Maude Arthur

Posted: February 11th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »


There is a deep human need to be remembered. Most of humanity is forgotten, of course. Many, many people who were successful or beloved or wildly popular are forgotten a generation later. I’ve always been fascinated by books or projects that go back and resurrect a forgotten life and remind us that we have giant gaps in our knowledge of the past. One example is Alain Corbin’s The Life of an Unknown where he picks a name at random from a 19th Century civil registry and researches the history of that particular person as deep and wide as he can. Corbin isn’t writing an academic microhistory there, but actually trying to repair holes in our collective memory.

In previous posts on Robert T. Arthur, I was curious about how his daughter, Maude (above), died so young. She was only 23 when she died in 1916. After reading more about her life, I feel like I have discovered a remarkable person.

By all accounts, Maude had the trademark personality of a first born child: a leader, smart, willing to please. But tragedy struck her young family when she was 4 years old. Her baby sister, Lenora Fay, only 22 months old, died while the family was in Fort Scott, Kansas. (I’m not sure if Maude was also born in Fort Scott or if this was just a brief stay in Kansas. Like Denison, Fort Scott was a Katy Railroad stop and it’s likely he was on assignment there.) No doubt Maude carried some of her parents’ burden over that unforgettable tragedy throughout her life. Her parents did have another child, another girl, Marie, in 1902 when Maude was already 10. The difference in ages meant they were not likely as close as they would have liked to be. When Marie was ten years old, Maude had already graduated high school.

In high school, Maude was at the center of the social world. The Denison High School class of 1911 was small, but Maude stood out. In her junior year she was the Society Editor of the Denison High School Yellow Jacket (the yearbook which also published newsletters at the time). She was also an aspiring writer. Here is a story she contributed to the Christmas 1910 Yellow Jacket. (I transcribed it below.) I think the story displays incredible maturity for an 18 year-old girl and a real ability at crafting stories.

The Bernhardts Christmas Gift

By Maude Arthur

The cottage homes of the Bernhardts stood side by side in exact duplicate with the hanging baskets on the porch and the well laid off vegetable garden in the rear. So was the relation of the families. But of late the Mesdames Bernhardts, who had always begun and ended their house-cleaning seasons on the same day, whose preserves and jellies tallied to a jar and who made their patchwork quilts from the same pattern, had gotten in the habit of shaking their heads and lamenting that Herman and August were not happy any more spending their days in making their compounds or sitting on the green bench in the evenings smoking their long-stemmed pipes. Nowadays the men spent all their time in their laboratory, which stretched along the end of the two yards, and worked in bad smelling messes and evil looking mixtures. “And no good would come of this,” said Mena to Lena.

When the cousins took in a partner, a shock-headed young man with a queer uncatchable eye that never looked straight at anyone, Mena said it was nothing than the doings of the unsound minds of the cousins; for outside of this, August, her husband, had talked recently in his sleep about a “solution” that would bring him wealth beyond measure. When questioned about it, he became angry, but finally told her that he had come upon a combination of certain liquids that lacked but one ingredient to make a substance from which the most beautiful jewels could be made. This one ingredient he would find then hey for fame. He said that Herman had helped a little, but only a very little, the idea was his, August’s and the fame would be given him when the time came.

Lena also questioned her husband about the wonderful discovery, Herman seemingly informed her that the fame belonged to him and that August was only helping him. However, she would see when the missing link was found who would get the glory. The new partner who was experienced in chemical matters had been taken on to assist in the detail work and to help along the research for the last ingredient.

Then the lives of the two fraus became miserable, for they loved their husbands dearly and they loved each other dearly. They now foresaw the troublesome times ahead. The breach between the two families soon widened; both Herman and August became cross and sullen toward each other and each bade his wife not to visit or have anything to say to the wife of the other. Sorrow and dismay descended on the good wives, whose stolen interviews could not bring much comfort since Herman and August were at the point of blows.

One morning a fearful shock came to August and Mena; during the night Herman had stolen away taking with him his wife, the rascally new partner, and all of the precious discovery.

Up and down the white-colored kitchen raged the cheated cousin, wrenching his gray hair into wild disorder and bidding Mena hold her tongue when she tried to comfort him. Then his mood changed and he vowed to find his tricky kinsman, though it cost him years of life and hundreds of dollars, and wrest from him the magic compound which he had stolen. This was a vast undertaking. Herman’s house had been shut up, and no one could be found who was able to throw any light on the subject.

Soon August prepared to leave on his strange quest. The cottage was locked up, the cat given to a neighbor, and Mena beheld but a quivering mist as, with tear-blurred eyes, she bade farewell to her beloved cabbage garden.

Then followed the long, dreary pilgrimage of the aged couple. Now and then vague tidings of Herman’s movements came to them, but finally giving up all hope of finding his cousin, he settled in a little cottage far distant from his old home and fitted up a miniature laboratory where he worked day and night to duplicate the priceless mixture which had been stolen from him. But it was useless as he’d forgotten the very ingredients as well as the details of the process.

Mena, worn out with the long and fruitless search, was glad to have some scrubbing, washing, and something to do. August, who was so low in spring, would help her in nothing, so the poor soul was obliged to potter around with her pantry-shelves, her newly sorted window plants and such balm-giving occupations. It was a good day for her when she discovered a curious closet under the stair with a ….. like this paneling that therefore she had overlooked it. Then she bought her…. (If you’d like to read the rest of the story, please click here:


Some context about this story: Denison High School had recently built a chemistry lab on campus. It was considered the height of sophistication and scientific advancement. Marie Curie was all over the newspapers then, having won the 1903 Nobel Prize in physics (she would also win the 1911 Nobel Prize in chemistry). The women’s suffrage movement was acquiring an air of inevitability and progressive young women, like Maude, were looking to do more than study home economics.

During Maude’s high school years, the Arthur family lived at 1030 W. Sears St. in Denison (they had moved from 700 W. Owings St., and in later years the Arthur family lived at 1023 W. Morton).

Screen shot 2015-01-19 at 1.37.21 PM


It was at this house where Maude hosted the high school class for a Halloween party, which she described in her society column in the 1910 Yellow Jacket.


[Maude’s boyfriend was Leslie Cash, on the bottom row here, in the center, with the dark suit. He’s also the “One Who Loved Her” who wrote the tribute to her, below.]




Leslie Cash

(These photos are terrible quality-wise but they are all I have found so far.)

Leslie Cash later moved to Oklahoma and married a woman named Glennis. Their son, Robert, was born in 1924 and served in World War II. He passed away in 2013, but his experience as a prisoner of war in Europe is quite incredible:

He trained as a radio operator and top turret gunner on the B-24 Liberator. He was with the 8th Air Force, 492nd Bomb Group, based in Norwich, England. He was privileged to fly on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Two weeks later, on his 13th mission, his aircraft was shot down over the Baltic Sea. Bob was badly burned and wounded. He bailed from the burning plane, was rescued by German Marines and classified as a POW. At the time, he didn’t know it, but Bob was the sole survivor of a crew of 10 men. Not a day in his life went by without remembrance of those crewmen. He spent more than 10 months as a POW, living on quarter rations. On Feb. 6, 1945, they struck out in the snow for what they were told was a 16-day march that ended 90 days and 800 miles later from the starting point. It was aptly named “The German Death March,” as some 2,500 POWs perished on that march. The British 11th Armored Division, one week before peace was declared in Europe, mercifully liberated them.
 Maude_3 Maude_4
Shortly after these school photos were taken, for her senior year, Maude got sick. She was diagnosed with tuberculosis shortly after she graduated high school and her condition worsened. In the first decade of the twentieth century, tuberculosis was so common that many families had a consumptive member. The disease was little understood and prevention included anti-spitting campaigns, an increase in hygiene, and various types of supplemental air.
(A typical sanatorium for tuberculosis patients in Texas.)
In early 1914, the Arthur family decided to move to a dryer, desert climate in west Texas. Robert T. Arthur kept an apartment at a rooming house at 214 N. Mirick Ave. It was thought that dry, desert air could help cure tuberculosis. There were two smaller sanatoriums in San Angelo and a larger colony just outside San Angelo, founded in 1909 (sometimes called “Sanatorium, Texas“.) It’s not clear to me yet which of these housed Maude. Her sister Marie stayed behind in Denison to attend school. The 1915 city directory lists only Robert T. as a resident of Denison.


Alas, she didn’t survive. Maude L. Arthur died in San Angelo, Texas, at the age of 23.

(As before, I am transcribing these newspaper articles so that the text may be searchable.)


Denison Daily Herald, January 8, 1916

Popular Denison Girl Dies in San Angelo

A message received in Denison this morning from San Angelo conveyed the sad news of the death of Miss Maude Arthur, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. T. Arthur.

Death occurred at 9:30 a.m. today. Mr. Arthur, who is a passenger conductor for the Katy, and the youngest daughter, Marie, who is attending the public schools in Denison this winter, left the city at an early hour this morning for San Angelo in response to a message stating that the condition of Miss Maude was very critical. They will not reach San Angelo until tonight. Mrs. Arthur was with her daughter when death came.

The remains, accompanied by the family, will leave San Angelo Sunday morning and are expected to arrive in Denison Monday morning. No definite word as to the funeral arrangements have reached here as yet.

Too many words of love and commendation cannot be spoken of Maude, who was universally loved in Denison. She was a member of the Denison High school class of 1911, and was a member and faithful worker in the First Presbyterian church of this city. The memory of the many charitable acts of kindness and her sweet and lovable ways will dwell forever in the hearts and minds of all those with whom she was associated in any way. Her life was one of purity, filled with the love of true friends.

Owing to the impaired condition of the deceased’s health, the Arthur family left Denison about two years ago, going to San Angelo, in the hopes that the change of climate would be of material benefit to her, but all was done that the mortal hands could do, and “He who doeth all things well” called her home.]



[Denison Daily Herald, January 10, 1916

Hundreds Paid Last Tribute to Miss Arthur

Hundreds of sorrowing friends, including many out-of-town residents, gathered at the First Presbyterian church at 3 o’clock this afternoon to pay their last respects to Maude Lorene Arthur, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. T. Arthur, whose death occurred at 9:30 o’clock Saturday morning at San Angelo.

The remains, accompanied by the parents, the sister, Marie, and Leslie Cash of Denison, who accompanied Mr. Arthur and Marie to San Angelo Saturday morning and Mrs. W. P. Hulen and Mrs. Joe Davis, who met the party in Dallas, arrived in the city on the Katy Flyer this morning. Many friends of the family met the body at the depot and accompanied it to the Presbyterian church, where it lay in state, until the funeral service at 3 p.m. Interment was made in Fairview cemetery.

Among the societies who attended the funeral in bodies were the Madge Waples Circle of the Presbyterian church, the As You Like It club and the class of 1911 of the Denison High school, all of which Maude was a member until she let Denison about two years ago. Maude was one of whom her associates can truly say “she was a friend,” always ready to lend her assistance in any way.

The services were simple and impressive and were conducted by Rev. J.E. Aubrey. As the family entered the church the choir sang softly and sweetly “Lead Kindly Light.” This was followed by hymns, “It Is Well With My Soul,” “Asleep in Jesus,” and “Home of the Soul.” The recessional sung by the choir was “Nearer My God To Thee.”

Floral offerings of every design covered the mound at Fairview, speaking in a small way of the love and friendship cherished by the host of deeply grieved friends. The conductor organizations and railway offices of almost every station both on the North and South end of the Katy sent beautiful flowers in wreaths and bouquets.

The session of the First Presbyterian church acted as pall bearers.

Among the out-of-town friends who attended the funeral were: D.S. Mcmillan of Whitewright, Mr. and Mrs. Tee Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. M.S. Barton, Mrs. A.F. Henning of Dallas; Mrs. C.M. Stone and daughter, Miss Alta, of Parsons, Kas.; J.R. Kramer of Hillsboro.]

Researching all of this about Maude has deeply affected me. I have given great consideration to the fact that Maude Arthur has not walked this earth in almost 100 years but her headstone remains in near-perfect condition. I have considered how advances in medicine and transportation have changed our ability to prolong life over the course of a century. I have pondered the nature of success and accomplishment and how little of it truly endures, mostly due to the whims of an uncontrollable fate.


Rest in peace, Maude.

Leo Steven Bucher, WWI Bugler

Posted: November 11th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: personal | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

This Veteran’s Day I find myself thinking of a man I never met: my great-grandfather Leo Steven Bucher. He was born in 1890 in Berlin, Germany, and died in 1955 in Dallas, Texas. His parents were named Paul and Elisabeth Belan, and they emigrated to the US in December 1901. They settled in Chicago, working menial jobs in factories and restaurants, but Leo escaped. Sometime between 1906 and 1907 he jumped on a freight train and began tramping around the United States. (I’m condensing some of this story here.) In 1908 he fell ill while riding a train across northern Missouri and hopped off near a tiny town called Powersville. There he was sheltered and raised by a childless couple: Reuben T. and Alice A. Bucher. The Buchers formally adopted Leo at the age of 21 and he went into business with his adopted father: R.T. Bucher & Son. Together they owned several businesses in Powersville including a mercantile, a Sinclair filling station, and a restaurant. Reuben was active in the small Masonic lodge in Powersville and had his son initiated into the lodge in 1913. (In 1905, Reuben and Alice Bucher helped form Order of the Eastern Star Chapter #278 in Powersville, Missouri. They were both charter members and Alice was installed as the Chapter’s first Associate Matron.)

From 1914-1916 Leo Steven attended Chillicothe Business College (in Missouri) and the N.E. Missouri State Teacher’s College (now called Truman State University) in Kirksville, Missouri, studying business and mathematics.


The United States formally declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917. One month later President Wilson enacted a draft, requiring all males age 21-30 to register for service. Leo Steven Bucher was drafted into the US Army on June 5, 1917. He was sent to Camp Dodge, Iowa, but was sent back to Powersville because he was still a German citizen. He was not allowed to enlist and was thrown in jail. The problem was he had no proof of legal US residency, only an alien registration card and his adoption papers. His adopted father Reuben intervened on his behalf and after several tense days he was released and allowed to enlist before the next expansion of the draft. Leo S. Bucher officially entered the army on May 25, 1918. He was conveniently made a US citizen at the Polk County Court House in Des Moines on June 13, 1918.

photo 3-20140914-165849619

[courtesy of David Bucher]

At Fort Dodge, Leo S. Bucher (above, in uniform) was given the rank of Bugler, at that time equivalent to Private. Here is his Infantry Drill Regulations manual which outlines the duties of the Bugler and includes sheet music for different calls.


[courtesy of James Bucher]

Here is his bugle:


[courtesy of David Bucher]

The soldiers at Camp Dodge were almost all residents of Iowa and northern Missouri. They were part of the Army’s 88th Division and Leo was assigned to C Company, 351st Infantry, 88th Division (Clover Leaf Division) “ part of the AEF, American Expeditionary Force. There is an excellent history of the 88th Division in World War I here:


[Human Statue of Liberty – 18,000 officers and men at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, IA, courtesy of Wikipedia]

Company C shipped out to France on August 16, 1918, arriving in Le Havre on September 4. The Division moved by rail from Le Havre to Semur, Cote d’Or, and then to Belfort, France, freeing up the 29th Division to capture enemy artillery positions in the area. In October 1918 Leo was wounded by bomb shrapnel outside of Gommersdorf, France (Southern Sub-Sector) and recovered at a nearby farmhouse. By the time he returned to the 351st Infantry at Belfort, armistice had been declared (November 11 – 96 years ago today) and the war was over. The 88th Division spent the next nine months in France demobilizing, training, attending schools, playing sports, staging plays, and preparing for their return to the United States.


Near the end of their demobilization, the 88th Division spent several weeks in Paris sightseeing and celebrating. I am fortunate to have with me a postcard that Leo Steven Bucher sent to his father Reuben from Paris:

parispostcard2 parispostcard1

[Paris, April 5th, 1919
Hello Rube!
Am having a time with a Master Mason in Gay Par-ee! Understand we are in the Army of Occupation.
Sure am having a time]

He returned to the United States on May 31. On June 9, 1919, he was formally discharged from the military at Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. {The novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald also trained at Camp Zach Taylor and mentions it in The Great Gatsby.}

Camp Zachary Taylor - folder cover

After he returned to Powersville, he met a young Iowa girl named Mary and the two were married in Centerville, Iowa, on May 20, 1924. He was 33, she was 23. They had three children: David Reuben, born 1925, Alice Allene, born 1926, and my grandfather, Leo Warren, born 1929. Reuben entered the Army in March, 1943 and after 20 years service in the medical corps, he was discharged in 1963. Leo Warren entered the Army on November 5, 1950 at Fort Hood, Texas, and was discharged November 28, 1951 at Camp Polk, Louisiana. He served in the 193rd Heavy Tank Battalion.

There is much more to the story of Leo Steven Bucher and I am working on a longer project about his life. But today I wanted to remember him as a war veteran.