Progress Notes



Joe Pryor - News Tribune Article Monday, June 04, 2007


Monday, November 2, 2009

Progress Notes

Periodically, I have been telling the stories of those Miller County citizens who served their country in uniform in some extraordinary way. These are stories of honor, bravery, and sacrifice which should be made known to those of us living today, even if in some instances many years afterward, so that we might not ever forget, and thus be motivated to emulate them if ever the need arises in the future. Bob Tyler, former Iberia resident now living in Maryland, several months ago sent me the story of his brother, Ace Tyler, US Air Force bomber pilot who flew many missions before sacrificing his life far from home in Germany during WWII. This story was in the Progress Notes of April 27, 2009.

A couple of weeks ago I featured the story of James Edward Law, who died during the Bataan Death March in the Philippines during WWII, based on information supplied by family relatives Carrie Law Bond of Rocky Mount and Judith Hannah Myers of Dadeville, Missouri. This story was told in the Progress Notes of October 19, 2009.

Recently, Bob Tyler sent me another history of a serviceman who performed exceptionally during WWII, the story of Gail Popplewell, originally of Iberia. Gail was the son of James Isaac Popplewell, who was an uncle of Bob’s wife, Alice Steen, whose mother was Eula Popplewell, brother to Gail. Bob had compiled the story of Gail from military and family records. Here is his note to me followed by his story of Gail:

Joe,

I am attaching the summary I did of Gail Popplewell's military career. Another true hero! I thought the information on the Presidential Citation for his group was particularly interesting and impressive. Hope you can use the information in your military portion of the museum.

Bob

 

The Military History of Gail Popplewell (photo 01)

01 Gail Poppelwell in WWII Uniform
01 Gail Poppelwell in WWII Uniform

Gail Popplewell enlisted in the U. S. Air Corps on 9/17/42 at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. No information is available to determine where his basic training and advanced training occurred. Personnel records were housed in the Records Center in St. Louis; however, in the 1970’s a fire destroyed many of the records there, and his were among those burned. Through family records we know that he served as a gunner on a B-17. The usual training for this was the completion of gunnery school and then joining a crew. This crew of 10 then went through rigorous training in the U. S. before being sent to the European or Pacific theatre for combat. In Gail’s case, he was sent to Italy and was stationed at Foggia, Italy as part of the 15th Air Force. He was in the 463rd Bomb Group, 775th Squadron, serving with the 5th Bomb Wing.

Family records are somewhat confusing in regard to his group and missions completed. His tombstone lists his Bomb Wing as being 3/9. This is obviously an error since there were no numbers such as this used to designate the Bomb Wings. Also newspaper accounts and family accounts indicated that he completed his tour of duty which was 50 missions. It is felt that this is also an error, since at that time in the 15th Air Force, 35 missions were required. Also, in researching his missions in the National Archives, the number of missions found was 35. Regardless, the completion of this number of missions under the conditions existing was quite an accomplishment, since a large percentage of the bomber crews did not survive.

In order to lead up to details of the missions of Gail, a brief history of his Bomb Group is given. This information comes from the web site of the 463rd. This web site is 463rd.org and it contains a lot of information about the group.

The 463rd Bomb Group was activated on August 1, 1943 and the first station was Camp Rapid, Rapid City, South Dakota. Actual training took place at MacDill Field in Florida. By December, 1943, the group had a total of 70 crews in training. Late in December the group moved to Drane Field, Lakeland, Florida. Simulated combat missions were flown until early Feb, 1944, when ground personnel departed by ship from Newport News, Virginia and the air crews flew to Italy via the Caribbean, Brazil, and North Africa. The 463rd was the sixth and last B-17 group to arrive in Italy as part of the 15th Air Force. The first combat mission for this group was on March 30, 1944. The following statistics summarize the 463rd’s operations for the duration of the war:

          Total Sorties (missions)     6,966
          Combat Hours                  45,764
          Bomb Tonnage dropped   16,868
          Enemy planes destroyed         80
             “probably destroyed”           44
             “damaged”                            8
          463rd planes lost in combat    106

During Gail’s tour of duty, the most planes lost on one mission was 6 on May 10 and 5 on May 18. Gail participated in the May 18 mission, but not the mission of May 10. On most missions the number of planes from the group numbered in the 30’s. Of course, their group was joined by other groups in the Wing and even other Wings. It was not unusual to have a total of 300-400 planes on a particular mission.

For the majority of missions, Gail served as the left waist gunner. In a few, he was the right waist gunner. On most of the early missions, the pilot of the crew was Lt. Dwyer. In later missions, Lt. Pratt was the pilot of most missions. Although there was quite a lot of substitutions in crew members, it appears that the original crew had the following members:

          Dwyer
          Dale
          Gatz
          Beppler
          Piper
          Nicholopoulos
          Mitchell
          Pratt
          Popplewell
          Papazian

A brief description of each mission is given and will include:  Date, Target, Pilot, Plane No. flown, and significant results. The mission numbers given refer to Gail’s missions.

Mission #1 – Mar. 30, 1944, Imotski, Yugoslavia, Pilot-Dwyer, Plane #831.  Fortunately, this was a rather uneventful mission, with no flak encountered and no enemy fighters seen.

Mission #2 – April 3, 1944, Brod, Yugoslavia, Pilot-Drager, Plane #539

Mission #3 – April 5, 1944, Nis Airdrome, Yugoslavia, Pilot-Dwyer, Plane #804.  The plane returned with slight damage from flak.

Mission #4 – April 6, 1944, Zagreb Airdrome, Yugoslavia, Pilot-Dwyer, Plane #804.  There were several holes in the plane from flak and the ball turret gunner had frozen feet.

Mission #5 – April 7, 1944, Treviso, Italy, Pilot-Dwyer, Plane #105.  Plane had flak damage.

Mission #6 – April 13, 1944, Gyor, Hungary, Pilot-Dwyer, Plane #804.

Mission #7 – April 15, 1944, Ploesti, Rumania, Pilot-Dwyer, Plane #841.  Due to intense cloud cover no bombs were dropped.

Mission #8 – April 17, 1944, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Pilot-Dwyer, Plane #809.  Some flak damage.

Mission #9 – April 20, 1944, Vicenza, Italy, Pilot-Dwyer, Plane #824.

Mission #10 – April 23, 1944, Weiner/Neustadt, Austria, Pilot-Dwyer, Plane #804.  The group lost two B-17’s on this mission.

Mission #11 – April 24, 1944, Ploesti, Rumania, Pilot-Hanson, Plane #821.  15 enemy aircraft encountered in target area, 1 B-17 was lost, and plane #821 had flak damage.

Mission #12 – April 28, 1944, Piombino, Italy, Pilot-Dwyer, Plane #804

Mission #13 – April 30, 1944, Varese, Italy, Pilot-Dwyer, Plane #685.

Mission #14 – May 7, 1944, Bucharest, Romania, Pilot-Pratt, Plane #770.

Mission #15 – May 12, 1944, Porto Ferrajo, Italy, Pilot-Nichols, Plane #105

Mission #16 – May 13, 1944, Trento, Italy, Pilot-Nichols, Plane #105

Mission #17 – May 14, 1944, Piacenza/San Diamano, Italy, Pilot- Pratt, Plane #770.

Mission #18 – May 18, 1944, Ploesti, Rumania, Pilot- Pratt, Plane #770.  There was a large concentration of enemy fighters encountered (40-50).  The co-pilot was injured from a shell blast in the cockpit.  Six B-17’s were lost on this mission.  Note:  At the end of this listing of missions is further information about this particular mission.

Mission #19 – May 19, 1944, Portomaghera, Italy, Pilot-Davies, Plane #770.  Evidently, this plane was not severely damaged in the previous mission since it flew again on this date.

Mission #20 – May 22, 1944, Avezzano, Italy, Pilot-Pratt, Plane #770.

Mission #21 – May 24, 1944, Atzgersdorf, Austria, Pilot-Major Allyn (squadron commander), Plane #657.  One plane was lost from the 775th Squadron, 9 enemy aircraft were destroyed, and 3 damaged.  Plane #657 had @ 30 holes on return.

Mission #22 – May 26, 1944, St. Ettienne, France, Pilot-Pratt, Plane #770.

Mission #23 – May 29, 1944, Wallersdorf, Austria, Pilot-Pratt, Plane #770.

Mission #24 – May 30, 1944, Zagreb, Yugoslavia, Pilot- Major Allyn, Plane #742.

Mission #25– May 31, 1944, Ploesti, Rumania, Pilot- Pratt, Plane #770.

Mission #26 – June 2, 1944, Oradea, Romania, Pilot-Pratt, Plane #770.

Mission #27 – June 5, 1944, Pioppi Viaduct, Italy, Pilot-Pratt, Plane #770.  Plane received some flak damage.  One B-17 was lost to flak.

Mission #28 – June 6, 1944, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Pilot-Pratt, Plane #770.  One B-17 lost to flak.

Mission #29 – June 10, 1944, Mestre, Italy, Pilot-Capt. Davies, Plane #770.  One B-17 lost to flak.

Mission #30 – June 16, 1944, Vienna, Austria, Pilot-Major Allyn, Plane #742.

Mission #31 – June 25, 1944, Sete, France, Pilot-Frazeur, Plane #809.

Mission #32 – June, 26, 1944, Vienna, Austria, Pilot-Pratt, Plane #809.

Mission #33 – July 8, 1944, Zwolfaxing, Austria, Pilot-Pratt, Plane #179.  Damage from flak holes and 20 mm holes.

Mission #34 – July 14, 1944, Budapest, Hungary (Shell Oil Plant), Pilot-Pratt, Plane #179.

Mission #35 – July 16, 1944, Vienna, Austria, Pilot, Pratt, Plane #179.  Plane had one engine out. Comment made on the post mission interrogation was “Don’t go back”, so it must have been a rough one for the last one of Gail’s.

The 463rd Bomb Group received two Distinguished Unit Citations (Presidential Citation), one was for the May 18 mission to Ploesti on which Gail participated. The other was for a mission to Berlin in March, 1945. The May 18 mission Citation reads as follows:

“The 463rd Bombardment Group is cited for outstanding performance of duty in armed conflict with the enemy. Assigned the mission to attack and destroy the Romano Americano Oil Refinery, Ploesti, Romania, in an effort to reduce the total Axis oil production to a critical point in its military requirements. The ground crews worked enthusiastically and with grim determination to have their aircraft at the peak of mechanical perfection to insure the success of this mission despite the damages and losses suffered by this group through a sustained period of operations. On 18 May 1944, thirty-five B-17 type aircraft, heavily loaded with maximum tonnage, were airborne, and despite adverse weather conditions rallied with the wing formation and set course for their destination. Under continued adverse weather conditions encountered enroute, the visibility became so limited, with dense cloud layers reaching to 30,000 foot elevation that all other units returned to base. Undaunted by the seemingly overwhelming odds, the 463rd Bombardment Group continued on alone through the dense cloud coverage, which rendered compact formation flying extremely hazardous. Despite intense, heavy, and accurate enemy anti-aircraft fire encountered over the target, the gallant crews, displaying outstanding courage, professional skill, and determination, though many of their airplanes were damaged severely, maintained their tight formation and brought their ships through the enemy defenses for a highly successful bombing run, inflicting grave damage to vital enemy installations and supplies. Rallying off the target after the bombing run and while unprotected by friendly fighters, the group was savagely attacked by approximately 100 highly aggressive enemy fighters. In the ensuing fierce engagement battling their way through the heavy enemy opposition, the group lost 7 bombers; however, in the gallant defense of the formation, the gunners accounted for 28 enemy aircraft destroyed, 30 probably destroyed, and 2 damaged. With the arrival of friendly fighters, the remaining bombers proceeded for a safe landing without further damage. By the extraordinary heroism, airmanship, and grim determination of the combat crews, together with the highly technical skill and intense devotion to duty of the ground personnel, the 463rd Bombardment Group has upheld the highest tradition of the military service, thereby reflecting great credit on themselves and the armed forces of the United States.”

Records do not show when Gail was discharged from the Air Force. Family records of Jim Popplewell say that he finished his tour of duty on August 31, 1944. Records of his group do not list any missions after July 16. It may be that the August date was when he was transferred. Normally, when tours were finished, personnel were sent back to the states where they were reassigned until discharge. No record could be found of his discharge date.

The following two pages and pictures are taken from the family history written by Jim Popplewell, nephew of Gail. The last are pictures of the waist gun position of a B-17 taken in June, 2008.

 

Children of Christopher Columbus and Elitha Jane Winfrey Popplewell

By Jim Popplewell

Gail Popplewell Biography

Gail Popplewell was born on the family farm in Miller County, Missouri, near the town of Brumley, on March 26, 1916. His parents were James Issac and Mollie Meridith Popplewell. He lived on the farm until he was sworn into the US Army Air Corp during the early days of WWII.

His most notable service during World War II was as a crew chief and gunner on a B17 flying fortress based in Italy. He flew 50 daylight bombing missions, blasting targets in Yugoslavia, Northern Italy, Hungary, Romania, Germany, France and Austria. He completed his tour on August 31, 1944 at age 28.

He returned to the family farm after his discharge from the Army, but a short time later moved in with brother Reagan in Kansas City and went to work for the Kansas City, Missouri Fire Department.

Gail married Virginia Porter on April 12, 1947. As a part of this story, Virginia was asked to write something memorable about their honeymoon. She replied, “I had always heard about a chivalries and that if the participants didn’t bring a lot of refreshments, candy and other goodies, they were tarred and feathered. I bought a really large supply and was greatly relieved when it was over.”

Gail was retired disabled from the fire department after a massive heart attack in 1958. When he recovered, he went to work as a dental technician for the Dysart Dental Laboratories. Gail had some very serious medical problems. He had bleeding stomach ulcers in addition to his heart problems. If they thickened his blood to stop the stomach from bleeding, his heart would act up and when they thinned his blood for his heart, his ulcers would bleed. He died May 20, 1970 of a massive heart attack. He was talking to his brother Reagan on the telephone at the time. He was just 54 years of age.

I really got to know Gail in the time he lived with us in 1946. We had become great friends and I, to today, regret that I had not seen him prior to his death. I returned from Vietnam in December 1969 and he died in May 1970. I had spoken to him on the phone, but I had not made an opportunity to see him face to face.

Aunt Virginia has continued to attend all family junctions and is an active participant in all our activities. She is not only my Aunt by marriage; she is related to the Reagan Popplewell through her younger brother George’s wartime marriage to my mother’s niece Florence Cloud.


Thanks Bob for this summary of the WWII military career of Gail Popplewell and thanks Jim for the additional information about Gail after he left the service.

Here is a photo of Gail in his flight uniform as a waist gunner followed by the caption (photo 02):

02 Gail Poppelwell in Flight Suit
02 Gail Poppelwell in Flight Suit

Caption for the above photo:

August 31, 1944

Staff Sergeant Gail Popplewell, 28, left waist gunner in an Italy based AFP B-17 Flying Fortress, is shown beside his gun position at the completion of his 50th successful daylight bombing mission. The sergeant has been overseas five months and has participated in the blasting of axis targets in Yugoslavia, Northern Italy, Hungary, Romania, Germany, France and Austria. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. J.I. Popplewell of Brumley, Missouri.

This photo is of the waist gunner’s location in a B-17 (photo 03):

03 Waist Gun position inside B-17 Bomber
03 Waist Gun position inside B-17 Bomber

Here is a photo of Gail’s tombstone in Mt. Olivet Cemetery (photo 04):

04 Tombstone at Mt. Olivet Cemetery
04 Tombstone at Mt. Olivet Cemetery

According to Historian Doris Smith, the Popplewell name comes from the old English. One reference gives the meaning “as a dwelling by a bubbling spring.”

The first Popplewell recorded was in Virginia in 1635. Early Virginia records are sketchy and the Popplewell name is spelled in various ways. The Kentucky line began with Isaac who married Elizabeth Flint in the late 1700’s according to Jim Popplewell. Isaac was the son of Hack, who served in the Revolutionary War . Of Isaac and Elizabeth’s nine children, most are descended from one of their four sons: Savrin/Saveren, Simco, John, and Isaac, Jr.

The Popplewell history in Miller County began before the 1840’s according to family genealogy records. Here is one genealogy which can be found at the listed website:

[MOMILLER] Popplewell by DisplayMail('aol.com','WFEAS'); WFEAS@aol.com

Generation No. 1

1. ISAAC O1 POPPLEWELL was born 19 Dec 1809 in Adair, Kentucky, USA, and died 04 Jul 1878 in Camden County, Missouri, USA. He married HESTER SMITH. She was born 15 Oct 1813 in Adair, Kentucky, USA, and died 1890 in Camden County, Missouri, USA.

Children of ISAAC POPPLEWELL and HESTER SMITH are:

i. CATHERINE 02 POPPLEWELL, b. 1838.

ii. ELISHA POPPLEWELL, b. 1840.

iii. SAMANTHA POPPLEWELL, b. 1841.

iv. ISAAC POPPLEWELL, b. 1855.

2. v. CHRISTOPHER COLMBUS POPPLEWELL, b. 04 May 1838, Morgan, IL, USA; d. 19 Sep 1912, Vici, OK, USA.

Generation No. 2

2. CHRISTOPHER COLMBUS 02 POPPLEWELL (ISAAC O1) was born 04 May 1838 in Morgan, IL, USA, and died 19 Sep 1912 in Vici, OK, USA. He married ALETHA JANE WINFREY, daughter of JAMES WINFREY and ELINOR CONN. She was born 20 Jan 1847 in Camden County, MO, USA, and died 31 May 1874 in Camden County, MO, USA.

Children of CHRISTOPHER POPPLEWELL and ALETHA WINFREY are:

i. HESTER ELANDER 03 POPPLEWELL, b. 14 Jan 1868; d. 1893.

ii. JOSEPH LOUIS POPPLEWELL, b. 20 Sep 1869, Miller County, Missouri, USA; d. 1950.

iii. FRANK EDGAR POPPLEWELL, b. 09 Nov 1871, Anthony, Kansas, USA; d. 19 Sep 1914, Farm South-East Vici, Oklahoma, USA.

3. iv. JAMES ISAAC POPPLEWELL, b. 01 Mar 1873, Camden County, MO, USA; d. 07 Aug 1949, Brumley, Miller, MO, USA.

Generation No. 3

3. JAMES ISAAC3 POPPLEWELL (CHRISTOPHER COLMBUS2, ISAAC O1) was born 01 Mar 1873 in Camden County, MO, USA, and died 07 Aug 1949 in Brumley, Miller, MO, USA. He married MARY MARGARET MEREDITH, daughter of BENJAMIN MEREDITH and MARY BRADSHAW. She was born 31 May 1879 in Miller County, MO, USA, and died 23 Dec 1964 in Richland, Miller County, MO, USA.

Children of JAMES POPPLEWELL and MARY MEREDITH are:

4. i. EULA4 POPPEWELL, b. 1912; d. 1997.

ii. LOLA POPPEWELL, b. 17 Jun 1910, Miller County Mo; d. 09 Nov 1994, Miller County Mo; m. AMARYL L AMBROSE, 05 Jun 1934, Miller County Mo; d. 09 Feb 1981, Miller County Mo.

iii. ZULA POPPLEWELL, b. 26 Sep 1912; d. 1913.

iv. REAGAN POPPLEWELL, b. 14 Mar 1903, Brumley, Miller County, MO, USA; d. 14 Jan 1993, Raytown, Jackson, MO, USA.

v. CLARA POPPLEWELL, b. 05 May 1908, Miller County, MO, USA; d. 27 Nov 1908.

vi. CURTIS POPPLEWELL, b. 29 May 1914, Miller County, MO, USA; d. Dec 1973.

vii. GAIL POPPLEWELL, b. 26 Mar 1916, Miller County, MO, USA; d. 20 May 1970, Kansas City, Clay, MO, USA.

viii. WILLIAM TENNYSON POPPLEWELL, b. 29 Jul 1919, Miller County, Mo; d. 12 Feb 1999, Kansas City, Mo; m. CLAIRE MARIE ANDERSON, 1946; b. 1996.

ix. IRIS GERTRUDE POPPLEWELL, b. 24 Apr 1921; d. 05 Nov 1921.


Patricia Ambrose Mazanac, a granddaughter of James Isaac Popplewell, wrote the following narrative for our website about the original Popplewell farm in southern Miller County:

POPPLEWELL FARM HISTORY

By Patricia Ambrose Mazanec, 1998

Long ago when the twentieth century was new and fresh, time passed in a more leisurely manner. The term "horsepower" usually meant the draft power of horses, mules and maybe even oxen. The hours were long and the work was hard, with few or no shortcuts in the field or the kitchen. The hard work produced a generous food supply for both humans and animals, creating a deep sense of satisfaction for those who tilled the land. This lifestyle allowed Jim and Mollie Popplewell to live their dream for almost half a century.

James Isaac Popplewell acquired land from his uncle, Elisha F. Popplewell, by trading a team of horses and a wagon for 40 acres. According to land patent records filed in Boonville, Harry P. Ragsdale homesteaded the farm. Elisha Popplewell bought the land from Harry Ragsdale and later sold it to his nephew.

It is difficult for one person to run a farm, so on January 16, 1902, James Isaac Popplewell "Jim Ike" and Mollie Meredith rode horseback to the home of Jim's uncle, Jon Winfrey, a minister, who married them. Mollie rode sidesaddle, the custom of the day and designed to accommodate the ladies dresses. Mollie, the youngest child of Benjamin and Mary Elizabeth (Bradshaw) Meredith, never liked her birth name, Mary Margaret, and had long since insisted on being called Mollie.

Jim and Mollie set up housekeeping in the old two room house on the farm with an almost adjoining log cabin (photo 05).

05 James and Mollie Popplewell
05 James and Mollie Popplewell

On March 14, 1903, Mollie gave birth to their first child, Reagan, whose vivid memories provided much of the information for this story. The uncle, Elisha, continued to live with the young family; when Reagan was a small child, he and Elisha slept in the log cabin. Reagan remembered the lime chinking was missing in some places and on many winter mornings he and Uncle awoke to find snow on their bedcovers.

In 1908, Jim Ike began constructing a concrete house. He employed two men to mix the concrete, using sand and gravel from nearby creeks. Jim Ike personally carried and poured all the concrete into the 12-inch cribbing forms, which were raised each day. To carry the concrete, he used a wooden "hod", a V-shaped trough about two feet long with 10 to 12 inch sides and back; the front end was open with rounded edges. Exterior walls were nine inches thick; interior walls were six inches thick. Sometimes he was able to pour a full round of concrete in one day. Joists and rafters were cut from native lumber; ceilings and floors are one inch by four inch tongue and groove pine. The interior walls are plaster finished on the concrete. The house was finished in early 1909 and the family moved into their new home in March or April. Reagan remembered having a little wagon that he used to haul several loads from the old house to the new. One load that he particularly remembered was the coffee pot and the coffee mill (photo 06).

06 James Popplewell Home
06 James Popplewell Home

A fine new barn was constructed near the house in 1909 and/or 1910. A shed that joined one side of the barn housed a large Fairbanks-Morse scale, an important addition to the neighborhood. Son, Tennyson, recalled that neighbors frequently drove livestock to the Popplewell farm to have them weighed as part of a sale agreement. Each time the scales were used, Jim Ike or one of his sons would check the accuracy of the scales with the 50 pound tester before the animals were driven onto the scale. In friendly competition, the men would each guess the weight of the animals to see who was closest to the actual weight registered by the scale.

Jim Ike managed the farm well and he and Mollie prospered, adding both children and acres as the years went by. Clara was born May 5, 1908, and brought joy to the family until her death on November 27 of that year. Lola, the first to be born in the new house, arrived June 3 17, 1910; the twins, Eula and Zula, were born September 26, 1912 (Zula died March 2, 1913); followed by three boys, Curtis, Gail, and William Tennyson. Iris Gertrude was born April 24, 1921. The farm eventually grew to 600 acres.

The farm was largely self-sufficient, with both horses and mules to power the farm machinery, cows to provide milk, butter, and perhaps some cheese; the hogs and chickens provided meat, with the hens also supplying eggs. Down from the flock of geese made comfortable pillows and warm feather beds. A garden, on the site of the original two-room house, supplied the family with vegetables; corn and wheat grown on the farm were ground into cornmeal and flour at the nearest grist mill.

Mollie baked yeast bread, probably two or three times a week; biscuits and/or cornbread almost daily. Cakes, made from scratch, were a favorite dessert. The wood cooking stove that dominated the kitchen did not have a thermostat to regulate the heat; Mollie, Lola and Eula had to be able to judge the temperature accurately enough to avoid burning the food. With only a very primitive telephone system, visitors usually just appeared and were visited with, fed, or provided sleeping accommodations as needed.

When the children were old enough to go to school, they walked 1 ¼ to 1 ½ miles to reach the Barton School (photo 07), their local one room school.

07 Barton School - 1913
07 Barton School - 1913
Click image for larger view

With school comes expanded social life. Mollie's brother and sister-in-law, Bill and Victoria Meredith, and their family lived on a nearby farm. The two sets of cousins were about the same ages and spent much time together; in many ways they were closer than many brothers and sisters. It was not at all unusual for members of either family to look out and see some of their cousins coming across the field to visit or spend the night.

Uncle Elisha, or Uncle as he was known, never married and continued to live with the family. When Mollie's father became ill, her parents moved in with Jim and Mollie. Benjamin died in December 1912, about 2 ½ months before granddaughter Zula's death. Mollie's mother stayed on, helping Mollie to care for the little ones and whatever else she could do to help until her own death in 1915.

There were no funeral parlors, or they were too far away, so family members washed and dressed the deceased. Two neighbor men usually made the caskets and other neighbor men dug the grave. The deceased was laid out at home.

Time passed, the children grew to be adults and the horrors of World War II mobilized the country. Gail and Tennyson were drafted into the military. The animal population dwindled as need for their services and products diminished. The children who played there were grandchildren or other young friends, and a new generation of cousins learned to share games and experiences at frequent Sunday gatherings. Finally one Sunday morning in August 1949, Jim Ike came into the house after feeding his hogs and told Mollie he was tired. He laid down to take a nap; he was laid to rest three days later at Glover Cemetery, just up the hill from three infant daughters and just down the hill from his uncle, Elisha Popplewell. Mollie lived for another 15 years, until December 1964; she was laid to rest beside her Jim on the day after Christmas.

The farm was sold in 1951 to Gail and Shirley Whittle. The old house continued to shelter young families for a few more years until it was finally beyond repair.


The Popplewell farm was located in Southern Glaze Township (T38N R14& 15W) on the county line between Miller and Pulaski counties. Here are two photos of the plat location. The first photo is of the entire Township. If you look at the bottom right of the photo you can find the Popplewell farm on the county line between Miller and Pulaski (photo 08).

08 T38N - R14 & 15W
08 T38N - R14 & 15W

The next photo is a closeup of Section 14 of the township where you can see the boundaries of the farm more clearly (photo 09).

09 Popplewell Farm - Plat Section 14
09 Popplewell Farm - Plat Section 14

When I review the family histories of those young men who left their homes and families to fight so bravely and heroically in foreign wars, I know that their character and attitudes were formed by the types of family values and beliefs imbued in them from homes like the Popplewells’. So I thought it was important to include the family history of Gail Popplewell along with the story of his heroic service in WWII.


Several weeks ago we had a delightful visit at the museum with the Berendzen sisters who came to donate photos and a written history of the country store in Mary’s Home that their parents, Clem and Martha Berendzen, owned and operated for sixteen years between 1959 and 1975. Here is a photo of the sisters the day they came to visit us (photo 10):

10 Berendzen Sisters
10 Berendzen Sisters

In order from left to right are Rosanna Weidinger, Dottie Kempker, Darlene Wallis, Mary Jo Fox, Marsha Hayes, and Dolores Schulte. They were raised on the Berendzen home farm just a mile or so east of Mary’s Home as shown on this plat map of 1930 in which the farm is shown to be located in both sections 10 and 15 (photo 11).

11 William Berendzen Farm
11 William Berendzen Farm

Here is a photo of the farm where Clem was born, April 8, 1906, in Marys Home (photo 12):

12 Berendzen Home Farm
12 Berendzen Home Farm

Clem was a son of William and Anna Schulte Berendzen. He was married Nov. 17, 1937, in St. Elizabeth to Martha C. Bax (photo 13).

13 Clem and Martha Bax Berendzen
13 Clem and Martha Bax Berendzen

Clem was a farmer mainly, but he operated Clem’s Store in Mary’s Home from 1949 to 1976. He was a member of Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Mary’s Home; a member of the church choir for more than 60 years; and a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus. He was a past board member of the Miller County Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service. Clem passed away in 1993 at the age of 87. Here is a photo of Clem and Martha holding a framed lithograph type image of the country store they owned and managed for sixteen years (photo 14):

14 Clem and Martha with Picture of Store
14 Clem and Martha with Picture of Store

This is the picture which the Berendzen family donated to the museum (photo 15):

15 Mary's Home Country Store
15 Mary's Home Country Store

Sometimes the store is called the “Sanning Store” because Henry Sanning was the person who built the store in 1906. If you look closely at the window in this lithograph, however, you can read the name Schell. That was because at the time of the lithograph Emil Schell was the owner.

Rosanna Berendzen Weidinger collected from the family several photos of Clem, Martha and the store which I will collage here: (photos 16 - 21):

16 Clem's Store
16 Clem's Store

17 Clem's Store
17 Clem's Store

18 Clem's Store
18 Clem's Store

19 Clem's Store
19 Clem's Store

20 Clem's Store
20 Clem's Store

21 Clem's Store
21 Clem's Store

The Berendzen family also supplied a history of the store as written for the Eldon Advertiser in 2005 by Tammy Witherspoon which I will copy here:

Coming Home to the Corner Market

The Eldon Advertiser
Thursday, March 3, 2005

Tammy Witherspoon

Henry Sanning built the store in 1906. He owned stores in Eugene, St. Elizabeth, Henley and St. Thomas also. His brother Pete and his wife Anna ran the store. Pete was known to the children of Mary’s Home as Uncle Pete and was generous giving candy.

The Mary’s Home Post Office was located in the store from the time it opened until 1913. The Sannings’ were Republicans and when Woodrow Wilson was elected President, the Post Office was moved to the Hart’s store because they were Democrats. The office closed during World War I.

Anna Sanning operated the store until she died in 1933. With no one else available to run the store Henry Sanning turned the store over to the Schell family who managed his stores in St. Thomas, Eugene and St. Elizabeth. Emil and Tillie Schell got the deed of ownership in 1948.

Herman and Mary Schulte bought the store in 1951. When Herman died in 1957, Marcella and Louie Herigon bought the store. In 1959 the store was sold to Clem and Martha Berendzen. The Berendzens’ ran the store for 16 years and then sold it to Jim and Mary Alice Schulte.

In 1983 the Schultes’ sold the store to Ray and Betty Jean Kliethermes. The Kliethermes’ were responsible for naming the store the “Corner Market.”

Before it had been named after the people who owned it.

The Kliethermes’ updated the store with new equipment like air conditioning, a freezer, and a heating system that finally replaced a pot bellied stove that heated the store for years.

In 1995, the Kiethermes’ sold the Corner Market to David and Debbie Fair. The Fairs’ owned the store for two years and then sold it to William and Carol Keene.

November 18, 1998, Ted and Sandra Millard took over ownership and the Millards’ have worked to restore the store to its former glory. Sandra repainted the P.A. Sanning sign and put a new awning up over the store.


Interestingly and coincidentally, the following information was included in Josephine Schwaller’s Mary’s Home Area News in this week’s Eldon Advertiser:

MARY’S HOME AREA NEWS

Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009 - The Eldon Advertiser
By Josephine Schwaller

There was a reception at the Corner Market Sunday in honor of Sandra Millard, owner of the Corner Market. She has sold the store. This took place to thank her for her service to the community the past several years, her hospitality and hard work for the benefit of the community. We will miss her very much. I do not know yet the name of the new owners. We wish them good luck.


I had written about the country store in Mary’s Home in a previous Progress Notes of October 29, 2007.

I have also more recently written about the history of Mary’s Home on a Progress Notes from earlier this year.

We are very grateful to the Berendzen family for the information they donated about their parent’s ownership of the store in Mary’s Home, as they were one of the families with a longer history of having owned and managed it.


Friday of last week the fourth grade class of Tuscumbia and teacher Linda Wood came for a tour of our museum (photo 22).

22 Ms. Wood and Tuscumbia Fourth Grade Class
22 Ms. Wood and Tuscumbia Fourth Grade Class

The museum is close to the school so the students and teacher walked although rain was threatening. The class make up was somewhat unusual having 15 boys and only two girls. Enthusiasm was high and the students were excited whenever they saw the name of one of their ancestors on a donated item or portrait. The highlight of the day was the story as told by Sharon Holder of the Lupardus cabin which is situated on our museum campus, having been transferred there from the original farm about fifteen years ago (photo 23).

23 Ms. Holder telling Lupardus Story
23 Ms. Holder telling Lupardus Story

As usual, when Tuscumbia kids come over, several were descendents of Peter Lupardus, the original owner and builder of the cabin. Sharon’s grandparents, Willard and Maggie Boyd, were the last owners and residents of the cabin; she remembers staying overnight in the cabin quite often when she was a child. Before returning to their classroom the students lined up for one last photo (photo 24).

24 One last photo before going back to School
24 One last photo before going back to School

Notice that the two girls on the left, the only girls in this large class of boys, are sticking close together! Gosh, what would it be like if one of them has to move away?

The names of the students in no particular order are: Luke Ahart, Casey Ash, Riley Ash, Dustin Bax, Dwayne Childs, J.J. Crane, Morgan Crane, Olivia Diefenbach, Mallari Flaugher, Christopher Hill, Matthew Hill, Samuel Huth, Dawson Jarrett, Cameron Keene, Keagon Rayhart, Johnathan Sears, and Brendan Silva.

That’s all for this week.

Joe Pryor



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