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My Process

The concept behind this blog drives the process. I always start with a news article or advertisement in the Bloomington Pantagraph. I begin searching, not knowing whether I will find an article of local interest that appeals to my curiousity. The Pantagraph's local pages included stories from each tiny town within its influence, which would sometimes include townsin Tazewell, Woodford, DeWitt, Logan and other counties nearby. Occasionally a story from a more distant town is too compelling to ignore. The front page of the paper was taken up with global and national news, the second page with news from nearby larger towns like Clinton, Decatur and Peoria.

I gravitate toward stories about crime, women, labor, diversity and education. Once I find an interesting article, I must find background information to make sense of the article or give a history to the people. Contrasts or parallels to the present day are always interesting to me, as well as curious practices from 100 years ago.

I came up on this article and was immediately intrigued. Two women purchasing a business in 1915!

Who were these women and were they successful business women? Alta Powell was the daughter of John and Alice Powell who lived at 308 Roosevelt in 1909 and then 408 E Jackson in 1915. Alta was a clerk at the shop in question. She was born in Kansas in 1891 and was the only Alta Powell listed in the Bloomington city directory. Her father and brother were painters. Her mother was born Laura Alice Moore in Ohio to William and Sarah Moore and died at the age of 50 on November 4, 1920. Alta did not have an aunt named Margarette or any other relative named Margarette. The only Wainrights in Bloomington were James and Hattie Wainright. Mrs. Wainright was employed in various cafes or restaurants in Bloomington and Mr. Wainright was a laborer.

In the 1919 city directory Alta Powell was noted to be employed at Rolands, a local department store, not the operator of her own ice cream and candy store. In 1921 she married Raymond Lawyer in Bloomington. What happened to the ice cream store and the dreams of the two women is a complete mystery, except that the address where the candy store was located -- 208 E. Front, was noted to be the location of the Triangle Motors Co in the 1919 city directory.

So this is the result when an article does not pan out. I have learned something about one family but nothing about another and my blog cannot have a nice, neat package of a story about two ladies who tried to go into business together.

Addendum: While reading the Pantagraph for September 9, 1915 I happened to see a correction to the previous days paper. The name of the second woman involved in the purchase was Margaret Gorman, not Margarette Wainright. They were not to know that one woman a hundred years later would spends hours trying to locate the non existent Margarette Wainright.

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