Editor’s note: After Eddie Cicotte testified to his involvement in the 1919 World Series fix, he was asked why he went along with the bribery attempt. His response — “I did it for the wife and kiddies” — became one of the most infamous lines associated with the Black Sox Scandal. Little is known of these “wives and kiddies,” the women and children whose lives were up-ended when the players were banished from baseball. This occasional series for the SABR Black Sox Scandal Research Committee newsletter will focus on their stories. This story was originally published in the December 2018 newsletter.
Decades after her ancestors moved west in search of a better life, Lyria Wilson struck out on her own. The strong-willed daughter of Mormon pioneers found love, in the form of major-league pitcher Claude “Lefty” Williams, but when her husband’s baseball career ended in disgrace in the Black Sox Scandal, they left Chicago and drifted west, too, forging a new life in California with the help of their religious faith.
Lyria’s independent spirit and resourceful nature carried her husband through his lowest moments, enabling Lefty to turn around his life and find a measure of peace in his later days. For someone whose early years were so bound in the traditions of a church that commanded its women to be “subservient and dependent,”1 Lyria’s path was an unlikely one. Perhaps the harshness of her family’s exile from their homeland prepared her for the tribulations she would face as the wife of a baseball outlaw.
Born on August 12, 1889, in Farmington, Utah, Lyria Leila Wilson was the youngest of Calvin and Emeline Wilson’s 15 children. She was born at the home of her maternal grandmother, Hannah Miller, after a fire destroyed her parents’ house in Hooper.2 Farmington was 20 miles south, about halfway between Hooper and Salt Lake City, where Brigham Young, president of the Mormon church, had led his followers in their exodus from the Midwest a half-century earlier.
Lyria’s grandparents were part of that fateful flight in the 1840s. Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had set up his initial headquarters in Missouri, but hostilities with the locals drove them to establish a new religious colony, called Nauvoo, on the Mississippi River in western Illinois. Lyria’s father, Calvin Clinton Wilson, was born there on Christmas Day in 1842. He was the son of a blacksmith who had converted to Mormonism six years earlier.
A wave of anti-Mormon violence followed Smith’s adherents to Nauvoo and the church leader was arrested and murdered by a jailhouse mob in 1844. Brigham Young, Smith’s successor, made plans to evacuate the community of nearly 15,000 disciples in the spring of 1846 due to the ongoing persecution. Among the first wave of refugees to leave Illinois were Joseph and Hannah Miller, who traveled with Young’s caravan across the frozen Mississippi to begin a new life in the West.3 Joseph Miller was appointed captain of a large group of 50 emigrants, while Hannah, with an infant son and five other children in tow, took charge of her family’s move across the harsh, desolate prairie. Each day, she drove a horse in front of four ox-teams pulling wagons, kept track of the cows, chickens, and sheep they brought with them, and then cooked and cared for her family and others when they stopped for the night.4
The Mormons set up their winter quarters along the Missouri River in present-day Council Bluffs, Iowa, where Young asked Joseph Miller and his brother to stay behind and help other families who were making the difficult overland journey on what is now known as the Mormon Pioneer Trail. More than 700 people died of exposure, malnutrition, and disease along the trail that winter.5
Joseph Miller and his family arrived in the Utah territory in September 1848, just over a year after Brigham Young first reached the Salt Lake Valley and declared, “This is the right place.”6 The Millers built a two-room log cabin in Farmington, north of Salt Lake City, and Hannah quickly became pregnant again. Emeline Elizabeth Miller, Lyria’s mother, was born on May 1, 1849, the first of their children born in the promised land. Over the next two decades, Joseph Miller continued to serve as a guide for the approximately 70,000 Mormons who made the long journey to Utah, traveling back along the trail several times to offer his assistance and expertise.
The Wilson family — including Lyria’s father, Calvin, who was 7 years old — was among that group of early settlers, traveling west from Pottawattamie County, Iowa, in the summer of 1850.7 Their trip was just as precarious as the Millers’ but much quicker overall, as they arrived in Utah in just under three months. As he grew up, Calvin worked on his father’s farm and later served in a cavalry company in the Utah territorial militia during the Black Hawk War against local native tribes.
On March 10, 1865, Calvin Wilson and Emeline Miller married in Salt Lake City and their first child, Sabrie, was born five months later. Thirteen of their fifteen children survived to adulthood. By the time Lyria came along 24 years later, Sabrie had already married and started her own family. Lyria became close to many of her nieces and nephews while growing up in Kanesville, a small community outside of Ogden, Utah.
One of Lyria’s older sisters, Jane Ann, married a performer from Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West traveling circus, George Streeter. His horse-riding ability helped him form a friendship with the rodeo impresario and he spent several years working alongside Cody and other legendary figures such as Butch Cassidy, Calamity Jane, and Billy the Kid before settling down in Utah and becoming a homebuilder.8
Education was a core value to Mormon families like the Wilsons, and all of their children attended primary and grammar schools into their teenage years. Lyria graduated from the eighth grade in a class of seven students at the Kanesville district school in the spring of 1903; their commencement ceremony was held at the majestic Ogden Tabernacle.9
That fall, she enrolled at Weber Stake Academy, a church-owned, coeducational, private high school10 on Jefferson Avenue in Ogden. The 15-year-old student’s love of learning was likely fostered here, and her courses would have included lessons in grammar, theology (including “the Book of Mormon”), arithmetic, geography (“with special reference to Utah and Weber County”), drawing, penmanship, orthography, reading, and U.S. history.11 Lyria later reported12 that she only spent two years in high school, so it’s unlikely she graduated from the academy.
Around this time, Lyria began to show more signs of expressing her independence, breaking away from the shackles of a religion that encouraged women to marry young and produce many children, as her older sisters, her mother, and her grandmothers had dutifully done. As a New Woman, that feminist ideal en vogue at the turn of the 20th century, Lyria fully realized the principles of self-determination and economic freedom that set her apart from the rest of the women in her family.
As one contemporary writer observed of her generation, “They have an amazing combination of wisdom and youthfulness, of humor and ability, and innocence and self-reliance. … They are of course all self-supporting and independent, and they enjoy the adventure of life; the full, reliant, audacious way in which they go about makes you wonder if the new woman isnʹt to be a very splendid sort of person.”13
At the age of 18, Lyria began working as a waitress at the Kennedy Cafe, owned by Angus Kennedy, a prominent businessman who later opened up the town’s first Ford car dealership.14 Lyria’s connection to Kennedy also brought her into proximity with Ogden’s baseball team, as her boss was an officer on the semiprofessional club’s board of directors. A few years later, after Ogden built enough local support to field a team in the minor-league Union Association, their star shortstop was a teenage phenom from the Bay Area by the name of Swede Risberg.15 Swede and Lyria would cross paths again later.
In 1910, Lyria took a job as a waitress at a hotel in Milner, Idaho, a boom town south of the Snake River that flourished with the building of the Milner Dam, which brought irrigation water to the Twin Falls area.16 Milner’s grandest hotel — and Lyria’s most likely place of employment — was the Riverside Inn, a modern, three-story, steam-heated resort with elaborate chandeliers in every room, tennis courts, and a dance pavilion.17
It’s unclear exactly how the 20-year-old daughter from a Mormon pioneer family found her way to this remote outpost full of tourists and businessmen, 150 miles north of home, but a clue may be discerned from the 1910 United States Census.18 Lyria appeared there twice, first in an entry recorded in mid-April back home in Ogden, where she was a waitress and living with her parents.19 In late May, Lyria showed up in the Census again, this time working at the hotel in Milner — along with another “hired girl,” Rosa McHenry, 25, from Utah. Rosa also showed up twice in the Census that spring; in April, she was living with her widowed mother just a few blocks down from the Wilsons’ home in Ogden. By May, she was working at the same hotel as Lyria in Milner. Perhaps the two young women went up to Idaho together for an exciting new adventure.
The opportunity must have been short-lived, because Lyria was back home and living with her parents again by the following spring. Calvin Wilson, retired from his farm, had turned their home on Harrick Avenue into a boarding house and rented out furnished rooms for $1.50 per week.20 In 1913, Lyria’s father died at the age of 70 after suffering a fatal stroke in August.
In 1914, she began working as a manicurist at a swanky barber shop inside the headquarters of the prestigious Weber Club, a social club for prominent civic leaders in Ogden.21 The club took up the entire top floor of the brand-new Hudson Building, which opened with a lavish reception attended by Utah Gov. William Spry. Now called the Kiesel Building, it’s just a block away from the picturesque Lindquist Field, where Ogden’s minor-league baseball team plays today.
Down in Salt Lake City, a new minor-league team22 moved to town before the 1915 season and its star pitcher, Claude Williams, would change Lyria’s life. The 22-year-old Williams, a hard-throwing left-hander from Springfield, Missouri, was in his fifth year as a professional ballplayer. He had made a few brief appearances with the Detroit Tigers before he was sent back to the minors for more seasoning. His performance with the Salt Lake Bees of the Pacific Coast League would turn heads — none more so than a 25-year-old waitress at a downtown hotel — and send him back to the major leagues for good.
Lyria’s landed a job that spring as a waitress at the Hotel Ely in Salt Lake City.23 Perhaps she also spent time a few blocks away at the prestigious Hotel Utah, where her friend from Ogden, Rosa McHenry, was now working as a maid. The Hotel Utah was a “noble white palace” with one of the finest bars24 in an otherwise mostly dry city, a feature that would have attracted ballplayers from the Bees and visiting Coast League teams during the baseball season.
Lefty Williams, a slender, introverted Southerner, and Lyria Wilson, a tall, vivacious, educated woman from a prominent pioneer family, were an unlikely match on the surface. Her intellectual curiosity and independence set her apart from most baseball wives. During the 1919 World Series, one reporter observed, “I liked [Lyria] immensely because she had something in her head besides a cold.”25 Lefty and Lyria’s differing natures brought them together and complemented one another throughout their lives.
While Lefty was dominating the Pacific Coast League in 1915, winning 33 games with a league-leading 294 strikeouts for the Bees, he began a courtship with Lyria, writing frequent letters26 to her as he traveled throughout the West. His stellar performance earned him an invitation to spring training with the Chicago White Sox. Williams remained in Salt Lake City for the winter27 before reporting to the major-league team. He made the White Sox roster on Opening Day and quickly established himself as one of the top strikeout pitchers in the American League.
Off the field, he and Lyria decided that the distance between Salt Lake City and Chicago was too far for either of them. A few weeks into the season, she boarded a train and left for the Windy City. The couple quietly married on June 6, 1916, after the White Sox’s scheduled game was called off because of rain. No one in the team’s clubhouse except catcher Byrd Lynn, Williams’ best friend and roommate, was even aware of their wedding.28 No one from either of their families was apparently present, either.
The newlyweds had no time for a proper honeymoon, as the groom was back at the ballpark the following day.29 On June 16, the Williamses celebrated by entertaining guests30 with a dinner at the Blackstone Hotel on Michigan Avenue. Lefty’s marital bliss seemed to lift his performance on the field, as he won his next five starts in a row, throwing his first major-league shutout on July 1 against the Detroit Tigers and another the following week against the Boston Red Sox. One reporter observed, “Mrs. Williams seems to have inspired her young husband to hop in and work even harder. He’s been doing some high-class southpawing for the White Sox to date.”31
In 1917, Lefty opened the season on another long winning streak, helping lead the White Sox to the American League pennant, while Lyria settled into her new life in Chicago. She attended many games at Comiskey Park and made fast friends with Katie Wynn Jackson, the wife of Shoeless Joe Jackson; the two couples kept up a regular correspondence for the rest of their lives.
That championship season was the pinnacle of the Williamses’ life in baseball. Lefty made just one appearance during the World Series, but he and the other White Sox players were rewarded with a $3,669 bonus for winning it all — more than double his annual salary during the season.32 If Lefty was like most of his married teammates, he might have “purchased something in the way of diamond rings or pins” for Lyria in New York City to celebrate the World Series victory over the Giants.33
The specter of World War I loomed over the 1918 baseball season. After the US government issued a “work or fight” order that forced all major-league players to join the military or take an essential defense-industry job, even married players like Lefty Williams — originally exempt from the military draft since his wife depended on his income — were forced to step away from baseball. In June, Lefty left the White Sox to work at the Harlan & Hollingsworth shipyard in Wilmington, Delaware, where he and Lyria shared a rooming house with Joe and Katie Jackson.34
Williams and Jackson spent most of their time playing ball for Harlan’s company team, which they led to the championship of the Delaware River Shipbuilding League.35 When the war ended, they all returned to Chicago and the White Sox resumed their winning ways, capturing their second American League pennant in three years. This trip to the World Series proved to be a far different experience than in 1917, and Lyria found herself embroiled in the controversy along with her husband.
A few weeks before the 1919 World Series began, Williams was approached by first baseman Chick Gandil and invited to join a plot with Joe Jackson, Swede Risberg, and four other teammates to throw the Series to the Cincinnati Reds. Lefty agreed to participate for a payoff of $10,000 from the gamblers financing the fix, although he only received half of that sum in the end. “I had no money and I might as well get what I could,” he said later.36
According to Lefty’s grand-jury testimony, Lyria was infuriated when she found out about the deal. “You have done it,” she told her husband after seeing the $5,000 in cash he was paid after Game Four. “What can I say now? Let it go and just get the best of it.”37 Later, there were widespread reports that Lyria had placed bets against the White Sox in a Chicago poolroom during the Series, and it was rumored that she might also be called to testify to the grand jury.38 She denied the accusation, telling a Chicago American reporter that she considered it bad luck to bet when her husband was pitching and that she had been attending the theater with Katie Jackson at the time she was accused of gambling.39
In the same interview, Lyria recalled attending Game Five at Comiskey Park, when the Reds beat Williams and the White Sox, 5-0. She said she got “so excited that I cut my hand on the railing. When [center fielder] Happy Felsch misjudged that fly ball, I could have jumped out of the box and killed him on the spot.” She defended her husband’s integrity, saying, “I never knew of a man who worked so hard to win when he was sent in to pitch.”40
Lefty did his part to earn the bribe money, losing all three of his starts against the Reds to set an ignominious World Series record that still stands. In the final game, he was yanked after just five batters as Cincinnati erupted for four hits and four runs in the first inning to clinch its first championship.
It is widely believed that a threat was made against either Lefty or Lyria’s life before the final game, but there is little evidence to substantiate that claim.41 Lyria said years later that Lefty was fearful of retaliation if he didn’t lose quickly and decisively.42 “It’ll be the biggest first inning you ever saw,” one gambler predicted before the game, perhaps insinuating that Williams was warned to put the game out of reach early.43 But Williams testified later that he pitched to win; he also told teammate Eddie Cicotte during the Series “that he was out to win because he had been double-crossed” by gamblers for the rest of his promised payoff.44
Lefty Williams and the other seven players involved in the World Series fix were permanently banned for their role in the Black Sox Scandal. At the age of 27, his professional baseball career was over and so was his primary means of supporting his wife.
In the years following his banishment, life was a constant struggle for the couple. Lyria went back to work as a waitress at the Seafoam Restaurant at 22nd Street and Michigan Avenue to help make ends meet. Lefty took odd jobs around Chicago as a painter, a department store floorman, and a tile-fitter, but none of them lasted for long. He began drinking more and their marriage suffered. In 1923, he reportedly suffered a serious bout of pneumonia that landed him in the hospital and nearly killed him.45 The following year, with Lefty still drinking heavily, Lyria kicked him out of the house and they separated.46
Lefty moved away from Chicago to hook up with his old teammates, Chick Gandil and Buck Weaver, as they played baseball together in an “outlaw” league based in the Southwest. Lefty spent two summers pitching in the Copper League for teams in Douglas, Arizona, and Fort Bayard, New Mexico. In the latter town, he held down a steady job in the motor-vehicle division of the military hospital there. After the Copper League folded, Lefty returned to Chicago in 1928 and began repairing his relationship with Lyria. They moved into a basement apartment on Granville Avenue on the city’s north side, and she continued to work as a cashier at a cafe.47
In the early 1930s, Lyria also began turning back to religion, although not with the Mormon faith in which she had been raised. Instead, she became involved in the Christian Science church, where she and Lefty volunteered in some capacity with their local branch. Her church connections compelled them to move west — together this time — to California around 1937. The Williamses were among the more than 1 million Americans who migrated to the “land of opportunity” during the Great Depression.48
The Williamses settled first in Burbank, where they were surrounded by members of her family. Three of Lyria’s siblings and several of her nieces and nephews lived in the San Fernando Valley at that time. One of her brothers, Lawrence Wilson, likely helped Lefty get a job as a truck driver.49 Lyria, no longer working outside the home, put her boundless mental energy to other uses. Over the years she developed a reputation as a civic gadfly and a community activist; she often appeared at city council meetings questioning zoning changes, street pavings, and other neighborhood proposals.50
During World War II, Lefty and Lyria relocated for a few years — although it’s unclear exactly why — to Pearblossom, a remote area in the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles.51 Lefty worked as a carpenter and he also tried his hand at gardening at their modest property off Pearblossom Highway. They lived a few miles from the ranch of eccentric author Aldous Huxley, who had moved to California’s High Desert for the cleaner air.52 After the war ended, the Williamses bought a house in Northridge and moved back closer to L.A.53
Lefty and Lyria also maintained their close friendship with Joe and Katie Jackson over the years and visited each other occasionally. In an interview late in his life, Shoeless Joe told a reporter that “none of the other banned White Sox have had it quite as good as I have … unless it is Williams. He is a big Christian Science Church worker out on the West Coast.”54
When Jackson died in 1951, the Williamses wired their condolences to his widow.55 After the Black Sox Scandal returned to the headlines a few years later, Lyria sent a feisty letter to Katie lamenting the media attention: “You sure have trouble with the newspaper men in the South. They don’t seem to have much to write about if they have to dig up the old scandal. … I am glad they do not know where we are. We would send them chasing if they came here.”56
That letter also offers a tiny window into the Williamses’ feelings on what happened in 1919. Lefty gave no known interviews about the World Series fix afterward, but in Lyria’s letter to Katie Jackson nearly four decades later, she wrote, “It has been such a long time [that the scandal] never enters our existence and it does not seem like it was us. We have outlived it and it does not bother us now what anyone thinks or says.”57
In 1954, Lefty and Lyria moved about 80 miles south to Laguna Beach, where he opened a nursery business.58 The couple bought a hillside beach cottage in the historic Coast Royal neighborhood of South Laguna, with a view of the Pacific Ocean — and, on clear days, Catalina Island — from their front window.59
Lefty suffered from the effects of Hodgkin’s disease in his final years. At the age of 66, he died at home on November 4, 1959, less than a month after the White Sox lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the team’s first World Series since the Black Sox Scandal. A Christian Science funeral was held for Lefty, and his ashes were interred in an unmarked location at Melrose Abbey Memorial Park in Anaheim.60
Following the death of her husband of 43 years, Lyria remained in Southern California for the rest of her life. She stayed in contact with her surviving siblings and her many nieces61 and nephews, and kept her mind active by writing letters to the Christian Science Monitor.62 She sold their house in the mid-1960s and moved to Sunset Beach for a few years before settling in at Leisure World Seal Beach, the first planned retirement community in the nation.63 She died of heart failure at the age of 85 on June 15, 1975. Her ashes were interred at Angeles Abbey Memorial Park in Compton.
1 Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1992): 224.
2 E-mail to the author from Patricia Shahen, May 19, 2010. Shahen said her information was obtained in an interview conducted by her cousin, Rex Stevens, with Lyria Williams at her California home in the 1970s.
3 “Hannah Miller,” FindAGrave.com; accessed online at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/108036/hannah-miller on August 7, 2018.
5 “Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail,” National Park Service; accessed online at https://www.nps.gov/mopi/learn/historyculture/stories.htm on August 5, 2018.
7 “Milo Andrus Company (1850),” Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847-1868, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; accessed online at http://www.lds.org/churchhistory/library/pioneercompany/1,15797,4017-1-51,00.html on May 16, 2010.
8 Louis A. Skaggs, “Home Town Interview,” Ogden Standard-Examiner, March 19, 1939.
9 “County School Exercises,” Ogden Standard, June 6, 1903: 7.
10 After years of fighting with the federal government over how much religious education was allowed to be taught in public schools, the LDS church in 1888-89 opened dozens of private high schools known as “stake academies” that were open to any student of any religious denomination, male or female, with free tuition. There were general courses of study, as well as specialized courses for aspiring teachers, office workers, and seminarians. See Kevin Stoker, “Academy era short-lived, but impact long lasting,” Deseret News, May 28, 1988; accessed online at https://www.ldschurchnews.com/archive/1988-05-28/academy-era-short-lived-but-impact-long-lasting-205 on August 9, 2018.
11 1904-1905 Catalogue of the Weber Stake Academy, Weber State University archives; accessed online at https://cdm.weber.edu/digital/collection/CAT6/id/8816/rec/10 on July 23, 2018. Weber Stake Academy, Seventeenth Annual Report, 1903-04; accessed online at https://cdm.weber.edu/digital/collection/CAT6/id/8816/rec/10 on July 23, 2018. 1904 Ogden City Directory, Ancestry.com.
12 1940 US Census, Ancestry.com.
13 This passage from Randolph Bourne is quoted from William H. Chafe, The Paradox of Change: American Women in the 20th Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991): 22.
14 1908 Ogden City Directory, Ancestry.com.
15 The 18-year-old Risberg spent a half-season in Ogden in 1913 and returned in 1914 to hit .366 in 108 games, earning himself a call-up to the Venice Tigers of the Pacific Coast League. He spent two more years in the PCL before he was signed by the Chicago White Sox and made his major-league debut in 1917.
16 Liza Martin, “The Milner Cemetery,” The Idaho Archives, July 27, 2006; accessed online at http://files.usgwarchives.org/id/cassia/history/other/milnerhi3nms.txt on May 16, 2010.
17 Mychel Mathews, “Hidden History: The Riverside Inn at Milner,” The Times-News (Twin Falls, Idaho), October 9, 2014; accessed online at https://magicvalley.com/news/local/hidden-history-the-riverside-inn-at-milner/article_7c5b5ce2-4fc4-5d7c-b84e-6ada7f3b6029.html on August 9, 2018.
18 Both entries in the 1910 US Census were accessed at Ancestry.com.
19 Lyria is also listed in the 1910 Ogden City Directory as living at home.
20 1910-13 Ogden City Directories, Ancestry.com. Ads for the “Wilson Rooming House” can be found in the Ogden Standard on December 23, 1910; September 30, 1911; June 20, 1914.
21 1911-14 Ogden City Directories, Ancestry.com.
22 The financially strapped Sacramento Wolves of the Pacific Coast League transferred their operations to Salt Lake City in 1915.
23 1915 Salt Lake City Directory, Salt Lake City Public Library. Thanks to librarian Cherie Willis for her assistance.
24 Lee Davidson, “Whatever happened to … the Hotel Utah?” Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 2016; accessed online at http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=3170421&itype=CMSID on August 10, 2018.
25 Leone Cass Baer, “’No Place Like Portland,’ Writes Wandering Critic,” The Oregonian, October 26, 1919: 26.
26 “Ogden Girl Claude Williams’ Bride,” Salt Lake Tribune, June 8, 1916: 14.
27 “Salary Limit is Still Bone of Contention,” Salt Lake Telegram, January 30, 1916.
28 “’Lefty’ Gets a June Bride,” Los Angeles Times, June 7, 1916. “Of Interest to Ogdenites,” Ogden Standard, June 10, 1916: 16. “Ogden Girl Claude Williams’ Bride,” op. cit. Cook County Marriages Index, 1871-1920, accessed at Ancestry.com.
29 Irving Vaughan, “Myers is a Mack Sensation,” Chicago Examiner, June 8, 1916: 23.
30 Salt Lake Tribune, June 21, 1916: 5. One special guest at their dinner was a 19-year-old socialite and aspiring actress from Salt Lake City, Beatrice Banyard, who later became the fourth wife of celebrated Broadway writer-director Willard Mack.
31 “Claude Williams Takes Baseball Seriously Now He’s Settled Down,” San Diego Evening Tribune, September 12, 1916: 10.
32 Lefty Williams made $3,300 in 1917, according to his organizational contract card available at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library. For more on White Sox player salaries during that era, see https://jacobpomrenke.com/black-sox/1919-american-league-salaries.
33 James Crusinberry, “White Sox Make Trail of Mirth of Return Trip,” Chicago Tribune, October 18, 1917: 11.
34 1918 Wilmington City Directory, Ancestry.com.
35 Jim Leeke, “The Delaware River Shipbuilding League, 1918.” The National Pastime: From Swampoodle to South Philly (Phoenix, Arizona: SABR, 2013.) Accessed online at https://sabr.org/research/delaware-river-shipbuilding-league-1918 on August 10, 2018.
36 “Got $5,000 After Fourth Game, Says Williams,” Boston Globe, September 29, 1920: 16.
37 Quotation from Lefty Williams grand-jury testimony cited in William F. Lamb, Black Sox in the Courtroom: The Grand Jury, Criminal Trial and Civil Litigation (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., 2013): 58.
38 “Name of Baseball ‘Fixer’ is Known by Grand Jury,” Boston Globe, September 25, 1920: 1.
39 Chicago American, September 28, 1920, as cited in Gene Carney, “Notes From the Shadows of Cooperstown #490,” June 4, 2009, Baseball1.com, accessed online at https://sabr.org/research/gene-carney-black-sox-notes-index on August 18, 2018.
41 Gene Carney, Burying the Black Sox: How Baseball’s Cover-Up of the 1919 World Series Fix Almost Succeeded (Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books, 2006): 199-205.
42 J.M. Flagler, “Requiem for a Southpaw,” The New Yorker, December 5, 1959.
43 Hugh Fullerton, “Is Big League Baseball Being Run for Gamblers, With Players in the Deal?” New York Evening World, December 15, 1919.
44 Carney, 203. Williams was deposed twice, in May 1923 and January 1924, for Joe Jackson’s lawsuit against the White Sox seeking back pay owed to him. In the latter deposition, Williams was inconsistent about many aspects of the World Series scandal. But his testimony is more credible than a second-hand anecdote in The New Yorker (see Note 42) about Lyria told 40 years after the Series ended, which seems to be the strongest independent evidence that any threats were made against Lefty and/or Lyria.
45 “Near Death,” Chicago Tribune, March 30, 1923, 26. The Tribune reported that Williams lapsed into a coma at Columbus Hospital in Chicago, but he came out of it a day later.
46 A February 19, 1924, report filed by a private investigator hired by White Sox counsel Alfred Austrian stated that Lyria had not seen her husband in three weeks. He had reportedly traveled to Milwaukee to attend Joe Jackson’s back-pay trial against the White Sox. This letter is now housed in the Chicago History Museum.
47 1930 United States Census, Ancestry.com. Chicago Telephone Directories, 1931-36, Chicago History Museum.
48 “State Leads in Increase of Population,” Los Angeles Times, December 4, 1937. Charles C. Cohan, “Steady Gain in Population,” Los Angeles Times, December 4, 1938.
49 Index to Register of Voters, Los Angeles County, California, 1938-42, Ancestry.com. Burbank City Directories, 1937-42, Burbank Central Library. Lyria’s brother, Lawrence Wilson, a widower, had been living in Burbank since at least 1928 and one of his sons, Louis, was also listed as a truck driver in the Los Angeles County voter rolls.
50 E-mail to the author from Bob Hoie, August 21, 2010. See also: “Owners File Paving Plea For Lindley Ave.,” Los Angeles Times, November 2, 1953.
51 Index to Register of Voters, Los Angeles County, California, 1944-46, Ancestry.com.
52 David Dunaway, Aldous Huxley Recollected: An Oral History (Walnut Creek, California: AltaMira Press, 1999).
53 Index to Register of Voters, Los Angeles County, California, 1948-54, Ancestry.com.
55 A copy of the telegram can be found at BlackBetsy.com.
56 Lyria Williams letter to Katie Jackson, October 16, 1956. Accessed online at LegendaryAuctions.com, Lot #1469, Summer 2003.
58 Index to Great Register, Orange County, California, 1954-64, Ancestry.com; Eddie West, “West Winds,” Santa Ana Register, November 8, 1959.
59 1959 Laguna Beach Criss Cross City Directory, Orange County Public Library; Laguna Beach Historic Survey, Vol. 4, California Department of Parks and Recreation, 1981.
60 “Claude (Lefty) Williams of Sox Fame Dies at South Laguna,” Santa Ana Register, November 6, 1959: B-2; “Certificate of Death: Claude Preston Williams,” filed November 9, 1959, State of California, Department of Public Health. Numerous inquiries by researchers and journalists with Melrose Abbey have failed to uncover the specific location of Williams’s ashes.
61 One of Lyria’s nieces was even named after her. Lyria Edna Wilson (1918-58) had a short, rough life. She became pregnant with a son as a teenager and suffered through three abusive marriages before her death of cirrhosis at the age of 40 in Las Vegas.
62 See: Lyria Williams, “Circus Pals,” Christian Science Monitor, May 19, 1967.