John F. “J.F.” Jersezy

1868 – 1916

 

 

           

Chanute Daily Tribune

December 14, 1903 – Front Page

 

J. F. Jersezy was born on May 24, 1868 in Wisconsin to John Jerzey* (c1845-1907) and Florence A. Jerzey (1849-1922).   John Jerzey* had joined the 8th New York Light Artillery in 1863 and served there for the remainder of the Civil War.

J. F. Jersezy was married first on July 11, 1896 at Carthage, Missouri to Frances Pennington of Carthage.  The couple resided in Chanute, Kansas where J. F. engaged in business as a sign painter and pawn broker.  He opened his sign shop over the post office in 1903 and a pawnshop (called the “Curio Shop”) at 205 East Main St. in 1904.  Early in 1907, he moved the pawnshop to 3 North Lincoln St.

J. F. Jersezy was married second on November 13, 1905 in at Carthage, Missouri to Sybil Booe of Carthage.  They were divorced at Chanute, Kansas in September of 1906.

            J. F. Jersezy was married third on May 3, 1908 at Carthage, Missouri to Bessie (Ogilvie) Green of Independence, Kansas.  The marriage was stormy from the start and Bessie Jersezy was divorced from J. F. at Chanute in February of 1914 claiming that he was mean to her.

            J. F. Jersezy traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana in May of 1912 to view the Indianapolis “500” race on Memorial Day.

            Trouble seemed to follow J. F. Jersezy as there are numerous accounts in the local newspaper of physical altercations in Jersezy’s pawnshop involving the proprietor and potential customers who were trying to pawn items such as pocket watches and fire arms.

 

 

September 21, 1912

½ mile dirt oval – American Automobile Association sanctioned race at the Kansas State in Hutchinson, Kansas

            Jersezy drove a Hudson 20 roadster that had been painted two-tone black and blue with lemon colored running boards.

Jersezy finished second in a 10-lap race for stock automobiles behind Charlie Shaffstall of Coffeyville, Kansas who was driving a 1910 Flanders 20 owned by the Etchen Brothers Auto Co. of Coffeyville, Kansas.

  

November 28, 1912

½ mile dirt oval – Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Forest Park at Coffeyville, Kansas

            Jersezy drove a Hudson 20 roadster.  Each of the races was started from a complete stop with a pistol shot.

Jersezy finished in second place behind Charlie Shaffstall in the first six-lap heat race.  Shaffstall was driving a 1910 Flanders 20 owned by the Etchen Brothers Auto Co. of Coffeyville.

Jersezy finished in second place behind Charlie Shaffstall in the second six-lap heat race.

Jersezy won the third six-lap heat race followed by Charlie Shaffstall.

Shaffstall won the feature race with Jersezy in second place so Jersezy purchased the 1910 Flanders 20 from the Etchen Brothers Auto Company that winter and gave it the affectionate nickname “Billy”.

 

April 26-27, 1913

½ mile dirt oval – Tulsa State Fairgrounds in Tulsa, Oklahoma

            Jersezy drove his 1910 Flanders 20.

No results of these races have been located to dates

 

June 11, 1913

Iola Register

June 9, 1913, Page 3

 

½ mile dirt oval – Riverside Park in Iola, Kansas

            Charlie Shaffstall drove Jersezy’s 1910 Flanders 20.

Basil T. “B. T.” Barber of Iola, Kansas challenged Jersezy to a match race between their two cars proposing that it be run at the Riverside Park racetrack in Iola.  The two owners agreed that they would split the gate receipts 60% to the winner with 40% going to the looser.  With 2,000 spectators in the grandstands having paid 25 cents each for their tickets, the purse came to almost $500.  Shaffstall drove the 1910 Flanders 20 to an easy win in the first two of the three scheduled races thus defeating Barber whose Ford was plagued with engine trouble.  Barber sought a rematch to be run on the Riverside Park racetrack on July 4, 1913 but Jersezy already had a contract to run there against the clock on that day so he declined the offer.  Barber then entered the races that were run on that date at Winfield, Kansas.

 

July 4, 1913

Road course – Allen County Fairgrounds in Iola, Kansas

            Jersezy drove his 1910 Flanders 20.

Jersezy received $50 to make a single-car; three-mile exhibition run against the clock but it is unknown how fast he was able to cover the distance.

  

August 11, 1913

½ mile dirt oval – Katy Park in Chanute, Kansas

          Jersezy drove his 1910 Flanders 20.

Jersezy was running practice laps and was traveling between 40 and 50 m.p.h. when a front axle broke.  When he entered the next corner, tire rolled on down the racetrack while the front of the car dropped down and dug along in the dirt for 30 to 40 yards before plowing to a stop a few inches from a tree at the edge of the track.   Jersezy was not injured and said that this was the third accident of the kind that he had experienced in the 1910 Flanders 20.

 

August 29, 1913

½ mile dirt oval – Central Kansas Fairgrounds in Abilene, Kansas

          Jersezy drove his 1910 Flanders 20.

There were five cars entered in these races but, by the time the final race was called to the starting, three of those had been eliminated by accidents so the only cars to start the final race were Jersezy’s 1910 Flanders 20 and a Maxwell driven by Peter Clarence “P. C.” Redman of Abilene.  When the starter’s pistol fired though, Jersezy’s car broke a hub and had to be withdrawn leaving the victory for Redman by default.

 

September 12, 1913

½ mile dirt oval – North Central Kansas Fairgrounds in Belleville, Kansas

            Jersezy drove his 1910 Flanders 20.

Jersezy’s name does not appear in the results of these races but Glenn M. Breed of Iola, Kansas was declared to be the overall winner.

 

September 19, 1913

½ mile dirt oval – Franklin County Fairgrounds in Ottawa, Kansas

            Jersezy drove his 1910 Flanders 20.

This was to be a best two-out-of-three, four-mile match races between Jersezy’s 1910 Flanders 20 and a Ford special riven by B. T. Barber of Iola, Kansas.  Jersezy started on the pole of the first race but Barber finished first in 5 minutes, 31.0 seconds.  This was a close race with both cars running nearly side-by-side for the entire distance.  The only advantage was that Barber got away from the starting line slightly quicker.

Barber also finished first, by a very close margin, in the second four-mile race.  His time for the distance was 5 minutes, 20.0 seconds despite Barber’s engine developing a miss in one of its cylinders during the event.  The judges ruled that Barber had crowded Jersezy unfairly during one of the races and refused to pay the prize money that the fair board had posted to get the two drivers to compete there.  Jersezy disagreed with the judges’ ruling though saying that Barber had not treated him unfairly.  The fair board also claimed they had been promised more and longer races that did not materialize.  One week later, they relented and paid the competitors the prize money.  It is unknown how much the winner received but the looser (Jersezy) collected $100 for taking part in the two races that he did.

 

October 10, 1913

½ mile dirt oval – Katy Park in Chanute, Kansas

Katy Park Racetrack in Chanute, Kansas on August 26, 1914

Left to right: W. W. Brown in his Buick Model 22 “Bear-Cat II”, Glenn Breed in his car #5 which is a 1909 Marquette-Buick Model 17 and J. F. Jersezy in the white shirt at right standing beside his car #13 which is a 1910 Flanders 20.  Jersezy also owned Brown’s Buick “Bear Cat II” at the time.

A. D. Toland photo donated by Lucile (Seaholm) Toland to the Chanute (Kansas) Historical Society

 

             Charlie Shaffstall drove Jersezy’s 1910 Flanders 20.

A crowd estimated to be between 8,000 and 10,000 spectators was on hand.  There were many crashes and, in accordance with the finical arrangements that the promoter had made with the fair board, if the cars did not finish the race, the driver could not collect the prize money.  Since few managed to finish; only a few dollars of the purse was actually paid out, much to the consternation of the contestants.

Shaffstall finished second to Glenn M. Breed who was driving his Buick in the first heat.

Shaffstall suffered a broken rib and other non-life-threatening injuries on the fifth lap of the second 10-lap heat race when, in a thick cloud of dust, he crashed the 1910 Flanders 20 into the disabled Buick “Bearcat” driven by W. W. Brown.  The force of the crash turned the 1910 Flanders 20 over on its side throwing Shaffstall out and completely over the top of Brown’s Buick.  Brown was able to repair his car, while the race was stopped for Shaffstall’s accident, and Brown was ready when it restarted.  He went on to win the race.

Breed won the “Free-for-All” race.  The total purse for the day’s racing was $500.

 

Glenn Breed spent the winter of 1913 and the first 4 months of 1914 working for the White Auto Repair Co. in Indianapolis, Indiana.  While he was in Indiana, he put his Buick racing car in storage in Chanute, Kansas in the care of J. F. Jersezy.

 

July 4, 1914

½ mile dirt oval – Riverside Park in Iola, Kansas

            Jersezy entered his 1910 Flanders 20.

Due to rain, these races were postponed until July 15, 1914.

 

July 15, 1914

½ mile dirt oval – Riverside Park in Iola, Kansas

            Lee D. Hester of Iola drove Jersezy’s 1910 Flanders 20.

3,000 spectators watched as Hester finished fourth in the 2-lap time trials with a time of 1 minute, 28.5 seconds.  That was 13.2 seconds slower than the fastest time of the afternoon which was run by W. W. Brown in his Buick “Bearcat” from Kansas City, Missouri.

Five automobiles started in the first 5-mile race.  Hester finished in fourth place in a time of 7 minutes, 15.0 seconds which was 51.0 seconds slower than the winning time of B. T. Barber.

Five automobiles started in the second 5-mile race.  Hester finished in fourth place in a time of 8 minutes, 23.0 seconds which was 53.0 seconds slower than the winning time of W. W. Brown.

Six automobiles started in the third 5-mile race but that race was delayed when Jersezy’ 1910 Flanders 20 suffered ignition problems.  When the race got underway, Hester finished in fourth place in a time of 7 minutes, 5 seconds.  That was 45.0 seconds off the pace set by winner B. T. Barber who finished one lap ahead of Hester.

For Hester’s three fourth place finishes on this afternoon, Hester collected a total of $30 from the $350 total purse.

 

August 19, 1914

½ mile dirt oval – Katy Park in Chanute, Kansas

Jersezy entered his 1910 Flanders 20.  W. W. Brown entered the Buick Model 22 “Bearcat II” that Brown had recently built and that Jersezy had then purchased from Brown provided that Brown would continue to drive the car for Jersezy for the remainder of the 1914 racing season.

The races were postponed until August 26, 1914 due to rain.

Katy Park Racetrack in Chanute, Kansas on August 26, 1914

J. F. Jersezy, in a white shirt, is shown here sitting on the rear tire of his Buick Model 22 “Bearcat II” that was being driven by the car’s builder, W. W. Brown.  That is Brown leaning against the car beside Jersezy as they watch an acrobat entertain the crowd during a break between races.

A. D. Toland photo donated by Lucile (Seaholm) Toland to the Chanute (Kansas) Historical Society

 

 

August 26, 1914

½ mile dirt oval – Katy Park in Chanute, Kansas

            Lee D. Hester of Iola, Kansas drove Jersezy’s 1910 Flanders 20 and W. W. Brown drove Jersezy’s Buick Model 22 “Bearcat II”.

                        4,000 racing fans saw Hester finish second to Glenn M. Breed in the first 10-lap heat race.

Hester was running in third place behind Breed and Brown in the third 10-lap heat race when a tire blew on Flanders 20 and Hester dropped out of the race.

Hester finished in third place in the $300 “Free-for-All” race behind Brown and Breed.

Iva (Mrs. W. W.) Brown made an exhibition one-mile run on the track after the final race was over.  She turned in a time for the two-lap distance of 1 minute, 29.0 seconds.

The third race and deciding race in the highly publicized best two-out-of-three series of match races between B. T. Barber’s 22 h.p. Ford and Jersezy’s 22 h.p. Buick “Bearcat II” was scheduled to be run as part of this program but that did that not materialize.  The first race in that series was run at Iola, Kansas on June 11, 1913 with Jersezy the victor.  The second race in that series was run at Ottawa, Kansas in September of 1913 with Barber the victor.

 

August 28, 1914

½ mile dirt oval – North Central Kansas Fairgrounds in Belleville, Kansas

            Jersezy drove his 1910 Flanders 20 and W. W. Brown entered Jersezy’s Buick Model 22 “Bearcat II”.

Jersezy’s name does not appear in the results of these races and Brown wound up stuck in mud on the road trying to get there but Albert “Dutch” Stiegel of Kansas City drove his Stafford to the overall victory on this day.

 

September 1, 1914

½ mile dirt oval – Cloud County Fairgrounds at Concordia, Kansas

W. W. Brown drove Jersezy’s Buick Model 22 “Bearcat II”

Brown finished second in the 10-mile final event behind Glenn M. Breed.  A seven-car field started that feature race that paid a total of $300 to the contestants.

 

September 2, 1914

½ mile dirt oval – Hiawatha Fairgrounds at Hiawatha, Kansas

            W. W. Brown drove Jersezy’s Buick Model 22 “Bearcat II”.

Brown was involved in a collision with a car driven by Cleve Willis of Hiawatha.  After the collision, Willis’ car left the track and climbed a steep embankment striking two spectators, “dangerously” injuring one of them.  The “Bearcat II” was not damaged and, when the race was restarted, Brown went on to win first place.  He also won the feature race.

 

May 13, 1915

½ mile dirt oval - Cowley County Fairgrounds in Winfield, Kansas

            Roy Good of Coffeyville, Kansas apparently drove Jersezy’s 1910 Flanders 20.

A story on page 6 of the May 14, 1915 issue of the Winfield Daily Courier reported that someone named “Rigby” finished second in a Flanders automobile in the 20-mile race run at Winfield on this afternoon while the Chanute Daily Tribune of the same date reported on its front page that second place in that race was won by Roy Good driving the 1910 Flanders 20 owned by J. F. Jersezy.  The stories in both of these newspapers agree that the winner of the event was a Mercer which was being driven by Sig Haugdahl of Albert Lea, Minnesota.

 

July 30, 1915

½ dirt oval – Labette County Fairgrounds at Oswego, Kansas

Glenn M. Breed drove Jersezy’s 1910 Flanders 20.

Breed finished in second place behind Roy Gillett of Fredonia, Kansas in in the 10-mile race.  The car Breed drove was ill-handling and he “had difficulty in keeping inside the fences.  Once, he let it out on the straightaway and the car swung completely about and started back in the opposite direction.”

 

August 24, 1915

½ mile dirt oval – North Central Kansas Fairgrounds in Belleville, Kansas

Jersezy entered his Buick Modell 22 “Bearcat II” in these races

Lee D. Hester of Iola, Kansas won two of the three 5-mile races this day while driving B. T. Barber’s Model T Ford “Bug”.  A report in the Iola Register the following day claimed that one of the competitors that Hester had defeated was Jersezy.  However, Jersezy told reporters that claim was not true.  He said he had set out to race at Belleville but had become stuck in deep mud west of Emporia, Kansas and had not even made it to the races at Belleville.

 

J. F. Jersezy with his “Bearcat II” Model 22 Buick Racing Car

A. D. Toland photo donated by Lucile (Seaholm) Toland to the

Chanute (Kansas) Historical Society

 

 

September, 1915

½ mile dirt oval – Hiawatha Fairgrounds at Hiawatha, Kansas

It is unclear what car Jersezy entered in these races or who may have driven it for him.

Jersezy won two of these races.

  

July 3, 1916

½ mile dirt oval – Dewey Fairgrounds at Dewey, Oklahoma

It is unclear what car Jersezy entered in these races or who may have driven it for him.

Jersezy finished second in the 15-mile race.

 

September 1, 1916

½ mile dirt oval – Ozark State Fairgrounds at Carthage, Missouri

It is unclear what car Jersezy entered in these races or who may have driven it for him.

Jersezy collected $500 for winning first places in the races this day.

 

J. F. Jersezy considered the number “3” to be his lucky number.  His pawnshop was located at 3 North Lincoln St. in Chanute, his Kansas State issued “permanent” auto license tag number (issued in 1913) was “3” and the number on his race car was “3”, until he changed it by adding the number 1 thus changing it to number 13 on October 9, 1913.  One wonders if this change from his lucky number might have been influenced by his pending divorce from his third wife.

Jersezy was showing a revolver to two men near the rear of his pawnshop on December 4, 1916.  Vera Dennis, who worked for Jersezy as a salesgirl in the shop, claimed that she was looking out a window at the front of the store and did not witness what happened next.  A revolver discharged at close range striking Jersezy in the lip just below his right nostril.  The bullet lodged in his brain and he died a short time later.  Two revolvers were found lying on top of the glass gun display case where the men had been.  Jersezy did not keep the guns loaded that he had on display but one of the revolvers found was fully loaded except for the spent casing of the bullet that struck Jersezy.  Powder burns were found on his face.  The two customers ran from the store.  One was captured while running near the Neosho River about four miles north of Chanute a couple of hours after the shooting and was returned to Chanute where he was identified by a witness as one of the men who was seen running from the Curio Shop.

During the investigation, Seferino Arenas said that the other man involved was his 17-year-old cousin.  Arenas admitted to firing the fatal shot but he said he had snapped the trigger not knowing the revolver was loaded.  The county attorney and the coroner eventually decided that the shooting was an accident.  The day after Arenas was released from custody; he and his family boarded a train to Mexico.

Jersezy’s ex-wife, “Mrs. Bessie Green” of Independence, Kansas, attended his funeral and he was laid to rest near his father’s grave in Elmwood Cemetery in Chanute.  His mother was named administrator of his estate.

 

 

 

 

* John Jerzey’s surname has also been found spelled as “Gerowes” and “Jeroes” on various military records although it is spelled “Jerzey” on his tombstone which was issued by the Federal Veteran’s Administration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You:

Craig Reaves, Trevon Richard and the Chanute (Kansas) Historical Society