1913 / 1916 Wednesday the 29th: The postcard is unfranked the date of the postcard is uncertain. Since John Sherman Barry and Grace Ellsworth Padgett married on 25 June 1913, the postcard must have been sent after that marriage. The 29th of any month in this range falls on several dates, but there is no information at hand that would prefer any of these dates. A pertinent question is how a card from Houston came to be used in rural Illinois; it seems clear a traveler brought it back from some trip in the early 1900’s.
23 January 2014: The neighborhood on South Main between McGowan and Elgin had for most of the last four decades fallen into decay. Into the void an influx of Vietnamese grocery stores and restaurants began to occupy much of the real estate, but many structures were demolished and left empty. The construction of the Metro Train along Main Street in 2004 gave rise to a slow redevelopment of the area. Large apartment blocks went up and restaurants began to proliferate. The long block bounded by McGowen to Anita and Main to Travis was an empty vacant lot for many years, but in 2017 a large apartment complex was built on the north section, and Midtown Park was developed by the city for recreational space where the Jones house once stood.
Not posted; No stamp
To: Mrs Sherman Barry
Wedensday [sic] the 29
Mr & Mrs Sherman Barry
Dear Sherman and Grace What is the matter that – Tom did not come home he has not come yet I was astonished and surprised when he did not come yesterday I thought sure he would come last night but he has not come yet Please lit me know at once why he dont come for I am so uneasy I would have come down this morning but it was stormy
[bottom] Let me know at once
[top inverted] Hope this finds you both well [##] me [##]ddy did not hear fro you last night
“Mother” is logically either the mother of Grace or of Sherman Barry, namely Priscilla Talley Allmond Padgett (1849-1916) or Elizabeth “Lizzie” Mansfield Barry (1860-1940). Mother mentions that she “would have come down this morning but it was stormy.” In 1920 Lizzie lived at 405 Tremont in Hillsboro, Montgomery County, IL and Grace and Sherman lived three houses away at 304 Tremont, so storms would not have intimidated her from coming over. Priscilla, however, lived in the village of Irving, a 6.3 mile trip northeast of Hillsboro, and bad weather might well have kept her home.
Priscilla was the daughter of Dr. Reuben Jefferis Allmond (1818-1899), a graduate of Jefferson Medical College in 1839, a prestigious medical school in Philadelphia [now Sidney Kimmel Medical College at 1025 Walnut Street in the downtown district]. He was from Brandywine Hundred situated just south of the border of Delaware and Pennsylvania. Brandywine valley was of course the location of the September 11, 1777 Battle of Brandywine in which George Washington confronted British Generals Howe and Cornwallis and retreated toward Philadelphia, which fell to the British on September 26, 1777.
The young doctor returned home after graduation, and there married Ann Glover Talley. They started their family there with Lurana Cooper (1840), Mary Ellen (1843), Lewis S. T. (1844), Letitia Ann (1846 in Pennsylvania), Priscilla Talley (1849). In 1848 two of the children died, Mary Ellen and Lewis S. T., and Reuben moved his practice to Morgan County, OH, where Phoebe Ellen was born (1851). The family moved even further west in 1853 to Ogle County, IL where the doctor farmed some acreage. By 1858 they had moved to Macoupin County, IL, first to Piasa, then later to Palmyra. Julia Elizabeth (1853), Florence Virginia (1856), Ida Missouri (1858, in Missouri) were born there, finishing out the family of 9 children born to Reuben and Ann before she died on 11 August 1860. Reuben was then obliged to care for 7 daughters: Lurana (20), Lettie (14), Priscilla (11), Phoebe (9), Julia (7), Florence (4), and Ida (2). Not surprisingly, Reuben soon married again, on 9 February 1862 to Elizabeth A. James and continued his family with the birth of Willie (1862), Luetta (1864), Lily May (1865), Dora Bell (1867), Harriet (1869), and Charles (1871) for a total of 15 children, of which only 3 were boys, none of whom lived past the age of 4.
Dr. Allmond is described as a “remarkably active man, and of very large stature, and of almost unfailing endurance.” His house must have been a lively place to grow up. Priscilla was the fifth child, with two older sisters who may have been called upon first if the household needed their efforts with the large family. Her stepmother would often have called on the older sisters for child care and support of the younger siblings. Naturally, daughters would marry when an eligible husband presented himself, and the first to marry was Lurana who married Joseph Gardner in 1863. The Gardners moved to Lawrence County, MO before 1870, bringing Lurana’s sister “Alice” [who based on birth year must have been Florence Virginia] with the family, but by 1880 they were back in Palmyra where they remained. The next to marry was Lettie, who married physician William Day in 1866, followed by Priscilla in 1866 to Thomas Henry Padget. In 1870 Dr. Allmond, Dr. Day, and Thomas and Priscilla Padget were neighbors in Palmyra. The other sisters followed in order: Phoebe to Andrew Crum in 1873, Florence to Charles Wesley Rice in 1875, Julia in 1876 to Jacob Grimmett, and Ida Missouri in 1880 to Dr. Welcome Sprinkle. Priscilla’s step-sisters married in their own order: Lillie May to Charles Caleb Capps in 1885, Dora Bell to Robert Richie in 1888, and finally Harriet Nevada Allmond to Charles Banes in 1907.
This was a big family for Priscilla, but most of her siblings lived in Macoupin County some 50 miles northwest. She was born in 1849, so after 1913 she would have been about 64, and a widow for at least two years. Her husband Thomas Henry Padgett died in early 1911 and all her children were grown. She and Thomas had 11 children from 1868 to 1890, but two did not live to adulthood: Reuben J. (1869, died in infancy); Geneva (1886, died at 7 months). Those living in the period when the postcard was written were: 1) Anna (1868); 2) William Henry (1871); 3) Ella Elizabeth (1873); 4) Charles Edward (1875); 5) Thomas Cooper (1877); 6) George Franklin (1879); 7) Earl Blaine (1884); 8) Grace Ellsworth (1889); 9) Powell Clayton (1890).
She was frantic about “Tom” not having come home last night. Her husband was named Thomas, but of course he was deceased, so unless she was having some dementia issues, she was not referring to him. Her son Thomas Cooper Padgett was about 36, and a few years later in 1918 he was living in Chicago, so perhaps he was living there at the time of the postcard as well. Chicago was 250 miles northeast, and accessible by train in a few hours. Thomas may have promised to come down, but had some travel issues. Most probably he greeted her shortly after her postcard had been posted.
Priscilla may have lived alone and felt helpless, a message clearly communicated in her desperate postcard. She might have had few besides Grace to turn to” Anna Padget Grantham and her husband Daniel were living in Litchfield 16 miles west of Irving; Ella Elizabeth Newberry, widowed before 1900 by the death her husband James Newberry, lived in Chicago; Those living close by in Irving, but perhaps preoccupied with their own affairs might include: William and Charles; George Franklin was living in Little Rock (1914) as he was beginning his career working for the railroad; Earl had married in 1913 in Chicago and was starting his own career in the railroad in Ohio; Powell Clayton had been married since 1901 and was exploring work far from Illinois.
She would only live a few years longer after the postcard, dying 21 February 1916. She was buried in Irving Cemetery, joining her husband interred there 5 years before.
Lower Main Street in 1910 was about the most prestigious address in town, Just a few blocks away were other subjects of the present study, Joseph Presley Carter at 2604 Main, the Second Presbyterian Church at 2702 Main, Fannie Wolf at 2703 Main. By the middle of the next decade most of these families had moved to the newly developed River Oaks gated residential district. The postcard mansion was built in 1899 at 2908 Main Street by Houston architect George E. Dickey for James Ira Campbell, a Texas lumberman who had moved to Houston from Lampasas in 1895. The house occupied the entire block between Main, Travis, Anita, and Tuam, and was faced with cypress blocks cut to look like stone. The style echoed a French Chateau architectural theme with a stepped gable and flanking towers. Outbuildings on Travis consisted of stables, a greenhouse, and servants quarters for the maids, cooks, and gardener.
James I. Campbell died in 1904 and Jesse Holman Jones bought his Campbell Lumber Company and his home as well to rescue him from the bankruptcy brought on by destruction of 17,000 acres of virgin pine forest. Jesse‘s Uncle Martin Tilford Jones had died in 1898, and his widow Louisa Woolard Jones took up residence in the home with her children and an extended family. This family, of course, included Jesse Jones, who lived in the house while he settled his uncle's estate, turning the stables into a garage for one of Houston's first automobiles, a pricey Pierce Arrow. The mansion, called “The Boarding House” by family members, was home to a rotating cast of relations: Hostess Aunt Louisa and her children, Adeline Jeanette, Augusta, and William Eli Jones and his wife Mary Belle Gibbs (who after her divorce from him married Jesse Jones in 1920) and their son Tilford.
More than any other Houstonian, Jesse Jones shaped the 20th century face of Houston, building The Texas Company Building, The Chronicle Building [built on the site of Shearn Methodist], the Bristol Hotel extension, the Rice Hotel, the Gulf Building [See Main at Capitol]. Jones is memorialized in many Houston landmarks: Jesse H. Jones Hall, home of the Houston Symphony; Jones High School; Jesse H. Jones School of Business at TSU; Rice University's Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management and The Jesse H. Jones Student Life Center; The Jesse H. Jones Student Life Center at Downtown UH; The Jones Library at the Texas Medical Center; and Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center in Humble.
Even though it was near the southern edge of Houston (at that time about where I-69 has covered old railroad lines), the neighborhood between McGowen and Elgin was where the most prosperous citizens of Houston lived in the early 20th century. Behind the viewer, the block facing 2908 Main there were three large houses. At 2901 was Wiley C. Munn, the general manager of Mistrot-Munn, later Munn's, one of the largest dry goods store of the time. W. C. was also the vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce and president of the Houston Turning Basin Investment Company. Also at that address was Charles A. Bryan, a real estate agent working from the First National Bank Building. At 2911 was Thomas J. Freeman, the receiver and general manager of the I & G. N. R. R. Co. (International and Great Northern Rail Road Company), whose offices were in the Paul Building. Marcellus E. Foster lived at the corner of Anita and Main at 2915. Foster was the president and publisher of the Houston Chronicle, with offices in the Chronicle Building (in those days sometimes referred to as the Foster Bulding, now demolished).
After Jesse Jones settled the complicated estate, the Jones house was sold after 1910 to Settegast-Kopf for a funeral home, then in 1915 it became the Houston headquarters for the Arabia Temple (Shriners). In the 1930's the residence was used as a boarding house until it was demolished in 1937. The neighborhood languished for many years, but as Houstonians retreated from the distant suburban commute, the area has once again become fashionable. The block where the house once stood was turned into Midtown Park in 2017. Behind the viewer on the east side of the block, a development company from Melbourne, Caydon Property Group, has built the first high-rise in Houston's Midtown: “The Midtown” at 2850 Fannin, a 27-story, 357-unit apartment tower.
Reference: Houston's Forgotten Heritage.