Randy Titus had a lot of stuff and when he died, he left no biological children and was the last of his bloodline.He was loved …none the less …by many people in St Louis and is considered a genius level local Artist. His possessions that remained after his death, filled an apartment which he resided in for decades off South Grand. So, the landlord tossed most of his stuff away… legally as his loved ones took what mattered to them. Everything else was trash.It took the Landlord the better part of a year to empty all the stuff.
I was there a year after Randy’s death when he got around to the basement, already a fan at that point and I kept everything of sentimental value. I discovered two new paintings and his art teaching curriculum that day which is solid gold for me, but the family genealogy folder was really an odd find in a deeply strange rabbit hole. Here I had Randy’s words, his family history and memorabilia going back generations.How could I tell this story?A family line at an end. The only way I know how is too use the words written by the man himself and apply the process of BioMythographeology.
Brief Notes on my great Grandfather Bert Essex…by Randy Titus..
“I never met the man. He died around 1936 of diabetes. He was a haberdasher, had his own hat making company. Travelled around the world two or three times on buying trips (feathers and bangles for hat decor) He worked at least once as a Social Director on a ship, to help pay the way I assume. He collected many interesting items and sent them back to my hometown of Indianapolis.”
Some of the items included in Randy’s prose include those that inspired him:
- Musical instruments from China and Japan
- An actual hammerhead shark that hung in my grandparents basement.approx 4-5 feet in length),
- Framed six foot silk screens, and smaller silk embroideries (50″ framed sets of lions and tigers).
- swords from the middle east, daggars, opium pipe,
- tourist costume jewelry from the opening of King Tut’s tomb (1927).
- cloisonne enameled pieces.I have always loved and now own and collect in those brief moments when I can afford the older technique versus the modern cloisenne.
My father told me that one of the wildest events in his (Norman’s) life was his father Clyde not allowing dad to go with his grandfather Bert around the world…because he would lose a year of school. Dad never forgave his father for that. Bert sent him a full sized rickshaw (Japanese foot taxi), which is in the collection of The Indianapolis Children’s Museum.
Later in life, he moved from Franklin Indiana to Indianapolis and built a hotel for actors and actresses and musicians that came through town.. He also lived in a incorporated little Victorian suburb of Indy just five minutes from the center of town now, but fifteen minutes by carriage in 1911) The area three blocks by two blocks, was beautiful and remained it’s own little three block city until 1961 when Indianapolis forced it to become part of the larger city, by threatening to not supply fire and police protection. He built an 18 unit apartment building there, and his private home. His home was built from formed 15″ concrete (Just beginning to be used in construction, rarely in residential homes).
My grandparents also lived in Woodruff Place and my father was raised there among the esplanades and six fountains and numerous statues, also spent many happy weekends there myself as a child amid my grandmother’s Indian relies and musical Instruments, and all those wonderful things from Bert’s trips.
My interest in music and percussion in particular comes from those years with Indian toms toms to beat on later purchased Bert’s house (not my grandparents house) and lived there for three years. (It was still a stoker coal furnace when I lived there, later I converted it to gas when I rented it out. But I can say I shoveled coal and lived with the rhythm of a coal baking home. My father ran the hotel for a number of years after retiring from the pharmaceutical sales business. The hotel has been purchased and renovated.
April 7, 1967.
Mrs, Clyde E. Titus – 730 Middle Drive
Woodruff Lake, Indianapolis.
I received your letter and the separate enclousre of photographs, for which I am most grateful. I have been working on my family history for Five years now, and hope to get it up to date this year.
I can trace your line of descent through eleven generations of the Essex family, beginning with George Jacob Essig, born in Ottingen, Germany, about 1705 and his wife, Margaret, He was the father of Joseph Essig. These entries are taken from Joseph Essig’s Family bible, Martin Luther translation printed in 1751, which is now in my possession, having been given to me by my Grandmother, Miranda Caroline Essex Remy , who received it from her father, Thomas Essex, who received it from his father, John sex, who got it from Joseph Essig himself.
Mrs. Clyde E Titus – 736 Middle Drive Woodruff Place, Indianapolis, Indiana
Dear Mrs. Titus
It was an extreme pleasure meeting and speaking with you when I visited your home on January 23, 1965 In order to pick up the collection of American Indian and other materials which you so graciously donated to our Archives. We thank you for depositing this collection with us. It will add distinction to our holdings and be of great help to future researchers in American Music. (Folklore Institute – Indiana University.)
I would evaluate the materials you donated, which will be used for purely educational purposes, follows:
Fletcher, Alice C. Indian Story and Song from North American. Boston, 1907 Includes a copy of correspondence by Mrs. Titus with Alice Fletcher and the Editor of Musical America regarding Indian then used in the “Largo” section of Dvorak’s New World Symphony.
Jackson, Helen. A Century of Dishonor Boston, 1917.
Huckel, J. F. American Indians The First Families of the Southwest. (2nd edition Kansas City, Mo, 1920,
Croyli, George W. The Path on the Rainbow . The Book of Indian Poems. New York .1918………..