Van Gundy Family Tree

Notes for Joseph Heberdon POWELL

Joe seems to have been a free spirit and quite a character. He attained 32nd degree Mason and was a member of the Sullivan IL Lodge.

Residences & events:

Sullivan, Moultrie Co, IL

This item from the Decatur, IL newspaper is placed here for safe keeping until the correct Powell has been identified but it seems like something Joe would have done:

1/27/1893 "Last Saturday two young men, Dick Vaughan and John Powell, and a boy, Charley Bailey, all of whom live some six miles west of Sullivan, were arrested for stealing turkeys in that neighborhood. There was not time to hear the evidence Saturday and they were lodged in jail to await trial Tuesday. In the trial before Squire Campbell no evidence was found against Bailey, who was dismissed. Powell gave bail and was released. Vaughan was unable to fill his bond and was taken back to the jail. Six turkeys were stolen and sold to Dawdy, a poultry dealer here."

6/5/1900 Chicago, Cook Co, IL was his address at census time. He was 21, an expressman on the railroad, and a resident in a boarding house run by William Miller.

8/1901 Mattoon, Coles Co, IL. He and Pearl moved a few months after their marriage.

1902 Joe landed a position on the Illinois Central Railroad, working in various capacities until eventually becoming a conductor. He also operated the Yellow Cab Line in Mattoon in addition to the railroad.

The following newspaper account (date unknown) reported another of Joe's tradegies:

"Double Wreck Causes Serious Injuries

Joe Powell of Mattoon was seriously injured about 10:30 o'clock on Monday night when he was struck by a truck driven by Russell Jenkins of this city. Powell, in the company of two companions, Messrs. Crabtree and Morrison, met with an accident about a half mile north of Allenville when the car he was driving left the road and was badly damaged. The three men had started to walk to Allenville, but were mistaken in the direction and were going toward Sullivan instead.
Mr. Jenkins approached in his truck and on account of the atmospheric condition did not notice the men until one stepped in front of his truck and tried to get a ride. Powell was struck by the truck and badly injured. When he found it impossible to get Powell in
the truck, Mr. Jenkins came on to Sullivan and notified the sheriff, G.D. Edmonds, who in company with Leonard McMullin motored to the scene of the accident. In the meantime, however, Mr. Schwengel, the Neoga undertaker had come along and had taken the man to the Memorial hospital in Mattoon for treatment.
According to reports, Powell, with his two companions had been drinking in Mattoon and then started on to Sullivan and were north of Allenville, when they lost control of the car and it overturned. Neither of the two other men were hurt."

4/16/1910 Oklahoma City Ward 1, Oklahoma Co, OK, By the next census the couple had moved west. Listed as Joe H, 31, proprietor of a messanger service, he had been married 9 years to Pearl, also 31, who had never had any children. They had a roomer at the time, 31 year old Eugene McGovern, house carpenter from Australia.

7/25/1917 Joe, in the company of his wife and his sister, Puss, visited cousins, George, John, and Buell Powell in Princeton, MO. on their way to Boulder, CO, for the summer.

9/12/1918 He lived at 1320 Broadway, Mattoon, Coles Co, IL when he registered for the draft at age 39. Wife Pearl May was next of kin and he worked as a baggage agent for the IL Central Railroad in Mattoon. He was medium height, medium build with brown eyes and dark hair.

1/3/1920 Mattoon, IL, 18th & Wabash Ave area. Joseph and Pearl, both 41, lived in a rented house that year at census time. They lived alone and Joe's occupation was proprietor of a transfer company.

1925 The following article was found in a scrapbook of relatives in Mercer Co, MO:

"Former Mercer County People Adopt Babies

J.H. Powell, a former Mercer County son, gets a write-up in the 'Illinois Central Railroad Magazine' as follows: 'Two tiny twin girls, who were brought into the world December
8th at the Miller Hospital at Winslow, Ind., have been the central figure of a tragic drama that has caught the attention of all railway folk in Mattoon, Ill.
Their mother, Mrs. Jasper Nolan, died within six hours after their birth. Their father, a Southern railway section laborer, who was the father of five other small children, felt that he could not properly take care of such small babies and said he was willing to give them away for adoption. They weighed just six pounds each and the tiny bits of humanity soon found their way into the affections of the nurses and doctors who had them in charge. In fact, they were named Catherine Rae and Maxine Rae after Miss Catherine Rosebrough and Miss Maxine Smith, the nurses who cared for them.....
Mrs. Powell got in touch with the hospital and went down to see the Board of Judges, and was awarded the children. Mr. Powell's economic condition and his position as a leading citizen of Mattoon combined with his high religious standards, moved the Board to choose him as a 'Foster father for the twins.'
Hardly able to realize her good fortune, Mrs. Powell made arrangements to bring them home. 'I just couldn't hardly believe I would have the good luck to be chosen from so many applicants,' said Mrs. Powell.
She was impressed with the kindness of the people she met, as everyone with whom she came in contact was anxious to help her with the children.
She changed trains at Browns, Ill, taking the Illinois Central from there. The agent at Browns helped make her and her little charges as comfortable as possible in the station, then called Mattoon to advise Mr. Powell the train on which Mrs. Powell would arrive. The
news evidently spread rapidly through the little town of Browns, as there was soon quite an audience at the Station to get a peep at the babies.
The twins seemed very happy in their new home and had the care and attention lavished on them by their happy new parents by thriving and gaining steadily and Mrs. Powell, who is the personification of motherliness, said she was having the time of her life caring for them; however, their happiness was brief, as the dread epidemic of flu caught both of the infants in its grasp, and in spite of the best medical care obtainable, little Maxine Rae developed pneumonia and released her slender hold on life the morning of January 29th. The life of little Catherine Rae was dispaired of for several days, but after a desperate fight waged by the plucky little mite, at the time of this writing she is out of danger and hopes are maintained for her complete recovery.
Mr. Powell says he is perfectly willing to answer a call any time in the night to quiet this little recruit into the Illinois family.
The J.H. Powell and wife are known here by many people; they visitied here several times with relatives. J.H. is a son of Nelson E. Powell, formerly of this county, that many old settlers remember.
J.H Powell writes his cousin, John E. Powell, that their little charge is a wonderful baby."

1930 Where were Joe and Pearl that year at census time?

10/1/1944 Joe retired from the railroad.

1951 Their anniversary celebration was reported by the newspaper, along with their photo: "Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Powell observed their golden wedding anniversary March 26 at their home, 1520 Edgar avenue, with open house from one until nine o'clock and also with a marriage ceremony, in renewal of their vows. Rev. J.F. McMahan, assisted by Dr. James M. Lively, officiated at the ceremony. Mr. and Mrs. Powell were attended by Mrs. Mary C. Cavanaugh and R.E. Van Gundy (nephew). The bride wore a blue taffeta dress and a corsage of yellow carnations.....
One hundred and fifty guests called at the Powelll home on Monday. The house was gaily decorated with bouquets of cut spring flowers. A three tiered wedding cake decorated in white and gold centered the refreshment table.
Mrs. Warren Arthur, Mrs. Earl Fitt, Mrs. J.D. Van Gundy, Mrs. Harry Parkison, Miss Doris Van Gundy and Miss Edna Young (all nieces) were hostesses for the open house and also served the refreshments."

There were other family members among the out of town guests: Mr & Mrs Stanley Walker, Mr & Mrs Earl Powell, and Mr and Mrs Dewey Deckard of Decatur.

1955 Decatur, IL.

A great niece, Dorisgene Van Gundy Webb, remembers these special ancestors:

"I've heard the phrase 'This is my favorite aunt, or uncle.' Always liked to hear it myself. But in my case each one had a special place in my heart!

There was 'Big' Uncle Joe and Aunt Pearl. My first memory of going to the Powell reunion at Wyman Park (in Sullivan, IL) was going with Uncle Joe, he had a car! We would make speed on the straight-away, then turn the key off and coast down the hill. I would have never known that was the way to conserve gas! On Saturday nights he and Aunt Pearl would come over and we'd all stand around the piano and sing his favorite song....Carolina Moon. Aunt Pearl was always fascinated about my ability to stand on my head...the first thing she always wanted me to do for her! (I was told it was supposed to make you my case, it didn't work!) One of her famous quips was when she answered her door one evening and was asked by the gentleman standing there, 'Are you the lady that 'entertained?' She said , 'Oh my no, honey, I don't even have a radio!' "

(The family distinguished between their uncles by referring to "Big Uncle Joe" Heberdon Powell and "Little Uncle Joe" Glen Powell.)

His obituary states he was born in Moultrie Co, IL, near Arthur.

His obituary related the details of the accident which killed him:

"Joseph H. Powell passes away Wednesday morning from injuries received in an auto crash near Dalton City, on March 28. He was a passenger in a car driven by Mrs. Ella C. Nihiser. The accident occurred when the Nihiser car crashed into another car slowing for a school bus to turn. The accident was on Route 121, about three miles west of Dalton

His gravestone is completely covered on one side with a drawing of a train caboose, a tribute to his profession as a railroad man. The funeral services were held at the First Christian Church of Mattoon on Friday afternoon at 2 PM.

Copyright 2010 by BJ Van Gundy

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