BIOGRAPHIES
of Cumberland County, IL Residents


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MARION BRASHARES

Marion Brashares was born July 13, 1844 near Johnstown, Cumberland Co., Ill. Marion enlisted for three years in the 5th Ill. Calvary on Sept. 5th, 1861. Marion mustered into Co. E 5th Calvary in Mattoon, Ill. on Sept 25, 1861. Supplies and Horses were in short supply so Marion furnished his own horse and equipment and was paid $35 extra. He gained rank in Co. E and on Oct.22, 1861 he was promoted to 1st Sargent. In 1862 he was wounded and in the hospital four months in Keokuk, Iowa with a fractured humerus. He was discharged with almost a complete paralysis of his arm on Nov. 14, 1862. In January 1864 he was back again and re-enlisted in Co. E, 5 Regiment Calvary. On Dec. 15 he was promoted from 1st Sargent, Co. I to 2nd Lieutenant, Co. G 63rd Colored Infantry. He was discharged in 1866. He received a pension # 646799 on July 13, 1914. It was increased thru the years until 1930 when it reached $100 a month.
After his discharge he returned to Johnstown and joined the Lerna Masonic Lodge in 1866 and was a charter member and Adjutant of the J.J. Adam Post of the G.A.R. organized in 1865. It so happened that Alonzo Grafton was the Commandant at the time and in 1896 their children would join in marriage, uniting two lines that served their country and ended up in the same Post.
While running his general merchandise store in Johnstown, he met and married Caroline Coon of Charleston on March 10, 1868.
He moved from the family farm in Johnstown to Farmington, Ill. where he opened a restaurant. Marion's mother was Eliza Phipps and his father was Perry Brashares, who was a Methodist Circuit Rider in the 1820's and 30's in this section of Illinois. He often held prayer meetings in the home of Thomas and Sarah Lincoln who lived just North East of Janesville. Perry and Eliza were married in Marion Co., Ohio on Sept 21 ,1837.
Marion was described as being 5' 8" tall with black eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion . He died on August 29, 1935 and is buried in the Janesville Cem, Pleasant Grove Twp, Coles Co. Ill. Marion is shown in his military clothes. [Contributed by John Grafton (Cagy2@Yahoo.com.), great-grandson of Marion Brashares]

~ JOHNSTOWN STORY ~
( Excerpt ) written by Freda Landus Misenheimer and contributed to IL Trails by John Grafton

Bertha Grafton said her great-grandparents were James and Peggy Phipps. "My grandmother was Eliza Phipps Neely. Eliza married and lived half a mile south of Lerna, about where the large corn crib now stands on the west side of the road, on the Howard Gray land. Mr. Neely died and Eliza went to live with James and Peggy Phipps on the George Phipps farm or more recently known as the Joe Phipps farm, south of Farmington.: Bertha said she had heard her grandmother tell of the early days when Tom Lincoln lived on the "goosenest prairie" and as there were no regular churches, the folks gathered at each other's homes and held prayer meetings which were well attended, and Eliza remembered quite well the many times she went to Tom Lincoln's cabin to meetings and the rafters rang with the songs of the pioneers.
"Eliza was married two or three times," went on Bertha. "Once was to a Brashares and they had two sons, Pole and Marion Brashares. Marion married Carrie Coon and lived at Johnstown but it was to "Rough and ready" for Marion when it came time to raise a family. The folks were referred to as "Drunken and mean" largely due to the fighting Richardson's and the feuding Berrys and the common practice of having a "settling up" day to right minor wrongs instead of forgetting them or going to the law." What an amazing thing for Johnstown's record that no one was ever killed in this noxious place! But Marion moved out, lock stock and barrel. In Farmington, a smaller village, more sedated and free of wilder element, Marion kept a store and Bertha, daughter of Marion and Carrie was born about one block north of the "little red brick school house" my aunt Betty Gowin referred to so often, and so long as she lived never forgot or forsook. Eliza ( Phipps) Neely b.Ohio in 1822, died in 1917, age 95 years.


The 60th Anniversary of Janesville couple Marion and Carrie (Coon) Brashares
Journal-Gazette, March 19, 1928
Contributed by John Grafton

On Saturday, March 10, 1928, Mr. & Mrs Marion Brashares of this place, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. They were married in Charleston in 1868, at 9:00 am. and left immediately afterward in a wagon with 4 horses attached, for their home in Johnstown, where he was running a general merchandise store. The trip home was only 16 miles long, but they did not reach their destination until 4:00 pm. They found the roads heavy with mud.
Mr. Brashares was born on what is now known as the N. Phipps farm, on July 13, 1844. He enlisted in Co. E. of 5th Ill. Cavalry in Sept. 1861. He was transferred in 1864 to the 63rd. U.S. Vol., and was mustered out in Jan. 1866. After the close of the war, he went into the restaurant business in Charleston. Here, he first met his wife, Carrie Coon of Charleston. She was born and reared in Charleston, a daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Christopher Coon. Later Mr. & Mrs. Brashares moved to Harvey, Illinois. They had 6 children. (1) a son, died at birth. (2) a daughter Mrs. Osborne, passed away June 9, 1927. (3) Mrs. Rena Low of Los Angeles, CA; (4) Mrs. Bertha Grafton of Janesville, (5) Mrs. Floy Isaac of Harvey IL and (6) Harry E. Brashares of St. Paul, Minn. (contributor's note: Bertha died March 1966). Marion d. Aug 29, 1935,Caroline d. April 29, 1946
Perry Brashares, father of Marion, was one of the old time Methodist circuit riders and in the 20's and 30's rode over this section of Illinois. He preached and held prayer meetings many time in the home of Thomas and Sarah (Bush) Lincoln NE of Janesville.


WRIGHT, Richard William            1839-1914

   Richard William Wright was born June 1839 at Johnstown, Coles, Illinois, son of Jesse Wright and Katharine Phipps. His favorite sister was Anna Mariah Wright, born 1837, married John Michael, and died 3 February 1926 at Mattoon, Coles, Illinois.  Richard named a daughter after Anna.
   The Wright family lived in Coles County until the boundaries changed in 1843, and without moving, found themselves living in Cumberland County.
   As Richard was growing up, he did farm work in that area until the Civil War started. He joined Company B, 21st Illinois Infantry on 22 June 1861 at Springfield. Near Ironton, Missouri in October 1861, he contracted a severe earache, which resulted in partial deafness. One of his comrades said the troops were underfed and ill equipped, and it was very cold. Richard's deafness was a real source of irritation to him and his officers. During one battle, a cannonball whizzed past his head so close that it grazed the right side of his neck. His spine was injured, his deafness grew worse, and he began to suffer from recurring headaches.
   He was honorably discharged from service 5 July 1864 at Chattanooga, Tennessee. He returned home and worked part time as a laborer. He married in Charleston, Coles, Illinois on 15 October 1864 to Mahala Fickes, born 29 September 1848 in Ohio. She was the daughter of Samuel Fickes and Esther Irwin. Richard and Mahala lived at Pleasant Grove, Coles, Illinois, where, on 9 January 1869, their son Benjamin W. was born. Mahala's father had died, and her mother lived in their household. Esther was born 1804 in Pennsylvania.
   In 1872 the family packed up their belongings and moved to Wisconsin, with some of Mahala's family, including her mother. Richard settled in Fairchild, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. While living there, Richard and Mahala had two more children: Francis Fletcher, born 9 December 1882, and Anna Mariah, born 4 March 1886.
   Richard's deafness and headaches grew worse and he was forced to cut down his work load. In 1880 he applied for a disability pension for his service in the Civil War. His certificate no. is: 265.176.
   On 18 January 1885, Mahala's mother, Esther Fickes, died at their home in Fairchild, apparently from too much excitement and joy at seeing her daughter Martha Ringer for the first time in 15 years.
   In about 1889,  Richard moved his family to Taberville, St. Clair, Missouri. Mahala's brother, James Henry Fickes lived in that area. While living there, daughter Anna Mariah died 15 June 1905, and was buried in Tabor Cemetery. In 1907 Richard and Mahala moved to Dayton, Columbia, Washington.
   Richard's headaches were growing unbearable and he was totally deaf. He couldn't work at all anymore, and communicated by signing or writing. Finally, around the last of August 1914, he was admitted to the Hospital for the Insane at Medical Lake, Spokane, Washington, where he died of a cerebral hemorrhage on 9 September 1914. He was laid to rest in Dayton Cemetery, Dayton, Columbia, Washington.
   After his death, Mahala moved into Washington Veterans Home at Retsil, Kitsap, Washington, where she lived for the next two or three years. She did housekeeping to help pay for her keep. She applied for Widow's Benefits. Her certificate no. is 784.261. On 8 May 1917 in Seattle, King, Washington, at the Rainier-Grand Hotel, she married Robert M. Callison. She died at Retsil, Jitsap, Washington on 3 June 1923 and is buried near Richard in Dayton Cemetery.

Written 2003 by Dorothy Hinkey.
Additions 2007 by Dorothy Hinkey.
Sources: Washington State Death Certificates
Civil War Record of Richard William Wright
1870, 1880, 1900. 1910, and 1920 Federal census Records
Washington State Death Index
Dayton Cemetery Records
Letters written by Mahala Wright Callison to Civil War Benefits Center.
Documents signed by: Joseph Ringer, Anna M. Michael, Martha Ringer, James Fickes, Sarah J. Bancroft, and Laura & J.E. Hurst.



Denver Darling


DENVER DARLING

    Denver Darling was born in Cumberland County, Illinois in 1909. He spent his early life on a farm. The farm was a bit isolated from the surrounding towns, so in winter, when he was especially cut off from social contacts, he learned to entertain himself a bit by learning to strum a guitar and singing along.
    As he grew older, he would perform at various local community functions and entertain the folks with the songs and ballads of years gone by.
    He gained his first bit of broadcast experience while he was attending the Citizens Military Training camp at the Jefferson barracks in St. Louis, Missouri. While there, he did some work with a group of men in training. His commanding officer mentioned to the KMOX studio director that Denver sang old time songs. So, he began to be featured on these weekly broadcasts.
    After his training was over, Denver went back to his home in southern Illinois. But the radio bug had gotten into his system and he got work on several stations in the Midwest.
     In a song folio we found that is undated but seems to be from around 1930 or early 1930s, radio station WSBT in South Bend, Indiana lured Denver to start working at their station. The management there mentioned they needed the music of his type for their audiences and induced him to come there. Needless to say, their audiences were appreciative of his renditions of the early American tunes. While he was at WSBT, which was owned by the newspaper, the South Bend Tribune, he appeared with just himself and his guitar. But there was mention made of the 'Studio Orchestra' then. There was Ray J. Winter, Donald Smith, Bernard Lenoue, Art Richards and Beldon Leonard, who appeared to play the fiddle. The others, no mention was made as to what instruments they played.
Addition: D Darling was first COUNTRY artist and band to ever play at Carnegie Hall.
Contributed by Bobbie Goodman

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, ILLINOIS, COWBOY
Denver Darling, the son of Luel and Nora Jill Jones (Wellbaum) Darling, was born in Waupock, Illinois, a small settlement south of Greenup, on April 6, 1909. His mother was a widow with two children, Iva Wellbaum (Mrs. Raymond Kuhn, Jewell) and Oscar Wellbaum, when she married Luel on October 6, 1907, and Denver was the only child born to them.

Shortly after World War I the family moved lo Jewett, Illinois, and it was there that the boy's interest in music was aroused. In 1929 he landed his first professional job as a performer on WBOW, Terre Haute, Indiana. Also employed by the same station was another young singer by the name of Burl Ives who was born and raised south of Greenup in Hunt City, Jasper County. Burl and Denver did not perform together, but they did compete for the affections of a young lady—and Denver won. In 1931. two years after coming to Terre Haute. on October 6, Darling married Garnett Tucker who was born in Gary, Indiana. This union proved to be a lasting one that ended only with Denver's death 50 years later.

Throughout the 1930s Denver spent lime at a number of stations, mostly in the Midwest. After leaving Terre Haute, he moved to WSBT. South Bend. Indiana, then to WDZ. Tuscola, Illinois, where his singing partner was Lester Alvin "Smiley" Bumene who was from Champaign, Illinois, before eventually accepting an offer from Gene Autry to go to Hollywood to play the role of his sidekick in many western movies.

The exact date of Darling's move to New York is uncertain, but it was definitely by September 1937 because the following brief comment appeared in the September 18, 1937, issue of the Long Island Daily Star: "Rural revels opened at the Village Barn on Thursday night, with Larry McMahon, starring and (sic) ever-popular emcee, and the others playing to a full and appreciative house. Laura Dean drew plenty applause for her song numbers. The Village Barn Cowboys—Denver Darling and his Gang—come from all parts of the West and Southwest.

Darling initially moved to New York to appear on WOR and at the "Village Barn." During this same time he appeared frequently on WEEV, Reading, Pennsylvania, with the Newman Brothers (Hank, Slim and Bob) who were billed as The Georgia Crackers. Darling became the emcee at the "Village Barn" and later got his own radio show on WNEW, as well as a tongue-in-cheek daily program on the same station. In an undated review, radio critic Paul Denis gleefully attacks this show: "Are you tired of John's Other Happiness or Portia Loses Face?" You are? Then switch to Denver Darling's one-minute serials on WNEW (Monday to Friday, 4 p.m.)" At some point during his stay in New York, Darling took time
off to appear in two Hollywood movies. He also started his recording career on Decca and later cut some sides for DeLuxe and MGM. Most of the DeLuxe sides were released under the pseudonym of Tex Grande. At his first recording; -........for Decca on November 6. 1941. Denver Darling and his Texas

Cowhands (Slim Duncan, Vaughn Horton and Eddie Smith) recorded three sides—a Zeke Manners Clarke Van Ness song popular at the lime. Don't Let Your Street Lots Die, and two other long-forgotten songs. It's Your Worry now and Silver Dollar. The next day, November 7, 1941, the group returned to cut a song usually associated with the Carter Family. I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes. By the time Darling made it back to the recording studio on December 22, 1941, the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor and World War II was on.

During the last years of the war. Darling made some of his most important recordings. Two such sides are Juke Joint Mama and Deep Delia Blues. It is commonly believed that the former song was the primary source of Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller's 1952 song Kansas City, a big hit for Wilbert Harrison in 1959. On both songs Darling is backed up by famed jail cornetist Wild Bill Davidson. About the same time he produced, in collaboration with Vaughn Horton and Milton Gabler, his most famous song Choo Choo Ch' Boogit, Louis Jordan and His Sympany Five had the biggest hit with it on Decca (23610) in 1945 and Bill Haley also made a successful recording in 1950. In the 1980s the western swing band Asleep At the Wheel revived the song and played it at numerous performances.

The year 1945 was important in Darling's career for a variety of reasons. At least two of his songs were hits that year—Choo Choo Ch' Boogie and Address Unknown, the latter a minor success for Gene Autry. Just as significant, though, was an appearance at Carnegie Hall on September 28. 1945, at the First Annual Clef Award Presentation. This appearance made Darling the first country artist to perform in Carnegie Hall. Evidently the Clef Award Committee, which consisted of composer Sigmund Romberg and George Goodwin. among others, didn't want to be "tainted" by any overt signs of informality and insisted that all performers appear in formal dress. Therefore. Darling was required to wear a suit and tie rather than the "western clothes" he usually wore when performing. The program, which also included Eileen Barton. Johnny Desmond and the Golden Gale Quartet, Marion Hution and 13 other acts besides Darling, was very successful.

Darling's most lucrative and lengthy commercial deal was a three-year contract with the Mennen Company to record a shaving cream theme song. By the time he entered into this association in 1945, Darling's singing career was very near its end. In 1947 Darling began having trouble with his throat. That and the desire to raise his family of two boys and one girl somewhere other than New York City (where he paid the then-exhorbitant price of $75 a month for an apartment), led him to move back to Jewett, Illinois. There he and his wife raised their children, Ronnie, Susan and Tim, and Denver lived the life of a gentleman farmer. Ronnie is now the father of three daughters, Sheri, Rhonda and Kala. Susan married Henry Ives (no relation lo Burl Ives) and is the mother of two children, David and Sharon. Tim married Gail Moses and has one son, Teil Kye. Although he never resumed his career as a singer. Darling continued to write songs and to give occasional interviews to fans and broadcasters. He also enjoyed frequent visits from friends such as Smiley Burnette, Vaughn Horton, Chel Atkins and Tex Ritter.

While he had some songwriting successes after his retirement as a performer, Darling's work never again reached the level of popularity achieved during the 1940s when he was headquartered in New York City and leading bands such as the Trail Blaxers, the Texas Cowhands and the Georgie Porgie Boys. While he sometimes regretted forsaking his singing career, Darling never seriously considered resuming it Instead he remained in Jewett until his death on April 27, 1981, three weeks past his 72nd birthday. During the last few years of his life he was plagued by health problems but he remained active as a songwriter almost to the very end. Perhaps only a few of his neighbors in 1981 knew that Denver Darling had once been one of the bright stars of country music.

Editor's note: We would like to express a special thank you to Mr. W. K. McNeil for giving this committee his permission to use portions of the material used in this article. Mr. McNeil is editor of Old Time Country magazine, the University of Mississippi, Sam Hall Room 206, University, Mississippi, 38677, and his diligent research proved very helpful to us. Submitted by Millie Gentry Lindsay


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