Chester Jackson

Chester Eliphalet Jackson, 1845-1930

Of all the characters back along branches of my extensive family tree, Chester Eliphalet Jackson easily qualifies as the most fascinating.  Farmer, explorer, diplomat, husband, father, speculator, orchardist, legislator, traveler and finally grandfather -- his was clearly a varied and exciting life.  We may be grateful he took time to court and marry Eliza Frances Keys and with her raise three girls, one of whom was my grandmother.

This section, in multiple pages, contains links to many documents and not a few photographs, and some of the documents are lengthy.  The portrait above is just one of Chester found in the files; others are below:

CEJ - undated-16 CEJ - undated-17 Chester E Jackson - 1870-15 Chester E Jackson - 1897-18
CEJ - undated-16.jpg CEJ - undated-17.jpg Chester E Jackson - 1870-15.jpg Chester E Jackson - 1897-18.jpg
Chester E Jackson - 1920-15 Chester E Jackson - member, House of Representatives - 1897-15 Chester E Jackson - taken on way to Antigua to take Consul position - 9-1878-18 Chester E Jackson - undated-VelvetAlbum
Chester E Jackson - 1920-15.jpg Chester E Jackson - member, House of Representatives - 1897-15.jpg Chester E Jackson - taken on way to Antigua to take Consul position - 9-1878-18.jpg Chester E Jackson - undated-VelvetAlbum.jpg
Chester E Jackson as US Consul to Antigua Chester Jackson - about 76 yrs old - ca 2-17-1922-22    
Chester E Jackson as US Consul to Antigua.jpg Chester Jackson - about 76 yrs old - ca 2-17-1922-22.jpg

I will not repeat Chester's biography.  That document was prepared several decades ago, and recently updated to account for some recent discoveries.  The biography is contained in the Chester E. Jackson monograph PDF (** REVISED 4/10/12 **).

The remainder of Chester's history is presented in a series of documents most of which were discovered since the writing of the biography (selected scanned or extracted correspondence is on the next page) -- many of these documents will appear reduced on the screen; use the cursor-magnifier glass to enlarge.

I have included comments offered when the letters were originally circulated to family.  I have also included some family members' responses to my original email -- my most prolific responder, my uncle Richard Bates, is identified as "RCB".

  • Before any of his trips, on January 4, 1870, Chester executed a short-term promissory note for $250 (equivalent to $4256 in 2010), for purposes unknown.


After father Jacob died, Chester was burdened with running the farm and keeping things together for young brother Charles.  His mother, Fannie Goodrich, was mentally impaired at middle age.  I have seen one of her attempts to write which suggests that it was organic brain damage rather than a psychosis. Chester's trip down the Mississippi was a winter relief from the considerable burdens at home. 

He must have borrowed money to meet a shortage of cash between crops -- you remember my discussion of how La Mott profited from bailing out farmers.

However, when your Mother visited Charles in New Jersey she asked him why Chester left the farm and he retorted, enigmatically, "Girl trouble".

Chester never went back to visit his mother and never mentioned her to his daughters.  As you know, he wrote an extensive biography of his father.

  • Chester traveled down the Mississippi in the winter of 1874-75 (according to his annotated map).  Later, Wilma (Jackson) Bates recalled (ca 10/4/1942):

Grandma [Jackson] was recalling today Grandpa's experiences in New Orleans as a young man fresh from the farm, kind and gullible. Some sharpsters (I don't know how but probably by chance or card game) fleeced him out of 70.00 & forced him to send home to his father for funds! I wrote to Jack -- "Let this be a lesson to you."

That's $103 in 1942 dollars and $1373 in 2010's.


Sorry, Mother. Chester's father, Jacob, died in 1871 whereupon Chester took over the running of their Racine farm.  It was to escape the monotony of farming during the winter months that Chester, age 29,  took off down the Mississippi in 1875.  Perhaps he wrote back to his younger brother or his mother for more of the farm money.

  • In preparation for the Orinoco expedition, Chester needed a passport to Venezuela.  I have the original of that passport, signed January 20, 1876, for all we can tell by the famous Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, and it is amazing if for no other reason that it is 18 inches high!  Other features:

    1) Issue date is 1/20/1876.  Chester notes in the Orinoco Diary that they picked up the passports in NYC on 1/24.  In his separate recollections regarding the trip, he notes consulting an attorney in Rochester on 1/19 or 1/20 about getting the passports, so we may conclude that the information was wired to D.C., the passport issued almost instantly, and the document couriered to NYC by train.  Try to get that kind of service today!

    2) Note how they dealt with physical description in days before photography.

    3) He was issued a Venezuelan visa in Trinidad on 2/10/1976.  This is nowhere mentioned in either Diary or recollections.

  • The Orinoco Diary -- Chester's account of his expedition to the Orinoco River in Venezuela, accompanied by William Temple Hornaday, who would later become one of the preeminent naturalists of his time and founder of the Bronx Zoo.  (The Diary is also part of the Chester Jackson monograph, above.  The version presented in both locations is low resolution; some of the maps will not zoom well; a high resolution version is available.)

    Note from Gregory Dehler, who did his PhD thesis on Hornaday, 4/3/2012:  "[In the Library of Congress archives is] a copy of the contract between Ward and Chester for the South American expedition. I thought it was interesting that Ward paid Hornaday a salary and Jackson received a percentage of all that he collected. The rate was 5% of the specimen value."

  • Letters from William Hornaday, 1876-79 -- written by Hornaday while on his second major specimen-collecting expedition, this one via London and Paris to India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Singapore and Borneo.  These letters were discovered only recently in materials handed down from Chester to his daughters to Emily (Bates) Haynes to myself, and were heretofore unknown to Hornaday biographers and researchers.  (The letters will be mentioned in a forthcoming book about Hornaday written by Gregory Dehler.)

    All the letters contain multiple interesting details of Hornaday's travels and adventures, but for us descendants of Chester Jackson, Hornaday's advice on romantic matters is of special interest given Chester's marriage five years later to Eliza Keys.  William Hornaday writing Chester from Paris in December 1876 (six months after return from the Orinoco expedition):

Just now, nothing can dash my spirits to any extent. Everything is perfectly square and lovely at home. I am in splendid fighting trim, and have untold happiness at the end of the struggle ready and waiting for me with open arms [reference to his future wife, Josephine]. Old fellow, I do wish you would fall dead in love with Miss ____, for you would immediately find yourself in another world entirely. There's absolutely nothing like it! For my part I feel a calm and happy tranquility -- all the while all tasks are play, and I seem to tread on air. Because I know she's true! Well, now, don't be afraid to love the girl for fear she can't be lassooed. My pard, that's the very way to win her. My word for it, only love her enough and she's yours. Like begets like, and if she won't capitulate without a siege, just lay siege, and sooner or later she must surrender. A siege will in time reduce any fortress. Darn my eyes, I believe I could win almost any girl that I set my head to, not on my merits I beg to assure you, but by pure force of arms and unceasing persistence.

... [I]t's decidedly dangerous to ever tell a fellow you wish he would marry a certain girl, for as sure as you do he will go off and marry some other girl, or else none at all. Such is nature! But pard, your years are slipping by, and it's time you had a young one on your knee yelling for a tin whistle or a shingle off the house. I don't want to see you an old bach, for then how in the old Harry am I to bring my wife to see you?

... Now Chet, I am sure you esteem the L__ark very highly, and if some other fellow was to come along to carry her off, you'd wake up as sharply as you did that time when the ant bit you in the night on the Toro! But then you're near the game and can keep an eye on it. But I must say no more since I really hope you will fall dead in love with her, and you are sure not to if I tell you had better and hope you will. Henceforth I must hold my peace and and await developments.

The letters' other contents:

1) The perfect gift to give one's beloved before setting off to travel to London, Paris, India, Ceylon, Singapore and Borneo.

2) The approximate date Chester learned of his appointment as U.S. Consul to Antigua.

3) Use of the phrase "white feather" years before I thought it gained currency. (Turns out it had actually been in use since early in the 19th century and was a fairly commonly used phrase by the time Hornaday wrote the letter.)

4) A man romanticizing Mary Queen of Scots long before the movies (but after Donizetti wrote his "Maria Stuarda") and providing first person account of vandalism done to her tomb in Westminster Abbey, which was itself also defaced by graffiti.

5) Several descriptions of rapacious trophy killing, from a man who would -- in a seeming paradox -- found the exemplar of all zoological parks, the Bronx Zoo. One letter dealt with hunting in India at the height of the "British Raj," when servants could be hired for $2/month.

6) A first-person account of the consequences in London of heating with coal.

7) A comparison of English and French cuisine 130 years ago (guess which one wins).

8) Hazards of doing naturalist field work (hint: you become part of the menu).

9) An ode comparing the love of a sweetheart with bonhomie of a male friend.

10) You will learn that Lizzie seems to have spurned Chester's first proposal of marriage! (This is my conclusion, although some later evidence suggests it may have been an earlier belle -- consider the censored name on p. 61. And then read p. 95 for a real eye-opener.)

  • ** NEW (4/7/12) ** Chester was appointed U.S. Consul to the British West Indies colony of Antigua (and Barbuda) on July 18, 1878.  Signed by Frederick W. Seward, Assistant Secretary of State, son of the man famous for "Seward's Folly" -- the purchase of Alaska.  (Original document held by Jeffrey Haynes.)

  • ** NEW (4/7/12) ** Her Majesty's government accepted Chester's Consul appointment by a sealed document bearing -- to all appearances -- Queen Victoria's signature ("Victoria Reg") in the upper left corner, dated November 6, 1878.  We do not know where the confirmation was sent to Chester, although I suspect it must have been to Antigua.

  • In March 1879, after he became engaged to Eliza Keys, Chester returned to Antigua to resume his Consul position.  He kept a journal during the voyage, which he also directed to Eliza and sent to her upon his arrival.  (You may view a second version of the journal which includes the handwritten pages.)

    Can one come to understand a man 80-years dead?  Would a man raised under Victorian or even Puritan mores unburden himself sufficiently, and his writing saved for 132 years be intelligible to us his far distant descendants, such that some great portion of the man comes through so that we better comprehend what made him tick?

    You'll need to judge for yourself, but based on this document, I think so.

    On Chester Jackson's voyage to Antigua in March-April 1879 he had plenty of time to anticipate his forthcoming marriage to Eliza Keys.  So he poured out his thoughts in fifty pages of a small pocket diary, which he then mailed to Eliza upon reaching Antigua.  This is in effect a 50 page-long love letter and confession.

  • In 1880 Chester sought to have Congress increase the funding for his Consular office.  He renewed the request later that year.

  • Chester married Eliza Frances Keys on April 15, 1881, in Holley, NY.  Their wedding invitation.  They returned to Antigua, where Eliza bore them three daughters, Myra (1882), Wilma (1884) and Beulah (1885).

  • In approximately 1881, American Export Journal published an article speaking favorably of Chester's efforts in Antigua.

  • Chester worked with the Antiguan legislature to enact an exemption from import duties for items brought in for exhibit, in effect in February 1881.

  • Chester's cousin William Jackson lived in Jackson, MI, in 1883; Chester wrote an article for publication in the Jackson newspaper describing fruit to be found on Antigua.

  • Twice during his tenure in Antigua -- 1884 and 1889 -- Chester had auctioned goods held or owned by the Consul's office.  The reason for the auction is unclear; so far as can be determined proceeds from the auction went into supporting the Consul's office.  (My current speculation:  items sent to the Consul for display as U.S.-manufactured goods were auctioned after their exhibition.)

  • In a matter of little import, in 1884 Chester was solicited by persons on another B.W.I. island for a financial contribution to support a U.S. Consular Agent whose home had been destroyed by fire.

  • By 1886 Chester's efforts as U.S. Consul were well appreciated by the Antiguan press.

  • "Something About Sharks" - a piece Chester wrote in 1886, perhaps intended for publication.

  • On August 2, 1887, Chester purchased "the balance of the stock of the old issue of the fourpenny (4p) and sixpenny (6p) postage stamps, belonging to the [British] Virgin Islands."

    For those of us in the family who have lived with this "legend" -- suspected by some as apocryphal -- this is the smoking gun:  the certificate apparently acquired and then used by Chester Jackson to authenticate his 1887 purchase of £56 of Virgin Islands stamps that he then held for sixteen years, took to England, and sold for enough money to fund the building of the Jackson-Bates family home in Ovid, which comprised a substantial portion of Grandma's estate in 1981. 

    How many can trace the growth of an investment/asset through only four transformations (cash-to-stamps [1887], stamps-to-cash [1904], cash-to-house [ca 1907], and house-to-cash[1981]) -- over 94 years?

    This clears up one thing -- Chester did not take advantage of his position as Consul to buy Antiguan stamps -- the stamps purchased were apparently of the British Virgin Islands.  (They could not have been stamps of the Danish West Indies, since those islands did not become the U.S. Virgin Islands until 1916.)

    By the way, £56 in 1887 equals $2,878 in 1981 dollars; the house was worth many times that.

    RCB:  "I have believed that he made a big profit because there was a rush by British philatelists to collect stamps from all the  Commonwealth countries."

  • The President of Antigua wrote a quaint congratulatory proclamation on the occasion of July 4, 1888.

  • Journalist and author Poultney Bigelow visited Antigua in 1889, met Chester and family, and in 1889-90 wrote "A Cruise Around Antigua" for The Cosmopolitan -- parts 1 and 2.

  • Again, sometime during his stay in Antigua, he wrote "A Sunday Walk in Antigua," perhaps intended for publication. 

  • The "Last Will and Testament of George Martin." Martin, apparently a resident of the British Virgin Island of Tortola, executed his will in 1816.  A typewritten copy of the will was in Chester's files, but we have no hint exactly why he acquired it.  The only indication that it comes from his period as U.S. Consul was a note by Grandma or one of the aunts saying "Antigua." 

    It is dense, and hard to read (a function of its time of writing), but very, very interesting in portraying this man George Martin, apparently a wealthy white individual living in Tortola, one of the British Virgin Islands, where at the time of writing slavery still existed.  (See Wikipedia's article on Slavery in the British Virgin Islands.)   We don't often see the word "manumit" these days.

    Examining the original document, I saw that the paper has a watermark -- the watermark of the U.S. Department of State. 

    I've concluded that either, 1) Chester came across the document and had it transcribed by his office staff (although I doubt he would have seen a Tortola document in Antigua); or, 2) his counterpart consul on Tortola had seen the document, had copies made and then circulated them as "curiosities" to his counterparts on other Caribbean islands. 

    Chester, being solidly from the north and with the Civil War still fresh in memory, may have found this either a) curious, b) abhorrent, or c) liberating.

  • Sometime during his time in Antigua, we may presume, Chester recorded "The Song of the Katy-did," in a Caribbean dialect.  And also at some point he recorded a bunch of what he called "West India Proverbs," in Caribbean native dialect.  I can't authenticate their authenticity, although similar versions of some of the Proverbs may be found in Jamaica.

  • Presumably after Eliza returned to Holley, NY, Chester rented quarters in St. John, Antigua for a month in January 1890.

  • In 1890, Chester was reported in a local news item to have opened a quarry near Holley, NY.  (Holley was the hometown of his wife, Eliza.)  This venture must have been short-lived, since he moved soon thereafter to Ovid, MI.  (Another contemporary Holley Keys family member also had a quarry venture at about the same time.)

  • Undated clipping saved by Chester Jackson, probably ca. July or August 1890:

    "Mr. C.E. Jackson, late U.S. Consul at Antigua, West India Islands, and a brother-in-law of Mr. H.N. Keys of this place, sent a few days ago to the latter gentleman a painting of Saint Thomas, one of the apostles.  It was a rare painting and Mr. Keys found that the 149 years since it was executed had told upon it and as he is considerable of an artist himself, at once set about to restore it to its original appearance and had it insured for $300.  Mr. Keys is the custodian of numerous relics of his brother-in-law and this one especially should be seen to be admired.  He wished to know a little more of its history and so wrote to a friend at Buffalo and received the following reply:

Buffalo, July 28, 1890.

Mr. H.N. Keys, My Dear Sir:

'St. Thomas' was painted in 1751 in Mexico, by Michael [Miguel] Cabrera, of the school of Murillo, and is one of a set of four apostles painted by him at that time.  Of the other three I have 'St. John.'  Cabrera had a commission to paint 20 large pictures for a monastery at Tepozottan, for which he received $10,000.  When Juarez came on deck after the overthrow of Maximillian, his men sacked the monastery and its paintings, after several years came as so much rubbish into the hands of my friend Sr. Eufemio Abadiano, an art conneisuer [sic] of Mexico City, who sold the two to me.  Am glad Thomas arrived safely; I paid the freight on him as far as I could.

Yours truly,

W.T. Hornaday

"Mr. K. will soon have the picture ready to be seen and will set apart some evening when he would be pleased to have any of his friends call and view it."

Randall Smith presently has this painting, hanging in his home.

Randy's comments (3/20/2012) regarding provenance and present situation of the painting:

Yes, this information was copied to the family shortly after the life size oil painting arrived safely here in the early 1980s.  Your mother forwarded the original Hornaday letter to Uncle Horace on receipt of her share of the cost paid to each sibling.  She had wanted the painting donated to an art museum in Grand Rapids, but I rather strenuously objected and offered to purchase it for its appraised value rather than have it leave the family. 

Hornaday's letter dated 28 July 1890 on Union Land Exchange, Buffalo, NY., 'W. T. Hornaday, Secretary,' stationery is framed next to the painting ....  As you know, Chester traded a complete suit of Japanese armor to Hornaday for the painting. 

The painting was in Ovid for more than 90 years.  Uncle Horace's rather primitive repair of holes in the canvas and burn marks on the portrait were professionally repaired with a thorough cleaning and restoration in San Francisco.    The entire work was reframed  including the narrow original frame near the century anniversary of the image coming to our family. 

Most of Cabrera's work was destroyed by revolutionaries in the 1860s as he was considered a Spanish colonial artist.  However, if you get to Taxco, the cathedral there has several of his pieces which are very recognizable from the image so familiar to us.

  • Chester and Eliza executed a mortgage for Ovid property on June 29, 1893.


Ezekial DeCamp lived in the big house to the East.  His daughter, Antha DeCamp, married Eliza's brother, Horace Keys, who worked for his father-in-law in the bank and is the notary on this paper.  Horace was responsible for getting Chester to come to Ovid from Holley, NY.

So, Chester didn't buy the farm in one lump sum after returning from England where he sold the stamps: there was a [prior] mortgage on the balance.

SLH:  Actually, I think he purchased the entire land with proceeds from the mortgage, then used the stamps proceeds to build the house.

  • Once the land was acquired, Chester established his orchards (we do not know whether he planted them anew or acquired land with orchards already in place).  RCB's recollections (1/15/2012) of the apple orchards:

Grandpa Jackson's orchards gradually deteriorated with age and black spot. Perhaps he wasn't as careful with spraying. The 'cold storage' was a special barn straight north from the house designed purely for storing apples which were piled in bins in the basement.  There, they were prey to hordes of rats which [brother] Jack and the hired man's son enjoyed shooting with BB guns. When they had killed 100 rats, the Aunts put on a special lunch for them with dishes named for their achievement.  I remember 'ratatouille' for one.

Father [Bion] felt that Grandfather should sort out the good, unblemished apples and sell them at a premium, but Grandfather felt that the good apples would help sell the flawed ones which he did with poor success. One year he sold the whole crop on contract whereupon the wholesaler proceeded to do just what Father suggested.

Aunt My [Myra], Grandma [Eliza] and the hired man tried to keep up the orchards after Grandfather died but the apples were scabby and only good for cider.  After Father and Mother [Wilma] moved up to the Jackson house, Father had a bull-dozer push down 40 acres of old trees, piling them in windrows.  He cut a lot of them up for firewood which was stored in the main barn and advertised for sale in the Lansing paper. There wasn't much demand for it, although apple wood is much prized for fire-place fires.

  • In April 1896 Chester sent the Virgin Islands stamps to a bank in New York City (valued at $4,324.50), presumably in an attempt (first attempt?) to sell them.

  • Chester Jackson's 1897-98 service in the Michigan Legislature was recorded in an undated document.

  • In 1903, Chester traveled to England to sell the British Virgin Islands stamps he had purchased near the end of his Consulship in Antigua.  He kept a journal.  Unfortunately, he did not record the sale price.

  • A tinted photograph or etching Chester received from Hornaday with a note:  "A Sheep-Hunter's Camp-Fire / On Rattlesnake Mountain, Wyoming, Nov. 14, 1889 / To Chester E. Jackson, Mar. 4, 1905 From W.T. Hornaday."  (The print hangs on our wall.)

    Note from Gregory Dehler, who did his PhD thesis on Hornaday, 4/3/2012:  "I went through some of my notes from the Library of Congress. Because I was pressed for time I did not make any copies. I have some notes for a letter WTH wrote to 'Pard' in August 1905 before he set out for his hunting trip in British Columbia (covered in Campfires on the Canadian Rockies). I would guess he sent that photo (what a great family heirloom!) around that time. He was clearly thinking of his old hunting partner when setting out in a new venture."

    RCB:  "Grandpa Jackson had a rack of mountain goat horns like those in the picture nailed to the wall outside the back door.  I've always wondered where he got them."

  • Letterhead in Chester's documents (letter date 1/21/1912):

    County Agent
    State Board Corrections
    Clinton County

We know nothing of this duty.

  • Chester writing Beulah Jackson, 4/14/1912 (extract):

    "We saw in the St. Johns paper that Nelson Keys had got his foot crushed way down in southern Indiana by the cars and that Bertha had gone to him.  Today Ma phoned Bertha & found that she had brought Nelson home on a stretcher, his foot having been amputated before B got there, I believe.  Bad business.  It seems he was walking on the track and slipped before a freight train."

    This refers to Nelson Rowell Keys, b. 1892.

    RCB:  "I'm skeptical of the report of how it happened.  This was a fairly common accident to people who were 'hopping freights'  and missed a hand hold on the moving car."

  • Chester letter re hunting bobcats - 2/12/1915.  No one writes like this anymore:

    Your lively and most acceptable epistles of date the 6th inst came in quick time and were as stimulating as Mountain air and the bellowing of hounds in the chase of the elusive bob-cat.

    So begins a Chester Jackson letter dated Feb. 12, 1915.  The letter may be a draft of what was actually sent; the original is now held by Randall Smith.

  • A significant event:  burning of the Jackson barn on September 28, 1916.


This is a priceless family annal that I had no idea existed.  I've long had an impression that someone once told me that Aunt My [Myra Jackson] was responsible for the barn fire, but haven't repeated it for fear I was wrong.

Not only does [this] document a huge fire that almost burned down two houses and another barn, but it discloses something about Chester's personality and an event that probably changed Myra's. Her honesty is admirable. Maybe this is part of why she never married? 

The house next door belonged to the Lowe's -- originally the DeCamps. 

Chester roofed over the basement of the barn and used it for a tool shed. I presume he used the insurance money to  buy the big main barn.  The "cold storage" was, I think, built when I was very young.

  • In January 1920 Chester visited Bermuda, and during the trip took a guided tour of Bermuda's Crystal Cave.  He recorded his impressions in a diary given to his daughter Wilma.

  • In 1921 Chester made a return voyage to Antigua and other Caribbean islands.  He obtained a new passport for the trip.  Photos from both the Bermuda and Caribbean trips (less Antigua) are in one PDF (the PDF denotes the Caribbean part as occurring in 1919 -- that's a mistake, since it was in 1921), and the Antigua visit portion of the Caribbean trip is in a separate PDF.

  • Some time after 1921 Chester annotated a Western Hemisphere map showing his various trips and voyages (ignore the red lines, which are part of the printed map).

  • Jackson Bates's recollection of an incident dated probably from sometime in the early 1920s:

Grandpa had a team of horses, three cows and a few pigs (for a very short time). I recall going to the barn and watching Grandpa milking the cows. He took delight in aiming the teat at a nearby cat and squeezing milk into the cat's face. Twice a day and every day in the week he would do the milking, carry the milk pail up to the house and pour it into a big metal milk can which was then taken to the milk factory every morning.

I don't believe this diagnosis, made in the home without any diagnostic aids:  no x-rays and no lab tests.  There was never any mention that Grandpa was jaundiced, certainly not in his casket where Aunt My -- to reassure me but instead shock me to my core -- leaned over and kissed him.  (Part of my shock was that Aunt My never kissed anyone.)  Undertaking fluids can wash out some of the bile pigments.  He did not look wasted or cachectic. 

In one place it is mentioned that he had a short illness; in another, Mother says he had been failing all winter. I only was aware of his illness for about two weeks. Cousin Lamott was called in consultation from Durand and there was mention of his tapping out a fluid level in the chest. 

In that time, people died of whatever the local physician said they died from, no autopsies and no questions asked. 

Incidentally, Father watched the undertaker embalm the body. The casket was in front of the picture window overlooking the front lawn and the service was held in the living room.

Wilma's contemporaneous account, in a letter written to Emily, April 21:

I wrote Ivalita this morning and told you about Grandpa.  The doctor didn't come til just before noon.  He says his condition is very serious ? that he is turning blue, then clearing up showing that his system isn't taking care of the poisons.  Papa has gone up now to talk with Grandma about having a doctor in for counsel.  I phoned Aunt Boo & she will come home tonight.  I'm sure Grandma will be glad to have her.  Aunt My is so nervous and can't control herself.  I am cool & collected here at home and do the telephoning.  Will go up this p.m.  Will phone you when we need you, dear.  Be brave, it's going to be hard for all of us.

Papa has just come in.  He says Grandma is trying hard to control herself but is in bad shape.  LaMott is coming up from Durand this afternoon.

Grandpa looks bad.  His pulse is coming up all the time and his breathing is gaspy, papa says.

Richard's further recollection:

Though but nine years old, I remember Lamott coming from Durand to consult, but it seems to me it was a few days before death. He was said to have percussed a fluid level in the chest. This letter clears up one question:  The death certificate says he died of "Acute Cholecystitis" -- gall bladder disease -- but I never heard that he was jaundiced, the sine qua non of that diagnosis. Indeed, this letter says he was blue -- not yellow -- had a rapid pulse and was short of breath, all compatible with heart or lung disease. Mother once wrote that he had "been failing all winter" and at another time that he died "after a short illness." Nowhere is there mention of pain, fever, cough or swelling.  Take your pick:  pneumonia, pulmonary emboli, congestive heart failure. 

Grandfather was blue-eyed and had spent many months under a tropical sun and in the orchards.  Apples were sprayed several times a year with "Bordeaux Mixture" of arsenate of lead and limed sulfur.  I have seen both Grandpa and the hired man coated with spray -- they never wore masks, so arsenic inhalation must have been inevitable. From the sun and/or the arsenic, he had severe keratoses of the back of his hands that he used to rub with "bag balm" and "Skin-Ku-Rill.''  It would not be surprising if some of these lesions were malignant, but I don't think this was a cancer death.

Correspondence is found on the next page.

Home Up Chester Eliphalet Jackson CEJ Forebears Eliza Frances Keys EFK Forebears