Obit: Eunson, John "Dale"  (1904 - 2002)

 

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

E-mail: dolores@wiclarkcountyhistory.org 

 

Surnames: Albert, Davis, Dratler, Eunson,  Evans, Finney Hughes, Long, Tolins

 

----Source: Family Records & Photos, Social Security Death Records, NY Marriage Records

 

Eunson, Dale (15 August 1904 – 21 February 2002)

Dale Eunson, a prolific writer whose career spanned seven decades of scripts for movies, television and the theater, died on Feb. 20 at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in the San Fernando Valley. He was 97. (Dale was born in Neillsville, his father was sheriff of Clark County for two years, in early 1900s.)

Mr. Eunson's gift for writing emerged in his childhood, when he transcribed the true story of his father, who, as a newly orphaned son of Scottish immigrants, traveled through the Wisconsin snow on Christmas Eve in 1868 to find homes for his five younger siblings. The story, ''The Day They Gave Babies Away,'' was published in a magazine and was later turned into a film and a children's novel.

Mr. Eunson moved to Los Angeles with his family in the early 1920's and attended the University of Southern California for a year. He then worked as a movie studio publicist before becoming a secretary to the novelist Rupert Hughes.

Hughes later referred him to Ray Long, editor of Cosmopolitan magazine; he was hired and quickly ascended the company ranks, becoming associate editor in 1933.

Mr. Eunson married another writer, Katherine Albert, in 1931 and collaborated with her on Broadway plays in the 1940's; she died in 1970. They also wrote the 1950's movie scripts ''On the Loose,'' starring their daughter, Joan Evans; and ''The Star,'' featuring Bette Davis.

Among the couple's television scripts were several episodes of ''Leave It to Beaver'' and ''Little House on the Prairie.''

After the death of Ms. (
Katherine Evans) Albert, he married Berenice Tolins Dratler, an artist; she died in 1993.

Mr. Eunson is survived by Ms. Evans; two stepchildren, Lynne Finney and Jay Dratler Jr.; two grandchildren; and one great-grandson.
 

 

Dale Eunson, Age: 97; Prolific Writer of Stories, Scripts Focused on Frontier


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Obituary for Dale Eunson by Myrna Oliver Times Staff Writer
March 1, 2002, 12 AM


Dale Eunson, who for seven decades successfully wrote nearly anything that fit on paper--short stories, novels, plays, motion picture scripts and teleplays--has died. He was 97.

Eunson died Feb. 20 at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills of causes associated with aging.

A child of the frontier, Eunson mined his rich background for many of his best-loved works. They included the true story of his father, Robbie, who as a 12-year-old newly orphaned son of Scottish immigrants trudged through the Wisconsin snows on Christmas Eve of 1868 to find good homes for his five younger siblings. The tale became a Christmas magazine story, a children’s novel, a motion picture, a television movie and a radio narrative.

That charming novel, “The Day They Gave Babies Away,” was not Eunson’s first but certainly became one of his most popular efforts. Published in 1946, it was reprinted in 1970 and was still popular in 1991, when one reviewer suggested a paperback version as a last-minute Christmas stocking stuffer, calling it “no-frills prose perfect for reading aloud.”

In 1957, Eunson co-scripted the movie made from the book, “All Mine to Give,” starring Cameron Mitchell and Glynis Johns.

Eunson told of his Montana sheep ranch childhood in two other books, the novel “Homestead” in 1934, and a children’s book of reminiscences, “Up On the Rim” in 1970. A Times reviewer commented on the latter: “It is a tribute to Eunson’s skill and loving memory of those bygone years that his work achieves such a pleasing, entertaining quality. To read this book is to return, however briefly, to a vanished America of emotion and events recollected in tranquility and to values and certainties that made those pioneer years so critical in our history.”

In 1989, Eunson turned a longtime friendship into another popular novel about two boyhood pals from Montana and their intertwined lives, “Philip’s Chair,” with one boy clearly his alter ego. A Times reviewer wrote, “Eunson writes fluently, highly literately, with delightful and often sly humor, and with painstaking insight.... Trust me, ‘Philip’s Chair’ will enthrall you.”

Moving to Los Angeles with his father and stepmother in the early 1920s, Eunson attended USC for one year but dropped out for lack of money. He worked as a publicist for movie studios and then became secretary to novelist and George Washington biographer Rupert Hughes. Some might question who worked for whom, because Hughes became a nurturing mentor, encouraging Eunson to rewrite his short stories and helping him sell them to New York magazines.

Hughes also recommended the young man in 1930 as secretary to Ray Long, editor of the Cosmopolitan magazine. Eunson rose quickly, becoming associate editor in 1933 and then fiction editor as well as freelance contributor.

“I guess I never was a really good secretary,” Eunson said to The Times in 1933. “So my bosses were always encouraging me, helping me to do something else.”

In 1931, Eunson married writer Katherine Albert and, until her death in 1970, collaborated with her on Broadway plays, including “Loco,” and 1950s movie scripts, including “On the Loose,” starring their daughter, Joan Evans. Other films were “Sabre Jet,” starring Robert Stack, and “The Star,” featuring Bette Davis.

The couple also penned several dozen television scripts for such shows as “Leave It to Beaver” and “Little House on the Prairie.”

With Hagar Wilde, Eunson also co-wrote the Broadway play “Guest in the House” in 1942, which was made into the movie of the same title two years later starring Ralph Bellamy and Anne Baxter; and the play “Public Relations” starring Broadway actress Elaine Stritch.

Eunson’s solo writing included not only his books but some 50 short stories published in various magazines.

Widowed again in 1993 by the death of his second wife, artist Berenice Tolins Dratler, Eunson is survived by his daughter; two stepchildren, Lynne Finney and Jay Dratler Jr.; two grandchildren; and one great-grandson.

 

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United States Social Security Death Index

 

State: California
Dale Eunson, Age: 98
Birth Date: 15 Aug 1904, Neillsville, Clark County, Wisconsin, USA
Last Place of Residence: Los Angeles, California
Previous Residence Postal Code: 91364
Death Date: 20 Feb 2002 (aged 97), Woodland Hills, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial: Unknown, Specifically: unknown

 

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Bio: Eunson, Robert (1908)

Transcriber: Ellen
Email: ekubica@aol.com

Surnames: EUNSON

----Source: CLARK COUNTY HERALD (Dorchester, WI) 06/19/1908

Eunson, Robert (1908)

I hereby announce my candidacy for the Republican nomination to be made at the primary election in Sept. 1908, for the office of Sheriff of Clark County.

I have been a life long Republican and have given my best support to all Republican candidates and policies, both State and National. I am familiar with the duties of the office of Sheriff, and from my past experience as an under sheriff and as a police officer, I am confident that I am capable of performing them.

Neillsville, Wis. ROBERT EUNSON.

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Bio: Eunson, John "Dale" (15 Aug 1904 - 20 Feb 2002)

 


Wisconsin Births and Christenings, 1826-1926

Name: Eunson (John Dale)
Birth Date: 15 Aug 1904
Place: Neillsville, Clark, Wisconsin, United States
Gender: Male
Ethnicity: American
Race: white
Father's Name: Robert S Eunson
Father's Birthplace: Rock Co, Wis
Mother's Name: Isla H Heath
Mother's Birthplace: New York State

 

John Dale Eunson Family History


Marriage #1: 19 Sep 1931, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States

Marriage #2: Dratler, Berenice Tolins (? - 1993)

 

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BioM: Albert, Katherine Evans (1931)


New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940

Groom's Name: John Dale Eunson, 27 yr. (1904) old white single male
Marriage Date: 19 Sep 1931
Place:  Manhattan, New York, New York, United States
Event Place (Original):
New York (City), New York
Birthplace: Neillsville, Wis.
Father's Name: Robert Eunson
Mother's Name: Isla Heath
Brides's Name: Katherine Evans Albert
Spouse's Gender: Female
Spouse's Age: 28
Spouse's Marital Status: Single
Spouse's Race: White
Spouse's Birth Year (Estimated 1903)
Spouse's Birthplace: Russellville, Ky.
Spouse's Father's Name: George Albert
Spouse's Mother's Name: Lozie Belle Evans

 

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Daughter: Katherine Evans Albert, 1902–1970, born Joan Katherine Eunson to Katherine Evans Albert and John Dale Eunson,

         Joan Evans

Her parents were Hollywood writers Dale Eunson and Katherine Albert. Her father wrote the book The Day They Gave Babies Away, which was made into the movie All Mine to Give (1957). She was named after actress Joan Crawford, her godmother.  Evans appeared in three movies with actor Farley Granger. Her first film with him was as the title role in Roseanna McCoy (1949), based on the real-life romance between two members of the Hatfield-McCoy feud. She gained the role after producer Samuel Goldwyn conducted a national talent search after the original star, Cathy O'Donnell, pulled out. Evans was only 14 years old when she started work on Roseanna McCoy, and her parents added two years to her age so she could claim to be 16 when the film was released.  Evans' film career was launched with her three pictures opposite Granger, including a supporting role in the drama Our Very Own (1950) and a featured part in the crime story Edge of Doom. She had top billing as a suicidal teenager in RKO's drama On the Loose (1951), then second billing to Esther Williams in an MGM musical comedy, Skirts Ahoy! (1952). Goldwyn loaned her to Universal where she was third billed as Irene Dunne's daughter in It Grows on Trees (1952). She was Audie Murphy's leading lady in Column South (1953).

 

     Joan Evans in "Rotten Tomatoes"

Television Career--At Republic, she starred as the love interest of John Derek in a western, The Outcast (1954), and started appearing on TV shows like General Electric Theatre, Climax!, The Millionaire, Schlitz Playhouse, Cavalcade of America, Lux Video Theatre, Cheyenne, Wagon Train, 77 Sunset Strip and Zorro.


She had the lead in a crime film for Republic, A Strange Adventure (1956) and was reunited with Murphy for No Name on the Bullet (1959). For Sam Katzman she was one of The Flying Fontaines (1959). Her final performances were in The Chevy Mystery Show, The Rebel, Outlaws, Tales of Wells Fargo, The Brothers Brannagan, Ripcord, and The Tall Man. Her last feature film was The Walking Target. Her last role was in the episode "The Killer Legend" of Laramie as Julie Wade. In the 1950s, Evans wrote articles for Photoplay magazine. Beginning in May 1966, she was editor of Hollywood Studio Magazine, using her married name, Joan Evans Weatherly.  She retired from acting in 1961. Evans became an educator, and in the 1970s she was the director of Carden Academy in Van Nuys, California.

 

When Evans was 17 years old, she announced that she would marry a car salesman named Kirby Weatherly.

Her parents asked Crawford to dissuade her from marrying, since Evans was so young, but Crawford not only gave the couple her blessing, she had the wedding ceremony performed right in her own house without having the parents present. Evans's marriage to Weatherly lasted, but the friendship between Evans's parents and Crawford ended.

The Weatherlys had a daughter on August 16, 1955.

In 1984, Joan Evans and her husband signed a tribute to Crawford in Daily Variety. Wikipedia

 

Family

Robert Strong Eunson, 1856–1940


Marriage: 1881, Wisconsin

Isla H Heath, 1862–1905

Children of Isla H Heath and Robert Strong Eunson (6)
 

Ray Eunson, 1882–1889

Erie J. Eunson, 1886–1962

Genevieve Eunson, 1893–1938

Muriel Eunson, 1895–1895

Robert Claire Eunson, 1900–1901

John Dale Eunson, 1904–2002

Niellsville, Wis. City Cemetery

cy

Eunson, Jessie Romaine

K-49

21-Sep-1875

16-Feb-1964

d. California

Robert Eurnson

 

Edward & Celia (Roscoe) Romaine

o

Eunson, Frank Allen

 

1868

13-Nov-1908

Parents died early, raised by Allan family

 

 

 

 

‘The Day They Gave Babies Away’

Condensed from the original book by Dee Zimmerman, Neillsville, Wisconsin

Robert “Robbie” Eunson, former Clark County Sheriff from 1908 to 1910, at the age of 12 was designated the task of finding homes for five younger siblings, after the death of first his father and then his mother. In later years, Eunson’s son, Dale wrote the story as it had been told to him by his father, entitled, “The Day They Gave Babies Away.”

Dale Eunson was well known for his work as a fiction editor of the Cosmopolitan magazine as well as writer of some of the stories on TV shows such as ‘Little House on the Prairie, The Walton’s and Leave it to Beaver.’)

Robert Strong Eunson and wife, Mamie, married in 1855, left their homeland of Scotland a year later, in 1856. After crossing the Atlantic Ocean, they traveled to Chicago, America’s heartland city.

Having spent most of their savings for passage, Eunson had little time to waste in finding work as their first child was to arrive in three months. While in Scotland, he had worked as a sailor and ship builder, so he looked for a position in his trade. He soon found employment in a little town along the Fox River in eastern Wisconsin. The village had a construction yard where small boats were built along the river bank; when finished the boats were launched in the Fox River, floated to Lake Winnebago and onto Green Bay and Lake Michigan as the Fox River flows south to north, unlike nearby rivers.

The couple moved into a four-room log house near the river, only a short distance from Eunson’s work in the boatyard. Their first child, Robert, named after his father, was born at the newly acquired home. At two-year intervals, two brothers and three sisters joined Robert, Jr. (Robbie), making a family of six children. There was Jimmie, Kirk, Annabelle, Elizabeth and Jane; the girls were named after their mother’s sisters who were living in Scotland.

As soon as the father could, he went into the boatbuilding business for himself. He began to contract for small river-lake boats, hiring men to assist him with the work.

The growing town pushed the forest back from its site. Wisconsin’s vast timberland started being invaded by the big loggers who realized the fortunes to be made on felling the virgin growth of towering pine, spruce and maples. New saw mills mushroomed along rivers and lakes. As winter’s ice thawed in the waterways, rivers became clogged with floating logs, rushing over rapids, piling up at the dam sluice gates, herded through the final process of being sawed into siding, flooring, beams, supports, furniture or other related products made of wood.

The Eunson family witnessed the Fox River logging activities from their front yard. In the summer, the river served as their avenue to the rest of the world. Mail arrived from Scotland, an occasional newspaper from Chicago, and needed supplies came by boats. Eunson’s newly made boats were launched and sent off all via the river.

The family worked steadily to make ends meet in providing for their needs.

In the summer of 1868, son Kirk came down with Diphtheria. A family conference was held and the decision made to send the other five children off to live in a vacant cabin in the woods. Robbie, age 12 and the eldest would care for his siblings. He walked to the edge of the woods, near town, daily. There a family friend brought food and news of the sick brother.

After the fifth day, the children’s father came to tell them that their brother, Kirk had passed the crisis in his illness and would live. A few days later, they were able to return to their parents and home along the river.

Three days after their return home, Robert Eunson, the father, who had lost 15 pounds during the illness of his son, was stricken with the dreaded disease. Mrs. Pugmeyer, a family friend, took the children to her home. They never saw their father again; he died on the fourth night of his illness.

Neighbors and friends were kind and helpful, but that goes only so far when there is a family to provide for. Mamie Eunson “took in” sewing as a means of income. When some sewing jobs required her temporary absence, the older children cared for the younger ones.

Robbie wanted to quit school and find employment, but his mother, knowing the importance of education, wanted him to continue his schooling. After the river froze over in late November, Robbie would put on his ice skates and travel up and down the river for miles to visit logging camps. The camps were in full operation seven days of the week, providing him time to pick up a few pennies by acting as a helper in the cook shanty. Sometimes he would carry hot soup to the men at noon. He would sling a strap holding 30 tin cups over his shoulder and carry a bucket of soup to feed the lumber-jacks.

Mamie Eunson faced lonely times while trying to provide for her six children. Often, she would be seen staring out the cabin window, thinking of her family back home in Scotland.

Being a woman of small stature, just five feet tall, she had previously been wiry and active. After her husband’s death, she had lost her appetite and eventually couldn’t keep food down when she did eat. In mid-December, she was struck with a fever, becoming bedridden.

Though Robbie had promised his mother he wouldn’t call Dr. Delbert, because of no money to pay him, he broke his promise when she became delirious. Dr. Delbert came when the young lad asked and diagnosed her illness as typhoid fever. The doctor told the children he would come to their home twice a day to check on their mother.

On the morning of Dec. 23, Mamie asked Robbie to listen carefully to some instruction she was going to give him. She took his hand in hers and told him she was going to die. She told him not to mourn for her, as there wouldn’t be time. Then she told him what he was to do with the children. There were all nice, good children, she said, and he could get decent homes for them. Since the responsibility must be his, he was to decide where they were to be offered. It would be better; she thought if they were placed with families that had children of their own. They wouldn’t be so lonesome for each other, that way.

Speechless, Robbie was asked to nod his head after each statement, designating he understood the instructions. “You watch out for them,” she said. “You go and see to it as often as you can that they are taken care of.” He nodded his head.

She then said, “Robbie, you get a good place for yourself. Promise me.” “I’ll get along all right, Mama. Don’t you worry about me.” Those were the only words he could say to her.

Mamie Eunson passed away later that day, and the funeral was the next day. The Delberts and Bradleys, family friends, discussed where the children should go and what families could take a child or two into their fold. Young Robbie announced that his mother had asked him to decide where they were to go.

Robbie asked the two couples to allow the children to be left alone in their home. The next day, Christmas, it would be their last chance to be together.

There were no Christmas gifts or stories. Robbie put the younger children to sleep; by telling them stories of Scotland, stories told to him by his parents.

After the four younger children were asleep, Robbie and Jimmie talked. They made a list, written on a paper bag, of family names in town that they thought would like children, be good to them and bring them up as if they were their own.

“We won’t wait until the day after tomorrow,” Robbie said. “But you told Dr. Delbert you would wait,” said Jimmie.

“I know that. But Mama told me I was to decide. If I wait, they won’t let me. And tomorrow being Christmas we ought to get just about anybody we want to take any of us in,” said Robbie.

He was a little bit ashamed of himself for appealing to the sentiment of the season, but he knew what he was about to do.

Howard Tyler was owner of the livery stable. He owned 12 horses, had four teamsters and an assortment of rigs for whatever occasion. Robbie had spent many hours at the stable as he liked horses. Tylers had two boys. Mrs. Tyler was a leader in church doings and a great organizer.

The Tylers were ready to sit down to enjoy their Christmas dinner when there was a knock at the door. Mrs. Tyler went to the door and two children greeted her, a boy of 12 and a girl of six. They recognized them as the Eunsons.

The children were invited to eat dinner. Robbie said, “Begging your pardon, Mrs. Tyler, but Jimmie and I was wondering if you would like a sister for Howie and Bruce. Annabelle can wipe dishes, has been learning to sew and knows her A-B-Cs.

Mrs. Tyler said, “Howard, it’s Christmas. We have to – we’ve wanted a girl.” They both agreed and began making Annabelle feel at home as Robbie left.

Jimmie hauled Elizabeth on his sled to the Potter home across the river, but no one was home. As he returned, he met Robbie on Main Street. They contemplated where to go next and saw a horse pulling a cutter prancing toward them. The boys looked at each other and nodded. They waved their arms, signaling the driver to stop.

Inside the cutter was a middle aged couple, the Stevens. Stevens told the boys they were traveling to their house to see if they could help in any way.

“Yes, there is, that is – since you and Mrs. Stevens have no children you might like to take Elizabeth. That’s her,” Robbie said pointing.

“We’ll take her,” Mrs. Stevens said. With a bound, she was out of the cutter, lifted up Elizabeth, looking to her husband for approval.

Knowing Stevens was the school principal, Robbie explained that his sister had a Scottish burr making her speech a little difficult to understand, but assured them they would get used to it.

Stevens, said, “You bet we will and you boys come and see her any time.”

After returning home, their brother Kirk came to meet them at the door with a wild look on his face. “Old Mrs. Runyon is in there. Says she’s going to take Jane,” he whispered.

Now here was a problem. Mrs. Runyon had been a widow for 20 years wore only black, carried a cane that she used to swipe things she didn’t like. Various remarks about her actions had frightened the children.

As Robbie walked into the house, he told Mrs. Runyon, that Jane was already promised to someone. He convinced her it was no one she knew and they lived in another town, though the boys weren’t certain who would take Jane.

Robbie instructed Jimmie to take Kirk to the Cramers. The Cramers had no children and Mrs. Cramer owned a cello, which she could play very well. “Tell them Kirk likes music and can fiddle pretty good,” Robbie said.

Kirk began to cry, he didn’t want to leave his brothers. Robbie was afraid of that, because he knew Kirk was the soft one. Robbie thrust Kirk’s fiddle in his arms and said, “Go, get a move on,” as Jimmie would go with him.

Robbie hurried to get Jane dressed. Before he was finished, Jimmie was back. Robbie asked, “Did they take Kirk?” Jimmie nodded, and asked, “Where are you going with Jane?”

“I’m taking her up to Berlin,” said Robbie. “But that’s 12 miles away,” said Jimmie. “I’ll take her up the river on our skates with Jane on the sled. I’ll stay up there, too, and work at Round’s camp,” replied Robbie.

Did you talk to the Raiden’s about staying with them, asked Robbie.

“No, I know they will because they don’t have any boys, just four girls,” Jimmie said.

Seeing Jimmie leave was hard for Robbie. He put his sister Jane on the sled, clamped on his ice skates and started up the Fox River ice to Berlin. It would take him three hours, but the moon was coming up bright in the clear sky so he could see the river ice ahead of him. Jane slept part of the way, lulled by the moving sled. At last, there were feeble lights in a group of houses along the river. They passed a saw mill and skated through a group of skaters who barely noticed them. A moment later Robbie saw a house with Christmas tree candles twinkling in the front window. He stopped and gave the house a silent inspection. If there was a Christmas tree, there must be children in the home. The house was small, so the family probably didn’t have much money but must love children to sacrifice for a Christmas tree.

Robbie removed his skates, picked up his sister, carrying her in his arms. Climbing the steps to the porch, he then knocked on the door.

A lady, wearing a shawl, opened the door and soon three little ones were peering around her skirts. Robbie heard her say, “Well for mercy sakes.” He said, “Please, Ma’am, I wonder if you’d like to have a baby.” Then Robbie fainted. When Jane was safe in the hands of the Clareys, he said goodbye and walked up to the Rounds camp in the woods where he became a helper, later a logger in his own right. He always kept tabs on his brothers and sisters, visiting them whenever he could, satisfied with their care.

The heart-warming story of a 12-year old boy, Robert (Robbie) Eunson, demonstrates how he had listened closely to his dying mother’s words and carried out her commands.

The father, having died previously, left Robbie the oldest member to care for the younger children after their mother died. As the story relates, young Robert refused to be turned aside by the neighbors’ suggestions. He placed the children in homes where he thought they ought to be.

Robert always kept tabs on his brothers and sisters, who on the most part, turned out remarkably well. They all looked very much alike, and others who knew them recognized something poignant in their love for each other, because they had nothing but that love in common. As each child grew up, he or she took on the characteristics and absorbed points of view of the foster parents.

 



              Robert Eunson, and his son, Dale

(During Eunson’s term as Clark County Sheriff, 1908-1910)

Annabelle Eunson had become a great dowager with a home in California and one in Chicago. She ruled her children with an iron hand.

Elizabeth taught school, then married, had two children and after her husband died, became a housemother at a girls’ school.

Jane never married. She taught music lessons, voice, and she possessed a sweet contralto. She, of course due to her young age, had no memory of the evening’s ride on the sled up the river’s ice, to her new home when two years old. But Jane and Robert were always very close. As a boy, Dale Eunson remembered his Aunt Jane’s visits to their home in Neillsville. A fond memory was of Jane sitting at the piano singing, “In the Gloaming” and then breaking into “The Irish Washerwoman,” and his dad would leap to his feet doing a real “Irish Jig” that made the furniture jump from the floor’s vibration.

James became a successful lawyer in Wisconsin, married and had three children. He and his brother Robert wrote each other.

Kirk was the only tragedy amongst the six children. Life was too much of a struggle for him and he “took to drink,” as his older brother used to say, Kirk died mysteriously when he was only 26.

Robert himself, felt he needed no adoptive home at the age of 12, except what he could find in a lumbering camp. He went to work in the woods, growing up to be a very dependable man.

Eventually, Robert Eunson made his way to Clark County with his family. At first he was a farmer, living on what would later be known as the Schmidt farm south of Neillsville. Next, he moved to the Naedler farm next to Cunningham Creek and along Highway 73.

A short time later Eunson left farming, relocating to a little house on the south side of Fifth Street, the 300-block in Neillsville. The house was on the west side of Goose Creek and east side of the Claude Sturdevant home.

Eunson became a partner of Charles Crocker in a livery stable business, which was located on the northwest corner of Grand Avenue and Fifth Street. The building was later occupied by the Stellow (Stelloh) Implement business. At the close of the implement shop, the building was razed providing space for the IGA food store, which is now the store’s parking lot.

Dale Eunson, author of “The Day They Gave Babies Away,” was born in Neillsville August 15, 1904. His mother died when he was 15 months old. At that time Robert Eunson’s household was not organized to care for the baby. Arrangements were made that little Dale should go into the Sturdevant home. The Sturdevants were pleased with the little one being in their home from the start, eager to provide the care he needed.

Of his own childhood, Dale Eunson, while editor of the Cosmopolitan magazine related some people considered him a spoiled boy, thinking he begged Neillsville shoppers for nickels to buy candy. But that is not quite the way it was according to Mrs. Sturdevant. She said Dale was a very winsome little child with large brown eyes and dark brown hair, and everybody took to him. Neillsville people who knew the Eunson family situation felt sympathy for the little boy whose mother had died.

They expressed their sympathy in a way, which Dale could understand and appreciate – they bought candy for him. Over-eating candy, occasionally caused Dale indigestion and tummy aches.

As the Sturdevants loved the little boy in their home, so he loved them. Though living in the Sturdevant home as a member of the family, Dale never lacked for interest or attention from his own father. Robert Eunson was a great family man, who bestowed affection upon members of his family. He was remembered as being kind and faithful to his family members.

Those who knew Robert Eunson well, remembered him as being exceedingly generous, a man who willingly helped others. However, he never wasted money on himself, careful in his personal expenditures. His generosity stood in the way of any considerable accumulation of funds. His philosophy seemed to be “use money instead of hoarding it.”

In 1908 Eunson went into politics and was elected sheriff of Clark County. He left the livery business and moved his family out of the little house next to Goose Creek and into the sheriff’s residence at the county jail building.

Also, Eunson married again, his wife being Jesse Romaine, a former Loyal resident who owned a millinery shop on South Hewett Street. With a woman again in his home, Eunson took Dale back into the family fold. Dale remembered and revered his step-mother in one of the novels he wrote. Departing from the Sturdevants, Dale’s absence left a void in the people’s lives.

Reading “The Day They Gave Babies Away” story, Mrs. Sturdevant remembered Robert Eunson repeatedly telling the story to them. The writer, Dale, held to the facts as his father had related them to him and the Sturdevants.

Robert Eunson got the western fever while he served as sheriff. He headed for a homestead in Montana a few weeks before his term as sheriff had expired in 1910. Dale grew up in Montana and at the age of 17 moved with the family to California. Eunson married twice and had seven children. Three of the children died as infants. Robert died in 1937 or 1938.

Prior to the family’s move to California, Dale, his father and step-mother returned to Clark County, visiting the Sturdevants and other friends.

It was Dale Eunson’s great interest in music and skillfulness at the piano that encouraged him to enter a business course. The knowledge gained in the course could enable him to learn how to get enough money to purchase a grand piano of his dreams, or so he thought. He found an opportunity in publicity work for Metro Goldwyn Mayer, and later became private secretary to Rupert Hughes, the writer. Hughes gave Eunson the push that got him started in the writing business. While working for Hughes, Eunson wrote the short story, “Sun Dog” which was sold to Woman’s Home Companion magazine. Thereafter Dale Eunson went to New York and became secretary to Ray Long, the editor of the Cosmopolitan magazine. Upon Long’s leaving the business, Eunson became associate editor, eventually giving up the position to devote himself exclusively to writing.

Most of Dale Eunson’s work was devoted to the short story line. However he did write a novel “Homestead” and ghosted “Arctic Adventure” for Peter Freuchaen. Also he co-authored three plays – “Guest in the house,” “Public Relations” and “Leo,” the latter with his wife, Katherine Albert. In addition there were television series that he wrote stories for such as, “The Walton’s,” “Little House on the Prairie,” and “Leave it to Beaver,” plus others.

Eunson’s work “The Day They Gave Babies Away” was the most widely acclaimed. As of the year 1947, it was in its third printing by the publishers, Farrar, Straus & Co. The story was amazingly successful when first published in the Cosmopolitan, followed with a version on radio and later sold to a movie company. The movie version of the story was entitled, “All Mine to Give.”

During World War I Eunson returned to the Cosmopolitan as a fiction editor, Eunson was married to Katherine Albert in 1931; they had a daughter, Joan to whom “The Day They Gave Babies Away” was addressed. The Eunson family returned to Neillsville when Joan was three years old. Visiting in the Sturdevant home brought back memories for Mrs. Sturdevant. It was a happy reunion and pleasure for her to see Dale as an adult. Seeing Joan with big brown eyes and brown hair, was much like the baby she had once taken into her arms and home.

Eunson’s daughter, Joan later became a movie star known as Joan Evans, who took parts in several movies.

A weekend in 1983 was designated “Dale Eunson Days” in Neillsville, in honor of the nationally known author who revisited his hometown.

Highlight of the celebration, was an open house at the Clark County Historical Society’s Jail Museum. The local Historical Society unit sponsored the celebration and an open house. Eunson autographed his books and met people of the area.

Sharing some of his fond boyhood memories, he recalled and told of riding on his Flyer sled from the jail building’s front door, sliding down the winter’s snow covered Fifth Street, through the Hewett Street and Grand Avenue intersection as far as Goose Creek. There wasn’t enough traffic at the intersections in those horse and buggy days to cause any safety problem.

Neillsville was prominently mentioned in his novel, “Up on the Rim.” It is a story of the hardships and experiences of a family, which moved from Neillsville to homestead “Up on the Rim” near Billings, Montana, in 1910.

Responses

Re: Bio: Eunson, Robert (1908)
Contact: Email: Aurora1941@earthlink.net

I saw the movie this week about the Eunson family in Wisconsin. I have Scottish ancestors from Ayrshire in western Scotland, and I found the movie very interesting.  I would love to know what happened to Robbie in later life. I know he was a sheep rancher, ran for sheriff, and his son Dale became a respected writer. Did he go back to work in a lumber mill, did he ever attend school, etc. Robert James Moon

 

 


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