South Texas National Bank
13 October 1917: The parked automobile may be a REO model from the R. E. Olds Motor Company, an offshoot of the Oldsmobile Company founded by Ransom Olds in 1905. The tires are white, as were most early tires due to the Zinc Oxide in the rubber, but this changed in 1910 when carbon black was added to increase durability. The tires are generally bigger than those used now, with 27” rims. The South Texas National Bank was built on this site in 1910 with two floors and a lobby with a mezzanine.
6 February 2017: The parked automobile may be a Mercedes sedan with sporty 19” wheel rims. Much of the block behind is now occupied by the Franklin Lofts Garage, 5 stories of parking for the Franklin Lofts at the north end of the block to the left. Street level holds shops and restaurants, including Edible Arrangements, Wolfe’s Cleaners and Roma’s Pizza.
Postmarked: [Houston, Texas] Logan Branch; 13 October 1917
Stamp: 1c Green George Washington #405
To: Miss Iva Ott
Message: Hello Iva.
How are you I am fine and dandy we are in Huston texas arve [arrived] here Friday morning. My address is.
Co K. 130 US. N. G.
answer soon H. Gaskill
The southern third of Illinois has long been called “Little Egypt.” Early settlers were devoted Bible readers, and far away biblical landscapes were as real to them as the plains and valleys where they began farming. The low river plains and great watercourses suggested the Nile delta delta to them, so the town at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers became Cairo. The relic mounds and pyramids from extinct indigenous peoples suggested Egyptian tombs, and as towns were settled, names were drawn from a middle-eastern gazetteer: Karnak, Metropolis, Lebanon, Sparta, Thebes, Dongola, and further south in Tennessee, Memphis. Original agricultural settlers were drawn from Ohio River communities further upstream, and southern values tended to prevail, even to a certain recognizable southern twang in speech. A degree of slavery was permitted before Illinois was made a state, and after statehood was viewed less unfavorably than in further north, and exemptions allowed a small number of slaves to be maintained up to the time of the civil war.
Henry Harold Gaskill was 24 years old when he sent this postcard back home to Iva Ott, herself not quite 26. He had been working as a farm laborer in Pulaski County some 120 miles south near the Ohio River as recently as 4 months before, and prior to that time his family situation had been somewhat unstable for most of his life. He was born 15 August 1893 in Orchardville, just 7 miles west of Johnsonville where Iva lived in Wayne County, IL. His parents were Henderson Gaskill and Eliza Jane Barnard, but when he was 16 months old his mother died, and his father was challenged to take care of an infant and two older children from an earlier marriage to Elizabeth Sering, who died in 1889. Henry Harold Gaskill’s siblings were orphaned twice: John Arthur Gaskill at 5, then again at 10; Bess at 4, then again at 8.
By 1900 when Henry Harold Gaskill was 5 years old, he was under the care of his grandparents, John and Elizabeth Barnard in Arrington township in Wayne County, IL. John died in 1901, and Elizabeth died in 1906, and Henry’s whereabouts for the next ten years are not known. He had an uncle Horace Gaskill in Orel township, Wayne County, and he may have found harbor there.
When her mother died in 1889, Henry’s half-sister Bess Gaskill came under the care of her mother’s sister, Mary Evelyn Jaques in Boone County, IN where her father Henderson Gaskill lived with her mother in 1880. She remained there most of her life, maintaining an alliance with her cousin Jeanette, both remaining single and living together through 1940.
Henry’s half-brother John Arthur Gaskill was 16 in 1900, and his whereabouts at that time are not known, but in 1908 he married Lillian Stahlheber in Pulaski County on the banks of the Ohio River and became a farmer. It is in Pulaski County that Henry is to be found again in 1917, where he was a farm laborer in Grand Chain. By this time his half-brother had become a coal miner in Marion, Williamson County, IL some 40 miles north of the Ohio River.
As his children were scattered, their father Henderson Gaskill in 1900 went to live with his sister Ellen and brother-in-law Joseph W. Simmons in Mt. Vernon, Jefferson County, IL, a community 40 miles further north from Marion, about 25 miles south of Wayne County, IL.
After Henry penned the postcard to Iva, he completed his training at Camp Logan and shipped out to Europe on May 16, 1918. His unit served in the battles of Meuse-Argonne and Somme, returned to the states and was discharged at Camp Grant in Rockford, IL on 31 May 1919. Shortly afterward he married Ina Culbertson, daughter of Isaac Culbertson from Pulaski County where his brother had been living. They moved to West Frankfort in Franklin County, where Henry worked in the coal mines; his brother at this time was in Marion City in Williamson County about 12 miles south. Both worked in Coal Mines, possibly Johnson City Coal Company located between the two towns where John had been an employee in 1917.
Iva Ott was the daughter of Daniel Ott (1859-1941) and Sarah Sellers (1873-1947), sister to her twin Grace, born 17 December 1891) and to younger twins Elmer and Etta (13 October 1894), and singletons James Fred (1907-1966) and Bertha (1910-86). When she received the postcard she was quite likely working as a hired girl for her father’s neighbors, Joseph and Melvina Brown, which she would continue to do until she married Jesse Pearl Young, and moved in with him and his mother. They remained in Johnsonville until their deaths in 1977, having no children. They are buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Orchardville, Wayne County, IL.
Henry and Ina would stay in West Frankfort through about 1935, when they moved to East St. Louis, IL. They had two daughters, Zara Lee, who married George Russell Lane, and Florence Marion, who married Maurice Willard Crocker. His father Henderson Gaskill married a third time to Charity Stockwell, and fathered a child that died in infancy in 1904, followed by the death of Charity in 1913. By 1920 he had moved in with Henry’s half-brother, John Arthur in Marion, IL sharing the household with his five-year old granddaughter, Clara. Henderson Gaskill died in 1925 and was buried in Fairview Cemetery in West Frankfort, Franklin County, IL. John Arthur Gaskill moved to Dubuque, IA by 1930 and found work as a bond salesman. He died in 1936 and his daughter Clara married Gerald Engelcke and moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin with her mother. Henry Harold Gaskill died in 1958 and was buried in Grand Chain Masonic cemetery in Pulaski County, IL near his half-brother John Arthur.