Friday, June 30, 2017

The Bow Tie Lives!

When was the last time you saw someone wearing a bow tie? I do watch the reality TV series 48 Hours, and one of the featured detectives wears a bow tie. He always stands out from the rest of the detectives because of his elegant sartorial difference. However, this is not why I’ve been thinking about bow ties: It was a very recent family picture that made me wonder about the bow tie and who in the family might have worn them. Now, I use the term “family” loosely, as I also include in-laws as part of the group. I decided to look at photographs I have accumulated to see if I could find men wearing bow ties. But first, some information on bow ties.

There is more than one spelling for bow tie. The site “Bow Ties 101: An Introduction to Bow Ties” spells the term with two words. However, the site “Bowtie Origin and History” spells the term as one word. Whether you spell it as one word or two, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a bow tie as “a short necktie tied in a bowknot.”

So, how did the bow tie come to be? According to the site “Bowtie Origin and History,” the bow tie developed in the 1600s during the Prussian wars (the Prussians fighting the Swedes and Turks for territory). The Croat mercenaries needed to keep their shirts closed, so they used a scarf tied around their necks. The French upper class adopted this “fashion statement” calling it a “cravat” – the French term for “Croat.” From this humble beginning in the 1600s, we now have the necktie and the bow tie.

Now that I had some background on the bow tie, I started going through family photos to see if I could find any men wearing bow ties. I found more pictures than anticipated; however, more often than not, the men were wearing neckties. I had to wean the list to make it manageable. It was hard to pick, but I finally chose six men: two each from my husband’s family (Jim Oliver), two from my daughter-in-law’s family (Melissa Murphy Oliver), and two from my family. Plus, there is one extra-special surprise at the end of this blog:  It is the photo that inspired these musings.


Richard Lee Taylor (Jim’s 4th cousin 6 times removed) 1744-1829. Taylor was born in Virginia and died in Kentucky. In 1769 he explored the Ohio River and Mississippi River from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. During the American Revolution he fought in the battles of White Plains, Trenton, Brandywine, and Monmouth:  He was a lieutenant-colonel. Additionally, he was the father of Zachary Taylor, the 12th president of the United States, and the father of Joseph Pannell Taylor, a general in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Francis Dale Knippling (Jim’s uncle by marriage) 1916-2011. Knippling was born in Iowa and died in Texas. He attended Michigan State University and graduated as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1950. In addition to being a practicing veterinarian, Francis worked at Merck Pharmaceuticals in their research laboratories, as a USDA meat inspector, as a professor at the Tuskegee Institute, and as a quarantine inspector in Hawaii.


Walter Perry Weyand (Melissa’s 3rd great-grandfather) 1853-1931. Weyand was born and died in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. According to the 1880 U.S. census, Walter started out his working life as a cooper in Somerset County. A cooper is an individual who makes and/or repairs wooden casks, tubs, and barrels. By 1900, per the U.S. census, Walter had settled on farming in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and continued in that profession through the 1920s.

James Bernard Murphey (Melissa’s great-grandfather) 1882-1927. Murphey was born in Maryland and died in West Virginia. James enlisted with the U.S. Army on October 7, 1904, for a three-year stint; and, in the process, the Army change the spelling of James’ last name to Murphy. He was stationed at Fort Douglas, Utah, which had been built to protect the overland mail route and telegraph lines. In 1906 he was transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas. He was discharged from the Army, at Fort Riley, on May 23, 1906. James returned home and became a coal miner. Coal mining was, and still is, a dangerous profession. James died in a coal mine explosion at Federal Mine 3 in Everettville, Monongalia County, West Virginia.


Herman Jacob Newhouse (Linda’s 2nd granduncle) 1843-1919. Newhouse was born in Holland and died in Idaho. Herman arrived in the United States with his parents in 1844. He enlisted February 1864 in the U.S. Army, Co. H, 8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment. On May 15, 1864, the regiment made a trip across the plains after the Sioux Indians. In the fall of 1864, the regiment came back to St. Paul, Minnesota, and was ordered to go south to join Sherman’s Army. On July 11, 1865, the regiment was discharged at Charlotte, North Carolina, and came home to St. Paul. Newhouse then mustered out and headed for home in Pine Island, Minnesota. Before and after the war, Herman was a farmer.

Frank George Newhouse (Linda’s father) 1906-1972.  Frank was born in Goodhue County, Minnesota, and died in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Newhouse was an attorney and examiner of real estate titles. He was also a “Special State Attorney” for the State of Minnesota (1939-1940), a municipal judge (1945-1951), and a county attorney (1951-1954). He was also in the U.S. Army from 1942-1944. Despite neckties being the fashion of the day, Frank always wore neckties; and, they were always some shade of red or a red pattern.

And now, the reason for the title of this blog “The Bow Tie Lives!”: Tyler Gabriel Oliver.

Tyler is the son of Patrick and Melissa Murphy Oliver. He is Jim’s and my grandson. He loves bow ties!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Unknown Father - Update

On April 9, 2011, I posted a blog about my birth father, Robert Douglas Evans (click here), having discovered he was deceased.  It was serendipitous that almost exactly one year later on April 28, 2012, I received this message through “Hi, My name is Barb Evans and I am trying to find out if you have any knowledge of the children born to Violet and Robert Evans. The names are Linda Lee and Douglas Jack. I would like to try to contact thru email if possible. Thank you.

Of course, I was the Linda referred to, and my brother was the Douglas. Through a series of emails, we exchanged information and pictures and ultimately met about halfway between Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and St. Louis, Missouri, the following year.

What is interesting is that my half-brother, Robert Douglas “Bob” Evans (named after his father), and his wife, Barb, who contacted me, only discovered in October 2011 that Robert had a previous marriage. They had written to the National Personnel Records Center for copies of Robert’s service record in order to find out about the citations, medals, etc. he had received while in the military. When they received that information, they discovered a wife and two dependents. I can only surmise the surprise, and maybe even shock, they felt—sort of a “now what” moment. Until then, they and the rest of Robert’s siblings had no clue of this “first” marriage.

My birth parents, Violet Vigoren and Robert Evans, probably met in Renton, Washington, where  
they were married. Violet probably came to Washington from Minnesota to work for Boeing during World War II.  Robert was most likely stationed there with the U.S. Navy. 

One wonders why a marriage that produced several children would have been kept quite from Robert’s family; after all, Violet’s family knew as pictures exist of Robert, Violet, my brother, and me at her parents’ home in northern Minnesota. Perhaps it was because of the timing of the marriage. Doing the math, it would seem that Violet was pregnant with me, as I was born a little more than six months after the wedding date.  Robert, it would seem, did the “right thing” by Violet. 

The last several years have been life enhancing. I have a half-brother and half-sister (who I have yet to meet), a sister-in-law, and a nephew and his family:  We have visited with each other, and we have celebrated with each other.  It has been good.