Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mallory's Castle: Introduction

By Frank D. Myers, All rights reserved

The date stone once embedded high in the tower of Mallory's Castle, now on the grounds of the Lucas County Historical Society Museum.

When I was 9, the old house known as Mallory’s Castle --- named Ilion by its builder --- was torn down to clear the way for a housing development. It was the most elaborate house ever built in Lucas County, constructed by the most elaborate family ever to live here --- but stood for only 75 years.

Liability was not a major concern during 1955, so the owners felt free to throw open the doors of the old place one last time during April of that year so that everyone interested could tour it. We did, along with my dad’s cousin, Edwin Johnson, his wife, Betty, and their daughter, Martha. So did thousands of others.

Thieves --- also attracted by the publicity --- had made off with a chandelier or two and a few other fixtures beforehand, but that made very little difference, except to the owners.

I remember the tour distinctly, but as it turned out remembered very little else about the building accurately. I’ve been interested in the house and, to a lesser extent the family, ever since.

Smith H. Mallory and his wife, Annie, along with their daughter, Jessie, arrived in Chariton during 1867 with the first trains. He had just begun to build a fortune constructing rail lines and bridges, enriched as all rail entrepreneurs were at that time by vast public subsidies, mostly in land.

Mallory left no stone unturned to earn a buck. Rail revenue poured in until his death in 1903, but he also built one of southern Iowa’s most powerful banks, became the region’s most innovative agriculturalist on his 1,000-acre Brook Farm and had a financial finger in virtually every other county enterprise --- from manufacturing plows to mining elusive gold and silver (in Arizona).

Mallory's Castle as it looked originally.

Mallory’s Castle was built 1879-81 to a probable design by Des Moines architect William Foster. It was not grand in the sense that Terrace Hill, now the Iowa governor’s mansion, is grand --- but it was grand enough. In fact, it became legendary.

The view from the southeast was most pleasing. From the southwest it looked clumsy and slightly out of whack. It’s tower dominated the horizon, as the Mallorys dominated Chariton’s business and, among those with aspirations at least, social life.

Mallory’s legacy seemed assured when he died during 1903 of stomach cancer and was buried in the Chariton Cemetery near a family tombstone that rivaled his house and his church (St. Andrew’s Episcopal) in triumphalist splendor.

But then it all came tumbling down during 1907 when the suicide by morphine of trusted Mallory associate and First National Bank manager Frank Crocker revealed that he had gutted and dissipated bank assets. It was Lucas County’s greatest financial calamity until the Great Depression.

In the aftermath, all Mallory assets in Lucas County were turned over to the government to cover bank losses after a long and bitter court fight involving the widow, Annie, and daughter, Jessie. The women fled to Florida, taking the Ilion’s contents with them --- along with Jessie’s still-substantial fortune, sheltered from creditors. Lucas County and the Mallorys did not part friends.

Part of the shattered "Ilion" name stone originally embedded above the front door of Mallory's Castle, moved to the gable end of the porte-cochere in the 1890s and now on the grounds of the Lucas County Historical Society museum.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Mallory Chronology

Compiled By Frank D. Myers, All rights reserved.

Smith Henderson Mallory

Glance up at the courthouse clock the next time you're on the square in Chariton and think briefly of Smith Henderson Mallory, whose gift to the people of Lucas County it was during 1894. He was the richest man Lucas County ever has seen, if his assets are counted in 21st Century terms; his mansion and its grounds, the Ilion, southern Iowa's grandest home. Entrepreneur and benefactor, he was the stuff of which legends are made.

But the Gods often are not kind to those they seem initially to bless. Denied descendants, no family remains to sing his praise. A significant portion of his fortune was dissipated when four years after his death a trusted protégé's embezzlement brought down the family bank, First National, in Lucas County's greatest financial calamity. His wife and daughter fled to Florida. Some years later, they removed his body and monument from the Chariton Cemetery and took those to Florida as well. His opera house burned, his mansion was demolished and his church, St. Andrew's, fell.

As passed the Mallorys, so passed the old families of Chariton who were their friends and may have aspired to be their social equals: the Copelands, the Temples, the Stantons, the Oppenheimers and many more. With them, went many memories.

The Mallory's legacy, such as it is, now is in the hands of those who remain.

1835: Smith Henderson Mallory is born on 2 December at Croton Mills, about 4 miles east of Penn Yan, Yates County, N.Y., southeast of Rochester. His father is Smith Legg Mallory and his mother, Jane (Henderson) Mallory. Smith is the eldest of six children. His younger siblings are Jane M. Mallory (marries Edward S. Smith), Allen Mallory (marries Margaret Ellen Durfee), Meredith Mallory (dies young), Eleanor A. Mallory (marries John H. Harvey) and Albert Douglas “Bert” Mallory, 25 years younger than Smith (marries 1st at Chariton Susie Kubitshek and after their divorce 2nd Frances Bolton Hazen). Smith is educated at Penn Yan and at John W. Irwin's academy in Danbury, Conn.

1850: At age 14, Smith H. Mallory heads west to Batavia, Kane County, Ill. (just west of Chicago), where his paternal grandfather, Meredith Mallory, and an uncle, John Van Nortwick (who had married Smith Legg Mallory’s sister, Patty Maria Mallory), had settled during 1843. Van Nortwick was chief engineer in construction of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad. Smith H. Mallory’s parents and siblings join their extended family at Batavia ca. 1852.

1851: During June, Smith finds a job as clerk in a store owned by P.J. Burchell at St. Charles, Ill. Dissatisfied as a clerk, Smith finds a job as axman with George W. Waite, first assistant engineer of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, in his corps of engineers; and in August, when Waite is selected to make surveys for the Aurora branch extension of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, Smith is promoted to rodman. After the completion of that road to Burlington, he is appointed engineer.

1857: Smith resigns his railroad position and goes into the real estate business at Fairfield, Iowa — just as the real estate boom of 1856 is collapsing, the first of only two known major Mallory business failures.

Annie Louise Ogden Mallory

1858: On 22 March, Smith marries Annie Louise Ogden, daughter of Mordecai Ogden, at Penn Yan, New York, and they return to Fairfield where he is appointed resident engineer of the Fairfield division of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad, then being constructed between Rome and Ottumwa. Upon completion of track across the Fairfield division, he is named roadmaster on 1 December and the newlyweds move to Burlington.

1861: In the spring, Smith resigns as roadmaster of the Burlington and Missouri to take charge of the location and construction of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad between Aurora, Ill., and Chicago. Headquarters are in Chicago and he and Annie move to that vicinity.

Jessie Ogden Mallory, born 26 September 1863

1863: On 26 September, Jessie Ogden Mallory, the only child of Smith Henderson and Annie (Ogden) Mallory, is born at Naperville, Ill.

1865: Stricken with "oil fever," Smith travels to Pennsylvania to engage in the oil business, but gives that up quickly (his second and final major business failure) and returns to Iowa in the fall; wins the contract for construction of bridges from Ottumwa to Chariton on the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, then all the bridges on the main line to Plattsmouth, Nebraska, and then on the Nebraska City branch of the same road. This lays the foundation for his fortune. The Mallory family apparently lives in Ottumwa during this period.

Upon completion of the road to Plattsmouth, Smith H. Mallory is named assistant superintendent, then chief engineer of the road, a position he holds until 1873.

The first Mallory home in Chariton in 1869.

1867: Smith, Annie and Jessie Mallory move to Chariton and begin purchasing property, principally town lots. They purchase or commission a relatively modest house at the current site of Chariton High School along North Grand Street that will remain their home for about 14 years.

On 13 June, Smith is elected to the first vestry upon organization of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church; baptized with wife, Annie, and others on 29 March 1868; and confirmed 2 April 1868 (the congregation's first confirmation class). St Andrew’s will remain a focus of his life until death.

1870: When the 1870 census enumerator calls at the Mallory home in Chariton on 1 September he finds its occupants to be Smith, Annie and Jessie as well as Lissie Smith, a servant, and Matthew Mildern, a laborer. Smith H. Mallory reports that he owns real estate valued at $81,550 and personal property valued at $88,350, making him in all likelihood the richest man in Lucas County and one of the richest in southern Iowa.

Also during 1870, Smith H. Mallory purchases controlling interest in the banking house of Lyman Cook & Co. and reorganizes it as the First National Bank of Chariton with himself as president, Joseph Braden as vice-president and Edward Ames Temple (who goes on to found the Bankers Life Association, now Principal Financial Group) as cashier. The Mallory family will control the bank until 1907, when it fails after Frank R. Crocker (who succeeds Temple as cashier during 1884) misappropriates a majority of its funds.

1871: Smith H. Mallory is named chief engineer of the Burlington and Missouri Railroad.

1872: Smith H. Mallory commissions his first major construction project in Chariton, the Mallory Opera Bock on the northwest corner of the square. Probably designed by rising Des Moines architect William Foster, it features four storefronts on its first floor with the opera house itself above and behind. It will remain Chariton’s major entertainment venue for more than 30 years.

1873: Smith H. Mallory resigns as chief engineer of the Burlington and Missouri and organizes with John Fitzgerald of Nebraska and Martin Flynn of Des Moines the railroad construction firm of Fitzgerald, Mallory & Flynn. This firm engages in construction work for the Cincinnati Southern Railroad, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe in Colorado and the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad across Nebraska.

1874: Smith H. Mallory commissions plans for a mansion, carrying an estimated cost in excess of $25,000, perhaps from William Foster. He has not yet selected a site, but is thinking of building it on farm land he has been acquiring on Chariton’s north city limits.

1875: After his election as president of the Iowa Centennial Commission, Smith H. Mallory resigns because of the increasing load of his business obligations.

1877: Although a Democrat in overwhelmingly Republican territory, Smith H. Mallory is elected to a single term as representative in the Iowa Legislature, its 17th General Assembly. Although he remains active in Democratic politics for the rest of his life and sporadically runs for office, he will not hold elective public office again.

1878: Smith H. Mallory is named president of the Chariton, Des Moines & Southern Railroad, formed to build north-south rail connections between Des Moines, Chariton and other points south. It is during this period, 1879, and along the railroad’s route, that he founds Milo, named for a town in his New York home county, Yates.

The Ilion as it appear soon after completion.

1879: Construction begins on the Mallory mansion on Chariton’s north edge. Construction of the house, formally named Ilion also for his native territory in New York but commonly known as Mallory’s Castle, will continue through 1880 and into 1881. William Foster most likely was the architect.

1880: With Henry Law, Smith H. Mallory commissions a new doublel-front brick buisiness building near the northeast corner of the Chariton square, immediately south of the Gibbon Building. The Mallory & Law Block was designed by William Foster of Des Moines and still stands.

On 5 June, Smith, Annie and Jessie Mallory, accompanied by his niece, Louise Smith, leave New York City aboard the Britannica to begin a grand tour of Europe. Smith returns to Iowa to attend to business during late July or early August, but the women remain in Europe.

1881: During January, Smith sails from New York City to rejoin his family, then in Germany. The family continues its grand tour, then returns to Iowa at mid-year and probably moves into the Ilion at that time.

Smith H. Mallory as vice-president and general manager assumes control of the Fulton County (Illinois) Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. and becomes its president and general manager in 1883, a position he holds until death.

1886: During April, Smith H. Mallory and his former partner, John Fitzgerald, organize the Fitzgerald & Mallory Construction Co. and Smith is elected president. That firm builds approximately 600 miles of railroad in Kansas and Colorado that subsequently becomes part of the Missouri Pacific system. This road is completed to Pueblo, Colo., 1 December 1887.

Jessie Ogden Mallory Thayer/O'Neal

On 9 June 1886, Jessie Ogden Mallory marries Deming Jarves Thayer, 33, a civil engineer and protégé of her father, during an 8 p.m. ceremony at the Ilion. Guests from the Chicago area arrive via an especially-commissioned private rail car. Although the newlyweds set out immediately for Kansas, where Deming is employed by Fitzgerald & Mallory, the Thayers never establish an independent life, always making their home at the Ilion with Jessie’s parents.

1888: Jessie (Mallory) Thayer gives birth on 3 February to a stillborn daughter, Louise Mallory Thayer, who is interred in the Stanton vault in the Chariton Cemetery.

1892: Smith H. Mallory is appointed to the Iowa Commission for the World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago World’s Fair) of 1893 by then-Gov. Horace Boies, then elected chairman of its Executive Committee. He devotes substantial time and energy to organizing construction of the Iowa Building, even moving his family into a rented house in Chicago to ensure that everything will be in order for the fair’s May-October, 1893, run.

1894: Smith H. Mallory presents on 1 January to the people of Lucas County the Seth Thomas clock that still operates in the courthouse tower, then under construction. It begins running 22 May 1894. By some accounts, Smith acquires the clock when buildings erected for the Chicago World’s Fair are dismantled.

1898: Demming Thayer, 45, confined to the hospital for the insane at Mount Pleasant during late 1897 (possibly suffering from what we now would call clinical depression}, kills himself on 21 June in a sleeping car between St. Louis and Burlington while returning to Chariton from Eureka Springs, Ark., where he had undergone "water treatments." Funeral services are conducted 23 June at the Ilion and burial is made in the Chariton Cemetery.

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church

1900: The corner stone is placed 24 April for the new St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, designed by Philadelphia architect Isaac Pursell who was commissioned by Jessie Mallory Thayer. Cost: of the building is estimated at $23-26,000; first services are held 16 January 1901; and it is consecrated 31 August 1904 after it has been completed with a $10,000 bequest from Smith H. Mallory.

The Mallory cross, installed Chariton Cemetery; moved to Orlando, Florida.

 1903: Smith H. Mallory dies at 11:40 a.m. Thursday, 26 March, at the Ilion at age 68 of complications of stomach cancer. Funeral services are held at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 28, at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church and he is buried near his son-in-law, Deming J. Thayer, in the Chariton Cemetery. Soon thereafter, Jessie and Annie commission a massive Celtic cross to mark the Mallory/Thayer lot and it is installed between his grave and that of Deming J. Thayer in the far northwest corner of the cemetery.

1904: The Mallory Opera Block and several buildings to its south burn in a late-night fire that is the most destructive Chariton’s square ever has experienced. Total property loss is estimated at $100,000.

1907: The suicide of Frank R. Crocker, cashier of First National Bank, at his home south of the square (now Fielding Funeral Home) is discovered early Thursday, 1 November, and the bank doors are locked. Examiners discover Crocker has misappropriated a majority of the bank's funds, it enters receivership and eventually is dissolved. Annie Mallory, bank president, Jessie (Mallory) Thayer, director, and their friend, Mary (Polly) Wolcott, are aboard ship en route to Egypt. Notified by cable at Naples, they begin the return trip to the United States immediately.The Mallorys arrive in Batavia, Ill., during early December and Jessie Thayer and her uncle, A.D. "Bert" Mallory, visit Chariton briefly to assess the financial damage, returning hurriedly to Batavia. Neither Jessie nor her mother will live in Chariton again, choosing to live instead in Orlando, Florida.

1909: After months of negotiations, lawsuits and threatened suits, Annie and Jessie Mallory agree during May to a settlement to resolve their liability in the First National Bank disaster. Annie agrees to turn over to the government all her Lucas County holdings, including the Ilion. The women also will make a cash payment of $26,700, bringing estimated value of the settlement to $126,700. The women have agreed to earlier, smaller cash settlements. Newspaper reports suggested the settlement left Annie Mallory without assets, but Jessie retained significant wealth.During September, professional movers arrive from Chicago to pack the contents of the Ilion and ship them to Jessie (Mallory) Thayer's home in Orlando.

During November, the Ilion and its land are sold by the First Naitonal Bank receiver to L.H. Busselle and William A. Eikenberry for $55,000. The estate will remain in their hands until both die during 1948.The mansion, parts of which are occupied sporadically by farm workers and others, enters a long sleep, gradually deteriorating but remaining structurally sound.

1914: Jessie (Mallory) Thayer marries Orlando businessman, socialite and local historian William R. O'Neal during October at her home, Three Pines, in Orlando. Jessie establishes a new life in Orlando, becoming actively involved in clubs, social activities and charitable organizations. The couple continue to live in Jessie's home for the balance of her life.

1920: Jessie (Mallory) Thayer/O'Neal returns to Chariton and on 9 June has her father's body disinterred and cremated. The ashes are taken to Florida for burial in Orlando's Greenwood Cemetery. The large Colorado red sandstone Celtic cross that had marked his grave in Chariton Cemetery is dismantled and shipped to Florida as well. Jessie leaves the bodies of her infant daughter and first husband, Deming J. Thayer, behind.

1923: Annie (Ogden) Mallory, 81, dies during the early morning hours of March 21 at the home of her daughter, Jessie (Mallory) Thayer/O’Neal, in Orlando. Funeral services are held at the home at 4 p.m. on March 22 and Annie is buried near the ashes of her husband, Smith H. Mallory, in Orlando's Greenwood Cemetery.

Jessie (Mallory) Thayer/O'Neal dies on 16 November at age 60 after undergoing surgery at an Orlando hospital. She is buried in Orlando's Greenwood Cemetery, near her parents. With her death, the Smith H. Mallory family line has ended.

1948: Luther H. Busselle, 83, and William A. Eikenberry, 72, who have owned the Ilion and its related land for 40 years, die, Busselle on 12 October and Eikenberry, on 26 December. In order to settle their estates, it becomes necessary to sell the property.

1949: The Ilion and its related 940 acres of land are sold at public auction on 27 January to C. Otto Brown for $28,200 ($30 an acre). “Ott” Brown makes estensive repairs to the mansion — replacing its roof, repairng the sagging porches, etc. — in order to make it habitable. Families again move into the home.1

1954: Upon Ott Brown’s death, the Ilion and its land again enter probate. This time, it will not survive.

1955: The Brown family announces early in the year that the Ilion will be demolished and a housing development created on its grounds. The Chariton Rotary Club holds a grand party at the Ilion on 13 April and the Browns schedule a public open house at the old mansion for 17 April. Shortly thereafter, demolition begins. By August, only some of the walls remain and by fall, the grand old house has been reduced to a pile of brick and rubble. St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, now structurally unstable and in need of at least $100,000 to repair, is demolished, too.

Most physical traces of Smith H. Mallory and his family in Lucas County now have been obliterated. Exceptions include the clock in the courthouse tower, the Mallory & Law building on the east side of the square (virtually unrecognizable after it lost the ornate iron work that formed the top of its facade) and Mallory Drive in what sometimes is known as the Ilion Acres subdivision.