Mother and Father Cody carried on their own evangelical mission by starting a Gospel Church in a needy section of Cleveland. "Why were they so devout?" wonders Gertrude, and she recalls the epiphany that inspired her father. Mother Cody was equally dedicated and involved, together they started seven churches during their 65 years of marriage, while raising 9 children with help from the "Hard Man" and Aunt Becky. Lindus was a real estate developer and understood how necessary churches and schools were to stabilizing this "boom town".

Each of Gertrude's siblings are mentioned, all with their own talents, personality and career, as well as her school chums and William, the man who became her husband.


Fifth Avenue Home

No account of this branch of the Cody family would be com- plete without a small chapter concerning our life in the big "5th Avenue  House" — about sixty blocks from Cleveland City Public Square.  It  was also eight blocks from the Gospel Church on Central Avenue, which Father Cody had been instrumental in building in an area in which Scotch, Welsh, and English immigrants were entering to  find homes. Father had deliberated long about leaving the con- ventional Congregational Church for which he had solicited the lot  and  had contributed toward its building. He wanted to start an Evangelical Missionary type of Church in a more needy neighborhood.


l wondered often to myself, "How come my father was so devout". As this story was about to go to the typist, a letter popped up  from those still "unread-in-the-trunk-ones" — and in my mother’s handwriting  she  told that when Father Cody was thirteen, his mother,


Harriet died. She had called her three boys to her bedside and told  them to be good Christians and join a church. Instead my father  joined up with a crew as a cabin boy on a lake steamer to Buffalo. He took on their "Evil Ways", even “card playing and dancing".  After he left the boat one Sunday evening, he happened to  go to church. The minister did not impress him but on his way home  (as he related to mother later), a voice spoke to him in the darkness. He stopped and said, "What is that"? The voice said, “Jesus  on the cross was dying for you, too." It brought a sudden great  joy to him. From that day he prayed with happiness in his heart.  He looked up his brother, Aldus, to tell him about this ex- perience. The two boys decided to join the Congregational Church of  East Cleveland. He met my mother at school and church. He was  living with one of the well-known Ford family in that district. They  noticed Lindus’ entire change of attitude, though he was too shy  to express his "experience" and conversion. He thought maybe he  should give up "girl friends" also, but it appears that after seeing  my mother, he began to think of a home of his own. So on October 16, 1861 they were married and both became devout "followers of the Master of love and joy". They moved into the home built by his father near where the giant Sears complex of stores stand now.

We used to tell a joke on Father, how for the first years in the  Gospel Church he passed the plate at Sunday Service and Mother  put in the envelope which contained the minister’s salary. This  church grew very fast. One reason was that a group held out- door meetings at corners near the church, prior to the evening service.  At these meetings we sang hymns and a few gave testi- monies of the power of God in our lives. How well I can remember Father’s nudge in my side if there was a pause and no one was ready to praise God. My older sister and I had to step forward and ex- plain  in our childish voices why we should all follow the Saviour. New  people would gather around these groups and follow us to the  Gospel Church. I think my training for public speaking began there  and culminated after college in a few story programs I gave in  Chautauqua Institution, New York, and also in many little needy churches in Ohio where talent and ministers were lacking. It led to my  organizing a Speakers Bureau for the Federation of Churches of Cleveland; I found speakers and took requests to be filled.

At the new 5th Avenue Home, a sixteen-room house, we had great family gatherings. I was born there eighty-nine years ago. We had a barn and horses and carriages and a cow, which necessitat- ed  having  a  hired  man  who  had  quarters in the second story of the


barn. I can remember standing by his eating table in the family kitchen,  begging him to make one more doll bed for another new doll,  so that I had proper sleeping places for my big doll family. Mother  Cody, who presided over her family of nine children, was a  supreme being. She made each one of us feel that we were her very best child. When an older sister died, leaving three children, one just  ready for college, Mother folded them to herself and the rest of  us.  She and Father helped the eldest of these grandchildren, Dr.  Cody Marsh, through Gambier and his ministerial course, then later through Medical College. He graduated from Gambier Bexley Hall  Ministerial course and Albany, New York, Medical College. He was Captain of Red Cross in expeditionary Forces in Vladivastok during the First World War. When Dr. Cody Marsh, as a Red Cross worker in the 1st World War, was about to leave Vladivastok he went  to the steamer where American soldiers were embarking. There  he saw a pitiful picture which should be written in the brain of  everyone in our so-called civilized world. On the wharf were native  girls, clutching their bag of clothing, looking eagerly for the man  with whom they had slept, and who had promised to take her to  his homeland. After the steamer left, the huddled women sat reaching their arms toward the departing "exploiters".

How tactful Mother Cody was with our variously chosen call- ings. She soon found our talents and encouraged schooling suited to  each. Grace, who chose to go to Cleveland School of Art and to  Summer Art Colonies, became interested in Girl Scouting and taught them her art in many clubs. She became head worker of Varick  House in New York City, but when our parents came to old age  and needed care, Grace resigned her position in New York and went to Florida to take over the burden of their long illness and of the  large property, mostly of groves of oranges and grapefruit which my father had developed, After father Cody’s last lingering illness and  death, Grace brought Mother to Cleveland for his funeral service at the Gospel Church among his beloved friends. The only com- plaint  we ever heard Mother give to our Father was in their early life  in  a small town church Father was promoting. She said, "You go  to Prayer Meeting while I must stay with the children. You take home those "Sisters" afterward and I don’t like the looks of it. People  will talk". Father said, "Would vou want them to go home in  unlighted streets when they are so faithful in prayer?" Father started  seven churches in his life span. On Sunday mornings at the 5th Avenue Home, the hired man took two loads of our family to church  in the Victoria carriage, and three loads back, because the Ministers and wives came for Sunday dinner.


Mother was adored by the people of the Gospel Church. She  was a queen, though a small one too, among them. She would put on receptions for the whole congregation at our home. Mother was  a collector of old religious magazines and newspapers, in fact any  reading material, hoping someday to find time to read. (We found  three newspaper copies of Lincoln’s assassination among them, after Mother’s passing.) Father had a real estate office at home with  a  big iron stove around which his business deals were closed. When we were about to entertain the whole church, Mother and all  of  us dumped this great collection of magazines and newspapers in Father’s office to make room for the crowd of English, Scotch and  several other nationalities who attended our church.

Mother always kept a cook or family servant, and we all at home  also pitched in to work. At one time servants were scarce and  that was when Aunt Becky arrived suddenly one morning. Word  reached Becky through the mother of a friend of mine (Mrs. Barder) that frail little Mrs. Cody was without help. Besides our house  there was a lane leading to a streetcar. Becky always came talking. We heard her in the lane, “Got to get here to help Miss Cody.  She needs me. Dat Mr. Cody, he sure needs me to do his shirts". She went to our basement and began on the washing and came upstairs talking about our failure as housekeepers and began to  clean. We had not sought her. She just came in with no dis- cussion  of wages at all. She could not read or write, but she was very  proud and sometimes defiant like the white Southern Colonel, her  father. She was his child by his wife’s negro "nanny". “Aunt" Becky  was independent and often stayed away when it suited her, but  arrived shuffling down the lane talking about our weaknesses or the ones she liked the most. On occasions when we had guests, she  brought forth her own kind of special graciousness and formality. She ruled our household and when rebuked, she took it out on banging  pots and pans as she did the dishes. Mother held onto Becky  because father said, “There’s no servant waits on me like Aunt Becky!" lf we got a second girl, and Becky arrived in the kitchen, her  black eyes flashing, with an expression "This is my place," the second girl soon disappeared.

One day she brought her grandson, Juanita’s boy, because his  school was closed and his mother was out working. She put him in  her third floor attic room, which she heated by an iron Franklin stove. We soon smelled smoke. He had made a fire in that stove and  when kindling gave out, he just put in Aunt Becky’s new waist and  stockings. Juanita’s boy went out the back door, clutched by his  ear  and  a  switch  at his rear.  In later years Juanita’s boy married


an ltalian girl and they had very intelligent, educated children. Aunt Becky’s devotion to our family over 55 years was so appreciated that  when a necessary operation in the hospital came, it was followed by a recuperation in the guest room of the family home.

When  Aunt Becky died, her two daughters arranged for a burial  and casket from the undertaker. When they all arrived at the ceremony by the graveside, Sister Grace, who often directed Aunt Becky’s family doings and who took her to Florida one winter to help  care for our parents, was the only one available to represent the  family. Suddenly, they all realized one item had been omitted: no  minister had been engaged, and the undertaker shook his head. Sister Grace came forward, made a little speech about Aunt Becky and led in prayer. We all loved Grace a little more than usual after  that. She was an artist and not one of the speech-making Cody  type.

Another point of interest about the Fifth Avenue Home was the  Guernsey Cow which was kept in a big barn back of our house and cared for by the "Hard Man”’ as we called our hired man. l re- call  my mother skimming the rich cream from the large pans of milk, which were standing in the cold pantry, where the deep shelves ac- commodated the larger pans. When spring came, there was the problem of getting the cow to our Lake Shore Home out about 12 miles from our city home — called Beaula Park. My two older brothers,  about 15 to 18 years and the hired man drove, pushed, coaxed, pulled and switched the cow down our back lane to the main  road. They had to cross the Collinwood Yards where trains were  kept in the Round House — and where a maze of tracks were going in circles and straight out to other cities. lt was a job to hurry the  cow across that train yard at a time when no engine would be backing out of the Round House. We followed at a distance in the carriage so as to bring the boys home. l can still feel the terror l felt  lest the cow would suddenly bolt in fear of the engines. Of course  she bellowed a lot in protest! She was then left at the summer  home to bring her calf into the world in the fall months and  a  new “fresh cow" came to the Fifth Avenue Home. lt is as vivid  today as it was to my childhood years. That was about the year  1891 or 1892. l was born in 1885.

When l was in the third or fourth grade of Sibley School — and  living at the Fifth Avenue Home — l met a little girl my age. Her  mother was a doctor and was looking for a chum or close friend for her little girl, an only child. She came to school and looked over  the  "possibilities"  and  chose  me.   Quite  often  I was invited to


spend the night at the Merrick home which was across the street from the very large, spacious grounds and home of the Rockefeller Family. One night my little friend said, ’“We will go to Prayer Meeting tonight at the nearby Baptist Church". Since l had been brought up on Prayer  Meetings, l consented. lt seemed to me that we stayed on our  knees a long time, leaning on the hard wood seats. When we arose, my friend said to the man next to me, "Mr. Rockefeller I  want  you to  meet  my   school-mate   friend."   I  shook  hands  with
him—very  startled!  From that night on, l included the Rockefeller family in my prayers. Maybe l influenced the Lord’s blessings on the four fine grandsons who carry on the burden of one of the world’s great fortunes! "A trust for the world’s needs" as one grandson said.

My oldest sister, Lydia, went to teach in a negro institute in Texas. She was a very successful teacher, but was so devoted to our Mother, she could not stay away from home. She worried a great deal about us all. She constantly pushed us on to further our education. On Sundays when "us little ones" all went to Sunday School and Church, Sister Lydia stayed home with the excuse that she "must help  Becky with the Sunday dinner". ln truth, she was an agnostic. In  her various rebellions, she kept her beliefs, or lack of beliefs from  my father, and therein dwelt a turmoil which burst forth toward the family. Mother would say her Bible verse, “Let patience have its perfect work". But Lydia wrote constantly on philosophical topics. She  attended Western Reserve University until it was closed to Women (more recently it became co-educational). Then she went to  Boston to study and later graduated from Barnard College in New York City. There, with the cooperation of the faculty, she founded a  course in training volunteers for Social Service, to which she was appointed as instructor. But she could not be tied down to any new  undertaking and did not remain long. Her brain was so full of  forward looking ideas. She would come home, fret at all of us for  lack of immediate obedience to herself — until father would give  her money to go to New York where she had friends who would  gladly pay her a fee for teaching various subjects; history, philosophical thinking and current events. She was a great student, but now as l look back, I think she was an example of human frustra- tion. She wanted to carry out too many ideas and she loved Mother so much she could scarcely stay away from home with any inward happiness. Mother understood this so well and wrote her twice weekly letters. She would never burn those letters and it became my  painful duty to read and destroy them.

One of the major accomplishments of her life, with Mother's help,  was  to  gather the historical points of the Cody Family.   These


dates and family facts were put in book form and published, largely at  her expense, as the Cody Family Geneology. Luther Cody, son of  Aldus and our first cousin, assisted in doing research and the book was published by his sons, Bob and AI of the Kissimee Publish- ing Company. They also keep the geneology up to date and publish the Cody Family Bulletin for which all Cody descendants are grateful.

One  big event at the 5th Avenue House was when young Sam Higginbottom, a Welsh boy who graduated from Princeton, came to be interviewed by our Church Committee on Missionary Affairs as a possible candidate to represent the Gospel Church in India. He also came to see if he met the favor of my father, the Church Elder, who would pay a good part of his salary. l can see his  face clearly in my mind when he came in the door, a radiant, eager man, glowing with enthusiasm. The Presbyterian Foreign Board had already stamped their approval for a two year student internship. My older sister, Ethel, came bouncing into the dining room  one evening, as we were all sitting at dinner. Young Sam looked at this happy girl graduate from Chicago Kindergarten College. In the few days they had together before his departure, they  fell in love. The Church Committee all agreed he was just the one to represent the Gospel Church in India. He proposed to my sister by letter and she replied, "yes" by cable, going to lndia alone where they were married in a small English Cathedral in Bombay. Several books and many magazine articles have been written by and  about them. They established an agricultural institute, a leper colony, and a girls home-economics school. Also, my sister had a Medical Clinic building in her yard where she cared for many sick people. She learned the symptoms of leprosy, malaria, cholera, and plague and was able to send very sick people to the proper place for  treatment. Sometimes she saved the baby of a leper woman who  would certainly have given the disease to her child if they were  not separated. So she had a home for children of lepers — and  later collaborated with an orphanage to care for them in their growing years.

Harry Cody, my musical brother, played the piano and organ for the Gospel Church and after marriage helped with his neighbor- hood Episcopalian Church. But he always entertained the family grandchildren and grandchildren’s friends with his jolly songs at the piano. My Mother would say, "l had a little brother who was known far and wide as a beautiful singer. Music is in Harry’s nature." However, he went into real estate with our father and built streets and streets of houses. They were the first firm in Cleveland to sell houses with one month rent as the down-payment, thereby enabling many working people to own homes.


My brother, Arthur, served in the Spanish American War; and  when he returned, he was so emaciated, we scarcely knew him. He joined Father and Harry in the real estate firm and later took up residence in Cody Villa, Babson Park. He and his wife, Marie established the first PTA in the schools there. He was Sunday School  superintendent for several years and his children were the first members of the Sunday School.

After the Spanish American War, when the United States seized  Cuba, two brethern came from a Missionary Society to father and persuaded him to go with them to Cuba to start a Church and Sunday School. None of them could speak Spanish and there was only  one known Protestant interpreter. It was a thrilling thought to Father that they brought living Salvation to Cuba. Father wrote home, rejoicing that  a  church  was  obtained,  and  he  was  happy  over  the
out-pouring of the Latin temperament in their expressions of grati- tude.  Then, in one letter, Father rebuked Mother for not attending to  Gospel Church meetings in his absence. She wrote pitifully, "You  scold me for not going to Church when you left me the carriage but no money to pay a driver and only a sickly horse which I cannot  harness. It is too far to walk even to the first street car. And  now you ask to bring home two orphan Cuban girls for me to raise. You know I am frail. I asked each of our children and only Gertrude voted to tell you to bring them. She’d like playmates". Finally,  Father’s money gave out, and Brother Harry could not con- tinue to manage the Real Estate Building Business alone. Mother had  only welcoming arms for a religiously zealous adventurer. She wrote, "You know I could never rebuke your father". Within six months  time he never mentioned the Cuban venture.

It was from the 5th Avenue home that I, this writer, prepared my  wardrobe and embarked on my college career. My number one playmate, Irene Merrick, went off to Wellesley College. My number two  playmate, Evangeline Hiatt, charming daughter of Dr. Wister Hiatt,  minister of Euclid Avenue Congregational Church, to which my  father had made one of the first financial donations to build the church, and had also persuaded the well-to-do owner of the land to  donate enough property for a large church and parsonage. So Evangeline and I had some links in common, as we also had been friends for four years at Central High School. I went to Oberlin with  Evangeline as my roommate the first year. I had a feeling of emancipation from family dictation. But ill health soon made inroads  on  my time and energy at college and I sought family cures  quite often. On October 17, 1905, my birthday, my handsome father  and  charming   little   mother  came  to   see  me.    A  few  days


later this letter came from my father, "Dear Gertrude, I enclose a ’draft’  for $50.00 to pay your board, etc.. We had a delightful time out  there for our 44th Wedding Anniversary. I tell you forty-four years  is a long time and multitudes of memories throng through the mind, but I will have to tell you some of them when we can talk it  over.  It was an exceedingly beautiful morning for our trip, the fall  foliage in the valley and on the campus and also in the two towns  we passed through and then the wonderful, lovely Oberlin with  all its memories of anti-slavery times and the Revival work of President Finney and others, and its liberal and Christian way of receiving boys and girls and colored students of all nations who are  free to come there, so that the atmosphere of peace and Christian Charity was all so evident. Altogether, we had a lovely time and Evangeline helped to make it pleasant. Well, the dear Lord is good and has given us free, all things to enjoy, for which we praise Him continually. Mother left her umbrella, probably at the Hotel; if not, down at the depot. Give our thanks to Evangeline for her kindness. Lovingly, your Father."

My beautiful Evangeline died about 20 years after our ’09th graduation. We had such happy years of maturing together. She found  it difficult to write letters, and one day when I took her mail to  our room, she took one letter and stamped up and down, so angrily, saying, "I just managed to find time to write to that girl and  here is a quick reply! Now I’lI have to owe her a letter for months  again before I can write! ! Oh Pshawl" I, who had been asked  to be on the Editorial Board of the Oberlin Review( but re- fused), and who wrote  to  a  very  large  demanding-for-letters  family —found her tantrum exhileratingly funny and I rolled on my cot with  shouts of laughter until the whole first floor dormitory came in  to  find out about the hilarity. Evangeline said, "Well, it’s just that  Gertrude likes letter writing and I hate it." I could write a book  about my Oberlin memories.

Another event, to me the greatest in my life at the 5th Avenue Home, was when my Canadian banker, friend and suitor, came to meet my family and ask my father for his daughter in marriage. I lived  in a settlement in the Ghettos of Cleveland, but came home for my mail. In 1910 I had met Will Wheaton when I had taken a leave of  absence from my Ghetto job to go to Cobalt, Canada, where my  brother Frank had become a naturalized citizen, was the Mayor and Church School Superintendent. To the 5th Avenue Home, Mr. Wheaton sent me weekly boxes of flowers, mostly pink rose buds. Then he came from Vancouver to tell me that he had been asked by the head bank in  Montreal  to  build  a  new  bank  in  Vancouver, and


to gain my father’s permission to marry me and take me far away to  live. I said to Mr. Wheaton, "My father may not talk much about  our  marriage, but he will sound you out as to whether you have any modern ideas on religion, or if you interpret the scriptures as  he does in the manner of fundamentalist teachings and evangel- ism. Just do not argue with him!" He didn’t! My future husband became an admirer of my mother. He was amazed at the twelve divergent personalities she encouraged to be themselves, but how we  all had the stamp of her personality in various ways.

Will Wheaton had a complete breakdown in Vancouver, so I  never reached that city with him. He came to our 5th Avenue house  where Aunt Becky looked after our needs for the ceremony when the minister came to marry us. Mr. Wheaton was so weak l had  to get my own marriage license and hold him up to sign it. Mother  and Father wired us to come to Florida for his recuperation.

It took one whole year for me to build up my husband’s health  before he could return to work. Our son was born in fifteen  months, and was a continual delight to my Mother although she never knew of his great accomplishments in the field of urban renewal and city planning, even serving on a committee for our government and the United Nations. Or did she know? Do those "gone-beyond" know of their children's childrens progress? We know  nothing for sure of the mind's link with the spirit. Science teaches us that we live in a world where nothing is lost. Things change, but their elements survive and reappear in new form of life.  If  God so orders the natural worlds with perfect economy, shall  He not much more guard and keep the precious things of the  Spiritual World? We may be sure that goodness and beauty and  truth, though they seem at times to be dashed completely by events, will reappear in forms more potent and enduring. Then are  not  our children’s progress part of that everlasting, ever-increas- ing truth preserved by those in the Spirit World?


The International Cody Family Association