Dad's story is very much a work in progress at this point. I am initially putting down snippets of stories he shared with me over the years. At the same time, I'm checking facts with relatives to make sure I have dates and names correct.
If you enjoy what you read, please check back from time to time to see what might be updated. If you have info to share, please e-mail me at the address below. I have boxes of photos and some old family Bibles to go through. I'm trying to add as much framework as possible and then go back and fill in.
New material added: March 2004
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Atticus Lafayette Biffle, Jr.
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Atticus Lafayette Biffle, Jr. was born on September 19, 1915, in Bloomfield, MO (Southeast Missouri). He was the youngest of seven children born to Atticus Lafayette Biffle and Ellinger Catharine Picker Biffle (called Nell). Only four of the children survived into adolescence...Earl, Dorothy, Edgar and Dad, (called A.L.).
March 2004: It has long been thought that Grandmother Biffle's maiden name was Catherine Ellinger Picker. However, a recently discovered small Picker bible states that her given name was Ellinger Catharine (Catharine with an "a'). This would explain better why she was called "Nell". It's not known at this time why the name Ellinger was chosen as a first name, or what relationship this has to the rest of the family.
From a larger bible published by Carlton & Phillips of New York, with a copyright of 1852, comes the Certificate of Baptism for Earl Biffle. Also in the bible is a small clipped shock of hair, with no name; and some very old paper scraps with what looks to be writing samples on it. See BIBLES for more detailed info
Dad's mother, Nell, died at age 41 when he was only five years old, leaving his father with young children at home, a job to keep and no one to help with the house. He did what many in his circumstances did. He remarried within a relatively short time. Barbara Anne, a widow with a young daughter became his father's second wife. Dad, only 6 or 7 at the time bonded immediately with his step-mother and new step-sister, Alpha Omega (called Omega).
Dad was an average student in school, judging from his report cards. He gained a high school diploma from Bloomfield High School.
As a child, he was mischievous, as befits the youngest of four siblings. I recall stories told to me of times when the boys would all have to share the same bathwater. Since Dad was the youngest, he got to take his bath first. Well, heaven help his older brothers if they had in some way teased on tricked him earlier in the day. Dad would make a point to pee in the water as he got out of the bath. Then he'd watch in glee as his brothers took their baths.
Another story was about the time he and some of his chums narrowly escaped the wrath of federal agents who were hunting for the hooligans who damaged some railroad property. The boys had been playing around on a side track that was on a hill. Apparently they ran on to a spare set of wheels, minus the railroad car. The wheels were almost on the tracks, but not quite. Well, the boys got some logs and worked and worked to leverage the wheels back on the track. They succeeded after several hours. Excited at achieving their goal, they began to roll them along for fun only to have them gain momentum as the downhill slope increased. By the time they realized there was a problem, they couldn't stop the heavy wheels. They continued on down the hill -on track- and with all the associated force imparted by the increased speed they slammed into the back of a rail car and did considerable damage.
The boys watched from the cover of shrubs in horror. They quickly dispersed and cringed in fear for weeks as railroad detectives combed the area for the culprits. Suspects were interviewed but no one was ever charged. Dad was especially fearful because his mother's brother Otto worked on the RR and he knew there would be special hell to pay if he found out A.L. had anything to do with the accident. Dad always figured they were never caught because the adults never allowed for a bunch of clever little boys being able to find a way to lift the heavy wheels back on the tracks.
There were also many stories of tipped outhouses and as he grew into his teens, homemade beer, and his experiment with a ditchweed cigarette.
During his youth he also developed a talent with a pool cue. He had a part time job at the pool hall in his home town. He would rack the balls for the players in return for tips. He had a keen eye and gained an real appreciation for the finer points of billiards, snooker, and straight pool. In later years whenever I'd come home for a visit he would take me to the Maryville Elk's Club. We'd ride the elevator to the upper floor where the old 1930's oak pool table resides and we'd play straight pool over a beer or two for a couple of hours. I'm not a bad player myself, but even in his 70's, Dad could still figure an angle shot with lightning speed and was a whiz at 2 or even 3 rail shots. It was uncanny. I think I only beat him 2 or 3 games in all the times we played.
He graduated from high school during the depression, and college may not have been an option for the family financially. Or perhaps he wanted to gain some life experiences away from his hometown. Whatever the reason, he made his way the length of the state to Maryville, MO, where his sister Dorothy and her husband, Russell O. Hunt lived.
to be continued...
Small 1865 Bible
The Picker bible is leather bound and very small (3" x 5"). According to the inscription, it was given to T.M Picker, Clerk, Dept 36 (?), St. Louis, Mo by Mollie P. Parker, St. Louis, Mo, this 3rd day of May, A.D. 1866. The bible is Old and New Testaments from the American Bible Society (1816), New York, and is dated 1865. Pages 1-5 are missing. The blank pages after the Old Testament were used to record births and deaths.
Girl - born 18th of March 1869; died 18th of March 1869.
Elsewhere there is a notation that Nell's baby died on the 16th day of February 1904. Psalm VII is noted with a pencil mark. Within the pages is a poem entitled, The Love that Never Dies by Will D. Muse. It is from a newspaper town unknown. On the back of the clipping are some partial obituaries and the dates on them are January 25 and 26 of 1916, so that dates the page somewhat. The newspaper also shows part of some lost and found ads. Mentioned is a Linmar Hotel, Child's Restaurant, and West End Lyric, and streets named Maryland Ave., McClaran Ave, McPherson Ave., and Price Road.
Larger 1852 Bible
Certificate of Baptism This Certifies that on the 21st day of May in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Nine Hundred and eleven, Earl Biffle was baptized by me at Greenville (?) in Wayne County, State of Missouri. (signed) S. C. Biffle, Member of St. Louis Conf., M.E. Church. South. Names of Parents: A. L. Biffle, Nellie Biffle.
Paper Scraps (they look as if it was practice for needlework):
Catharine Best was born April ye 7th 1800
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