I thought you might like to read about how I glean some of the information for my Caddo books and blog.
As you know, I’m working on the second volume of “Fat Men and Fabulous Ladies”. One of the people I’m researching is Mattie Cooper Lynch, Caddo’s busy little seamstress. She was a prominent figure during the early years in Caddo and was often mentioned both in business and social items in the paper. She may have also been related to the photographer, but I’m still working on that. There were many Cooper families in the area and I want to make sure they are from the same one. Mattie was born in Caddo Mills, Texas in 1860 and moved to Caddo sometime around 1896 if the marriage listing I have for her is correct. The first mention of her in the paper (so far as I’ve found) is this:
March 17, 1899
Mrs. M. Lynch, who has been in bad health for some time, left Wednesday to visit her father who resides in Caddo Mills, Texas. She was accompanied by her attending physician Dr. T. B. Bryan.
Another thing that I’ve written about on several occasions is the value of “local” items like that one and how they provide the necessary bits and pieces we need to put together a more accurate picture of the lives of our ancestors. These people did a lot of living in between the dates on their headstones. And often the accounts of those lives are filled with surprises. Yesterday I got a surprise when I looked for an explanation for one of the local items about Mrs. Lynch.
Two things always stand out when I read the newspaper pieces about Mrs. Lynch. First of all her husband, R. T. Lynch, was killed in his barbershop in 1903 and his murder was never solved. (I was lucky to find its “cold case” status mentioned by the paper’s editor in 1923.)
August 31, 1903
R. T. Lynch was killed last Thursday night. He was sitting in his barber shop and was smoking a cigar when the assailant shot him from the back of his shop, the shots entering his head from the side.
Second, Mrs. Lynch appears to have been incredibly devoted to her occupation, especially for a woman of her time. Several other women of Caddo were “movers and shakers” in community work and organizations, but few seem to rival Mrs. Lynch in business. She is often mentioned in connection with other stores where she had millinery parlors. During some years she had a shop in her home. She employed other women. She went on frequent buying trips to St. Louis. She also advertised quite a bit in the Herald.
April 13, 1900
Miss Elinora Cooper from Caddo Mills, Texas has accepted a position with Mrs. Lynch in the millinery department of Ben Siegel.
Friday, October 18, 1901
See Mrs. Lynch and have your dress made to order. Tailor made suits a specialty. Work guaranteed.
R. T. Lynch is making a 20 foot addition to the dress making parlors of Mrs. Lynch on Buffalo Street. This will give the establishment more commodious quarters.
September 5, 1902
Mrs. Lynch now works at home doing fine millinery and dressmaking. Phone 28
February 3, 1911
To My Friends
I desire to thank you for the patronage you have given me in the past and to announce that I will be with the Bass Company next season and hope to have a continuance of same. I am now in the Eastern markets buying a line of spring millinery for the Bass Co. and studying the latest styles in millinery. Will be glad to have all my friends call and see me when I return. Mrs. Mattie Bloom
January 30, 1914
Mrs. Mattie Bloom left Wednesday for St. Louis where she will study new spring styles and buy millinery stock for the Bass Co. She has an announcement in this issue.
Many thanks to my customers for the past season’s business. I hope to have you back with me again this season. With the good help I’ll have I expect the greatest season I’ve ever had with the Bass Co. I study hard all the styles and colors before buying. I am always glad to serve you. Watch for our opening. Mattie L. Bloom
Mrs. Mattie Lynch Bloom will be at her old stand with the Bass Co. this season in their millinery department. She makes styles a special study each season, designing, rimming, colors and buying. She has had 23 years experience in this work. She will be able to fill your wants when she returns from the market. Don’t fail to see her line of well selected things bought for you.
July 16, 1915
U. D. C. Meeting
The J. B. Lyle Chapter of the U. D. C. met with Miss Welthy Wright last Saturday. There was only a few members present, however the meeting was interesting. A motion was adopted to accrue the plans of a chapter house in Caddo.
Next meeting will be held with Mrs. J. B. Lyle, Saturday July 24. Following is the program to be rendered:
Leader, Mrs. Mattie Lynch
Ritual of the U.D .C.
Roll Call, answer by naming southern battle.
Dixie, by chapter.
Noted battles of Civil War- Mrs. D. B. Williams.
Our flag, Miss Daisy Ward.
Quartet, “Massa’s in the cold, cold ground”- Mrs. Jess Hamilton, Mrs. J. B. Lyle, Mrs. L. B. Locke, and Miss Wright.
Southern writers, Mrs. Joe Walker.
Did you notice something odd about those last three articles? Yes, she changed her name, twice! I was curious about it too, so I looked for her in the census. She is listed in 1910 in the home of her parents, with Ruth Bloom, step-daughter. I knew from other research that Peter Bloom, the blacksmith, had a daughter named Ruth and that is wife and other daughter, Annie, had died of typhoid. So Mr. Bloom seemed a likely candidate for her second husband.
In the 1910 paper there is this curious item about Mr. Bloom:
May 13, 1910
Peter Bloom was here this week from Okmulgee. He seems to like his new home and surroundings very well, but still has a warm place in his heart for his first love, Caddo.
I was even more confused when I read that! They were in different towns and yet it appeared that Mattie was not only using his name, but caring for his child.
In the 1920 census she is listed as Mattie Lynch, 47, widow, millinery in dry goods store. This item from the paper shows that Mr. Bloom is alive and back in Caddo, and his daughter, Ruth, is back with him:
August 9, 1922
Peter Bloom and Miss Ruth Bloom left Sunday to visit relatives in Chicago.
That adds up to divorce in my experience, so that’s where I looked next. Many of you may not realize how prevalent divorces were in the early years. The Bloom divorce is #1247 on a list that is so long I wouldn’t be able to look up the last ones without writing down the five-digit number.
From the papers in their file I learned that Peter and Mattie were married on January 27, 1909. In 1912 Peter sued her for divorce on the grounds that she deserted him and her duties in May of 1911. Since they were clearly living apart in 1910 I have no explanation for the date of their separation. Another interesting note: one of the reasons given for the divorce is that Mattie “ since that time and at all times before that time worked for a salary and used her money for her own benefit”. Peter was granted a divorce and there is no mention of alimony or custody.
In 1928 Mattie Cooper Lynch Bloom married Caddo businessman W. R. Evans. He died quite unexpectedly in 1933, but we will leave that marriage for another day…