The Garitos of Chaffee

Anthony and Helen Garito – Chaffee- 05-24-2021

My old high school buddy Jim Stone came into town to research some of his family tree. That led us to cemeteries and courthouses in Cape, Scott, Bollinger and Stoddard counties.

Jim found a Stone with the ‘N’ reversed

Jim Stone – Chaffee 05-24-2021

While he was looking for relatives, I was just looking, particularly for something that might be a good topic for Memorial Day.

The unusual and ornate grave marker for Anthony and Helen Garito in Union Cemetery in Chaffee caught my eye. (Someone will surely point out that they don’t really qualify for Memorial Day attention because they didn’t die in their war. I will acknowledge the nit, and feature them anyway.)

Not much info available

Anthony and Helen Garito – Chaffee- 05-24-2021

I figured finding information about a family memorialized that grandly would be easy.

Unfortunately, The Chaffee Signal has long ceased publishing. When small down papers die, a lot of the town’s history dies with them.

 Battle of the Bulge survivor

Anthony and Helen Garito – Chaffee- 05-24-2021

A book, Battle of the Bulge filled in some gaps: “Anthony S. Garito, born in Norwich, NY in 1914 of Italian parentage. Inducted at Ft. Bragg, NC in April 1943. After basic training, sent to HQs 127th FA Bn., 35th Inf. Div., Ft. Rucker, AL in July 1943.

“Participated in mock battle for three months with the 100th Inf. Div. in the Tennessee Maneuvers. Sailed for Southern England and nearing D-Day, General “Ike” made his appearance to inspect troops readiness for battle. Landed on Omaha Beach and battled their way through St. Lo, France, and toward the Ardennes Forest.

“In the midst of freezing weather and bitter cold, a smashing blow fell upon us on Dec. 16, 1944, the first day now known as the Battle of the Bulge. Many Nazi prisoners were captured wearing complete GI uniforms.

“Garito is a disabled veteran (paralyzed on right side) with five Campaign Battle Stars and Purple Heart with life member of the Military Order of the Ardennes, Grand Cross of Homage, Reserve Officers Assn., Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, American Legion, and member of the European Theatre of the Battle of the Bulge, WWII.

 Met his wife overseas

Anthony and Helen Garito – Chaffee- 05-24-2021

“He remained overseas in the European Theatre of Occupation as Lt. Colonel after VE-Day, met a WAC friend, now his wife of 42 years, and lives in Chafee MO. One son, and two grandsons, Robbie and David.”

Involved in minor crash

Anthony and Helen Garito – Chaffee- 05-24-2021

I like to say I do stories about ordinary people – folks who get their names in the paper when they are born, get married, die, and get a speeding ticket.

Mr. Garito didn’t get a speeding ticket, but he lost a $15,000 judgement because of a car crash near Dutchtown in 1963. The Sikeston Standard reported the accident occurred when Mr. Garito’s car and one driven by Larry Meyr of Chaffee “collided or came near to colliding,” resulting in Mr. Meyr going into a ditch. The jury was out for 45 minutes before delivering the verdict.

The Garitos married in 1947

Anthony and Helen Garito – Chaffee- 05-24-2021

1948 Garito Building

Anthony and Helen Garito – Chaffee- 05-24-2021

Jim wanted to see if the Chaffee museum on Main Street in Chaffee was open (unfortunately, it’s by appointment only). While I was getting into my car, I looked across the street and saw an impressive stone building with the name Garito on it, along with the date 1948, a year after Anthony and Helen were married.

It had the same “running legs” logo as was on the grave marker. I wonder what the symbolism is?

Ran liquor store from 1948 to 1964 

Anthony and Helen Garito – Chaffee- 05-24-2021

A 1999 obituary in The Southeast Missourian said that Mr. Garito owned and operated Garito Liquor Package Store from 1948 to 1964. I wonder if it was in this building?

The International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame reported on July 4, 1963, that “Tony Garito had a good Independence Day! At Lucky 13 Lanes in Chaffee, Missouri, Garito rolled a 279. The center was outfitted by AMF equipment, and the manufacturing company provided proprietors with these ashtrays that could become personalized trophies in a pinch.”

 

 

Niswonger Church Est. 1847

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014We were on curvy Hwy 72 west of Millersville when we got behind a piece of farm equipment doing about 10 miles per hour. After following him for a couple miles, I welcomed a chance to pull off at a neat white church and well-kept cemetery. I figured by the time I had explored the place he would be far ahead or have turned off.

Historical Marker

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014Right at the entrance to the driveway is a marker that tells how the Niswonger family came to these parts from North Carolina and how they crossed the river on ice near Ste. Genevieve on New Year’s Day 1800. One of the party, George Christopher, was 110 years old when he died in 1802, it said. You can click on the photos to make them larger, but I don’t know if you’ll be able to read the marker.

Historical oops

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014The back side of the marker has some corrections that were added in 1996. Apparently the 110-year-old man WASN’T George Christopher. They aren’t exactly sure WHO he was. They also cleaned up some other details at the same time.

Beautiful setting

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014Someone is doing a great job at keeping the building and grounds in good condition.

Men, Women and ?

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014Behind the church is a row of three locked outhouses. One is marked “Men,” one says, “Women,” and the third doesn’t say anything. I’m not sure who it is intended for.

The church was unlocked

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014I didn’t hold out much hope that the church would be open – I mean, they put locks on the OUTHOUSES.

Still, the front door swung open at a gentle pull. I left it open behind me after remembering how the Methodists tried to hold me hostage in the McKendree Chapel.

At the ready

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014Hymnals, collections plates, the piano and an electric fan were at the ready for the next service.

Plain, but neat and clean

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014It was a simple country church with plain walls and simple pews, but the paint was fresh, the floor was clean and there wasn’t a speck of dust anywhere. The carpet and plastic runner added a jarring note of modernity, but they were functional.

Cemetery Plots

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014One wall contains a list of interments. If you are doing genealogical research, this could be a good starting point. FindAGrave lists 93 interments and says about 89 percent of the stones are photographed and / or containing detailed information about the deceased.

Thanks to the farmer

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014I’m glad the farmer was on that stretch of road. If he hadn’t slowed traffic down, then I probably would have whizzed right past an interesting church and cemetery in Cape County’s Whitewater Township.

Dick McClard’s Many Talents

Dick McClard glass studio 04-29-2014Wife Lila’s Class of ’66 buddy Dick McClard and I are political oil and water. We enjoy sparring with each other, but we can do it without rancor and with good humor. What I’m beginning to realize is that he’s a man of many talents.

We started talking last year about what he thought was a lead on where the mass grave from the steamboat The Stonewall might be located. Weather and pressing business kept us from getting out there until this trip.

When I stopped by his house for the ramble, he invited me into his stained glass studio where his wife, Judy, and daughter, Jennifer, were doing restoration work on stained glass windows for the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Annunciation. Dick was responsible for getting me into the church before it opened after a major renovation project.

Here, he’s showing how Belinda Schearf has been creating color window panes by building up and firing multiple layers of different colors. This is a technique used in the huge eyebrow window in the other photos.

More than just a glass guy

Dick McClard glass studio 04-29-2014Dick is quite the historian, too. He and some other folks have collaborated in tracking 40,000 McClard/McLard/McLaird/MacLaird and Related Families from 1767 through 2003 (and growing). Volume One, an interesting history even if you aren’t a McClard, is 499 pages long; Volume II, an index and family tree listing, is 1,049 pages long. It’s available in pdf format because printing it would be too costly, he said.

We spent the day roaming Cape and Perry counties, poking around in old cemeteries, meeting oldtimers he knew and avoiding political discussions. Oh, and we’re not sure if we located the mass grave we started out looking for. We’re going to have to check back on that.

Glass studio photo gallery

If you walk into St. Mary’s some day and see these window pieces, think of Dick and his family. Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to navigate through he gallery.

Speaking to the D.A.R.

The Nancy Hunter chapter of the Cape Girardeau Daughters of the American Revolution invited me to speak on the topic “Fifty Years of Looking Through a Lens.” After it was over, one of the members snatched my camera out of my hands and turned it on Mother and me. I feel much more comfortable on the taking end of pictures, but I actually like this photo. The publications in the foreground are some of the works I’ve produced in the past two years.

Certificate and pin

Regent Charlotte Slinkard presented me with a Certificate of Award for an Outstanding Program. (She had it made up in advance, which indicates she had a higher level of confidence in my abilities than I have.) She also gave me a Bicentennial of the War of 1812 American Flag pin. Regent Slinkard is second from the right in this photo.

She should save something for the funeral

LaFern Stiver, center, introduced me. She’s Friend Shari’s mother. If I had known she was going to say so many nice things, I’d have asked her to save some of them back for my funeral. You really shouldn’t shoot up all your fireworks at the beginning of the evening. You need to hold something back for the grand finale. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

Ancestors fought in the Revolution

Mother is sitting at the far end of the table. To her left is Mary Lee Rassmussen who is her second cousin (I think). She had done research on the Adkins side of Mother’s family that goes all the way back to Scotland. A couple of our ancestors were slain by Indians shortly before the Revolution, and we had relatives who fought in the war. She didn’t find any of the horse thieves that Mother has always been afraid would turn up if we too highly up the family tree.

Library has great facilities

The Cape library has some of the best facilities I’ve seen. I always bring all of the equipment I need to put on a show without relying on screens, projectors, sound systems and the like to be there and to work. The library was great: they had shades that darkened the room; the screen came down from the ceiling with the push of a button. All I had to do was to plug my laptop computer into a jack that connected to a ceiling-mounted projector and to connect another wire to the audio output. It was the cleanest and fastest setup I’ve ever had.

I’m sorry to say that I missed getting a photo of a woman who claimed she taught me to swim when I was four years old. Mother and I compared notes later and think she may have been thinking about Brothers Mark and David. I clearly remember taking swimming lessons at the Capaha Pool when I was about 10, not four. I knew from the moment that my skin touched that early June pool water that this boy was not cut out for any sport that requires you to crack the ice before you can participate in it. I finally learned how to swim at Boy Scout Camp Lewellen when I was about 13. The water in the St. Francis River in mid-summer was acceptably warm.

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.