Archive for September, 2018

A Dying Cause

September 30, 2018

Sometimes people have cat problems, and they ask me for help.

Like a woman I worked with who had a cat that had gotten uncontrollable. She was afraid of him. She had gotten him and his brother as small kittens. On the day that they were to be neutered, she was able to crate the brother Tom, but Jerry saw what was going on and he ran. She was never able to catch him again.

Last year she asked me if I would take him. I told her that he would have to be fixed and that he would live outside with the colony. She wanted me to take him inside and hold him like a baby and tell him that I loved him. I told her that there are other cats who are free to come and go, and I don’t restrain any of them. Hold him like a baby? Nope.

Why do people want me to do things that they will not do themselves? I don’t have a magic wand. When she described the cat to me, he sounded wild and feral, and her description scared me. I said no.

Now Jerry had become a large adult cat, and was getting into neighborhood fights. His owner, my work friend, asked me for help. I suggested taking him to be fixed first and foremost.

She didn’t have a crate or a trap. She could not bear the thought of him going into a trap, but she thought her husband could get him into a crate. I loaned her a crate.

It took two days, but her husband got him into a crate.

I transferred him into a trap. He had to be at the Animal Shelter for drop off by 7:45 am or he would miss the transport to the spay/neuter clinic. The particular shelter was 45 minutes away, and then work was another 1/2 hour from there. I had arranged to be late for work, just to drop off this problem cat for someone else who couldn’t resolve the issue, and many times that is the way it is with people that need help. Someone else has to rearrange their life to help another in need.

I was afraid of being late, what with a wild cat in my car and not wanting to be stuck with him for an undetermined amount if time. I was easily 15 minutes early. The gates were open; the building was not. I put the trapped cat on the sidewalk by the door.

This shelter has free roaming cats that are soft ferals. Several went up to the trap to meet Jerry. He just gave me a bad look.

The shelter opened. The paperwork was filled out.

I got a called later that day that Jerry had tested positive for feline HIV. He was euthanized while still sedated for testing.

That evening I had to talk to my friend about feline HIV and that Jerry was deceased. She knew nothing about the disease. There is no vaccine, and it is transmitted through bite wounds like when a cat is fighting or mating.

Good-night, Jerry. You should have had a different ending.

Finding Walter Oliver

September 24, 2018

How do you find a man that doesn’t want to be found?

It’s not a quick solution to the problem. I’ve been looking for William Collins for almost 20 years. But wait? Wasn’t I looking for Walter Oliver?

It’s a long story.

It started for me in the last millennium when I met a man online who was looking for information about his grandmother’s family. I’ll call him Cousin Harry. His grandmother was Ivy Collins Coker. It appeared that she was the younger sister of my great-grandmother Henrietta Collins Webb.

Things seemed complicated, relationship-wise. Ivy was born after 1880, and her mother Ruth Gamble Collins was listed on the 1880 census as a widow. Further complications arose because Ivy had reported her father as a Deaderick Collins. Now, to be sure, Ruth and Deaderick were married, but he disappeared off the census after 1870. It didn’t look like he could be Ivy’s father.

More complications regarding this family group. There was a brother of Henrietta’s and Ivy’s named William. Cousin Harry had a story that William had gotten in some sort of trouble with “the law” in East Tennessee and left the area for good. This story was supported by the fact that Harry’s uncle Buster, who was born around 1920, remembered a childhood memory of meeting an Uncle Walter, and remembered hearing the adults whispering they thought it was safe and that no one would recognize or remember him. One family member called Uncle Walt by the name “Uncle Will”.

Prior to receiving this photo from Cousin Harry, I had received a parcel of old letters from Cousin Diana. One of the letters was written by Ruth’s brother Larkin Boling Gamble in Brownsville, Oregon, to his sister in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, most probably Martha “Mattie” Gamble Rhea. He mentions that their sister Ruth is dying and could Mattie send the news to Walter Oliver, and to ask Walter to write back. Larkin mentions all of Ruth’s children by name except for William, so my best guess is that William is Walter. What had William done that he left East Tennessee for good? Why did his family speak in code when referring to him?

I thought I’d never know.


Last year I subscribed to and GenealogyBank.

I find the following for Tuesday, April 21, 1891, Knoxville Daily Journal and Journal and Tribune. Volume VII, Issue 55, Page 5, from GenealogyBank.



Wm. Collins’ Case Illustrates that Misfortunes Never Comes Singly.

A young white man named William Collins was arrested late yesterday evening and put in the city hall prison for being drunk.

Mr. Joe Roehl, who runs a bakery on Grand avenue, appeared about six o’clock last evening and reported that he had been robbed of twenty odd dollars and the indications are that Collins was the man who got his money.

Collins had been in the employ of Roehl and yesterday went out to deliver some bread and returned to the bakery drunk, bringing the bread.

Roehl would not permit him to remain on his premises.

Yesterday afternoon Mr. Roehl went out of his bakery and left his daughter attending it. Collins loafed in and the girl went to the drug store and left Collins in the bakery a few minutes.

When Mr. Roehl returned he found that a twenty dollar bill had been taken out of his safe, which had been left unlocked; also that about a dollar and a half had been abstracted from the cash drawer.

He traced the matter up and found that Collins had gotten liquor at a Market square bar-room, and had gotten change for a twenty dollar bill.

When Collins was put in the calaboose for being drunk, twenty dollars and forty-one cents was found on him in bills and change. He was arrested on a warrant from Square Leahy, and put in jail to await trial for the robber to-day at four o’clock p.m. He stoutly denied having taken the money ffrom Mr. Roehl.


The same paper on the following day…

William Collins Will Serve Out a Work-house Sentence.

Williams Collins, the youth arrested Monday afternoon for drunkenness and who subsequently turned out to be indebted to Mr. Joe Roehl, the baker, to the amount of $21, which he had lifted fom his safe was yesterday tried for his actions.

In ‘Squire Leahy’s court, Mr. Roehl appeared but stated that although Callins was guilty, he hoped the lightest sentence possible would be placed upon him. Collins has been working for Mr. Roehl, but he has a sick mother and a sister dependant upon his earnings. For this reason and the fact that he is himself in very delicate health he was merely fined a total of twenty-tree dollars and committed to the workhouse.

At the city hall, Mr. Roehl recovered all the money which had been stolen from him. Collins pleaded guilty to the charge of drunkenness on the city’s warrant and was let off with a fine of $6.75 by the recorder.

If he works out the two fines, he will be at the workhouse for some time to come.

Collins is not a bad looking young man and the trouble liquor got him into will doubtless prove a lesson to him.

Fast forward to May 18, 1908, the the Arkansas Democrat in

A Railroad Foreman

Killed Wife Insulter.


Bristol, Va., May 91. — A special from Hendricks Creek, in Sullivan county, Tenn., says:

Will Collins, a railroad foreman, yesterday shot and instantly killed Geo. Wright, a middle-aged farmer. Wright accused Collins of having insulted his (Wrights’) wife and threatened to kill Collins. Collins fired first, however, three balls penetrating Wright’s breast.

The tragedy occurred in the Wright home, where Collins has been boarding. Collins escaped and has not yet been captured. His home is in Knoxville.

From The Tennessean, May 20, 1908…




George Wright Killed by Will Collins.,

Former’s Wife Figures.

BRISTOL, Tenn., May 19.–(Special) George Wright, a middle-aged farmer, was shot to death by Will Collins, foreman on the Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio Railroad, in Sullivan County, yesterday afternoon, as the result of a difficulty in which Wright’s wife figured. Collins escaped and is still at large. His home is in Knoxville.

Wright charged Collins with having made an insulting proposal to his (Wright’s) wife, and demanded an explanation. Failing to get any satisfaction, he declared that he would avenge the alleged wrong and kill Collins, but the latter was too quick, and shot Wright three times in the breast, killing him instantly. The tragedy occurred in Wright’s own home, where Collins was boarding, and created much excitement in that part of the county.

And the Daily Arkansas Gazette, May 20, 1908…



Farmer Dead, Who Had Threatened to

Kill Boarder.


Bristol, Va., May 19.–A special from Hendrick’s Creek, in Sullivan county, Tennessee, says: Will Collins, a railroad foreman, yesterday shot and instantly killed George Wright, a middle-aged farmer. Wright accused Collins of having made an insulting proposal to his (Wright’s) wife and threatened to kill Collins. Collins fired first, however, three balls penetrating Wright’s breast.

The tragedy occurred in the Wright home, where Collins had been boarding. Collins escaped and has not yet been captured. His home is in Knoxville.

Then on August 28, 1908, in The Tennessean, we find this…



BRISTOL, Tenn., Aug. 1.–(Special.) James Clements, 21 years old, and residing near Bristol, who was shot by Will Collins Friday, it is said accidentally, died Monday. Collins has not yet been arrested, though he may be prosecuted This is the second accidental shooting in Bristol that has proven fatal within ten days.

Then silence.


I got a message on facebook a few days ago from a woman is descended from Mattie Gamble Rhea. I asked her if she knew what happened to Will Collins. She hadn’t heard of him. So we chatted and developed a theory. If Larkin Boling Gamble thought his sister Mattie in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, could get in touch with Walter Oliver he must be nearby. I had found a reference to a Walter and Bertha Oliver in Siloam Springs some 20 years ago, and I had requested a death cert, but it could not be located. The theory was that if someone is in trouble, they will pack up and go to a safe place where they know someone and have access to resources and support.

I believed that our Will Collins is Walter Oliver. How to prove it?

I went to consult my friend

I found a 1915 marriage record for Walter Oliver and Bertha Carney in Neosho, Missouri, just over the Arkansas line.

I found that Bertha’s sister was Gertrude Carney who married Clarence Arric. Clarence’s father was John Arric who was born in Blount County, Tennessee, which is where Walter/William’s mother Ruth Gamble Collins and all her siblings were born.

I found a findagrave memorial for him which showed that he and his wife Jane were buried in Davis Cemetery in Siloam.

I found a 1910 census that shows John and Jane are living in Benton County, Arkansas, with their children and Jane’s mother Susan J. Davis.

And who is Susan J. Davis? She is the oldest sister of Ruth Gamble Collins and Mattie Gamble Rhea. Her husband was Caleb Davis, and they are buried in Davis cemetery.

This is certainly a plot twist. Susan’s grandson Clarence married Gertrude Carney, and Susan’s sister Ruth’s son married Gertrude’s sister. I used to wonder if Walter had hidden his past from his wife. I think it is safe to say that she knew his background and why he was in hiding.

In 1929, Walter and Bertha Oliver visit her sister Mrs. Clarence Arric.

Mr. and Mrs. Walter Oliver have returned to their home at Siloam Springs, Ark., after a visit here with the latter’s sister, Mrs. Clarence Arric and family.


Bertha died in 1982. Walter was about 14 years older, and we think he died about 1945. I haven’t located their burial place, but Davis Cemetery seems like a good place to start.

Good night, family. You are a complicated bunch.

The Short Life of Wadie Lee Rawls

September 7, 2018

Wadie Lee was my father’s sister.

She died when Dad was five.

I found an obituary written by someone who appears to be her music teacher.

When Wadie Lee died of influenza in 1918, her mother  Tula was also sick in bed with the flu, and my dad, who was Wadie Lee’s younger brother, was ill with whooping cough. They were too ill to attend her funeral. The obit mentions the  her father John plus the oldest child Pauline who was born and died on June 6, 1904. There is also her brother James Leonard who was mentioned, although not called by name.

From GenealogyBank: Dresden Enterprise and Sharon Tribune, Friday, December 13, 918, Dresden, Tennessee, Vol: 36, Page: 9.

Death of Sweet Girl.


Wadie Lee, daughter of Tula and John Rawls, was born Dec. 16, 1906; died Dec. 6, 1918; aged ten years and 12 days. She was a victim of that dread disease, influenza and was sick only a few days, but those few days were days of great suffering.

Wadie Lee was a bright, cheerful girl, full of promise for a useful life and it seems so hard to give her up, even for a little while, but the loving parents are reconciled that God’s will be done. The mother was in bed with flu, and little baby brother, Roy Clayton, had whooping cough and could not attend the funeral services at Wesley’s Chapel. She was a good, sweet, innocent child and we feel sure that she is at rest for she talked of dying and said she was not afraid to go.

I had known her scarcely a year, yet I loved her dearly. For the last three months she had come to my home every other day for a music lesson, and took the greatest delight in her music. But, dear girl, we will practice together no more on earth, but I believe that some day we shall meet together in a  better world, where we will enjoy the sweetest music and where no note of discord will be heard.

The members of her Sunday school class arranged a lovely floral wreath. Wadie will be greatly missed in Sunday school and the junior missionary society, for she attended both as regularly as she could.

She leaves a father, mother, two little brothers and a host of relatives and sorrowing friends–while she has gone to join her older sister, Pauline.

May the God of heaven sanctify this sudden death to the everlasting good and happiness of all who knew and loved her.

Written by a true friend.

There’s a discrepancy in the obit about her age. It says she was born Dec. 16, 1906, and died Dec. 6, 1918, and was ten years and 12 days. The calendar math doesn’t add up to that age. Another confusion is that her gravestone says she died on Dec. 7, 1918. I think perhaps that the obit writer was greatly overcome with grief, and so got the age wrong. It also appears that the matching gravestones for Pauline, Wadie Lee, and Dorthy Sue were ordered and installed at the same time, and that time had dimmed the recollection of the exact death date.

Sleep well, cheerful angel. We’re thinking of you.

A Historical Medical Mystery

September 6, 2018

I was poking around GenealogyBank and found 2 articles that mentioned an illness that my father had in 1921. He would have been seven years old.

From the Dresden Enterprise and Sharon Tribune, Friday, June 10, 1921:

From the same paper a week later:

Now, Dad had a sister that was born in January of 1922 and lived for one day.

I suppose that Grandma could have been pregnant with Dorthy Sue during the summer of 1921.

Since Dad couldn’t swallow for almost a week, I wonder if he had diphtheria. And Grandma? Did she have the same illness that Dad had?

So many questions, and no one to ask.