Official Publication of The Fossils, Inc., Historians of Amateur Journalism
Volume 102, Number 4, Whole Number 329, Glenview, Illinois, July 2006
Martha E. Shivvers RUSS PAXTON REMEMBERED
Down over the lawn where President's Report
green grasses grow
is a man-made pond now Guy Miller
covered with snow.
The Russell L. Paxton Memorial Award for
But summer's hot days Service to Amateur Journalism has been regarded as a
under skies of blue singular recognition since its unveiling by sponsor John
brought fish from the bottom? C. Horn on December 13, 1986. At that time it was
devised to personally honor ajay's most devoted servant Luke cooled there, too.
Russell L. Paxton, a household name yet today in many
corners of our little ajay world. Later, observing the fact Now, Luke is the neighbor's
that were it not for other faithful stewards such as Russ, big black dog
amateur journalism as we know it could not long who trots up our lane all agog
function, Fossil Horn deemed it a worthy move to wanting affection and
extend this honor to other members who have “given to swim in that bog.
freely of his or her time solely for the benefit of their
fellow amateur journalists.” Adds the donor, “As an The waters ripple as he swims away
example of `service to amateur journalism,' one need as many as three or four
only look at Russ Paxton.” times a day.
The objective of the award is certainly
commendable and most certainly throws a challenge to Cattails hide bass down in
those who have the responsibility of determining the the deep, while frogs sing
recipients of such a distinction. Thus it was recognized their sonorous Beep, Beep, Beep.
as a high compliment when the donor asked The Fossils
to undertake the task of making those choices. History One day a pair of geese came
attests that succeeding administrations have striven this way?are there enough
conscientiously to assure that the award has been well reeds for them to stay?
placed. And while the donor does not stipulate how She swam in circles from shore
often this award should be bestowed, over the years the to shore while he searched
pattern has developed that The Fossils have made it a for cover...is there anymore?
yearly event with the result that 17 members have been
chosen from the major ajay groups, i.e., AAPA, NAPA, With masculine honk?Mate, let's roam?
and the United factions (presently, UAPAA). there's not enough here to
It is our pleasure to announce that Awards make this our home.
Chairman Lee Hawes chose to present the 2005-6
Russell L. Paxton Memorial Award for Service to The pond keeps inviting
Amateur Journalism to GARY BOSSLER, an all who come near
exceptionally active member of NAPA who has also to enjoy her offerings
served AAPA and The Fossils over his more than 30 cloudy or clear.
years association in our beloved hobby. Fossils Robyn's varied talents and in John's massive collection remember that Gary served as our president for 1995-96 of presses, types, and related equipment. But, you get and for five years as our secretary-treasurer. More the picture of what had motivated John to devise this significantly Gary has given full devotion to the NAPA salute to Gary Bossler and others before him who have as a publisher, by way of letterpress and computer, of “given freely of his or her time solely for the benefit of both private and convention journals. Furthermore, he their fellow amateur journalists.”
has served, not only when urged but also as volunteer, in various NAPA offices, including Mailing Manager, OUR CENTERFOLD THIS ISSUE President, and Official Editor. In his latest stint as ORIGINAL HOLOGRAPH MINUTES OF THE Official Editor, Gary has had to fill in as Critic, FIRST ANNUAL NAPA CONVENTION 1876 Historian, and Nominating Committee Chairman when Compls [Compliments] Will T. Hall for one reason or another these offices were left vacant. In fact, had it not been for his diligence, the NAPA Copy of original minutes of ballot for this year, except for nomination of the 2007 1st annual convention N.A.P.A. convention site, would have appeared with nary a 1876 candidate to choose from. As it is we in NAPA were favored with a complete slate. And in respect to the The Centennial Amateur Convention, held 2007 convention site, note that the NAPA convention July 4, 1876, at the Philadelphia City Institute Hall, will meet next July in North Canton, hosted by none northeast corner of 18th and Chestnut streets, under the other than the man whom we have chosen for this auspices of the N.A.P.A., of Philadelphia. prestigious award.
Gary received The Paxton Award at the NAPA Programme
Convention which met in New Orleans this past July 2-4. Myself unable to attend, I prevailed upon NAPA Chairman's Opening Address; Address of Secrertary-treasurer Bill Boys to do the honors. He Welcome, by James M. Beck, Philadelphia; Election of graciously consented to do so; and I am indebted to him Officers; Delegation Business; General Business; Poem, for performing this service for the Paxton Award “On the Brink,” by Richard Gerner, Hoboken, N.J.; Committee. Address, by J. Winslow Snyder, Richmond, Va.
Award donor John Horn's own contributions to The programme contained the following our hobby can readily be seen in his carefully crafted numbers that were not carried out: Forney's Letter; issues of The Leadstacker as well as other works of art Humorous Poem, by M. W. Benjamin; New York City; which have issued from his presses over the years. More Address by Charles M. Cohen; Address by Franklin insight into the extent of his activities in the arts comes Barritt; Valedictory, by Charles Heuman, New York by way of the March 2006 edition of Art & Antiques City. which cites John and his wife Robyn (complete with Convention called to order at 1:35 p.m. by photo) in a list of artists and collectors who have made Richard Gerner, the Chairman pro tem., who made an special efforts to advance appreciation of the arts and opening address which was received with great artists. States the article: “John and Robyn Horn began applause. James M. Beck, of Philadelphia, made the collecting glass and expanded into clay, baskets, metal address of welcome. Messrs. Fynes, White and Hosey and wood. Robyn, herself an artist, is dedicated to presented the following: promoting contemporary crafts and helping the artisans Resolved, That the only authorized voters in
represented in their collection. The Horns have the National Amateur Press Convention are those who achieved their goal by donating works from their are, or who have been, actively engaged in amateur extensive collection to institutions such as the affairs. Adopted. Minneapolis Institute of Art, Yale University Art For Chairman Messrs. Gerner, White, Snyder, Gallery, the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, Hoadley, Allen, Kendall and Hall were proposed. John and the Museum of Art & Design in New York. Not W. Snyder (“Winslow”) of Richmond, Va., was chosen.
only do their gifts raise awareness of the field, but as W. T. Hall, of Chicago, was elected Secretary Robyn notes, `We want to enable these artists to by acclamation. continue to work, and having their pieces in these It was moved, seconded and carried that the museums means a lot to them.'” N.A.P.A. of Philadelphia be dissolved, and that with the
More could be added by those who have visited other amateurs from all parts of the United States a the Horns' home and have delighted in the results of National Amateur Press Association be formed. It was
then decided that the Chairman and Secretary just Virtually all of the names cited in Moore's minutes can
elected be made the President and Secretary (Recording) be identified in the list of attendees provided by Spencer
of the newly-formed organization. at pp. 209-210. (I have added information only for those
Messrs. Richard Gerner (“Humpty Dumpty”), names given only in part in Moore's minutes.) Two
Charles C. Heuman (“Romulus”) and ?? Barritt names mentioned by Moore not contained in Spencer's
list are Morris W. Benjamin (“Ferramorz”) (author of [Franklin Barritt of New York City?ed.] were appointed
the amateur book The Fatal Feud published by C. L. a committee to draft a constitution and by-laws, to be
Hine in Washington D.C. in 1877, q.v., Spencer, p. 225) presented at the next meeting.
and Franklin Barritt of New York City. While both J. A. Fynes, of Boston, was elected Treasurer;
Spencer's account and Moore's minutes are in accord Evan A. Riale, of Philadelphia, Corresponding
that Barritt was appointed to the committee charged Secretary; New England Star, Official Organ.
with drafting a constitution and by-laws, the fact that A vote for place of holding the 1877 meeting
Moore notes that Barritt's “Address” was “not carried resulted as follows: Long Branch, 16; Chicago, 5;
out” is indication that he himself was not present at the Niagara Falls, 2; New York City, 8; Washington, 12.
convention. The same comment applies to Morris W. Accordingly it was determined to hold the next
Benjamin, whose “Humorous Poem” Moore notes was convention at Long Branch in the month of July, the
“not carried out.” There are some conflicts in home date to be decided by the Committee of Arrangements.
town citations between Moore's minutes and Spencer's There were about 60 amateurs present. On the
list: Will Leaning (Moore, New York City, Spencer, Fly vote for Chairman Snyder received 32 votes and Gerner
Creek, N.Y.); Charles McColm (Moore, New York City, 28. Among those present were Richard Gerner
Spencer, Cleveland, Ohio) Frank K. Vondersmith (“Humpty Dumpty”), Hoboken, N.J.; Charles C.
(Moore, Washington, D.C., Spencer, Philadelphia, Heuman (“Romulus”), New York City; J. Winslow
Pennsylvania); Bennett Wasserman (Moore, New York Snyder (“Winslow”), Richmond, Va.; W. T. Hall
City, Spencer, Baltimore, Maryland). Spencer (p. 31) (“Biff”), Chicago, Ill.; J. A. Fynes and Correll Kendall,
notes that the convention was called to order at 1:30 Boston, Mass.; E. R. Hoadley, Evan R. Riale, James M.
p.m. on July 4, 1876, while Moore's minutes specify the Beck, Philadelphia; Bennett Wasserman, M. W.
time as 1:35 p.m.?a difference of five minutes! There Benjamin (“Feramorz”), Franklin Barritt, Charles
were two Kendalls (Correll and Frederick of Boston, McColm, New York City; ?? White [J. Guilford White
Massachusetts) and two Allens (Clarence G. of of Alexandria, Virginia?ed.], ?? Allen [Clarence G.
Washington D.C. and Willis H. of Carbondale, Illinois) Allen of Washington D.C.?ed.], Will Leaning, ??
at the convention, but Spencer's account (p. 32) makes Duhamel [James F. DuHamel of Washington D.C.?ed.],
clear that Correll Kendall and Clarence G. Allen were F. K. Vondersmith, and J. Edson Briggs, of Washington, the two individuals nominated for chairman. (Perhaps D.C. William T. Hall of Chicago, Illinois declined his nomination, for Spencer's account does not record any This wonderful historic record of the first vote for him for chairman.) Moore's minutes do provide convention of the National Amateur Press Association the vote for the next meeting place, not given in was discovered by Fossil Trustee Stan Oliner in a Spencer's account. Moore's minutes indicate that recently-recovered bound volume of The National “about 60” amateurs were present while Spencer's list Amateur. The following note written by Edwin Hadley fixes the number at 65. A name I had not noticed on Smith was attached to the first page of the minutes: Spencer's list before reviewing Moore's minutes was “October 14, 1911. These Minutes were written by Will that of James Douglas Lee of Washington, D.C.?many T. Hall, given to Will S. Moore in 1885, and presented
years later, he served two terms as Fossil Librarian in by Mrs. Ragland (formerly Mrs. Will S. Moore) in
the early 1930s. The last survivor of the “Boys of '76” September 1911 to the Edwin Hadley Smith Collection.
is generally acknowledged to have been James F. See writeup in November 1911 Boy's Herald. Edwin
DuHamel, who lived into the 1950s. I have never seen Hadley Smith.” If the editor had that issue of Boy's
an obituary for him. Herald currently in hand, he would certainly reprint
Smith's article here. I thank Stan Oliner for making
these historic minutes available for reprinting in The
LAVENDER AJAYS OF THE RED-SCARE Fossil.
PERIOD: Readers will want to compare the account of
1917-1920 the first convention provided by these minutes to the
account contained in Spencer's History at pp. 30-33.
armistice on November 11, a little more than a year after Ken Faig, Jr.
the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia. Soon all the
Editor's Note: This article deals with the participation established regimes of the Central Powers were toppling,
of gays and lesbians in the amateur journalism hobby and many feared that the Bolsheviks would seize power.
at the end of World War I. It is followed by an extended The execution of Czar Nicholas II and all of his
anthology of their writings and the writings of their immediate family by the Bolsheviks in Ekaterinburg on
critics. With limited exceptions, the amateur journalism July 16, 1918 sent shock waves around the world. A
hobby has always been open to persons of all races, Bolshevik government under Kurt Eisner was installed
religions and sexual orientations?the common love of in Munich and Berlin stood on the edge of seizure of
power by the Sparticists in December 1918 and January the printed word binds together all the divers
1919. The moderate socialist government of Ebert and participants in the hobby. While I feel an obligation to
Scheidemann consolidated control in Berlin following take note of gay-lesbian participation in our hobby
the murders of Sparticist leaders Karl Liebknecht and during this period, it has never been my policy to invade
Rosa Luxemburg in mid-January. The Sparticist the private lives of hobbyists. Roswell George Mills
government of Kurt Eisner in Munich was overthrown (1896-1966) and Elsa Gidlow (1898-1986) were early,
by federal government troops on May 1, 1919, and public exponents of their respective sexual orientations.
Eisner was killed. In March 1919, Bela Kun and the Graeme Davis (1881-1938), NAPA Official Editor in
Communists took power in Hungary. This government 1917-18 and President in 1918-19, was one of the
lasted until August 1919. The world seemed to be on the leading intellectual lights of amateur journalism in his
edge of revolution in the months following the end of day. He played an important part in the events narrated
World War I. and he could not be omitted. Each reader must make his
In the United States, draft-resisters like or her own judgement regarding the objectivity and the
Lockhart and Dunn were prosecuted and imprisoned. reliability of the sources used. My aim has been to tell
The teaching of German language was removed from the story of these cultural radicals from the Red Scare
secondary schools and universities. In the Great Plains period in a fair manner for the historical record. As
states, a number of pro-German citizens were much as possible, I have tried to allow them to tell their
prosecuted and imprisoned for sedition. In the wake of own stories in their own words. Naturally, these early
the armistice and the fall of the Central Powers in 1918, amateur writings, reprinted herein from the public
the U.S. Communist party was founded in 1919. domain, should not be taken as representative of the
Beginning in the fall of that year, the Department of mature works of their authors.?Ken Faig, Jr.
Justice under A. Mitchell Palmer made mass arrests of
political and labor agitators. Two hundred forty-nine The First World War brought the emergence of
aliens who had been detained, including the anarchists the United States as a world power. The United States
Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, were finally entered the conflict in April 1917, nearly three
deported to the Soviet Union on the U.S.S. Buford on years after its beginning in August 1914. The debate
December 22, 1919. On January 2, 1920, government over entry into the war and the sacrifices which this
agents carried out raids in thirty-three cities and took decision entailed brought many stresses and strains to
2,700 persons into custody. The raids had terminated by American society. The amateur journalism hobby felt
May 1920. the affects of world events. Andrew F. Lockhart and
Perhaps the strongest voice of dissidence John T. Dunn, among acquaintances of H. P. Lovecraft,
which the amateur journalism hobby experienced went to prison for resisting the draft. I have never seen
during the war years came from the north, from a roster of amateur casualties of the First World War,
Montreal, where Canada had already been committed to but I feel it is likely that more than a fair share of
the war from the beginning. Young Elsie Alice Gidlow, amateur journalists made the ultimate sacrifice for their
born December 29, 1898 in Hull, Yorkshire, England, country.
had made the journey to Canada with her parents and Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized power in
siblings in 1904. Initially they had settled in the Russia in November 1917. A cease-fire with Germany
working class Montreal suburb of Tetreauville. Some and her allies took affect on December 15, 1917, and the
years later, the family moved to better quarters in Soviet regime finally accepted the proffered peace terms
Montreal. Eventually, seven children were born to on March 3, 1918. The threat of Germany released from
Samuel and Alice (Reichardt) Gidlow: sisters Elsie, two-front warfare raised grave concern among the
Thea, Ivy, Ruby and Phyllis and brothers Stanley and Allies, but the sudden military collapse of the Central
Eric. Samuel Gidlow had a good job with the railway Powers in the fall of 1918 ended with the signing of the
system (promoting safety practices), but times were still family later removed to Montreal, Canada, where difficult for the large family and Elsie was largely Roswell was working as a newspaper reporter when he self-educated. She entered the business world in met Elsa Gidlow. In “The Literary Decadence of E.G.” Montreal in January 1915, shortly after her sixteenth in The American Amateur for July 1920, Miss Gidlow birthday, and began contributing to the support of her wrote of six years' experience in amateur journalism, family. which would date the beginning of her involvement
This young Elsie Alice Gidlow was destined to with the hobby to 1914-15 rather than 1917. become the noted poet Elsa Gidlow, whose collection Gidlow's group of writers and artists saw some On A Grey Thread, published by Will Ransom amateur papers and decided to try one of their own. (1878-1955) in Chicago in 1923, was the first collection They had access to a mimeograph machine which of lesbian poetry to be published in the United States. according to Gidlow's memoirs produced “smudgy (Ransom, a famous type designer and printer, honored looking, glaring purple type” (Elsa, p. 82). They The Fossils with his membership from 1949 until his originally titled their publication Coal From Hades, but death.) Gidlow recalled in her autobiography (Elsa, p. after a few issues, changed the title to Les Mouches 148): “It had not troubled Ransom that all the love Fantastiques [The Fantastic Flies] at the instigation of poetry was obviously addressed to women. He never Mills. Gidlow recalled in her autobiography (Elsa, p. commented on that fact, nor did anyone else at the 83): About half of the material was written by Roswell and me. Besides our time.”) Elsie found the drudgery of office work poetry, he contributed translations from Verlaine, articles on “the intermediate sex,” and one-act plays sympathetically presenting love oppressive, so in the late autumn of 1917, at the age of between young men. My poetry was obviously addressed to women. My eighteen, she contributed a letter to the “people's editorials satirized what I saw as society's stupidities and injustices and column” of The Montreal Daily Star asking if an the wrongness of the war. The hundred or so copies went locally to our friends and the amateur journalists (“AJ'ers”) in various parts of the U.S. organization of writers and artists existed in the city. A
week later, she contributed a second letter stating the Today, these early mimeographed (or were time and place for an initial meeting. To her surprise, they spirit-duplicated?) issues of Les Mouches a number of congenial souls reported for the first Fantastiques are among the rarest treasures of early gay meeting, and the club continued to grow over the next and lesbian literature. The American Antiquarian several years. She had hoped her advertisement might Society has three issues from the first volume?dating to attract some “rebels,” and her hopes were realized when March, April and June of 1918?while the University of Roswell George Mills, a young reporter for The South Florida (Haywood Collection) has one. Montreal Star, turned up. Nearly sixty-five years later, The content of Les Mouches naturally stirred in her autobiography Elsa: I Come With My Songs (San a considerable amount of controversy within the Francisco: Booklegger Press, 1986), Gidlow recalled: amateur journalism hobby. We reprint some of the “The most astonishing, elegant being was a beautiful exchanges in this issue of The Fossil. The controversy willowy blond” (p. 69). Mills was unabashedly gay in an would doubtless have been even greater had the era when most homosexuals were still under “deep circulation of Les Mouches been wider. W. Paul Cook cover,” and he and Gidlow became lifelong friends. As was a broad-minded editor and printed a poem by a lesbian, Gidlow found that her most long-lasting Gidlow entitled “Song” in The Vagrant for November friendships with men were platonic (Elsa, p. 365), so 1917?before Les Mouches even began its run. In June her relationship with Mills was ideal. 1918, he printed poems by both Gidlow and Mills. Later, Gidlow was a meticulous record-keeper, but he published Mills's short play “Tea Flowers?A she was not correct that Mills was aged nineteen when Chinese Play” in The Vagrant for October 1919. Long their first meeting occurred in the late autumn of 1917. after Gidlow and Mills had left the hobby, he issued The Roswell George Mills was born to Howard B. Mills Vagrant for Spring 1927, containing “Phoebe to (1869-1919) and Mabel (Sheehan) Mills (1875-1943+) Narcissus” by Gidlow and “Roses” by Mills?in all in Buffalo, New York, on July 4, 1896. In his father's probability the last appearances of their work in line he was descended from the seventeenth-century amateur journals. Dutch immigrant Pieter Wourterse van der Meulen As early as July 1918, H. P. Lovecraft weighed (1622-1710), who settled in Windsor, Connecticut. in with commentary on Les Mouches in his paper The Interested readers can refer to Helen Schatvet Ullman's Conservative. Lovecraft contrasted the worship of “the genealogy Descendants of Peter Mills of Windsor, Dionaean Eros” in Les Mouches with the “worlds of Connecticut (Penobscot Press; also available in beauty?pure Uranian beauty?...utterly denied them on summary form on Rootsweb). Roswell had brothers account of their bondage to the lower regions of the Foster Leighton and Stanley and a sister Mabel. The
founded in 1862, was based in Vermillion. For many senses.” Just what he intended by the phrase “pure years, it operated both a preparatory and a collegiate Uranian beauty” may be in doubt?the English school of division. Both of the Davis family children, son Frank Uranian poets in fact were best known for celebrating Graeme and daughter Mary Ruth, attended USD. love between men. Correspondence among amateur Perhaps it was the preparatory division which Frank journalists doubtless spread the word concerning Les Davis entered at the age of fourteen (c. 1895). An Mouches and its editors far wider than its readership of uncle?perhaps his mother's younger brother Charles one hundred persons. Edward H. Cole's large Stoughton Graham (1867-1900+)?gave young Davis correspondence files?subsequently burned by his son E. the press on which he did his first printing. Davis's Sherman Cole?would doubtless have been a source of father Joseph Chapman Davis had at least two younger contemporary amateur “intelligence” concerning Les brothers?James Freeman Davis (1854-1931). a captain Mouches and its editors. The younger Cole concluded and merchant of Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York from the review of his father's correspondence files (The and Frank Addison Davis (1858-1930+), an attorney of Fossil, April 1979, p. 5): As I studied the accumulated exchanges of sixty years, I became aware Columbus, Ohio?who might have been this uncle. He of several disquieting aspects: (1) Edward H. Cole had been the confident also had sisters?including at least Emily C. (Davis) [sic] of just about every amateur journalist in this century, (2) there was more hanky-panky rampant in a.j. than in Peyton Place and (3) the Purdy (1842-1914+) (Mrs. John Purdy), a farmer's wife indiscretion of the writers was only matched by the recipient's saving the of Leonidas, Michigan, and Elizabeth Davis (b. letters. Marion and I consigned them to the rubbish... 1859/60)?who might also have supplied this uncle by
Les Mouches and its editors did find one marriage. (Another sister, Emma Davis (1853-1941), champion within amateur journalism?Rev. Graeme seems not to have married.) However, because of age, I Davis (1881-1938), elected President at the NAPA consider Charles Stoughton Graham the likelier convention in Chicago, Illinois in July 1918 after a candidate. Graham and his Canadian-born wife successful year as Official Editor under President Harry Christie K. Barr had a son Carlyle Barr Graham (born E. Martin (1917-18). Frank Graeme Davis had been December 19, 1892 in Clay County, South Dakota, who born in Sturgis, St. Joseph County, Michigan, on July at the time of the 1930 census was living with his wife 23, 1881, the son of Joseph Chapman Davis (1845-1914) and children in Los Angeles, California.) Davis himself and Ella Albertine (Graham) Davis (1851-1928). told the story in A Letter from the Lingerer in 1937: Joseph Davis was the son of Benjamin F. Davis Once upon a time an uncle but a few years older than the writer had a press upon which he printed an amateur journal copies of which, it is (1829-1914), captain of a coastal vessel based in Sag certain, have never been seen by American amateurs?Le Petit Harbor, Long Island, and Marie [Mary] V. C. (Penny) Ecrivassier...In due time avuncular benevolence (a polite term for Davis (1831/32?-1860+). Joseph served with the Union youthful surfeit) turned the outfit over to the writer, and nepotic emulation produced a few issues of Le Grand Nain de l'Univers, which forces in the Civil war. By the time of the 1870 census, later underwent a metamorphosis and appeared as The Midget. after the he was a merchant's clerk in Sturgis, Michigan. On budding publisher began reading English regularly, and had avidly conned over accounts of amateur journalistic activities in Harper's April 7, 1875, he married Ella A. Graham, the daughter Young People [1897?ed.]. Then came a 5x8 Kelsey Excelsior press, a of Cyrenus Graham (1823-1903) and Mary M. correspondence with amateurs of long ago, notably Dwight Anderson (Stoughton) Graham (1830-1912). Cyrenus was one of and Charles King, the latter slightly more interested in Volapük than in amateur journalism, and with their collaboration an ambitious amateur eight children (third son) of “Squire” William R. journal The Magazette, was launched [1898?ed.], but did not prove Graham (1784/85-1870+) and his wife Anna (??) sea-worthy. Then came El Gasedil [1899?ed.], sometimes home-print, Graham (1788/89-1870+). “Squire” Graham had been sometimes printed by others, in two editions, one containing amateur journalistic fumblings, largely due to the urge of Harry Marlowe, to born in New Hampshire, but settled in Perry, Lake whose influence may be accredited in large measure such amateur County, Ohio. His son Cyrenus married Mary activities as I have engaged in?or been guilty of?since joining the Stoughton on December 25, 1850. She was the daughter National Amateur Press Association near the turn of the century. of a Vermont-born Baptist clergyman, James Carter
Stoughton, and his wife Sarah [Sally] (Bresee [Burzee]) Davis's associates in publishing Stoughton. A second child, a daughter Mary Ruth Davis, Magazette?Dwight Anderson (d. 1953) of Cleveland, was born to Joseph and Ella Davis in March 1885. She
Ohio and Charles R. King (d. 1956) of Toledo, was named for Joseph's mother Marie [Mary] and
Ohio?were later members of The Fossils, Anderson stepmother Ruth (Smith) Davis (1830-1893). In 1883,
serving as President in 1946-47. Anderson, publisher of Cyrenus and Mary Graham removed from Sturgis,
Pen, became a notable public relations professional in Michigan to Vermillion, South Dakota, and
New York City. King, publisher of Hawk, became a commenced farming. In 1887, Joseph Davis and his
distinguished ear-nose-and-throat specialist in Toledo. family followed.
In his later years, he published the distinguished The University of South Dakota (USD),
amateur magazine The Feather-Duster. Harry R. however, and studied at the University of Liège in Marlowe published The Search-Light from Warren, Belgium for three years, before concluding his diaconal Ohio as early as 1895. Marlowe, who once owned a service. By April 1910 he was back in St. Ignace, where collection of 35,000 amateur journals, probably inspired eighteen-year-old student Chester C. Cussie was in his Davis as a fellow collector of amateur material. Davis household. While still in St. Ignace, he printed the first himself lost virtually all of his collection of many number (1910) of his amateur magazine The Lingerer. thousands of amateur journals in an attic fire in his then Its fifty pages contained contributions from the leading home in Momence, Illinois about 1923. A professional amateurs of the day. printer by trade, Marlowe later served as Official Editor Ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in (1924-25) and President (1929-30) of NAPA. Cleveland in December 1910, Davis served first at the
In December 1899 Davis commenced cathedral and then as an associate in St. James parish. publication of El Gasedil (“The Little Newspaper”), He returned to Vermillion in September 1912 to conducted in the international language Volapük officiate at the wedding of his sister Mary Ruth Davis to invented by Johann M. Schleyer (1831-1912). El Adam Spencer Bower (b. December 14, 1884), a farmer Gasedil eventually circulated to twenty-seven countries of Leonidas Township, St. Joseph County, Michigan. and enjoyed second-class postage rates. Davis published By 1930, Mary Ruth (Davis) Bower was a widow living both a series of larger numbers conducted wholly in with her parents-in-law Henry A. and Viola A. Bower in Volapük and a series of smaller numbers with some Leonidas Township. She had children Ruth Emily, aged amateur departments in English. El Gasedil concluded fifteen, Spencer Davis, aged twelve, and Joseph Henry, with an issue dated Winter 1904-5. Davis joined NAPA aged nine, and supported herself as a teacher in the rural in 1901, coincident with commencing collegiate-level school. (Davis did maintain some communication with studies at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. his sister in later life; when their mother died in March During his three years (1901-04) at the University of 1928, Mary Ruth came to Chicago to accompany her South Dakota, Davis was a member of the Jasperian mother's body back to Vermillion for burial.) Davis's literary society and the leader of a Buddhist study group. connection with amateur journalism lapsed when he He wrote an early letter dated April 27, 1901 to the took his own first parish in Marshfield, Wisconsin in editor of Light of Dharma magazine (published in the February 1913. In the spring of 1916, following what he June 1901 number) about his experiences as leader of described in his Ahlhauser sketch as “a physical this study group, cited by Thomas A. Tweed in his study collapse,” he returned to live with his widowed mother The American Encounter With Buddhism 1844-1912 in Vermillion, South Dakota, where he became vicar of (University of North Carolina Press, 1992). The 1902 St. Paul's Church, university chaplain, and assistant group photograph of the Jasperian Literary Society professor of French (1918-20). William T. Harrington reproduced from the 1903 number of Coyote on p. 90 of (The Coyote) helped to reacquaint Davis with amateur Cedric Cummins's The University of South Dakota journalism after he returned to South Dakota. Soon he 1862-1966 (Dakota Press, 1975) includes Davis, but it was the leading literary light of the National is difficult to identify him. In 1903, he and his recruit Association?the same role H. P. Lovecraft played in the Donald Fellows published Par Moi. After completing rival United Association. In the winter and summer of his studies in Vermillion, he spent six months each in 1917, Davis printed two new numbers of The Lingerer. Minneapolis and Chicago, where he became acquainted Lovecraft rebutted Davis's attacks on the rival with local amateurs. The spring of 1905 found him back association in his article “A Reply to The Lingerer” in in Vermillion where he was working as a clerk in the The Tryout for June 1917. post office when the state census was enumerated. Davis rose quickly in the National ranks upon (Amateur journalists were notorious for their heavy use his return, and was elected official editor for the of the mail; and publishing El Gasedil in 1899-1905 1917-18 term. He produced four creditable issues of The must have made Davis quite familiar with post office National Amateur for President Harry E. Martin during operations.) Then in 1907 he completed his studies at his term as official editor. During this period he also Seabury Seminary in Faribault, Minnesota and published several issues of The National Amateur commenced his “deacon's year” at the Church of the Review of Reviews, for overflow criticism. He Good Shepherd in St. Ignace in the Upper Michigan personally attended the National's convention in peninsula, on the Straits of Mackinaw. During this Chicago in July 1918, where he was elected President period, he contributed to W. R. Murphy's The Pioneer, for the 1918-19 term. His ambitious program of growth and served as co-editor of Louis M. Starring's The for the National was evidenced by a motion he offered to Reflector (1908-10). He appears to have obtained leave, incorporate all members of the United as members of
262): the National. This was placed “on the table,” for fear of
I had early questioned and rejected the further straining already delicate relations between the
Christian-inspired concept of art: art wrung from its two associations. W. Paul Cook was elected his Official
creator by agony. The whole Christian attitude Editor for the 1918-19 term, and Cook proceeded to
promotes an acceptance of victimhood, a wallowing in publish in six numbers the largest-ever volume of The
it with the passivity of resignation. Christianity's National Amateur. Davis, however, was not able to
omnipresent “agony of the cross,” the bleeding feet, conduct the ambitious program as President which he
hands, heart, and the thorn-pierced brow I saw in clear had intended. In September 1918, when the influenza
light as pure masochism. No life was lived without pain. epidemic was at its height, he was stricken gravely ill
But the act of creation itself, on any level, can transmute with pneumonia. He had a long and difficult recovery
it to joy. and was left with a serious heart condition. Les
Brought up in a protestant family, Gidlow hated the Mouches must have been among Davis's reading in the
priestly establishment in Montreal, which she blamed heady days leading up to his election as National
for encouraging women to bear child after child in harsh President. In its convention-defying editors he believed
conditions (Elsa, pp. 14-15). Davis apparently he had found true soulmates.
attempted to explain the aesthetic appeal of the church Davis was soon corresponding with Roswell
but Gidlow remained unsympathetic (Elsa, p. 118): George Mills. Probably in the spring of 1919 he He spoke with a lover's veneration of the symbology, ritual, chants, completed the printing of a seventy-two page issue of illuminated manuscripts, the devotion of monks in certain medieval periods to the creation or preservation of sacred art that he saw as The Lingerer, which contained a seventeen-page, embodying the highest achievements of the human spirit...This esoterica highly laudatory review of Les Mouches. Davis was for “initiates.” I saw that these initiates with their acolytes were all probably sent copies to Gidlow and Mills as soon as The male. I remained silent, unable at that time to explain my feelings of being an outsider, even in the affectionate atmosphere of these friends. Lingerer emerged from the press, although he did not
mail copies to amateurs at large until late summer or Gidlow remarked that Davis, during his early autumn. In the summer of 1919, Davis took leave month-long visit, “was totally absorbed by from his clerical duties and travelled east toward Roswell?bewitched might be more accurate.” She Montreal. He stopped in New York only long enough to described the end of Davis's visit (Elsa, p. 118): meet with Doc Swift and a few other amateur journalists, Before Graeme's month-long visit ended, he had almost persuaded and then travelled on to Montreal, where he stayed an Roswell to agree to join him in Vermillion. He held out the bait of freedom for Roswell to devote himself to music and play-writing as entire month with Mills and Gidlow. Davis excused Graeme's lifelong companion. That this was an unrealistic dream was himself from the National convention, which met in spelled out in the letters of agonizing doubt I received during the next Newark, New Jersey over the 4th of July holiday in 1919. couple of years from Graeme as Roswell vacillated over what course he would take. It ended with Graeme coming to me with the news that he Davis's decision to skip the convention?which he would was entering a monastery in New York state. The order he entered have traditionally attended as the retiring permitted no communication after he took his vows, so I have no idea how he fared in that adventure. president?ruffled a few feathers, but the convention
nevertheless paid Davis the traditional honor of election (I have tried to report here, within “fair use” as one member of the three-member panel of Executive limitations, same salient portions of Gidlow's vivid, Judges. firsthand account of Davis's visit to Montreal in the From a distance of nearly sixty-five years, summer of 1919. Her chapter “Crimson Clerics” also Gidlow wrote (Elsa, p. 117): I found Graeme a warm, stimulating, sad, and fascinating man. Older contains secondhand information obtained from her than either of us, probably in his thirties, he was traveled, sophisticated, friends Mills, Lucien Lacouture and Henri Lamy. I have able to tell of places we had dreamed of seeing and people we admired... not reported this secondhand information here and refer In his black suit and white shirt, even without the clerical collar which he did not wear while with us, Graeme looked priestly. He was tall, lean of interested readers to Gidlow's autobiography. Most of body, in no way effeminate. His grey eyes looked dark and reflective. this secondhand information concerns alleged sexual There was a sprinkling of grey in his nearly black hair. His cultivated abuse by Catholic clergy in Montreal. However, it would baritone voice was warm, persuasive. I could imagine him influencing congregations and wondered what sort of sermons he preached to his be intellectually dishonest for me not to state that flock in Vermillion, South Dakota. Gidlow also reported Mills's allegation that Davis wrote
to him of “his lifelong love and affection for young One needs to approach Gidlow's recollections boys.” Gidlow provided this information in the form of in “Crimson Clerics” (Elsa, pp. 111-118) both with a reconstructed conversation with Mills (Elsa, pp. respect for her careful attention to factual details and 112-113). I do not have enough evidence or expert with caution on account of her strong anti-clerical knowledge to comment further on Mills's allegations.) feelings. Elsewhere in her autobiography, Gidlow makes clear her basic antipathy for Christianity (p.
Gidlow soon captured the attention of
amateurdom once more with the article “Life for Life's The amateurs probably knew that young Gidlow and Sake” which she published in Horace L. Lawson's The Mills required no chaperon. Heins listed the amateur Wolverine for October 1919. Therein she argued that journalists who attended this gathering: life ought to be lived for its own sake in the wake of the Richard Kevern, Bill Kevern, Tom Pendleton, A. M. Adams, Elsa Gidlow, Rheinhart Kleiner, Katherine Collier, Edna Hyde, R. G. Mills, death of the gods mankind had formerly believed in. chased Miss Gidlow and Mr. Mills into the corn patch to get more as I had Dora Singleton, Paul Keil, Virginia Weeks, Adeline Leiser, Iva and E. This article waved a red flag in front of conventionally failed to get enough. A. Dench, Joe Thalheimer, H. M. Konwiser, Pearl K. Merritt, Della S. religious amateur journalists, for whom Maurice W. and Otto Knack, Cele and Herman Weckstein, Vincent Haggerty, Jas. F. Morton Jr., Charles W. Heins, were there, besides Charles [Junior], Moe soon replied (place of publication not known by Virginia, Paul, Gladys and Helen of my own family. me). Moe maintained that belief in a divine order was
the necessary basis for all systems of ethics and that In reality, Miss Gidlow had already sung her
without such belief mankind would be reduced to a state swan song in amateur journalism some weeks before the
of barbarism. The other replies?from H. P. Lovecraft gathering at the Heins household on October 17, 1920.
Responding to a postcard received from D. G. Gourman, and James F. Morton, Jr.?were longer in
UAPA Official Editor, inquiring about the reasons for coming?published in John Milton Heins's The
her inactivity, she had written a blistering article, “The American Amateur for September and November 1920,
Literary Decadence of E.G.,” which John Milton Heins respectively. Lovecraft argued that Miss Gidlow's
had published in The American Amateur Journalist for discovery of the lack of a divine plan had been known to
July 1920. I reprint this blistering article here, along Democritus centuries before Christ, but that her
with the response by Pearl K. Merritt published in the hedonistic philosophy had also been rejected as
same journal for September 1920. Gidlow compared her inadequate by the ancient Greeks. Morton tried to find
departure from the amateur fold to Jesus's some truth in each position in the threefold controversy.
disappearance after he disputed with the Elders in the Gidlow broke away from Montreal to New
Temple at a young age. While she conceded “limitless” York City in April 1920. Before she left, in March 1920,
possibilities to the hobby, she found the existing she and Mills published a professionally printed first
participants a hopeless lot from the literary point of number of the intended second volume of Les Mouches
view. She delivered stinging criticisms of the poetry of Fantastiques, which they subtitled “A Bi-Monthly
Goodenough, Lovecraft and “Ward Phillips”?a Publication Devoted to the Arts.” This issue contained
pseudonym of Lovecraft, whether she knew it or not. It Gidlow's account of a poetry reading by William Butler
is interesting to note that D. G. Gourman was Official Yeats that she also recalled in her autobiography (Elsa,
Editor of the Erford-Noel faction of UAPA in 1919-20. pp. 83-84). Perhaps Mills and Gidlow went to the
If Gidlow's principal activity had been in the expense of producing this issue of Les Mouches as a
Erford-Noel UAPA faction rather than the calling card for U.S. amateurs, since they both intended
Hoffman-Daas faction, to which Lovecraft belonged, to remove to New York. Mills followed Gidlow to New
her Erford-Noel affiliation might have been yet another York within a few months. I am not aware that they
source of friction with him. Gidlow excepted only published any further issues of Les Mouches after their
Graeme Davis' The Lingerer from her general advent to New York.
condemnation of amateur publications. Heins reported Writing in The American Amateur for
in The American Amateur for January 1921 (citing the November 1920, editor John Milton Heins (all of
October 1920 issue of The Brooklynite) that George fourteen years old!) recalled going with Joseph
Julian Houtain (1884-1945) had launched a new literary Thalheimer and his father Charles W. Heins to visit
society with Mills and Gidlow?a unlikely combination Roswell Mills and Elsa Gidlow in the latter's apartment
if ever there was one. Houtain was soon preoccupied in 34th Street on September 25, 1920. Heins recalled:
with his romance with Elsie D. (Grant) MacLaughlin “Under a sawed off Japanese umbrella that screened the
(1889-1980), who was elected President of NAPA in light Miss Gidlow sat on a little box like a throne.” Less
July 1921 and married Houtain in August 1921. Gidlow than a month later, on October 17, 1920, Mr. and Mrs.
and Mills had their own destinies to pursue. Charles W. Heins and their son entertained a large
For the further life of Elsa Gidlow, the reader group of amateurs at their home at 16 Winant Avenue
should refer to her extremely readable autobiography. in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. Elsa Gidlow and
She was fortunate to obtain a position as assistant editor Roswell Mills were among the invited guests. Heins
under Frank Harris on Pearson's Magazine. There she wrote: Of course we dressed up for it, killed a few chickens, dug potatoes, obtained the practical editorial experience which her parsnips, beets, pulled celery and lettuce and picked apples, peaches and old adversary H. P. Lovecraft lacked when he came to quinces to prepare for it...I don't mention corn because my father said he
New York as a married man to seek employment in Wisconsin on August 7, 1925. He may have devoted 1924-26. (As far as I know, Lovecraft and Gidlow never some of the next several years to travel in Europe. He met.) After her removal to San Francisco in 1926, became a disciple of the French occultist and magnetic Gidlow worked as managing editor for The Pacific healer Henri Durville (1887-1963). (Durville also Coast Journal of Nursing, but devoted most of her career published several works on Egyptian magic, which may to freelance writing. In 1928-29, she took a European help to explain his disciple Davis's interest in tour, spending part of her time with Roswell Mills. “Egyptology.”) He also became affiliated with the After the publication of On A Grey Thread in 1923, she Liberal Catholic Church founded by James Ingall published her own work only sparingly?mostly slender Wedgwood (1883-1951) (presiding bishop, 1916-23)
and Charles Webster Leadbeater (1854-1934) chapbooks except for Sapphic Songs originally
(presiding bishop, 1923-34), both also members of the published by Diana Press in 1976 and republished by
Theosophical Society. It is possible that Davis was Booklegger in 1982. In California, Kenneth Rexroth
received into the Liberal Catholic Church by Bishop and Alan Watts were among her good friends. She had
Edwin Burt Beckwith (1870-1929), consecrated as a two long-term lovers, Violet W. L. Henry-Anderson,
bishop by Wedgwood on July 18, 1926 for service in who died in 1935, and Isabel Grenfell Quallo.
Chicago. Beckwith would probably have ordained Beginning in the mid-1940s, she cared lovingly for her
Davis as a Liberal Catholic priest sub conditione, since widowed mother Alice (Reichardt) Gidlow in her final
Liberal Catholics generally doubted the validity of years. Sadly, two of her siblings, Ivy and Eric, died in
Anglican orders. Pope Leo XIII had declared Anglican mental institutions, the latter a suicide. She devoted
orders null and void in 1896, whilst the Anglican many of her final years to the artists' community of
Lambeth Conference in 1920 declared null and void all Druid Heights. She travelled to Japan and China in her
Liberal Catholic orders descending from Old Catholic old age and was widely admired as a warrior for
Bishop Arnold Harris Mathew (1852-1919). women's rights. She died shortly after the publication of
Not later than July 1927, Davis and his mother her autobiography in 1986. Her papers are maintained
relocated to Chicago, Illinois, where they rented the at the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco and
second-floor apartment at 2533 North Burling Street?a contain much unpublished literary work. Amateur
journalism remains a small but important footnote to large brownstone duplex (2531-2533) which is still her literary career. There are several good websites standing. When Davis and his mother moved to their devoted to her life and literary career, with samples of apartment on North Burling in mid-1927, there were her more mature verse. No one reading this issue of The two active Liberal Catholic congregations in the city?St.
Fossil should form an opinion of the merit of her work Francis, generally meeting in rented quarters on East without reading further. Van Buren Street, under Bishop Edwin Burt Beckwith,
Roswell George Mills had taken the Indian and St. Raphael's, at 1105 Lawrence Avenue, under Rev. engineer Khagendrenath Ghose as lover by 1922, Edmund Walter Sheehan (1892-1988). (Rev. Sheehan effectively ending any chance of a continuing subsequently received episcopal consecration on June relationship with Graeme Davis. When he registered for 23, 1935 from Bishop Charles Hampton.) The St. the draft in July 1943, he was an employee of The Francis congregation also apparently had a “mission Brooklyn Eagle and living with his widowed mother church” at 1206 South Newberry Street, south of
Mabel in Brooklyn. Most of Roswell George Mills's Roosevelt Drive near the current University of Illinois surviving correspondence in the Gidlow Collection Circle campus; the 1928-29 Chicago Directory lists complains of the difficulties he encountered in later life; Francis G. Davis as pastor of this church. Chicago however, he and Gidlow remained close friends. By Tribune listings of religious services show Rev. Davis 1961, Mills removed to Miami, Florida, where he died conducting religious services at the Van Buren Street on May 25, 1966, a few weeks short of his seventieth address between May and September 1928. Most birthday. Liberal Catholic congregations offered a morning and
If Rev. Graeme Davis did enter a cloistered an evening service, but Rev. Davis offered a schedule of monastery at any point during his career, it was three morning masses at the Van Buren Street address. probably only for a short stay. In September 1920 he Some of Davis's Liberal Catholic sermon topics as resigned his position as vicar of St. Paul's in Vermillion reported in The Chicago Tribune are interesting to note: to take a new parish in Momence, Illinois. He remained “Faces Set Forward” (May 20, 1928), “Seeing the there through December 1923, when he transferred to Unseen” (June 3, 1928), “The Possibility of Waupun, Wisconsin. He was dismissed from the Attainment” (June 10, 1928), “The Discipline of Episcopal priesthood by the Bishop of Fond du Lac, Discernment” (August 19, 1928), and “Renewal of