official trailer for the group's newest holiday offering, "Sing thee Nowell," which introduces members of the group and contains a good deal of information about why they sing as they do.

And here's New York Polyphony performing Veni, redemptor gentium --- among the most ancient of Advent carols, attributed to St. Ambrose of Milan (340-397).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

All I want for Christmas is ...

The first major snow of the season occurred in Lucas County early in the week before Christmas, 1880, which fell on a Saturday that year; and The Patriot reported in its edition of Wednesday, Dec. 22, that "Sleighs were taken from their resting places and put into active use yesterday, for the first time this season."

"This is the regular ideal winter day," the editor reported elsewhere, most likely forming his words directly into a composing stick. "Not too cold, the air full of fine snow and the trees and ground white with frost and snow. It is the winter day we see in pictures."

"The trade in skates has been larger this season than was ever known before," he continued.

Of course the new-fallen snow led to an occasional accident: "A little girl names Angie McDougall, belonging to a family living in the east part of the city, had her right leg broken yesterday at the west school house (on the site of Columbus) while engaged in sliding down hill on a sled. Drs. Stanton and Son were called and reduced the fracture."


There were holiday-related announcements to make. Christmas trees were planned on the evening of Friday, Dec. 24, at the Presbyterian, Methodist and Episcopal churches, The Patriot reported, and the public library, then located above Gibbon Drug Store on the northeast corner of the square, would close early Christmas Eve, at 5:30 p.m., and remain closed for the remainder of the evening.

Looking ahead to New Year's Day, so that women of the town could plan ahead, it was announced that "The following ladies of Chariton will keep open house and entertain callers on New Year's day, between the hours of 2 and 8 p.m.: Mrs. D.Q. Storie, Mrs. D.M. Thompson, Mrs. J.A. Penick, Misses Margaret, Emma and Nellie McCormick, Mrs. G.J. Stewart, Misses Kittie and Belle Waynick and Mrs. Kubitshek."

Each of the women had invited a several friends, all named --- in Mrs. Storie's case, 13 --- to assist with this annual, aspirational social extravaganza. It's not clear where men planned to find refuge as 1881 launched.

Notably absent from the social rosters were Chariton's social leaders: Annie Mallory and her daughter, Jessie. They were continuing a year-long grand tour of Europe commenced to coincide with construction of their grand new home, the Ilion. The women had settled in Germany for the winter so that Jessie could continue her musical studies while husband and father, Smith H., dashed around the United States tending to his railroad-building interests with trips home to Chariton to monitor progress on the house and his other business interests.


It was getting to be late in the Christmas shopping season, so the number of display advertisements in The Patriot was limited. The Joseph Braden & Co. ad here was among the largest. That fine store was located in the new Mallory Opera Block on the northwest corner of the square and a cut of this grand building was included. (Original copies of early Chariton newspapers are accessible only on microfilm, so the images that they contain are not clear.)

But there were plenty of brief reminders offering last-minute shopping ideas scattered in paragraph form on The Patriot's principal news page --- a promotional technique that today might be called "advertorial." Here are a few of them, leading off with the most inventive --- for the Jas. Whitney & Co. store on the southeast corner of the square, managed by Ed Lewis:

Jas. Whitney calls the attention of his numerous customers to his largely increased stock of staple and fancy groceries, including everything in the grocery line. Foreign and domestic coffees and spices from India, Ceylon, Sumatra, while the best markets in China and Japan supply the finest green and black teas. The ports of the Mediterranean and Adriatic have been ransacked for the choicest of fruits, nuts, etc. I have also purchased a large stock of holiday goods for the season, including a great variety of toys, china, glass, Majolica and Bohemian ware and fancy goods suitable for presents, which will be sold at bed rock prices. We cater to the tastes and pockets of the poor as well as the rich; the banker, the farmer, the clerk, the mechanic, the laborer. Send us your orders, we will execute them promptly and carefully and convince you that we shall add to our already well-earned reputation for selling the best goods for the least money. Ed Lewis, manager."

"Novelties for Christmas --- Everyone should examine the magnificent display of goods for Christmas gifts at Jas. Whitney's, on the east side of the square. The show could scarcely have been made more attractive. The arrangement is tasteful and the combination of new and beautiful designs in China, Majolica, Glass, Toys and Fancy Goods, does great credit to the artist taste of the manager, Ed. Lewis, who is prepared to sell every article at lower prices than ever before offered."

"Headquarters for Christmas turkeys, geese, ducks and chickens at Whitneys. They are slaughtered and dressed daily by order of Ed Lewis to fill orders from every part of the city. Leave your name for a fowl and glance around at the full and unsurpassed stock which Ed has layed in for the holidays."


At that early date, there were more than 50 businesses large and small scattered around the square --- shoe and saddle-makers, milliners, dealers in dry goods and hardware, druggists, grocers, confectioners, jewelers, just about anything that could be (legally, in most instances) sold was for sale that Christmas. Here's a sampling of other offerings.

"Presents for young and old abound at Lockwood's (Jewelry). The small children, the boys and girls, the young folks, as well as their elders, can and will enjoy a watch, a ring, or something from the large and beautiful assortment of jewelry, books, chromos, notions, &c. at Lockwood's. Call and seem him before you buy."

"Anxious minds lost in doubt as to where they shall go to get the most substantial and pleasing articles for presents, which custom prompts all to make their friends and beloved ones, in commemoration of that Holy Event of 18 centuries ago, are referred to the stock of L. F. Maple & Co."

"Vansickle's Annual Greeting: They invite the attention of their thousands of old customers and of the hundreds of new ones coming in for the holiday and other goods which they have in store. Their stock in toys and candies is large and in other things they have great variety. Maple Syrup, Buckwheat flour, and the best Kansas City fall wheat flour, 25 cents on the sack lower that sold elsewhere in Chariton. Vansickles' is the place."

"Delicious pickled pigs feet, choice selections of fruit, butter by the pound or can, 1,200 pounds of Christmas candies warranted strictly pure, mixed pickles by the gallon. Anything in the line of groceries from a cracker to a car load of flour or from a nutmeg to a hogshead at Deming & Hollinger."

"A fine line of novelties for the Holidays at Hatcher's. Must be seen to be appreciated. An elegant assortment of Cloaks and Dolmans (a fashionable outer garment for women with cloak-like sleeves) will be closed out cheap. An unsurpassed stock of Gents' Neckware, Underwear, Hosiery and Gloves. An elegant line of Ladies' Goods, best and Cheapest place to buy in the city is at Hatcher's."

"More violins and small music than you ever saw --- organs, organ stools, sheet music at Storie's."

"Try the best cook stove in the market. The incomparble 'Acorn' at Goodrich & Ensley's."

"Every little boy and girl should call attention of their papa's and mama's to the unsurpassed stock of candies, raisins, nuts and every other kind of goodies at Vandervert's."

"New arrivals of goods at the Chicago Clothing House, east side, next door to Van Sickle's. Great bargains during the holidays, and don't you forget it, or to call and examine goods and prices."

"On Waynick's nickel and dime counters may be found many things, not only useful but appropriate for the Holidays. Examine his stock of these things and glance around at his elegant stock of perfumery and other toilet articles. Waynick's drug store is the place."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hanukkah candles ...

Holocaust survivors Margit Meissner and Martin Weiss light the menorah during a 2013 Hanukkah reception at the White House.

I've never lighted a menorah, since that would seem a mite pretentious for someone who is culturally Christian. But have made latkes with varying degrees of success and continue to increase my intake of doughnuts during Hanukkah, since it is customary to eat food cooked in oil.

Here's your reminder that, this year, the eight-day Festival of Lights begins at sundown today, the 25th day of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, and continues through the 24th day of December on the Gregorian calendar. One candle a night until eight are lighted --- plus the shamash.

There are those who argue that Hanukkah, a minor festival, has been elevated out of proportion to its consequence because of its usual proximity to Christmas. But that's just being grouchy. There can never be too many occasions upon which to light candles against the darkness --- or too many doughnuts.

Surely, you're familiar with the story --- after the Maccabees has successfully driven the forces of Antiochus IV from the Temple in Jerusalem during the 100s B.C.E. and wished to rededicate it, they found only a single container of ritual olive oil that had not been profaned --- just enough to keep the menorah in the temple alight for one day. Miraculously, according to the Talmud, the oil burned for eight days --- the time it took to press new oil and prepare it for ritual use.

The miracle story works metaphorically on several levels --- the survival against all odds of the Jewish people on one; the potential within all humanity when we light candles against the encroaching dark on another.

Here's a little meditation that I like, presented by Reform Rabbi Irwin Kula. It's worth listening to.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The first Swede?

Back in late November, 1899, a "scribe" for The Chariton Herald was out in the neighborhood northwest of Chariton --- between here and Oakley --- selling subscriptions, going from farm to farm via horse and buggy, visiting with anyone he met along the way and hoping for invitations to share meals and to stay overnight. That was the way it worked back in those days.

The scribe did not identify himself, but did write about some of the people he interacted with --- and the result was published in The Herald of Dec. 7.

Among them was Anders Gustaf "A.G." Anderson, who told the scribe that he had been the first Swede to settle at Chariton and quite a bit more. It's a good yarn and I'm hoping A.G. was not stretching the truth here because it's always good no know who was first and Lucas County has had a substantial population of people of Swedish descent since the 1870s. Here's how his story was reported, illustrating some of the problems faced by immigrants to the United States whose first language is not English:

"Passing along, we came across A.G. Anderson, who by the way was the first Swede to enter Chariton, some 31 years ago. He certainly possessed a considerable amount of grit to come out here among strangers. At this time the C.B.&Q. railroad (then, Burlington & Missouri River, later C.B.&Q.) was being built through to Omaha. Being unable to find any of his countrymen, a conductor took pity on him and obtained him a job among some three hundred Irishmen on the road. The boss had considerable trouble with him and discharged him several times, hiring him over again, as it was impossible to make him understand the situation. He did not know how much a day he was to get nor when he was to get it. After a while he began to pick up English as he thought, only to find afterwards that it was Irish he had been learning."

The first trains had arrived in Chariton during July of 1867 and although hundreds of workers continued to build the line farther west, Lucas County would for practical purposes have been the end of the line when Anders (also known sometimes as Andrew, the anglicized version of his given name) arrived --- probably stepping off one of those early trains.

Anders was born April 4, 1835, at Kyrefalla, Skaraborgs Lan, Sweden, so would have been about 33 when he arrived in Chariton. He had married Gustava Andersdotter during October of 1859 in Sweden, but she remained behind initially and did not join Anders in Lucas County until 1870. They had 14 children, eight of whom died young --- most if not all in Sweden. When Gustava joined Anders at Chariton, she brought with her their only surviving child, Anna Sofia.

Anders and Gustava lived, and prospered, in Lucas County for the remainder of their lives where Anders worked as a cabinet maker and farmed. 

They were among the earliest members of Chariton's Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church, now First Lutheran, organized during November of 1869 and for quite a few years exclusively Swedish. Services were conducted exclusively that language until 1896, when English-language services on the last Sunday of every month were introduced (all Sunday evening services were conducted in English after 1915 and, by 1922 --- when the name was changed to First Evangelical Lutheran Church --- English had became the dominant language in the congregation).

Anders died at age 82 on Nov. 6, 1917; and Gustava, 10 years later at age 88 on June 19, 1927. They are buried with their son Fred G. Anderson and members of his family in the Chariton Cemetery.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gaudete, gaudete!

Here's a reminder for those in charge of lighting the Advent candles today --- it's the rose-colored one. And it's called Gaudete Sunday, "Gaudete" nothing more (or less) than Latin for "Rejoice!" --- the first word of the introit for today's Mass: "Gaudete in Domino semper" or "Rejoice in the Lord always."

If you wish to be liturgically literate, it's useful to know that the early church set Advent aside as a penitential season, sometimes called "little Lent," intended for reflection and perhaps a bit of penance in anticipation of Christmastide joy. Hence, the usual violet hangings, vestments (and Advent candles). Or blue, if you're Anglican or Lutheran and have adapted that aspect of the Sarum rite.

The readings and the hymns designated for the season are kind of somber, too.

But Gaudete Sunday, midway through the season more or less, was set aside as a joyful break. A time to let loose and shout "Rejoice!" as Christmas neared.

Here's a carol appropriate for the day --- some say it was composed in the 16th century, others argue that its origins are late medieval. Whatever the case, if you listen to it, in addition to knowing why it's called Gaudete Sunday --- you'll know how to pronounce it.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Israel Hixson: A killing at Christmastide

Out in Cedar Township as Christmastide nears, Bethel Church is abandoned and nearer the tipping point into dereliction this year than last. At the far edge of its graveyard, near encroaching woodland, the grave of Israel Hixson lies forgotten.

But Israel's death 139 years ago at the hands of Paul Krile --- caused by a blow to the head from a gunstock inflicted on Christmas day --- was a cause for great sorrow and considerable consternation in this tightly-knit neighborhood during what was supposed to be a joyous season. By now, old sorrows, like old joys, have dissipated.

The Chariton Patriot of Dec. 29, 1875, reported the sad events this way under the headline, "A Murderous Affray."

"A quarrel occurred during last week between Israel Hixon (sic) and Paul Krile, both of Cedar Township, which resulted in the former receiving a serious and what is expected to prove a mortal injury at the hands of the latter. The facts in connection with the affray are, as we get them, as follows:

"On Friday (Christmas Eve) Krile's hogs got into Hixon's field and were distrained by Hixon for damages done by them. Krile claimed that Hixon owed him a few dollars, and wanted the account, or part of it, to settle the damages, but Hixon insisted on receiving the money before releasing the hogs. The money was sent by Krile on Saturday, and the hogs taken home, when K. at once went to Esq. (James) Roseman and sued for the amount of his (K's) claim. 

"On Krile's return home from the Squire's, (he was carrying a gun at the time, which he claims to have borrowed during the day to go turkey hunting the next day) and when near Hixon's house he shot the latter's dog. Whether Hixon was aware at this time that Krile had sued him, and before this in addition to the killing of his dog to exasperate him, how the conversation or inauguration of such an encounter occurred, we have not learned, but on Krile's arriving at Hixon's house, the latter went out for the purpose, as he expressed it to the family, of "settling the matter at once," and the two came into contact. 

"Just what was said or which one of the parties first attempted violence is not known, but the result was that Hixon received a blow over the head from the gun in Krile's hands, which fractured his skull badly. The gun was an old army musket, and the blow was inflicted by the butt of the weapon, the lock penetrating the skull. 

"Hixon was carried to the house in an insensible state and still remains in that condition. Dr. Fitch was called on Sunday and removed a portion of the skull from the top of the head about four inches long and two inches wide, to relieve the brain from pressure by the fractured bone, but the doctor has no hopes of his recovery. Krile had a preliminary hearing before Esq. Roseman, of Cedar Township, on Monday, and is now in the county jail. He formerly lived north of Chariton, and for some time hauled coal to town, and has heretofore, so far as we can learn, been considered reasonably peaceable and quiet as a citizen. 

Since writing the above we learn that Krile had paid the damages done by the hogs, but had not taken them away and stopped at Hixon's on his way home to take them from the pen, and while he was taking the hogs out, Hixon came out and began the altercation that led to the results recited. Krile had shot the dog in front of Hixon's father's house, about fifteen rods distant from Hixon's, and while Krile was taking his hogs from the pen, the father came down to Israel's house and told him of the killing of the dog. It is thought that the news coming to Hixon of the killing of his dog had principally to do with bringing on the encounter with its sad results.

Five days later, on Dec. 30, Israel died and The Chariton Leader, in its edition of Jan. 1, 1876, reported a few additional details.

Krile made no attempt to escape, according to The Leader, and had been arrested without incident. The Leader reported that he had been sent to jail in Ottumwa, transferred from Chariton. Perhaps Lucas County authorities remembered that just five years earlier, the  people of Chariton had lynched Hiram Wilson, tossing him unceremoniously out a courthouse window with a rope tied round his neck.

Krile was a big and strong man, the Leader reported, and Hixson, below medium size. That, according to The Leader, "makes the foul tragedy look dark and damning in every feature. Krail (sic) claims that he feared that Hixon was armed and would do him some injury as Hixon kept advancing upon him before he received the fatal blow.

"It is to be hoped," The Leader piously editorialized, "that justice will be administered to the savage brute as soon as he can be brought to trial."

In the meantime, Israel had been buried at the far north end of what was known then as the McDermott or Sargent cemetery, shoulder to shoulder with a man of similar age, James W. Drake, late corporal in the 8th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, who had died a few days earlier --- on Dec. 18. The lot appears to have been otherwise vacant, although Israel's sister-in-law, Lucinda (Etheredge) Hixson --- an aunt of mine some generations removed --- would be buried some distance to the south seven years later, in 1882.

Justice was indeed administered in the Lucas County courts during 1876, but a jury found Krile guilty of manslaughter rather than murder --- and he was sentenced to a three-year term in the state penitentiary at Fort Madison, which he duly served.


Nothing is known of the character of Israel Hixson. He was the eldest son of Matthew R. Hixson, a highly respected farmer and licensed Methodist preacher, and his wife, Rebecca Tedrick. They brought their family from Ohio to Iowa shortly after 1850 and had settled in Cedar Township, Lucas County, prior to 1856. 

Born Oct. 25, 1835, in Guernsey County, Ohio, Israel's age was given as 20 in the 1856 state census of Cedar Township. A year later, on 9 July 1857, he married Mary Ann White in Mahaska County, but the couple does not seem to have had children.

Despite the Leader's characterization of his killer as a "savage brute," there seems to have been sympathy in the neighborhood for Paul Krile's plea of self-defense during the fatal encounter --- as suggested by this notice dated April 2, 1877, that Israel's younger brother, Ezra Hixson, had printed in The Chariton Patriot of April 4:

"Mr. Editor: Having learned that a petition is in circulation for the pardon of Paul Krile for the killing of Israel Hixon, and that a great many persons have been induced to sign said petition by the representation that the widow and relatives of said Israel Hixon, deceased, were willing to, and would sign such petition. I desire through your paper to say that such representations are not true. Neither the widow nor any of the relatives of deceased have or will sign such petition. While we do not seek to influence others in this matter, we can not ask for the release of a man whom we believe to be guilty of the crime of murder."


Because Paul Krile lived a long and full life after his release from prison, we know more about him that we do of Israel Hixson.

He was born Paul Greul --- perhaps pronounced "Krile" by English-speaking neighbors, which could explain why he used this surname during much of his life --- in Germany and came to the United States at age 9 with his family during 1852. After the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted and served as Paul Greul in Company A, 44th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.

On the 27th of January, 1868, Paul married Rosend Bauer at Pekin in Tazewell County, Illinois --- a very German city indeed.

Rosend had a son, August, from a previous relationship, and not long after the marriage, the family settled north of Chariton in Lucas County, where they lived until moving into the Bethel --- then known as McDermott or Ireland --- neighborhood. Paul farmed and dug coal on a small scale for a living. He and Rosend seem not to have had children of their own.

After Paul's manslaughter conviction, Rosend divorced him and on July 22, 1878, married in Chariton a man named John Kramer.

That marriage did not last, however, and upon Paul's release from prison and return to Lucas County, they reconciled. Paul, Rosend and August were living together near Chariton when the 1880 federal census was taken and, on June 11, 1881, Paul and Rosend remarried. Paul continued his earlier occupations, farming and digging coal, selling the latter to neighbors and, now and then, to the county supervisors to heat the courthouse.

Five years after their remarriage, Rosend died at age 46 on Aug. 11, 1886, and Paul buried her in the Chariton Cemetery, erecting a small zinc tombstone decorated with a molded rose above an inscription that reads, "Rosend, wife of Paul and mother of August F. Krile, died Aug. 11, 1886, age 46 years, 2 months, Safe at Home."

Paul left Lucas County in 1893 and homesteaded in Hall County, Nebraska, not far from Grand Island. There, he met and married the widowed Alfaretta (Hollingshead) Smith, more than 20 years his junior.

As old age encroached on Paul, they entered the Nebraska Soldiers and Sailors Home at Grand Island, where Paul died on June 2, 1924. He is buried in the Grand Island Cemetery. Alfaretta lived on until March 14, 1943, and was buried beside her first husband, Clarence Claudius B.S. Smith, also in the Grand Island cemetery.

Note: Spelling is an issue with both the Hixson and Krile surnames. Although the Hixsons spell the name with an "s," newspaper editors and others preferred to spell it without. Krile also was spelled in many ways by everyone other than members of the Krile family.