Joseph Alvin Chavis, Jr.

Joseph Alvin Chavis, Jr.
b. 6 September 1877, Hamblen County, Tennessee, to Joseph Alvin and Louisa Eliza (Ledwell) Chavis, Sr.
d. 8 November 1960, St. Louis County, Missouri

m. 5 September 1903, Putnam County, Indiana
Ollie Blanche Bailey
b. 2 July 1883, Putnam County, Indiana, to Roscoe Oliver and Emma Margarette (Gorham) Bailey
d. 9 January 1958, St. Louis County, Missouri

Children with Ollie Blanche Bailey:

  • Russell Richard (b. 1902) married Dorothy Faye Calvin
  • Edgar Alfred (1905–1975) married (1) Jean Beveridge, (2) Frances Woodson
  • Pauline (1913–1992) married Russell Louis Bishop

Joseph, the fifth child of Joseph and Louisa Chavis, immigrated to Indiana from Tennessee with his parents and siblings, but when Joseph left Indiana in 1912 intending to travel all the way to California to work on the railroad, the rest of his family remained in Indiana. When Joseph and Ollie left Indiana, Ollie was pregnant, and they decided to stop in St. Louis, Missouri, until the child was born. But because daughter Pauline was so tiny and sickly, they decided to remain in St. Louis instead of moving further west.

Joseph never did work for the railroad although his son Russell and his grandson Jim did. Instead Joseph became a day laborer, first for a coal mine. During the Depression he would carry 100-pound blocks of coal home on his shoulders to keep the family warm.

Later, during the construction of the four-story Tums Building in downtown St. Louis, Joseph fell through an open space in the sub floor and plunged two floors to a concrete basement below. He spent many months in a body cast but recovered. In the 1950’s, when a grandson on leave from the Marines visited Joseph, he found his eighty-year-old grandfather up in a fifty foot tree sawing off a dead limb, with his grandmother standing below shaking her finger at him and hollering, “Joseph, come down from that tree.” This was after their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

Submitted by:
Patricia Bishop Obrist
St. Charles MO

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