Saturday, August 14, 2004

Pete & Gertie Mabry: Life in Pana, Illinois

Isaac Paris "Pete" Mabry and Gertie Holben were married in 1899. The newlyweds initially lived in Vandalia, Illinois in Fayette County, where Pete was a "farmer" (according to the 1900 census). It seems that Pete was not interested in following in his father's footsteps as a farmer, despite the fact he inherited 160 acres of land from his father in 1884 (held in trust until he was "of age"). The Mabrys moved from Vandalia to Pana, Illinois in Christian county, some time between 1900 and 1910. We don't know much about their early years in Pana, but we have a few hints.

• There was a "Pete Mabry" who played for the Pana minor league baseball team in 1905. In 1904 Mabry played for the Vandalia team.

• A Pete Mabry opened a bar in Pana in 1905. According to the August 30, 1905 Decatur Review, "Pete Mabry, the ball player sold out his half interest [in one saloon], and now Mabry and Adrian Williams, also a ball player, have opened a saloon at the old Condon stand which will be recognized as the sporting resort." Was our Pete Mabry a baseball player?

• My recollection (please correct me if I'm wrong) was that there was a story about Pete Mabry meeting the brother of Jesse James. There's no way to know for sure if there was such a meeting, but Jesse's brother Frank James was the starter at the race track at the 1906 Pana Fair, so it was certainly possible (from the Illinois Sesquicentennial Edition of Christian County History Vol. 2 p. 210).

• 1910 Census: "I. P. Mabry", Gertie and children Bonnie, Neil and Hilda were living in Pana City . Pete's occupation was a bartender in a saloon.

1914 City Directory: Pete and Gertie living at 912 E 2nd St. (no occupation listed)

• 1918 : WW I draft card for Isaac P. Mabry. He was still living at 912 E 2nd St., working as a Club Attendant, Employer: L O O Moose No. 1455 on North Locust St. [the first Moose lodge in Pana was founded in 1913]

Moose Home
The Moose Home (photo from MelvaKaye Rowe)

• 1920 Census: Pete, Gertie and children Bonnie, Neil, Hilda, Harry and Jennie [Lorretta] living at 309 E. Washington St. Pete is listed as working at the Moose Home.

• August 4, 1921: Decatur Review reports "Pete Mabry has broken ground for the erection of a new home on East Washington street, just east of the present Moose home."

The Mabrys moved to a farm five miles south of Herrick (between Pana and Vandalia), then a year later moved to Decatur. They ended up back in Vandalia in 1925, where they ran a tourist camp.

Pictures of Pana in "days gone by": 1st site - 2nd site.

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