Friday, May 21, 2021

Tracing Harry's Story


Harry Pearle Ijams was the youngest of the three sons of Joseph Henry Harrison Ijams. Harry was only six years of age when his father, working as principal of the Tennessee School for the Deaf, died suddenly in Knoxville. Although his widowed mother, Mary Aiken Ijams, was almost immediately appointed as teacher and added to the instructional staff at the school, now as the wife of the school's former principal, she was no longer afforded the bonus of housing on campus reserved for the head of the institution. Thus, the Ijams family's move from the place they had called home, to the new location at 111 Union Avenue as we've noticed in the Knoxville city directories—near the downtown campus, but no longer a housing situation provided along with her husband's salary. 

From that sad beginning to Harry's story, we enter a gap in the paper trail until Harry's 1905 marriage to Alice Yoe. Arriving at the 1910 census, we find record of Harry and Alice, along with their one year old daughter, Alice Elizabeth, living on Locust Street, not far from where Harry's mother still lived on Union Avenue. At that point, Harry was reported as a manager at an engraving company.

Ten years later, life was much different for Harry and Alice. The couple had moved from the restrictions of downtown Knoxville—from those few blocks square which comprised the earliest memories of Harry's childhood. The family had grown as well, welcoming three additional daughters: Josephine, Mary, and Martha. Harry was now working as a commercial artist.

That, however, does not tell the full story. While I am certain there is much more to Harry's life story than can be detected at this point from what I have found, I'm sniffing out a story between the lines in the few documents I've been able to discover from such an isolated distance. Once again, this becomes a story told in records I'm wishing I could get my hands on, in person. However, since I can't yet access any solid evidence, the next step is to lay out the facts that can be found—and at least write down the questions those discoveries generate.

Monday, we'll explore the history behind the Ijamses move to a new home—and start our examination of why their move away from the old Deaf School neighborhood didn't really mean moving away from the school, itself.   

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