To some, Jack Logan remains a mystery, an unknown painter’s name affixed to the World War I “Peabody’s Roll of Honor” that has hung in Peabody Township Library since 1919.
Not to Virginia Skinner.
Five years ago, Skinner took an interest in the painting, found where the painter was buried, and was in contact with his family.
“I talked to his grandchildren,” Skinner said. “Now, for some reason, one of those grandchildren’s sons called a couple of days ago. He was very interested in all of it.
“I think one of them even came to visit a few years ago,” Skinner said. “The painter himself is buried in Wichita.”
One great-grandson originally called library director Roger Charles, who forwarded him to Skinner.
“The one I talked to was a great-grandson who knew nothing about this,” Charles said. “He didn’t even know Jack Logan at all.”
After talking with the family, a few details about the painter came to light.
“He was very colorful character,” Skinner said. “He and his wife were divorced which was kind of uncommon back in the ’20s. His grandchildren didn’t know much about him, which is why they were interested when all this surfaced.”
A search of newspaper archives revealed that Logan was a local painter and home decorator.
In an October 1918 advertisement, Logan announced the opening of The Peabody deSIGN Company, a half block west of First National Bank. He provided interior decorating, paper hanging, house painting, automobile finishing, and signs.
The business was referred to as Peabody Sign and Decorating Company when he donated the painting in January 1919. Later that year, in May, Logan’s business was housed at Doyle Hardware Company.
His civic-minded nature extended to painting a thermometer that hung outside the hardware store to track sales of Victory Liberty bonds, and he was described as an assistant organizer for the Loyal Order of Moose, helping to establish a chapter in Marion.
Skinner is in the process of writing a book, and research for it began in 2012. Her research included veterans whose names appeared on the painting.
“I was doing a lot of research to find their descendants that live in the area,” Skinner said.
Skinner found many connections from the painting that were still in the Peabody area, including someone who was a distant relative of Mayor Larry Larson.
The fun part of all the research for Skinner was the reaction of the descendants when they discovered them on the painting.
“There were all these people that had descendants on there and they all got very excited about it,” Skinner said. “They brought relics from World War I that had been passed down from their families and we displayed a lot of those.”
Back in September, the painting was shipped off to Frame Guild in Wichita to help get rid of almost 100 years of grime.
“It’s been hanging there the whole time before we were climate controlled and it had a lot of dirt on it,” Charles said.
Some may think almost 100 years of dirt is a problem, but Charles thinks of it as a blessing.
“The dirt that was put down was before we used chemicals in the field, so it had a protective layer of regular dirt,” Charles said, “so the chemicals didn’t lift the paint.”
Since Van Landingham couldn’t fit the painting in her back room, it sat out where others could see it, prompting people to stand there admiring the painting, Charles said.
“People would spend 20-25 minutes looking at it,” Charles said. “There were people who came back multiple times. She had a lot of foot traffic through her shop because of this monster.”
The painting will hang in a new location in the library where visitors can easily spot it.
“It’ll be there for 150 years before we have to touch it again,” Charles said. “It’ll be some other librarian and library board who’ll have to deal with it.”
A fundraiser for the project has raised almost $4,300 of a $5,000 goal, and now that a wheelchair lift project is complete, the next is to hang the painting back in the library.
“We finished the lift project last week and Pam also just finished up, so it’s time for it to come home,” Charles said.
Charles said the difference in the painting, after being cleaned, as something one has to see in person.
“It is so beautiful now,” Charles said. “She got all the dirt off of it and the color and the flag just stand off of the board. Logan put a lot of detail into it that we couldn’t see before.”
An open house will be held to celebrate the painting’s return. A specific date has not been set yet, but will be soon, Charles said.
“I hope everyone will come in and see it when we have the open house and spend time with it.”