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Louis Clarke Irvine
LOUIS CLARKE IRVINE, 2nd son of James Clarke Irvine and Ann Keturah Johnson, was born in Omaha, Nebr., 1st March, 1862, and was an "All American" product as the 3rd generation of his Scotch-Irish-English ancestry in this country.
His parents had settled in Oregon, Mo. in 1859, where his father had established himself in the practice of law. His father was an Ohioan and an ardent Abolitionist but unknowingly had come to rest amidst a predominantly pro-slavery community - settled by migrants from Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. These were soon to make evident their strong opposition that the family was moved for safety to the farm of the father-in-law, Hadley Douglas Johnson, a site which was destined to become down-town Omaha. After the civil Wars end, and the slavery question was settled, the family returned to Oregon where L.C. received a grammar school and abbreviated high school education.
Evolved from what he described as his childhood status of "fat boy" butt of his playmates to a 6 foot 116 pounder form 16-30 - was a virile physique of 175-80 pounds, aquiline nose, piercing brown eyes and straight set mouth with moderately prominent chin offset by a full head of iron-grey hair.
Excluded from Boyhoods competitive activities by his peculiar physique and almost ineptitudes Louis sought solace in his fathers library, found himself adept at recitation and later excelled in declamation and debate. The law beckoned, much to his fathers disgust and despite his opposition.
After2 years at Columbia Law School, University of Missouri, an office was opened in Oregon. County seats swarmed with aspiring young lawyers and 2 years was enough practice time to defend indigent assignees of the magnanimous court. The Kansas City Land Boom was at full blast and through a trial contact with a New York realty firm he was employed as a "conveyancer" - a clearer of titles and general paper-work helper - finding time on his hands for chance "counseling.
A visiting Oregon banker was instrumental I including Louie in a tour of the prospects and both were bitten by the speculative bee - forming a short-lived though thriving partnership. Aided by funds from other hopeful Oregonians - his expression was "a la grapevine telegraph from friend banker" - a flourishing commission investment business was soon established, until the realization dawned there existed no industrially productive basis to support fantastic land values.
Undaunted by loss of commissions from a quarter million dollar business, his thoughts turned to promotion of business and civic development as prior requisites to land values. This began a long procession of promotional trials - some successful - but many failures. Some well financed projects were completed, some failed through human frailties in jealousies and misplaced confidences. Some poorly financed venture succeeded through Louies courage, perseverance and forensic abilities, others failed where misplaced confidences in in-experienced cohorts and double-crossing partners would have tried the soil of a saint. And rest assured, through these trials and tribulations our Dad was driven or turned - from sainthood - many times. Many a time his own mastery of skullduggery was the saving grace when ruin of pouch or reputation was at stake.
For many purposes these promotional efforts took him to many places:-
In Kansas City - with August Kountz backing for inclined approach streets to new residential areas. Cut short by the looming Panic of 1893.
To Helena, Mont. - to late to get in on the ground floor of the land boom, but included the pre-opening inspection of Yellowstone Natl. Park.
To Mobile, Ala. - for urban home tract development; needling The Establishment by threats of competing sewer, lighting, and street car extensions; campaigning to move Yankee textile mills into the locale of cotton growing area and cheap labor (failed - though 20 years later this New England industry began its invasion of the Southland); Keely Institute - expanding to Vicksburg, St. Louis, New York, Lowell-Concord-South Boston, and Washington - where the scheme blew up through the duplicity of Dr. John Hays Hammond (Surgeon-Genl of U.S.) and more promotional enthusiasm that the staid medical profession could stomach.
To Baltimore, Md. - to promote a grain elevator for Mobile. The deal was closed - but ostensible backers in Mobiles Chamber of Commerce switched contracts to favor a new Orleans competitor.
To New York - to promote national scope the mid-west idea for a Lawyer-Creditmans magazine. His health threatened by tuberculosis he headed for the southwest - under an agreement with his backers that he could pocket advances for advertising sold enroute.
To San Antonio, Texas - in a stopover to sell advertising he met an old Missouri Law School friend who was debating a City Commission post. With aid from local doctors Louis was convinced the climate was satisfactory, agreed to the friends urgings and within 24 hours of arrival found himself Secretary and Promotion Comm. Chairman. of the Chamber of Commerce - to scheme for new industry. A hotel, a shoe factory, an inter-State competitive Militia Drill, and a "testimonial backed" phiz water cure for tuberculosis (which later he expanded to Denver, St. Louis, and New York - and petered out, he said "because applicants, though testimonial benefited were financially embarrassed").
(Above was in 97. In 1956, on a trip to Hawaii, I met a San Antonian who well remembered L.C.s energetic promotional successes at the turn of the century!!!)
Failure of the last venture left him at loose ends in St. Louis but his imaginativeness and literary profusion kept the wolf from the door through contributions to the old Globe Democrat. Soon opportunity was knocking - talk was in the air of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, so he became "Financial and Legal Counselor" to the hosts of hopeful promoters designing on the prospective visitors. Found himself involved and finally gratuitously managed a campaign to rouse public sentiment to force City Fathers to use public lends for the Worlds Fair. To make ends meet he leased, rejuvenated, and built an Annex to the old Park Hotel - re-christened it Monticello - and prospered during the Fair. He managed the "Million club"; the movement for a "Free Bridge across the Mississippi River; Industrial Parades; and "River Pilots from Council Bluffs to Memphis" as hosts to visiting Pres. Theodore Roosevelt. Sale of the Monticello in 1906 sent him exploring the possibilities in Los Angeles. But the hotel deal backfired and a short 10 days found him back in St. Louis - - to eventually become involved in the "sucker games to top all sucker games", a dry hole within 100 feet of the largest oil gusher in the Illinois field. In disheartenment and disgust he returned to Mobile.
This is where Louis had met, courted married Julia Richardson Upham on 22nd June 1893; and where they had lost their only girl child Julia, at 10 years of age on 12th June, 1905 - and 42 years later I was to find among his effects the telegrams and letters and mementos of those tragic months.
Louis expressive depth of feeling regarding his life partner -
"To Our United Love -
In the hope that it may find herein an holy sanctuary, a safeguard from all that could cast a space of thinnest shade between our two trusting hearts, as the days pass: that this be as the mercy seat to the Holy of Holiest, in the beautiful temple of our One-Life, over which each night the breeding wings of Cherubim shall touch in witness of our ever renewing confession of love, - this Life-Record is Dedicated with the pledge to bow before it nightly in the deep Religion of our Love."
At 80, seeing the Nation embroiled in another World War, and seeing war-workers homes choking the suburbs, the sewage from their homes polluting the surrounding streams - these last years were spent in promoting a recreational area and lake, "within 10 minutes easy walking distance of 10,000 people" - the net proceeds to perpetuate maintenance of Magnolia cemetery. (His beloved Julies lay there.) Also he aspired to rehabilitate the now deserted farm lands, to attract part-time ship-workers by the development of a hatchery within easy reach of Mobiles refrigeration plant.
Four score and five years of lifes wear and tear had taken their toll, and his natural enfeeblement hampered these efforts - sorely vexing his still youthful ambition to "do for others what they would not do for themselves:. Ever ready and willing to counsel the unfortunate, ever a dreamer of benefiting others, ever unmindful of his familys needs beyond necessity, a forceful speaker, a truly remarkably versatile and loveable character for all his impatience over the lack of vision in others. Louis Clarke Irvine was independent to the end, passing to his final rest on August, 1947. Interred beside his, and our, beloved Julia, in Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, Ala.
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An accomplishment of which Louis was reservedly but most naturally proud occurred while a member of the Southern Commercial Congress. A committee had been sent to Washington, headed by Senator Williams of Mississippi, to invite President Woodrow Wilson to stop over in Mobile in 1912 while on his way to the celebrations for the opening of the Panama Canal. Senator Williams had unsuccessfully presented the invitation when, with apologies to the Chairman and the President, Louis asked the latter to reserve his judgment for a moment. There followed an impromptu appeal of which afterward he could recall only "in the very name of the fulfillment of Divine Planning, for which event the twinkling of the stars were but Natures practice preparation for the final wedding of the oceans".
"Sir", responded the President, "Not only have you been enthusiastically convincing but most eloquent, and I promise you that if these gentlemen from the Senate will help me get rid of the hot summer session I will go to Mobile and help celebrate this momentous event".
When in Mobile President Wilson voiced the corollary to the famous Monroe Doctrine:- "The United States never will acquire another foot of foreign territory by conquest".
Julia Richardson Irvine nee Upham
Wife to Louis Clarke Irvine, was born in New York City, 2nd May, 1872. (For full account see Upham Section, page 14.)
Attended schools in Ellenville, N.Y. and Staten Island, finishing high school in Mobile, Ala., to which place the family had been moved in 1885. By 1888 the family was to occupy the magnificent colonial mansion known as Portland Place, located in what was then called Summerville, in the suburbs of Mobile. (See Upham Section, page 9.) After a rather intriguingly interrupted followed by a Mississippi River steamboat trip to Excelsior Springs, Mo.
Having been reared, at least into her 19th year, in the lap of luxury - with servants on every hand - a new life of household and growing family responsibilities was to open before Julia. Possessed of a trim figure, fair skin and hair, soft blue eyes in their regular featured setting - gave scant indication that the trials of being helpmate to the energy and promotional tribulations that caused so many shifts about the country were to be born without complaint nor visible signs of inner turmoil. The fulfillment of the many unlooked for obligations speaks volumes of the strength and determination, integrity and faith and abiding love for her husband.
The last years were spent in an early plantation home - now almost in the heart of Mobile - reconditioned into apartments. She was active in the Shakespearean Garden Club and the Red Cross, and became a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. An unexpected internal complication proved terminal - at 11:20 on the night of 6th June, 1945. Entered in Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, Ala.
Issue of Louis Clarke Irvine and Julia Richardson Upham:-
Dr. Adrian Irvine - Charlotte Hopkins.
George Richardson Irvine - Lucille Starke