Question of the Week for January 18, 2015


I am curious to know what kinds of Cartwright family memorabilia various Cartwright cousins and members of our extended family have “collected” and/or “saved” across the years.   To give you an idea of what I have in mind, I will post my own  response to this question, which will take the form of a brief inventory of the things that I inherited from my father Billy Cartwright after his death Feb. 4, 1998.


Does anyone know when the Cartwrights moved down from the mountain? My sense is that this was probably a generational shift. We know that Joe and Jess lived around Ione and Tate. We also know that Thomas is buried at the Shiloh Church Cemetery. (Eliza is buried in the Gum Log community where here daughter Frances lived near Russellville, AR). Presumably, this also may have something to do with the agricultural economy and when the farmers up on the mountain could no longer compete with the farmers who were able to grow more plentiful crops down in the bottom land fields around the Pettit Jean River and other streams.


What kinds of things have you and your siblings wondered about with respect to our shared our genetic heritage? Let me give a couple of examples.

Example #1: Over and over again, I recall hearing my father explain to people that the reason he had such a temper was that he was “Irish.” (Never mind the fact that the Cartwright lineage is more English than anything else and only partially Scotch-Irish but in no sense solely Irish!.) I am not sure what people made of my father’s excuse, but it is certainly one of my oldest memories about how someone in the family made sense of the role DNA plays in an individual’s life.

Example #2: Several years ago, while visiting Aunt Dorothy [Cartwright Snyder], I recall her telling me that her doctor had recently prescribed a supplement for thyroid deficiency. Then she commented, “I told MC that I am the last of the six siblings to have to take Thyroid medication.” Dorothy went on to say that in her case, it was probably the result of the aging process and not necessarily an inherited problem. Even so, I was surprised to hear that all six of the siblings had received treatment for thyroid issues. Although I had known that Aunt Virginia [Cartwright Hamilton] had struggled with her thyroid levels, I was not aware that this was a problem that had affected other members of the family. I am not even sure that I knew that my father Billy had experienced thyroid deficiency. Although I am far from being an expert on this kind of medical issue, I do know that there are multiple reasons why any of us might have thyroid issues. Genetic  inheritance is one contributing factor, but not the only one.

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About mcartwright1957

I am a member of the senior administrative team at the University of Indianapolis where I have served since 1996. I am married to Mary Wilder Cartwright. We are the parents of four children: Hannah, Erin, James, and Bethany. I currently live in Nashville, IN.
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4 Responses to Question of the Week for January 18, 2015

  1. Michael G. Cartwright says:

    My mother-in-law recently died. As it happened, we hauled the last load of stuff away from her house on New Year’s Eve. Although the provisions of the trust for ImoJean Wilder are still being carried out, the physical possessions of the household that she and Bill Wilder established in 1950 were dispersed by the end of 2014. I took several truck loads to Goodwill and took two loads to the local landfill in addition to the various U-Hauls that her four children drove away from her house in Indianapolis to their several homes around the USA.

    By contrast, I remember my three siblings and I standing in the small living room of my mother’s house looking at a small pile of things the night following Daddy’s funeral on Feb. 6, 1998. In addition to a few boxes (including a shirt that I had given him for Christmas a year or so before that he had never opened), there was a small briefcase with his “papers” that I took away as the greater part of my share of the inheritance along with some books and sermon notes.

    In a letter to me the previous year, Daddy had specified that I was to take care of these materials because they were valuable. He actually believed that some day his ramblings would be published and he wanted my sisters and brother and I to receive the proceeds from the publications. Alas, this is one of the occasions when his mental illness seems to have been operating more than anything that was anchored in the realities of everyday life.

    Daddy had moved around so much over the years that most of what he had owned at one time or another was long gone. For example, the Springfield single-shot .22 calibre rifle (which he had once given to me when I was 15 years old) had long ago been pawned to help pay some of his debts. (I was tempted to look for it the day that I visited Gary Blige’s pawn shop and museum, but I resisted the temptation.) Ditto with respect to the M-1 Carbine and the Bow he used to hunt deer

    The inventory of what I have collected from Cartwright family history.amounts to this: two volumes of Jess’s sermon notes; a couple of volumes of Daddy’s own sermon notes; the one-volume Bible commentary (Zondervan) that Jess sent away for in the 1940s; several volumes of biblical commentaries that still Daddy had in his possession when he died; and the briefcase (from his days of selling insurance for Bankers Life and Casualty Company); one Indian tomahawk (all that remains of the various collections of arrow heads that Daddy had at different times over the course of his lifetime going back to his teenage years).

    I am still not sure what to do with the files of Daddy’s “papers” but I retained most of that material, discarding only the most obvious examples of his paranoid ravings. The piece that I go back to read most often these days, is the piece that he wrote about Jess for the Fall 1995 issue of the Scott County Historical and Genealogical Society’s Journal. (I will have more to say about those reflections another time.)

    Later it occurred to me that what I had inherited might be thought of as the relics of an inter-generational conversation with Scripture. The more that I have thought about it, the more that I have become impressed by this legacy. Although I have a Ph.D. and have written quite a lot about topics like the uses of Scripture in Christian ethics, I do not presume that I have a superior knowledge of scripture than Daddy (who ultimately graduated from college after dropping out of high school) and Jess (who was literate but did not have a high school diploma). For that matter, I don’t presume that I am any wiser than any other Cartwright cousins most of whom I think are themselves active disciples of Jesus Christ.

    As for the future, it remains to be seen what the next generation of Wilder-Cartwrights will do with this multigenerational set of Christian conversations with scripture. One thing I know that we all agree about — I have 10-12 years to get rid of a lot of stuff so that Hannah, Erin, Jamie, and Bethany won’t have to spend so much time determining what to throw away and what to keep!


  2. Michael G. Cartwright says:

    One other item that I have in my “collection” of Cartwright memorabilia is a gift that Daddy gave me back in 1975. It is a trophy — of sorts. He occasion for the gift was my graduation from Northside High School in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

    Daddy took an award that he had received from Bankers Life & Casualty Company. The figure at the top of the trophy is the image of a salesman with his briefcase positioned resting against one leg at his feet. Daddy glued the emblem of the high school over the gold plate where his own recognition had been named, and he carved the words “The Truth” in the place on the wooden base of the trophy where a name plate with his name had been placed.

    I don’t recall thinking much about it for many years. I kept it though, and at different times it has meant different things to me. I am not sure I will ever be able to locate what may have been in Daddy’s mind on that occasion. For that matter, I am not always sure that I can identify the ways that he and I shared a quest for “The Truth,” but I take it that it was a gesture in his pride in me as his first-born son, and that is no small thing to have and to hold.

    In truth, as I can still hear Uncle MC say in his rasping voice, for better or worse, I am “Billy’s boy, Michael.”


  3. Paul Cartwright says:

    Michael: I know we have one of Grandma Millie’s Teapots, Years ago at aunt Virginia’s wake someone gave our mother Mary a recipe book. It had one of Millies recipes in it that I treasure


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