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

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 Missouri, Death Records, 1834-1910 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: 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?


  1. This is very interesting, and even exciting. Can't wait to see how his sisters fared.

  2. No Particulars were received! Superstitious.....Great! I loved the articles! Can't wait to hear about Mariah. I got one in the shadows myself!

  3. What a story! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Your Uncle Frank's story was interesting, He's dead, then not dead, then's cool though is that it all made the newspapers..probably not so cool for him, but he's probablynow reading this from the other side laughing. lol Love this story, can't wait to read what you write about the sisters..nice post Rachel.

  5. Uncle Frank, like a cat, had many lives and fully embraced living. I am looking forward to seeing how the Tilley sisters lived.

  6. Wow, what a story. I can't imagine what his family went through with all the false articles. Thanks for sharing.