March 6, 2015

O'Ella J. Meek Pile - Daughter of Hiram Meek

Hiram Meek, of Mark Township, Defiance County, Ohio was spoken of in an earlier post, but I've chosen to expand his history by adding some information on a few of his children, a few of whom became exceptionally successful in their careers.  Hiram was an uncle to grandmother, Emily Meek, so the children were her cousins.

First O'Ella Meek, who was known for her work in education. She and her cousin, Emily, were both teachers in Defiance County in their younger years.

Hiram's oldest daughter was O'Ella Josephine Meek, born on March 17, 1858, in Defiance County, Ohio.  In her early childhood years, her father was off, fighting for the Union in the Civil War.  Her mother, Mary Usk Batchelor Meek held the family together during those times.  When Ella was just a few days shy of 25, on March 15, 1883, she married another young educator, James Madison Pile. It is unknown how they met, as James was teaching Chicago, but it was probably through her brother, Seth..

The account of their wedding appeared in the Hicksville News-Tribune:
"From Six Corners - Married at the residence of the bride's parents on last Thursday evening at 7 o'clock, Mr. J. M. Pile and Miss O'Ella Meek.  The ceremony was performed by Rev. J. W. Lilly, in the presence of about fifty invited guests.  A short time after congratulations, lunch was served, which everybody present seemed to enjoy.  The following is a list of their presents:
Mr. Hiram Meek, father of the bride, gold watch and chain.
Mrs. Hiram Meek, mother of the bride, one hundred dollars in gold and a Domestic sewing machine.
Mr. R. F. Kerr and wife, E. W. Crook and wife, and Willard Jeffries, an upholstered easy chair.
Mr and Mrs. F. M. Thompson and I. E. Griffin,handsome tea set.
Mr. and Mrs. B. F. Willet, silver sugar bowl.
Mr. H. R. Bloomfield and Miss Nettie Bunnel, silver cake basket.
Miss Allie Taylor, of Bedford, Iowa, silver pie knife.
Mr. T. C. Batchelor, of Vernon, Indiana, set of silver knives and forks.
Mr. E. M. Bildelbrek, silver pickle castor.
Miss Almeda Platter, silver pie knife.
Mr. Will Cory, toilet set.
Miss Lida Olds(?), pair linen towels.
Miss Sadie Climo and Miss Kittie Meek, glass set
Mr. and Mrs. A. Goodin, shaving mug and candy apple
Miss Lillie Batchelor and Miss Carey Meek, bread plate.
Mr. J. M. Pile is a young man of excellent character.  He is at present Prof. of Mathematics in the Metropolitan College in Chicago, Ills.  The bride is well known in the county as one of our teachers.  The happy couple left on the night train for Bloomington, Indiana, to visit a few days with S. E. Meek, brother of the bride.  They will then go to Chicago, Ills. where they expect to reside in the future.  The best wishes of their numerous friends go with them."

In Illinois, O'Ella's first son was born, named Fred, in January 1884.  But as shown by the census in 1900, the next two children were born in Michigan in 1886 and 1889, and by 1900, they were in Nebraska.  The enumerator working in Wayne, Nebraska, found J. M. Pile, born Jan. 1858, born Kentucky, and married 18 years, with no occupation given.  O'Ella, his wife, had three children and all three survived: Fred, 16; Helen, 13; and James, 11.  Living with them were Anna Meek, O'Ella's sister, 28, single, and two cooks, Minnie Moran and Mary Ellison who perhaps worked at the school  connected with the Pile family.
James Madison Pile

In 1892, James Madison Pile, with the help of the citizens of Wayne, Nebraska, began the Wayne Normal School, with an eye to educating future teachers.  Later the college expanded its offerings to other fields.  Ella Meek Pile took an active role in educating the teachers and keeping up on current trends of the times in education.  In April 1895, she presented a lecture at the Northern Nebraska Teachers Association which met in Wayne, and in 1908, she was sent abroad with a group of teachers to study education in Europe.  

 Sadly, her husband's life was cut short on March 11, 1909.  The newspaper reports insinuated that his death was caused by his stress over borrowed funds for the college, however, they also said he suffered from jaundice.  In The Norfolk Weekly News-Journal, Norfolk, Nebraska on March 12, 1909, J. M. Pile's obituary appeared, which elaborated on the beginnings of the college:

Issuing 40,000 Worth of Bonds Two Years Ago, Prof. Pile Allowed the Debt to Weigh Heavily Upon HIm Until He Expired.

Wayne, Neb., March 11, Special to the News.
Professor J. M. Pile, professor and founder of the Wayne Normal College of this city, and one of the best known educators in the state, died at 11:00 o'clock this morning after a year's illness with yellow jaundice.

The news of the death was a great shock to the entire community and will be to all of northern Nebraska, where he was held in high esteem.  

Professor Pile came to Wayne in 1891 and started the normal school which grew into magnificient proportions.  The citizens of Wayne formed a company to back the school.  They bought eighty acres of land,platted it into town lots, sold the lots out at $25 each and with the proceeds, paid for the land and then turned the surplus over to Pile as a fund with which to start the college.  He agreed to maintain an educational institution and at the end of ten years, the property became his.

He has added mroe than $170,000 in improvements since that time, so that the institution is worth over $200,000 today.

Worried Himself to Death.
Two years ago Mr. Pile floated $40,000 of ten year 5 per cent bonds with which to add a new building.  He built a building costing $50,000.  Wayne citizens took these bonds. It is confidently believed that the weight of this new debt, which worried Mr. Pile very greatly, ultimately caused his death.

Among the pioneer citizens who formed the company years ago,making it possible for Mr. Pile to start the school here: A. L. Tucker, D. C. Main, John T. Bressler, Dan Harringto, R. Phileo, D. R. Theobold, A. J. Ferguson, A. A. Welch.  Recently, Mr. Pile started an agricultural school at the college. He dies leaving a splendid college, with fine buildings, four large dormitories, a residence that cost about $7000, thoroughbred stock and expansive grounds.  

The Wayne Normal College will stand for all time as a fitting monument to the constructive, persevering and unending efforts of a man of large mind and ability.  Mr. Pile was feeling well day before yesterday, though confined to his bed.  His friends hoped against hope for his recovery, though the physicians never really had any hope of his recovery, it is believed. 

School Offered To State.
The Nebraska state legislature is at this very moment considering the purchase of the Wayne normal college to make it into a state normal college.  Its fitness is recognized by those who know the school.  The offer to the state was prompted by the heavy weight of the last bonded indebtedness, which proved fatal today.  Mrs. Pile and the family are here.  Mr. PIle was over fifty years of age.  Twenty years ago, J. M. Pile came to Norfolk to build a normal college. Norfolk business men at that time declined to back his enterprise, and he went to Wayne where he has erected a lasting and permanent normal college of genuine worth."
College archives
 James was buried in the Greenwood Cemetery, Wayne County, Nebraska.  

The next year, Ella was still in Wayne, Nebraska, living on Twelfth Street.  Ellen (Ella) M. Pile, 52, a widow who had been married 27 years, had her own income.  She lived with her two sons, Fred M., 26, single and teaching, and James H., 22, also single and teaching.  Ella was the head of a boarding house or dormitory which housed twelve other young men, probably near or on the college campus.  Her daughter, Helen, had married George R. Newton and they were found in the Rochester, New York census, married ten months.  George was working for the railroad.

A newspaper article on August 27, 1920 in a North Platte, Nebraska, paper helped place Ella, still in Nebraska.  I could not locate her on the census.
"Mrs. Ella Pile, who resigned her position as superintendent of the state reformatory for girls at York, gave as her reasons for leaving that the institution was unsanitary and facilities for its operation were inadequate."
Son, Fred, was enumerated in Salt Lake City, Utah, age 35, single and working as a teacher.
He graduated from the University of Utah in Commerce and Finance in May, and immediately took a teaching job at the Weber School, in Ogden, Utah for that year.  In 1921, he and his mother moved to Rochester, New York.

By the 1925 New York State Census, Ella and Fred were in Rochester, New York, near daughter/sister, Helen Newton and her family.  Ella was 58 (68) and listed herself as retired.  At the time of the census, Fred had no occupation,

In the 1930 census, Ella and Fred were renting a home/apartment for $60 a month on Thurston Road, in Rochester.  Ella, at 72, was not working, while Fred, 44 and single, was a principal at a public school.  Fred had experience in school administration as he had taken over as president of the Wayne Normal College/Nebraska Normal College for awhile after his father died and he was noted as the youngest normal school president in the state.

Ella Josephine Meek Pile died on July 31, 1936, and a brief obituary appeared in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on August 2:  
"PILE.  Mrs. Ella J. Pile, widow of James M. Pile, entered into rest Friday at her home, The Flanders Apartments, 440 Thurston Road.  She leaves two sons, Fred M. of Rochester, James H. Pile of Wayne, Nebraska, one daughter, Mrs. George R. Newton of Rochester, three sisters, Mrs. H. Hunton of Evanston, Ill., the Misses Anna and Kate Meek of Pasadena, California, also seven grandchildren.  The remains are resting at the Ashton Funeral Home...from where the funeral will be held Monday afternoon at 2 o'clock.  Burial at the convenience of the family."

Ella was taken back to Wayne, Nebraska, to be buried next to her husband, James.
 When her son, Fred, died in 1948 at the age of 64, he, too, was buried next to his parents.  Brief obituaries appeared in a number of upstate New York newspapers, and putting them together, we can piece together his life:

"Rochester.  Fred M. Pile, 64, school principal and former president of Nebraska Normal College of Wayne, Neb., died last night in Highland Hospital after an illness of three months."

"Pile joined the Rochester school system in 1921, heading several schools.  He was the principal of School 21 at the time of his death."

"Pile was born in Chicago. After graduation from the University of Utah, he became president of the Nebraska Normal College which his father had founded."

Son, James H. Pile (1888-1945) and his spouse, Mildred Rhea Cheney Pile (1895 - 1985) and their child, Cooper Eugene Pile (1935 - 1985) were also buried close by.


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