Who are these people? Las Vegas, NM, 1890s-1950s

I have a batch of family photos from my great-grandparents’ lives in Las Vegas, New Mexico. We enjoy these photos immensely and would like to share the joy with other folks whose family members may also be in the photos. I have made high-resolution scans so that you can zoom in on them to see more detail.

Can you identify any of the people in these images? If so, please let me know! Send me an email to prairiewordsmithia@gmail.com ..

  1. School or Church Orchestra, Las Vegas, New Mexico, c. 1888-1890.
    The only person I have identified in this one is my great-grandmother, Augusta Fleck (later O’Malley), the violinist on the far left of the 2nd row in the dark dress with her hand shown holding her bow.  I wonder if it is a school or church orchestra, as there is a nun in the center back. Augusta was born 1883, and she is quite young here, I estimate about 16-18 years old.

    Augusta F O'Malley Music Class Late 1890s

    School or Church Orchestra, Las Vegas, New Mexico, c. 1888-1890. Augusta Fleck (later O’Malley) is 2nd row, left end in dark dress with lace, holding her violin and bow.

  2. Music Students, Las Vegas, New Mexico, c. 1910-1915. Augusta Fleck O’Malley was a music teacher for over 60 years – she quit school after 8th grade to help support her family by giving piano and violin lessons and taught all the rest of her life. In this photo, she stands behind her seven violin students (her face is partly obscured by the tear).

    Augusta F O'Malley Violin Sextette c. 1910

    Music Students, Las Vegas, New Mexico, c. 1910-1915

  3. Family Picnic and Camping, near Las Vegas, New Mexico, c. 1910s. O’Malleys and friends camping, maybe in the Gallinas near Las Vegas, NM. In the first image, from left, Charles O’Malley, Juliette Fleck (Auntie), Augusta F. O’Malley with the twins, Charlotte and Augusta in front of her. I think the little boy just in front of them must be Uncle Pat, Charles O’Malley, Jr.  On the far right, the dark girl is my grandmother, Josephine O’Malley, she was often dubbed the “Gypsy Child” by her family because she was so much darker than the rest. I don’t know who the other people are. The second image shows some of the children again, I believe the same outing; the O’Malley kids are lined up on the right, Josephine, Charlotte, Augusta and little ‘Pat’. The third image shows the same group again, and boy, they look like they were having fun! I can identify Juliette Fleck on the left holding the baby up (not her own), Augusta and Charles O’Malley with their arms around each other on the right. The kids are holding one finger to their noses for some reason. I think it’s one of the twins on the left, and Josephine in the middle with the dark hair.
    O'Malleys & Friends Camping c 1910s

    O’Malleys and friends camping, maybe in the Gallinas near Las Vegas, NM. From left, Charles O’Malley, maybe Juliette Fleck (Auntie), Augusta F. O’Malley with the twins, Charlotte and Augusta. I think the little boy just in front of them must be Uncle Pat, Charles O’Malley, Jr. On the far right, the dark girl is grandmother, Josephine O’Malley, she was often dubbed the “Gypsy Child” by her family because she was so much darker than the rest. I don’t know who the other people are.

    O'Malley Kids 3

    Camping Trip, c. 1910, the O’Malley children are the four on the right, Josephine, Augusta, Charlotte, and little ‘Pat’.



    Camping Trip, near Las Vegas, NM, c. 1910. Juliette Fleck holding up the baby on the left end, Augusta and Charles O’Malley on the right end with arms around each other.  The kids: maybe Augusta O’Malley on the left end, Josephine in the middle with the dark hair.


  4. Children’s Play, Mutual Theater (later the Campus Theater), Las Vegas, NM, 1912. From a newspaper article which identifies the following children: Carl and Fred Ilfeld, Alfred Rogers, Stella Frank, Russell Nelson, Herman Bachrach, Ellen Rogers (Drake), Jack Reynolds, Waldo and Herman Speiss, Fred and Mildred Cobb; Tillie, Corrine, Rose, Margarita, and Marie C’de Baca; Josephine, Augusta, and Charlotte O’Malley (my grandmother and aunts). The O’Malley girls (I think) are in the middle of the pack, with Charlotte covering her face with a flower, Josephine behind her to the right a bit, and Augusta directly behind her, looking dramatic.O'MalleyGirlsInPlay
  5. Patriotism Play, Las Vegas, New Mexico, c. 1915-1917. I don’t recognize any of these children, it may be a production that Augusta directed? The theme seems likely to have been done during WWI. Does anyone recognize the hall with the bas relief above the stage?

    Augusta O'Malley Patriotism Play

    Patriotism Play, Las Vegas, New Mexico, c. 1915-1917

  6. Las Vegas Cowboy Band, 1916. Maybe this was part of the annual Cowboy Reunion festivities held in Las Vegas between 1915 and 1931. My great-grandfather, Charles O’Malley is the fellow in the dark shirt and white suspenders in the middle back with no instrument. Was he the conductor? By Newman Photo.

    Charles F O'Malley in Cowboy Band 1916

    The Cowboy Band, Las Vegas, NM, 1916. Charles O’Malley is the fellow in the white suspenders in the back center row.

  7. Music Students, Las Vegas, New Mexico, c. 1918-1920. This photo is dated by the apparent ages of Augusta’s three daughters, who flank her in the back row. Augusta herself is in the middle of the top row in the white blouse. Her twin daughters Charlotte and Augusta flank her, and Josephine (with the bow in her hair and a white dress) is next to Augusta (the daughter) on the right.

    Augusta F O'Malley's Music Students ca. 1917

    Augusta Fleck O’Malley and her Music Students, Las Vegas, New Mexico, c. 1918-1920. 

  8. Las Vegas, NM, Group of Men in Suits, c. 1914-1920. I don’t know who these fellows are, nor when they gathered, but Charles O’Malley is the guy sitting at the front left. I do know he was heavily involved in civic matters, and was considered a town leader. They look pretty happy, too, so maybe celebrating some significant event.

    Group of men in Las Vegas, NM, c. 1915. Charles O'Malley seated in foreground.

    Group of men in Las Vegas, NM, c. 1915. Charles O’Malley seated in foreground.

  9. Las Vegas, NM, Women’s Club Gypsy Party, church courtyard c. 1940s. Augusta was a member of several women’s groups, and although I’m not certain, I’m guessing it is a church club based on the effigy in glass that appears behind them. I have two group photos of them at their ‘gypsy’ party, one serious, and one just for fun. Augusta is the woman on the end with the accordion in the first image, and in the second she is toward the right, looking back laughing at her friends. Recognize any of these ladies?
    Augusta F O'Malley Womens Club Gypsy Party 1

    Women’s Club Gypsy Party, Las Vegas, New Mexico, c. 1940s

    Augusta F O'Malley Womens Club Gypsy Party 2

    Women’s Club Gypsy Party, Las Vegas, New Mexico, c. 1940s

  10. Women’s Club, silly hat party, Las Vegas, NM, c. late 1940s. Augusta looks a bit older in this image, but it may be the same group of ladies, this time all wearing fantastic hats! Augusta is seated in the middle front row with the patterned dress and the lace hat tied under her chin.
    Augusta F O'Malley Womens Club Hat Party 1948

    Las Vegas Women’s Club, 1948, Silly Hat Party. Augusta O’Malley is fifth from left in flowered dress.

    That’s what I’ve got – I’d appreciate any help with identifying the people in these images. I also have another batch of photos from the 1914 prize boxing match held in Las Vegas, which I’ll post separately. — Thanks!

The Wyles Family of Kent

Kent County, England

My earliest data on this family is still rudimentary, but there are at least two remarkable individuals in this line, who have left enough in the public record for us to examine more closely. The first of these is Thomas Wyles, the second is his grandson, Tom Russell Wyles, Sr.

Anne Foord Wyles and Thomas Wyles

My knowledge begins with Thomas and Mary Wyles who lived during the first half of the 1700s in Frinstead, which is a tiny, ancient town in the Maidstone borough of county Kent, in south-east England. This earlier Thomas was born in 1711 in nearby Bredgar Parish. We don’t know much more about him, or his wife, whose maiden name is still a mystery to me.

The next two generations also give up very little more than their names and where they lived. Thomas’ son, John Wyles married Sarah Frost in Linstead, Suffolk in 1773.  Their son, also John Wyles, was born in 1775, and married Frances Sears in 1805, in Boxley, Maidstone, Kent.  In 1806, they were in Stockbury; in 1814 they were in Newington Geat, Sittingbourne, Kent; and they were still there in 1818 when their son Thomas was born there, and he was my third-great-grandfather.

This Thomas Wyles was a really interesting 19th century character.  He became  a schoolmaster who ran a boy’s boarding schools with a somewhat revolutionary curriculum focused on hands-on Science and fitness.

Tom Russell Wyles, Sr., my great-grandfather and Thomas Wyles’ grandson, wrote this about his family:

My living in England was with my Grandfather Thomas Wyles, who was born in Kent, either Salisbury or Canterbury. As he once said to me ‘our forefathers came from the south shore of the Baltic and were Jutes. They settled in Kent, farmed, fought, bred and stayed there for some two thousand years.’

“He married Ann Foord after a family row and left on a horse for two for Worcester. In fact, I think he got tight at his brother William’s wedding, raised hell, married ‘Ann’, and left. In Worcester he taught Latin and Greek and worked in a ‘Drapers Shop.’ I believe he left college on account of his advanced ‘Non-Conformist ideas’. He then went to Coventry as Assistant Master to Tyle Hill School. Got some money or made it, and bought Allesley Hall, 3 miles from Coventry. There he ran a boy’s school. Raised eight children, took me in hand in 1879 and did his best with me until 1890 when I came back to Virginia.

Allesley Park College

Although some of the evidence I find contradicts some of the specifics of this account, such as the town of his birth, it is a good synopsis of Thomas Wyles’ life.  Church records show that Ann Mary Foord married Thomas Wyles in 1839 in St. Mary’s Parish Church, Chatham, Kent, England.  Baptismal and census records corroborate family records to show that Ann and Thomas had eight children: Eleanore, Alice, Florence, Horace, Henry, Tracy (my 2nd-great grandfather), Selwyn, and Walter.  He did indeed become a well-known school master and had quite evident progressive views on education and health.

Another note from Tom Russell Wyles, Sr., transcribed by Anne Wyles Coleman on the back of a black and white photo of Ann and Tom:  “His older brother William Wyles inherited the money, so Thomas Wyles had to dig.”  This is also a little confusing, since according to records, John – not William, is the eldest brother, and is still living well after Thomas and Ann’s marriage in 1839, because I have identified a John Wyles whom I believe is our Thomas’ brother in the 1841 and ’51 census.  In these records, John was a Wheelwright by trade, which indicates that the members of this Wyles family were tradesmen, as opposed to leisure class.

At any rate, it seems that even if Thomas wasn’t left with much money, he was given a good education, which he found a way to put to good use supporting his family. Between 1841 and 1847, the family lived in Holy Trinity parish, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, according to the birth dates and places of their five oldest children, and the 1841 census, in which Thomas’ occupation is listed as ‘Cheese Factor’, which means Cheese Dealer.  But he must have begun teaching soon after this, because by 1848, Thomas founded Allesley Park College at Allesley Hall near Coventry.

The Wyles Daughters

Thirty-six years later, in 1884, this listing appeared in Our Schools and Colleges, by Bisson:

Coventry, Allesley Park College

Established as the Midland School in 1848. A high school conducted on the most improved principles and methods.  More than ordinary attention is given to Science, chiefly Chemistry, Zoology, and Physiology. About 70 Pupils are prepared for the University Local Examinations, and have obtained great success, 100 certificates having been obtained up to 1880. 10 have matriculated at the London University in the first division. Special classes are formed as required for University Matriculation, Civil Service, Navy, Competitive, Agricultural, and other Examinations.  There is also a Preparatory School under the superintendence of a Lady. Terms for board and tuition from 45 to 60 per annum.  Vacations 13 weeks in the year. Principal Thomas Wyles, FGS, with 4 resident assistant Masters.

As Tom R. Wyles wrote, Thomas was possessed of ‘non-conformist ideas’, which evidently caused him some trouble in his early years, but which formed the foundation of his reputation as a progressive educator.  At this time, ‘non-conformist’ was a term generally used to describe anyone whose views went against Church of England doctrine and practice.

In the 1851 census, I find Thomas and Ann and their children living at “Hill School”, with a Governess, a Mathematical and Classical teacher, an English teacher, two Nurse Laundresses, a Cook, a Housemaid, and sixteen (all male) Pupils ranging in age from 14 to 7, including a few sets of brothers.

In 1862 an article by T. Wyles appeared in the Proceedings of the International Temperance and Prohibition Convention, entitled “On the use of Intoxicating Liquors as Beverages in Private Schools”.  A few years later in 1865 he presented “The Duty of the Schoolmaster in Relation to The Formation of Character” at the College of Preceptors, in which he lays out his philosophy as to the best way to bring out the best in his students moral characters.  In 1870, he wrote a piece in the Transactions of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science on Unsectarian and Religious Teaching, in which he advocates an education free of dictated religious dogma (not free of religion, mind you).

And perhaps more notably, he was an early advocate for science education for children.  In 1876 he was quoted in the “Editor’s Table” section of Popular Science Monthly in an essay on The Promotion of Science, which includes a discussion of some new philosophies about educating children. I think the quote speaks for itself:

Mr. Wyles, of Allesley Park College, claims to have had the best success with chemical and physical experiments and the use of the microscope, and he embodies his views and results in the following instructive passage:

” I believe that such knowledge as I have indicated may be profitably given even to very young boys. They learn thereby to distinguish the precise features and qualities of natural objects, and the conditions of ordinary phenomena; and such teaching undoubtedly exercises in the best way the observing powers, which develop much earlier than the reflective faculty. I am inclined to say that teaching elementary science to boys from ten to thirteen is a greater success than teaching grammar; i.e., that the principles involved are more easily seen, excite more interest, and become therefore a better mental discipline. We rarely have boys come to us with any knowledge of science, and, when they have, it has generally been acquired from lectures, and is worthless as a means of education. We do not lecture, but do real hard class-work, and take periodical examinations on this work, giving it equal value in these and our grade examinations with language and mathematics. We have no reason to believe that this work interferes with or deteriorates the work in language and mathematics, in which subjects we find our boys quite equal, and, except in very rare cases, I may say, superior to incomers of like power, and who have had no science- teaching.

“The great number of men eminent for their vast scientific attainments, who have achieved this eminence in spite of our non- scientific, I may almost say anti-scientific system of education, clearly indicates that many of us have an inherent scientific power or genius surpassing our power in any other direction. I plead for such that they have the same chance of being floated on their scientific voyage as the linguist and the mathematician have on theirs: and I have seen no satisfactory plea why they should not. Value for value, I claim for the science- man a higher status in our present social life than is due to either linguist or mathematician.

“My experience as a schoolmaster has revealed to me many cases where the talent for language or mathematics has been so low that the education effected by these has been of the meanest kind; or where the incessant failure has produced a stolid ignorance, a kind of mental paralysis, most disheartening to all concerned. Such cases have come into my hands, and I have seen intelligence rekindled, and mental power aroused, by simple science – teaching, and the power even for other subjects enhanced thereby.”

In 1882, Allesley Parkis listed in a book called Where shall I educate my son?: A manual for parents of moderate means, by Charles Eyre Pascoe.

Allesley Hall near Coventry

This School was founded in 1848 by the present Director to broaden the lines of intellectual study and training and to raise the moral tone then prevailing in our Schools. It is exclusively residential, and has had a very successful career.  Only so much time is given to the dead languages as the professions demand, and the time thus saved is given to modern languages mathematics science and art.”

Thomas Wyles also espoused vegetarianism and tee-totaling, and conducted hiking tours of the Alps for his students in his eighties.  In 1866, he wrote a letter to The Herald of Health and Journal of Physical Culture (New York, July 1866), in which he tells about one of these tours.

Teetotalism and Strength

Mr Thomas Wyles of Allesley Park College in response to a paragraph that states that a teetotaler and a non teetotaler had tried their strength in climbing Mont Blanc with decided advantages to the former, adds: My own experience in mountaineering has always gone to the same issue viz that cater it paribus the teetotaler will win in all cases of enduring toil. This midsummer, I and seven of my boys had a month’s run in Switzerland. We were on our feet twenty one days and of these the boys would only take one of absolute rest and then most of us took a stroll The least distance we walked in one day was 15 miles the greatest about 36 miles Altogether we walked over about 500 miles and fourteen times we reached heights varying from 7,000 to 12,000 feet ten of these involving considerable work on snow and ice The boys were so eager to see that they would not rest The party were almost wholly teetotal two were vegetarians and these undoubtedly outstripped all the others in power being always the most eager to go on and often saving a fourth of time in making a stiff climb.

In 1897 Thomas Wyles is mentioned in another teetotaler publication for having climbed in the Alps in his 80s.

Below are two letters written by Thomas Wyles to his son Horace, and Horace’s sons, Selwyn and Foord. Both come to me from our cousin in England, Elizabeth French, and were written when Thomas was in his 90s.

“The College, March 26th 1907

My dear Foord and Selwyn,

I thank you very much for writing me your pretty letters of congratulation on my birthday. Also, thank your governess, Miss Hindley, for enabling you to write them. It is very pleasant to feel that at my age, I am able to enjoy life and to keep my body and mind active; and I want you to so live as to grow into useful men, and have a long and healthy life. To do this, you must, as soon as you are able to think and learn efficiently, learn all about yourselves, and how you can best live so as to obey the laws of life. If you will do this, you may be sure that you will have all the health and happiness that is possible to you.

Now, whilst you are young and under Miss Hindley’s tutelage, you must listen to what she teaches you, and this is the best way to grow into useful and intelligent men. And if you do this, you will always have the love and respect of those who know you, and especially that of

Your loving Grandfather
Thomas Wyles.”


“The Cross House, King’s Newton, Melbourne, Derby, March 28 1909

My dear Horace,

Many thanks for your good wishes on my 91st birthday. I was also much pleased with Foord and Selwyn’s notes. I know of some very good books for moral teaching, got up by J.G. Gould of Leicester. When the advertisement (?) meets my eye I will send one each to the boys. You will please tell them that at any time I will be pleased to learn that they are getting on with their education.

March 29th. Could write no more yesterday, and am not much more fit for writing today. I have rolled the lawn today and cross rolled it, and since then put in a good plot of early potatoes. This has been about as much as I am able to do. I should like you to see the place now. I have made all the garden tracks a yard wide, edged them which bricks, laid cornerwise, and have wheeled on to them 4 loads of engine ashes, and 3 loads of gravel. I have also made a path by the lawn from the top of the house steps to the vegetable garden and I am getting the lawn into condition for bowls by much rolling and cross rolling today after yesterday’s rain. I have made three double chairs, and one single one from some stakes cut out of a sycamore tree which we have cut down. Our neighbours tell us that in the spring the country round here is very gay and beautiful with the fruit blossoming. We shall have some fine growing of pears, plums, and apples. I have put in a dozen of apples and plums, and we shall have fruit from these–in time!!

I am in poor trim for writing, so will close with abundant love to yourselves and the children.

Your affectionate father,

Thomas Wyles.”

He may have been ‘in poor trim for writing’ but he sounds remarkably active for a 90 year old man of his time to me!  Elizabeth French’s comments:  “I have a few pictures of Thomas playing bowls upon his much-rolled and crossrolled lawn, and the staked sycamore chairs he mentioned are in evidence.  He is wearing what seems to be his trademark velvet jacket and floppy hat.”


The Children of Thomas Wyles and Ann Mary Foord.

Eleanor, “Nellie” Wyles, was the eldest of the eight children. She never married, and died in Derbyshire.

Alice Wyles married Robert Todd in 1883 in Lancashire, England. They had no children.

Horace Wyles married a woman named Annie Trotter. Of her we have a small, undated, newspaper cutting amongst the photos reading: “WYLES, On the 30th July at 15, Grove St., Didsbury, (nr. Manchester), Annie, the dearly beloved wife of Horace, aged 64 years. Interred at Norbury Chuch, Hazel Grove, August 2. Deeply grieved by son and daughter.” (courtesy Elizabeth French) Only two children are mentioned in this obituary, but there were three: Selwyn, Foord, and Cicely. Cicely Wyles’ scrapbooks are the source of many of these photos and much of the information we have. Evidently Selwyn was quite frail and died young.

Henry Foord Wyles (1841 – 1893), went to New Zealand, and I’d love to know what happened to him there!

Tracy Robert Wyles, my great-great grandfather, was born in Gloucester, England.  Tracy Wyles emigrated to America and bought Bloomfield Estate in Prince Edward County, Virginia, sometime around 1870. He married Anne Trickett.

Walter Clement Wyles (born 1842), about whom Tom R. Wyles wrote “married Polly Knollys, my Aunt Polly – my mother’s best friend. No children. Walter Wyles quite a chap and a gentleman. Aunt Polly lived and died at Jasmine Lodge, Boston Spa, Yorkshire. Aunt Polly’s husband, Walter Wyles did many things. Quite a linguist, painted, artistic, served with Gordon in China and associated with the Cooks of Cook’s Tours in various special capacities. He died of black smallpox in Paris.

Elizabeth French wrote that  “I also have a tiny sketch book inscribed “Walter Wyles, Croxley Green, Hertfordshire” containing a few water colours painted clearly on Walter’s holidays in Dorset, where I live, and in Yorkshire.

Selwyn Wyles (1847 – 1929). Tom R. Wyles wrote that Selwyn “Lived in Nauvoo, Illinois. Fine old chap. He and Aunt Sally both dead. They had three children. The eldest, Thomas Wyles, died a year ago. Susan Wyles married and lives in Sioux City, and Madison Wyles lives in Des Moines.

From Mary Wyles Keller, Selwyn’s granddaughter “I have it that Selwyn and Tracy had owned some land jointly in Prince Edward Co. VA at one time but then apparently Selwyn sold out to Tracy and I think that’s kind of where the family record dwindled. . . . Selwyn and Sally lived in a country home just south of Nauvoo IL, retiring to a house in Nauvoo. For some period of time he was supervisor of a canning factory in Keokuk, IA. A couple of years ago we were able to locate the house where they lived in the country. The family said it had gotten to the place it was to be repaired and updated or else taken down. They opted to fix it so it is now covered with vinyl siding and appears to be loved by the family there. I have a pen drawing that Selwyn did of the place. It is well done. Apparently he did a certain amount of woodworking, too, as we have a few pieces with his mark on them. He made the W and then superimposed the S–kinda looked like a weird $ sign. The house in Nauvoo is gone. The family was active in the Golden’s Point Church which remains an active country church north of Hamilton, IL. It is affiliated with the Christian denomination.

Florence Wyles, the youngest of the eight children, according to Tom R. Wyles, Sr.   “Married a man named Richard Little. He was a surly bastard and lived off of his wife’s money.

Tracy Robert Wyles & Anne Trickett

As I’ve written above, Tracy Robert Wyles was born the fourth of the eight children of Anne Mary Foord and Thomas Wyles, on March 22, 1845, in Gloucester, England.

Like many in England, Tracy Robert was the a younger son of a prosperous family, and although he might have education and some money, he would not inherit the estate of his father. So, sometime before 1870, Tracy Wyles and two other men, Tracy’s brother Selwyn Wyles, and Tracy’s future brother in law John Siddons decided to emigrate to Virginia, and bought Bloomfield Estate, near Darlington Heights in Prince Edward County.

In February 1870 Tracy and Selwyn sailed from Liverpool, England, on board the ship City of Antwerp, which arrived in New York on March 1st.  Then a bit later that year, the two Wyles brothers and John Siddons all appear in the 1870 census at Bloomfield Estate, without the women. I imagine they were having the house either built or refurbished to receive the Trickett sisters.

That same year, 1870, Tracy R. Wyles married Anne Trickett in St. Paul Cathedral in Richmond, Virginia. The service was officiated by the Bishop of Virginia himself.  Ann Trickett was the daughter of Joseph Trickett and Mary Ann Russell.  About the same time, Anne’s sister, Edith married John Siddons in New York, although I don’t know the details.

About the Tricketts: TRW wrote, “As a family [the Tricketts] were all interesting and did things. One Trickett was a very famous Engineer, another, a cousin of my Mother’s, Tom Trickett – I was named after him – was in the Navy and left quite a name. Of others, I don’t know much. One, Sir somebody-Archer was a writer and play critic, etc. I never knew much of the tribe as my living in England was with my Grandfather, Thomas Wyles.” Anne Wyles Coleman’s notes add the following: “Anne Trickett, 12/28/41 – 3/17/74. Bertram Russell some kind of cousin.

Tracy and Anne lived in Prince Edward County, one presumes at Bloomfield with the Siddons and Selwyn Wyles.  At some point, Selwyn sold his portion to the other two and went west to Illinois and Iowa (see above).  Tracy and Anne’s son, Tom Russell Wyles, was born in 1872, and then, at the birth of their second child, Anne Marian Wyles, Anne Tricket died. The baby girl died three months later and left Tracy with a young son to raise.  . TRW wrote, “My mother died when my sister was born in 1874. The St. Anne’s Church in Prince Edward County, Virginia was built in her memory, and she and my sister are buried in that Church Yard.

Shared with me by Terri Maitland on 4/24/00, from the book History of Prince Edward County, Virginia by Herbert Clarence Bradshaw.

Work on the church began in August 1874 when Mrs. Thomas Homer laid the memorial stone. The building was consecrated June 10, 1875 and was dedicated to St. Anne “in affectionate remembrance of Mrs. Annie Wyles, the wife of Tracy Wyles, who died in April 1874. John Siddons was a trustee and he was also on the building committee before the church was built.

After Ann’s death, Tracy moved to Richmond, Virginia, and some time later, remarried a woman referred to as “The Widow Leonard,” who had one baby of her own. Tracy took his new wife and children back to England. The Widow Leonard was Alice (nee Edgar), who came to the marriage with a son named Robert Edgar. I don’t know if this child was the son of Alice’s previous husband Mr. Leonard or not, but according to Elizabeth French, Robert Edgar worked for Thomas Cook’s tours in Japan.

Tom R. Wyles later wrote of his father: “…Lost the money my Mother left me and all his own. In the latter part of his life, I put up funds.”  In London, Tracy became the father of three more daughters, Muriel, Barbara, and Josephine Wyles, and he died in 1919, during World War I.

One of the three daughters, Mrs. Muriel Talbot wrote to Tom R. Wyles about her children and air raids on London (perhaps WWII air raids?), but Tom never heard after he wrote back, and it was feared that the family suffered casualties during the war. However, I have been fortunate enough to make contact with Muriel’s granddaughter, Elizabeth French, who is a physician in England. Elizabeth has been a wonderful source of information and photographs.

Tom Russell Wyles and Mary Richards

Tom Russell Wyles was the only surviving child of Tracy Robert Wyles and Anne Trickett. He was born on Valentine’s day of 1872 in Prince Edward County, Virginia, probably at Bloomfield Estate, and lived there with his parents until Anne Trickett’s death in 1874, when he was only a toddler.  His father remarried, and young Tom moved to England, where he lived with his grandfather, Thomas Wyles, in Allesley Hall near Coventry in Warwickshire from 1878 to 1890.

About this stay with his grandfather, Tom wrote,

Don’t know if my grandfather owned or rented. May have been an entitled estate. Anyhow, it was a lively place. Suppose if now occupied, it has changed a lot. I was there for eleven years and it has many good memories and some damned good lickings. Just had three kids arrested for stealing duck eggs on Exmoor pond. How well I remember when the game keeper of Col. Caldicoots place caught Jim Randall and myself after we had swum over to an island at 2:30 am and filled our handkerchiefs with wild fowl eggs, held handkerchief in our mouth and swam back. He grabbed us as we landed and we went into the parrish jail. The fine was not as bad as the licking. I am afraid as you may see bits of england you will find many things and people of greater prominence and interest than the few relatives I might have, but don’t know. I suppose they did their bit in their time and passed on as we all must do, in fond hope that those near to us or begot by us, may do better and profit by our errors, and omissions. You have a tough job ahead of you but I know will do your duty like a man. As long as I can keep going I will do mine to support you in every way. Your father, Tom R. Wyles

Martha Coleman Weyandt, Tom’s granddaughter, told me this story (October 1999) about Tom and his wife Mary Richards.

Tom Wyles was 18 when he met Mary Richards, who was 15 at the time. Mary’s father was dead, and she was under the male auspices of her brother, Eben Richards. Eben told the young Wyles that he could come for Mary when he was making $100 per month. So Tom Wyles went back to Chicago, where he worked as a secretary. This sad pass for a young gentleman raised at Allesley Hall had come about because his father, Tracy Robert Wyles, had squandered his inheritance leaving the young Tom near penniless. It took 10 years for Tom Wyles to earn $100 per month, but when he was 25, he went back and married Mary Richards in St. Louis at the beginning of the new century in February of 1900.

TRW and his wife, Mary Richards, raised their children in Highland Park, Illinois, where he was the Executive Director of Armstrong Paint & Varnish, and is given credit for having something to do with inventing “valspar” paint. He was also associated with the Steel Plate Fabricating Association (I’m still looking for documentation on this).

Tom Wyles was secretary in the Army, and served in WWI in New York as he was not a young man when he joined the military, and was therefore more useful in domestic bureaucracy than on the front lines. Martha Coleman remembers Tom as a charmer who never knew a stranger. Tom R. Wyles served the Army for many years through four decades of voluntary service first through the Military Training Camps Association and later as Chief Civilian Aide to (8) Secretaries of War, which was later changed to the Secretary of the Army.

According to Tom R. Wyles, III, Tom R. Wyles, Sr. was Chairman of the Green at his country club in Illinois when he was in his 70s. He lost a lot in the stock market crash, but managed to keep his mansion.

In 1954, Tom and Mary retired to a ranch along the Pecos River in the town of Pecos, New Mexico, designed by the architect John Gaw Meem. This house, called El Rinconcito, was designed in the early stages of John Gaw Meem’s career, and was evidently a proving ground for some of his more famous design concepts. There are letters between TRW and Meem in the John Gaw Meem Papers (John Gaw Meem Papers, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico, in General Correspondence, 1945. Box 13 Folder 13 [http://rmoa.unm.edu/docviewer.php?docId=nmu1mss675bc.xml])  (If any kind soul wants to go to the CSR library in Zimmerman Library and make copies, if allowed, I’d be ever so grateful!)

Only five years after his retirement, Tom R. Wyles, Sr., died. The family received the following telegram from the Army: Brucker [Wilber Marion Brucker]

Western Union Telegram sent in June of 1959 to Mrs. Polly Wyles Day, La Fonda Hotel Santa Fe, New Mexico:

From Secy. of the Army,
I am deeply grieved to learn today of the passing of my good friend Tom Wyles. To your mother, to you, to Lt. Colonel Eben Wyles, and to all the members of your family, I extend my own deep sympathy and the heartfelt condolences of the many other friends and acquaintances of Mr. Wyles in the Department of the Army. Tom Wyles lived a splendid life. One deserving of the richest tributes. Yet perhaps nothing I might say of him today would be more meaningful to you and your family than that he was beloved of all who knew him. We of the Army cherished his friendship, respected his wisdom, valued his integrity, honored his patriotism, and above all loved him for himself.

Perhaps for all of this life, but certainly since the days of his military service in World War I, Tom Wyles loved the United States Army and supported it conspicuously. You of his family know well of the almost four decades of voluntary service he gave toward advancement and the furtherment of its causes, first through the Military Training Camps Association and later as Chief Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army. His civilian aide service alone extended over a period of more than 18 years. Even when illness forced his retirement from active participation in 1956, Mr. Wyles maintained his continued deep interest in Army affairs. His many communications to those of us in the Department of the Army, sometimes dictated or written from a bed of pain, were vivid evidence that even in his declining years he stayed abreast of current affairs, kept the Army and the welfare of this country close to his heart, and maintained a perception and understanding as to the needs of both which would have done credit to one many years his junior.

Whether by letter, or telegram, or in person he never failed to inspire us. The Army has lost a faithful and valiant champion. We of the Army have lost a good and understanding friend. With deep sorrow we acknowledge our bereavement and wish to express to you and yours the hope that it will be some comfort to you to reflect upon the life he lived, the example he set for his fellow citizens, and the lasting imprint he has left upon the memories of so many of us. — DA”



  1. 1870 Federal Census for Buffalo Township, Prince Edward County, Virginia, p. 32 (213), dwelling 1489, family 1587. Tracy and Selwyn Wyles along with John Siddons are living together, along with Joseph Winston and William Daniel and his family. Winston and Daniel are listed as being black Virginia natives and farm laborers.
  2. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897, (Micropublication M237. Rolls # 95-580. National Archives, Washington, D.C. (Ancestry.com. New York Passenger Lists, 1851-1891 [database online]. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com, Inc., 2003.)), 01 March 1870, Ship: City of Antwerp from Liverpool, England, to New York, New York; line 36, microfilm roll 324, list number 141. “Wyles, Tracy and Selwyn, male, gentlemen from England
  3. 1920 Federal Census for Highland Park, Deerfield Township, Lake County, Illinois, (January 1920), page 5A, Sheridan Road 431, Dwelling 92, Family 90, line 40.
  4. 1930 Federal Census for Wayne County, Michigan, ED 82-218, Sheet 3A-179, Detroit, Prec. 27, Ward 8, Block 133, Dover Court Apts., fam. 51.
  5. Bradshaw, Herbert Clarence, History of Prince Edward County, Virginia. (Cited by Terri Maitland on 4/24/00).
  6. Coleman, Anne Trickett Wyles, Notes, Notes written 1978-1979.
  7. Coleman, Martha, Interview.
  8. French, Elizabeth, personal communications, referencing and providing copies of photos and memorabilia from her collection (1999 to Present).
  9. Keller, Mary A. Wyles, (Personal communication), “Electronic.”
  10. Marriage Records #25 of Christ Episcopal Church, New York, New York, (Cited by Rev. Paul Olsson, June 2002).
  11. Prince Edward County, Virginia Births, 1862-96, 125, [WYLES, Tom, born FEB 14 1872, Race W, sex M, father: T.R., Mother: Annie.]
  12. Virkus, Frederick A., Abridged Compendium of American Genealogy, The, Volume I, 1925, (F. A. Virkus & Company, Genealogical Publishers, Chicago, Illinois).
  13. Who Was Who in America. A component of “Who’s Who in American History.” Volume 3, 1951-1960., (Chicago: Marquis Who’s Who, 1966. (WhAm 3)).
  14. Wyles, Tom Russell, Sr., Notes written in the 1950s.

Will and Sarah Lee Fleming, the roamers who homesteaded in Farley, New Mexico

Harold Fleming with granddaughter Annie, c. 1965

My paternal grandfather, Harold Morton Fleming was a rancher who was born in Ohio, but lived much of his life on the high plains of north-eastern New Mexico.  His parents were William James Fleming and Sarah Rebecca Lee, who homesteaded there with their children on one of the sweeping grasslands plateaux above Las Vegas (the New Mexico one, of course), on a lonely stretch with a Farley address a bit north and east from Springer.  Farley no longer appears on the google maps, but when I was born in 1964, my mother remembers visiting her in-laws in a tiny town there, a mile or so away from the Fleming ranch.

Will was the son of immigrants.  His father, Thomas Morton Fleming came to America from Scotland in 1869, when he was 18. His line of Flemings was centered in the Lanarkshire area of Scotland, and my research has (so far) gone back to David Fleming and Janet Arbuckle of Glasgow. Their son William Fleming, was born about 1796, and grew up to be a farmer, and married Isabella Stirling, the daughter of a ‘plowman’. Their son, Robert Fleming, broke with family tradition and became a stoneworker in the limeworks near Glasgow, where he eventually was killed by a slab of rock that fell on him in 1883. His wife was Agnes Morton, and several of their children left Scotland for new opportunities in America.

Thomas Morton Fleming

Thomas Morton Fleming was one of those, and when he arrived in 1869 he was 18 and knew how to work hard. First, he worked for the Union Pacific Railroad setting out ties in Colorado. By 1875, he settled in Jewell County, Kansas, where he met and married Ida Elizabeth Kuhn.

Ida was born in near Zurich, Switzerland, and immigrated to America with her family before 1870 (their story is for a different post).  Thomas and Ida lived in Republic County until about 1902, when they moved to May, in Harper County, Oklahoma.


Thomas M Fleming & Ida M Kuhn Fleming

Thomas and Ida Fleming had 12 children, and William James, born in 1885 was their fifth child. He appears in 1900, when he was 15, living with his maternal grandparents, Katherine Baumann and Johan Ulrich Kuhn in Belleville, Kansas.  He would have been about 17 when his parents moved to Oklahoma sometime about 1902, and whether he accompanied them at first, or joined them later I do not know.  Will, as he was called, was in May, OK, at least by 1908 or 09, because he was living there with his parents when he and Sarah Lee met.

Sarah Rebecca Lee was born in 1886 in Pineville, Bell County, Kentucky, the daughter of Stephen Andrew Lee and Rutha Jane Mason, the third of their ten children.  The Lee and Mason families are very interesting, and I will take up their thread in a different post.

For this part of the story, suffice it to say that both the Lee and Mason families have deep Kentucky roots, but about 1900, Steven and Rutha Lee moved to Paulding County, Ohio.  I’m still figuring out why they emigrated out of Kentucky, but I do know that Stephen’s father and at least three of his brothers went there in the late 1800s. The men’s occupations on the census are all listed as Farmer, so it wasn’t some other industry that attracted them – probably just new land and new opportunities.

Rutha Jane Mason Lee, courtesy Cheryl Bada

Tragically, Rutha Jane Mason Lee, died in 1904, shortly after the birth of her tenth baby.

Dale Fleming had this to say about what happened after Rutha died:

“Sarah’s dad … was a big, tall, rawboned guy. He drank a lot, was mean, and when his wife died, the twelve kids scattered like birds to survive.  Sarah went to Oklahoma to live with a cousin.  Sarah was little and slim.  She grew up hard and didn’t expect much.”

Stephen A Lee

Steven Lee remarried to a woman named Sarah Saylor in 1908, the same year that his daughter Sara arrived in May, Oklahoma to earn her keep by working as a nanny for her cousin, Rosa Jane Lee and her husband, Will Sells and their three small children.

The story goes that one Sunday shortly after her arrival, Will Fleming stopped in to pick up his usual walking-to-church companions, and that Sarah was the only one going that day, so he walked with her.  They took a fancy to each other, and were married in 1909, in Doby Springs, Harper County, Oklahoma. Their oldest child, Harold Morton Fleming, was born the next year in Paulding County, Ohio, where Sarah traveled from their home in Bellville, Republic County, Kansas, to have her baby with family around her.  The Kuhn family, Will Fleming’s maternal relatives, was centered in Bellville, Kansas.

In 2000, Mary Sells Bond[1], sat down and recorded some recollections of Sarah Lee Fleming by Faye Sells (age 85 in June 2000) and Susie Crooks (age 100 in September 2000).  The Rosa Jane Lee Sells mentioned here was Sarah’s 1st cousin; their fathers were brothers.  Here is what they remembered:

“Sarah, Rosa’s cousin, came to Oklahoma on the train with Will and Rose Sells to help care for the children.” (best date 1907.  Viola was ca. 4, Hester 3, and baby Donnie perhaps 6 mos.  Reports are that Donnie he was a fussy baby.)  I think both Marvin Chambers and Faye Sells mentioned in about 1998 about Sarah hired out to help clean house or building for Fleming family.  This was Tom Fleming and Ida, parents of Will and another son named Tom.

A letter Grandmother Rosa Jane Lee Sells wrote to her parents in Ohio and dated Feb. 1908, was sent from May [Oklahoma] and mentions Sarah.  In this letter, Donnie takes his first steps one day during Rosa’s writing.  On Friday she reports both a thunder storm and rain the night before and that upon getting up they were about 4 inches of snow and quit snowing at 10 o’clock.  Later, in ‘afternoon Sarah is putting Donnie to sleep.’  They had recently had 4 meals of green onions.  Will and his father were hauling corn and fodder.

Faye recalls being in the big block 3-story house of the Tom Flemings or at least where Mr. Fleming had an office in it.  This was located just south of where the state highway runs east and west along south edge of May and just west of the May to Gage road.  For many years that location has been the farm and home place of Cecil Crooks and/or wife Susie.  Faye’s mother, Ida Jones, was a seamstress who helped in the WPA (or whatever the Federal project title was) for sewing women (1935- WWII years), which in May, OK, was in the same building where Mr. Tom Fleming had had his office.

T. M. Fleming moved from May to Waynoka where he bought the Dew Drop Inn Motel and ran it.  Sarah and Will lived in a building there that had tin siding which looked like blocks.

While Sara and Will lived in Waynoka, Faye says she and Hazel [Will and Sarah’s daughter] were in the same school, but she doesn’t think they were in the same grade.  Faye’s folks lived in Waynoka ca. 1924-25.  Her father Charlie Jones, worked at the R R. round house, or at least with the RR.  Fay at one time talked like Will and Sarah might not have lived at Waynoka very long (winter about 1925-26).

Susie Crooks recalls that one of her daughters was born in 1933 while they were living in New Mexico as neighbors to Bill and Sarah Fleming.  The Crooks lived out there around Farley for 3 years.  While there the Fed. Govt. had cattle slaughtered due to drought – no feed for the cattle.  Beef meat was given to people, size depending on number in family.  The Flemings, John & Phoebe Rogers, and the Crooks would get together and cook and can the beef.  They all tried to raise beans, but barely got seed back.  They lived on jack rabbits.

William Fleming and Sarah Lee, c 1909

“Sarah was a little woman, a head, or more, shorter than her sister, Phoebe, and shorter than Bill, her husband.  She had gray hair and was older than me.  Nice lady, I liked her.”

According to Dale Fleming, Will and Sarah ‘traveled a lot’. He said that in 1917, they went overland from Oklahoma  to Colfax County, New Mexico, in covered wagons with a team of ‘big blue’ horses, and homesteaded in Colfax County, along with Sarah’s sister, Phoebe Lee and her husband, John Aseph Rogers; and Will’s sister, Agnes, with her husband, Howard Smith.  Their family ties were strong.

Phoebe Lee, Sarah's sister, with her husband John Aseph Rogers, c. 1915

I find a homestead claim filed by William J. Fleming for 320 acres in Colfax County, New Mexico, filed in Clayton, NM, in July of 1919.  In 1931 he bought another 18 acres in the same area.

Dale told me that “W.J. would work from sunup to sundown for $1.50 a day to supplement the family income. They lived the old pioneer life. They built a little rock house on their homestead and lived there for many years before they could build a bigger house. That old rock house is still standing, although the roof and the floor are gone. They farmed and they worked real hard. Dad died sudden of a heart attack in January of 1965. He was 79 then. He died in a hospital in Springer, (New Mexico).”

The Flemings, from l. to r.: Hazel, Dale, Sarah, Rolland, Will, and Harold

During an interview in 1999, my father, Lee Fleming, remembered the following:

Wm James Fleming was very persevering and worked to instill in the kids this work ethic. His motto was “Patience and Perseverance”; I had a great respect for him. When he died, he was in the field working on his Farmall Tractor that had a hand crank. He was very conservative and well liked in the community. He was a farm auctioneer, and usually didn’t take money for this. He bought his land for about $1 per acre, and sharecropped with his sons. He got 1/3 and his sons got the rest of the proceeds from their crops. He would make loans to them anytime they needed it, and his sons used his farm equipment. When he died, he left about a quarter million dollars to Sarah. She gave this to the kids.”

Sarah Lee and William J Fleming

My mother, Mary Wyles Ogle remembers that Sarah, was “a very petite, energetic, elegant woman.  She was hardworking, and not as poor as many neighbors and other family members.”   Sarah was blind in the last decade of her life as a result of Diabetes, and died of cancer in 1974.

Bob and I visited their homestead site in 2000 or so, I think the summer after Dale Fleming’s death (unfortunately I have misplaced those notes sometime over the past two moves).  The land was no longer in the family, and at that time, was owned by a corporation in Texas.  At any rate, we were definitely trespassing, but I wanted to see the place, and walk on that land where so many of my kin had lived and even died.

Sarah Fleming with her Children: back - Dale, Hazel, Sarah; front - Harold, unknown child, and Rolland

There were pieces of large farm equipment scattered like dinosaurs throughout the property.  There were various outbuildings as well, and a little once-white house, now abandoned and falling to pieces. But the focal point of the homestead was still a large stone building, made, as I recall from large rocks with thick sturdy walls; the work of the grandson of a mason, perhaps.

Fleming Homestead, 2002

As we were poking around the ruins, a sudden hail storm rolled in, as they do in that part of the world in summer, and we took refuge in the stone building, which did have a roof, so I think it was the second house that Will built, and that the smaller stone house, which was in worse shape, was probably the original homestead house.

Fleming Homestead, Rock House, 200

Sarah Lee and Will Fleming

I have a few photos of Sarah and Will.  One of them shows the two of them in their garden.  The image is poor quality, but you can see that she is tiny, and that their garden is large and bountiful.   No doubt they mostly cared that it was bountiful, as these were their vegetables for the year.

[1] Notes from Mary Sells Bond, September 8, 2000, to me via Cheryl Bada, October 2000.  Memories about Sarah Lee Fleming by Faye Sells (age 85 in June) and Susie Crooks (age 100 in September), September 3 – 4, 2000; recorded by Mary Lou Sells Bond.

Ancestor Nexus

I’ve spent some time lately examining the settlement patterns of the lineages of each of my eight great grandparents.  The each come from varied backgrounds that show some really interesting trends that raise lots of questions for me about the history of our nation.  I’d like to use this blog to explore what I find.

The eight grandparents are, in order of maternal to paternal (i.e., bottom to top of a pedigree chart):

1.  Augusta Victoria Fleck, b. 1883 in Las Vegas, San Miguel County, New Mexico; m. Charles Francis O’Malley on Easter Sunday of 1902; d. 1959 in Las Vegas.

2.  Charles Francis O’Malley, b. Dec. 3, 1876 in Donaldsonville, Ascension Parish, Louisiana; m. Augusta Fleck (see #1 above); d. October 17, 1969 in Las Vegas, San Miguel, New Mexico.

3. Mary Richards, b. June 28, 1875 in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri; m. Tom Russell Wyles in 1899; d. March 25, 1968 in St. Louis.

4.  Tom Russell Wyles, b. Feb. 14, 1872 at Bloomfield House, Prince Edward County, Virginia; m. Mary Richards, see above; d. June 16, 1959 in Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

5.  Jessie Crook Jackson, b. Sep 1, 1890 maybe in Trenton, Gibson County, Tennessee; m. William Calvin Fielden Nov 7th, 1911 in Curry County, New Mexico; d. Feb. 9, 1969 in Los Angeles, California.

6. William Calvin Fielden, b. Mar 31, 1881 in Tennessee; m. Jessie C. Jackson, see above; d. Jan 1967 in Eagle Nest, Colfax, New Mexico.

7. Sarah Rebecca Lee, b. Mar 31, 1886 in Pineville, Bell, Kentucky; m. William James Fleming in 1909; d. Nov 23, 1974 in Farley, Colfax, New Mexico.

8.  William James Fleming, b. Aug 14, 1885 in Belleville, Republic, Kansas; m. Sarah Lee, see above; d. Jan 9, 1965, in Farley, Colfax, New Mexico.

As I said, I’ve noticed some interesting patterns, and I hope to elucidate what I’ve found on following posts.