Louis Franklin van Zelm was born in New Rochelle, New York on December 9, 1895, according to his World War I and II draft cards. He has not been found in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census.
In the 1920 census, he lived in New Rochelle on Overlook Road. His occupation was vice president at a metal company. For the New York Evening World, he drew the strip Rusty and Bub.
…All the yellow journals through the Middle West in mid-December printed long stories to the effect that L.F. van Zelm, whom we all remember as the best little cartoonist we had during our days at the Institute, has deserted architecture for cartooning, and is now cleaning up hordes of shekels as the perpetrator of a comic strip which makes a daily appearance in the dailies throughout that section. I feel sure all the gang join me in wishing Van the greatest success.
The couple lived in New Rochelle on Wilmot Road, according to the 1930 census. On November 19, 1938, the Herald Statesman (Yonkers, New York) reported van Zelm’s collaboration with Darwin J. Adams on a children’s book featuring two white mice, The Adventures of Monte and Molly.
On April 25, 1942, he signed his World War II draft card. He lived in Boston, Massachusetts at 326 Commonwealth Avenue. He worked for the Christian Science Monitor. He was five feet ten-and-a-half inches tall, 155 pounds, with blue eyes and blonde hair. The Rockford Register-Republic (Illinois), in its December 13, 1954 issue, said he was on the Monitor staff from 1940 to 1947. The Portland Press Herald reported his August 12, 1949 marriage to Marie Jeffrey Miles. The couple lived at Summit Spring Manor in Maine. The Sun Journal reported his contribution to the community on June 8, 2009:
The story goes that the top of Summit Hill is a breeding ground for bald eagles because they can catch the high winds and hover.
It was that view that apparently inspired L. Franklin Van Zelm, owner of the Summit Spring Hotel and water bottling company, to redesign the water bottle’s label in the 1930s to include the iconic eagle….
…Although the water had been sold for medicinal uses since the 1870s when the Summit Hill House opened, it was Van Zelm who first used the brown bottles with the eagle label, said Taja Dockendorf, principal of T. Doc Creative in Portland and designer of the limited-edition retro label.
Van Zelm, an illustrator for the Christian Science Monitor, is credited with redesigning the label to include the eagle. In 1936, he built the beautiful spring house that encloses the water source, reviving the bottling plant that sits about 50 feet downhill and shipping the bottles to places like S.S. Pierce in Boston and even overseas….
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography said his third marriage was to Marie Silver on June 21, 1954. The News and Courier (Charleston, South Carolina) reported, on February 20, 1955, that van Zelm filled his 50-room house, an old hotel, with gnomes and elves, and drew the daily cartoon, The VanGnomes, for the Christian Science Monitor. In 1958 he produced the strip Farnsworth.
Van Zelm passed away March 24, 1961, in North Adams, Massachusetts, according to the March 26, Springfield Union (Massachusetts).
A.D. Condo, the man who draws Everett True for The States, was born some forty odd years ago near Toledo, Ohio. Long before Ardo was out of his teens, his father, a preacher, was killed in cyclone and the boy had to turn in and help make a living for the family.
One of young Condo’s earliest jobs was as a printer. Later he became an engraver. His natural drawing ability took him from the engraving department to the art staff of theToledeo News-Bee. Here he drew cartoons and covered regular assignments from fires to picnics. More than ten years ago he left Toledo and went to work for theCleveland Press.
Condo’s caricatures attracted much attention. Next, the Newspaper Enterprise Association secured his services. Today as a member of NEA’s art staff, Condo is drawingEverett True for more than 250 of America’s leading newspapers.
Psychologists say each man’s hero is his exact opposite. Everett is fat. Condo isn’t skinny but used to be.
Everett’s “let’s go” whenever he is displeased, landing with fists or his umbrella. Condo is long suffering and never had a fight in his life. He is big-hearted and loves children.
Something after this fashion, Condo does his work: He walks around the block until he finds a human pest and he sicks Everett one that particular pest—on paper of course. For example:
“An acquaintance told me people pestered him into buying a Liberty bond,” recounted Condo. “So he bought the smallest one he could get—$50. He’s rich. It made me so mad I wanted to kick him.”
Condo didn’t dare to do that so he had Everett administer the punishment.
And that’s the way Everett True first broke into print. Condo came to the office one morning after a neighbor’s rasping phonograph had annoyed him unusually the evening before—kept him awake, in fact, long after he had retired.
Why wasn’t there someone to put a machine like that out of business, or to teach the owner of the machine a practical lesson, thought Condo. And before the day was over Everett was born—and the never-ending procession of pests has kept him busy ever since.
Condo’s home is in Berkeley, California. He is a widower and lives with his mother and his little daughter.
[Armundo Dreisbach Condo was born in Freeport, Illinois on September 19, 1872. The Montana Daily Independent, November 18, 1923, reported his birth location. His World War I draft card had his birthdate. Dreisbach was his mother’s maiden name. In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Condo lived with his maternal grandparents in Thompson, Ohio. The grandparents operated the Orphan Institute. His mother, Esther, and younger brother, Early, lived in Carthage, Missouri. His missionary father, Eli, was killed by a cyclone in Marshfield, Missouri, on April 18, 1880, according to Historical Data and Life Sketches of the Deceased Ministers of the Indiana Conference of the Evangelical Association, 1835 to 1915 (1915).
In the 1900 census, he lived with his mother and brother in Toledo, Ohio at 430 Raymer Street. Both brothers were newspaper artists. According to Don Markstein’s Toonopedia, “A Chapter from the Career of Everett True, as the series was originally titled (it was quickly shortened to The Outbursts of Everett True), was created by A.D. Condo and J.W. Raper. It first appeared on July 22, 1905.” Everett True panels can be viewed at Chronicling America. In 1908 he drew the panel, Mr. Skygack, from Mars.
In the 1920 census he, his daughter and mother were at the same address as the one on his draft card. He worked for NEA as an illustrator. Ten years later, Condo and his mother remained at the same place. He continued as a cartoonist. According to the California Death Index at Ancestry.com, Condo’s mother passed away March 20, 1947, and he on August 24, 1956, in Albany, California.
Condo’s characters Everett True, Osgar and Adolf appeared in Alley Oop from the last week of March to the third week of April 1969.
Charles F. Nelan was born in Akron, Ohio, reportedly on April 10, 1859. The date of his birth was published in newspaper obituaries, such as the New York Tribune and Geneva Daily Times (New York) on November 23, 1904. The obituaries were premature; he lived another two weeks. Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900: A Biographical Dictionary (2000) has the same birth date and his middle initial. However, the 1860 U.S. Federal Census recorded Nelan as four years old. (Ancestry.com transcribed the family name as “Nelson”.) If Nelan’s birth was in April then he was four at that time, because the census was conducted in June. His actual birth year was 1856. He was the second of four children born to Daniel and Catherine, both Irish emigrants. They lived in Akron.
In 1870 the family, plus one, remained in Akron. The census enumerator recorded the family name as “Naylin”. (Was it because of the Irish accent?) Nelan’s father was a day laborer who, later, became a grocer. The New York Tribune said Nelan attended Buchtel College. In The Editor, October 1896, Seymour S. Tibbals wrote:
“…Mr. Nelan made pencil marks upon the fly-leaves of his father’s books at Akron, O., long before he learned anything about perspective or proportion. He is, therefore, a native of Ohio, a State that has shown a purpose to be known as the mother of cartoonists as well as Presidents. Mr. Nelan studied technique at the National Academy of Design, New York City, and his work bears the marks of that training….”
When Nelan began at the academy is not known, but he was there was during the mid-1870s. On May 18, 1876, the New York Evening Express said:
The annual awards of merit to the classes at the National Academy of Design are as follows: …Antique School—First prize, the Elliot silver medal, G.R. Boynton; second prize, the Elliot bronze medal, Charles Nelan; honorable mention, Miss B.A. Riker, J. Hoey and Hobart B. Jacobs. An exhibition of School drawings is now open free in the parlors of the Academy.
The Akron newspaper, The Summit County Beacon noted this item on May 30, 1877, “Charles Nelan, the artist, has just finished a fine crayon portrait of the late J.O. Wolcott, of Tallmadge, which may be seen in West & Hale’s window.”
Nelan was recorded in the 1880 census as a crayon artist. He lived with his parents, who resided in Akron at 206 South High Street. His father was a grocer. Artists in Ohio said:
“…he was listing himself in the Akron directories as ‘artist,’ and by 1881 he had opened a professional studio there, where he advertised ‘Fine Artistic Crayon Portraits’ through 1886. In 1887 he was employed as a draftsman at the Werner Lithographing Company, Akron, and was also managing the family grocery store. The following year he moved to Cleveland…”
Tibbals said, “…Being a close observer and possessing a keen appreciation of the ridiculous, he has always leaned toward caricature. His first work was done for Cleveland Town Topics and the Cleveland Press…” The date of his marriage is not known. The Summit mentioned his wife on October 9, 1889. The Cleveland Directory 1889 had this listing: “Nelan, Charles, artist Pictorial Engraving Co. r. 63 Parkman”.
A different listing was in the Cleveland Directory 1890: “Nelan, Charles, artist The Press. r. 7 Sawtell ct.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported the formation of the Society of Artists in its October 10, 1891 edition. Nelan became a member of the professional artists’ group. His wife, Olive Luella, passed away on May 20, 1892 according to the Plain Dealer. She was twenty-six. He continued at The Press and lived at 99 Arlington, as listed in the 1893 directory. The following year he resided at 33, Hazard. The Plain Dealer reported, on July 11, 1894, Nelan’s eminent move to New York.
Fourteen months later, on September 22, 1895, the Plain Dealer said, “Mr. Charles F. Nelan, well known in this city, had become the official cartoonist of the Scripps-McRae league, with headquarters at St. Louis. Mr. Nelan was recently on the art staff of the New York Herald.” The August 22, 1897 Plain Dealer printed news of his marriage.
Charles Nelan, the well known cartoonist, and Miss Madge Kennedy were married this evening at the home of the bride’s parents, No. 3342 Fairfield avenue. Many friends of the couple and their families were present.
Miss Kennedy is also an artist of much note. Her specialty, unlike her husband’s, however is china painting. She is a graduate of the Cincinnati Art school.
In the fall of 1898, Nelan’s book, Cartoons of Our War with Spain, was published. The book was a compilation of his New York Herald cartoons.
He has not been found in the 1900 census. In 1900, Nelan left the New York Herald for the Philadelphia North American; his replacement was Charles R. Macauley according to the Stark County Democrat (Canton, Ohio), December 23, 1902. Nelan drew the ire of Pennsylvania Governor Pennypacker, who, in turn, got the Grady-Salus libel bill passed. In The Art of Caricature (1904), Grant Wright wrote:
…Later he accepted a position on the Philadelphia North American, and here occurred an incident in his career that attracted unusual attention. A series of cartoons appeared in the North American in which the Governor was represented as a parrot doing various amusing, not to say extremely undignified, things. These cartoons so incensed the candidate that, upon his election, he recommended in his inaugural address the introduction of a bill to limit the use of political cartoons. This was called the “Press libel law.” Speaking of Mr. Nelan’s cartoon which caused the bill to be introduced, the Governor said: “An ugly dwarf, representing the commonwealth, stands on a crude stool; the stool is subordinate to and placed alongside of a huge printing press with wheels as large as those of an ox-team, and all are so arranged as to give the idea that when the press starts the stool and the occupant will be thrown to the ground. Put into words, the cartoon asserts to the world that the press is above the law, and greater in strength than the government. In England a century ago the offender [Mr. Nelan] would have been drawn and quartered and his head stuck upon a pole without the gates.” Mr. Nelan wrote the Governor a letter, in which he demanded a retraction, which was given in a public note. This is the first instance in the United States in which a political cartoon has been legislated against. Mr. Nelan is at present connected with the staff of the New York Globe.
That cartoon and accompanying article can be viewed here. The Plain Dealer published news of his ill health, which began in the summer of 1904. A doctor recommended a stay in the Adirondacks. Nelan stayed there but the cold October weather was unbearable, so he returned to New York for a few days. He headed south and settled in Cave Springs, Georgia where he passed away on December 7, 1904. He was to be buried in Akron, according to the Plain Dealer, December 8, 1904.
The complete text of The Editor article is here. A Cartoons Magazine 1913 profile is here. The Grand Comic Database detailed the contents of the January 1914 Cartoons Magazine: “Clifford B. Knight tells of how he was unable to obtain cartoonist Charles Nelan’s drawing table from his lawyer, but instead met his widow, Mrs. Nelan. From her he found that it was she, and not her husband, who drew the faces of women in his cartoons.”
In 1920 the family of 11 lived in Witherspoon, Kentucky on McCracken Road. The Plain Dealer said she graduated from Western College for women in Oxford, Ohio. In 1930 she was boarding in Cincinnati, Ohio at 423 Probasco Avenue. Her occupation was advertiser at a department store. The obituary said
Harris was Plain Dealer promotion art director for nine years and creative director for a year. She was art director for the Higbee Co. and a freelance artist before coming to The Plain Dealer….
…She illustrated “Sneakers,” a cartoon featuring grooming and deportment tips; “Easy Etiquette,” cartoon which focused on the do’s and don’ts of daily personal relationships, and “Camping Tips.” She continued “Easy Etiquette” after retirement….
Sneakers, a weekly panel, was written by Mary Strassmeyer. The panel debuted on September 12, 1964. In the Plain Dealer Magazine of May 16, 1965, Harris and Strassmeyer’s cartoon was touted for being picked for syndication by King Features. Beginning on February 28, 1969, Sneakers was published three times a week, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. On November 18, 1970, the Plain Dealer reported, “Sneakers has a new look…[and] has changed in appearance and content. The drawings are brighter, the captions contain more information and the ideas are coming from teen-agers themselves.”
John Rai McGaw was born in Phoenix, Arizona on September 4, 1896, according to the California Death Index, 1940-1997 at Ancestry.com. According to a family tree at Ancestry.com, he was the only child of William and Minnette, who died before the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. In the census, he lived with his grandparents, Charles and Martha Jenkins, and their children. They lived in Columbus, Ohio at 1364 Summit Street. Apparently, William gave custody of his son to his in-laws. He lived in Columbus with his father.
In 1910, McGaw remained in Columbus but at a different address, 169 Chittenden Avenue. He lived with his grandfather and Aunt Clara. His father had remarried and lived in Columbus. Information on his education and art training has not been found. He was a boy scout and his talent was noted in Boys’ Life magazine. The May 1912 issue published news of the awards by the National Court of Honor: “…Three boys in Columbus, Ohio, John R. McGaw, George Sturgeon, and George A. Siebert, have won merit badges…” The issue dated December 1912 had a list of “Merit Badges Awarded by National Court of Honor” which included McGaw’s badges for “Art, Public Health, Signaling and Swimming”.
The 1920 census recorded him in Columbus at Columbus 23 North High Street. He was a commercial artist in the newspaper industry. His father was married to his Aunt Clara; they lived with their son Joseph, her father, and his aunt in San Diego, California. The family tree said his father passed away in 1926. The ninth annual exhibition of Cleveland artists and craftsmen was held at the Cleveland Museum of Art in April 1927. McGaw won first prize in the illustration class, as reported, by art critic Grace Kelly, in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on May 1, 1927. Two years later in the April 29, 1929 Plain Dealer, he was awarded second prize in illustration at the May Show. In June his work was shown at the Kokoon Club, and Kelly wrote, “John McGaw’s illustrations looked strong and human.”
In 1930, McGaw, his wife and seven-year-old son Gordon lived in Shaker Heights, Ohio at 3326 Lansmere Road. He occupation was magazine illustrator. His illustration “In Chinatown” was noted by Kelly in the May 25, 1930 Plain Dealer. In January 1933, the Cleveland Museum of Art exhibited original cartoon art and caricatures by 90 artists. The exhibit included work by 15 Clevelanders including McGaw’s caricatures from the Cleveland News, according to the January 15, Plain Dealer. In 1935 he was one of two cartoonists who drew the panel Local Oddities. One of McGaw’s Cleveland Press cartoons (1936) is at the Cleveland Centennial site.
BEST CARTOON—To John R. McGaw, Cleveland News, for an editorial cartoon captioned “The Forgotten Man,” which depicted the plight of a family with children attempting to rent living quarters in Cleveland.
That cartoon was exhibited in the annual May Show at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The date of his move to San Diego is not known. He may have retired there because of his relatives. Aunt Clara passed away there on August 2, 1967. McGaw passed away February 12, 1969 in San Diego. His wife Wynn passed way December 18, 1974, in Newport Beach, California. On November 7, 1977 his son Gordon passed away in Newport Beach.
Donald Bedell Wootton was born in Mt. Vernon, Ohio on January 15, 1896, according to the Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1800-1962, at Ancestry.com. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the oldest of two children born to Harry and Ada. They lived in Mt. Vernon, Ohio at 800 West Chestnut Street. His father was a hotel clerk.
In 1910 the Woottons remained in Mt. Vernon but at a different address, 404 West Walnut. His father was an insurance agent. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, on April 20, 1962, said
…In 1911—he was then 15—the family moved to Detroit.
There Wootton first saw his boyhood idol, Ty Cobb, after whom Mr. Wootton patterned his baseball style when the family returned to Mt. Vernon and he began playing semi-pro ball.
With the semi-pro team he toured Ohio towns, meeting with such success that a major league team expressed an interest in him. But on the day he was to try out with the team he was drafted into the Army.
At Ancestry.com, Ohio Soldiers in WWI, 1917-1918 recorded Wootton’s National Army enlistment date as April 27, 1918. He was assigned to Company C, 330 Infantry, 158 Depot Brigade. With the rank of private, he was honorably discharged on December 19, 1918. The date of his move to Cleveland, Ohio is not known. Ohio Art and Artists (1932) said Wootton studied at the Landon School, in Cleveland, and the Cleveland Art School. The Plain Dealer said, “Mr. Wootton was a member of the editorial art department of The Plain Dealer for seven years after his discharge from the Army following World War I.” He also created a Sunday strip By the Way which ran from June 29, 1919 to May 27, 1923.
The 1920 census recorded Wootton, a lodger, in Cleveland at 1898 East 82 Street. His occupation was newspaper cartoonist. At the same address was illustrator Rico Tomaso. He married Ruth Ellison in Cleveland in 1924, according to the Plain Dealer. The book Our Brokaw-Bragaw Heritage (1967) said she was an English portrait painter. The Plain Dealer said, “Leaving The Plain Dealer, Mr. Wootton became art director of the [Cleveland] Press. He later was with the Newspaper Enterprise Association for a time.”
In 1930 the couple lived in Cleveland at 4209 Euclid Avenue. He was an artist for commercial journals. Ohio Art and Artists included Wootton’s explanation of how he made caricatures.
The Plain Dealer said, “He then worked for the D’Arcy Advertising Co., leaving there last year  to open his own studio.” Wootton passed away on April 18, 1962, in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. His tragic death was reported in the Plain Dealer two days later.
Donald Bedell Wootton, an editorial artist whose caricatures of the well known enlivened Cleveland newspapers for two decades, died yesterday in University Hospital in Columbus. He was 66.
Mr. Wootton’s death was the result of a gunshot wound, self-inflicted in a park near his Mt. Vernon, O., home on Sunday.
Usually happy but sensitive, he had been worried of late about the success of an art studio he had opened last year at 4300 Euclid Avenue, his wife, Mrs. Ruth Wootton, said….
Walter Emil Scott was born in Sandusky, Ohio on August 9, 1894, according to the Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1800-1962 at Ancestry.com. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the third of four children born to Walter and Amelia. They lived in Sandusky at 420 Tyler Street. His father was a railroad clerk.
Ten years later they were at the same address. His father was a pottermaker at a foundry. In the March 23, 1930 Cleveland Plain Dealer, art critic Grace V. Kelly wrote, “…[Scott] came to Cleveland in 1916…he studied some in the night classes of the Cleveland School of Art, and before coming to the Plain Dealer did commercial art, sharing a studio with Joseph Jicha….” He signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917; the card included his middle name. He was an advertising artist, described as tall height, slender build with blue eyes and brown hair. He resided at 9400 Euclid Avenue.
In 1920 Scott lived with his parents who resided in Sandusky at 818 Prospect. His occupation was commercial artist. The Plain Dealer, May 4, 1956 edition, said:
“…after a short stretch with the drawing board at the Press, he joined the Plain Dealer and stayed 13 years. Here he met the late Gordon Barrick, nationally-known artist and Plain Dealer art director.
“What little I know about art came from the teaching, patience and kindness of ‘Doc’ Barrick…”
He was on staff at the Plain Dealer as early as November 1922; he contributed a background illustration, of pilgrims rowing boats from their ship and coming ashore, to the Sunday Magazine cover, dated November 26. Staff artist Don Wootton’s drawing of Scott was published on October 29, 1924 (below).
Walt Scott, one of the artist on the Plain Dealer staff, has drawn a series of maps showing the doonks of various countries. A doonk, you may or may not know, is a creature of Walt Scott’s imagination and brush.
Doonks live in Doonkland, a country which Mr. Scott had shown in one of his paintings on exhibit in the current May show at the Art Museum. But doonks are international and cosmopolitan.
If you look closely at this map, you will see the doonk who inhabits France. He looks well fed. Why shouldn’t he be, since he is in the culinary capital of the world?
Suppose we travel with the Doonks this summer and see just what their fare is in the various countries. Today, we are in France….
…About 25 or 30 water colors and etchings will be shown, and besides “The Doonks,” the subjects will deal with pirates, treasure chests, yellow-eyed witches and what not. I said they would be entertaining for the children, but, after all, I do not know why I should limit my remarks to the younger generation.
For they are so entertaining to me that I can not see why all the grown-up world should not be entertained by them. Especially since they are all designed upon the soundest art principles and executed as a good craftsman should turn out work….
…His fairy story pictures came into being during a bad commercial art year, when he had lots of time on his hands. The theme was so much to his liking that he has carried it on ever since in an infinite variety of form….
…Some of the first numbers will be shown of a comic strip he is creating, and which is the only known comic strip, addressed exclusively to children. The entire Doonk family is used in this, as well as those with whom the Doonks come in contact.
In the 1930 census, Scott lived in Lakewood, Ohio at 1560 Robinwood Avenue. He was married, since he was 26, and had three children. His occupation was newspaper artist. The Doonks finally arrived in the comics section in February 1933. A Plain Dealer Sunday paper ad, in the Saturday, February 18 issue, included this line: “…There’s a new feature which children will love—”The Life of the Donks [sic],” a beautiful pictorial by Walt Scott.” The May 4, 1956 Plain Dealer, said, “In 1935 he joined the Newspaper Enterprise Association, and next came several years in California with the Walt Disney and other cartoon studios. His first love, illustrating, called him back to NEA in 1943.”
He produced Songs of Christmas, in 1951. His other NEA Christmas strips can be viewed here. Editor & Publisher profiled Scott in 1952. Lambiek said, “Scott drew the Sunday pages of Captain Easy as an assistant to Les Turner.” On May 4, 1956, the Plain Dealer announced the return of the Doonks, to its Sunday paper, in the strip The Little People.
According to the Plain Dealer, an exhibition of The Little People artwork was displayed at the Peninsula Public Library from December 6 to 31, 1970. Scott passed away on December 17, 1970 in Rocky River, a western suburb of Cleveland. Retired at the time, he was survived by his wife, three children, two siblings, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The Grand Comics Database has a list of his comic book credits.