Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Occupational Arc of a Rising Star

Agnes Tully, the consummate letter writer, has once again saved an item in her personal papers which leaves no trace of explanation as to why she deemed the document noteworthy. This time, we see the origin of the letter as industrial establishment W. O. Worrell and Company, which bills itself as “dealers in Hay, Corn, Oats, Bran, Lime, Cement, Plaster.” Agnes’ friend, signing himself as Steve Treanor, evidently works as a clerk at that office located at 209 South Washington Street in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The challenge comes in identifying the nexus between Agnes—at the time of this 1905 letter the seventeen year old daughter of Chicago resident John Tully—and Mr. Treanor. If my usual guesses would have been right, Steve Treanor would have been a young Irish-American fellow classmate of Miss Tully at the local parish’s Catholic school. But that is not so in the least.

Finding Steve Treanor has been challenging. He first materializes for me in the 1910 census as Steven “Trainer” in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Far from being a contemporary of the young Agnes, by 1910 he states that he is thirty seven years of age, married, and employed as a “receiving teller” at a bank—most likely an occupational improvement from his clerk position at W. O. Worrell and Company.

I’m so grateful for research assistance from readers who are willing to jump in and join the chase. Once again, “Intense Guy” has uncovered several resources to piece together a more complete picture of who this Steve Treanor is. Unfortunately at this point, we still lack any resources pre-dating the 1900 census record to show us the names of his parents or siblings—such records that I’d assume would be the most likely source for any connections with Agnes. But at least we can connect the dots moving forward on this man’s life.

Starting with Steve Treanor’s 1905 letter to young Agnes, we learn that he used to work for a railroad. Perhaps that was his link to Chicago? But that position must have been before 1900, for that year’s census report already records him serving as a clerk. By 1905, we know his clerk position is with the Vicksburg business of W. O. Worrell and Company. But by 1910, Mr. Treanor achieves his break via the entry level of a local bank. He is now serving as a teller.

Further traces of online records show Mr. Stephen Edward Treanor rising both in business and in the Vicksburg community. By the time he registers for the World War I draft, Steve is now assistant cashier at First National Bank of Vicksburg. The 1920 Census, thankfully now getting the Treanor surname spelled correctly, shows Steve attaining the position of cashier. By the time of the 1930 census, Mr. Treanor has risen to the rank of Vice President. A report from page four of the November 24, 1941, edition of the Vicksburg Post announces “veteran banker” S. E. Treanor is elected president of the First National Bank & Trust Company, “succeeding the late George Williamson.”

The now-well-known Mr. S. E. Treanor has attained the stature wherewith he can contribute to several community—and even international—efforts, though it wasn’t this appointment that initiated his community-mindedness. Back in 1916, he was found in a brief mention honoring Sister Mary Borgia of the Vicksburg convent of the Sisters of Mercy, serving as a pall bearer at her funeral. Soon after its formation in 1920, S. E. Treanor is listed (on page 29) as Treasurer for the Mississippi state committee of the American Committee for Relief in Ireland.  More locally, in 1931, he is elected to serve on the board of directors of the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce. In 1944, he is honored to serve again as pall bearer for “the oldest Sister in the state of Mississippi,” the gifted musician Sister Mary Ursula Nelson of the Sisters of Mercy—who incidentally was related to the nun for whom Steve served as pall bearer in 1916, though I can find no family relations between the Nelsons and any Treanors.

I actually wondered, at one time, about even the spelling of Steve’s last name. Earlier records seemed to capture the sound of it as “Trainer.” It wasn’t until much later that I finally secured some proof that there was such a surname as Treanor. It appears it is quite an established name with an Irish heritage.

Yet, “Trainer” or “Treanor,” I find no trace of the man in Mississippi census records prior to 1900—my only recourse at this point for establishing any relationship between the Tully family and his.

To complicate matters, Steve Treanor’s letter mentions someone by the name of Ed. Brother? Mutual acquaintance? Who is this man who suddenly left Chicago headed “home” to Vicksburg? It will take either a pre-1900 census, a birth record—or, on the other end, an obituary from the date of Mr. S. E. Treanor’s passing in February of 1965 to assist us in determining any relationship to the mysterious traveler, Ed.

            Ed arrived safely at home Saturday evening very much to the surprise of all of us, as we thought surely he would write us before he left Chicago.
            I am daily becoming more familiar with the duties of my new position, and it will be only a short time until I will have forgotten that I ever worked for a railroad. So might it be.

1 comment:

  1. I found it frustrating to not be able to find records for this man at both ends of his life (Family and Obit).

    Mystery man Ed is just that, a mystery!

    I've a theory (scenario?) about how this man and Agnes might have had path's cross.

    If, as a railroader, presumably a clerk, Steve traveled the length of the road, he might well have been in Chicago. The network of railroads that became the Illinois Central (with one line running from Chicago to New Orleans via Vicksburg) was well established by around 1875. The Chicago end of the line ran through (or very near) Agnes' neighborhood. Perhaps Steve, being educated (and apparently very devout) Catholic simply attended Mass at Agnes' church and was a visitor there (maybe even a frequent one) when he was "in town"?

    An old map (1892) of the IC railroad shows stations at Grand Crossing, Hyde Park (at 63d street), and 39th Street. Simply speculation on my part, but it would be an explanation of sorts.


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