The Birth Family of William McGaughey, Sr.

William McGaughey, Sr. (right) with Gerald Phillippe, chairman of General Electric (c. 1965)

A Journey with Dad to his boyhood haunts

Dad (William McGaughey, Sr.) and I (William McGaughey, Jr.) drove from Greencastle, Indiana, to Indianapolis on September 18, 1988. Our first destination was the home in Acton where Dad lived for three years from age 8 to 11. Action is now a suburban neighborhood although it is incorporated into Indianapolis. Under Mayor Lugar’s administration, the city of Indianapolis and Marion County merged to save money. Acton is in the extreme southeast corner of the city. Dad’s old home is several hundred yards from the county line.

The house, a nice-looking brick building, is located at 8019 Dix Road. To get there, we drove from Greencastle on Interstate 70 to Interstate 465 and 74, and then to Highway 421, from which we exited at Acton. We took the Acton Road for several blocks and, before the new elementary school, turned left into the center of town on McGregor road, and then right at Dix. The house is perhaps 200 yards up Dix Road on the left.

We pulled into the driveway behind the house, with the barn on our right. A teenage girl came out from the rear of the house to greet us. She was Jennifer Craig, daughter of the current owner, David Craig, who is a trainer with the Indianapolis Pacer pro basketball team.

Though she seemed a bit suspicious, Jennifer kindly consented to give us a tour of the house. There were two older adults there and a younger boy. Jennifer’s parents were in Pennsylvania on an antique-hunting expedition. We passed through a porch into a kitchen area and then went into the dining room. There were several nice fireplaces. Antique paintings and furniture filled the home.

We went up the windy front steps to the second floor. The staircase split into two branches. Dad’s parents slept in a room at the head of the stairs, along with Dad’s sister Mary Jane. Dad and his older brother John slept in another bedroom. There were other rooms down the hallway, and then a back staircase. The home had, of course, been remodeled in several places. An addition had been made upstairs.

Upon leaving the home, we took several photographs. We asked to tour the barn, but Jennifer refused permission. There was a large concrete driveway. Dad’s father had built the barn with surplus lumber obtained from the U.S. Army. After World War I, he put in a bid on barracks at Fort Benjamin Harrison. Dad’s father had the barracks torn down, had the lumber shipped to Acton, and built the barn. He had also obtained his first automobile, a Dodge touring car, by bidding on army surplus equipment.

Marjorie Main’s parents, the Samuel Tomlinsons, owned adjacent property at Acton. However, there was a dispute between them and Dad’s parents over the real estate settlement, probably when grandmother McGaughey died about 1910. The two branches of the family were not on speaking terms for several years. Eventually, the Tomlinsons sold the property in Acton and moved to Fairland, about 15 miles southeast of Acton, in Shelby County.

Marjorie Main’s father was a former minister who later supported himself by farming. He therefore had larger crops and herds of livestock than Dad’s father, who had income as a doctor. Marjorie Main went to New York city in the 1920s to take up acting. She was an attractive slim-figured woman, and acquired the latest ‘20s clothing. Once, when she came home to Indianapolis, she put on a fashion show for relatives.

Leaving Acton, we had some difficulty finding our way across Highway 421 toward our next destination, Cumberland. We asked directions at a grocery store. A middle-aged woman there had heard of Marjorie Main; she said there was a historical celebration of some sort at the crossroads community where we stopped. We could have taken the freeway to Cumberland but decided instead to take the scenic route along East County Line Road. The road zig-zagged through corn fields, stricken from the drought. Once once or twice, we got lost.

En route to Cumberland, we passed the Juliet insane asylum about a quarter miles on our left. Dad’s father had been the medical doctor there. He visited the hospital three times a week. Sometimes Dad accompanied him, and sat in the car or browsed in the first-floor (lobby) library. The Juliet asylum was in the countryside. We did not visit it.

Eventually we reached Cumberland after driving for miles through farmland - all part of the City of Indianapolis! We reached U.S. Route 40 and turned left. Almost immediately we entered an urban environment. Route 40 is also called East Washington Street. The neighborhoods appear rather old and run-down. Along East Washington there are many franchise outfits and several shopping malls.

Our destination was the cemetery where Dad’s parents, Samuel and Martha McGaughey, his older brother Paul (who died when he was 12) and sister Mary Jane are buried. We first turned into a place called Washington park, which seemed to be a combination of a cemetery and theme park. The streets were named after Revolutionary War battle sites. That was not the right place so we drove another mile or so to another cemetery, Memorial Park. This cemetery was on the right side of East Washington and across the street from a shopping mall, where were was a movie theater, Kohl’s store, and other business establishments.

The cemetery office, beyond the gate and to the right, was closed. Dad did not know the location of the grave site. We thought it was toward the center of the cemetery. There was no tombstone above ground. We walked around in a likely section near the center for about fifteen minutes but then realized we would not find the grave site and left. Memorial Park cemetery still had lots of empty space. There were old artillery pieces not far from the gate.

(Note: Dad later called the cemetery from Milford and obtained the following information. The cemetery is Memorial Park, 9350 East Washington Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46229. It is about five miles west of the Post Road, which is the east county line. Dad’s parents, brother, and sister are buried in Section 6, lot 24. Section 6 is located just beyond the gate house and to the right of the main road.)

There were four children in the McGaughey family in descending order of age: Paul, John, William (Dad), and Mary Jane. When Dad’s father was away (as an army doctor) during World War I, Paul contracted an infectious disease. Today, it could easily have been treated with antibiotics. In Paul’s case, though, the disease was fatal. Dad’s father, Samuel, could do nothing for the boy when he rushed home from Camp Dix, N.J. A ceremony was held for Paul at Memorial Park in 1918. Dad and his entire class from grade school walked four miles from school to the cemetery along East Washington to attend the burial ceremony.

Upon leaving Memorial Park, we continued driving west along Washington Street (Route 40) toward the Irvington neighborhood. Dad remembered the names of the cross streets in that neighborhood - Sheridan, Arlington, Butler, Emerson, etc. He had a morning and afternoon paper route for several blocks south of East Washington. The afternoon route was about two miles. It included a tour through the campus of old Butler College (now located in northeast Indianapolis at a location known as Fairview), which brother John attended for two years before transferring to Purdue. A block north of Washington, on Audubon road, we saw a mansion which was once the residence of the president of Butler.

Before we reached Irvington, we passed the Irvington public grade school where the Protestants went. Dad and siblings attended the parochial grade school, Lady of Lourdes. The old school building is no longer standing but is, instead, a large stone church with a nearby school. The grounds are well kept. The McGaughey home was at 5219 East Washington, just west of Butler Avenue, on the south side of Washington. Today it is a parking lot next to a store.

Irvington ends at Emerson. We continued driving west. One landmark on the south side of the street was Willard Park, which is north of Arsenal Technical High School Dad attended this school. We also passed a large factory building on the left. In the 1930s, this had been a relatively promising place to seek employment. The building has changed hands, and today is owned by Emhard-Foley. Today, Indianapolis has no manufacturing plants which are not owned by subsidiaries of larger companies.

Dad said that Indianapolis was once second only to Detroit in the production of automobiles. The Duesenberg, Cole, Marman, and other makes of cars were built there. However, the Indianapolis business community did not encourage automobile manufacturers to locate there because they feared that the high wages paid to auto workers would disturb the business climate. As a result, it quickly lost ground in this industry.

After passing through an industrial neighborhood, we came to the central business district of Indianapolis. “Uncle Dave” Bon lived on North Delaware street, about fifteen blocks from downtown. the hub of the city is the Solder’s and Sailor’s Monument, which is a block east of the state capital. We had to turn off East Washington Street a block from the circle around this monument.

At the circle there had once been a popular movie theater, called “The Circle”, which Dad had often attended. A bit farther around the circle, we passed the Columbia Club. Dad had once interviewed Frank Knox there. Knox was publisher of the Chicago Daily News, and later Secretary of the Navy in the Roosevelt administration. Dad’s father had dropped dead about a block east of the Solder’s and Sailor’s Monument on Pennsylvania Avenue in the winter of 1931.

We continued driving west on Washington Street after leaving the state capitol. The Indianapolis civic center and a General Motors plant were on the left. A bit father, on the right, we passed the zoo. This part of town seemed to have been cleared by urban renewal. There seemed to be a number of pornography places called “Adult Recreation Centers” on the west side, but fewer shopping malls and franchise places. Generally the west side along Route 40 was less developed than the east side.

Between Indianapolis and Greencastle on Route 40 we passed Stilesville. Dad had a friend, Andy Robards, whose parents owned a farm near there. Robards had originally been a friend of John’s from Purdue. Dad visited him at Stilesville once or twice a year. The two talked of buying and operating a small-town newspaper in Indianapolis. Prospectively, Andy Robard’s parents would have provided the funding. However, these plans fell through. Dad sometimes lined up dates for Robard, who was personally shy. Robard came to Mary Jane’s (Dad’s sister) funeral and then himself died a year or so later.

We also passed the state mental hospital, which was considerably larger than the one at Juliet. Dad took a course in abnormal psychology at Depauw University. He borrowed some books at the state hospital for this course which were unavailable at Depauw. This course was one of Dad’s least favorite. Mainly it required memorizing psychological terminology. Dad also took a summer course in chemistry at Butler College.

About ten miles east of Greencastle, we left Route 40 to take another road into town, passing the abandoned IBM plant. (In Greencastle) we took a short tour to East College street to see the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house. The old house, where Dad lived, was torn down in the early 1960s. Today its site is a parking lot and volleyball court. Next to the new Phi Gam house is the sorority house where Mother lived. She was the chapter president of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. There is a nice spacious lawn called the hollows across the street.

The old Durham house at 309 East Seminary Street was sold by Drew Durham (Frank’s son) to a Depauw fraternity, Sigma Nu.


More information about Dad’s family (given by Annabel Hall in a telephone conversation on October 31, 1988, as corrected by Dad

Dad’s family lived in a house at Woodruff Place for about 15 months during 1930 and 1931. (They continued to own the home on East Washington street, a three-storey house that was remodeled in 1925.) Woodruff Place was an affluent neighborhood in Indianapolis about ten blocks north of Washington street near Arsenal Technical High School, which both Dad and Mary Jane attended. It is between 10th and 16th streets. When Dr. McGaughey died in 1931, the family moved to a duplex at Washington and Butler streets, now a parking lot. Mary Jane remarked that she could no longer “jump over the fence” to attend high school but would have to ride her bicycle.

Woodruff Place was made famous by the Hoosier author Booth Tarkington who made it the locale of his turn-of-the-century novel, “The Magnificent Ambersons”, later made into a movie directed by Orson Wells. The house at Woodruff place was built by a Mr. Baxter, a wealthy Indianapolis manufacturer who lived there for a number of years before moving to the North Meridian street section of Indianapolis. His daughter, Delight Baxter, was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority at Depauw when Mother was the chapter president.

Dad’s cousin, Annabel Hall, grew up in Fairland. She called Dad’s parents, “Uncle Sam” and “Aunt Mattie”. (“Mattie” stands for “Martha”.) Dad’s grandfather was also a doctor. He and his wife had three children: Rachel (Annabel’s grandmother), Jen or Jenny (Marjorie Main’s mother), and Samuel (Dad’s father).

The two sisters, Rachel and Jen, married two brothers, the Tomlinsons. Rachel married John Tomlinson, who was a farmer. Jenny married Samuel Tomlinson, a minister. She grew up in a little house next to the larger brick house in Acton which Samuel McGaughey’s family occupied. Marjorie Main was born in that house, and was delivered by her grandfather, Jen’s father. Both houses are still standing. Velma Ruede (see below) can see them from where she lives.

Ralph and Anna Lee Tomlinson, Annabel Hall’s father and mother, lived in Fairland. Annabel had a brother, John, who lives in Lakeland, Florida, and a sister, Elizabeth Robinson of New Port Richey, Florida. Annabel herself lived Tampa and St. Petersburg for many ears, but moved back to Indianapolis about eight years ago. She now lives at 555 Massachusetts Avenue, #20-K, which is near the Monument in the downtown area.

Annabel has a daughter living in Indiana and a son in California. There was also a Robert Tomlinson, brother of Ralph. They were sons of John Tomlinson. Aunt Jen married Samuel Tomlinson. Besides Mary (Marjorie Main), they had a daughter, Jennie, and a son, Sammy, who lived in Indiana and worked various jobs. Mary and Sammy were Annabel Hall’s double cousins.

Ralph Tomlinson, Annabel’s father and the son of John, had a brother, Robert or “Rob”, who was the black sheep of the family. Eschewing farming and hog raising as practiced by Ralph and Aunt Jen’s husband, Rob had a brilliant career as a salesman. His territory was centered in Louisville, Kentucky.

By the time that Dad knew him, Rob was disabled and was a pathetic sight with impaired speech and bodily movements. He had moved to Martinsville, famous for its mineral baths, and was supported by his wife, Hazel. She was somewhat of a family heroine because of her positive attitude and unflagging devotion to her husband. She worked as personal secretary to the sheriff of Marion county, a good-paying job at the time. Dad once accompanied Rob to a Martinsville barbershop where he, Rob, was treated kindly by the barber and customers. When the Tomlinsons later moved to Indianapolis, Rob took Dad to the B.F. Keith vaudeville house, which Dad regarded as a great treat.

A book called “Historic Treasures of Franklin Township” was assembled by women of that area. Lois Clark, a relative of the McGaugheys, supplied information pertaining to the McGaughey family. The book is available for $16 from: Velma Ruede, Rt. 3, Box 138, Fairland, IN 46126. It was published by the Franklin Township Historical Society, and contains a photograph of Dr. Sam McGaughey. Another book, out of print, pictures the McGaughey home at Acton.


Dad’s notes on his parents written in a car en route to Dover, NJ, December 29, 1993

Samuel McGaughey had a younger sister, Aunt “Jen” Tomlinson of Fairland, Indiana, who was married to Rev. Samuel Tomlinson, a retired minister turned farmer. They had two children: Mrs. Stanley Krebs (Marjorie Main) and Samuel Tomlinson, Jr., who later moved to Indianapolis after the farm in Fairland was sold during the Great Depression. Samuel Jr. (“little Sam”) had no children; he married late in life. Had a career as a salesman representing a correspondence course - do-it-yourself education. In Indianpolis the Tomlinsons lived on N. Illinois Street about 18th Street (about one mile north of downtown). Aunt Jen kept roomers & later had a job as sports instructor in the Chicago park system - a political appointment.

Grandmother Elliott was born in County Cork, Ireland, and might have come to America during the potato famine. Background information is provided by Mary Jane. One relative became a Catholic bishop; another was in the linen export trade with French customers. Some of the background material is available through Steve McIlwain, oldest son of Mary Jane, who is an attorney in Albuquerque, NM. His younger brother, Bill, is an attorney in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Mother, Martha Elliott, was born in Newton, Kansas. Her father was a railroad engineer. She was married in Indianapolis to Dr. Samuel McGaughey, who graduated from Butler College and Indianapolis Medical school. Martha’s sisters were Ann & May and brother was Richard Elliott, all of whom lived in the Woodlawn area of Chicago as did their mother who lived into her upper 80s. Martha and Samuel married about 1905. Their children were: Paul (born 1906?), John (born 1908), William (born 1912) and Mary (born 1919).

Samuel was born in Acton about 1882. His father was also a medical doctor who traveled by horseback. Aunt Ann Barrett has a daughter, Billy, born about 1909, who was a top tennis player at Hyde Park on the south side of Chicago.


Recollections from Dad August 27, 1998

Dad’s mother was an Elliott. Mr. Elliott, his grandfather, was a locomotive engineer for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad, stationed in Chicago. He drove to Wichita and beyond. Was dead when Dad was young. Dad’s grandmother lived with her daughter Ann (Dad’s aunt) in Chicago. There was also another daughter besides Martha, Dad’s mother.

This grandmother was very religious. She once left a purse at a gas station while driving from Chicago to Indianapolis. She prayed to St. Anthony to return the purse. Tried to reconstruct where they had been. Aunt Ann phoned the gas station and, sure enough, they had the purse.

Dad didn’t remember his grandfather’s first name. Thought his grandmother’s first name was Mattie, short for Martha. (Note: This may have been Dad’s mother.) In that day, a locomotive engineer had prestige as an airlines pilot does today. They called dad’s grandmother “Grandma”; her first name was seldom used. This couple, Dad’s grandparents, had three daughters and one son. Two of the daughters lived in Chicago. Dad’s mother lived in Indianapolis. Dad’s mother had met his father in Indianapolis right after Dad’s father had gotten through medical school.

Dad’s father took an internship at the Indianapolis police station where there was an infirmary. Dad was a police reporter (at the Indianapolis Star, before he graduated from Depauw.). Once a police officer hauled him in for speeding. A senior reporter at the station put in a good word for Dad after asking him if he was related to Dr. Samuel McGaughey. The officer finally dismissed the speeding charge after giving Dad a tough lecture.

There is nobody left to ask about these relatives. Mary Adams, who lives in Ft. Meyers Florida, put together a 25 to 30 page history several years ago. Her brother is George Adams. Don’t know where our copy is. Grandmother Elliott was a little old lady in her dotage when Dad knew her.

Marjorie Main had a part in “Dead End”, a Broadway play which attracted Hollywood’s attention. She also had a bit part in another play, “The Women”. In one of those plays, she played a gangster’s mother who slapped her son hard in the face. This shocked the audience. Her role in “The Egg and I” led to the Kettle series.

Marjorie Main was locked into a long-term contract with MGM which prevented her from getting rich from the Ma Kettle films. MGM loaned her to Universal Pictures. even so, she had three houses - in Los Angeles, Palm Springs, and in the mountains. Her agent had a hard time persuading MGM to allow her to do comedy roles. In watching the Ma Kettle film on 8/27/98, Dad thought Marjorie Main was physically more attractive than her role suggested.


More Recollections from Dad July 19, 2001

Dad remembers that his relatives included an Irish bishop. The business-minded Elliotts, his mother’s family, traded in France in woolen cloth.

Uncle Dick Elliott had a business of supplying food to boats in the Chicago harbor which was quite lucrative. The Depression put an end to this. Dick became an alcoholic, living in Chicago. Dad met Dick several times but didn’t know him well. Dick stayed with Martha (Dad’s mother) in Indianapolis when he was off the wagon (drunk). She put him in a side room to sleep it off. John (Dad’s brother) used to help with Uncle Dick. He’d get Dick in and out of bed, put him on the train to Chicago, etc.

Dad knew Aunt Ann who lived in Chicago - “a lovely woman”. Aunt Ann was married but had no children. Dad couldn’t remember who she married.

Dad also knew Aunt Mae but had less contact with her. Aunt Mae was the mother of Betty, who was about the same age as John. Betty was a tennis coach with the city park system in Chicago, a political job. She was not a full-time coach; her duties included keeping the courts clean, scheduling them, etc. Betty was the tennis champion of Hyde Park High School in a year between 1925 and 1935. She never married. Her father was Tom Barrett. He and Aunt Mae had only the one daughter.

Dad didn’t know Bud too well, but seems to remember that he wore a different kind of shoe - he had polio. He didn’t know John Joseph. Dad never met his grandfather, Calvin Elliott, who died before he or John were around. Dad couldn’t remember the year when his mother, Martha, was born.

Dad remembers that his grandmother Elliott was quite religious. She was in her dotage. He remembers an incident, in the early 1930s, when she drove from Chicago to Indianapolis with Aunt Ann and left her purse behind in a gas station. She was terribly upset and began to pray to a saint who was helpful in such cases. Grandmother Elliott then remembered the gas station where they had stopped. They telephoned it and, sure enough, the purse was there. They retrieved it on the return trip home.

Dad didn’t remember Grandmother Elliott’s first name; they called her “Granny”. After her husband’s death, she lived in Chicago alone; at least, not with any of her children. Granny was very generous. Dad remembers that when he was a reporter on the Wall Street Journal in 1936, Granny, his mother, and Ann came to visit him in New York for three days. Dad was then living in the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn Heights in a single room on a floor for men only. Dad lined up a room for his female relatives in a rooming house, which angered (sister) Mary Jane, then 12 or 13, who thought they should be staying at the St. George Hotel. Mary Jane and a friend had run riding the elevators up and down at the St. George Hotel.

At any rate, Granny wanted to send Dad some money. She said: “Give me your address, and I’ll send you some money.” It was not a realistic offer; Granny was a bit senile. Dad was about 20 minutes late in meeting his female relatives. His mother Martha made excuses for him - that he was busy at work, which was not quite true. Dad entertained his female visitors. He took them to see a movie with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers which they enjoyed very much. Aunt Ann said: “Bill, I hope you give this move a good review”, referring to his Wall Street Journal association. In their last evening in New York, Dad took them to a beer joint at 19th Street and 3rd Avenue, a sociable place, not a dive. Martha wasn’t used to drinking. The beer burned her stomach and she vomited.

Dad doesn’t remember much more about his grandparents. He thinks that Granny died around 1940. He did not attend her funeral, which was in Chicago. Ann told Dad about it. Mother Martha was there.

Dad’s mother, Martha, died around 1949 in Martinsville, Indiana, while visiting Mary Jane. It was just before a party held by Willy Overland to show off its new products. (Dad still has a booklet from that event.) Martha often visited her daughter Mary Jane in Martinsville for several days; and then Mary Jane would visit her mother in Indianapolis. I asked if Martha had wanted to live with Dad after he married in November, 1939. He didn’t think so.

How did Martha live? After Dad’s father died in 1931, he did not leave much of an estate, only a number of uncollectible bills from patients. Martha was forced to go to work to support herself. She worked first as a sales clerk in a downtown department store in Indianapolis (not the largest one). Then she got a job as a seamstress at the Veteran’s Administration hospital in northwest Indianapolis, about three miles from downtown. Martha liked that job better. She used to commute to work with some people from Irvington (a section of Indianapolis) - about four or five men. There was much camaraderie - bar-room humor - during the commute.

Dad’s father, Samuel McGaughey, died in 1931. Dad was a freshman at Depauw. He remembers that he was studying in his room on a Saturday afternoon when a woman, who was a friend of the family, called. She tried to be diplomatic, “Your father has collapsed”, but then blurted out the truth that he had died.

What does Dad remember about his father? He was a heavy drinker. He was more interested in politics than in medicine. Samuel McGaughey, Dad's father, became a doctor because his mother had insisted on it. Her Husband, also Samuel McGaughey, was a prominent doctor in Acton, Indiana. Dad’s father was the first doctor in Indianapolis to enlist in the armed forces during World War I. He started as a captain and later became a major. This was not entirely an act of patriotism but also of changing lifestyle. He liked the Army.

Dad’s father was stationed at Fort Dix in New Jersey. he had friends in New York City who were editors of Cosmopolitan and other magazines whom he used to visit quite often.

Dad’s father also saw Marjorie Main in New York, though they were not especially close. Dad became closer to Marjorie Main after she became a widow. She had few close friends and appreciated the attention. Once, Marjorie Main arranged for Dad to view one of her theatrical performances from the back of the stage, which was kind of fun.

Dad’s father enlisted in the Army in 1917 but was not demobilized until 1919. He gave physicals to the doughboys returning from Europe. Meanwhile, Martha was back in Indianapolis raising their children.

Dad lived with his parents in Indianapolis during the 1920s. He remembers that his father bought a Dodge car from Fort Benjamin Harrison. He also bought timber from an army barracks and used this to build a barn on the Acton farm. The McGaugheys moved to Acton in 1921 and lived there until 1927. Dad's father resumed his medical practice. He was a graduate of the Indiana Medical College. His internship was spent at a police station in downtown Indianapolis. Years later, when Dad was a police reporter for the Indianapolis Times, he kept running into people who knew his father. A policeman once tore up Dad’s ticket for speeding after talking about his father for half an hour.

Dad’s father was a great poker player. He belonged to the American Legion. Friday nights he normally went to a poker game at the Legion’s hall. He regularly brought back $75 to $100 in winnings at poker. Some of his patients paid him a compliment in saying that he was not a “pill doctor” but someone who would take the time to listen to their problems.


Conversation with Dad (William H.T. McGaughey) on June 2, 1994

Dad lived on Washington Street in Indianapolis until he was seven. Then the McGaugheys moved to the farm in Acton for three and a half years. Then they went back to the house on Washington Street in the Irvington area. Samuel McGaughey had this house removed while they lived in Acton. The house was on the south side of Washington, just east of Butler, where a parking lot now is.

Dad’s mother, Martha, worked for twelve years as a seamstress in a veterans hospital on the west side of Indianapolis after her husband’s death in 1931 - until 1943 or 1944. She had previously worked in sales at a department store, but her income was lower because it was based on commissions. She also received rent on the upstairs of the duplex on Washington Street. They rented to a school teacher and her mother, who were good tenants. Had another rental property nearby where the tenants were worse. Martha McGaughey - “Granny” we called her - worked at the veterans hospital sewing hospital gowns and linen until her eyes gave out. She was able to get a job at the veterans hospital partly because her husband had been a major in the army medical corps.

Dad’s father, Samuel, was the first doctor in Indianapolis to volunteer for the army during World War I. He was promoted to major in the medical corps, and would have made lieutenant colonel if he had stayed in the army. Samuel McGaughey dropped dead of a heart attack in February, 1931, one block from the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, near a movie theater. He had been playing poker the night before and may have had too much to eat.

John McGaughey, Dad’s brother, died in his sleep the week that President Nixon resigned. He and Aunt Maxine had spent a good day together painting the house. Mother and Dad were then on a trip to Canada.

Dad remembered his brother Paul’s death in 1919. The house was filled with the smell of flowers - this image stuck with Dad. They cleared out the house the night before. The nuns at Dad’s elementary school had all the children walk to the Memorial Park Cemetery three miles down Washington Street. Samuel McGaughey bought a plot a year after the cemetery opened in 1918. Paul had an infection which could easily have been cured by penicillin.

Dad’s father, mother, sister Mary Jane, and brother Paul are buried in adjoining graves with flat tomb stones in Memorial Park Cemetery in Indianapolis. They are in section 6 in the middle near a standing tomb stone marking graves of the Van Natta family.


left to right: Mary Jane, John, Martha, and William McGaughey, early 1930s


Dad's early recollection of Christmas

An early recollection of Christmas: As a young boy, Dad went with his parents to visit at a friend’s house. Dad spent most of the time driving an Irish Mail, which is a vehicle on four wheels that children propel with their arms. Shortly afterwards, Dad’s father took him on a drive to the home of another friend who lived in the country. They would pick up something for Christmas. This Christmas present turned out to be a dog, which the family later named “Jack”. At the time, Dad was severely disappointed. He had been hoping that the gift would be an Irish Mail. However, Jack proved to be a great joy to the family - much better than an Irish Mail would have been. (Note: Dad later bought an Irish Mail for his own children in Detroit.

12/28/96 Dad's earliest Christmas memory was of his father telling him that Santa Claus did not exist. (His brother Paul already knew.) His biggest disappointment was that he wanted an Irish mail for christmas; his father said he had a surprise. They drove out and bought a dog named “Jack”, who turned out to be a wonderful companion.


Another memory

Dad saw the vaudeville shows at their fixed locations in Indianapolis. One show included a former boxing heavyweight champion who exhibited his training routine. Vaudeville and motion pictures coexisted for a time. Vaudeville died out about the time that radio became popular.

The B.F. Keith Theater on North Pennsylvania Street in the center of Indianapolis was home to many vaudeville shows. This place was later converted to a movie theater. Dad’s father dropped dead on the sidewalk as he was passing the Keith theater in February 1931.


Dad's father was elected town clerk of Irvington

Irvington, Indiana, is a section of Indianapolis where Butler University is located. Evidently, Samuel McGaughey was elected town clerk of Irvington in 1900. A certificate to that effect follows courtesy of Paula Schmidt, archivist of the Irvington Historical Society.


From a letter from Mary Jane McIlwain (Dad's sister) to Dad dated September 6, 1960

Mary Jane completed her work for an M.S. in Education the previous Saturday. Her son, Steve, 16, earned his life-saving badge and acquired a motor cycle.

The first Samuel McGaughey is buried in Acton. He built the Acton house and his son, Samuel, Dad’s father, planted the locust trees which gave the farm the name “Locust Lane Farm”.

“Mother was related to Robert E. Lee, and I’m hoping Aunt Mae can give the details. According to Mary Adams, her mother has a wealth of information concerning the McGaugheys. As she said, ‘there were many professional people in the tree.’”

From a letter dated Feb. 26 (1960)

“Great-grandmother Elliott (Calvin R. Elliott’s mother) was Lee’s first cousin ... ‘Grandfather Elliott (Calvin) was one of the pioneers into the Oklahoma territory on one of the first trains sent thru there. He was also master mechanic of the round house.’ Evidently he brought home with him at one time an Indian arrow that had been shot at the train and which stuck.

"The Elliott children were: Martha (our mother, the eldest), Anna Georgia (Aunt Ann), Warren Francis (Bud, who was a polio victim, hence the crippling), Carl William (who died of diphtheria while young), John Joseph (electrical engineer who was killed on duty repairing a line), Mary Elizabeth (Aunt Mae), and Richard Earl (Dick). According to Betty (Barrett), Dick was the youngest man ever to be elected to the Society of the Canners Association of America. He piloted his boat, the Audax (name taken from the O’Regan coat of arms) to second place in the Mackinac race of 1929. He was president of Elliott, Rolle, and Wurthumberg canned goods brokerage.

“Betty had some O’Regan papers and the coat of arms - as I remember the motto reads ‘Veritas et Audax” ... I have pictures of the family - and John has the best picture of Grandmother McGaughey in the old locket he took when mother died.

Ruth Adams has a thorough rundown on the McGaughey side, since her mother was a McGaughey. You might write her: 2532 Columbus Drive, Ft. Meyers, Florida.”

Love, Jamie" (Mary Jane)

From the History of Indianapolis and Marion County, published in 1884 on Dr. Samuel McGaughey

He was born on “July 22, 1828, in Franklin County, Indiana, where his life until his eighteenth year was passed in the improvement of such educational advantages as the vicinity afforded. After a brief period of teaching, finding his tastes in harmony with an active professional career, he began the study of medicine with Dr. D.S. McGaughey of Morristown, Shelby Co., Ind., under whose preceptorship he continued for three years. During this time he attended three courses of lectures at the Ohio Medical College, Cincinnati, whom which institution he graduated in 1851. His first field of labor was at Palestine, Hancock Co, Ind. where he located the following year.

He subsequently spent two years in Marietta, Shelby Co., and in May 1856, made Acton, Marion Co., his residence. He at once engaged in practice of a general character, which steadily increased until it became extensive and laborious. He was for a brief period associated with Dr. P.C. Leavitt, a very successful practitioner, who served with credit in the (Union) army, and on his return resumed h is practice, which was continued until his death.

Dr. McGaughey is a Republican in politics, though neither his tastes nor the demands of his profession lead to active participation in the political events of the day. He is identified with the order of Masonry, and a member of Pleasant Lodge, No. 134, of Free and Accepted Masons, of Acton. He is descended from Scotch Presbyterian stock, and a member of the Acton Presbyterian church, as also one of its trustees.”


About Marjorie Main

"Marjorie Main was born on February 24, 1890, in Acton, Indiana, as Mary Tomlinson. She was educated in private schools. She was married once, between 1920 and 1934, to Dr. Stanley Krebs, a lecturer on the Chautauqua circuit.

A minister’s daughter, Mary shocked her family when she went on stage while in her teens. She joined a Shakespearean company on the Chautauqua circuit where she met her husband. He suggested her stage name to avoid embarrassing her family.

Marjorie Main made her Broadway debut with W.C. Fields, toured with John Barrymore and Barbara Stanwyck, and made her movie debut in “A House Divided” in 1931.

Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride played the raucous Ma and Pa Kettle in the 1947 Claudette Colbert movie “The Egg and I” and went on to do nine more movies as the Kettles.

Main’s final film was “The Kettles on Old McDonald’s Farm” in 1957. She lived a quiet life of retirement until she died in 1975."

by Bettelou Peterson, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Oct. 5, 1986

An Indianapolis newspaper clipping adds: “Ma and Pa (Kettle) were the craze of the late 1940s through the ‘50s. The first four (films in the series) were a gold mine, being made for less than $400,000 by Universal International and bringing in well over $8 million each ... The first Ma and Pa Kettle (film) was on the list as one of the most profitable ten movies for 1949 and the top box office couple that year was not Clark Gable and Rita Hayworth; it was Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride.”


Photographs from William McGaughey’s Family

(1) Calvin Rufus Elliott ; Martha & Paul McGaughey (1907)
(2) Martha, John & Paul McGaughey (1911); Sam, John, Jamie, Martha & Bill McGaughey
(3) Bill, Mary Jane & John McGaughey (1921); Samuel McGaughey
(4) Sam & Martha McGaughey; Bill & John McGaughey (1930)
(5) John, Martha & Bill McGaughey; Bill, Mary Jane, John McGaughey
(6) Mac McIlwain, John McGaughey, Bill McGaughey, Maxine McGaughey, Mary Jane McIlwain; John McGaughey, Mary Jane McIlwain, Bill McGaughey (1967)

Notes: Calvin Rufus Elliott was William McGaughey’s maternal grandfather. Martha (“Mattie”) McGaughey was his mother. Paul McGaughey was his older brother who died in 1919. Dr. Samuel McGaughey was his father. John McGaughey was his older brother (younger than Paul). Mary Jane (“Jamie”) McGaughey McIlwain was his younger sister. Mac McIlwain was Mary Jane’s husband. Maxine McGaughey was John’s wife. The last photograph was taken on the occasion of Kathy Shelton’s wedding in Colorado in 1967; she was John’s daughter.


See also: Written memories of William McGaughey's relatives.

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