Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Ink-Slinger profiles by Alex Jay: Fred Zumwalt

An anonymous comment asked about Fred Zumwalt who drew the Nutt Family strip that appeared in the Northwest Worker, a Socialist newspaper published in Everett, Washington. Zumwalt and the strip are not in American Newspaper Comics (2012). Nothing relevant was found when I searched the key words “Fred Zumwalt” and cartoonist. I replaced cartoonist with Socialist and got a hit at the Internet Archive. The American Socialist, (Chicago, Illinois), November 13, 1915, printed this item in the first column: “Fred Zumwalt, Greenfield, Ill., fires in seven subs [subscriptions] and gets one of our souvenir Socialist pennants.” A second hit was at the Old Fulton New York Postcards site. The Socialist newspaper New York Call (New York City), May 6, 1917, published Zumwalt’s letter in its magazine section.

Two important bits of information were Zumwalt’s locations, Greenfield and Nebo, both in Illinois. I started a new search by replacing Socialist with “Nebo, Illinois” and found Zumwalt in Zumwalt in Parts of Missouri and Illinois, Volume 1 (2007). Zumwalt and his father, Newton, were residents of Nebo. Zumwalt, a photographer and painter, married Cora Shelby Hack on July 1, 1920 at Carrollton, Illinois. She had three children from her previous marriage. Zumwalt was granted a divorce June 28, 1928. Zumwalt was mentioned in Hamner Heritage: Beginning Without End (1981): “…Cora’s second marriage was to Fred Zumwalt. They were divorced and Cora married Harry Petry in California. Cora died in Hermosa Beach, California in 1972….”

With this information I found Zumwalt in five records at In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Zumwalt was the oldest of two sons born to Newton, a railroad laborer, and Louella/Luella. They lived in Spring Creek, Pike County, Illinois. Zumwalt has not yet been found in the 1910 census.

On September 12, 1918, Zumwalt signed his World War I draft card which had his full name, Fred Almer Zumwalt. His birth date was November 14, 1883. The self-employed artist resided in Nebo, Pike County, Illinois. He was described as tall, medium build with blue eyes and dark hair.

Zumwalt and his parents were in Spring Creek in the 1920 census which was enumerated in January. Zumwalt was a widower who had a photography studio. Later that year in July, Zumwalt married Cora.

Zumwalt has not been found in the 1930 census. A 1930 Alton, Illinois city directory listed him as a sign painter residing at 517 Cherry.

According to a transcription of Zumwalt’s death certificate, at, he passed away December 23, 1939 in Alton. Zumwalt was born in Nebo on November 13, 1883; his draft card said 14. His occupation was sign painter. Zumwalt’s residence was Wood River, Madison County, Illinois. An obituary was transcribed at Genealogy Trails

Zumwalt, Fred Almer, 56 years old, owner of a Wood River photographic and sign business, died Saturday evening, Dec. 23 after an automobile accident at Cottage Hill, three miles north of Alton. His sudden death was attributed to heart disease, aggravated by excitement. Fred had stopped his car on Highway 140 to let a woman customer out at her home. She was partly out of the car when another driver coming behind them struck Fred's car lightly, being unable to stop his machine easily because of slush covered pavement. The impact knocked the woman passenger down and she fainted. Fred and the other driver carried her onto the porch of her home and Fred collapsed. He was dead on arrival at St. Joseph's Hospital, Alton.

Fred Almer Zumwalt was the second son of Newton and Luella Zumwalt, born three miles south of Nebo, November 13, 1883. He had spent a greater portion of his life in and around Nebo and was well known because of his natural talent as a photographer and sign painter. He was married to Alta M. Long, October 4, 1906, death claiming her September 10, 1908. Immediate survivors are his aged mother, two brothers, Charlie and Robert. Services were held at the home of his mother in Nebo, Tuesday afternoon, conducted by Elder C. E. Hudson of White Hall, a former pastor of the local Baptist Church. Those having charge of the singing were: Jack Greenstreet and wife, Charlie Pearson, Mrs. Cora Webb. Interment was made in the Allison Cemetery. Pallbearers were: H. E. Greenstreet, Ernest Ewers, John Zumwalt, Cecil Zumwalt, Harry Craig, Alfro Turnbeaugh. Honorary pallbearers: Mauric Zumwalt, Bob Zumwalt, Jr, Geo. Boyle, Loren Boyle, Evans Franklin, John W. Pruett.
The Alton Evening Telegraph, December 28, 1939, reported Zumwalt’s death and the result of an inquest. Zumwalt was laid to rest at Allison Cemetery.

Because of Zumwalt’s Socialist and artistic background, I believe he created the Nutt Family strip.

—Alex Jay

amazing work, Alex. Thanks!
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