When Jack was six, both his parents died of tuberculosis. (There are conflicting reports, one says Jenny died three years earlier 1886 and another says 1889 within six days of John).
Jack's brother and sister were taken in by his Uncle Bill, but he was sent to Bennett, Iowa (pop. 300) where his Aunt Margaret and Uncle Orson G. Baldwin owned a general store. Aunt Margaret was a strict disciplinarian and very religious. Uncle Baldwin was a man of few words and both of them kept to themselves. Aunt Margaret was unhappy in Bennett, having most recently come from the more sophisticated town of Davenport. She didn't like the mud streets and many saloons and pool halls in Bennett. She was particularly upset with the fact that there weren't enough Catholics to form a parish.
Jack dropped out of school at the age of 12 and started working for his aunt and uncle in Baldwins General Store. He loved playing pranks, such as moving the post office sign to the front of the lumberyard and overturning outhouses. Jack loved sports more than anything, attending wrestling matches and playing baseball.
At the age of 16 he returned to Fulton to live with his grandmother (possibly because of discipline problems and money difficulties) and his 21-year-old sister Kate. Kate got him a job at J.W. Broadhead Dry Goods Store, where he worked for the next eight years. Although he returned to Fulton to visit his brother William, who was working on a grain elevator, he had to stay in hotels because he no longer got along with his uncle. His last visit was Christmas 1901, when his aunt and uncle sold the store and moved to Iowa.
At Broadhead's, Jack began to specialize in selling shoes and got a reputation for drinking too much. It was at Broadhead's that he met his wife, Nelle Clyde Wilson.
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