Great Grandparents

In the early and mid-forties my Grandma and Grandpa White lived in the 2400 block of Market Street, in the same block as great-grandma, “Mom,” and great-grandpa, “Pop,” White. All four of them walked together along the old side-by-side Wabash and CB&Q railroad tracks to their jobs at a factory on Lindell Avenue. They walked rain or shine, summer or winter. The tracks ran along the edge of “Pop’s” back yard, past a lumber yard, across Lindell Avenue and on toward the industrial area.

They did what was called “piece work,” meaning that their earnings were based on the number of units, or “pieces,” they completed during the pay period. I recall my grandpa saying that he ran a stamping press, which created the sheet metal parts, but I don’t recall ever knowing what my grandma or great-grandpa did.

clamshell-lawn-chair-400.jpg Dura Steel Products, where all except my great-grandma worked, had a wartime contract to produce large quantities of metal canteens for the U.S. Army, and when production caught up with the week’s demand, the company stamped clamshell metal lawn chairs for the consumer market.

My great-grandma “Mom” White worked as a piecework laborer in the Bluff City Shoe Factory on Ledford Street, several blocks down the tracks from Dura Steel. My father worked, for a time, at the Hannibal Rubber Plant, in that same general area along the railroad, co-located with the International Shoe Factory. I had other relatives that worked at Wendt-Sonis, another factory where welded metalwork products were produced.

My Grandfather Vaughn was a part-time pastor at a Hannibal church in the early 1940s, and managed a mercantile store, L.B. Price, at 1733 Market Street,. The store was diagonal from Levering Hospital, which was across the street from Eugene Field School, and next door to one of the town’s fire stations. The Vaughn family lived upstairs in a large apartment above their store, next door to my mother’s family, who lived over McGee’s Grocery store, at 1735 Market Street.

Next door to the grocery store was DeLaporte’s Shoe Store, at 1737 Market, then a barber shop, and finally a corner café completed the block. Grandmother Vaughn, at that time, operated a post office service center in one corner of the L.B. Price mercantile store. Grandmother and grandfather moved in 1945 to take a full time pastorate at the First Baptist Church in Perry, Missouri, where they served well into 1947 before taking another pastorate.

One of my earliest personal memories is a visit to my grandparents’ house in Bevier, Missouri. My grandfather, William Thomas Vaughn, was pastor of the Baptist Church there. My family had traveled by a Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad steam powered passenger train, from Hannibal to Bevier. The tracks were on the same roadbed as the predecessor Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad, part of the original Pony Express route.

Bevier, at the time was a bustling coal town, with active coal mines all around the area. I loved hearing the big steam engines pulling the heavy coal trains from the mines through town. This visit to Bevier must have taken place in the spring, because I remember my grandmother, Beulah, had just dug up some roots to make fresh sassafras tea for us. Sassafras tea, served steaming hot in a china cup with a touch of real cream was a special event the entire family enjoyed.

I can remember several times we would hear a train approaching, and I would run to the sidewalk along the street, to gaze the few blocks toward the railroad tracks to catch a glimpse of the engines chuffing through the intersection. I always enjoyed the noise and drama of the “working” end of the train, and admired the men in the cab of the locomotive who made the train “go.”

Bevier & Southern #109 was a 2-6-0 Mogul built in December 1900 by the Brooks Locomotive Works for Illinois Central Railroad as their #560. After retirement on Illinois Central the locomotive was sold to the Bevier & Southern in Bevier, Missouri. to be their #109. It is now in the Illinois Railroad Museum. Date unknown – Larry Vaughn Collection bs-loco-109_400.jpg

In the mornings Grandmother would make “soda powder” biscuits, and heat up Ovaltine hot chocolate. Ovaltine is a powdered product which originated in Switzerland, and is essentially a chocolate drink mix with the addition of malt extract. It was pretty costly, compared to the chocolate powder used for cooking, and it was a very special treat.

Ovaltine sponsored an exciting action-adventure radio show back then called Captain Midnight (later called Jet Jackson), and a portion of the show required the use of a Secret Decoder Ring to be able to follow the story. Similar rings in stores cost from $2-4, but Ovaltine was offering them for only ten cents with the seal from under the lid of a jar of Ovaltine! 

I don’t remember much about the parsonages of the various churches grandfather served, except the one in Bevier, where he served after leaving the church at Perry. A white, 2-story clapboard house, much like the one pictured at Perry, it had a variety of trees all around the expansive yard, and, strangely, all I remember of the inside of the house is the kitchen! I remember the kitchen table set against some windows looking out into the yard.

Directly across from the kitchen table was a white porcelain sink, kitchen range, and refrigerator. At one end of the long, narrow, kitchen was the front door, and at the other was a doorway into the living room. I remember my grandfather coming into the kitchen from outdoors one day, turning on the tap to run cold water into the sink, and spitting blood onto the drain. I didn’t know why he was spitting out blood, and I didn’t ask. I didn’t think I wanted to know.

My grandfather was a stern man, and I don’t remember many affectionate moments with him, but I remember his warm smile. I recall that he had a big voice, a loud laugh, and had such a powerful frown that he could let you know you were in real trouble. He seemed to me to be just perfect in the pulpit; loud, clear, emphatic, filled with God’s inspiration. I just couldn’t imagine anyone being a better preacher!

He died when I was very young, on the week before Easter 1953, I think, because I seem to remember Easter being a sad event that year, although, at age 9, I didn’t really understand the full meaning of his passing. I only have one thing of my grandfather’s, a handsome pocketknife inscribed with his name. I got the knife from my grandmother who told me it was a sales award from the years before his ministry when he ran the mercantile store in Hannibal.

sharon-lee-sampson-and-larry-vaughn-w-rev-wt-and-eugene-vaughn-perry-mo-may-3-1947_400.jpg The Reverend William Thomas Vaughn departs his parsonage home for an important church activity. Larry Vaughn and cousin Sharon Sampson play on steps. On porch is Eugene Vaughn, Larry’s father. Perry, Missouri, May 3,1947 – Sharon Walley Collection

Grandfather Vaughn is buried in Grandview Cemetery, Hannibal, Missouri, alongside his wife, Beulah. His marker indicates that he was an army veteran who saw service in France during World War I. My father had the photograph below in his personal collection, and was passed on to me by my mother. It shows my grandfather’s battalion posing in front of a building, presumed to be somewhere in France during World War I.

U.S. Expeditionary Forces’ 84th Division, 325th Machine Gun Battalion, posing while posted to France during World War I. William Thomas Vaughn is front row, kneeling, fifth from the right edge of the photo. Date unknown – Larry Vaughn Collection william-thomas-vaughn-in-france-400.jpg
co-a-325th-machine-gun-battalion-place-de-la-concorde-paris_1000.jpg I received this photograph from my Aunt Ruth’s collection, of Company A, 325th Machine Gun Battalion, in Place de la Concorde, Paris. I have no information on the occasion, but notice the different uniforms the troops are wearing, from combat helmets to headquarters uniforms. My grandfather is in the back row, just to the right of the fountain. Date unknown – Sharon Walley Collection

I didn’t become interested in my family’s history until after my father’s death, and there were no real family connections to learn from. My mother was not close to my father’s family, and consequently, had very little information to share.

Grandmother Vaughn, Jessie Beulah (Phillips) Vaughn, lived in Hannibal in a nice apartment near the top of Fifth Street in the years after grandfather’s death.  I remember infrequent visits to her apartment, and I don’t ever remember her coming to ours, although I’m certain she did.

I really can’t remember anything about the Phillips family, except that once, as a youngster, we went to a family reunion for the Phillips. All I recall is a huge horse watering tank, under an old shade tree, that seemed to be filled with hundreds of bottles of soda pop on cracked ice! It made quite an impression on me, didn’t it? I can still clearly recall the image!

On another occasion Father took us to visit one of grandmother’s brothers, Arley Phillips, who had a pony and a small horse-drawn cart that he took us rides in around the lawn of the big farm house they occupied. I recall that they had a basement that was entered from inside the house! That was something to see, since our basement entrance was outside. Their basement was filled with glass jars of every fruit and vegetable imaginable!

I remember my grandmother got up at 5 a.m. when we went to visit, to make those wonderful “soda powder” biscuits for breakfast. Her breakfasts consisted of boiled eggs cut in half with milk gravy over them, crispy bacon, hot biscuits with butter and jelly, milk and hot Ovaltine for us youngsters. That is still my favorite breakfast, except that I usually opt for coffee or hot tea nowadays.

I remember her as a rather plain, slender woman, who had the habit of burping . . . it seems she did that a lot . . . but the funny thing was that she never made a sound when she burped. However, after the burp, she would blow out air and make a sound like “Phe-e-ew!” So, even though you wouldn’t hear the burp, you knew she had, because of the noise she made afterwards. I always thought that was funny!

In her later years, she lived with one of her sons, Bill, in Charlotte, North Carolina. That must have been a difficult move for her after a lifetime of friends and family in the Midwest. I didn’t see much of her after she moved away, only returning to visit twice before her passing. She is buried next to her husband in Grandview Cemetery in Hannibal, and Bill is buried just down slope from them, near my father.

I really can’t remember anything about the Phillips family, except that once, as a youngster, we went to a family reunion for the Phillips. All I recall is a huge horse watering tank, under an old shade tree, that seemed to be filled with hundreds of bottles of soda pop on cracked ice! It made quite an impression on me, didn’t it? I can still clearly recall the image!


About Larry E. Vaughn Jr

Larry E Vaughn is a Missouri-based blogger/ content writer, and former career counselor. His published works can be found at HeliumNetwork, and InsideBusiness360 . He wrote for℠ and has additional websites at,,, and is publisher of The Self-Employment Journal,
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3 Responses to Great Grandparents

  1. Shella says:

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my
    comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyways, just wanted to say excellent blog!


    • larryvaughn says:

      Sorry about the failure, but, I’ve had WordPress do the same thing to me. I’ve learned to do my writing in Notepad, or other plain text editor, and just paste it into the window. Works every time. Thanks for visiting the site.


  2. Phil Hemenway says:

    Hi Mr. Vaughn, My name is Phil Hemenway and I know your son Link, whom I used to work with at Ford. I have lost touch with him and my only connection since is a pair of coffee mugs he gave me when I gave him time off to tend bar at your B and B.

    I am at the current time sipping tea from said mug and wondering where Link ended up and in the process enjoying your outstanding web site. Win/Win.

    Please forward this email to Link so I can keep in touch. Many thanks. Phil.


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