Uncle Mike Doyle,

Depression Lawman



ichael Sebastian Doyle was the one of my father’s siblings that I knew the best. The second son of William and Helaine Yingling Doyle, he was born May 22, 1869, and was named for his grandfathers Michael Doyle and Sebastian Yingling. He lived his entire life in the White County communities of Dewey and Pangburn.  I remember Uncle Mike as a man with a kind face and smiling eyes.  He punctuated his speech with a phrase like “I gannies” this or “I gannies” that. 

            Uncle Everette died when I was 2.  Uncle Will and Uncle Louis lived in Texas and I saw them only two or three times.  Aunt Annie lived in Illinois and I saw her only once.   Uncle Mike’s wife, Aunt Minnie, died in 1920 and I don’t remember her at all.  There were eight children in the family.   My first remembrance of the family was when we lived on the farm and Uncle Mike brought J.L., the youngest child, and came to make sorghum.  At that time, Perry and Harry lived in Missouri, Dick and Della were married and lived in Pangburn.  Annie, Bill, Commie and J.L. were at home and Annie did the cooking and took care of the family.

            For as long as I can remember, Uncle Mike was the Marshal of Pangburn.  I can still see the big star badge that he wore on his clothes at all times.  The job of Marshal didn’t pay a living wage, so Uncle Mike had to have other jobs to supplement his meager pay.  With the help of Bill and Commie, he was the school custodian.  They oiled the floors to keep the dust down, swept the floors, built fires in the wood stoves in each room and kept the school clean in general.  Then he and the boys planted a crop.  I don’t remember whether he grew anything besides cotton or not.  I can remember my brother and I chopped cotton for him.  We both worked on the same row to try to keep up with the adults, and for our work he paid us $1.50 a day.

            When Aunt Annie Brown and her two daughters from Illinois came to visit in 1929, they stayed with us.  Uncle Mike and his daughter Annie had all of us for lunch one day.  When she got ready to serve the cake, she got it out of the dresser drawer where she had hidden it from her brothers.         Our houses were a block apart, so the children were together a lot when we were growing up, especially J.L. and my brother C.E., who were the same age.  As we grew up and went our separate ways, we saw each other only on special occasions, mostly at funerals it seems.

          Annie married Harry Hammock and they lived in Pangburn.  Commie married Audrey Vernon and they, too, lived in town.  J.L. married Jennie V. Wise from McCrory and they lived in Chicago.  Bill never married and ended up living in North Little Rock.        Dick married Maude Davenport, who had sight in only one eye, and could not hear or speak, but was an intelligent person.  When she came to visit she always brought a tablet and she and Mama carried on a conversation through writing notes.  Della married Arthur Williams of Pangburn. When Uncle Mike died October 25, 1954, my brother’s family happened to be at home visiting and I came from Little Rock, so our entire family was able to attend his funeral service.  I remember the minister used the scripture from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes at his service, which states there is a time to be born and a time to die.  Uncle Mike was 85.

            When Papa died at age 92 in 1968, J.L. came home from Chicago and served as a pallbearer.  Today all of Uncle Mike’s family is gone and I don’t feel I really know his grandchildren except for Vicki Hofstetter, J.L.’s daughter, whom I met at her father’s funeral in February 1996.  


(The author is a member of the White County Historical Society and author of “Something Money Can’t Buy.”)