The Definitive Dwiggins no. 97—W.A. Dwiggins’ Childhood (1880–1889) continued
The text for this post on W.A. Dwiggins’ childhood in Richmond, Indiana was originally written in 2007. It overlaps The Definitive Dwiggins no. 94 (Dwiggins’ birth and childhood), The Definitive Dwiggins no. 95 (some of Dwiggins’ childhood drawings), The Definitive Dwiggins no. 106 (Richmond, Indiana businesses), The Definitive Dwiggins no. 107 (Dwiggins’ homes in Richmond, Indiana), and The Definitive Dwiggins no. 92 (Clare V. Dwiggins, known as Dwig). Although ostensibly about Dwiggins’ childhood in Richmond, The Definitive Dwiggins no. 94 focuses principally on the life of his parents and, in particular, on the health of his father. The Definitive Dwiggins no. 107 repeats some information on Dwiggins’ early schooling that is included here.
Contrary to the impression he nurtured during his lifetime, W.A. Dwiggins did not grow up in the country. At age six months he left tiny Martinsville, Ohio for the bustling city of Richmond, Indiana where he spent the bulk of his childhood. In 1880 Richmond had a population of nearly 12,749, larger than that of Los Angeles—and it was still growing. A decade later—at the time of Moses Dwiggins’ death—it had reached 18,587. The city, founded on the banks of the east fork of the Whitewater River by Quakers in 1805, functioned as the “Eastern gateway to Indiana”. It was the governmental seat of Wayne County, an agricultural center and, by the 1870s, a rising industrial presence. Richmond was the home to several thriving iron fabrication works that produced agricultural implements, threshers, sheet metal and architectural elements such as tin gutters; and to woodworking shops that specialized in school desks, church pews and burial caskets. 
Growing up in Richmond in the 1880s was not the Tom Sawyerish experience of hunting for frogs, skinny-dipping in the swimming hole, or stealing apples from a nearby orchard that his cousin Clare Victor Dwiggins portrayed in his “School Days” cartoons.  When Dr. Dwiggins initially moved his family to Richmond, they lived at 114 South 12th Street, in a residential neighborhood. But within two years he had established his own office and thereafter the family lived in the center of town, first at 202 North 8th Street and then at 25 North 9th Street. Both houses were two-story brick buildings with wooden front porches, but the former was slightly larger and had a single story wooden extension out back. Dr. Dwiggins’ office—if it conformed to the standard practice of the time—would have been on the ground floor along with the family parlor, the kitchen and a bathroom. Bedrooms for the family would have been upstairs: one for Moses and Eva, one for Willie and maybe a third for guests such as his aunt Lizzie. 
As a child, Willie’s world was an urban one. He grew up in a central area of Richmond defined by Seventh Street to the west, North G Street, Eleventh Street to the east and South B Street. That area encompassed the Whitewater Meeting House, which Moses Dwiggins attended; the First Baptist Church to which Eva (and, by extension, Willie) belonged; the other churches where Eva performed on organ; and the public school Willie attended. 
Willie did not begin school until age seven—which was not an unusually late age in 19th century America.  Before that, he may have been homeschooled. Both of his parents were certainly capable, given their youthful teaching experience, and—since Moses worked at home—readily available. “Willie is going to go to school,” Moses wrote his father in March 13, 1887. “He started this morning, but there was no class for him and he has to wait awhile.”  Presumably the school—Public School no. 2, located a few blocks away at the intersection of Ft. Wayne Avenue, North C Street and North 7th Street—found a place for him that fall. His teacher for Grade 1 A was Miss Mary Dennis. In January 1890, at the time of his father’s death, he would have been entering Grade 3 B, taught by Miss Carrie Salter. 
WAD “grew up a solitary child, on the frail side,” wrote Mabel Dwiggins decades later, “so he was never encouraged to go outdoors and find playmates.”  The only childhood friend that can be identified is Rowland Laws, who lived a block away on North 9th Street and collaborated with Willie on a childhood newspaper.  But Willie was not necessarily a lonely child. His parents doted on him and his grandparents, aunts and uncles—on both sides of the family—visited often. These visits usually lasted for days and, in the case of Lizzie Dwiggins, for several weeks.  Such visits were reciprocal as Eva, Moses and Willie returned several times to Wilmington.  Eva was always very close to her parents and when they moved to Cambridge City, 13 miles east of Richmond along the National Road, it was even easier for her and Willie to stay in touch. 
“…Willie is becoming deaf,” Moses wrote to Zimri in late February of 1887. “I am going to take him to Cin[cinnati].” The situation must have been serious if Moses felt he had to bring Willie to specialists at the College of Medicine and Surgery, his medical alma mater.  In light of W.A. Dwiggins’ adult health problems, it has been tempting to see this incident (and a bout of pneumonia later that year) as indications that Willie was a sickly child. But the evidence for such a conclusion is sparse. The surviving correspondence between Dr. Dwiggins and his father dwells as much on his own health and that of Eva as it does on Willie’s.  For instance, several weeks after Moses took Willie to Cincinnati, he wrote Zimri that Eva had a toothache. After much resistance (and pain) Eva “boosted up her courage to take ether, and have them all out…. She had all of her upper teeth and two of the lower ones out….” The work was done at Moses’ office—possibly by dentist C.S. Wilson whose office was nearby on Main Street at North Ninth Street.  And, in the summer of 1887 Moses told his father that: “We pretty are all well, Eva had a pretty severe spell of cholera morbus last week, and it took her several days to recuperate, I am well, but off several pounds in weight.”  Since he did not mention it specifically, Willie’s deafness must have been cured in the intervening months. Willie and Eva were both fortunate to have a doctor in the house.
For Christmas 1888 “…Willie got six books, I think,” his father wrote, “a blackboard and desk, with about 100. pictures to copy, an engine, and I don’t know what all…. The kid had so many things he didn’t know which to look at first….” In addition, Moses ordered “a little armed rocker” for him from a local furniture-maker. In return, Willie (with his mother’s financial assistance) gave his father a copy of Gustave Doré’s illustrated edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost.  The titles of the six books that Willie received were not recorded by Moses, but they may have included The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Five Weeks in a Balloon by Jules Verne, The Count of Monte Cristo, a collection of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales and an edition of The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments.  Willie’s parents valued music and reading—and, by extension, art.
When Willie first began to draw is unknown. It may have been soon after he learned to read since the few remaining childhood drawings of his appear to be largely based on books—probably from his father’s library—rather than life. There are several drawings of ships and three of locomotives, as well as one of a house on fire. All are undated, though the train sketches are signed “Willie Dwiggins (Richmond, Indiana)”.  The only other surviving example of Willie’s “art” from his Richmond days are some drawings on the endpapers of a book owned by his father and the newspaper page that he and Rowland Laws mocked-up in 1887 (see below).  The idea for the newspaper may have been sparked by a visit from either Willie’s grandfather, who had been a newspaperman in his youth, or his uncle Addison who worked for newspapers his entire life. It is the first evidence of W.A. Dwiggins as a graphic designer—and author. 
1. According to Mabel Dwiggins WAD always wanted to grow up in the country. See “Biography of WAD: Second Section—Boyhood. For MSS Club Feb. 1, ’58” by Mabel Dwiggins. Folder 1, Box 8, C.H. Griffith Papers, Margaret King Library, University of Kentucky, p. 1. For background on Richmond see: Richmond, Indiana: Its Physical Development and Aesthetic Heritage to 1920 by Mary Raddant Tomlan and Michael A. Tomlan (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press, 2003), p. 4 for its population, p. 7 for the history of its founding and p. 69 for its industrial status in 1880. See also Richmond: Eastern Gateway to Indiana by Daisy Marvel Jones (Richmond, Indiana: Richmond City Schools, 1959).
2. School Days: A Complete Compilation 1923–1924 by Clare Victor Dwiggins; introduction by Cal Dobbins (Westport, Connecticut: Hyperion Press, Inc., 1977). Clare Victor Dwiggins, who signed his work “Dwig,” based “School Days” and other cartoons on his childhood in Findlay, Ohio in the 1880s.
3. The dimensions for the two combined office/residences are taken from Richmond, Indiana (New York: Sanborn Map & Publishing Co., 1886), pp. 9 and 11. Both houses have long since been demolished.
4. For the exact locations of these various churches and schools see Richmond City Directory for 1883–84: Comprising a List of the Inhabitants of the City and Suburbs Above the Age of Fifteen Years together with a Classified Business Directory, and Other Useful Information compiled and published by M. Cullaton & Co. (Richmond, Indiana: M. Cullaton & Co., 1883). Since W.A. Dwiggins was not received into the Whitewater Meeting House, he must have followed his mother’s religion as a child. The fact that Eva’s parents had a stronger presence in Willie’s life than did Moses’ parents further supports this conclusion.
5. The Americans: A Social History of the United States 1587–1914 by J.C. Furnas (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1969), p. 749.
6. Moses Dwiggins to Zimri Dwiggins 13 March 1887. Folder 6, Box 27, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. This is the only reference in the surviving family papers to W.A. Dwiggins’ Richmond education. Mabel Dwiggins claimed that her husband “never once mentioned school—he hated it soundly from the beginning,” but she was probably referring to his experiences after the death of his father in January 1890 when he was shuttled from school to school in Richmond and Zanesville, Ohio. See “Biography of WAD: Second Section—Boyhood. For MSS Club Feb. 1, ’58” by Mabel Dwiggins. Folder 1, Box 8, C.H. Griffith Papers, Margaret King Library, University of Kentucky, p. 2.
7. See Richmond, Indiana (New York: Sanborn Map & Publishing Co., 1886), p. 11. School no. 2, rechristened the Warner School sometime in the early 1890s, was built in 1886. Since Richmond had a “colored school” it can be assumed that the students at Willie’s school were all white. Dalbey’s Souvenir Pictorial History of the City of Richmond, Indiana… by Ed. F. Dalbey and Walter L. Dalbey (Richmond, Indiana: Nicholson Printing & Mfg. Co., Printers and Binders, 1896), unpaginated. Until 1888 the Richmond city directories listed the teachers of each grade at every school in the city. Thus, Willie’s teachers would have been Miss Mary Dennis for Grade 1 A, Miss Julia E. Test for Grade 1 B, Miss Mary T. Spencer for Grades 2 AB, and Miss Carrie Salter for Grades 3 AB. Richmond City Directory for 1886–87 (Richmond, Ind.: M. Cullaton & Co., 1886).
8. “Biography of WAD: Second Section—Boyhood. For MSS Club Feb. 1, ’58” by Mabel Dwiggins. Folder 1, Box 8, C.H. Griffith Papers, Margaret King Library, University of Kentucky, p. 2.
9. For the childhood newspaper see the photostat of a sketch (reproduced below) by “Rolland L.” and “Willie D.” in Folder 20, Box 37, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. Based on the 1880 and 1900 United States Censuses, combined with various Richmond city directories between 1880 and 1912, I believe that “Rolland L.” was Rowland Laws. He was born in 1878 to Edgar G. and Alice T. Laws, both members of the Whitewater Monthly Meeting. His father died 17 May 1881. His mother remained a widow until late 1896 when she married Wayne County sheriff Albert Ogborn. During the time that Alice was widowed, she and Rowland moved several times within Richmond, each time living very close to Moses Dwiggins’ family: 126 South 12th Street (vs. 114 South 12th Street), 112 North 8th Street (vs. 202 North 8th Street), and 27 North 9th Street (vs. 25 and 31 North 9th Street). Rowland’s status as an only child with a widowed mother may have been part of his bond with Willie.
10. The society columns of the Wilmington and Richmond newspapers carried several notices of such visits. For visits by Lizzie Dwiggins see Clinton County Democrat 22 July 1881 and 23 June 1882 (microfilm, roll no. 42067 Clinton County Democrat from May 21, 1880 to December 29, 1882; Ohio Historical Society) and Sunday Register 13 July 1884 (microfilm, Richmond Sunday Register; Morrisson-Reeves Library, Richmond); for a visit by E.S. Hadley and his niece Ida Elster (granddaughter of Rev. Siegfried) see Richmond Evening Item 9 July 1885 (microfilm, Richmond Evening Item; Morrisson-Reeves Library, Richmond); for a visit by Sarah Siegfried (then living in Cumberland, Ohio) see Sunday Register 5 October 1884 (microfilm, Richmond Sunday Register; Morrisson-Reeves Library, Richmond); for a vist by both Rev. B.Y. and Sarah Siegfried see Richmond Sunday Register 10 November 1889 (microfilm, Richmond Sunday Register; Morrisson-Reeves Library, Richmond). Also see Moses Dwiggins to Zimri Dwiggins 20 February 1887 re: visit by Rev. and Mrs. Siegfried (Folder 5, Box 27, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library); and photographs of Zimri and Phoebe Dwiggins taken in Richmond by George W. Stigleman of East End Studios (Folders 1 and 2, Box 39, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library). These trips were made by railroad, but were not direct. To go from Wilmington to Richmond required taking the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad first to Dayton or Columbus and then connecting to the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad to Richmond; or taking the Cincinnati & Muskingum Railroad to Cincinnati and then changing to the PCC&S for the remainder of the journey. Cram’s Standard American Railway System of the World by George F. Cram (Chicago and New York, 1895). Also see Moses Dwiggins to Zimri Dwiggins 31 March 1889 in which he mentions having to go to Columbus to get to Wilmington. Folder 15, Box 27, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
11. The Wilmington and Richmond newspapers describe visits by Eva to see her parents and by “Dr. Dwiggins and his wife” to see their relatives. Willie is never mentioned, but, given his tender age, he undoubtedly accompanied his mother on all of her trips. The social columns of the Wilmington and Richmond newspapers in the 1870s and 1880s very rarely mention the existence of children. For visits to Wilmington by Eva see Clinton County Democrat 8 April 1881 (microfilm, roll no. 42067 Clinton County Democrat from May 21, 1880 to December 29, 1882; Ohio Historical Society) and Richmond Sunday Register 15 June 1884 (microfilm, Richmond Sunday Register; Morrisson-Reeves Library, Richmond). For a visit by the entire family see Richmond Sunday Register 22 March 1885 (microfilm, Richmond Sunday Register; Morrisson-Reeves Library, Richmond). Eva and Willie also visited James and Sallie Dwiggins after they moved from Richmond to Cincinnati. See for example Richmond Evening Item 31 July 1885 (microfilm, Richmond Evening Item; Morrisson-Reeves Library, Richmond).
12. It is unclear exactly when and for how long Rev. B.Y. and Sarah Siegfried lived in Cambridge City, Indiana. Citing increasing old age, Rev. Siegfried had resigned his pastorate of the First Baptist Church in Wilmington in the spring of 1881 and, with Sarah and their youngest daughter Carrie, moved that summer to Cambridge, Ohio. From 1883 to 1885 the family was in Cumberland. In February 1887 Ben and Sarah—without Carrie who had married sometime in 1886—visited the Dwiggins family in Richmond, in anticipation of Ben’s acceptance of a pastorate in Cambridge City. Eva and Willie visited them in Cambridge City in early summer. The pastorate did not last long since Ben and Sarah were back in Cambridge, Ohio yet again sometime in 1888. Dr. Dwiggins’ family visited them there in March 1889. Obviously, Rev. Siegfried’s decision to retire in 1881 was very premature. For Rev. Siegfried’s departure from Wilmington and move to Cambridge see: The Wilmington Journal 12 January 1881 (microfilm, roll no. 13968, The Wilmington Journal from April, 30 1879 to April 27, 1881; Ohio Historical Society); Clinton County Democrat 14 January 1881, 25 February 1881, 8 April 1881 and 3 June 1881 (microfilm, roll no. 42067, Clinton County Democrat from May 21, 1880 to December 29, 1882; Ohio Historical Society). For Rev. Siegfried’s stays in Cumberland and later in Cambridge see The Sunday-School Register and Minute Book in Folder 13, Box 25, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. For the Cambridge City period and subsequent return to Cambridge see Moses Dwiggins to Zimri Dwiggins 20 February 1887, 20 June 1887 and 31 March 1889. Folders 5, 7 and 15, Box 27, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. Also see The [Zanesville] Times Recorder 25 July 1889. For Carrie Siegfried’s marriage to William G. Scott see Folder 1, Box 25, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
13. Moses Dwiggins to Zimri Dwiggins 20 February 1887. Folder 5, Box 27, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
14. For example there is no record of whether or not Willie contracted measles as a child. In 1882 a measles epidemic affected over 3000 people in Wayne County. History of Wayne County, Indiana vol. I (Chicago: Inter-State Publishing Co., 1884). For details of Moses Dwiggins’ health problems see The Definitive Dwiggins no. 94.
15. Moses Dwiggins to Zimri Dwiggins 13 March 1887. Folder 6, Box 27, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. To have all of one’s teeth extracted when only a few were infected—which seems radical today—was not unusual in the 19th century. See “Teeth, Diseases of” entry by James Salter in A Dictionary of Medicine Including General Pathology, General Therapeutics, Hygiene, and the Diseases Peculiar to Women and Children edited by Richard Quain (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1883), pp. 1591–1596. Moses may have done the procedure himself since it was still common in the 19th century for physicians to do dental work, especially surgery.
16. Moses Dwiggins to Zimri Dwiggins 20 July 1887. Folder 7, Box 27, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
17. Moses Dwiggins to Zimri Dwiggins 25 December 1888. Folder 13, Box 27, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. Milton’s Paradise Lost illustrated by Gustave Doré was first published in 1866; the edition that Willie gave his father was either Milton’s Paradise Lost illustrated by Gustave Doré, edited by Henry C. Walsh (Philadelphia: Henry Altemus, 1880) or Milton’s Paradise Lost illustrated by Gustave Doré; edited by Robert Vaughan (New York, London and Paris: Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co., 1881).
18. These titles—all published in the United States before 1887—are among a list of books on p. 96 of an account book of M.F. Dwiggins 22 December 1881–31 December 1882 that the young W.A. Dwiggins used as a sketchbook in his youth. See Folder 2, Box 34, 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
19. See “Biography of WAD: Second Section—Boyhood. For MSS Club Feb. 1, ’58” by Mabel Dwiggins. Folder 1, Box 8, C.H. Griffith Papers, Margaret King Library, University of Kentucky, p. 3; and Folder 1, Box 34, 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. The unsigned drawings of ships, like the drawings in the 1881–1882 account book, are probably from the 1890s. I think they may have been made during or after Eva and Willie’s visit to Eugene and Eleanor Hadley in Los Angeles in 1890.
20. The undated drawings can be found in German Studies: A Complete Course of Instruction in the German Language by H. Plate (American Edition) (Louisville, Kentucky: Henry Knöfel, Publisher, 1870). Folder 10, Box 11, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
21. Here is a transcription of the newspaper texts, including a poem. Heading: “SUNDAY Paper / No 4th, DECEMBE 4, / 1887–1888 TAKING”; left column: “BOAT SHOP / Willie. D / 25 North 9th St / Willie. D & / Rolland L / RICHMOND / INDIANA”; middle column: “INDICAKTIONS / Are for / cooler / WEATHER” [rule] “Poem. / My dear / little kit / -ten so / happy and gay go/ es out in / the barn / and / plays in / the hay.”; right column: “It goes / out in the / barn and / watches / papa saw / and wash / -es its / face / with its / tongue / and its / paw.” [rule] “fill u / p.” Since none of the Richmond newspapers published on Sunday, Willie and Rowland may have been filling a needed gap.