The Definitive Dwiggins no. 95—Childhood Drawings: Locomotives, Fire Engines, Tractors, and Skeletons

A small number of childhood drawings by W.A. Dwiggins have survived. [1] They were made either using druggist’s prescription sheets or pages from a ledger which his father, Dr. Moses F. Dwiggins, owned. The ledger pages are lined and some are tabbed (with letters such as CD). All have the names of patients written on the upper lines and one also says “Cash Act. 181″ at the top. Below the patient entries, in dark pencil, are various phrases such as “torpedo boats 1–180. / Using search-light–105.” The handwriting is probably that of Dwiggins himself, but the comments have no relevance to the drawing or drawings on that page. For instance, one page has “Frigate–71″ on it but the drawing is of a medieval battle. The numbers are probably references to pages in the missing ledger.

Dwiggins’ childhood drawings are ordinary. They are like many children’s drawings in their charming awkwardness and simplicity. There is no hint of his adult skills as an illustrator, other than his eye for detail. The drawings are principally of interest for what they reveal about his childhood and his interests. All of Dwiggins’ childhood drawings were made in the 1880s while he was living in Richmond, Indiana. With one exception, those shown in this post have a tie to the city.

Union R.R. Depot from map The City of Richmond, Indiana 1884 (Boston: C.F. Bailey & Co., 1884).

Union R.R. Depot from map of The City of Richmond, Indiana 1884 (Boston: C.H. Bailey & Co., 1884).

Detail from map of The City of Richmond, Indiana 1884 (Boston: C.F. Bailey & Co., 1884) showing railroad tracks on the north side of town.

Detail from map of The City of Richmond, Indiana 1884 (Boston: C.H. Bailey & Co., 1884) showing railroad tracks on the north side of town.

From 1883 to 1890 Moses Dwiggins and his family lived on the north side of town, either on North 8th Street or North 9th Street. [2] The tracks of the Chicago, St. Louis & Pittburgh Railroad (C., St. L. & P. RR.)—which operated from 1884 to 1890—were only a few blocks away. They attracted the young Willie who drew the trains he saw there.

Advertisement for the Chicago, St. Louis & Pittsburgh Railway (the Panhandle Route) (1883). From City Directory of Richmond, Wayne Co., Ind. 1883–84 (Richmond, Indiana: M. Cullaton & Co., 1883).

Advertisement for the Chicago, St. Louis & Pittsburgh Railway (the Panhandle Route) (1883). From City Directory of Richmond, Wayne Co., Ind. 1883–84 (Richmond, Indiana: M. Cullaton & Co., 1883).

One drawing (made on the back of a prescription sheet from M.B. Ballard, Druggist whose shop was located on Fort Wayne Avenue near the Union Railroad Depot) was proudly signed “By Willie Dwiggins” in all capitals. [3] It is of a 4-4-0 locomotive (known as the American type) which played a major role in the development of rail transport in the United States between 1850 and 1910. Willie’s drawing is quite accurate in representing a 4-4-0 locomotive of the 1880s with its cowcatcher, lantern, bonnet chimney, brass bell and steam domes (some illustrations show two and others show three). A similar locomotive can be seen exiting from the Union Railroad Depot (no. 3 on the 1884 map excerpt above), located at the end of North 9th Street.

Ballard was not only a druggist, but he was also a “Dealer in Paints, Oils, &c.,” suggesting that Willie may have acquired his youthful art supplies there. (See the advertisement at the bottom of this post.)

M.B. Ballard, Druggist (Richmond, Indiana) notepaper. Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

M.B. Ballard, Druggist (Richmond, Indiana) prescription sheet. Note show-through of drawing (see below) from other side. Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

Locomotive "By Willie Dwiggins" (c.1883–1885). Childhood drawing by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

Locomotive “By Willie Dwiggins”drawn on M.B. Ballard, Druggist prescription paper (late 1880s). Childhood drawing by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

1880s woodcut illustration of  a 4-4-0 locomotive from Wikipedia.

1880s woodcut illustration of a 4-4-0 locomotive from Wikipedia.

Western & Atlantic Railroad locomotive (n.d.).

Western & Atlantic Railroad locomotive (n.d.).

The second drawing is of a 4-4-0 locomotive pulling three cars on a curved track, flanked by a row of telephone poles. The scene may be based on the curved section of the C., St. L. & P. Railroad tracks near North 6th Street just before they cross the East Fork of the Whitewater River.

Drawing of train (c. 1883–1885) by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

Drawing of train (late 1880s) by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

The reverse side of the prescription sheet with the second train drawing has a skeleton lying athwart a map of Greenland, North America and South America. At the top of the sheet is the monogram “WAD” in script capitals (upside down) and below the skeleton “IX C LUKE AND XIV VERSE” (Luke 9:14) with an upside down script “D” to the right. Although there is no documentary evidence that Dwiggins’ father owned a medical skeleton, that is the most likely inspiration for Willie’s drawing of a skeleton. The other elements on the sheet are unrelated, the result of a child with limited art supplies making use of every inch of a scrap of paper. Later in his youth Dwiggins used an old account book of his father’s as a “drawing pad” and many of those pages are filled with disparate images and scribbles—including other iterations of his name and initials.

Drawing of skeleton (c.1883–1995) by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

Drawing of skeleton (c.1883–1995) by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

Haynes, Spencer & Co. works in Richmond. Image Courtesy of the Morrison-Reeves Library, Richmond, Indiana.

Haynes, Spencer & Co. works in Richmond (c.1884). Image Courtesy of the Morrisson-Reeves Library, Richmond, Indiana.

Around 10 pm in the evening of December 7, 1885, a large fire broke out at the warehouse of Haynes, Spencer & Co., makers of furniture for churches, assembly halls, and schools. The company occupied most of a block bounded to the north by the tracks of the C., St. L. & P. Railroad, to the west by North 11th Street, to the south by North E Street, and to the east by North 12th Street. The finishing rooms were located at the corner of North E Street and North 12th Street; the factory was situated at the corner of North 12th Street and the railroad tracks; and the warehouse ran along North E Street from North 11th Street. The three buildings were connected by sky bridges. Much of the warehouse was leased out to smaller businesses (Globe Roller Skate Works, Quaker City Machine Shop, Hoosier Roller Skate Works, and Eureka Skate Co.). [5]

Haynes, Spencer & Co. warehouse (at left) from 1886 Sanborn map. Courtesy of Morrison-Reeves Library, Richmond, Indiana.

Haynes, Spencer & Co. warehouse at the corner of North E Street and North 11th Street (at left) from 1886 Sanborn map of Richmond, Indiana. Courtesy of Morrison-Reeves Library, Richmond, Indiana.

On the 1886 Sanborn map (above) the easternmost portion of the Haynes, Spencer & Co. warehouse is marked, “Burned inside Dec 7th 1885.” [6] The fire was front page news. The next day both of the local papers, The Richmond Item and The Richmond Telegram, devoted nearly a full column to it. Here is part of The Telegram‘s account:

…engine No. 1 used the fire cistern and No. 2 a hydrant. Not the sign of a blaze was to be seen, nothing but heavy volumes of smoke. The hook and ladder boys scaled the windows, but could not find the fire…. In about ten minutes the flame was located in the second, third and fourth stories and then two lines of hose were attached to the hydrants and four streams were sent into the building, the water-works doing splendid service. [7]

The Item described the action in more detail:

The engines made commendable time but there was a little delay in finding a fire cistern full of water. However, engine No. 1 soon got on a creditable stream, but the fire was under too good headway to be thus extinguished and the attention of all was turned to the water works. Engine No. 2 stood back to give the works a fair show and because the engine was not in very good repair and did not work readily. Finally a hose was attached to the hydrant and a stream turned on but it did not throw water high enough to reach the blaze and as a complete failure for the time being. After a while the stream went higher and was of some assistance. [8]

The reference in both stories of the water works is significant since the Richmond City Water Works had been proudly completed only a few months earlier in June 1885. “The water furnished is of the best quality, and in ample quantity,” wrote Edwin F. and Walter L. Dalbey years later, “It furnishes perfect fire protection.” [9] However, in the case of the Haynes, Spencer fire the water works were not sufficient on their own. Both the old-fashioned steam pumpers (see the photograph below) and the new hydrant hoses were needed to bring the blaze under control, which did not occur until 2:30 am.

No. 4 Steam Fire Engine (purchased 1871), Richmond Fire Department.

No. 4 Steam Fire Engine (purchased 1871), Richmond Fire Department. From Pictorial History of the City of Richmond, Indiana… 1806–1906 by Edwin F. and Walter L. Dalbey (Richmond, Indiana: Nicholson Printing & Mfg. Company, 1906).

Haynes, Spencer & Co., which had been incorporated in 1878, survived the fire. However, it added to its financial woes. The company had gone into receivership in the summer of 1885 and did not emerge until May of the following year. It remained in business until 1893.[10]

This long-winded story about the Haynes, Spencer fire is simply prelude to the childhood drawing of firemen battling a fire by Willie Dwiggins shown below.

Drawing of firemen fighting fire (c.1885) by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

Drawing of firemen fighting fire (c.1885–1886) by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

I believe that this drawing is of the Haynes, Spencer & Co. fire. It is the only fire of that magnitude described in either of the Richmond newspapers during the 1880s. And many of its details are found in it: the hoses going into the building, the use of both steam pumpers and hydrants (near the back wheels of each pumper), the size of the building, the fire chief (wearing a broad-brimmed hat) at the base of the ladder, and the men above on the ladders. Both the Telegram and Item articles described Chief W.L. Thomas being wounded in the head by a piece of hot glass from a window, and the former also mentions a man falling off the building. Willie’s drawing is not an exact match, however, as he has drawn a five-story building and the Haynes, Spencer & Co. warehouse was only four stories high; and there is no sign of the cistern used.

Did Willie actually see the fire? He was only 5 1/2 years old when it broke out. Since it occurred at night, he would have been present only if his parents, curious to see what was going on seven blocks from their home, had brought him along. Although this is possible, I suspect he made the drawing based on one of the newspaper accounts. He could have learned what the steam pumpers looked like by visiting Steam Fire Engine No. 1, located three blocks away. Either way, this was W.A. Dwiggins’ first piece of visual reportage.

Drawing of fire engine (c.1883–1885) by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

Drawing of fire engine on E.H. Allison’s Pharmacy prescription paper (c.1888) by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

Drawing of fire engine on reverse of E.H. Allison's Pharmacy prescription paper (c.1883–1885) by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

Drawing of fire engine on reverse of E.H. Allison’s Pharmacy prescription paper (c.1888) by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

Two other childhood drawings (see above) are either of steam fire engines or of steam tractors. Although both machines were similar in appearance in the mid- to late 19th century, the box on the front (an optional item) suggests that these are tractors, possibly manufactured by Buffalo Pitts. [11] Since Willie lived in a large city, the only way that he would have seen a steam tractor would have been in a magazine or during a visit to Clinton County to see his grandfather Zimri.

These tractor drawings are made on two sides of a prescription sheet from “E.H. Allison’s Pharmacy E. Cor. 16th & Main Sts. Richmond, Ind.” which indicates that they were done in either 1888—the year that Allison first appears in Richmond city directories—or possibly 1889. By 1890 he had moved his business and residence to 1514 Main Street. [12] It is unclear why Dr. Dwiggins, who had moved his family to 25 North 9th Street near the corner of Main Street, would have used Allison for his prescriptions when J.M. Wampler was closer at 730 Main Street. [13]

Notes
Thanks to Sue King, Archivist, Morrisson-Reeves Library, Richmond, Indiana for providing me with the account of the fire in The Richmond Telegram, the Sanborn map detail, and the illustration of the Haynes, Spencer & Co. works. Email 5 May 2016.

1. The drawings are in Folder 1, Box 34, 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. Although the folder is labeled “Childhood Drawings” there are others in Folder 2 (labeled  MFD Account Book Drawings and More) that may be from childhood as well. None of the drawings are dated so determining whether they are part of Dwiggins’ childhood or of his adolescence is difficult, especially since the latter are labeled “High School Drawings.”
2. Moses F. Dwiggins and family lived at 202 North 8th Street, 25 North 9th Street, and 31 North 9th Street during these years.
3. The pharmacy of Dr. Micajah B. Ballard (1826-1907) was located at 201 Fort Wayne Avenue with 410 North 8th Street as an alternate address. See Bond’s City Directory of Richmond, Wayne Co., Ind. 1883–1884… by Charles F. Bond (Richmond, Indiana: M. Cullaton & Co., [1883]). Ballard, like Moses Dwiggins, was a Quaker.
5. Richmond, Indiana, January, 1886 (New York: Sanborn Map & Publishing Co., 1886). It should be noted in reference to the presence of three ice skating companies as tenants of Haynes, Spencer & Co., that Moses F. Dwiggins was an ice skater. See The Richmond Telegam 31 December 1884.
6. Richmond, Indiana, January, 1886 (New York: Sanborn Map & Publishing Co., 1886).
7. The Richmond Telegram 8 December 1885, p. 1. The No. 1 hose company was located at the corner of North 8th and North D Streets and the No. 2 hose company was based at City Hall.
8. The Richmond Item 8 December 1885, p. 1.
9. Pictorial History of the City of Richmond, Indiana… 1806–1906 by Edwin F. and Walter L. Dalbey (Richmond, Indiana: Nicholson Printing & Mfg. Company, Printers and Binders, 1906), p. 11.
10. The American Stationer vol. XVIII, no. 2 (July 9, 1885) in its “Trade Gossip” column has the information about the company’s financial difficulties.
11. Identification based on Google Image search. The steam tractor was not replaced by the gas tractor until the early 20th century. See “Farm Tractors: A Review of Their History, Conditions of Use and Methods of Construction” by Philip S. Rose in Scientific American Supplement no. 2104 (April 20, 1916), pp. 282–283.
12. Edward H. Allison’s exact address was 1611 Main Street, Richmond, Indiana. In 1888 he regularly took out front page advertisements in The Richmond Item. For his addresses see Richmond City Directory for 1888–89 Comprising a List of the Inhabitants of the City and Suburbs above the Age of Fifteen Years, with a Classified Business Directory, and Other Useful Information (Richmond: M. Cullaton & Co., Book and Job Printers, 1888) and Richmond City Directory for 1890–91 Comprising a List of the Inhabitants of the City and Suburbs above the Age of Fifteen Years, with a Classified Business Directory, and Other Useful Information (Richmond: M. Cullaton & Co., Book and Job Printers, 1890).
13. For a J.M. Wampler prescription sheet see The Definitive Dwiggins no. 94—Birth and Childhood (1880–1889).

Advertisement for M.B. Ballard, Druggist from Richmond City Directory for 1890–1891… (Richmond, Indiana: M. Cullaton & Co., 1890).

Advertisement for M.B. Ballard, Druggist from Richmond City Directory for 1890–1891… (Richmond, Indiana: M. Cullaton & Co., 1890).