Charles Alexander Marshall 1894 – 1950

Charles Alexander Marshall was born after Paxton published the Marshall Family
so there is no information from that source

Some of the information comes from

Charles Alexander Marshall was born on September 27, 1894, in Mason, Kentucky, to Orra Moore Calvert, age 20, and Benjamin Harbeson Marshall, age 33. He was their first born.

Charles Alexander Marshall lived in Washington, Kentucky, in 1900. Marital Status: Single; Relation to Head of House: Son

His brother Thomas C. was born in 1904 in Mason, Kentucky,
when Charles Alexander was 10 years old.
His brother Ben H was born in 1906 in Kentucky
when Charles Alexander was 12 years old.
His sister Emily Paxton was born in 1909 in Kentucky
when Charles Alexander was 15 years old.

Charles Alexander Marshall lived in Washington, Kentucky, in 1910. Marital Status: Single; Relation to Head of House: Son

Charles Alexander Marshall married Julia Alma Webb on May 26, 1917, when he was 22 years old.

Charles Alexander Marshall lived in Akron, Ohio, in 1917.

Julia gave birth to their first son, Charles Alexander, on March 8, 1918, in Akron, Summit, Ohio, USA

Charles Alexander Marshall was inducted into the US Army on June 27, 1918, when he was 23 years old.
WW 1 Draft Card
Charles Alexander Marshall, lived in Akron, Ohio, in 1920. His Marital Status: Married; Relation to Head of House: Head

Julia gave birth to their second son, James Paxton, on July 31, 1922, in Akron, Summit, Ohio, USA

His wife Julia Alma passed away suddenly, of Typhoid Fever, on August 30, 1925, in Lexington, Kentucky, at the age of 28.

Charles Alexander Marshall married Ruth Ewalt in Kentucky in 1925 (?) when he was 31 years old.

1930 Census: Marital Status: Married; Relation to Head of House: Head, District 5, Mason, Kentucky, USA

1930 Census: Marital Status: Married; Relation to Head of House: Head, District 5, Mason, Kentucky, USA

WW II draft card

Ruth E Marshall gave birth to their daughter Linda Ruth Marshall 6 Oct 1943 • Maysville, Mason, Kentucky, USA

KY Death Certificate

Charles Alexander Marshall died on May 4, 1950, in Mason, Kentucky, when he was 55 years old. At time the farm raised sheep and Charles had been out “shooting dogs” that were chasing his sheep. He returned home complaining of chest pain and although a doctor was called, died of a heart attack before the sun rose.

I, Charles W Marshall, am writing this portion of this entry on Feb 28 2019. It contains the oral history I have heard growing up on Walnut Grove Farm. You should understand it may not be accurate. I hope others will review and make entries that correct, extend and clarify the life of Charles A Marshall Sr. He died before my first birthday and while i have heard about him, all our life, I have no memory of ever meeting him in person.

Charles A Marshall Sr was 10 years older than Tom his nearest sibling. From all I can tell, he always thought of himself as “apart” from the others. Consider that when Charles was 16, his brother Tom was only 6 and just ready to enter the first grade of school. Thus when I heard stories of this era they tended to be about the “boys”, his brothers Tom and Ben.

Charles was left handed, and it seemed to have significant impact. His Mother and her mother “Grandma Calvert” felt it important to conform and “be” right handed. This resulted in Charles practicing doing things right handed so that he could function as proficiently doing something (writing, sawing wood, chopping with and ax, etc) right handed as he could left handed.

I understand that as a youth he was sick a significant amount of time, because my father always told me that it was during those times of confinement that Charles practiced drawing both right and left handed as well as reading every book he could find. Because of living the first 10 years on Walnut Grove, as the only child and because of his bouts of confinement due to sickness, I have always understood that Charles was not jocular hail fellow well met but rather a serious person who enjoyed mature friendships. He was discussed as a excellent mechanic, an eloquent writer but one who would rather read a book or work on a new machine rather than go hunting before spending the rest of the night in a bar.

Upon completing high school Charles applied to University of KY and was accepted into the engineering program. When I went thru engineering at UK (fall 67 – Spring 72) there was no practical application instead all our work was theoretical and done with math. In the year Charles A Marshall Sr attended UK he focused on practical application rather than theory. he bent his class work toward learned how to do

  • drafting work,
  • learning how to design wood frame buildings including how to calculate where to cut roof trusses,
  • how work with a blacksmith forge
  • how to work on steam and internal combustion engines
  • how to determine correct ingredients proportions to blend a livestock feed
  • basically get to experiment on all the new technology happening just before the war.

Remember the Wright Brother had not flown until Dec 1903, Electricity was just gaining wide acceptance in cities, where it was available. I have seen copies of a textbook (Morrisons Feed & Feeding) that Charles A Marshall Sr studied at UK . It explained that steam engines and internal combustion engines did have a use, powering large stationary farm equipment like feed mills and grain threshers. Then declared that they would never replace the horse and mule as the primary power source on a modern farm.

It was during that 1 year at UK, that Charles met and fell in love with his first wife Julia Alma Webb. During this college year Charle made many deep friendships with folks who were his respected friends throughout the rest of his life. Although I cannot prove it I believe that Charles left after 1 year of college due to his parents inability to provide financial support

Upon leaving UK, Charles was hired by Goodyear Tire and Rubber in Akron OH. After getting established in Akron, he returned back to Northern KY, to marry Julia Webb. I do not know the details but have always heard, they had to be married in N, KY because he had to return to Akron in short order. The Marshall came from Mason County KY, the Webbs brought Julia and the wedding bond from Fayette county. They all met him in Northern KY where Charles and Julia where married on May 26, 1917, the new couple quickly returned to Akron via train.

Julia gave birth to their first son, Charles Alexander, on March 8, 1918, in Akron, Summit, Ohio, USA. Charles registered for the WWI draft and was inducted into the US Army on June 27, 1918.

From all the things I heard from my father, Charles Sr had a low opinion of the way military used it personnel. He did all possible to encourage his sons to stay out of the military until they were drafted. I do not know whether this disdain of the military, was because of the senseless slaughter that was trench warfare on the Western Front, or his personal experiences while in the Army,

Upon discharge from the US Army Charles Sr returned to his young family in Akron Ohio. He again worked for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber company. Julia gave birth to their second son, James Paxton, on July 31, 1922, in Akron, Summit, Ohio, USA.

Shortly after Pack’s birth Charles and Julia moved back to Fayette county KY. I believe that Charles Sr. had become unhappy being a very small cog in a very big corporation, In addition it is easy to believe that Julia Webb Marshall would welcome the move back to her hometown.

Upon reaching Fayette county Charles and Julia established a garage on the Harrodsburg road at the South Forks of the Elkhorn . This was the era when equipment driven with internal combustion engines was sweeping horses and mules out of use. At this time, almost everyone wanted to switch, but few understood how to service & maintain their new equipment. Charles and Julia’s business was based on Charles ability to profit by supporting all the new equipment arriving on farms in southern Fayette county.

To appreciate the challenges of converting from horse to auto. Consider two stories on Ben H Marshall and his first car.

  • When he drove his first car home from Maysvile he forgot how to stop the car and drove thru the back wall of his garage (up till then barn”) yelling “Woooo”. (As that is how he stopped his horse buggy and in the excitement of arriving he did what he always did to stop.)
  • After owning the car for two weeks he went to town by horse and told the dealer to come get his car it stopped and was worthless. The dealer asked, “Did you put any gasoline in the tank since you bought the car?” When Ben did refuel the car, all was well. Ben kept the car for several years.

At the same time Julia’s brother was running the “Mammoth Garage” at the intersection of Rose and Main, in downtown Lexington. He held the exclusive right to sell Studebaker cars in the eastern portion of KY. “Mammoth Garage” was his Fayette county Studebaker showroom, plus he operated a bus line from there. That bus line served eastern KY and had routes that extended to Knoxville and other major cities around his service area. It was eventually one of the companies that merged to form Greyhound Bus Line.

A family story recounts one time as his business grew, Charles needed to hire another internal combustion mechanic. He put a sign by the road advertising a job for an internal combustion mechanic. Supposedly one of the candidates appeared and when asked. “Are you familiar with internal combustion engines?” His replied, “No, but I is plumb up on steam engines.”. Even today we Marshalls tell that story, to remind ourselves not to focus on one technology. No matter what your field. It is important to continue to learn, adapt and NOT get where you are only “plumb up on steam”.

All that I have heard, makes me think that the Charles A Marshall Sr family was very happy at the Forks of the South Elkhorn, during this period..

Charles A Jr started school at Picadome Elementary School. It is indicative of Julia Marshall’s personality, and achievement that on Thursday August 27, 1925, in her position as President of the Fayette county Parent Teacher Association), she presided at a county wide PTA meeting. Tragically, she died of typhoid fever on Sunday Aug. 30 1925.

After her death Charles Sr. made major changes. He immediately sold his garage business and left the Forks of the South Elkhorn.

Charles A Marshall Sr. married Ruth Marshall. She obviously knew that he had two young sons. Noticing the time between the sudden, tragic death of Julia Marshall, and Charles marriage to Ruth it is apparent there was not much time for a long courtship where great love was built before the wedding. Charles A Marshall Sr had been told by his mother, that it was unseemly for a single man to try to raise two small boys, and that he WOULD get married or she would see that the boys were be taken from his home.

I have no knowledge of how Charles and Ruth met and married. I do know that Ruth truly cared for and loved Charles and Pack, just as she did Linda. It must have required great courage for her accept Charles’ proposal of marriage. As described in other entries, by this time the Marshall finances had dimmed to the point that Charles would soon be asked to return to Walnut Grove to see if it was possible to save it from forced sale.

Ben H Marshall asked Charles to return home and take over operation of the farm. Ben told Charles that Walnut Grove tenants had the lowest crop yields and livestock results in the community, Charles A Marshall Sr became convinced that for success Walnut Grove he must have the best results and efficiency in the community.

To entice Charles A Marshall Sr home, Ben offered him $5000 cash and a 2 acre lot, cut from Walnut Grove and bordering Key Pike, to build a new house for his family. Charles A Marshall Sr moved his family back to Walnut Grove.

In 1929 he built the wood frame house I live in. He dug the full basement with mules pulling a drag shovel and with hand shoves. We have a copy of the plans he used. Because he wanted the opposite side of his house to face the road, than the plan showed, he constructed a mirror image of the plans. In a bow to his left handedness he plumbed all the hot water taps on the opposite side from standard.

Financial times for the country, where good at the start of 1929. The Crash of 29 happened before Charles A Marshall Sr finished his house. After the start of the financial panic, cash money had to be hoarded. A coal furnace with an electric stoker was installed in the house in 1929. It was 1939 before Charles A Marshall Sr felt he could spare cash to purchase coal for the furnace. Until then he cut trees on the farm split and cured them, then burnt them in the living room fireplace to heat the house.

The house was wired for electricity but extreme measures were used to reduce consumption. Ruth Marshall told me of not being able to use an electric cook stove during the first 10 years in the house, so they could avoid the cost of the electric. Walnut Grove was in financial peril when Charles A Marshall Sr, arrived back on the farm and thru the 30’s the rest of the country joined its plight.

Charles A Marshall Sr did NOT believe in banks, until late in his life when FDIC had been in force long enough for him to gain confidence. Originally he buried a clay pipe vertically in his backyard, concealed its opening and hid his cash in it. Later he brought home, a large used two door safe. He built a small building just large enough to hold the safe. It replaced the clay pipe and allowed him to store documents as well as cash. When I tried, in 2016, to remove that safe, I found I would have to destroy the building to get it out, and so that building and it’s safe is still in the yard. Which just proves NO ONE was going to steal his safe. (Note they had to cut the safe open with a torch in 1950, to reach Charles Sr.’s will, as no one knew the combination)

All information I have heard about Charles Sr indicates he was fair, ethical, worked hard, had high standards for himself and those around him.

Charles A Marshall Sr was active in (and may have help form) the Mason County Farmers Mutual Insurance company. In his work with them, he learned about buildings that storms had damaged or whose owner wanted to dispose of, for some reason. Walnut Grove needed new buildings, but had no cash to pay for the material. Charles A Marshall Sr would salvage “mortise and tenon” barns, that others were going to destroy, from around the county. He then reassembled them to make 2 tobacco barns on Walnut Grove . One of these barns he constructed by merging at least two salvaged tobacco barns.

Stock photo of a barn raising

It was while rebuilding one of these barns, that testing of levels was introduced into family lore. Charles Sr took great pride that he could cut roof joist etc on the ground without having to first field measure, to confirm his calculation. When one assembles a multi bent mortise and tenon barn, each bent is assembled on the ground, then the bent, consisting of what will be 4 vertical posts, is pivoted upright with ropes. Charles Sr was aghast when he raised his first bent and found that the center two posts where not long enough to touch the ground. He found that the bubble in his level had shifted. So if you leveled a board with that level, then turned the level end for end, the level would say the board was NOT level. So I hope all Marshalls have heard that “when you pick up a level, you always make sure the level gives the same answer when turned end for end”.

The garage at the Charles A Marshall Sr house, is actually a salvaged barn, that he reassembled there. The land under this garage sloped . Although the front of the building was at the correct level, on the other end, the existing grade was 1 ft low . Paxton Marshall told me of one summer vacation, when Charles Sr decided that Charles Jr and Pack’s “job” for the summer was to use shovels, buckets and wheelbarrows to move enough dirt into the garage, so that Charles Sr. could pour a concrete floor, before winter. It was obvious that this was NOT one of Pack’s favorite summer vacations. The two grade school boys did in fact move the necessary dirt that summer.

Charles Jr told me that during the 30’s Charles Sr was faced with continually dropping prices. So if he bought a cow in 1930, brought her home, bred her and raised her calf and then took both as healthy animals to market, they would be sell for LESS in 1931 than the value of the cow in 1930. And the same thing happened in 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, and 37. This is obviously a impossible situation to sustain,

Charles Jr told me that one year during high school, he was given the opportunity to raise his first 1/2 acre plot of tobacco. He raised and stripped the crop, then took it to market and sold it. As soon as he had his check, Charles Sr told him, “I must have that entire check to pay the property taxes due on Walnut Grove. Without it we will lose the land, to a tax sale by the sheriff. ” Charles Sr offered Charles Jr a baby calf and the feed to raise it to sale weight, in return for the Charles Jr.’s check. Charles Jr obviously agreed, as he did not want the family to lose Walnut Grove. He successfully raised the calf. After selling it, the next year, he used that money to pay for his Washington High School Senior ring. Nell Click Marshall (my mother, Charles Jr. wife) had the class ring as long as I can remember. Although modest, it was considered a great treasure.

While Charles Sr farmed, he did custom work with his equipment for other farmers to raise cash. He would cut and bale hay. thresh gain etc.

During Roosevelt’s New Deal, many things were tried to solve the Great Depression. Many ideas required new organizations and Charles Sr was instrumental in forming several of them and served on their Mason County and state level boards.

  • Farm Bureau – lobby Legislatures and later provide insurance
  • Southern States – Farm Supply CooP to break local farm supply monopolies
  • Burley Tobacco Growers Coop – formed a “Pool” to support the price of Tobacco, Charles Sr served on the governing board of this multi state organization.
  • Mason County Farmers Mutual Insurance – property insurance
  • Livestock improvement association – worked with Extension service on ways to improve livestock profitability
  • Soil Conservation – worked with USDA to conserve soil
  • …. and the list goes on

Bert Collins ( highly respected local extension agent) who worked closely with Charles Sr. told me “He was a hard working, strategic thinker of high character, who could work well with others”. Bert went on to say that Charles Sr seemed to work hard at everything, during the day and at night, “He never just rested”. Bert wondered if that was why he died relatively young.

Charles A Marshall Sr in KY 31 Fescue field late 40’s

In the late 40’s Charles A Marshall Sr. had been one of the first producers of KY31 Fescue Certified Seed. KY31 Fescue was a grass developed by USDA. KY31 was being introduced by USDA extension service across the country . USDA test plots may have been well less than 1000 acres. Once farmers across the country decide they want to use seed, someone has to raise it, in a area where they can harvest the seed, clean it and package it and guarantee that it has high germination, little to no weed seeds. Since it takes one year for a seed crop, farmers want to be sure when they plant a field, they are only planting the seed they want. Because of this, it is critical to meet the KY & USDA requirements to market seed as certified. Seed market opportunities, like KY 31 Fescue, are a once in a generation occurrence. Each year after a new seed is in production, the supply increases and so, the market price decline to a more typical price per bushel.

Bag used for KY 31 Fescue sales
Ready to display and sell by any farm supply store to their retail customers

Charles Sr. caught the crest of the KY31 Fescue wave. He was selling truck loads of seed at $5/lb (in 1949 dollars). He was not only raising seed on Walnut Grove but had scouted and then rented fields all across Mason County to raise KY31 Fescue. In fact he had already signed land rent and seed sale contracts for the 1951 crop year prior to his death. Mama Ruth and my father, Charles A Jr, were able to fulfill them at prices nearly as good as those Charles A Sr. received.

Walnut Grove sign made by CA Marshall Sr to support his RFD mail box

Charles Sr. was an accomplished blacksmith and made wrought Iron signs for Walnut Grove and Federal Hill. He built intricate wooden models. I have seen a Battleship that he built that was approx 3 feet long. He also built a clipper ship of the same scale. Charles Jr. was devastated when soon after Charles Sr. death, a cleaning lady tore all the rigging off the Clipper ship , in an attempt to “dust” it. I still have a toy crane he made in his metal shop, for Charles and Pack,

At some point Charles Sr found the cash to build a new tobacco barn. He designed it and then built it with his own team of workers. He built it, like everything else he constructed, “for the long term”. In 1960 Charles Jr saw a tornado lift this barn off it’s foundation and then roll it side over side 3 times. The barn held together for the first 2 complete revolutions but exploded on the third rotation., Charles Sr. had used bolts to fasten each location where wooden members met. Not a single joint failed. However every wooden beam failed and the entire barn was basically shredded wood. This we decided, proved that Charles Sr. had over designed his joints. However he built his house, that I live in, the same way and each day, I appreciate the strength he built in.

Late in his life Charles Sr became interested in Gold Leafing. He had gone to see a frame in a shop in Lexington with Ruth. Upon arriving home he said, well if that guy can Gold Leaf a frame, then I can. He proceeded to buy the appropriate books and supplies and at the time of his death was very proficient in gold leafing frames.

At the time of his death Charles Sr had a weekly humor/opinion column in the Lexington KY paper. He wrote under a pseudonym so I am unsure how many of his local peers knew he was the author. The columns where in the voice of a wise old farmer “upcountry” in Kentucky. I have only seen then once or twice, in my life, and was really not able to pick up their thread. They were a mix of comments on current headlines and character updates from prior columns. In any case they seem to have been well received. I think he did them from the 30’s until his death. With all he had going on, it is impressive for him create a new column on deadline each week. In addition these columns where a source of hard cash. They also allowed him a way to influence Central Kentucky’s political conversation, hopefully with some humor.

After his death the Maysville/Mason County community created a memorial fund for him. It purpose was to allow a medical student to complete medical training. They had to agree to come practice in Maysville until they repaid that amount of money advanced to them, back to the Memorial fund. Then the concept was that money could be used to help another doctor come to Maysville. It sounded like a great memorial to Charles Sr. The community raised enough money so they could and did fund the first doctor. However he left town in the middle of the night , less than 2 years after his arrival. With his exit, the memorial fund really ceased to exist. In any case it indicates that Charles Sr was well regarded in the area.

Note I have not included Pack and Linda in this discussion of Charles Sr. not to slight them. Rather because Charles Jr. and Nell Marshall where the source of all I heard about Charles Sr. I think Aunt Shirley, Linda Ruth and their children will be much better able to discuss how Pack and Linda perceived Charles Sr.

Walnut Grove Ownership

After Col Charles Marshall’s death in 1896. Ben H, Marshall assumed ownership of Walnut Grove. Until Charles A Sr returned home, Ben paid a share of the gross sales to tenants. These tenants provided the labor and management of their crops and jointly owned animals. After Charles Sr returned home, he took the tenants side of the deal and paid any “help needed” by the hour or week. Ben H Marshall died in 1937, and left Walnut Grove farm to his four children equally. (Charles, Tom, Ben, Emily)

At Ben’s death there was a $14,000 mortgage outstanding on Walnut Grove. Charles Jr. told me that Charles Sr was approached at that time, by John Browning of Maysville. Mr Browning said he was trying to assemble a large block of agricultural land and was interested in using Walnut Grove as one of the components of that block. I understood that he offered $32,000 to buy Walnut Grove. (Ok I only heard this story once, on a long drive back when Charles Jr was helping move home from Greenville NC, so do not bet the farm I have these number exactly correct, but the concept is accurate.)

That would mean that Charles Sr, Tom, Ben, Emily could have sold out, paid off Ben’s debt and each gone away with 4,500 in 1937 Dollars . (This at a time when labors where paid an $1 an day.) Charles Sr. told his siblings, look it is a lot of money but John Browning is not dumb. If he thinks it is worth paying that then, I believe it is worth even more. Tom, Ben, and Emily agreed not to sell to John Browning, but instead the four held Walnut Grove as an undivided partnership. Charles Sr was the managing partner of Walnut Grove and continued to be the tenant who operated the farm. John Browning went farther out from town. He assembled well over 1000 acres, further south, lying along the North Fork of the Licking and Choctaw Pike.

Newspaper Articles

Purchasing Land along the South Elkorn in Fayette County KY

When Charles Sr had to named guardian of his children upon Julia’s death

Death Notice