The stuff you learn.
How could I have gone 50 years without knowing my dad was nearly Carnival King? Or that Mom’s Aunt Eve was Queen of Meagher County?
Or that life had started out very badly for Eve’s husband Dwight?
Eve & Dwight, or Evandwight, as I knew them, were lovely people. Of all Grandpa Wright’s siblings, I knew Eve best.
Even so, there are still huge gaps in the timeline – years and years where I have no information on either of them.
I’ve since learned that Eve was born in Utica, Montana on July 15, 1905, the fifth of the six children of Lewis L. and Eva (Davis) Wright. Shortly before my grandfather Louie’s birth in 1909, Eva and the kids left Montana (and Lewis, I believe) for Nebraska. Eve’s elder sisters Lillian and Opal got married in Nebraska in 1916 and 1922, respectively. And that’s all I know of the entire family (beyond Census Reports) until Eva, Ed, Eve, and Louie all returned to Montana (and, presumably, Lewis), probably shortly after Opal’s marriage.
Eve attended Montana State Normal College, studying to be a teacher. And one of her first jobs (circa 1930) was in Rawlins, Wyoming. There she met Dwight Leroy Darrell – I don’t know when, exactly. Sometime in the 30s, these fabulous photos were taken.
At some point before 1944 they got married and moved to Ogden, Utah. And I know that because Eve & Dwight’s whereabouts were reported in her mother’s 1944 obituary.
There was always that odd story that Eve, maybe both of them, worked for the FBI – that sounds like an Ogden thing. Or maybe it was the IRS. No idea – not really something for which I can find much in the way of confirmation. And one or both of them had a heart attack at a fairly young age. I know they moved to Phoenix. Eve worked in a bank. And they had a small gray poodle named Misty.
Yup. That was kinda it. Loved them both – I didn’t need to know anything about them… and it turned out I didn’t. Particularly about Dwight.
Dwight was from Rawlins, born there April 10, 1904. His father was Roy Darrell – and his mother’s name was one of those that no two Census enumerators (much less the transcribers since) ever agreed on. Izora… Izura… Genra, even! And I don’t know her last name. She might have been from Georgia… or Germany. And Dwight had a sister, Marvell, who lived perhaps eight years, and died before Dwight was born.
The next family tragedy concerned Roy. He worked as a conductor for the Union Pacific, which had a station in Rawlins. One night, December 7, 1905, there was a collision. And I’ll let the newspaper writers take the storytelling duties for awhile. In pertinent part:
The coroner’s jury empaneled to investigate into the cause of ten deaths that occurred last Thursday morning in the railroad accident at Ah Say, have returned the following verdict.
…After viewing the bodies and place of accident and hearing the testimony of the witnesses, [we] do find that the above named deceased persons came to their death about 2:20 a.m., December 7, 1905, at about one mile east of Wilkins station Sweetwater county, in the state of Wyoming, on the Union Pacific Railroad, and we find that A.E. Brink and E.E. Smith came to their death from injuries received by collision; we find that J. Brisbee, E.W. Rosenbaum, John Lawless, J.L. Phillippar, Frank A. Peterson, J.A. Newsom, J. Stiggart and Frank McKenna came to their death either by direct injuries received from the collision, or by fire resulting from the collision. We further find that the cause of said accident was due to the carelessness of engineer A.E. Brink and conductor Roy Darrell, in charge of west bound freight No. 1658.
Rock Springs Miner no. 50
December 16, 1905
And – for the obviously little it was worth at the time, Pendleton’s Daily East Oregonian reported:
Word has been received by Denver friends that Roy Darrell, conductor of the Union Pacific train wrecked at Ah-Say, between Rawlins and Green River, Wyo. two weeks ago, is still violently insane with small hope of his recovery, says the Denver Post.
He was the only surviving member of the regular train crew, the engineer, fireman and head brakeman being killed. The accident so preyed on his mind that he became a raving maniac. In commenting on Conductor Darrell’s unfortunate condition a Denver trainman declared yesterday that if Congress does not take favorable action on the bill now pending reducing the working hours of trainmen to a limit of 16 hours, that radical action will be taken by railway employes looking to a remedying of the evil on their own account. “The crew on that Union Pacific train wrecked near Green River had been on duty 36 hours,” he said, “and human endurance had simply given away. They had been ordered to take a siding for trains 6, 2 and 10 to pass. Unable to keep their eyes open they dozed off and did not see the signal on No. 10, indicating that a second section followed. “When the first number 10 passed they pulled out and met their doom in a collision with the second section of No. 10.”
So, effectively, as far as Dwight was concerned, his father “went away” when he was about 18 months old, and died when he was six (1910). The capper – nine years later, his mother died. The year (1919) suggests she might have fallen victim to the post-War Spanish Flu epidemic, but that’s just a guess.
The 1920 Census shows Dwight living with his aunt and uncle, as he and his mother had been immediately after Roy’s death in 1910. In 1910, the enumerator identified Izora as “sister-in-law” to the head of household, Ole Larsen.
Of course, there are two possibilities with a sister-in-law. One, she’s the wife of Ole’s brother. (But then her name would be Larsen, and it wasn’t.) Two, she’s the sister of Ole’s wife – and that kinda has to be it. But I get the feeling that maybe they were half-sisters – they were 16 years apart in age, and at no time (ever) does their Census information jive concerning their respective parents’ birthplaces. On the plus side, whoever their common parent(s) was/were, they gave the sister an equally challenging name for Census enumerators and transcribers: Luetta, Loetta, Lolita, Loleta… So there’s that.
For what it’s worth, this is probably the sweetest thing I’ve run across in 30 years of research. From the 1921-22 yearbook, Rawlins High School. In spite of a whole lot of challenges and hurdles, Dwight was a charming old guy – and he and Eve made quite a team.