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Full text of "Tales from two rivers"







^ales from ^wo "^vers 11 



^ales from ^wo "V^vers II 



edited by Jerrilee Cain, John E. HaUwas, Victor Hicken 



A Two Rivers Arts Council Publication 

College of Fine Arts Development 

Western Illinois University 

Macomb, Illinois 



Copyright 1982 by Western Illinois University 
Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 82-050895 

Cover photograph and photographs at the head of each chapter are courtesy of Archives and Special 
Collections, Western llhnois University Library. 




^ales from ^wo "^V^vers II 



is published in answer 
to public demand 



Reviews in regional newspapers and journals had this to say 
about Tales from Two Rivers I: 

"The competition was designed to elicit the social 
history experiences of senior citizens throughout 
western Illinois and the project was clearly a 
success. The narratives contain an incredible 
range of insights and recollections . . . the net 
affect of this collection is . . . 'as thrilling as who- 
done-it and as unforgettable as a first love.'" 

Journal of the Illinois State 

Historical Society 

"They [the stories] are small memoirs, like 
flowers pressed between the pages of a book." 
Jerry Klein, Peoria Journal Star 



"For those readers of this column who enjoy 
'nostalgia,' and we assume our readers do if they 
read this column, we would like to recommend a 
new paperback book on the market called Tales 
from Two Rivers I. " 

Carl Landrum, Quincy Herald Whig 

"Above [a] flood of commercially cute and 
predigested oldtimeyness, Tales from Two Rivers 
I stands out like a beacon on the high ground of 
reality. . . . What these tales offer is a plain, 
unvarnished glimpse back into time. . . . We 
can't go back to those times. We'd regret it if we 
could— and it is the supreme virtue of this 
collection that makes plain the good and the bad 
together. . . . We need to be reminded— or told 
for the first time— both what we've gained and 
what we've lost. What better gift for the future 
than the past?" 

Herald Henderson, Illinois Times 



The Illinois legislature has recognized the value of Tales from Two Rivers I and II: 



"RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF 
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE EIGHTY- 
SECOND GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE 
STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we do hereby 
recognize, applaud, and congratulate the Two 
Rivers Arts Council for preserving the history of 
Illinois through Tales from Two Rivers I . . ." 
House Resolution No. 688 
Offered by Rep. Charles Neff 
Adopted March 3, 1982 



■■RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE 
EIGHTY-SECOND GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF 
THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we commend 
the TALES FROM TWO RIVERS I contributing 
authors, the Two Rivers Arts Council, the Illinois 
Humanities Council, the Illinois Arts Council, 
and Western lUinois University College of Fine 
Arts Development for producing this book that 
will serve as a record of lUinois rural history; 
that we express to those individuals who were 
involved in the project our deep appreciation and 
thanks for their inspired and fruitful efforts, and 
that we wish for them continued success in their 
latest endeavor, TALES FROM TWO RIVERS 
II . . ." 

Senate Resolution No. 441 
Offered by Senator Laura Kent 
Adopted March 3L 1982 



Contents 



"A living art, or living arts rather, are generated by the direct Ufe experiences of their 
makers within their milieus and locales ..." 

Thomas Hart Benton 



Traveling In Days Gone B:y 



II Country Stores 



GRANDPA'S COUNTRY STORE Beula Setters 
MABLE Iva I. Peters 

HAMBURGERS, MILKSHAKES, AND COLLEGE 
STUDENTS Katherine Z. Adair 



THE HORSE KNEW THE WAY Nina L. Vortman ^ 

BOUNCE Alice Krauser 

MORE THAN JUST A HORSE Laurence Rover ' 

OLD MAN DIRT ROAD Marjory M. Reed 

PULLING RUSHVILLE OUT OF THE MUD Paul C. Sloan « 

A MEMORABLE JOURNEY Marie Freesmeyer 

STEAMBOAT A' COMIN' John F. Ellis 

THE RAILROAD IN ORION Kenneth Maxwell Norcross '" 

FARMINGTON DEPOT IN THE TWENTIES Everette Wilton Latham IS 

RAILROAD DAYS IN ROODHOUSE Eva L. Sullivan J^ 

COPING WITH "THE DEEP HOLE" Bernadette Tranbarger ^^ 



35 



THE HUCKSTER WAGON Louis Krueger 36 

MEMORIES OF WAYLAND Lillian Elizabeth Terrv 36 

THE GIN RIDGE STORE: NOT A MYTH John C.'Willey 38 

EGGS, APPLES, AND CONSCIENCE Mildred M. Nelson 39 

SELLING AND TRADING IN BEARDSTOWN Nellie F. Roe 40 



m Small Villages 



MIDDLE CREEK: ONLY MEMORIES 

REMAIN Lena Aleshire Boos 47 

MABEL: ONLY ON THE OLD MAPS Alline Lawson Armstrong 48 

CAMDEN AND THE LITTLE GEM THEATRE Ruth A. Kearby 49 

I SURE MISS THE WHISTLES Marguerite Foster 50 

"US" WAS WRITTEN ON THE CARS Vera V. Chenowith 52 
BERNADOTTE: THE TOWN THAT WAS, WAS NOT, 

BUT NOW IS Harvev S. Bubb, Sr. 53 

CAMP POINT: $1000 AND A MANSE Beulah Jean McMillan 55 

CROOKED CREEK AND COOPERSTOWN Ellen Fry Baldwin 56 
LA CROSSE: A FEW HOUSES AND ONE OLD 

STORE Lawrence G. Anderson 59 

BURNSIDE: MY OLD HOME TOWN Neoma Ewing Steege 60 

NAPLES: 12-t UNDER THE BOARDWALK John F. Ellis 61 
SALINE AND DIAMOND MINERAL 

SPRINGS Mrs. Clarence Beck 63 



IV Those Country School Days 



GHOSTS BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD Eva Baker Watson 71 

FAIRVIEW SCHOOLHOUSE Marjorie Downs Byers 73 

BUTLERVILLE SCHOOL Violet Greenleaf Rose 75 

EPISODE AT LONE OAK Marjorie Dawson Dauies 77 



EPITAPH FOR A COUNTRY SCHOOL Robert Taylor Bums 77 

STARTING OUT AT SOUTH LINCOLN Lucille Herring Davidson '^ 

MEMORIES OF A COUNTRY SCHOOL ^^ 

TEACHER Eleanoe Grant Verene , ^ ■ qo 

A BULL IN THE CLASSROOM-ALMOST Leona Tuttle Curtis »^ 
FULL LASTING IS THE SONG Eva Baker Watson 

NO-NONSENSE SCHOOLING NEEDED AGAIN Mattie L. Emery 85 



V Pastimes 



THE BERLIN SCHOOL Ruby Davenport Kish 
WHAT ARE TOMBOYS MADE OF, 

MADE OF Edna Trovillion Baker 
A STREETCAR RAN IN FRONT Beulah Jean McMillan 
PEONIES ON DECORATION DAY Harriet Bricker 
DECORATION DAY AT THE CEMETERY Leta Rogers Spradbr 



CHAUTAUQUA DAYS Beulah Knecht 

INDEPENDENCE DAY Bob Hulsen 

BAND CONCERTS AT WARSAW Delia Radcliffe »° 

SATURDAY AFTERNOON IN TOWN Helen E. Rilling ^J 

SUMMERTIME IN ILLINOIS Lucille Ballinger , ^. ^ 11 

GERMAN NEW YEARS IN MELROSE TOWNSHIP Lydia Kanauss 99 

PLAYTHINGS PLAYMATES, AND PLAYHOUSES Eleanor Dodds 

CHARIVARI, SHIVAREE, OR CHIVAREE Avis Ray Berry 

NOVEMBER IN THE PARK Sara Beth McMillan 

TENT SHOWS IN THE TWENTIES Genevieve Hagerty 

CREAM AND CREAMERY PICNICS Minnie J. Bryan 

LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY Herman R. Koester 



VI Pure hlostalgia ^^^ 



114 
116 

117 
119 



FRESH AND LASTING Dorothy Green Liehr 121 

THE QUARANTINE SIGN Martha K. Graham 123 

GRAY WITH WHITE TRIM Doris L. Childberg 124 

TRUTH AND JUSTICE Blanche M. Harrison 126 

"BOOZE" Eunice Stone DeShane 128 

MY TIN DINNER PAIL Fannie Lewis Lynn 128 

SPINACH, EPSOM SALTS, AND THE CHURCH Don Parker 129 

A DAY OF QUESTIONS Lillian C. Peterson 131 

THAT HORSE ISN'T SAFE Ruth (Poiset) ODonnell 133 

BEAUTY CAN BE A SUNSET Charles P. Oberling 134 



VII How It Was Done 



MOTHER'S GEESE Lvdia (Barton) Waite 141 

GRANDMA'S RECIPE BOOK Louise E. Efnor 142 

SAWMILL MEMORIES John P. Kramer 143 

THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH Louise Parker Simms 145 
DELIVERING MAIL ACROSS TROUBLESOME 

CREEK Addra Icenogle Graham 146 

THE DURHAM TOWNSHIP WOLF HUNT Robert R. Wagner 148 

HE WAS A DOWSER Elma M. Strunk 149 

GRANDMA'S SPRING CLEANING Beula Selters 150 

FEATHERWEIGHT MEMORIES Zella Sill 151 

BUILDING A FARM FENCE Burdette Graham 152 

WORKING WITH HIRED MEN Arthur Bowles 155 

APPLE BUTTER DAYS Edna L. Thompson 156 

MEDICINE MAMMA'S WAY Clarice Stafford Harris 157 

MISS ADA AND HER NIMBLE THIMBLE Ardith E. Williams 158 

THE LEGEND OF THE BACKHOUSE Keith L. Wilkey 159 
REACHING OUT AND TOUCHING- 

CIRCA 1920 Eva Baker Watson 161 

HIRED GIRL Louise Anderson Lum 163 

THE WAY OF A MAN WITH A HORSE Newton E. Barrett 165 

I WAS A PRINTER'S DEVIL Albert Shanholtzer 167 



VIII People Of The Past 

GYPSIES Enid Woolsey }!^ 



THE HIRED MAN Burdette Graham ^''^ 

SAM, THE HOBO Craven G. Griffitts 175 

THE SWAN CREEK HOBO. SELDOM SEEN Everett Trone 177 

THE PEDDLER Vemice Morrell Dees I'^S 

DR. RENNER OF BENLD Grace R. Welch 180 

DR COWLES OF WOODHULL Genevieve Hagerty 182 

WILLIAM H. HARTZELL. TRIAL ATTORNEY Leon L. Lamet 184 

THE BARBERS OF RUSHVILLE Guy Tyson 185 

THE FOLKS IN PETERSBURG Mollis Powers 188 

THE LIFE OF LOUIS SILBERER Howard Silberer 192 

THE TRUMANS OF BUSHNELL Harriet Bricker 194 

FAYE HOUTCHENS, AUCTIONEER Earl F. Carwile 196 

AUNT PRUDENCE BERRY Henn,> Hughes 197 

UNCLE HARL ROBBINS Lillian Nelson Combites 199 
TRICKY Hazel R. Livers 



QUEER FOLKS Beula Selters 202 



IX Very Special Places 207 



209 

210 



GRANNY'S KITCHEN Leta Rogers Spradlin 

THE PLACE WHERE LOVE DWELT Kathvm A. Gustafson 

FLY WITH ME OVER GRANDMOTHER'S FARM Ruth Sorrill Koestler 211 

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF SHEDS Helen E. Rilling 213 

AVERYVILLE Dorothy A. (Smith) Marshall 

THE CONSEQUENT OF THE MIGHTY 

WURLITZER William P. Bartlow 
ONCE AGAIN, BRIGHT LIGHTS Alberta Young Stegemann 
OLD SILOAM SPRINGS Irene Van Ormer Hare 220 

THE WAIT FORD Truman W. Waite 221 

TATER CREEK Garnet Workman 222 



215 



217 
219 



THE I. AND M. CANAL Glenn E. Philpott 223 

LIFE IN A FEMALE INSTITUTION Juanita Jordan Morley 225 

GOATS IN CHICAGO BACKYARDS Elizabeth Schumacher Bork 227 

GRANDFATHER'S OLD MILL Albert Shanholtzer 228 

WHITE OAK JUST FADES AWAY Vail Morgan 230 

SCOTT MILL Lucius Herbert Valentine 231 



List of Authors 



235 



President's Message: 

There are many ways to preserve our heritage. The ones 
we think of most often involve restoring old buildings or other 
landmarks. This, of course, is good but our real heritage is the 
people and the stories the people tell. 

How often does your mind, with strong nostalgia, turn 
back to the days of your youth when you walked barefoot up 
a country road, or knelt to drink clear, cold water from a 
spring, or stubbed your big toe while carrying water in a 
brown jug to threshers? You can teach by telling or by taking 
people to see. These stories do both and through them places 
and times like these come alive. 

There is a whole generation right now that never tasted 
sorghum molasses, chopped wood for the kitchen stove— or 
walked to school. You, the authors of these stories, are the 
core of the real America and your stories will help keep our 
heritage alive. Americans must rediscover this heritage and 
the basic values upon which your country was founded. 

Thank you for sharing your stories and for permitting 
us to enjoy them with you. You have enriched our lives, for 
you dare not, nor wish to, forget. 

Sincerely, 

Jerry Tyson, President 

Two Rivers Arts Council 



Jerry speaks for all of us when he articulates the 
warmth we feel for the authors who have become a part of our 
Uves because they have shared the dearest memories from 
their life experience with us at Two Rivers Arts Council and 
Western Illinois University College of Fine Arts 
Development. Because they did. Tales from Two Rivers II is 
now in your, the reader's, hands. 

Besides collecting the stories, there is a prodigious 
amount of work involved in making Tales II a reality. The 



manuscripts must be xeroxed and edited, typed and retyped, 
and then organized into categories to create the different 
themes of the book, then the memoirs are printed, galleys 
read, and photographs selected. Along the way many 
planning meetings are attended. Many people donate 
countless hours to get Tales II off the press. We do it with a 
great amount of love and dedication to the essence of what it 
means to be an Illinoian. As Jerry says, we should not forget. 

Our thanks must go to many people: 

To the people who wrote the stories. Although there was 
not enough space in the book to include all of the 600 stories 
received in the 1981 and 1982 Tales from Two Rivers writing 
contests, the names of all the contestants for those years are 
recorded in the index of this book. Each contestant 
contributed to the preservation of our Illinois heritage and all 
of the contest manuscripts have been placed on file in the 
Archives and Special CoUections Department of the Western 
Illinois University Library where they will be made available 
to future generations of researchers, historians, and students 
of lUinois history. 

To President Leslie Malpass, Western Illinois 
University, whose dedication to this region has resulted in 
the university support necessary to the pubUcation of Tales 
from Two Rivers II. 

To the Ilhnois Arts Council and the IlUnois Humanities 
Council for funding that made possible the writing contests 
from which these stories are drawn and the publication of this 
book. 

To John E. Hallwas and Victor Hicken for their 
enthusiastic help and advice and hours of labor directed 
toward editing, screening the galleys, and contributing 
invaluable help to make Tales I and // successful. 

To Nancy Butler, Terri Garner, and Carol Yeoman who 
translated illegible editorial notes, manuscripts written in 
long hand, and unfamiliar jargon into neatly typed master 
copies of the manuscript for Tales II. 



To the following banks, community organizations, and 
businesses that contributed to the writing contests: Avon 
Public Library; Church of the Good Shepherd— Avon; Avon Nursing Home; 
Avon Junior Women's Club; Avon Businessmen's Association; Avon Unit 
HEA; Neff Co.— Avon; Lucile Wilson— Avon; Tompkins State 
Bank— Avon; State Bank of Augusta; Bowen State Bank; Biggsville 
Community Federated Church: GFWC Biggsville Community Club; PLM 
Corp.— Bushnell; Midwest Control Products, Corp.— Bushnell; Farmer's 
and Merchants State Bank— Bushnell; Farmer's State Bank of Camp Point; 
First Federal Savings and Loan Association— Colchester; First National 
Bank of Carthage; Marine Trust Co.— Carthage; Hancock Co. Historical 
Association; Dallas City Bank; Gladstone Lions Club; Colchester State 
Bank; Farmer's State Bank of Ferris; Parish Fertilizer— Fairview; Golden 
State Bank; Spoon River lOOF; Security State Bank of Hamilton; Ipava 
State Bank; Calhoun County Historical Assn.; Galesburg Community Arts 
Council; Modern Manor— Mt. Sterling; Brown County State Bank; 



Farmer's State Bank and Trust Co.— Mt. Sterling; Clay Edwards; Gary and 
Nancy Aleff; Edward D. Jones & Co.— Macomb; "Student Prince 
West— Macomb; McDonough Farmer's Supply; Macomb Kiwanis; Union 
National Bank— Macomb; Jomlee Corp. —Macomb; HyVee 
Foods— Macomb; Macomb Beautiful; Citizen's National Bank— Macomb 
Mr. and Mrs. George Lewis; TomUnson Real Estate; Schuyler State Bank 
Snyder Vaughn Haven, Inc.— Rushville; Henderson County Arts Council 
Twentieth Century Club— Mt. Sterling; Raritan State Bank; Warren 
County Historical Society; LaHarpe Arts Council; State Bank of LaHarpe; 
Security Savings and Loan —Monmouth; State Bank of Nauvoo; Meiss- 
Burton Sundries; Plymouth Business Association; Table Grove State 
Bank; Acorn World— Stronghurst; Chapter PEG Sisterhood— Vermont; 
Vermont State Bank; and HiU-Dodge Banking Co.— Warsaw. 

To all of the groups and individuals who joined with us 
to bring Tales from Two Rivers II to you! 



Jerrilee Cain, Coordinator 
College of Fine Arts Development 
Executive Officer, Two Rivers Arts Council 



TWO RIVERS ARTS COUNCIL BOARD 



Rossann Baker 
Avon 

Jane Boyd 
Rushville 

William Brattain, Dir. 
WIU Union 

Shirley Burton 
Plymouth 

Nancy Butler 
LaHarpe 

Jerrilee Cain 
WIU-CFAD 

Larry Carson 
Colchester 

Cindy Gibson 
Bushnell 

Burdette Graham 
Macomb 

Sharon Graham 
BiggsviDe 

John HaUwas 
Macomb 

* Charter Member 
** Business Manager 



Carolyn Hamilton 
Augusta 

Patricia Hobbs 
Macomb 

Audine Jung 
Bowen 

Lynn Kern 
LaHarpe 

Eileen Rauschert 
Bushnell 

Robert Reed 
WIU Union 

Sandi Robinson 
Galva 

Forrest Suycott, Dean 

wiu-cfa" 

Diane Snyder 
Rushville 

Helen Thomson 
Table Grove 

Jerry Tyson 
Rushville 

Carol Yeoman 
Avon 



"The Two Rivers Arts Council [has] looked around to find 
what was most appropriate to their communities. . . And 
within a maze of sometimes rigid guidelines and bureaucracy, 
they have maintained a vestige of ingenuity, common sense, 
and self-sufficiency. . . Here, as perhaps nowhere else in this 
country, the arts have been encouraged to grow from roots 
thrust deep into their native soil, and they have made a 
difference in their towns." 

Nan Levinson - The Cultural Post 
National Endowment for the Arts 
Washington, D.C. 



w:j^ 




TRAC Executive Committee Left Front Counterclockwise: Nanc; 


y Butler, LaHarpe. 


Secretary; Carol Yeoman. Avon, Treasurer: Mary Graham, 


Biggsville, Vice- 


President: Jerry Tyson, Rushville, President: and .Jerrilee Cair 


1. WIU, Executive 


Director. 






1 traveling % ^ays Qone '^y 



TRAVELING IN DAYS GONE BY 

Virtually everyone would agree that contemporary 
American society is dominated by the automobile. We are so 
well aware of what we have gained by that one transportation 
development, and so sure of its importance, that we seldom 
consider what we have lost. And it seems odd— or even 
perverse— to reflect that today's senior citizens knew a 
richer, more diverse era of transportation in western Illinois 
several decades ago. 

After untold generations, man's dependence on the 
horse finally came to an end— at least in North 
America— during the early twentieth century. It is hard to 
reahze now that the relationship between man and horse 
which had once enriched the Uves of millions of people also 
virtually disappeared. Laurence Royer's "More Than Just a 
Horse" is a poignant testament to what has been lost. The 
other two horse-and-buggy memoirs, by Charles H. Krusa 
and Alice Krauser, depict local travel as a much more 
humanistic process than our automobile culture allows. 

It is also difficult for us to reahze the importance of 
"hard roads" to the smaU towns of many years ago. Local 
residents saw in them, quite rightly, the end of community 
isolation— as well as the end of perennial battles against 
mud— and so it is not surprising that celebrations often 
followed the completion of the pavement. But better roads 
commonly promoted the economic dechne of a town, for they 
allowed people to shop in larger, more distant communities. 
And according to geographer John A. Jakle, in The American 
Small Town (1981), paved roads, or highways, also caused 
decentraUzation. That is to say, towns began to develop an 
outward focus, and the local sense of community diminished. 
Hence, there is a certain irony in the celebration of Old Man 
Dirt Road's demise, as depicted by Marjory M. Reed, and in 
the "Easter parade review" of cars on the newly paved 
streets of Rushville, mentioned by Paul Sloan. 



The early twentieth century was also the twihght of the 
steamboat era. In western Ilhnois, that era began during the 
late 1820's and reached its peak in the pre-Civil War years, 
before the railroad had its awesome impact on travel and 
shipping. The essay by John F. Elhs evokes the colorful 
world of river travel that came to an end when he was young. 

He mentions the Eagle Packet Company, which has a 
significant place in the business heritage of western Illinois. 
That enterprise began in Warsaw during 1861, when two 
young German immigrants, Henry and Wilham Leyhe, 
constructed The Young Eagle. The small sidewheeler was put 
into operation between Warsaw and Keokuk. In 1865 they 
built The Grey Eagle, and as the years passed, several other 
boats were added to the Eagle One. The company offices were 
moved to Alton in 1873 and to St. Louis in 1891. Long before 
the turn of the century. Eagle steamboats were a familiar 
sight on the Ilhnois and Mississippi rivers. But tragedy 
struck in the winter of 1918, when four of the boats were 
crushed in an ice jam on the Tennessee River. The company 
never fuUy recovered from that loss. The last boat in the hne. 
The Golden Eagle, continued to operate on the Illinois River 
until after World War II. It was the only overnight packet 
boat in this part of the country. When it ran aground and 
broke up in 1947, passenger boat operations from St. Louis 
came to a end. 

The railroad is still with us, but it no longer has such a 
large impact on our lives— or our towns. As Kenneth Maxwell 
Norcross says in his memoir, "Back at the turn of the 
century, the railroad was extremely important to the 
community. Life sort of revolved around it." Indeed, when 
the raih-oads came through in the 1850's and after, some 
towns (such as Bushnell and Prairie City) were founded on 
that premise alone, while others that lacked rail connections 
(including Fandon, Birmingham, and Fountain Green) went 
into permanent dechne. Pilot Grove Corners, in Hancock 
County, was so desperate to be on a railroad line that when 



the route of the T. P. & W. was estabhshed two and one half 
miles away during 1867, local residents simply moved the 
town next to the tracks. The re-established community then 
changed its name to Burnside. 

Of course, the local depot was the point of contact 
between each community and the greater world that lay 
somewhere in the distance. As such it symbolized the escape 
from small-town confinement that many villagers yearned for 
in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Carl 
Sandburg— who was raised in the pre-eminent railroad town 
of western Illinois— understood that yearning and expressed 
it in one of his Chicago Poems (1915): "Mamie beat her head 
against the bars of a Httle Indiana town and dreamed of 
romance and big things off somewhere the way the railroad 
trains all ran." More recently, Richard Lingeman, in Small 
Town America (1980), refers to the depot as "a place of 
dreams of distant places and banshee train whistles in the 
night, the steady roar and clicking of the wheels, the pistons 
chanting 'You are missing something missing something 
missing something . . . something . . . something. Out there."' 

Of course, the railroad also brought the larger world to 
the small town, and so depots were also where politicians 
spoke, lecturers arrived, and circuses unloaded. When 
President Hayes stopped at the Macomb depot in 1879, to 
speak for just five minutes, 4,000 people attended. When 



evangehst Billy Sunday arrived at the same depot in 1905, he 
was met by local dignitaries and a brass band. The depot was, 
then, a sort of parlor for the community— a suitable setting 
for special occasions. 

But the everyday activities at the depot were also 
important to the hfe of a small town. No wonder, then, that 
local newspapers commonly reported the arrivals and 
departures of community residents, and idle men and boys 
lingered there to watch the railroad agent conduct his 
business and to see the people come and go. 

Depending on the individual's experience with it, the 
depot also frequently developed personal meaning. With 
regard to the httle girl in Bernadette Tranbarger's memoir, it 
was her lack of experience with the depot that gave it 
significance which only a child's mind could devise. 

In general, the various memoirs in this section remind 
us that if travel was slower and more unpredictable years 
ago, it also aDowed for more interaction with the landscape 
and other people, as well as more time to reflect on the 
experience of traveling. In that respect, too, the coming of 
the modern automobile and paved roads— not to mention air 
transportation— has paradoxically diminished our lives even 
as it has improved them. 

John Hallwas, Editor 



THE HORSE KNEW THE WAY 

Nina L. Vortman * 

The girl I knew and hoped to marry was teaching school 
in a very rough, rural community in Scott County, twenty- 
two miles from my bachelor farmstead. 

About every two weeks her parents drove to her school. 
Sugar Grove, and brought her home for the weekend. In 1909 
that meant a long drive with horse and buggy, which could 
make about five miles an hour, depending on the roads and 
weather. 

It was my pleasure to return her to her home near the 
school on Sunday afternoons. I'd hitch Doll to my buggy, 
drive the three miles to Ina's house and eat dinner with her 
family. We'd leave about two o'clock for the long drive back 
to the Smothers', her home away from home. 

We enjoyed the leisurely hours of companionship and 
the beauty of the changing countryside from summer to fall 
to winter. Those drives gave us a chance to share anecdotes 
about her school and my hopes and plans for the farm I had 
rented. Those were pleasant days, especially when the 
weather cooperated. 

My buggy had side curtains for rainy and cold days, and 
we had a lap-robe to help fight the elements. However, a 
several hour drive in severe weather became pretty 
uncomfortable. 

Doll was one of my work horses, as well as my driving 
horse. She was a mean horse if she wasn't working every day. 
A few days of rest and she'd balk and be just plain ornery. I 
really worked her that winter. I used her every weekday to 
shuck two big loads of corn and then drove her on the long 
Sunday treks. She needed to be shod three times for her 
travels and didn't have time to be mean. 

Doll was a good road horse. Give her her head and she'd 
take you safely over the road, night or day. On those long, 



dark, and lonely drives home after supper with Ina, she did 
just that. 

One Sunday the weather was especially rough. 
Lightning filled the skies, flashing vividly, blindingly. 
Thunder filled the air with startling crashes. Rain beat 
against the buggy, against us, and against Doll. 

On the last miles of our trip, we left the flat land and 
went into very hilly terrain. There were several unbridged 
creeks which had sandy gravel beds that had to be forded. 

We reached one of those in this terrible storm. It was 
night by then and we were anxious to get on and out of the 
storm. Doll balked! She stood, not budging, ignoring my 
efforts to urge her on. What a time and place to get 
cantankerous! 

After what seemed like ages but was really only 
seconds, Doll turned and walked along the bank for several 
yards, then forded the creek, turned knowingly back to the 
road and on to our destination. 

The storm, with its downpour, flashes, and crashes, 
continued throughout the evening so I accepted an invitation 
to stay overnight. 

Monday morning, on my way home, I came back to the 
stream. Where the road crossed the creek there was a 
straight drop to the creek bed below, instead of the gentle 
slope which had made fording possible. The raging waters 
had cut away the slopes and left vertical walls. 

Now I knew what Doll had known the night before. Her 
"horse" sense had told her of the danger. She hadn't 
balked— she had saved us from disaster. I could visualize 
horse, buggy, and the two of us entangled on the creek bed 
with water rushing around us. 

Doll again moved confidently away from the dangerous 
precipice, forded the creek farther up, and continued 
homeward. How foolish I'd been to lose faith in my mare that 
always knew the way! 



As told to the author by her father. Charles H. Krusa 



BOUNCE 

Alice Krauser 

Although I don't remember where he came from or how 
he happened to be there, some of my most vivid memories of 
early childhood— pleasurable, exciting, and frightening- 
center around Bounce. The beautiful, high-spirited bay horse 
was my father's favorite. I vaguely remember hearing that he 
was of racehorse stock. 

If someone in the neighborhood had cattle to be driven 
to market (there were no trucks in those days), my father was 
always called on because, with my father on Bounce, the job 
was made easier. Bounce was quick to respond to the 
guidance of the rein and to spoken command. He seemed to 
understand what the situation required even before a 
command was given. 

In those days, before we owned a car, if my father had 
errands to do, he would saddle Bounce and gaUop off. On rare 
occasions, if the distance was not too great, he would let me 
climb up and ride behind him. Chnging there to my father 
with both arms, I was thrilled as we flew through the air (or 
so it seemed to me), for Bounce would go into a steady, 
smooth gallop at a speed that took my breath away. 

If the whole family was to go to town, to church, or to 
visit relatives or friends, my father would hitch Bounce to the 
road-wagon, a Hght-weight, one-seated vehicle without a top. 
And we'd better be ready to go, because Bounce was always 
impatient to take off at top speed, and he became nervous 
and fidgety if he had to stand still very long. The four of us 
managed to fit into the road-wagon— Mother and Father on 
the seat, my sister Mary and I taking turns, one between our 
parents on the seat and the other on a small footstool at their 
feet. I was always somewhat afraid that after untying 
Bounce, my father might not make it to the seat and get the 
Unes in his hands before Bounce started off, but he always 
did. Bounce was allowed to go as fast as the condition of the 



road permitted until he had worked off some of his nervous 
energy and was then ready to settle down to a steady pace. 
All would go well then unless we came to a threshing machine 
in a field near the road or met one of the automobiles that 
were just beginning to come into use. 

Bounce was terrorized by the smoke-belching 
"monster" that furnished power for the threshing machine. 
At the top of the hill on Tower Road, immediately west of the 
Dexter home, there was a large shed that housed the 
threshing equipment owned by Charhe Arnold, who then 
Hved on the place that is now Dr. Dexter's. If the engine was 
out of the shed getting warmed up for a threshing job, and 
Bounce was being driven up the hill, he could hear, or smell, 
or somehow sense what was at the top of the hill. His instant 
reaction was to whirl around, with the road-wagon making 
the turn with only two wheels on the ground, while the 
frightened occupants managed somehow not to fly off into 
space. My father would leap out and grab the bridle and, in 
spite of Bounce's leaping and rearing, lead him past the 
engine. Sometimes, simply by holding tight lines, tapping 
with the whip, and shouting commands, my father managed 
to drive him by the "monster," Bounce rearing up on his hind 
legs and the road-wagon with its occupants lurching along. 

We went through the same experience, though usually 
not as drastic, if we met an automobile. When Bounce would 
start plunging and rearing, often the driver of the car, 
noticing a woman and two httle girls in the road-wagon, 
would stop his car and jump out to help, adding to the 
trouble. That terrifying machine standing there so close 
added to Bounce's frenzy and to my father's fears that 
Bounce's flying feet might injure a man who did not reaUze 
the danger. If we were on the way home from town, boxes and 
packages might sometimes be scattered on the road but we 
never were. I suppose my mother, Mary, and I had learned 
how to "sit tight." 

Meeting cars eventually became somewhat routine, but 



there was one we all dreaded meeting. It was a white car 
owned by the Gaites family (of the Gaites Studio). It wasn't 
so bad meeting it in town, but the Gaites family sometimes 
took rides out in the country. Bounce feared that "white 
monster" approaching in a cloud of dust with curtains 
flapping. In fact, all of us feared it, especially if the road was 
narrow or there were deep ditches along the sides. 

But there were happy times, too. I especially remember 
one Saturday before Christmas when the lUinois Theatre had 
a movie for children. That afternoon my father and 1 went to 
town, and he took me to the theatre, where he left me while he 
did the family shopping. Later he came back and sat with me 
until the movie was over. He still had a few things to buy. so 
it was dark by the time we started home. It was a clear, cold 
night with a brilliant moon, and we were well bundled up 
against the cold. The roads were snow-covered but in good 
condition, and Bounce traveled fast. My father, realizing that 
the experience of seeing my first movie had left me confused 
about it, retold the whole story for me as we traveled along, 
the wheels squeaking in the cold and the moonUght ghstening 
on the snow as Bounce raced toward home. 



MORE THAN JUST A HORSE 

Laurence Eoyer 

He was foaled the spring that I was four years old. I 
remember my father bringing old DoU, his mother, to the 
house one cold March day so that my mother and my sister 
and I could see the new colt from the window. His mother was 
a black mare who had always produced black colts before, but 
this time the colt was a grayish brown that set him apart 
from the blacks, bays, and roans of the rest of the horses. 
After a lengthy family discussion, he was given the name of 
Bob. 



It was the custom to continue working the brood mares, 
so he followed his mother through the routine farm work of 
his first summer. One incident during clover hulUng probably 
accounted for his total lack of fear around a threshing rig. He 
found that if he stood just right under the big drive belt it 
would scratch his back, so each time a load was being pitched 
off he would find that spot and get a good currying. 

By the time I was old enough to begin helping with the 
field work. Bob was a well broken six-year-old in the prime of 
hfe. It was safe to put a boy out with a team because the 
horses knew enough about the work to go along with very 
Uttle driving. It was our practice, in making up a four-horse 
team for the gang plow, to put the hnes on three horses, with 
the outside two tied in to the middle horse, in this case Bob, 
and the fourth on a jockey stick opposite the furrow horse. In 
this way. Bob controlled the entire team. On the level ground, 
where the plow pulled easily. Bob was content to let the 
others be ahead, but on the hills where the clay was tough, he 
took the lead and the others had to struggle to keep up. 

Bob was quiet but determined. In the evenings, when 
the horses were loose in the lot with hay on the rack wagon, 
he wasn't quarrelsome, but he never let any of them bluff him 
away from his place at the hay. Because of his steadiness, 
even as a youngster, he drew the job of breaking the colts to 
work. He never lost his temper with them and never got 
excited when they acted up. He always worked on the near 
side so he would be next to anything we met on the road. 

His early teammate was a sister named Beauty, who 
was as nervous as he was calm. She was always pranc- 
ing and puOing on the bit. My father sold her when there was 
a demand for horses at the time of the first World War. We 
led her behind the wagon to deUver her to the buyer in 
Astoria. As we turned the corner coming home. Bob looked 
back and saw we were leaving her behind. I will never forget 
his farewell whinny. 



Bob was friendly with all of us, but he had a special 
affection for my father. I remember one day when we went to 
the fair in RushviUe, a distance of fifteen or sixteen miles. We 
had taken the team and wagon with feed for the horses and a 
picnic lunch for ourselves. After dinner we agreed to meet at 
the wagon at four o'clock to start home. I arrived at the 
wagon first, and as I waited. Bob whinnied. I looked, and sure 
enough, there was Dad more than a hundred yards away, but 
Bob had spotted him among the crowd. 

One of Bob's duties was to work in the treadmill which 
we used to operate the Hinman milking machine. This was a 
rather primitive type milker that got its suction from pumps 
on a reciprocating drive rod running along the tops of the 
stanchions. Each morning and evening Bob was led into the 
treadmill where he walked uphill until the milking was 
finished. He didn't seem to relish the work, and while he went 
in wilhngly enough, he always seemed glad when it was done. 
One evening the cord broke which ran from the governor to 
the brake and which controlled the speed, and the machine 
started going faster and faster. As I ran from the barn to put 
the brake on by hand. Bob greeted me with an excited 
whinny. I 'm sure, for that one time at least, he was glad to see 
me. 

In later years Bob was teamed with a bay mare named 
Daisy. She was clever, and I remember one of the tricks she 
used to play on him. When we stopped to rest the team on a 
hill, she would pull her single tree as far ahead as it would go, 
then when it was time to start the load, all she had to do was 
set her feet and Bob would do the starting. He was willing 
and able, and I guess he didn't mind. 

When Bob was older and more or less retired, he was the 
horse my children rode. They were riding him around the 
barn one day after we had put up hay, and the hay rope was 
hanging looped down from the hay rack. He was gently 
enough to be trusted with such small children, but he was 
also determined to take the shortest route to his stall. That 



route led under the hay rope, which was too heavy for the 
children to lift. They had to stop him or get brushed off. He'd 
stop, but wouldn't turn from that route, so I finally had to 
rescue them and let him go to his stall. He thought the game 
had lasted long enough. 

At last, at the ripe old age of thirty years, Bob was 
turned out to a small pasture near my parents home where 
my father fed and cared for him. One morning the telephone 
rang, and my father's message was that Bob was down and 
couldn't get up. He had gotten thin and his condition was 
hopeless. As I crossed the Uttle valley to the hillside where he 
lay, he heard me coming and whinnied weakly. Good old 
faithful friend. There was one last service I could do for him, 
and I would not turn it over to someone else. So I stroked his 
muzzle and rubbed his ears, then fired the shot that ended his 
suffering. 

Many changes have come over the years, and I have 
welcomed the coming of mechanical power that has taken the 
hot, hard, grueling work from the horses. But, while a man 
may be proud of his tractor and thrill to its power, I don't 
think it will ever be the same as the feeling between a real 
horseman and his team. 



OLD MAN DIRT ROAD 

Marjory M. Reed 

Shouting, chanting figures moved around a cart. A 
misplaced scarecrow rested within the vehicle. It had been 
given a jouncing journey past the village stores. Then, with 
loud hurrahs, the dummy was torched. In the darkness, it 
looked as if the Indians had reclaimed Yellow Banks, or 
Oquawka. The burning of "Old Man Du-t Road" in effigy was 
a celebration for a won battle. 

In the 1920's roads connected villages and homes but 
the highways of those years are well remembered. Locally, we 



did not have "hard roads," concrete highways, black top, or 
even gravel. Our roads were dirt, sand, or clay. The cars 
became stuck in them— stuck in the sand, stuck in the mud, 
or stuck in the snow. Travelers were keenly aware of the 
area's clay hiUs and boggy hoUows. 

Most motorists carried tire chains. In the winter, 
fingers froze as they fumbled to fasten the links of cold metal. 
In warmer weather, fingers reached to the depth of mud holes 
and sought to connect those necessary chains. Oft times 
drivers scouted for a pry hole to hft and move a wheel 
forward. More frequently, travelers pushed and shoved to 
free their mired vehicles. 

Roads were flooded when creeks rose beyond their 
banks. On one such occasion, my father drove south to 
Oquawka towards Gladstone. Dad went as far as the 
conditions permitted. Then he transferred boxes of groceries 
to a rowboat, which was slightly outhned by a kerosene 
lantern. The food was for a family marooned by the extended 
creek. The two men had been waiting in the rain for the 
arrival of the needed supplies. 

Pohtical caravans traveled from the community staging 
their party raUies. The preceding car would disappear in a 
shroud of dust on those trips. Each car kept in Une by 
following the trail of dust. Patriotic white clothes appeared 
grey after a short ride. 

My father drove grocery routes through the 
countryside. Farmers requested items beforehand by phone 
or mail. Supphes were usually exchanged for commodities 
such as cream, eggs, butter, or chickens. The feet of a chicken 
were tied together and the cord hooked on a hanging scale to 
weigh the bird. Eggs were transferred from the farmer's 
containers into grey dividers of large wooden crates. Empty 
cream cans were exchanged for filled cans. The route was 
always planned with strategy for the road conditions. 
Sometimes we saved time by leaving the main road and the 
crossing over a farmer's fields, down long lanes of grass. 



Then I was the official gatekeeper and opened the gate for 
entry and secured it behind us. The weather influenced any 
shortcuts. Dirt roads changed to mud roads too quickly, and 
a car could easily sink to its axle. 

We traveled our area extensively even though the roads 
were a challenge. We maneuvered the dirt roads on outings, 
looking for hickory nuts, picking wild flowers, hunting 
elusive mushrooms, fishing along Henderson Creek, chmbing 
to the top of a hill, or searching for arrowheads near an Indian 
mound. Today we ride in comfort, but our outings do not 
surpass those of the Twenties. 

As the new concrete road hnked Oquawka to Monmouth 
many years ago, the townspeople of Oquawka torched the 
effigy. The figure represented aO the contempt and 
frustrations created by Old Man Dirt Road. For the moment, 
pleasure trips were not remembered and his demise was 
celebrated. 



PULLING RUSHVILLE OUT OF THE MUD 

Paul C. Sloan 

Today's highways bear little resemblance to old dirt 
highways used during the turn of the century, when horse- 
drawn vehicles or occasional horseless carriages resulted in a 
cloud of dust or a quagmire of mud. 

Prior to the buOding of all-weather roads in the 
Rushville, Illinois area, heavUy traveled roadways or trails 
were marked with the painting of the telephone poles along 
the sides of the roadways. The old Waubonsie Trail, for 
example, led from Rushville through Littleton and Industry 
to Macomb, and subsequently on to Quincy or Keokuk, Iowa, 
and was punctuated with bright yellow bands painted on the 
poles. Townships paid a daily fee to farmers who used teams 
of horses to drag the roads to level them and to keep roadside 
ditches open for draining accumulated water. 



10 



Travel was generally limited to those so-called trails, 
and trips to RushviUe were confined to necessity purchasing, 
such as food and other commodities. The Rushville city 
square was just a quagmire of mud during wet weather, and 
sidewalks and curbs were constructed high above the street 
level so people could get in and out of horse-drawn vehicles 
without plodding through the mud. (The north side of the 
public square remains today as a reminder of days gone by.) 

The state of Illinois was beseiged with requests to the 
state legislators to build hard-surfaced roads throughout the 
state, for it was far behind many other states in road 
building. Sometime in the late 1920's or early 1930's, the 
legislators began paying attention to this situation and took 
under consideration a 1 00-million-dollar bond issue. Voters 
were asked to pass judgment at the polls on this bond issue. 
It was very controversial. Those for the bond issue naturally 
made good use of the "pull lUinois out of the mud" slogan, 
while the "cons" insisted it would bankrupt the entire state 
with the high costs of roads, bridges, and engineering fees. 

The issue was finally passed, and Ilhnois took the first 
steps away from being a "backyard" state as the tremendous 
task of selecting roads to be constructed was begun. 

The first hard-surfaced roads in Schuyler County were 
only nine feet in width, for horse power was still the main 
type of transportation. The first road out of Rushville was on 
what is stiO referred to as "the Macomb Road." 

Sand and gravel were hauled along the proposed route 
and stockpiled by the roadside. When the gasohne-motored 
concrete mixer was in use, workmen moved the ingredients 
by means of wheelbarrows, adding cement which was stored 
in moisture proof containers on trucks or wagons to keep the 
material dry. The ingredients were loaded into a "skip," an 
over-sized scoop shovel built on a hinge arrangement. When a 
sufficient amount of sand, cement and stones were loaded, 
the skip was elevated by means of steel cables mounted on 
each side and poured into the concrete mixer where water was 



added. When mixed to the proper consistency, it was poured 
from the opposite side of the mixer onto the previously placed 
steel forms and prepared roadbed. There it was puddled, 
thoroughly mixed, and tamped down. Expansion joints were 
placed at regular intervals to allow for the contraction and 
expansion caused by weather conditions. 

Work was suspended on the Rushville-Macomb Road 
when a number of dissidents obtained an injunction to halt 
construction. The problem was further accentuated by the 
unwillingness of some land owners to sign right-of-way 
documents. Finally, construction was started on an alternate 
route leading north on Liberty Street in RushviUe. But yet 
another injunction was issued, halting that construction. The 
courts finally decided that construction should be continued 
on the plea that the original Macomb Road was where the 
road should be completed. 

The narrow road width contributed to many arguments. 
Who might have the right of way? Whatever driver arrived 
first was assumed to have first priviledge, but there were no 
stop signs or warning signs yet. 

Many tales, mostly unsubstantiated, were rampant 
during the road construction period. Some were of workmen 
dying on the job of natural causes or from accidents, with 
grotesque details of their bodies being placed in the forms 
and covered with the concrete. 

Another unconfirmed story was of a car being driven at 
a high rate of speed down Homey Branch Hill, which was on 
the Macomb Road just past the Rushville city limits, and 
jumping the unfinished space where the pavement ended on 
one side and started on the other. The momentum of the 
automobile cleared the intervening open space and landed 
safely on the other side, the car unscathed and the driver with 
a few bruises and scarcely a scratch. 

Other road construction in Schuyler County which 
occurred in the ensuing years included the Mt. Sterhng road, 
which was built by Negroes driving mules, the Beardstown 



road, which led through Pleasant View and Frederick and 
crossed the river on what was commonly referred to as the 
"wagon toll bridge" (opened and closed by man power), and 
the farm-to-market roads, including the Camden road and the 
Sugar Grove road. 

At about the same time but independent of the 
aforementioned bond issue passage, the Rushville city 
fathers awarded a contract to the Tiernan Company of 
Macomb to install paved brick streets on all the main 
thoroughfares within the city Umits. The bricks were laid on a 
bed of sand by Negroes, who laid an astounding number of 
bricks in one day. 

Upon completion of the city street contract, the few 
automobiles owned by city residents were driven around the 
city square in an almost Easter parade review, with the 
owner-drivers very proud of their motoring on the newly 
paved streets. 

With the advent of newly paved highways, immediately 
all the towns and villages began the task of interesting 
manufacturing companies in locating in their towns. 
Rushville was fortunate to inveigle the Cudahy Company to 
locate in the defunct Starr Ice and Creamery Company. This 
was located across the street from the present Rushville Feed 
and Grain Company. Also, the "Korn Top" meat packing 
plant was installed on South Liberty Street, conceived and 
put into operation by the late Howard Bartlow. Other 
businesses were, at various times, begun within the city 
hmits and had Umited hfe spans. Among them was the Glad 
Acres Manufacturing plant at the north limits of Macomb 
Road Street. This company manufactured tool kits for the 
Model T Ford cars, with salesmen operating throughout 
Illinois and Indiana. 

One thing which had failed to keep pace with the paved 
streets was the street lighting. Previously installed 
ornamental hghts on each corner of the square with wiring 
under the sidewalk were so outmoded they gave a feeble 



glow, which had about as much illumination as oranges. The 
entire city council and the mayor drove to the town of 
Pleasant Plains in Cass County to observe the latest in street 
lighting, which they had installed: gas mercury vapor hghts. 
A short time later, the Rushville City Council passed an 
ordinance for the purchase of aluminum hght poles and 
sufficient wiring, and after some delay, work was commenced 
on the new fixtures. 

A large contingent of local residents turned out to 
witness the first lighting of the new mercury vapor lights. A 
switch was installed on one pole near the rear outside 
entrance of the present Wheelhouse TV store on South 
Liberty Street. Those lights were controlled mechanically 
and connected to clocks which automaticaUy turned them on 
and off. 

The new hghting system gave the business section a 
modern look. Additional street mercury vapor bulbs were 
installed at later intervals. The positive response to those 
hghts resulted in the council members being swamped with 
requests for additional lights at various places. Residents 
cited the need for more efficient hghts in order to discourage 
possible burglaries, etc. 

With the construction of paved roads in Schuyler 
County and Rushville, the area was truly made part of the big 
effort to "pull Illinois out of the mud." 



A MEMORABLE JOURNEY 

Marie Freesmeyer 

"AU hands on deck!" That was Papa's way of waking us 
that August morning in 1914. It was an expression common 
on the steamboats, and citizens of Calhoun County were 
familiar with everything pertaining to steamboats as they all 
hved near either the Ilhnois or Mississippi River. 



12 



"Roll out!" Papa called again, and we did, remembering 
that this was the big day which had been marked on our 
Cordui Calendar as the day to start our long journey north to 
visit Mamma's sister. 

Our Empire touring car had been washed and pohshed 
the previous day until its black surface shone hke a mirror. 
The presto tank had been checked and an extra spare had 
been strapped on. Mamma had been busy the past week 
making preparations for this extravagant adventure. Our one 
suitcase had been packed and its bulging sides well strapped 
for a rough ride. Boxes of food had been prepared for the two- 
day journey, for who could tell whether we could ever find 
nourishing food along the way! Mamma surely wasn't taking 
any chances. 

Besides Papa and Mamma, there was my sixteen-year- 
old brother, Otto, who was to be the sole chauffeur for the 
trip (Papa could not drive as he was crippled, and besides he 
thought at age fifty he was too old for such new-fangled 
ideas); another brother, Percy, fourteen, who had the honor of 
sitting in the front seat as he was to serve as lacky boy for the 
trip; a sister nearly five, and myself, a girl of ten. 

Our route, which Papa had worked on for weeks with the 
aid of an old wall map of Illinois, had been plotted, and all the 
towns through which we were to pass had been listed. It was 
to start at our home village, Hamburg, on the Mississippi 
River, go from town to town up between that river and the 
Illinois to Tiskilwa in Bureau County. Papa was co-pilot, and 
it was back seat driving all the way, with no complaints from 
the boys for they had no knowledge of the route or any way of 
determining it. 

We chugged over the rutty, dirt roads to the main road, 
which was very little better, through Hamburg, which had not 
yet begun to stir, and on north following the river road. The 
river hugged the bluff so closely that at places the road was 
carved out of the rocky cUffs. One mile known as "The Dug 
Road" had always frightened me when we drove over it with 



horse and buggy. My one wish this morning was more like a 
prayer: "Dear Lord, please let us get over that dreadful mile 
without meeting anyone." Luckily, we made it. 

We had nearly reached the Pike County Une when, with 
a sudden jolt, we came to a halt. The roads in those days had 
a high center because the wheels of the vehicles and the feet 
of the two-horse teams pulling them always used the same 
tracks in the narrow roads and kept them worn down. The 
center at this particular spot was a httle too high for our car, 
which by today's standard was high indeed— even the 
running boards. But the "pumpkin" had dug into this center 
ridge and had wedged sohd, thus preventing the car from 
moving either forward or backward. 

Papa could not drive the modern contraption but he was 
quick to reahze our predicament and had the immediate 
solution. "I'll go back to that house we just passed and get a 
spade," he said, and was off at a good chp in spite of his limp. 
He soon returned with the necessary tool, dug out a few 
spadefulls of dirt, enabUng the car to be backed, and we were 
soon on our merry way again. 

It was not a comfortable ride by today's standards, and 
occasionally bugs hit us in the face, to say nothing of the heat 
as the day progressed. But no one complained, as were 
adventurous souls just starting on an expedition which very 
few of our acquaintances had ever dared. 

The route now took us over near the Illinois River where 
the roads were quite muddy, and the creeks we forded were 
swollen from the recent rain. In one such stream the motor 
died and that presented another problem. It was really quite 
humorous for all except the younger brother who had to 
crank the engine. He shrugged his shoulders, then proceeded 
to pull off his shoes and socks (no pant legs to worry about as 
he was still wearing knickers). He chmbed around the 
windshield, on to the hood, then out to the protruding 
springs. By standing there hke a giraffe he was able to give 
the crank a quick jerk and the motor took off. He didn't even 



13 



get his new knickers wet, but it was fortunate that the water 
wasn't any deeper than it was. 

Finding our way from one town to the next was not 
always easy. We usually tried to follow the best traveled 
road, but frequent inquiries were necessary or at least 
expedient. When Papa saw that we were meeting someone, he 
would tell my brother to slow down (imagine, if you can, 
slowing down from thirty miles per hour) so he might inquire 
the way. Papa's numerous queries were most amusing to the 
rest of us, who were really needing some diversion. "Is this 
the way to 'Versailles?" he would shout. Or maybe it was 
Rushville or some other name that we had never heard. As 
the evening sun sank low, we were on a long, straight stretch 
of road which would take us into Table Grove, our destination 
for the night. 

After our hunger was appeased at the hotel dining table, 
the boys went out to explore the town. We girls were sent 
down to the httle room at the end of the hall, which we 
thoroughly explored, and then we were put to bed. Tomorrow 
held the promise of being another long day. 

On the second day we found better roads. Some had a 
hard black surface different from anything we had ever seen. 
But there were still those square turns which had hindered 
our progress the day before. One could walk around them as 
fast as Mamma wanted him to go. Usually a hedge fence or 
tall corn prevented one from being able to see around them. 
But that is why the Empire was equipped with that bugle- 
and-bulb contraption. The driver was supposed to squeese 
the bulb, which produced a ho-on-n-k that would warn anyone 
approaching around the corner or even a mile away. That 
horn was my dehght, and I urged him to blow it whenever 
there was a chicken or other animal near the road. He soon 
learned better than to blow it when approaching horses as 
they were not yet accustomed to the noise and might give the 
driver a difficult time. Then the driver was apt to have a few 
choice words for us. 



For a while this second day we followed the "Cannonball 
Trail." Then all eyes were glued to the telegraph poles, 
watching for the marker, which was a white band painted 
around the pole with a black ball in the center. 

A couple times each day while passing through a town 
we would pull up to an imposing-looking structure, usually 
with a large red crown on top. It was a general merchandise 
store, and the proprietor would come out wearing his white 
apron. He would turn a crank, thereby filling the glass 
compartment at the top with an ill-smelling fluid which was 
the aU-important fuel for those newfangled carriages. 

We finally arrived in Tiskilwa and Papa told us the 
history of its name. We were greatly amused and I kept 
repeating the facts: "Tis and Wa were Indians. Tis killedWa. 
Tiskilwa!" 

After more inquires we found our way to the Hennepin 
Canal and to our aunt's house. Their home was near the canal 
and my uncle tended one of the locks so we had the 
opportunity to watch as he opened and closed the gates, thus 
raising or lowering the water. Many and various type boats 
used this canal to go from the llhnois River to the Mississippi 
or vice versa. 

After a week's stay, we set out for home by a route 
which took us to Peoria. Here Mamma and us girls took the 
steamboat down the river to Kampsville. The long trip home 
was thought to be too tiring for Mamma. Though we went by 
a more direct route, they, having a half-day's head start, were 
waiting for us when the boat docked. 

The last lap of our journey was a short one in the 
dependable Empire. But, needless to say, our chief topic of 
conversation with my older brothers and the neighbors was 
our memorable journey upstate. 



STEAMBOAT A' COMIN' 

John F. Ellis 

My grandfather brought his family across the Illinois 
River in 1880 and settled in Naples, a town that depended on 
the river for its hveUhood. The river had to be treated with 
respect. Its high water took personal property many times, 
and it claimed the Lives of some of the town residents. The 
area looked good to my grandfather because he wanted to 
establish a wholesale-retail fish business, and so he stayed 
and dismantled the covered wagon that had been ferried 
across the river. 

There was a good deal of river traffic in those early days. 
There were marker lights both north and south of Naples. My 
mother, as a young girl, and my grandfather had the chore of 
tending those lights, which were powered by kerosene. It was 
necessary to have a horse and a reliable boat to reach the 
markers, and it was a rough job, as the river could often be a 
challenge for a rowboat. The job was a political one and so 
was lost to my family when the administration changed in 
Washington. 

The government had two stern-wheel steamboats, the 
Lancaster and the Comanche. Laurence Quintal, a classmate 
of mine, was an officer on the Comanche before it was retired 
from service. Duties for those boats included furnishing 
supplies for the marker lights and patrolling the river. The 
patrol duty was an attempt to keep the fishermen honest. 
Fish nets, seines, and baskets had to have tags in order to be 
legal. If equipment was found without a tag, it was 
destroyed. The patrol was also to discourage fishing during 
the closed season. 

The Lancaster was noted for the size of its wake, and 
wave riding was considered to be quite a sport. One day my 
uncle and cousin caught the second wave behind the 
Lancaster wheel. The wave broke and filled the boat. Their 
yells brought Fred Mann with a rescue boat. Cousin Rip Six 



could probably have made it to shore, but Uncle Esaw 
probably would have had trouble. 

Naples had a large river-rail freight business. Their 
sizable fleet of stern-wheel steamers included the Bald Eagle, 
Gray Eagle, Eagle, Spread Eagle, Golden Eagle and a later 
boat, the Peoria, which was larger than the others. Wally 
"Cotton" Hatfield was the local agent. 

Much livestock was moved to the Peoria and St. Louis 
markets. The company's mate was cruel to the black workers, 
and would often bring a heavy stick across their backs when 
they did not move fast enough. This infuriated me, and I 
would yell at him and threaten to report him to the sheriff. A 
stare was all I received in return, as he was not too concerned 
about a small boy's complaints. It was said that he never 
ventured from the boat when it was docked in St. Louis. 

Before the Volstead Act, liquor was sold on all boats, 
except when Naples was "dry" and the stage plank was 
down. At those times, the packet would have passengers to 
the west side of the river. They would make their purchases 
and a friend would come for them in a motor boat. Farmers on 
the west side of the river brought their stock to the landing 
for pick up. It was a sad day when the entire fleet belonging 
to the Eagle Packet Company was lost in an ice jam. 

My uncle, Charles Waters, did river barge work on a 
smaller scale. In addition to his fish market, he operated and 
owned a small excursion boat. May dad and Uncle Esaw ran 
the wholesale-retail fish market in Naples, and Uncle Will 
Waters had a large motor boat. At times I was allowed to be 
his pilot, which filled me with mixed emotions. I was elated 
with the job but afraid that I would do something wrong as 
Uncle WiU had quite a temper. 

The excursion boats were enjoyed by many people. The 
Swain family of Beardstown had a fleet of excursion boats 
that they named for their children. The list included the Julia 
Belle, David, and Percy. They also had an excursion barge. 
All of their boats were side-wheelers, which were more easily 



15 



handled on the river. The Columbia sank during a moonlight 
trip on July 6, 1918, with a large loss of Ufe. I was among the 
1200 that were on board two days before on a trip from 
Kampsville to Beardstown. 

The Columbia had a whistle that was caUed a "wildcat." 
The first time that uncle Benny Eckles heard the blast, he 
was on the west side of the river in the woods. He thought it 
was for real and hurried back home, saying, "That's the first 
time old Benny Eckles ever backed out of the woods with an 
axe in his hand." 

The sound of the calliope brought excitement to Naples 
because it meant that the showboat was coming to town. 
River people always pronounced it "cally-ope." The 
showboats were a source of much pleasure to me. Writers do 
an injustice to them in the way they are protrayed, both in 
words and in pictures, by indicating that the showboat was a 
single unit. This is not true! AH, at that time, were towed by 
steamboats. 

Naples was a stop for both up and down trips. The hst of 
showboats visiting our town includes the Golden Rod, Cotton 
Blossom, Hippodrome, Sunny South, American, and French's 
New Sensation. The Golden Rod, which is on a new barge, is 
now docked at St. Louis. It is a dinner theatre showing old 
"meUerdramers," complete with heroine, hero, and vilhan. I 
attended a performance there recently with my family and 
sat in the same 35c seat of years ago. Back in Naples as a 
boy, I usually had an earned "Comp" (complimentary ticket) 
because I had helped the advance agent post his bills. After a 
band concert advertising session in the streets of Naples, the 
band would often travel to Bluffs on Henry Hyatt's hay rack, 
and there would be another concert atop the boat before the 
performance. My grandmother never missed a show, and she 
always had the same seat: third row, center aisle on the left 
side. The performers expected her to be there and she always 
was. 



While the lUinois River furnished much pleasure for 
boating, swimming, and fishing, it was also reason for 
sorrow. Three of Naples' sons drowned in it. Uncle Eddie 
Waters lost his life in an attempt to save a friend's hfe when 
he fell from a boat on the return to Naples from Meredosia, 
where they had been in a baseball game. The victim got a 
death hold on Uncle Eddie and they both went under. Joe 
Hatfield and Joe Welch drowned when they were lost from 
fishing boats. Brothers of the victims dreamed of the place 
where the bodies would be recovered and the dreams came 
true. 

Naples has also suffered much damage from floods. An 
early one in 1913 was caused by a break in the levee. The river 
was near the top of the levee in 1922, when a cut was made on 
the back water side to ease the pressure. The 1926 flood was 
caused by a break in the Jacksonville reservoir. In 1943 the 
Smith Lake levee broke, flooding Naples and hundreds of 
acres of farm land. That was a record high crest for the river. 

To cope with high river stages, it was necessary to 
continually build better levees. In 1915 a new one was built 
by the Murphy Construction Company. It was built by using 
horses and mules with slip scrapers and wheelers. 
Townspeople were needed to furnish the "mule skinners." A 
large tent served as a barn for the animals. The present levee 
was built under the supervision of the Army Corps of 
Engineers in 1935. The entire length of Front Street was used 
for the right of way. Our family home and the Chris Dunaway 
home were moved to the street that now crosses the levee to 
the Boatel operated by Bill Saylor. 

It was at this time that I was guilty of "bootlegging" 
ice water. The contractor for the job had failed to provide 
water. Frank Davis, superintendent of engineers, employed 
me to deliver good drinking water to the construction site of 
the 1935 levee job. He told the contractor that the cost of this 
would be deducted from his fee. The contractor then told his 
workers that they would be discharged if they drank the ice 



water. They would come to me while I waited out of sight 
with a large thermos jug. 

This concludes my memories of the Illinois, a river that 
saw many changes over the years. The boats of the early part 
of the century were of several different types and were far 
more interesting than those that use the river today. 
Commercialism seems to be almost the sole theme of today's 
traffic on the lUinois. The memories, however, are stiU good. 



THE RAILROAD IN ORION 

Kenneth Maxwell Norcross 

My father, Maxwell Norcross, was an employee of the 
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company for fifty- 
five years. He was Station Agent at Orion in Henry County, 
Illinois, from 1918 to 1956. I was thus reared in a railroader's 
family and naturally spent many hundreds of hours at the 
Orion station with my father. I became quite familiar with 
the daily operation of the railroad. 

The old depot was razed in December, 1973, and thus 
ended an era in Orion that the children of today can never 
experience. My father passed away a few years prior to the 
date the depot was destroyed, and I know he would have been 
sad to see it suffer such an ingnoble ending. 

The announcement that the "Q" depot was scheduled to 
be razed came as a shock to many of us old-timers who were 
kids back about 1918. That old building was a part of our 
lives. It had been there longer than any living resident. True, 
it hadn't served much of a purpose for the past decade, but it 
was always there to remind us of the wonderful days of 
railroading when steam was king. 

Back at the turn of the century, the railroad was 
extremely important to the community. Life sort of revolved 
around it. Just think! We could board a train in Orion and 
travel to almost any spot in North America. How happy the 



early settlers must have been when the first engine reached 
our village in October of 1870! The train brought in the 
comforts and luxuries of life and carried out our produce. 
Newspapers were then received the day following 
publication. The Western Union telegram arrived with the 
rails and brought instant communication. The price of land 
increased in value. Mail was received several times daily, and 
we had excellent maU service in those days. 

The ever-present village loafers had an interesting place 
to spend their time and met every train. The arrival and 
departure of patrons was carefully noted and somehow 
reported to the editor of the local newspaper. 

The melodious blast of a whistle sounded from around 
the bend, and the 8:15 pranced up to the platform. A 
salesman or two hopped off and rushed to claim their 
baggage. Aunt Lucy was assisted down the car steps by the 
brakeman and into the hands of her waiting relatives who 
hoisted her into the family buggy. Trunks, milk cans, mail, 
and other items were divested from the cars. A few minutes 
of great commotion prevailed and then the train was gone, 
leaving behind the pleasant odor of coal smoke and steam. 

It was quite convenient for shoppers to board the train 
for Moline at 10:00 a.m.— about a twenty-mile ride— and return 
on the 3:00 p.m., which gave them about three hours to shop 
and eat. The depot "waiting room" could seat about fifty 
patrons. A black buDetin board listed all the passenger 
trains, their arrival and departure times. A large pot-bellied 
stove kept the room comfortable during the winter months. I 
remember the section crew coming in to get warm after riding 
several miles on the open-air section car. They would stand 
close to the stove and pick the ice from their moustaches that 
had collected during their cold ride. 

The spacious "freight room" always contained a large 
quantity of empty cream cans of five- and ten-gallon size 
waiting to be claimed by their owners. The farmer's name was 
painted on the can. I recall most of the cream was shipped by 



express to the Pioneer Creamery Company, Galesburg, 
Illinois. Glancing around the room you might also see a few 
bags of feed and perhaps a piece of furniture waiting to be 
picked up. The walls of the freight room were decorated with 
the initials of many Orionites. For example: "Gone to War - 
1918-R.K.D." A few were hard to decipher as they had 
faded with the lapse of time. 

The office was located between the waiting and freight 
rooms— sort of in the middle of things. Through the open 
door you could hear the phone ring, the cUckety-clack of the 
telegraph instruments, and smell the unforgettable odor of 
the hghted kerosene lantern, meticulously clean, sitting on 
the counter. The office had a small pot-bellied stove, a desk or 
two, a small safe, a hand press for records, and a small wall- 
hung cabinet containing several rows of train tickets. There 
was a regulator clock, kept absolutely accurate, hanging on 
one wall. In one corner of the office two large handles 
protruded from a large black box. The handles operated the 
semaphore just outside the office window. Hanging also on a 
wall were several "hoops" shaped like the number "9." Those 
were used by the agent to hand train orders to the engine men 
as they passed by the depot. 

The old station had seen many changes in her five score 
years. The original color had been a dark red. About twenty 
years ago a crew painted the depot white. Somehow it never 
seemed the same after that. Once a brick platform extended 
half a block in each direction from the depot, but it was 
removed many years ago. Everything used to be well- 
maintained, but at the time of its demise, the depot and 
grounds cried from neglect. 

The rails had reached Orion in 1870 under the name 
"Rockford, Rock Island and St. Louis Railway Company." A 
few years ago, as the result of a merger, the name became 
"Burlington-Northern." 

At one period, several "raikoad families" resided in 
Orion. Three men were required at the depot and perhaps 



eight on the section crew. The depot was open twenty-four 
hours daily and each man worked an eight-hour "trick." The 
section crew was responsible for the maintenance of ten or 
more miles of track. Just about every town along the route 
had a section crew. 

Five days each week the "local" would make a round 
trip from Galesburg to Barstow. The "local" was a small 
freight train consisting of five to ten cars and a caboose. It 
stopped at every station along the route to pick up and set 
out cars and to unload and pick up freight items. On a typical 
day, the "local" might set out several stock cars on the 
siding— maybe a car of lumber or coal for the lumber yard; a 
car of poles for the power company; or maybe a tankcar of 
road oil. I remember seeing the local car dealer unload Model 
T Fords from a box car! 

Upon arriving in Orion, the "local" would detach a car 
immediately in front of the depot. This car contained freight 
destined for local merchants. While part of the train crew 
unloaded freight the remainder would proceed to do the 
switching. It was common to see a hundred boxes of dry 
goods, nails, bolts, etc., deposited on the platform daily. The 
old depot was indeed a busybody! 

Having completed its business in Orion, the "local" 
would proceed down the track to the next stop. The agent 
would then check each item received against the waybills to 
make sure there were no shortages. The drayman would next 
back his protesting Model T truck up to the platform and 
begin loading the freight which he would deliver to the proper 
owners. 

Throughout the day, farmers would come to the depot 
with fresh cans of cream to "express" to the creamery and to 
claim their empty cans. During the day the manager of the 
local Livestock Shipping Association would be busy loading 
cattle or hogs into the stock cars at the stockyards. The 
"local" would pick up these cars on its return trip to 



18 



Galesburg in late afternoon. From Galesburg the cattle cars 
would be forwarded to Chicago. 

In 1926 there were three passenger trains north and the 
same south. On October 1, 1928, one of the passenger trains 
was replaced with a two-car, gasoline-electric type. That was 
the beginning of the end for the steam locomotive. 

One by one they have passed into history. On Saturday, 
January 14, 1961, the last regularly scheduled passenger 
train stopped at Orion. The era of passenger train service in 
this community spanned a period of just over ninety years, 
from 1870 to 1961. The business, as such, began to die when a 
paved road. Route 80 (now Route 150), reached the village in 
1930. 

"Number 48" was considered a plush train in her day. 
Forty years ago, had you visited the depot to watch her 
proud arrival and haughty departure, you might count a mail 
car, an express car, a baggage car, two coaches, a diner, and a 
pullman car. She was a super train, operating between St. 
Paul, Minnesota, and St. Louis, Missouri, with one train daily 
in each direction. During the Christmas season and other 
holidays, old "48" would be loaded to capacity. Frequently, 
men had to stand so that women and children might have a 
seat. 

Yes, "Number 48" made its farewell visit to Orion. Gone 
also are those mammoth engines, such as the 5615 and the 
6300, which seemed to take a particular delight in shaking 
every building as they thundered through the village. You 
could identify the engineer by the way he manipulated his 
whistle. And you knew how cold it was by the way it sounded. 

The children of today are well-acquainted with the smell 
of burned diesel oil emitted by the "eighteen wheelers." They 
will never know the smell of fresh coal smoke and moist 
steam. They've never heard the rock-and-roll of a steam 
whistle in the hands of an expert, nor got a cinder in their eye. 
Yes, sir, we had it real good when we were kids and had a real 
railroad to keep tabs on! 

Farewell to an era. 



FARMINGTON DEPOT IN THE TWENTIES 

Everette Wilton Latham 

Farmington, Illinois, in the 1920's was a coal mining 
town twenty-one miles west of Peoria. It was served by two 
raih-oads, the Chicago, Burhngton and Quincy (C. B. & Q.) 
and the Minneapolis and St. Louis (M. & St. L.). There were 
two railroad depots in Farmington. The one with which I was 
familiar was the M. & St. L., located at the foot of the hill on 
south Main Street. It has been torn down long since, and the 
tracks taken up. Nothing is left to me now of what was once a 
familiar environment but memories. 

The depot was a rambling, wooden structure painted 
red. "Depot Red" we called it. Later it was re-painted green. 
And we called that color "Devins Green" after Johnny 
Devins, the then Vice-President and General Manager of the 
railroad. He had had the depot all along the hne re-painted 
this medium-dark shade of green, his favorite color. 

The building was well constructed. It divided naturally 
into three sections— a waiting room, an office, and a freight 
room. The platform, or track, side of the depot faced the 
north. The tracks ran east and west. A brick platform 
extended from Main Street eastward past the station 
building and on down a hundred and fifty or two hundred 
feet, perhaps. A painted yellow line some two or three feet 
back from the edge of the platform paralleled the main track 
and the platform's edge along its entire length. It was 
designed to discourage passengers from standing too close to 
approaching trains. Telegraph operators used it as a guide for 
placing themselves when handing up train orders to passing 
trains. 

The waiting room, intended for the accomodation of 
passengers waiting to board trains, was at the east end of the 
depot. Rows of wooden seats graced the walls on three sides. 
There were two doors, one on the track or platform side, the 
other directly opposite and facing the south. (The ground 



under the building sloped slightly to the south so that the 
south side of the structure rested on pilings several feet in 
height.) The door on the south side of the waiting room 
opened onto nothing more than a rather steep drop-off. We 
dumped the ashes from the two "cannonball" stoves out this 
door all winter long. Available wall space was taken up with 
posters, advertisements, train schedules, and tariff 
regulations. 

The office was smaller than the waiting room but still 
quite large, as depot offices go. It sported a full-length bay 
window on the track, or platform, side. The telegraph desk 
stretched the length of the bay window. Drawers at each end 
were the receptacles of miscellaneous odds and ends, personal 
belongings, dust cloths, etc. Through the bay window the 
telegrapher on duty could see approaching trains from either 
direction. The telegraph instruments were fastened to this 
desk. A tiered or "pigeon-holed" box held train order blanks, 
carbon paper, and clearance card pads. At night red and 
yellow lighted lanterns gleamed from the pegs where they 
hung near the telegraph desk. Train order hoops (used for 
handing train orders to passing trains) hung nearby. The 
agent's desk and filing cabinets occupied positions near the 
south window and within a few steps of the ticket window. 
The cash drawer was under the ticket window shelf. A ticket 
case stood on the shelf. One of the "cannonball" stoves 
heated the office; the other heated the waiting room. A small 
door, near the door leading to and from the freight room, 
opened into a small, neat stationery supply room, hned with 
shelves. Fuses, torpedoes, and other emergency equipment 
were stored there. 

The freight room at the west end of the depot 
accomodated two large, four-wheeled baggage trucks with 
room to spare. Some of the extra room was devoted to the 
storage of records. The freight room had a coal bin 
partitioned off in one end. With the gradual, and final, 
discontinuation of passenger train service, the freight room 



was not used extensively, except as a means of entrance to 
and exit from the office. 

The station force was not large. It consisted of an agent- 
telegrapher and three round-the-clock telegraphers. Forrest 
"Shorty" Tonkin was the agent. Emil Hassman held first 
trick as telegraph operator; Ralph Mason was the second 
trick telegrapher. I filled the third trick telegrapher position. 
My hours were from midnight to eight in the morning daily, 
except Sundays. The Janitor work fell to the third trick 
telegrapher. The waiting room and office were swept every 
night. Well, almost every night. A hght sprinkling of 
kerosene on the floors helped to keep the dust down while 
sweeping. I can stiU smell that pungent, clinging kerosene 
odor. It was a clean sort of smell, not at all unpleasant. 
Occasionally it became necessary to use water in lieu of 
kerosene, when the kerosene supply ran out, but this 
emergency substitute made more dust than it settled. 

With the coming of the strip mine the deep shaft mines 
were gradually phased out of existence. As the deep shaft 
mines closed down the telegraph positions would be 
abohshed. Eventually all were aboUshed and the station 
closed. Later the building was torn down and the tracks 
dismantled. 

Many memories come racing back into my 
consciousness as I write these brief reminiscences. Memories 
too profuse to be set down in such a short space. Now, driving 
down Main Street past the site of the old depot, I see in my 
mind's eye what is no longer there. All is gone now. Depot, 
tracks, platform, everything. 



RAILROAD DAYS IN ROODHOUSE 

Eva L. Sullivan 

The fire siren wailed loud and long the night of July 20, 
1980. It could be clearly heard all over town. Soon the 



townspeople, aware this was no ordinary fire, stepped outside 
to look around. It was 9:00 p.m. 

Over the southwest part of town there were lots of 
smoke and a red glare, soon turning to scarlet as flames shot 
high into the sky. Could this be the depot on fire? It was, and 
it was burning so fast that it could not be saved. 

Those of us sixty-five and older felt a lump in our throat, 
and our eyes grew misty. We knew a vital part of our history 
was burning, never to return. In its hey-day it was the hub of 
the town. 

This once lovely, and stiU structurally beautiful, two- 
story depot of stone and slate will ever Hve in our memories. 
It was built in the late 1890 after the first small depot 
burned, and was occupied on January 1, 1891. It had an 
unusual design and many rooms. It was one of the finest 
depots between Chicago and St. Louis. It was modern in 
every respect, including plenty of water-closets. It was wired 
in every room in anticipation of incandescent Ughts, not yet 
available. Inside, the wood was of the finest Georgia pine, 
with a natural finish. 

It had two large waiting rooms, one on the North and 
one on the South, with a large double door between them. 
Each had an outside entrance. 

The ticket office was an octagonal room on the west, and 
had a ticketwindow into each waiting room. The comfortable 
seats surrounding the walls were of fine wood, with curving 
ornamental wrought-iron arms. 

There were many windows and a very large flat-topped 
circular radiator in each of the two rooms, unlike any I have 
ever seen before or since. 

The depot was steam-heated throughout. A large clock, 
keeping perfect time, hung on the wall; its ticking sounded 
loud and cheerful during the rare quiet moments. 

East of the waiting rooms and connected to them by 
swinging doors into each room was a fine diner and lunch 
room. It was a busy place, and the odor of fresh brewed coffee 



and good food wafted into the depot with each swing of the 
doors. 

East of the diner was the baggage and express office. 
On the second floor above the ticket agent's office, was the 
superintendent's office. There were rooms for the train- 
master, road-master, dispatcher, conductors, and others. The 
telegraph office was on the second floor also. 

The stone basement contained a heating apparatus and 
many storage rooms. This magnificent depot was 52 feet wide 
and 130 feet long and it cost about $30,000 to build. 

Early citizens, notably John Roodhouse, E.M. Husted, 
J.M. Armstrong, G.W. Thompson, P.A. RawUngs, Mr. 
Simmons, Mr. Cobb, and others, put forth a very great effort 
to secure Roodhouse as the terminal town from the Chicago & 
Alton Raih-oad Company, when it seemed certain that our 
rival town of White Hall would surely get it. 

The first three gentlemen once took a hand car as far as 
Jacksonville, to catch an earher train to Chicago, to consult 
with Mr. Blackstone, the president of the road, thus beating 
White Hall there. Mr. Blackstone was so impressed that 
Roodhouse, after meeting certain conditions, was given the 
terminal. Many of their descendants still hve here. 

It made our town prosper immensely. Our population 
soon doubled, and, before many years, tripled as a round- 
house and rip-track were added here. In 1919 our population 
was 2,755 people. We were, and are, an important junction 
between Chicago and St. Louis, and between Bloomington 
and Kansas City. 

There were 25 switches within our city hmits and an 
average of 25 trains made up here every 24 hours. There were 
many passenger trains as well. A 1919 time-table hsts six 
passenger trains north, three south, five west in a 24-hour 
period. 

There was scarcely any time day or night when trains 
were not whistUng in or out of Roodhouse. 



Most of our fathers, brothers, friends, and aquaintances 
were railroaders. We were proud of them and our town. 

The raih-oad changed ownership and names several 
times: from Chicago & Alton to Baltimore & Ohio, to Gulf, 
Mobile & Ohio, to the present Illinois, Central, Gulf. 

During the Depression the railroad went into a great 
decline, with many men laid off. It quickly recovered during 
World War 11. Afterward it declined again, never to regain its 
former glory, due to bus service, and large transport trucks, 
and later jet travel. However, it was still busy. 

Among the notable events at the depot were the great 
trainloads of servicemen traveling through during World 
War I. That was repeated with another generation during 
World War II. Trainloads of German prisoners of war came 
through here. 

In 1897 William Jennings Bryan spoke here. President 
Franklin Delano Roosevelt's train stopped here during World 
War II. That was a big thrill for our town, and for my father 
in particular. 

Circuses and carnivals used to travel by train. How 
exciting for the children! I have many personal memories. I 
am the child of a railroad car-inspector, and the sister of an 
engineer, fireman, and brakeman. 

It doesn't seem so long ago when my parents and my 
brother and I were sitting in the waiting room, waiting for the 
train that would take us to some new wonderful place to visit, 
cost free, on one of the three foreign passes allowed to eligible 
employees yearly. In addition, wives were given an annual 
pass to use freely on our own lines. 

I used to wonder who the people were, and where they 
were going. 

The large radiator gave off a comfortable hiss of steam 
in winter; the clock on the wall ticked loudly. The green- 
visored ticket agent, Charles Wilkerson, always seemed very 
busy. From overhead came the click, click, tap, tap of the 
telegrapher's key. Soon, in the distance a train whistled. 



Activity quickened. People rounded up their children 
and gathered up their luggage. Outside, with a great clatter, 
the tall baggage wagon, looking like a giant flat-topped 
coaster-wagon with large iron wheels, was pulled out. It was 
just the right height to roll beside the baggage and express 
coach. 

The train arrived. The lunchroom did a booming 
business. Soon the conductor called: "Al-1-1-1 aboard!" Then 
the train departed, whistling as it left. Quietness descended 
for awhile, but in a few hours the cycle was repeated. 

Now, the only thing that is left is the stone skeleton of 
the depot. I have a dozen large, square-headed nails, salvaged 
from the ashes. 

Souvenirs of the past. 



COPING WITH "THE DEEP HOLE" 

Bemadette Tranbarger 

Sixty years ago this year two exciting things happened 
to me. On a bitter January night a baby brother arrived. My 
first glimpse was of the unexpected new arrival lying in his 
lace-trimmed and gently rocking basinette. 

For 13 days Mother stayed quietly and dutifully in her 
room, and a nurse-housekeeper saw to the household. Several 
days later, Gramps and Gram, on my father's side, came with 
gifts for the baby and something for me, too, which made me 
very happy, as I was feeling a bit left out of things. 

On the morning of the 14th day, mother discarded her 
robe, dressed herself and the baby, and ventured downstairs. 
This was just what I needed, as I had missed my mother's 
overseeing the boiling pans on the big black range and 
presiding over the dining table. Mother was once again in 
charge, and aU was well. 

The astounding news came on the 15th day. Mother 
announced the family of four was now going to visit Grandma 



and Grandpa "on my mother's side." My father had Little to 
say about this, as Mother had had 14 days in which to plan 
every detail. 

January was a typical Illinois winter month, with bone- 
chilling winds and a sprinkhng of snow. We had to go 
properly prepared, and I was to pack my suitcase and not to 
bother Mother with unnecessary details. My parents' needs 
were all packed in the big travelhng bag. The most 
impressive of all was the bright new pink suitcase for the 
baby. 

I was thrilled to be going to visit my maternal 
grandparents, but when I learned we weren't going in our 
familiar Model T but taking the train instead, that was really 
shocking news. 

I truly wanted to ride on a real train, and later to show 
off my new brother. And I wanted to carry my new fur muff. 
But to get to our point of departure, I also knew we had to go 
to "The Deep Hole," and that frightened me. Everyone was 
so busy, there was no one aware of my problem. 

My father had akeady cranked up the big wooden wall 
telephone and talked to someone at "The Deep Hole!" The 
answering voice assured him there was plenty of room for 
four, and we would be comfortably seated. 1 pictured us Uke 
the train passengers in my picture book, resting on soft green 
velvet. It was queer that my father had asked specifically 
about seating. Better he should have contemplated "The 
Deep Hole" that had to be negotiated some way before 
boarding the train. 

Soon Gramps arrived in his shiny Model T with its 
carefully snapped side-curtains. I loved to peer through the 
isinglass peep holes as we started off. 

My father set up front with Gramps, and Mother and 
the wooly-wrapped baby and I occupied the back seat. I 
gripped my fur muff very hard and thought of the first 
obstacle to be overcome on the five and one half mile trip to 
Mother's home town. 



At last Gramps pulled up before a neat gray frame 
building with white trim that had a big bay window jutting 
out in front, just hke the one in Gram's parlor, and all glass 
enclosed. 1 looked anxiously around. There were no other 
passengers to be seen. 

Gramps lifted me down from the high seat. We hurried 
to enter the building, and inside was the coziest, queerest 
room— two rooms, really. One had rows of wooden seats, and 
on one wall hung a big sign all chalked with numbers opposite 
names of towns. One man sold my father three tickets— the 
baby didn't need one. Then Dad spoke to the man in the glass 
enclosure who talked to a busily chattering box by pressing 
some mysterious Uttle keys. Da-dit-da-dit. It assured us train 
Number Nine was on time and there was ample room. 

Mother and the baby stayed comfortably in the waiting 
room, and Gramps and Dad placed the suitcases on a raised 
wooden platform. Below this platform and running paraUel to 
it were long steel tracks. Surely the train would eventually 
come along here. 

Finally, Dad and Gramps came inside again, and I was 
told the meaning of telegrapher and code-words. 
Miraculously, we still had not come to "The Deep Hole." I 
decided to let well enough alone and not ask about it. 

Soon a whistle sounded, and I caught my first glimpse 
of Number Nine. It was a small but very shiny little engine 
with a glowing headlight and only one smokestack. As it 
puffed into the station, it omitted a sharp little whistle. The 
engine pulled a small coal car and two other ratthng cars, the 
first appearing as a huge box on wheels, its high sliding door 
closed tightly to protect its contents. I was told this was 
indeed a "box-car" and it carried all kinds of merchandise. 
The second car seemed barely held together with slats. There 
was no mistaking its cargo. It was fuU of smelling, squealing 
pigs all trying to find a way to escape. 

Bringing up the rear was a dainty wooden car which 
resembled my playhouse. It was painted a bright orange, and 



23 



on its window-sill sat a gay red geranium. There was a little 
pipe extending through its roof, and billowy white smoke rose 
from it into the cold January chill. Three steps led up to a 
Uttle porch. It seemed to me the train was carrying along a 
Uttle house as an after-thought. Nowhere in my picture book 
had I seen such a car as this. It had shown big, two and three 
stackers belching great columns of smoke, brilliantly painted 
dining cars, passenger and sleeping cars, parlor cars. But no 
httle house-on-wheels. 

Things happened fast now. My family quickly climbed 
aboard the porch and stood waving to Gramps, as the little 
engine, whistling and clanging its bell, slowly picked up 
speed toward its next stop. 

It was warm and comfortable inside the Uttle house-car, 
and there was a hard, straw-like seat for each. In one corner 
stood a glowing, pot-bellied stove generously giving such 
welcome warmth, and on its top sat a busily boiling coffee 
pot. 

I loved watching the changing landscape, hearing the 
clakety-clack of the wheels and the squeeling of the pigs. 

We had gone little less than a mile when Mother's 
frantic voice cried, "Fred! Fred! Stop the train immediately!" 

Fred was the conductor and a very close friend of my 
parents. Our two famihes had often visited in each other's 
homes. 

Fred and Dad just stared at Mother. 

"Stop this train!" Mother demanded. "We've got to go 
back. The suitcases are sitting back there on the platform." 

Fred attempted to explain that trains have to meet 
schedules and can't go forward and backward at will. This 
made no impression on Mother. "The baby must have his 
necessities! We must go back!" 



And we did. I had noticed a decrepit-appearing rope 
hanging from the ceiUng, and I had wondered why it was 
there. This rope was suspended over a battered and littered 
desk where Fred transacted all his business, such as 
delivering pigs and people and other merchandise to their 
correct destinations. But the awesome power of that rope 
became apparent when Fred, frowning severely, gave a huge 
tug, and that httle rope caused bells to ring alarmingly, 
steam to hiss, brakes to shriek, and the entire train to lurch 
and shudder and finally stop all alone in the middle of 
nowhere. 

Out of the window I saw brown shivering cornstalks 
swaying in the January wind, and beyond them a huge pine 
forest, its glossy needles gleaming in the pale sunlight. 

Fred communicated by phone with the engineer, there 
was a repeat sound of bells, whistles, hissing steam, and 
groaning wheels, as old Number Nine started itself, and once 
again we were clakety-clacketing back to the station, in 
reverse aU the way. 

Mother thanked Fred for his kindness. He shook his 
head and gave her a forgiving pat on the shoulder. 

When we slowed at our home station. Dad quickly put 
the suitcases on board, and after a little toot, old Number 
Nine took off forward again. 

Grandpa on my mother's side was proudly waiting in his 
Model T for our arrival. This time I was allowed to sit up 
front, and how happy I was when we pulled alongside the big 
white house, and there was Grandma standing on the porch 
with out-stretched arms as I began hurriedly to tell her all the 
splendid things a real true train trip affords. 

I was so glad that we had somehow managed to avoid 
"The Deep Hole." 




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II Countr}' Stores 



27 



COUNTRY STORES 

In his book, Main Street On the Middle Border. 
historian Lewis Atherton paints a graphic picture of the 
"general" or country store. Most of those emporia consisted 
of only one floor, though a false facade on their fronts led one 
to believe there were two. Quite often, sUghtly to the rear of 
the middle of the building was a potbelhed stove, the 
gathering spot for gossipy older men who occasionally drifted 
off into hot discussions over the merits of Ty Cobb or Tris 
Speaker, the leading baseball players of the time. Hence the 
term "hot-stove league"— the time of the year when winners 
were picked and possible trades made. 

On sunnier days, the front platforms of the buildings, 
generally made of rough planking and covered with a weather 
roof, became part of the store itself. Racks filled with brooms 
or rakes, various stocks of vegetables, or seasonal items were 
placed on the outside. As Atherton points out, the emphasis 
seemed to have been upon the range of stock rather than 
upon its quality. 

The interiors of the stores were darkish and quite poorly 
ventilated, though one familiar with the type of store could be 
blindfolded and yet find his way from item to item. It was a 
matter of odors. The aroma of fish indicated the location of 
barrels containing salted herring or, in the case of busier 
merchants, an oyster barrel. Vinegar was kept in spigoted 
barrels, waiting to be drawn into bottles or jars brought into 
the store by customers. One of our contributors here tells the 
story of one grocer's horrific mistake— placing kerosene into 
a bottle meant for vinegar. Peanut butter, when it came into 
general acceptance, was also kept in barrels and, since it was 
not hydrogenated or treated in any other way, the top two 
inches of each barrel consisted solely of oil which had floated 
to the top. 

In each country store there was always a "whatnot" 



section. These were items which, by necessity, were thrown 
together with no thought as to organization. Straw hats, 
much needed on the farm, were hung here. There were pencils, 
writing paper, work clothes, shoelaces, and dozens of other 
necessities needed on the farm. To the rear of these was a 
rudimentary meat counter— a single case filled with cheeses 
or meats which farmers did not usually produce at home. On 
one side of the store were canned goods and, on the other, the 
candy counter. It was this last which is remembered by an 
oldster whose parents ever patronized a country store. 

The reason is obvious. When a bill was paid, the 
merchant quite often offered the accompanying child a 
"nickle's worth of candy." What a choice! There were jelly 
belhes, hcorices, chocolate bars, bubble gum, and peppermint 
sticks. There were "Mary Janes," jawbreakers, "all day" 
suckers, gum drops, and baseball cards. There were also wax 
candies, little figures of soldiers or animals filled with 
variously colored sweet Liquids. In any bag of candy, these 
were consumed last. It took a special art. A small hole was 
made in the wax and the hquid was then sucked out. The wax 
was then chewed all day afterward, when dusk came on, it 
was roUed around a piece of ordinary string. Then it was a 
homemade candle to be burned as final tribute to one of those 
special days which one promises to remember forever and 
ever, but never does. 

Down in the village of Witt, in Montgomery County, 
there was a marvelous country store operated during the 
1920's and 1930's by two brothers named Lee. Every day, 
one of the two men loaded the bed of his old Dodge truck with 
items which he knew would be needed by farmers along his 
route. He stopped at each farm house along his way, 
exchanging pleasantries and gossip, and eventually trading 
off some of his goods for eggs or chickens. Once loaded, he 
headed back to the store, where he placed his poultry and 
eggs in transit for another destination. Everybody for ten 
miles around knew the "Lee Brothers Store" and, on 



Saturday night, scores of farmers with their wives and 
children came under its roof to exchange gossip and to buy 
candy or other items for their families. 

Deep in southern Illinois, at a town called Winkle, two 
elderly people kept a small country store in operation right 
through the Depression. The town was distinguished, so it 
was said, for not having a single employed person within its 
town hmits. Rehef checks and barter kept both the store and 
the people going. When World War II came along, a most 
strange development occurred. Everybody but the operators 
of the country store left for other parts, some tearing their 
houses down, others simply rolling them off to other villages. 
By 1965 the only structure left in Winkle was the old store, 
still optimistically operated by the old couple. 



By that time, "Antiques" and collectibles had become a 
national rage, and the store was simply filled with them. 
There was Log Cabin Syrup in original tins. Champagne 
Velvet and Highland beer in cans (both firms had ceased to 
exist), and scores of other remnants of the past, including 
some old Lucky Strike cigarettes in the now famous green 
packages. At last the store had become a source of wealth to 
two gentle old people who had kept the faith. When 
everything had been sold out, the store closed and, as Abe 
Lincoln had said of his own estabhshment at New Salem, the 
Winkle country store finally "winked out." 

Victor Hicken, Editor 



GRANDPA'S COUNTRY STORE 

Beula M. Setters 

As soon as I could get my chin above the counter, I 
began clerking in Grandpa's country store in St. Mary's, 
Illinois. My father was part owner of my grandfather's store, 
but three days a week he was gone on the delivery route. 
Therefore, it was decided that I could be most useful by 
helping Grandpa in the store. 

The country store was the hfeline of the surrounding 
prairie. Farmers from miles around traded at our store and 
found us always at their service, almost day and night. Many 
times, if we had not opened the store before 6:00 a.m., a 
farmer could come to Grandpa's house, just 30 feet away, and 
knock on the door pleading, "Jim, I gotta have some coffee 
for breakfast." Grandpa would grab his pants from the 
bedpost, walk across the yard, and open the store. 

Then often times the man would add, "Just some 
chawin' tobaccy, too, before I go to the field. Put it on the 
books, Jim." 

Our store also had the first drive-in service. Many a man 
would ride up on horseback and yeU, "Beula, bring me a 
cigar. " 

The store and the house still stand on the hill of the Uttle 
hamlet, just west of where the Lamoine Valley Lake is 
planned. However, they are a sad picture of what they were 
when I was a child. The false front of the store was then 
brightly painted with the lettering "Lewis and Son— General 
Merchandise," and the eight-room white house was 
surrounded by a white picket fence, with morning glories, and 
with a yard full of flowers in the summer. 

Our store was divided into four parts. One side of the 
front was for groceries and the other side for drygoods. The 
back part contained hardware and farm equipment, with one 
corner reserved for the post office and Papa's desk, where he 
conducted his Justice of the Peace duties. Then, of course. 



there was a storage room, one small lean-to for a 500 gallon 
tank of coal oil (kerosene), and an ice house behind the store. 

The store was perhaps quite typical of the nineteenth- 
century country store. We sold everything from food to 
gasoline at lOc per gallon. Nothing was prepackaged. 
Everything was weighed on the scales at the end of the 
counter and wrapped with brown paper or put in pokes. At 
one end of the counter was a huge roll of brown paper and a 
cone shape ball of white twine on a revolving spindle. On one 
counter was a big 24-inch coffee grinder, which I couldn't 
turn. Fortunately, most people preferred to grind their own 
coffee beans just before making the coffee. It was fresher and 
more savory, they thought. 

Most of our merchandise came in wooden containers. 
Crackers, sugar, pickles, peanuts, and salted herring were in 
barrels. Candy was in big wooden buckets. Oranges (the few 
we bought) were in crates. Flour was in one hundred pound 
muslin sacks, with lovely prints, which women used later for 
bloomers, shimmies, curtains and dishtowels. It was a treat 
when a stock of bananas, weighing at least 50 pounds, arrived 
and Papa hung it on a special pulley from the ceihng. We 
would cut off the bananas with a sickle-hke knife and sell 
them for ic each. But we always checked for tarantulas, 
which sometimes came with the bananas. 

Under the counter was the cash drawer. When one 
reached under and pushed the right keys, a steel gong 
sounded— to make sure that no one except the clerk opened 
it. 

Sometimes Grandpa left me alone in the store. Of 
course, I made many mistakes. One time a drummer 
(salesman) talked me into buying $50.00 worth of buggy 
whips just when cars were becoming popular. The whips 
hung from the ceihng unsold for years. However, my most 
embarrassing mistake was when Mr. Beadles came in to buy 
white sugar. The barrels of white and brown sugar sat side by 
side, with a scoop in each, and since I couldn't find the scoop 



for the white sugar, I took the one from the brown sugar 
barrel and scooped the white sugar in the sack. Later Mr. 
Beadles came rushing into the store shouting, "Jim, I want a 
new batch of sugar. There's brown lumps in this poke of 
sugar. Those darn fellows a spittin' tobacco juice all around." 

"Now, now, Orville, calm down. We'U see what's 
wrong," said Grandpa. 

Then Grandpa turned to me. 

"Beula, did you wait on Mr. Beadles?" 

"Yes, Grandpa, I couldn't find the scoop for the white 
sugar, so I used the one in the brown sugar barrel." 

It wasn't always pleasant to be left alone in the store. 
There was a farmer nearby who was a drunkard. When he got 
tipsy he hitched his horse to the buggy and came racing down 
the road, yelling hke an Indian on a war path. He had a heavy 
black beard, often times streaked with tobacco juice. When I 
heard him coming, I hastened to lock the store door and hide. 

I loved to work on the drygoods side of the store. The 
scents were so nice there— talcum powder, sachet bags, and 
toilet water. The shelves were full of bolts of caUco, mushn, 
and gingham. Bib overalls of blue denim sold for $1.00, shoes 
$1.50, straw hats 25<f and calico 5<t a yard. I remember a red 
pleated cahco dress that Grandma made for me which cost 
only 25<t. Many small articles hke thread, buttons, combs, 
hairpins, and safety pins were sold for a nickel a card. 

A nickel also brought a man a good cigar, or he might 
even get it free if he wanted to gamble with the big wheel 
above the cigar counter. When he put his nickel in the slot, 
the wheel spun around, and if it stopped on "free," we gave 
him a cigar. 

One day Mrs. Gohagen came in to buy some gingham. 
She found a pretty bolt of blue gingham, but I couldn't find 
the yardstick to measure off the ten yards that she wanted. 
She said, "Oh shucks, Beula. I can measure that gingham." 
So she took the bolt, unwound a long strip and stretched the 
material from the tip of her nose to the end of her 



outstretched arm. "That, Beula, is one yard," she said, as she 
proceeded to measure the rest. 

I tried to do it, too, but found that my material was 
three inches short. One had to be a grown person to stretch 36 
inches from nose to hand. 

One job that I didn't like was to candle the eggs that 
farmers brought in to exchange for groceries. In a dark place 
in the storeroom the candle box set on a table. I would often 
check 12 dozen eggs by placing them, two at a time, into the 
bright holes on the tin box surrounding a bright hght. If 
there were dark spots in the eggs, they were rejected. 

On each side of the store was a telephone, each owned by 
a different company. Some people called us on one phone 
while others belonged to the second company. We had a 
different ring on each phone. On one phone it was a short and 
two long rings. On the other, the ring was short, long, short. 
It was my duty three days a week to hsten carefully for the 
farmers' calls and take their orders for groceries, which Papa 
would deUver. 

Each day Papa took a different route, carrying groceries 
in exchange for eggs and poultry. He loaded his Model T 
truck with egg cases, full of groceries, and chicken coops for 
the chickens that he would take in exchange for the groceries. 
Usually 30 dozen eggs came back in each egg case, and full 
chicken coops were taken to the Augusta packing plant, 
where the chickens were processed and canned. 

Grandfather was one of the first rural postmasters. The 
license, hanging over his desk, had President Grover 
Cleveland's signature. Prairie farmers at first came to the 
store for their mail and to mail letters with a two-cent stamp. 
However, in 1896 Rural Free Dehvery (R.F.D.) was 
estabUshed, and the mail was delivered to their homes. 

The most popular place in our store was in the center, 
where a potbellied stove sat in a five-by-five-foot box of 
sawdust. Grandpa cleaned that box of sawdust every 
morning because the men sat there on nail kegs and spat 



31 



tobacco juice into it. This was the men's club of the 
community. Here one learned the latest news: the arrival of 
new babies, what boy was courtin' which girl, politics, and 
news of World War I. Usually a game of checkers was also in 
progress. Sometimes a drummer (salesman) would join them, 
with jokes and news of other communities. Then he would 
leave trading cards, colorful posters, and almanacs for our 
customers to take home. 

One cold morning Jake Wilson came rushing into the 
store with a big frozen rattlesnake in a bushel basket. 

"Look fellows, see what I found down by the crick," he 
exclaimed. 

"By jimminy, it's a big one with six rattles," whistled 
Jeff Cloud as he moved another checker on the board. 

After everyone had a good look at the dead snake, they 
went on talking and forgot about it, when suddenly the 
basket tipped over, and the snake crawled out. Then there 
was plenty of excitement, with some men hunting for 
weapons and others climbing up on the counter. At last Papa 
took his revolver from the desk drawer and shot the 
rattlesnake. The men learned that a frozen snake is not a dead 
snake when near a hot stove. 

There was also lots of talking and enthusiasm when oO 
was found at Colmar in the summer of 1914. The big oil boom 
brought thousands of tourists to our area. After Peter 
Hamm's gusher came in, the men began talking of having an 
oil well on their own land, even in their backyard if necessary. 

Some of the men around the stove had gone with 
General Sherman on his march to the sea in the Civil War. 
During World War I they rehved their Civil War experiences, 
spending hours reading the papers and telHng stories of their 
years in the Civil War with General Sherman. They loved the 
general, who had been hated by the South. He was "Uncle 
Billy" to his soldiers. It was there that I heard the following 
stories. 

"Boys," said Sam Babcock, "We had a hard Ufe those 



four years, but old Uncle Billy was the bravest of aU. Once I 
saw four horses shot out from under him, and he never 
flinched. It was during that terrible battle at Shiloh! I'll 
never forget the surprise attack and the great hurly-burly one 
early Sunday morning. Many of us were still in bed. Suddenly 
we heard officers shouting, "Fall in! Form a line!" Soldiers 
were running in all directions, putting on their pants and 
boots. General Sherman was on his horse instantly, paying no 
attention to the bullets flying all around. When the horse was 
shot, he quickly mounted another. That was four hours of 
heU, and we lost many good comrades. But after the victory 
the soldiers placed their hats upon their bayonets and 
cheered Uncle Billy. Then there was a torch parade with 
everyone singing Uncle Billy's favorite song— 'The Blue 
Juanita.' Camp after camp took up the song until the heavens 
rang! 

"We darn near starved to death on our march to 
Atlanta," said Jeff Hitz. "Our supplies were cut off, and for 
nine days our rations were one ear of corn a day. If we ate 
anything else, we had to take it from the Rebels. Many times, 
though, we camped on the plantations of wealthy Rebels, who 
had fled. We found their granaries well filled and some food 
buried in the ground and in wells. We covered about 15 miles 
a day, foraging and plundering along the way. One day about 
noon we entered a barnyard full of fat Uttle pigs. I spied a 
succulent looking one and went for it. Just as I grabbed, the 
pig slipped out of my hands, and I went face down in the 
mud. As I hfted my head, I spied a pair of tall boots beside 
me, and looking up, I saw General Sherman. 'Better luck next 
time, soldier,' he laughed." 

On the morning after Easter Sunday in 1918 the men 
were gathered around the stove as usual, and Grandpa told 
them about a dream he had had during his afternoon nap on 
Easter Sunday. He had always been fascinated with the first 
airplanes that were used in World War I, and he had dreamed 
that he was a pilot, shot down over Germany. In his dream he 



32 



saw himself taken to the Kaiser. During his interrogation it 
was decided that the war must end between the tenth and 
fifteenth of November, 1918. 

"Ah Jim, that's hogwash," teased the men. But when 
the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918 (eight 
months after Grandpa's dream), the men had more respect 
for his prophecy. 

The farmers took it for granted that they were welcome 
to socialize at the store and even help themselves to bits of 
food. Grandpa always had a full coffee pot on top of the stove, 
and he never complained if someone reached into the cracker, 
peanut, or pickle barrel for a handful, or even when they 
raised the glass Ud over the big round cheese and shced off a 
piece. 

Saturday night was always a gala time. Farmers came 
from miles around, bringing eggs, cream, or chickens to trade 
for merchandise. The men would congregate around the stove 
or on the front porch while the women shopped. 

Many of the men chewed tobacco, and if they couldn't 
spit in the sawdust around the stove, they spit off the porch. 
Sometimes they had a contest to see who could spit the 
farthest. I remember one time when they raised Grandma's 
ire. Noticing the white picket fence nearby, two fellows 
decided that it would be fun to see whether they could spit 
through the pickets. When Grandma caught them, there was 
considerable excitement for a while. The crowd, of course, 
enjoyed seeing her anger and the men's frustration as they 
washed the fence. 

The store was usually open until midnight on Saturday 
night. Papa sometimes made several gallons of lemonade in a 
big stone jar, and everyone drank from the tin dipper. 

Sometimes Sim Palmer, the blacksmith, brought in his 
victrola, with the big horn and hollow cylinder records, 
encouraging a httle dancing between the counters. 

Coal oil lamps in brass baskets on the walls lit up the 
store at night. It was my job to clean the chimneys, trim the 



wicks, and fill the bowls with coal oil. How happy 1 was when 
one day Papa brought home two beautiful Aladdin lamps. 
What a beautiful white light, turning night into day! Such a 
change from the tiny ribbon flame of the coal oil lamp! The 
Aladdin lamp had a big shiny chrome bowl and white crystal 
shade, set in a steel frame. The finger-shaped filament had to 
be primed with gasoUne and filled with air by a little tube 
pump, like the one Brother used for his bicycle tires. It was 
too dangerous for me to operate, so the lamp chore was 
turned over to Papa. 

Watching the men store the ice in the depth of winter 
was a treat. I never saw them cut it out of the lake, but when 
they brought the huge blocks home in a wagon, I was there to 
watch them store the ice in a shed behind the store. The shed 
was over a pit lined with straw. Large blocks of ice were slid 
down a tin ramp into the shed and then covered with 
sawdust. Layer upon layer of the big blocks of ice were finally 
stored for summer use. 1 watched and dreamed of the hot 
summer days when I would spend hours in that ice house 
reading my favorite book. Also, my mouth watered for the 
good ice cream Grandpa would make. Having the ice made it 
possible for us to have an ice box in the store and enable us to 
sell ice cold pop. Also, we no longer had to store perishables in 
the cave or well. 

However, that pan underneath the ice box, for the 
melting ice, was a nuisance. It filled so quickly that we often 
had a wet floor when we forgot to empty it. One day Papa 
attached a hose from the ice box to a hole in the floor. Then 
the water dripped onto the ground underneath. 

One of my most vivid memories of the store is of 
hstening to the first radio, on the election night of Warren G. 
Harding. A large crowd had gathered to hear the election 
returns over a crystal set that Grandpa had purchased. 
Everyone took turns listening on the earphones and 
reporting the results to the crowd. I almost jumped out of my 
shoes when I first heard that voice from across the country. 



What a wonderful time I'm living in, I thought, as I 
watched all those amazed faces that night in Grandpa's 
country store. 



MABLE* 

Iva I. Peters 

The era ended on a windy sub-zero night in February, 
1962. Young Jim McQuaid was alone in his parents home, 
formerly the old Mable store, when he escaped from the wUd 
raging fire. In the frigid gray hght of the dawn, the only 
remains of the old landmark were the smoking ruins and a 
few charred trees. 

My memories of the little country store begin around 
1918 when it was operated by the J.C. Davis family, who had 
been there since 1906. They had succeeded a Mr. Wynecoop 
who, in the late 1800's, had moved the building from a 
location less than one mile east, to a corner on the farm owned 
by a community spirited gentleman, Mr. Levi Marlow. Mr. 
Marlow was an ingenious man, who, in his lifetime, had 
already had a hand in the erection of a church and a new 
school house, moving and remodeUing the old school into a 
lodge and community building. These four buildings were all 
situated within one half mile of each other, and aU within the 
boundaries of his farmland. The addition of the store made 
the lively community even more thriving. It was in 1900 that 
he arranged for a post office to be established at the store, 
and at his suggestion, the postal department called it 
"Mable," named for one of Mr. Marlow's small grand- 
daughter's, Mabel Calvert, age six. And so it was that the 
rural community became officially know as Mable. 

Mable was more than a store and post office. Maps of 
the area show it as a small dot about ten miles west of 

* Spelling as appears on early maps. Sometimes spelled 'Mabel'. 



Rushville, with a population listed at 90 persons. Although 
the boundaries were undefined, it was an interesting, lively 
community, composed of an unusual number of well known 
landmarks, aU within the space of one mile. 

Besides the store and post office, there was the lodge 
hall (the old Davis school building), located across the road 
from the store; close by was the Union Chapel Church, the 
Marlow Cemetery, the Lawson blacksmith shop, the Davis 
sorghum mill, the new Davis School (district 57), and the 
beautifully wooded six acres known as Marlow Grove, 
famous for its annual picnics until 1927. A short distance 
north of this clump of activity was Wild Cat Slough, the 
recreation area of the community. 

This happy combination of activities offered me a most 
pleasant and wholesome place in which to grow. I was born in 
the first house east of the store during the time the Davis 
family was operating the store. The post office occupied a 
space just inside the door, and was in operation from 1900 to 
1913, when it was closed and rural dehvery began with the 
luxury and convenience of a mail box by each gate. 

In 1918 the Davis family left the store to operate the 
sorghum mill, and they were succeeded by the young Harold 
Milton Cady, who had married Mable Calvert, for whom the 
community had been named. They Lived in a small house 
immediately west of the store, and by now, the old lodge 
building had been moved again to provide storage back of the 
store. Connecting the two buildings was a covered area where 
Mr. Cady did car repairs and also stored his own handsome 
Oldsmobile truck, in which he made home dehveries and did 
commercial hauling. 

Mable store was a wood frame building built close to the 
ground, unpainted, as I recall. There was a porch the width of 
it on which sat simple wood benches for "the loafers." Inside 
were more benches close by the counter for cold weather 
visitors. There was a large potbellied stove in the rear, a 
cream testing area and a place to candle eggs. The floor was 



of very wide, slightly curved, but smooth boards, and I recall 
seeing the owners apply a red sawdust-like material to the 
floor before sweeping, giving the place a fresh cedary smell. 
This fragrance remains vivid in my memory as it mingled 
with the smells of rope, cured meat, apples, bananas, and 
kraut in barrels. 

I was delighted any time my mother gave me a nickel to 
go shopping for a loaf of "Bakers Bread," which was a rare 
treat in the Ingles household. It was unsliced and wrapped in 
wax paper and seemed to me to be food for angels— an idea 
that soon faded with the years. It was also a joy to visit the 
store to see the candies and watch the salesmen come and 
go— all glamorous people driving in from somewhere beyond 
the boundaries of Mable. The Cady's, as well as all their 
successors, "waited on" their customers, handling each order 
on an individual basis. My mother never used the word 
"shopping," but rather, she would go "trading," which, 
indeed, she did do, when she took the thick cream and cases 
of brown eggs to be exchanged for the commercial items she 
needed. The store was open for business every day and 
evening except Sunday, and Saturday nights were the 
highlight of the week. Especially in summer when the cars or 
buggies were parked all around and while the adults traded 
and visited, we children romped among the buildings and 
trees. 

The lights at Mable were gasoline lanterns with fragile 
white mantles hanging down, and when they were lit they 
hissed soft little songs as they burned with a fierce white 
light. 

The Cady children usually walked to school with us and 
were quite constant companions until their father entered the 
Methodist ministry and they moved away in 1927. They were 
succeeded in the store by John Lee, who later moved to 
Rushville to practice veterinary medicine. George R. Davis 
managed the store for a short period, then it was purchased 
by the JuUan Unger family. Many changes took place at this 



point, because the Camden-Rushville road was straightened 
and gravelled in 1935, cutting across the Marlow field, 
leaving Mable store off the highway. The Unger's found 
themselves coping with this inevitable change by once again 
moving the old store building a few rods south until it was 
adjacent to the new highway. The old house and schoolhouse 
were left behind, and they erected their home east of the store 
and annexed the two buildings as one unit. The sides of both 
were covered with dark green shingles, the lawn was 
landscaped, and little resemblance remained of the old Mable. 
It was a great improvement and for years it seemed as if 
progress had finally come to benefit Mable, the tiny dot on 
the map. 

In retrospect, however, it was the end of an era, and the 
beginning of the demise of a small country store. No longer 
were the roads impassable with mud, and somehow the cars 
ran faster and it became easier and easier to drive by to larger 
selections in bigger towns. However, Mable did not die 
without a fight, because it would be over 20 years before the 
final gasp. 

The Unger's ran a bustling business and in turn were 
succeeded by Roy Baskett, Roy Ramey, and Ray Artis. In 
1957-1958 the road was once again straightened in certain 
places and covered with a black surface, and almost 
simultaneously the store closed its doors— a casualty of 
better transportation and the more sophisticated tastes of 
the post World War II era. 

In the mile or so of landmarks so memorable to my 
childhood, only the big rocks at "Wildcat" and the 
whispering cedars and sad stones of the Marlow Cemetery 
remain. It seems incredible that in my lifetime so many well 
known places have completely disappeared. 

The clanging sounds of the blacksmith's anvil were long 
ago silent; the steam of the vats and the fragrance of the 
sorghum mill wafted away at least 50 years ago; sounds of 
children's voices and a ringing school bell were silenced in 



35 



1949 when the building was torn down and the lumber used 
at the Camden School; the last hymn was sung at Union 
Chapel in 1939, and the building moved away and remodeled 
into a residence; the Levi Marlow buildings were all replaced 
by more modern ones, and the lovely Marlow Grove has been 
in cultivation for many years. 

Mable, the store, is gone, and Mable, the community, is 
no longer even a dot on a map. It is just a memory, and 
memories are landmarks only to those who have lived them. 



HAMBURGERS, MILKSHAKES, AND 
COLLEGE STUDENTS 

Katherine Z. Adair 

The building is still there. I don't know what it's like 
inside or what changes have been made to the outside. I 
haven't been back. When mother sold the business to Perry 
Hay in 1952, that part of my life was over. 

Since I lived there from 1924-1944, I would say that 
College Hill Grocery and Confectionery was one of the most 
important factors in my life. I learned how to meet people and 
take responsibility, how to deal with all kinds of situations, 
how to do menial tasks in a proud way and how to plan my 
time so that 1 could get everything done when it should be. 

My father, Fred Zimmerman, had been an insurance 
salesman for years when he was offered a chance to buy the 
business in the 300 block of West Adams. The building was 
not very old and had an apartment over the store where we 
could Uve. Since there were only three of us— my mother. 
Dad, and myself— it was adequate. It wasn't exactly what we 
were used to, but it seemed a good opportunity. 

1 was a freshman at Macomb High School when we 
moved to the store. I wasn't part of the "in" group so 1 
especially enjoyed the contact I had with the CoOege boys 



and some of the faculty who came in for groceries or the ones 
I met when helping mother when she did catering. 

We worked hard— long hours, seven days a week, very 
few vacations. We had the help of the Zimmerman family. My 
dad was from a family of ten. All of the ones near there helped 
at one time or another with money, encouragement, and 
actual purchases, but we were the ones who washed the 
dishes, swept out, dipped the quarts of ice cream, fried the 
thousands of hamburgers, served the milk and caramel 
squares for breakfast, and Ustened to the occasional tales of 
woe. Remember: we went through the Depression years and 
war times as well as the good times. 

When I look back over the Sequels (yearbooks) of the 
20's and 30's, 1 see many names and faces that were familiar 
to us at College Hill. Many of those students went on to 
successful careers as farmers, teachers, scientists, 
businessmen, athletes, politicians, even college presidents. 
Harry Newburn was a regular customer— played football and 
slept through many of Professor Seal's early morning history 
classes. 

We had very little rowdy behavior. Dad would have 
asked them to leave and they would have. We had practicaUy 
no instances of non payment. The students charged, but with 
the definite understanding that they paid when Mr. Z said 
they were to do so. Our only real difficulty was getting them 
out at 10 p.m. 

I think Dad must have advertised some in the Courier 
(the college newspaper). When he died, the students 
published a lovely tribute to "Mr. Z.". After all, he was 
College Hill— the man who made that location a special place. 



THE HUCKSTER WAGON 

Louise Krueger 

Anyone who has Uved in a rural area during the horse 
and buggy days still remembers the thrill when during the 
summer months the huckster wagon would pull up in the 
driveway. These memories carry me back to my early days in 
the rural area of Altamont in Effingham County, about 65 
years ago. The huckster in our area was none other than my 
father's brother, Fred Krueger, who later operated a general 
store at Gilmore. 

The huckster had five routes in the area, one each day of 
the week, keeping a close schedule at each customer's home. 
He was well acquainted with his patrons and could stock his 
wagon each day according to their weekly needs. At our 
home, the huckster wagon arrived every Monday around 11 
o'clock. It was wash day. Our goal always was to have the 
wash out of the way and the clothes on the hne in order to be 
ready to do the trading when the huckster arrived. Eggs and 
young roosters were always traded for the household items 
we purchased. 

The huckster wagon was a large farm wagon drawn by a 
team of horses. It was stocked with the most useful items a 
housewife needed, such as flour, sugar, spices, canned goods, 
yard goods, sewing items, men's overalls, tobacco, candies, 
etc. Instead of the regular wagon bed a large cabinet-like 
structure was built to the size of the wagon with shelves and 
doors on either side. The back end had a large let-down door 
which served as a table to measure off yard goods stored in 
the back area. The chicken coops where on the very top of the 
wagon, the egg cases underneath in order to be kept in the 
shade. 

This method of selling wares from place to place was 
indeed a profitable business for the seller and a service as well 
for the farmers. The farm horses were in the fields from 
morning till evening and much too tired to be driven miles for 



what could be purchased in this manner. Messages and news 
of concern could be carried from family to family, which was 
appreciated. 

The housewife usually had a few cents left over from her 
egg and chicken money and would then buy a few sweets for 
the youngsters who were always standing by. 



MEMORIES OF WAYLAND 

Lillian Elizabeth Terry 

In the late 1800's, there was no rural mail delivery. At 
that time the federal government officially designated that 
the incoming mail would be placed in homes or stores and 
kept until individuals could call for it and the outgoing mail 
would be held for the postal service to pick up and take to its 
destination. 

Wayland store became one of the first post offices in 
Schuyler County, being situated at about an equal distance 
for the inhabitants of Littleton, Brooklyn, and Camden 
townships to pick up their mail, some of whom walked or rode 
horseback to get it. 

I have no official records, and Wayland is only 
remembered by those who are four score years or more. My 
husband's father, John Terry, told me that many a time when 
he was a young man he rode horseback to Wayland to get 
their mail. He was born in 1875, and their home was in 
sections 30 and 31, southwest of Littleton. 

Wayland was a small, one-room weather beaten 
building, situated in a corner of three roads. One went south, 
one east, and one west. Several dweUings also were close by. 

Flora Poison was one of the first post-mistresses at 
Wayland and also the storekeeper, and at that time, 
everything that folks needed was kept there. 



Frank Woods, who lived in Augusta, Illinois, delivered 
oU and groceries to Wayland with a four-horse team, as he did 
to all the small stores. 

In the year of 1908 my family moved from Rushville, 
the county seat of Schuyler County, to a small farm about 
one half mile from Wayland store, and at that time there was 
a mail route, and Sally Chockley was the storekeeper. 

I remember just how the store looked, at the age of 
eight years. Mother would put a basket of eggs in our little 
wagon and send my brother Edwin, age ten, and I to the store 
for supplies in exchange for the eggs: usually some sugar, 
coffee beans, matches, and maybe some kerosene. When we 
left, SaUy always treated us to a stick of candy or a long stick 
of paraffin gum, neatly wrapped in cream colored paper with 
little yellow flecks. What a treat! We were so proud and 
happy to get it. 

I remember how the building looked on the inside and 
out. It was weather beaten, built from wide lumber siding, 
had no paint, was gray with age, and probably the roof was 
covered with hand made shingles. Also, there was a Uttle 
front porch of wide planks, elevated on some kind of a 
foundation, making it higher than the ground level. 

At the entrance there was a wide high counter to the 
right, which was almost the length of the store. On top of the 
counter was a coffee mill, some old-fashioned scales, and 
some large glass jars with glass stoppers, which were filled 
with candy or parafin gum. Back of the counter were shelves 
with a variety of things customers usuaOy needed. 

The floor was also of wide planks, gray with age, but 
always swept clean. Sally kept her eggs in the back, and we 
children always went with her to count them. She would put 
one dozen here and one there, before she put them in her case. 

There were several chairs for the customers to sit in and 
exchange the latest gossip and also for the neighbors who 
lived close by. 

In 1908, I remember seeing Coxey's Army, which was 



marching through the country. I think they were 
campaigning for the Sociahst Party. There were about one 
dozen of them, along with their leader, who was William HUl. 

One evening they stood on the httle porch at Wayland 
store, and Mr. Hill gave a speech. The neighbors gathered to 
hear him, and stood in the road. I remember standing to the 
left of the crowd. I do not remember anything he said, but I 
do remember just how he looked. He had on a close fitting top 
coat that came to his knees and also a stove pipe hat. He 
reminded me of the picture of Stephen A. Douglas when he 
debated with Abe Lincoln that I once saw in a history book. 
It is said that Mr. Hill carried a torch when he marched. 

Wayland store caught fire at one time, due to a 
threshing machine that belonged to John Day, that had 
stopped by the store. Sparks from the engine set the roof on 
fire, and had it not been for the water tank, it would have 
burned. 

Sally gave up the store sometime before 1916, and there 
seems to be no pictures of it that can be found, and so when 
the Uttle store and former post office was torn down, and the 
httle plot of ground was absorbed by the surrounding 
pasture, and the memory of it almost disappeared as well. 

Sally was a striking woman with dark sparkUng eyes. 
She was tall and slender, her hair pinned high upon her head. 
She dressed plainly, always wore a dark print caUco dress, 
with long sleeves, and high neck, and a long apron of white or 
Ught colored material tied around her waist. And she was 
always kind and gentle to whoever she was near. 

Sally was not hterate enough to be the proprietor of a 
business, but through her accompUshment, she expressed a 
part of the heritage of earher America. She enjoyed the 
remainder of her Ufe doing some gardening, caring for her 
flowers, and with her husband raising some hvestock and 
poultry. 

She also pieced quilts, and she never forgot me as a 
child, for she gave my husband and I a beautiful quilt for a 



wedding present, the pattern being "The Broken Dish,' 
which I have had now for over 60 years. 



THE GIN RIDGE STORE-NOT A MYTH 

John C. Willey 

In the very late 1800's and early 1900's, in the 
southwest part of the Township of Bethel in McDonough 
County there was a general store. This place was located near 
the road which separated McDonough and Schuyler 
Counties. The business was started by Andrew and Rachel 
Stoneking in their home. The people around the area were 
largely self-sufficient, but there was stiD desire for various 
"store-bought" articles. And since the nearest towns were 
Plymouth, Industry, and Macomb, other stores were a 
distance of 12 to 18 miles. 

Andy (or Andrew) ordered the merchandise and had it 
shipped to him by rail from more distant places. That 
merchandise, of course, he would sell at a profit. Having it 
come by rail meant that he would have to take a team and a 
wagon to Plymouth to the depot and pick up his supphes. 

In the early 1900's business was getting very brisk and, 
having a family, he needed more room. He had some husky 
sons, so he put them to work at building a special building for 
the store. That place was then called the "Stoneking Store," 
or more often the "Gin Ridge Store." As time went on, the 
one son, Jesse, began to run the store while another, John, 
opened a store in DoddsviUe. A third son, Ernest, was a 
farmer in the community. 

This general store was set up to buy and seO the produce 
of the local people, as well as the items brought in from the 
outside. They bought cream, eggs, and poultry from the 
farmers and in turn sold to them such things as yard goods, 
thread, tobacco, and tools. 



At that time there were lots of underground coal mines 
in the area. It was at the store that the miners bought much 
of their carbide for the miner-lamps, along with picks, 
shovels, wedges, and other tools. 

This general store was also the gathering place of gossip 
and news— a place to talk and have fun. It was common joke 
that there was more coal mined and more farming done in the 
store than any place else! It ever was a place where the older 
men held checker tournaments and the board was never put 
away. They would sit around the old potbeUied stove to while 
away the time. 

There were also a couple pairs of boxing gloves hanging 
there, where any newcomer had to prove he was good enough 
to hang around. If you would not put on the gloves and give it 
an honest try, you might as well leave and never come back! 

As time went on, the automobile became popular 
enough to warrant a gasoUne pump. This pump was red in 
color with a long handle on one side with which to pump. The 
gasohne went up to the top and into a glass container, which 
was round and tall. It would hold ten gallons of fuel and had 
marks on it to indicate the gallons, numbering from one to 
ten. Gasohne at that time was low octane and was priced at 
five gallons for one dollar. It was unleaded. 

It was, I think, in the late thirties when the store closed 
down. Even the building is no longer there. The Freeman Coal 
Company now owns the land and all the surrounding area. All 
of that land will be turned upside down, and there probably 
will not be a landmark left to show where the store was 
located. 



EGGS. APPLES, AND CONSCIENCE 

Mildred M. Nelson 

In the early 1920's, the Old General Store in Tennessee, 
Illinois was located across the road west of the Tennessee 
Park. The two-story building was sandwiched in between the 
blacksmith shop on the south and the old Odd Fellow Lodge 
Building on the north. Ed and Grace Pittenger were the 
proprietors of the store. 

Like most of the general stores of this era, the Pittenger 
Store had quite a variety of merchandise. You could buy 
overalls, shoes, dress material, kerosene, chicken feed, and 
hardware items in addition to food products. Most of the food 
products were shipped to the store in bulk quantities. Flour, 
coffee beans, apples, etc. came in wooden barrels, while other 
items, like dried fruits, came in large wooden boxes. You 
could buy any amount you wanted. Very few items were pre- 
packaged. It always seemed to me that the storekeepers put 
most every purchase in a brown paper bag, twisted the top, 
and tied it with a string. 

On Saturdays, the farmers of the area hitched up their 
horses to a surrey, buggy, or wagon and headed for town. A 
few people drove their Model T's to town, if they were 
fortunate enough to have one. They brought chickens, eggs, 
cream, and butter to trade for items in the store. Farmers 
were usually allowed a shghtly higher price for their produce 
if they traded for items rather than sold the produce for cash. 
This is how the phrase "going to town to do the trading" 
originated. 

During the spring thaw-outs, business would slack up. 
The streets in Tennessee, as well as the country roads, 
became almost impassable because of the mud. In dry 
weather there would be two or three inches of dust from the 
dirt roads to contend with. 

I was about six or seven years old when the events in 
this story took place. My parents resided in Tennessee. Since 



my father was one of the proprietors of the nearby 
blacksmith shop, I was a frequent visitor of the old store. 

The candy case in the store was a big attraction for all 
the children. By standing on my tip toes, 1 could see the 
peppermint sticks, licorice, the colorful hard candies, and the 
"dog tracks," as Mrs. Pittenger called the chocolate stars. 
Mrs. Pittenger was a very kindhearted lady and always gave 
the children a generous amount of candy in return for their 
pennies. 

In the fall of the year the large apple barrel in the store 
was filled to capacity with the beautiful red and yellow apples 
from the nearby orchards. Those apples were always so 
tempting, especially to a child. One day when Mrs. Pittenger 
wasn't looking, I backed up to the apple barrel. With all the 
skill of a professional shoplifter, I took one of the apples. I 
then did a fast disappearing act from the store. 

When I was a safe distance away, I took my first big 
bite from the succulent apple, I even commended myself on 
"swiping" the apple without being seen. Then 1 remembered 
something my mother had said: "God sees and knows 
everything you do." Fear gripped me. I had been seen after 
all. God had seen me steal that apple! 

I ran as fast as I could back to the store, and I placed 
the apple with the large bite out, right on top of that barrel of 
apples. Thus, I learned lesson number one from the old 
general store. Even though the storekeeper did not see me 
take the apple, there was someone who did. 

I loved dried fruits that the general store kept in stock. 
My favorite was dried apricots. One day when my mother 
sent me to the store to purchase some apricots, temptation 
got the best of me. On the way home, I removed the string 
from the brown paper bag and had quite a feast. Somehow, on 
this day, the dried apricots seemed more moist and more 
juicy than ever. After I had eaten my "fill," I tied the string 
neatly back on top of the bag and proceeded home. 

My mother poured the fruit into a pan and I noticed her 



40 



peering very closely at the apricots. Then she put the fruit 
back in the bag and said, "You take these right back to the 
store and get my money back. They are just full of worms." 

I suddenly felt very sick. Goodness, how many worms 
had I eaten? That was lesson number two that I learned from 
the old store: never get into the groceries on the way home! 

A portion of the old store is still standing today. It has 
been made into a small residence. Someone has said that this 
is the section that had once housed the shoes. 

Mr. and Mrs. Pittenger passed away long ago. The old 
general store is gone, but the memories and the lessons I 
learned were not forgotten. 



SELLING AND TRADING IN BEARDSTOWN 

Nellie F. Roe 

The moment had finally arrived. It was June 28, 1979, 
and after years of planning, working, and waiting, the 
Beardstown Plaza Shopping Center was a reality, and our 
new supermarket. Roe's Eisner Agency, was ready for its 
Grand Opening. A myriad of gaily colored balloons hung 
from the ceiling. The mayor had arrived to cut the ribbon and 
the press was ready. My husband was beaming and showed 
no signs of the frantic pace of the past few weeks and three 
hours of sleep the previous night. This was a dream come true 
but no one knew it better than I. 

I glanced at the row of carts Uned up alongside the five 
checkout counters, each equipped with an electronic cash 
register and a belt that moved forward at the touch of a 
button with the foot. I noticed the shiny waxed floor and the 
wide aisles between the row after row of shelves stocked with 
thousands of items. The refrigeration units were 
gleaming— the meat counter, the frozen food counter, and the 
dairy counter— all filled to capacity and brightly lighted. The 



produce section was a sight to behold and piled high with 
fruits and vegetables, some from half-way around the world. 
The "deli" section was waiting, with its mouth-watering 
treats. The store decor was eye pleasing and there was soft 
background music. I heard my husband explaining to the 
press how the newly-installed "heat-reclaim" system would 
save energy and how it was possible to get 24-hour delivery 
from Champaign by hooking up the computer to the 
telephone. 

Suddenly, my thoughts turned to another store and 
another time. It was April, 1941 when I came to Mt. Sterling 
(population 2,100) as the bride of Bill Roe, age twenty four, 
manager of the local West Food Store, then part of a chain of 
about 30 small-town groceries in west central Illinois. Where 
had the years gone? When did the Thirties and early Forties 
become the "good old days?" My thoughts were interrupted 
with the opening of the electronic doors. No more time for 
day-dreaming. 

That evening, as I drove the short distance to our home 
in Mt. Sterling, I resumed my reverie. I could picture in my 
mind that small store on Capitol Avenue where the Senior 
Citizens now meet. And small it was! About the width of the 
average-sized living room of today and about three times as 
long. Most merchandise was on shelves that Uned both walls 
with a couple of displays in the center. A service counter was 
at the left as you entered, and next to it was a candy counter 
with penny candy and nickel candy bars. America was just 
emerging from the "ice-age," and a small refrigerated meat 
case had just recently replaced the ice box across the back. 
The store was heated (somewhat) with a potbellied stove in 
winter and cooled (somewhat) with a ceiling fan in the 
summer. The inventory, which consisted mostly of staples 
and sugar, beans, prunes, rice, and cookies, came from the 
warehouse in bulk, and had to be sacked up at the store. 
Brown County is a farming area, and most people had 
gardens, so produce was Umited to basics such as cabbage, 



41 



celery, lettuce, and bananas, which were carried to the back 
room each evening and put on ice. Most meats were brought 
at the meat market down the street, but we carried a small 
variety: bacon, pork chops, and baloney (sUced upon request). 
If you wanted cheese, you had your choice of Longhorn or 
Longhorn! I soon learned that hog jowls (or "jiles," as it was 
sometimes pronounced) were just that, and "egg mash" was 
chicken feed. 

Dry cereals were hmited to two or three old stand-bys, 
such as Post Toasties and Shreaded Wheat. Soap products 
consisted mostly of bar soap and soap chips. Toilet tissue and 
waxed papers were about the only paper products sold. There 
was no pet food on the market at that time— Fido ate scraps! 
Frozen foods were unheard of and there were practically no 
convenience foods. 

Peanut butter and lard were weighed up in lard trays. 
Oleo was pure white and contained a smaU package of 
coloring to mix in, usually with hands— a job children loved. 
All milk was in glass bottles and the cream would rise to the 
top. You could pour it off and have cream and low-fat milk or 
shake it up and have whole milk. 

Vinegar and kerosene were kept in the back room and 
you brought your own jug. My husband still hkes to tell 
about the man who handed him a new jug and told him to "fill 
it up!" The next day his wife was in, very upset. She had 
poured kerosene over her pickles before she reahzed there had 
been a "lack of communication" at the store level. Very few 
non-food items were sold in the grocery— a few brooms, wash 
tubs, wash boards, and tin pails. Plastic had not yet been 
invented. 

Saturday was the big day. The farmers all came to town 
to do their "trading," bringing their cream and eggs to sell. 
The grocer bought eggs and it was not uncommon to owe the 
customer money after he had bought his groceries. The eggs 
were then shipped to larger cities. A larger percentage of 
customers bought on credit. At that time, the grocery store 



was about the only business that gave credit now it's about 
the only one that doesn't. 

Self-service was in reverse. The grocer gathered up the 
items and brought them to the customer. Before fiUing the 
sack he used it to figure the total cost. Many left their orders 
to be filled and picked up later. On Saturday nights the store 
would be full of sacks of groceries until the "picture show" 
was out. Each Wednesday my husband would write on the 
windows with poster paint the specials of the week, such as: 
bacon— 17<t a pound, coffee— 3 pounds for 37<t, and oleo— 3 
pounds for 25 C 

Hours were long and pay was short. Clerks received 25C 
an hour with no fringe benefits, and no one left until the work 
was done. It was sometimes midnight on Saturday before the 
wooden floor was spread with oU to keep the dust down and 
the door was locked until Monday morning. 

In 1942 West Food Store moved to larger quarters on 
Main Street, where the Farmer's State Bank is now located, 
and opened up the first self-service store in this area. A 
service counter was maintained in the back for a few "die- 
hards" who resisted the change, but most customers enjoyed 
browsing and dropping their purchases in a basket held over 
their arm, so the idea soon caught on. 

It was a far cry from the supermarket of today, but it 
was the "beginning of the end" for the small-town store and 
the first in a succession of events that led to the present 
corporation, with stores in Mt. SterUng and Beardstown and 
a full-time partnership with Darell Perry. 

Next year, my husband will celebrate 50 years in the 
grocery business, having started at age 15 in the old West 
Food Store in Beardstown, and he has seen many changes. 
Although he has no desire to go back to building a fire when 
it's ten degrees below or using a board and overturned box as 
an office, progress does have a few drawbacks. Some of the 
personal touch between personnel and customers has been 
lost, and all the calculators and modern office equipment in 



the world can not keep up with the mountain of paperwork 
that seems to grow with each passing year. 

However, some things never change! The hours are still 
long, and if I complain, his answer is the same as it was 40 
years ago: "Well, honey, you married a grocer!" He is still 
"going strong" but when the "Grim Reaper" finally catches 
up with him, I have a suggestion for his epitaph: "Old grocers 
never die, they just pass through the check-out lane." 




Ill Small Villages 



45 



SMALL VILLAGES 



"There is a need for intimate human 
relationships, for the security of settled home and 
associations, for spiritual unity, and for orderly 
transmission of the basic cultural inheritance. These 
the small community at its best can supply. Whoever 
keeps the small community alive and at its best during 
this dark period . . . may have more to do with the final 
emergence of a great society than those who dominate 
big industry and big government. " 

Preface, St. Johnsbury, Vermont 
Town Plan, 1970 

For the past one hundred years, populations moved 
rapidly away from small towns to support, man, and make 
viable industrial cities like Detroit, Akron, Pueblo, Chicago, 
and Cleveland. Urban centers burgeoned as, one by one, people 
of small towns, such as those described in the following 
section, abandoned their stores, churches, and homes and left 
the village to decay and disappear. 

But, according to the 1980 census, this population shift 
has reversed and for the first time since 1900, cities are losing 
population while small towns and rural areas are gaining 
people. 

That shift is too late for Middle Creek and Mabel. And, 
perhaps, also for Camden, Table Grove, Burnside, and other 
small villages described in this section. But the way of life like 
that once experienced in Middle Creek and Mabel is the beacon 
that is currently drawing people back to Hve in small towns. 

The town plan of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, declares that 
in the present era there is a need for intimate human 
relationships. Ruth Kearby writes about this when she 
describes the little town of Camden as it exists today: "People 
come and go, but if you'd ever chance to stop by, you would 



find them friendly and eager to sit and visit with anyone that 
passed their way." Marguerite Foster writes of Table Grove, 
"We now have a new park at the west edge of town. Ball 
games, family dinners, reunions, etc. Really nice ... 1 don't 
have any relatives outside of Chicago. So have been blessed 
with good friends and neighbors." Ruth and Marguerite 
articulate the close human contact apparent in small 
communities, and it is in search of such warm interpersonal 
relationships that families leave the impersonal environs of 
large cities to return to places like Rushville, Farmington, and 
Table Grove. 

These same city migrants also look for "spiritual unity, 
and for orderly transmission of the basic cultural inheritance." 
Beulah Jean McMillan speaks of this when she writes of her 
childhood in Camp Point: "Our parents were strict, but we 
were a very close family. At Christmas we did not have a 
Christmas tree. At breakfast father hid a coin under our plates 
which was usually added to my bank. All meals were eaten 
together. After breakfast we had family worship consisting of 
Scripture, a portion read by each, a hymn sung a capella, and 
prayer on our knees. If company came, they were invited to 
join us before their errand was taken care of." Over and over in 
the following stories one hears of a strong belief in God and in 
church attendance, of frugaUty, of concern for one's neighbors, 
of loyalty to one's country, and of respect for schools and 
education. All of these things provided for an orderly 
transmission of basic cultural values because in these small 
villages there was unanimous, unspoken acceptance of such 
values and support for the social rituals and institutions that 
promulgated them. 

Small villages of yesterday provided a nucleus for the 
farming communities around them and, together, the village 
institutions and businesses and the nearby farms formed a 
self-sufficient unit. Even tiny Mabel provided almost every 
service needed by the citizenry. Mabel had a general store 
where cream, eggs, furs, and poultry could be sold by people 



who, in turn, could buy dress goods, groceries, fuel, 
stationary, gas, and sundries. The store housed a justice of 
the peace and a post office. It provided a social gathering 
place for the community. Mabel also had an opera house, a 
cider mill, a sorghum mill, a church, cemetery, park, 
blacksmith shop, and a school. The story of Mabel ends, "AO 
of those old places have gone by the wayside but lots of 
memories linger." 

In 1977 Wendell Berry wrote in The Unsettling of 
America, that, ". . . as a society we have abandoned any 
interest in the survival of anything small." Four years earUer 
a British economist, E. F. Schumacher, had written a book. 
Small Is Beautiful. He saw even then that the fundamental 
task for a world society that emphasizes ever larger 
organization is to "achieve smallness" because ". . . the only 
effective communication is from man to man, face to face." 
And Alvin Toffler, in 1980 wrote in his book, The Third 
Wave, that deep societal value changes are presently 
influencing a basic shift in attitudes and this shift is resulting 
in a new desire on the part of the people for small town and 
rural hfe with an emphasis on family and community 



interdependence. In effect all these writers foresee a 
reawakening of small towns and the life style they make 
possible. 

It is for this reason, perhaps, that the reader should 
study this section of Tales II carefully in order to understand 
what made the Mabels and the Middle Creeks vital. What 
were the institutions, now gone, that drew people together? 
Should some of those institutions be reestabUshed? For 
recreating the intrinsic worth of the small town of fifty years 
ago may require more than renovating one of the still existing 
houses, it may mean reactivating the opera house, the 
churches, or the horse shoe game every evening in the park! 

Mrs. Clarence Beck echoes this in her closing paragraph 
about Saline. She writes, ". . . in spite of hard work and 
deprivation (by today's standards) people Uved full, rich Uves, 
with high moral standards, a sense of duty and love of their 
fellow man which seems to have been lost. Perhaps as more 
people are searching for their "roots" they will also unearth 
these lost traits of their forefathers and the world and 
everyone in it will revert to higher standards of 'the good old 
days."' 

JerrUee Cain, Editor 



47 



MIDDLE CREEK: ONLY MEMORIES REMAIN 

Lena Aleshire Boos 

I was born and reared in the small, but interesting 
community of Middle Creek, Illinois. The early settlement of 
Middle Creek was located in the southeast quarter of Section 
36 at the extreme edge of Harmony, Carthage, and St. Mary's 
townships. The business houses and homes were on both sides 
of the road, which ran east and west. 

Middle Creek, as I remember, had a Methodist church 
know as Ebn Tree. Directly east were homes of the villagers, 
and then the home and shop of the village blacksmith. Uncle 
Bill Earl and family, who made caskets for the deceased. Uncle 
Billy Earl, besides being the blacksmith, was engaged in 
different enterprises of the day, especially harvesting ice from 
ponds and packing it in sawdust for summer sale to the 
community. 

Next door was the general store of Ira Ross, not in use in 
my time as no one took it over after his death. On the south 
side of the road, or street, various residences were located. 
Next was the two-storied general store. The upper story was 
the Woodman Lodge, also used as a recreational hall. The next 
building west was the telephone office, followed by a doctor's 
office, then another small buUding that was the second grocery 
store, run by WiUiam Mosley. The general store's co-owner, 
Mr. William Smith and family and his brother Claude, 
generally known as Ty Smith, made up the other half of the 
once thriving business. Ty and his team of white mules were a 
welcome sight for the children along his route where he traded 
his calicoes, coffee, tea, sugar, flour, and cornmeal for the 
housewives' butter, eggs, and an occasional old hen or rooster. 

As a small girl, I attended Elm Tree Sunday School. My 
teacher was Miss Minnie Reed, who was later Mrs. Lee Boyd 
and was always my good friend. Revival meetings were held at 
the church, where students from Carthage College preached all 
week. 



The tent shows in the summer were a great lot of fun and 
entertainment. Jack Kinnebrew from Plymouth was the star 
performer and owner of the main show that came each year 
and also sold patent medicines that cured everything from 
snake bites to broken hearts. They were called the "Phila-Ma- 
Tootsie" shows. 

Next in line was the children's day program given at Elm 
Tree Church. Needless to say, practice for this event was 
enjoyed, along with the opportunity to play with our 
neighbors. 

The men gathered around the pot-beUied stove, where a 
music fest was always in fuU swing. Charhe Keegan was the 
master of the cigar-box fiddle he had made himself. Today his 
oldest son owns the ancient, but novel instrument. Then came 
Minor and Merrill Porter, with their banjo and mandolin, and 
Mrs. Merrill Porter on the organ. Many other neighbors joined 
in to display their musical ability. There was always a grateful 
audience, and many joined the fun singing along with a square 
dance on Saturday night. People always had time to fraternize 
with their friends. Now, who would dare say things were dull in 
the good old days? There were the Woodsmen's monthly 
meetings. Two wall lamps with real mercury reflectors, 
purchased from the general store for perhaps fifty or seventy- 
five cents, provided briUiant Ughts. Now they are selling at 
$125.00 or more, if there are authentic mercury reflectors 
obtainable today. 

Unlike most small inland villages, Middle Creek had no 
village school house where the three R's were taught. Valley 
Dale School, one mile west of the village, was the local 
educational facihty, as it was near the first Primitive Baptist 
Church and cemetery, named by the pioneers "The Old Brick 
Church and Cemetery" in 1832. It was not used after 1892. 
The church finally feU into ruins, and nothing is left except 
the well-kept cemetery to preserve the history of those early 
settlers. 



48 



As in all the "Once Upon a Time" stories, all that is left 
of Middle Creek are abandoned buildings, as the big store 
burned in 1932. The rest are falling into ruins, and the town is 
now called "Frakesville," as William Frakes owns all the 
acreage except the residence of Julius Russell, built where 
Elm Tree Church once stood. William and Grace Frakes live 
in the old Earl home, and a son lives where William Smith 
lived. All else is now a ghost town. Only memories are left of a 
once thriving community. 



MABEL: ONLY ON THE OLD MAPS 

Alline Lawson Armstrong 

I would like to reminisce about the small hamlet of 
Mabel*, Illinois, which was once on the map with a post office 
exchange. I have a card in my possession that was addressed 
to my brother while he was visiting my grandparents there 
around 1914. It was addressed to "Mabel, 111." and 
postmarked. 

Mabel was located about three miles east of Camden. 
There was a general store called "Mabel's Store." It was so 
named by the owner of the store, Levi Marlow, who was the 
justice of the peace, and the grandfather of Mabel Cady, who 
with her husband Milton operated the store, after it had 
closed by the Kelly Davis family with an auction. My mother 
came home from the auction with a small package. We asked 
what it was. She replied that it was what they used when she 
was a girl to fasten their skirts. She wanted it for a keepsake. 
Little did we think that hook-and-eyes or snaps would ever 
give way to the zipper. 

A gas pump stood in front of the store. One could fill up 
with gas, even self-service if desired, and also purchase a 
supply of groceries and leave produce all at the same time. 



Sometimes spelled Mable. 



The produce might be eggs, cream, or Live poultry. An egg 
candler determined the good eggs from the bad. A scale was 
used to weigh the cream and poultry. The cream was tested 
for butterfat. 

During cold weather furs were accepted from trappers 
in the community. They were kept locked in a store house 
back of the store. 

A large pot-bellied stove was used to heat the building 
in the winter. And on the long winter nights, some of the 
neighborhood fellows would gather around to discuss the 
issues of the days. 

An opera house once stood across from the store on the 
south. 

West of the store a short distance was Union Chapel 
Church, where Sunday School, preaching, and lots of revival 
meetings were held. Back of the church and a little to the 
west was the Marlow Cemetery. Across from the cemetery 
was the home of the Justice of the Peace, Levi Marlow. 
Joining his lawn on the west was a shady grove, called 
Marlow 's Grove, where every year an annual picnic was held 
in August for all surrounding communities. It was an all day 
affair with lots of good food and an afternoon program. Many 
people attended. 

Across the road north from the grove was a sorghum mill 
operated by Kelly Davis and his brother Edgar and families. 
This was a big seasonal business as people came from miles 
around to get their cane made into sorghum. One needed a 
barrell or two of molasses for a winter's supply. 

The mill was turned by horse power, the horse making a 
track by going around and around the mill many times a day 
to grind the came into shreds and extract the sap. The sap was 
then boiled down to a golden brown to make sorghum 
molasses. Good sorghum was determined by the kind of cane 
used and the temperature and time of cooking. 

Next to the mill a short way west was a cider mill, owned 
and operated by my father, Walter Lawson, who also operated 



a blacksmith shop next to the cider mill, during the time he 
could spare from farming. 

The shop was built by my grandfather, Joe Lawson. I 
spent some interesting times watching both of them as they 
fired the iron in the hot flame of the forge, kept hot by the wind 
created by the large billows above. After heating the iron to a 
red hot piece, it was dipped for a short minute in a wooden tub 
of water, then it was shaped into shoes on the anvil by 
hammering it into shape to fit the hoof of the individual horse. 
Sometimes I was allowed to hold the halters of horses as the 
shoe was being nailed to the hoof. I felt as if I was a big part of 
the operation. Plow shares were also sharpened, and the shop 
served as a fix-it place for many things. 

Across the road from the shop stood the Davis School, 
District No. 1, where I acquired my elementary education in 
the seventh and eighth grades. I also learned how to get along 
with my peers, and to respect and work and play with the 
younger children, and enjoy them. 

My home was next to the shop and across from the 
school. The house and buildings were built by my grandfather, 
and are still standing. This now is the home of Mr. and Mrs. 
Merle Lantz. 

North of my home one-half mile was "The Wild Cat 
Slough," which was quite a large body of water surrounded on 
the south by large rocks rising to a height of thirty or forty 
feet, serving as a good protection from cold in the winter when 
many people congregated to ice skate. A large fire was made 
near the rocks, making it a cozy place for putting on your 
skates or to warm your shins by after skating for a while. In 
the summer the slough was a good fishing spot. A coal mine, 
known as the Reeder's Coal Mine, was located near the slough. 

All of these old places have gone by the wayside, but lots 
of memories Unger. 



CAMDEN AND THE LITTLE GEM THEATRE 

Ruth A. Kearby 

I was born on my Grandfather Agans' farm in Camden 
Township, and lived there until I was about five years old. 
Then my father, mother, two brothers, one sister, and I 
moved to another one of my grandad's farms in Huntsville 
Township, where I grew up and lived until I was married. 
That was when times were hard and there was not much 
money to go places or do anything out of the ordinary. 

But as we grew up, about every Saturday night Dad and 
Mom would take us kids to the little town of Camden, since it 
was only about five miles away. 

It was an interesting little place, as everybody, it 
seemed, always went to Camden on Saturday night to do 
their shopping and go to the picture show. I remember some 
of the very interesting places in Camden where we always 
went. 

First it was at Davis's Cream Station, where we'd take 
our can of cream to be tested and receive our money so we 
could buy our groceries and go to the show. 

There were three grocery stores in Camden: the Daly, 
the Dorsett, and the Brooks. These stores carried all kinds of 
merchandise, from soup to nails, or dry goods to canned 
goods, or most anything your heart desired. They were places 
where friends, neighbors, and other people gathered to visit, 
hear the news and also gossip a little. 

One of the main highlights of the Saturday night trip 
was the Little Gem Theatre that was run by Bill "Dad" Daly. 
He had a building across the street from the Camden State 
Bank and grocery stores. It was built of concrete blocks. I 
suppose it would seat about fifty or sixty people. It had a 
piano, which was played by a local girl during the picture 
show. It also had a big pot-beUied stove that was heated by 
coal. It was located just inside the room. When the picture 
was being shown, people who got there first had a seat to sit 



50 



in, but after all the seats were filled, the others stood around 
the stove to see the picture. On cold winter nights when the 
fire was going strong, you would burn on one side while the 
other side was cold. But come what may, people came to see 
the picture, and it often was a continued serial. One could not 
bear to miss one of the pictures. At that time there were no 
sound effects— no sound at all. So you had to read what was 
flashed upon the screen. But if you couldn't read, there were 
always a few people who read everything out loud, and who 
could be heard all over the room. I guess that was fine for 
those too young to read or those unable to read, but it was a 
little annoying to others who could. 

The movie camera wasn't run by electricity but by a 
motor that was generated by a gasoline engine. We could hear 
the motor pumping away, as we sat there engulfed by the 
scenes being flashed upon the screen. But when the picture 
was about finished, something always happened that left you 
hanging in suspense, until the next week would roll around 
and you'd come back to see what happened. 

There were other places of interest, too. Two blacksmith 
shops were located in Camden. One was operated by Edd 
Estes, the other by Joe Black. They made everything from 
horse shoes to plow shares, wagons, and buggies. Those folks 
hved and raised their famihes, and have long been gone from 
their places, but they certainly left a memory of how a man 
could hve by the sweat of his brow. 

It was so interesting to go to their shops and watch them 
fire the furnace and pump the bellows to brighten up the coals. 
They would heat a piece of iron untU red hot, then shape it into 
different objects. It made you think of the poem "The Village 
Blacksmith" as they labored and toiled from morning until 
night. But time passes on, and no more do we hear the ringing 
of the anvil or see the flaming forge, for they are gone forever. 

At one time Camden was a thriving httle town. It could 
boast of having three doctors: Dr. Horner, Mary Ward Mead, 
and Dr. Frank C. Hayes. They lived and practiced during the 



horse and buggy days. It was never too hot or too cold or the 
roads too bad for them to come if they were needed. Those 
times have gone, too. 

Camden is still on the map, with a population of about 
100. It has a grade school, two churches, one grocery store, a 
post office, a town hall, and a new Masonic Hall. 

People come and go, but if you ever chance to stop by, 
you would find the local people friendly and eager to sit and 
visit with anyone that passed their way. 



I SURE MISS THE WHISTLES 

Marguerite Foster 

My home of 60 years, the original town of Laurel HiU, 
was laid out in 1838 by James Spicer. However, the village 
did not come under any formal organization until June 6, 
1881. At that time the name "Table Grove" was adopted. The 
reason for the change was that another "Laurel Hill" already 
existed in Illinois. The village remained dry until 1933. The 
first saloon Ucense was then issued. 

Our little town sits on a mound. At one time, we had a 
beautiful town park in the middle of the square. A hitching 
rack was around it. The UniversaHst Church had a steeple 
with a light that could be seen in any direction coming into 
town. There is no Ught any more, but one can see the steeple 
in the daytime. At one time, we had four churches: CathoUc, 
Presbyterian, Christian, and Universahst. In 1931, all 
combined, and in 1979 the building was named to the 
National Historic Register. As you go through town, the 
church is on the highway. In 1879 a hotel called the Kelly 
House was built to accommodate travelers and salesmen that 
came by train. We had four passenger trains a day, also long 
freight trains. Now everything goes by trucks. There is no 
depot. I sure miss the whistles. 



There were so many beautiful homes in the days of my 
girlhood. We had a hotel, drugstore with a soda fountain, a 
jewelry store, and four dry goods stores. We had our own 
weekly paper, The Table Grove Herald. The variety store had 
the most beautiful hats and dishes. A few would still 
remember Millie Hill, who operated the store. We had a 
harness shop and shoe repair place, two doctors, a dentist, a 
beauty shop, two barber shops, two banks, a veterinarian, a 
post office, two taverns, two undertakers and furniture stores 
combined, and a lumber yard. We also had Reach's harness 
shop and Notson's watch and repair shop. Oldnow's ice and 
butcher shop put up its own ice from a pond near the 
slaughter house. There was a skating rink on the south edge 
of town. All enjoyed it, for there was no TV at that time. 
There was a dray to bring freight from the depot, too. 

Our light plant turned off the hghts at a certain time of 
night. The telephone switch board was in a home. We had 
several oil stations. There was also a grain elevator, a TV 
man, and two restaurants. We even had a horse-drawn 
hearse. You wouldn't think of a hearse as being beautiful, but 
it was. It had windows on each side, with red plush tie-back 
curtains. 

Also, we had an ice house. When they went out of 
business, the lumber yard had ice shipped in. My husband 
deUvered ice to homes, stores, etc. Many people made ice 
cream in those days. We aU had wooden ice boxes. We would 
be up town to a picture show and would hear the train 
backing a box car onto the siding. My husband would have to 
leave. At two and three in the morning, he'd come home 
frozen. My husband ran the lumber yard for nearly forty- 
seven years. He couldn't compete with larger yards, so the 
company had to sell out. 

Everyone enjoyed the free shows and plays. The 
Gardiners from Bushnell played "Uncle Tom's Cabin" when I 
was young, and I have never forgotten that play. Prudence 
Berry erected Progress Hall, now known as Odd Fellow Hall. 



She was an invalid in a wheel chair. Her home was called 
Sunshine Corner. She was a wonderful woman. We were 
neighbors for several years. Many a girl stayed there to go to 
school from the country. At her death her home became a 
parsonage, which it still is. 

Then in 1940 Camp Ellis came to our back door. I read an 
article a few weeks ago, which said Camp Ellis was a boom for 
Ipava. It sure wasn't for Table Grove. The wealthy boys went 
to larger towns over the weekends, and poor boys were left for 
the closest Little towns. We had a U.S.O. We tried to do what 
we could for the soldiers. People were good to open their homes 
to them. Many married ones rented rooms. And we had single 
ones for Sunday dinners. North of town some beautiful homes 
were destroyed when the camp came. Some people wanted 
their open stairways and old cupboards and had to buy them 
back. The houses were of walnut inside. Their parents had cut 
and seasoned their own timber. It seemed a shame to destroy 
them for only five years of camp operations. 

Also, there was so much camp garbage. The farmers 
would haul it to the hogs. Some folks were terrorized because 
the camp was also a German prison of war camp. However 
none escaped. We had several nice soldiers for Sunday dinners. 
At that time, my husband did lots of pheasant hunting up 
around Pontiac, so we fed them pheasant dinners. All that is 
past now, and I look to the future. 

Foster's Garage upstairs was used for many activities 
like church bazaars, card parties, etc. Billy Foster taught 
dancing. The Masons and Eastern Star were going good. Also 
the Rebeccas and Odd Fellows. 

In 1936 the hard road was constructed through the park. 
So that took a lot of people out of town to trade. We had a big 
celebration, with a parade of floats, etc., when the hard road 
was finished. Also, we celebrated when Gary Sigler came home 
from being a prisoner of war for three years or more. 

During Camp Ellis the world's largest clock factory was 
on the comer of the square. (Anyway, that is what it said on 



52 



the building.) Wherley's Dairy delivered milk and cream. I 
would get a crock of cream and could cut it with a knife and 
use a spoon to make butter. It was wonderful. Then came 
uncolored oleo. You had to squeeze out the yeDow hquid into 
the oleo and mix it. 

We used to have lots of tramps. I think they had the 
places marked for the next one, where they got food. 

During the war the elevator had a hght atop it. Would 
you beheve, when it was finished, a group of young folks went 
to the top of it? It had an elevator so far and then a ladder the 
rest of the way. I was one of the group. However, we were 
supervised. 

I remember early life in town. Ladies dressed up when 
going to church. They wore beautiful white dresses, gloves and 
shoes. Lots of white was worn at that time. We'd go calUng 
with calling cards, and if no one was home, we'd stick a card 
under the door so they would know they were called on. 

We now have a new park at the west edge of town, for 
ball games, farmly dinners, reunions, etc. It's really nice. I 
have seen a lot of changes. I don't have any relatives outside of 
Chicago, but I have been blessed with good friends and 
neighbors. 

This is my life of sixty years in Table Grove, Illinois. 



"US" WAS WRITTEN ON THE CARS 

Vera V. Chenowith 

It started in the spring of 1941. We would see strange 
cars going up and down the road. Some of our neighbors said 
they saw "US" written on the cars. This went on all summer, 
and we all passed anything we heard back and forth. Then in 
the fall, we saw men surveying for the roads and the sewers 
that ran under the roads. But you couldn't get anything out of 
those guys. They wouldn't tell you anything. Then one day, 
Eizie went to bale hay at the neighbors, and he told everyone 



that he'd heard we were going to get a camp, because he'd seen 
them unloading cats. Well, everybody thought he meant 
"Cat" tractors, bulldozers, but after they questioned him, he 
jokingly said it was "tomcats." 

Next thing, those men came to our house and asked Elzie 
to walk the farm with them. They'd ask different questions, 
and every once in a while, they'd scribble something down, but 
they wouldn't tell anything either. 

By the Spring of 1942, we had rented a Macomb farm, 
afraid they'd build the camp and we wouldn't have any place 
to go. Then we saw water towers being built between Ipava 
and Table Grove. We'd get up to milk in the morning, and we'd 
see the lights over by the water towers where they were 
working. Then they started building some long storage sheds, 
and by September, the government had purchased 8,500 acres 
of surrounding farmland. By the 10th of September, before the 
corn had even matured, they brought in bulldozers and plowed 
up the fields, corn and all, and were getting it ready for 
building. 

We got a notice on February 1, 1943, that we had to be 
off our farm by March 1, 1943— a month from then. We didn't 
know where we were going to be. So we had a sale. Our sale 
was on Friday, February 26th. Things sold well. People came 
from everywhere, because all the neighbors had to sell out, too. 
We had a rubber-tired flat rack, built for us by Cecil Wright for 
$65 early in the year, and it sold for $200. Woven wire fences 
went for $1 a rod. We had to get our hay and straw out of the 
barns, because they were going to tear them down. On 
Saturday, the 27th of February, one day after our sale, we had 
real bad weather, a blizzard. We had plarmed to move that day, 
but didn't know what to do. Our boys weren't old enough to 
help a lot. Our oldest son was only twelve. But Elzie 's brother 
and Oliver Smith came and helped us move that day to 
Macomb. On Sunday, the government workers were in, tearing 
down our barns and letting the boards fall on our horses and 
tractor that we didn't have moved yet. 



53 



WMe it was going on, lots of newspaper men came in to 
do stories on the new camp. People in Macomb thought it was 
great. It was going to improve business for them. Everyone 
around us told us to fight it, but we went to Illiopohs, and 
talked to them and decided it wouldn't do any good; just one 
man fighting the government. 

When we were moving, it was every neighbor for himself. 
Normally neighbors would help each other, but all of us were 
moving. Some folks closed up farming; some went to farm 
somewhere else. 

On July 4, 1943, they had an open house at Camp Ellis. 
They said there were 8,000 soldiers at the camp ... on land 
that used to belong to us and our neighbors. 



BERNADOTTE: THE TOWN THAT WAS, 
AND WAS NOT, BUT NOW IS 

Harvey S. Bubb, Sr. 

Memory takes me back "three score and ten" to a time 
my dad took me on a ten-mile trip to a gristmill on Spoon 
River to get some grain ground into meal. It took nearly all 
day, with two horses and a box-wagon. There were both 
wheat and corn in sacks. We used gunny sacks (burlap) for 
corn and grain bags (duck or canvas) for wheat, about ten of 
each. Some of the wheat was to be ground into flour. 

The gristmill was at Bernadotte, a small town north of 
Ipava on Spoon River. It was built about 1826 by a Solomon 
Sherwood, and later rebuilt in 1844 by Joseph Coleman 
because of some damage. There was a log dam constructed 
across the river to deepen the waters. It was arranged so that 
water would go down through a sluice-way to turn the big 
mill wheel. Most mill wheels were set vertically, but this one 
was set horizontally. With the uprights, water would turn the 
wheel as it spilled over the top. In the Bernadotte mill, water 



was made to go down and "around" the wheel by going back 
into the river. 

A large shaft extended upward through about three 
stories, and various "take-off" gears were connected to run 
the different machinery. I don't remember much about this 
mill. Some years later when I told Dad that I remembered, he 
said, "Well, I guess you do after all." 

Some years later, as a teenager, I swam in the waters 
below the dam. I remember how we boys liked to crawl along 
the logs and get in under the spilling water. We had lots of 
fun there. And there was also a covered bridge nearby. I 
remember how we boys played Hide-N-Seek in the timbers of 
that bridge. People who went north out of Bernadotte came 
and went through that covered bridge. It was a time when 
covered bridges were built across rivers in both Illinois and 
Indiana. I am quite interested in visiting them. There are still 
thirty-nine in one county in Indiana. 

How did Bernadotte get its name? Thereby hangs a 
tale! The little village was known as Fulton before it was 
called Bernadotte. A disgruntled general in Napoleon's army 
defected to the U.S.A. He worked his way westward until he 
arrived near what is now Smithfield, where some of his 
relatives hved. His name was General Bernadotte. 

As he stood on the north brow of Spoon River valley, he 
looked down over the area, admiring it, and said, "This is my 
town." What he really meant was, here was a setting which 
appealed to his nature, and he aimed to make his home here. 
It was only a matter of time until Fulton became known as 
Bernadotte. 

I can recall many things about Bernadotte from about 
1915 until Pearl Harbor in 1941. But the scene changed a lot 
after we declared war on Japan. The U.S. Government decided 
to build a mihtary installation in the area between Ipava, 
Table Grove and Adair. They bought up 17,800 acres of farm 
land, which included the area of Bernadotte. When the U.S. 
engineers went to work on this project, they "brutally" 



54 



destroyed Bernadotte. Only one building was left— the brick 
school house, which was used for an administration terminal. 
The whole town of Bernadotte was "cleaned out." The dam 
was replaced with a concrete structure, still there. The nuU 
became the site of a pumping station, giving water for Camp 
Ellis. There are two million-gallon water towers still standing 
in the camp area, reminders of that era. There are some other 
remains of camp days. It all came about because of a Satanic 
blow by the Japanese in 1941. 

Before Pearl Harbor I was Principal of Bander Grade 
School and deferred in the draft. But when school was out in 
June, 1943, I was reclassified, and it looked like 1 might be 
called right away. So I went to Camp Ellis and offered my 
services. Right away I had something to do with the whole 
installation. 

They first made me Fiscal Officer for the post engineer. 
That meant my job was collecting information as to how much 
it would cost to run Camp Ellis and get an allotment from 
Washington for each quarter. That fund had to be "obhgated" 
for each purchase— approved by me. 

Lieutenant Colonel Robert C. Edgar was the post 
engineer. It was his duty to construct, maintain and repair the 
camp facilities. He must have liked my work because in July 
he made me Chief Clerk of his whole outfit, the top civilian of 
his 540 employees, under his management. Having had so 
much to do with the place, what 1 say here can be regarded 
with some degree of rehabihty. 

Camp Ellis was designed to train three branches of the 
military: the engineers, the quartermasters, and the medics. 
All draftees had to go through about 120 days of training here 
before they were shipped overseas. Part of this training 
included going through the Infiltration Course and the 
Obstacle Course. They were life preserving courses. 

At the peak of the Camp EUis efforts, there were 44,000 
trainees encamped there. That may give you some idea of the 



vastness of the operation. That is why Colonel Edgar had to 
have over 500 employees under his jurisdiction. 

There was one "special" project of training that I must 
note here. Up one of the hollows from Spoon River, the post 
engineer built a small village called "Little Tokyo." In Japan, 
there was one corner of Tokyo that the military wanted to 
destroy. In order to train the boys how to attack the place, we 
built a rephca of that corner in a hoUow on the back side of 
Camp Ellis. It even included some plate glass in certain 
windows. A certain "detail" of military men were trained how 
to destroy Little Tokyo. Thank goodness, the project never 
came off. The A-Bomb put a stop to that. 

I remember one thing. Colonel Edgar came back to his 
office one day all muddy and wet. It had been a rainy day. 
The first thing he said to me was, "Those men now know how 
to throw a 'flotation bridge' across the river." He had been 
down in the Bernadotte area with a group of trainees showing 
them how to bridge a river. 

As you know, we won the war. There was V-E Day, for 
Victory in Europe. Later there was V-J Day, for Victory in 
Japan. With Colonel Edgar, I attended a meeting on the 
procedure for closing down Camp EUis. On V-E Day plus ten, 
we would do certain things. On V-E day plus thirty, we would 
do other things, and so on until the installation got 
deactivated. My job of helping Colonel Edgar grew down 
until one of the last things I did was to inventory the 208 
mess halls. 

WeU, Camp Ellis came and went. It's all a memory now 
in my mind. The farmers, most of them, bought back their 
land, and it is much the same farming area as before the war. 
Those people who worked at Camp Ellis during the war and 
had been residents of Bernadotte prior to the war, had great 
desire to relocate back in their old home town. Accordingly, 
some of them purchased the surplus buildings on Camp Ellis, 
moved them to Bernadotte, and made new homes for 
themselves. Little by little, more and more homes were made 



and the place became a village again. One lady built a more or 
less permanent home for retirees, and Bernadotte sprang to 
life anew. Today, it is a lively center in somewhat of a 
sportive way. You can camp there, fish, swim, have picnics, 
etc. You may even wish to make your home there once you 
familiarize yourself with the place. 

Those of us old enough to remember the original 
Bernadotte will always miss the old dam and the gristmill. 
We'll also miss the covered bridge. Otherwise, we'll continue 
to enjoy Bernadotte— the town that was, was not, but now is. 



CAMP POINT: SIOOO AP^rt) A MANSE 

Beulah Jean McMillan 

We lived in Camp Point, Illinois, from February 12, 
1916, to December 20, 1917. My father. Rev. Albert Gearge 
Parker, was a minister of the Presbyterian Church. Our 
family consisted of parents and four of their nine children: 
Donald, EUiott, Neil and Beulah. We were met at the train by 
several members with a sled, and driven past our church and 
the Maplewood School to a temporary home. We had a late 
dinner at banker Francis' home across the street. 

It was a thriving church until several influential 
families moved to California. Besides the banker, the 
undertaker. Will Liggett, and a number of farmers were 
faithful members. The salary was $1000, a manse, and a 
month's vacation. 

There were two other churches, a Methodist and a 
Christian. The Masonic Lodge was prominent, and frowned 
upon by father. Stores were a block long on both sides of the 
railroad tracks. There was a small Ubrary on the second floor 
of one store. On another upstairs floor was a sizeable room 
where community entertainments took place. The ladies of 
the church had an annual bazaar and chicken pie supper in 
another. 



On 'Valentine's Day I was enrolled in the fourth grade of 
Maplewood School. I was surprised to receive some 
Valentines. I was moved up half a grade. That was disastrous 
only for Arithmetic, as I was too shy to ask for help on long 
division. The three-story brick building was located in the 
center of a full block. In winter low spots frozen over were 
good for recess sliding. In warmer weather Prisoner's Base 
was a popular game with our grade. I loved the teeter-totters 
and swings. There was no athletic program. 

We had a Maypole Dance one year: "Heel, toe, one, two, 
three," we danced, accompanied by Rubinstein's "Melody in 
F." The next year I was the Good Fairy in the play 
"Pandora's Box," which we rehearsed in Bailey Park. 
Coming back my special friend Robert Garrett heroically 
killed a blue racer snake. One day when we were correcting 
speUing papers for each other, I gave him 100, although he 
made several mistakes. In high school, he was bUnded in one 
eye by a baseball. 

Sometimes I went home with Caroline Pittman, 
daughter of the doctor. Her mother would fix bread and 
butter and sugar for us. She later taught school there. 

Neil was older than I. One day his teacher left the room 
for awhile, and a girl kissed him. He was so embarrassed he 
went right home, and did not go back until the next day. He 
avoided her like poison ivy thereafter. 

Before we left Camp Point, the High School had a 
Surprise Farewell Assembly for Donald and EUiott. I sang 
alto in a "Silent Night" duet with a classmate. One feature 
was Riley's "That Old Sweetheart of Mine." Already 
scheduled for demohtion, the school burned on July 16, 1975. 

Camp Point had a big Chautauqua every summer in a 
spacious open air auditorium roofed for protection from sun 
and rain. My brothers earned money helping to erect tents 
which many famihes used all week. My parents visited 
parishioners there. The boys also waited at the counter of the 
screened-in concession. They kept the grounds cleaned up. 



When no program was in session my friends had exercise 
scrambling over the inclined rows of seats, or "skinning the 
rabbit" over bars. We enjoyed the humorous and the musical, 
but skipped serious lectures. There was a story hour for 
children on the grounds in the afternoon. Father spoke at a 
Sunday meeting. Malcolm, Kenneth, Donald and Elliott gave 
a musical program when the regular performers did not 
appear. Walking home one night, mother pointed out the 
MUky Way. We did not have street lights to obscure it. 

One time a large tent was put up in the vacant lot across 
the street. I was aUowed to go to see a presentation of "Uncle 
Tom's Cabin." 

Our parents were strict, but we were a very close family. 
At Christmas we did not have a Christmas tree. At breakfast 
father hid a coin under our plates which was usually added to 
my bank. All meals were eaten together. After breakfast we 
had family worship, consisting of Scripture, a portion read by 
each, a hymn sung a capella, and prayer on our knees. If 
company came, they were invited to join us before their 
errand was taken care of. A kiss for each one of us was given 
by father and mother. 

We were coaxed to eat carrots because they were called 
"golden dollars." Mother parceDed out chores saying, "I 
want so-and-so called." Thus, I shelled peas and prepared 
green beans. I did not need to be told to keep my shoes white 
with Bon Ami. Mother trimmed all the boys' hair. She gave 
me a bath in a wooden tub in the kitchen. I dreaded to go to 
the out-house in the fenced-in chicken yard because the 
rooster always attacked me. 

I had a ride in a car for the first time. It was a large, 
open, seven-passenger car. Buggy riding was almost as rare. 
I went in a buggy to a country home for an over-night visit. 
They served tapioca pudding for dessert, which I did not like, 
as our family called it "fish eyes." But I did enjoy the kittens 
on the farm and being a special guest. 



One winter night a mouse scampered in the living-room. 
After being chased by the older boys, it scooted up Donald's 
pant leg and was captured. 

Our third move came in September, to a house near 
Bailey Park. We were in time to enjoy a good grape year. It 
has been told to me that it took fourteen loads to move us. I 
was quarantined for a few days with the measles. 1 remember 
being "cock-eyed" from looking at the ceiling. 

Three months later, we moved to the Camp Creek 
Church near Macomb by freight, and the boys rode in the 
caboose to save fares. Our Hfe in Camp Point was all over. 



CROOKED CREEK AND COOPERSTOWN 

Ellen Fry Baldwin 

Brown County is coursed by the winding and sometimes 
turbulent Lamoine River, more commonly known as 
"Crooked Creek," and its tributaries. This fact offers both 
good and bad to the county's residents and especially to 
those who live in Copperstown Township. 

This tale deals with three special places along the named 
waters and the favorable things received from them. It 
concerns Greenwell's Mill, Rocky Branch, and Star Bridge. 
In the late 1800's and early 1900's all three of them played an 
important role in the hves of the people living near them. 

The first one I shall attempt to describe is Greenwell's 
Mill. It was a grist miU built on the Brown County side of 
Lamoine River and near a bridge crossing, which made an 
ideal location for the mill, so it might serve the people of 
Schuyler County as well as those of Brown County. It was 
also only about two miles southeast of the village of Ripley. 
This village had several potteries at that time, and so the 
location of a grist mill nearby was quite a convenience. 

The name of Greenwell's Mill was derived from the 
name of the family who owned the surrounding land. The 



Greenwell family was also instrumental in getting the mill 
built in the year 1853-1854. Of course the power for the mill 
was simple because it was provided by the natural flow of 
faUing water. Thus the expense of operating the miU was 
nominal. 

Many farmers who needed grain ground either as feed 
for livestock or for the table use would haul their homegrown 
grain to the mill in wagons and either wait for it to be ground 
or make a second trip when the finished product was ready. 

The second much appreciated place goes by the name of 
Rocky Branch. This much smaller stream is a tributary of 
Crooked Creek and is located about two and half miles (by 
road) further southeast from Greenwell's Mill. It is also about 
one and a half miles from my home. This stream has cut its 
way through the rocky limestone cliffs and has washed and 
hollowed out places which are quite deep. In most areas the 
bottom is sohd rock. 

I well remember one hole in particular. When I was a 
child it was about twenty by thirty feet, and the water stood 
four or five feet deep. Since the bottom was of solid rock, it 
made an ideal swimming hole or a natural baptistry. 

Our family attended a httle country church in the 
village of Cooperstown, and this place was always used for 
baptizing. The beauty of its wooded surroundings and the 
solitude of the out-of-doors, mingled with the sound of falling 
water, made a perfect setting for a very impressive ceremony. 
When the congregation raised its voice in "O Happy Day" 
and the preacher prayed, it was extremely touching. I might 
add that it was used in both summer and winter. During 
winter's icy blasts they just cut the ice and went ahead. 
Blankets were wrapped around those who were baptized, and 
they were taken either by sled or buggy (later perhaps by a 
Model T) to a nearbj' farm house, about a quarter of a mile 
away, where they could change into dry clothes. I can well 
vouch for the truth of this statement because it was my 
privilege to be one of the converts when the ice was from an 



inch to two inches thick. 1 might also add that never did I 
know of anyone taking cold or being sick from the baptismal 
experience. 

Besides serving in this act of Christianity, the people 
both young and old from miles around traveled to this hole 
and used it. They either went for entertainment or for just 
plain bathing. There was nothing so refreshing after a hard 
day's work in summer as a bath in the cool clear waters of 
Rocky Branch. Today one might think it was unsanitary, and 
maybe it was by today's standards, but in those days it was 
as good as could be found and was extremely soothing. It was 
fed by a few springs up and down the branch so it was not all 
drainage water. 

The wooded area bordering Rocky Branch was also 
attractive to those who wished to have picnics, fish fries, 
weiner roasts, etc. When we as children or young adults 
wanted something to do, we took off for Rocky Branch, with 
its beckoning call for an afternoon or evening of good clean 
fun and entertainment. We might even decide to wash the 
buggy while we waded in the branch. There were several 
places where we could drive the horse with buggy attached 
right into the branch. The water would be twelve or fifteen 
inches deep and we would still be standing on sohd rock. I'm 
sure this would thriU the kids of today equally as much as it 
did us. 

The surrounding land is still owned by the same family 
who owned it long ago. The members of this family plant 
turnips in the fields nearby and each year have a turnip 
festival for a family reunion. Young and old look forward to 
going back to the festival and once more enjoying a day at 
the old famiUar Rocky Branch. 

The third part of this story is about Star Bridge. This 
place is farther east toward the Illinois River, or about six or 
seven rmles in a southeasterly direction from Greenwell's 
Mill. It is also on the banks of the Lamoine River. 



In the days of my childhood there was a covered bridge 
across the creek at this point connecting Schuyler County 
with Brown County. This bridge was built about 1904 and 
replaced a former covered bridge which had been built in 
1879. Near this bridge on the Brown County side was a grain 
elevator which served the surrounding farmers as a place to 
market their products. Wheat, corn, and hay were the chief 
commodities. 

The first elevator built at this point was a small one 
erected in 1901 and the produce was barged to Havana, 
Illinois. But after 1905 a larger elevator was built covered with 
corrugated tin. This is the one I remember. It was owned by 
the Schultz and Baujan Milling Company, who owned and 
operated an elevator and flour mill in Beardstown. They 
barged the products to Beardstown. The hay was used in the 
livery barns and the grain went to either their mill or to St. 
Louis or Peoria. 

Across the road from the elevator was a house and 
country store. This provided the operator of the elevator with 
a nearby home and an opportunity to add to his income by 
running the store when there was no business at the elevator. 
He could either hire someone to help during the harvesting 
season, or perhaps his wife and family could pinch hit for him. 
Believe me, he needed additional income, for I was told today 
by Richard Woods, who ran the elevator at one time, that he 
was paid a cent and a quarter a bushel for all the grain he 
loaded out. 

A man Curtis Logsdon operated a barge Une from 
Beardstown. During the harvest season he made regular trips 
to and from Star Bridge to haul the farmer's grain and hay. 

The first Manager I remember was a man named Buford 
Golliher. He had a wife and three children. The family 
members helped anywhere they were needed and helped make 
anyone's trip to Star Bridge an enjoyable and convenient 
experience. 



Again, this story is not second hand, for I remember full 
well getting up early and going with my father on one trip 
after another with wheat to the elevator. Of course, it took lots 
of time, for the wheat was threshed by a steam threshing 
machine and the distance one way was about three miles. We 
got tired, yes! But my! the reward was great. We would go 
into that store and Dad would buy either sugar or sticky 
candy and maybe even some jelly beans. Oh! How good! But I 
could not eat them aU. I had to leave some for Mom and 
whoever else might be at home when we returned. 

If one had time to fish, there were plenty of places to do 
so and picnic grounds were available, but rarely did we ever 
use either of them. No one had time for that type of recreation. 
If one had wished to go, the lUinois River was a mile farther 
east, where the creek empties into the river. Not too far away 
was the LaGrange Locks, where other scenic places were 
located. But that was just a httle too far away for busy people 
with a team of horses. 

The appearances of these three places today are 
somewhat different from the above descriptions, but they are 
all remembered in the county for the former purposes served 
by them. Of course, the mill at GreenweU's Mill is gone. The 
bridge still stands but can't be used; the land on which the rrdll 
stood and along the banks of the creek is all under cultivation, 
and so about all there is left is the memory of what once 
existed. 

I do have a postcard picture of the mill and a large oU 
painting which was painted in 1896 by Margaret Alexander, 
a cousin of my mother's. Both of these I treasure very highly. 
I also taught my first school at Fagan School (also called 
"Calf Pen") which stood about a quarter of a mile from the 
site where GreenweU's Mill stood. In that year of 1925-1926 
the school children and I did quite a lot of coasting and 
skating in the area, so those memories are also outstanding. 

Rocky Branch flows freely and the banks are still scenic 
and beautiful. Just to the west of the swimming hole the cliff 



59 



has been blasted and crushed rock taken out, so the old 
swimming hole is somewhat marred and changed, but even 
so, some of us who are older still cherish the memories and 
prize the joy and entertainment which it once provided, with 
all its splendors of nature. 

At Star Bridge the old covered bridge is long gone and 
has been replaced with a steel and concrete structure. The 
elevator exploded and burned in 1931 and was never 
replaced; the house burned in 1970 and the store was allowed 
to fall down. There is still a picnic ground, and areas for 
fishing are provided. But most of the activities once found 
there have been moved to other locations. I know such things 
must happen in order to have progress, but even so, it is 
saddening to those of us who lived earlier and were able to 
enjoy the usefulness and services rendered by the existence 
of such landmarks. 

Many of the blessings bestowed by the flowing waters 
of "Crooked Creek" and its branches upon the quiet and 
peaceful population of Cooperstown Township must now be 
listed among the fond memories of a delightful, comfortable, 
and enjoyable past. 



LA CROSSE: A FEW HOUSES AND ONE OLD STORE 

Lawrence G. Anderson 

La Crosse, Illinois, in Hancock County and POot Grove 
Township, is on the T. P. & W. Raih-oad, between La Harpe 
and Burnside. It used to be quite a community center for the 
area. There was a depot, two general stores, the Christian 
Church, a blacksmith shop, an elevator, a stock yard, a 
doctor, a cement factory, and eight or ten houses. How old 
the village is I haven't been able to learn. But my 
Grandfather was married on September 20, 1868, and moved 
on a timber farm one and a half miles northwest of La Crosse, 
and got his mail there. It was his nearest town. 



Doctor Tadlock had an office there, and my mother was 
one of his patients. And I was born January 28, 1902, about 
three miles southwest of La Harpe. How much longer the 
Doctor was there I do not know. 

A. J. Dunham was the operator of the depot. He was 
crippled and used crutches, and hauled freight around and 
mail bags. He was telegraph operator, ticket taker, 
everything about the depot. (The post office was in the 
general store, and the store keeper was the postmaster.) He 
lived about a block west of the depot in a house on or near the 
right of way. It was a famihar sight to see him hobbhng along 
on his way to and from work. There were four passenger 
trains daily, two each way. You could go west to Keokuk or 
east to Peoria, and the trains were usually on time. Also, the 
people depended on the railroad for shipping in and out 
hvestock, grain, and coal. People used to move great 
distances by rail. They would charter a car and load all of 
their possessions, the stock last, with feed and water, and 
provisions for the man who went along to care for the 
animals. (He had a bunk in the car, and could also ride in the 
caboose.) When they arrived at their destination, they would 
unload and move to their new home. Burnside was our voting 
place, and when the roads were bad a group of men (women 
could not vote) would go to Burnside on the train. So the 
railroad was the lifeUne to the outside world. There were not 
any cars until the later teens. Emment Sellars was about the 
first to buy a car. He bought a Model T about 1914. I believe 
it cost about $295.00 (a lot of money in those days). Later on, 
George Butler bought a big car, a Chandler, or something like 
that. They thought they were really extravagant when they 
bought five gallons of gasoline at a time. By the late teens 
there were more cars, but no roads to drive them on, but we 
drove them anyway. Roy had a Model T that he drove very 
carefully. He kept the side curtains on, winter and summer. 

There were two general stores, one owned by Willis 
Wright, and one by Mr. Barr. The store was also the 



assembly hall for the men. A lot of world problems were 
solved there as well as the local. The men would hurry up with 
the chores and get to the store for those sessions. If anyone 
missed out on something, there was always someone to see to 
it that they caught up with the news. The blacksmith shop 
was owned first by Babcocks, then by Ed Starky, and he kept 
plenty busy with wagon and buggy repairs and horse 
shoeing, besides a lot of other jobs. 

The grain elevator was operated by Ed Smiddy. He built 
a new house, and my father hauled lumber from Dallas City 
for it. It was of concrete blocks, perhaps made in the cement 
factory in La Crosse. He bought grain and sold coal and fuel, 
which was shipped in or out on the railroad. So that made up 
the center, which was of utmost importance to the 
community. 

Of course, the country's main business was farming, 
which was done with horses. Tractors came along in the late 
teens. Bert Merriweather was about the first to own a tractor. 
He got a Titan tractor, and of course, there was a lot of 
comments on that, pro and con (mostly con). 

Grain threshing was a annual event. There was a story 
about when they had shut the machine down a short time for 
repairs. When they were ready to start up again, Orbin 
Andrews' wagon was needed under the grain spout, but he 
was not right there, so another man said he would back 
Andrews' wagon in. Mr. Andrews was deaf and had his own 
way of speaking to his team. So the man could not get the 
team to move. About that time Mr. Andrews came in sight 
and saw what was going on, and he shouted a few times to his 
team and backed the wagon in without going near the team. 
That story was repeated many, many times. 

News was scarce in those days and had to be given 
proper attention. We seldom had a murder in those days or 
even a shooting. But we had a shooting once. Walt Boyd and 
John Whitaker once had a disagreement of some kind, and 
Boyd got a court order and he went over to Whitaker in his 



wagon. He stood in the wagon and started to read Whitaker 
the court order. Apparently Whitaker did not care for that, 
and he pulled out his gun and shot Boyd. Boyd fell down in 
the wagon and the team ran off. Well, he got home and they 
took him to the hospital in La Harpe on a railroad handcar, as 
the roads were bad. It turned out that he was not badly hurt, 
but it was bad enough, of course. The sheriff came out from 
Carthage and took Whitaker to jail. At the trial, Whitaker 
was asked if his son took the gun away from him. He repHed, 
"Sure, I was done with it." I don't think much of anything 
ever came of it. Later Whitaker moved to Wisconsin. 

In those days people had ice houses and every winter 
there was ice cutting and storage in the ice houses. They 
would get enough to fill one ice house, and then in a couple of 
weeks they could get another cutting for another ice house. 
There was a sawmill for several years in the neighborhood, 
and logs were sawed into lumber. 

The young people always had a lot of fun in the winter, 
skating and sledding. We made a bonfire to warm up by when 
we had skating or coasting parties. Hunting, trapping, and 
fishing were popular, too. We thought "those were the good 
old days." 

So things pass. La Crosse has a few houses and one old 
store building. Now all else is gone, and so are most of the 
people. 



BURNSIDE: MY OLD HOME TOWN 

Neoma Ewing Steege 

How appropriate the name of Burnside is for the little 
hamlet in Hancock County, as you will find out later. 

My earliest memories of it are when my parents, who 
lived in "Shake Rag," an area four miles east of town, would 
attend the band concerts on Saturday night that were held on 
the upper deck of the town's barber shop on the south side of 



61 



the main street. (Shake Rag got its name from the local eight 
grade country school by that name.) 

The city park with its pagoda was the playground for 
many of the children. On a hot summer afternoon in the very 
early 1920's, a group of us were having our playtime there 
when we noticed quite a commotion down the street, where 
the barber shop was on fire. The fire was obviously started by 
a spark from the locomotive on the T. P. & W. Railroad, which 
passed along back of several buildings. A bucket brigade was 
formed, to no avail, and most of the south side of the town 
was consumed by the fire. Besides the barber shop, a garage 
and blacksmith shop were consumed. 

The school of eight grades was housed in a two-story 
frame structure on the west side of town. The first four 
grades were downstairs; the last four were upstairs. When I 
was upstairs we upper classmen purchased a lovely piano for 
$100 from savings from various local functions. It seems so 
many good things come to an end, and the old Burnside 
School (District 87, I beheve) was no exception. In early 1923 
the building burned and our beautiful piano went with it. 

The opera house, located over Hull's Store, was a joy to 
the whole community. It had a large stage and several 
dressing rooms, making it quite adequate for most any kind 
of entertainment to be held. Medicine shows were quite 
popular in those days, and because of the above facilities 
Burnside got its share of this type of entertainment. Our 
class plays were held there as well, since our school did not 
have a gymnasium or auditorium at that time. Many other 
local functions were held, and I think the one that stands out 
in my mind most was the "Community" gatherings once a 
month. Local talent and also talent from the surrounding 
towns performed as well. 

In August of 1928 most of the other side of Burnside 
went up in flames. The opera house, the unoccupied hotel, and 
a barber shop were total losses. 



Since the Burnside schools closed in 1978, a reunion was 
held that year for all students who had attended the high 
school, along with their teachers. Almost 100 came to enjoy 
the program and visiting. I shall always remember that get- 
together with joy and, of course, some sadness. 



NAPLES: 12c UNDER THE BOARDWALK 

John F. Ellis 

Located on the east bank of the beautiful Illinois River 
is the town of Naples, which was my home for the first 
twenty-three years of my life. The following are some of my 
memories of people, places, and things in Naples in the first 
years of this century. 

Business places included stables, elevators, warehouses, 
hotels, stores, ferries, fish markets, and broom and button 
factories. One of the business buildings served first as my 
mother's ice cream parlor, and then Dad and Uncle Esaw 
used it to store barrels and boxes for their wholesale and 
retail fish market. North of the market was a river-served 
grain elevator. Most grain was handled in sacks at that early 
time. My mother mended these and received one penny for 
each sack. 

The Wabash Railroad served Naples with four 
passenger trains each way. The first depot was destroyed by 
fire and the second was torn down to remove it from the tax 
rolls. The spur from the Wabash main Une served the river 
railway house. A terrific amount of freight loading and 
unloading took place on this spur, and it was often used for 
river-rail excursions. 

An elevator here was saved from the Front Street fire 
that destroyed so many business places in February of 1917. 
The vacant lot between the fire and the elevator saved it from 
the flaming fury that started in a home harness shop. The 



62 



elevator office was the village voting place, and it was here 
that I cast my first vote. 

Another elevator in Naples was the Smith-Hippen, 
which had barges handled by the steamboat Ebaugh. Some of 
the elevator employees boarded at the Bagby Hotel in town. 
A favorite story there concerned the owner of the hotel. Mr. 
Bagby was never in a hurry and was late getting to the table 
for a meal one day. By that time, the gravy bowl had been 
passed and ended up on his plate. He promptly broke 
crackers into it and ate it for soup. 

A vacant house just to the south of the business section 
was the scene of one of my greatest frights. Fred Mann 
entered the deserted house when he saw me approaching. As 
I walked by, he let out weird yells as he beat on the wall. 
Checkers could have been played on my coat tail as I flew 
home. 

Another time occurred when I thought the "old devil" 
had me. Just before daylight, I had the urge to visit our chick 
sale. A rooster raised up in our lilac bush, letting out a blood 
curdling crow as he loudly flapped his wings. I shouted, 
"He's got me, he's got me!" as I flew back to the house. This 
adventure was good for a big family laugh when things 
settled down. 

A large building on the inside of the early river levee 
was known as "the Brick." The ground level housed several 
business places. One of these was the first post office that I 
remember, with W. G. Pine serving as postmaster. Later 
postmasters were Joe Mayes and Charlie Quintal. Each of 
these gentlemen had a general merchandise store where they 
handled the postal business. Joe served when the 
Washington administration was Democratic, and the post 
office moved to Charhe's store when the administration was 
Repubhcan. 

The second floor was a hotel operated by the Wallace 
Hamey family. In later years, my folks ran this business. The 
third floor of the Brick was a large hall, or opera house, with 



raised stage and dressing rooms. It was used for dances, 
suppers, medicine shows, and all local entertainment. During 
one of the medicine shows there, Clarence Hyatt was heckling 
the performer-salesman. The salesman quieted him when he 
told him to be patient: "the worm medicine would go on sale 
next." Wanting to be into all things, Clarence volunteered for 
the card trick. He drew a card from the closed deck and 
violently insisted that it was not the seven of spades. The 
performer then showed the audience the entire deck and it 
consisted of 52 cards, each being the seven of spades. 
Clarence was shot down again. Other entertainment that 
came to Naples included showboats and a traveling Dog and 
Pony Show, which was held in the town park. 

In the south part of town was a slaughter house and 
dance hall operated by the Kite family. The couple and their 
three daughters had their home there, and all worked hard at 
the family business. One time they advertised, "Free Dances 
at the Kite House." The village cut-ups changed the sign to 
read, "Free Kites at the Dance House." 

Saloons, which were licensed by local option, were both 
good and bad business for Naples. License revenue kept 
streets and walks in good condition, but local pohce often had 
a guest in the calaboose, as clannish fights were not too 
unusual. I recall one time that Dad sat on Uncle Esaw to keep 
him from one of the big fights. This action did the job since 
Dad weighed 225 pounds at the time. 

When revenue allowed for the removing of the old 
wooden board walks, William Hayden was foreman for the 
job. He promised me all the money found under the walk in 
our block. I was happy with the 12' that I found. 

A landmark in Naples was the Illinois Hotel, which was 
located to the far north on Front Street. It was a large brick 
building and an overnight stopping place for west bound 
travelers. The business was in existence as far back as 1821, 
which was before Naples had become a town, and it served as 
a stopover for two stage coach lines. 



Services continue today in the Naples Methodist 
Church, which is 120 years old. My membership dates back to 
my youth when the church was the center for many of the 
social activities of the town. Reverend Goldsborough, who 
now presides every Sunday, has served the church longer 
than any other pastor. 

A sad thing, especially for us of the older generation, 
was the tearing down of the school building which was buUt 
in 1865. It served several generations. On the Sunday before 
Labor Day each year, students who attended the Naples 
School meet in Naples to share a meal and to reminisce. In 
1981, four members of the class of 1918 were in attendance. 

Naples was and is quite a town. Stories of the people, 
places, and events there will continue as long as there are 
those who remember. 



SALINE AND DIAMOND MINERAL SPRINGS 

Mrs. Clarence Beck 

Encircled on three sides by SOver Creek is the small 
country village of Grantfork, Illinois, in Madison County. 
Main Street separates the south half of town in Saline 
Township from the north half in Lee Township. In about 
1905-1910, when my parents were growing up in the Fairview 
school district, three miles east, the town, however, was 
known as Sahne. The name was derived from a not-too- 
successful salt mine or well, sunk earlier southwest of the 
village. 

Seventy-five years ago Saline boasted of two churches, 
the German Lutheran, (now United Church of Christ) and St. 
Gertrude's Catholic, as well as a two-room school. 
Coincidentally, all three were built in 1872. 

German was still the favorite language of much of the 
community, but in 1916 Rev. Arnold Klick introduced 
English services to Saline Lutheran Church at Locust and 



Sylvan streets. In 1901 a small schoolhouse was attached to 
the east side of that church, and religion and regular school 
subjects were taught to Confirmation-age students, generally 
twelve to fifteen years. The minister, of course, was the 
school master. A parochial school was owned by the Catholic 
Church at Locust and John streets and St. Gertrude's Hall 
was used for programs, school plays and meetings. 

Saline was on the map with a post office, although 
Grantfork was sometimes used to designate the village as it 
is today. The General Mercantile Store, owned by Arnold L. 
Hitz, at Main and Locust, housed the post office and Mr. Hitz 
was postmaster. East and connecting to the store, was a 
saloon, then a residence, another saloon, and a saloon and 
dance hall. In fact Saline had seven saloons at that time! 
Continuing east on Main were old barns and sheds of the 
Ryan Brothers at Main and Mulberry. 

East on the second block of Main was the large, two- 
and-one-half story brick, Helbing Saloon, which today is 
converted into a residence. As was the custom in those days, 
free lunches were served to anyone who purchased beer or 
other beverage, for five or ten cents! 

Crossing the street to the north side of Main, the first 
establishment was Sylvester Leef's sawmill. Next west was 
the large blacksmith and wagon shop of Nick MoUet, where 
he started in 1867. His residence was on the south side of the 
street by Helbing's Saloon. 

P. F. Schwartz operated a hardware store on the 
northeast corner of Main and Mulberry. Northwest of that 
was Ernst Salzman's Saddlery and Harness Shop. Going 
back to Main and west was another saloon, operated by 
Ferdinand Kaltenbacher, which had the sign reading, 
"Kaltenbacher's Wine and Beer Saloon." That is a residence 
now. 

If you had returned to the southwest corner of Locust, 
you would have found a large two-story brick building (still 
standing as a residence) in which Stephen Bardill operated a 



64 



hotel and saloon. Connected by a covered walk, to the north, 
was an inn with dance hall in back, owned by Stephen Bardill. 

As we continue in memory south on Locust, we find a 
livery stable just south of Bardill's brick hotel. Further 
south, on the southwest corner of Locust at Sylvan, was a 
large creamery. Farmers brought their milk to be sold and 
separated and the cream was made into high grade butter, 
the pride of the area. For a small charge the farmer then 
received the skim milk to feed to his hogs and chickens. 

In the valley south of the creamery was a slaughter and 
smoke-house, operated by Friedhn Landolt. The cool spring 
running nearby furnished an easy method of refrigeration. 
Unfortunately the spring-house has tumbled down. 

Many homes had white picket fences surrounding the 
property, and the Lutheran Church and parsonage to the 
south were thus completely surrounded. On the west side 
were plank sidewalks with hitching racks, as cars were not 
yet popular so travel was by horse and buggies, surries, or 
spring wagons, or by horseback. Hayrides were popular 
activities for young people. 

It seems odd that the Protestant cemetery was located 
northwest of town, nearer the Cathohc Church, and the 
Catholic cemetery was situated in the southeast portion of 
town, near the Lutheran Church. In the early 1900's the main 
road toward Highland went south on Mulberry and crossed 
the creek below the Catholic cemetery. The bridge east of 
town was not built until 1908, so the road angled southeast 
off Main and crossed the creek up to another popular spot, 
known as the Sharpshooter's Park and rifle range on the hill 
overlooking the creek. 

The Sharpshooter's Society (or Scheutzenverein, as the 
Swiss founders caOed it) was organized by my great- 
grandfather, Anton Beck, in 1866. It had a large haO for 
bowling and dancing, and regular shooting matches were 
held. Each fall an annual festival, which may have been the 
fore-runner of present day homecomings, was presented. 



The road north toward Alhambra, seventy-five years 
ago, took Locust Street and angled off northwest. West of 
Sahne was a bridge crossing the creek, but there was no north 
and south road as we know Route 160. Instead, below the hill 
west of town was a picnic area and park which was part of 
Diamond Mineral Springs. 

The beautiful, imposing Windsor or Diamond Mineral 
Springs Hotel, overlooking Sahne from the west, was built in 
1888 by John Zimmerman, a talented carpenter who lived 
with his family at Mulberry and John Street, north of the 
pubhc school. Many of the fine old homes and large buildings 
of this area were built by him and his sons. A. J. Kraft hired 
Zimmerman to build the huge two-story frame hotel, which 
contained thirty rooms for guests on vacations or in search of 
comfort in the soothing baths of mineral water. The high 
mineral content had been discovered earher when Stephen 
Bardill was excavating his stone quarry. Mr. Kraft widely 
advertised his hot and cold mineral baths, and many patients 
came to receive health-giving benefits. A windmill and water 
works were erected which provided running water for the 
establishment, and two large ice-houses were filled during 
winter to provide simple refrigeration in summer. A. J. Kraft 
also had a forty by eighty foot entertainment hall built near 
the hotel, where guests could enjoy free bilhards and pool, or 
bowhng with wooden balls with no holes. Dances were 
provided frequently. Shaded and flower-bordered paths 
added to the beauty of Diamond Mineral Springs Park and a 
large artificial lake allowed boating and fishing. Regretfully 
the Hotel was razed in 1957. 

Brick sidewalks were just entering the scene seventy- 
five years ago, and one extended along the north side of Main 
Street for a couple blocks. The rest of the important streets 
had plank walks about three feet wide. Some macadam roads 
were being constructed of local gravel and this helped make 
streets more passable in muddy seasons. The work was done 
by farmers donating their team and themselves for a day's 



65 



work at $1.50 per day, with very rustic tools. Often the 
workers used these wages to pay taxes. 

Saline had a make-shift fire department, and a smaU fire 
engine offered some assistance in fire fighting. Two men were 
in charge of the equipment during the winter season for a 
meager fee. A cistern at the corner of Main and Mulberry had 
been built in 1901, and another near the Catholic Church, and 
one at Main and Locust, to collect water for fire fighting. 

Telephone Unes were just being erected in the early 
1900's to aid in communication, and in 1907 the Grantfork 
Mutual Telephone Company was incorporated. 

Penny postcards were another quick means of 
communicating and young people sent cards to make plans 
for coming events, to send greetings, or just to present their 
latest photo. 



Only the very privileged went to high school, but many 
of the young people took extra courses at the country schools 
or in SaUne. Work was the rule for young and old, and nearly 
everyone had "chores" to do, which gave young people an 
early sense of responsibility, so vandalism and crime were 
scarce. 

A strong faith in God was another important part of life, 
and in spite of hard work and deprivation (by today's 
standards), people led full, rich lives, with high moral 
standards, a sense of duty and love of their fellow man, 
values which seem to have been lost. Perhaps, as more people 
are searching for their "roots," they will also unearth these 
lost traits of their forefathers, and the world and everyone in 
it will revert to higher standards of "the good old days!" 




';iiM\Alu' 'iT/WiiU' *J'',/Mi\u' 'i''i(/A\ ilu' 'i'-'j /A\ il^r. 'i'A Wi iv\i'. 'J'iTMi.^ 












IV T/io5e Countr}' School Da}'s 



THOSE COUNTRY SCHOOL DAYS 

Perhaps no aspect of Illinois social history is so full of 
nostalgia for so many people as country school days. Of 
course, there were once thousands of rural schools in the 
state— usuaUy scores of them in a single county— and so, 
many senior citizens, and younger adults as well, recall that 
kind of educational experience. Because the one-room schools 
in Illinois were all closed during the consohdation movement 
after World War II, the memories of former students, and 
fading photographs of unsophisticated youngsters in front of 
unadorned buildings, are all that is left of the school life 
which was once commonplace in rural culture. 

Most former pupils are defensive about the country 
schools, in spite of their obvious drawbacks: inadequate 
buildings, poorly paid teachers, and shortages of textbooks 
and other materials. All of these problems were related to the 
Umited financial capacity of rural school districts, a factor 
which could not be dramatically changed. But it should also 
be recognized that there was a significant improvement in the 
country schools throughout the first half of the century. The 
educational requirement for teachers increased; better 
instructional methods were developed, and of course, the 
buildings slowly conformed to a higher standard of adequacy. 
But regardless, the one-room schools were no match for 
larger ones in the towns and cities, by any objective measure 
of facilities and personnel. What, then, did the rural schools 
have that made attending them such a positive 
experience— and later memories of them so nostalgic? 

Without question, there was a vital sense of community 
about the typical rural school. The teacher and students 
knew each other very well, and they regarded themselves as 
part of a distinctive entity, not just a section of some larger 
institution. In short, each school was a kind of micro-world, 
characterized by extensive personal contact among the 
members but geographical and cultural isolation from the 



rest of society. And since the schools were not large, and 
some activities involved all the students of whatever age, no 
one felt lost or left out. Such a situation naturally created a 
sense of belonging and security for each pupil— which was 
not only conducive to learning but fostered the later 
nostalgia. 

The local landscape, too, became very familiar to 
country school students, who generally had to walk the 
proverbial long distances to and from the schoolhouse. Such 
repeated contact with the natural environment— fields, 
woods, lanes, etc.— also contributed to the sense of belonging 
that was a hallmark of the rural school, especially since at the 
other end of those long walks was home itself. If the cultural 
landscape of the countryside was much less complex than in 
communities, the two central aspects of that landscape (home 
and school) were all the more deeply experienced. 

There was also an intense awareness of family 
membership among country school children because siblings 
of various ages attended together. In fact, a youngster often 
made friends with an entire family of feUow pupils. That, too, 
fostered an intimacy which is not possible in larger 
institutions. Whatever quahties the country schools lacked, 
meaningful social interaction was not among them. 

Of course, the schools were also social centers for the 
districts, or rural communities, in which they were located. 
Hohday programs, box suppers, civic meetings and other 
activities drew the parents together as well as the children, 
which naturally made school seem even more closely related 
to home Ufe. It is not surprising that when consolidation 
forced the closing of rural schools, parents were often upset 
for non-academic reasons. The abandonment of a country 
school commonly meant the end of that community 
interaction which had centered around it. 

AU the memoirs in this section are united by their 
positive view of the country school experience— even "A Bull 
in the Classroom— Almost," which, after describing terror 



70 



and pandemonium, ends happily, with the students as heroes 
of an exciting story that was "widely circulated (and 
embellished) around the district." "Ghosts by the Side of the 
Road" and "Epitaph for a Country School" are particularly 
fine memoirs, revealing as they do the very basis for the rural 
school nostalgia of Eva Baker Watson and Robert T. Burns, 
as well as many others who shared their experience. 

The brief discussion of the school name which opens the 
Bums piece suggests yet another factor that has made 
country schools seem so attractive when compared to larger, 
more complex institutions. How could school days have been 
anything else but idyUic at a place called "Pancake," or for 
that matter, "Lone Oak," "Frog Pond," "Gooseneck," "Mud 
Acre," "Cane Patch," "Long Nine," or "Pilot Knob"— to 



name but a few of the one-room schools that have 
disappeared? 

As these quaint names suggest, in a twentieth-century 
world that was moving rapidly away from rural simphcity, 
the country school was one of the last assertions of our 
mythic national innocence. Life there was pure, close to 
nature, and uncorrupted— not to mention infused with 
patriotic and Christian values. Thus, the nostalgia that so 
many feel for those country school days is, after, all, but a 
variation of our common longing for an ideahzed American 
past. 

John Hallwas, Editor 



GHOSTS BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD 

Eva Baker Watson 

As I drive up the steep, winding road I see it perched on 
the rocky hillside, its walls gray and dilapidated, its windows 
staring sightlessly. If I were to stop the car, to go and climb 
that weed-concealed path, to push open the weatherbeaten 
door and step inside, 1 know my senses would be assailed 
with the never-to-be-forgotten smell of the schoolroom. 

Consolidation, that caused the abandonment of one- 
room rural schools in Pope County, cannot erase the 
memories nor exorcise the ghosts that roam within their 
walls. Several such schools have been remodeled and are now 
used as homes. But no amount of paint, no carpenter's skill 
can ever completely disguise that telltale architecture. The 
ones that have been left to stand as they were, to be assaulted 
by wind and weather and slowly deteriorate, have become 
museums of nostalgia for us who once attended them. 

I have only to see one of those old hulks to feel myself 
wafted almost bodily into the past by the pictures they 
evoke. I see again the kids I played with and the courageous 
teachers who coped with us (and coped with many other 
things) some sixty years ago. 

My mind's ear hears the ding-donging of the first bell. If 
I'm not on my way to school or just about ready to start by 
the time it rings, I'd better be. Sometime later I hear the five- 
minute-bell— a few warning taps that signal us to make a last 
visit to the pump out front or the Uttle house out back. And 
be quick about it. Then the last bell. One tap. Final as 
judgment. If the current teacher is one for ceremony, we line 
up outside and file in through the front door in orderly 
fashion. And then we're in our seats and quiet— if we know 
what's good for us. 

The day would not begin without the "opening 
exercises"— singing or marching to a martial tune wheezed 
out of the organ by a talented older girl. In a more sober mood 



the teacher had, the day before, asked us to be prepared to 
give a wise saying or Bible verse. (No one would have dared a 
blasphemous opposition to this.) 

Apple polishers courted teacher's favor by memorizing 
long verses. But there were always those who took the 
effortless route and re-quoted "The Lord is my shepherd," 
"God is love," or some of the "Thou shalts." Some even 
resorted to the brief, "Jesus wept." This, of course, branded 
them as too lazy to learn less familiar passages, but the sheer 
repetition of old standbys probably had merit. Parents did 
not fear that their children would be brainwashed by 
exposure to the Holy Writ in public schools. In fact, some 
teachers even read a chapter from Psalms or Proverbs, now 
and then, with no question as to authenticity. It was the 
Word of God and that was that. And God was alive and well 
and hving in Pope County. 

Opening exercises done with, I hear a down-to-business 
voice intone, "Eighth Grade Arithmetic, rise, pass, sit!" The 
moment of truth is here and we must go, prepared or not, to 
sit on the recitation seat smack under the teacher's nose. 

Later I hear the welcome reprieve: "Reee-cess!" What a 
lot of freedom was squeezed into that quarter hour as we 
raced through stink base, hopscotch, marbles, and ball. Not 
Softball or baseball. Just ball. I remember an old tennis 
racket someone brought. The girls found it much better than 
a bat to use for whacking the ball. Rules were flexible. And 
teacher got right in there and played as hard as we did, with 
no grumbling about playground duty. 

A little side skirmish took place from time to time when 
the boys experimented in girl-chasing and kissing. The girls 
experimented in shrieking and outrunning them. Eventually 
the girls learned how to run more slowly. 

I close my eyes and feel again the soft crunch of snow 
under my feet as I walk to school. There will be fun today, for 
the teacher probably will put aside assigned lessons and take 
time out to read "Snowbound" to us. Also we'll be allowed an 



exended noon period for sledding on the hiU back of the 
playground. 

Later in the day, I see a girl from an upper grade sitting 
with a younger one, helping her with her lesson. Several 
others, also, are being tutored by these early teacher's aides, 
while another class is reciting. 

My mind's eye moves on to an exciting day— and I smell 
smoke. I see again the teacher's white, tense face as he 
instructs us to march outside: "Quietly, no running! The 
schoolhouse is on fire." The bucket brigade quickly forms a 
line from pump to roof, where orange flames are licking. 

"Well, I guess it's goodbye old schoolhouse!" said one 
small boy, dehghtedly. That was one disappointed Uttle 
fellow when the fire was put out. 

I travel on to another picture: I see myself wearing a 
new dress and sitting two-in-a-seat, for there are visitors. It's 
the last day. That morning the mamas had come carrying 
basket dinners. The papas laid boards across desks over 
which women spread snowy table cloths. Certainly the 
schoolroom had never looked so ravishing. With mouths 
watering, we sniffed the heavenly blend of golden fried 
chicken, hard cooked eggs pickled-pink in beet vinegar, 
mounds of potato salad, mile-high angel foods, layers and 
layers of all kinds of cakes, and pies, pies, pies. It was a 
delicious climax to the school year. 

Remains of the dinner cleared away and order restored, 
now I see guests seated while pupils entertained them with a 
last day program— songs, dialogues, and "pieces." At the 
beginning someone recited a welcome address, and at the end 
another gave a farewell poem— usually sentimental. 

Parents were invited to "speak a few words" and some 
responded, mostly the fathers, but now and then an 
aggressive mother would rise to the occasion. They praised 
the fine teacjier, and talked about how much Johnny had 
learned. Report cards and spelling and attendance awards 



were distributed, the teacher "treated" with peppermint 
candy sticks, and then it was over. 

All but the tears. I was fascinated with the emotional 
older girls who cried. I could hardly wait until I'd be 
sophisticated enough to weep so daintily because school was 
out. 

There was such warmth, such strong ties-that-bind in 
those little schools. Today as I see them crumbling, cUnging 
to rocky hillsides over-grown with vines and brush, 1 recall 
how the more progressive parents used to complain that 
schools were built on land not fit for anything else. They 
grieved because there was no money to provide better 
recreational equipment for us. And so we envied the city kids 
with their smooth, level playgrounds, their sUdes and swings. 

We didn't reaUze that we were the lucky ones, to have 
that abundance of natural playground potential lending itself 
so beautifully to our whims. 

I remember a branch of water running along the side of 
the school. It became a rushing river when it rained, thrilUng 
to wade in or watch as our paper boats ran the rapids. Other 
times it had clear, quiet pools with only a trickle of water 
Unking them. Sometimes the boys would catch "crawdads" 
to scare the girls with. In time of drought the brook became a 
canyon to explore, with smooth, flat rocks, perfect for 
playhouse floors which we carpeted with moss dug from 
around a nearby tree. These we furnished with tree bark 
chairs and tables set with acorn dinnerware. An ideal 
environment for sparking the imagination and creativity. 
How could we have felt deprived in the midst of such wealth? 

Consolidation has laid to rest the little one-room 
schoolhouses, and those "ragged beggars" are sleeping their 
final sleep. They've had their "last day." But they will 
forever be attended by the friendly ghosts that live in the 
memory of us who spent such happy years there long ago. 



FAIRVIEW SCHOOLHOUSE 

Marjorie Downs Byers 

Fairview Schoolhouse sat on a grassy knoll, fenced in on 
two sides from fields of hay, corn or wheat, and on the third 
side, from a wooded pasture. It was located in Birmingham 
Township, between the villages of Brooklyn and Huntsville, 
in Schuyler County, Illinois. The schoolhouse was a small, 
white frame building with a fairly steep shingled roof and 
brick chimney. There were three sets of tall, large-paned 
windows on the two long sides of the building. The high 
concrete stoop was covered by a small overhang and the large 
door opened directly into the back of the schooh-oom. 

It was not until I became familiar with other one-room 
country schoolhouses that I realized ours was unique. First, 
it was smaller than most, and could not even boast of having 
a cloakroom which most other schools had. It was, hterally, 
one room. Secondly, other schools had single desks. Ours 
were the old-fashioned double kind— two students per desk. 

I recaU quite clearly the first time I saw the building. It 
was fifty-four years ago, in, February, 1928, and I was in the 
second grade. Our family had moved to a nearby farm. I had 
previously attended first grade and part of the second grade 
at Beard School in Beardstown, Illinois. What a change for 
me to come to this small room with children of various ages 
from five to fourteen, from a roomful of twenty or thirty 
children who had all been my own age. To accomdate the 
various sizes of the children, the desks were of varying sizes. 
The tiny desks were in the front in the two rows on the left 
and graduated in size toward the back of the room. The third 
row of desks on the right were large ones. They were all 
double, though, and we learned to share space inside the desk 
as well as the writing and seating space. Some years, 
depending on the enrollment, one might have a huge wide 
space to oneself, the sole occupant of a desk. The desks were 
of thick heavy wood with many initials carved into them. 



Inkwell holes were in the larger, under which a small shelf 
held a bottle of ink. With straight nib pens we practiced the 
"Palmer Method" of penmanship. 

I have such vivid impressions of that room in which I 
spent six and a half years, I graduated from the eighth grade 
there in June of 1934. 

There was a small raised platform in front of the room, 
on which stood the teacher's desk. This desk was actually a 
high rectangular table. Later this table was replaced by a 
modern desk which the teacher placed near a sidewall. We, 
then, used the platform for recitations. There was a long shelf 
along the back waU for our lunch boxes. Underneath the shelf 
were hooks for our coats. In the winter our overshoes and 
galoshes were lined up beneath our coats. 

The other corner of the back of the room was occupied 
by a stove which the teacher stoked with coal when the 
weather turned cold. Usually, one of the larger boys would 
bring coal in from the shed and sometimes even arrive early 
and start the fire. A bucket sat on a small table near the door. 
A water dipper floated in the bucket. We all used this 
common dipper from which to drink, but later a teacher 
encouraged us to bring our own cups. (I rather envied a girl 
who had a lovely telescoping cup of metal which she kept in 
her desk.) On the table with the water bucket was an 
enameled washpan and soap dish. Nearby hung a roller towel. 
These amenities, along with two outside toilets, seemed to be 
adequate for our needs. 

Our library consisted of a hodge-podge of books on 
several shelves in the left corner in the front of the room. I 
had read them all by the time I left there. Some books were 
very old, especially the fiction. One book, which I read several 
times and found fascinating, was the story of a teacher in a 
country schoolhouse at the turn of the century. The 
description of her clothes (floor length skirts, shirtwaists, and 
high shoes) were of outmoded styles, but the schoolhouse 
described in the story could have been ours. 



74 



An old set of maps was replaced one exciting day by a 
new set with a case which hung on the wall. One could puO 
down different maps. They were so brightly colored (all of the 
pink belonged to England), and we learned the names of 
continents, states, rivers, lakes and mountains, as well as 
how to locate them. We found the temperate zone in which we 
lived and located other lands. My concept of the world grew. 
Shapes of continents became famihar and a desire to see all 
these lands seemed perfectly reasonable. My abilitiy, as an 
adult, to orient myself wherever I have lived or traveled 
seems to have been rooted in a basic understanding of 
geography which I acquired in those long ago days at 
Fairview School. 

The front wall was covered with three sections of 
blackboard. On certain holidays appropiate designs in colored 
chalk decorated the upper left section— pumpkins and 
cornstalks at Halloween, Pilgrims at Thanksgiving, Santa in 
his sleigh at Christmas and red hearts at Valentine's Day. 
Valentine's Day was so special. We worked for weeks, 
making valentines for the teacher and for our classmates. 
Bright construction paper was furnished, as well as paste and 
scissors. Old magazines were brought to school and pored 
over for pictures. The large valentine box was a work of art. 
We all contributed to it, with help and suggestions from the 
teacher. What joy when the box was opened and the 
valentines were distributed. The word "love," on certain 
ones, caused the heart to beat faster! 

But to get back to the blackboards which were usually 
the focus of our attention: assignments were to be found 
there, and in class we wrote our spelling words "on the 
board," parsed sentences on it, and learned to "do decimals" 
there. Punishment by the teacher was sometimes to write a 
penitent sentence one hundred times on the blackboard. It 
was an honor to be allowed to erase the board and to dust the 
erasers. One stood on the outside stoop and clapped two 
erasers together until no more chalk flew. On Friday 



afternoon we washed the blackboards clean in readiness for 
Monday mornings. 

Friday afternoons were special times. We might have a 
spelling bee, with words tailored to the various ages. 
Sometimes the young children would be allowed to color with 
their crayons while the older ones competed to see who could 
make the most small words out of a certain phrase, perhaps 
"Washington's Birthday." Often the teacher read aloud to 
us, a chapter a day from some special book, with an extra 
chapter on Friday afternoon. 

On sunny days in the fall and spring we would take our 
lunch boxes out of doors and eat in some favorite spot. But all 
year 'round, regardless of the weather, we would play outside 
at recess and after lunch. We all played together, mostly 
games which involved a lot of running. I remember Red 
Light, May I? Hide and Seek, Crack the Whip, and "Tippy 
Up," a game which required a flat shingle and a ball, and was 
played over the steep roof of the schoolhouse. The older 
children were tolerant of the younger ones (sometimes 
siblings), and great emphasis was placed on "taking turns." 
There was very little bickering and no toleration of bullies or 
of poor sports. 

Over the years, as I've looked back on this schoolhouse, 
I realize much credit should go to the dedicated teachers who 
taught there. How arduous their day must have been! Their 
physical activities would have been tiring, to say nothing of 
teaching each of the different grade levels in several subjects. 
They were inspirational, instilling in one a love of learning 
and of scholarship, of wanting to excel, to do one's best. 
Lesson preparation was always meticulous. One might be the 
only one in that class on a particular day and have to answer 
all the questions. One studied to the background noise of first 
graders reading aloud at their "recitation time," or third 
graders reciting multiplication tables, or, perhaps, an eighth 
grade class learning Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address." This 
method of teaching all ages in one room would seem 



75 



incomprehensible today, but we did learn. We learned some 
valuable lessons, too, not found in our textbooks— lessons of 
independence, of concentration, of toleration and 
compassion. 

My love of reading, of words, and of writing was 
fostered in that school. My interest in art history was born 
there. We used to receive little leaflets each month. They 
were cream-colored with a sepia-toned picture on the front. 
Inside the leaflet was a description of the picture and a 
biography of the artist. I remember The Gleaners by Millet, 
Landseer's Shoeing the Bay Mare, and many others. We were 
also taught History, Spelling, Arithmetic, Geography, Civics, 
Orthography, Language, Nature Study, and Health. 

It is a way of life which is gone. 1 reaUze that conditions 
were not ideal. We could have used better facihties, and we 
had a desperate need for a hbrary, for many more books, but I 
loved going to school at Fairview Schoolhouse. I feel it 
shaped my character in many ways and helped me to become 
a responsible adult with the ability to make the best of a 
given situation. I am sometimes incensed to hear those old 
one-room country schoolhouses being deprecated by those 
who were not fortunate enough to attend one. 



BUTLERVILLE SCHOOL 

Violet Greenleaf Rose 

March 21, 1916, was my sixth birthday and my first day 
in school. The teacher, Blanche Scott, had told my parents, 
Joe and Nona Greenleaf, to send me to school so I would get a 
start for the coming year. I walked the one and three-fourths 
miles from our farm home to school with my five older 
brothers and sisters. 

Butlerville School was in Birmingham Township, 
Schuyler County, Illinois. The one room was thirty feet long 



and twenty feet wide. Two rows of wooden double desks and 
seats used most of the floor space. The front of each row was 
a desk. Back of it was a folding seat fastened to the desk 
behind it. This was repeated to the end seat. Seat hinges and 
legs for desks and seats were of iron. All legs were firmly 
fastened to the floor. 

In front of the desks was a recitation bench used for 
classes. Teacher's desk, built Uke a high table with two 
drawers under the top, stood in the center of the space 
between the bench and front wall. Across the front wall was a 
high blackboard one yard wide. A big Webster's dictionary 
was on a low shelf against one wall. A wooden map case, high 
on the wall, held maps of the continents and the United 
States. The maps were on rollers and rolled up and down Uke 
window shades. 

We hung our outer clothing on double hooks screwed 
into a board on the back wall at one side of the door. 
Overshoes were left on the floor. A huge furnace, enclosed in 
a metal jacket to spread heat, stood in the other rear corner. 

Sanitation was two outhouses in opposite corners of the 
school yard. One was for girls and one was for boys. 

The first bell rang at 8:30 a.m. School took up at 9:00. 
First recess was 10:30 to 10:45. Noon was 12:00 to 1:00. Last 
recess was 3:30 to 3:45. School was out at 4:00 p.m. The 
school had no bell. Teacher used her own hand bell, six or 
seven inches long. 

Miss Scott wrote letters and numbers on the blackboard 
and pointed to one with her pointer. She pronounced it and I 
repeated after her. The wooden pointer was five feet long and 
tapered from the one inch in diameter end she held to the 
thickness of a pencil end which touched the board. Also she 
wrote letters and numbers low on the blackboard, and I 
traced over them again and again. 

Soon I knew my ABC's and could count to 10. I wrote 
my name, "Violet Greenleaf." Next I learned printed letters 
and short words, and read in my first reader. 



76 



"First Grade Reading," Miss Scott called one day and 
added, "Violet may come too." I jumped to "Turn . . . 
stand . . . pass." My cousin Grace, six years old the previous 
September, had been in school all year. I was happy to join 
her in classes. 

Examinations were given at the end of each month. 
Later, report cards were given to students who took them 
home for parents to sign. 

Miss Scott had many nice things to keep us busy when 
lessons were done. We colored with crayons, cut out, drew, 
and pasted, and then were dismissed early to play outside. 

At Christmas time a native cedar tree was cut and stood 
in a front corner of the school room. It was decorated with 
paper chains we made and strings of popcorn. Presents were 
hung on the tree. Teacher gave each of us a fancy cardboard 
box of Christmas candy and an orange. Stores stocked 
oranges only at Christmas time. We drew names and 
exchanged ten cent gifts. Jay Moon gave me a black iron 
horse bank four inches high and five and a half inches long. 
"Beauty" was imprinted on one side. It is worth over $50.00 
today. 

The John Moon children went home for dinner, across 
the road. Everyone else, including the teacher, carried dinner 
in a tin syrup bucket with a tight lid. We ate sandwiches, 
hard boiled eggs, a jar of fruit or an apple, and a cookie or 
piece of pie or cake. 

Teacher was the janitor. In cold weather she came early 
to build up the fire with coal she carried from the shed in the 
yard. She carried a bucket of drinking water from Moon's 
well. Each evening she scattered sweeping powder on the 
floor and swept up the dust and dirt. She banked the fire 
evenings when needed. 

Some teachers paid a big boy to do janitor work. Most 
did it themselves and kept the money. Very few teachers were 
paid $100.00 per month. Many worked for less. 

Teacher was God at school, with strict rules. During 



school time no one talked, whispered, laughed, ate, or chewed 
gum. We walked on our toes to be quiet and dared not turn a 
head to see behind us. Playtimes we were not allowed in front 
of the recitation bench, near teacher's desk. 

Rules were obeyed and lessons learned, or punishment 
was swift and sure. Mild punishment was standing on the 
floor or staying in at recess or after school. The worst 
punishment was a "whipping" with the leather strap teacher 
kept in her desk. 1 learned easily and obeyed the rules and 
was not punished. Teacher hated slow learners and whipped 
them often. 

Parents were allies of the teacher; adults were always 
right and chOdren wrong. Many parents knew their children 
were beaten unjustly and did nothing. To go to the 
schoolhouse and talk with teacher about any problem was not 
done. Once in a while a teacher was so mean she had trouble 
getting a school. 

Women did not vote or hold pubUc office. Each spring 
the men of the district held an election at the schoolhouse. 
One director was elected and one retired. The three school 
directors served three years without pay. They hired the 
teacher, kept the schoolhouse in repair, and bought supplies. 
District tax money paid the bills. 

A state law had been passed to lighten the work load of 
teachers. During a school year ending in an even number, 
even numbered grades were taught. Odd numbered grades 
were taught odd years. Children were to start to school at age 
six or seven, the odd year. Most parents refused to 
understand this law and sent children to school at age six. 
Teacher taught the first three grades. Any child, ready for 
the fourth grade in an odd year, took the third grade over or 
skipped to the fifth, then took the fourth grade the next year, 
and finished grade school that way. In the Fall of 1916 I was 
in the first grade. Grace was in the second. Miss Scott taught 
us together. 

Pauline, my oldest sister, was in the eighth grade in 



1916. For weeks her class reviewed the year's work. Final 
examination for the township was held at Birmingham 
School. Questions were sent by the County Superintendent of 
Schools, Calvin L. Cain. Test papers were returned to him for 
grading. The Rushville Times published names and grades of 
those who passed. The pupil with the highest grade in each 
township received a Lindley Scholarship, giving him or her 
free tuition to any Illinois State Teacher's College High 
School for four years. The student with the highest grade in 
the county was valedictorian of the class. County graduation 
was at Rushville in June. Our school ended in May with a 
picnic for the whole family. 

In September, 1917, we had a new teacher, a gentle, 
pleasant, happy person, named Elsie Dean. She liked us, and 
we loved her. But the end of my happy time at Butlerville 
Schoolcame before the term ended. On March 6, 1918, my 
parents held a farm sale. We moved to RushviUe, and I was 
enrolled in second grade at Webster School. 



EPISODE AT LONE OAK 

Marjorie Dawson Davies 

"Skeeter Creek" was McLean County's highest land 
spot— the name being given by my paternal grandfather 
because of the small pond in the middle of the 100-acre timber 
pasture which was infested with mosquitoes and croaking 
frogs, mostly bass singers. The house across the road is 
where I spent most of my youth. Dawson Township was 
named after my paternal grandparents, and its neighboring 
township, Arrowsmith, was named after my maternal great- 
grandparents. 

Because we were a mile from the main gravel road on 
hills of clay and mud, I spend most of my schooling years 
with my grandparents in the little town of Ellsworth, 



attending the two-story combined grade and high school 
where my grandfather was the janitor for many years. I still 
have the big hand bell that he rang every day to call us in 
after recess was over. I remember too the Little ones sitting on 
the steps that led up to the high school, waiting for my 
grandfather to pull their boots off. 

My mother decided that when I was ready for sixth 
grade, I should walk to Lone Oak School. And oh, the good 
times we had there, and how much more I learned in a one- 
room, eight-grade school. 

Lone Oak School is no longer there, but what memories! 
One in particular stands out for me. When I was a pupil in 
sixth grade, a boy was always coming around at lunch time 
and pushing my face down in my food. On this particular day, 
my mother had put a beautiful piece of butterscotch pie in my 
dinner bucket. Suddenly I felt my nose being slammed into 
the meringue and pie. "This is going to stop," I thought to 
myself. I ran, with pie in hand, caught the boy, got him down, 
sat on him and smeared my deUcious pie all over his face, 
neck, ears and hair. When the bell rang to go in. Budge sat in 
the schoolyard. His aunt was the teacher and she asked 
where he was. "Should I tell her?" I thought. Yes, I did. 
"We'll leave him out there until he's ready to come in," she 
said. The two of us still laugh about this whenever we meet at 
our high school reunions. 



EPITAPH FOR A COUNTRY SCHOOL 

Robert Taylor Burns 

Diagonally across the pasture and a half mile westward 
along a dirt road stood the little country school with the 
unique name of "Pancake." Some say it was named to 
emphasize the flat country of Central Illinois. Those of us 
who had considerable trouble mastering arithmetic had 
assumed that the name was derived from the circular, one- 



78 



digit shape of grades often imposed upon us by strict and 
discerning taskmasters. 

That little crackerbox of a building, shaded by a couple 
of gnarled burr oaks, was once the focal point of our 
existence— in fact, of the whole farm community. It is now 
gone. Not a trace of it can be found today; it's been entirely 
supplanted by a few hills of corn in the corner of a fenceless, 
massive field. 

But it still lives in memory— Pancake and thousands of 
its counterparts. It's a memory of those opening exercises 
when teacher would read a few pages of a well-selected novel 
each day, leaving the kiddies yearning for more. It's a 
nostalgic review of those spelling lessons in which the 
students learned to speO more words in a week than today's 
pupils do in six. It's the place where Johnny learned to 
read— either because he wanted to or he had to. (What's 
wrong with those two types of motivation? They both 
worked.) 

Under the not-so-critical eyes of our parents and 
neighbors, we garnered an early-day introduction to acting. 
Maybe we waved a sock in a Christmas acrostic; perhaps we 
flubbed so badly that it left an indehble searing memory of a 
goof. A personal flub was my recitation of the "Night Before 
Christmas," when the lines "Ma in her kerchief" became "Ma 
in her handkerchief." That brought down the house and 
created an enduring vehicle of scornful kidding on the part of 
older sibUngs and fellow students. 

Then I re-live another deeply entrenched moment in a 
previous Christmas program when we anticipated the 
appearance of Santa Claus with a sackful of goodies, the same 
St. Nick who had never failed us in the past years. Imagine 
our disiUusionment as Santa came in with a few "ho, ho, ho's" 
ambled over to the tree, and inadvertently tipped his beard 
into a hve candle flame. Mayhem broke out; Santa exuded 
some lively maneuvers, swift action indeed for such an old 
gent. Leaping and swatting at the beard now aflame. 



unceremoniously St. Nick peeled off his mask, revealing the 
features of a young man from a neighboring farm. 

A near tragedy was averted as the dry conifer also went 
up in flames. Dad shouted for someone to open the window, 
then grabbed the blazing torch of a tree and threw it into the 
yard, burning his hands considerably as the force of the toss 
drove the flames backward. 

That's when the Santa legend went up in smoke; our 
behef was shattered, at least until innovative older brothers 
concocted the implausible story that Mr. Claus had shaken 
himself up pretty badly while sliding down the North Pole 
and had telegraphed the impersonator to double for him. 

As we review those years, we wonder if the educational 
success of the country school did not stem from its utter 
simphcity. Take the minutely stocked Ubrary. Few books 
lined the hand-hewn bookcase, but those tomes were gone 
ones that have stood the test of time— ones we'd probably 
choose today if we were to be exiled for a long time from 
today's civilization. 

There was the Bible, whose King James version then 
and now gave us the beautiful cadence copied by Abraham 
Lincoln, John Greenleaf Whittier, and others. Many fine 
authors have been nurtured on its rhythmic language. No 
doubt, there was always a hfe of Washington and a volume or 
two depicting the rise of the young Lincoln above the poverty 
and deprivation of his early environment— a man who had 
become not a dropout but a drop-in during his formative 
years at New Salem. He'd drop in to the hearthside of teacher 
Mentor Graham or to the hollow of Jack Kelso for a thriUing 
communion with books short in numbers but long in hterary 
style. 

The maxims of Benjamin Franklin and Aesop's Fables 
could be found in Pancake's tiny hbrary to complement the 
precepts of McGuffey's Reader. From such tomes came an 
emphasis on principles such as honesty, thrift, perseverance, 
and the promised rewards of a strictly defined work ethic. 



79 



No doubt Henry Thoreau's Walden was savored by 
those country kids of decades ago, who had ab-eady learned a 
great deal about nature first hand. They went afield in spring 
on short flower walks while basking in the beauties of the 
season— the trill of meadowlark and field sparrow, the sweet 
spiced aroma of black locust blossoms, the powerful perfume 
of choke cherry, the flaring beauty of wild columbine. 

Thoreau's seasonal descriptions also enhanced those 
walks to and from school in autumn, when we had the chance 
to stroll toward opening day as a September morning lay 
quiet, and the world was as an inverted humidor under the 
horizon before a new-born sun had disspelled the shimmering, 
jeweled droplets from leaves and grass. Then, in later 
autumn, lanes and roadsides were bracketed with the fiery 
flame of sumac and Virginia creeper, of golden basswood, 
redbud and hickory, purple New England asters, and the 
tropical-hke green and gold leaves of the pawpaw, whose 
sweet and creamy fruit would soon be ripened. 

Winter didn't seem long and dreary then; it did imprint 
upon us an indeUble memory of facing a howhng northwest 
wind, its breath seemingly honed on the North Pole, bringing 
tears and near frostbite to those who must face that wind in 
traveUng to or homeward from the little school. I recall also 
the all-out snowball battles on milder days when the 
"packin' " was good, as gigantic forts were erected before the 
skirmishing began. 

Then back into the room warmed by a pot-bellied stove, 
popping and cracking as caps, jackets, and mittens, rendered 
soggy by the snow wars, were hung to dry behind that stove, 
as pleasant though pungent smells of drying wool and leather 
emitted from the steaming clothing. 

Today's schools seem to be veritable palaces compared 
to those little crackerboxes of the prairies. But youngsters 
today often find their future niche in Ufe to be narrowed by 
achievement tests and computerized results. Back then, it 
was up to the discerning teacher, who taught from the heart 



and recognized talent without benefit of impersonal test 
scores. And despite a dearth of teaching aids and the Uttle 
remuneration, those teachers, with few exceptions, acquitted 
themselves very well indeed. 

There is no quarrel with today's schools. Their problems 
are legion, indeed. In today's mobile, concentrated society, 
the country school was doomed. And yet, since there is no 
physical evidence remaining of Uttle Pancake, we wonder if a 
monument to it, along with all other such neighborhood 
schools, would be its emphasis upon those virtues of honesty, 
thrift, and perseverance— attributes that rose to the front 
and ushered our society through such crises as two world 
wars, a gigantic depression, and other calamaties calling for 
old fashioned grit and determination. 



STARTING OUT AT SOUTH LINCOLN 

Lucille Herring Davidson 

My school attendance began in September, 1914. I was 
seven years old. Mama's last minute instruction to me and 
my younger sister, Mamie, was, "Remember to act Hke little 
ladies." Papa Henry Herring was waiting with a team of 
horses hitched to the second-hand surrey with a frazzled 
fringe on top. We climbed into the carriage and were soon on 
our way to South Lincoln School, District 60, in Greene 
County, llhnois. 

After more than a two-mile drive from the rented farm, 
which was located in the peninsula-like part of Woodville 
Township, the horses pranced across Macoupin Creek 
Bridge. Less than five hundred feet to the west stood the 
white frame one-room school. Other pupils were arriving in 
horse-drawn vehicles and some were walking. 

Inside the schoolhouse and behind a desk on an elevated 
platform was a person who looked like a princess. 



Appropriately enough, her name was Miss Norma King. She 
was wearing a long blue dress with a white high neck lace 
collar which had bone stays under each ear. This style 
restricted her movements and caused her to turn her head 
and shoulders when she wanted to look any direction except 
straight ahead. From her regal position, she seemed to be 
aware of each child as she beamed a warm friendly smile to 
everyone. Desire to please her was an immediate motivation. 

For those who had not been to school, reading was 
taught from a large chart with words and pictures in black 
and white. On the first page was a httle girl with curls, 
ribbons and ruffles. A httle boy was dressed in shoes, 
knickers, jacket and a white blouse with a ruffled collar. 
Behind his back, he held a striped stick of candy. Under the 
picture were two sentences: "I want candy" and "I have 
candy." When the page of the big chart was turned up and 
over, the same children were pictured. The boy was bowing 
and the girl was curtsying. The sentence was, "Here is 
candy." 

Was this what school had to teach? I wondered. 

By noon dismissal, as an overly ambitious seven-year- 
old, I had "shown off" by counting to one hundred and by 
saying the alphabet forward and backward. Also, I had 
learned to recite the candy sentences. All that Mamie and the 
other younger beginners remembered was the word "candy." 

Noon hour was a happy time. Big and httle girls, with 
lunch baskets and buckets, sat on the porch and ate fried 
chicken, cookies, fresh peaches, and other goodies. Boys 
carried lunches in squares of cloth or bandana handkerchiefs 
as they ran to a grassy spot behind the wood shed. Soon the 
playground was the scene of much activity. There were 
running, jumping, and throwing games accompanied by 
friendly yelling and happy laughter. 

Most of the forty-three students, who looked neat, 
clean, and well dressed in the morning, appeared somewhat 
bedraggled near the end of the hour. Even Miss Norma had 



removed the styhsh lace collar, and she looked more 
comfortable. 

In response to the "Ding! Dong!" from the belfry, 
everyone lined up to get a drink of water from one of the 
several tin cups as the big boys took turns pumping water 
from the school yard well. Then students stood in line to go 
into the house for another session of learning. 

As I entered the school room. Miss Norma said, "Will 
you please help me this afternoon? Since you know the chart 
lesson, will you Listen while others read? Then you may write 
on your slate and make pictures and words on some paper." 
Here was a teacher who was sensitive to and capitahzed upon 
the aggressiveness of a older, first-day-of-school beginner. 
This type of individual motivation was the trade-mark of 
Miss Norma's teaching. 

After eight years in country schools, under various 
teachers with above average concern for students, I passed 
my Eighth Grade Final Examination in 1922. This success 
quahfied me to enter CarroUton High School in Greene 
County, Illinois. 

The four years of high school were strenuous, profitable, 
and enjoyable. Again there were teachers who brought out 
the competitive drive in students and encouraged them to 
face the challenges of the educational advantages at hand, 
but none were more proficient than Miss Norma. In March, 
1926, I passed the State of lUinois Teacher's Examination 
and was issued Second Grade Elementary Teacher's 
Certificate No. 59. This document was "vahd for two years 
for teaching in the first eight grades of the common schools." 

After graduation from CarroOton High School with the 
class of 1926, I was enrolled for the summer at Illinois State 
Normal University. The three months of study in the rural 
school curruculum was pleasant and satisfying. There was a 
feeling of humble professional pride in teacher preparation. 

I was offered a contract for the school term 1926-1927, 
at $75 per month at South Lincohi School, District No. 60. 



81 



Thirty-seven children ranging in ages from five to fifteen 
were present for that first day of the new school term. This 
time, I was the teacher, in the same one-room school where I 
had encountered Miss Norma King in 1914. 
Now it was my turn to smile. 



MEMORIES OF A COUNTRY SCHOOL TEACHER 

Eleanor Grant Verene 

The most rewarding and interesting part of my life was 
spent as a country school teacher. One of the big differences 
between the schools in 1930 and those which came much later 
was the feehng that the teacher and pupils were one big 
family. Whenever one child was injured, all were very 
concerned. Any new equipment was carefully cared for by 
everyone. Buckets of coal were carried in for the fire and 
buckets of water were willingly carried for drinking. The 
atmosphere in the schoolroom was one of helping each other. 

One school where I spent four years of teaching was 
Newman School. I can hardly put into words the joy and 
beauty of driving two miles to Newman School at 7:30 in the 
morning. In a Model T Ford, with very little traffic and such 
a slow speed, I was able to enjoy nature. The different 
seasons of the year were so delightful. In the fall the 
goldenrod and purple asters were in bloom along the 
roadside. In winter everything looked so pure and white with 
snow covered trees and bushes. Spring and early summer 
were equally as pretty. There were spring flowers, the singing 
of meadow larks, and beautiful wild roses. Seeing this on my 
way to school seemed to begin the day just right for me. 

There were many things to do besides teaching. The 
janitor work was usuaDy done in the hours after school. I 
very seldom was ready to go home before 5:30. In the 
morning I had outlines to write on the blackboard and busy 



work to prepare for the lower grades as we had no work 
books. In 1932 I had twenty-three pupOs, some in each of the 
eight grades. Teaching everything in the text books was very 
important as the final examinations of the year were sent out 
by the County Superintendent of Schools. We did now know 
what the questions would be. We also taught music, art, and 
penmanship. 

When we were given our supplies by the Knox County 
Superintendent of Schools, he included a book on morals and 
manners. We had a class in that once a week. The children 
enjoyed it. They entered into the discussion, which was very 
interesting as there were students participating from the age 
of six years to fourteen years. In those days, for opening 
exercises, we read the Bible and had prayer. When all work 
was completed, the singing of "Now the Day Is Over" was a 
quiet way of ending each day. At the present time Bible 
reading is not permitted in school. And now, fifty years later, 
I am hearing results of this old-fashioned teaching. Some of 
my former students have thanked me for helping them to get 
started in the right way of hfe. 

Many interesting incidents happened during those 
years. One of the families had three httle girls in the lower 
grades. All three rode to school on one horse. Each night I 
helped them get on to go home, but I was having such a hard 
time with the horse. It was almost impossible to get them on. 
I was trying to put the girls on from the wrong side. It would 
have been much easier to put them on a bus, as they are now 
doing in 1982. 

One morning, as 1 drove into the school yard, I saw 
hundreds of bluebirds gathering on the fences across the 
road. They were gathering to fly south for the winter. It was a 
beautiful sight that I have never seen again; we hardly ever 
see a bluebird. People are being urged to put up special bird 
houses for them as bluebirds are becoming quite scarce. 

Many times a country school teacher needed to be a 
nurse. One of the boys, while playing at recess, fell and forced 



his tooth through his lip. Another boy jumped on a nail and 
ran it completely through the sole of his shoe and into his 
foot. The boys had pulled it out before they brought him to 
me. I needed to drive him home to be taken to the doctor. 
There was no one to leave at school with the children. Giving 
them a lecture on good behavior and how important it was to 
get Rob to the doctor, I put the oldest student in charge and 
left. When I came back, all was in order and written work had 
been completed. Here again, it showed the feeUng of being 
one big family. I found that students in the 1930's respected 
their teacher and wished to obey in an emergency. 

We began, for the first time, to have community 
meetings and potluck suppers. Having enjoyed so much the 
Dramatic Club in Knoxville High School, I decided to try to 
have the people of Newman School District produce a three- 
act play. It was fun and also drew the famihes closer 
together. Two of the high school students in the district 
played the roles of hero and heroine. They wanted extra 
practice on their scene so they came one night after school. 
They were on the stage hugging each other, practicing the 
scene, when I heard a man's voice very disgustedly say, 
"Which one is the teacher around here?" I stepped out from 
behind the old stove in the back of the room and said, "I am 
the teacher. We are having practice for a play." You should 
have seen the look on his face. He thought he had found 
something going on after school to report to the directors of 
the district. In those days, this would have been a disgrace. I 
asked if I could help him. He said he just wanted a bucket to 
pump some water to put in the radiator of his car. 

We received quite a profit from our play, which we used 
for needed equipment. One thing which we bought was 
stainless steel tableware. We felt so rich owning it and used it 
only one time. It was stolen. In those days there were tramps, 
as they were called, who broke into schoolhouses and spent 
the night. Sometimes when they left, they took a few things 
with them. This is what we thought had happened. 



I organized the first rhythm band in the country 
schools. We had rhythm sticks, bells, a drum, a triangle, 
tambourines and cymbals. It was such an enjoyable treat to 
practice that school work went much faster on practice days. 
My mother helped make blue caps and capes trimmed in 
silver for each student. The parents looked forward to 
hearing the band at each program. 

There were so many incidents, and I have chosen only a 
few. I am sure that every country school teacher would have 
fond memories of her school days. 

This same Newman School, where I taught those four 
interesting years, has now been restored by the Retired 
Teachers' Association of Knox County. The buOding, which 
was originally two miles south of Knoxville, was moved into 
town. It is located at the edge of James Knox Park, on North 
Market Street. The building has been restored as it was in the 
1920's. It represents all of the country schools of Knox 
County, but for me, it also represents many years of 
fulfillment as a rural school teacher. 



A BULL IN THE CLASSROOM-ALMOST 

Leona Tattle Curtis 

You've heard, no doubt, about a bull in a china shop? 
But have you ever heard, or even dreamed, of a buU in a 
classroom? I hadn't either, until one never-to-be-forgotten 
day in late October many years ago, in a small rural school 
where I was teaching my first year. 

The school tempo had gradually slowed as the warm 
October day had lulled even the most active students into a 
sleepy stillness of Indian Summer. It was just thirty minutes 
until dismissal time, and I was very quietly moving about 
helping with individual problems. (In those days, rural 
schools used the individual approach, you know.) 



83 



Suddenly, the sleepy drone of the room exploded with a 
bellow which brought everyone to his feet with a half-scream 
on his lips. My horrified eyes looked up to see a huge, black 
bull glaring at me through the open window. He even reared 
up against the side of the schoolhouse to get a better view! 

I was so stunned that I couldn't move or utter a sound. 
My worst nightmare had never dredged up a more 
frightening sight. Twice in my younger days, I had been 
chased by, and barely escaped from, a charging bull, and the 
memories of those encounters had marked me forever as a 
absolute, cringing coward when near any bovine species. Now 
my worst fears were to be realized. That big, black monster 
had materialized out of my fears to get me. 

Having always hved in a town or city, I had very little 
practical knowledge about how one ought to handle a 
maddened bull. (This information had not been offered in any 
of my education courses, either.) I turned hopefully for help 
to my big farm boys. (There were several fifteen-year-olds in 
the room.) To my despair, they seemed as scared as I was— if 
that was possible! I saw I would get no guidance from them, 
so I'd have to be the savior myself. Somehow, I was not in the 
least surprised when they all tried to tell me, at once, that the 
bull bellowing outside our window was the very one who had, 
on two recent occassions, escaped from his pasture or pen and 
threatened several farm folk. 

A sudden, frozen calm descended on me with the 
realization that not only was there a bull out there, but that it 
was a renegade one at that. Somehow, I had to do the 
impossible— outwit him and save us all from his design. 

By this time, the bull had started to circle the building 
in rushing charges, accompanied by fierce bellows and angry 
snorts. Occasionally, he stopped to paw the ground or banged 
his great head against the walls. This behavior did nothing to 
calm the already badly frightened children (and teacher). 
Frantically my mind explored the possibihties: could a bull 
plunge through an open, unscreened window? We darted to 



close them in the intervals when he was on the side of the 
building where the windows were much higher up. 

Then, as I rushed to shut the outside door, which 
opened inwardly, a terrible reahty hit me. That door would 
not stay shut without an object to hold it. To unlock it, a 
chain was used (on the outside), fastened to a padlock. There 
was no chance of locking it unless I wanted to lock myself out 
with the bull, an idea which I quickly discarded. The way he 
was butting against the walls, it seemed only a matter of time 
before he would hit the door. The boys scrambled to pile 
desks and benches against the door, hoping a barricade would 
stop or entangle him should he knock it open. 

By this time, I realized that no lucky rescue was 
imminent, since parents would not be anxious about students 
for another thirty minutes or more. I knew I had better have 
an escape route in case the beast got into the room. We built 
some makeshift steps from desks and chairs, up to one of the 
high windows on the side of the building nearest a fence. I 
coached the children how, if the bull crashed through the 
barrier, they were to go through the window, over the fence 
and to the nearest neighbor's house. The big boys were to 
help all the others. Then I had all of them keep perfectly quiet 
in hopes this silence would discourage any fiendish besigns 
the bull had in mind. I stationed a big boy at one of the higher 
windows to watch for signs of rescue. Hysterically, I was 
reminded of a similar watch that was posted in Bluebeard's 
tower. 

A farm truck rumbled by but didn't stop. Another wait 
during which the bull was challenging the windows, the pump 
(what a banging it took), and the walls. He hadn't found the 
door yet! It was now four-thirty, and I desperately hoped 
some parents would begin to be concerned about their 
offspring. 

Finally, in the midst of the bull's pandemonium, we saw 
a tractor, a wagon, and a truck with several men, inching 
their way up the slope into the school yard. We cheered (in a 



84 



muted way, in contrast to the bull's excitable temperament) 
as we realized that rescue was near. The men were armed with 
pitchforks, ropes, whips and various bull-restraining devices. 
After some violent bellows, and some very quick retreats by 
the men, the monster was prodded and driven into the truck 
and tied up securely. To our great relief, the men assured us 
that the animal was being taken straight to market and 
would never terrorize us again. 

As for the children and I, we felt hke heroes— although 
very exhausted and shaky ones— as our story of "almost a 
bull in the classroom" was widely circulated (and 
embellished) around the district. And, to my secret rehef, no 
one made fun of the "green, city teacher" who had met the 
challenge of an angry bull and kept him out of her classroom. 



FULL LASTING IS THE SONG 

Eva Baker Watson 

My father probably would not have been able to 
understand the popularity of the strange sound called rock 
and roll. And if he had ever gone to the opera, surely the 
unknown language in which it was sung would have 
bewildered him no more than its music. 

Yet he would have told you he was a music lover. And, 
indeed, it is his songs that accompany the picture of him that 
lives in my heart. 

I see him in the bleak, predawn winter hours, shaking 
down the heating stove, taking out ashes, poking to revive 
the embers and defrost the air so as to lure the rest of the 
family from cozy featherbed cocoons. AU the while, above 
this banging and clanging, he sang. 

Later on, as he stamped the snow from his feet, coming 
into the house for breakfast after the milking and feeding, his 



singing would reach us before he did. Thus he bestirred the 
blood and ventilated the breathing apparatus. Thus he 
affirmed his courage and zest for living. Thus he greeted this 
day that the Lord had made— fresh, just that morning. 

He sang a lilting testimony of self-worth. His singing 
helped him cope with the difficulties of providing for a family 
in circumstances which were not actually impoverished but 
were certainly Spartan. 

His repertoire, varied and colorful, had church songs as 
its backbone. These were not hymns, solemn and dignified. 
Rather, he sang the spirited songs of the congregations of 
small rural churches of that day— songs of a people who 
expressed their faith with fervor fortissimo. A man who sat in 
the pew beside my father remarked, "When Fred Baker sings 
he makes the seat tremble." 

Around home his singing style was less conventional. 
Papa must have been Hke the woman who said she loved to 
play the pipe organ because it gave her a feeling of "playing 
the whole orchestra." He was a one-man quartet, rising to 
tenor or zooming with ease to booming bass, filling in all the 
repeats: 

When the roll— 

(WHEN THE ROLL) 

Is called up yon— 

(DER, CALLED UP YONDER!) 

I would listen to see if all these musical gymnastics, this 
switching from part to part, would cause him to lose the beat. 
It didn't. He often improvised with starthng original lyrics. 
His imaginative words sometimes failed to come out even 
with the tune and when that happened he'd just extend the 
song a few bars. But he always kept the beat. 

Papa was an early moonhghter, teaching rural schools 
during autumn, winter, and spring, then farming the rest of 
the year to supplement his meager salary. 

But the schoolroom was his true love. His two older 
brothers had left home to study law; other children were also 



85 



gone, so it was Papa who stayed behind to "look after 
Mother"— a widow since he was a small boy. 

His yearning to become a teacher was to be answered, 
though, for he found he could earn his certificate by 
attending one of the several "Summer Normal Schools" 
offered at various points throughout Pope County. 

These schools were open to eighth grade graduates with 
teaching aspirations who, like many of that day, could not 
afford to "go away" to coUege. They date back as far as 1890 
and were still in existence as recently as the year 1916. This 
twelve-week course was within reach of many ambitious 
young men and women, who walked, drove buggies, rode 
horses, or boarded in order to attend. 

At the end of the term, an examination (said not to be an 
easy one) was given by the County Superintendent of 
Schools. Passing this test would quaUfy them for either a 
First or Second Grade Certificate, depending on their test 
score. And this was how my father became a teacher in the 
early 1900's. 

The finished product of these schools, the rural educator 
back then, was an aU-purpose package: surrogate parent, 
first-aid specialist, counselor, recreation director, missionary. 
Janitor, and teacher of the basics (plus music, if he was so 
inclined). 

Papa, so inchned, was happy to include music- 
singing— in his schedule, not as a formal class, but usually as 
"opening exercises" or as a special treat, a "change of 
exercise" on Friday afternoons. With him at the helm the 
schools sang, because they wanted to and he wanted to. His 
qualifications for the role of music director were a fondness 
for singing, and innate sense of rhythm, and the ability to 
"carry a tune." For the need then, that was adequate. 

He was my teacher for one of the thirty-one years he 
taught. Here I saw another side of the man whom I'd known 
earher only as my father. And I realized (though only 
superficially) the broader scope of his love for song. For it was 



in school that his songs reached beyond temporal and 
provincial hmits and spoke to the world and to the future. 

In his schoolroom we sang war songs because we were 
just a few hurrahs from the time when Johnny had come 
marching home from World War I. We sang the poignant 
"Tenting Tonight" because Papa was only one scant 
generation removed from the Civil War in which his own 
father had served with the Union Army. 

We sang "By the rivers gently flowing, Ilhnois, lUinois" 
because it was our song. We sang, with feeling, all the 
patriotic songs. Then, with his staccato steps leading us 
around the room, we marched to the rousing "Three Cheers 
for the Red, White, and Blue!" And we caught his proud 
possessiveness as we sang "My County 'Tis of Thee." Too 
much flag-waving? He would never have believed it. 

That was a primitive era in education here in the Pope 
County hills. The school world was small, but it was a warm, 
caring world. What was not apparent to me then is clear now, 
that my father's songs were a gentle indoctrination in what 
he recognized as our national heritage. In those small schools 
he not only taught but also lived the principles of respect, 
integrity, obedience. He was concerned with the worth and 
responsibihty of the individual. He shared in the ideals of a 
nation he was a part of and he sang of those ideals. The songs 
people sing are the sound of what they are. 

Now my father's voice is stilled. But, like Meredith's 
thrush, "Full lasting is the song, though he, / The singer, 
passes." I wonder why I waited this long to thank him? 



NO-NONSENSE SCHOOLING NEEDED AGAIN 

Mat tie L. Em en,' 



I hved through a lot of those "good old days, " and I am 



glad we do not have most of them any more— washing clothes 
on a washboard, carrying water in from the well, using an 
outhouse in twenty degree weather, heating irons on a 
cookstove fired with wood and coal. I could go on and on. 

One thing I think was better in those "good old days" 
was the attitude, the dedication, and the seriousness of 
parents, teachers, and children toward education. Of course, 
there were many one-room schoolhouses, with a single 
teacher to handle ten to twenty-five children, usually grades 
one through eight. 

I remember how it was with our family; we were quite 
poor. Five sisters in school. Many times I took potatoes to 
bake on the hearth inside the furnace door and soup to heat in 
a half -gallon jar in the water bowl on top of the furnace that 
provided moisture for the school room. Parents worried about 
lunches. Often items were traded but very seldom was 
anything wasted. 

Now it's really an eye opener to work in a school 
cafeteria. Children are allowed so many minutes for lunch. 
Every year there are thousands of doOars wasted in food 
thrown out, not eaten. Every mother should have an 
opportunity to see in what way this is handled. Without 
lunch bucket supervision from home, kids are spending their 
nickels, dimes, and quarters on too much junk food. 

Somehow, the country school teacher always had time 
for personal help for any student who needed extra time. You 
learned phonetics before you learned to spell or to read. You 
learned your multpUcation tables by the fourth grade until 
you could answer any quiz without hesitation. Spelling bees 
were a big thrill. We looked forward to one every Friday. 
Once a year contests were carried on between schools, then at 
town, then at the county seat, then maybe at Springfield. 

One thing was certain: no child passed a grade in those 
rural schools unless he or she really deserved to. 

I do not remember there ever being a serious need for 
extreme punishment. Sure, someone might have to stay after 



school, or maybe once or twice a year a teacher had to inflict 
corporal punishment with a paddle, but more often the 
majority of kids had a healthy respect for authority. Now, it 
is very risky for a teacher to stand up for his or her rights as a 
classroom authority. He or she may be accused of infringing 
on a student's rights. Anything from unruly behavior to an 
unsuitable type of dress to actual abuse of the teacher is apt 
to be overlooked today. 

Decades ago, at the end of eight grades, there was 
almost no illiteracy, compared to the high rate now in senior 
high school students and college freshmen. 

Kids who went on to high school had to sacrifice their 
spare time to work to help pay their way. I think that helped 
a great number of people reahze the importance of an 
education. Even President Reagan worked some part-time to 
help pay his way through school. The courses were no- 
nonsense courses. It would take some of our modern students 
at least a year to make up what he or she should have learned 
in high school by that age decades ago. 

I think our modern schools would be better off to 
propose a no-nonsense, no friDs, back to the three R's 
education like we used to have. And maybe it would make a 
lot of sense to not put such an emphasis on sports. It makes 
me very sad to read in the newspapers, and see on television, 
athletes who have been given college scholarships for their 
ability in sports who can hardly read or write. 

More and more parents are getting upset because they 
are not satisfied that their children are getting a good 
education. Many parents are enrolling their children in 
private schools, and some are even assisting teachers. 
Parental concern is a step in the right direction— a step 
toward the kind of closeness between school and home that 
was characteristic of the country school. 





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V Pastimes 



PASTIMES 

Young people of generations ago most certainly lived by 
an unwritten code of the times— that which could be express- 
ed best by a paraphrasing of Ecclesiates. There was a time to 
be born and a time to die. and there was a time to work and a 
time to enjoy what life had to offer. With respect to the last, 
it never took precedence over the necessity to labor: it was 
that which filled in the chinks of existence, so to speak. Each 
boy had his chores; those on the farm helped in whatever jobs 
had to be done: those in the towns mowed the lawns and 
cleaned windows on Saturday. But there were always times 
to which one could look forward. The first breath of Spring 
brought forth a baseball mitt and the first hint of frost pro- 
duced a football. In between there were the special days and 
occasions. Beulah Knecht, in her piece below, wrote that 
"Chautauqua was something you started thinking about ear- 
ly in the summer ..." Bob Hulsen intimates the same about 
July 4 or Independence Day, though he does not add that 
almost every small-town boy began to save his pennies early 
as his own special contributions to the occasion. After all, 
there were firecrackers to be bought— ladyfingers, one and 
two inches, Roman candles, snakes and, for the daring, 
cherry bombs. 

Each day of the week had its own special meaning in 
summer. Monday meant carrying water for the wash. 
Tuesday was ironing day. Other days of the week were for 
dusting, beating rugs, cooking, or whatever the needs of the 
house called for. But Saturday night— that was something 
else. It was ice cream night, salted peanut night, and flirting 
night all rolled into one. It was movie night, popcorn night, 
and "chalk the corner" night as well. Families, hke caravans 
of old, trouped through the streets to the "main" one— father 
and mother in the van, the rest dressed in their Saturday 
night best, in the rear. Once the main section of town was 
reached, there began a ritual almost as old as America itself. 



While the teenagers ogled those of the opposite sex, the 
elders circled the town business section seeking out and 
talking to old acquaintances and neighbors. Meanwhile, 
those fortunate enough to own automobiles, sat in them, 
watching and undoubtedly commenting upon the passing 
parade. In one western Illinois town, it was said that a 
particularly affluent farmer brought his Lincoln car into town 
early on Saturday morning just so he might have a parking 
place for that evening. 

It was so true that each season of the year presented its 
own illustrations of "belonging to the community," as Lewis 
Atherton has written. Easter Sunday was a time for wearing 
a new hat or for decorating a local church with flowers: callas, 
ferns, gloxinias, lilac sprigs, or Easter lilies. Memorial Day 
brought out the local brass band and a display of the 
remaining veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic. The 
Fourth of July was welcomed by the booming of a cannon at 
the dawn's early light. In Macomb, lUinois, the roar of that 
terrible weapon could be heard at least four miles away. 
Family reunions were reserved for Autumn, and county fairs 
followed shortly thereafter. Christmas, the special time, 
brought forth pre-hohday shopping visits to town and the 
inevitable Christmas program at church or school. This last 
was a mixture of holiday nostalgia, flickering candles, 
evergreens, tinsel, reds and greens, uncles and aunts, and 
peanut brittle. 

New Year's Eve was for the older people. While children 
fought to keep their drooping eyelids up, their parents sang, 
reminisced about earlier times, drank cold cider, or 
sometimes drank elderberry wine or beer. Those in the 
marrying years occasionally held dances. What a variety! In 
the flickering light of local opera halls, they could dance a 
waltz, a foxtrot, or even the more risque version of the 
Virginia Reel: 

Take a lady by her hand. 
Lead her like a pigeon, 



90 



Make her dance the weevily wheat, 

She looses her reUgion. 
Then, with the New Year in, the parties and the dances broke 
up. Small children were carried home on the broad backs of 
their fathers. Young men and women of marriageable age 
paired off to walk home in drifting or faUing snow, frohcking 
as they went. Many a doubtful relationship was firmed into a 
40 year long marriage by such a custom! 

The relentless pattern celebrated in Thornton Wilder's 
Our Town passed on. The long cold of winter was broken by 
Valentine's Day, with its own beautiful country ritual. In 
small-town schools, someone, the teacher perhaps, always 
found a hat box. Tricked up with red and white crepe paper, it 
was magically transformed into Cupid's post office. At the 



appointed hour, two or three students "deUvered" the 
colorful symbols of undying affection or unrequited love. But 
even this had its special moment within the moment. There 
was always some unpredictable wag in the class who would 
anonymously forward a crude, and sometimes rude, 
"valentine" of the comic variety. 

Soon the weather warmed with a false spring. Green 
patched into the countryside and crocuses dotted town 
lawns. Redbuds and wild plum trees began their annual cycle, 
and the first robins of April began the furious activity of 
courtship and mating. The calendar of the Middle Border had 
moved into another season. 

Victor Hicken, Editor 



91 



CHAUTAUQUA DAYS 

Beulah Knecht 

In the center of Forest Park in Shelbyville stands a 
multi-sided building known to the community as "the 
auditorium. " Built in 1903 for the special purpose of bringing 
the then popular Chautauqua programs to this area of 
lUinois, it seated from five to six thousand people, with long 
wooden benches placed in semi-circular position on a sloping 
floor. Across the north end is a large stage with a high 
proscenium, and above it stand three graceful feminine 
figures representing art, music, and drama. The construction 
of the roof is a marvel to architects who have visited it. There 
are no supporting posts to obstruct the view of the stage, but 
the roof is held by beams and suspension girders. 

Chautauqua was something you started thinking about 
early in the summer— those 15 wonderful days in August 
which brought entertainment and excitement. If you wanted 
to save money you bought your season tickets early: $1.50 for 
adults, SI for children, and 75c for teams. These had to be 
punched at the gate each time you attended. Then there was 
the matter of clothes: Did you have enough pretty summer 
dresses to wear? That kept mother busy for a while. When the 
program books came (each purchaser of tickets got one), you 
looked through it eagerly to see what was in store. Sometimes 
there were favorites which came back year after year, such as 
the Jubilee Singers, the Goodman Band, the Davies Light 
Opera Singers, the Shakesperian Players. But there were new 
ones to look forward to also. 

There was something going on all day. Classes of 
various kinds were held in the morning, including physical 
culture, classes for children, and a Kindergarten. Afternoons 
brought the cultural programs— lectures by many famous 
people you had read about: WiUiam Jennings Bryan, the 
silver-tongued orator: the Rev. Sam Jones; Billy Sunday, the 
evangeUst; Carrie Nation, the smasher of saloons— although I 



don't remember her bringing an axe to Shelbyville. In the 
evenings was the music, the dramas, and, to the dehght of the 
young fry, the magicians, and chalk-talk artists. Then, to top 
it all, a movie, and we had to stay for that no matter how late 
it made you, walking home half asleep. One way of showing 
special approval of a program was to give the "Chautauqua 
Salute." Everyone stood and waved their handkerchiefs in 
the air, which no doubt was gratifying to the performer 
although he might have picked up a few germs from it, too. 
Programs were kept running smoothly by a very capable 
gentleman called "the manager." Today he would be the M.C.. 
He made the announcements including reports from 
Europe— victories or losses and casualties of the AUied 
forces. 

Fifteen minutes before the program started, a very 
clangy bell was rung, warning you to hurry in if you wanted 
your favorite seat. If you were small and didn't want to have 
to sit behind some big adult, you hurried in to get one of the 
end seats which stuck out past the seat in front— no 
obstructed view there. A 15 minute intermission took place 
between the first part of the evening program and the movie. 
That gave you a chance to stretch your legs, purchase 
refreshments at Deck Young's ice cream stand or the popcorn 
wagon, or visit the ladies or gentlemen's buildings placed 
discretely at the far south end of the grounds. 

Forming three sides of a square in the park stood 
summer cottages with the auditorium in the center. Owners 
of those cottages often spent the whole summer in them, 
which made a very convenient place for out of town friends 
and relatives who wanted to attend Chautauqua, often 
keeping the housewife so busy that she had few times for 
enjoying the programs herself. If you were not affluent 
enough to own a cottage, you could rent a tent for the two 
weeks— three to nine dollars, wooden floor boards extra. 
These were furnished with articles from home, the amount of 
furniture depending upon whether you were going to "camp" 



the whole two weeks or just use it for a "day" tent. And if 
you had neither cottage nor tent, you walked out and back 
every day. Of course, if you were extravagant you could pay a 
quarter and ride in Ed Reid's hack, which smelled of horses 
and old leather, and later in Harry Kerchmeir's Model T taxi. 
We never considered it a hardship walking 13 blocks to the 
park every afternoon and back home again at midnight. Of 
course, there was the picnic basket to carry, filled with our 
supper, which we ate seated on the grass by the lake. There 
was usually a friend or relative who had a cottage where one 
could park the basket during the programs. One also carried a 
fan— sometimes a palm leaf or the cardboard one the 
Chautauqua committee had printed with the program on one 
side and advertisements of local stores on the other. And a 
pillow came in very hand, also, as the benches in the 
auditorium became pretty hard after an hour or two. The 
bench seats consisted of three boards, and invariably the 
middle one stuck up higher than the others. 

There were other buildings on the grounds besides those 
mentioned. There was a long two-story dormitory where the 
talent stayed, and a dining hall where you could get a well- 
cooked dinner for 35 cents. Another was used as the "floral 
hall" during the county fair times and for classes during 
Chautauqua. There was also a bandstand; and a large cage 
with two monkeys named Martha and Felix, which were the 
delight of the children. If you had a nickel to spend, you could 
get an ice cream cone, or glass of lemonade, or some cotton 
candy— that sweetened air concoction wrapped around a 
paper cone— at one of the stands. 

Then there was the swimming pool with a bottom so 
slick with slime that you could hardly stand up in it. The 
grounds also had a man-made round lake (official name. 
Crystal Lake) with an island in the center, where for a small 
fee your best beau could rent a rowboat and row you round 
and round the island, which was much more interesting than 
sitting in the auditorium for the program. 



Yes, Chautauqua was the highlight of the summer. 
Hundreds attended each year, camping, driving in, even 
coming by train, since the C. & E. 1. Railroad was right at the 
edge of the Chautauqua grounds and the trains would stop to 
let off or take on passengers there. 

Chautauqua lasted into the Thirties when cars and hard 
roads made distant entertainment more attainable, and the 
radio brought music and talking into our living rooms. The 
old auditorium has seen some bad days as well as good. It 
was used at one time for storage, and occasionally for 
entertainment when a short-Uved effort was made in the 
Sixties to revive the feeling for Chautauqua days. In 1977 the 
fate of the old building hung in the balance when a heavy 
snow caved in part of the roof and side. Public opinion raised 
it's voice— arguing about tearing it down vs. restoration. 
With the cooperation of the city and state Department of 
Conservation, the latter won. It is now Usted on the National 
Register of Historic Sites. It stands waiting for other orators 
and other actors and musicians to replace the ghost voices of 
it's past glory. 



INDEPENDENCE DAY 

Bob Hulsen 

Mom beamed as she squeezed the big bowl of potato 
salad into the basket. It was the Fourth of July in the 
mid-1920's and the family was going to the park. The basket 
was the biggest we could find and was already loaded with 
fried chicken, sliced tomatoes, deviled eggs, and sandwiches, 
along with a big pot of baked beans. Relatives, who were 
farmers, would bring baked country ham, homemade ice 
cream, sweet corn, and salsify (which tastes like oysters). The 
best bakers would bring cakes and pies, and the younger 



families would bring lemonade, homemade root beer, and iced 
tea, along with sandwiches. 

By eight in the morning, it was already 85 degrees, and 
the Dispatch predicted a temperature near 100 for the day. 
We kids had been bathed in the wash tub the night before. 
Because we seldom wore shoes in summer, our feet were 
scrubbed with a brush. It tickled when Dad brushed the 
bottoms of my feet. 

Our destination was Prospect Park at 15th Street and 
Blackhawk Road (we called it "the bottom road" in those 
days) in Mohne. Since we hved in East Moline, six miles 
away, our transportation was the Tri-City Lines streetcar. In 
those days, there were the usual enclosed cars with front and 
rear entrances, but the Lines also ran a sprinkling of summer 
cars with no sides and no windows. Those cars had rows of 
seats on each side of a center aisle and no doors. There was a 
running board along the length of each side of the car and 
riders boarded or departed all along the side. The conductor 
patrolled the center aisle and collected the fares. On busy 
summer holidays, the cars resembled roUing honeycombs 
covered with bees. People filled all of the seats, stood in the 
aisles suspended by leather straps dangling from the ceiling, 
or clung to the exterior from whatever hand or foothold they 
could find. If there was time, the children always begged our 
parents to wait for a summer car. It was the most fun. After 
about a five mile ride, it was necessary to transfer to a Park 
Car. Kids and parents loaded with blankets, baskets, a box or 
two, and the baby buggy all pUed off to stand at the curb to 
watch the big July Fourth parade in "downtown" MoUne. 

The parade was grand! There were baton twirlers, 
clowns, floats, horses, and an almost endless array of 
marchers carrying flags and banners. The Elks, Masons, Odd 
Fellows, and schools had fine bands. Members of almost all 
formal organizations marched in the parade. Along with 
platoons of veterans of two wars, 1 was always impressed by 
the large number of bakers, molders, machinists, carpenters. 



and brick and stone masons. Laborers and craftsmen 
unaccustomed to marching were always taking little rabbit 
hops or running half steps trying to keep in step. They often 
appeared to have two left feet. Police on motorcycles tried to 
keep the crowds at the curb, but excited kids dashed into the 
street not only to see what was coming next, but to retrieve 
candy kisses frequently thrown from floats. What a grand 
spectacle it was, with bands playing, flags flying, and 
firecrackers popping everywhere. 

After the parade passed, the crowd surged for the cars. 
Because all could not be accommodated, we often walked a 
block or two to wait on another corner, hoping for a car with 
room. Sometimes we groaned as a car passed clanging its bell, 
signifying it was loaded. Eventually one would stop and we 
would noisily climb aboard. I can still see Dad shifting the 
baby from arm to arm while he searched his pockets for the 
transfers that would pay our fare. 

When we reached the end of the line, it was still a four or 
five block walk through a residential district to the park. As 
soon as we disembarked, the burdens were all distributed 
among the children and grownups. Everyone had to carry 
something. Folks who lived along the route were usually 
sitting on their porches enjoying the parade of celebrants 
headed for the park. At times, 1 imagine this parade was 
more entertaining than the official parade downtown. I don't 
beheve we ever made this walk without some kid dropping 
something important, like the baby's potty, or else tripping 
and falling down and arriving at the park with a tear-stained 
face, skinned knees, or torn britches. 

This was Mother's day to display her brood to relatives 
and friends. How hard she worked! How proud she was! And 
yet some one or more of the kids somehow always came up 
with a moment of embarrassment for Mom. Her eyes flashed 
and her Irish temper flared when it happened, but she 
claimed shenanigans were part of our charm and laughed 
about our misfortunes later. 



Upon arrival at the park, we began to search for our 
scout (someone of the family designated to be at the park at 7 
a.m. to assemble a half dozen tables and guard them until we 
arrived). Thirty or 40 relatives were there or would soon 
arrive. Some we hadn't seen since last Fourth of July: one of 
my favorites was a cousin whose birthday was July Fourth. 
He was an exuberant and reckless lad usually decked out in 
new birthday clothes. It seemed he was always pursued and 
frequently overtaken by misfortune. I never remember a time 
he failed to end his birthday without torn knickers, Orange 
Crush down the front of his shirt, a toe knocked off a new 
shoe, and double trouble with his parents. 

As we arrived, one of the several bands engaged to 
provide the music was already playing in the paviUon. After a 
dinner of every kind of food and drink, except alcohol, it was 
time for the speeches. (I do not remember ever seeing alcohol 
served or drunk at a July Fourth picnic. Those were 
Prohibition days. We sometimes saw a man or two who 
appeared to be suffering no pain, but they were conditioned 
elsewhere. Local or state officials were the usual speakers. 
Dad always paid close attention, but for children the 
speakers were a painful interruption to a nice day. When the 
speeches were finished, the fun began. There were games, 
races, and contests with prizes for children. One or more of 
the kids in the family sometimes won a prize and became 
briefly the center of attention. Women's and men's Tug-0- 
War always attracted big crowds. Invariably, one of the 
teams would have a huge anchor man weighing something 
over 300 pounds and preposterously called Tiny. After one of 
those bursts of effort, the ambulance sometimes came to 
carry one of the giant tuggers to the hospital. 

DayUght fireworks were a special treat. Loud bombs 
exploded high in the air to release tiny red, white, and blue 
paper parachutes which drifted across the farmland toward 
Rock River. I recall being among hundreds of red-faced. 



perspiring children running across the fields in 95 degree 
weather chasing the little parachutes. 

On this occasion, the special event for the afternoon was 
an exhibition of stunt flying by the Quad Cities' own 
barnstormer. Rusty Campbell. (The present Quad City 
Airport is named for him.) Airplane pilots were daring and 
glamorous men, and Rusty was our hero. About mid- 
afternoon he appeared. The airplane rolled, looped, spun, and 
completely stunned the crowd when it came down amid gasps 
of horror in a tree. The pilot was fortunately unhurt. The 
plane, although tangled in the tree, was only slightly 
damaged. Plenty of eager spectators were on hand to help our 
hero to the ground. Although embarrassing, that landing was 
perhaps witnessed by more breathless people than any other 
Rusty ever made. The event proved more thrilling than 
advertised. 

Fatigued children and parents longed for darkness and 
the great fireworks display. Kids in our family were not 
allowed to have fireworks because as a six-year-old. Dad lost 
parts of two fingers when a firecracker exploded in his hand. 
The night display of fireworks was magnificient! In the 
ensuing years, I can remember no others that thrilled me 
more. We kids lay on our backs on the grass and oh'd and 
ah'd with all the others as the Rocket's Red Glare was 
reproduced. When the last sparks dropped from the fiery 
replica of Old Glory, signifying the end of the celebration, the 
tired and disheveled family trudged back to the streetcar. 

It was difficult to tell whether the pale faces of the 
children were caused by exhaustion or an over-supply of ice 
cream, soda, and root beer. We sank into seats and collapsed. 
Every child had to be shaken into stumbling, dreamy-eyed 
consciousness as the car approached our corner. How Mom 
and Dad made it to the door with the remnants of the picnic 
and the gaggle of staggering kids is a mystery. The last I 
remember was Dad over-ruling Mom with "We'll wash 'em in 
the morning!" It was a great day! 



95 



BAND CONCERTS AT WARSAW 

Delia Radcliffe 

In the summer of 1923, going to the Saturday night 
band concert at Warsaw, Illinois, was almost as exciting and 
as much fun as going to the County Fair. Situated on the east 
bank of the Mississippi River and nearly opposite the mouth 
of the Des Moines River, the little village of Warsaw nestles 
comfortably in the curve of the great river. 

By coming from the west into town by the main 
highway, a two-lane dirt road which is also Main Street, you 
would pass the three blocks where all the stores and shops 
were, proceed on down the steep Main Street hill where all the 
kids went "sledding" in winter, and end up on the bank of the 
Mississippi River. Here stood the smaU, shabby depot with 
it's "potbellied" wood burning stove. Here also could be seen 
the small rowboats which were used by the fishermen, and 
the dock where the "Capital" and the "J.S." excursion boats 
arrived every summer with the never-to-be-forgotten siren 
call of the caliope loudly playing as the boat landed and 
departed. From here you could look across the river at the 
tiny town of Alexandria, Missouri, which at one time was 
larger than St. Louis. A ferry boat made regular trips across 
the river between Warsaw and Alexandria. 

The other entry into Warsaw was the narrow, ribbon- 
like River Road which ran at right angles to Main Street. 
Going out of Warsaw toward Hamilton on the River Road, 
you passed the huge, mysterious-looking brewery which sat 
on the river's bank like a castle from the past. A little farther 
on you passed Crystal Glen, where all the largest and best 
geodes were found, and then everyone's favorite picnic place, 
beautiful Cedar Glen. The trolley ran parallel along the River 
Road, and Tom Dodge, the conductor, would stop the trolley 
so that you could get on or off any place between Warsaw and 
Hamilton. You could even go all the way across the river from 
Hamilton into Iowa for 15 cents. 



On Saturday nights, after the chores were finished and 
supper hastily eaten, we set out from our farm home for the 
band concert. In my prettiest dress, I rode comfortably 
wedged between my father and mother on the black, leather- 
covered seat of the narrow buggy which was pulled by Laura, 
our faithful, high-stepping mare. 

When my father tied the horse to the hitching post, 
there were already many other buggies there. Main Street 
was gloriously ablaze with street hghts, which resembled 
huge white shamrocks. The brightly lighted platform on 
which the band sat was in place in the center of the busiest 
block in town. People were going in and out of the stores and 
shops, moving up and down the street or standing in small 
groups, visiting. Everyone came to town on Saturday night. 
It was the time to do the "trading," to hsten to all the latest 
newsy gossip, or just to see who else was there. 

I was soon joined by a group of my little friends who 
usually would be waiting for me to arrive. My mother always 
visited Eyman's dry goods store, where all the dresses, hats, 
shoes, and bolts of dress material were sold. My father would 
move on down Main Street in search of some of his cronies. 
We children had a wonderful time chasing each other around 
and under the bandstand as the band played. One usual ritual 
of ours on Saturday night was sampling the horrible tasting 
water from the artesian well. We decided that drinking a sip 
of water was a sign of bravery, and the girls were not to be 
outdone by the boys. We girls declared that the water "tasted 
like a rotten egg smeDs." The boy at the popcorn wagon was a 
budding salesman as he tried to persuade us to spend our 
nickle for a bag of popcorn instead of a double-decker ice 
cream cone from across the street at Wepner's ice cream 
parlor. 

The wonderful Dreamland movie theatre with it's 
blinking, blazing lights was an especially popular place for 
the young men, who were all dressed up in their "ice cream 
pants" to take their best girls. Some of these young ladies 



wore their hair in the daring new "bobbed" style, which was 
frowned upon by the older ladies and by some of the men. 

During the concert, one of the band members usuaDy 
sang one or two songs. In 1923, the newly popular ones were 
"Yes, We Have No Bananas" and "You-You-You Tell Her I-I- 
I Love Her Because I-I-I Stutter Too Much." 

When the concert was over, people lingered in the street 
to visit a little longer. It sounded somewhat hke a symphony 
with the low murmer of the male voices, the blending in of the 
higher pitched female voices, the shrill shouts of the children, 
and an occasional cry of a sleepy, tired baby. The street 
gradually emptied as people reluctantly drifted away. Before 
going home, my mother always did our weekly trading at 
Filtz's grocery store and Klingel's meat market. There would 
be special favorite things in our grocery box, Like a string of 
"weenies." a pie-shaped piece of punget yellow cheese which 
had been cut from a large circular one, or a wooden tray of 
bulk peanut butter. I would always find a sack of candy in the 
box of groceries. I knew it was candy because it would be in a 
striped bag. 

Laura made soft clop-clopping sounds with her hoofs as 
she pulled our buggy along the dirt road leading out of 
Warsaw toward home. We had enjoyed a wonderful evening, 
and already I was counting the days until the next Saturday 
night band concert. 



SATURDAY AFTERNOON IN TOWN 

Helen E. Rilling 

My brother, two sisters, and I were dividing up the 
family keepsakes from the old humpback trunk that held the 
few possessions my father owned at his death. Among those 
treasures were the family pictures taken when we were 



youngsters. I must have been six years old. The dresses we 
girls wore triggered memories of some very special times. The 
happy sounds in the room faded away and once again I saw 
our old Model T touring car sitting outside the back door on 
the farm east of Alexander where I was born. 

Sitting in the front seat of the car were Mother and 
Father. We kids were clamboring into the back, pushing and 
shoving to get a seat on the outside where the wind rushed 
past our faces as we rode along. 

What excitement we felt on those occasions when 
Daddy would ask, "How would you like to go to town 
today?" Town, of course, meant Jacksonville some 15 miles 
away. It was 1920 and life had returned to near-normal after 
the sad years of World War I. 

It was Saturday and Daddy had got up early to feed and 
curry the horses. He had milked the cows, and it was the 
familiar whirr of the cream separator in the kitchen that woke 
us up. Mother had hurried around to feed and water the 
chickens before cooking us a special breakfast of hot biscuits 
and fried ham. There was a bowl of red-eye gravy to sop our 
biscuits in. The morning was spent taking baths and getting 
dressed. For lunch we had a hurried stand-up meal of milk 
and peanut butter sandwiches. The hired hand's lunch was 
left on the white oilcloth-covered table with a clean tea towel 
draped over it. 

I remember Mother in her white crepe blouse and long 
fitted skirt. Her hat was pinned to her hair with long pins. 
Daddy wore his Sunday best shirt with a high collar so stiff 
he could hardly turn his head. A gold watch chain hung 
across the front of his vest. We girls wore white dresses that 
Mother had made. They were trimmed with yards and yards 
of ruffles. Long white stockings stretched down to the black 
patent slippers with one strap held by a little round botton. 
Gosh, those things were hard to fasten. Our shoes shone hke 
mirrors from being rubbed with Vaseline to keep them from 
cracking. Big ribbon bows, a different color for each of us. 



97 



were tied in our sun-bleached hair. We wore long pongee car 
coats over our dresses to keep the dust off as we rode along. 
Our brother had on knee pants and long black stockings with 
his high shoes. 

We set off down our lane where grass grew between the 
tracks. For most of the year the lane was knee deep in mud. 
Only high-wheeled buggies or riders on horseback ventured 
down it. But, today was a hot summer day and dozens of 
grain wagons had churned the ruts into tracks inches deep in 
dust. A cloud of cinnamon-colored dust swirled behind us as 
the car flew along the lane at 25 miles an hour. We were used 
to riding in buggies pulled by one or maybe two horses that 
traveled at a much slower speed. The car crossed the rattley 
bridge without a pause and everyone except Daddy flew 
several inches off their seats. 

We settled down for the long ride and watched for 
neighbor kids to be sure they saw us dressed up in our best 
and off for a Saturday trip to town. At Alexander, the little 
town where we did most of our trading. Daddy slowed down 
and pulled up at the gas pump in front of Beerup's General 
Store. The clerk, still wearing his apron, hurried outside to 
help us. He pumped orange-colored gasohne into the glass 
globe on top by working a handle back and forth. Mother and 
Daddy had stepped out of the car so that the front seat could 
be raised. Daddy unscrewed the cap on the gas tank and 
stuck the measuring stick down inside to see how much gas 
he had left in the tank. He told the clerk to put in a dollar's 
worth. It took a httle over six gallons, as gasoline was only 15 
cents a gallon. 

Daddy cranked the car and headed it for Jacksonville. 
We were now on roads seldom traveled by us, and we had to 
ask Mother who hved on the farms. Everything went fine 
until we reached Arnold Hill. It was a steep climb. We held 
our breath as Daddy pushed in the pedal and held the car in 
low as it slowly chugged its way up the hill. We kids clutched 
the seat in front of us and yelled words of encouragement to 



Daddy and the groaning motor. At the top we could see the 
church spires in Jacksonville and our excitement mounted. It 
took only a short time to reach the brick-paved square. 
Daddy parked the car along the outside curb. Horses and 
buggies hned the curb next to the center park. 

Father said, "I'll meet you after the show. I have to get 
some repairs for the mower." 

He wanted to visit with the other farmers and talk 
crops. Maybe they would trade some horses or cows. We took 
off our pongee coats and mother straightened our hair 
ribbons. It was too early for the afternoon matinee to start so 
we walked around the square and stopped to see the shoes at 
Hopper's Shoe Store and feasted our eyes on the pretty 
dresses at Waddels. My sisters and I each had a dime 
carefully tied in the corner of our hankies. They were to spend 
at the five and ten cent store after the movie. We walked all 
the way around the square. It wasn't a good idea to cut 
across the park in the center because there were many tall 
trees filled with pigeons and other birds. 

Finally people began fiUng into Scott's Theatre. Mother 
bought our tickets. Our stomachs were in knots we were so 
excited about what was to come. The theatre was dark, and 
we slowly moved down the aisle to some empty seats near the 
front. We liked to be close to the piano, which was played 
during the movie. 

The music started and the screen lit up. Oh, good! It 
was a Tom Mix picture. We were in for a treat. We got lots of 
ideas from these cowboy movies to try when we rode our 
white Shetland pony, Dixie, and the bony old horses that 
Daddy traded mule colts for with the Gypsies who 
occasionally camped down our lane each spring. 

The tempo of the music foUowed the action on the 
screen. It would ripple faster and faster as the villain chased 
Tom Mix over the chff. Alas! The movie was over. Tom Mix 
was left hanging hundreds of feet above the raging river. The 



98 



next episode would be shown the following Saturday. We 
groaned as we'd probably not get to come again so soon. 

Daddy was waiting out front and guided us down the 
sidewalk to Merrigan's Ice Cream Parlor. How cool it was 
inside with the big ceiling fans lazily turning. We sat at little 
round tables with marble tops. Our chairs were wrought iron 
and decorated with lots of curlicues. What a decision to make. 
It usually ended up being vanilla. Sometimes we were daring 
enough to order chocolate or strawberry or maybe even 
lemon. We lingered in the cool shadowy ice cream parlor as 
long as we could taking dainty bites and scraping our dishes 
clean. 

At last we left to do our shopping at the F.W. 
Woolworth five and ten cent store on the south side of the 
square. It was a fairyland of colors, smells and temptations 
for us. We fingered the celluloid Kewpie dolls with arms 
strung on elastic and stiff legs. We could always use a new 
one. If you happened to step on a Kewpie it smashed flat and 
never recovered. Our brother was looking at pocket knives. 
He had a whole quarter to spend because he helped Daddy 
feed the horses. He grinned at us and twirled his quarter for 
us to see. Drat him! We picked out a Kewpie with painted-on 
red hair, some perfume, and a book to read. Then it was time 
to go home. How quickly our Saturday afternoon had slipped 
away. We'd had a wonderful time and were aglow with 
happiness. 

Mother and Daddy are gone, as are the good times we 
had living on the farm with those memorable trips to town. 
The laughter in the room recalled me to the present, where 
Saturday afternoons still bring back happy memories. 



SUMMERTIME IN ILLINOIS 

Lucille Bollinger 

As money was scarce at our home during the 
Depression days, there was none for store-bought games or 
toys. Thanks to our wonderful, loving, and caring parents, we 
had a great amount of fun when our regular work was done. 
On, the memories thrill me yet. What fun we had! 

Dad, in his spare time in the spring, made maple 
whistles, for not only us six kids but all the neighboring 
children. Our home always had a welcome mat out and a yard 
fuO of happy, active, and vivacious youngsters. Dad also 
made kites of unbelievable flying abiUty out of worn curtain 
shades. They were flown with twine bought at the smaU 
grocery store, nearby to our rented farm. We would talk Mom 
out of enough of her precious eggs to make the purchase. I 
feel sure it was a real sacrifice on her part. Dad always 
planned it that we all got our turn at holding the powerful, 
yet thin string that so mysteriously allowed it to soar to the 
heavenly clouds. Dad was a most intelligent man and always 
tried to explain the project being worked on. 

Then, there was the great stilt craze. Dad made them for 
many, many eager, anxious, and inexperienced walkers. He 
must have used every loose board available. With much 
practice, dozens of falls, bruises, and splinters, we became 
real pros. He always supervised our races, backwards, 
frontwards, and sideways. Actually, we got to where we 
almost ran. In case of an injury, it was always treated with an 
apphance of "Cure All." Cow Teat salve! It was the answer to 
all ailments, of man or beast. I remember one Sunday 
afternoon when two beginners met head on at a 
corner— something they had been warned against— and 
collided. They fell to the ground, both laid out unconsious. 
What an exciting time! Seconds later Dad applied a wet, 
clean wash cloth to their foreheads, and it was not long until 



they were up and ready to go back for more. "Experience is 
the best teacher," my dad told them. 

Ball games in the summertime made many a Sunday 
afternoon a real fun time. It was always planned by Dad that 
each one present got involved in one way or the other. We 
played in a small pasture— in fact, the only one we had for our 
milk cows to graze in. A meddlesome lady once asked my dad 
what he meant by letting those kids ruin his crop of grass 
with their weekly troddings. He quickly and most politely 
remarked that the group of kids would be the best crop he 
would ever have the opportunity to harvest. I did not know 
then what he meant, but I do now. 

There were gunny sack contests. We would have to get 
in the narrow, itchy, tightly woven sacks, and walking was a 
real challenge— let alone running. Turns were taken 
according to age groups. Sacks were not too plentiful, so only 
about eight were in each race. Such thrills! Falling down, 
thrashing, floundering around trying to get back in 
competition, added to the joys of the game. The non- 
competitors were always loudly cheering their favorite 
racers. 

The art of making good sUng shots came easy for Dad. 
He would have the group line up and take turns trying to hit 
a bull's eye, while he kept score. The winner was always 
assured of a certain refreshment award at the close of the 
playtime. Jumping Jacks also had their important place in 
our days of fun. Dad would let each one of us color our own 
after he finished carving them from the wood. We prized 
them very highly and, most of the time, applied our name or 
initials upon them because they were our very own. 

My mother was usually kept busy with the younger 
children, but she was never too busy to prepare a great lunch 
for the entire group, be it 13 or 30. Homemade goodies of hot 
cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, popcorn balls, apples, pears, and 
candy were just a few of the tasty foods she had ready for the 
hungry to eat. She always had plenty of home-canned grape 



or blackberry juice from jars in a gunny sack, tied and hung 
with a small rope in the big boxed in open well. How 
wonderful it all tasted! It was part of the marvelous 
summertime fun at our home in the 1930's. 



GERMAN NEW YEARS IN MELROSE TOWNSHIP 

Lydia Kanauss 

In Melrose Township, it was the custom of the 
neighborhood to go New Year shooting. The young men 
would gather at one home for the starting place. We kids 
would stay up huddled around the heating stove waiting for 
them to come. They had shot guns and old muzzle loaders, 
guns in which they would put powder in and tamp it down. I 
think I can still smell the gunpowder. 

All was still before they got to the house. Then the 
captain of the crew would be at the dining room window 
speaking the new year wish in the German language and 
asking for permission to shoot. Then they would come in the 
kitchen door, wishing us a Happy New Year. Some had on 
masks, some were dressed like women, and there were always 
some black ones, or they had black on their faces. 

We would stand at the dining room door trying to figure 
out who was who. There was one man who would play an old 
time accordian and some would dance. We would always have 
a lunch prepared for them: bread and homemade sausage, 
cookies, and cake, apples, cider, or something else to drink. 
Then they would leave and start shooting again. The next 
day we would pick up the empty shells. I suppose most of 
them went to bed after tromping around all night. We went to 
bed after they were gone. 



PLAYTHINGS. PLAYMATES, AND PLAYHOUSES 

Eleanor Dodds 

Our home, Gladacres, at the edge of Rushville, served 
well as a location. It was close enough to school and church to 
walk, yet "almost in the country," too. 

We had a cow, horses (left after mail route days), 
chickens, and many pets through the years. 

Neighbors were very important in those days of a 
narrower circle of living. Laura Mae and Nancy Lou Moore 
Uved toward town where the city limits sign was. Mary Alice 
and Geraldine Russell were closest— next door, in fact. Those 
girls had a real playhouse, with fascinating playthings and 
curtains at the windows. 

At the Moore's there was a httle stream running 
through the property with a foot bridge. A swing and a big 
tree took you high and wide over the stream, if you had a 
good "pusher." 

My sister, Ahce, was four years younger than I and 
didn't like dolls as I did. Mine were all sizes from the little 
German and Japanese china dolls to a large one that could 
have worn baby clothes. Those small dolls were IOC then, and 
had moveable arms and legs, fastened on with wires that 
came undone sometimes. 

One favorite summer play place was rather unusual. A 
rose bush and Japanese quince bush were growing under a 
wild plum tree in such a way that there was an almost 
covered-over shelter where some of my housekeeping 
equipment was kept. An antique stool served as a tea table, 
and the dishes were a set of grey enameled steel doll plates, 
with a teapot, etc. They had white squares as a border and I 
kept a few of them until I had little girls of my own. 

The worst thing about the location was that when it 
rained, 1 had to run out and hurriedly snatch dolls, covers, 
whatever being wet would hurt, and take them in. Sometimes 
this happened in the night. 



AUce and I "role played," but we weren't aware of the 
name. We just used our imaginations. We were Mrs. Armine 
and Mrs. Thurman, and we went to visit each other, 
comparing our children's progress, housework probably, and 
other such "women talk" as we'd heard. We had an Aunt 
named Thurman, also neighbors down the road. And our 
dentist's name was Dr. Armine. That family had lived next 
door before the Russells moved there. (The space between 
this house and the Moore's home is the present site of 
Boehm's Lawn and Garden Center.) 

My handmade doll cradle was an important possession. 
I still have it— in pieces, but it could be reassembled. My 
grandfather Riehl made it for me when I was quite small. 
Probably my Henrietta doll occupied it. She was called that 
because I got her from the Henry Field Seed Company for 
seUing ten sets of seeds. She was supposed to be a talking, 
walking doll— the talking being "Ma-Ma" when bent over, 
from an easily felt voice box in her back. Her legs were sewn 
at the hips, and she walked when you walked her! 

At other times I had playhouses in the upper attic of the 
house and in the attic of an outdoor shed. A later playhouse 
was a covered truck bed, open at one end. Here again, rain 
was a menace, and ruined some of my things, the worst loss 
being my last doll, a beautiful bisque-headed one, given to me 
at 14 (would you beUeve it?) by my aunts. She'd be an antique 
and worth money if still around. 

Those childhood play days, so vivid now in memory, 
must have played an important role in preparing me for the 
myraid responsibiUties of being a teacher, wife, and mother. 



CHARIVARL SHIVAREE, OR CHIVAREE 

Avis Ray Berry 

Back in the early part of the twentieth century in 



Liverpool Township of Fulton County, a part of the marriage 
celebration was a "chivaree." Soon after the couple was 
married, some evening after dark, relatives, neighbors, and 
friends assembled with noise makers of any description, 
surrounded the house, and after a suitable time of ear 
sphtting noise making, were invited into the house and 
treated by the newlyweds— candy for the women and children 
and cigars for the men. If a couple was not "chivareed," it 
was an indication that they were not "well thought of" in the 
community. 

When Ester Berry and Avis Ray were married in 1923, 
Ester purchased his treats of candy and cigars even before 
the marriage ceremony took place. But we decided that we 
would see how long we could evade that inevitable 
"chivaree." We would go away each evening and stay away 
until so late that the noise making crowd would see the car 
was gone and give up for that evening. 

Finally, we grew tired of keeping such late hours, so, 
after dark, we took the Model T car over to our woods and hid 
it. We sneaked back to the house through a corn field, 
watched the crowd assemble, and crept into the house 
through a back door, unobserved by the crowd. 

After we were in our room. Ester began to worry that 
someone might spot the car and tow it away. So he decided to 
slip back, get a lock and log chain and fasten it to a tree. 

While he was gone, I could hear the crowd coming closer 
to the house; and finally, the awful racket began— tin pans, 
cow bells, a few shot gun blasts (always in the hands of an 
older man), anything that would make noise. Imagine my 
panic! What could I do! Finally I heard my sister say, "I'm 
going in. I'm just sure they're home." About that time, up 
jumped Ester onto the porch. He had been helping the 
noisemakers with their noise! Everyone then trooped into the 
house. They shared chairs, sat on the floor, ate candy, 
smoked cigars until the air was blue, and visited. I beUeve I 



was the only woman who was ever "chivareed" by her own 
husband. 

After the crowd left, Ester's mother sighed happily and 
said, "Well, I'd have been ashamed if you hadn't been 
'chivareed.' 



NOVEMBER IN THE PARK 

Sara Beth McMillan 

Whoever platted Bushnell must have had double vision. 
There is an East Main Street and a West Main Street, each 
parallehng the C.B.&Q. tracks which bisect the town. The 
large Methodist Church is a block and a half east of the 
tracks, while the large Presbyterian Church is a block and a 
half west of the tracks. There is an East Side Park and there 
is a West Side Park, each a block square, and each 
equidistant from those same tracks. 

We were "east-siders." My memories begin from a 
house on the east side of the East Side Park. It was there that 
two worldwide events touched my life. The park's big old 
elms and silver maples sheltered many a game of "All-ee-all- 
ee-outs-in-free." My big brothers chased each other around 
the cement basin that circled the iron fountain exactly in the 
center of the park. Even then the fountain leaned wearily 
over the old newspapers, leaves, and candy wrappers that 
filled the basin. As the three-year-old sister, I was allowed 
there only under supervision, and as a special treat, usually 
as part of the habitual Sunday afternoon walk. Once in a long 
while I got to play wood-tag and was always "It" until I 
learned the magic power of "King's X." 

The neighbors were a big part of my hfe. Over on the 
north side facing the park loomed the big old Harris mansion, 
three stories high and rumored to have gold faucets! Next to 
it was the Frisby house. Mr. Frisby owned the drug store on 



102 



East Main Street and won me as a friend by passing out 
horehound candy each time we visited it. Dr. Duntley's house 
was next; it took a while to accept his friendship because he 
was the one who removed most of the Bushnell children's 
tonsils. The two Pinckley houses, Nell's and Ben's, were next. 
There was a baby girl in the corner one. On our block, the 
Korns lived at the corner, then the DePues, next Bess Dodge 
and her father, then "Old Mr. Hunt," our house, and the 
Kimballs. Over on the south side of the park Hved the 
Goeppinger girls, whose father had the C.&G. Bakery 
uptown. Pauline and Cora were favorites for letting me iron a 
handkerchief or two with one of the freshly-warmed sadirons 
from the huge kitchen range. Next to them lived "Link" 
Florey, the proud owner of one of the few automobiles in 
town. Occasionally, Dad would hire him to drive us in the big 
old open touring car to visit grandmother in Carthage. 

It all seemed quite idyllic until November of 1918. That 
was the month World War I ended. My three-year-old 
concept of war included being admonished to "Finish your 
crusts, just think of the poor starving Armenians," of 
knowing a song called "Over There," and of trying to learn a 
mysterious chant that even had domination over "King's 
X"— that refuge from brotherly pranks. There was no retreat 
from their shouted "American Eagle, Liberty Motor, NO 
CHANGES! " 

One cold day in early November I heard loud music 
blaring ever closer. I saw what to me was a huge crowd filling 
the street behind Mr. Jackson's brass band. They marched 
past the Korn's, Depue's and Hunt's, toward me. And most 
terrifying of all, at the head of the parade they carried a 
stuffed figure in a German uniform with a spiked helmet 
dangling from a high pole. My hasty retreat carried me flying 
to the farthest corner of my parents' closet, where I could 
shut out that awful sight. It was my "King's X." But the war 
was over and it was the Kaiser's effigy they held at the head 
of that first Armistice Day parade. 



Perhaps that childish fright was a premonition of a very 
real terror that gripped my family, and the world, that same 
November. It was only a few days later that my mother 
became very ill. In rapid succession my brothers and I and 
even my grandmother who lived with us contracted the 
influenza, that so justly dreaded scourge of 1918. Dr. Roark 
came every day to try to help us. Baird and I weren't very 
sick, an my mimicry of the doctor's pursed-up Ups seemed to 
Ughten the gloom that descended on the family. There were 
no miracle drugs then, and the whole population was fearful 
of contagion. People were afraid to ride a train, to go to 
church, or even to gather in stores, so it was little wonder 
that my father's desperate plea for nursing help went 
unanswered for many days. Finally, his sister from Carthage 
came to help for a weekend. His greeting to her was "Oh, 
Stell, my family's dying off Uke flies!" Loring had double 
pneumonia and was by himself in a small upstairs room. My 
mother had the larger front room upstairs, and she, too, had 
developed pneumonia. Baird and I were in the same room, 
apparently to isolate the illness to the upper floor. It was on 
Thanksgiving Day that mother died. 

Well, the rest is remembered in disconnected snatches. 
The rest of us recovered, though Loring's life was in danger 
for several days. I remember an afternoon at "Grandmother 
Barber's." It must have been several weeks later, for both my 
brothers and I were there. She served us hot chocolate with 
marshmallows in dainty blue and white cups. We played table 
croquet on a green felt pad with dainty mallets and cherry- 
sized balls. 

It was many years later that my second mother, Zoe 
Helfrich, told me who had answered Dad's plea for help for 
his sick family. Dad's law office was above Lute Barber's 
clothing store and he and Lute had become good friends in 
the three years we had lived in Bushnell. When Lute's wife, 
Maud, heard of Dad's dilemna, she said, "Well, the good Lord 



didn't see fit to give us children, so maybe this is what He's 
saving me for. I'll go nurse George's children." 

It was in 1977 that Pete Weber told me how, as a very 
young man, he had driven the hearse to Carthage for my 
mother's burial there. It was probably the day of our visit to 
the Barbers. 

Perhaps, hke Bushnell's planners, our memories have 
double vision. The East Side Park is still there, as are most of 
the houses I remember. But the old trees and the fountain, 
and the people are gone, as is the terror of that November. 
Just in my class at the Bushnell schools, two others, John 
Ball and Harold Hall, had also lost their mothers in the flu 
epidemic of 1918. That November changed our lives. There 
was no escaping it— no King's X— for any of us kids who lost 
family members during that time. 



TENT SHOWS IN THE TWENTIES 

Genevieve Hagerty 

Oh, the pure delight of childhood summers in the 
twenties! In WoodhuU, Henry County, we were overjoyed 
with vacation, which started in early May so the school 
children from the country could help farm. 

We town kids followed the ice man around. When he 
stopped by a housewife's sign in her kitchen window marking 
how much ice she needed for her ice box, he chipped the exact 
measure from the huge cakes wrapped in gunny sacks and 
sawdust. While he carried it in with his ice tongs, we grabbed 
the scattered chips and sucked in ecstasy. On other days we 
followed the oil truck around town as it sprayed tar on the 
dirt streets. On those nights we had to suffer a kerosene 
washing of our black bottomed bare feet. Mixed in were 
swims at Alpha Lake, making ice cream, and going up Main 
Street to watch the men spit tobacco juice while they 



swapped stories. But all of that paled in comparison when the 
tent shows came to town. 

The ehte were the Chautauqua programs, which sprang 
from a minister and a Sunday School teacher in the East, so 
most of the town knew there was nothing to corrupt our 
morals. They set up a huge tent and had a different program 
each night for a week. Many were educational, and some just 
for entertainment, but whole famihes attended together. The 
best part for us Cowles kids was that the tent was pitched in 
the school yard. Only our garden separated it from our house, 
so we watched the roustabouts set up. One year, when he was 
about six, my brother Raymond ran in front of a workman 
unloading the tent poles. The spike in the end pierced his 
forehead, and the blood and cries sprang forth. We were 
proud to be able to say the closest doctor was across our 
garden, and we formed a guard unit to protect our fallen 
brother. We were amazed to see the man who was carrying 
Raymond reach down and pick a large lettuce leaf to cover 
the wound. He was not seriously hurt, he wore his bandage 
like a badge of honor, and Daddy perpetuated the story of the 
dirty lettuce leaf. 

Another memory is just as offbeat. Daddy came home 
one day, fighting mad. A group of black gospel singers were 
scheduled to appear, and they were told they would have to 
sleep in the schoolhouse. Until then, I can't remember 
hearing anything, good or bad, about blacks except that 
there was a "Nigger heaven" in the Orpheum Theatre in 
Galesburg. I assumed it was a derogatory term. 

Daddy marched over to the school and brought home 
two of the blackest, most beautiful women of any color that I 
had ever seen. Because we had seven kids, there wasn't room 
for the two men. The ladies were settled in our spare 
bedroom, downstairs. We kids hung around, absolutely 
fascinated by the singers— their white teeth, ready smiles, 
southern accents, perfumes, hair pomades, buxom bodies, 
and their obvious friendship. We had a baby grand piano 



104 



(Daddy and his first wife had been in a church quartet), so 
much time was spent in the parlor. Kathleen and I both had 
jealous eyes on the end of the piano bench, where there was 
barely room to squeeze in. If I went to their show, I don't 
remember it, overshowed as it was by the prelude. 

A different type of show set their tents in a pasture over 
near the waterworks. They were vaudeviUe types of one-act 
plays, complete with heroines and villains. We didn't usually 
get to go because Mama called them risque, whatever that 
meant. But one night when I was about nine years old, we 
were allowed to attend. By then we had a family orchestra, 
the Cowles Harmony Five, and the show was to be given by a 
similar group. 

FinaUy, on the appointed night, the five of us were all 
bathed, dressed, and even had on our shoes. Mama was 
getting Quentin. the current baby, and Bobby into their 
nighties for Daddy to watch. He gave us a long hst of 
instructions because we didn't usually get to go on the 
streets after dark. Kathleen, John, and I stayed close to 
Mama, and Gerald and Raymond walked in front as Daddy 
had told them. Gerald would much rather have run ahead 
with his friends, but obedience was expected. 

It was so exciting to be out at dusk, and to see the 
people walking from all over town. Some near by had cut their 
grass that day, and it smelled so good when we walked by 
because of the dew, Mama said. Old Mr. Watkins was 
smoking his smelly cigar, but I'd rather breathe in the 
cigarette smoke when the young men went whistUng by us. I 
could tell Gerald liked it too, being thirteen, but Raymond 
thought it was more fun to step on the glowing cigarette 
butts that were tossed on the sidewalk. 

We all cried out in delight when we rounded the corner 
and had our first glimpse of the big tent and the gay string of 
lights. There were other kids like us with their parents, a lot 
of older boys by themselves, and also the lovers. I'd heard 
Mama and her friends whisper about how shameful they 



were, petting right in public, so I was anxious to see them. 
And it was true! They were hugging and laughing, holding 
hands and gigghng in pubhc! 

The hghts blinked and one of the showmen came out. He 
was wearing a red and white striped shirt and pants, red 
suspenders, and a straw hat. He had red silk garters on his 
sleeves, and he stood in front by the lovers. He called out, 
"Salt Water Taffy! Only 25c. Get your Salt Water Taffy here. 
A prize in each and every package. Come on, fellows, buy 
your girl some kisses." 

Oh, how I wished for a box, even though I didn't Uke 
taffy. But I knew Mama wouldn't buy boughten candy, 
except for a box of hard Christmas candies each year. The 
showman took a quarter from some girl's beau, but before he 
gave out the box, he held it high in the air and said, "See here, 
ladies and gentlemen, this lucky lady has received a lovely 
prize." And he pulled out a pair of very large, bright red 
bloomers! The young boys whistled and all the couples 
hooted and laughed. Most of the mothers looked embarrassed 
Uke ours did, and those who had brought fans to wave the 
heat away from their faces, now hid behind them. Kathleen 
and I started to laugh, but Mama said, "Don't laugh! It's not 
nice." I decided right then that that must be the risque part! 

After that it only took a few minutes to sell the candy, 
but all the other prizes were little ones Uke those in Cracker 
Jack boxes. Then they bUnked the Ughts again and puUed the 
curtain. The six Musical Moores, including mother and 
father, took a bow. The star was six-year-old Jimmy who had 
yeUow, curly hair. He sang loud! We clapped him back for an 
encore, and he sang, "So I Took the $50,000 and Bought My 
Girl a Ticket to the Show." His neck veins got bigger and 
bigger with every chorus. 

After the show, we went back and talked to Mrs. Moore. 
Then we walked home together until we reached our yard. We 
raced to see who could be first to teU Daddy all about the 



show. Tent shows were like ice cream and candy. Sharing 
made them special. 



CREAM AND CREAMERY PICNICS 

Minnie J. Bryan 

The coming of 1900 found farmers of our area of Illinois 
still with the problem of what to do with the family surplus 
provided by the dairy cows of their farm. 

A piece of clean white cloth was used to strain the milk 
brought to the house and poured from the pail to containers 
prepared to receive it. The pitchers of milk for immediate use 
were placed in cold water for quick cooling. Other containers 
were covered and allowed to stand for the cream to rise to the 
top, to be skimmed from the milk with a large spoon. Milk not 
used for drinking or cooking would be fed to pigs, chickens, or 
other farm animals. Some of the milk would be allowed to 
sour, then scalded, and the whey was drained away through 
cloth or cheesecloth bags for the making of cottage cheese. 
Sometimes these bags were hung outside to drain, tied to the 
clothesline. When the curd was well drained, it was placed in 
a crock. Sweet cream, salt and pepper (and somtimes a little 
sugar) was stirred into the cheese. No one was counting 
calories then. Cream was served at the table, used in cooking 
and baking, or churned for the butter supply. 

The churns were dasher or wooden barrel type or just a 
large glass jar with a tight fitting lid. The buttermilk would 
be drained from the butter, the butter washed with cold water 
and then worked with a wooden paddle to remove the water, 
and formed into rolls or pressed into wooden butter molds. 
Salt was generally added during working. Some people had 
city or town customers for their products. NeighlDors would 
share milk with each other if one family did not have a dairy 
cow in production. 



Ice cream was a favorite desert. Ice for freezing was 
stored in specially built ice houses with double walls and 
doors. Saw dust was used for insulation. The ice was carefully 
cut and stored inside during the winter months. 

Summer heat and fly time made the labor of caring for 
the milk products even more tedious. Lucky was the 
household with a good cool cellar or cave. Some of those 
cellars or caves had a spring of cold flowing water. Some 
people used well coolers, but with them came the danger of a 
spLU polluting the water supply. Some simple cold water 
separators were used. Then cream separators were 
invented— manufactured and placed on the market for 
farmers interested in marketing cream. 

The first shipment of cream from Bardolph, Illinois, was 
made in February, 1905 by Phillip Doll and L.J. Spangler. Its 
destination was a creamery just opened by N.O. Crissey of 
Avon, Illinois. Five gaOon cans were furnished by the 
creamery for the use of its patrons. These cans were similar to 
the cans used by modern dairies. They had tight fitting lids 
with holes matching ones on the cans through which the 
wires were run and twisted tightly. Printed tags were 
fastened to the Uds with the needed addresses. Delivery of 
the cream was made each morning to the C.B and Q. railroad 
depot by horse drawn buggy or wagon. The empty cans 
would be returned washed, but more rinsing, draining, and 
airing was necessary. The cream was tested for butterfat 
content. Checks were mailed weekly to the patrons for the 
cream. 

By 1906 the patrons from this area had increased to 12. 
Mr. Crissey wanted to reward them and bring them together 
for a social time. He would furnish all the ice cream they 
could eat and more. On August 15, 1906, the patrons and 
their friends came together in "The Spangler Grove" 
northwest of Bardolph for their first Creamery Picnic. Well 
packed freezers of ice cream came on the morning train from 
Avon. They were loaded on the Spangler low wheeled wagon 



106 



and pulled by a team of beautiful black horses to the picnic 
site. People coming from Avon for the picnic rode on the same 
wagon. Spring seats seated the ladies. The patrons and 
friends arrived by wagon, surrey, or buggy. The horses were 
tied to nearby trees. Contents of well filled picnic baskets 
were placed on tables made of boards laid on sawhorses built 
for the purpose. The people sat on boards that were placed on 
large pieces of sawed logs. The event was such a success that 
a second Creamery Picnic was planned for the fall of 1907. 
Then the number of patrons had grown to 23. 

In 1909 the third picnic was held in the same location. 
There was an increased number of patrons, a wonderful 
dinner, and an oversupply of ice cream from the Creamery. A 
program had been planned to follow the dinner. Mrs. Crissey 
entertained with several readings, there was a singing and 
several with musical instruments entertained. A decision was 
made to organize into an association. Mr. Spangler was 
elected president and Mrs. D.S. Heck, secretary. Committees 
were appointed for the coming year. 

In 1910 Mr. Crissey issued invitations to other areas. 
Some cars were coming from a distance. Large crowds were 
attending. Programs were interesting and well presented 
from a stage. Mr. Crissey gave talks on selling cream, labor 
saving, and money making. The Creamery Picnic had become 
an annual affair. 

When the World War came, the dreaded Hoof and 
Mouth Disease started in herds of cows. Government 
Inspectors came to the farms to inspect each cow or calf. Our 
herd of cows was condemned on their third inspection. The 
cows were driven into a huge trench dug on the farm, 
slaughtered, covered with lime, and buried. The farm was 
placed under quarantine. No new cows could be brought in. 
The Creamery Picnic ended and never resumed. Other cream 
buying stations had started and cream was shipped as far 
away as Chicago. 



LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY 

Herman R. Koester 

Camp Ellis, located between Macomb and Havana, was 
the site of a staging area for army troops destined for 
overseas duty during the Second World War. The camp 
housed 15,000 plus troops at any given moment and had over 
40,000 there in the summer of 1944. 

To those of us who had lived in perambular tents and 
trained in the Mohave Desert for nearly a year. Camp Ellis 
presented to us a first impression of being a military 
paradise. There stood barracks buildings instead of tents, 
hard surfaced roads instead of ruts and mud, electric hghts 
instead of candles and lanterns, beautiful green grass instead 
of drifting sand. Not only did those buildings look solid but 
the array of brick chimneys meant they could be heated 
during cold weather, a sign of true luxury. 

The Post Exchange held frequent social events, 
including dances that were attended by capacity crowds, 
which were divided equally between visiting civilians and the 
resident GI's. Those events temporarily alleviated the 
boredom of camp confinement. When the opportunity to 
leave camp came, a choice of Havana or Macomb as a 
destination was offered with army transportation furnished. 
Everyone I knew accepted. Macomb was my choice by 
chance, and I chmbed into the army truck that was filled to 
capacity with GI's who had made the same choice. The ride 
seemed to take an eternity since the only view was through 
the rear of this canvas colored vehicle. Only a fleeting glance 
of such unfamiliar places as Ipava, Table Grove, and Adair 
were available before we finally stopped in front of the 
Macomb USO. 

Everyone who disembarked from the truck did not head 
for this impressive building. The red brick tliree-story edifice 
that housed this serviceman's center was located one-half 
block east of the city square on East Jackson Street. The 



building was, at one time, an elegant residence that had been 
donated by the owner to the city for community use. The 
entryway was impressive from an architectual standpoint, as 
was the manicured front lawn which set it apart from the 
adjacent building that abutted the sidewalks. 

We were met at the door by community volunteers who 
escorted us into the sunken room which could have been a 
hving room or a Ubrary. The hardwood floor gUstened and the 
ceiling beams cast their shadows against the magnificient 
wall panels. Although the temperature did not permit the 
fireplace in the north wall to be hghted, the friendly faces of 
the volunteer community folk supplanted the warmth and 
glow of burning logs and made us welcome and comfortable. 
They introduced themselves and acquainted each of us with 
what the center had to offer. I chose to enter into a card game 
and was escorted to a second floor room where several games 
were in or about to be in progress. 

My name was given to a group of three young ladies 
from Western Illinois State College who were a delight to a 
lonesome soldier. Each of the young ladies introduced herself 
and we proceeded to play a game of "I Doubt It." The game 
and its participants removed any doubt I may have had 
about enjoying my evening in this most charming USO 
building. To say that the young ladies were dehghtful is 
really putting it mildly, since one of them became my wife 
two years later when I returned to Macomb. Our wedding 
date was April 11, 1946. 

The impressive USO building still stands, and it serves 
as the Macomb City Hall. I now have the honor and 
privilege to be serving as an alderman on the Macomb City 
Council. And so the lovely City HaU continues to add to my 
memories. 




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VI Pure Nostalgia 



PURE NOSTALGIA 

According to Webster's Dictionary, the word 'nostalgia' 
means "... a wistful or irrecoverable condition" and so the 
editors, who had to choose between innumerable stories that 
were just as diverse as they were wonderful and that could 
not be subsumed under one theme, decided to gather a 
selection of them under the title "Pure Nostalgia." 

In this section are stories about the long remembered 
and often written about one-room school; about that epitomy 
and symbol of the family at its best, the Victorian clapboard 
house; about that mother— the woman whom everyone knew 
before Paul Gallico and E.R.A.; about the most American of 
traditions, the Decoration Day celebration; and about so 
many other things that have been eulogized and 
mythologized as part of a perfection that existed in "the good 
old days." 

Beulah Jean McMillan, for example, tells about the time 
when children put a plank across the parlor organ stool and 
used it for a merry-go-round: when children were to eat 
everything on their plates in diffidence to the "starving 
Armenians," and when women were expected to be delicate 
and lady-like. 

Harriet Bricker recalls the 1920's celebration of 
Memorial Day as steeped in the fragrance of buckets of 
peonies, carried in the back seat of a car to the cemetery, to be 
used as grave ornamentation. Leta Rogers Spradhn 
remembers how the men, using scythes and axes, cleared the 
gravesites of overgrowth while their women spread out table 
cloths and then covered them with picnic food. After the 
picnic, she writes, the flowers were arranged and placed on 
graves: "Children helped with the flowers, too, but they were 
warned not to speak loudly, laugh, or step on graves. A 
reverent attitude prevailed over the httle burial ground; it 
seemed a hallowed place." It was a time when people stiU 



believed in their rituals and found meaning in them, for years 
ago paying homage to the ancestral dead provided people 
with a sense of who they were and from whence they came. 

One of the images popular to themes of nostalgia is the 
Victorian home— always remembered as painted in pastels 
with white gingerbread trim, porches, shingled dormers, and 
gables. This symbol of the stable family and the good life 
appears over and over again in today's media, on postcards, 
calendars, and notecards. It is not surprising to find Doris L. 
Chiberg devoting an entire story to just such a place, her 
grandparents' home. 

No less a symbol of those times, and remembered with 
nostalgia is the then always present "mother." Memories of 
the mother of the turn of the century are not made up of 
elements considered admirable to the contemporary, mid- 
twentieth century E.R.A. supporter; that suited professional 
women who dashes briskly to her office after serving 
powdered orange juice and frozen, toasted waffles to her 
family for breakfast. The mother everyone remembers is the 
one portrayed in Blanche Harrison's story, "Truth and 
Justice," the archetypal mother, a person who "caused 
everything to be right in my [own] small world." Mrs. 
Harrison writes, "Her presence meant comfort, warmth, love, 
and good food when you were hungry." The turn of the 
century mother was always there— waiting when you came 
home from school, ready with Mercurochrome when you 
skinned your knee, and constantly cooking good things for 
hungry children. This was a mother who seldom had a "baby 
sitter." She is the old fashioned mother of all our dreams. 

Charles P. OberUng completes this section with his 
memories of what was once his own small family farm. That 
was a time before hundreds of Illinois acres were combined 
into corporate farms to feed the Del Monte, Heintz, and 
Campbell's canneries. Oberling writes, "I remember each 
hickory and walnut tree in the south pasture. I remember the 
bittersweet growing on the fence row, parts of which came 



home in my hunting coat for a winter bouquet. I can see bob- 
whites strutting along a fence line. 1 can see the catfish, 
schools of minnows, frogs, and watersnakes that co-existed in 
McGee Creek. . . It taught us that beauty can be a sunset ..." 
Some people feel that nostalgia is not only a yearning 
for an u-recoverable time but, also, an idealizing of times past 
... a romanticizing of a period which may or may not have 
been as wonderful as our memories would indicate. Is it that 



the authors idealize the past, remembering only the good 
times? Or might it be that during the first half of this century 
people accentuated the positive aspects of their lives instead 
of the negative? If that is true, perhaps it would be wise to 
take a lesson from these earlier decades. 

Jerrilee Cain, Editor 



THE BERLIN SCHOOL 

Ruby Davenport Kish 

Sixteen miles west of Springfield on the Old 
Jacksonville Road and a block off the road at the north end of 
BerUn sets the most beautiful little school and grounds in the 
State of Illinois. 

In 1923 my mother said that I had to start to school as I 
was past six years of age. I had a little red sweater and a big 
red pencil that day I started school, and I thought that I was 
the richest person in the world. 

The present school house was built on the same spot in 
1901. The new school was a white frame building with three 
rooms with a long hall in the middle. We had coat racks in the 
hall and we left our boots and umbrellas out there. At one 
time there were three teachers, but we usually only had two. 
Each teacher took four grades. The roof of the school is 
gabled and has a beautiful bell tower. The bell could be heard 
all over BerUn. At first we had outside toilets and went 
outside for drinking water, except in winter when they 
brought a bucket of water in. When my father, L.B. 
Davenport, John B. Ruble, and Joe Burger, Sr. became school 
directors, they put a basement under the school and inside 
chemical toilets. A steam furnace was installed and the 
school house was wired for electricity. The janitor took over 
the stoking of the furnace. Before the furnace each room had 
a coal burning stove, and the older boys helped the teachers 
with the fires. In later years drinking water was run in and a 
kitchen installed to prepare and serve hot lunches in. 

The school yard has five rolling acres and through the 
schoolyard runs a little branch. Over the brook they built a 25 
foot long foot bridge. Little children loved to run and walk 
across this bridge as it made a hollow clacking sound. The 
yard was covered with beautiful shade trees, and in the fall of 
the year we would rake leaves from these trees and make 
rooms under the bridge partitions. In the spring of the year 



we would wade the branch and sail our little homemade boats 
on the water. At the back of the schoolyard wild flowers grew 
in the spring. These we would gather for bouquets for the 
classrooms. Sometimes at recess we would be brave enough 
to venture over in the timber at the back of the schoolyard. 
We found many arrowheads there as a tribe of Indians had 
camped there in the early days of Berlin. When the recess bell 
would ring and we were caught barefoot, we'd grab our shoes 
and run back to the schoolhouse on time. In the winter time 
we used the large hills for sledding and sometimes skated on 
the ice in winter. We had plently of sidewalks for roller 
skating, jumping rope, and jack playing. 

Every spring a Civil War Veteran by the name of Jake 
Knouse would don his old uniform and come to the school and 
give a talk on the Civil War and patriotism. He died in the 
middle 1930's. 

We had a study of nature first hand at BerUn School, for 
the schoolyard was alive with birds, squirrels, snakes, 
skunks, rabbits, and sometimes an occasional fox. Is it any 
wonder that one of the graduates, William B. Robertson, Jr., 
has a Ph.D. in biology and is an authority on plant and animal 
life at the Florida Everglades? 

In the spring of the year when the days began to warm, 
the grass grew green, trees and flowers began to bloom, and 
birds began to nest and sing, this was the hardest time of the 
year for me to knuckle down and study as I longed to be out 
in the lovely Uttle schoolyard playing and communing with 
nature. I've always had a Uttle of Thoreau in me. It was just 
such a beautiful spring day that the principal of the school 
walked by my desk and saw me gazing out the window. He 
hauled off and slapped me on the side of my head so hard that 
it felt Uke he knocked my head off and it went rolUng clear to 
the back of the schoolyard. He hoUered, "Get to work!" I 
didn't get much work done the rest of the day, for I couldn't 
see through the tears. 

It never occurred to me that every child might not have 



114 



a school and yard such as mine was. One day in later years, I 
stopped to watch children playing on solid concrete and my 
eyes filled with tears. My heart cried out to them "Oh! Little 
ones if you could know that Uttle school yard of long ago." 
Every child should have a school and yard hke the one that I 
had. 

Our school was one of the first integrated schools in the 
state of Illinois. Our one black pupil was Leonard McDaniel. 
He was a quiet little boy and easy to get along with. Colonel 
Henry Yates had brought his grandfather back to Berlin 
after the Civil War. Leonard's parents and his two uncles 
died when he was very young, and he was raised by his aunt 
Nell. Leonard still Uves in Berlin and has the respect and love 
of everyone in the community and surrounding countryside. 
Wouldn't it be nice if we could all be that fortunate? 

In a small town all the social life is associated with the 
school and church. We had Christmas Eve programs, potluck 
suppers, and box socials. At the end of the school year, we 
had a picnic and our families came and participated. 

In every student's hfe, one teacher stands out. The 
teacher in my hfe who emphasized the study of poetry and 
insisted that we memorize some of Longfellow's and Vachel 
Lindsay's probably instilled in me the love of poetry. W.B. 
Robertson is still living. Alfred Tennyson's, "The Brook 
Song," had a special meaning for me because of the brook 
that runs through the schoolyard. 

When Berhn School closed its doors something very 
wonderful and worthwhile was lost to Berlin children forever. 



WHAT ARE TOMBOYS MADE OF, MADE OF? 

Edna Trovillion Baker 



I have checked the dates of a number of occasions I'm 
sure I remember, and they support my beUef that my 



memory reaches back to 1888 when I was two and a half 
years old. 

I was number two of eight children of Ferres and Carrie 
Clanahan Trovillion. Number one, Maude, was 22 months my 
senior. We lived on a farm located two miles from the village 
of Columbus (now Brownfield), Illinois. 

When Maude was only 14 months old, I alerted Mama of 
my impending arrival, delivery to made in about eight 
months. This was alarming to Mama because it meant 
weaning Maude, which was something mothers would not 
think of doing to a baby under two years, except in 
emergencies such as this. 

But my parents braced themselves against possible 
hazards and went to "town" (Golconda) to buy a nursing 
bottle— a nursing bottle— for the baby who was thus relegated 
to the status of "first child." 

It was shm-mouthed bottle fitted with a cork through 
which a glass passed, reaching to the bottom. On the outside 
there was a small rubber tube eight to ten inches long, at the 
end of which was a rubber nipple, not removable. 

It was through this medium that the little pushed-aside 
firstborn learned to take nourishment— cow's milk— until she 
grew enough teeth to chew soUd food. 

There followed anxious months for my parents, for their 
httle Maude grew thinner and thinner, often having stomach 
upsets and fever. Fearing she would not Uve, they took her 
often to the photograph gallery in Golconda to have her 
picture taken. (Maude lived to be 89.) 

She finally adjusted to her diet and by the time of my 
advent she had a high chair and sat at the dining table for her 
meals. She knew she must be a big girl now, since "sizzer 
Baby," as she called me, was here. There was not room on 
Mama's lap for two. 

For Maude's birth they had called the doctor, reahzing 
this was the safest thing to do. His fee was $5. That was in 
1884. However, since Mama had made it just fine with the 



first one, they figured there was no point in being 
extravagant with the second one. They engaged "Grandma 
FrankUn" (not our real grandma) to come and see that I 
arrived in good condition. She charged only $1. Besides this 
economy, she came back for about a week, every day, to bathe 
and dress me. All those services were included in the initial 
charge. 

There was only one hitch. I was a duplicate of number 
one, and all the while they had counted on the other gender. 

But my parents took the disappointment like real 
soldiers and 1 'm sure they loved me and never neglected me. 
As time went on, though, and before grownups were aware 
that 1 was hstening, I got the message that 1 was a misfit. I 
said nothing. This would be my secret forever, I decided. 

They named me "Edna," but soon changed it to 
"Eddie." This confirmed my suspicions that they must have 
wanted a boy, to be named "Edward." 

As I grew up I was a happy-go-lucky child. Only two 
things distressed me: I was afraid the world would come to an 
end and 1 was afraid Mama would die. (She did— at 84.) 

1 loved the outdoors, and could run Uke a deer. I used to 
hke to run in the wind and to feel it blow my hair and 
clothes— which reminds me of another one of my 
imperfections. Nature had given me crooked feet, which made 
me run my shoes over. In an effort to straighten those 
rundown heels. Mama would have me switch the right shoe to 
the left foot and the left to the right. I wore buttoned shoes 
and they looked crazy that way. I was fond of schoolhopping 
the length of our yard and then looking down at my shoes on 
the wrong feet, which gave me the feeling of being crosseyed. 
Having such fun was all the good that the shoe-switch did, 
for I still have crooked feet and run my heels over. 

On days when the sky was overcast with biUowy white 
clouds 1 loved to he back on the grass and imagine 1 could see 
fleecy baby lambs and curley-haired white dogs. If 1 watched 
closely in the slowly moving clouds, 1 could figure out the 



head and face of a man with lots of snowy white hair and face 
surrounded by a thick long beard and very beautiful. I 
thought it was God, for 1 could always see it if 1 watched long 
enough. So it had to be God. He was up there somewhere, 
because heaven was up there, 1 reasoned. 1 told nobody of 
this, for I knew the Bible said no one could look at God or 
they would die. But since He was so far away, I wasn't afraid 
to look. 

Mama often said to me, when 1 was too noisy around the 
house, "I wish you were a boy!" So did I— but what was there 
to do about it? 

From my early years all the earmarks of "tomboy" were 
showing up in me. It wasn't comphmentary, for in those 
straight-laced days little girls were said to be made of "sugar 
and spice and everything nice." My sister, Maude, was that. I 
was not. 

As I write this at the age of 90 I recall the things that 
characterized my boyish behavior, such as that I was always 
the one who turned the grindstone crank for Papa as he 
sharpened his axes, mowing blade, and plow points. It was I 
who was always ready to go to the barn with him after supper 
to shuck corn, then back the next morning to turn the crank 
on the big corn sheller in preparation for making meal and 
cow feed. 

Also, it was I who held the sacks while he scooped the 
wheat into them to take to the mill in Golconda to be made 
into flour. And then it was I who rode into town with him, 
that jolting eight miles in the farm wagon. That was 
sometimes in the coldest days of winter, so cold that Mama 
would heat a brick for me to take to keep my feet warm. 

My mature years have given me a different perspective 
on what motivated my boyishness. I truly beheve it was a 
quirk of my subconscious in an effort to please my parents 
and make up to them for my not having been a boy. 



A STREETCAR RAN IN FRONT 

Beulah Jean McMillan 

We moved from Olney, Illinois to 534 Lincoln Avenue in 
Peoria in a working-class neighborhood. There was a saloon 
directly across the street and several others not far away. A 
streetcar ran in front, and I spent Sunday afternoons 
counting the cars going by. 

My brother Neil and I attended Webster School. I soon 
learned not to talk and giggle, as the teacher sent me back to 
the first grade until noon. But the teacher later gave me the 
responsibility of taking a girl home when she got sick. I had a 
favorite baby-doU which I took to school, and someone took 
it. A girl taught me to waltz in the restroom, which my 
parents opposed. The teacher called on my parents one 
evening after I had gone to bed, and 1 was caUed down. My 
bed was a cot in my parents' room. I woke up frightened 
because I thought the clothes-tree was an Indian. 

We had two fire scares with the chimney flames that 
brought the fire department. Mother learned to throw salt in 
the furnace when threatened. 

After a big snow I begged mother to let me play in it. I 
did not get much farther than the back steps before I was 
ready to go back in. They pulled me on a sled to church, which 
was 12 blocks away. 

Grandmother sent Christmas boxes for the family and I 
had a doll bed and doU, and mother made covers for it. The 
rest of the family were older boys, so I usually played alone. I 
was allowed to play with the girl next door. I did not ask to 
play with a girl about a block away, and when I came home I 
received my last spanking with a hair-brush in the pantry. 

We put our revolving organ stool in the kitchen with a 
board across it for a merry-go-round. Kenneth was lying on it 
one day and I piled on his stomach, at which he protested. 
But I said, "It's good for your Uver." 

Father used a straight-edged razor and leather strap. 1 



was warned about touching its edge, but had to try it, and I 
cut my finger. 

Father took me on many of his walks. On Adams Street 
we saw a lady driving an electric car. We saw a man injured 
riding a motorcycle. We visited a man from the church whose 
business was grinding coffee, and enjoyed its distinctive 
aroma. Father took me on an excursion boat ride up the 
Illinois River. 

We moved April 16, 1914, to 517 Hecox Street (now 
Garden Street), only three blocks from the Bethel 
Presbyterian Church. It was a large frame house with four 
rooms downstairs and four bedrooms and bath upstairs. It 
had two indoor stairways and one outdoors. 

The small front porch had a lattice wall underneath. We 
used the wide side porch leading into the dining room. A 
cement platform held the double lawn swing. A coal furnace 
was in the basement. Father would buy bananas by the 
bunch and hang them there, apples by the barrel, and a 25 
pound turkey. Ice cream was frozen there for a special treat. 

Our yard had catalpa trees that made a big leaf-burning 
fire after we had lined playhouses with them. I was at a stage 
where the low wall in front was fun to keep my balance on. 
When it rained, we enjoyed wading in the deep ditch in front. 
Games we played were Statue, Jacks, Hop-scotch, Jumping 
Rope to a Rhyme, and trying to Jump Rope 100 times 
without missing. 

The boys hung a big swing on a high hmb, and 1 learned 
what the world looks like upside down. I liked to sit on the 
outside stairway and play school. Father would make out a 
set of Arithmetic problems for me to solve. We also played 
school bouncing a ball to go from one grade to a higher one, 
on the steps. 

The side street around the corner slanted up to Western 
Avenue and was a favorite place for skating on my wooden 
skates. Behind us on Western Avenue hved my best friends, 
Dorothy and Harriet Maxwell. I was allowed to play there an 



117 



hour at a time. Their attic was a playroom where we played 
house and dressed up in costumes. We each had doll buggies 
and took the dolls on the sidewalk at times. 

At Blaine School just before noon a girl ran a crochet 
hook into her stomach, and was in great pain, scaring us all. 
One activity there involved an exercise in the aisle, and my 
partner was a black boy named Sonny. He followed it up by 
giving me a sack of candy. That was enough for father, and he 
enrolled us in Garfield School. I liked the handwork there, 
especially weaving paper for a lantern. I had two mishaps in 
that school. At recess I fell on an ash pile and skinned my 
knee so badly I stayed home a day or so, sitting in the Morris 
chair in father's study. Another time I mashed my finger in 
the hinge side of the toilet door, and had to go home. 

I picked some petunias on a nearby lot going home one 
noon, and was told I should not have done it. Across from the 
petunias I saw a white wreath on the door, and learned a little 
girl had died there. 

Mother raised chickens, and a fence was relocated to 
keep them in. When the rooster got loose, my brother Elliott 
was asked to get it in. After chasing it unsuccessfully, he 
threw a rock at it and killed it. For punishment he had to stay 
in his room when a church youth party was held in the yard. 
A picture shows him with his face pressed against the win- 
dow. 

Mother's dinner-bell called us to meals. I sat next to 
father, and he cut my meat in quarter inch squares. I Uked 
hver best, which he often got free. When we were picky we 
were told, "Remember the starving Armenians." And when 
not a morsel was left. Mother would say, "I judged your ap- 
petites." Donald bought three packages of gum for 10<t and 
sold to the rest of us for 5C a piece. Hucksters going through 
the neighborhood chanted, "Rags, old iron, old copper, and 
old brass." Another said, "Bananas— lOt a dozen." We took 
the Peoria newspaper, but on Sunday the Comics were hidden 
away until Monday! 



My parents had their 25 wedding anniversary in 1915, 
and my older brothers gave them a monogrammed silverwear 
set, which we used only on Sundays. We had individual small 
plates, cups, and saucers for Sunday supper of homemade 
peanutbutter sandwiches, cocoa, and cake. Cake was served 
on a big plate, going back and forth by ages to all at the table, 
giving me the last piece. 

At Christmas father bought a five pound box of 
chocolates which he doled out one piece at a time around the 
family. Mine were put on a high shelf so I had to ask for a 
piece. 

The Sunday school had a picnic in "South Park." In the 
afternoon mother had a heat stroke and was brought home in 
an ambulance. 

My hair had a "cow-hck." After a Saturday shampoo 
mother tied it up with kid curlers, and I would sleep uncom- 
fortably on it. It would be curly all week. At school it became 
infested with lice, and mother got a very fine comb to get the 
gnits out. 

My first movie was The Birth of A Nation. The scene of 
the negro chasing the little girl haunted me for years. Father 
took me to a Charlie Chaplin Comedy on Adams Street, and 
after a few minutes I made him leave because I thought it 
was too silly. 

Beckers had us for supper just before we left Peoria, 
Kenneth and Eleanor were good friends. Coming home at 
night down a hiU, father carried me on his shoulders, though I 
weighed 48 pounds. 



PEONIES ON DECORATION DAY 

Harriet Bricker 

In the twenties. Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as we 
called it, was one of the high points of the year, a mixture of 



118 



solemnity and holiday mood. Discussion of whether the 
peonies would be "right" by May 30th began at least two 
weeks before the end of May. Would they be in fuU bloom or, 
in view of delayed warm weather, be green buds? Just to 
think of Decoration Day brings the aroma of peonies! 

Well, before May 30th, communications flew back and 
forth from Bushnell and Chicago to ascertain whether my 
Aunt Sadie and cousins would be coming and join in the 
festivities and the general family get-together. And most 
years, word arrived that indeed they would come, which add- 
ed to the general excitement, especially for me as I could ex- 
pect with certainty that my doting relatives would bring me a 
present! Maybe the red glass elephant candy jar, the pink 
silk parasol, or the black pottery kitty with green eyes which 
curled up on an old braided rug in my bedroom 55 years later! 
The parasol is preserved in a photograph, and also, the 
elephant lasted until the early years of my marriage when I 
broke it one sad day. 

If the Chicago folks drove down, they'd arrive the day 
before, and they had Ukely stopped along the way to buy 
some peonies "to help out." What with the blooms we already 
had picked and put in buckets of water, the cool back porch 
smelled mightily of peonies and iris and lemon lilies. If they 
came by train, it would be on the "Eli," the 11 o'clock train. I 
always made up my mind I'd stay awake until it steamed and 
chugged into town, and sometimes I did! 

The first thing in the morning, Grandpa put up the flags 
in his yard and our yard. He'd made the flagpoles, and to top 
them, he took— took without a word— two of my croquet 
balls, gilded them, and fastened them, irretrievably but effec- 
tively, on the poles! That played havoc with my croquet set. 

Breakfast was over in a jig time so the cemetery trips 
could be organized and we'd have time to arrange the bou- 
quets for all the dear departed. Also, the schedule included 
Aunt Grace in Bushnell, who was very diligent in remember- 
ing every known relative which turned the occasion into a 



reaOy monumental task. It also necessitated absolute 
cooperation with Dad and Uncle, as they had to chauffeur the 
women, kids, and flowers. So, our big, open Packard touring 
car was filled up with containers of flowers, an extra bucket 
of water and the women in hats. And Uncle Charles drove his 
smaller Hupmobile filled with the same. 

It seems, in retrospect, that Decoration Day was always 
hot, and often windy. And such atomospheric conditions were 
emphasized in those open cars! The ladies hung onto their 
brimmed hats with one hand and steadied the blooms with 
the other; the flowers threatened to blow to pieces if not com- 
pletely out of their containers; water splashed and sloshed on 
our feet, and the driver patiently followed all the directions, 
like "Go slow around the comer!," "Oh, do try to miss the 
holes!," "Stop here! No, go on a bit further!," and "This is 
fine. Now, let's see, we'U take that one first. No! That one!" I 
loved it. 

Visiting the Bushnell Cemetery was relatively simple, 
being a short trip, and, in those days there were not too many 
graves to visit. But Aunt Grace would have a special bouquet 
for each individual in-law, and she'd trot here and there 
remembering each and searching for an occasional unmarked 
lot. In not too many years, her Charles would be there and the 
Hupmobile long gone. 

But the visit to Oakwood in Macomb was different. 
That was retrogressing back into times long, long ago, and as 
a child, I felt it. First, there was Uncle "Paint" (Painter), 
whose only claim to fame was that, as a photographer in 
Macomb, he took an ambrotype of Abraham Lincoln in 1858. 
He returned safely from the Civil War and, ironically, was 
killed driving a fractious team of horses home from a funeral 
in this same cemetery! They ran away, throwing him in the 
ravine along the then narrow road. And I'd always wander to 
the foot of the sloping lot to the grave of poor, disgraced 
Cordelia, the divorced wife of war hero Louis Waters. Why 



divorced? I was never told. I was only a child in the twenties, 
and it never was mentioned later. 

There was always a discussion about the big oak tree on 
the lot, threatening to turn the family stone with its 
spreading roots. I visualized old coffins being pushed 
through the sod! But nothing so dire ever happened. The 
great grandmother here was buried soon after the Civil War 
but great-grandpa had been left in Pennsylvania years 
before— a sheriff, a storekeeper, representative to the State 
Legislature and "mysteriously" murdered. How intriguing! 

And so the women wandered about, visiting with 
friends and viewing other old lots where familiar names were 
recorded. It didn't seem to bring sadness as much as 
satisfaction and a sense of peace. 

Old stories were told and re-told, many which I 
remember. I gained a sense of family continuity, and now it's 
good to remember. 

Today there's no group to accompany each other. I take 
peonies to those who led me around through family history so 
many years ago. "Sally," "Uncle Newt," and "little Eugene" 
lie in unadorned graves, but are not forgotten— yet. My 
grandchildren may come some day, seeking ancestors along 
with their mother, who's not unfamiliar with the old names, 
just temporarily removed! But those graven names will never 
come to Ufe as they did for me. They wiO never be surrounded 
by those who knew the long-gone ones as parents, 
grandparents, aunts, and cousins. 

It makes me feel odd to realize I'D be an ancestor some 
day! "Here's the peonies for Grandma Bricker!" That old 
family continuity! I hope it is carried on with the peonies on 
Decoration Day. 



DECORATION DAY AT THE CEMETERY 

Leta Rogers Spradlin 

In the second decade of the twentieth century, nobody I 
knew ever said "Memorial Day." To us, it was Decoration 
Day because it was the time we expressed respect and 
remembrance for our dead loved ones by decorating their 
graves. Each May 13 the descendents of my great 
grandparents met at their burial site, the little country 
cemetery known as Davis's. Located near Clements Station 
in Morgan County, Illinois, it was a small fenced area set in a 
big pasture. Its big shady oaks and elms provided an ideal 
spot for our observation of the Holiday, for to us Decoration 
Day was not merely the trimming of graves. Though that was 
important, as was a day away from homely duties, it was 
most highly anticipated as a once-a-year time to reunite with 
kith and kin. 

I lift forward one of those treasured occasions. 

Very early on Decoration Day, Mama began fixing her 
basket dinner of the choicest foods she could layhands to: 
baked country ham, shced and sandwiched by her home 
baked bread, cottage cheese, deviled eggs, baked beans, and a 
huge bowl of leaf lettuce for starters. Crisp red radishes and 
tender green onions aU scrubbed and garden fresh that very 
morning. Then there was the very peak of Mama's pride, a 
gallon milk crock heaping full of ripe strawberries, frosty 
with sugar. I couldn't resist borrowing a couple when Mama 
wasn't looking! All of those foods were of our own 
production, minus the flour and sugar used. 

While Mama was thus engaged. Papa did the chores, 
then stripped our yard of every available blossom. Mostly 
they were roses, peonies, and flags (Iris to you moderns). 
Papa got a bucket of cold water from the well and plunged the 
flowers in half way up their stems to keep them fresh during 
their ride. Then he harnessed old Bill and Dolly and hitched 
them to the farm wagon, putting in plenty of feed for their 



120 



dinner. Also, he loaded his long crook-handled scythe, axe, 
and other tools the men would need when clearing the grave- 
sites. 

The buggy would have been a lighter vehicle to use on 
the road, but it wouldn't accommodate our cargo. 
Preparations being finished, we each took a turn bathing in 
the galvanized wash tub behind the kitchen stove and 
dressed for a day of outdoor activity. 

Mama wore a blue checked gingham dress with a wide 
white collar and full gathered skirt which extended to the 
tops of her laced shoes. Also, she wore, as would most of the 
other ladies, a big white apron. Her long red hair was twisted 
into a "bun" on top of her head. 

Papa wore a sturdy "hickory stripe" shirt with his bib 
overalls. His shoes, a brand made famous by Mont- 
gomery Ward, were known as the "Six Month Guarantee" 
work shoe. In plainly stated words, the company promised 
right there on the catalog page, to replace any shoe which 
failed to last that long, even against the rigors of manure and 
soil acid. They were expensive— three dollars and 49 cents 
plus 12 cents postage— but worth every dime because of their 
durability. 

My cotton-like hair was usually in braids, but for this 
important day. Mama had the night before "done it up in 
rags" to produce banana curls. My dress was red checked 
gingham, made with a dropped waist line, a full gathered 
skirt that came exactly to the middle of my knees. I proudly 
wore the newly popular half socks with my black two- 
strapped sUppers. Underwear consisted of a cotton underslip 
and panties which buttoned on to a waist. I envied my friends 
who had fashionable black sateen bloomers with convenient 
elastic at waist and knee but, alas. Mama was of the opinion 
that elastic was damaging to one's blood circulation. 

Finally, we began our seven mile journey. Even 
anticipation of the reunion could not overshadow the 
inspiration of the sunshiney surroundings as we passed lush 



pastures populated with grazing livestock and new corn 
sprouting up from rain-freshened earth. Birds sang as they 
fhtted between hedge-rows and the continuous search for 
food, while wild flowers bloomed in profusion in many 
roadside areas. Spring was so much in evidence that it 
demanded our recognition and gratitude. 

Driving past the homes of friends. Papa would call out, 
"Whoa there!" and we'd pause a few minutes to greet anyone 
who chanced to be out in their yard. Friends met in the road 
got the same courtesy. 

At last we sighted the taD Clements grain elevator, then 
the grocery store where folks could trade farm produce for 
groceries or cash. Nearby were the stockyards and the 
railway depot where the chuffy big locomotives stopped their 
trains of cars to exchange passengers, livestock, freight, or 
whatever. Around a corner of the road and we saw the big 
reservior where those engines slurped up water for their 
steam chests. Up one little hill and there appeared tall 
gravestones, indicating that our destination had been 
reached. 

Papa drew our team into the line of shade at the side of 
the cemetery and hurriedly unhitched them from the wagon, 
tying each securely to the back axle. There they would have 
all day to munch hay and switch flies with their tails. Then 
Papa joined the men already busy at clearing the graves of a 
year's rampant growth of weeds and brambles. Mama, with 
her precious load of food, went to help with the organization 
of dinner. I went to look for kids. 

This was a day for comparison, at our tender ages. A 
year's growth makes a lot of difference, taller and heavier 
being the coveted achievements. We held foot races, broad 
jumps, hide-and-go-seek and darer's base contests, and then 
as our energy waned we played mumblety peg, marbles, and 
jacks. All those attractions paled in interest as the sights and 
smells of dinner turned on our hunger pangs. 

Table cloths were spread on the grass, which was so tall 



121 



it had fallen over, making a soft springy place for sitting 
around the feast. Each arriving family added to the bountiful 
supply of food to be placed on the ever-growing line of 
colorful cloths. Ladies hurried here and there, arranging the 
delicious outlay, praising elaborate cakes, clucking over the 
inevitable spills as they sought the most advantageous way 
to feed the hungering crowd. 

AO was in order. The men had finished their work, 
dinner was announced, and the oldest great-aunt was asked 
to give the blessing. Irreverently, I hoped she'd be quick 
about it as I knew I was starving. That was a short-lived 
hope, for Aunt Mary picked up momentum as she continued 
on and on. My stomach began to growl so loudly that the 
cousin sitting next to me heard it and elbowed me hard in the 
ribs. At long last, amens echoed around the banquet and we 
could dig in! M-M-M-M, I'll never hve long enough to forget 
that meal. Ambrosia! Each cook had expended every effort to 
make the best possible impression. A friendly rivalry it was, 
but very high satisfaction belonged to the lady with the most 
requested recipe. It was a long and leisurely meal during 
which we pretty much ignored whatever etiquette suggested 
eating Ughtly. We really stocked up. 

While the ladies cleared away the dinner, the men 
carried out the waiting buckets of flowers, and then everyone 
set to work making the arrangements. Those graves which 
had not a family representative there were put in order and 
decorated anyway so they wouldn't seem neglected. Children 
helped with the flowers, too, but they were warned not to 
speak loudly, laugh, or step on graves. A reverent attitude 
prevailed over the little burial ground; it seemed a haUowed 
place. Even we children felt that atmosphere as we read the 
stories the gravestones had to tell. Many babies and children 
our own ages were there and young adults, especially 
mothers. It was a sobering experience. 

After the labor of love, we children, seriousness 
forgotten, ran off for a final romp on a grassy hillside. The 



adults settled in the shade to rest and finish catching up on 
each individual's adventures since last year's gathering. This 
peaceful pastime continued until the sun began to slip 
downward past the trees. In those days, we didn't try to work 
many appointments into the same day, but savored our time 
together. The good-byes were put off until the last possible 
moment of departure that would allow chores being finished 
before dark. 

Bill and DoUy stepped at a lively clip going home, being 
anxious to get their harness off and have a relaxing roU in the 
barn lot dust to dry the sweat of travel. We concluded it had 
been a wonderfully enjoyable day, yet how good it was to be 
home and kick off my unaccustomed shoes. Home really was 
best, even with water to pump and eggs to gather. 

Having failed to make a good showing in the taller and 
heavier competition, I determined to begin eating a lot more 
in preparation for the next Decoration Day. That decision 
was very easy to come by, for I was sure that crock still had 
some strawberries in it. 



FRESH AND LASTING 

Dorothy Green Liehr 

Whenever the winds of spring blow softly across this 
valley of the Illinois, I remember again the spring of 1947 and 
the Memorial Day weekend observance in our town. 

Here, in Perry, where family ties are strong, the 
commemorative holiday is, traditionally, a veritable 
homecoming and a time of family reunions. 

As usual, several weeks of work and preparation had 
preceded the great weekend. While lawn mowers had 
hummed around the hilltop and over the steeply sloping sides 
of the Perry McCord Cemetery, many of the townspeople 
were busily tidying up their family plots. And, at the same 



time, members of the Perry American Legion Post (originally 
called the "Edward Crippen Post") were carefully searching 
out the graves of every veteran, marking each with a small 
American flag. 

Rue Witham, veteran of the First World War, had 
always made it his personal responsibility to see that no 
veteran's gravesite was overlooked. Now, on that memorable 
weekend in 1947, he was walking around the cemetery with 
other Legion members, occasionally pausing for a while at 
some veteran's grave. Often, there was a personal 
reminiscence to relate, or a notable story to tell. 

One grave receiving Rue's special attention was that of 

Edward Crippen. The headstone, at this time, was standing 

upright, and the inscription was legible. The four line verse 

inscribed on the stone were the words written in Crippen 's 

own hand, and found pinned to his uniform: 

EDWARD W. CRIPPEN 

Color Bearer 

28 yrs. 10 months 9 days 

Farwell my wife and children all. 

From you a father Christ hath called. 

Mourn not for me; it is in vain 

To caU me to your side again. 
A few more words, concise, yet eloquent, complete the 
epitaph: "Mortally wounded at the Battle of Missionary 
Ridge, Nov. 25, 1863." 

The cemetery having been satisfactorily prepared for 
Memorial Day services, attention now turned from the dead 
to the hving. By two o'clock, the whole town had turned out, 
filling Main Street, many in their cars, waiting for the parade 
to the cemetery to begin. 

Vivid memories in profusion vie for my recall of that 
moment: returned servicemen ("our boys") representing the 
Army, the Navy, and the Marine Corps, looking very neat, 
very trim in their uniforms . . . combat ribbons . . . the 
knowledge that here among these 30 plus young men were 



recipients of bronze stars, the Croix de Guerre, and a purple 
heart . . . the solemn expression on the faces of the older 
World War One veterans . . . veterans of both world wars 
marching four abreast, shining rifles aglint in the sun . . . and 
just enough breeze to ripple "Old Glory." 

Heading toward the cemetery, the townspeople 
foUowing at a respectful distance in the rear. The veterans 
had difficulty keeping in step. That would not do! What was 
needed here was "cadence count." 

"Had a girl in Baltimore, 

Streetcar ran right past her door!" 

"Sound Off!" 

"One, two," 

"Sound Off!" 

"Three, four" 

"SOUND OFF!" 

"One, two, three, four. 

One, two . .THREEFOUR!" 
Smartly now, all marching in unison, the veterans 
wound their way to the top of the cemetery hill. 

Now came the townspeople, quite a crowd, to find their 
places; it was time to begin. 

The speaker for the afternoon was the young theological 
student, Leon Wilder, who came down to Perry every other 
Sunday to fill the pulpit at the Presbyterian Church. Inspired 
and inspiring, his speech reflected the altruism and 
patriotism of the day. 

I remember Leon quoting, "No more shall war's fierce 
cry sever. Nor winding rivers be red . . .," but what comes 
back to me most poignantly of all, is the memory of little 
children around five and six years old and under the 
supervision of Genevieve Brim, very quietly so as not to 
disturb the speaker, placing bouquets of fresh flowers on 
each veteran's grave. 

The speech being over, the time had come to fire a three 



volley salute over the grave of the veteran who had most 
recently died. 

The echoes of the shots died away; then came the 
playing of "taps." 

The observance had come to an end, but people were 
reluctant to leave the beautiful tree-shaded cemetery in their 
old town. 

Back at the American Legion Building, veterans 
divested themselves of their rifles, and made sure that the 
American flag was secure in its holder. On the wall, a framed 
CivU War sketch of a young man stared resolutely 
ahead— Edward Crippen, who would be forever young at the 
age of 28 years, ten months, and nine days. 

In our town today there are, to be sure. Memorial Day 
observances, but they are quite different in many ways than 
that very special day in May in 1947. 

Looking back, I am grateful to have experienced this 
stirring day, and know it will remain (as Shakespeare said) 
"Fresh and lasting ... in remembrance." 



THE QUARANTINE SIGN 

Martha K. Graham 

In the early 1900's little was commonly known, or at 
least practiced, about disease immunization. Children 
routinely contracted measles, chicken pox, mumps, and 
whooping cough. Scarlet fever, smallpox, and other dreaded 
diseases ran rampant through families and whole 
communities. 

About 1920 old Doctor Clark gathered all the Roseville 
people who were willing, or could be coerced, into his office 
which was in his big square house on North Main Street, and, 
for the first time in that community, he administered 
smallpox vaccine. 



Horror stories about the possible results of such a 
vaccination had circulated: vaccination gave one smallpox; 
the process was so painful that grown men screamed; one's 
arm swelled and ached unbearably for days; the vaccination 
should be done on the arm one used least for writing, etc., 
because blood poisoning often set in, requiring amputation of 
that arm. 

In spite of all the stories, my parents beUeved in 
smallpox vaccination, probably because they believed in old 
Doc Clark, so our whole family was immunized. It was a 
frightening experience. One at a time we were taken into the 
inner office where the upper arm was scratched in a small 
screenwire-hke pattern, and the vaccine was apphed on the 
bloodied place. Then a thick circular pad, open in the center, 
was apphed around the spot and bound with gauze. We were 
cautioned not to bump that arm, not to wash the spot, not to 
bother the scab when it formed, even though it would itch, 
and to come back after the scab (a horrible looking thing) had 
fallen off. 

None of the horror stories proved true, and we were no 
longer afraid of smallpox. 

When I was about ten years old, Mother caOed Doctor 
Clark to see about my sore throat and fever. When he saw the 
red rash on my chest, he sprang into action, as did the rest of 
my family, for I had scarlet fever. (Now children may have a 
shght indisposition called scarletina, which the kiUer-and- 
maimer, old fashioned scarlet fever, has become.) A sign 
saying "SCARLET FEVER, KEEP OUT" was tacked beside 
the door, and no one was allowed to enter or leave without the 
doctor's permission. 

My whole family was in the house, and so were exposed 
to the disease. My father needed to get out to work; my older 
brother needed to get to high school. Doctor Clark decided to 
release them if they would follow his directions to the letter. 

They were to take clothing they would need, and 
beddmg that had been shut away in drawers, out to our 



124 



garage. There they must take an antiseptic bath and 
shampoo, and have clothing and bedding fumigated in the 
garage. If, after two weeks, they showed no symptoms of 
scarlet fever, they could consider themselves free. They were 
to have no contact with the quarantined ones in the house. 

I wondered, and still wonder, why old Doc Clark could 
continue to come and go, ignoring the quarantine sign. The 
only precaution he seemed to take was a thorough hand 
washing every time before he left us. 

The quarantine was to last six weeks, but my five-year- 
old brother contracted a light case and extended the 
imprisonment another two weeks. My father and my older 
brother showed no signs of the disease, so my brother was 
free to go live with my aunt, whose home was only a block 
away, while my father continued to Uve in the garage so he 
could be as close as possible to help us in any way he could. 

He installed a long thin pipe between the garage and the 
house, connecting them, and he and Mother conversed 
through it. She would let him know what groceries and other 
supplies she needed, and he would bring them home and leave 
them on the back porch for her to bring inside. My brother 
would often stop by and talk to Mother on the speaking tube, 
and on her way home from work as a clerk in Bennet's Dry 
Goods Store, my aunt would stop and let my mother know all 
the town news and gossip she heard in the store. 

Even with those breaks in the routine, mother must 
have almost gone out of her mind with two children 
sometimes out of their heads with the high fever of the killer 
disease. But she did everything she could think of to keep us 
as comfortable as possible. She put cool cloths on our heads 
and bathed us to reduce fever, brought trays of food to give 
us strength, and even helped us cut pictures from the catalog 
and made flour-and-water paste so we could make 
scrapbooks. She read aloud innumerable books: The Five 
Little Peppers and How They Grew and other books in the 
series, Little Lord Fauntleroy, all the Mother West Wind 



stories we had, Elsie Dinsmore, and many others. I wanted to 
read, myself, but was not permitted to use my eyes in such a 
way because scarlet fever sometimes "settled in the eyes." 

Doctor Clark continued to visit us, examining us and 
bringing medicines and good cheer. His routine never varied. 
He would come bursting into our room, fix us with a 
penetrating stare, and say, in his British accent that turned r 
into uh, "You dirty pups!" Then he would turn, all the 
professional physician, to Mother, and say gravely, "I need a 
glass of water, please." 

Finally Dr. Clark came with the good news that the 
seige was over. He ordered our bed linens burned (we had 
"scaled off" on them), ordered all of us to take antiseptic 
baths, and fumigated the whole house. The quarantine sign 
came down. 



GRAY WITH WHITE TRIM 

Doris L. Chilberg 

My grandparents' house stood on Main Street in Orion, 
Illinois, where the State Bank Building is now located. It 
faced the east and was built before the turn of the century by 
Henry Wilson, and he in turn sold it to Walter Blodgett, and 
then my grandparents, Andrew and Louise Chinberg, bought 
it and moved in from the farm in 1908. 

It was L-shaped with a porch across the front and much 
"gingerbread" for trim. The porch was always painted gray 
with white trim. Many times we sat on it and listened to the 
band concerts being played in the viDage park. A trumpet 
vine grew up on the south end of the porch and Grandma took 
pride in her purple clematis that grew beside it. In the 
summertime. Grandpa had a hammock in this area, which I 
also enjoyed. At one time, a huge maple tree grew in front of 
the house near the main sidewalk, which curved around the 



125 



tree. Grandpa planted moss roses at it's base, which provided 
color in the summertime. The hitching posts for the horses 
came down as far as the tree. 

This house consisted of a kitchen, dining room, sitting 
room, parlor, sewing room, and a front hall with an open 
stairway down stairs. Upstairs was a hall, a small den or 
office, and three bedrooms, plus a small sitting room. A door 
from this opened out on the upstairs porch, which was 
enclosed with a railing. 

Starting from the left downstairs, the one window was 
in the sewing room where Grandma spent a lot of her time. 
Many times I saw her at that window, piecing quilts, 
knitting, sewing, or crochetting with the curtain drawn back 
so she could have better hght but also could see what was 
going on on Main Street. Grandpa had a cot in this room and 
he spent a lot of time reading as there was a window on the 
south of which afforded him better hght. There was a floor-to- 
ceihng cupboard where a lot of "goodies" were stored. The 
button box was my favorite. 

To the back of this sewing room and to the west, was the 
kitchen with a dark pantry off to the side. Rain water was 
piped into the kitchen from the cistern, and there was the 
conventional sink with a small pump on the west waD. 
Grandma's stove always fascinated me— it was a cook stove, 
wood burning, and stood on legs. The stove pipe for it went 
across the ceiUng to the chimney. A resevoir was at the end of 
the stove, and water was poured into this and was heated for 
use to wash with and to wash dishes. A wood box stood 
nearby, where they kept an ample supply of chopped wood to 
keep the fire going. The open draft on the front of the stove 
provided a cheery sight on a cold wintery night, to see the 
glowing embers. The oven had doors on both sides, and many 
a "goodie" was taken from there. The smell of bread baking 
was my favorite. The kitchen was large enough so they could 
eat there and to afford more light, a window was in the east 
wall which looked into the dining room. 



The dining room was the second window from the left in 
front. A door from the porch opened into this room. The front 
door was on the L. Frosted glass panels decorated this 
doorway and door, and it had a "gong" type doorbell. We 
grandchildren were allowed to ring it just once. This doorway 
opened into a hall with an open stairway. Many a time I 
played here— pretending it was my house or I was driving 
horses or riding trains. The stair carpet was green with red 
and pink roses— to me, so beautiful. At the end of the haU and 
off the kitchen was the sitting room with the organ, 
comfortable rocking chairs and a fainting couch. In this room 
under the stairs was a closet. I think at some time I dreamt 
that I was locked in there as it always held a horror to me if 
the door was left open. 

From the sitting room into the parlor were open double 
doors from which hung the green plush rope portieres. There 
was also a lot of bric-a-brac in this doorway— lovely to look at 
but Grandma complained they were nothing but dust 
catchers. In the parlor were several rocking chairs and a 
center stand which held the family Bible and album. On the 
walls hung the family portraits. In front of the window to the 
right of the front door. Grandma had a pedestal which held a 
jardeniere from which a Boston fern grew, to the envy of 
everyone. In the winter, one could always see her Christmas 
catus fuD of blooms, and many stopped by to admire it. Some 
of the rooms had handwoven carpets, but in the sitting room 
and the parlor there were rugs. 

The house was heated by a steam heat furnace, and to 
come in on a cold night and hear the hissing of the radiators 
gave me such a warm feeling. 

After Grandma and Grandpa moved in, an electric hght 
plant was established in Orion, and since Grandpa loved 
progress, he was one of the first to have electricity in the 
house. The wiring facihties left much to be desired, but they 
had the "Edison" hght bulbs, and they were far better than 
the oil lamps. My aunt had one of the first electric irons, and 



those could only be used certain hours of the day as they took 
so much electricity. 

The back door was out of the kitchen to the west, and 
there was a long narrow porch which led into the summer 
kitchen. This was a small building used in the summertime 
for cooking so as not to heat up the main house. In there was 
a cook stove and laundry area. Near the back porch was a weU 
with the windlass and the old oaken bucket to draw water up 
from the weU. There was a cover over it, and it was fascinating 
to see either Grandma or Grandpa draw up a bucket of water 
and pour it into the wooden spout to the drinking water 
bucket. In the summertime, it served as the "refrigerator" to 
keep the butter hard and the milk sweet. Grandma let these 
down on little covered buckets by rope almost to the water's 
edge. Those ropes were fastened to the inside of the cover by 
hooks. 

Down at the end of the sidewalk was the privy, which 
was hidden from sight by hop vines. In back of it was the wood 
shed. At the end of the lot near the alley and to the left, was a 
barn which housed Grandpa's driving horse and buggy. One 
time the post office was robbed and everyone was very 
concerned because they blew up the safe and nobody heard it. 
When Grandpa went down to take care of his horse, both 
horse and buggy were gone. It was assumed the safe crackers 
had spent some of the day and night in the hayloft and had 
Grandpa's horse ready to make a getaway. His horse and 
buggy were found down at the Uvery stable in Milan. The safe 
crackers made a getaway on one of the many trains that went 
through Rock Island. 

I spent a lot of time at the house. To go into Orion and 
not stop at Grandma and Grandpa's made the trip 
meaningless to me. Their home has always held a special 
place in my heart. Grandpa passed away in 1928 and 
Grandma in 1934. My aunt and uncle bought the house, 
modernized it, and Uved there until their death, and then 
their daughters lived there until the house was put up for sale 



when the bank was built. Quentin Stromquist bought it and 
had it moved to another location. A lot of memories went with 
it. However, I am so thankful that it was moved and not torn 
down. My heart would have been torn, too. 



TRUTH AND JUSTICE 

Blanche M. Harrison 

From my viewpoint as a child, still clearly recalled and 
etched deeply in memory, my mother was the greatest, most 
wonderful, and best loved person in the whole world. Her 
presence meant comfort, warmth, love— and good food when 
you were hungry. She caused everything to be right in my 
small world. Also of great importance to me was home, the 
place where all five of us children were born between the 
years of 1894 and 1904. We were all home-loving. I am sure 
Mother had something to do with that, for the influence of a 
good mother and love of home just go together naturally. 

My mother was constantly busy. There was much to be 
done, living on a farm with no modern conven- 
iences and caring for a family of seven. Cooking took a great 
deal of her time. She never neglected that part of her work. 
She baked bread, churned butter, and made deUcious pies 
with tender flaky crusts. I never did see her measure the 
ingredients. Out came the bread board, rolling pin, a bowl in 
which she placed flour, and then swiftly her hand moved from 
salt jar to lard container, deftly working these into the flour. 
She added a httle cold water, still using her fingertips to mix. 
Quickly the dough formed a ball, which was rolled out 
smoothly to fit the pan in an unbroken circle. Before you 
knew it, her pies were scenting the kitchen with tantahzing 
odors from the oven of the wood-burning cook stove. The 
shiny teakettle sang while steam emerged from the spout, 



127 



providing humidity to us and Mom's house plants which 
stood in a row on the window sill. 

But getting back to the pies, my mother made many 
kinds, aO beautiful to see and delicious to eat; but she also 
had a few special ones, such as dried apple. In the beginning 
she prepared the apples, then dried them. They were placed 
on screen wire framed in wood. AH of this was no small chore. 
Every day those frames, covered with apple slices, were 
placed on the pantry roof in the sun. The fruit was covered 
with cheesecloth netting. Everything was fine untO a rain 
came up. Then everyone scurried to help get the apples in. If 
ever you had a taste of this delicious treat, you would agree 
that it was worth the effort to bring about the finished 
product. My mother was also a master hand at Custard pie. 
Hers were deep, quivery, and golden yellow from country 
eggs, the surface flecked by hand-grated nutmeg. Beautiful 
to behold, out of this world to sample. Another very special 
pie, and my father's favorite was a French Cream pie, unlike 
any most people have ever tasted. It was made with real 
cream and was very delicious. 

Beside the housework, cooking, and laundry, my mother 
had lots of outside work, especially in the summertime. One 
such task was caring for the chickens. She set the hens, 
fifteen eggs to a setting, as I recall. I Uked to go with her 
when she "took off" a hen and chickens. I loved to see the 
fluffy little baby chicks. I soon was quite a bit of help in 
putting them up in the evening, getting the right hen in the 
right coop. My oldest brother was very good at that before 
me. Mother said he could always remember where each hen 
belonged. I loved to watch the little chicks after their evening 
feeding, tired no doubt, after the long trek on their short httle 
legs, following their mother wherever she led and now back to 
the coop and supper. Then to see them snuggle under 
mother's feathers, safe and warm for the night— a satisfying 
picture. That is something you never see now. 

If I was to write aU the things my mother did, I would 



have enough material to fill a book. For there was a garden, 
aU kinds of vegetables, a large strawberry patch, rhubarb (we 
used to call it "pie plant"), and fruit trees (peaches, apples, 
plums, and pears). Then, in our timber were wild gooseberries 
and blackberries. Mom canned and made jeUies, butters, and 
preserves all summer and fall. There was also the homemade 
catsup, chili sauce, rehshes, and finally, a big jar of 
sauerkraut. 

She trimmed her boy's hair and made most of our 
clothes. She made her own bed sheets, pieced comfort and 
quilt tops, and then quilted them. She would also crochet and 
knit. She made lots of socks that were sent overseas during 
World War I. One of her sons served in that conflict. 

She taught us truth and justice, not only by word but 
by example. She encouraged us to go and also accompanied 
us to Sunday school and church. 

My mother was a quiet, home-loving woman, seldom 
leaving her own community, but when there was sickness or 
death in a neighbor's home, she was there quietly and 
efficiently doing what was needed, bringing help and comfort 
to the family. 

The Bible says, "The price of a virtuous woman is far 
above rubies." Part of another verse states that "She 
worketh wiUingly with her hands." Yet a third verse imphes 
that, "She eateth not the bread of idleness." All these things 
are true of my blessed mother. How I miss her! 

I sometimes dream of that faraway time when God is 
allotting us our places, hoping that He just might resurrect 
that Uttle while cottage where the big elm grew beside it. 
High up in its branches an oriole's nest made of hair from the 
manes and tails of horses would sway hghtly in the breeze, 
and God would look at me and say, "Blanchie, here's your 
mansion. Go and help your mother put the chickens up." 



"BOOZE" 

Eunice Stone DeShane 



I was browsing in the hardware store last fall, just 
looking around. When I went down one aisle, I stopped short. 
I couldn't believe it— right in front of my eyes was a machine 
or device set up to make fuel or alcohol for your car! It was 
nothing but a "still!" A few years ago you could have been 
arrested— maybe even sent to prison just for having one in 
your possession. Information on the still was available right 
there, and a demonstrator was coming back in a couple of 
hours to show how simple it was to make alcohol! 

I didn't stay for the lesson, but it sure did make me 
recall an incident that happened during the 1920's in our 
neighborhood. We hved on the south edge of Moline. There 
were small farms aU around us. We didn't even have 
electricity. There were some people who lived about half a 
mile south and west of us. They entered their place off of 
Sixteenth Street and about Twenty-Eighth Avenue. My 
father and other people knew they were making "booze." 
Everyone referred to them as "the bootleggers." We could all 
smell the rubber they would burn to kill the "booze" odor 
while it was cooking. 

I don't remember exactly how long they lived on the 
place without incident, but when my father went to shred our 
corn shocks, we got a surprise. 

Shredding the fodder was what every farmer did at that 
time. It was a process by which the corn shocks were dried in 
the field and then hauled up to the barn on a hay rack with 
horses. The corn was husked out as it was shredded and then 
blown up in the barn by a big fan that was powered by a 
tractor and belt. This was far better than leaving the corn in 
the field to haul up when the snow was deep. The farmers 
helped each other. It usually took three or four teams to work 
smoothly. Mr. Larson owned the tractor and shreader and he 
stayed with the machine while the man hauled up the fodder 



to him. The ears of corn were bent out or rolled out into a 
container that was emptied in the corn crib by hand. 

As the men got out to the edge of the field, they found 
jugs of hquor hidden in the shocks. Someone must have 
tipped off the bootleggers that there was going to be a raid. I 
guess they figured the corn shocks would be a good hiding 
place. Everyone divided up the "booze" and took it home 
with them. 

When the crew of men got done with our corn, they went 
to the farm of Mr. Ericson the next day. There were car 
tracks all around his corn shocks where the bootleggers had 
picked up their products over night. They weren't about to let 
any more of their "booze" in the cornfields be discovered. 



MY TIN DINNER PAIL 

Fannie Lewis Lynn 

In 1891, when I was six years old, I attended Pontiac 
school, five and one-half miles east of Chandlerville, Illinois. 
The building is in very poor condition now but still standing. 

Each time I hear the radio and read in the newspaper 
the menu for the hot lunches at the schools, it brings to my 
memory the lunches and lunch pails we carried. Our lunches 
were not hot, not even warm. Early in the morning our 
mother prepared the food and packed it in our lunch pails, 
and we carried them from our homes to the school house one 
and one-half miles away. 

With my two brothers and a sister, we joined other 
children along the country road. The group looked like a 
bucket brigade. 

Most of the pails were tin. We called them "dinner 
pails." They had a hd that fit down into the top of the pail. 
Sometimes we used quart syrup buckets. Some of the 



129 



children had lunch boxes from the store. They were usuaOy 
reddish color and made from material hke heavy cardboard. 
Very few could afford that kind. 

When we got to school, we placed our dinner pails on the 
floor in the back of the school room just below a hook where 
we hung our coats. We always wanted to get our coats hung 
up and our pails placed before the teacher went outside in the 
school yard to ring the tardy beU. One time I remember we 
heard the tardy bell, and we were close enough to see the 
school, but my brother Andrew wouldn't let us go in because 
we were tardy. Andrew was four years older than me, and he 
sorta looked after the other three of us. He wanted to do 
everything just right, and he explained to us that we would 
wait outside until recess and then go into the school and eat 
with the other children. This might have been a good working 
plan, but it was a very cold winter day, and we got so cold he 
said we had better go home. When we got home our feet were 
so cold our mother got pans of snow and placed our feet in 
them to get them warm. 

We had recess, but no one opened a lunch pail then. 
However, when noon time came we really scurried to get our 
own pail. We sat with our favorite school mates and ate our 
lunch. Most of the time we ate in the school room at our 
desks, and the teacher sat at her desk and ate from a dinner 
pail also. If the weather was warm, we went outside and sat 
on the ground to eat. 

There was an old pump over a well in the school yard, 
with several rusty tin cups hanging on a wire by the pump. 
That is where we got our drink. 

There were some big boys that were always getting into 
trouble and fighting, but I can't remember a time when 
someone took another one's dinner pail. Sometimes on the 
way home from school the big boys would fight and use their 
dinner pails to hit each other with. 

I'll never forget the aroma that came from those pails as 
we Ufted the lids. Perhaps there would be a sausage cake 



between two crusts of homemade biscuits, a cookie and an 
egg, and maybe a shiny apple. At butchering time we had 
tenderloin or other choice meats between the biscuit crusts. 
It was a real surprise to find some home canned fruit in the 
pail. If someone went to town to the store, they would bring 
oranges back, and those would be put into our pails. But that 
was a rare occasion. 

My mother made something she called "Marguerites." 
This was made from beaten boOed egg whites and sugar and 
placed on a cracker and browned in the oven. One time I 
traded a Marguerite for an ohve. I had never seen an olive 
before, but my friend assured me it was as good as it was 
pretty. I sure didn't like the taste of it, but I didn't want to 
hurt my friend's feelings so I hid it in the bottom of my 
dinner pail. 

Perhaps our lunches would not have been called a 
balanced meal, but we had plenty of energy to finish the day's 
lessons and walk home from school, swinging those dinner 
pails freely now as we knew there was nothing left in them to 
spiU. 



SPINACH, EPSOM SALTS, AND THE CHURCH 

Don Parker 

I think I might have had a happy childhood if it hadn't 
been for spinach, epsom salts, and the ChiU Presbyterian 
Church. It's not that I mean to be sacrilegious or anything, 
but from personal observation, I have found few young boys 
who were enthusiastic about church services. And when I 
grew up, it seemed to me that if something tasted bad, 
smelled bad, or made a fellow uncomfortable, it was good for 
him and would build body and soul. To me, spinach was bitter 
and gritty and not at aU to my liking, but it got more 
promotion than it deserved. Also, as a child I had more than 



my share of colds and sore throats. The family doctor was a 
firm behever in the idea that a strong laxative would cure 
anything that could go wrong with a boy's innards, and 
epsom salts was one of his favorite purgatives. Anyone who 
has taken a heaping spoonful of epsom salts in half a cup of 
warm water knows how bad it tastes and that it is a strong 
laxative— but "into every hfe a little rain must faO." It builds 
character, I guess. 

On Sunday morning, it wasn't just a Uttle rain. It was 
more hke a cloudburst when I, a "barefoot boy with cheek 
(and toes) of tan" tried to squeeze my feet into a pair of 
polished shoes, which were new except for previous trips to 
Sunday school and church. They were reserved for that 
purpose. Going barefoot was not only fashionable for country 
boys but comfortable and also economical, a fact which kept 
parents from discouraging the idea. To add insult to injury, I 
always had to wear a tie because it wasn't right to go to 
church not properly dressed. It didn't do any good to fake 
illness because that would bring on the epsom salts 
treatment, which was as bad as going to church. 

Sunday school wasn't too bad, except for the pinched 
toes and hot tie, but the church service seemed to drag on and 
on and had Uttle redeeming value as far as I could see. The 
prevailing theory was that children should be seen and not 
heard, and no place was that more strictly enforced than at 
church. Every time I moved it seemed to create a noise that 
reverberated throughout the church. Gum chewing, reading a 
book, or whispering were all considered disrespectful, and I, 
of all people, should show respect, for my great grandfather 
had helped build the first church in the community in 1843, 
and from that time on, the family had been active in its 
operation, a fact that didn't exactly thriU me at the age of 
eight. Furthermore, in 1867, he had helped build the 
structure we were using. The logs had been floated down the 
Mississippi to Warsaw, where they were sawed, and he had 
helped haul the lumber to Chih with a team and wagon. 



The building was 32 feet by 44 feet with a 14 foot 
ceihng, but it seemed as big and airy as all outdoors to me. 
There were four tall windows on each side, a double door in 
the middle at the east and opposite to the pulpit. A partition 
down the center of the church segregated the men from the 
women. There were two rows of pews on either side with a few 
pews missing on both outside rows to make room for coal and 
wood-burning stoves. A stovepipe went out of the top of the 
church well over the heads of the congregation to a common 
flue. Six kerosene lamps with white glass shades hung on 
rods from the ceiling and lighted the building some for night 
meetings. 

By the time I came along, the church was pretty much 
as built, but the congregation was no longer divided by 
sex— no doubt a change brought about by a revolutionary 
younger generation, which had little respect for tradition or 
God. The town of Chili had diminished in size so much that 
the congregation was too small to afford a full-time pastor. 
After years of sharing ministers with another church or 
group of churches of assorted denominations, a retired 
Presbyterian minister moved into Chili and offered to serve 
the church for the small salary the group could manage. 

Now I hked Reverand Chapman, most of the time. He 
was a kindly old gentleman, but he was definitely from the 
old school of preaching and would pound the pulpit and shout 
his glowing description of the fiery coals of hell in such a way 
that even I, as a child, could see the need for changing my 
ways. It was enough to give a fellow nightmares— at least it 
did me. 

Each holiday called for a special program— Easter, 
Mother's Day, Children's Day, Thanksgiving, and 
Christmas— and that meant each child had to learn and recite 
a poem that fitted the occasion. Memorizing wasn't difficult, 
but reciting in front of a group terrified me. I dreaded those 
hoUdays with a passion, but the preacher said it wasn't easy 



131 



being a Christian, and I reckoned it was the only way to 
escape the glowing coals. 

The heating stove on the north side was the only one 
used most of the time, unless a larger crowd than usual was 
expected, or on extremely cold days, both stoves were used. 
One time the congregation was looking forward to a series of 
night meetings to be conducted by a visiting singing 
evangelist. Miss Davie Gladstone— the first lady preacher in 
the church. On Sunday morning, the lady evangelist and a 
two-burner cold snap arrived at about the same time. I 
caught a glimpse of her seated in the congregation as I was 
marched in between my folks that morning, and as soon as we 
were seated, I turned around for a better look but was quickly 
corrected. Church was not the place for gawking, but I had 
seen enough to know she was pretty, slender, blonde, and 
wore a bright green dress— boy, was she pretty! She looked to 
me as if she might have just stepped out of one of those shck 
color pages in a Sears Roebuck Catalog. 

That morning, just as the preacher reached a pulpit- 
pounding crescendo, a wire that held the horizontal pipe from 
the north stove broke, letting the pipe sag enough to spew 
soot down on the congregation, including the guest, and her 
pretty green dress. That was one of the shortest sermons I 
recall ever hearing at Chili, but still my day was ruined. We 
were supposed to have gone to my grandparents' house for 
dinner that day, where my favorite cousins were visiting, but 
we had to hurry back immediately after eating so my folks 
could help others clean the church for the evening service. 

Every summer the church held one or more ice cream 
socials to help raise a few dollars for maintenance. Members 
brought home-made ice cream and cakes with thick, finger- 
Ucking good icing. There was a family that Uved a mile and a 
half north of town who always brought ice cream. She was 
known for her abiUty to cook, and he was known as a 
financially conservative man who was not fully sold on the 
idea that "it is more blessed to give." He'd never get their 



freezer out of the car until dark, and then would place it 
behind a tree or some place where it wouldn't be noticed until 
after the social was over. Then he could take his freezer full of 
ice cream home to enjoy. One night a couple of the older boys 
kept an eye on him and saw where he hid his freezer. A Uttle 
later, they took it out behind the church where several of us 
boys enjoyed its contents. When the family was ready to go 
home that night, he couldn't find his freezer and created quite 
a commotion. 1 thought the whole episode was funny and 
didn't feel the least bit guilty about my participation in the 
crime until that night, when I had another nightmare about 
the "fiery coals of hell." Since that time I have never 
participated in the theft of ice cream, nor do I have any plans 
for doing so in the future, but it's plain to see that without 
the strict up-bringing of the Chih Presbyterain Church, I 
might have continued in a life of crime. Perhaps it did help 
build character and soul, you know, but I'm still not 
convinced that the spinach or epsom salts ever did me much 
good. 



A DAY OF QUESTIONS 

Lillian C. Peterson 

On this cold February morning I jumped out of bed in 
our unheated, upstairs bedroom and quickly reached for my 
black cotton stockings. After folding over my long winter 
underwear I carefully began pulling up the stockings, when I 
discovered a familiar hole by the big toe. Of course, my high 
shoe would cover it, as it had many times in the past, but I 
took a chance and called down the stairs to mother. "Mama, 
there is a big hole in my stocking. Should I wear my Sunday 
school stockings to school today?" 

To my bewilderment the voice of Aunt Anna answered, 
"Yes, put on your good stockings." 



132 



Two things were obviously very wrong. First, there was 
no way that mother would really want me to wear my good 
stockings to school. And second, what was Aunt Anna doing 
in our house at this time of day? 

I quickly pulled the old stockings up, fastened the 
garters, and shpped into my black shoes that easily concealed 
the hole. In no time at all I was into my cotton shp and school 
dress which had one more day to go to finish out the week. By 
this time, my little four-year-old sister, Elsie, and six-year-old 
brother, Arthur, were dressed and on their way down the 
steps ahead of me. 

When I came down, my older sister, AHce, was at the 
kitchen cupboard busily packing homemade bread and jelly 
sandwiches in four tin Karo syrup pails, for our school lunch. 
Freddie, my older brother, was out helping Pa with the 
morning chores. 

Aunt Anna was busy at the cook stove, fueling the fire 
with corn cobs and sticks of wood. She had oatmeal ready for 
us three smaller children. And then there was mother, 
obviously very sick, in bed in the guest room. The 
atmosphere was indeed strained. Early in our hves, we httle 
ones learned not to ask questions when the situation seemed 
serious or troubled. We knew that we might find out what 
was troubling our folks if we just kept our eyes wide open and 
Ustened with big ears! 

After we quietly ate our oatmeal, the clock showed that 
it was getting close to school time. We hurried into our 
homemade coats and stocking caps. Aunt Anna said that Pa 
would drive us to school this morning. This was something 
that seldom happened. We usually walked that long mile to 
our one-room school, all the time looking back for a friendly 
car to stop and give us a lift. There was never a question of 
our safety. With delight we jumped into any car that 
stopped. Most of the time, we had a late start, and by 
hurrying we suffered side aches. It was considered a horrible 
disgrace to be late for school. 



But this was a different morning. As we were about to 
leave. Aunt Anna asked Artie and me if we wanted to see the 
baby. She led us into mother's bedroom and took us to the 
foot of the bed. Here she Ufted a little blanket and showed us 
a tiny baby. Mother watched us sadly but said nothing. 

Aunt Anna asked, "Isn't it cute?" 

We nodded our heads. The blanket went down again 
over the baby's head and we were taken out. Then the four of 
us were whisked off to school in Pa's Model T Ford. 

Usually, upon arriving at school, the children would run 
to meet us, and we would be swept up in the early morning 
activities. This morning, as we entered the classroom, the 
children all stood back and quietly looked at us with a "what 
should we do?" expression. I had no way of knowing that 
early that rhorning Pa had gone to the phone and had rung a 
long, a short, and a long ring to get his brother on our 15 
party line. Many receivers went off the hooks as the 
neighbors listened in to news of the expected arrival at the 
Schick's house. 

The teacher rang the bell. We took our seats and school 
went on as usual. Except for my little chum whispering to me, 
"We didn't think that you would come to school today," 
nothing was mentioned all day long. 

As classes were caDed and the children took their turns 
at the recitation bench, I wondered and worried about what 
had happened. I thought of Mama lying so sick in the guest 
bedroom. I pondered over why someone had put big loops of 
rope on both sides at the head of her bed. I was hopelessly 
wishing that things were not what they seemed to be. It 
would be such a joy to have a new baby at our house. All day 
long that httle bundle at the foot of mother's bed remained on 
my mind. At our house the doctor brought the babies. But 
why would he bring a dead baby? At the age of seven I wasn't 
to be told that a country doctor, in 1919, had no way of 
saving both a mother and her breech baby all by himself in a 
farmhouse bedroom. 



133 



At the end of the school day the lower grades were 
excused early, and Artie and I started off for home by 
ourselves. As we began talking about what had happened, 
Artie seemed quite happy and anxious to get back and see the 
baby. 

Finally, facing reahty, I spoke those dreaded words: "I 
think the baby is dead." 

Surprised, he answered, "Oh, I don't think so." 

"But Aunt Anna put the blanket over its head," I 
reasoned. 

We trudged along the rest of the way with heavy hearts. 
When we arrived at home, there was no baby. No one said 
anything about it. Mamma was still in bed. Aunt Anna, the 
practical nurse that went on baby cases, was still there. Little 
Elsie whispered to us that Pa had gone to town and had come 
home with a Uttle box. The baby had been put into it and had 
been taken away. We asked no questions because it seemed 
that no one was ready to talk about what had happened. 

Shocking as this experience was to us httle children, it 
was even more so for mother, who had easily given birth to 
five babies before and who took months to physically recover 
from this tragic pregnancy. 

Years later, a httle granddaughter ran into Mother's 
house to show off her new "sleepy-time" doll with its eyes 
painted fast asleep. 

Mother took one look at it and said, "I don't like that 
doO." 

It reminded her of the httle baby so long ago that never 
opened its eyes. 



THAT HORSE ISN'T SAFE 

Ruth (Poiset) O'Donnell 



I was bom on December 8, 1896. My grandparents on 



both my mother and my father's sides of the family came 
from France. They all settled in the Uttle village of Avon, 
which had other French settlers. When I was very young my 
mother and grandmother went to visit relatives in a sleigh led 
by a very frisky horse. When we were almost home the horse 
got scared and upset the sleigh. I landed in a snow bank. 
Grandma grabbed me and began moaning, "She's dead, she's 
dead." But I wasn't, of course. I never even let that 
excitement wake me up! 

Then when I could toddle around, I decided to roam a 
bit. The family thought I had drowned in the cistern. I was so 
tiny, like a minnow, it took them awhile to reahze I wasn't in 
those gloomy depths. They must have looked everywhere. 
Finally, they found me peacefully rocking on Ida Schultz's 
lap in the tenant house. 

I was about three or four when I had another interesting 
experience. It seemed that when a neighbor came over, my 
grandfather Poiset would take him down to the cellar for a 
drink of cider. I always went along, and I got so I just loved 
the stuff. One day my mother was making mince pies and had 
a big glass of cider to put in them. I can remember taking a 
drink and gazing peacefully out the screen door. Occasionally 
I'd take another drink. Finally, I started into the dining room 
and fell against the heating stove, which was cold. Mother 
was horrified as I went down like I'd been hit with a club. In 
perfect health one minute and dead the next. She ran for 
reinforcements, and as some of the rescuers sailed through 
the kitchen, somebody noticed the empty glass. So there was 
nothing else to do but let me sober up. Things soon got back 
to normal. 

The most exciting episode of my childhood happened a 
few years later. It took a lot of horses to keep everybody 
happy on that farm. Grandpa had to have his saddle horse; 
the hired hand's wife had to have one at her disposal when 
she had to go to town; Mama needed a horse; and we kids also 
wanted a horse. So one day, sad to say, when there was no 



134 



horse for me, I decided I'd go out in the pasture and get an 
old horse that had been retired as being too old to work. He 
was the ugliest horse in the neighborhood. He was so 
swaybacked that Grandpa said he'd made a good calvary 
horse because the enemy could only shoot the soldier from 
the side. Oria Shultz and I hitched him to that awful old 
creeky buggy and rode merrily off to town. I 'd be ashamed to 
be seen in that outfit now. We soon found out he made a 
wonderful race horse, and we raced all the neighbor kids. He 
was too lazy to hold the buggy back going down hill and so 
would run. We would laugh and yell and he would just run 
harder. One day we were going around a comer by Tick 
Wood's, pell mell, and they had put a new sewer pipe in and 
left a big hump. Too late to stop so we went over it on high 
and broke the dashboard off of that old buggy. Our fun soon 
ended as other members of the family began driving him. 
When he started miming down hill they tried to stop him, 
which made him mad, and he would break the buggy. 

After Ida, Mama, Uncle Jacob Hovell, and Grandpa 
all had a castastrophe with him and all but one of the buggies 
were broke up. Papa would always say, "just another old 
woman driving; wait until I get a hold of him." These words 
and gruesome tales were discussed at the table. I don't know 
how I kept a straight face. Why somebody didn't ask me why 
I didn't get mn away with, I don't know, but maybe they 
thought breaking the dashboard off was enough. 

So, the day came when Papa drove him. And sure 
enough, going down the hill by Avondale Lake, the horse 
started to run. Papa grabbed the whip and whipped him, 
instead of trying to stop him. As he started up MaOaird HiU, 
Jim Standard came over the brow leading an old cow. Papa 
yelled at him to get out of the road and kept on traveling full 
speed ahead. Then, all of a sudden, a freight train passed on 
the crossing and the race was over. Papa said he had intended 
to run him until he would never want to run again. 

The bad news came at the super table. "That horse isn't 



safe for anybody to drive. He's going back in the pasture and 
stay there." WeO, the news could have been worse. 



BEAUTY CAN BE A SUNSET 

Charles P. Oberling 

Ninety-one years ago, and weighing only three and a 
half pounds, I arrived in this world. My home was a log house 
in Columbus Township in Adams County. It had one room 
upstairs and two rooms downstairs— a gray log house with 
plaster to fill the cracks. Babies were born at home with no 
incubator or registered nurse on hand in those days. It was a 
bitter cold January 14, 1891, when my Uncle George rode his 
horse to Coatsburg to get the doctor. The horse was white 
with frost when he returned. 

Papa later built a better house, but on October 12,1902, 
it was put to the test. It was on a Sunday evening between 
seven and eight p.m. when the tomado hit. I'll never forget it. 
Mama was fixing a pallet on the floor for us boys to sleep 
downstairs since it was so stormy. Before I knew what was 
happening, windows were being blown in, my bed upstairs 
was smashed, and the house was moved off its foundation 
about three inches. The tornado killed our turkeys. A piece of 
glass cut my foot. I still have the scar today. That storm 
made a direct hit on our neighbor, Mr. Longlett's, house. He 
said in his German accent, "Der boom, der rattle, der 
bang— and I was sitting in der kitchen vit no vails." 

How does a farm boy spend his time in the late 1800's? 
When I was eight years old I herded our seven milk cows 
along the public highway, as we had no pasture land. Even on 
Sundays I herded cattle. I went barefoot from early spring 
until late fall. Oh, how I hated that itch weed. It would cause 
your feet to break out and itch. To help time pass, I'd make 
willow whistles, smoke grapevines and dry elm root, eat red 



haws, and swing on vines. Sometimes I'd skinny dip in 
McGee Creek. 

When it was time to go to school, I still had to work 
mornings. Then I'd run the mile to school so I could have ten 
minutes to play with the other kids at noon recess. I had 
some good teachers. Most of them worked for $20.00 a 
month. I always liked cipherin' matches, but I hated spelling 
bees. I remember going down once on the word "ache." I 
spelled it "ake." 

Occasionally Italian peddlers with back satchels would 
stop by our house. They'd sell socks, ties, and trinkets. 
Salesmen from Harper Brothers in Chicago also came by to 
take grocery orders, which were later mailed to the 
householder. 

I can remember traveling with Grandma and Grandpa 
Senner to Quincy. We'd travel the 12 miles by horse and 
buggy. Grandma would take butter, eggs, cottage cheese, 
dressed chickens, and garden vegetables to sell to the stores. 
I can remember that when we'd get to downtown Quincy, I'd 
wonder where did all that cement come from to make all those 
sidewalks in front of those buildings. 

My Uncle Willie McNeal used to run a store in 
Columbus. He'd go to the wholesale houses in Quincy to get 
supplies for his store, and sometimes I 'd get to go along. We 
used to eat at the Franklin House. That was a restaurant in 
Quincy where you'd sit at a big table, and they'd serve you a 
meal of beans, potatoes, bread, butter, slaw, and custard, all 
for 25<t. Prices were a lot different then. You could buy any 
shoe in the Good Luck Shoe Store in Quincy for $2.50, 
overalls for $1.50, a shirt for 50<t. You could buy a straw hat 
for 25<t. One hundred pounds of sugar sold for $5.00, a ton of 
coal for $5.50, a cord of wood for $4.00. A pound of Arbuckle 
coffee beans sold for IOC Of course, wages were low, too. 
When I was in my teens, I worked out for other farmers for 
$18.00 a month. The hours were 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and at 



the end of the month, I turned over all the money I earned to 
my dad. I didn't get to keep any earnings until I was 21. 

I married Eunice Leach on May 15, 1912. She was a 
pretty young teacher who came to teach at Hazelwood School 
and boarded with my uncle. With her savings from three 
years of teaching, she bought a woodburning stove, a table, a 
pump organ, and a dozen hens. I had a horse, cow, low- 
wheeled wagon, walking plow, cultivator, and harrow. We 
settled on a 40 acre farm along McGee Creek and labored side 
by side for the next 47 years. We lost one son at the age of 18 
months with pneumonia, but we had another son and two 
daughters. They are all grown, married, and have given us 
eight grandchildren. 

Neighbors needed each other in those days. We 
maintained our own roads. We walked and repaired the 
telephone line. We threshed and harvested with everybody 
furnishing teams, wagons, and labor. Butchering was another 
community effort. I moved up from shooting and cleaning the 
hog, to rendering the lard in those black iron kettles, to 
becoming chief sausage maker. That last job was almost an 
art. You'd be mixing the sausage for a family to eat all winter. 
You didn't dare put in too much salt, pepper, or sage, or your 
reputation was done for. 

I'd like to see all the com I've picked in one pile. I got 
paid 3<f a bushel plus my dinner when I worked for others. 
Several times I shucked 100 bushels a day. My weight got 
down to 125 pounds because I'd sweat so much. Sometimes I 
was so weak I 'd weave when I walked. 

I've only owned three cars in my 91 years. My first was 
a black Overland. It had black snap-on cloth curtains with 
ising-glass windows. It got me over the muddy, rutty roads. 
If it got too bad, I'd just hitch up a team of horses to the 
spring wagon, and if the whole family was going, set in some 
kitchen chairs so we could get to the school socials and not 
get stuck. I later owned a 1947 Chevy. My last car was a 1958 
Chevy. I just sold it last month. 



136 



About 20 years ago I sold the farm, which had grown to 
120 acres. Eunice and I retired to Camp Point, Illmois. We 
enjoyed our home, children, grandchildren, and our 
community. Eunice passed away two years ago, just before 
her ninetieth birthday. We used to ride by the "home place," 
and we noticed that it began to change. The house is gone. 
The garage, granary, outhouse, barn, cow stable— all are 
gone. Only the machine shed remains. The willows are 
choking McGee Creek. Fence rows are hard to find. The lane 
to the mailbox is unused. It is no longer a family farm home. 
It is investment acreage for someone else now. 

Sometimes as I sit and puff on my pipe with my eyes 
closed, I can still see my McGee Creek farm. I wish I could 
paint aU those pictures I see. I remember each hickory and 
walnut tree in the south pasture. I remember the bittersweet 
growing in the fence row, parts of which came home in my 
hunting coat for a winter bouquet. I can see the bob-whites 
strutting along a fence Une. I can see the catfish, schools of 
minnows, frogs, and watersnakes that co-existed in McGee 
Creek. That same creek that roOed over its banks in the 
spring and flooded the bottom fields and then turned quiet 
and scummy green in late August. And the miles of fresh- 
turned furrows of soil, field after field, year after year, all 
representing lonely, hard work. However, it supported the 
dreams of husband, wife, and three children. It demanded 
enough to make us rise each morning for work. It tired us 
enough to sleep peacefuOy each night. It taught us that 
beauty can be a sunset, a fresh-grown radish, or a loaf of 
home-baked bread. And it nourished a family's love, which 
survives to this day. 



















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VIZ How It Was Done 



139 



HOW IT WAS DONE 

When these senior citizens were young, the United 
States was much closer in a great many ways to the 
American frontier than it was to the world which now exists. 
To look into any geographical atlas in 1925 was to find most 
of the lands of the earth colored pink— possessions of the 
British Empire, upon which "the sun never set." It is true 
that the automobile, best exemplified by the Model T Ford, 
was found everywhere, but then so were horses and buggies. 
There was space between the towns— between Baltimore and 
Washington, between St. Louis and the villages later to 
become suburbs— and the population was probably 100 
million less than it is today. While most houses in cities were 
electrified, a great part of the nation was not, and one could 
stroll out dusty lanes into the countryside at dusk and see, 
one by one, farm houses illumined by the duU light of 
kerosene lamps. The leading pubhsher of children's school 
books, Scott, Foresman, and Company, still emphasized in its 
readers the virtues of good citizenship, group cooperation, 
honesty, bravery, and initiative. Schoohng was available for 
all those who aspired to success, but the size of a high school 
freshman class was usually considerably greater than it 
would be on graduation day four years later. That, in itself, 
was a sign of the rigor and common sense of the earlier years. 
In others words, it was a long way from the "Dick and Jane" 
stories of the post- World War II period. 

A great many things were done differently in 1925. A 
family lucky enough to have a telephone was usuaUy on a 
"party line." The recipient of a phone call was given a certain 
predefined ring— three shorts and a long, for instance. As one 
of our contributors (Eva Baker Watson) points out, it was 
pretty much accepted that anything said over a telephone 
was fair game for anyone else on the party line. It was, as she 
so aptly writes, part of the spice of life. 

The 1920's was a decade in which one still found wooded 



areas to cut, blacksmiths who made a living from the horse 
trade, and hired men who wandered by in the Spring and 
stayed until Fall. Robert Frost celebrated these wandering 
laborers in his marvelous 1914 poem, "The Death of the 
Hired Man." Frost saw them as the driftwood of civilization: 
"Nothing to look backward to with pride. And nothing to 
look forward to with hope." 

The counterpart of the hired man was the girl who 
worked out. Louise Anderson Lum tells her own story of such 
employment in her youth. Hired girls were different, 
however; theirs was seldom a Lifelong career. They were to be 
found in every medium-sized midwestern town, of course, but 
such work was only a transitional phase in each girl's life 
until marriage or another job. And as Sinclair Lewis's Elmer 
Gantry described the techniques of pastoral visitation, 
"Don't neglect hired girls: be cordial." 

Each of the senior citizens below relates a fascinating 
story of "how it was done" in the past. Elma M. Strunk was a 
dowser: she learned the art from her father. Burdette Graham 
describes the making of a farm fence, and Edna L. Thompson 
tells of the intricacies of making apple butter. Albert 
Shanholtzer narrated a marvelous story about his training as 
a "printer's devil." There were countless chores to be done in 
each season of the year. Geese needed to be plucked, horses to 
be broken, and housework to be done. Talents and skills were 
passed from generation to generation, grandparent to 
grandchild. It is not hard to moralize about all of this— the 
arts which have nearly been lost, the drives to conquer 
whatever Life had to offer, and the diminishing place of 
grandparenting in modern society. It is true that a mind is a 
terrible thing to waste, but that argument can be apphed to 
the old today more easily than to the young. 

The frankness with which the old talk about the facts of 
life as they were in the past is refreshing. The rural or small 
town outhouse was one of those hard facts. As a type, the 
structure had been in use for centuries. But one finds no 



140 



reference to it in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, a 
compendium of information covering a great span of British 
and American literature. Lew Atherton makes no reference to 
it in his Main Street on the Middle Border Yet, in the span of 
time covered in Atherton 's book, the United States went 
from a period in which outhouses were far more common than 
flush toilets to an era in which the reverse was true. As Keith 
L. Wilkey points out in his illuminating (and obviously 
pioneer) piece on the family backhouse, they ranged from 
fancier vine covered structures to termite eaten shacks. 
They were, as Wilkey and other contributors have noted, fair 
game for the neighborhood boys on Halloween. Many of the 



structures only survived that night because of an all night 
vigil kept by members of particular families. In time and 
through a kind of progress, the outhouse 
disappeared— mainly because it was considered a mark of 
indigence, slovenliness, and sloth. Now, parts of Illinois and 
the rest of the old Middle Border states are being doused 
almost daily with "treated" sewage from the larger cities and 
towns. It is a privilege that comes with age— the right of one 
to say that the more things change, the more they remain the 
same. 

Victor Hicken, Editor 



MOTHER'S GEESE 

Lydia {Barton) Waite 

One of the first things in my life that I remember was a 
basket with a soft cloth lining sitting on the open oven door 
in the kitchen of our farm home. In the basket were several 
little goslings, and my mother was trying to satisfy their 
appetites with a pan of bread soaked in sweet milk. When I 
grew older, this scene was repeated several times each year 
until the flock sometimes numbered nearly one hundred. Also 
included in their diet when they grew older was the abundant 
supply of lettuce that grew in the garden. 

Those goshngs were a hardy bunch of little rascals and 
were always ready for something to eat. It was very 
important to see that the garden gate was never left open. 

As I grew older, 1 was entrusted to watch over the 
young goslings. When a thunderstorm threatened, they had 
to be herded immediately into shelter. If not, those silly 
goslings, until they got feathered out, would stand out in the 
rain with their heads in the air and drown themselves. 

We always had an enclosure to keep them in, but 
sometimes they would get through the fence and wander off. 
Often they would get in the road that ran by our home and no 
telling where they would go. We were fortunate to have 
neighbors to tell us when and where they saw them. On one 
occasion, they wandered over a mile away. Another of their 
favorite spots was the spring branch down below the barn. 
Quite often, if we did not find them, snapping turtles would 
have a goose for dinner. 

It was also my job to take the goslings out and watch 
them while they ate on a new patch of grass which, as they 
grew older, was a main part of their diet. 

At an early age I began to help my mother "pick the 
geese." As soon as the old geese stopped laying, they were 
relieved of their feathers. We would herd them into a shed 
and, following close behind, we would fasten the door 



securely from the inside. Inside this shed we had previously 
placed our stools, copper wash boilers (now valuable 
antiques), sacks and stockings. First, each of us, my mother 
and I, would grab a goose by the neck. Being careful to avoid 
the vicious strokes of the wings, we placed a stocking over its 
head and neck to prevent its beak from biting our arms. Now, 
while sitting on the stool, the goose on its back in our lap, its 
head and neck under our arm, and with boOers held securely 
between our knees, we proceeded to remove the feathers, 
beginning at the neck and working downward. It was 
through experience that you learned to remove the feathers 
and down with a rubbing motion without tearing the skin. If 
the geese cooperated, which they seldom did, it took about 
ten minutes to finish each one. When the boilers were full, the 
feathers were emptied into white musUn sacks. The operation 
then continued until all the geese were picked. In six weeks 
the geese were ready to be picked again. In the Fall when we 
also picked the young geese, which were full feathered, it 
would take us all day to get done. 

A few of the geese were sold to the neighbors for 
Thanksgiving or Christmas, but mostly the local store took a 
good part of them in return for provisions to be used during 
the Winter. We did, however, always have a goose for 
Christmas dinner. Mother was always careful to save the 
excess fat, which she mixed with turpentine. This mixture 
was her favorite remedy for croup. It was applied to the chest 
of a child and then covered with a flannel cloth. 

Those feathers that I helped harvest were most welcome 
when I chose to marry a young share cropper in the 
community. Where most young farm brides used a tick 
stuffed with straw. I was fortunate to have two feather beds 
and pillows for each. 

It was quite common in those days for share croppers to 
move from farm to farm on March 1, trying to find a more 
desirable location. Then those feather beds were used to 



142 



protect the mirrors, clocks, and other fragile pieces of 
glassware. 

Now, fifty-five years later and after serving through six 
different moves as share croppers, during which time we 
experienced several crop failures due to droughts and floods, 
as well as the Depression, those feather beds have been 
retired. They no longer are needed in our centrally heated 
home. 



GRANDMA'S RECIPE BOOK 

Louise E. Efnor 

Cleaning and Polishing Stoves, Dishwashing. Care of 
Kitchen Ware, Care of Glassware and Cut Glass, Steel Knives 
and Forks, Care of Silverware, Care of Sinks and Disposal of 
Garbage, Chamber Work, Care of Lamps— these were all 
topics discussed at great length in "The Day's Routine" in 
Grandma's Household and Recipe Book. A recipe in 
Grandma's time was not just in connection with food 
preparation; said recipe might be a "Better Way To Black a 
Stove," "How To Make a Stove Holder" (the early version of 
a potholder, made by putting a piece of asbestos between two 
heavy pieces of cloth), or "The Best Way to Soften Hard 
Water." One recipe for the latter required you to place a 
quantity of wood ashes into a tightly closed woolen bag, and 
then immerse the bag in a tub of water— the required amount 
of ashes being ascertained by experiment! 

Many of the first recipe books were family Bibles, and 
Grandma used her Bible in this fashion, filing among the 
pages of her precious Scriptures favorite recipes of neighbors 
and loved ones and little momentoes of by-gone days. 
Grandma used her Bible daUy, so what better place to keep 
her prized recipes? 

The daily journal, a big thick book with lined pages, was 



also handy, especially to write recipes in. Along side of the 
recipe might be written the name of the household or person's 
name who gave the recipe. Other pages would no doubt tell of 
baby's first tooth, Uncle Joseph's death, the breeding dates 
for cows and sows, how much corn to plant, and a list of all 
the butter, eggs, and other produce sold during the year. 
Grandma noted that "My chickens are going into stew pot; 
I'm not selling anymore at such a give-away price," or, "made 
this cake for Pearl's wedding. Needs more flavoring." 

No time or temperature was given in Grandma's 
recipes— nothing telUng how long to bake the product or how 
hot the oven should be. They usuaUy read, "cook until done," 
"bake 'til it springs back when touched lightly" (this one is 
still in use yet today), or "boil down 'til it is thickened." 
Proper doneness was determined according to color— light, 
medium, or dark brown! If a recipe failed, perhaps it was the 
fault of too big a "pinch," too small a "smidgen," or the 
"butter the size of a walnut" being not the exact size of the 
person giving the recipe to you. How do you measure a 
"dollop" and how much does half an egg shell hold, were 
questions only to be answered by the person making up the 
recipe. Even when teaspoons and tablespoons were used in 
Grandma's measuring, they could be different in size from 
those of a neighbor because all were not manufactured or 
made the same size. Grandma's old stoneware coffee cup was 
used to measure flour, sugar, molasses, milk, or vinegar; a 
neighbor might measure these ingredients in a dainty china 
teacup. Small wonder the finished product never quite 
measured up to Grandma's! 

Grandma's first real cookbook (she still refered to it as 
her recipe book!), was from the Warsaw Milling Company at 
Warsaw, lUinois. They recommended the use of Grace MiUs 
Flour, which product they manufactured. They also sold 
other brands which they made, such as: AAA 1 Patent, Red 
Cross, Purity Patent, Spring and Winter Patent, and Echpse, 
all made from the best of wheat. The recipes were compiled 



143 



(for the benefit of the Warsaw Free Public Reading Room) by 
the Women's Club, whose president was Donna M. Parker, 
M.D. The publishing date reads April, 1900. and the 
price— fifty cents. 

Enjoyment could be found in reading the 
advertisements in Grandma's book. Walter Baker and Co., 
Ltd. of Dorchester, Massachusetts, advertises Pure High 
Grade Cocoas and Chocolates; no chemicals are used in their 
manufacture. Baron von Liebig, one of the best known 
writers on dietetics, says: "Cocoa is a perfect food, as 
wholesome as deUcious, a beneficient restorer of exhausted 
power ... It soothes both stomach and brain, and for this 
reason, as well as for others, it is the best friend of those 
engaged in literary pursuits." Other advertisers must have 
let their products sell themselves; they wrote their ads very 
simply: Rumford Baking Powder, Dwight Cow Brand Soda, 
Arm and Hammer Soda (Bad Soda Spoils Good Flour); Frank 
H. Jones— Shirts Made to Order; J. A. White— Stock and 
Windmill Tanks; Northwestern Yeast Company and Health 
Yeast, Perfection Starch, Eagle Health Pepsin Gum— all 
made by the Ralston Yeast Company. If the recipes made you 
ill, you could always call H. Cames, M.D., who also had an ad 
in a very prominent place in the book! 

"Too many bitter herbs spoil a stew" is found under the 
heading of SOUPS. Vegetables are very pleasantly 
introduced with this couplet: 

"Vegetal wealth a luscious hoard. 
Within our garden's bound are stored." 
Such niceties are found throughout Grandma's book and 
gave her a "lift" as she toiled over the recipe. You could 
always tell which pages she had enjoyed most by the well- 
worn, smudged recipes! 

Grandma's "recipe book" and her Bible (with all of its 
memorabilia) played a very important role in her life— one 
providing food for the body, the other food for the soul. As 
much as she used and enjoyed her recipe book, she used her 



Bible more. It was her "recipe book" for daily living. Her 
favorite quote from the precious Book would surely have 
been: "O taste and see that the Lord is good. . ." 



SAWMILL MEMORIES 

John P. Kramer 

In September, 1921, Clark Cox moved his sawmill to my 
father's eighty-acre timber. This was a dense timber because 
my grandfather had never allowed anyone to cut trees unless 
they were dead. Timberland was as valuable as level farm 
land when my grandfather purchased that timber in 1897. 

Since there was no running water, it was necessary to 
dig a well. Mr. Cox and his helpers, Mr. Phillips, a saw mill 
operator, and Mr. Smith, a steam engineer, chose a spot in a 
ravine where the soil was very mucky. They were thinking 
they would have a shallow well. They spaded and shoveled a 
hole six feet in diameter and eight feet deep. This type of 
work was new to them. They had had plenty of experience 
digging trenches while serving in World War I. They built a 
windlass with three poles, six inches by six feet, bolted 
together at the top. Two poles that supported the hand crank 
shaft were set closer together so the rope on the shaft that 
lowered and raised the buckets could be cranked at a 
standing position. After digging a hole eighteen feet deep and 
still finding no water, they reduced the diameter to four feet, 
which was the size of most wells. After digging another 
twenty-two feet they hit a smaU vein of water. Then they 
bored a six-inch hole ten feet deeper and hit a gusher. A pump 
operated with a gasoline engine and a pump jack working for 
several hours did not pump it dry. Mr, Cox offered to wall the 
weU with bricks if my father would furnish them. Since it was 
so far from our home, my father did not see a need for it. He 
later regretted his decision. 



Assured of an adequate water supply, the next task was 
clearing a road wide enough for the saw and a single cylinder 
"Buffalo" steam engine. It was necessary to cut the tree as 
close to the ground as possible. That was a very difficult and 
back breaking job, using a cross cut saw and axes. By going 
around the larger trees, they ended up with a very winding 
road. The work took longer than they had expected. They 
were anxious to get a clearing made east of the well on a 
south slope where the mill would sit. 

Mr. Cox had a team of Percheron horses that he used to 
snake the logs from the roadway to the miU site. On 
Saturdays they stopped working in time to hitch the horses 
to their carriage, drive to Avon, leave the horses at the hvery 
barn, and catch the train to Galesburg. They returned on 
Monday morning with their provisions for the week. 

When they had finished clearing the road and mill site, 
they had enough logs cut for two cabins, two barns, and a 
lining for the well. They used sugar maple for this hning 
because some kinds of wood would color and flavor the water. 

They were ready to set up the mill. They dug a hole four 
feet square and three feet deep. The saw blade was to be 
placed over it. The dirt from the hole was used to level the 
ground that the mill frame was to be placed on. Then they 
lowered a belt conveyor into the hole to carry the saw dust to 
the south side and set the steam engine near the well. The 
logs were piled on a slope north of the mill, which made it 
easier to get them onto the table that moved back and forth 
by a reversible winch that it was cabled to. They used cant 
hooks to roll the logs and to turn the logs as the slabs were 
sawed off. 

When the sawing began, Mr. Cox hired two Harvey 
brothers from Kirkwood to do the off bearing, that is, piling 
lumber and slats. As soon as they had enough boards sawed, 
they began building two cabins. By this time, it was getting 
too chilly to live in a tent as they had been doing. The first 
cabin was sixteen feet long, fourteen feet wide, and nine feet 



high, with a door and a small window on the south side. The 
north side was seven feet high. The frame was constructed of 
two inch lumber. The siding and roof were made of one inch 
lumber. All of it was covered with black tar roofing paper 
lathed every three feet. The floor was also of rough sawed 
lumber. There were two built-in beds along the north side. 
There a smaU table and nail kegs served as chairs. The stump 
burner stove would hold twelve inch chunks cut eighteen 
inches long. They heated water and did some cooking on top 
of this stove, but did most of it on a two burner kerosene 
stove. Kerosene lamps and lanterns were their sources of 
hght. Mr. PhiUip's cabin was similar to the first one but much 
larger because his wife and two sons planned to join him in 
the spring. 

Two barns were constructed similar to the cabins. The 
cracks were covered with narrow strips of boards. There were 
two double stalls and a small bin to store feed. One half of a 
hollow log served as feed trough and the other half as a 
watering trough. The ends were boarded and puttied with 
blue clay secured from the well digging. 

With their building project completed, they began 
sawing logs which were to be made into railroad ties and 
hauled to Youngstown, a distance of six miles. When they 
had to drag logs farther, they used an A-shaped skid made 
from the fork of a tree. 

After they had enough ties sawed, Mr. Cox hired three 
teamsters: Sam McCracken of Abingdon, with his Belgium 
team, Edward Kissick and his son of Roseville, each with a 
Percheron team. They had heavy breeching brass mounted 
harnesses much heavier than that used in farming. The teams 
were sharp shod. The shoes had to be reset and sharpened 
every three weeks. The blacksmith was the busiest place in 
town. It was a good place to get the news and swap stories, 
for it was first come, first served. 

The ties were hauled on the running gears of a high- 
wheeled wagon. The number of ties hauled depended on the 



145 



condition of the road. If the road condition was good, the 
average haul would be sixteen ties. Riding back to the mill by 
straddUng the coupling pole on the hounds that were two- 
and-one-half-inch wooden pieces and shaped to the rear axle 
would make riding a mechanical buU child's play. It was a 
very rough ride when the roads were frozen and very dirty 
when the mud splattered in the driver's face. 

Mr. Cox hired a local boy. Forrest "Shorty" Long, to 
haul lumber for the frame of a large barn still standing on the 
Wilhs Chase farm located three miles north of Bushnell. He 
used a high wheeled wagon gear with coupHng pole extended, 
for he was hauUng lumbers more than twice as long as ties. 
He also hauled planks to be used for bridge floors. He drove 
his father's span of large sorrel mules. 

The more sawing they did, the larger the pile of sawdust 
the PhiUips brothers and I had to play in. Farmers who had 
ice houses came for sawdust which they packed around the 
cakes of ice. It was used for paths, banked around the cabins 
and barns to keep out the cold and for bedding in the barns. 

I remember getting home from school, fiUing the wood 
box, gathering the eggs, and hurrying to the timber to see 
what progress had been made. We boys picked wild flowers, 
swang on the wild grapevines, and chewed sUppery elm. 

I was fascinated with all the activities during those two 
and a half years. I remember how sad I was when they moved 
out of our timber and I heard the whistle of the steam engine 
for the last time. 



THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH 

Louise Parker Simms 

My father, James Parker, was the village blacksmith in 
the town of Abingdon, Illinois, for nearly fifty years. As far 



as stature was concerned, he in no way resembled the "village 
smithy" that stood "under the spreading chestnut tree" in 
Longfellow's poem. He was a small man, like his father before 
him. He stood scarcely five feet four inches tall. But he did a 
big man's work— work that required muscle and 
strength— and he did it well. 

In addition to the usual blacksmith work, he was also a 
horseshoer. Many times I have seen his strength challenged 
by a huge team of horses he was fitting with shoes. 

Dad's blacksmith shop was a one-story brick building in 
the first block of East Martin Street. Many years ago, in the 
early part of this century, there was a livery stable next door, 
with only an alley separating them. 

One side of the shop had a floor of thick wood planks 
over the concrete. This is where the horses stood while being 
shod. The adjacent wall held heavy metal rings to which the 
horses were tied. 

The exposed rafters overhead held horseshoes hanging 
in pairs on nails. They were secured with the aid of a long 
slender pole with a hook on the end. The straight ends of the 
shoes had to be heated in the forge until the metal was phable 
enough to be hammered on the anvil and bent down at just 
the right location. This was determined by "fitting" the shoe 
to the horse's hoof before the shoe was heated. 

During the icy winter months often a shoe called a 
"never shp" shoe was used. This had special tips applied to 
the ends, making the shoe easier to grip the ice without 
shpping. 

After the shoe was nailed to the horse's hoof, the nail 
ends were cut off and then filed down smooth along the side 
of the hoof. Any ragged edges of the hoof were neatly 
trimmed. This worried me when I was a child until I learned 
that shoeing the horse and triming the hoof didn't hurt any 
more than it does to trim the cuticle on our fingernails. 

During the summer, when the big wide doors were open, 
there was usually an audience of curious children standing in 



the doorway, watching the horses being shod. This didn't 
bother Dad, for he loved children. His only concern was that 
they did not get close enough to be hurt. 

In warm weather the horse's owner or someone would 
use a special brush to keep flies from bothering the animal. 
The brush resembled a horse's tail fastened to the end of a 
stick. This method usually kept the horses standing still 
while being shod. 

My father had httle formal education. He had learned 
the blacksmith trade under a man named Tom Austin, who 
had a shop in the first block of East Pearl Street. Dad opened 
his first shop across the street from the location where he 
worked for the last thirty-three years of his life. 

Dad was an ingenious man who learned many things on 
his own whenever the need arose. I never remember anything 
which was brought into my dad's blacksmith shop which he 
couldn't figure out a way to fix. Farmers depended on his 
skills to keep much of their machinery operating. And 
eventually "Jimmie" (as his friends knew him) sharpened 
their plows and discs. 

All the horses to be shod were not work horses. Some 
were riding horses or horses used to take the family to town 
and to church in a buggy or surrey (if the family was very 
large). Dad had a rack of buggy whips for sale. They were 
displayed on the partition between the large front work shop 
and the smaller "back room." 

In this smaller room he painted buggies— first with a 
brush and later by spray painting. The finishing trim on a 
buggy consisted of a fine line of contrasting color outlining 
the body and accenting each wood spoke of the wheels. This 
took a steady hand and a good eye— something which became 
more difficult as Dad grew older. 

But the time soon came (around 1920 or before) when 
buggies were replaced by the automobile, and tractors were 
introduced to replace the horse. Consequently, there were not 
as many horses needing to be shod nor buggies in need of 



paint. So Dad started painting automobiles and lettering 
trucks. 

After automobiles became more numerous, he added 
equipment to vulcanize tires, learning this trade on his own. 
That was when every tire had a "casing" (the heavier outer 
tire) and an "inner tube" (the inflatable rubber ring which fit 
inside the casing). The inner tube could be cold patched (much 
like applying a band-aid) or it could be vulcanized (which 
involved the application of heat, but lasted longer). 
Vulcanizing a casing which had "blown out" involved 
cementing a patch on, then placing the injured section of the 
tire in a special mold which was then heated. 

Sometimes the tire was so badly damaged it wasn't 
worth the cost of repairing. So Dad added a line of new tires 
to sell. I remember they were U. S. Royal Cord tires and were 
considered to be the top of the hne. 

During slack times in the winter, the old pot-bellied 
stove in his blacksmith shop was a favorite gathering place 
for many of his farmer customers and friends— much the 
same as they would gather now at a local coffee shop to 
discuss local and world affairs. "Kangaroo Court" they called 
it. I am sure a diversity of opinions were expressed by the 
circle of men around that stove! 

Dad sort of rolled with the punches and flowed along 
with the times, making changes in his Line of work whenever 
changing times dictated it. He never made a fortune, but he 
provided for his family of four with honest labor. 



DELIVERING MAIL ACROSS 
TROUBLESOME CREEK 

Addra Icenogle Graham 

"Thunder, lightnin', rain, mud, and Daddy!" announced 
my four-year-old brother. Homer, as he was looking out the 



147 



window one black, miserable evening. It was eight o'clock 
and we had been anxiously waiting since before six for some 
member of the family to spot the old mail wagon pulled by 
"Jack and Jenny," the two faithful mules that would be 
bringing my father home from an all-day's drive over twenty- 
five miles of muddy mail route. 

My mother started towards the kitchen to move supper 
to the front of the wood range; my brothers, Elmer and 
Clement, jumped up and put on their overcoats and boots to 
unhitch, feed and groom the team; and everyone else quit all 
the bickering and worrying because "Daddy" was home. 
Here he come into the kitchen, dog-tired, wet to the skin, 
carrying his old kerosene lantern and dinner pail. Nobody 
was left out, though, as he greeted everyone with a hug and a 
kiss before taking off his dripping sheepskin overcoat and 
boots and dropping into a chair. 

The hfe of a rural mail carrier in the twenties was far 
from easy. He had to arise winter and summer— fair weather 
or foul— at 5:30 a.m. to do his chores and get to the post office 
in time to case the mail and be ready to start out on the route 
by about 8:30 a.m. All the roads in summer were dusty dirt in 
good weather and muddy to just a slough in bad. In the 
winter they were frozen rough ruts or drifted full with snow, 
but most people expected the mail to be delivered even if they 
couldn't get to town themselves. 

My father, after trying to make a living for his family of 
nine working at the potteries in Macomb, decided in 1918 
that he would take the civil service test which aU candidates 
for the rural carrier jobs were required to pass before they 
could qualify. I can remember hearing about how my mother 
quizzed my father in math, place geography, and grammar in 
preparation for taking the exam and how elated they were 
when he finally received word that he had been hired to carry 
the mail on old Route 4 south of Macomb. 

That route went south of the post office on Randolph 
Street to Grant and then east to Maple Avenue, south the 



length of that road, east one mile past the county farm, on 
south across Troublesome Creek to Ebenezer Church and to 
Camp Creek Cemetery. Then it went east to Route 67 down 
Baumgartner Lane, then north to Camp Creek Church and 
one mile east to McMillan Lane, back to Route 67. Then it 
went back west to Frank and Charhe Patrick's to Fairmont 
School, and then past Tom Cash's house and west on Grant 
to Randolph and back to the post office. 

The first thing my father had to do was to get horses to 
puU his mail rig. I have been told that his first team was "Ole 
Topsy," a bay that weighed about 1800 pounds. She dragged 
one foot, but she could pull well. "NeUie," an almost black 
road horse that weighed only about 700 pounds, was the 
other half of this team. When they were working together, it 
looked hke "Topsy" was pulling "Nelhe" as well as the 
wagon, and my older brother and sisters used to laugh and 
say, "Here comes the elephant and the mouse." 

One can just imagine what it would look hke to see those 
two horses pulUng the old green mail wagon. And what a 
wagon it was! There has never been one hke it before or since 
because it was fashioned by my father, Elmer C. Icenogle, to 
his individual specifications. It was built with pine lumber on 
a buggy chassis in a box shape about four feet by three 
feet— barely big enough for my dad and the mail. He cut two 
holes in the front for the reins to go through, to eUminate 
frigid air from getting in. He made a glass "windshield" 
which could be raised and hooked to the ceihng for fresh air in 
warm weather. There were two small doors about 14 inches 
wide on each side and glass windows that sUd in a groove 
from the back across those doors to make the wagon as snug 
as possible. My father often took heated bricks and put them 
in a blanket or rug, in which he then wrapped his feet to keep 
them warm. Also, the kerosene lantern was kept Ughted in 
the winter for warmth, but it was considered dangerous 
because of its fumes and because of the hazard of fire in case 
of a runaway. When the bricks had cooled off or when the 



glass "windshield" would get frosted over from his breath, 
my father would get out and walk along, driving the team and 
keeping warm through exercise. Sometimes in freezing and 
thawing weather the mud would collect on the wheels until 
they wouldn't turn. Then he would have to clean the freezing 
mess off the wheels before he could go any further. 

What an impression all this must have made on a four- 
year-old to prompt my little brother to connect bad weather 
with the coming home of our father! 



THE DURHAM TOWNSHIP WOLF HUNT 

Robert R. Wagner 

During the mid-twenties, several farmers in the north 
part of Hancock County were losing young livestock due to 
wolves in the area. For two years a man reported to be a 
government wolf hunter was in the area to try to eliminate 
them. I do not know if he caught any or not, but I am sure 
several stray dogs disappeared. 

In the winter of 1928, the Hancock County Farm 
Bureau decided to sponsor a wolf hunt in Durham Township. 
There were several reasons for selecting that location. It was 
a square township easily identified by roads around it, and 
there were no towns or villages that would bother the drive. 
The east side encompassed Lamoine River, then known as 
Crooked Creek, and the northwest part of the township had 
Camp Creek. Both areas were known to be the habitat of 
wolves. The center of the township was level land where the 
hunters could see any wolves that would be within the drive. 

The date for the drive was set for February 2, 1928. The 
problem was that the weather did not cooperate very well. 
The temerature was ten above zero, and it was snowing. The 
winds were pretty sharp. They stationed men all around the 
township— eight per mile. Not more than every third man 



was allowed to carry a gun for fear someone would be 
accidently shot. As the township is six miles square, it took 
about two hundred volunteers to start the drive. At nine 
o'clock a.m., everyone started to walk toward the center of 
the township. I was attending grade school at Bross School, 
and I remember seeing two men cross our school yard about 
10:30. 

At about 12:00 noon, they all converged on a square 
forty-acre field on the Bartlett Farm southwest of the 
Durham Church, and in the center were two wolves. The field 
was a pasture where there was no place for the wolves to hide, 
and it sloped slightly to the northwest. By that time, the 
snow was blowing so badly that the hunters could barely see 
across the field. The wolves kept circling inside the field just 
out of gun range until finally they decided to make a break to 
the northwest, or low corner of the field. As they approached 
the corner, hunters on both the north and west sides began 
shooting pretty much toward each other. The wolves actually 
made it through the Une, but those in the hunt said they 
thought they were actually hit before that but sheer 
determination and speed carried them through. Then they 
died. 

After the hunt, the ladies of the Durham Church served 
soup and sandwiches to some two hundred and twenty men 
who participated in the drive. The next day my parents took 
me to see the wolf carcasses. The male wolf stood about four 
feet tall and the female was about the size of a German 
Shepherd dog. Although there was some disappointment 
that there were only two wolves killed, that seemed to end the 
problem of the livestock disappearing. 



HE WAS A DOWSER 

Alma M. Strunk 

Yes, he was a dowser, and I am a dowser, too. 

What is a dowser, you ask? Well, a dowser is a person 
who has mystical powers, or you might call it a "gift." Not 
much is required of one to be a dowser. My father was one 
and a very good one, I should add. He wanted his sons to 
follow him in that, but it was his only daughter, me, who 
could dowse. 

You just need a forked stick, preferably one cut from a 
young peach tree. Leave the bark on if you really want 
something strange to happen. The bark will peel off the ends 
of the stick where you are holding it as well as the skin off 
your thumb and finger. You can't keep it from doing this. But 
a green peach stick isn't really necessary. Any forked branch 
will do, even bahng wire will work as well. We still have the 
wire which Dad used in later years. It is in his trunk, stored 
with many other memorabillia. You fold the wire into a V 
shape with each side about fifteen inches long. This will work 
as well as a stick but it is still just as hard on the thumb and 
finger, if you grasp too hard. 

Maybe it is time to tell you what "dowsing" is. A more 
common name for a dowser is "water witch." Witching is 
trying to find an underground stream of water where people 
can dig a well and be sure to get water instead of a dry hole. 
When we Lived at Dow, Illinois, we had one such well, 
completely dry, but it was a grand place to hang cream, 
butter, and such to keep them cool. My first httle China tea 
set is in the bottom of that twenty-foot well. I threw them in 
there in a fit of anger. My cousin wanted to play with them 
and I didn't want her to. Well, needless to say, she didn't play 
with them, nor did I. 

Anyway, Dad witched for another well and found a 
stream about twenty feet away from the dry one, where they 
dug, and that new one couldn't be pumped dry. 



People from miles around would come to get Dad to find 
the best spot in which to dig a well. He would take his 
"witch" and say, "Elma, come with me," and we would go to 
where this particular person thought he wanted a well. 
Sometimes it was in the barnyard for watering stock, or 
maybe near the homestead for family use. He would begin to 
walk over the terrain in different directions to see where he 
could feel the most pull on his "witch." He would grasp his 
forked stick with both hands, thumb and first finger holding 
the ends with the V up. If he was near the underground 
stream, that stick would begin to turn downward, turning 
toward the body and, as he came near to where the stream 
was, and as he crossed it, the "witch" would point straight 
down and no amount of trying could keep it upright. If you 
grasped too hard, it would pull the skin right off your thumb 
and finger. At the point where the witch turned straight 
down was the right place to dig. Often I was elected to stand 
on that spot while Dad tried other places. 1 wasn't always the 
best marker, as I moved a lot. However, when he was sure he 
had found the strongest spot, the next step was to find how 
deep the stream was below the surface of the ground. The 
depth was determined by the number of feet from where you 
felt the pull on the "witch" to the point where it pointed 
straight down. Dad was quite successful. He had only two 
failures that I know of, and for no reason that he could 
determine. His services were sought after for miles around, 
maybe because they were free, as he never charged. He said it 
didn't cost him anything to get, so why charge for a God- 
given gift. 

How did I become a dowser? As I said. Dad took me 
with him quite often, and he would have me use the "witch" 
too. (Later I had a httle one of my own.) I guess he just 
wanted to prove to people it worked for someone else beside 
him. So I learned from experience. I had many a sore thumb 
and finger before I learned not to grasp so tight. It does pull 
on your shoulders and arms and they become tired and sore if 



you work too long. It took me a long time to reaUy believe I 
could do it. But after seeing positive results of water in the 
holes that were dug, I beheve. 

Dowsing is a real gift and is authentic, and my dad was 
a good one. 



GRANDMAS SPRING CLEANING 

Beula Setters 

"Wake up, Beula, we clean the west bedroom today!" 
Grandma called. "Grandpa has started the fire in the summer 
kitchen and brought in a fresh ham from the smokehouse. 
You can start breakfast while I milk old Betsy. I'll make the 
biscuits when I get back, we must have a good breakfast 
today for we can't stop long for dinner. I'U put the soup beans 
and a ham-hock on the back of the cook stove to simmer." 

That's what I heard at six o'clock on a bright May 
morning back in 1912. 

We all had our work to do before breakfast. Grandpa 
opened, swept, and cleaned his store, which was next door, 
Grandma did the chores, and I cooked the breakfast. 

When Grandma came back with a two gallon bucket of 
warm milk, she took the fresh strainer rag from the kitchen 
cabinet, strained the milk, and placed the crocks of milk on a 
side table. We called Grandpa and sat down to a breakfast of 
fried ham, eggs, potatoes, gravy, hot biscuits, coffee, and 
postum for me. Also a covered honey dish with a comb of 
honey was a permanent fixture on Grandma's table. 

After breakfast Grandma said, "Beula, you can clean up 
the table and do the dishes while Pa and I move the furniture 
out of the bedroom. Then it will be ready for you to take up 
the carpet. " 

Soon my father appeared to help Grandma take down 
the little box stove, a small rectangular iron stove with a door 



in front through which one could place a good sized log. It 
wasn't as hard to move as the big pot-belHed stove in the 
sitting room, but it did take two men to move it and to take 
down the stove pipe. 

"Now where did we store that flu-stopper last fall?" 
Grandma asked. 

The flu-stopper was a carved brass plate, with a pretty 
picture in the center, which was placed in the round hole near 
the ceiling when the stove pipe was removed. This was 
necessary to keep the soot from coming into the room in 
stormy weather, as well as chimney swallows that often built 
nests in the chimney in summer. 

The heavy mahogany wardrobe was the biggest 
problem, but it had to go outside the room, so the wall to wall 
rag carpet could be taken up. We had no closets built in the 
house in the early days, so this six foot piece of furniture with 
double doors, shelves, drawers and hooks inside was used for 
our clothes. Also the clean chamber pot was stored in the 
wardrobe during the day. The chamber pot was a pretty 
white pottery vessel with a Ud, kept under the bed at night 
for one's convenience when the call of nature came during 
unfavorable weather. 

The bed was taken apart, the featherbed placed on the 
clotheshne to air, the straw-tick (used in place of springs) was 
laid on the grass, the wood slats were washed and placed in 
the sun to dry. 

Grandma and I moved the smaller pieces of furniture. 
■Very carefully we carried the little commode with the large 
china bowl and pitcher into the parlor. If one remembered to 
fill the pitcher at night there was warmer water to wash with 
in the morning. Then there was Grandma's platform rocker, 
in which she always sat by the window to relax and sew quilt 
blocks. 

After all the furniture was out of the room, we removed 
the pictures from the walls, such as the framed motto "Home 



Sweet Home," a sampler embroidered in wool and human 
hair. 

"Here's Grandpa's wild west picture," said Grandma as 
she handed it to me. "It always reminds me of the time Jesse 
James stayed in St. Mary's at Mrs. Morris' house." 

"Grandma, when I was little and Mama left me with 
Mrs. Morris, I always took a nap in her spare bedroom. Do 
you suppose I slept in the same bed that Jesse James slept 
in?" 

"I reckon you did. She only had two bedrooms," 
Grandma rephed. 

"Ah! how awful," I exclaimed. 

"Now let's get busy taking up this carpet," Grandma 
said impatiently. "You can take out the tacks around the 
wall. My rheumatism talks to me when I stoop." 

So with a tack remover I settled down to an hour's work 
of pulling out tacks. When I had finished, we called the men 
to put the carpet on the clotheshne and beat it with a carpet 
beater, which was an oval wire contraption with a handle, 
somewhat hke a tennis racket. All day long we took turns 
beating the dust out of that carpet. The straw that had been 
on the floor under the carpet was picked up to burn. 

While I was taking out the tacks. Grandma took down 
the lace curtains and green bUnds. She dusted the blinds 
inside and out, washed the lace curtains and pinned them on 
the curtain stretcher frames, a rectangler wood frame with 
small nail like projections every two inches on which the 
curtains were stretched and pinned. These too were placed in 
the sun to dry. She then ripped open the pillow ticks and 
threw away the feathers, washed the pillow ticks, and later 
filled them with fresh goose feathers. 

After the carpet and dirty straw were taken out of the 
room, my job was to wash the windows. Grandma gave me a 
cake of Bon-Ami. I had fun rubbing the white paste on the 
window— and drawing pictures when Grandma wasn't 
looking. Suddenly 1 heard, "Now, Beula, no foolin' around, 



take that dry rag and shine those windows. We want to finish 
this room before dark." 

Last of aD we cleaned the rose covered wall paper with a 
special dough that Grandma had mixed. The dough was 
kneaded like bread dough as we wiped downward to clean the 
waU. The woodwork was washed with ammonia water. 

When we had finished. Grandma scrubbed the pine floor 
with lye soap until it gleamed. After the floor had dried, we 
put down fresh straw, and then began the long hard process 
of laying the well beaten carpet, stretching and tacking it 
wall to wall. Then all the furniture was carried back into the 
room. If we finished before dark we were lucky. 

Oftentimes, as soon as the bed was set up, I would drop 
into it, exhausted, revehng in the fresh aroma of the clean 
room. 



FEATHERWEIGHT MEMORIES 

Zella Sill 

Our Grandma McMeen raised poultry— not just 
chickens, but geese, ducks, guineas and turkeys, and more of 
them than ever in the summer of 1918. She was doing her 
part at home, as their youngest son was over in France and a 
World War 1 star hung in the parlor window. 

When we visited Grandma on her farm northeast of 
Canton, if we children were very quiet, we could go into the 
part of the chicken house where the setting hens nested. 
Grandma knew just which day each nest of eggs would hatch. 
What fun it was to carry the tiny chicks into the summer 
kitchen and put them in a box by the big old range to keep 
them safe until the whole setting was hatched. The next day 
the hen and her brood were taken to a httle coop in the 
orchard. The hen was shut in, but the chicks would come in 
and out, untU they were old enough to keep up with their 



152 



mother as she foraged all over the place. But she knew her 
own coop when bedtime came. 

Big pans of skimmed milk were set on the back of the 
range, and the clabber was fed to the young poultry or 
finished off into cottage cheese for us. The goshngs and 
ducklings Uked bread and milk. They made a lot of noise and 
nibbled your bare toes if you got to close. I was afraid of the 
big geese and turkeys. 

I don't think that Grandma had any commercial feed, 
just wheat, oats, and cracked corn, and lots of fresh water. No 
fair dipping it from the horse trough, though. We had to 
pump and pump. That was hard work for a ten-year-old. Then 
we ventured out past all those noisy birds to fiU their water 
pans. The ducks were experts at getting the water dirty, but 
if we could get out there while they were at the far corner of 
the orchard, that gave the other birds a chance. 

One time I walked into the summer kitchen and found 
Grandma plucking the down off the old geese. They didn't 
need it in the summer time. Grandma had a big piece of 
canvas stretched over her lap, and held the goose over a big 
tub as she plucked the down. She held the goose's head back 
under her arm to keep it from biting her. The geese didn't 
seem to mind, for they didn't struggle much while she 
plucked them. She made pillows and feather ticks for aU the 
family with a mixture of the down and feathers. 

One hot night the thunder began to rumble and 
Grandma hopped out of her bed, threw a shawl around her 
shoulders, and lighted the lantern to go check on the coops of 
roosters she had shut up to go to the market the next day. 
She put some heavy planks over them to protect them from 
rain and wind, and then hurried along, stopping at the back 
house. From that shelter she could see the many small coops 
that were staked down. Satisfied that they were all secure, 
she went back to bed. Then came the gully washer and the 
next morning the coops and roosters were all gone. It had 



been real handy for someone to carry them across the orchard 
to the road, and their tracks were all washed away. 

I don't know whether Grandma was more angry at her 
loss or more frightened at the thought that those fellows 
might have been lurking in the shadows as she tended her 
flock. 

After the Armistice was signed, it was soon Christmas 
and there was a big celebration with aU of the famihes there 
to welcome Uncle Elmer home from the war. We 
grandchildren were called into the kitchen to see the roast 
turkey, the goose, the ducks, the guineas and chickens, and 
the big kettles of other things, and then we were shown the 
long dining table set with her finest linens, china, and silver. 

After that, the youngest aunts took us into Grandma's 
bedroom. It looked strange in there. The furniture had been 
removed, except the big round stove, and there was room to 
play games. Hidden behind bedsheets was a Christmas tree 
that reached the high ceiling, but we couldn't see it until we 
had eaten at "second table." 

I'm sure Grandma made many of the small gifts that 
hung on that tree, and Santa came in time to see us get them. 
I think our little cousin, Guy McMeen, was the only one who 
talked to him. He wanted to know why Santa had boots just 
Like his daddy's. 



BUILDING A FARM FENCE 

Burdette Graham 

The pioneer farmer came to a new era and new home and 
usually brought along some farm animals, or acquired some 
soon to provide power and food. Also, a garden and some 
crops were necessary, but the animals and crops could not be 
aDowed together, so farm fences were a next step. These 
fences had to be built out of materials at hand, as money was 



153 



scarce to buy lumber, or wire. So the fence which required 
nothing except wood and labor became common on most 
farms. The fence which could be built with nothing but wood 
was Split Rail or Zig-Zag Fence. Instead of being built on a 
narrow, straight line, the rails zigged back and forth over the 
line and made a fence taking up about six feet in width. As 
years went on, and land became more valuable for growing 
crops and the chore of keeping weeds down along this fence 
required too much wasted time and labor, the zig-zag fence 
was replaced by another rail fence called the Straight Rail 
Fence. 

To build a rail fence required rails, which were spht from 
logs usually about ten feet long, but they could be any 
desired length. I missed most of the labor in the timber 
because it was a winter job done by Dad and the hired man 
while I was in school, but a few times I was able to go along 
and see how things were done. 

The common tree used for posts and rails was White 
Oak, but others could be used. Felling a tree was not much 
different than today, except for using hand tools instead of 
chain saws. First a notch was cut, usually with an axe on the 
side in the direction the tree was to fall. Then sawing from the 
opposite side was done with a two man saw. If only one man 
was available, the axe was used for this cut, too. Once the tree 
was down and trimmed up, it was cut into lengths of logs 
desired for the rails needed. Ten-foot rails were used for the 
lateral part of the fence and six-foot rails needed for posts or 
props. 

Splitting was done with a mail or sledge and steel 
wedge. Sometimes wedges made from elm were used, called 
gluttons. They had a tendency to bounce back at the 
woodsman after being hit with the sledge. 

Rails were usually hauled to the fence site on a sled, but 
if no snow was on the ground, wagons were used. Rails were 
piled in bunches along the fence line ready for fence building 



as soon as the frost was out of the ground to allow for setting 
end posts and brace rails. 

To begin building a rail fence, two posts were set where 
the end of the fence was to be, either at a corner or gate. 
These two posts were set beside each other and about four 
inches apart to allow rails to be inserted between. The two 
posts were fastened at the top with wire or an iron loop to 
keep them from separating. 

Next the laterals were laid. Instead of being laid directly 
down the fence line, they were laid to cross over the line and 
form the zig-zag to hold the fence up, much as we see today in 
a folding screen. First, a rail was laid with one end between 
the two set posts, and then the rail was moved at the other 
end about three feet to the right of the direct fence line, this 
making the first zig. Now another rail was laid with one end 
on top of the first rail, and the other end zagged across the 
fence line to about three feet, where the third panel was 
begun with a rail being placed on top and zig-zag back across 
the fence line. This process could now be carried out as far as 
desired, but after a few panels were started, the second rail 
could be added. To begin, a foot long piece of rail was laid 
between the two end posts, on top of the first rail. The second 
rail was now laid on top of the spacer and zig-zagged across 
the fence line above the first rail, and the end of the rail of the 
second panel became the spacer. The second rail was now laid 
on aU but the last starting panel. 

The third raO was laid in the same manner, and as many 
more as desired, usually six high. This was followed to the 
end, which was finished up as begun with two end or gate 
posts. 

Now the brace rails were ready to be set up. This part 
required digging a hole about a foot deep on each side of the 
zig and about two feet from the rails. The braces were then 
leaned over the top of the zig from both sides. To anchor 
these at the top required the seventh rail, called the key rail, 
which was laid in the notch formed by the brace rails at each 



zig or zag. When the key rail was laid on top of all panels, the 
fence was done. These brace posts caused trouble because 
animals ran into them and field equipment would hit and 
break them. Some less strong braces were used by making 
the braces longways with the fence, but these did not offer 
much side bracing and animals could more easily push the 
panel over. 

An improved method of building a rail fence allowed a 
narrow straight hne, and was usually used along lots. To 
make this straight rail fence required using two posts, the 
ends of the rails of each panel serving as spacers for the rails 
of the next panel. This required wire or metal loops at the top 
of each panel, and this wire or iron had to be purchased with 
dollars which were not always available. This got rid of the 
weed patches, and allowed more land to be used for cultivated 
crops, but this was the beginning of removing sheltered 
places for wildlife. 

Some farm fences were built by pihng up stumps, but I 
never saw one of those, probably because our farm was too 
far from the timber, and hauling stumps was almost 
impossible, while rail hauling was easy. 

Some parts of the country built fences from rocks 
which had to be hauled from the fields, but we had no rocks in 
Illinois prairies. 

Many farm fences were built from sawed lumber, but 
this was usually seen around the farm house, and came after a 
number of years of farming and money making. 

Another fence was very popular because it cost nothing, 
except labor in planting and trimming. That was the Osage 
Orange hedge fence. Many farms were fenced by hedge. It 
required a few years after planting before it could serve as a 
Uvestock fence, but thousands of miles were planted on field 
and farm boundaries. Much of it was planted by contract 
fence planters, but that required cash outlay so many were 
planted by the farmers. 

Hedge balls were gathered in the fall after they had 



fallen from mature hedge trees. These required about four 
months of dormancy before the seeds would sprout. Many 
times the hedge balls, or hedge apples, as some called them, 
were placed in a sack and suspended in a pond or creek until 
spring. At that time they were decomposed, and seeds could 
be separated from the pulp and planted. Some people plowed 
a furrow along the fence line with a walking plow and after 
scattering the seeds along about one foot apart, the furrow 
was closed or covered by another trip with the walking plow, 
moving the plowed soil back over the seeds. Others used a 
spade and made a hole six inches deep, dropped the seed in, 
and filled the hole again. 

In about four years the fence had to be trimmed and 
could be used, but it did not yet make a good fence until a few 
more years of growth and trimming. 

Trimming was a spring job and usually one when too 
wet to do other things. The hedge knife was about three feet 
long with a foot long handle and a hook at the end of the 
handle to prevent the knife from slipping out of the hands of 
the trimmer and striking the other trimmer, who was on the 
other side of the fence. If the trimmed brush was left, it 
provided an excellent place for wildlife. Many times it was 
piled and burned. 

I did not have the opportunity to plant any hedges, but 
I have an Osage Orange tree in my back yard, which was left 
when the old Currens Farm was turned into a housing area. 
We still gather hedge baUs, usuaOy disposing of them, but we 
always have a few which decompose and start new hedge 
trees. I have been on several farms which have pastures 
which have been neglected which are almost solid with hedge 
trees. 

My main memories of the hedges in our community are 
of the walks to school along the hedge rows. Just about every 
kind of bird could be found there, with their nests, songs, and 
Uttle ones. The brown thrashers, and doves, and many others 
were down low, while the crows and jays were up higher. I 



remember the workers pulling the trees down by using some 
of the bigger ones as anchors, and employing chains and 
pulleys and a team on a windlass or tree puller. Workers then 
worked the down trees into posts, and fire wood and pUed the 
brush and burned it. 

Then a new metal barbed wire or woven fence took the 
place of the hedge and the birds, and now a crop could be 
grown right up to the fence and the weeds mowed so no 
wildlife could exist. 



WORKING WITH HIRED MEN 

Arthur Bowles 

My Dad farmed a large acreage of ground, most of it in 
the Mississippi bottoms three and a half miles northwest of 
Quincy. We farmed with horses and mules— no air- 
conditioned tractor cabs in those days! Dad had a lot of 
different hired hands. He would hire about the first of March 
for the season's work. The pay was about $30.00 a month, 
including board. Then, when the wheat harvest started, he 
would hire a couple more hands, but only by the day. He paid 
$2.00 a day for hay and wheat shocking. The day workers 
would go home each evening, as most hved in bottom lands in 
log shanties. They were old bachelors, or they sure seemed 
old to me. When threshing started, there were more men 
hired, but they were never hard to find as they followed 
threshers from place to place. They were called "the old 
steam threshing outfits," and it took a lot of men to keep 
them going. These men ate their meals where they were 
working and slept in a hay loft. For several years I remember 
the same men showing up each season. There was a man 
known as "Iowa Slim." No one ever knew his real name. Some 
men never told their real names or where they were reaOy 
from. "Iowa SHm" wrote his name on the inside of the big 



shding door on our big red barn. He had the neatest 
penmanship anyone ever saw. That was about 1916, and it 
was still there when the barn was torn down just a few years 
ago. If 1 had known this, I would have gotten the board with 
his name on it. 

There was also a man called as "Jimmy the Pig." He did 
say he had just come over from Ireland, but that was all he 
would tell us. He and I got along very good. One day he made 
me a rubber shooter, and I kept it for years. When they got 
through threshing at our farm and Dad was paying with 
checks, he asked Jimmy what his real name was. He told my 
Dad just plain old "Jimmy the Pig" and it came back from 
the bank endorsed just that way. "Iowa Shm" would not take 
a check but insisted on cash. Then there was "Dude 
Armour"; he was a little older than Jimmy or Iowa Shm. He 
was a very clean cut, courteous man. He always wore a derby 
hat and shaved each morning, putting on clean clothes each 
time. He washed his clothes every evening at the pump. 

One morning, Seeley, a neighbor to the west, called and 
wanted to know if Dad needed any help. He had run onto a 
boy in Quincy that wanted a farm job. Dad hired him and he 
worked several days. Dad said he tried hard but didn't have 
much experience. Two days later the sheriff caUed and asked 
if we had a seventeen-year-old boy working for us. Dad told 
him yes, and he asked Dad to let the boy ride to town with 
him the next day and go by the courthouse. The sheriff was 
waiting and took him into custody. "He was a Girl." She had 
run away from Kansas City and was posing as a boy. In those 
days, the teenagers didn't wear tight clothes, only levis or 
jeans and a sweater. It was easy to make that mistake. 

There was also a one-armed man. He could drive a team 
with the lines around his waist. He could not shock wheat or 
do any shovehng or forking. He was always the wheat binder 
driver. There were four horses "abreast" on the binder. When 
people asked him how he lost his arm, he would tell them he 
was cocking a cannon in the Civil War and it backfired. 



156 



taking his arm off. The truth was, he was laying at the side of 
the railroad drunk with his arm over the track and a train 
went by and cut his arm off. 

Dad employed a multitude of hired hands and I 
overheard several of them saying, "You don't go to bed at 
Bowies'. Just lean on that board that is leaning against the 
barn to get a little sleep." I gathered that Dad was a little 
hard to work for. One old fellow came to work for him. They 
had supper that evening, and the next morning Dad called 
them to breakfast it was still dark. The old fellow ate and 
pushed back from the table, saying, "Tis is a fine place to 
work: two suppers in one night, and now for bed again!" 



APPLE BUTTER DAYS 

Edna L. Thompson 

Apple butter making was an annual event, an enjoyable, 
hard working, two-day Job, in the fall after the apples had 
been picked. 

It took place on the J. G. Thompson farm, in the back 
yard, in FaU Creek Township, Adams County, Illinois, about 
two and one half miles west of Payson, Illinois. I went there 
to live in 1918, after I married J. Ben Thompson, son of J. G. 
Thompson. The first day, in order to get ready to make apple 
butter, we had to clean the forty-gallon copper kettle. It had 
been stored in an outside building in the back yard. It was 
just dusty, as it had been scoured bright and shiny outside 
and cleaned on the inside after the last using. There were 
about three bushels of apples on the back porch to be washed 
and cored and cut into fourths, and then cut in two again so 
they would cook up faster. Those apples had been grown in 
the orchard right on the farm where we Uved. They were 
drops and other apples that were not salable. The good ones 



were stored for winter use and, so, were sold. We cut out all 
bruises, worm holes, and Uttle rotten spots. There were 
Jonathans, Roman Stems, and Minklers. 

They were prepared the day or evening before the 
cooking outdoors day. My good friend and neighbor, Mildred 
Dunn, hved on the farm next to the Thompson Farm (down a 
hill and up a hill away) and was always on hand to help, 
whether it was apple butter making, threshing dinners, 
butchering day, or paper hanging. She was there with her 
smile and enjoyable sense of humor, along with her 
helpfulness. 

The next morning Ben, my husband, fixed a wood fire, 
and then left the rest of the job to us women. There was an 
iron frame that the forty-gallon copper kettle rested on above 
the fire. About two gaUons of water was heated, and the 
sliced apples were put into the kettle and cooked, and stirred 
and stirred until soft enough to mash with a fork against the 
side of the kettle. The apples were then taken out and run 
through the colander. This was a boring job, but there wasn't 
any short cut. We all took turns. This colander was made 
especially for apple butter cooking out of doors, on a big 
scale. It was about thirty inches long and twenty inches wide 
or so. It was platter shaped, made by a tin smith. It was 
study metal and was an important piece of equipment. The 
holes were larger than an ordinary colander. This was put on 
top of a huge dish pan or small tub. The apple sauce was 
rubbed and pushed around until only the skins were left in 
the colander. 

The next step was putting aU the apple sauce into the 
copper kettle, and the stirring began again and it never 
stopped until the apple butter was ready to can. 

The wooden stirrer was quite a thing, one of the most 
important pieces of equipment. It was made of hard smooth 
wood, probably five and a half by six feet long. Long enough 
that one could stand back from the fire and stir and stir and 
not be too uncomfortable. At the end of the stirrer, at right 



angles, was a piece of smooth wood ten or twelve inches long 
and four inches wide, with about three or four holes, close to 
the edge, holes big enough to poke clean corn husks three 
inches long into them and tie snugly there with heavy string. 
This kept the apple sauce from sticking to the bottom of the 
copper kettle. Also, two or three silver dollars were scoured 
clean and put into the apple sauce loose. They also kept the 
apple sauce moving, so it wouldn't scorch. I have never 
tasted scorched apple butter. It never happened to us 
because we followed carefully the plans and directions of our 
mothers and grandmothers. 

This cooking and stirring went on and on, with no rest 
for the stirrers. They kept the silver dollars moving in that 
sea of apple sauce. 

The firewood was there handy and was replenished as 
needed. The fire was not a brisk one— just enough that the 
apple butter kept cooking and kinda slowly bubbling (a lovely 
sound). 

The sugar was added gradually, three or four cups at a 
time, and the stirring went on and on, and you added more 
sugar to taste— not too much. 

When it thickened up and got a good reddish brown 
color, you put a spoonful on a saucer, let it cool, and put your 
finger in it to taste it. Then you got everyone to help taste 
and give their opinion. But since it was your apple butter, you 
had the final say so. 

When it was cooked enough to have the right 
consistency, it was tasted again. No one ever made a sloppy, 
juicy apple butter. It never happened. Using a knife, it will 
"stay put" on a slice of bread and butter and not sUde off. 

One time I helped make eighty-three quarts of apple 
butter, and we finished canning at 9:00 p.m. by lantern light. 
That was for two families and gifts for friends. 

Now the clean up time. The copper kettle had to be 
scoured bright as new on the inside and out. It had been 
blackened with the smoke of the fire, but the lady (my 



mother-in-law) who owned the kettle insisted it must be 
polished, and it was put back in the shed until next year. I 
didn't see the need to scour the outside (the inside was always 
bright and shining). Of course, it was black, but it would get 
black again when used next year. But my mother-in-law was 
the owner and the ruler of the copper kettle, so of course I 
scoured it, but my heart wasn't in it. I used brick dust and 
ashes for scouring. 

Many years later the copper kettle was sold on the farm 
at an auction. 



MEDICINE MAMMA'S WAY 

Clarice Stafford Harris 

When springtime arrived we were dosed with either 
sulphur and molasses or sassfras tea to thin the winter blood. 
Lucky for me, my folks preferred the tea, and though it 
lacked its supposed power, it was a very good beverage that I 
still love to this day. Spring was the time to be wormed, need 
it or not, and so we were dosed with a patent medication 
called vermifuge. This wasn't too bad, so we didn't mind 
taking it, and would probably have taken more if allowed. 

If a tummy ache was the problem. Mama mixed one 
drop of peppermint oil, two teaspoons of sugar in a cup of hot 
water, or two tablespoons of vinegar in half a glass of water, 
adding half a teaspoon of baking soda, and stirring to a fizz 
much hke the seltzer of today. 

To warm the insides and stop cramps, one fourth 
teaspoon of ground ginger spice, and sugar to taste, in a cup 
of hot water was surprisingly effective. One had to stir 
between sips to keep the ginger from settling to the bottom of 
the cup. 

Crushed catnip leaves were bandaged on the affected 
area for poison ivy cure. I was the victim of the ivy plant 



158 



every year, come berry picking time, and spent hours quietly 
on the couch bandaged to the neck in wet, soggy catnip. 
Cloverleaf salve was a must in the medicine chest and used 
for anything and almost everything. 

A weak solution of warm salt water was good for 
bathing the eyes and could be sniffed up the nostrils for 
sinus. This was prescribed many years later by an elderly 
doctor when I was having a sinus problem. It was a surprise. 
Tobacco smoke was blown into an aching ear, and if that 
didn't work, warm sweet oil was dropped into the ear and a 
wad of cotton inserted to keep the oil from running out. 

A makeshift hotwater bottle substitute was an eight- 
inch square bag, stitched from closely woven material and 
filled with salt or clean sand. This was heated in the oven and 
held the heat for quite a long time. This helped many a tooth 
or ear ache and soothed many sore muscles at our house. 

Sore throats were swabbed with iodine and a dirty sock 
was pinned around the neck. That was unsanitary, I know, 
but then again, the asafetida bags that hung around our 
necks to keep illness away was worse. The odor alone was 
enough to discourage any self respecting, stray germ that 
might venture near. 

Mama concocted a cough syrup of sugar, vinegar, and 
margarine boiled to a thin syrup. Sometimes she got carried 
away and added an onion to the mixture, but that left much 
to be desired. 

One old time remedy that I know of saved many small 
fry from a death of strangulation. This consisted of one or 
two drops of kerosene on a teaspoon of sugar. This sounds 
terrible, was poison, and probably tasted horrible; however it 
brought up the cause and cured the croup. The best remedy, 
at least to me, was honey in the comb. There was never any 
objection when I had to take it. 

Chest colds were treated with many kinds of strange 
rubs: warm goose grease, saved from a Christmas goose, and 
onions fried in lard using the strained and potent grease. Also 



Vicks Vaporub, musterole, mentholatum and mustard 
plasters— to name a few bought at a drug store. Any one of 
these might be spread over the chest, and perhaps the back 
and soles of the feet and soft flannel cloth over aU. The fumes 
were overpowering, and bundled as we were, it was harder to 
breathe than from the cold. 

Since we didn't possess a vaporizer, a steam tent was 
used. We sat on chairs circled around a stool that held a pan 
of hot water. A spoonful of vaporub was melted in the water, 
and a blanket was draped over like a tent. Sometimes Mama 
had to sit with us to hold the youngest. The hot vapor fumes 
were very effective, for we coughed and blew our noses and 
wiped away tears, hopeful that our ordeal would soon be over. 

It also was surprising what Mamm's Kiss could cure. 



MISS ADA AND HER NIMBLE THIMBLE 

Ardith E. Williams 

The sun is just showing itself over the barn. Morning 
chores done and breakfast under his belt, Pa hitched old Dick 
to the buggy and went off to town to fetch Miss Ada. 

Miss Ada, the town dressmaker, was coming for her 
twice a year sewing stint, so the family would be presentably 
dressed for the coming season. 

What a flurry of cutting, basting and pressing! Lengths 
of cloth everywhere: dimity, percale, mushn, and voile for 
summer. Alpaca, foulard and gabardine for winter. Black silk 
for that one really good dress. 

Miss Ada slept in the spare room and ate at the big table 
with the hired girl, the hired man, and the rest of the family. 
Cornbread and sorghum, fried chicken and scrapple, biscuits, 
honey and garden stuff were typical fare for a growing family 
in the year 1907. 



She stayed for several days or a week, or more if there 
happened to he a wedding or a graduation in the offing. 

First to be served were the ladies. There was much 
studying of pattern books, decision making, and laying out of 
patterns, everything tactfully maneuvered by Miss Ada. 
Such tucking and ruffhng, laughing and gossiping! Such 
standing on chairs to have a hem hung! Miss Ada, her mouth 
full of pins, reigned supreme. 

Pa was not forgotten. Just get the unbeached mushn 
and run up some undershirts and drawers. A length of cotton 
flannel for a warm winter nightshirt and work shirts of 
chambray. The girls helped with the basting and the 
buttonholes. 

Outgrown or worn clothing, previously ripped apart and 
carefully washed and pressed, was fashioned into clothes for 
the younger ones. A plaid wool with new velvet collar and 
cuffs for little sister. New knickers for Junior out of Pa's old 
Sunday pants. Patterns were turned and twisted to miss 
worn spots. 

Miss Ada, seamstress, was a town fixture, a helper in 
need, a life saver for the ladies not "handy with a needle." She 
was a maiden lady, plump and pleasant, with her graying hair 
in a knot atop a head full of current styles. She had ways to 
make ample ladies look slim and methods to pad up the 
skinny ones. She was a bringer of neighborhood news, a lover 
of people and Ufe, and a friend. 

Having no family of her own, she was a lover of all the 
little ones who passed through her hfe, and was known to put 
a secret pocket in the seam of a dress to dehght a httle girl. 

But time moved on, and with the advent of the Sears 
Catalogue and department stores with their ready-mades, 
another tradition passed. Miss Ada stayed in her little home 
in town, and the ladies came to her in their "Fords" and their 
"Maxwells" to have a hem adjusted or a seam let out and to 
have hand-me-downs made over (much to the disgust of the 



recipients). Wouldn't she be amazed at the billowing wave of 
sewing covering the country today? 



THE LEGEND OF THE BACKHOUSE 

Keith L. Wilkey 

The backhouse was a basic fact of personal family living 
from the time of the first settlers until the Era of Gracious 
Living, beginning in the 1950's and 1960's. 

Today folks may speak as casually of "going to the 
bathroom" as they would of going to any other room in the 
house. But there was a time— a long period in the history of 
Western Illinois— when any reference to a "body waste 
elimination station" was referred to in discreet 
language— perhaps with guarded words. 

But when company was not present, most families 
referred to the httle upright rectangular structure, usually 
located about seventy-five to one hundred feet from the 
house, by a variety of names. Some of the more common were: 
privy, outhouse, backhouse, out-back, httle shanty, doohe, 
and simply "the can." 

Somehow it was always just there. It defied the endless 
changing of the seasons and paid httle heed to the ravages of 
time. Though buffeted by the elements, through summer 
heat and winter snow, it somehow didn't completely wear 
out. Actually, 1 don't ever recall our family or any of the 
neighbors ever having a brand new one. 

There were two basic architectural designs— one with a 
gable roof and the other a slanted roof. There never seemed to 
be any dead right or absolutely wrong way to build one. Most 
were about six feet by six feet wide with seven or eight foot 
sidewalls. 

The bench type seat was about eighteen inches above 
the floor and eighteen or twenty inches wide. Two holes, eight 



160 



to ten inches in diameter, had been cut in the seat. But there 
were variations; some privies had only one hole, then there 
was the type with a child's seat. It was only about half the 
height of the full seat, with a smaller hole to sit on. These 
were most often found in public places, such as the school, the 
church, the railroad depot, etc. 

The outhouse floor was usually about six or seven 
inches above the ground, though some older buildings, 
perhaps never too well constructed in the first place, had 
sagging floors not more than two inches above grade level. 

In one corner of the building was a box, or old nail keg or 
some similar container containing hme, which was used as a 
deodorant. Either a screen door hook, or a home made one 
fashioned from No. 9 smooth wire, was used to secure the 
door latch. Some doors swung inward while others swung to 
the outside. 

Directly beneath the seat was the pit, about four by four 
feet, or whatever requirements corresponded with the seat. 
This was periodically cleaned, usually by intinerant 
scavengers. 

The outward appearance of most rural backhouses 
corresponded with the general demeanor of the rest of the 
premises. The neat and discriminating homeowner usually 
painted his doolie the same color as the house, barn and other 
outbuildings. Seldom indeed was the inside ever graced by 
paint. 

Frequently a lattice-type trellis would be constructed in 
front of the can by the owner, and embellished by the 
housewife. Morning glories, rambler roses, trumpet vines, 
honeysuckle, and other types of flowering vegetation all but 
camouflaged the building from general view. 

So much for the physical description of this personal 
habitue. It was the outhouse; it was always there. Distance 
sometimes made it an inconvenience, but it was accepted as a 
way of life. Everyone had a backhouse. What was so funny 
about that? 



During the pleasant days and long summer twilights, 
members of the family went to the backhouse with no 
thought except for the physical relief if afforded. In the early 
spring, when robins sang and bluebirds nested, and in the 
autumn time of red and yellow leaves, it was "no big deal." 
But it was a different story when the north wind howled, the 
snow swirled, and sleet and freezing rain filled the 
atmosphere. 

And there were those times when low, gray clouds 
scudded across the sky bringing rain, first in big drops, then 
settling in for a steady downpour. During such a time, the 
person leaving the house for the privy had to wear a raincoat, 
rubbers or galoshes, a headgear and frequently an umbrella. 
When the snows of January blanketed the landscape, a snow 
shovel was always kept in a handy place. 

Unfortunate indeed was he who "got caught" in the 
backhouse during a thunderstorm, unprepared for such a 
turn of events. 

After darkness, the preparation included a flashlight or 
a lantern. Not only did the kerosene lantern assure good 
footing, but once the destination had been reached, it seemed 
cozy, snug and warm inside, with the friendly rays of the 
lantern beaming against the interior walls. 

Before toilet tissue had become such a commonplace 
item, this requirement was met by last season's catalogue 
and outdated newspapers and magazines. 

In the north temperate zone the weather was hospitable 
most of the year. Summer time, however, presented its 
hazards. Wasps and mud daubers found the inside of the 
backhouse just the place to build their mud ceOs and nesting 
places. No question about it, a sting from a wasp was an 
occupational hazard. 

I once heard a story concerning a neighboring housewife 
who entered the privy after a quick dash from the kitchen, 
leaving her housework, and discovered a blacksnake lazily 
reposing on the floor behind the inward-swinging door. She 



161 



still has little enthusiasm for certain experiences of "the good 
old days." 

At any time during a warm, summer day there was 
always the possibiUty of a wandering honeybee or yeOow 
jacket entering the can for a look around. Flies could be 
heard, with their monotonous buzzing sound, as the rays 
from the summer sun penetrated the cracks in the sidewaUs. 
As the poet Thomas Gray once said, "All the air a solemn 
stillness holds, save where the beetle wheels his droning 
fhght." 

The backhouse, Uke its successor, the bathroom, 
provided the dawdler with a refuge. The teenage boy who had 
weeds to cut on a hot afternoon could find it easy to spend a 
great deal of time loitering in the outhouse. 

For many decades the backhouse was the prime target 
for Halloween pranksters. Most cans were placed flat on the 
ground, or perhaps a two-by-four foundation, without 
anchorage. Two or three boys could push on the back side, 
and soon the Uttle house would be lying horizontal, with the 
door down. In most locahties in the old days, it was hard to 
find an upright privy anywhere in town the morning after 
Halloween. 

As part of the New Deal rehabilitation during the 
Depression years the rural outhouse underwent its most 
radical change since it first came into being on the North 
American continent. Privies were now constructed with 
concrete floors, a concrete pedestal-type seat and an 
overhanging roof, which provided ventilation as weO as being 
screened against insects. 

They were constructed of good quality tongue-in-groove 
lumber, and the interior as well as the exterior was painted 
with several coats of enamel finish white paint. 

The backhouse was once the sole facility of middle and 
lower class Americans, and even some of society's "better 
people." Even today in isolated places, the old backhouse is 
still being used, but their numbers are decreasing rapidly. 



For most the old outhouse has gone the way of the horse 
and buggy, the threshing machine, three-legged milking 
stool, and other accouterments of Life in the past. But the 
remembrance of the old backhouse lives on and remains a 
vivid memory to many residents of West Central Ilhnois. 



REACHING OUT A>JD TOUCHING-CIRCA 1920 

Eva Baker Watson 

When 1 was a child we reached out and touched 
somebody every day except Sunday, all day long, from six in 
the morning until eight at night. And even on Sunday we 
did— and in the night, too— when the "distress ring" 
sounded. Five ominous longs. 

The phone that hung on the wall of the living room was 
our Unk with the outside. The IlUnois Central Railroad 
brought the mail and daily paper into the village of 
Brownfield but the telephone gave us social intercourse, real 
back-and-forth communication. Our family lived on a farm in 
the isolated hills of Southern IlUnois and the ringing of the 
phone was a welcome interruption to whatever we were 
doing. Mama always ran to answer it. I can't recaU ever 
seeing her walk calmly when it rang. 

It was a miracle in the days before electronic miracles 
had become commonplace. It held us together and at the 
same time allowed us to reach out. It kept us in touch with 
the scattered community that was my world back then. 

We were on a party line. Everybody was. We were 
served by the central office located in Temple Hill and 
operated by a Mr. Slankard and his family. When they were 
in the house, that is. We forgave their absences for we 
understood that the garden had to be tended, the cows must 
be milked, the stock and chickens fed, the eggs gathered. 

When we rang Central we would never be so formal as to 



say "Operator." We'd either say "Temple HiO" or simply 
"Mr. Slankard." Or "Thelma"— or whoever. Sometimes 
"Central." 

To me Mr. Slankard was just something that went along 
with the telephone, a remote voice associated with a strange 
apparatus I'd heard about called a "switchboard." It came as 
a shock when one day I saw him in the flesh and reahzed he 
was just a ordinary-looking man, old— probably 35 at least— a 
famihar voice in a strange body. 

He was an integral part of our hves, serving as liaison 
person between all residents of viUage and countryside, and 
also with far away places whenever there was a death to be 
reported. Long distance calls and telegrams usually meant 
trouble. 

When my father wished to caU someone on another 
party line he always first chatted with Mr. Slankard just to 
be friendly and to catch up on local happenings— if there were 
any new cases of diphtheria, what family had moved into the 
old Smith place, or if the Bay Bottoms roads were flooded. 
(We knew he monitored most phone conversations, so he was 
a rehable source of information.) Only after these amenities 
were disposed of would Papa say who he was calling. 

Most of the time we didn't bother to give numbers. Oh, 
of course everyone had a number. And it was in the phone 
book— wherever that was! But why confuse Mr. Slankard by 
rattling off a bunch of digits when we could cut through the 
red tape and say in plain EngUsh who we wanted? "Ring 
McClanahan's Store, please, Mr. Slankard." 

He knew everybody and what was even more helpful, he 
recognized everybody's voice. Once a women who didn't have 
a phone came to use ours to call her father. She rang central 
and without identifying herself said, "Hello, Temple Hill, 
ring Papa, please!" And Temple Hill rang Papa forthwith. 

It was an all-purpose answering service, many times 
going beyond the call of duty. If the party we were trying to 
reach didn't answer, Mr. Slankard was often able to let us 



know it was useless to try anymore until late, for he'd seen 
them pass his house going to Metropolis and they hadn't had 
time to be back. Now and then someone hstening on the line 
would break in to teU us why the party didn't answer, where 
they'd gone and why, and about when they'd return. 

Each subscriber's ring was a different combination of 
longs and shorts. Bad weather seemed to foul up this 
functioning and the rings would be garbled. At these times, if 
we weren't sure the rings were our "four shorts" we felt 
justified in Ufting the receiver and asking, "Did 'ja ring 
Baker?" 

Then if the call had not been for us, we might just stay 
on the hne, anyway, if it sounded interesting. "Listening" 
was a popular pastime back then before soap operas. But 
Mama told us never to do it. Told us it was rude, nosey, and 
none of our business. Besides, she was embarrassed because 
it was almost impossible to keep my httle brothers quiet 
enough so people couldn't recognize us as the eavesdroppers. 
I never did eavesdrop except when 1 could beat my sister to 
the phone. 

There were some who weren't so inhibited as my 
mother. And if they had trouble understanding what was 
being said, they didn't hesitate to break in with "Pardon me, 
Mary, but who'd you say got married?" 

Eavesdroppers, though, were not necessarily a 
nuisance. Early phones weren't the smoothly efficient 
instruments we know today. Often the "audio portion" was a 
mess. This was comphcated by several receivers being down. 
The caller would know this and, being good natured, would 
simply ask, "Will someone hstening please repeat for me?" 

There was one time, however, when everybody 
admittedly and unashamedly eavesdropped and that was 
when, during off hours, the distress ring was heard. Off hours 
were after eight at night, before six in the morning, and on 
Sunday. And if the midnight stillness or the Sabbath peace 
were shattered with those five long rings, not only Mr. 



Slankard but everyone on the line would jump out of bed— or 
up from Sunday dinner— and every receiver would go down. 

This was a well-oiled alarm system for it alerted the 
community when someone needed help. Regardless of the 
reason for the call, all neighbors stood ready to do what they 
could. The phone was the neighborhood hot line. 

When the telephone first made its appearance in our 
community, to many it seemed a strange gadget requiring 
some skill to learn to operate. One man, though, announced 
with pride to his cronies sitting on the store porch that he had 
mastered it and it was simple: 

"All you have to do," he told them, "is wind up the bell, 
take down the deceiver, and holler, 'Hello, Sentinel!" 

And holler they did. People were a long time reahzing 
they didn't have to shout and turn the crank hard and long to 
get results. One woman was notorious for her shouting into 
the transmitter. During a lengthly phone session she 
sometimes turned aside to say in a low tone, "George, go set 
the beans off the fire!" She never knew that these asides to 
her husband carried better than her hollering. 

When it was very cold the telephone wires strung from 
pole to pole would begin to hum. This humming on a cold 
night would tell us we were now in the dead of winter. And in 
the coziness of home and fireside, one of the family would 
always say, "I'd hate to be a poor tramp out on the road 
tonight!" 

Those early years saw in me the beginning of a 
dependence on the telephone that's almost frightening. 
Today I Uve in a small town surrounded by friendly 
neighbors; the sheriff's office is just across the courtyard. I 
can see our doctor's home down the street. Two blocks in 
another direction lives a veterinarian, and my husband's 
business is within sight. If I opened my front door and simply 
raised my voice it would be easy to summon all kinds of help. 
Yet in this pampered age (and probably because of early 
conditioning) if I lift the phone and get a silence instead of a 



dial tone, I'm panic-stricken. Here I am, I gasp, stranded 
with a dead phone. 

For me, no computerized service today can equal what 
Mr. Slankard gave us back then. And no fancy color- 
coordinated phone sitting on my desk can compare with the 
one hanging on our hving room waU that served as the 
"backyard fence " across which we reached out and touched 
our friends, near and far. 



HIRED GIRL 

Louise Anderson Lum 

I was fifteen when I first went to work as a hired girl. It 
was in the httle town of Niota, Illinois, population 200. The 
year was 1937. And I would earn $3.00 a week— an 
unbehevable amount, a fortune! Of course I knew that every 
cent of what I earned would have to go for groceries, but that 
once in a while Mom might get us each a banana, or maybe 
some green grapes, or the very best treat of all, a loaf of soft- 
as-cake Sweetheart store bread. It was exciting to have 
something to look forward to. 

I would work for the Roofs from 7:15 in the morning till 
6:30 at night during the week, and until about 1:30 on 
Saturday. 

Vera worked across the river at the Shaeffer Pen 
Company in Fort Madison, Iowa. Her husband, Blondy, was 
gone aU week as he worked for the Bridge and Building 
Department of the Santa Fe Railroad. I would be keeping 
house for Vera and their two httle girls. 

Smiling with high hopes I walked the block and a half to 
the Roof home to arrive at 7:00 Monday morning. The two 
httle girls were not old enough to be in school, and hovered 
about while Vera told me what to do. There was a bushel 
basket full of mostly starched clothes to iron. The wooden 



kitchen table and four chairs were to be scrubbed, and the 
children's shoes polished, and the usual routine household 
chores to be done. I listened intently and stood a Uttle taller 
because she talked to me as if I were grown up. 

Then she showed me around the house and said to have 
supper ready at 5:30— just whatever I wanted to have. If I 
needed any groceries I should charge them at Shaile's. 

Smihng, she walked off to catch her ride. She was 
stylishly dressed, wore rouge and Hpstick, and as always, 
looked real fixey. 

That first morning 1 pumped water and did the dishes, 
scrubbed the table and chairs, ran the carpet sweeper, swept 
the kitchen floor, and tidied up the house. Then I sprinkled 
the clothes, rolled them tightly, and put them back in the 
basket to draw through. 

For dinner I made potato soup. When we'd eaten it, I 
flaked a small can of salmon with rolled crackers and an egg 
for salmon cakes and put them in the ice-box ready to fry for 
supper. 

Wanting to make a good first-day impression, I decided 
to have a fancy dessert. There was a cookbook in the kitchen 
cabinet which I could have spent hours perusing since I loved 
to cook. Mom thought cookbooks were a waste of money, so I 
too cooked "by guess and b' gosh." Thumbing through the 
book, I found a recipe for Rich Blancmange, which I stirred 
up and left on the counter to cool. 

By then it was hot in the house, so I walked the girls a 
half mile north to the river to stand on the levee and gaze at 
the bluffs across the Mississippi. Water lapped softly at the 
shore, and since our town is in the path of the westerlies, 
there was a daytime breeze to flutter the cottonwoods. 1 sat 
on the grass and dreamed long dreams of being rich and 
important. 

When we got back to the house 1 started ironing. The 
clothes had been starched with Satina and smelled hke wind 
off the plum blossoms. The five white shirts out of the way, 1 



ironed the other things including the sheets, pillow cases, and 
tea towels. The girls' fourteen dresses 1 had saved until last. I 
enjoyed ironing every ruffle, bow, and ribbon. After ironing 
the puffed sleeves dry, I laid them flat and ironed around 
them in almost a circle to so that they stood up sharp and 
perky. 

By then it was late afternoon and water had to be 
heated in a huge pan to bathe the children. I put a towel on a 
kitchen chair, stood the youngest on it and soaped her. Then 
she sat in the pan on the floor while I rinsed her by dipping 
the water up in a pan and pouring it over her. When she was 
dried and dressed, 1 emptied the water on the hollyhocks and 
refiOed the pan for her sister. Clean and starched, they had to 
stay inside and play with dolls while I fixed supper. 

I had found some shelves in the basement with a few 
jars of home-canned fruit and vegetables and took up a jar of 
snap beans and a pint of beets. 1 peeled potatoes and put 
them on to boil. 

Vera was home soon, looking tired and shopworn. By 
the time she had put her things away and washed, supper was 
on the table and her two soap-scented daughters were at the 
table clamoring for food. 

The table did look nice. The old bean jar filled with wild 
flowers made it seem like a special occasion. 

I mashed the boiled potatoes with a little butter and salt 
on each girl's plate. The salmon cakes were brown and crispy, 
the pickled beets just the right accent. There was cream from 
the top of the milk to put over the Rich Blancmange. I held 
my breath when Vera poured some on hers and tasted it. 

"My," she exclaimed, "this cornstarch pudding is 
delicious." So much for my Rich Blancmange. "And," she 
continued, "this house has never looked better. And the girls 
are so clean they look like they've been hcked. And you didn't 
even charge anything on the store bill!" 

She told me that some of her hired girls hadn't done 



165 



much of anything but sit around and read True Stories and 
eat cookies they'd bought on the biU. 

After supper I washed and dried the dishes and put 
them away, and swept the kitchen floor. 

Before I knew it, it was Saturday. When dinner was over 
and I had swept the floor, Vera came to the kitchen carrying 
her pocket-book. 

"I guess you feel like you've earned this," she said 
counting out three one-dollar bills. "I'll see you on Monday." 

The little girls coaxed to walk down a piece with me, and 
she let them. As we started down the dirt path toward home, 
tears stung my eyes. This was the beginning, but of what? I 
thought about Vera's faith in me, her patience, 
understanding, and good humor. It made me determined to 
be the best hired girl she'd ever had. 



THE WAY OF A MAN WITH A HORSE 

Newton E. Barrett 

A forceful maiden lady of unspecified age, named, by a 
strange coincidence, Agnes Ryder, owned a family farm some 
four miles east of Geneseo, Henry County, out on the Blue 
Mound road. A trusted Swedish immigrant, Nels Anderson, 
served as general farm hand. She had determined to move to 
the city, and leave everything to him. Through Mark 
Hosfold, a leading real estate figure there, she had bought a 
residence from Hugh Cole, recently widowed, who was 
moving in with cousin Glen. 

The property, typical of the time, anyone today would 
find entirely lacking in much that we consider indispensable. 
Instead of gas and electric lights and appliances, there were 
kerosene lamps, with ornamental translucent shades, 
containers for the oil, and wicks of soft weave reaching from a 
burner down into it, ignited by a sulphur match, and giving 



forth a dim yellow hght. And candles, formerly of tallow, later 
of paraffin, could be carried to dark corners. Barns were 
dependent on lanterns; lamps with enclosed flames not 
extinguished by the wind, could be carried about by a bail, 
and hung on a nail. Food was cooked by a wood fire in an 
antique stove. Agnes found a few sticks of oak wood in the 
back yard near the pump, which provided the drinking water. 
By one corner of the house stood a large barrel to catch soft 
or rain water from the roof. 

She walked down to the barn, which resembled the 
house but which was smaller; and which was entered by a 
large carriage door. The interior was divided into several 
sections: two stalls large enough to stand in (horses rarely lie 
down, even to sleep); a half closet for curry comb, axle grease, 
etc. and the rest of the space for a carriage and a cutter, or 
sleigh, for use in winter's snow. From a wall projected pegs 
on which to hang harness. A rough stair led up to the second 
floor or mow, entirely designed for a year's supply of hay. 
This was pitched down through a chute or hole in the floor 
above each stall to a manger, which contained a feed box for 
oats. A rear door led to the barnyard adequate for a horse's 
exercise, and for the manure pile which would grow until it 
could be forked into a spreader and hauled to a garden plot or 
field. 

Just at this time a young man named George 
Ammerman appeared in town, seeking contracts to break 
horses for riding and driving. He had already had an 
adventurous career with them, for which he cherished a deep 
affection, and possessed an instinctive understanding. 
Thrilled at the exploits of the great Buffalo Bill Cody, he 
applied and was admitted into the exciting cast of his Wild 
West show. 

Then, four years before the time of our story, when the 
Spanish-American War broke out, he was electrified by the 
news that Teddy Roosevelt, already widely known, had 
organized some buddies into a cavalry troop, called the 



Rough Riders. Through his friend. General Leonard Wood, 
they were enlisted, George among them, and sent to Cuba. 
There they became famous and adored when they stormed up 
San Juan Hill near Santiago, and dislodged the strongly 
fortified enemy. Inevitably they suffered heavy casualties, 
including George, whose skull was creased near the right 
temple by a Cuban bullet, which left him unconscious. Soon a 
couple of clean-up men saw him lying there; and one cried, 
"Oh, there's Ammerman!" "Too bad!" cried the other, "He 
was a good man." But, surprisingly, almost awake, with a 
supreme effort, he gave a feeble kick. They carried him to the 
base hospital where he soon recovered. 

He was a deeply tanned man of medium height, 
tremendously strong, and wearing a stiff moustache. He sat 
his mount as though he had grown there, being reminisent of 
Bellerophon on Pegasus, in Greek legend. Distinguishing him 
was a livid scar on his temple— a grim souvenir of his war 
experience. He recalled Buffalo Bill's enthusiastic comments 
about Geneseo. Being born just across the Father of Waters, 
near LeClaire, he knew it from visits to the Henry County 
Fair in Cambridge, where their horsemen won many blue 
ribbons. Hence, George came here to practice his trade. 

Introduced to Agnes, he agreed to condition her horse 
Cady for riders on either regular or women's side-saddles. At 
the appointed time, Saturday morning, they met at the town 
house, accompained by a small crowd of men who had heard 
about the event, along with a delegation of us boys. 

Anderson hadn't ventured to break Cady as a yearling, 
as was the custom, and by now he had matured into a fuU- 
grown, perfectly developed lustrous chestnut gelding, with a 
white spot on his forehead, which friends insisted was a star. 
He was 16 hands high and nearly 950 pounds, a rare specimen 
of equine power and beauty. 

Nels led him out into the wide, dead-end street, with no 
picket fences on either side, as was common nearer the center 
of town; and he held him while Ammerman threw his saddle 



over him, and firmly tightened the belly-band. With 
everything secure, he put his right foot into the stirrup, 
swung his left leg over to the other side till that foot slipped 
into its stirrup, and he was ready. "O.K.!" he called. Nels 
released the horse, and the battle was joined. 

Surprisingly, instead of tearing off down the road, Cady, 
frantic at the unaccustomed sensation of a burden on his 
back, bolted to the left, across Mrs. Merriam's yard. Though 
the universally observed wash day was Monday, she had 
hung a wet sheet and some small pieces, now flapping wildly 
in the stiff breeze, on her heavy wire line. Now Cady's fright 
was added to his fury. Ammerman, seeing himself hurling 
toward the barrier, braced himself, preparing to break off the 
line with his chest. But some artisan had done his work well, 
and, in football parlance, the line held. As Cady lowered his 
head and dashed under it, the rider was stopped dead, was 
torn off the saddle, and thrown to the ground. Fortunately, 
instead of a hard road-bed, he landed on a soft lawn, and was 
unhurt. 

Instinctively, as a matter of course, he kept a tight hold 
on the reins, and was dragged several yards, until the 
maniacal animal slowed. 

Ammerman pulled himself to his feet. Undeterred, he 
led Cady back into the road, coddUng him with a few strokes 
on his muzzle, and soothing him with reassuring words. The 
conflict, however, wasn't so quickly won. Skittish and 
straining at the bit, the nervous animal sidled and pranced, 
yet he made no serious effort to free himself from the 
exasperating restraint. Ammerman remounted, and by slow 
and painful degrees, Cady ventured forward, responding to 
the gentle but firm directions conveyed by pulls on the lines. 
Step by step, then cautiously breaking into a trot, up and 
down the road the pair moved, until in perfect accord they 
proceeded. 

Cady was broken to a greater and nobler freedom. 



167 



I WAS A PRINTER'S DEVIL 

Albert Shanholtzer 

As a boy I was an avid reader, impressed with the 
impact the printer and his newspaper had on the community. 
The earliest newspaper in Coatsburg existed in the decades 
before the turn of the century. It was named "The Adams 
County Review." The "Community Enterprise" came next, 
edited and pubhshed in 1915 by RoUa Stokes. The shop had a 
large front window near which a lady typesetter spent long 
hours on a high stool before the type cases, setting type. This 
caught the eye of passing school children (including, on 
occasion, me) who would stand on the sidewalk and watch. 
With nimble fingers she placed letters in the composing stick 
setting line after line of news. The press was in the back, out 
of sight, we could hear its rumble on press day. Exhaust from 
the gasoline engine emerged from a pipe through the waU in 
odd puffs as the engine fired unevenly. 

In June, 1917, my father began a long Civil Service 
career as a Rural Letter Carrier at Loraine, Ilhnois, where we 
moved. The Postmaster, Roy Adair, was also owner of "The 
Loraine Times," a weekly paper. His printing plant occupied 
all of the building except a small front room used as the Post 
Office. Roy, a genial man, was a friend to all children. When 
my dad mentioned my interest in printing, he suggested I 
come by on press day and he would "show me around." 

The following Thursday I arrived before press time, and 
met the Linotype operator, Ray Gibson, about twenty-three 
years of age, a young man capable of doing every job in the 
shop. He and Roy finished filling the four page forms on the 
imposing stones, took a block of hard maple and mallet to 
plane down the forms and lock the pages each in their own 
chase with several sets of Hempel quoins and the special key: 
carried each to its proper place on the CampbeU cylinder 
press, securing all with locking devices built in the press bed. 
They explained every move and patiently answered every 



question I asked. When the stack of newsprint was placed on 
the feed-board which sloped slightly toward the press 
cylinder, they showed me the four pages already printed had 
articles of general interest, even a cartoon, and some national 
advertising. Roy explained it was "WNU" print, and 
weeklies bought it at a reasonable price since the Western 
Newspaper Union in St. Louis merely put the paper's name 
slug at the top of each page. In additon to what the printer 
paid, they received advertising compensation from the 
national advertising. The several ink rollers were lowered to 
contact the ink plate, the pressman mounted the steps to the 
feed-board, grasped the corner of a large sheet and with a flip 
of the wrist floated it down on a bubble of air to rest on brass 
stops at the lower edge. The electric motor was turned on, the 
belt shifted to the drive puUey and as the cylinder turned 
contra-clockwise a row of small curved clamps emergedom 
the cylinder, grasped'* to the drive pulley and as the cyhnder 
turned contra-clockwise a row of small curved clamps 
emerged from the cylinder, grasped the paper smoothly and 
securely, and paper and inked form met as the cyhnder 
turned. Quickly the belt was shifted to the loose pulley and 
the press halted with a hardly a touch of the brake, so the 
first copy could be rechecked for accuracy. When the run 
began for completion I was intrigued by the way the printed 
copy slid freely onto the set of smooth oak fingers which laid 
it gently on the delivery table. The sheets were run through 
the folder, emerging folded and trimmed. 

Upon arriving home I said, "I'd hke to work in a shop 
Uke that." When my dad told Roy about this remark, he 
suggested, "Have him stop and see me." I did. His opening 
remark was, "I can use a little extra help at the print shop. 
Would you hke to work on Saturday mornings and a couple 
hours after school?" Breathlessly I rephed, "You bet I 
would!" He suggested, "You can start right now. Sweep out 
and burn the paper." Gratefully 1 repUed, "Thank you, Mr. 
Adair, I '11 do that! " The push broom stood in a nearby corner. 



168 



I seized it and got busy. "Your pay," he said, "will be a dollar 
a week." Looking back on how I quickly absorbed a lot of 
learning about the printing trade, I reahze this was a bonus, 
for it was the least costly, most enjoyable education a tall 
skinny twelve year old ever had! 

For two years as a printer's devil I progressed from one 
skill to another, setting type for sale bills and other forms, 
feeding the Gordon job press, using the paper cutter, finally 
mastering the Campbell, and floating the big sheets down on 
a bubble of air. Cleanup after press day included putting used 
lino slugs in the hell box, disbributing display type from dead 
advertising, putting six point slugs, two point leads and 
wood reglets up by lengths. 

At the end of two years dad transferred to a better route 
in Coatsburg, moving back to our former residence. I 
reluctantly bid my first "boss" farewell. 

The skills I had gained, plus a $35 investment in a 
Baltimore handlever press with some type gave me a 
"bedroom" shop of my own printing small jobs. Completing 
high school at Camp Point Community High, I worked for 
the "journal" two summer vacations and part time after 
school for 20 cents an hour. With graduation my second 
newspaper job ended. Opening the "Coatsburg Printery" I 
began replacing my equipment with better machinery, 
gradually. 

On Tuesday the "Clayton Enterprise" called, asking 
help to get the weekly issue off the press. Their printer had 
quit! It was a challenging job! Their old Campbell sat on a 
wood floor; vibrations when running mandated frequent 
stops to keep leads and slugs from working up and printing. 
Their lady typesetter composed the news, all else was my 
obligation. Meeting the challenge for three months, I had to 
return to my own increasing business. 

From hand set to machine set we owned first a used 
Linotype, then a rebuilt Linograph vertical magazines, 
finally an Intertype. Our odd jobbers were replaced by newer; 



our shop was the first in rural Adams County with a Kluge 
automatic. A power cutter, drill, folder, metal saw, binding 
equipment, wider selection of display type and a second 
Kluge automatic was a giant step from the old newspaper 
shops. But a new trend developed— from letterpress to offset! 
Purchasing an eleven by fourteen AB Dick with platemaker, 
soon eighty per cent of production was by offset, produced in 
less time! The old days were fading away. 

Before retiring we bought a larger offset press— but 
kept our letterpress equipment. The business continues to 
grow under new management, building and equipment being 
leased. We reserved the privelege of doing occasional small 
jobs for ourselves, on letterpress. It's hard to keep printer's 
inkstains off an old printer's hands! Only a few are left who 
learned the craft as a printer's devil. 

Thank God, I had the chance! 



^ 
















wm^iu iiv 













VIU Peodc of the Past 



PEOPLE OF THE PAST 

To write about the people of western Illinois— especially 
people who hved decades ago— is to depict small-town folks. 
Thus, so many of the memoirs in this section characterize 
individuals against a background of village society, or 
community life on a hmited scale. 

Of course, the most famous book based on the region. 
Masters' Spoon River Anthology, does exactly the same 
thing, but it is interesting to notice the contrast between the 
poet's perspective and the collective view expressed by these 
senior citizens. Here is no "revolt from the village." no sense 
of the small town as a repository of frustrated and broken 
hves, no expose of midwestern narrowness and provinciahty. 

On the contrary, although no author explicitly refers to 
it, there is an underlying theme in many of these memoirs: 
the positive nature of community Ufe. Holhs Powers' "The 
Folks in Petersburg" is particularly interesting because his 
subject is Masters' home town— albeit several decades after 
the poet hved there. His characterizations include such good 
people as the female high school principal who encouraged 
her students, the banker who had faith in his fellow men, the 
newspaper editor of firm principles, and the physician who 
urged people to get well. 

As his memoir also suggests, the small town was a 
special world of its own, a place where residents came into 
close and repeated contact. From that experience, 
townspeople developed an interest in each other's hves, and a 
concern for local people, which was not unhke the attitude of 
family members. As Lillian Nelson Combites mentions at the 
end of her memoir about Uncle Harl Robbins of Good Hope, 
"Uncle Harl wasn't my uncle. Mama taught each to us to call 
all our elderly residents Grandpa, Grandma, Uncle or Aunt. 
We loved them that way, too. ..." And her characterization 
also reveals that the deep sense of community in small towns 
often extended to former residents who lay buried in the local 



cemetery— the people for whom Uncle Harl frequently 
erected gravestones. 

Indeed, it is clear from several of the memoirs that 
small-town people were bound together by their common 
memories of former residents. Although "The Life of Louis 
Silberer" was written by his son, that biographical sketch 
closes with local tributes to the man, which reveal his impact 
on the community. Likewise, Earl F. Carwile's memoir 
portrays Monmouth auctioneer Faye Houtchens as he must 
have appeared to the entire town, and the author closes by 
asserting that "He was a good friend of many and is 
remembered by all." 

The two pieces which focus on doctors— both tributes 
by admiring daughters— indicate that the small- 
town physician of years ago was not a professional in some 
medical office or hospital. He was a neighbor, involved with 
and aware of the lives of local people. Even when the 
physician's practice included more than one town, as in the 
case of Dr. Cowles of Woodhull, it was carried out with 
consideration for the social context: "Dad's practice 
extended from Woodhull to Alpha, New Windsor, Rio, 
Opheim, North Henderson, Oneida, and the adjoining 
countryside. He saw each patient as an integral part of a 
family, and each family as part of a community." 

Certainly one of the most remarkable memoirs in this 
volume is Hazel R. Livers' characterization of Lyle Tricky, 
"the town idiot" of Ipava. She handles with great sensitivity 
a subject which few people have ever written about, 
demonstrating in the process that even the mentally retarded 
had an accepted place in the small town of many years ago. 

With the possible exception of blacks, the only people 
who did not fit into midwestern village hfe early in the 
century were those who did not want to. Beula Selters depicts 
such a couple in "Queer Folks." Her presentation of Rufus 
and Sally Wiggins through the limited experience of another 
local couple, her grandparents, is an ideal technique, for it 



emphasizes the isolation of that strange couple from others in 
the village of St. Marys. At the same time, the author 
demonstrates that those queer folks did become an aspect of 
community life— if only through local talk, speculation, and 
folklore. 

Other memoirs in this section focus on people who were 
not community members but transients. Perhaps the most 
surprising pieces for the modern reader are the Craven G. 
Griffitts and Everett Trone characterizations of hoboes they 
knew many years ago. At that time, such men were common, 
and they were not viewed with the kind of fear and suspicion 
that surrounds homeless outsiders today. The hobo jungle, 
too, was a more or less accepted aspect of many communities. 



While most western Illinois residents still live in small 
towns, individuals and families are no longer in close and 
continual contact. That is both good and bad. The gradual 
opening up of such communities has brought more individual 
fulfillment and less pressure to conform, but it also 
diminished the deep sense of closeness that was once the very 
essence of small-town hfe. Most of the people described in 
this section of Tales from Two Rivers II were not significant 
or memorable because of their achievements but because 
they related well to the people around them. Therein Ues a 
challenge to members of our present-day communities, of 
whatever size. 

John Hallwas, Editor 



173 



GYPSIES 

Enid Woolsey 

"The Gypsies are camped in Lover's Lane." So 
announced an arriving neighbor on a summer morning in 
1928. Our family lived on a farm two miles north of 
Williamsfield, Illinois, in Knox County, at that time. Lover's 
Lane, not a well-cared-for road, was then a short stretch of 
often-impassable narrow lane, bordered by brush and shade 
trees. The Gypsies camped near a little stream. It was very 
near our small town and was the sort of place we believed 
Gypsies liked: lonely, wooded, water conveniently near, and 
rather pretty. 

Word of the arrival of the Gypsy caravan spread rapidly 
through the community, and the real or imagined doings of 
those temporary visitors was the favorite conversational 
topic for several days. Many people feared and distrusted the 
Gypsies, beheving they might steal livestock or even 
children. Prejudice, although most of us didn't use the word 
at that time, was our response to most of the people we knew 
Uttle about. 

This Gypsy caravan consisted of several horses pulling 
wagons covered in various ways. There were dark-skinned 
men, and women with colorful skirts, sometimes made of 
many pieces of worn material sewn together, and often 
consisting of many layers. The women's legs were not to 
show and they usually wore heavy earrings. Children and 
dogs completed the groups and all seemed dirty and 
mysterious. Food was cooked over open fires, there was 
singing, and no one in our family ever saw the caravan 
traveling. Although Gypsies arrived several different years, 
their arrival and departure always seemed to be in the night. 

We heard many tales of the horse trading the Gypsy 
men did at the surrounding farms. Although most of the 
farmers believed the traders could not be bested, it was a 
challenge to try to do so. Care and treatment of horses was 



very important to those travelers, and the men did seem to 
excel at curing sick horses. They could trade for horses that 
seemed less healthy, collecting money for the difference. By 
putting a horse into good condition, they could later sell or 
trade it to their advantage. 

Apparently, most Gypies were illiterate, and they saw 
nothing wrong with petty thievery, such as grass for a horse, 
wood for fires, etc. The robberies did usually seem to be out of 
need. Some people beheve Gypies will not steal from each 
other. 

More interesting stories concerned the activities of the 
Gypsy women, who were considered to have magic powers. 
They did fortune telling by reading hands and tea leaves, and 
by analyzing dreams. Some of us girls were excited by the 
possibility that the Gypsy women possessed the evil eye or 
love charms or magic cures. Some of the women were beggars 
and seemed to present themselves as ill, sometimes coughing 
and being so unattractively dirty that one would want to get 
rid of them as soon as possible. That may have been a 
dehberate ploy. 

What excitement the arrival of the Gypsies provided in 
those rather quiet times of long ago! Their freedom and lack 
of concern for the things we beheved to be important seemed 
rather glamorous, and we wondered if we would like to travel 
with them. What did they do about school and real hvelihood, 
we puzzled. 

In later years, we saw Gypsies who traveled in big cars, 
but that was not nearly so interesting. I know that World 
War II, the draft, social security, welfare, the movies, 
television, and desire for consumer goods— all have 
contributed to a change in the Gypsy lifestyle. On the rare 
occasions when I have seen Gypsy women begging in cities, I 
always think of those who camped in Lover's Lane and 
wonder if those city beggars might have been children there. 



THE HIRED MAN 

Burdette Graham 

March the first was for many years the time of change 
on the farms of most of the country, and especially in the corn 
and oat growing area of the Middle West. If a farmer was 
moving to another farm or renting more acreage, or if he had 
become anew owner, the time to move was March the first. 
Leases all read "March the first" as possession time. This 
date was picked because weather sometimes permitted field 
work, while being cool enough to get the horses and mules 
toughened up, and many spring jobs could usually be done 
during March, so as to be ready when field work began in 
earnest. 

Jobs which could be done on our farm included 
scattering oat seed over the standing corn stalks, disking the 
seed and stalks, harrowing to level the stalks, and covering 
the seed and levehng the disked soil. This many times was a 
very cold job, with brisk winds and cool temperatures making 
it necessary to walk behind equipment just to keep warm. 

Other jobs included repairing fences, nailing up loose 
boards, and putting new staples in wire fences, and when the 
frost got out, setting posts for new fences. Also, all the 
harness had to be cleaned and dipped in a vat of harness oil 
and allowed to drip and dry. Newly oiled harness always 
strained hands, gloves, and clothes which had to come into 
contact with the harness. On warmer days, machinery had to 
be repaired and broken parts taken to the blacksmith shop 
for welding or making new parts. 

Late in March the cattle and horse drive took place. 
About a dozen horses and 20 or 30 head of cattle had been on 
winter pasture on a hillside farm four miles northeast of 
Adair. They had wintered there on tall grass that had not 
been pastured during summer. They drank from a spring that 
never froze. We had to take them salt about every two weeks 
and check to see that they were all there and in good health. 



When we went to get them, they were fat as butter balls from 
the good grass which they could get by breaking through the 
snow. They had had good wind protection by getting in the 
gullies. They had become somewhat wild during this period of 
having few people around, so a good force of drivers was 
needed to keep them on the right road and out of farm yards 
and gates which might be open. 

All of these jobs and many more around the average 
farm required more help than the farmer himself could 
provide, so until the children became old enough to help, the 
hired man was a necessity. The hiring of those men took place 
anytme after the crops were havested the fall before. Some 
men hired on with the same farmer year after year, and some 
stayed around aU winter, doing work for board and room. A 
few farmers had enough work with livestock to employ them 
the year around, this being more hkely if a tenant house was 
available. Usually the year-around man was married, and 
Uved in the tenant house and was furnished one cow, and feed 
for the cow, a flock of chickens, and at least one hog to 
butcher. 

If the hired man was single and hved with the farm 
family, some special arrangements had to be made when he 
came. Unless the farmer had an extra bedroom available, as 
was not usually the case, someone had to give up a room, and 
that meant one of the kids or maybe more had to move in with 
someone else. One year, we had a hired girl also to help when 
a new baby came in March. This time the hired girl used a 
folding bed in the living room, and when the hired man came 
and pushed me out of his room, I ended up with the hired girl. 
I remember she had long red hair, but I also remember she 
brought us head lice, and we all got the head dip in Black 
Leaf-40 or tobacco juice. I think I was six years old. 

One of the goals of the hired men was to be on their own 
in a few years. They saved their mone.y and developed a 
reputation in the community as to character and abihty to 
farm, and when some farm became available, if they had 



saved enough to buy a team, a plow, and a cow and sow, and 
could borrow seed from some neighbor, they became full 
fledged farmers. Jess Castor and Ben Hopping and Ralph 
Foster were three who started this way. They were all fine 
gentlemen who helped surpervise us kids just like we were 
their own. 

There were many who came through the country, 
usually walking and looking for a job. Usually we did not hire 
any of those, but we did get one during World War I, a Mr. 
John Snyder, who had left Poland because of not liking the 
coming war in Europe. He was a big man, with the biggest 
feet I think any man could carry— and also the dirtiest. He 
was very odd in many ways. He would get up early before 
daylight and go to the cornfield. One day he drove over a line 
of new small fenceposts which had just been set to allow early 
pasture for the first picked rows. Those all had to be replaced. 
Another time, when Dad got to the field, he could not find 
which rows John was picking. When asked, John said, "I'm 
just taking a wide swath." The usual number was two rows, 
or maybe three. He was taking from two to six, so it was hunt 
and seek to follow him. 

Another hired man was a young fellow from Gin Ridge 
who dressed hke a millionaire, and who told us kids so many 
stories that I have heard few new ones since. He was nice to 
us and took us with him on Saturday nights to Table Grove, 
but he was not one to work after a certain time, even if some 
hay was still in the field. He also had the most beautiful pair 
of brown dress shoes, which he had shined each time he went 
to town. When he left us, he came to Macomb and worked in a 
bakery. His name was Buck Runkle. 

An older gentleman, Mr. John Pearce, was a good but 
slow worker and a pipe smoker. We usually did not allow 
smoking because of the danger of fire. He came back to visit 
one Sunday afternoon and, while at the barn, lighted his 
pipe, and that night the barn burned, but of course we never 
knew why it caught on fire. 



1 am not sure of the wages these people earned but I 
think they got from 30 to 50 dollars per month, plus their 
keep, and usually a horse and buggy. If they had their own 
horse and buggy, a place for it and feed were furnished. 

After chores and supper, we usually went to bed, but 
sometimes, when weather was bad outside, and we got in 
earher, story reading, or card playing, and sometimes singing 
around the piano took place. Also sometimes some of us 
would go to neighbors to visit or play cards, or maybe 
neighbors came to our house. 

The hired man became one of the family and helped to 
take the kids to school or get them, or bring groceries from 
town, or even deliver the cream and eggs. As we children got 
older, we began to take the place of the hired man in doing 
chores and some of the field work, and eventually some of us 
got through high school, and the hired man was not needed. 
Also, machinery began to change as tractors took the place of 
the horse, and a whole new breed of hired man came along. 
Then he was the mechanic in town who came out to the farm 
when you broke down. He was needed, but he was no longer 
part of the family. 



SAM, THE HOBO 

Craven G. Griffitts 

It was spring, and dusk of the evening had settled. I 
could see the flicker of a campfire about quarter of a mile 
away. I knew that the hoboes had started their campfire to 
keep away the spring chill and to cook their muUigan stew. 

I was about ten years old. It was 1913, and we lived in 
Roseville, Illinois. Our home was at the southeast edge of 
town, just a short distance from the C. B. & Q. Railroad track. 
Hobo Jungle was located about a quarter mile down the 



176 



track. The hoboes had two or three small shacks built there. 
They were made from cardboard, bits of tin, or just about 
anything that they could get out of the dump that was close 
by. In a small clearing, they had their campfire, and each 
hobo would contribute something for the stew. Someone 
would have a big soup bone that had been begged from the 
local butcher shop; others might have some sort of vegetables 
they had been given. They have been known to help 
themselves to garden vegetables when they were available. 
Even chickens from neighbors' chicken houses found their 
way into the hoboes' stew. 

My father had told my brother, Dave, and me to keep 
away from the camp, but the stories that these men would teU 
would bring my brother and me back time and time again, 
whenever we could slip away. Those men would tell of their 
travels across the country— walking, and riding freight 
trains, always carrying their worldly possessions in a sack 
flung over their shoulder. From the East Coast to the West 
Coast, they knew where every Hobo Jungle was located. 
They knew which houses along the way they could stop at 
and usually get a handout. The way they knew where to stop 
was by markings that hoboes before them had left. On a post 
out front, on a tree, or maybe on a barn nearby, would be this 
mark or sign. I still remember some of the signs: ® meant 
very good, [^meant bad dog, and <'X'' meant safe camp. There 
were several others that I cannot recall. 

My brother, Dave, and I always looked forward to 
spring and the possibihty of seeing our friend Sam again. 
Sam was just one of the many hoboes we had talked to, but 
Sam was different. He always seemed as glad to see us as we 
were to see him. He would always give us good advise. Sam 
would come to camp early in the spring and usually stay till 
fall. There were always hoboes coming and going, and usually 
they never stayed but a few days at a time. Some hoboes 
would look for a day or two of work; most of them wouldn't. 
Sam would always manage to find a httle work, and one job 



was carrying in the wood for the local bakery shop that Doc 
Tinder operated. They heated their ovens with wood. Sam 
was able to keep himself in smoking tobacco and a few of the 
necessities. He was a big man, always shaven, and he tried 
the best he could to keep clean. 

One day when Dave and I were to have been hoeing the 
garden, we shpped down the track to visit Sam. He was 
preparing to shave. He had one razor blade that I'm sure had 
been used many times. He showed us how to sharpen a blade. 
He took a drinking glass, put the blade inside, and with his 
fingers slid the blade back and forth. In fact, in later years I 
tried this and it certainly worked. One day Sam was going to 
shave and he couldn't find his razor; he was sure one of the 
hoboes that left camp during the night had stolen it. Anyway, 
that didn't stop Sam. He walked to the trash dump that was 
close by and came back with a broken window glass. He 
lathered his face with a bar of soap, got the piece of mirror, 
and shaved with the straight edge of the window glass. I 
never did try that trick. 

There were times that we would play hookey from 
school, and Hobo Jungle was a good place to hide out till time 
for school to be out, and then we'd stroll home. There were 
several times that we were afraid of some of the hoboes, but 
Sam would warn them not to bother the boys. 

He was very artistic, too. From the dump he would find 
buckets with a httle paint left in them, and on a piece of tin or 
wood he would paint beautiful pictures. One picture in 
particular that I remember was painted on a tail vane from an 
old windmill. He had a package of Bull Durham smoking 
tobacco, and on the front was a picture of a bull. He looked at 
the package and painted the bull on the weather vane. I 
wanted that picture so badly that he gave it to me. Knowing 
that I couldn't take it home, I hid it in a cornfield nearby, 
coming back occasionally to look at it. 

As fall approached and not many hoboes were coming 
into camp, we knew it would soon be time for Sam to leave. 



177 



One evening, Dave and I went to the camp and it was 
deserted; everyone was gone, even Sam. As we walked up the 
tracks towards home, we pulled our coats a httle tighter 
around us to keep out the chilly wind. Our hearts were sad, 
but we knew, come spring, the hoboes would be back, and 
hopefully our friend Sam. 



THE SWAN CREEK HOBO, SELDOM SEEN 

Everett Trone 

It was a snowin' and a bio win' wintery day when Seldom 
Seen got off the freight at Swan Creek, Illinois, in 1914. He 
stopped at the blacksmith shop and asked if he could stay 
overnight. The blacksmith, feeUng sorry for him said, "all 
right." Seldon's only visible possessions were the two bed 
roUs that he was carrying made from box car paper sewed 
inside burlap sacks. He would use one as a mat under him and 
covered up with the other one. This was the way he was to 
sleep on the wooden floor of the blacksmith shop that 
evening. 

When the blacksmith came to work the next day, he 
found that Seldom had swept and cleaned up the shop. The 
blacksmith was impressed and told him he could stay as long 
as he hked. Seldom remained at the blacksmith shop for a 
couple of years. He later moved to the pool hall and slept on a 
cot at the rear. He remained around Swan Creek for five or six 
years, until after World War I was over. 

Seldom stood well over six foot six inches, a very tall 
man for that day. He wore a white sailor hat sometimes, 
which made him look even taller. He was not bald but had 
extremely thin black hair that was slicked back. He was not 
handsome, yet he was always clean and well shaven. He was 
not one to gamble or drink, but he did carry a wad of snoose 



in his lower Up most of the time. Oh, I suppose he had a drink 
now and then, but he was not reaUy a drinker. 

I doubt if he had much book learnin'; however, as a 
young lad, I thought he was quite intelhgent. You could 
mention any town of any size and he would tell you the 
railroad that went through there. He rode them all. I think 
the reason he showed up at Swan Creek was because they 
were cracking down on hoboes due to the coming of the war. 
They were getting tough about riding the rails, and he 
decided to sit it out in Swan Creek until it blew over. 

Of course, it was not uncommon for a little branch line 
that ran up through Swan Creek to have four or five hoboes 
sitting in the open door of a box car as they went through 
town. It was different in the larger towns, for they would 
have to duck out of sight or be apprehended by the railroad 
authorities. 

Seldon was a good worker. Many housewives around 
Swan Creek, and especially at Monmouth, relied on him to do 
their fall and spring house cleaning. He beat rugs and 
draperies and washed windows. In fact, he cleaned the whole 
house from top to bottom. The women did not have to do a 
thing except to tell him what they wanted done. His 
reputation followed him that way from place to place. When 
they would not let anyone but Seldom clean, you know he was 
doing the job about right. 

Seldom also did gardening and was hired by a few of the 
Swan Creek townspeople to take care of their gardens. He 
charged 30 cents per hour. He knew quite a bit about plants 
and always raised productive crops. 

Seldom was an artist, too. He did sign work on store 
windows or fronts, not only in Swan Creek but surrounding 
towns. I recall that he drew a detailed picture of Swan Creek 
in pencil and then colored it in with crayons. It was almost 
perfect, with the stores and other buildings in their proper 
places. It hung in a prominent place in my dad's grocery store 
for a long time. I wish I knew what became of it. 



We had a preacher fella come to town one day, who took 
to preaching on the street corner. He was an ordained 
minister. He attracted a smaU following around him and soon 
began talking about having the drinkers and gamblers 
arrested. Of course, this did not go over with the local boys. 

He was having one of his evening gatherings on the 
corner, and after it was rolUn' pretty good, some of the older 
men around town decided that if he could preach on one 
corner, they could sing on the other one. So they did. The 
preacher became irritated, had them arrested, and they were 
hauled up to Monmouth for the trials. Of course, the httle 
congregation appeared with the preacher to witness against 
the guys. It seems that Seldom knew this preacher from some 
other towns he had been in, so they got him to appear as a 
witness for them. When Seldom got on the stand, he told the 
judge where he had been and what the preacher had done in 
the other towns, and the judge dismissed the case. The 
preacher never returned to Swan Creek— he just kept right on 
going. 

Nobody in Swan Creek, that I know about, ever knew 
that Seldom had a different name. He was just known as 
Seldom Seen. One summer when I was stayin' at my sister's 
at Knoxville, Illinois, Seldom shared his real name with me. 
He was cleanin' my sister's house at the time. We were sittin' 
out under the tree when he said, "Everett, I never did tell 
anybody in Swan Creek my real name but since I'm leavin' 
I'll tell you. Do you notice the three M's carved on my tool 
box— the large one and the two small ones? They stand for 
Marvin Max McShea." 

Seldom wrote to a person called Often Seen several 
times and received letters in return. We never saw a return 
address on the envelope but thought it was from Often. 

Seldom left Swan Creek and I did not see him again for 
fifteen years. I was married at the time and Hved at the edge 
of town. I was walking up town one day and noticed Seldom 



sitting on the store porch. I sat down beside him and struck 
up a conversation. He appeared happy that I recognized him. 
I asked him if he had been back before, since it had been a 
long time since 1 had seen him. He said that he had gone 
through on a freight a time or two. One time he said, "I 
stayed aU night outside of town. Jack King had some oat 
shocks, and I carried four or five of them into the box car and 
had a good night's sleep." 

He had begun to look pretty seedy. I would say he was 
probably around 65-70 years old at the time. I told Henry 
Sands that I had seen Seldom, and he said that they had had 
him over for dinner. I know Seldom hked that since Henry's 
wife was a good cook. 

Sittin' and talkin' with Seldom on the porch was the last 
time I was to see him again. He told me he was leavin' to go 
back to Cahfornia, where they were building glass rails a mile 
long. He said, "I want to go back out there to ride them 
rails." 



THE PEDDLER 

Vernice Morrell Dees 

There were many peddlers on the dirt roads of Illinois 
during the summers of the nineteenth and early twentieth 
centuries. Most walked, although some drove horses, usuaUy 
bony plugs, hitched to carts or wagons. 

They sold a variety of things, ranging from books and 
subscriptions to magazines, to orders of enlargements of 
family photographs, patent medicines, remedies for animal 
ailments, and an occasional wagon load of fish (supposedly 
caught the night before from the nearest river). There was 
also the egg man, who made his rounds once a week to collect 
the farm wife's cases of eggs and to leave empty cases for the 
next week's collection. The egg man drove a horse-drawn 



179 



wagon with a cover over it and carried a supply of staple 
groceries, candy, and chewing gum, which were to be 
bartered for eggs and poultry. At times, there would even be 
a salesman driving a fancy-looking automobile and trying to 
sell stock in the company which manufactured it. 

Although there were many peddlers on the roads, Joe 
was the most interesting. My family had known Joe since he 
first began to peddle. He was very young then— perhaps in 
his late teens and perhaps new to IlUnois. When I first 
remember him, he was probably in his early 20's, although he 
seemed much older to me. He was dark and handsome, with 
black curly hair and dark eyes. He was tall and very strong. 
Joe was from one of the Middle Eastern countries and, 
judging from his name, was probably Lebanese. If my family 
knew, they did not say. 

Joe hved in Peoria, so he must have come to Rushville 
by train. He may have had an arrangement for storing 
merchandise at some convient place in Rushville. He always 
arrived at our place in the late afternoon and spent the night 
with us. 

I was about seven years old at the time I remember 
seeing him for the first time. Our family had moved from 
where they had first known him, and he had lost touch with 
them until that summer, but they seemed happy to see each 
other again. Joe had learned to write English, but was having 
some trouble with some capital letters, and I remember 
helping him with them. From that time on for several years 
he made his rounds and spent a night with us each summer. 

Joe's pack was a carton made of a very strong 
compressed paper material. It was maroon in color and about 
two and one half feet in width, heighth, and depth. It had a 
cover of the same material and dimensions which fitted 
snugly over the bottom. The two parts telescoped so that 
when there was more merchandise than the top could hold, 
the pack could be expanded. The carton was held together by 
heavy leather straps and also had straps attached to fit over 



the shoulders for carrying. That was before the age of 
plastics. 

Besides the pack, Joe carried a small, black, leather- 
covered case, which was fitted with compartments for storing 
and carrying all kinds of small articles of household use. In 
his case would be needles, papers of pins, thimbles, and a few 
pairs of scissors. There would also be razors, neckties, hair 
ribbons, shoe laces, button hooks, etc. Usually there were 
several pieces of jewelry, as well as hairpins, combs, and 
other small articles of interest to a family. 

It was not until after he had spent the night and had 
breakfast that Joe opened his pack to show his wares. It was 
mostly filled with linens. There were beautiful scarves, table 
clothes, pillow cases, doilies, and other household items. Most 
were in hnen and embroideried and lace trimmed. If there are 
any left today, they are collectors items. I remember one 
particular white Irish linen table cloth which was embossed 
with an antlered stag in the middle. It was banquet size and 
very colorful. Other things were just as elaborate. They were 
the type of things which we did not see often and which, for 
the most part, we had httle use, but my mother did buy some 
of the plainer things. 

Before leaving, Joe would give my mother some piece of 
merchandise in gratitude for his night's lodging. He would 
not have been allowed to pay otherwise. 

The last time we saw Joe was in the late 20's. At that 
time he was driving a nice horse hitched to a covered cart. We 
hadn't seen Joe for some time. He had married and had 
started a retail business in Peoria. This last trip was purely 
nostalgic. He had missed traveUng about and wanted to 
make one last trip through the countryside to see the people 
he had known, and with whom he had become friends during 
his years as a peddler. 



DR. RENNER OF BENLD 

Grace R. Welch 

All doctors Live on the brink of crisis, but the early 
horse-and-buggy doctors were pioneers as well, learning not 
alone from books and predecessors, but also from their own 
experiences. They were breaking ground, building where 
nothing had existed before, and when there was nothing to 
build with, they created— out of their concern and 
understanding and love for their fellow man. 

Such a doctor, my father, came out of St. Louis 
University Medical School in 1906 to begin his practice in 
Benld, Illinois. The town was growing rapidly as four coal 
mines were operating in the vicinity. Most of the land in this 
area and many of the businesses were owned by Ben L. 
Dorsey; in fact, the name of the town was formed by using his 
given name and two initials. Probably there is no other town 
anywhere using that name. 

When the doctor and his bride came to Benld, all of the 
roads in the area were new and were all but impassable in 
certain seasons. He was, by necessity, a horse-and-buggy 
doctor. At times, even the buggy had to be left by the road as 
he rode the horse through blowing snow or across a swollen 
creek. Sometimes a farmer met him with team and wagon to 
take him to a remote residence. He bought a car a few years 
later, but kept the more primitive means of transportation 
until he left Benld in 1920 to settle in his hometown of 
Lebanon, Illinois, where he practiced until 1966. 

The early years in Benld were busy ones. His office 
hours were 8:00-11:30 a.m., 1:00-4:30 and 6:00-8:00 p.m., 
except Sunday, when he took the afternoon off. Like other 
doctors of his day, he made house-calls, charging $1.00 
during the day and double for night. Office calls, including 
the medicine which he provided, were 25 cents to 50 cents. He 
prescribed a lot of calomel, hinkle tablets, gargle, and cough 



syrup— a thick sweet mixture which patients loved, and also 
more recognizable medicines like digitalis and quinine. 

Babies were always born in homes; for "confine- 
ment," as his records Listed it, he charged $10.00. The nearest 
hospital, fifteen miles away, he used for emergencies or 
nearly hopeless cases that required nursing, and he usuaOy 
transported his own patients there. Patients requiring major 
operations were turned over to a surgeon, but he set broken 
bones and did stitching he was proud of. Once in a while, he 
pulled an aching tooth. He was often caUed back to the office 
late on Saturday nights when there had been too much 
revelry, and he sometimes treated fearsome injuries suffered 
in mine accidents. 

By 1916 Benld had a population of 3.500, a mixture of 
nationalities as the names on his records show: Sakellaris, 
Dmytryk, Lanfarnski, Firth, MacDonald, Marcacci, Morgan, 
and Powchick. His daybook held a day's work on a single 
page, where he Usted, in abbreviated form, the patient's 
name, diagnosis, prescription and charge. Each entry was 
clear enough to be transcribed later to individual cards by his 
one "office girl" or himself. He had survived sleepless nights, 
frozen ears, and long hours for ten years without vacation, 
but nothing could have prepared him for the crisis soon to 
erupt. 

In 1917 America went to war. The other doctor in town 
was accepted for service, but my father, just a little older, 
was refused because he would be needed to serve the town. 
He became chairman of the local unit of the Red Cross, even 
as he worked longer hours to do the work of two doctors. The 
pages in his daybook began to look crowded as the daily 
patient load began to jump to 20, 25, and more. When a 
strange new illness, influenza, began to spread, the usual 
page would no longer hold the names, even in his neat, small 
writing, and he was forced to use the margins and eliminate 
some of the detail. By October of 1918, the peak of the 
epidemic, he cHpped in extra sheets. 



The disease, previously unknown in this country, had 
come in from Europe on the east coast, and gradually swept 
the country. Because it was new, people had no immunity 
built up and doctors had no cures. It could be a killer as 
deadly as the bullets and gas that husbands, fathers, and 
sons were facing overseas. Country and city doctors alike 
could treat only symptoms. In spite of their best efforts, the 
patients often remained weak for a long time or succumbed to 
pneumonia and other complications. 

Before the month was over, he was going night and day, 
and finally he had to call for help. Retired doctors who were 
willing to help in emergencies were registered with the State 
Board of Health, and two came in answer to his call. 
Although these men would see patients only during office 
hours, leaving the night calls stiU to be answered by my 
father, he was able to snatch enough sleep to keep going. A 
nurse who took his temperature at the hospital when he was 
delivering a patient tried in vain to talk him into staying, but 
he went on back to the people who were depending on him. I 
heard him boast, years later, that he had never been iU 
enough to have a meal in bed. 

He was a marvelous story-teller, later recounting his 
experience by reflecting the lighter side of that stressful 
period. As he was leaving a household where practically all of 
the family members were suffering from influenza, a neighbor 
came to meet him at the car. 

She rolled up the long apron in front of her as she asked, 
"Are the Gaudinos getting any better? My Patrick Ukes to 
play with their Tony, and he's always wanting to know when 
he can see him." 

Doc decided to share one of his worries with this kind, 
concerned woman. "Yes they're improving, but they're not 
gaining strength very fast because there's no one well enough 
to cook good nourishing meals." 

"Oh, the poor dears! Could I just cook up a pot of nice 
broth for them?" 



"That's exactly what they need. It's good of you to think 
of it." 

"I'U be takin' it over tomorrow." 

"Don't go in. Just leave it at the door." 

On Doc's next trip to the Gaudino's, he was pleased to 
learn that the soup had been deUvered, but surprised by the 
recipient's comment about it: "Yes Mrs. Flaherty sent over 
something she called soup, and she was a very kind lady, 
but-" 

"Didn't you eat it?" asked Doc. 

Mrs. Gaudino was flat on her back, but her voice was 
strong: "It was hke eating the dishwater. Nothing in it! She 
sent over the water she had cooked her meat in." 

The Gaudinos recovered, but the Flahertys caught the 
flu. Mrs. Gaudino decided to return the favor; she felt she 
could give Mrs. Flaherty a lesson in soup-making. The doctor 
heard about it when he called. 

"Did you ask Mrs. Gaudino to send us some soup?" 
asked Mrs. Flaherty weakly. 

"No, I haven't seen them since they're well." 

Mrs. Flaherty raised her head with difficulty from the 
pillow, but her voice gained strength as she spoke: "She sent 
over something she called soup, bless her heart, but we had a 
wee bit of trouble enjoying it. She must have cleaned out her 
pantry; it had everything in it! Slop, I called it." 

Doc hved until 1967, acknowledging many changes in 
his profession but he never ceased, in sixty years of practice, 
to make house calls and provide his own medicine. When the 
town celebrated his 50th anniversary, of both medical 
practice and marriage, he had dehvered more than 3,500 
babies. He had also had an enormous impact on the health 
and well being of the community. 



DR. COWLES OF WOODHULL 

Genevieve Hagerty 

It has been eighty-five years since the handsome young 
doctor and his bride stepped off the C. B. & Q. "Dolly" at 
Woodhull, Illinois. But the young wife later died during 
tumor surgery in their home, and nothing the Chicago 
specialists nor he did could save her life. 

That left the village with an attractive widower, Dr. 
George H. Cowles, and a ten-year-old son, and it took a 
woman named Myrtle Tilden, twenty years younger, to 
recapture his heart. I was one of the nine children of this 1912 
marriage, but my earliest reahzation that he was also a doctor 
came when he took me into the bedroom on October 20, 1919, 
to see the newest baby, John. When Dad died in 1936, I was 
on my way to becoming a registered nurse, so we had talked a 
lot about the early days of medicine. 

When my father first came to Woodhull, old Dr. Lowery 
already had a flourishing practice. So at least once a day. Dad 
harnessed a team of horses to the buggy and made a 
galloping dash through town and out a mile or so. The next 
day he'd take a different route, and soon the people were 
whispering about how busy the new doctor was, and that 
perhaps he could cure their ills. 

His offices were two rooms of his large frame home. The 
first had a table where he did his bookkeeping, a balance 
beam scale, a huge black safe piled with thick medical books, 
a rocker, two straight chairs, a large Boston fern in the north 
window, a rag rug on the lineoleum, and his sheepskin and 
diploma from Rush Medical College and Northwestern 
University. 

The operating room, just off our kitchen, was dwarfed 
by the long, narrow, wooden table with its thin pad. One wall 
held a glass-enclosed case of instruments. There hung the 
shiny bone saw with which he'd amputated "Cap" Clay's leg 
after a well drilling accident. There was the skuU trephine 



which dad used at least once. Among his momentos is a 
picture of the patient, a little girl. He wrote on the back 
"Abscess of brain operation, April 6, 1898. Successful." 
There were four forceps he used to puU teeth until a dentist 
came to town. Also in the case where hemostats, scissors, 
suture material, needles, catheters, obstetrical forceps, 
retractors, and other tools of his trade. 

A corner cupboard held rubber aprons, rubber sheets, 
bedpans, urinals, and specimen bottles. Nearby was a 
commode with pitcher, basin, and bar of soap for the 
surgeons to wash their hands. As his practice grew. Dad 
preferred to give the drop (ether or chloroform anesthetic) 
and let others do the surgery. 

Another wall of this room had long shelves to hold the 
few medicines available at the time. Dad had apprenticed 
himself to a Dr. Dale in Wisconsin before graduation, so he 
was able to be licensed by the state. The early physicians 
were almost hypnotists in their prescribing and dispensing of 
medicines, willing many poeple back to health. Dad 
prescribed fever tablets with the label, "Dissolve ten in half 
glass of water and take a teaspoon every hour." He ordered 
syrup of epicac, rather than the old remedy of kerosene and 
lard, to get the croupy child to vomit the phlegm. Castor Oil 
was given to young and old, for most diseases. With his 
pestle and mortar, he crushed tablets: with the tip of his pen 
knife he measured out the right amount to administer; and 
with his expertise he mixed gallstone medicine, tonics, cough 
remedies, and ointments. He had absolutely no use for patent 
medicines, such as Fletcher's Castoria, Mother Burns Salve, 
or Denver Mud. He compared the latter to the efficacy of 
fresh cow dung! 

One aid the country doctor had was mustard plasters to 
treat the deadly pneumonia. My father taught the family how 
to mix the right amount of flour, powdered mustard, and 
vinegar and apply as a poultice to the chest. The reaction 



brought blood churning to the lungs to hopefully rid them of 
infection. 

The stomach pump was another great palliative. The 
treatment gave the family something to do for the patient, it 
focused attention on the sick one, and the sufferer certainly 
felt better when the treatmen* stopped. Dad's future mother- 
in-law was his very first patient when he came to Woodhull 
(attested to by an engraved gold cross she gave him for a 
watch fob), and Grandma Katie Tilden always claimed the 
treatment had saved her life. 

Most babies were breast fed in that era, but the few who 
couldn't were considered starving babies. Dad became a 
specialist in concocting cow's milk formula for those babies. 
When one family argued that goat's milk would do the trick. 
Dad sputtered, "Hang the goat by the horns and I'll save 
your baby." And he did. 

Other remedies concerned diets for patients suffering 
from cholera, typhoid, or other gastrointestinal maladies. 
There was hot milk toast with pepper and salt added, the 
toast well browned. In more severe cases, flour was scorched 
in a skillet, salt and milk added to make a thick gravy, and 
the patient was fed a teaspoon every fifteen minutes. 

Dad was one of the first in town to buy and drive a car, 
but until the roads were paved, he still had to resort to 
horsedrawn vehicles part of the time. The last Ford he bought 
was a yellow and blue taxicab. It was easily identifiable, and 
the patients along the eighteen-mile drive to Galesburg 
hospitals could flag him down, and save another trip for a 
house call. Another signal he used was to have the family 
place a chair in the driveway if they needed him. It stood out 
like a beacon in the country. 

My youngest brother and sister never knew the 
excitement of the Galesburg surgeons like Dr. Michael 
Winters, Dr. Moses Griffith, and Dr. Charles Finley, arriving 
by night train at Alpha and being transported the three miles 
over snow packed or muddy roads to our home. For them, it 



was almost a lark, a night away from the city, and they would 
oeprate on the four or five patients Dad had scheduled. 

One evening they arrived just as two of our children, 
Bobby and Kathleen, had chmbed up on a dresser on our 
enclosed back porch. They had planned to get a drink from 
the tin dipper in the ten-quart pail of well water, but the 
dresser tipped over. The water, a large crockful of beets 
pickhng in vinegar, and a gallon of milk went with it. As the 
red and white cascade soaked the children and flooded the 
kitchen, my mother was in tears, but the doctors waded 
through and had the best laugh of the day. 

I well remember the mixture of pride and fear I felt 
when Raymond was about five and he was being carried into 
the operating room for surgery. He looked vulnerable in his 
pajamas, but it took all the doctors to get him on the table. 
As they went through the door from the kitchen, he grabbed 
the two heating pipes to the upstairs, held on with a death 
grip, and screamed for big brother Gerald to help him. 

Most children came for tonsillectomies, and were carried 
to our folding bed in the living room after surgery. They each 
stayed about thirty minutes to be sure there was no bleeding, 
then were bundled up, winter or summer, and taken home to 
recuperate. 

Many more patients were seen in their homes than in 
the office. Dad's practice extended from Woodhull into Alpha, 
New Windsor, Rio, Ophiem, North Henderson, Oneida, and 
the adjoining countryside. He saw each patient as an integral 
part of the family, and each family as a part of a community. 
He delivered more than 2,000 babies, usually at home, often 
by kerosene lamplight. He sat broken bones perfectly 
without X-rays; he stiched up lacerations without blood 
transfusions. He treated influenza, diptheria, malaria, 
whooping cough, measles, and tuberculosis without specific 
drugs, and he lost as many patients as all doctors did before 
the advent of immunizations and antibiotics. He thought 
fever thermometers in the hands of layman, and even the 



chicken scales on which the farmers weighed their newborn 
babies, were unnecessary adjuncts to good medical practice. 
But what Dad had that many modern physicians do not 
have was time— time to hsten to the sick, time to be patient 
for the birth of a baby, time to wait out the crisis of 
pneumonia, and time to comfort the family at the death of a 
loved one. The children of Dr. Cowles, as weO as his patients 
during the forty years he practiced, owe him a deep debt of 
gratitude for giving us those moments and hours of his talent 
and concern. 



WILLIAM H. HARTZELL, TRIAL ATTORNEY 

Leon L. Lamet 

Before the turn of the century and the wide use of 
telephones, it was only natural that people would satisfy 
their curiosity and seek entertainment from court trials. The 
latter provided local drama and glamorized the participants. 

Law schools were few in number, and their location, 
distance, and expense made them beyond the reach of most 
young people who had the desire to enter the profession. The 
accepted method of gaining the right to practice was by 
becoming a student in the office of a practicing attorney or 
attorneys who were members of the legal bar. In that way, 
young men studied the full body of the law and gained 
guidance in procedures until they were able to demonstrate 
the abiUty and show a level of responsibihty that justified 
their admission to practice in our courts. Rare were those 
lawyers in western Illinois, in those early days, who were 
admitted to practice by any other preparation. 

Into this scene came WiUiam Henry Hartzell, a 
graduate of the LaHarpe Seminary, who found acceptance as 
a student in the law office of Charles J. Scofield and AppoUes 



W. O'Hara in Carthage. Mr. Hartzell was born November 8, 
1869, one of the sons of Noah and Rebecca Westherington 
Hartzell, on a farm in Durham Township in Hancock County. 

His diligence and determination was such that he was 
admitted to the Illinois Bar at age 21, and two years later, he 
was elected State's Attorney of Hancock County in the great 
Cleveland-Harrison campaign of that year. Between those 
two notable events, he married Inez E. Charter of LaHarpe. 
Their home was a happy one, to which there were born six 
children— namely, Ruth, Eloise, Grace, Lucille (Billy), Phillip, 
and FrankUn. 

After dissolution of the firm of Scofield and O'Hara, Mr. 
Hartzel practiced by himself for some years. For a period, he 
was associated with Wilham C. Hooker of Carthage and 
Truman Plantz of Warsaw under the firm name of Hooker, 
Plantz, and Hartzell. Later, he was associated with B. M. 
Cavanagh and Edward S. Martin under the firm name of 
Hartzell, Cavanagh, and Martin. 

After Edward S. Martin decided to practice alone, Mr. 
Hartzell appeared to feel that his advancing years 
necessitated that the firm name be changed to Cavanagh, 
Lamet, and Irwin, with him retaining only the position of 
"counsel." I was the "Lamet" in that firm, and so I got to 
know him well. 

The talent for perception of human reaction is one that 
Mr. Hartzell developed advantageously and used with 
impressive results throughout his career. As his abihty as a 
trial lawyer attracted wide attention, his services were 
eagerly sought by many, especially those who suffered 
misfortune. 

His expertise in cross-examining witnesses was rarely 
equalled, and his abihty to draw from a witness those aspects 
that were favorable to his cUent and repeat them by different 
approaches was impressive. One example that I recall was his 
cross-examination during a murder trial that occurred in the 
late years of his practice. The prosecuting witnesses were 



185 



young people, who were questioned about their use of 
intoxicating liquor throughout the evening of the murder. 
There was no proof concerning the amount of liquor used, nor 
was it probable that there was much used, but Mr. Hartzell's 
repetition in the questioning of the occasions where a drink or 
drinks was comsumed was so extensive that on appeal to the 
Illinois Supreme Court, the Court found that witnesses who 
had consumed such a quantity of liquor could not be relied 
upon. 

Another of his impressive talents was to leave a witness 
at a point that the opposing counsel got the impression that 
the situation was advantageous to him. However, the baited 
lawyer always experienced disappointing results. 

In his cross-examination of witnesses, I was sometimes 
reminded of the peeling of an apple down to the core. He 
questioned the witness around and around until he had 
extracted from him all the knowledge that he had on the 
subject— and then he would expand his questions in the area 
of those matters of disadvantage to the oppenent, and 
emphasize them. 

Over the years, he developed expressions that made an 
impact upon the jury. He could reflect joy, sorrow, disgust, 
suspicion, and other reactions by various arm, hand, and 
facial expressions. And he seemed to develop, by reason of 
need, words and phrases that fit the occasion and were 
lasting to the hsteners. In all of this, he had high respect for 
the presiding judge, avoiding situations that would 
embarrass the court in any way. 

Until the Great Depression of the 30's, Mr. Hartzell was 
a frequent user of cigars. One could make no mistake about 
his identity when he was walking down the street thinking 
about a problem. There seemed to be a puff of smoke from the 
cigar with every step. 

His striking physical appearance was largely due to his 
deep black hair, less than tall stature, and a heavy black 
beard. The beard stood out prominently in those earlier days 



when shaving was not a daily practice. Perhaps it was the 
beard that earned him the nickname of "Pig." Although a 
dignified man, he accepted the title affectionately. 

Intoxicating liquors were distasteful to Edward 
Hartzell throughout his hfe. He frequently gave lectures 
opposing their sale and use in every way. In his final illness, 
at age sixty eight, when the attending physician 
recommended the use of whisky for stimulation of his heart, 
he responded that it was his "first taste of the fluid." 

Most of the lawyers that have had experiences with 
William H. Hartzell are deceased. However, those who were 
his adversaries or had participated with him at the trial table, 
in their day, expressed the view that his talent as a trial 
lawyer was unexcelled in western Illinois. He was one of the 
people who made Carthage a special place many years ago. 



THE BARBERS OF RUSHVILLE 

Guy Tyson 

My grandpa had white whiskers and a mustache. He 
never shaved. That was the thing I remembered most about 
him when I was a kid, because he always insisted on a kiss 
and the whiskers scratched my lips. I didn't like that. The top 
of his head was bald, and when the hair on the sides and back 
got too long. Grandma snipped it off with her scissors. When 
I got older, I noticed that most of the men my grandfather's 
age wore whiskers and mustaches, but the younger men my 
papa's age only wore a mustache. 

Papa only shaved once a week, unless we were going 
some place. When he shaved, he would lather his face using a 
shaving brush and soap. After sharpening his razor on a 
strap, he would shave off his whiskers then wash his face 



with hot water. There was no perfumed aftershave lotion, no 
hair spray, no dandruff remover, or hair tonic. 

Papa would drive the team and buggy to town every 
Saturday afternoon and buy enough groceries to last a week. 
He got to going to the barber shop before he came home to 
get a shave. The barber would tip the chair back, lather his 
face, and cover it with a hot, wet towel to soften the whiskers 
before shaving them off. The price was ten cents for a shave 
and 15 cents for a hair cut. 

One Saturday when he came home, we kids ran out to 
meet him and carry in the groceries, and see if he had brought 
us a sack of candy. Our little sister took one look at the man 
in the buggy, ran into the house and told Mama a strange 
man had driven Papa's buggy home and left Papa in town. 
Papa had shaved off his mustache. When he came into the 
house. Mama took one look at him, burst into tears, and ran 
into the bedroom so we wouldn't see her cry. 

There were four boys in our family, and it would have 
cost too much to have our hair cut in a barber shop, so Papa 
bought a pair of hand clippers and he cut our hair. I don't 
remember ever going into a barber shop before I went to high 
school. When we boys got older, we would use the clippers, a 
comb, and Mama's scissors and cut each others's hair. 

When I went into the army in 1918, my uncle gave me a 
Gem Safety Razor. It came with an extra handle and a strap 
so you could sharpen the single edge blade and use the same 
blade several times before it had to be replaced. It was a 
wonderful improvement over the old straight razor. 

There were twenty-seven barbers in Rushville. They 
opened their shops at 7:00, seven days a week, and closed in 
the evening when the last customer was through. Rushville 
was a Saturday night town. Everyone had cars so they came 
to town to visit and shop. None of the stores closed before 
10:30 p.m. The barbers got lots of customers after the stores 
closed. 

AO the barbers had a meeting in the courthouse to talk 



about not barbering on Sunday. Some of them said they had 
to stay open because too many of their customers wanted a 
shave before they went to church that morning. The others 
said they could get a shave late Saturday night. They 
wouldn't agree so they decided to wait a week and meet 
again. The night group cut their prices that week from 35 
cents for a hair cut to 25 cents and took most of the trade that 
week so they all decided to close on Sunday. 

One day two young fellows drifted into town and got 
Jobs in one of the barber shops. Later they married my sister 
and her girlfriend. 

My brother, Lester, never cared much for farming. Our 
brother-in-law had such good working conditions and made 
much better money as a barber than farming, that Lester 
decided to be a barber also. 

After graduating from a barber college in Davenport, 
Iowa, he barbered in Bushnell for a year then came home and 
got a job in Rushville. The owner collected thirty percent of 
the money taken in and furnished everything except the 
tools. 

Most of the shops had a shoeshine chair, and a 
shoeshine boy would shine your shoes for a dime. Some of the 
shops had a bathtub in the back room where you could take a 
bath with plenty of hot water, soap, and a clean towel for 25 
cents. Not many homes had running water or a bathtub. 
Most of the better barber shops had a rack on the wall that 
held fifty or more shaving mugs and brushes. A regular 
customer could buy his own mug and the barber never used 
that mug or brush on anyone else. 

During the Depression, Lester rented a small building in 
Pleasantview, and every Wednesday night, and all day 
Sunday he would barber for the folks in Pleasantview. No 
barber ever closed their shop until six o'clock or until the last 
customer was taken care of, so for several years besides 
working ten or eleven hours in Rushville, he worked till 
midnight on Wednesday and all day every Sunday. 



187 



When the soldiers came home from the Korean War, 
there were not enough jobs for everyone. Jerry, our youngest 
son, came home from high school one night and said he had 
been talking to Uncle Lester and asked what we thought of 
barbering as a trade. 

He liked the idea that a barber was always inside. The 
work was clean, and when you went home at night your day's 
pay was in your pocket. All the barbers in town owned their 
own home and a good car, took a vacation each year, and 
some of them owned an extra house or farm. We liked the 
idea, too. He started planning and saving his money toward 
going to barber school after graduation from high school. 
Harold, his oldest brother, quit his job, and they both took a 
thirty-nine-week course in a barber college in Decatur and 
graduated in 1955. 

Before Harold and Jerry graduated from barber college, 
Lester open up a shop of his own with two chairs, and when 
they came home Jerry started barbering with Lester. Harold 
got a job with a barber in Beardstown. After graduation you 
had to barber two years under a licensed barber before you 
could get a barber's license. 

Times were changing. The law required the tools to be 
disinfected between customers, and a clean towel for every 
customer. The customer also liked a neck paper under the 
hair cloth and a vacuum to suck the loose hair from around 
the collar. They also wanted a ten second electric massage on 
the neck and shoulders before they got out of the chair. A few 
days before Jerry started barbering in RushvilJe, the barbers 
all met and decided to raise the price of a hair cut from 75 
cents to one dollar. It was the first raise they had had in 
seven years. 

In 1970 the building where they had their shop was sold 
and they had to move. Lester had been barbering for forty-six 
years, and his legs were bothering him so he didn't want to 
start over with a shop of his own. He decided to go in with his 



old partner, "Mutt Root," and Jerry leased an empty 
building and built a new barber shop. 

The electric razor was so handy most men shaved 
themselves every morning, and they had their hair cut more 
often. They were always in a hurry, which brought on the 
"appointment" barber shop. Jerry's was the first one in 
Rushville. 

Lester retired in 1976. He had been barbering for fifty- 
two years. No wonder his legs hurt him. 

Jerry bought a building in 1979 and built a new barber 
shop. The walls and ceihngs are covered with old barn siding 
and old wooden beams are overhead. 

A modern barber shop must keep a full line of toilet 
articles, such as shampoos, dandruff remover, hair sprays, 
mustache combs, electric massagers, hair curlers, blow 
driers, wigs, and if they haven't got what you want, they will 
get it for you. 

Now, in 1982, you can get a hair cut for $4.50, a shave 
for $3.00, and a shampoo for $2.50. If you are getting a little 
gray, he will tint it for you, or dye it black, red, or any other 
color you choose for $10.00. If you don't like your kinks or 
curls, get them straightened for $12.50. If you think there is 
something wrong with your hair, he will test it and tell you if 
it lacks protein or what will correct it. 

There are three barbers in RushviUe, and Jerry is the 
youngest. The other two are getting ready to retire. The old 
barbers think the law should be changed so that a young man 
should have to go to school long enough to learn all about the 
trade, and then when they graduate, they could open up a 
shop of their own just like the beauty operators do. No barber 
can afford to hire an apprentice, teach him the trade, and take 
care of all the red tape required by the government when you 
are an employer. 

Will Rushville be without a barber in a few years? The 
barbers say, "No, there will always be someone to do the 
job," but we know several of our neighboring towns who have 



no barbers. Maybe some of the young men who are out of 
work because their factories went broke or have been laid off 
countless times because of strikes or loss of business by the 
company, would like to have a trade where you are 
guaranteed a job every day for the rest of your hfe at a good 
living wage, under good working conditions. Also, you have 
money in your pocket every night, and you're the boss. 
Think about it. You might like it. 



THE FOLKS IN PETERSBURG 

Mollis Powers 

Geographically, Peterburg is located in Menard County. 
One mile South hes New Salem, which was Abraham 
Lincoln's early home. Petersberg is nestled in beautiful hills 
that eventually slope into a vaUey on the east, in which the 
Sangamon River wanders. Having had Lincoln roam our hills 
and values, and Edgar Lee Masters spend his early youth in 
town, has given us national recognition. 

What follows is my interpretation of life of some of the 
folks in Petersburg decades ago. All of the events are true. 
The names of people have not been changed, but I have used 
their initials only. 

In 1916 we children in Petersburg waited for the ice- 
man to come down the road to deliver ice. Juhus Mallergren, 
the son of the owner, always stopped, chipped off pieces of 
ice, and gave it to us. His dad started the first ice plant that 
we had. From the beginning, a coal mine was developed and 
farm land was acquired. 

H.A. was a banker, and he was a land owner with many 
acres. He was genial and friendly. We sweU with pride today 
when we see the sons of his past farm tenants with their own 
farms, and in some cases, the grandsons are occupying the 
ground that their grandfather farmed. H.A. was able, with 



deft management, to keep his bank solvent during the great 
Depression. He had office space to rent above his bank on the 
second story. Once a young professional man in need of this 
space, and with no finances with which to buy his equipment, 
approached him in his office. The banker's concerned answer 
was "the tenant in the office you desire has paid me no rent 
for three years. Would you like to work for me?" The young 
prospective borrower explained that he had been educated 
along other lines and that he knew nothing about the banking 
business. The ensuing reply was: "If you wiO bring him into 
my office, I would like very much to talk to him as I have not 
been able to contact him." Needless to say, this was done, 
and without force. Our neophyte received the loan. Our 
banker got his rent money from the tardy tenant. . . . Some 
office equipment was obtained in the transfer. Everyone was 
happy and satisfied. The banker had lost no money and had 
transferred httle. In reference to the past tenant, earlier in 
the year he had expressed a desire to return to St. Louis, his 
home. 

Jess Ballard and his brother always Uved in Petersburg. 
They made a hving by topping trees. Sobriety not being their 
strong point, they brought all of us much pleasure. Usually, 
after a sleet storm they would be very busy plying their 
trade. Jess would squirrel out on a branch to be cut, while his 
brother was cutting with the saw close to the tree. "It takes 
the pressure off of the saw," he maintained. On one 
particularly cold and icy day, they were at a residence close to 
the high school. Needless to say, the school was alerted. As 
we watched, the resident of this home came out of her door to 
admonish Jess for doing this dangerous chmbing. Never 
wearing shoes around home was her trademark. Previously to 
her upset, at the door, Jess had said in no uncertain terms 
that he was safer where he was than where she was. The lady 
was not hurt. Later Jess and his brother were struck by the 
C. P. & S. L. train as they crossed the railroad tracks in their 
twenty-year-old truck. Mr. S., the undertaker, was giving 



solace to Jess on having just lost his brother, saying: "It was 
a terrible wreck and we are saddened by your loss." "It could 
have been worse," was the reply. "How could it have been 
worse, Jess?" "It could have been me," he reiterated. I might 
say that all of us were very alert at that crossing after this 
accident. Eventually a flashing signal was installed. 

About 1910 there was a local family named Wood. They 
lived North of the canning factory. Two children graced their 
household. The son became the Sangamon County Judge. 
The daughter, after having graduated from the University of 
Chicago, became the English teacher and principal of our 
local high school. She went on to become Menard County 
Superintendent of Schools. Remember, it was unprecedented 
in that day (1920-1930) for a lady to extend her career to such 
a degree. As a principal in our school, she helped to direct the 
hves of our students. She badgered us to go farther with our 
education. She gave us encouragement when we needed it. 
During all this time, she was setting a moral example for all 
of us to foUow. 

One of her students was Edward Laning. As a boy, he 
was our local artist. After a stretch at the University and the 
Chicago Art Institute, he became very noted in his field. 
Today his murals grace the halls of the Supreme Court and 
the Post-Office in Washington, D.C. 

Another student. Wood Gray, became a teacher at the 
University of Illinois. His high school goal was to become the 
greatest mile runner in the nation. He traversed up and down 
our hills in winter and summer. He ran, ran, and ran. When 
his times did not improve because of sore feet, his college 
coach told him he had ruined his feet in past running, and it 
would be best to hang up the spikes and concentrate on his 
curriculum. While being crushed by this statement, he called 
upon his past training and went forward. As a student in the 
History Department, he excelled. Later, as a Professor in 
History he was asked, by the powers that be, to go to Europe 
and write a history of World War II. This he did. 



Around 1920, Mr. and Mrs. Sept Weatherby moved to 
Petersburg. Mrs. W's father was Dr. Bennett, M.D. He also 
did some dentistry, having been the first to do so. They were 
neighbors of mine. In their 90's they still were able to tolerate 
the neighborhood youngsters very well. The key, I believe, 
was that they had several grandchildren of their own. One 
was and still is my very good friend. Upon my desire to 
further my academic career, they presented me with some 
ancient dental tools used by the doctor. While cleaning out an 
old tool box in their shed, they had discovered them. They 
date back to the time of Lincoln. Rusty and pitted, the story 
that they could teU would be significant. Considerable time 
has been spent, both by reading and by research to place 
these instruments in Lincoln's mouth. Until now, this has 
been fruitless. We do know, nevertheless, that the New 
Salem-era Lincoln was young, and the probability remains 
that he never needed the services of a dentist. 

Dinger Darling was a comical character. Innocently 
making the scene each and every day was his personal 
pleasure. The two railroad stations seemed to be his favorite 
milieu around 1920. Upon hearing the train whistle 
approaching the station, he would dash to the area and, with 
great speed, sling the ten gallon cream cans that were 
destined to the creamery onto the baggage car. His obsession 
with that task would sometimes merit a dime, just 
sometimes. 

The Watkins family had a drugstore. The mother and 
son were both pharmacists. When Mrs. Watkins died in her 
90's, she was the oldest active living pharmacist in Illinois. 
The family was thrifty. They had a paper bailer in the back of 
their store. When some of the customers dropped any paper, 
even a chewing gum wrapper, it would immediately be 
retrieved and popped into the bailer. This conservatism 
spilled over and was noted by the general public. In a certain 
and almost indistinguishable way, they always came to the 
aid of people that needed help. In 1915, a daughter did social 



work in Chicago. A son, Lyle, carried on the business in 
Petersburg. He had gone to the Culver Military Academy 
before becoming a pharmacist. Since the family owned almost 
one half of the buildings around the square, they had many 
apartments to rent. Many of those rooms were rented to the 
poor. When those people needed help, Lyle would come to 
their rescue, giving them shelter. Strangely, however, he lost 
interest in both the up-keep of the apartments and the 
renters when they were once on their feet. With dwindling 
finances, toward the end, he still did his best to put some 
cover over the heads of the poor. His Masonic membership 
during his many years was a shinning example of 
devotedness. 

In the same vein, allow me to state that this family 
owned the first car in our town. For twenty to thirty years, 
people from all walks of Ufe tried to inveigle Lyle to sell. It 
had the appearance of a buggy with a splash board. He would 
not sell. Rumor had it that the Studebaker organization 
would trade him even, giving him a brand new President 
Studebaker in exchange. Eventually, he sold this car to a man 
whom we know had the patience of Job and the leisure of 
Methuselah. 

The editor of the Observer was a kind and gentle man. 
He reported the news with carefullness. Some of it was 
excellent, some borderline, but never slanderous. His 
knowledge of people was a thing to behold. All allegations 
were checked out, often with the family of the accused, before 
the presses started to run the story. That, I might add, took 
courage. Although he has been dead many years, his 
nostalgic columns are still being carried in the Observer. The 
future of the paper is assurred because the present operating 
staff is adherent to his principles. 

Dr. Wilkins was our physician from 1909 until he died. 
He was a gaunt and tail man. He made house calls. The 
oldsters in their last years would call him to hsten to their 
complaints and age problems. He would Usten first, then with 
meticulous bedside manner plead and flatter them to once 



again rise and get better. It worked. Many of us beheve those 
people lived longer because of him. His Andy Gump 
mustache was his trademark. 

John Lucht owned a grocery store. In 1916, the children 
would converge there to buy round jawbreakers at a penny 
apiece. They came in cinnamon, licorice, and peppermint 
flavors. They were in a huge jar at the front of the store. 
Those of us without the necessary lucre were his guests. 

Edgar Lee Masters of. Spoon River Anthology fame, 
was claimed as a native of Petersburg, primarily because he 
still had relations here. I understand that Lewistown hkes to 
share some of the ownership, too. Edith Masters, his niece, 
was a history teacher in our local high school. On one of his 
trips from New York to Petersburg to visit with the Masters 
clan, the school was alerted. Shortly it was decided that I 
should be the one to invite him over to the assembly hall the 
next morning to be at opening exercises before the entire 
student body. On the way home to dinner, I was to stop off at 
the Masters residence and make this appeal. I knocked on the 
door and was ushered into the dining room. Edgar Lee looked 
up and said in a booming voice, "What do you want?" I told 
him my request. His manner was both gruff and brusque as he 
retorted, "I never lecture before kids." He continued 
indulging. I just stood there, hoping to apologize for the 
erratic timing of this request and for my impingement on his 
valuable time. The words flowed out rather awkwardly, I 
know. Excusing myself, I then made a hasty retreat to the 
door. The report that I made back to the school was 
disappointing. The next morning, back at school stood a 
wonderful surprise. There, in person, was our author, Edgar 
Lee Masters. History now tells that Edgar Lee was a curt and 
very critical person. 

Double E. Brass had a canning factory on the North 
edge of Petersburg. He canned sweet corn and pumpkin in 
season. His "Man-in-the-Moon" label was known far and 
wide. Many large cities stocked his brand. When I was very 



191 



young, being a friend of the Brass children, I went to work 
with them stacking cans that were shunted off on a raih-oad 
siding of the Old C&A railroad track at the plant. Conveyor 
belts carried those empty cans out of the boxcar to the 
second floor of the factory warehouse. Here they were stored 
until used. In the boxcar, we had a tool that looked hke a 
short-handled bow rake with the tines on a long axis to the 
handle. The cans in the car were in soUd rows that contained 
many thousands. The tines on this rake affair were spaced so 
that one could reach and deliver twenty cans from this stack 
to the conveyor. From here they were whisked away to the 
warehouse. There another crew was busily engaged, reUeving 
the conveyor that always seemed to be stuffed full. Then the 
neat stacks of cans were placed against the wall. The rows 
were 30 to 40 feet long. The height was as high as we could 
reach, possible seven feet. The early labels were pasted on by 
hand. Later, a labehng machine was purchased. Mr. Brass 
had a keen mind. He was an inventor. Many of his inventions 
are now being used in factories that do that particular kind of 
canning. One of the most noted inventions was the "shaker" 
he used on the cans of corn. Previously, at that time, when 
the housewife would pour out a can of corn into her baking 
dish, it was necessary to obtain a spoon and scrape the starch 
out of the bottom of the can that had settled there. After the 
innovation, the corn always remained in a homogeneous 
mixture in the can. Mr. Brass always paid the crew on 
Monday. He stated that by so doing he was assured of a full 
crew with which to start the next week. 

Preacher Groves was a banker. On Sunday he would 
venture forth to some neighboring community to read the 
Gospel. Many stories were related in the early 20's regarding 
his method of making loans. Most of them were true. One in 
particular struck my fancy. It might show his faith in his 
fellow man: A farmer would approach Preacher Groves at the 
bank to borrow for the operation of his farm for the coming 
year. Invariably the man was told that the bank did not have 



any money to loan at that particular time. "I do, however, 
have some personal money that I might loan. When can you 
repay the loan?" The reply was always similar: "Three o'clock 
on such and such a day." The loan was always satisfied at 
that time. Binding this contract was a hand-shake at the time 
of the loan. Today, I am sure with the banking standards now 
in existence Mr. Groves' way would be frowned upon. 

Father Conley had a large dog that he had trained 
himself. Everyone marveled at his obedience. He taught his 
parishioners that they too must be trained, restrained and 
follow his teachings. His masses were well attended. The 
Catholic church stands today as it did after the turn of the 
century. The only changes are that the old church school has 
been torn down, and gold leaf has been added to the steeple. 

Sheriff Clary was a good man. During Prohibition he 
broke many bottles, both on and off the bodies of the accused. 
Whether the laws were good or bad he taught us to uphold 
them. The majority did that. He was very busy in his office 
but not too involved to take his two boys fishing. Having 
been told by Bill Craig, our local commercial fisherman, that 
there was a great catfish just below the steep banks of the 
river, he went forth to catch it. After it broke the tackle many 
times, it was finally landed. It weighed 48 pounds. The 
Layman Owens restaurant purchased the fish, serving it to 
their customers. It was caught at Charter Oaks, the place 
below the new Petersburg First National Bank, at the bend in 
the river. 

Colby Beekman was everyone's friend. It seems that he 
was always the Menard County Superintendent of Highways. 
He was fat and round, with a constant sparkle in his eye. In 
1968, in his 90's, he could tell a story second to none. He also 
was a booster for the young. His road crews were both tough 
and gentle, but they were dedicated. Howard Bell, one of the 
gentler road men went forth to become the head of the 
Menard Electric Cooperative. Gravel for the roads in Menard 
County would come in on a rail siding north of the first 



192 



trestle. One of those dynamic workers, Henry Altig, would 
start to unload a car of gravel at 7:00 a.m. sharp. His shovel 
would never stop nor would he stand erect to rest until he had 
the car unloaded at about 2:30 p.m. I would challenge anyone 
to break his shoveling record. This was accomplished with 
sweat, gruehng labor, and an intense desire to exceed the 
work of all the rest of the workmen. 

Thus the life in our small community was endowed with 
people who cared for their fellow man, and for the legal, 
social, religious, political, and practical aspects of life. The 
wealthy, in most cases, joined hands with the less fortunate. 
In turn this elated us, knowing that what we were doing was 
good for all of us. We in Petersburg do not have to prove that 
we have been an asset to our state and to our nation. We can 
see the flag waving every time we recall the past generations 
in town. 

I am happy to have been associated with all these 
people. 



THE .LIFE OF LOUIS SILBERER 

Howard Silberer 

He was a short man, five feet two, with black curly hair 
and black eyes and dark skin. A man of restless energy, he 
couldn't sit down without going to sleep, so he kept active. 
Prone to use far more vigor than necessary on any task, even 
his speech was louder than necessary. He loved to call the 
dances in full voice, proud of the fact that Ben Rogers, a 
farmer south of town, told him that on a frosty night they 
could hear him calling the dances way out there. YeUing for 
the kids to come in to supper, he would fill the whole 
neighborhood with sound. During the week he always wore 
overalls, and in winter, layer after layer of sweaters and 
jackets, and a corduroy cap with ear flaps. Dressed thus, he 



gave off a sweaty smell. But on Saturday nights he shaved 
and went downtown to loaf in a suit, shirt, and tie, with a big 
stick-pin in the shape of a bull-dog. Then he radiated the 
happy, spicy odor of bay rum. 

The decisive event in my father's life happened in 1876 
when he was eight years old, in Kansas City, Missouri. He 
was helping his father, who was a butcher in a packing house. 
A Kansas rancher drove a herd of cattle to that market. He 
saw the boy working, and offered the father a sum of money 
for the son to work on his ranch for five years. That was the 
opportunity my grandfather was looking for, in order to take 
his wife and family to Bushnell, Illinois, and set up a butcher 
shop of his own. So the boy carefully memorized the name of 
the town, and went off to work on the ranch. 

He was on a horse from dawn to dark, herding cattle. If 
things went wrong, he got a beating. He stayed there for 
three years, until he was 11. One day, after being beaten, he 
got on a train and told the conductor he wanted to go to 
BushneO, Illinois. 

It was a wild and woolly boy who arrived in town. His 
father put him to work in the shop. He attempted to make 
Louis go to school, but that was a failure. After his tough life, 
and with his rough speech, sitting down to learn the ABC's 
with fh-st-graders was impossible. He never did learn to read 
or write. 

About three weeks after his arrival in Bushnell, a troupe 
of gypsies came to town. They had a racing horse which they 
were in the habit of matching with local horses. The Korn 
family in Bushnell had some racers, so they challenged the 
gypsy horse. With my father up, the Korn horse won easily. 
That was the start of his twenty-three years as a jockey. 
Every Spring John Korn took my father and two or three 
horses, and together they made the round of fairs and other 
excuses for racing. They would go down south as far as New 
Orleans and north as far as Chicago. In the winters, they 
came back to Bushnell, and my father butchered for the shop. 



193 



One night it burned down and my grandfather lost 
everything. He and his sons were forced to work for other 
butchers. Because of Dad's illiteracy, he couldn't work in a 
shop, where he would have to be able to write down 
customer's names. He worked mainly at the BushneU 
slaughter-house, and moonhghted by caUing for dances. That 
was where he met my mother, who played the piano or reed 
organ for dances. She had often watched him race. She told 
me he had more personality than any other jockey, and was 
more aware of the spectators. When he rode out in his black 
and yellow finery, he would acknowledge the applause by 
standing up in his stirrups, removing his cap, and bowing 
right and left. 

In 1894 he narrowly escaped death in a race. There was 
a pile-up of horses; one jockey was killed and several hurt. 
Several horses had to be shot, including McGinty, my 
father's mount. Dad's left arm was broken in three places, 
and it remained crooked the rest of his life. Recovering, he 
went on racing. 

My mother refused to marry him as long as he raced. 
She insisted that he settle down and stay in town the year 
round. By the time he was thirty-four, in 1902, he was ready 
to give up the rough Ufe, so they were married. 

Working free-lance at various jobs— butchering, calling 
dances, farm work, pick-ups in a pool hall, and Schulze's 
Chicken-house— Dad never made a large hving. Yet the 
family always ate well. He accomplished this by making 
every square foot of our httle property produce: fruit trees all 
over our yard, a huge vegetable garden, a cow, chickens, 
hogs, a team of goats and a nanny. The goats were working 
animals, cultivating the garden, putting up hay, carrying 
produce in their wagon, etc. No, his early life was not one 
which would produce a money-maker. 

One might conclude that it would also not be good 
preparation for fatherhood. Yet he was a great father, and an 
imaginative one. The stories he told us when we were little 



always included us as characters. They would begin like this: 
"WeO now, Howard, you and Sissy were walking in the woods 
when you met up with a big mother bear. She was a friendly 
bear," and so on. When Dad wanted to go fishing, the whole 
family went along and fished. We'd go to a creek. Or for a big 
occasion we'd board the train to Seville, spend the day on 
Spoon River, and come back in the evening. When the circus 
came to town, he always found money enough to take us all. 
His attitude toward his sons was without partiahty. He had 
every reason to prefer my brother to me, because Louis was 
an athlete, loved to go hunting with him, and was muscular 
enough to be useful around the place, whereas I was a 
bookworm and stayed inside to practice my music. But there 
was never a time when it seemed to me that Louis was 
favored over me. 

In 1917 there was rejoicing when my father got a steady 
job, a janitor in the West School. He began at $50.00 a 
month, but every year he got a smaO raise, until he finally 
made $100.00 a month. In 1938 they let him go, on account of 
his age. The next two years he worked at the Spoon River 
Locker, teaching the men how to butcher. In 1940, at age 72, 
an old rupture brought him down. He could no long work 
because he was forbidden to Lift anything. A happy 
retirement was impossible for my father. Forced to stay home 
and sit around, he went into an immediate decline both 
physically and mentally. Two years later, in 1942, he died. 

After his death two eloquent tributes to him were 
published. The first one appeared in the BushneU Democrat, 
written by the editor. It was headed by the title "One of My 
Boys." I will quote the opening and closing passages of it 
here: "With the passing of Louis Silberer, known to many 
people of BushneU and former grade students as 'Dutch' or 
'Cookie,' BushneU has lost a man many folks could call their 
friend. He was the janitor at the west side grade school for 
many years and he watched over his flock of children as if 
they were his own. If some boy, who had gone to his school. 



194 



did something that was worthwhile, he would always tell his 
friends, "That was one of my boys'. . . . Mr. Silberer liked 
children and they hked him, and many boys now in the 
service were still 'One of My Boys' to him." 

The other tribute was written by Marion Stearns Curry, 
and appears in her book, "Ballads of BushneO." It is entitled 
"Red Men's Hall" and recounts how my father called the 
dances there. Quoted here are the last two stanzas: 

He put a chair right by a post 

An' stood above the crowd. 

An' then he throwed his head way back 

An' hollered good and loud; 

An' ever'body scraped an' bowed 

An' swung into it brisk; 

T'try t'cross the floor right then 

Was certainly a risk. 

The way them folks all laughed and jigged, 

With ev'ry face a shine, 

I said t'mother that I'd take 

A fast square dance fer mine; 

But though I've been t'many a one 

In other fellers' halls, 

The Red Men beats 'em hell-an-gone 

When Louie Silberer calls. 



THE TRUMANS OF BUSHNELL 

Harriet Bricker 

From earhest childhood I recall a distinction about the 
home. Upon entering the door, a delicious and identifying 
aroma would greet you— a combination of fresh baked bread, 
EngUsh pipe tobacco, wax, and pohsh, and if it was 



wintertime, of wood burning in the fireplace. There was 
tasteful order in this home and the antique brasses gleamed 
either in sunhght or firelight. The pair of hackneys, 
statuettes, pranced on the mantel, and the silver trophies, 
trays, pitchers, candelabras, urns, lent their shining splendor 
to the pleasant atmosphere. 

This was the home of Mr. and Mrs. J.G. Truman of the 
Truman Pioneer Stud Farm, and I remember it as plain as my 
own. There was tall "J.G." settled in his big chair, puffing on 
his pipe, his long legs comfortably crossed in front of him, 
speaking in his unmistakable Enghsh accent. And Mrs. 
Truman, or "Lu" as her friends called her, visiting 
companionably in her low, throaty voice which often pealed 
with hearty laughter. And Fanny, ruddy of complexion and 
smihng of face with her Uttle gold earrings in her pierced ears, 
ready to pass a tray of sherry accompanied by a plate of her 
special sugar cookies. Too close to be domestic help, Fanny 
came over from England at age twenty-three to help Mrs. 
Truman and became one of the family, staying the rest of her 
hfe. 

Almost always, before the visit was ended, there was 
music. Either J.G. and my dad would rollick through a duet 
or two on the piano, or Lu would accompany her husband 
while he played his vioUn. "Souvenir" was one of his 
favorites. If John Brant was there with his fiddle, or dad with 
his cornet, the music grew more lively, noisy, and gay, with 
schottishes and polkas. Mr. Brant wouldn't Hke to try 
something new so he'd say, "Let's play something we all 
know," and strike up with "Turkey in the Straw." Many 
years later, I, too, got to take part in the music-making in a 
small way, and I loved it. 

If the evening was long and tiresome to me, with 
nothing but talk, I'd take a nap in the front haU on the "hall- 
seat" near the huge rosewood desk, converted from an 
antique square piano, and watch the soft light spread out 
from under the rose-flowered Tiffany shaded table lamp. 



Upstairs I'd take peeks at the great "tester" beds brought 
from England and wonder how it'd be to sleep in a bed with a 
roof! With a huge, round rose arbor in the yard, this home 
was lyrically known for a time as "The Rose Cottage." 

John Truman's world was horses. His father had been a 
great importer of American cattle to England, but when John 
came over to America as a young man in 1878, he was more 
interested in horses, especially Shires, which he thought met 
the requirements of draft horses for American farms. As 
Bushnell was the junction of three raUroads, the C. B. & Q., 
the T. P. and W., and the Rock Island, he thought it the ideal 
location, and in 1833 the business was established with the 
breeding of Shire and Hackney horses. A family business, 
they also dealt in Belgian and Percheron breeds. The first 
horse barns and the hospital were under the supervision of 
his brother, Reginald, a veterinarian. Brother Wright visited 
almost every country in Europe and Canada to buy the best 
horses. Horace was business manager, after first managing 
the branch at London, Ontario. A fifth brother, Herbert, 
remained in England. Before these men married and 
estabhshed homes, they all hved together! No wonder Lu 
needed help from Fannie, as these often arrogant Enghshmen 
required service from the womenfolk, including boot 
polishing! 

Mrs. J.G. was not Enghsh but an independent-thinking 
young American from Avon, Lu Tompkins. Once in awhile, 
the imperious Englishman and the self-confidant American 
clashed. Lu liked to tell the story of an incident when J.G. 
was courting her. One evening he stayed too long at her 
home, and she had to tell him to leave. He was so put out that 
when he got into the buggy, he gave the horse such a smart 
slap with the reins that she bolted and left him sitting in the 
buggy, the horse with the front wheels gone— and J.G. sitting 
in the seat on the back wheels! 

It was interesting to hear them tell of their trips home 
to England, especially the one just before World War I. Their 



return was on a camouflaged liner, zigzagging across the 
ocean and pulling into unscheduled ports. 

I well recall when the King of England abdicated his 
throne for Mrs. Simpson, J.G. could not beUeve such a thing 
could happen. And Horace, a stiff-faced Enghshman who 
never became a naturalized American all the years he hved in 
the States, was certain it was the evil influence of "that" 
woman! 

Another member of the family was a feathered one, 
PoUy, the parrot. Polly could imitate Fanny perfectly, and 
when I took piano lessons there, often in the middle of the 
session would come the call "Mrs. Tru-u-u-man!" And Mrs. 
Truman would excuse herself to see "what Fanny wanted," 
only to return and say it was only "that parrot! " PoUy would 
spend summer days outdoors on the grass in her cage while 
cardinals and orioles flitted around the roses and cut leaf 
birches. She would call the cat, "Come, Tom!" and Tom 
would he down by her cage while she played with his tail, 
which was all right as long as she didn't nip it too hard! It 
made Polly furious if some man laid his hat on top of her cage, 
and she'd flash her eyes and say. "I won't stand for it!" 

After the barns on Main Street burned, the Truman 
enterprise bought the Melvin farm on the south edge of town, 
which was then a fruit farm where there were cherries, apples, 
pears, and berries of all kinds. That was where the fine barns 
were buOt, for the draft horses, the smaller Hackneys, and 
the brood mares. A score of employees worked there and went 
on the road, prize-winning horses swept the big shows, and 
buyers came from all over the nation. 

Mr. J.C. Penny bought "Prick Willow of Connaught," 
one of the statuettes I mentioned, and took him to Cahfornia. 
Samuel InsuU bought "Queen of Diamonds," the other one, 
but the outcome was disastrous. A horse of high-strung 
temperament, she was mishandled. She ran into a barbed wire 
fence and was so badly torn she had to be shot— a real heart- 
break. 



Recently I was asked to tell "how they felt about their 
horses!" What an odd question! A family involved for three 
generations in stock-raising, their horses were of all- 
consuming interest and, considering the successes and 
international fame, the object of great pride and care. The 
Truman Farm was the most famous draft horse farm in the 
nation at that time, and Bushnell was proud of it, too. I don't 
recall foolish sentimentality, but they loved their great 
beasts and couldn't imagine a world without them. But that 
eventually passed and the days of glory were finished. 

The era of the Truman Pioneer Stud Farm was a great 
time for Bushnell. I hope youngsters of today will be able 
someday to look back upon something in their early life as 
having been of significance. Although some of the glitter had 
tarnished when I was a young person, enough remained to 
instill a bit of awe in me for those days— and it still does. 



FAYE HOUTCHENS. AUCTIONEER 

Earl F. Carwile 

Have you ever been to a farm sale or auction on a hot 
and sweaty day? The people stand around growling at 
everybody else, and even at themselves. Frown and gloom is 
written all over their faces. Let me describe for you another 
type of auction— an auction that is aUve and kicking, a "Faye 
Houtchens Sale." 

As a small child I can remember Faye Houtchens, the 
Monmouth Auctioneer, kidding people, laughing, joking 
giving a verbal gouge in just the right place. People would be 
smiling back, and they laughed as he pulled his jokes and 
jibes. They would look at one another with a knowing smile 
and mutually agree with each other on what he had just said 
about some third party. 

He was a master of crowd psychology. The auction 



always started about fifteen minutes late. This got his 
thinking started. When Faye started the bidding, the first 
few items went fast and furious and at bargain prices. 
Everyone got into the spirit and the bidding was hvely. He 
would rear back, wet his lips, spit just a httle as he started, 
and then get on with his sing-song chant. You were never 
quite sure of the bid unless you stopped him and asked. He 
would come to a complete stop— look the person that asked 
him right in the eye, and say, "This is where 1 am now." Then 
he would resume his chant and go faster then ever. You also 
wanted to look around to be sure of the person or persons you 
were bidding against. It was never unreasonable to think you 
might me bidding against a ghost. 

Faye Houtchens moved to Monmouth from around the 
Blandinsville area. I don't know the reason for the move, but 
it was to Monmouth's advantage. He established a very good 
chentele in both farm-and-livestock and home furnishing 
sales. He sold a lot of homes and farms, but he was not a 
hcensed real estate broker. He died in 1954, at sixty, leaving 
behind a very nice wife and three boys. He also left behind a 
lot of friends that remember his style of auction. 

Here are a few stories about him that were left behind in 
peoples' memories: 

One of Faye's favorite things to sell was the porcelain 
chamber pot. His trade name for this was "bedroom 
Havilland." If there happened to be a good tight fitting lid, it 
was always mentioned and commented upon. If there 
happened to be a shy and bashful, blushing type of person 
present, Faye was prone to prey on them with the "Thunder 
Mug" phrase. Everyone would laughingly agree that he or 
she needed one of these valuable things to use on a cold and 
dark and rainy night. I remember standing in the back row at 
a large auction on south Eighth Street in Monmouth. Faye 
was having trouble selling a large white chamber pot. He had 
tried to get bids on it for some time, and finally he blurted 
out, "Sold to Carwile in the back row for a quarter, and you 



can charge it to me." At the time I was a young college 
student. I blushed, I'm sure, and the crowd got a big kick out 
of it. 

Another sale occurred at another place, and it was just 
about to end when Faye finally said, "There is one more little 
item— a fine rug still on the floor and we will have to go inside 
the house." Everyone hurried to get inside to get in on the 
bidding for the rug. After the sale was all over and people 
were settling their bills. Judge Loren Murphy came up to the 
clerk, Raymond Fraser. 

Judge Murphy: "You know the rug on the floor in the 
house that I just bought— it has a hole in it." 

Ray Fraser: "I don't know anything about the hole, all I 
know is that you bought the rug." 

Judge Murphy: "I know I bought the rug— but when 
Fay sold it to me, he was standing on the hole!" 

Murphy nevertheless paid for the rug. 

Another story is told about Fay at a horse auction at the 
sale barn north of Monmouth. I said earher that the auctions 
always started fifteen minutes late. This particular sale 
started promptly, and the clerk, Ray Fraser, was about five 
minutes late in arriving for his clerking duties. His job had 
been taken over by a local farmer named Lonnie Boswell. 
Lonnie had written on a slip of paper a few names and figures. 
Ray took over the slip of paper that was handed to him. The 
sale went on. It was a very hot day. The perspiring auctioneer 
sold five more horses and then, to take a little break in his 
verbal cycle, he stopped and said in a loud voice to the clerk, 
"How many horses have we sold, anyway?" Fraser, the 
clerk, looked over his list and Lonnie's hst and answered, 
"Right at 40 horses." "HeU," rephed Faye, "That's more 
horses than we started with!" All of this brought a batch of 
whistles and guffaws from the crowd. 

There are other stories about Fay holding his thumb or 
finger over a crack or blemish in a plate or dish as he 
displayed it for bidding. One woman told me that she got a 



genuine Currier and Ives framed original print for only 80 
cents. She said the only reason she got it so cheap was 
because the printing had slipped down below the hp of the 
frame and Fay let it go for the 80 cent bargain. 

The sing-song chant of Houtchens the auctioneer— I can 
hear it yet. I can hear his voice, see his ruddy cheeks— can 
hear him taking verbal pokes at people, all of them his 
friends. I can still hear him cajoUng some thrifty farmer into 
a bid of 50 cents more on some mower part. He was a very 
good friend of many and is remembered by all who ever saw 
him work. 

Fay Houtchens, Auctioneer: "What Am I Bid, Bid, Bid, 
Bid?" 



AUNT PRUDENCE BERRY 

Henry Hughes 

Prudence was the oldest daughter of Thomas and 
Nellora Berry. They bought and moved to a farm three miles 
southwest of Table Grove. 

Soon they built a new house, improved the farm, built a 
new barn, and began feeding large numbers of cattle and 
hogs. They kept buying land until they had 500 acres. While 
the new house was being built. Prudence, the oldest of six 
children, was born. That was in 1853. 

When 15 months old, she became paralyzed. The local 
doctor gave her the best care then known. She regained the 
use of her arms and right leg, but the left leg remained 
paralyzed. 

When learning to walk again, she had to use crutches. 
Her father built the crutches, using broom handles and 
putting a head on them, which her mother padded and bound. 
She did not have "boughten" crutches until she was 22 years 
old. 

Prudence never allowed her affliction to keep her from 



trying to live a normal life. She learned to sew, knit, and 
embroidery while very young, and she learned to cook, bake, 
and do other household tasks. She became very proficient, 
too, in helping to care for the younger children. 

Foster Point School was one mile west of her home. She 
walked this with her crutches, except in bad weather. To 
continue her education, she attended there until 17 years old. 
At 19, she attended Lombard College in Galesburg for two 
years, stopping when her afflicted foot was troubhng her. 

Her affhction did not interfere with her making many 
long and short trips with her family. She made one trip to 
New Orleans, CaUfornia, and Oregon (by stagecoach), visiting 
and camping. 

After a trip to Texas to visit her older sister, her mother 
began to fail, dying on January 20, 1879. In November, Mr. 
Berry married Hannah Beers. Prudence met her stepmother 
cordially and turned the house over to her. 

Prudence, when 16, joined the Universahst Church. This 
was when the church was being built. Sunday School was 
being organized, and Prudence was appointed teacher of the 
young ladies' class. She was very loyal to the church; it 
became a high priority with her, and she was superintendent 
several times, fiUing in also wherever she was needed. 

The Women's Christian Temperance Union was 
organized in Table Grove in 1882, with Mrs. Berry and 
Purdence being charter members. They also attended state 
and national conventions of W.C.T.U. Seeing the enthusiasm 
of the national officers, especially Francis Willard, inspired 
Prudence to come home and organize a group of young girls 
into what the W.C.T.U. called a "Bank of Hope." She gave 
them talks on temperance, then taught them songs and 
recitations, and put on programs. Soon the name was 
changed to the Loyal Temperance Union. 

She enjoyed working with the girls. So to keep them 
from disbanding, she decided she would teach them sewing. 
To raise money to purchase some material, they were taught 



songs and recitations for entertainment. Another time they 
sohcited nickels from the people in town. 

Prudence taught them to cut out and sew dresses, 
skirts, aprons, and towels. They then had a fair to sell them, 
and they auctioned off what was left. After the first year they 
made dresses and other clothes for smaller children, which 
Prudence would take to an orphan's home in Peoria as she 
went to visit her sister. 

As she felt they had no adequate place to carry on this 
work and she thought Table Grove needed a hbrary and hall, 
in 1891 she purchased the ground for a hall. She started 
making plans for a first floor hall and interested the Odd 
Fellows to build a second floor for a meeting place. 

This building was built in 1894, being called Progress 
Hall, and it stiO carries the name. 

She divided the first floor into three parts. The south 
part was equipped with cupboards, drawers, and tables for a 
hbrary. The middle had a stage, curtain, table, and chairs. It 
could be used for plays, lectures, banquets, and voting 
booths. The back room was equipped with a stove, sink, and 
dishes to prepare and serve banquets. 

This hall became the home of the Loyal Temperance 
Legion for their sewing lessons. They were taught how to 
finish a quUt. This building was the home of sewing lessons 
until 1900, when Prudence sold the building. By then, she had 
worked with the boys and girls for 15 years. 

Her father died May 25, 1899, after being weakened by 
pneumonia. Since her father had taken her to the hall, and 
there was no one else to take her, she sold the hall. 

The estate was divided as her father requested, with 
Prudence buying the house and most of the furniture. Mr 
Chapman, a school teacher, and his wife and two young 
daughters Uved with her for two years, and she enjoyed them. 
When the Chapmans' left she decided the old home was not 
suitable for her and could not be made so. 

She petitioned the Universahst Convention for a permit 



to build a house on the church block, to become the property 
of the church for a parsonage when she was through with it. 
When the permit came, she got a contractor to build the 
house. 

She planned it to be all on one floor, with six rooms, and 
a bathroom, pantry, and three closets, to be heated with a 
warm air furnace. She later added store rooms and a porch. 

She soon had the ground landscaped and many flowers 
planted. Because she was kind to all, ready to share their joys 
and sorrows, and always wilUng to counsel, her home became 
known as "Sunshine Corner." 

She began having school girls stay with her during the 
school year. I remember four girls from one family and there 
were several more. She lived alone in the summer, as long as 
she could use her crutches. 

After two falls, breaking a bone each time, she had to 
use a wheelchair and have a girl fuD time. She also had ramps 
built for her house and the church. 

She was a charter member of the Ladies Aid Society. 
Their meetings had been held in the summer in the church 
because of no heat. At first they pieced and made quilts. Then 
for a few years they made dresses, skirts, towels, pillow tops 
for sale at a fair. They soon made just quilts and quilted for 
others. They moved to Prudence's house in the winter to 
quilt, and the house became their storage quarters. 

After the Heflin Building was built on the southwest 
corner of the square, with a basement and facilities for 
cooking, the Ladies Aid served chicken pie suppers, gaining a 
high reputation. A ground floor entrance allowed Miss Berry 
to enjoy them. The fees from quilting and chicken pie suppers 
contributed to the expenses of the church. 

Prudence Berry was my Sunday School teacher around 
1905, in the Primary Department, and again later for several 
years. She had the ability to keep her class interested and set 
high ideals for youngsters to strive for. No doubt her 



examples and teachings inspired many to better Uving and 
kindled a sincere love for her. 

She not only taught Sunday School but lived her 
rehgion. She always maintained her interest in her pupils at 
all times, and knew of their whereabouts. 

I feel the love and respect can best be shown for Aunt 
Prudence by mentioning that Table Grove and the Table 
Grove Herald dedicated the entire front page to her on her 
seventieth birthday, and again at her death, with tributes 
and testimonials to her from home people and others. I know 
of no one else who was given such respect. 

I have tried to describe just a few of the philanthropies 
of this loved and respected lady. However, I should Uke to 
use a quote from Aunt Prudence's own "Memory Sketch" to 
exemphfy her true inner quality: "I had a mother's heart and 
have had beautiful dreams of what I could do for my children 
and home. That dream did not materiahze. So I loved the 
children of others to fiU a void in my own heart." 



UNCLE HARL ROBBINS 

Lillian Nelson Combites 

Living in a small town, I believe we were closer and 
knew more about one another. I could write a book about all 
the good people in "Our Town." 

The one that left the biggest impression on me was 
"Uncle Harl Robbins." I guess I first remember him when a 
little girl. My sister and I used to go to his house on Saturday 
mornings to buy eggs. As long as I remember he always lived 
in Good Hope in the South end of town. He was a very good 
man, an influential citizen, and owned farms around the area. 
I guess you'd say he was weO-to-do. Anyway, it seemed he 
was rich to us poor folks. 

Uncle Harl wasn't my uncle. Mama taught each of us to 



200 



call all our elderly residents Grandpa, Grandma, Uncle, or 
Aunt. We loved them that way, too, and we"d run errands or 
pick up the mail for any of them. I never saw my dad, nor 
either Grandpa, so these older folks. Like Uncle Harl, filled a 
big spot for me. 

Uncle Harl was hard of hearing and had a hearing aid 
shaped like a powder horn— an ear trumpet they were called 
in those days. He didn't use it all the time, and one had to talk 
quite loud. He was a stocky built man, and wore a billed cap 
(in style at that time) and knicker pants until styles changed. 
He drove a touring car, but I don't know what make and am 
sure it wasn't a Model T. He had a big black and brown dog 
named Watch that was always with him. I am sure if anyone 
tried to harm Uncle Harl, they would have been sorry. He had 
a housekeeper. Aunt Elsie Lovejoy, who lived across the 
road. I think she was a relative. She was always doing the 
Saturday baking. She cut scraps of pie crust with a thimble, 
sprinkled sugar and cinnamon, and baked for us. She made 
tea and we had a tea party with play dishes and all the dolls. 
There were relatives that visited so they kept toys for them. 
Many a happy morning was spent playing there. 

Uncle Harl was civic minded and up on everything. 
When they were building the Lamoine Hotel he made the 
remark, "Macomb's like Rome. It's going up in splendor." I 
wonder what he would think if he were hving today, with the 
high rises, McDonough District Hospital, and all the 
University buildings. At that time only one college building 
was there. I remember once a year the Elementary and Rural 
schools of the county held Rural Progress Day there. We 
were shy and in awe of such a big building. I still have a blue 
ribbon I won on a booklet on "Dress" over fifty years ago. 

One day about dusk we saw Uncle Harl come up the 
walk. He said the folks from the farm were bringing a load of 
wood. They had been cutting hedge and the truck was loaded 
with stove length wood. They dumped it in the back yard 
and, with some coal to bank the fire, it lasted all winter. Our 



dog. Scout, and 1 spent many happy hours playing up and 
down that woodpile. He took a load of wood to another widow 
in town, too. At tax time Mama sometimes couldn't pay on 
time so she sent us to Uncle Harl with a note asking to 
borrow the few dollars, and Uncle Harl always loaned it to 
her. I am not sure if she was always able to repay, but Uncle 
Harl never required it by asking until she could. 

I later went to Bushnell to live, was married, and on 
February 19, 1937, our Sandra Jo was born. I was in labor so 
long that she had severe head and brain damage and only 
hved three days. I know God knew I was not able to cope with 
Cerebral Palsy, so He took her to Heaven. On a cold, bhzzard- 
type day they buried her, on Mama's lot, we thought. We had 
our babies at home in those days and I couldn't go, as we had 
to stay in bed ten days. On the ninth day we had to lay as 
still as we could so our organs could go back in place, so they 
claimed. In the spring when the weather was good, we went 
to Good Hope to the cemetery and found they had buried 
Sandra Jo on the wrong lot. We had to dig her up and put her 
on Mama's lot. We saved our dimes a long time to buy a 
marker and finally had $19.00 saved. My brother-in-law 
worked for Earl Smith, the Sciota Township Road 
Commissioner, and Earl had a farm West of Good Hope. He 
told my brother-in-law, Sylvia Cogburns, he'd let him have 
the ground if he'd buy potato seed and go on shares to raise 
potatoes. My brother-in-law came to us, and we let him have 
our marker money for seed. We never saved money again for 
the marker, but all of us had potatoes for the winter. 

Years later when Uncle Harl died, in his will he left 
money for a number of markers for the poor who couldn't 
afford a grave marker. My brother put our name down, and 
Sandra Jo now has a marker, and I '11 always remember Uncle 
Harl for that. 

One day when my brother-in-law was working with Earl 
on the road. Earl was pounding with a hammer and the end 
hit my brother-in-law in the head. Years later, he got severe 



headaches and eventually developed bone rot and died. He 
was one of Uncle Harl's markers too, and so does my father, 
who died before I was born. 

A number of people around Good Hope would have 
unmarked graves if Uncle Harl hadn't been so generous and 
cared for others. In a small way, this has been my chance to 
give a memorial for him. 



TRICKY 

Hazel R. Livers 

Sometimes when our minds get to wandering back to 
the town where we lived and grew up, we begin to think of the 
various people we knew back then. In our mind's eye we see 
the so-called important people of the town— doctors, 
storekeepers, ministers, beautiful girls, and young dudes 
around town. But would you believe that the one person who 
seems to take precedence in my memory over all the others is 
the town idiot?" 

Today such people aren't known as "town idiots." They 
are called God's Special Children, the mentally retarded, the 
mentally incapacitated, or sometimes children suffering from 
Down's Syndrome, etc. Back then, as now, every town had its 
retarded citizens, some more so than others. 

Ipava, I think, had one of the most outstanding, if I 
may use that word, retarded boy. I'm sure there isn't anyone 
who was around Ipava some fifty or more years ago who 
cannot immediately caU to mind this boy. His name was Lyle 
Tricky. Naturally enough, everybody called him "Tricky." 
He was the son of a local much-respected couple. His mother 
kept him clean clothed and fed him, but he was a free spirit 
and roamed the streets of Ipava at will. He did not have the 
physical characteristics— heavy short bodies, round heads, or 
awkward gait— of the mentally retarded. He was one of the 



most agile and graceful people I knew. He was able to do all 
kinds of acrobatics, handsprings, somersaults, and what have 
you. He put the rest of us quite to shame. 

Back in the Twenties, before the radio and television, all 
the surrounding towns, including Ipava, had what was called 
a fall festival. This consisted of various kinds of events, 
contests of all kinds, a big parade, and at night a huge 
pageant. Those pageants were elaborate affairs, and they 
usually depicted some historical event and included many 
people. The theme of the pageant was carried out by 
speakers, singers, and dancers. In this particular pageant I 
was one of a group of Indian dancers. The director of the 
pageant. Minor Brock, was taking us through our dance one 
afternoon without much success. We just couldn't get it. 
Tricky, who always seemed to be everywhere, happened to be 
an audience of one at this practice session. He watched us for 
a while and then, without a word, came up on the stage and 
proceeded to go through the dance with exact precision, 
perfect timing, and without a mistake of any kind. And we 
were the ones who were supposed to have the brains! 

Speaking of these town festivals, Tricky always seemed 
to know what town was having a festival and when. He 
always managed to get there in some fashion. The young men 
of Ipava were good to Tricky and many times took him with 
them to other towns on these occasions. They never forgot 
him either and always saw to it that he got home. They saw to 
it that he had something to eat, too. On one occasion I 
happened to be in the Bon Ton Cafe in Lewistown when Virgil 
Sowers and several more Ipava boys brought Tricky into the 
cafe and bought him a piece of pie. Tricky loved to talk and 
didn't get his pie finished when Virgil yelled in the door for 
him to get a move on or he would be left. Tricky didn't want 
that to happen, but what to do with his pie? He solved the 
problem by telling Glenna, the waitress, to put the pie back, 
and he said he would finish it when he came back next time. 

As I said. Trick always managed to get to the other 



towns. He always knew the Ipava girls when he met us. He 
always managed to make us feel conspicuous in a crowd as he 
was never hesitant in speaking to us. He would, for example, 
say to us, "You Ipava girl; me no like Ipava girl; Uke Cuba 
girl better," if he happened to be in Cuba at that time. 

Tricky was a great show off. He loved to hold forth on 
the bandstand in the Ipava park. If he had an audience he 
could go on and on, it seemed, for hours. He conducted his 
own program, talking, singing, and dancing. As I have 
indicated, he was very graceful and he would conduct his 
program with all the gestures, gimmicks, and facial 
expressions that you could imagine. I loved to watch Tricky 
go through aU these antics. 

Tricky also hked to perform and entertain the crowd at 
the basketball games. He could dribble with the best of them 
and could plunk the ball through the hoop with the greatest 
of ease. He would run up and down the court and turn 
handsprings and somersaults and land on his feet with the 
grace of an acrobat. These antics were looked upon with 
indulgence and he was never considered a nuisance or bore. 

Years later, after Tricky's parents died, he was sent to 
the home for the retarded at Lincoln. While he was there, 
some of his faithful friends, among them Dutch Ebbert and 
Virgil Sowers, visited him off and on until his death some 
years later. As I said, he wasn't "all there," but to me, and I 
think to other people of Ipava, he was a very fine and 
unforgettable person. 



QUEER FOLKS 

Beula Sellers 

"I saw that ball of fire rolhn' around the old haunted 
house again last night!" exclaimed Grandma at the breakfast 
table. 



"Ah, such tom-foolery, Molly! Don't scare the child. 
There's no such thing as ghosts. It's just your imagination," 
scolded Grandpa. 

"Now, Jim if you'd seen that greenish ball of fire goin' 
up high and then down low you'd beheve me. It was playin' 
all around last night when you were at the church meetin'." 

"Nonsense, Molly! Just because weird old Sally 
Wiggins died in that house, there's no need to beheve that 
place is haunted." 

That morning in 1915 was the first time I had heard the 
legend of the old haunted house in St. Marys, the village 
where we Uved. After Grandpa had gone to the store, I 
begged Grandma to tell me more about it, and she told me 
this story: 

Years ago, when a queer couple had moved into the 
dilapidated old Wheeler house. Grandma thought she should 
be neighborly, and so one day she baked some cookies and 
went to call. 

As she walked down the weed-covered path she could 
see that the shutters were tightly closed, wherever they were 
not hanging on broken hinges. The unshuttered windows 
were covered inside with newspapers. The paintless 
weatherboarding was off in many places and shingles were 
scattered everywhere. Pigeons were fluttering around the 
shabby eaves. 

Grandma walked into the yard of knee high grass and 
chmbed over a fallen tree that seemed to indicate "no 
trespassing." When she stepped upon the porch a board flew 
up in her face, and many gaping holes showed other boards 
missing. 

She knocked timidly at first, but louder when no one 
answered. 

Finally a thin trembhng voice sqeaked, "Who ere ye?" 
and the tapping of a cane came closer. When the door opened 
several cats came "high taihn" out of that dungeon-hke room 
as if the devil was chasin' them. 



203 

Now Grandma was sure that she had stepped into the those hovering, rolling, and jumping lights, but they were not 
pages of a story book, for there stood a living image of the old caused by the ghosts of those queer folks who once Hved in 
witch in "Snow White," with a broom turned upside down for the old "haunted house." 
a cane. She was dressed in an old greenish black dress with a 
dirty rag partly covering her stringy hair. Her cheeks had 
great hollows and her pointed chin turned up as her toothless 
mouth turned down. 

"What do you want?" she shrieked. 

"I'm your neighbor and I brought some cookies," 
Grandma explained, as she handed her the sack. 

The old lady grabbed the sack of cookies and shut the 
door in Grandma's face. 

Grandma told me that the old woman probably treated 
everyone that way, for no one knew anything about that 
strange couple. She never saw the old man, Rufus Wiggins, 
but folks said that he was just as queer as his wife. 

One day folks heard that old Sally Wiggins had died in 
her sleep. No kin or anyone came, but the authorities took her 
away to be buried somewhere. The word got around that the 
old man, living there alone, wouldn't let anyone touch her 
clothes that she had hung on the rocking chair the night she 
died. 

It wasn't long after she died that he walked down the 
weedy path to the mailbox, and he was lying there dead when 
the mailman came along the next day. 

"Now the old house stands deserted, just Uke they left 
it, and folks stay away from it because their ghosts haunt the 
place, and we see those jumpin' lights there ever' once in a 
while," Grandma concluded. 

Grandma enjoyed watching those balls of fire roll 
around the haunted house and telling me ghost stories. She 
never knew of the optical phenomenon called will o' wisp, or 
ignis fatuus, which is a chemical reaction in low areas, 
producing a round-shaped phosphorus glow, from the size of 
a candle flame to that of a pumpkin or washtub. 

So Grandma, and others in St. Marys, really did see 




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JX Very Special Places 



VERY SPECIAL PLACES 

"It's a whole lifetime away, but sometimes in my mind's 
eye, I see Grandma standing there, with a twinkle in her eye, 
a warm loaf of bread resting on her clean white apron against 
her tummy, and a knife in the other hand ready to slice into 
its warm goodness, and I feel love flowing all around me," 
writes Kathryn A. Gustafson about a very special place: her 
grandmother's kitchen. 

As one reads the following stories, one senses how 
significant the places are to these authors who write about 
and remember them. By reading what they have to say, one 
becomes a part of the unique qualities that created that 
significance— for in the early part of the twentieth century, 
places were still characterized by the individual geographical, 
cultural, and social miheu wherein they evolved. The 
repetitive and standard golden arches of McDonald's or the 
orange roofs of Howard Johnson's had not yet marched 
around the globe, turning landscapes into familiar 
homogeneity. 

E. Relph writes, in Place and Placelessness, "To be 
human is to live in a world that is filled with significant 
places: to be human is to have and to know your place." 
Certainly the authors represented here are clearly in touch 
with and aware of the unique aspects that made the places 
they describe special; in the first half of the twentieth 
century, Illinois people were in touch with their place. 

We recognize this rootedness when Ruth Sorrill 
Koestler describes her grandmother's farm— a series of 
sensory ghmpses of cows thirstily gathered around a water 
tank; the gurgle of water; the rubbery smell of overshoes and 
the damp, musty odor of an ice box on the screened in porch; 
and a whiff of coal heat from the furnace register. To have a 
sense of place is to be aware of the sounds, smells, images, 
spaces, and feelings aroused by a particular location. 



These sensations feel right. Helen E. Rilling articulates 
this when she writes, "We were part of everything on the 
farm," and she voices a nagging doubt about the 
prefabricated sameness that has moved across her world by 
adding, "Now, farms look so sterile with their bright colored 
vinyl buildings . . . Thank heaven I grew up when farmsteads 
had sheds. Old sheds filled with a myriad of interesting 
things. Things to remember with affection ..." 

Things to remember with affection! The smell of 
German coffeecakes in Averyville! The skin tinghng sound of 
a "mighty WurHtzer" vibrating through the opulent splendor 
of a big movie palace! The aura of vacation spas that grew up 
at the turn of the century around "health giving springs." A 
nondescript little creek that offered nooks and crannies for 
experiencing! Memories of "place" so clear that, as Glenn E. 
Philpott reminisces in regard to the Illinois and Mississippi 
Canal, "At night, if I listen carefully, I can still hear the frogs 
croaking, a splash from a jumping fish and the cry of the 
Katy-dids along the canal bank." 

The frogs, a splashing fish and the cry of the Katy-dids 
make up what Relph would call that "special ensemble," that 
is, that special combination of things which distinguish one 
place from another and which combine to make that place 
meaningful to us. 

But writers and thinkers such as Relph believe that the 
majority of the population today, instead of having a keen 
sense of the place they use and inhabit, exhibit a kind of 
placelessness. The same prefabricated house in Aurora, for 
example, can be found in Belleville; the same fast food 
purchased in a Kewanee cafe can be bought in an identical 
one in Carbondale; and the old, twisting, winding roads that 
once encouraged travelers to slow down and to take in the 
special aspects of the countryside have been bulldozed into 
straight, uniformly designed highways where travel is fast 
and efficient and interaction with the surroundings 



unimportant. To Relph and others like him, "places" have 
become merely "interchangeable locations." 

Relph cites a quotation from Robert Cales, "It is utterly 
part of our nature to want roots, to need roots, to struggle for 
roots, for a sense of belonging," and Relph continues, "to 
have roots in a place is to have a secure point from which to 
look out on the world, a firm grasp of one's own position in 
the order of things, and a significant spiritual and 
psychological attachment to somewhere in particular." 

Certainly the authors in this section describe the roots, 
the "places" that have created meaning in their lives. 
Perhaps these "places" have given them "... a firm grasp of 
[their] own position in the order of things" and, perhaps, any 
placeless persons who may read these stories will determine 
to search out and find a meaningful "place" for themselves. 
The instant popularity of Roots, the book and television 



series of a few years ago, attests to the fact that people have 
begun to question their own mobility and, therefore, the 
circumstance of placelessness. 

Leaving, giving up, our "place" is always a time of 
sadness. Lucius Herbert Valentine writes, "In August of 
1920 we moved from Scott Mill . . . This was a very sad day 
for me, and it seemed to me even our horses did not want to 
go either, as they balked going up the very steep hill out of 
the river bottom. As we went over the crest of Shin Hill, I 
looked back at the river; then Scott Mill faded into history 
and my life changed." 

Roots may have awakened the placeless people of the 
United States to their need for "place." It is possible that we 
will, each of us, begin a search for the Scott Mill we left 
behind? 

Jerrilee Cain, Editor 



209 



GRANNY'S KITCHEN 

Leta Rogers Spradlin 

The little frame farmhouse, home for so many years to 
my grandparents, was located near the village of Nortonville 
in Morgan County, lUinois. My earhest recollection of that 
long-ago home was in 1916. The house had three rooms, but 
because of its importance to the family, memory of the 
kitchen is most vivid to me. There was no item of decoration. 
Each object in the room had a practical function. There were 
no curtains at the two small windows, only green shades on 
rollers. The walls had a soHtary "adornment," a calendar with 
inch-high numerals and ads for patent medicines purporting 
to cure most any disease known to man. Even in its plainness, 
the room presented a perfect illustration of love and 
hospitahty. It was the most desirable place my four-year-old 
mind could imagine because it personified Granny and 
Gramps! 

Most family routine mvolved the kitchen in some way. 
Meals were prepared and eaten there, of course, but so also 
were the laundry chores done, milk and eggs cared for, 
canning, sewing, and even bathing accomphshed, too. Also it 
was the center for entertaining relatives and friends. The 
round oak table stood in the middle of the floor, surrounded 
by bow-backed chairs beckoning folks to gather around for 
refreshment and conversation. At nightfall. Granny would 
hght the number-two-sized lamp to shine out aU the meOow 
glory of its carefully trimmed wick and spotlessly polished 
glass chimney. When eating, reading, or hand work were not 
in order, number two would be replaced by its smaUer 
counterpart, number one. This was an economy measure to 
save oil, as in that home it was considered wasteful and 
extravagant to use more of anything than was really 
necessary. 

Handy to the table was Granny's pie safe. There were 
kept her dishes and the items, including food, which were 



cleared from the table after each meal. Atop the safe stood 
the Seth Thomas clock which Gramps wound every Sunday 
morning, assuring himself it would bang out the hours and 
half-hours for another week. 

Against one wall of this vital hving center was Granny's 
cookstove. It dominated that whole room's side, not because 
of its size, for it was only a "four holer," but its importance 
gave it stature. It furnished not only a means for cooking and 
baking, but served as space heater as well. The cheerful 
glowing warmth so welcome in winter could trickle the sweat 
down the user's back in July! Except for the swirly blue and 
white granite teakettle, which was Granny's hot water 
supply, all her stove utensils were of cast iron. These included 
skillets, stew pots, a wash boiler, and the fleet of flat irons 
with which she ironed the clothes. 

Granny had a floor-to-ceihng cupboard near the stove; 
its many shelves stored the groceries and cooking utensils. It 
seemed to me that she could reach into its depths and find the 
requirement for anything anybody wanted. If Gramps 
decided to vary our diet with a squirrel from the nearby 
timber, then down from the top shelf would come his shotgun 
shells. A youngster could be pretty sure a candy peppermint 
stick was available, and a borrowing neighbor found her 
needs fulfilled, too. Granny kept her big wooden bowl of flour 
on the handiest shelf. Whether she planned to make 
gingersnaps, her fairy-hght biscuits, or one of those cakes 
which were the best I ever set a tooth into, she reached for 
that bowl of flour. She would make a "nest" in the middle of 
the flour, stir in a couple of handfuls of this, a splash of that, 
and perhaps an egg or two or a few glugs from the molasses 
jug. Working in flour from around the edges, she'd stir 
vigorously and have the product ready to bake. She never 
had a recipe to her name, and amazingly the bowl of flour 
looked exactly the same at the end of her effort as at the 
start. 

In a far comer of the kitchen was the washtable with its 



210 



cedar water bucket and tin dipper. This water was for all 
household use and had to be frequently replenished from the 
well outside. Here also was the wash pan where everyone 
"washed up." The soapdish there held two bars, one of 
"Grandpa Brand Tar Soap" for the most resistant soil, the 
other was "Jap Rose Brand" for daintier requirements. This 
Jap Rose bar was nearly transparent. So a kid could hold it 
close to the eye, face the hght, and view a world drenched 
with gold! 

Taking this backward glance at Granny's kitchen and 
its many limitations, one might consider that perhaps one 
good thing about the "good old days" is that they ARE gone. 
Well, maybe. But I'm so thankful for all those precious 
memories! 



THE PLACE WHERE LOVE DWELT 

Kathrym A. Gustafson 

Peering into a kaleidoscope of many remembered 
memories across the passing years, I have one that never 
fails to bewitch and dehght me— my Grandma's kitchen. 

As a child it was my favorite room in the whole world. 
From it the most enticing smells spread all over Jefferson 
Street, maybe over aU Dutch Calf-Town, and maybe, over 
Quincy— who could tell? 

A black cook-stove trimmed in bright nickelplate 
dominated the north wall of the kitchen. I remember 
Grandma working there making pickles, chih sauce, making 
all kinds of jelly, and canning fruits and vegetables, each in 
its own season. There was a large warming oven across the 
back of the cook-stove. It was all shiny black and trimmed in 
nickelplate, too. The stovepipe ran through the warming oven 
on its way to the flue, and that's the magic that kept the 



meals warm for late comers, and mittens dry and warm for 
little hands cold from play. 

The day Grandma would bake a cake was the most 
pecuhar day of all. Sometimes she would only put one or two 
pieces of coal in the stove to keep the fire just right for the 
correct oven temperature. Then we had to tiptoe carefuOy 
across the floor so the cake did not fall in the oven! 

Grandma had a coffee grinder mounted on the wall near 
the cook-stove. Sometimes she let me grind the coffee beans, 
which were stored in the glass well at the top. The beans 
would jump and dance, as I turned the handle, before falhng 
into the grinder in the middle, and finally turn up all ground 
fine and smelling fresh in the wooden drawer beneath. Each 
morning, Grandma made a large gray enamel coffeepot fuU of 
coffee. As the day went along, the coffee was consumed, she 
added more and more ground coffee to whatever remained. 
Like the Mississippi River, her coffee pot never ran dry! 

Saturday was Grandma's baking day. There was a large 
oval table in the center of Grandma's large square kitchen, 
and by late afternoon it was groaning with homemade 
goodies. There were fat loaves of homemade bread, 
coffeecakes rich in spices and sugar, pies of various kinds; 
and there were soft, fat, sugar cookies. Just thinking about it, 
I can almost smell the dehcious, yeasty, lovely, fattening 
aroma of Grandma's kitchen. 

And, you know, my Grandma was so wonderful— she 
never had a failure! No matter how the bread turned out, 
somebody liked it that way. If it happened to be just this side 
of burned, Henry like it burned. If it was a trifle anemic 
looking, Walter Uked it exactly that pale. With seven in the 
family, she never ran out of good reasons why each loaf was 
exactly the way somebody liked it. 

Then the happy moment came when Grandma would 
finally pick up her knife and shce off a warm crust for me. 
"Oh, Grandma, may I please have butter and jeOy on it!" I'd 
plead. I always hoped my Aunt Edna wouldn't put in an 



211 



appearance. She felt either butter or jelly was enough, that I 
didn't need both. She'd say teasingly, "You can't have both. 
Your father doesn't own two houses." I never understood 
that logic at the time, but Grandma always came to the 
rescue by saying, "Give the little one what she wants." 

It's a whole lifetime away, but sometimes in my mind's 
eye, I see Grandma standing there, with a twinkle in her eye, 
a warm loaf of bread resting on her clean white apron against 
her tummy, and a knife in the other hand ready to shce into 
its warm goodness, and I feel love flowing all around me. I 
become a simple child again surrounded by love. That's the 
operative word, love, because that kitchen was very 
definitely the place where love dwelt. 



FLY WITH ME OVER GRANDMOTHER'S FARM 

Ruth Sorrill Koestler 

My family had eagerly looked forward to moving to my 
Grandmother McConnell's farm twelve miles east of Quincy 
in Adams County. We children thought the house had many 
"kid pleasing" characteristics. We loved the two screened-in 
porches, one on the east side and one on the west side. Across 
the front on the north was a large front porch, great for 
playing on a rainy day. There were concrete sidewalks all 
around the house and leading from each porch to a gate in the 
fence which surrounded the large yard. Naturally, the fence 
in front was white pickets. Since the house sat on a rise, there 
was a definite slant to all sidewalks, making them perfect for 
coasting in a little red wagon, zooming down on a pair of 
roller skates, or on an icy day, good for a fast sled ride. 

There was also a sidewalk leading to a smokehouse just 
south of the house. This building was used for smoking meat, 
storing unused laundry tubs, old furniture, and chicken feed. 



I remember several occasions when we were sent to get 
chicken feed and would reach into the bag to scoop out the 
feed only to feel the smooth skin of a big brown snake. What a 
horror that was. The smokehouse was about the size of a one- 
car garage, and the back was about three feet off the ground, 
making a great hiding place for a small boy trying to escape 
the watchful eyes of two older sisters. 

The sidewalk on the east side led outside the gate to the 
well, where a horse-watering trough was always kept 
partially filled. The trough was about eighteen inches wide 
and twelve feet long. It was mounted on legs about three feet 
in height. When a herd of thirsty cows were using it, two 
children were required to man the pump and keep the trough 
filled. It was great for coohng hot feet on a warm summer day 
if you could do it without getting caught. On the well 
platform was a httle door that was hfted to lower food, such 
as milk, butter, meat, and even desserts that needed to be 
kept cool. They went down in a bucket attached to a long 
rope. It was here the cream was kept sweet until there was 
enough for churning. 

The sidewalk on the west led to the privy, and even 
those memories weren't all bad. If you knew a job was coming 
up that you didn't want to do and you could sneak a good 
book out with you, it was good for a half hour of quiet, if 
odoriferous, reading. 

South of the house was a large garden. A place we 
children would have liked to stay away from but never-the- 
less in which we spent a great deal of time hoeing, weeding, 
and picking vegetables and fruits. 

The inside of the house was enjoyed equally as much. 
Like many houses of that day, on the front was a large dining 
room and parlor, separated by a very large hall with a 
staircase which had a long beautiful banister. It wasn't really 
approved of but it was great for sliding. The banister ended in 
a circle of wood that was perfect for a safe landing. There was 
no problem keeping the banister dusted and pohshed. 



The kitchen, pantry, and storage room were at the back 
of the house. The kitchen was huge. It would have made three 
of today's kitchens. It was where the family spent most of 
their time. At that time, we still had kerosene lamps so the 
kitchen table was used for games, mending, homework, farm 
recordkeeping, letter writing, making sausage, 4-H 
demonstrations, threshing dinners, food preparations of all 
kinds (especially pie making), and many other 
things— besides the three good meals a day served to the 
family. We always had a day-bed in the kitchen, a favorite 
place for the sick or well. The wood cooking stove kept us 
cozy in the winter and cooked in the summer. A wood box 
kept in a closet just behind the stove was kept filled, 
preferably by the children old enough to carry at least a few 
sticks of wood. Having splinters picked out was nothing to 
get excited about in those days. This closet which was always 
hot was the preferred place for damp coats, boots, and shoes. 
With the door left open, they dried quickly and were toasty 
warm when needed. 

The storage room on the west side of the kitchen and the 
pantry on the east side were very useful rooms. The storage 
room was used to store hnens, extra groceries, coats, 
overshoes, and also for the Saturday night bath or at any 
time you felt like bringing in water and heating it for a bath. 
The pantry contained dishes, pots, pans, some groceries and 
the slop buckets. In the slop buckets went peelings, any 
leftover food the cats and dogs wouldn't eat, and even some 
dish water. All of it went to the poor pigs. They seemed to 
flourish on it so I guess it didn't matter. 

There were back stairs leading from the kitchen to the 
back bedroom, used by hired hands, until we children got big 
enough to help out. There were four other bedrooms. 

The house was heated by a coal furnace. There were 
registers in the kitchen, dining room, hall, and parlor but 
none upstairs. The one in the parlor was turned off except 
when company was expected. There was a ceiling register in 



my parents large bedroom. The hall register kept the 
temperature in the other bedrooms above freezing if we left 
our doors open, and with feather beds we were not 
uncomfortable. On a cold winter morning there was a great 
rush to see who could get downstairs first and get a warm 
register to get dressed on. 

The screened porch on the east was home for the ice box, 
boots, smelly farm coats, and, last but not least, the spring 
and summer residence of the wringer washer. The washer was 
another implement we children were not fond of since if you 
were big enough to pump the cistern, you were big enough to 
bring in buckets of water to fill laundry tubs and the wash 
boiler used to heat water on the kitchen stove. 

The west porch was used to house the big black cream 
separator and a table where, on cool days, crocks of milk 
frequently sat waiting for the cream to rise. I can still taste 
the rich cream on a bowl of hot cereal or on a rich bread 
pudding. The butter churn was also kept on this porch. 
Churning was another arm-tiring, unpopular, but necessary 
job. However, the finished product served on a hot slice of 
just out of the oven bread with a little sugar sprinkled over 
the top was so mouth pleasing you soon forgot how tired you 
were. 

Today you can fly over or land on Grandmother's farm, 
but you can't live on it because it was condemned and taken 
over by the Quincy Municipal Airport Authority. The 
buildings were all torn down. There were no dry eyes among 
us six children or Mother and Dad the day the old house fell, 
but the memories remain. 



213 



THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF SHEDS 

Helen E. Rilling 

How I loved our farm when I was a little girl. It had a 
very humble house and an old unpainted barn with 
extensions built on each end. But, under the two huge maple 
trees and lots of fragrant locusts there were sheds which 
seemed to grow like mushrooms all around us. Our farm was 
on the western edge of Morgan County. It was the perfect 
place to grow up in the early Twenties. 

The sheds were in all sizes and shapes. A few wore faded 
red paint on their wide boards, but mostly the boards were 
weathered to a soft grey with mossy green edges. They curled 
at the sides and left long narrow slits we used as peepholes 
when playing Hide and Seek. 

Clustered in a semi-circle about the house were five 
sheds. They were joined by walks made of two wide planks 
laid on the bare ground. Rain and frost made them 
dangerously slippery. They tipped precariously from the 
uneven ground. To the west of the back stoop was the smoke 
house. Here hung the hams and bacons, dripping their 
caramel juices as they cured in dense hickory smoke. These 
were red-eye gravy hams. Just inside the door was a wooden 
barrel of salt and several sacks of bran for the mother pigs. 
We loved to scoop up handfuls of bran and eat it as we 
romped through those deUcious days of childhood. The smoke 
house was dark and mysterious, and we were warned to never 
leave the door open lest a cat or dog should carry off some of 
the meat. 

Just a few feet to the south stood a newer shed. It was 
the wash house and contained the latest double-tub washer 
run by a gasohne engine connected to it by a long belt. We 
were warned to stay well back from the whirhng flywheel and 
belt. Mother frantically tried to cope with the new 
"fandangled contraption" as it erratically ran at full speed 
with the engine popping and banging every whipstitch. The 



wash water was heated in two black kettles sitting over 
bright red coals just outside the door. A small laundry stove 
heated the wash house and dried clothes hung on Ones in zero 
weather. This shed served as a bath house for the men of the 
family. 

A few steps from the back door was a shed that leaned 
into the west wind. It was shaped like the very old houses 
built on the prairie with two rooms and a loft. We used it to 
store corn cobs. Coal heating and cook stoves used lots of 
cobs to kindle fires. The family cats of which there were 
always about twenty used the cob house to hide in not only 
from us but from the dogs. They'd sit up there on the corn 
cobs motionless for minutes and then pounce on an unwary 
mouse. We learned to appreciate their helpfulness, for we 
often found a mouse in the bucket of cobs we carried into the 
kitchen. The kerosene barrels set up on legs were kept there 
along with buckets, baskets, and a funnel to fill the oil lamps. 
This shed was a good place to hide. We'd scramble up on the 
pile of cobs and peek through knot holes. 

Directly behind was the coal shed. It had a low roof and 
one window where the wagon loads of coal were scooped into 
the shed. Large chunks for banking the fires at night were 
thrown to one side. Scoops and a sledge for breaking up the 
lumps leaned against the pile of ebony coal. In one corner you 
could usually find a coonhound tied up after mother caught it 
sucking eggs in the hen house. 

The newest shed was a shelter over the well. It was 
called the well house. To us it was just another shed that held 
many interesting objects. A long wide shelf was filled with 
binder canvasses, balls of oily-smeUing jute twine used to tie 
bundles of wheat and oats, and all the things not put where 
they should be. The foot-pedal grinder was a deUght to play 
on. We loved to watch the orange sparks fly off an old corn 
knife as we ground away. The wash pans and towels for the 
hired hands were kept along the back side. A cement trough 
carried the water outside for the chickens. 



We'd nail spools on these sheds and run belts of string 
back and forth. This was our first attempt at automation. 
Then we'd try to keep turning as many spools as we could at 
the same time. 

Across the driveway was another cluster of sheds. In 
the center was an old railroad car. We'd hang out the side 
door and wave an old lantern at an imaginary engineer 
signahng him to open the trottle and we'd be off to 
Jacksonville on the Wabash Line. One end was partitioned 
off for a grain bin. In the rear of the larger part racks held 
harnesses dripping black oil into old tubs and buckets. We 
only ventured back there to hunt bird nests. On one front wall 
hung strips of bronze sleigh bells. What fun to ring them and 
sing Jingle Bells, be it a hot July or cold December day. A 
work bench held many tools, a vise, and extra leather to 
repair the many sets of harnesses. Little hands found 
hundreds of things to do while precariously perched atop a 
keg of nails. Saddles hung from pegs along with scoops, pry 
bars, spades, and posthole diggers. 

All around the old railroad car with just a few feet 
between were sheds that housed a buggy, the extra-long 
bobsled, and our grand old storm rig with the green felt 
curtains. A long low shed sheltered the mower, cultivators, 
and wheat driU. Another lop-sided shed with wide doors 
protected our Model T along with the necessary barrels of 
gasohne and oil. In a httle narrow shed squeezed in between 
we played house, after we'd cleaned out the cobwebs and 
dust. Kittens shared cradles with dolls and the dogs begged 
for crumbs from our cookies. 

We must have had more chicken houses than any other 
farm in the county. There was a big shed that housed the 
laying hens. Buckets of hot feed were carried daily to them in 
cold weather, along with warm purple-colored water to fill the 
fountains. There was another shed where the older hens and 
roosters with long spurs sat on oily roosts to keep the mites 
off them. A squat httle shed filled with rows of nests held the 



settin' hens whose big eggs would soon hatch httle balls of 
yellow fur. On the roof of this shed we dried apples and in the 
fall black walnuts after they'd been hulled. A brooder house 
had httle chicks hatched in an incubator and kept warm by a 
kerosene lamp and hover. Out under the apple trees was a 
divided chicken shed for mother's Rhode Island Reds that 
she showed at the fair. A wire pen kept them safe from a 
chance encounter with an old black and white rooster. 

In a cozy httle spot down by the creek stood the cow 
shed with many stalls. At the back hung one-legged stools, 
and along one waU sat boxes of salve for sore teats. Nearby 
was a calf shed where suckhng calves were shut away until 
time for them to eat their share of the milk which was usually 
one teat's worth. Hog sheds Uned two sides of the lot and 
were filled with knee-deep straw where the little pigs snored 
and suckled fat mothers. 

A long machine shed with an open side was fiOed with 
binders, plows, discs, and harrows. Space at one end was left 
for the extra horses to find shelter in severe weather. We 
loved to peep in the httle round holes in the twine boxes on 
the binders and see the speckled eggs the wrens hid in nests 
of thorns from the locust trees. 

Some of these sheds had a door and window or an 
opening directly into another shed. They were swell places to 
hide. You could go from one shed through another and out a 
window to dash across the yard and hide in another maze of 
sheds. 

Besides these sheds were others, hke the lofty picket 
corn cribs and stout graineries with cupolas. We were a part 
of everything on the farm. We would fetch any tool from any 
shed. We took our spankings hke a man when we left the good 
saw out in the rain or, worse yet, left a shed door open. 

Now, farms look so sterile with theu bright colored 
vinyl buildings. There's no hog lots or pens for horses. 
There's nary a scraggly chicken scratching in the driveway. 
Thank heaven I grew up when farmsteads had sheds. Old 



215 



sheds filled with a myriad of interesting things. Things to 
remember with affection. 



AVERYVILLE 

Dorothy A. (Smith) Marshall 

If you were a child growing up in the early 20th century, 
without electric lights, gas heat, telephone, radio, TV, or 
automobiles, chances are you were intimately enclosed in one 
block area. Now, in the so-called "twilight years," your 
memories of that neighborhood are more vivid than your 
present surroundings. So it is with me, having lived in the 
north end of Peoria, Illinois, where Adams and Jefferson 
streets merge, bounded by Camblin and Van Buren. 

Camblin Street was the official beginning of Averyville, 
so-named for the red brick factory buildings stretching for 
about a mile along Adams Street and housing the Avery 
Farm Implement Machinery factory, later Hyster, and 
currently WABCO plants. Hundreds of men were employed 
there, and when the noon whistle sounded, many of them 
were served delicious hot meals at nearby boarding houses 
run by enterprising women of the neighborhood, one of whom 
was my grandmother. What meals I remember served! Huge 
pots of potatoes, succulent pork roast with beans baked in a 
large brown crock in the coal cookstove oven, and pies of 
many varieties, fresh from the oven each day. I was more 
impressed with the foods than the financing, but I venture to 
say my grandmother collected less than a quarter per meal 
and certainly never seemd to have much profit to show for all 
that effort. 

When the new Avery office buildings went up on 
Camblin and Adams, with its lovely expanse of cement 
pavement, it was my joy of life for roller skating. Although it 
doesn't seem steep now, to come gliding and speeding down 
the hill and making the turn at the bottom, really put any 



unaware pedestrian in great jeopardy! Across the street in 
the triangle where Jefferson and Adams merge, stood no 
stophght, but a huge cement water fountain by Easton 
(several similar ones graced the city of Peoria). A few feet 
away stood the tiny confectionary and tobacco store run by 
"Old Mr. Marks." What patience he had with us children 
when we were lucky enough to have a penny and came to his 
store for candy! It was no easy matter as we scanned the 
glass case from top to bottom until our choice was made. 

Our block boasted a rare ethnic flavor. My playmates 
included three Uttle Swedish girls and three whose mother 
was from the old country. The tantalizing smell of her 
German coffeecakes baking is still in my nostrils. From the 
homes of these playmates I learned a few of their native 
words and songs which I still remember. Next door lived an 
elderly German couple whose daughter had married and 
moved across the street from them. She played the piano and 
sang in St. Mary's Cathedral choir. Although we were not 
Catholic, I remember a snowy Christmas Eve, when our 
whole family trekked a mile and a half to hear the Christmas 
music at St. Mary's midnight service. 

In the center of the block and, indeed, the neighborhood, 
was the grocery store run by Irish M. Delaney and his two 
sons. No self-service this, but customers went with a list and 
were waited upon. The merchandise included fresh and 
canned foods, cookies in large boxes with glass doors or in big 
bushel baskets. (Quite a bagful cost a nickel.) Coffee was 
ground from the whole bean, while bulk sugar, flour, dried 
beans, rice and Imperial Tea were weighed out per order. 
Unwrapped bread was delivered fresh from the baker each 
day and cost five or ten cents per loaf. Thread (displayed in a 
glass case) sold for five cents a spool. Eggs were delivered 
fresh from the farmer. In the back was the butcher shop with 
its sawdust floor. Don the butcher always gave the children a 
weiner to eat. Thirty cents worth of sirloin steak was an 
ample meal for a family of four. Lard came in bulk and was 



weighed out in small wooden trays, as was peanut butter. 
Liver was free along with dog bones. The store had a credit 
system. Your purchases were listed in small individual 
charge books; on "payday" items were totalled and payment 
was made in full, with a reward of a bag of mixed candy. I 
always accompanied my parents to pay the bill! 

One of the large houses at Van Buren intersection was 
of stone and cement blocks. From a moderately large home, it 
grew and grew each year until it covered the entire lot with 
its many additions. It stands there today, a marvel of 
architecture. In mid-block a small inconspicuous house set 
back in the yard was the home of two maiden ladies and their 
widowed sister. But, the most prominent and modern house 
on the block was a large square frame house with hardwood 
floors and a garage with a driveway. Around 1920, when 
automobiles were a luxury to own, old Mr. Broadman sported 
an electric auto— a square affair with facing seats to 
accomodate four passengers. I would sometimes get to go for 
a Sunday ride with his granddaughters. The hiUs of Bradley 
or Glen Oaks parks were steep for the car with the 
passengers, so we would disembark, walk up the hill, and 
meet the vehicle. Grandfather Broadman was superintendent 
of the Peoria Work House where law-breakers were confined. 
It was located near the river on Grant Street and next to the 
Pest House which house persons with contagious diseases. 
The Work House covered a large area and consisted of office 
and residence of the superintendent and buildings where 
prisoners made brooms, bricks, and had their own bakery. I 
visited this place often with the granddaughters. Sometimes 
the river rose into the yards and a boat was used to and from 
the work areas. At least these men were busy and productive 
to pay their debt to society! In later years, these buildings 
were eliminated and the Peoria Baseball Grant Park was 
located in its stead, later to become Woodruff Field. 

Down the street was Central Park, a popular little 
Sunday rendezvous. There was a circular stone fountain of 



sulphur water with drinking facilities. Sulphur water 
supposedly had a therapeutic value. There were also 
enclosures for rare birds, such as owls and loons, and another 
for alligators. Later a public sulphur-water swimming pool 
was opened and was popular for many years. 

Across the street from Central Park was the "Car 
Barn," a brick building stretching from Jefferson to Adams 
covering rows of tracks on which street cars were housed 
when not operating. The street car tracks ran on Jefferson 
and Adams, so transportation was quite convenient and cost 
five cents a ride. In summer the regular street cars were 
replaced by "summer cars," which were open air and cool, 
somewhat like the San Francisco cable cars. 

Common to most of the houses was a wooden porch 
swing from which the occupants viewed the neighborhood 
activities. The lack of the automobile was fiUed by the horse- 
drawn ice truck, garden huckster, or peddlers of other wares. 

Not far from our block on the river were the ice-houses. 
When the lUinois River froze over, the ice was cut and stored 
in big ice storage buildings. There were the Woodruff and 
Detweiler ice companies. Ice was delivered to customers, 
carried by ice tongs to the back door and placed in the 
wooden ice box which would have a drain for the melting ice. 
This dripping water was caught in a dishpan under the icebox 
and used as dishwater for its softness. 

The vegetable huckster would stop his wagon in the 
middle of the block and the housewives would come out with 
their change, wearing their large aprons, to choose produce at 
a very nominal price. It was then gathered up in the apron 
and carried into the house, eUminating all bags and 
wrappings. Sometimes a peddler of miscellaneous 
merchandise would stop his wagon to do business in the same 
manner before the house-to-house selUng became common. 

Such was life in the early 1900's when children walked 
long distances to school, played jumprope, jacks, hopscotch, 
marbles, and mumbly-peg on the sidewalks of the 



217 



neighborhoods and in winter, went sleighing, snow-balling, 
and coasting down the hill on a Flexible Flyer. 

When inside, activities included checkers, rummy, 
dominoes, and most of all, reading books. If one were very 
lucky, perhaps he or she had a phonograph or piano and could 
have music. 

I wonder if today's children think we were deprived. 
Well, perhaps not— just maybe they envy us a bit! 



THE CONSEQUENT OF THE MIGHTY WURLITZER 

William P. Bartlow 

Remember in the 1920's, at the big movie palaces, where 
in the maw of the spothght, came a rumbhng sound that 
thrilled the very marrow of your bones as the Mighty 
Wurhtzer rose into view and you settled back in your seat for 
an evening in paradise? That was really hving! Each city had 
their favorite theatre organ and organist. In Peoria, for 
example, it was the Hinners Organ at the beautiful Madison, 
while Springfield had the big Barton Organ at the fabulous 
cavernous Orpheum, and in Quincy it was the Mighty 
Wurhtzer at the Orpheum. Even the small towns had their 
favorites, such as Rushville's Princess Theatre, which 
boasted a Hinners Organ. Sadly, by the 1950's, only a few 
remained, and one in particular was left to be saved, which 
thereby begins our story. 

It was a bright fall night in October in 1958 as my wife 
Margie and I donned our good clothes to head for Quincy and 
the Orpheum Theatre on Hampshire Street to look over and 
start dismanthng the Mighty Wurhtzer theatre pipe organ 
which I had recently acquired. 

The magazine article had read "Do It Yourself— Install 
your own theatre organ." It should have added "dummy." 
The article made it seem simple enough: "Just be sure it is 
intact with no water damage or missing parts." 



This particular Wurhtzer organ had been installed in the 
Quincy Orpheum in September, 1924. It was number 910 (the 
910th one made) by the Wurhtzer Company. The instrument 
was used continually until about 1929, when the screen 
"spoke"; then it feU silent. By 1958, after years of neglect, it 
was full of dirt, soot, dead birds and mice, discarded candy 
wrappers, taffy apple sticks, popcorn, chewed gum, and other 
refuse. It had the famous Wurhtzer horseshoe console with 
two keyboards and five sets of pipes. The percussion included 
a Xylophone, Glockenspiel, Chrysoglot, and Chimes. A three- 
horsepower motor and DC generator supphed the wind and 
power. The instrument was intact, and there was no water 
damage, but it was unplayable as the motor was 
disconnected. 

The Orpheum had been built in 1916 as a vaudeville 
house; thus when pictures came into vogue it was considered 
a "presentation house" with stage and screen attractions. 
When the Mighty Wurhtzer was installed, it in itself was an 
attraction. 

That October night in the dimly hghted empty theatre 
one could visuahze the famous stars that once trod the 
boards of the big stage house and see the figures that played 
its silver screen and imagine the music that would have filled 
the room from the Mighty Wurhtzer organ. One could stiU 
see the faded grandeur of the once opulent interior. As 
Margie and I removed the small fragile pipes, our hands, 
faces and clothes became covered with soot and dust. 

A theatre pipe organ can look compact and small when 
erected, as it does not seem to take much space, but apart it is 
an endless coUection of parts, wind hnes, metal ducts, pipes, 
wires and assorted pieces. As the dismanthng continued, the 
storage areas at home became more cluttered for the garage 
soon filled, then to the garage loft, after which the house 
basement overflowed and the balance spilled into the upstairs 
bedrooms. 

A friend told me a Dr. Klein in Muscatine, Iowa, had 



218 



purchased an organ from a Huntington, West Virginia, 
theatre which he reinstated in his home with amazing 
success. So the very next day I made an appointment with 
Dr. Klein to see and hear the organ which was indeed as 
grand as had been said. Dr. Klein, peering down over his dark 
horn-rimmed glasses, told me very direct that I should hire a 
good organ man for instaUation of the organ, and that I 
absolutely would make a mess of it if I attempted to do it 
myself, that besides 1 would ruin a perfectly good organ. And 
that he had, in fact, a good organ man lined up in the next 
room, his name was Wilham Hansen, Jr. of Portland, Oregon. 
I was convinced, and Hansen was hired on the spot. 

The next few weeks found Margie working and cooking 
in the kitchen after Bill, his wife Eleanor, and their new baby 
moved into an upstairs bedroom. The first thing I learned 
was that all the pneumatics (air valves under each pipe) had 
to be re-leathered. Now this is a process of considerable skill, 
to remove each pneumatic, label it so it could be properly 
replaced, scrape them clean, cut leather to fit, glue, and 
replace it. As there were five chests which held some 700 
pipes and each pipe controlled two pneumatics, so with pipe 
chests, percussions, relays and console pneumatics, it 
roughly was 2500 pneumatics to re-leather. 

The work progressed, with re-leathering being 
completed in the summer of 1959, so the organ was put into 
storage to await installation. In the meantime we were 
negotiating for another property which would be the home for 
the organ (and us too). Late 1959 saw the property purchased 
and renovations started, so space for the organ began to 
form. As organ-builder Hansen took off for Portland for a few 
months, he recommended that we increase the size of the 
organ from five sets to ten sets of pipes, which would be 
double. 

So an earnest search began for additional parts. I 
learned of a smaO Wurlitzer organ in Cicero, Illinois, which 
had three sets of pipes with lots of additional percussions in 



mint condition. It had been originally purchased new in 1927 
from the Wurhtzer Company (number 1564) for instaOation in 
a music studio to teach picture playing but actually was used 
very httle. 

The hunt widened to the Springfield area where I 
located one poor, down-trodden, battered, beat-up, tu-ed, 
water-damaged organ in the now demoUshed Strand Theatre. 
It was a Wurhtzer organ, number 721, installed in 1923. A 
fire in the early 1940's put the organ out of commission, for 
while it had not burned, it had suffered a lot of damage. It 
was what we needed, so we acquired what was left, hauled it 
home, and our search was ended. 

I mentioned earlier how much space the original 
dismantled organ required; just think what it was hke now 
twice the size. There were even Diaphones in the bathroom! 

By working in "fits and starts," the chambers gradually 
took shape, with reservoirs, wind lines, blower and motor, 
chests, tremulants and shutters assembhng in their 
respective places. All chests had been cleaned, re-leathered, 
shellaced and set in place while the drums and traps were 
reconditioned. Pipes were washed with soap and water. 
Cables were reconnected to the relays and switches. The 
console was cleaned and refinished, with the original colored 
celluloid stop tabs relettered in the Wurhtzer style. By 
December, 1960, it was partially playing, and early in the 
spring of 1961 installation was complete. Its beautiful sound 
was beyond my fondest dreams. 

Today, in 1982, the Old Orpheum Theatre of Quincy is 
gone but the Mighty Wurlitzer still plays on. We have many 
visitors who come to see and hear, while other guests are real 
wizards of the keyboard. 

Much credit has to go to my understanding wife who 
stood by me while the rest of my family was ready to have me 
committed 

The organ truly changed our lives. Its influence went far 
beyond our living room, creating dear and lasting 



219 



friendships, and opened many doors that widened our world 
greatly. 



ONCE AGAIN, BRIGHT LIGHTS 

Alberta Young Stegemann 

Nobody could have been happier as I impatiently 
awaited the opening night of the old Fort Armstrong theatre 
in 1921. It is again ahve and beautiful. The marquee again 
ablaze with lights, naming the first show, "I Do-I Do." 

Sixty years ago the marquee was even more 
extravagantly bright, with rows of dancing, bUnking hghts, 
showing the opening attraction, "A Midsummer Night's 
Dream," with Conrad Nagel and Conway Tearle. The leading 
lady I can't remember. I only had eyes for Conrad 
Nagel— tall, blonde, and oh, so handsome. 

Sixty years ago, six of us girls went through the doors 
long before the public was admitted. We met in the 
ushers' room for last-minute instructions by Mr. Hopp. We 
had previously inspected the nursery, which was furnished so 
cute and comfortable. There were three spotless cribs for tiny 
ones and playthings galore to fascinate any child: stuffed 
toys, a sandbox, and large balls. There was also a rocking 
chair for Mable Swail, who was to take charge as the nurse. 
The ladies' room was luxurious and spotless. 

The six excited ushers, dressed in white organdy, went 
upstairs and took our stations at each aisle, and the doors 
were opened to admit the crowd. Eddie Stein at the organ 
began to play. The hghts were on all over the house, showing 
how beautifully everything blended, in an Indian theme. The 
seats quickly filled, everybody dressed in their best. Then the 
musicians came into the orchestra pit, the Hghts dimmed and 
the orchestra began, with I. S. White as the conductor. The 
huge red velvet curtain drew back and the news came on the 



screen. The news was always appreciated, as there was no TV 
at that time. On the spot visual news, that was grand. The 
whole theatre was filled clear to the top of the balcony. That 
was the first night, and so went every other night, as such 
good pictures were shown as "The Four Horsemen Of The 
Apocalypse' with Rudolph Valentino. Then there was "Only 
A Rose. " "The Old West. " and Wallace Reid in "Watch My 
Speed. " 

That was a wonderful era I so enjoyed. Then I learned a 
big lesson, a hard lesson. The managers changed our 
uniforms. We were each issued huge Turkish-like turbans, 
made of yards of heavy material. We were top heavy, looked 
fooUsh, felt foolish, and people laughed. That night at closing 
time all six ushers, with me as bigmouth, rebeled against our 
ungainly turbans. I was told I didn't have to wear the turban, 
and to pick up my paycheck. The others wore their turbans 
one more night, and then the monstrosities were taken away. 
I felt my whole world was over for awhile, but the Fort went 
on. 

I hardly realized its dechne. I was raising my family and 
had no time, until a special occasion came up. We went to the 
Fort. Ye Gods! It had a gaudy popcorn machine, candy 
counter, and cash register in the lobby. Popcorn and candy 
wrappers were on the dull carpeting. A mother wandered up 
and down the aisle in semi-darkness, looking for her toddler 
way over on the opposite side, hanging on to a bottle, not a 
bit bothered. The beautiful nursery had long ago gone to 
wrack and ruin and was used for a stock room. The once 
lovely ladies' room had water on the floor, hpstick writing on 
the walls, cigarette ashes everywhere. Upstairs, the house 
lights went on to indicate intermission but the house Ughts at 
best were dim, and no wonder, it seemed they were well 
ashamed of the so called modern decorating. The walls were 
painted round and round in wide horrible colors. The 
orchestra pit was empty, the beautiful organ was gone. As for 
the ushers, there were none. Once or twice an older man 



220 



walked down the aisle to stand near a group of teenagers, 
trying to scare them into not throwing popcorn, but they 
didn't scare. The girls they were throwing at giggled, so more 
popcorn flew through the air while two more girls ran down 
the aisle, their thong slippers chp clopping, shding in by the 
other girls so they too could be targets of the flying popcorn. 
What had happened to my poor Fort? 

But then it fell farther. Later there were no hghts on the 
marquee, as though it was ashamed of the lettering: XXX 
Rated Movies. The ticket window was cracked and dirty, a 
large dirty cardboard inside. The lobby doors were covered 
but somewhere tickets were sold. At times, but few and far 
between, odd people would sneak in. I didn't even want to 
imagine what it looked Uke inside. My poor gracious Fort was 
dying a horrible death. 

When you are growing older, decaying things seem 
almost personal. Restoration of the old and tired is so much 
more cherished. Somebody is bringing my Fort back to life. It 
has to be a tremendous operation. Now the bright lights are 
on again. The marquee is brilliant. The lobby is fiDed with 
gracious people waiting to be seated by six smiling ushers. 
Although I'm seventy-five, I feel 1 am fifteen again. I am 
oh! so happy and feel I have a new lease on Ufe. 



OLD SILOAM SPRINGS 

Irene Van Ormer Hare 

When I was a six-year-old little girl in 1907, I lived with 
my parents, an older sister, and two younger brothers at 
SUoam Springs in Adams County, Illinois, about twelve miles 
south of Clayton. 

Siloam Springs State Park is well-known in this part of 
the state, but old Siloam Springs is just about gone. 
According to my recollection, the old springs area is just a 



few miles east of the park. Leaving the park and heading 
toward Old Siloam Springs, one had to negotiate rough, hilly 
country on a winding dirt road. A long and steep hill with a 
hairpin curve is only one of my many recollections of trips 
along that road. The rail fence which followed the right side of 
the road served as a support for the many wild roses which 
bloomed in the summertime. 

The house where we hved was past the foot of the hiU 
and on the left side of the road, nestled where the turn in the 
road met the Siloam Branch. The branch was shallow, and 
since it never had a bridge, had to be forded. Because it was 
spring-fed, the branch never ran dry. 

A short distance from our home, on the east side of the 
road, was the general merchandise store owned by George 
and Mabel Kiefer. This store was the forerunner of a chain of 
thirty Kiefer stores, all owned by George and located in 
Adams and surrounding counties. The store housed the post 
office on the first floor and a dance haO upstairs. The large 
room on the second floor was the setting for square dances on 
Saturday nights. After a number of years, the store burned 
down and was rebuilt. 

The Kiefer store and a few houses filled a small hollow. 
To the north of the store, a bath house and livery stable were 
located. The livery stable housed many horses. 

There were no automobiles nor paved roads back in 
those days. People coming to Old Siloam Springs rode in 
horse-drawn buggies and surreys. I remember watching 
many of them pass our house on their way to the hotel. 
Siloam Springs was famous for its large hotel which was 
three stories high and featured a porch. A circular drive in 
front of the hotel was hned with little pine or fir trees; in later 
years the trees were trimmed, making a tall hedge along the 
drive. 

People came to the hotel from near and far, some for the 
weekend and some for longer vacations. They came to rest 
and to eat the good home-cooked food, and particularly to 



drink the spring water which was supposed to have health- 
giving properties. 

The springs were numbered and some were covered with 
porch-hke structures with open sides and cement floors. One 
large cover sheltered three springs (I have forgotten their 
numbers). The thirsty visitor could have a drink of the cool 
spring water by using the tin cup hanging on the end of a 
chain nailed to a post near each spring. 

My father worked as a grounds-keeper for Mr. Sale 
Johnson, owner of the hotel. One day Dad took Mother and 
us kids along in his wagon when he went to pick up a load of 
sod for the hotel's lawn. While Dad worked, we played; 
Mother sewed on a cushion top. I can still remember it— little 
pieces cut from velvet scraps and silk neckties, and each piece 
outhned with fancy stitches. I treasured that cushion for 
many years. 

My paternal grandfather had a brother named Thomas. 
Uncle Tom and Aunt Nancy DeJaynes and their six sons 
lived about a mile from us in a rock house built into the side of 
a hill. I think some of that rock house is still standing. One 
Sunday, in the spring of the year, we were going down to their 
house to spend the day. Along the way, on a hill off to the 
right, we saw Uncle Tom when he called out to us. He had 
removed his coat, tied the sleeves around his waist, and 
gathered the body of the coat up as if it were an apron. Uncle 
Tom was fiUing his "apron" with morel mushrooms. We 
enjoyed eating them later that day at dinner. On another 
Sunday, my family and 1 went to Uncle Tom's for a big fish 
dinner. That day, for the first and last time, I watched my 
Aunt Nancy cook fish eggs. 

McKee Creek is near Siloam and it was a good creek in 
which to catch fish. One day our family went on an outing to 
McKee Creek. While we kids played in the sand and water, 
our parents fished. After a time. Mother called out that she 
had caught a big fish, so Dad told her to walk backward and 



221 



pull it out on the sand. She did this and surprised us all with a 
fish that weighed six pounds! 

North of the hotel, the men of the community had a 
baseball diamond. On Sundays the men chose sides and 
played baseball while the women and children watched. 1 can 
still remember a man with crippled feet who was a good 
hitter; someone else always ran the bases for him. I hadn't 
thought of this person for many years; I beheve his name was 
Flynn. 

At some time after my childhood, a large dance pavilion 
was built on the hotel grounds, and a pubhc swimming pool 
was build about one-half mile to the south. 

On Sunday, in the late Thirties or early Forties, my 
husband (Ralph Van Ormer, now deceased), our four 
daughters, plus other friends, went to Siloam Springs for a 
picnic. It had changed so much. Although interesting to see 
and visit, it was not like the Old Siloam Springs I remember. 



THE WAIT FORD 

Truman W. Waite 

When the first settlers came to Adams County, Quincy 
was the point that many arrived and from there they 
migrated in three directions. 

Wait Ford, named for Allan Wait, who operated a mill 
near the ford, was on the most direct route from Quincy north 
and was used quite often by the people of the community 
until the new bridge over Bear Creek was completed in 1928. 
I remember using several other fords as short cuts to Loraine 
and Mendon, even after several of the iron bridges were built. 

The Wait Ford was near the home of my grandmother, 
and I crossed it many times when 1 visited her. During these 
visits, many times she would take my brother and me down 
to the ford to fish. Quite often catfish was on the table for 
supper. 



The ford was a shallow place in the creek, but below and 
also above it the water was very deep. This was the cause of a 
tragedy many years ago. A man walking down the creek 
wearing boots and not knowing of the deep hole near the ford, 
waded into the pool and was drowned in about fifteen feet of 
water. 

Another tragedy happened at the ford in the Spring of 
1911. It had been a cold winter with lots of snow and very 
little of it had melted. One of the farmers who lived near the 
ford, Mr. Ben Nesbit, took off very early one morning for 
Quincy, about eighteen miles distant. The creek was low and 
the ford was frozen over. As it often happens at this time of 
year, the weather turned off very warm. Nearly all the snow 
melted that day, resulting in the creek being bank full of 
water and floating ice. When Mr. Nesbit returned home in the 
early hours of the following morning, as was his usual habit, 
he was quite intoxicated. His team, being used to crossing 
the ford, plunged into the icy flood waters and were 
immediately swept down stream to their death. How Mr. 
Nesbit, "Old Ben," as he was commonly known, escaped is a 
mystery. Some think he got hold of an overhanging tree hmb 
and got out. 

A search party found the drowned horses several miles 
down stream attached to part of the wagon. I remember the 
incident and of them teUing about getting the running gears 
of the wagon out of the water, cutting the harness off the 
horses, and letting them float away down the stream. 

Sometimes when we were visiting our grandmother, we 
walked down to the ford to see the baptismal services that 
were held quite often. There were always many people there, 
and after the ceremony, they usually went to grandmother's 
house to change into dry clothes. 

The ford was still used as late as the Fall of 1927. That 
fall I was hired to use my team at the ford to pull loaded 
trucks of wheat from the threshing machine up the south 
bank of the creek. As far as I know, this was the last time the 



ford was used. The new bridge was nearing completion on 
Route 96, Just a short distance down stream. 

Now all the roads leading to the fords have been vacated 
and many are plowed up and planted to crops. It was the end 
of an era. 

TATER CREEK 

Mrs. Garnet Workman 

I grew up on a Fulton County farm owned by my 
grandfather, Lewis Vaughn, and later by my parents 
Sherman and Gertude (Vaughn) Kruzan. 

Through the pasture land flowed a small stream which 
meandered into Potato Creek, located along the northern 
boundary of the farm. Members of my family dubbed the 
small stream "The Branch," and Potato Creek was known as 
"Tater Creek." 

I spent many happy childhood hours wading in The 
Branch. At one spot in the stream I would occasionally see a 
water moccasin sunning itself on a tiny island, and I would 
cautiously keep my distance. As I recall these experiences, I 
beUeve my guardian angel was with me. 

When picking wild flowers, I would place my bouquet in 
the shallow water of The Branch until I was ready to go 
home. I also enjoyed hunting pretty pebbles and rocks along 
the stream and washing them in the Branch. 

Another pleasant memory of The Branch is seining 
silvery minnows with Dad, which we used as bait for fishing 
in larger streams. When Dad was working in fields located 
beyond the pasture, he would stop at a deep hole in the 
Branch and have a refreshing bath after his long day's labor. 

According to a local history book in the Lewistown 
Carnegie Pubhc Library, where I am employed. Potato Creek 
received its name from the great abundance of wild potatoes 
that grew on its banks. 

When I was a child in the late 1920's and early 1930's, 



223 



Tater Creek was good for fishing, especially bullheads. 
Mother fried them to a turn and they were deUcious. 
Grandfather Vaughn fished in the Creek during the spring 
that he reached his eighty-sixth birthday in May, 1933. 

A water gap separated our part of the Creek from the 
adjoining farm. After a heavy rain my father would don his 
waders and repair the water gap. My brother-in-law, Herbert 
Beadles, who farms for my sister Irene and me, still has this 
job. 

Father attempted to teach my sister and me to swim in 
the Creek, but with no success as neither learned to swim. 

The C. B. & Q. (Chicago, Burhngton, and Quincy) 
Railroad follows Tater Creek, and one of my pleasant 
memories is waving at the trainmen as the train sped by. 

Potato Creek empties into Spoon River, the river of 
Edgar Lee Masters' famous Anthology. 



THE I. AND M. CANAL 

Glenn E. Phitpott 

There's a lot of people, especially in the younger 
generation here in Illinois, who have never heard of the 1. & 
M. Canal. It is also known as the Hennepin Canal. This 
engineering feat in northern Illinois was accompUshed about 
the same time as the Panama Canal— around the turn of the 
century or shortly there after. 

The idea behind the construction of the canal was to 
make a shorter water route between the Great Lakes and the 
Tri-city area of Davenport, Rock Island, and Moline on the 
Mississippi River. Before this construction all water traffic 
was forced to go south to Grafton, Illinois, to the confluence 
of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. Between 1910 and 1940 
there were miUions of tons of grain, steel, gravel, coal, etc. 



transported by way of this canal. Of course, this held down 
freight rates on the raib-oads because of competition. 

The canal was dug mostly by hand and by team and shp. 
My grandfather, Billy Philpott, helped dig the canal and later 
became a lockman at locks five and seven. It was only natural 
that my dad, Conway Philpott, followed and became a 
lockman, too. That is why 1 grew up on the canal and spent 
the first 26 years of my life there. In 1948 1 became a lockman 
at the Guard lock at Rock Falls, Illinois. This made three 
generations of the Philpott family serving on the canal. 

The main canal was dug westward from Bureau, lUinois, 
past the towns of Tiskilwa, Wyanet, Sheffield, Mineral, 
Annawan, Geneseo, and Colona, to Milan on the Mississippi 
River— a distance of approximately twenty miles. The 
channel was seven or eight feet deep. 

The water supply for the canal is drawn from the Rock 
River at Rock Falls. The water flow is controlled at the Guard 
lock at Rock Falls and flows south through the "feeder 
section" or summit level to the main canal, a distance of 
approximately twenty-five miles. This junction is just 
northwest of Sheffield and is the high point, because the 
water from here flows east down to the Illinois River and 
down west to the Mississippi River. There are twenty-one 
locks going east from here and eleven locks going west to the 
Mississippi— a total of thirty-two locks. 

Each lock had its own lockman who hved in a house 
provided by the government. Rent was deducted from his 
monthly pay check. 

The lockman was provided an acre of ground for a 
garden for his family, which was sufficient. My grandmother 
and aunt hved with us most of the time, so with my three 
brothers and three sisters and Mom and Dad, it was quite a 
chore to feed eleven people each meal time. We never missed a 
meal, and now 1 look back and wonder how we did it. We ate a 
lot of squirrel and rabbit in season or out depending on the 
situation. 



224 



The distance between the locks varied considerably- 
according to the level of the land. Locks Fifteen and Sixteen 
are only about a block apart, but Locks Twenty-one and 
Twenty-two are twelve miles apart. During my early 
childhood, all lockmen were on duty twenty-four hours a day, 
seven days a week. Each was given fifteen days leave time 
each year. Of course, later this was changed. He was expected 
to be available to lock boats through his lock at any time. The 
government had its own telephone line along the canal, and 
each lock was assigned a combination of short or long rings. 
Of course, nature being what it is, each time the phone would 
ring, practically everyone hstened in, so there were few 
personal secrets. This telephone was used to inform each 
lockman as to the arrival of the boats and when they were due 
at each lock. 

My father first lived on a houseboat at Lock One. I 
started to school in 1920 after we moved to Lock Eight near 
Tiskilwa. The Boushey family lived at Lock Nine and our 
other neighbor here was the Walton family, as he was the 
dredge operator. Years later I worked on the old steam 
dredge Ledgerwood with Mr. Walton and on the old steam 
pile driver with Pat Cooney. 

In 1928 we moved to Lock Twelve where I graduated 
from Tiskilwa High School in 1932. This was during the 
famous Depression and I remember it well. All my "growing 
up" on the canal involved no electricity. The old kerosene 
lamp served us in the evenings while getting our lessons. We 
listened to our old battery operated radio until the batteries 
were dead which was quite often. Dad was finally able to get a 
gasoUne powered Maytag washing machine for Mom. As I 
was the oldest, it was my job to siphon the gasohne out of our 
old Studebaker car each Monday so Mom could wash. I went 
to school "half punchy" a lot of times, when the siphoning 
didn't work too good. 

Most young people today don't realize how wonderful it 
is not to have to wrap up in an old sheepskin coat in the 



winter and carry a lantern for that pressing trip to the 
outhouse and another look at the old Sears and Roebuck 
catalogue. I still remember that the colored pages were the 
last to go. 

During the winter my dad and I loved to trap. We 
caught a lot of mink and muskrats as well as coon and 
skunks. Dad was an expert skinner so he did all of that. The 
winter time also meant filling the icehouse. This was a 
cooperative effort by several of the lockmen together. After 
the ice on the canal reached ten to twelve inches thick the 
boss would assemble the lockmen, and the ice was cut and 
blocked and put into the icehouse, and covered with peat, for 
use in the summer. There were very few times that someone 
didn't fall into the icy waters. 

In the summertime most lockmen were busy cutting 
grass, or trimming weeds along the canal. This enabled them 
to be avaOable at any time to take care of the boat and barge 
traffic. Each lockage through a lock took about twenty 
minutes. My dad has had thirty lockages in one day or one 
every twenty minutes for ten hours. 

These locks were operated by hand. Valves let water 
into the locks and wickets let the water out. The old grain 
boat Montauk made a lot of trips from Pekin and Beardstown 
on the IlUnois River up into the feeder section to get grain. 

Later the Mechlin barge line hauled a lot of steel 
through the canal from the steel mills around Chicago to the 
Rock Island area. 

The old canal for its original purpose is a thing of the 
past. It has been turned over to the state now as a 
recreational park. There is no more through travel now 
except by canoe, as some of the locks have been converted to 
spiUways. This keeps a constant flow of water through the 
canal and prevents stagnation. 

There have been a lot of family names associated with 
the old canal. Of course, some have been forgotten over the 
years. My other grandfather, George Hand, was a lockman at 



Locks Six (where my mother and dad met) and Twenty-two. 
His sons, Frank and Bert Hand, also lived on the canal. Other 
names that come to mind are Goldstein, Bales, Weber, 
Varble, Renoad, Fox, Cannan, Puyear, Jones, Rodgers, 
Turner, Underwood, Garrell, Goodale, 111., Charles, Luce, 
Webster, Madsen, Wagner and Yarrington. Of course, then 
men only worked on the Eastern section because that's where 
my time was spent. 

Every time I pass a segment of the old canal, it brings 
back a lot of memories. One evening while living at Lock 
Twelve, my dad saved a httle girl from drowning. I only 
remember her last name as Hull. She had faDen off the lower 
gates into the channel while trying to walk across the gates. 
It was night time and Dad got his pike pole and was able to 
snag her coat and drag her out. He administered artificial 
resuscitation, and she was okay by the time the rescue squad 
arrived. 

Mom and Dad are both gone now, but they left me with 
a lot of memories. Dad was always proud that he was told he 
had the prettiest lock on the canal by the inspecting mayor. 
He always had a lot of flowering bushes and moss roses 
around his Lock Twelve area. 

At night, if I Usten carefully, I can stiU hear the frogs 
croaking, a splash from a jumping fish, and the cry of the 
Katy-dids along the canal bank. 



LIFE IN A FEMALE INSTITUTION 

Juanita Jordan Morley 

In the fall of 1927, my father, Benjamin Jordan, and I 
drove from Watseka, Illinois, to Jacksonville, a distance of 
about 150 miles, to enroll me in lUinois Woman's College. 
Upon conferring with some of his friends, my father had 



decided this was the place for his motherless daughter to 
receive her education. 

1 was to find out later that Jacksonville was a very 
unusual town in that it housed about every institution you 
could name. Down the street from the college was the Illinois 
School for the Blind, St. Francis Hospital, now Frank A. 
Norris Hospital, and the school for nurses. To the other end 
of town, very quaint and charming, located on a hilltop, was 
Illinois College. During my four years at coOege, I was 
fortunate to be able to attend the 100th celebration of its 
founding. There was Routt College for the Deaf, a large state 
mental institution, and Norbury's Sanitarium. 

My aunt Martha had packed, labeled, and assembled all 
the things required for me to take. My personal things were 
packed in a black, shiny hat box, which over the next few 
years became plastered with college labels. 1 beUeve that 
little black hat box made it all through college with me and 
later was used to house our daughters' toys. 

Upon seeing Illinois Woman's College for the first time, 
I wasn't exactly overjoyed. The building I was to live in was 
Old Main, the first building of the college. It was tall, stern, 
and drab— very much like our Dean Austin, who was to guide 
my Ufe. The buOding was set not far off the street and had a 
short, winding walk past a magnoUa tree to some high steps 
that led to the entry. Just inside the massive front door was 
the "desk," where the heartbeat of the college was monitored. 
To the left was the reception room— a very formal, stiff room 
with about the biggest mirror I can ever remember. Here you 
met your guests or dates, but never just lounged. The Social 
Room, a large room on down the hall to the left, was where 
our dances, special meetings of the Dean, and school 
functions were held. Around the walls were oil paintings done 
by my art teacher, Nellie Knopf, of whom I was very proud. 
To the right past the desk were Dean Austin's office and 
other business rooms. At the far end of the hall was the 



226 



library. In the basement was the post office and the dining 
hall, so Old Main was just about the whole college. 

I had been assigned a second floor room on one of the 
wings back of the main facade. It overlooked a courtyard, 
from which later I was to enjoy midnight serenades by 
Illinois College boys. The room was dark, tall ceilings with 
the bare essentials for hving— two beds or cots, two dressers, 
two closets, and possibly a wash basin. One of the first things 
in getting settled was a shopping trip with your roommate to 
get bedspreads, drapes, scatter rugs, lamps, and curtains for 
the windows and closets. 

A "big sister" was assigned to underclassmen, and I 
received a "corker." She was collegiate from the word go. 
Upon looking at me, she dubbed me "Clara Bow, the Boop- 
oop-a-doop girl." It wasn't until Sue Proctor left Illinois 
Woman's College that my friends found I had a name, and it 
v/as shortened to "Nita." WeU, I had a reputation to establish 
to keep up with my new name, and the shy Httle gal from 
Watseka "emerged." 

In my second year at Illinois Woman's College, I 
attended a Washington's Birthday Ball staged in the 
gymnasium. It was a costume ball, and many gathered to 
watch from the balcony at the back of the gym. There was a 
photographer on hand to take pictures of the event, which he 
did from the stage at the front end of the gymnasium. Since 
the flash made such a smoke, someone puUed the curtain on 
the stage to keep back the fumes. Before we knew it, the 
curtain had ignited, and for fear that it might fall on the 
dancers on the floor, someone pulled it back. The flames 
immediately licked across the room to the balcony, and you 
could hear the screams of fear and panic from the spectators. 
Among those spectators were the President's wife, Mrs. 
Clarence P. McCleilans, my art teacher, the school nurse, 
several of my classmates, and many, many more. I 
particularly remember the President's wife because she 
jumped from the ledge outside the windows, breaking her hip 



and being hospitahzed for what seemed ages. The school 
nurse, whom none of us admired, escaped from the ledge. She 
may have been a "Wonder Woman" from a previous age. One 
classmate jumped from the ledge outside the window, 
striking an iron guard rail and killing herself; another became 
very severly burned, disfiguring her for hfe. Some escaped by 
pulling their coats over their heads and taking the narrow 
stairs down from the balcony. I was on the main floor and 
rather calmly made my way out, past the punch bowl, 
untouched by all save a Uttle colored boy who was sampling 
its contents, on down the steps, losing and replacing my 
shpper on the way, to find a roommate outside who was 
frantic with fear for me. 

That night in the dormitory was one I shall never forget. 
We huddled in each other's rooms, frightened with rumors of 
the horrible things that had happened that eve. I recall no 
Ughts, and only the central switchboard being open. We were 
reassured, however, that our parents had been called. With 
the morning light, we were all informed that we were to go 
home— a very wise decision, I am sure. 

lUinois Woman's College was fashioned after Eastern 
girls' schools, so we had no sororities. Our rules were very 
strict— student government prevailed. We could go "off 
campus" only in groups of three; we dared not ride in cars. 
We signed in and out for whatever we did. Dates had to be 
approved. There was a "black Kst" that you dared not 
associate with. Special permission had to be obtained from 
the Dean, and it took your greatest nerve to approach her. 
We attended Chapel every day at ten. We had assigned seats 
and attendance was strictly enforced. So you might guess 
that at that time I was "Lifting mine eyes unto the hills, from 
whence cometh the Lord" or singing the college song, "By 
stately elms surrounded, our dear old college stands." 

In this same chapel some of the finest Artist Series 
programs were held, although at the time I was guilty of 
"cutting" them. I do remember the Russian Cossack Chorus, 



Ethel Barrymore, Carola Goya, Tony Sarg's Marionettes, 
and countless other pianists, sapranos, baritones, etc. 

Also, during my second year, I was "rushed" to all the 
societies (not sororities) on campus. That was quite an 
experience, and some lovely and clever parties were staged. I 
joined Phi Nu Society, of which my senior year I was 
president and influential in founding Society Night, which 
became an annual affair and highly approved of by the Dean. 
All in all, there were four main societies, and rooms in Harker 
Hall were our meeting places. 

It would not be right to omit the weekly meetings called 
by Dean OUve Austin. She was a tall, stern, maiden-lady that 
made you really wonder at her qualifications for all the "facts 
of life" that she was to bestow on us. We didn't love her, but 
rather feared her. But she did bring about development in our 
lives. 

Illinois Woman's College, being a church-endowed 
school, I am sure needed help. The college was growing. Its 
financial status couldn't have been good as the Depression 
was upon us. Some very generous, kind, and rich benefactors 
came into the hfe of the coOege, and although it didn't seem 
right to us (those in school then) the name was changed to 
MacMurray. So I graduated from MacMurray College of 
Jacksonville, still a girls' school. My class was the first to Uve 
in Jane Hall, a new residence hall quite different from Old 
Main. 

This spring, God willing, I hope to attend my 50th Class 
Reunion. I have now reached the age of those charming old 
ladies I used to watch attending their fiftieth reunions when I 
was but a student. MacMurray is no longer a girls' school, 
but coeducational. There was a rumor that the administration 
approached lUinois College, hoping to join them in order to 
survive, but the two old schools could not lose their 
identities. From 1846 to 1981 covers a lot of education. 



GOATS IN CHICAGO'S BACKYARDS 

Elizabeth Schumacher Bork 

Near where I lived in the city of Chicago in the early 
1900's there were streets paved with wooden blocks. The 
wooden blocks were ten inches in diameter. Because horses 
were used to haul most everything, the wooden blocks got 
wet as the horses had to reheve themselves on them during 
working hours. The city had street cleaners, but they could 
not clean the moisture out of the blocks. The odor was out of 
this world, especially on hot, steamy summer evenings. For 
sanitary reasons the city had to remove the wooden blocks. 

At this time most people heated their homes with coal or 
wood. The men working on the removing of the blocks were 
always glad to have the people carry them away. Friends of 
our family sent their girl out to get a box of the "used" blocks 
one day. She was a twin and the boss on the job told her she 
had taken enough and to go home. She did. But her twin 
sister didn't know that and she went for a load of wood 
herself. The man was very angry with her and said, "I told 
you not to come back." She told him she wasn't there before, 
and he would not take her word for it. He made her cry. 
Finally, I explained to him about their being twin sisters. 

We had kerosene lamps to hght our homes. We children 
were sent to the store with a gaDon can to get it. The can had 
a spout to pour the kerosene out, so we had to put a small 
potato in the spout to keep the kerosense from spilling. 

Some people raised goats for the milk they used for their 
table. There was another reason to use goats milk, too. It was 
for infants that could not take the mother's milk or even 
cow's milk. It was very expensive per gallon. But the City of 
Chicago, being so populated, and for many other reasons, 
passed a law to stop goat raising in the city limits. Goats 
used to eat people's clothes off their wash Ones and eat the 
newspapers the boys put on the porches. 

The silent movies were 5<l; and they had a man or lady 



playing the piano. The piano music was very good as it went 
with the action of the silent movie. Printed words would be 
shown on the screen, and we used to watch the people's lips. 
Mary Pickford was the best actress, and CharHe Chaplin was 
very popular, too. Soon talking pictures came and it was a 
novelty. 

As the neighborhood that I lived in had many vacant 
lots, there was much home building. One general contractor 
built a row of buildings a block long! They were two stories 
high and all aUke. In the bathrooms, the floors had httle tile 
squares about three inches square. They were each laid in 
cement next to each other. When the men went home after 
4:30 p.m., we children went over to the buildings and picked 
up nails and tiles that had been thrown out when the 
buildings were done. My parents didn't want me to play near 
those places, and they knew I had been there when I came 
home with my pockets full of nails, tiles, etc. 

We moved to another place in Chicago. It was a very 
good neighborhood. There were many Jewish people hving 
there who were very religious. They didn't light their gas 
stoves for certain days. But, if a gentOe hghted it, then they 
could cook. They paid me 10<t for doing this for them. 

I would get up early Saturdays and make my rounds. I 
came home with at least $10.00 in dimes. My father made 
$18.00 per week as a foreman in the National Biscuit 
Company. He had 200 girls working for him. One day I came 
home with $50.00 in dimes. I heard my mother say that it was 
more than most husbands earn in one week or even a month. 

Mother was always good to me. She always gave me 1 1 
out of those earnings for the colored paper lunch bags that 
the candy store sold. I so loved those bags with the colored 
popcorn and some small trinket. 

There was also a "PubUc Bath House" near my home. I 
asked mother if I could go to the Bath House with the other 
children. She said you have a bathroom in your own house 
and you don't need to go there. 



Well, she let me go anyway. A man would turn on the 
water, and ask us if it was too hot or too cold. We all said hot 
or cold, and made a lot of noise until he called a halt to the 
noise. We had to bring our own towels. 

These are just a few of many of my wonderful memories 
of childhood days. For me they certainly were the "Good Old 
Days." 



GRANDFATHER'S OLD MILL 

Albert Shanholtzer 

In 1910 the Coatsburg Roller Mill was a thriving 
business, located on five acres at the south edge of 
Coatsburg, Illinois. Built on a foundation of native limestone, 
the rock walls of the basement enclosed the boiler room where 
steam power was generated. The strong belt extending up 
from the generator's flywheel turned the pulley of the ground 
floor Uneshaft above. Other belts ran from several power 
puUey-idler-pulley combinations to selectively supply power 
to machinery on the third and fourth floor levels. Water for 
the boiler room was piped underground, the cast iron conduit 
extending from a screened intake crib in the north edge of the 
large mill pond some distance away to maintain a constant 
water supply. 

In 1910 my grandfather, Jacob N. Shanholtzer, the 
mill's owner, was 69 years of age with many years of 
experience in four other Ilhnois communities. His eldest son 
and co-worker, James, was 30 years old and was my father. It 
was a family enterprise with occasional extra help from three 
younger boys in the family. One faithful old timer, Joe Brink, 
was employed to fire the boiler and help maintain some of the 
machinery. I was born in 1905, and as I heard my parents 
discuss events at the mill, it became interesting to me. By the 
time I was five years old, I knew the finest wheat from the 



heart of Adams County was hauled in by wagon from 
surrounding farms, and the milled white flour, shipped out by 
carloads from the local depot, went by rail to many other 
places. Also, some stores in rural areas and in Quincy were 
supphed direct by wagon. In addition to white flour, the mill 
produced graham flour, corn meal, rye flour for pumpernickel, 
and "ship-stuff." This, I learned, consisted of sif tings and 
screenings, bran, and bin and shute residues, regularly and 
thoroughly cleaned out. Customers added this to scraps, 
potato and apple peelings, with dishwater, stirred into the 
slop and fed it to several hogs for fall butchering, a custom in 
those days among most all families in rural communities. 

Let me take you on a walking tour of the old mill in 
action, as I was permitted to accompany my father on his 
round of inspection. I remember the unusual way it ended 
once for a tired, happy boy of five. 

It was a warm spring day. As operations resumed after 
the noon meal (we called it "dinner" in 1910), the first stop 
was the boiler room. The coal burning unit under the boOer 
was being stoked and the bright glow of the flames were 
closed out as the door clanged shut, but not the heat. (It was 
a comfortably warm place in winter, but a hot sweaty place 
the rest of the year!) The gauges monitoring the water level 
and steam pressure were functioning properly, and we stood 
a moment watching the big flywheel move silently and 
smoothly. I was fascinated by its spinning round and round; 
Dad was checking the endless belt as it moved through an 
opening up to the ground floor. Any flaw must be detected 
and remedied in time, or the whole mill was out of action! We 
recalled how often Dad remarked: "Steam power, smoothest 
and most dependable man ever discovered." Our next stop 
was to look at the pair of imported French buhrstones in the 
adjoining room. They were not operating today, but I had 
learned before that they were used for grinding corn meal, 
graham flour, and rye for pumpernickel. When the mill had 
been remodeled and newer machinery installed at the turn of 



the century, they had been retained just for that work. (Dad 
had learned the difficult and comphcated procedure for 
"dressing," or sharpening these stones; and he claimed he 
was the only one in this area capable of doing so, and 
assumed no one in the community would ever do that work in 
the future). Going up to the main floor, walking over the scale 
section and across the grill through which wheat cascaded 
into bins below when wagon endgates were removed and the 
rear wheels lowered slightly, we went upstairs to stop on the 
landing and opened a small door to observe the conveyor belt, 
whose cups were carrying wheat to machinery above for the 
initial processing. Following the walkway between the rollers 
we went up a short open stairway to the top floor. Several 
drive belts for chutes ended there, and shorter belts returning 
power to a few machines below could be checked. On a clear 
day such as this, you could see miles across country from the 
windows; you could also hold around a support near one 
opening and peer down through all three floors at the belts 
and see which machines were idle. As we returned downstairs 
we passed a unit of rollers and screens and an expanse of fine 
French silk through which the white flour was sifted. Back on 
the main floor, my dad went to the bagging chute to complete 
a skid-load of flour. I sat in Grandpa's "Captain's chair" with 
the round back (he was probably taking his afternoon nap) 
and watched how easily the bags were filled. The tops were 
folded under once and stitched across with a curved needle; 
an ear deftly twisted at each top corner was wrapped with the 
twine ends, tied with a "miller's knot," and the wheeled skid, 
four-bags-high, pushed to the loading ramp door and wheels 
chocked. The long walk had made me tired and sleepy, so 
when Dad threw a canvas across the top of the skid of flour, 
folded a few clean bags, rejected as imperfect, into a pillow, 
his suggestion to take a nap while he bagged another skid 
was quickly accepted. 1 heard the hum of belts powering well- 
oiled machinery, smelled the aroma of the freshly milled flour, 
and was soon in dreamland. I little reaUzed then that it was a 



230 



time to remember, with much Joy, many years later. In this 
present-day time of restriction, health and safety rules, and 
government regulation, could a day such as that be 
experienced by a boy of five? I doubt it! 



WHITE OAK JUST FADES AWAY 

Vail Morgan 

The land was poor, the roads were poor, and so were 
many of the farm famihes in the rural school-church district 
Number 30 in Schuyler County in my grade school years of 
1916-1924. It was the White Oak School and Church, located 
about 50 yards apart, in a white oak grove midway between 
Littleton and Camden at a junction of narrow rural roads. 
Despite what we today would regard as hardships, the 
residents of the White Oak Community enjoyed life as they 
looked out for and helped each other. They joined together in 
school, church, and farm activities. 

Sometimes I feel that I would Hke to return to the 
community to hve again those happy childhood days— if the 
people and the area were the same again. But on a recent visit 
there I found that the old famihes and scenes had simply 
faded away, and the community seemed lonely, quiet, and 
deserted. 

Gone is the old schoolhouse, demolished many years ago 
after the demise of all rural schools. All that remains are 
weeds and the vine-covered well platform and pump. Gone is 
the old buffalo-wallow pond near the school where we skated 
in the winter, and we waded, chased frogs, and puOed out the 
tender centers of the calamus plants from the water's edge to 
eat while watching the many red-winged blackbirds that 
nested there in the summer. Gone is the shade tree used as 
first base for our school ball games. Second base was a rock, 
and third base was a fence post. Since we often had 



insufficient players for basemen, we adopted a rule that a 
runner was out if the ball was thrown between him and the 
base before he got to it, or if the ball was caught on the fly. 

The six foot deep guUies south of the school where we 
had mudball fights at the noon hour are still there. The blue 
clay at the base of the gulhes was always wet enough to shape 
into balls for bombardment of the enemy in the opposite 
trench. Sometimes a boy got a blackened eye if he wasn't 
quick enough to dodge the missile. 

School disciphne was strict. One teacher meted out 
punishment for fighting with a tire pump rubber hose. When 
being punished the pupil had to roll up his overall pants leg, 
and the hose was apphed across the back of his legs, often 
leaving large red marks. This was done in front of the other 
pupils, and the punishment was never forgotten. I remember. 

The small schoolroom was heated with a coal stove in 
one corner of the room. For several years I walked a mile to 
school early each morning to start the coal fire so the room 
v/ould be heated by the time the teacher and the students 
arrived. 

My first teacher rode a horse three miles to and from 
school daily. The animal was housed in the coal shed in one 
corner of the yard. Outdoor toUets stood in other corners of 
the yard. 

Very few children live in the district now, and they are 
transported by bus but to town schools. There were up to 28 
students in the rural school one year I was there. 

There was a hitch rack along the south side of the 
church as everyone came by buggy, carriage, or wagon, or by 
bobsled in winter. Sometimes the rack space was so crowded 
that horses were tied to the white oak trees. 

I recall that each summer for many years a black 
woman, Mrs. Brewington, came to the community and 
conducted revival services for a week or two. She stayed with 
a widow woman but often was invited out for meals in homes 
of the community. She was beloved by the members, and 



they always looked forward to her appearance for preaching 
and singing services. 

I remember several church baptismals in the Lamoine 
River, known then as Crooked Creek. The river was about 
two miles from the church. 

Most boys and girls went barefoot all summer, with the 
boys boasting they were the first to go barefoot in the spring 
even when it was too cold for comfort. However, we went to 
church in our "Sunday Shoes" and dressed in our best attire 
with red ribbon ties. 

But the church, too, is gone. The structure has finally 
collapsed, reveahng the huge hand-hewn timbers that had 
framed it, lying amidst a rubble of plaster, lath, and wood 
shingles. Brush almost hides the spot. 

One thing in the area stands out and undoubtedly will 
forever. That is the old cemetery where my great- 
grandparents, grandparents, and some other relatives were 
buried along with scores of others from the pioneer 
community. The cemetery grounds are still kept neatly 
mowed. 

I wandered into the nearby Harrison Woods where a 
classmate, Francis Harrison, and myself once carved our 
names with a hand axe in a sandstone rock ledge. The names 
had faded away, covered by soil that had eroded from above. 
Those woods and pasture, kept almost like lawns by the 
constant foraging by cattle and horses in my school days, are 
now void of animals. They are so dense with briars, brush, 
and the pesky multiflora roses that it is almost impossible to 
wander through them as we once did in search of squirrels, 
arrowheads, berries, and nuts. 

Making the district more desolate is the absence of at 
least nine farm premises with their homes, barns, 
outbuildings, gardens, and orchards. Five of those homes 
have burned; some of the others demohshed to make way for 
larger modern farm operations. 

Family names in my early days at White Oak included 



Harrison, DeCounter, Paisley, Gray, White McChntock, 
Learnd, McNeeley, Vincent, Ellis, Crook, Lickey, Nelson, 
Shupe, and Morgan. Today I am unable to locate a single one 
of these names among the few families in the White Oak 
District. They just faded away gradually, some by death, but 
most to richer farm lands or jobs in the city. At least one of 
the former residents is now a miUionaire. 

Dad sometimes grew white corn and hauled it in the 
wagon to the mill at the Brooklyn dam for grinding into meal 
for mush. He also took along corn to grind for chicken feed. 
One time we lost a stack of shelled white corn from the back 
of the wagon before reaching the mill. On the way home we 
found it on the road, no one having passed that way in the few 
hours we were away. While the corn was being ground. Dad 
would drive the team with the wagon into the river to let the 
water soak the dry wooden wagon wheels. 

The old mill and the dam, too, are now gone. White Oak 
may have faded away but my memories of it have not. 



SCOTT MILL 

Lucius Herbert Valentine 

The place of my birth was known as Scott Mill, located 
on the bank of the Lamoine River in Brown County of the 
state of Illinois. 

Scott Mill consisted of one large house, one store 
building, a blacksmith shop, and a huge ice house. My 
parents operated this business, selling groceries or trading 
them for chickens or eggs. My daddy first drove a team of 
mules for delivering groceries through the community, while 
mother attended the store. Later he was able to buy a truck. 
This was a chain-driven, high-wheeled truck made by 
International Harvester Company. It had solid rubber tires. 

My parents were loved and respected by the farmers in 



Brown and Schuyler counties. One of the most interesting 
things I can remember was in the winter when they would fill 
the huge ice house. The ice came from the Lamoine River. 
They would have around 24 sleds pulled by horses or mules. 
The ice was cut in large square cakes and hauled to the ice 
house and packed in sawdust to keep for the summer trade. 

The mill had stood on a small curve of this most 
beautiful stream just above the bridge, where the rocks are 
still there. Farmers came from every direction for many miles 
to have their grain ground. Scott Mill played an important 
role in the development of Schuyler and Brown counties. It 
remained on all Illinois maps for years, after all the buildings 
were taken down for the lumber, then it was removed from 
the map. Now they have the road going west from Route 24 
named Scott Mill Road. 

In August of 1920 we moved from Scott Mill over in 
Schuyler County to a farm southwest of Rushville. This was a 
very sad day for me, and it seemed to me even our horses did 
not want to go either, as they balked going up the very steep 
hill out of the river bottom. This hiU was known as Shin Hill. 
The wagon had to be chocked, the horses removed, and other 
horses hitched up to pull the load on up the hill. As we went 
over the crest of Shin Hill, I looked back at the river; then 
Scott Mill faded into history and my life changed. I had been 
a merchant's son and now I was a farmer's son. Scott Mill 
never operated again. 




Vrf)(Pi[W. 'IT/XTAU' 'I'i /A\m'. /i';/M I'^l' 'i'r/X\ll^l' 'iT/WTll^l' 'JT/Wl'^l 


















MLw^'it iU 









List 0/ Aut/iors 



OUT OF STATE 

Lawrence G. Anderson, lA 
Marjorie Downs Byers, MD 
Scott M. Holton, AZ 
Louise Anderson Lum, lA 
Robert B. McLaren, CA 
Mac Maguire, NM 
Angelina Painter Kern, MI 
DeUa RadcUffe. lA 

ADAMS COUNTY 

Edith F. Aden 
Ruth E. Baumbach 
Arthur Bowles 
Geraldine Clair 
Feme Degitz 
Madge Bates Dodson 
Flora Donley 
Roy E. Downen 
Gerald Frieburg 
Harriet Hahn 
Frances Hall 
Irene M. Hillman 
Frances A. Holford 
R.B. Hulsen 
Lydia Kanauss 
Jessie Knowles 
Mable Welsh Laughlin 
Emma Ingles Loring 
Vera McFarland 
Charles P. Oberhng 
Mrs. Roy Owen, Sr. 
Robert B. Partlow 
Glenn Philpott 



Evelyn G. Rhinberger 
Violet Greenleaf Rose 
Sarah J. Ruddell 
Albert Shanholtzer 
May F. Smith 
Floyd Stegeman 
John R. Taylor, Sr. 
Margaret N. Taylor 
Edna L. Thompson 
Dorothy E. Viar 
Lydia Waite 
Truman W. Waite 
Keith L. Wilkey 

BROWN COUNTY 

Ellen Baldwin 

Leon Fry 

Lena Nash 

Nellie F. Roe 

Erma Elliot Swearingen 

Duward F. Tice 

Clara Roberts Unger 

Verhn Armitis VanDeventer 

Ceciha Wort 

BUREAU COUNTY 

Donald R. Norris 
Mildred L. Schwabenland 

CALHOUN COUNTY 

Flora Ogal Dixon 
Esther Halemeyer 
Warren H. Howdeshell 



CASS COUNTY 

Helen Smith 

CHRISTIAN COUNTY 

Mrs. Henry Davies 
Josephine M. Meinecke 
Alice (Raintree) Trapp 
Fern Hart Trumbower 
Edith A. Wiseman 

CLINTON COUNTY 

Catherine Goodwin 

COOK COUNTY 

Marion Y. Baker 
Luella M. Edwards 
Martha HUlyer Richert 

DE KALB COUNTY 

Jennie V. Ziegler 

DOUGLAS COUNTY 

Ruth Mildred Kimmel Quick 
Carl Rieman 
Guyeth Walker 

DU PAGE COUNTY 

Lola Wayland 

EDGAR COUNTY 

Rosemary Strow 



EFFINGHAM COUNTY 

NeUe ShadweU 

FAYETTE COUNTY 

Esther Buckley 
Mary Burtschi 

FRANKLIN COUNTY 

Zella Boner Spani 

FULTON COUNTY 

Ester Berry 
Grace R. Breeding 
Elizabeth Bork 
Mabel Bowman 
Augusta M. Cattron 
Leta Norris Chatterton 
Hubert R. Cripe 
Blanche AureUa Dean 
Vemice Dees 
Louise E. Efnor 
Mrs. Carl O. ElUott 
Margaret Porter Elliott 
Angelo J. Forneris 
Marguerite Foster 
Bessie Gash 
Blanche W. Hall 
Joe HeUe 
Jack A. Hensley 
Ghlee R. Howerter 
Lula Hughes 
Myra W. Hunter 
Esther Kessler 



Mahala Lafferty 
Hazel R. Livers 
Oliver Leigh 
Hazel McMullin 
Edith Buck Nelson 
Bertha T. Peterson 
Zeretha M. Riebling 
Edna Schoonover 
ZeUa SiU 
Grace Smith 
Nellie R. Snowden 
George H. Staggs 
Fern Trone 
Mrs. Loren Trone 
Lucile A. Wilson 
Garnet Workman 

GREENE COUNTY 

Lora G. Allen 
Floy K. Chapman 
Lucille Herring Davidson 
Viola Stout 
Eva L. Sullivan 

HANCOCK COUNTY 

Edith Peck-Blender 
Lena Aleshire Boos 
Florence Braun 
Jessie Brooks 
Mrs. John C. Burt 
H. L. Donkle 
Mary Elbe 
Mattie Emery 
SterUng Greenleaf 
Blanche M. Harrison 
Ora M. Hufendick 



Ida C. Jackson 
Anna M. Johnson 
Dorothy Kamps 
Leon L. Lamet 
Carmilee Larson 
Orville Larson 
Leota Lawton 
Delbert Lutz 
Edward Maas 
Harriette Hays Matthews 
Mildred M. Nelson 
Don Parker 
Kathryn Roan 
Ceola E. Schoenig 
Mary Frances Sheets 
Kenneth Shelor 
Irene B. Tinch 
Bernadette Tranbarger 
Ruth Carr Ufkes 
Robert R. Wagner 
Mary Jeanette Wallitt 
Irene M. Wilcox 
Maurine Wright 

HENDERSON COUNTY 

Irene L. Gibb 
Sylvia Gillaspie 
Mrs. John W. Kane 
Rev. Carroll Oschner 
Margaret Shelton 
Mabel B. Spears 

HENRY COUNTY 

Helen Brodd 

Eunice Stone DeShane 

Kathryn A. Gustafson 



Ruth M. Johnson 
Jane Lund 

Charlotte E. Megerkurth 
Kenneth Maxwell Norcross 
Marvis Rasmussen 
Robert C. Richards, Sr. 
Martha Seabloom 
Donald B. Swanson 

IROQUOIS COUNTY 

Mae E. Gelmers 

JERSEY COUNTY 

Marie Freesmeyer 
Gerry Judd 
Ann Larson 
Thelma Smith 
Elina M. Strunk 
John Switzer 

KEWANEE COUNTY 

Dores M. Lees 
Marvis Rasmussen 



KNOX COUNTY 

Susan S. Foster 
Craven C. Griffitts 
Genevieve Hagerty 
Dorothy Hansen 
Glada Hatfield 
Martin Hebns 
Mrs. Lewis Hess 
NeO M. Johnson 
Catherine Krapausky 
Vivian C. Lyon 



Rick Lundeen 
Helen Klarnes Mower 
Glenrose Nash 
Ruth O'Donnell 
Kathy Palmer 
Joan Eddy Pogue 
Marjory M. Reed 
Lorraine Shover 
Louise Simms 
Imogene Smith 
Erma G. Stiles 
Lorene Trone Sullivan 
M. L. Thompson 
Maries Sellers Thompson 
Eleanor L. Verene 



LA SALLE COUNTY 

Robert T. Burns 
Ernest Gingerich 
Leon F. Gringalunus 
Bulah J. Mason 
Kathleen Shearin 



LEE COUNTY 

Lillian C. Peterson 
Weldon V. White 



LIVINGSTON COUNTY 

Ardith E. Williams 



MACON COUNTY 

Dorothy Smith Hughes 
O. F. Landis 



MACOUPIN COUNTY 

Lucille Ballinger 

MADISON COUNTY 

Mrs. Clarence Beck 

Marjorie Fisher 

Mary Rittenhouse Huebener 

Florence G. Madison 

Doris Shackelford 

Victoria L. Stahl 

Pauline E. WiUs 

MARION COUNTY 

Evelyn Gtrkin 

MARSHALL COUNTY 

Eleanor H. Bussell 

MASON COUNTY 

Fannie L. Lynn 
Roy B. Poppleton 
Hollis Powers 
Alyce Scherer 
Lucille J. Walker 
Florence Ward 
Mary Wheat 

MCDONOUGH COUNTY 

Katherine Zimmerman Adair 
H. Harlan Bloomer 
Esther R. Bossort 
Harriet Bricker 
Minnie J. Bryan 
Doris Campbell Cheek 
Elzie Chenoweth 



Vera Chenoweth 

Lillian Nelson Combites 

Leta Cook 

Christine M. Crook 

Martha Lewis Crabb 

Leona Tuttle Curtis 

Evelyn M. Savidge Dark 

Eleanor Gingerich 

Addra E. Graham 

Burdette Graham 

Martha K. Graham 

Basil Halliburton 

Charles H. Harper 

Dorothy Senn Henderson 

Mabel Hurst 

Teckla Keithley 

Herman R. Koester 

Ruth Koester 

Alice Krauser 

Donald Lantz 

Everette W. Latham 

Mrs. James W. McMillian 

Sara Beth Helfrich McMillan 

Vail Morgan 

June Moon 

Juanita Jordan Morley 

Thorlo W. GUer 

Helen Starmbough Olson 

Pauhne Pace 

Mrs. Leone Patrick 

Grace Payne 

Darlene Ray 

Lyle W. Robbins 

Nell Windsor Robinson 

Helen Boyd Ross 

Beula Selters 



Howard Silberer 
Kathryn Smithers 
Mary Cecile Stevens 
Josie Torrance 
Leona Wetzel 
John C. Willey 

MENARD COUNTY 

Elizabeth B. Canterbury 
Mabel Miller Hinds 

MERCER COUNTY 

Dorothy G. Brown 
Flora M. Greene 
Fred Lipton 
Edith Nesbitt 
Mae V. Scovil 
Vesta B. Speer 

MCLEAN COUNTY 

Eileen Smith Cunningham 
Fern M. Downs 
Joseph Paddock 
Neoma Ewing Steege 

MONROE COUNTY 

Al Hartman 
Elsa E. Schmidt 



MORGAN COUNTY 

Harvey S. Bubb 
Garnet Valentine Campbell 
Laura StiUson 
EUiot W. WilUams 



OGLE COUNTY 

Jennie Sexton 

PEORIA COUNTY 

Joan F. Athen 
Bonita Lynn Burgess 
Chuck Burroughs 
Mary Jane Simmone Conlan 
Glenna Howard Lamb 
Dorothy A. Marshall 
Mildred Norton 
Inez Sparks Towers 

POPE COUNTY 

Edna Trovillion Baker 
Eva Baker Watson 

PIKE COUNTTY 

Genevieve Dorsey Brim 
Owen Hannat 
Ruth Townley Ken- 
Dorothy G. Liehr 
Ruth Lingle 
Dorothy Ottwell 
Helen M. Storey 
Edna Manire Wells 

ROCK ISLAND COUNTY 

Newton E. Barrett 
Carl Baumann 
Lilian D. Carson 
Signe Evangeline CheU 
Julia J. Claussen 
Doris L. Chilberg 
Frances Wait Danielson 



Rev. Carl E. Ericson 
Jadelaine Fluegel 
Julia D. Harrel 
Charlotte Hatfield 
Frances L. Hickey 
Blondelle Lashbrook 
Vivian Lorri 
Ruth E. Pearson 
Robert L. Plack 
Rose Sabath 
John R. Smith 
Alberta Young Steggemann 
Frances Stotts 
Mabel M. Stover 
Florence J. Thuline 
James Russell Vaky 



SANGAMON COUNTY 

Mary Foster Brinocar 
Florence E. Evans 
Sister J. Deters 
Meu-ie L. Fee 
Sara Feuer 
Irma Johnson 
Laura M. Johnston 
Ruby Davenport Kish 
Louise Krueger 
Matilda Rose McLaren 
Genevieve Keller Murphy 
Frances O'Laughlin 
Ben E. Padget 
Helen E. Rilling 
Ruth Kean Schacherer 
Virginia Schneider 



SCHUYLER COUNTY 

Alline Armstrong 
William P. Bartlow 
Nelda B. Cain 
Frieda T. Degitz 
Mary K. DeWitt 
Clarice Trone Dickerson 
Eleanor Dodds 
Vada Finch 
Irene Van Ormer Hare 
Ruth A. Kearby 
Vivian Knott 
Marie G. Laswell 
Iva L Peters 
Robert E. Reno 
Laurence Royer 
Paul Sloan 

Lillian Elizabeth Terry 
Nell Dace Turner 
Guy S. Tyson 
Lorraine Unger 

SCOTT COUNTY 

John F. Ellis 
Stella Hutchings 
Mrs. Albert E. Powers 
Leta Rogers Spradlin 
Nina Vortman 

SHELBY COUNTY 

Beulah Knecht 

STARK COUNTY 

Dorothy M. Robertson 



ST. CLAIR COUNTY 

Vera A. Niemann 
Grace R. Welch 

TAZWELL COUNTY 

Ross A. Coil 

Ruth B. Comer ford 

Grace Gleason 

Olive M. Gresham 

E. Marek 

Richmond Robison, Jr. 

Arnold Kramer Schoenheider 

Mary C. Stormer 

Lucius Herbert Valentine 

Enid Woolsey 



WINNEBAGO COUNTY 

Dorothy Van Barringer 
Ruth Fay Bashaw 
Phyllis Wells Pinecombe 
Margaret Potter 
Edith ToUefsrud 

WOODFORD COUNTY 

Lloyd Dunn 



WARREN COUNTY 

Earl F. Carwile 
Carmen Johnson Costello 
Hazel D. Frank 
Glenn Guilinger 
John P. Kramer 
Anna Pauline Miller 
Mabelle Shimmin 
Everett Trone 
Omega White 



WHITESIDE COUNTY 

Clarice Stafford Harris 
Kay Adair Harris 
Frank McFadden 



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"In 1910 the Coatsburg Roller Mill was a thriving 
business ... In addition to white flour, the mill 
produced graham flour, com meal, rye flour for 
pumpernickel and 'ship stuff ' Customers added this 
to scraps, potatoe and apple peelings with dishwater, 
stirred into slop and fed to several hogs for fall 
butchering. " 

Albert Shanholtzer 
Adams County 

"I well remember one hole fin Rocky Branch]. . . 
this place was always used for baptizing. When the 
congregation raised its voice in 'Oh Happy Day ' and 
the preacher prayed it was extremely touching. . . it 
was used in both summer and winter . . . they just cut a 
hole in the ice and went ahead. " 

Ellen Baldwin 
Brown County 

"Finally Dr. Clark came with good news that the 
siege was over. He ordered our bed linens burned (we 
had 'scaled off on them), ordered all of us to antiseptic 
baths, and fumigated the whole house. The quaratine 
sign came down. " 

Martha Graham 
McDonough County 

"There's a lot of people . . . who have never heard 
of the I&M Canal. The idea . . . of the canal was a 
shorter water route between the Great Lakes and the 
Tri-City area. . . The canal was dug mostly by hand 
and team and slip . . . My dad [a lockmanj had 30 
lockages in one day or every 20 minutes for ten hours. 
These locks were operated by hand. " 

Glenn Philpott 
Adams County 



"Upon seeing Illinois Woman's College for the 
first time 11927], I wasn't exactly overjoyed. The 
building I was to live in was Old Main, the first 
building of the college. It was tall, stem, and 
drab— very much like our Dean Austin, who was to 
guide my life. " 

Juanita Jordan Morley 
McDonough County 

"Tales is a visit over the farm fence or at the 
country store. The reader senses the importance of his 
own roots. As he looks nostalgically at the strong 
value system of the past, he is moved to re-evaluate 
his own purposes and direction. " 

Junella Leach 
The Prairie Star 

"The Two Rivers Arts Council [has] looked 
around to find what was most appropriate to their 
communities . . . Here, as perhaps nowhere else in this 
country, the arts have been encouraged to grow from 
roots thrust deep into their native soil, and they have 
made a difference in their towns. " 

Nan Levinson - The Cultural Post 

National Ednowment for the Arts 

Washington, D.C. 

"To the west of the back stoop was the smoke 
house. Here hung hams and bacon dripping their 
caramel juices as they cured in dense hickory smoke. 
These were red-eye gravy hams. Just inside the door 
was a wooden barrell of salt and several sacks of bran 
for the mother pigs. We loved to scoop up hands full of 
bacon and [to] eat it as we romped through those 
delicious days of childhood ..." 

Helen E. Rilling 
Sangamon County