LeBlanc Printers

Mike and I have subscription tickets to the Colorado Symphony and we had a concert on Saturday evening. Our usual route to the Denver Performing Arts Complex was unavailable due to numerous street closures for a zombie crawl. We had to detour around most of downtown Denver and found ourselves traveling west toward Speer Boulevard on 13th Avenue. As we passed the Denver Public Library and crossed Bannock Street I was reminded of my idea to do some research at DPL about the property on Bannock that housed LeBlanc Printers. At the same time I was well aware of the difficulties (traffic) of getting myself in place to do that research. Therefore, I decided to forge ahead with my story. If and when I get to DPL I will add the information that I discover there.

George's business card

George’s business card

George’s business card is one of those little treasures from the Black Box. It is interesting, additionally, for the phone number and the postal zone number. I remember when the phone numbers began with a word, like “Keystone” in this number. The K and E are capitalized because you dialed those two letters. So 53-3432 Later another number was added. An example from my memory is PEarl 3-5175 or 733-5175. That was Grandpa and Grandma’s home phone number in 1955. The postal zones were to help route mail in larger cities. ZIP codes extended this idea to all addresses and ZIP stands for Zone Improvement Plan. So there is a bit of cultural history for you.

When George bought LeBlanc Printers, I believe that it was housed within or close to Autrey Brothers which was in what we now call LoDo or Lower Downtown. I remember that business as one that supplied graduation gowns and caps as well as diplomas and announcements. This was before the throw-away variety of graduation garb. Uncle John David may be able to add some information here, but as I remember hearing, there was some reason for relocating the printing business and that was done to 1066 Bannock which was a Victorian-style house. Shop space was added on between the house and the alley. The building permit for that addition is one of the things I want to see if I can find. The house and the shop have been replaced by a larger building that extends for most of the block.

Anyway, I remember going to kindergarten in a school that was just a few steps away from “the print shop” at 11th and Acoma. I was in the afternoon class so Mom would take me because she didn’t want me crossing Speer Boulevard by myself and then after school I would go to the shop to wait for her to come pick me up. I was doing this because the kindergarten in our neighborhood was full. It seemed like heaven to walk into the door that opened off the alley, smell the wonderful aroma of printer’s ink and get scraps of paper to play with. I remember that there were steps that went up from the shop into what had been the house. I can’t remember ever going into the house part.

Thanksgiving 1950, 1066 Bannock, Denver

Thanksgiving in the Print Shop, c.1948, 

You will want to know who these folks are and I want to tell you. If we start on the left, that girl is Ruth Cutrell,. Next to her is Dorothy Stutzman Cutrell though her face is obscured. Then there is Kathy Cutrell and we can see Dick’s head above Dorothy’s. Gail Keck Cutrell is next and we see Paul Holdeman and then Sam Cutrell. On the end is Dorothy and Poily’s younger sister, Evelyn Stutzman with Polly next and Orie beside her though all we see is his forehead. Little Jim is next and then Janet Cutrell and Mel Yost. Around the corner is Sylvia and Enos Stutzman, parents of the Stutzman girls. George sits at the end and Frances  has her back to the camera as does John David. The photographer’s place is visible between John and Ruth and I assume he was Ben. I also assume that Helen was working somewhere as a nurse. I have this photo labeled as 1950 but that cannot be correct. In November 1950, my parents and I were in Gulfport, Mississippi. I will let John David weigh in on the date.


New Idea

It is time to tell about George’s life in Denver. And I have been thinking about how to organize that. John David told me about how Anne, at one point, was researching building permits at Denver Public Library. He wondered about the permit to add onto the building at 1066 Bannock. So I did a little poking around on the DPL website and I think that line of investigation could be very interesting. I will need to go to Denver and spend a day or two in library. So that is what I am up to. Stay tuned. 

Leaving Scottdale

Sometime before the end of 1944 George began to formulate a plan for his retirement. I think that the idea was to buy a printing business, run it and improve it for a while and then sell it and retire on the proceeds. So George perused the ads in printing industry magazines for a candidate for purchase. He answered an ad that, apparently, didn’t specify the location of the business in question. It happened to be in Denver, Colorado and was LeBlanc Printers.

My dad, Paul, says that the fact that the Mennonites had a mission church in Denver was attractive to George. I am not willing to argue that point but I would add that George’s ties to Colorado through his Gilliland relatives might have made Denver additionally attractive.

I don’t know all the ins and outs of the purchase but I know that George ended his employment at the Publishing House at the end of 1944. By February the house at 823 Market Street had been sold.

Ad that appeared in the Connellsville Courier on Saturday,  January 20, 1945.

Ad that appeared in the Connellsville Daily Courier on Saturday, January 20, 1945.

In the meantime there were a couple of weddings to accomplish. Dick married Gail Ruth Keck on November 7, 1944. Gail was the second to youngest of five daughters of Henry Mehrl Keck and his wife Jessie Frances Silvis Keck. Mr. Keck was a businessman who was listed in the 1940 Federal census as the “boss” in a ‘bottling company.”  I remember hearing stories of how Dick, during his courtship of Gail, would bring home cases of carbonated drinks from the Kecks’ business.

George, Gail Keck Cutrell, G. Richard Cutrell, Frances, November 7, 1944

George, Gail Keck Cutrell, G. Richard Cutrell, Frances, November 7, 1944

Dick and Gail's wedding. November 7, 1944

Dick and Gail’s wedding. November 7, 1944

You will notice that Dick is wearing the uniform of a lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers. He had enlisted in April of 1943 and went on to serve until March of 1946. It is interesting to me to also note that he withdrew his membership in Scottdale Mennonite Church in June of 1950. His parents stood by him in his decision to go against the pacifist teaching of the Mennonite Church. I don’t know if that was reason enough for the church to refrain from formally excommunicating him. But according to the record, he was not. Gail, for all her wealth and fashion, was, in my personal experience, a warm and kind person. She went to Colorado with the Cutrell family and she and Dick lived in Denver after Dick’s discharge.

The other wedding was that of Ben to Dorothy L. Stutzman in December of 1944. Dorothy was also from a family of daughters–three in this case. Her sister, Pauline married Orie in June of 1945. Both of these aunts of mine are still living so I’ll not tell their stories until they can no longer defend themselves. I will just say that they are the daughters of Enos Stutzman and his wife Sylvia Wittmer Stutzman. The Stutzmans were living in Ohio at the time their daughters married into the Cutrell family but they then went to Denver, where I knew them as a child.

When the big move happened Ben and Dorothy drove the car to Colorado on war-rationed tires, which I understand made traveling by car a very interesting proposition in those days. The rest of the family and their household goods went by train. My mother, Helen, was already in Colorado, learning to be a nurse in LaJunta.

George’s uncle, Sam Gilliland, known to the family forever after as “M’uncle,” was in real estate and found them a spacious house at 1314 Downing Street. In the end it really wasn’t spacious because with housing in short supply due to the war, it was divided into “apartments.” My parents, after their marriage, occupied one room, carrying water from the shared bathroom for cooking and dishwashing. That was my first home as an infant. Anyway, there were beds in the dining room and kitchen to accommodate all the children. Janet was 16 at the time of the move, Sam, 14, Ruth, 11 and John David was seven. It is likely putting it mildly to say that a whole new world opened up to George’s family with this move.

1314 Downing, Denver, CO

1314 Downing, Denver, CO

George’s Work

linotype machine MPH

Linotype machine, Mennonite Publishing House, 1940

Trimmer MPH 1040

Trimmer, MPH, 1940

Folding machine MPH 1940

Folding machine, MPH, 1940

Addressing periodicals MPH 1940

Addressing periodicals, MPH, 1940

in 1998 Priscilla and I made a scrapbook for Paul and Helen’s 50th wedding anniversary. Many of the photos I have used to illustrate this blog are in the first volume of the three that we ended up making. I am including these here because Mom said that this was how she remembered the Publishing House during the time she was growing up in Scottdale. Helen graduated from Scottdale High School in 1943. I assume that Ben graduated in 1941, Dick in 1939 and Orie in 1936 or 37.

I don’t know very much about what Helen’s older brothers did following high school. I do know that Ben attended and graduated from Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh. In the black box there is a copy of a contract between Ben and the Publishing House for a loan to pay for Ben’s studies at Carnegie Tech. The agreement was that the loan, principal and interest, would be forgiven if he came to work for the Publishing House. That paper is dated January 4, 1943. Ben, in an interview conducted by Leonard Gross in Goshen in 1991 of the three living publishers who had or were serving the Mennonite Publishing House, told how D.K. Kauffman, despite his reputation for being authoritarian and legalistic, advised him not to worry about wearing a tie at Eastern Mennonite College when he went there. So I have assumed that Ben did not go to Carnegie directly out of high school. I also know that Dick went to Goshen for a while until he had a run-in with the authorities there. I don’t know much in the way of details about that nor do I know what further schooling he got.

My point is that George proposed the same scheme to Helen that he had proposed to Daisy. That was that he would advance her the money for her education and then use the money she paid back to help the younger siblings. I don’t know if the older brothers were offered this and if they were, what their participation in the scheme might have been. Helen paid back all of the money that she got to attend first Goshen College and then LaJunta Mennonite Hospital School of Nursing in LaJunta, Colorado.

Another project that George undertook was the building of a house for his widowed sister-in-law. Ivan Keim had married Mary Katherine Szwed in 1931. They had a son, Richard Ivan in 1932 and “Mae” was pregnant when Ivan died of his chronic nephritis in March of 1935. A daughter, Shirley Mae, was born in May. Helen told me that George got money from Aaron Loucks to build a small house for Mae and her children. Helen didn’t know just how it worked but she was under the impression that George utilized some provision in David Keim’s will to pay for the house. I have now seen David Keim’s will and the provision was that Ivan be treated equally with the sons and daughters of [his] first wife and to have “a guardian appointed to take care of the money which he is to put at interest till the son is eighteen years of age then pay it to my son Ivan R. Keim.”

I have no evidence, no information, that tells us explicitly who the appointed guardian was but if Helen had good information we might assume it was Aaron Loucks. And if Aaron put the money “at interest” he might have loaned it to himself so that there was still an amount that hadn’t been paid when Ivan reached the age of eighteen. Interestingly, the will had a provision for paying this share to Lillian if Ivan did not outlive her. Anyway, the question in my mind is what exactly was the arrangement? It would be interesting to know. And would knowing give us some clue about the nature of the “irregularities” that ended Aaron Loucks’ long association with the Mennonite Publishing House?

Mae Keim's house under construction, Scottdale, PA

Mae Keim’s house under construction, Scottdale, PA On the back of this photo is written: “May Keim’s house under construction Market & Duboise, Scottdale Pa .Built by George Cutrell”

Mae Keim's house, 2010

Mae Keim’s house, 2010 The roofline seems to have been changed.

In the event, Ivan didn’t outlive his mother. Lillian died March 15, 1936. Mae Keim died in 2000. Dick Keim sold her house after she died.

Changes at the Publishing House

George and Frances in 1938.

George and Frances in 1938.

In the Mennonite Publication Board minutes for the meeting of August 22-23, 1935, there is a statement that due to “irregularities within the house,” A.J Metzler would be appointed as acting Manager. The Board also expresses appreciation “to Brother Aaron Loucks, the retiring Manager of the House.” This was the culmination of a crisis that had begun in May of the same year when Loucks was given a leave of absence until the next meeting of the Publication Board. The same statement that announced this leave of absence also stated that “All other employees [are] to continue” and it recommended that employees comply with standards and policies, and that there be a “general confessing of their errors in the past, and a forgiving one of another and that a greater care be exercised in manifesting a Christian spirit of charity and helpfulness, that the name of Christ ….” (Apparently I thought that was enough of that quote. That’s all I have in my notes.)

In June of 1935 the Board minutes say that “Brother Aaron Loucks’ standing in the church is in question.” And the reader is referred to Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution. That Section is about qualifications for employment as an officer as well as for holding a seat on the Publication Board. It states “Members of the Board, as well as officers of the House, shall be members in full standing in the Mennonite Church, in full harmony with its doctrines and standards of life, and otherwise qualified to perform the duties of the position to which they are chosen.”

I have tried to find out more about what those “irregularities” might have been but have not been able to uncover any further information. I was told, at the Mennonite Archives in Goshen, that Aaron Loucks burned almost all of his papers, including those that related to his management of the Publishing House. The file that contains what papers are left is very thin indeed for a person who had managed the church publishing effort for almost 30 years. There is no mention of any irregularities in the article Paul Erb wrote that is published online. (Erb, Paul. “Loucks, Aaron (1864-1945).” Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953.) At 71, it was pretty easy to pass Loucks’ departure off as “retirement.” But it seems clear to me, that he was removed. A committee ran the Publishing House from May 1935 until A. J. Metzler took over in July of that year. And Metzler was pastor at Masontown, Pennsylvania when he was called to serve at the Publishing House. His previous management experience was as plant superintendent at the C.H. Mussleman Company in West Virginia. (If you are thinking apples, you are right.) If Loucks’ retirement was anticipated, why was his successor not already chosen and learning the ropes?

The call for “general confessing of errors” chills my heart. I can imagine how difficult it might have been for someone, who, though not an officer, was dependent on the Publishing House for employment to support a wife and seven children, to deal with a situation in which, no doubt, many were looking at others with suspicion. I know, too, that the behavior of one’s children can be seen as a sign of one’s rightness with God. What kind of pressure might this have put on George, Frances and their children? When appearances might be considered more important that love and compassion?

This, for me, is the difficult part of George’s story. These events seem momentous to me but there is so little to go on. We could gloss over this chapter but it seems critical to at least try to examine it if we really want to know what made George tick. We may have to content ourselves with looking at how George’s life unfolded from here bearing these events in mind.


If you are on Facebook, you may know that we here at Sunnybank, have been helping Dad (Paul) deal with his new health issues. He has had so few of these in his almost 91 years that he has had a very hard time knowing how to even describe how he is feeling. Since he has seen the cardiologist, with whom he was impressed and satisfied, he has been taking some medication that has begun helping to alleviate his symptoms. Even now he has a hard time knowing what is going on.  He commented today, when Priscilla and I asked him if it was easier to put his shoes on, that he didn’t know if it was actually easier or if he was just getting used to how it was. A quick check by his nurses confirmed that the edema in his ankles and feet is much less.

I am accustomed to interpreting Dad’s behavior in terms of my perceptions of who he is, what I think his attitudes are and how he apparently sees the world. I want to say that through this experience, I find that I have been right sometimes but wrong many more times. Some of my mistakes are only a little bit off from the truth but others are widely off the mark.

I have lived with my dad for many more years than most grown children because we have shared the same living space since 1988–27 years now. If anyone would know their parent, one would think that that person would be me. So I want to encourage everyone who reads this to remain curious about the folks you are interacting with. You may not know them as well as you think. And there may be some surprising gifts in it for you if you just remain curious.

So now that things have settled down, I will be writing about Grandpa’s life once again. Thanks for waiting.

Meanwhile and Elsewhere

It is time to catch up with the Hernleys and Mausts. Daisy Catherine Hernley was born in 1925 and Martha Eileen Hernley in 1927. Laura Jane Maust was born in 1928. Her brothers, Harry Leroy, Jr. (September 8, 1930 and known as “Tudd”) and James Cutrell Maust (December 19, 1933) were the last grandchildren born to Lillian Keim while she lived.

So to give a picture of the nieces and nephews that George had in Scottdale, there were five Hernley nieces, two of which were hearing impaired. There was one nephew, H. Ralph Hernley in that family. Mary and Harry Maust had four sons and three daughters but in 1929, their second son, Clinton, died of “Bright’s disease” or what we would now call chronic nephritis. He was 10 years old.

Apparently, Ivan Keim had similar health issues. He also died of chronic nephritis but not until he was 25. I have put together a sketchy timeline from some papers that were in the steel box. Most of these refer to Lillian but I am not sure how much of this was for Lillian’s own benefit and how much of the expense was for Ivan.

In September 1925, Aaron Loucks loaned Lillian $100 for one year at 6% interest. I have checked going rates for interest at that time and this is pretty reasonable for an unsecured loan. No mention of collateral is made. Loucks kept a record of the payments he received on the back of the note. He received the interest for that year on March 4, 1927 and the interest for an extension to September 1927 in July 1927. Repayment of the principal in August of 1927 and by December of that year $70 had been repaid. The remainder of the principal and additional interest was paid in February 1928.

Now to speculate on what that money was spent on. There is a statement, dated December 1, 1925, from Hamilton Sanitarium in Greensburg, Pennsylvania for $20 for 10 “treatments,” Another statement, dated February of 1926 is for $30. Handwritten in pencil is: “$3 on Ivan’s treatments $27 on Mother’s.” There is also a letter, dated January 25, 1926, from the business manager of Eastern Mennonite School in Harrisonburg, Virginia giving Lillian an accounting of  what she owed for a stay in November. Then on December 31, 1926 there is a bill for $2.75 for services rendered by Dr. James P. Strickler in Scottdale. Next, there is is a statement from C.N Dewey, “Electric, Osteopathic and Magnetic Masseur” who also promises “Perfect Health Through Perfect Circulation. On June 25, 1927 Dr. Dewey issued a statement that acknowledged payment received. The cost of his services rendered was $14 which he discounted by 50%. This must have been in response to a letter from George written on January 15, 1927. I am going to give you the entire text of this letter.

823 Market St Scottdale Pa Jan 15 1927
C.N. Dewey Harrisonburg Va
Dear Sir: Your bill to mother–Mrs L.A. Keim–has been forwarded to me, as I have been looking after her accounts.  At present I have not enough funds with which to pay this account.
We have had a lot of expense with her since she has been in Virginia and am not able to pay the entire bill our of my own funds. If you are willing to take 50% of it & give me a receipt in full I will mail you a check at once, otherwise I will have to ask you to wait till she is able to earn again if she ever will be. At present we are not able to meet all of her daily expense as she is in a hospital, and will be indefinitely. Please let me know your wishes in the matter.
Geo. W. Cutrell

The letter George wrote to Dr. Dewey.

The letter George wrote to Dr. Dewey.

Written in red pencil at the bottom of this letter is: “This will be all right. Just send the 1/2 of amount and I will send receipted statement. C.N.D.

Also in the steel box are carefully kept accounts of what money was spent and received on behalf of Lillian. I won’t try to reproduce these but just say that all of these bills appear in the “Paid Out” column and In the “Received” column are amounts from “Fred” and “Mother,” I assume from this that George handled Lillian’s accounts even after she was able to earn again and that Uncle Fred Gilliland contributed substantially to Lillian’s care.