Wednesday, June 19, 2013

R.I.P. "Uncle Frank"..Wait Not Yet... Ok Now...


August 8, 1903 , The Lima News, Lima Ohio

Apparently there was a train accident involving Circus Trains in 1903. It made quite a few papers from various states.  

 August 12, 1903, The Daily Herald, Delphos Ohio

There was a man named Frank Tilley among the injured whom eventually died from his injuries. As the story traveled it seemed to loose the part about the injured Frank being from Rising Sun, Indiana....

August 12, 1903, Springfield Republican, Springfield Missouri

...and so I'm guessing the towns people back in Springfield, Missouri assumed it was their beloved "Uncle Frank".... Fortunately they were wrong....
August 27, 1903, Springfield Republican

Transcription:
Frank Tilley Is Not Dead -
Old Negro reported to have met death in train wreck, is in Kansas City. -
Is Doing Well But Intends to Return to This City Before Hog Killing Time
     Herschel Ingram was in Kansas City Sunday and while there he met Frank Tilley, a well known negro character of this city who was reported to have been killed in a circus wreck.  Mr. Ingram says that it is a fact that Tilley was sober and that he was dressed better than ever before. He is working  hard and keeping straight.
     Old Frank had heard of the newspaper stories about his death and he did not like them. He says that he is not dead at all and that he is going to live anyhow until he dies.  He is very superstitious and doesn't like to talk about death, but he likes much less to have people talking about his demise.
     He sent many tender messages to his friends inn Springfield and among them the following:
"Tell Mars Jim Kirby that I'll be there in time to kill his hogs."
     Tilley had a great love for a colored woman named Flora Groves and this adoration often got him into trouble.  Besides that he is very apt to drink too much and between these two faults they kept him in jail the greater part of the time.  He would always plead guilty when taken into court and would go to jail without an escort, taking his commitment with him.
Only "Uncle Frank" would makes headlines for not being dead - in a Circus Wreck- no less...  Good to hear he was sober, well dressed and working. Also good to see he kept his sense of humor.  I also learned he was superstitious. Wonder if it ran in the family?

About a year later, Uncle Frank would go on to the other side.

First I found this:
May 15, 1904, Springfield Republican

Then I found him in the Missouri, Death Records, 1834-1910 on ancestry.com. 

Ancestry.com. Missouri, Death Records, 1834-1910 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2008.
After all the stabbings, fights, disturbing the peace, drunken frolicking "Uncle Frank" (as he was affectionately called around town)  participated in, all the news worthy episodes and the many I'm sure were not reported- Uncle Frank cleaned up his act, moved to Kansas City, Mo and died of Pneumonia of all things.  Perhaps the Red Eye Whiskey could have helped him had he stayed an alcoholic? Then again whose to say he wouldn't have been murdered during one of his epic drunken encounters.. 

Uncle Frank just like his Brother Ned Tilley may have had some violent episodes in life, but both seem to me to have been very HONEST men. Ned would honestly tell a guard he had a weapon, and what he intended to do with it, as Frank Plead guilty and walked himself to jail...Perhaps they got it from their dad Joseph Tilley who sued a man for what he believed he was Honestly owed.  So far, the Tilley's may not have led perfect lives, but at least they were honest lives...I can dig it! 

Now on to their sisters: Charlotte and Mariah ( my 3 gr. grand aunt and grandmother)... How did the women  fare after slavery, emancipation and beyond?



Sunday, June 16, 2013

Uncle Frank: The Character pt.2

After getting his face and neck sliced up by one of the "Burly" men from Kansas at the "resort" for slapping his "Dusky Sweetheart" after drinking too much "Red Eye" in March of 1900, Frank stayed true to form and was in the Springfield, Greene Co., Missouri jail when the 1900 U.S. Census was taken on June 1st & 2nd of that year:

1900 U.S. Census, Greene Co., Mo

Looks like he spent the rest of the year in and out of jail or court for multiple incidents with his dusky sweetheart Flora....


September 20, 1900, Springfield Republican
November 28, 1900, Springfield Republican
Either he stayed in jail  or perhaps he stayed away from Flora? Maybe he just didn't have any news worthy episodes. Until July of 1901...

July 21, 1901 Springfield Republican


So he gets re-arrested right after being released? He's baaaaackkk!LOL!



Wow...he gets to walk himself to jail? Ha! They must have really trusted him and known him well by then... Don't know how long he stayed or what he did the rest of the year but by May 0f 1902...


May 11, 1902, Springfield Republican

He just couldn't stay away from Flora! Notice her last name is now Graves.. so I'm guessing she got married.   I could just picture two women rolling around on the ground kicking his butt for striking one or causing a drunken scene...

This next article really gives you a glimpse into his cahracter...


Highlights that I found interesting: 
"Traditions shattered" because he was in court as a witness instead of a defendant? "
" He is said to have spent more time in the Greene Co. Jail than any other man" ..impressive...
"When the criminal clerk schedules him out some one always remarks that he will be in jail again before tonight"... perhaps he felt like it was his second home?
"When Tilley was called to the witness stand he unconsciously murmured "I plead guilty, your honor"....LOL! He must have been drunk in court to plead guilty when he was a witness and not a defendant... 

Frank most definitely lived a wild life full of alcoholic fights and lovers quarrels that led to multiple visits to the pokey... He was affectionately called "Uncle Frank" and was well known. He made headlines in life and even  in death...only problem was he wasn't quite dead yet.. 
                        To be continued.....

"Uncle Frank": The Character pt.1

In researching what became of the Tilley's (after my 4th Gr-Grandfather Joseph Tilley sued a white man very soon after slavery ended and won) I discovered that one of my Uncle's, Ned Tilley, was sent to the Penitentiary twice, where he became infamous for dishing out his own brand of justice..

I decided to search for his brother, my 3rd great grand uncle Frank Tilley to see if he too, ended up in prison and here is what I discovered:

In the 1870 Census, Frank was listed as living next door to his parents and younger sister with his wife Edith/Eda. He was a Farm hand. Common occupation- no excitement there.. (Their last name was listed as Smith- haven't uncovered why just yet...)

1870, U.S. Census, Greene Co., Mo.


In the 1880 Census, Frank and Edith live a few blocks away from his parents and he works at a Saloon.

1880, U.S. Census, Greene Co., Mo.

Seeing the word Saloon just brought the time frame to life. Images of old westerns come to mind...  Frank apparently lived up to every Old Western movie Saloon  scene I've ever seen. Below are some newspaper articles I found about my Uncle Frank. Enjoy....:)

Sept. 21, 1886, The Springfield Leader

March 2, 1887, The Springfield Leader

July, 17, 1889, The Springfield Leader

May 13, 1891, The Springfield Leader 
Feb. 28, 1895, The Springfield Leader 
August 9, 1899, The Springfield Leader

 I know domestic violence isn't a laughing matter, but " caressing blow" to his "dusky sweetheart"... LOL? Edith must have left Frank or vice versa by now. This is the first of many domestic disturbances between Frank and his dusky sweetheart  Flora....

 (This one is kind of distorted so I transcribed it below)


March 16, 1900, Springfield Republican

Frank Tilley.
  The battle-scarred hero of over a score of fighting and cutting affrays, is once more the victim of the deadly steel blade.
  Every city has its characters, and Springfield numbers among its list Frank Tilley, the well known colored man, whose face plainly shows that he has enjoyed better days.  Frank frequently takes on board too much :red eye" and then goes hunting for trouble. Yesterday was one of his off days, and he invited one of his rivals to decorate his shapeless physiognomy with a piece of cold steel, which invitation was promptly accepted and now "Uncle Frank" (as he is affectionately called by his associates and companions), is nursing a badly lacerated face.
  For several years, Frank Tilley has been paying attention to a colored woman named Flora Farrier who resides in a Shanty on Olive Street which is in the rear of the Old Coop Tobacco Factory, and a place which has caused the city officers much annoyance and many a drop of blood has been spilled on the rusty old board floor. On last Tuesday morning a couple of burly Negros who claim to hail from the Sunflower State, where they had been at work in the coal mines, appeared at the Olive Street resort and applied for board and lodging. They were accepted as welcome guest and the now "happy" family of which Frank Tilley was a prominent member, proceeded to have a high ? time as the two Negroes from Kansas were well supplied with "?". Booze flowed freely and everything went well until yesterday when Frank Tilley got a "little too gay" with Flora Farrier, the "landlady" and after a war of words, Franks temper got the better of him and he slapped the colored woman at which one of the Burlys from Kansas, who gave his name as Bob ? became infuriated at the actions of Tilley, and drawing his pocket knife, which contained a long ugly looking blade, commenced to curve up on the face of "Uncle Frank" inflicting several very deep wounds upon his cheek and his neck.
   Before the men who did the cutting took his departure from the resort he laid claim to the fact that the woman who went by the name of Flora Farrier, whom Tilley slapped was his wife. The men made their escape and have not as yet been captured.
  The notorious Flora Duncan, who has quite a criminal record , also resides in the house where the affray took place.  

So, Frank was an alcoholic character around town who worked at a Saloon and was a "Prominent Member" of a "family" of characters that reside at a "resort". I can only wonder if the resort was an actual boarding house or a brothel or both...What I do know is that Frank wasn't done making local newspaper headlines...  










Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Edward "Ned" Tilley: The Man of "Desperate Character" Strikes Again

In previous post, I've shared how I discovered how Edward "Ned" Tilley, my 3rd Gr-Grand Uncle, already serving a life sentence for murder (after serving previously for aggravated assault), had knocked a prison guard out and caused a stir when he ran around the penitentiary with a knife attempting to find and kill a man  over money. He apparently was not done handing out his own form of  "justice" to those he had contempt for.

The Jefferson City Tribune, Nov. 29 1879


Stabbing Affray At The "Pen"
St. Louis, Nov. 29th.- Ed. Tilley, a convict in the penitentiary at Jefferson City, attacked David Hogan, another convict, with a shoe knife,  yesterday, and before he could be secured, inflicted eleven stabs on his victim, wounding him mortally.  Both were negroes, the former sent up for life for murder.
     What motive Tilley had for making the attack we had not learned. Sometimes since he was Hogan's cell mate, but as Tilley was disagreeable and quarrelsome, they were separated.  He seems to have harbored some ill will against Hogan, and to have planned the deed of yesterday some time ago.  Whatever led him to it does not matter much, as he bears the reputation of being a desperate character, and it needed very little provocation to arouse the devil in him to a sufficient extent to lead him to again stain his hands in the blood of a fellow being.  If his victim dies, he will in all probability find his life sentence much shorter than he has been accustomed to look upon it.- Jefferson City Tribune

 Once again he is described as a desperate character, this time it mentions he has a reputation of needing "very little provocation" to become violent. Again, I couldn't imagine what slavery must have been like for him if his behavior was like this. Here is an article from a few days later that gives a more vivid description of what went down in the David Hogan stabbing incident.

The Sedalia Weekly Bazoo, Dec. 2, 1879

A Dark Deed
     The Penitentiary yesterday morning was the scene of one of the most brutal and bloodthirsty attempts to take human life that our city has known for a long time.  A convict already serving out a life sentence for murder has in all probability added another to it, as it is doubtful that his victim can recover form the wounds he received at the hands of his infuriated assailant. We have gathered up the following facts in regards to the occurrence: Yesterday morning, just after breakfast, while the gang employed in Grinecks Shoe Shop were entering the building, and as the file were passing between two large piles of leather, Ed. Tilley, a negro under  life sentence for murder, from Greene county, attacked David Hogan, also a negro, from Marion county, with a shoe knife which he had concealed about him, and before Hogan had time to turn and see who was his assailant, he received two stabs in the back, the blade of the knife, penetrating to the cavity and cutting the lung, causing an internal hemorrhage, which it is thought will prove fatal.  After Hogan turned, and while attempting to ward off Tilley's attack, he received nine other stabs and cuts, mostly about the head and shoulders.  A convict who undertook to take the knife away from Tilley had his hand badly cut by having the knife drawn through it.
Why they would permit Ned to use a knife or anything else that could be used as a weapon baffles me since he had an apparent reputation for being quarrelsome and trying to stab people.  Again- he hurt someone for trying to stop him from killing someone else. I tried to find out if David Hogan lived or died. I found a David Hogan in Jefferson in the 1880 census listed with a bunch of men so I assume he survived if only for a little while, but my ancestry account is on the fritz, so I cannot view the record to verify it's the penitentiary just yet...

I can only wonder how many violent episodes Ned had in the penitentiary that didn't make the local papers (or that I have yet to find). I do know that he died in the hospital in April 15, 1881. The cause of death I haven't uncovered, but I can only wonder if he died from injuries caused in one of his rampages...

Finding my first "criminal" ancestor was quite exciting.  I must admit, strangely I kind of feel empathy for him even though he was clearly a murderer. Can't really explain why, but I'm okay with that.... Perhaps it's knowing he was a slave, not knowing exactly what his life may have been like, what he experienced. While it may not be a valid excuse for becoming a man of  "desperate character", it opened my mind to what may have became of some after slavery. I suppose not all of my slave ancestors could go on and live decent or successful lives despite the hardships they faced during reconstruction ans thereafter...Something I never really thought about before finding Ned's post slavery story.

 In my quest to find out What Became of the Tilley's , I broadened my own thinking of the possibilities of what became of African Americans post slavery. I also I learned that Ned was NOT the only Tilley to visit the pokey....

To be Continued..... :)