Saturday, December 10, 2016

Announcing my New Biography of Odd McIntyre, Coming April 1, 2017

Researching Odd McIntyre at The Esther Allen Greer Museum
at the University of Rio Grande near McIntyre's hometown
of Gallipolis, Ohio.

I haven't blogged much this year because all my time has been spent working on a biography about Odd McIntyre. I was really happy today to finally launch the web site,, and all the social media accounts that will support the launch of the book. You can now find some great content about the book and all the things Odd wrote about on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. If you happen to be a Facebook user, please be sure to LIKE my "An Odd Book" Facebook page.

It's really been a fun experience researching and writing about Odd and Maybelle McIntyre, and I know it will be even more fun sharing their story with everyone when the book comes out on April 1, 2017.

Odd and Maybelle McIntyre

McIntyre’s life is a fascinating story of how one man found fame and fortune against incredible odds. It’s a story of camaraderie and friendship between some of the most popular writers, musicians, artists and entertainers of the early decades of the twentieth century. It’s a love story about a married couple who struggled to get to the top, and then experienced humiliating failure, but survived.

It’s a story of having the best of everything money can buy, while simultaneously suffering from an undiagnosed illness that resulted in severe physical and mental disabilities. But more than anything, Odd’s story is about the power of the written word to “entertain people a little each day” as he put it. Thanks to the thousands of articles and columns he wrote during his lifetime, he also left behind a unique view of popular culture during one of the most exciting times of change and innovation in American history.

Odd McIntyre
Odd wrote more, made more money, and had more readers than anyone else in his time. When the world was hungry for newspapers and magazines, and radio and movies were in their infancy, he carefully managed his public persona to become a media superstar.

He worked in a period of great innovation in communication, politics, art, and entertainment, as the world was shifting from the Gilded Age to the Progressive Era. New technologies and methods of communication were being quickly adopted around the world, as were new ideas regarding journalism and the role of media in American politics and society. Odd was at the epicenter of communication during the birth of this new modern age.

When differences between traditional values and new urban points of view created a culture war, he was one of the few writers who could bridge both worlds with ease. Later, when the country experienced the disastrous economic depression of the thirties, Odd was there to encourage, to entertain, and to remind readers of the hope that existed all around them, in both the big cities and the small towns.

Historic marker in front of the home of Odd's grandmother
in which he was raised in Gallipolis, Ohio.

Odd was also there during many of the historic moments of that era. He was there with his pad and pencil on a cold, rainy New York day as Titanic survivors stepped onto the pier and began sharing their stories of what happened when the “unsinkable” ship struck an iceberg. He was one of the first reporters to interview the Wright brothers when they were a couple of unknown bicycle mechanics trying to build a flying machine. Odd was there to observe and share the stories of the men and women responsible for creating the music that exploded out of Tin Pan Ally and spread across the world.

Odd and Maybelle and friends at one of the many parties they attended
in the 1920sAt this New Year’s Eve party Maybelle, bottom row
center, was photographed between George Gershwin and Rube
Goldberg (reclining). Groucho Marx is on the bottom row, far right of
the photograph. Odd is on the back row, third from right,
while his friends Ray Long and Roy Howard
can be seen fifth and sixth from the left. Courtesy College

As Florenz Ziegfeld’s press agent, he was backstage absorbing—and then sharing—every detail as Broadway theater shifted from vaudeville to something completely new and exciting. He was the first to write a feature on the stars of Amos 'n' Andy, the radio program that became a national sensation. As a close friend of Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin and other actors, Odd had a literal front-row seat as moving pictures became nickelodeons, nickelodeons became silent films, and silent films became talkies.

Odd and Maybelle McIntyre with their bulldog and chauffeur.

He spent hours in Parisian bars with a group of writers who came to be known as the “Lost Generation.” He was there as Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, T. S. Eliot, and F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote their earliest groundbreaking work.

And through it all, he never stopped thinking of himself as a newspaperman. Working side-by-side with early muckrakers like Ida Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, and Upton Sinclair, he experienced first-hand the changes that could take place in society when journalists worked to uncover and report the truth in the face of powerful opposition.

His newspaper column, “New York Day by Day,” and his thousands of stories in magazines like Cosmopolitan, Life, McCall’s, and the Saturday Evening Post were filled with pop-culture references, celebrity insights, opinions about modern society, and humorous observations that were somehow relatable for millions of readers who would never actually get to see New York, Paris or Hollywood for themselves. Even today, Odd’s descriptions of the people he met, places he traveled, and things he experienced invoke vivid scenes from the years when modern entertainment, media, and business were being born.

Despite the extroverted “man-about-town” image he projected to the world, as he grew older, Odd was plagued by a variety of social anxiety disorders and severe depression, likely caused by pernicious anemia. Eventually, he retreated to a life in the shadows, venturing out only at night in his chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce.

Odd’s career was a joint venture. His wife, Maybelle, provided the initial motivation and inspiration for his success. She pushed him forward when he was ready to give up, and she later managed his career and negotiated for him some of the most lucrative contracts in the syndication business. Especially toward the end, he could only write if she was in the room, and he would sometimes have a panic attack if she left their building even for a short time.

Odd and Maybelle McIntyre
In assessing the popularity of Odd’s column, a writer for The New York Times captured the essence of his relationship with readers when he wrote, “His quality of breathless wonder was coupled with an extraordinary ability to make the name of an actress, a crooner or a newspaper rewrite man shimmer in the eyes of the public, who sat on an aisle seat of what for him and them was the greatest show on earth.”

The life of Oscar Odd McIntyre is a story of tenacity; of pushing forward despite great obstacles, even when it looks like there’s no possible way you’ll find success. It’s a story of what can happen when someone is at the right place, at the right time, with the right talent, and has the good sense to take advantage of it. It’s a story of a man who, when no one would give him a chance, created his own way to do what he loved. In the process, he produced an incredible body of work that brings to life one of the most fascinating periods in modern communication and American pop culture.

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or to check out the genealogy research about my specific family lines, go to my Haywood County Line Genealogy Website.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ancestry DNA Results

I finally got my Ancestry DNA results. I haven't been doing much ancestry research or blogging this year because I've been using my spare time to write a book, but I thought a blog entry would be the best way to share the results (more about the book will be coming soon). did a nice job with the design of the dashboard, and you can quickly see the answer to the question I know most people are asking when they spit in the tube and mail it off, "From where did my ancestors come?"

As it turns out, the fact that my youngest daughter was born on St. Patrick's Day is even more meaningful because I discovered 42% of my "ethnicity" is Irish. That's not a surprise as all the family lines I can trace back farthest come from Ireland, Scotland or the UK. That list includes the Castellaws, the Joyners, the Cobbs, the Dougans, the Marburys, the Yelvertons and the Pattersons.

If you are curious, you can check out the full ethnicity results here.

While the ethnicity was fun to see, as a longtime user, I was more interested in seeing what connections I would be able to make with other users. Of course, the hope is that they may be able to provide more details on an ancestor or make a connection that I've not been able to make.

Remarkably, was able to find 184 "ancestry hints" and 692 cousins.

When you select one of the "cousins," you can find out how you're connected and then check out their family tree, as long as it isn't private. So the user above, "J.J." and I are second cousins, once removed. Our mutual ancestor is Tom and Nancy Johnson Castellaw. I can now send J.J. a message or check and see if he or she has added details to his or her family tree that I've not yet discovered.

Three of the individuals I matched with are previously unknown second cousins. Six are third cousins while the rest are fourth cousins or greater.

Above is another example. R.F. and I are fifth cousins, connected through my fourth great-grandfather, Etheldred Yelverton. A few years ago, I spent many hours researching Etheldred and this family line so, at some point, I can share that research with R.F. and perhaps he or she will have even more information.

Although I don't have the time right now to dig into this, once I do, I have no doubt these results will help me fill in some "ancestry blanks." If you would like to try Ancestry DNA for yourself, use this link to save 10% (and, full disclosure, you'll be getting me a $10 Amazon gift card).

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or to check out the genealogy research about my specific family lines, go to my Haywood County Line Genealogy Website.