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^ales from ^<wo "^^ers III 

^ales from ^wo '^'R^ers 111 

edited by Jerrilee Cain-Tyson, John E. Hallwas, Victor Hicken 

= CDRH : 

Publication of 

Two Rivers Arts Council 

College of Fine Arts Development 

Western Illinois University 

Macomb, Illinois 

Copyright 1984 by Western Illinois University 
Library of Congress Card No. 84-051674 

Cover photograph and all other photographs in this book are courtesy of Archives and Special 
Collections, Western Illinois University Library. 

^ales from ^wo T^i^ers 

a continuing 

The stories contained in Tales from Two Rivers I, II, and III are gleaned from the manuscripts 
submitted by Illinois authors, over sixty years of age, to annual Tales from Two Rivers Writing 
Contests. They are the documentation of real life experiences and are not the result of laborious 
research into the works of other documentors. Therefore, these stories make up a social history of 
Illinois at the turn of this, the 20th century. 

"They [the stories] are small memories, like 
flowers pressed between pages of a book." 

Jerry Klein, Peoria Journal Star 

"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 

"Above a flood of commercially cute and 
predigested oldtimeyness. Tales . . . 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 . . . 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 

Harold Henderson, Illinois Times 

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

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 ..." 

House Resolution No. 688 

Offered by Rep. Clarence Neff 

Adopted March 3, 1982 

THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we commend 
contributing authors, the Two Rivers Arts 
Council, the IlUnois Humanities Council, the 
Illinois Arts Council, and Western Illinois 
University College of Fine Arts Development for 
producing this book that will serve as a record of 
Illinois 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, 

Senate Resolution No. 441 

Offered by Senator Laura Kent 

Adopted March 31, 1982 


"The story of a life begins somewhere, at some particular point we happen to 
remember ..." 

C. G. Jung 

"Memory is the only thing one can call truly his own. Memory is each man's own last 
measure, ..." 

William Least Heat Moon, Blue Highways 

I IsiJe C<^nt forget 

A LADY NAMED "SADE" Robert E.Reno 5 

AUNT JULIA Louis Anderson 6 


THE HUNTER HOUSE Esmerelda T. Thomson 10 

THE SUMMER KITCHEN Mary Cecile Stevens 12 


THE WARREN COUNTY FARM M. Gordon Colbert 15 

A MAN AND HIS TEAM Laurence Rover 17 

TWO MULES AND OLD Q Margaret Kelley Reynolds 18 

THE ROYAL SCOT MadolynTeele 19 

THE WIRELESS Duward F. Tice 22 

TUNING IN Kenneth Maxwell Norcross 23 


STEAM IN MY BLOOD Ernest Danielson 27 

A FIELD OF SHOCKS Burdette Graham 29 

STRIKE! Dorothy Mayhew Lay 31 


CHICKEN HATCHIN' TIME Mahala Yeoman Lafferty 37 


THE NUTTING PARTY Glada Z. Hatfield 40 

II Teople of the "^ads 

THE DANCING KITTEN Norbert F. Overstolz 47 

OUR PERSON Ruth B. Comerford 48 

THE SWENSON MAN Doris L. Chilberg 51 

THEMcNESSMAN Beulah (Moody) Donaldson 51 





"C-O-P-E, SOAP", THE TOBY SHOW Mary B. Rainey 60 

THE TRAMP Margaret Kelley Reynolds 61 

A CHILD'S EYE VIEW Ruth E. Pearson 62 

GETTING BY Mrs. Lillian Nelson Combites 63 

SHOW Gwendolyn Danner 64 

ILLINOIS Lloyd V. Johnson 65 

A GYPSY SCARE Ruth E. Rogers 66 

ILLINOIS Martha K. Graham 67 

COMPANY Kenneth Maxwell Norcross 68 

THE MILKMAN OF OLD Robert L. Flack 70 


Ill '^ales from the Trohibition Bra 75 


TWENTIES Hazel Delbridge 77 


MY TRIP TO THE HILLS Margaret Kelley Reynolds 79 



OLD MAC'S PARTY RueDensch 84 

PROHIBITION IN THE 1920's Guy S. Tyson 87 

IN 1929 Dorris Taylor Nash 88 

AREA Clifford J. Boyd 89 

PURPLE PASSION DAYS Josephine K. Oblinger 91 




NATIONAL PROHIBITION: 1920-1932 Robert C. Richards, Sr. 96 

"BE STILL, 'MY STILL'" Kenneth R. Brasel 97 

DILLINGERS ROOST June T. Tumbaugh 99 


IV T^ceif)t5 h-j ^olks loa 


HOME CURES James B.Jackson 105 



RUB WITH A BEAN Florence Ehrhardt 109 

THE MALADIES LINGER ON Kenneth R. Brasel 110 


FLAX SEED WAVE SET M. Garrison Chenoweth 113 


BITTER, IT WAS Dorothy E. Ray 115 

POTATOES FOR PINKEYE Helen E. Rilling 116 

KILL OR CURE Louise E. Efnor 118 

IN THE DARK OF THE MOON Ms. Georgia M. Rogers 119 

V T<i,i^ers and Qreeks of Our Tast 



FLOOD Eva Baker Watson 129 

THE JANUARY FLOOD Iva Ingles Peters 132 


SAGA Leslie G. Swanson 139 


TYIE KEOKUK Carroll A. Ochsner 142 



DREDGE BOATING IN 1916 Landa and Nellie (Gox) Griffith 149 

THE ICE HARVET ON QUINCY BAY Mr. Francis J. Bunce 150 


GIFTS FROM THE RIVER Peari V. Steckman Gonse 154 

THE SEINE HAUL Ivan R.Lyon 156 

THE FISHERMAN Ivan R.Lyon 157 

FISHERMAN FRED'S RECORD BOOK Floreine McGausland Harris 158 


FISH GIGGING IN 1930 IvanE.Prall 162 


SCHOOL Glenna H.Lamb 164 

THREE LITTLE CREEKS Helen E. Rilling 166 


RIVER Hazel Montooth Smith 169 


VI ^ar Qomes to Illinois 

RATIONING IN WORLD WAR I Hazel Delbridge 179 

DAY Ruth (Roberts) Lingle 179 

RECOLLECTIONS OF WORLD WAR II Katherine Zimmerman Adair 181 

PLEASE COME BACK Erwin O. Kevster 183 


WAR COMES TO WOODRUFF Edwardine Sperling 186 

MY BOUT WITH TYPHOID FEVER J uanita Jordan Morley 187 

WAR COMES TO A VILLAGE Glenrose Nash ' 189 


WOODY COMES HOME Virginia Dee Schneider 193 


WORLD WAR II PRIORITIES Albert Shanholtzer 197 



DATE OF IMMEDIACY Marjorie M. Smith 202 

THE U.S.O. IN LEWISTOWN Garnet Workman 204 

MEMORIES OF WORLD WAR I Martha K. Graham 205 

GALESBURG-C B & Q DEPOT, MAY 1943 Helen Wickliffe 207 

VU ^he crimen Corner 

THE INDIAN CREEK CHURCH Marie Freesmeyer 213 

THECHURCH ATMT. ZION Esther Fowler Willey 214 

MEMORIAL CHAPEL Lucius Herbert Valentine 216 

CAMP MEETINGS Avis Ray Berry 217 

THE LOVE FEAST Harriet (Wetzell)Cordell 219 

HOLY COMMUNION ABOUT 1907 Clotison Fellinger 220 

THE CHURCH COURT, CIRCA 1920 Eva Baker Watson 221 

ECUMENITY Floy K. Chapman 222 

"COME HOME, SINNERS!" Helen Sherrill-Smith 224 

SPIRITUALLY HUNGRY Vera Burgard Simpson 225 

VIII hunters and bounds 

BIRD HUNTING WHEN I WAS A BOY Robert L. Brownlee 233 

PARADISE ArthurBowles 234 

DUCK HUNTING IN 1929 Lucille J. Walker 235 



COUNTY Lyman Inman 240 


TRAPLINE FEVER Carroll A. Ochsner 243 



THE COON HUNTERS Marjorie Melvin 247 


DRUM Lyle W. Robbins 251 




OL'LADY Effie L. Campbell 256 

COOKING SMALL GAME James B.Jackson 257 

List of c$\uthors 

Dear Reader, 

Another book of curious memories about Illinois before 
WW II is almost ready for the printer this June, 1984, day, 
and I sit musing about the changes that are recorded in its 
stories . . . change that occurs with such velocity that we may 
not comprehend its effect, but simply feel a bit more 
powerless and puzzled each day. 

Five years ago volunteers from the Two Rivers Arts 
Council and I struggled through the process of publishing 
Tales from Two Rivers I. We were neophytes who fumbled 
with each stage of the publication. The manuscripts were 
typed, retyped, corrected and reread. The publisher 
overwhelmed us with words like "half tones", "bleeds", "off 
set", and "galleys" and the copyright office in Washington, 
D.C., sent us confusing forms to complete and to return. 
Today Connie and Meredith sit glued to two computers that 
type, edit, correct, and retype manuscripts in one operation. 
We have moved into the electronic age! We have also learned 
printer's vocabulary but we still have problems with the 
copyright forms!! 

And so even the process of publishing the Tales books 
changes even as the stories in the books describe other 
overwhelmingly immense transitions and changes. Recently 
Jim Ritchie, agricultural journahst, said, "My grandfather 
experienced more change in farming methods in his lifetime 
than had occurred in agriculture from the beginning of time 
until he was born." That kind of whip lash change can 
sometimes bewilder those who try to make sense of it all. And 
"making sense out of it all", is what the Tales books are all 
about. We of the Two Rivers Arts Council believe that people 
are better able to make wise decisions concerning the future if 
they have learned about and understood implications of the 
heritage that produced them. The Tales books are an effort to 
contribute to the learning and understanding of that heritage 

and to what place it has brought us. Tales books are not just 
about the past, then, but are, also, a preparation for the 

However, throughout the changes of the last five years, 
some things remain constant and that constancy has been 
our friends who have supported TRAC in its efforts. Our 
thanks, must, again, go to those people. 

To the people who wrote the stories. Although there was 
not enough space in the books to include all of the 800 plus 
stories received in the 1983 and 1984 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 so 
all of the contest manuscripts have been placed on file in the 
Archives and Collections Department of the Western lEinois 
University Library where they will be made available to 
future generations of researchers, historians, and students of 
IlUnois history. 

To President Leslie Malpass and Dean Forrest Suycott, 
Western Illinois University, whose dedication to this region 
has resulted in the university support necessary to the 
publication of Tales from Two Rivers III. 

To the Illinois Arts Council and the Ilhnois Humanities 
Council for funding that made possible the writing contests 
from which these stories are drawn and the pubUcation of this 

To John E. Hall was 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. II. and III successful. 

To Meredith Lowman and Connie Rouse who translated 
illegible editorial notes, stories written in long hand, and 

unfamiliar jargon into neatly typed master copies of the 
manuscripts for Tales III. 

To all the groups, individuals, organizations and 
institutions who joined with us to make Tales from Tivo 
Rivers III a reaHty-THANK YOU. 

Editor's Note: Punctuation, grammar and the use of 
capitalization has been changed only when meaning was 
unclear. The editors feel that traditional phraseologies, 
emphases and idioms would be changed from the authors' 
intents should contemporary forms be substituted for the 
authors' own. 


RossAnn Baker 
Avon, Illinois 

William Brattain, Ad Hoc 
Macomb, Illinois 

Nancy Butler, Ad Hoc 
La Harpe, Illinois 

Jerrilee Cain-Tyson 
Macomb, Illinois 

Patti Flint 
Galesburg, Illinois 

Cindy Gibson, Ad Hoc 
Bushnell, Illinois 

Burdette Graham 
Macomb, Illinois 

Mary Graham 
Biggsville, Illinois 

Sharon Graham 
Biggsville, Illinois 

John Hallwas 
Macomb, Illinois 

Larry Harshman 
Mt. Sterling, Ilhnois 

Pat Hobbs 
Macomb, Illinois 

Linda Housewright 
La Harpe, Illinois 

Ann Johnson 
Carthage, Illinois 

Pam Johnson 
Macomb, Illinois 

Audine, Jung 
Bowen, Illinois 

Karen Lawson 
Carthage, lUinois 

Teresa Melvin 
Blandinsville, Illinois 

Dorothy Musick 
Augusta, Illinois 

Palma Rhoades 
Table Grove, Illinois 

Randy Smith 
Macomb, Illinois 

Diane Snyder 
Rushville, Illinois 

Forrest Suycott, Ad Hoc 
Macomb, Illinois 

Helen Thomson 
Table Grove, Ilhnois 

Jerry Tyson 
Macomb, Ilhnois 

BiU WaUace 
Monmouth, Illinois 

Carol Yeoman 
Avon, Illinois 

TRAC Executive Committee: Front: Jerrilee Cain-Tyson. Executive Director; Mary 
Graham. Secretary: Linda Housewright. Vice-President, .■\nn Johnson. Treasurer; 
Back; BiU Wallace, Vice-President; Pat Hobbs. Vice-President: Jerry Tyson. 
President; Randy Smith. Business Manager. 

The Corn Crib logo identifies TRAC pubUcations as reflective 
of the imagery, folklore and customs of the Mississippi Valley 
region of the upper midwest. 


I "We Can't forget 


There are always parts of the past that can never be 
forgotten: stories that can be told over and over to listeners 
who never tire of listening. No matter how many Tales from 
Two Rivers are published, some subjects will always be 
included, albeit written in different idioms and presented 
from diverse perspectives. And so it is that one section of 
each book becomes a coUection of special stories that must be 
shared even though they have been written about before. 

And, because WE CAN'T FORGET includes a 
potpourri of memories, subjects and thoughts, it is here that 
ambiguities stand out and make themselves noticed. 
Ambiguities that have been apparent in the stories 
submitted during the past five Tales from Two Rivers 
writing contests from which the stories for Tales from Two 
Rivers I. II, and III have been gleaned. 

Those ambiguities are expressed in the acutely apparent 
nostalgia for that era prior to WWII and in contrast to this 
nostalgia the excitement and the mythology recorded by the 
same authors about events, inventions and "improvements" 
that in and of themselves were directly responsible for the 
disappearance of the hfe styles, values and customs for which 
these same authors are nostalgic! 

In the stories included in WE CAN'T FORGET is one 
by Esmeralda T. Thomson about "The Hunter House" which 
was built by her ancestor and whose very timbers reflect the 
essence of that man. It is a house that readers soon recognize 
as the one they carry deep within themselves as a symbol of a 
place where they could or did experience love, security, a kind 
of constancy, and absolute confidence in the future. But the 
author, like most readers, recognizes that the house is 
crumbling. It is a three story Queen Anne style house that in 
times past could meet the needs of three to four generations 
simultaneously. That was before world trade, international 
markets and the OPEC nations forced heating costs to a 

point where to warm a three story house in Illinois in January 
could possibly incur a biU of $400.00 to $600.00 per month. 

It was before mass and rapid transportation which was 
epidomized as early as 1933 by the exhibition of "The Royal 
Scot", a gleaming, luxurious train that dazzled the 
imagination of one junior high school age girl named 
Madolyn when it stopped at the small village of Lovington. 
She dreamed that someday she would board a similarly 
glorious train to visit exotic and unknown countries beyond 
the confines of her own small town. The successors of the 
Royal Scot made possible massive population migrations 
dictated by individual dreams as well as a newly 
industriahzed society. And now the descendants of the man 
who built the Hunter house Live in Cahfornia or, maybe, 
Oregon, Arizona or New York. And the Hunter House is 
crumbling because the family it was built to serve no longer 
cluster in the community around it. Did Madolyn realize, as 
her heart skipped beside the Royal Scot that night, what 
improved transportation and greater access to that outside 
world which captivated her curiousity would do to small 
communities hke Lovington and to great old houses Uke the 
Hunter house? 

Two young boys in two separate small communities, 
Mt. SterUng and Orion, built contraptions to capture 
messages beamed through the airways. A new passion called 
radio would soon aUeviate the lonehness of isolated prairie 
farm famihes and entertain the small town resident with 
reports from distant parts of the world, with news of the 
latest expeditions and discoveries, and with programs like 
"Helen Trent", "Our Gal Sunday," and "Ma Perkins". Radio 
soon became television and the latter made it possible not 
just to hear about but to see people living in a way quite 
different from that of "Aunt JuHa" or "A Lady Named 
'Sade"', women eulogized in WE CAN'T FORGET. People 
living where no one celebrated marriage with a shivaree, or 
had daughters driving a mule team or who hved at the county 

farm, or drew water from a well or cooked in a little shed 
behind the house called a "summer kitchen". In fact the only 
television programs that depicted rural or small town life 
actually poked fun at the culture in "Green Acres"; "Beverly 
Hillbilhes": and "Hee Haw". Towns like Orion and Mt. 
Sterling began to try to look and act hke those portrayed on 
radio and television. The young people of such small towns 
thought it would be more exciting and lucrative to move to 
the cities where life was made to seem more attractive. So 
they went. If Duward and Kenneth could have forseen the 
affects of the wireless and the crystal set, would their 
curiousity and excitement about such contraptions have been 
tempered? Or was the entertainment and information 
presented on radio and television worth giving up the Hunter 
house, shivarees, and all the other things we write about here 
in Tales and long to experience once again? As Kenneth 
MaxweU Norcross says, "Times will never be the same 

Technology and industrial development eroded the 
values and customs of pre-World War II America. The 
impact of science shook apart the hfestyles of rural 
communities and the parts, Uke kaleidoscope crystals, 
reassembled into new patterns. Big old houses now crumble 
in towns like Table Grove; farmers no longer swap labor for 
harvesting crops; descendants of the Royal Scot sweep past 
decaying depots in places like Lovington; and nobody puts 
flowers on Aunt Sade's grave. Farms are larger, farmers 
vacation in Hawaii, the world marches across the television 
screen in the Uving room and there are no mysteries left to be 
explored by its lens. We are all more learned, worldly, and 

Once upon a time it was different and, somehow, WE 

Jerrilee Cain-Tyson 


Robert E. Reno 

The principal event of the story I am attempting to 
write happened just over one-half century ago, in December, 
1932. In order for people of today to understand the 
circumstances under which it occurred I shall describe briefly 
the "Depression Crisis" we were beginning to experience. 

Farm prices went to pot. Farmers exchanged work and 
helped one-another in order to survive. During times of 
sickness or death, neighbors rallied to their support. We dug 
graves and did everything possible to share their burden. 

Women had their babies at home in those days. They 
could not pay hospital bills and there were no all weather 
highways in our area at the time. All of which brings me to 
the nucleus and the heroine of my story: the lady named 
"Sade", who came the nearest to being a "Midwife" of 
anyone I ever knew. She washed and dressed more new born 
babies than anyone in the area. She and her husband "Jake" 
had no children. They lived three-fourths of a mile from the 

A neighbor came one afternoon and said, "Bob, we 
expect a baby before morning. Will you go get Sade, if I call?" 
I assured him that I would. I harnessed a team when I did my 
evening chores and ran the buggy outside. I wanted 
everything in readiness if I received the call. I did not go to 
bed that night. I placed a cot underneath the old wall 
telephone and laid down upon it fully dressed. Around 
midnight the caO came, "Pete" said, "Get going, things are 
getting serious over here." I lit my lantern and when I 
started to the barn it was misting rain and dark as pitch but I 
was soon hitched up and ready to go. 1 set the lantern on the 
seat beside me, and we were off. I decided by going through 
"Guinea" Dunns' bam lot and fields, I could drive right up to 
Jake and Sade's house and barn lot, which adjoined the field 
and get there in half the time, so that is the route 1 took. 

I left the gates open. Sade saw my light coming, and 
was waiting and ready inside the field when I got there. Soon 
as we were on our return trip, I said "Aren't you pretty old 
for this kind of trip on nights like this?" (She was 71 years old 
then.) Long as I can remember anything, I shall never forget 
her answer. She said, "Oh Shaw! We need help when we come 
into this world and we will need help when we leave. Whoever 
thinks they are independent are foohng themselves. The 
sooner we get it through our thick heads that we need one 
another and that we all need God, the better off we will all 

How well I knew that her deeds matched her words. 
When 1 was a small boy I recall seeing her walking to 
Browning every day regardless of the weather. She always 
had a market basket on her arm, taking meals she had 
prepared for her aged parents. The many things she did for 
people were not for pay. She loved people! Her pleasant 
human kindness, Unked with her keen sense of humor, made 
her a proverbial bucket of sunshine wherever she went, and it 
gained the respect of many. 

I now shaU return to my nightime story and unfinished 
trip. Around daylight, the Johnsons called and reported the 
arrival of a healthy baby boy, and asked if I would suggest a 
name for him? I replied, "You should name him anything you 
like. Personally, I prefer short names, and anyone around 
Ridgeville would catch cold without a nickname. I will call 
him 'Dick'." They named the young "feller" Richard 
Johnson, and he became another Schuyler County Citizen. 
The Johnsons laughed and told about their early morning 
conversation and about how quickly Sade got there after they 
called me. Sade said, "Whooee, that was the fastest buggy 
ride I ever took." 

I saddled a horse and started back to close those gates I 
had left open and to round up any stock that may have gotten 
out. I saw "Guinea" trying to track the culprit who had 
driven through his barn lot and left the gates open. 

"Guinea" said, "Someone went through my barn lot last 
night both ways in a buggy and left the gates open. If I find 
out who did that, I will tell him a thing or two." I said, 
"Alright, let's hear it. You are looking right at him." "What 
in the world was you doing back there in the middle of the 
night in a buggy?" (All of us hked to kid "Guinea") 

I reminded him that Paul Revere got up at midnight, 
and took a horseback ride and I had a right to get up at 
midnight and take a buggy ride. I told him I went after Sade, 
and that Pete and Frieda Johnson had a baby boy this 
morning, and I was coming back to close gates and help 
round up any stock that may have gotten out. 

He threw up both hands and laughed and said, "That 
explains everything, go back home, gates are shut, didn't 
anything get out, no harm done." 

This 24 hour day, down on the farm "Memo" would not 
be complete, without telling that the Johnsons had a boy 
named Edward, who was around six, and one called Bobbie, 
who was three. They were taken to Albert Jones, their 
neighbor, to spend the night. 

Their dad went after them the next morning. He told 
them they had a baby Brother. He asked Bobbie if he did not 
think it was nice that he had a baby Brother to play with? 
Bobbie said, "He will 'probly' grow up to be a girl." 

Two years ago, I visited the Browning cemetery, just 
after Memorial Day. I was impressed with how neatly it had 
been taken care of. I was glad to see how people had 
remembered their loved ones with flowers and that there was 
a flag on each soldier's grave. It all seemed so right. 

I walked over to Jake and Sade Trones' graves. There 
was just one artificial faded flower that had been left there 
from the year before. Mixed emotions began creeping over 
me. I thought of the pictures of the great hanging in the 
"Hall of Fame", the "Who's Who" columns and knew it is 
right they should be remembered but here was a childless 
couple, who had Uved among many of us, and we had seen 

them, in spite of their poverty, make so many sacrifices to 
help others and I thought how we had thoughtlessly allowed 
them to become forgotten like the faded flower on their grave. 

In my attempt to get my emotions into proper 
perspective, I began thinking of the "Source" that is higher 
than all of us: I knew Sade beUeved in Him, had trusted in 
Him and in that "Book" of books that tells us of a just God 
who will reward everyone according to their works. 

Suddenly I faced the fact that I am not "His" 
bookkeeper; neither did I have the right to judge anyone but 
Bob Reno. 

I haven't any excuse for my own negligence or 
forgetfulness. In order to ease my own conscience, I returned 
to the cemetery and planted some daffodils by the monument 
of these old neighbors hoping that when these bright, yellow, 
stary bellshaped flowers bloom each spring, they shall be a 
symboUc reminder of the sunshine Sade helped bring into so 
many homes, human hearts and lives during her sojourn here 
and that these flowers will remind us that our world still 
needs a lot of love and a lot of giving. 


Louis Anderson 

Aunt Julia Anderson. Flowers. You couldn't think of 
one without the other coming to mind. Aunt Julia lived 
flowers. In her house, every window had two shelves that 
were both loaded with potted plants. There were flowers on 
the tables, on the floor, on the porch. 

In the yard, a bed of flowers lined every fence, aU around 
the foundation of the house, around every tree, bush, and 
clothesline post. The vegetable garden had volunteer flowers 
growing in among the lettuce, radishes, and carrots. One 
corner of the yard ten feet wide and twenty five feet long was 

her rose bed and dahlias. All around the garden were 
perennials and shrubs, lilacs, and Mountain Pinks and Shasta 
daisies, and Oriental Poppies. 

She ran completely out of room for more flowers but 
there was one more thing she wanted— a bed of sohd red 
tulips. With no place else to go, she had me dig up a large 
round bed right in the middle of the only fair-sized patch of 
green grass there was left. I objected, because I had to mow 
and trim around all we already had, but she won out and we 
had a lovely bed of red tulips every spring. In the summer, 
the bed was a solid mass of beautiful petunias. They got 
along splendidly. 

Aunt Juha was simply "Mrs. Anderson" during all the 
years she was raising her family. 1 was the youngest of the 
kids and I was about ten or twelve years old when Mr. Frank 
Shepard moved next door. He and his wife Minnie had a httle 
girl about my age. Her mother had taught her a nice habit. 
Instead of calling her best adult friends by their first names, 
which seemed too familar, or "Mr." and "Mrs." which seemed 
too formal, Marie's mother had taught her to call them 
"Aunt" and "Uncle." My mother and dad became "Aunt 
Julia" and "Uncle Albert." And the names began to catch on 
aU around the countryside. When Marie's mother died and 
Frank married again, his new wife. Hazel, and all her children, 
some living at home and some as far away as Macomb, picked 
up the name. All of their friends and relatives heard of "Aunt 
Juha." New neighbors in the community and old friends as 
well found it the nicest way to address her. It just seemed to 

No one ever came to Aunt Julia's house and left without 
a bouquet. Summer or winter. If there was nothing else 
handy. Aunt Juha would break the top right out of a lovely 
blooming geranium. Many times I have heard people gasp 
when she seemed to be completly ruining the shape of a 
blooming plant, but in a short time the plant would fill in the 
gap with many new shoots and bloom Uke crazy. 

Aunt Julia never went anywhere to visit without a 
bouquet. If there was no one at home, the bouquet was her 
"calling card" and they knew Aunt Julia had been there. She 
always had a large rag box handy, and would tear out a nice 
rag and wet it and wrap around the stems so they would stay 

Come Decoration Day, a regular procession of friends 
and relatives would come to Aunt Julia for iris and dahlias 
and roses: arm loads of them. And the place was never left 
looking like it had been stripped. There were always more. 

All summer, people passing by would slow down and 
sometimes stop completely just to look and look at Aunt 
Julias' flowers. Sweet-peas and columbines and phlox and 
daisies and trumpet vines, moss rose and blue-bells and 
alyssium, gladiolias and cannas and zinnias. Did I miss any? 
You name it— she had it. When she was too tired to do 
anything else, she would rest and relax by working in her 
flowers. As we hoed in the vegetable garden, we left lark- 
spurs and moss and, maybe, a sunflower or two that came up 

The snow-ball bush was white in it's season, the 
rambhng roses on their treUis's were loaded and the monthly 
roses bloomed all summer. The bridal-wreath and red tulips 
made lovely combination bouquets, as well as bridal-wreath 
and iris, of which there were a dozen varieties, dark purple, 
lavender, cream, yellow, and embroidered. 

Aunt Julia loved flowers. Aunt Julia lived flowers. Aunt 
Julia and flowers were synonomous. 


Vera A. Niemann 


The young mother watched her two active little boys 
playing in the back yard. Today she would go from one task 
to another. Surely the day would pass. A basket of hand- 
laundry stood beside her. The sky was overcast and even 
threatening. She hung the clothes anyway and thought, 
"Can't you silly clothes flap just a little bit? YouVe hanging 
there like a bunch of dead ducks." She signed. "Death?" 
Even what humor she had was haunted by its presence. 

She felt as if someone else were doing the chores for her. 
Whose arms carried the basket? Whose feet mechanically 
walked for her? She breathed sadly as she noticed Adela's 
lilac bushes: past their lovely flowering stage with their 
leaves shriveled. The gorgeous dark purple clematis and a 
multitude of other plantings were the result of the vision and 
hard work of Adela and her husband, Joseph Klein. 

As a young married couple in the early 1900's, they had 
come to a remote area of southern Illinois, known as 
Fairview. They vowed to build their home in this wilderness. 
It was a hard decision to leave their families— Joe with a 
sister and Adela with eleven younger brothers and sisters. A 
great bond of affection, if not total dedication, was apparent 
in all the relatives but especiaUy between Adela and her 
brothers, Walter, Albert, Arthur and Eddie. 

. . . Now, all that would change. After settling the boys 
down inside with playthings, the young mother dusted the 
dining room. A large plate on the wall caught her attention. 
Adela had painted it before the birth of her first child. The 
painting featured a glowing, blue-eyed, curly-haired baby, 
done in shades of amber and gold. She told the family that 
this was the picture of their baby-to-be. Later, they had 
photographs made of their infant son and the plate and 

picture bore a remarkable resemblance. 

The young mother went to the living room, knowing it 
was the hardest. Going to Adela's exquisite little baby grand 
piano, she carefully cleaned the veil of dust on its rich 
mahogany surface and remembered how this piano had been 
one of Adela's greatest loves. She had never given up her 
work with classical music, and played "popular" for the 
younger people. Everyone found a special charm in her. One 
woman said, "She was a lady— a really great lady." A classic 
beauty, some would say, dressed in a long flowing blue dress 
with her long brown hair twisted into a bun atop her head, 
with several wisps of hair framing her face. The high 
cheekbones were accented by soft, fathomless, gray eyes 
which seemed to reach and speak from her soul. 

Surrounding the room were Adela's paintings. Two of 
them were on large tapestries: life-size female figures and 
signed with her name, Adela E. Lauman, 1900. The tapestry 
that featured one young woman caught most visitors' 
attention. They said that no matter where they stood in the 
room, the eyes of this figure seemed to be looking directly at 
them. The young mother thought it strange. She had never 
noticed the color of those eyes until today: they were a soft, 
gray color. So much like . . . The feeling swept over her. The 
feeUng she had so carefully hidden suddenly burst forth and 
the tears began to flow in great wracking torrents. It had aU 
been so unfair. Why had she been taken so quickly? It was 
the fever. She knew that. The doctors could not save her. She 
wept and wept bitterly. Her mother, beautiful Adela, was 

The long, gray day did pass on, as did the following 
ones. Her work helped keep her mind busy. Or did it really? 
She still felt it was done perfunctorUy. She was dwelling on a 
beUef in her church known as "The Communion of Saints". In 
essence, this is the unity of saints in heaven, souls in 
purgatory and people on earth. All three groups combine 
lovingly to pray to and for each other. The young mother 

steadfastly told herself, and the many who came to give her 
comfort, "She is a saint. I will pray to her. I cannot believe 
she is in purgatory and cannot pray for her." 



When Adela died, her brother Arthur and his wife Nelle 
were visiting their daughter and family in Louisiana. They 
were there only a short time when one evening Nelle told 
them, "'Delie' is dead; I hope we can leave for home at once." 
They did so and were near Illinois later the following 
afternoon when the telegram arrived at their daughter's 
home. Nelle and Adela had been very close. Nelle did not 
think it at all strange that she knew of the death before word 

A year after the death, an incident occurred which 
disturbed the young mother's behef in her mother's peaceful 
repose. Adela 's three and one half year old grandson ran into 
the kitchen telhng his mother that a lady was in the other 
room. Pretending great surprise, she asked if he meant the 
ladies in the paintings. Not that. Taking hands, they went to 
the living room. Pointing to the piano bench he said, "She 
was sitting there." His mother said she had not heard her 
playing the piano. He replied, "No, she just sat there and 
smiled at me. She was wearing a long blue dress." This last 
completely astounded his mother. She knew Billy had never 
seen Adela in her blue dress. Billy himself talked of "a lady". 
He never mentioned his grandmother. 

Some months after Adela's death, her sister-in-law Nelle 
and her younger daughter, Shirley, were walking from the 
bus stop during late afternoon. As they passed Adela's home, 
they looked up to see her standing at the edge of her lawn, 
some yards ahead of them. They hurried, with Nelle hoping 
"Delie" would speak to them. When they reached the spot 
she had disappeared. 


The following incident changed the young mother's 
thoughts about Adela's death. In 1952, twelve years after the 
death, she and husband Fred had spent the day house- 
cleaning. They retired for the night and agreed this would be 
a well-earned rest. While she laid there mentally reviewing 
some menus, she was suddenly aware of five "beings " around 
the bed. They were demanding that she leave with them. She 
resisted their silent urging and hoped Fred would awaken 
and make them leave. She had no fear of them. She simply did 
not want to accompany them. Their insistence drew her with 
them, and soon the six of them were shooting through the sky 
at a tremendous rate of speed. They were covering bilhons of 
miles and it seemed like an endless journey. All was utterly 
black. She never really saw anything and she heard very 
little. She did notice the atmosphere becoming completely 
murkey, then sulphuric. 

Abruptly, she did hear something: the voices of people 
crying out in great pain. The cries became louder and louder. 
She and her "beings" seemed to be over a kind of slate ledge. 
She had no idea of what these voices meant until she heard 
one special, beloved voice, her mother's, calling out clearly 
beyond all the others. Her beseeching plea was full of pain 
and some resentment. ""Vera, "VERA, PRAY for me." The 
young mother knew she had been brought to purgatory to be 
given this devasting message. 

Then she was free to return home. Left by the "beings" 
at her bedside, she felt her ice-cold body. Trying to get warm 
and to stop trembling, she also tried to re-hve the past 
experience. She could not understand the turmoil of emotion 
that she felt. Her only conclusion was that there were many 
unsaid prayers. She began immediately to offer prayers for 
the soul of her mother. 


After these many years of wandering in a labyrinth of 
whisperings, it is time to turn about and investigate all of 
them. Can they be faced objectively? Can one gather some of 
the serenity of Adela herself? Or, with her lovely eyes 
sparkling and her enigmatic smile, she might have used her 
favorite expression, "Why not let sleeping dogs lie?" 

I cannot let them sleep any longer. The reason I know 
the story of the beautiful Adela and her daughter is that I am 
her daughter. Vera. As more and more out-of-body and hfe- 
after-life experiences gain greater credibiUty, I feel more 
confidence in telling this story. It is an experience I can and 
have re-lived. I have given it all possible explanations. A 
dream? Some coincidences? A guilty conscience? A 
psychological question? 

Whatever the explanation, I wiU always feel it was a 
message from my mother. My feeling possibly comes from a 
certain knowledge I attained after I returned to my body. As 
I lay there trembling, a calmness came over me: —IT WAS 
THE "BEINGS". A familiarity about them had made me feel 
so safe. Of course!! They were my mother's deceased 
brothers, along with their father and a little sister! That 
special bond that held them together in life reached out 
beyond the gray walls of death, so my mother could give me 
her one final message— "Vera, VERA, PRAY for me"— and I 


Esmarelda T. Thomson 

The ten-year-old CaUfornian stood with his grandfather 
and me on a long cement walk leading up to the vestibule and 
porch of the old Queen Anne style Illinois home. The sun was 
bright on Jonathon's face and also merciless in its exposure 

of changes in the old clapboards and timber designs of the 
home. The boy looked at us and simply said, "This house is all 
used up." He looked back to his grandmother for a sign of 
release from the pilgrimage. 

My brother and I laughed with Jon, knowing the truth 
of his statement, but we looked at the house more intently 
and saw a different picture. We saw the late-years' success of 
our grandfather, a Civil War veteran and merchant in the 
village of Table Grove, a man we never saw but knew vividly 
through our grandmother and all their ten children, especiaOy 
our beautiful mother, their youngest. We saw the Hunter 

We saw our grandmother's castle with its three floors of 
rooms, built in 1889, and in time for the seventh child to be 
born in the same room where my brother was welcomed in 
1914. We saw a legendary man and a marvelous woman meld 
into a hfe of their making. We saw the strength of a home 
enfolding its family, with courage rubbing off. 

In our minds we saw the yards: the one to the east with 
its apple trees by the side gate; the one to the west near the 
well-house and brick walk leading to the store; the back yard 
to the north with the barn, the grape arbors, the gardens and 
the walk to the toilet and neighboring asparagus bed; the 
front yard with its five tall oaks and primroses in the corner 
flower garden. We peopled the yards with our grandmother, 
our cousins, our aunts and uncles and our brown-eyed little 
sister. We felt the breeze from rolUng back and forth on the 
roller seat glider. We sat on the front porch behind the lace 
vine. We pumped water at the well-house with great splashes 
and carried the first three buckets to the bird-baths with our 
Uncle John. We climbed the cherry trees and ate the first five 
ripest ones, then ran from July to late September and bit into 
Jonathan apples and swallowed ripe, fragrant grapes with all 
their seeds. We sat in the store office keeping store while our 
uncle mowed the lawns with a push mower, puffing and 
perspiring with every swath. We watched the same uncle 

tooling his Cole Eight auto each Sunday, squeezed under the 
big, touring, car, smiUng out at us and calling us "kiddoes" 
as we came home from Sunday School. We looked up to the 
broad central chimney and thought of the three fireplaces 
within the crumbling house and the Fourth of Julys when 
enormous flags decorated the gate of the front yard's 
ornamental iron and wire fence! 

Our remembering took us through the front door to hear 
its bell's familar ring after someone pushed the round 
mother-of-pearl button in the vestibule. Jonathon and my 
sister-in-law looked restless; my brother and I returned to the 
hot August morning of 1981 with the old ghost house sending 
a fatigued look through the lens of my camera. At that 
moment, I knew the Hunter House must be woven into words 
for safe keeping. 

The front hall is best in the afternoon when sunbeams 
sift through the stained glass window squares from the west 
on the stair landing. The newell post is plump; carved smooth 
at the top in golden brown maple. It helps one swing up 
toward the second floor before coming to the crook in the 

The parlor opens from the entry hall and the square bay 
is filled with plant stands holding cacti and long, curly ferns 
in jardinieres. Our grandfather's swords stood by the cherry 
mantle, one from the Civil War and one from the Knight 
Templars. Parian busts of Byron and Shakespeare were in the 
niches of the fireplace mirror, guarding the cherubs in the 
dark rose tile around the fire box. In this room I learned of 
death and its finahty. Our young, handsome father sat on the 
long, plum couch with three of us as we struggled through 
our mother's funeral. The family pastor said quiet words 
before the lovely voice of another friend sang "The End of a 
Perfect Day". The piano had been moved into the hallway for 
the ceremony's music and to give a place for the somber, gray 
casket. Familiar surroundings felt very strange on that sad 
day. The youngest Hunter had joined the old father in 

another world on my brother's birthday. Our grandmother 
sat with us in the room and the kind faces of our aunts and 
uncles held us in a circle of love. Our youngest aunt had put a 
rose in our mother's hand, hoping to soften her leaving. I 
heard murmurings of "It is for the best". The best of that day 
was the quiet strength of the family and how the house stood 
taO in the September sun with the crest of the cupola a place 
to put your eyes when we came from the cemetery. 

The dining room in the west center of the house, was 
filled with its large table and mirrored buffet. The mantle's 
striking clock was wound nightly at ten; the top tiles of the 
fireplace held a beautiful lady dressed in many draperies. 
Blue and amber stained glass squares surrounded the broad 
windows. I have heard my mother and special aunt both say 
"Papa never scolded, he just looked at us" at the same time 
demonstrating his piercing looks and laughing! The dining 
room evoked these memories of military order keeping during 
meals. My grandmother's splendid cooking was served in the 
dining room with white linen cloths on the table. Fruits and 
vegetables grown on the property were enjoyed all year 
round. I like to think of the roast beef and browned potatoes 
served with currant jam. Pies of every variety were noon-time 
desserts with bowls of cooked fruit, often applesauce, on the 
table. Crisp, fried potatoes were breakfast fare. This room 
gave me the beUef that the fun associated with food forms a 
family glue keeping persons together in thought for a 

The living room opened off the dining room to the east. 
Its golden oak mantle and ornately framed mirror dominated 
its character except for a table of books and numerous chairs. 
Here, I learned the delights of encyclopedia browsing. The 
bottom drawer of the bookcase was reserved for postcards 
which made funfare with cousins. They held a fascination 
with old messages from near and faraway. We read them over 
and over on rainy days thinking about our relatives and their 
travels, be it a trip to Bushnell or Washington, D.C. Some of 

the cards were photopostals of the senders in their travel- 

One reached the kitchen by way of a walk-through 
pantry with ceiling-high cupboards on one side and a work 
area on the other. The cupboard doors slid up and down with 
a sash-weight sound. Arms reach shelves held every day 
dishes with the high ones storing special china and glassware. 
The very top shelf held the many wine glasses used at the 
celebration dinner of my grandfather's seventieth birthday 
when his friends toasted him in G.A.R. style, presenting him 
with a Morris chair. 

I think of the kitchen on the north and west marvehng 
at its convenience and inconvenience! It seemed filled by a 
large, black Monarch cook stove. Its cooking space, warming 
ovens, heating oven, fire box, cinder box, reservoir and nickel- 
plated ornaments spoke of its strength for cooking and 
comfort. It was my good fortune never to need to start its fire 
but to look on it as a strong friend with its room companion, a 
porcelain-topped work table. I loved to watch my 
grandmother cook. A small wooden box was kept under the 
table to assist children to see what was going on and be high 
enough to help peel potatoes. This room spoke to the health 
of the family through my grandmother's artful homemaking. 
She kept a stock of rolled, ironed bedsheet bandages on a 
kitchen shelf ready for first-aide and she also kept sugar 
cookies! Her name was my name; I felt lucky for this gift. 

I'll leave now— leave the laughing, loving, helping, 
working house— leave to come again in thought and writing 
to visit the orderly basement with its fruit rooms and big 
furnace; and climb to the second and third floors both high 
enough to look out toward the north country; a lovely, rolhng 
view of lUinois ambiance; the setting for the Hunter House. 


Mary Cecile Stevens 

FamiUar words come into my mind of my mother saying 
to a neighbor or friend after she had not answered the party 
telephone call, "I suspect I was in the Summer Kitchen." 

The close relationship which took place as "family 
Hving" between my parents and their children inspired me to 
write this story. It is not only related to memories, but it 
allows me to feel it was a hfe of value lived during an era of 
great differences and change. 

During my childhood I was one of eight children living 
with my parents on a farm in Knox County, Illinois. 

We used the term Summer Kitchen, although it was 
used in the Winter or one could say the entire year. What was 
this kitchen? It was a building very near the house, in fact, a 
board porch led from it to the house. It was a one room 
structure with a door, two windows on each side with screens 
during the summer and autumn. The floor was wood, 
uncovered and kept as clean as a room in the house. 

In the front part of the building was a cast iron cook 
stove; the same style as was used in the kitchen in the house. 
There was a table, a few straight chairs and several benches. 
A large cupboard stood in one corner where my mother stored 
canned fruits, vegetables, and jellies until they were moved 
to the one room cellar located under the house. In another 
corner was a pie cupboard with screen doors where she placed 
pies the morning of threshing and haying days. These pies of 
several different kinds were served to fifteen or twenty 
hungry men. 

Higher on the wall were kerosene lamps placed in 
brackets to be lighted when the building was used during the 
night hours. Wooden shelves held cooking utensils. The 
building had a cozy look with curtains made of figured, 
colored feed sacks. 

Steps led above to a loft which was used for storage. 

After describing this building which gave a rough looking 
appearance because of the two by four board studding, I 
must relate some of the work and activities that took place 
here and which stand out in my memory. 

During the summer months my mother did the canning 
of vegetables and the baking here and hence prevented 
heating the kitchen and the house. We had no electricity and 
no fans for cooling and the wood burning stove in the kitchen 
of the house made its room very warm. We depended on 
nature and its cool breezes to cool our rooms for eating and 

Other than canning the well known vegetables from the 
garden, fruits from the orchard and berries of various kinds, 
what I especially remember was cabbage time. Cabbage 
heads were brought from the garden. They were trimmed and 
shredded with the assistance of us children. Then the 
shredded cabbage was packed with layers of salt into stone 
jars to ferment for a number of days. When it became sour it 
was heated in kettles to be canned and sealed. The finished 
product was sauerkraut. 

Also, there was the making of dill and sweet pickles 
which required preparation and several days of processing in 
stone jars before canning found its place in this building. 

Another way we children enjoyed assisting Mother was 
with the sweet corn. The corn was husked in the shade of a 
tree and brought into the summer kitchen to be prepared for 
future use. Having no refrigerator, freezer, or pressure 
cooker, it was prepared in a different way. Some was cut from 
the cob and boiled in glass jars in the copper boiler for three 
hours. Another method, after cut from the cob, it was laid on 
large table cloth covers and placed on the tin roof of the porch 
to dry. The cloths were covered with cheese cloth netting to 
prevent flies. Each day we older children took our turn in 
climbing the ladder to carry the corn to and from the tin roof. 
After it was thoroughly dry it was packed away for winter 
use. How delicious this was when cooked with a little salt, 

pepper and butter! 

I have discussed some of the summer uses of the 
Summer Kitchen for food preparation: another aspect was 
the laundry. Using a hand washer and tubs placed on the 
board porch leading to the building it was a convenient place. 
The water was carried from the cistern pump to be heated on 
the wood burning stove in the building. Here the lye soap for 
future use had been made. 

The drying of the clothes was done in the yard. This was 
a reason a nice, sunny day was chosen and not always 
following the tradition that Monday was Wash Day. During 
the colder weather it was done inside and the drying on rope 
lines or hung to freeze dry outside. 

During late winter butchering day was a well known day 
on the farm. Usually six, two hundred and forty pound hogs 
were dressed for our year's meat supply. The neighborly act 
was shown when nearby farmers gathered to assist. The 
slaughtering, dressing, meat cutting and cleaning was done 
in the butchering house and the lard was rendering in an 
outdoor iron kettle. Following this the summer kitchen was 
an important place. 

The meat for sausage was brought here to be ground in 
the sausage grinder in to casings. This work was done in the 
evening as the day was filled with the butchering. 

We children enjoyed this evening in assisting father and 
mother with the sausage grinding in the glow of the lighted 
lamps. It gave us a feeUng of usefulness and in a different 
setting than the house. When the evening wore away the 
ground sausage filled the wash tubs and long links of stuffed 
sausage turned on broom sticks. 

Now it was ready for the following day to be fried in iron 
skillets and pans and packed in stone jars for months ahead. 
Again, the wood burning stove kept the building warm, as 
weU as providing the place for the cooking. 

Here the hams and shoulders of the hogs were trimmed 
and prepared to be taken to the nearby smoke house. With 

hickory wood burning the meat hanging on poles was 
preserved before being put away for the coming months. In 
the kitchen the final work was done: rubbing with borax 
powder, placed in sugar sacks and hung in a dry, cool place. 

The Summer Kitchen was not used for all work and no 
play. On the farm during the winter our school and church 
were the usual places for going away from home, as 
transportation and highways were not as today. This was fun 
on a cold winter night to make the fire and enjoy the evening 
around the stove popping corn, eating apples stored in the 
cellar, teUing stories and singing. The older brothers enjoyed 
climbing the stairs to the loft and making weird noises to 
frighten us below. 

After using the summer kitchen it was the duty of all to 
help clean and leave it as found. Ashes were to be carried out, 
reservoir filled and we couldn't forget to wash the lamp 

On rainy days Mother sometimes liked to have us 
entertain ourselves in this kitchen, as eight noisy children in 
the house interrupted her work. I am sure by doing so, quote, 
"We learned by doing with sewing, cooking, baking, and our 

With no inside plumbing where was a better place for 
the Saturday night baths— the Summer Kitchen. 

I have mentioned of only a few ways in which this 
building has memories. When we were unable to find some of 
our belongings, Mother and Father would say, "Did you look 
in the Summer Kitchen?" One can realize why this building 
stands out in my mind with fond memories of growing up, 
amidst work and play. 


Florence Braun 

Just outside the kitchen door and down the board walk 
a short ways was the old open well. It was the most 
important thing on the farm because it furnished water for 
the chickens and every use of the house. It was highly valued 
for its use in keeping the family clean, for cooking and even 
for watering the pets. 

There was a spring below the barn that watered the 
farm animals, and it was always faithful, but too far away to 
be used for other things. 

The well was made of rocks as far down as you could see 
with boards around the top. A frame over the top, made of 
wood to hold a pulley that had a rope to hold two wooden 
buckets. The buckets were fastened so that when one of the 
buckets was at the bottom filling with water the other would 
be at the top and set on a wooden shelf. The latter could be 
poured into the water bucket to be taken into the house or 
other use. 

The water was always cool, clear and sparkly and highly 
treasured for its good taste. 

When we would have company on a very hot afternoon, 
my mother would bring out a shiny cut glass pitcher and 
shiny glasses. She would quickly go out to the well and bring 
back a fresh bucket of water. She would fill the pitcher with 
this clear, cool water and pass it to each guest. I can 
remember aU the dehghtful things each person would say 
about this very pleasant way of getting cool and quenching 
the thirst. 

We also used this open well to keep food cool. My 
mother would hang milk, cream and cottage cheese in half 
gallon buckets wrapped in a clean cloth part way down the 
well. Always being careful never to put it too near the water, 
or drop anything into the well. This food would stay cool, 
fresh and ready for the evening meal. 

Just back of this well was a cave. Most every farm had 
one that they used for storage and also to go into when the 
summer storms came. 

In the spring the baby lambs thought that the cave and, 
especially the door, was their place to play. They would run 
up over the cave and slide down the door, making a game of 

In the fall we would store potatoes in it, also apples, 
turnips, sweet potatoes and even cabbage. The canned foods 
were all stored here to, and in winter we would cover the 
wooden doors to be sure it didn't freeze in the cave. 

Also in the yard was a small building used to cure and 
smoke meat in. My father would hang the hams, bacon, 
shoulders and stuffed sausage from the pork in rows in this 
small building. He would rub it with salt and buOd a real 
small fire that would make smoke to cure the meat with. He 
used hickory wood that would flavor the meat just right. 
Later on he used smoke salt and this was much easier, but 
nothing tasted better than the smoked way. 

All this passed now but has a very precious memory. 


M. Gordon Colbert 

About five miles south of Monmouth on Route 67, a few 
hundred yards beyond the Santa Fe underpass and on the 
south side of the highway, there sits a cluster of round and 
rectangular storage buildings. They are only a non-descript 
part of the scenery to the average passer-by, who doesn't see 
the ghosts hovering above them that I see. Not many people 
remain who were around when those ghosts were flesh and 
blood and there was an entirely different set of buildings on 
the site. 

Back in the mid-twenties the Warren County Farm was 

a healthy, active operation. It did have a gloomy side, 
because its intended purpose was to house the indigent 
elderly of the county. It was a "poor house", a term that has 
almost lost its meaning today. Back then it was the final 
indignity for the old and feeble, unable to care for themselves 
and having no one to care for them, to be sent "over the hill to 
the poor house," was how a popular ditty of the day went. 

But not all was doom and gloom beyond the iron fence 
that bordered the spacious front yard. There was a friendly 
and caring attitude inside that soon eased the apprehension 
of the new arrival. And shattering the stereotypical image of 
a poor house, there was laughter of children in the air, 
children from broken homes or no homes, being provided 
temporary shelter until better accommodations could be 
found. I was one of them, and I can still feel the warmth of 
the care I received during joyous, carefree days spent 
exploring all the marvels that the Farm had to offer a seven- 
year old fresh from Monmouth's restricted streets. 

Except for my three sisters, the images of other children 
who shared our wonderland are shadows in my memory. They 
were there, I recall playing with them and scrapping with 
them, but they are faceless and nameless today. And that's 
unfortunate. What tales we could spin if we could have a 
sixty -year reunion in 1983! 

The home building was brick, three stories high, and 
had a parapet around the roof that added another two feet to 
its height. The parapet was wide enough to walk on without 
much danger of losing one's balance, but there was a danger, 
especially for towheaded, daredevil kids who dehghted in 
scaring the wits out of the adults by running and performing 
acrobatics on it. We were not without adult example, 
however. One of my sisters has a picture of the 
superintendant and his wife posing on it. 

The huge bam also offered endless opportunities to vent 
our youthful energy and daring. It had a wide corridor 
through the center, with stalls below and haymows above on 


either side. High overhead were heavy, timbered rafters, and 
above them, protruding from the rooftop, a cupola— all made 
to challenge the imagination of a child. There was a crude 
ladder that led from one mow to the cupola, and it took no 
httle daring to climb it, but the access it gave to viewing the 
countryside and to catching pigeons made the attraction too 
great to resist. There was also a heavy, manila rope attached 
to a beam in the cupola, dangling down just far enough to 
allow Tarzan-hke swings from one mow to the other. And how 
I remember the thrill of "tight-rope-walking" the timbered 
rafters high above the corridor— an act in defiance of strict 
rules. But the greatest thrill the barn offered was an old 
casket that was gathering cobwebs and dust in one mow. The 
metal handles were thick with corrosion, the hd creaked eerily 
as one slowly opened it, and what a challenge it was to climb 
inside and close the Ud! 

A moment of tragedy enters my memory of the barn 
when I think about a stray dog that followed us home from 
school, no doubt with a bit of coaxing. It was a tan, smooth- 
haired cur, about collie size, and puppy-playful. It provided 
many an hour of romping for energy-filled youngsters. I don't 
recall if we gave him a name, but I do remember the fun we 
had with him and the tears that flowed one morning when we 
found him hanging from a rope in the corridor of the barn. So 
far as I know, neither the hangman nor the reason for the 
callus act ever became known. 

Although we were allowed a lot of latitude, there were 
certain lines we were forbidden to cross. We were not allowed 
near the animals or in the fields when work was being done. 
But if we couldn't go near the animals, the animals could 
come to us. There was a huge and gentle boar that was tame 
enough to be given access to the main yard. It was almost 
pony-size, and three of us younger kids could ride it together. 
But it was not always docile. It had a ticklish spot. Only the 
older kids knew its location, and it provided them with many 
a belly laugh to wait until we were well seated, then rush up 

and poke the spot and jump back as the boar started bucking 
like a western bronco. Screams and tears usually followed, 
but I don't recall ever hesitating to get back on for another 

One game that came to a sudden stop was our 
froUicking in an old swimming hole. Another railroad ran 
north and south along the east border of the Farm and passed 
under the Santa Fe about a half mile east of Route 67's 
underpass. On the northeast corner formed by the two 
railroads was a pond. Time dims the memory of the size of it 
or any use it might have had other than the use we made of 
it— skinny dipping, no girls allowed. Lack of modesty was 
what did us in. We delighted in jumping out of the water and 
exposing ourselves to passengers riding the Santa Fe. The 
word passed slowly, but it did pass, and there came a day 
when our journeys to the swimming hole became one of our 
forbidden, truly forbidden activities. 

In quiet times the girls played jacks, skipped rope, and 
had doll parties, while the boys played marbles or mumbly 
peg and rolled hoops wherever they could find a hard surface. 
And there was seasonal fun. We went barefoot all summer, 
and our feet were animal-paw tough by fall and the first frost. 
I can still feel the thrill of sliding barefoot down a frost- 
coated slope on the front lawn. There was also a tree house in 
one of the big trees on the south lawn where we became 
fearsome pirates while munching on cookie gifts from the 
superintendent's wife. And the smell of hickory smoke still 
brings back images of the big smoke house where butchered 
meat was cured. 

We were not without spiritual training. Members of the 
Salvation Army came out every Sunday and held services, 
out on the lawn if weather permitted, and inside if it didn't. 
Some of the songs I committed to memory then are still 
popular in our church today. 

Nor was our education neglected. Good weather and bad 
we walked a mile and a quarter twice every school day to a 

one room school house near Larchland, south of the Farm. 

It was a happy life, not far removed from a kid's 
paradise. But it all ended when my youngest sister and I were 
shipped to an orphanage in Pennsylvania. She says I cried all 
the way. Is it any wonder? 


Laurence Royer 

Back in the days when all kinds of hauling and farm 
work was done with horses and almost everyone worked 
horses, only occasionally did a real horseman appear. 

Granville McCombs was such a man. He had done some 
farming but at the time of my story he was living in the 
village of Bader and making his living by doing road work 
and general hauling with a team of mares, a bay and a grey, 
named Maud and Min. 

The incident I will relate was so unusual that everytime 
I tell it I am considered a bit "windy". I think I would doubt 
it myself if I hadn't actually seen it happen. 

Granville and I were sitting on a bench in front of the 
Brick store in Bader and Maud and Min were hitched to a 
farm wagon and standing at the water trough where 
Granville had unreined them and left them to drink while he 
visited with the men around the store. 

Someone else came with a team to water and Granville 
spoke to his horses, caUing them by name, and then said, 
"Back". They backed the wagon away from the trough and 
stopped when he said, "Whoa". When he said "Haw" they 
swung the tongue sidewise to the left. At "Giddap" they 
went ahead until they were crossway in the road. Again he 
said "Whoa", then "Gee" and they swung the tongue to the 
right. Next it was "Back" and again "Whoa", followed by 
"Haw" and again they swung left. Then "Giddap" and then 

"Whoa", and the team stopped along the opposite side of the 

In case you haven't followed this maneuver, they 
started on the north side of the road facing west; when they 
stopped they were on the south side of the road facing east. 
The road was too narrow to turn a wagon without backing. 

All this time GranviUe never got up from his seat on the 
bench and while he spoke loud and clear, he didn't shout, and 
he never had to repeat an order. 

The next incident I observed has to do with a team that 
didn't belong to Granville. The railroad was building a new 
track up Sugar Creek and much of the construction material 
came to the siding in Bader and was hauled with horses to the 
construction site. 

One of the contractors had a matched team of shired, 
big beautiful horses, and their driver was a teamster named 
Big Jack. In order to make it convenient for unloading it 
became necessary to move a railroad car a short distance. Big 
Jack hitched his team, by a chain, to the car to move it. 

The result was that the horses failed to start it and, as 
the saying is, "they threw up on it." First one would lunge 
ineffectuaUy, then the other would lunge. Whipping only 
made them worse. 

Granville knew the driver and spoke to him, thereby 
stopping this fruitless activity. He then went to the horses 
heads and busied himself by lifting their collars and by 
speaking softly. In this way he gently quieted them. 

When he finally went back and picked up the lines, he 
spoke to them and they laid into the collars as one horse with 
their great haunches sweUing and with bellies close to the 
ground. They moved the car the necessary distance. 

There is a rapport between some people and horses and 
some people can get more out of a team or a horse than 
anyone else. 

Granville McCombs was such a person. 


Margaret Kelley Reynolds 

Mick and John— I remember them well! They were the 
most devious, feisty, and balky span of little black mules you 
could ever hope to see. They looked so angelic, but beware! 
They were easily "spooked" and the term, "stubborn as a 
mule," really applied to them. 

The year was 1931; a hot, dry, dusty depression year. 
Many people had lost jobs, homes, and farms and were 
practically destitute, and our family was, too. 

For many years our dad had taught school and farmed 
in the Mississippi river bottoms. Because of his faihng health 
and the fact that we had lost nearly everything in the 
depression, we were forced to move to northern Pike County 
to a nonproductive, buck-brush covered farm alongside the 
Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy railroad track and two miles 
from a small town. The train was popularly known as the 

It was a discouraging time for all of us but we were used 
to hard work and everyone pitched in. My older brother and I 
did most of the field work and the younger kids spent many 
hours chopping weeds out of the corn, cutting brush, and 
carrying water to us in the fields. Our mother, in addition to 
washing clothes on the board, trying to raise a garden, and 
cooking for nine people, also did the milking, and we did have 
five milk cows. Our dad did what he could, but his eyesight 
was failing. Hay fever and a heart condition were also a 
constant drain on his energy. However, he was Uke a drill 
sergeant. He had been used to teaching school, and "he" was 
the boss. All of us kids, and mom as well, toed the mark. 

On a very hot day in June of that year, my older brother 
and I had gotten up early, put on our overalls and straw hats, 
ate our breakfast, and went to hitch our teams to one row 
cultivators with which to cultivate corn. My brother was 
working in the field at the far end of the farm near a slough. I 

was working in the field close to the house near the railroad 
track and was driving Mick and John. As I was Hearing the 
end of the field close to the tracks, I saw the Old Q coming. 
As it got even with me, the trainmen waved and tooted their 
whistle. That did it! Mick and John took off as if they were 
shot out of a cannon, Uckety-split down towards the end of 
the field, plowing up corn by the hiU. I was desperately 
sawing on the reins for dear Hfe, but they never stopped until 
they ran into a patch of buck-brush on the other side of the 
field. What a mess! 

That evening I was given what I thought was unjust 
punishment. My dad told me to try to be at the opposite end 
of the field when the Old Q came by. Since the train ran on a 
very irregular schedule, it was difficult. 

My sisters and brothers all pitched in to help replant the 
corn and we prayed it would never happen again— but it did. I 
always seemed to be in the wrong end of the field when the 
Old Q came by. As soon as Mick and John heard the "toot 
toot" of the train whistle, away they would go, pell-mell, until 
I would finally get them stopped again. 1 began to dread that 
train, the waving trainmen, and the "toot toot" of the 
whistle. 1 prayed for the day when the corn would be "laid 
by." My sisters and brothers were sick of replanting corn in 
addition to their own chores. The punishment my dad meted 
out was even getting to be a chore for him. 

One day as I was cultivating I looked up and to my 
surprise, I saw the Old Q disappearing down the track. Mick 
and John hadn't heard it and neither had 1. From that time 
on, there were no waving trainmen nor toots of the train 
whistle. In my ignorance, 1 thought the train tooter was 

On the day in July when the corn was laid by, 1 came in 
from the field to find an elderly, wealthy couple from eastern 
Adams County talking to my parents. They wanted me to 
work for them as their hired girl. They would pay me two 
dollars a week plus room and board. I suspect it was a 


godsend for my parents. Money was a scarce commodity, and 
also, I would be one less mouth to feed. Also, there were many 
worthwhile things I could learn from this couple. 

I had graduated from grade school that spring and 
knew there was no chance of going to high school at that time 
so I went to work for the couple. Although I was very 
homesick, even for Mick and John, I didn't get to go home 
until the day before Christmas. 

When I arrived home on December 24th, I was amazed. 
The first thing I heard was the "toot toot" of the whistle of 
the Old Q. My sister and I stood at the window and watched 
as the train went more and more slowly until it almost 
stopped in front of our house. The trainmen dropped off 
several large chunks of coal and with a couple of extra toots, 
chugged on down the track. I thought, "Well! They must 
have got their tooter fixed." 

As my sister and I went to pick up the coal, she told me 
that ever since the weather had gotten bad, the Old Q 
trainmen had dropped off coal along side the track by our 
house. She also told me that the day before they had dropped 
a gunny sack full of oranges, one of apples, and a third one 
full of ear corn. The corn was labeled, "for the mules". I 
couldn't believe it! Those same trainmen who had made my 
hfe so miserable that summer by spooking Mick and John! 

Our dad was not a person to accept charity, but he told 
us we could keep the coal and fruit because they were meant 
as Christmas gifts. Of course we kept the ear corn for Mick 
and John. 

After Christmas I went back to work and stayed until 
the next August. In September I went to Uve with my older 
married sister and started to high school. 

One Saturday my sister decided to send me home for the 
weekend. I was happy. I hadn't been home for several months 
and she was going to let me ride the Old Q. Since the train 
didn't stop between towns, I would have to get off in the 
small town two miles from our house. I was nervous about 

riding the train by myself, but the trainmen were very nice. It 
was hard for me to believe they were the same men I had 
hated so. 

A good friend of our family operated a restaurant in the 
town where I got off the train so I went to see her, hoping she 
would treat me to a soda, which she did. As I was drinking it, 
I told her about my train ride and how I thought I hated 
those trainsmen the previous summer for spooking Mick and 
John. I told her that I was awfully glad when they broke their 

She told me the following story. The Old Q trainmen had 
often stopped and ate dinner at her restaurant. One day she 
happened to hear them laughing and talking about what fun 
it was to toot at the young, barefoot boy cultivating corn in a 
field along the tracks. They said they especially enjoyed 
watching the team of black mules he was driving run Uke 
deers through the fields. She explained to them that the 
barefoot boy was a thirteen year old girl who was petrified 
every time they tooted at her because when the mules ran 
away, her dad punished her. The trainmen were horrified and 
very sorry. They asked her what they could do to make up for 
their thoughtlessness. This friend told them to stop tooting 
their whistles and, also, that a sack of fruit at Christmas time 
would be a very welcome treat for the kids. 

My brothers and sisters and I will never forget the 
Christmas that we each had more than one orange or one 
apple to eat. As we looked back, we all agreed that 1931 was 
the best Christmas we'd ever had as children. I'm sure that if 
Mick and John could have talked, they would have agreed. 


Madolyn Teele 

I remember, as if it were yesterday, the morning the 
Royal Scot stopped in our town. For a few minutes that it 

paused there, it stood before us like a foxy lady in her blaze of 
splender for all to see and admire. 

I left the warmth of our modest bungalow on one brisk, 
sunny November morning, the newspaper clipping tucked 
safely between the pages of my civics book. Fairly dancing 
with excitement, I set out on the six blocks to our public 
school: it was the one day of the week set aside for the study 
and discussion of current events. This class was the one 
thread of contentment in my otherwise less than content 
existence, when discussing world events triggered an 
enthusiasm within me and set my adrenalin rising to a near 
boiling point. My curiosity about the goings on beyond the 
boundries of our home knew no bounds. 

Class convened and I found myself fingering the 
clipping I had spread out across the top of my desk. Would 
anyone mention the event before I had a chance to do so, I 
asked myself? Nervously, my fingers brushed my cheek— it 
was warm to touch— warm with the anticipation and emotion 
generated by the thoughts of the forthcoming discussions 
and the interaction with my fellow classmates. 

Discussion began and before I could focus my attention 
upon the topic being discussed, I heard my name called. 

"Madolyn, are you quite well this morning? Your checks 
are very flushed . . ." It always embarrassed me to be singled 
out, especially for such a trivial thing as my flushed cheeks. 
The flush of my cheeks was my "cross". Stimulated by 
excitement, anticipation or exuberance, they glowed hke rosy 
balls of fire above my cheekbones, giving away my innermost 

Later making her way around the classroom as we 
discussed the emergence of a man called Hitler to central 
Europe and the macabre manner in which Japan was 
attempting to annihilate the Chinese, she spotted the 
clipping on my desk. Returning to the front of the room, she 
announced that she'd like to hear from those who had 
brought exhibits of local news; they would now be offered the 

opportunity to read them in class. The response of the class 
was dead silence. I kept my eyes on the paper on my desk, not 
daring to look up for fear of being called upon. To no 
avail— when no one else produced a piece of local news, I 
heard my name again. "Madolyn, would you care to share 
your topic— the one on your desk?" I probably flushed again: 
how I abhorred being singled out! My contribution brought 
little response except in the form of comments such as: 
"who's going to get out of bed at two in the morning to see an 
ol' train," or "You'll probably be the only one there— ol' 
Madolyn, the train nut, standing there by the track at two 
o'clock in the morning to see a train go by!" I lowered my 
head and studied the paper I'd dropped on my desk. How 
could I have let myself in for such humiUation? 

The Royal Scot, a sparkling new stratoUner passenger 
train, was conceived to be a monument to Scotland's 
engineering prowess. But at the height of the Great 
Depression, it was designed to be the fastest, most efficient, 
and most elegant passenger train ever to travel the rails of 
the British Isles. Completing a test run between Edinburgh 
and London it reached a speed of 120 miles per 
hour— throughout Europe and the United States, it had no 

Much anticipation and preparation preceded its arrival 
in the United States (small sections were shipped by sea to 
Canada where it was re-assembled prior to its run to New 
York and from there to Chicago). During the summer of 1933 
at 'A Century of Progress', it proved to be the World's Fair's 
most popular attraction. 

Following the enormous popularity at the Fair, 
negotiations were begun to promote it as a coast-to-coast 
moving exhibit for the people of the "hinterlands" to view at 
first hand. 

When it was announced in the local newspaper that the 
famous train would be travehng to Decatur via the Wabash 
Route, our town 'Fathers' emerged from their doldrums at 

the prospect of drawing a modicum of attention to 
themselves, and perceived the idea that a stop at our 
"watering spout" would be a popular attraction for the local 
townspeople, thus they set about promoting the idea to the 
sponsors of the exhibit. 

Through some political or manipulated connivance, and 
the fact that we were half-way between Mattoon and 
Decatur, Lovington was chosen the lucky spot for "watering 
up". The Royal Scot would actually pause on the tracks at 
the Lovington depot! All this activity was scheduled to take 
place at about 2:07 a.m. on the morning of the coming 

My parents were simple farmers but nonetheless they 
were fervently interested in events conducive to their 
children's mental growth and development. Poor as we might 
be, rarely were we deprived of any community activities 
deemed to entertain or enlighten. The train's visit was also 
believed to be a device to divert attention from the 
melancholia brought about by the difficult times of the year. 
Yes, we would see the Royal Scot, even if it meant an 
unbelievably early rising. 

Nothing more about the coming event was mentioned at 
school. My seventh grade classmates took great joy in 
chiding me for my grandiose ambitions and dreams. "We'U be 
here to catch you when you fall to reality," they laughed. 
Little did they realize the joy of feeUng one's universe expand 
and open up to dreams of adventure . . . and, as we all know, 
dreams do come true sometimes. Secretly I hoped that I'd be 
the only one of my class to challenge the early morning hour 
and the elements that day in question. 

There followed days of anticipation, but, at last, the 
time finally arrived. It took but one call to bring me full 
awake on that chill, clear November morning. My family and 
I reached the station a few minutes ahead of the scheduled 
arrival and received the usual admonishments; don't go near 
the tracks; don't lose your mittens; and keep your eyes and 

ears open! I was surprised to find more than fifty or sixty 
neighbors and friends shared our sense of adventure and 
curiosity. However, with all eyes glued on the distant end of 
the track, they huddled and shivered and . . . waited. Seeking 
a better vantage point, I cast a glance towards my parents 
then slipped away toward the very end of the platform where 
I took my stance to get the very first glimpse of the 
approaching phenomenon. 

Suddenly, in the distance a tiny speck told me that a 
beacon was approaching. Now I could discern its light 
arching back and forth across the sooty track. The pomph- 
pomph of the wheels padding on the rails reminded me of the 
gait of a pacer on the early morning turf of my father's 
practice track; I smiled at the memory and shivered with 
excitement rather than the cold. 

In less time than it takes to tell, with wheels barely 
squeaking that beautiful monster with its "stove black" 
gleaming body, chrome-lined spokes of wheels that turned 
silently in the night, fine red striping at the corners of the 
windows which were brilliant with multitudes of lights, and 
with all its glamour, it glided smoothly to a stop with 
unmistakable finesse. 

My chest was near to bursting with awe and wonder as I 
took in the sight before me. Being a girl, dreams far beyond 
my years were conjured in my head: dreams that would take 
me to the far corners of the earth on this train— or one like it. 
There would be soft, red plushy furnishings: rich, highly 
poUshed wood paneling; gleaming brass fittings; and gilt 
mirror-trimmed interiors (or compartments as they were 
referred to). The compartments ghttered like embassy 
banquet halls when the doors were thrown open 
(automatically) for the public to feast their eyes upon and 
admire. This would be the setting for my future; this was my 

Absorbed in my reverie, time became transitory and 
without realizing it, there was the diminishing glow of the 

rear beacon that I watched fade into the night. 

Shuffling amidst the excitement-charged faces about 
me, I joined my family. Mother's gentle comment, "It was 
worth the shock of going out in the cold to see," was the 
affirmative touch needed to assauge any guilt feehngs that 
might later bother me. And so the awesome event thus 
became a memory— to remain lucid and poignant with me 

Ironically, the passenger train gave way to the jet plane 
when expediency became the priority, and in my years of 
travel, and travel I did, those dreams of the "Orient Express" 
or the "Royal Scot" remained just that— beautiful, delicious 


Duward F. Tice 

About the time of the first world war, when television 
and the complicated radio was only a dream and all the 
communication sciences were in their infancy, a number of 
the kids that were my pals from the freshman class of 1914 
through the senior class of 1919, became interested in the 
new science of transmitting and receiving signals without 
wires. That was something else: to be able to listen to a 
telegraph signal without any wires. 

A "Wireless" club was organized with Tony, Johny, 
Harold, Condee and myself. We wanted to experiment and 
study the new science. The city had a tail water tower, used 
to held the city supply of water, mounted on a tall brick 
structure. It had about seven floors in it with one door to the 
first floor. This gang of boys got permission to use the second 
floor of the tower for experimentation. We built a bench and 
there was already electric power there. We gathered often to 
experiment and amuse ourselves in this unusual way. 

The detector and the tuner seemed to be the most 

essential parts of a "Wireless" receiving set. We made a 
detector by using two carbons from a dry cell, mounted on a 
block with a steel needle across the tips. The tuner was a coil 
of wire. It wound loosely so that a chp could be adjusted to its 
various parts. Some how we were able to buy a pair of head 
phones. With this simple equipment and a dry cell and a wire 
strung outside for an aerial we hoped to receive wireless 

There were very few broadcasting stations in those days 
and they all used code. Anyway we were not supposed to 
listen into any station because the war years kept the signals 
in confidence. But we hooked the primitive things up 
together hoping to catch a buzz from the air. Nothing 
happened so we decided our aerial was not high enough. 

There was a ladder fastened to the outside of the tower 
that went all the way up to the top of the tower, so we 
thought that an aerial fastened up so high would surely help. 
Tony volunteered to cUmb on the outside of the tower one 
night and fasten one end of our aerial up there. We ran the 
other end to the top of the nearby courthouse. Then we were 
aU set. 

We gathered around the primitive set and passed the 
head phones around to hstened in. Shortly we heard buzzing 
and noises and were able to pick signals from Pittsburg. I 
beheve the caU letters were KDKA. All was happiness; we 
were receiving wireless signals. After learning the Morse 
Code and with nights of experimentation, we were able to get 
the weather reports but nothing more. 

Wireless developed rapidly after these early years and 
the term wireless became obsolete and was heard no more. It 
was radio. Condee and I stayed with the science, working 
with electricity. We later formed the Mount Sterling Radio 
Apparatus Company. We made receiving sets and sold them. 

But nothing will beat the thrill of receiving a wireless 
signal; the first ever received in perhaps a wide, wide area. 


Kenneth Maxwell Norcross 

It is difficult to imagine how we amused ourselves prior 
to the advent of radio. The major sources of home 
entertainment in those days were phonograph, piano or 

Early in 1922 a few Orion residents became interested in 
a new device called "radio". Components were just becoming 
available to amateurs so they could assemble their own radio 
receivers. Among the first to possess a radio was C.H. 
Schneider, local druggist, and George Greenwood, local 
barber. It wasn't long until the barber opened a store in his 
shop to sell radios and parts. 

A short time later, George Edmund, proprietor of the 
Edmund Furniture and Undertaking Firm, purchased a very 
powerful receiver and installed it in his office. The radio set 
had one of the first "loud speakers" and the program could be 
heard all over the building. Having such a receiver back in 
1922 was comparable to the early days of television: a proud 
owner soon discovered that half the neighborhood was 
spending every evening at his house to enjoy the programs. 
So it was with Edmund's radio— every evening 30 to 40 
villagers would congregate at his store to hear the 

Initially there were not too many radio broadcasting 
stations, but soon hundreds were erected aO over the country. 
Mr. Edmund "tuned-in" KYW, Schenectady, New York, and 
KDKA, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. 

I was probably in the seventh grade when I made my 
first "crystal set". This was the simplest form of radio 
receiver and about aO we boys could afford to assemble. Mr. 
Schneider, the affable druggist, sold us the wire and other 
parts we required and also helped with the construction. 

We would first wind many turns of enameled magnet 
wire on a long cardboard tube to form the inductance coil. A 

shding contact was then added to shde back and forth over 
the coil so that we could "tune-in" a station. In addition it 
was necessary to have a galena, or sihcon crystal mounted in 
a cup-like receptacle, and a "cat-whisker" which was 
manually operated to locate a spot on the crystal which 
produced the maximum signal. The "crystal radio set" thus 
derived its name from the crystal detector used to receive the 
broadcast signal. 

It was important to have a good "antenna". This 
consisted of a single stranded copper wire elevated about 20 
to 30 feet above the ground and up to 100 feet in length. The 
antenna was insulated at each end from the object to which it 
was attached. From the antenna a "lead-in" wire was 
extended down the side of the house then under the window 
sash and connected to the "antenna terminal" of the radio. A 
"lighting arrestor" was tapped to the lead-in wire just before 
it entered the window. The arrestor was connected to a 
nearby ground rod. The purpose of the arrestor was to divert 
a possible Hghtning charge to the ground and thus protect 
the house or radio from damage. 

A pair of "headphones" completed our radio set. The 
headphones consisted of a receiver for each ear. A spring-type 
band fitted over the crown of your head and held the 
earphones tight to the ears. After an hour or two of hstening, 
your ears would begin to hurt from the constant pressure and 
it became necessary to take a brief recess from your past- 
time. Two persons could hsten if one of the receivers was 
detached from the headband. 

With our crude radio receiver we could "pick-up" 
stations not more than 20 miles distant. We were fortunate to 
have station WOC, Davenport, Iowa, and WHBF, Rock 
Island, Illinois, within range. WOC featured chimes at certain 
hours. We would rush home from school at the noon hour to 
hear the chimes. Most of our hstening was at night because it 
seemed reception was better and many stations broadcast 
only during the evening. Our crystal set was quite trouble- 

free and was self-powered by the incoming radio signal. Thus 
we did not have the additional expense of buying batteries. 

The first "tube-type" radios contained but one or two 
electron tubes and only one dial which was rotated to tune-in 
a station. Later receivers had many tubes, three dials to tune, 
and were bulky, comphcated and expensive to construct. The 
more gadgets and dials a radio had, the more desirable it 
seemed to the prospective owner. 

The big thing in the early days of radio was "D-Xing." 
This meant— discovering how many stations you could tune- 
in during a session, with particular emphasis on distance. The 
more distant the station the better your radio rates. 

Tube-type radios required batteries for their operation. 
It was necessary to have a 45-volt "B" battery and a 6-volt 
"A" battery. The latter created many difficulties because, 
being similar to a car battery, it had to be recharged daily. 
Some folks were known to use their car battery for week-end 
hstening. It is astonishing to reflect on the problems we had 
to overcome just to have a little entertainment during the 
"Roaring 20's". 

About 1927 manufacturers began to supply radio 
receivers which operated on ordinary household current. The 
battery problem was thus eliminated and made it possible for 
non-technical persons to own a radio. "Loud-speakers" 
became common, but were usually a separate piece of 

The radio rapidly developed into a beautiful piece of 
furniture for the hving room. Many cost as much as a 
present-day color TV set. They were so well-constructed that 
many consoles are still operational today and much sought 
after by collectors. The arrival of TV about 1945 marked the 
demise of the large radio. 

If you're an old-timer you can recall, "It's Three O'Clock 
in the Morning", Rudy Vallee, Amos-n-Andy, the Lone 
Ranger, the Shadow and Gabriel Heater. Radio was great 
because you could do your work and listen at the same time. 

Times will never be the same again! 


R.F. Barry 

I had returned after half a century to the smaU town in 
western Illinois where I attended school as a boy, and in so 
doing I found that the gentle threads of nostalgia can cut 
with a grip just as strong as cables of steel. 

In the local newspaper was a story about a junkyard 
closing down, locking its door for the last time, a story that 
sent my mind travehng in seven-league boots back across the 
years through the verdant garden of memory. That junkyard 
had played an important role in my grade school years. It had 
been a source of revenue, a citadel of youthful high finance, 
and it had been the stronghold of The Man Who Counted 

In those uncompUcated times before Pac Man, Atari, 
and similar electronic abominations the high point of our 
week was the Saturday matinee. Attendance was mandatory, 
a boyhood ritual to be observed with ecclesiastical fervor and 
dedication. This was in the twiUght of the silent pictures and 
our youthful interests were riveted on the hero who made the 
screen come ahve . . . the western cowboys with such magic 
names as Tom Mix, Buck Jones, Hoot Gibson, Harry Caray 
and Colonel Tim McCoy. 

Each boy had a special hero to whom he was fiercely 
loyal. If it was Tom Mix who had dispatched the bad guys on 
a given Saturday, the foUowing Sunday afternoon was spent 
in serious and lengthy discussion of how other heroes would 
have handled the job better. Hoot Gibson aficionados would 
explain in detail how their man would have routed the bad 
guys in his usual carefree, devil-may-care fashion. Adherents 
of the sturdy square-shooters Buck Jones and Harry Caray 
presented their cases, expertly, with reference and cross- 
reference to actions taken and problems solved in prior films. 
Each account received thoughtful consideration. 
Comparisons were made, relative merits analyzed, weighted, 
debated and judged. These solemn conclaves, albeit friendly. 

swayed no minds, altered no opinions. Suppertime ended 
them with each boy reaffirming his unwavering confidence in 
his own man. 

Colonel Tim McCoy was the exception. He did not enjoy 
the unqualified support heaped on the other cowboys. 
Possibly the mihtary title had something to do with it, boys 
then, as now, having deep-rooted suspicion of authority of all 
types, military included. Still, in his films law and order 
always prevailed. Even the meanest of the bad guys wavered 
beneath the Colonel's cold, steely-eyed gaze. 

While the heroes rotated in performing cinematic 
chores, the bad guys didn't change. The same bad guys 
appeared every week. This gave continuity to the action on 
the screen and, at the same time, created a certain 
ambivalence about distinctions between good and bad in our 
young minds. The world at that time was edging into The 
Great Depression. A weekly pay check was both prized and 
respected. The bad guys with steady employment obviously 
had it made. This was difficult to reconcile with my mother's 
stern dictum that "crime does not pay!" Here was evidence 
to the contrary. Still in the households of my youth, the 
maternal word was absolute law, not subject to appeal. 

Even if a life of crime seemed to offer certain 
advantages, it was easy to tell which side the actor 
represented. The bad guys on the screen wore slouchy black 
hats and they behaved meaner than rattlesnakes. The good 
guy's hat was white. Almost always. Colonel McCoy 
occasionaUy sported a black topper but his reputation as a 
good guy was secure. William Boyd also defied the 
established rule by wearing a black stetson but he was a 
johrmy-come-lately to the saddle, having first reached 
stardom as a lounge lizard in society drawing room dramas. 
Anyone with that dubious background could hardly be 
expected to show reverence for sacred traditions. 

The white hat was the symbol of the heroe's virtues, 
honor, integrity, justice, fair play, compassion for the 

underdog, and steadfast, graceful courage in the face of 
formidable odds. The hat, like the good guys principles, was 
always neat, unsulUed, pristine. The dimensions of the hat 
were also important. The bigger the hat, the gooder the good 
guy was. Ken Maynard, hard-riding and hot-tempered, could 
have qualified for high church office. His white hat seemed 
big enough to shield a picnic from rain. 

The good guy always triumphed. Usually he cornered 
the bad guys at the old corral with their rustled cattle or in 
some lowdown saloon where they were celebrating swindling 
honest ranchers or gold-miners out of the deed to their 
property. Then the good guy promptly beat the hell of them 
without his white hat ever once falling off his head. Once in a 
while the bad guys just turned tail and ran for it. Maybe they 
figured Ken Maynard planned to crush their bones by 
dropping his huge white hat on them. 

Speaking of bad guys it is but a step from cowboy epics 
to Flash Gordon's foe, Ming, The Merciless, Emperor of the 
planet Mongo. Ming is without question the first bad guy 
who ever graced the screen, suave, polished, urbane, clever, 
devious, sinister as a cobra, and rotten to the core. You could 
depend on it! The bad guys of the sagebrush sagas were 
clumsy, unimaginative troglodytes compared with the cool, 
elegant, regal Ming. When the hero Flash Gordon stepped in 
and tried to thwart Ming's plans for conquest of the universe 
the villainous Emperor struck back by dreaming up frightful 
challenges to make Flash squirm. Whether Flash was 
fighting the fire breathing dragon (after the wily Ming had 
hid the fire extinguishers) or wrestling with the spear headed 
orangapoid there was an amused, joyful, yet sinister twinkle 
in Ming's eye, a twinkle that clearly said "Ha! Ha! 
Earthman. How do you like those apples!" 

In regard to an Emperor of Ming's aristocratic bearing, 
anyone from planet Earth where the standard for gourmet 
dining is advertised as eating from a bucket and then licking 
one's fingers deserved neither justice nor mercy. True, Flash 

overcame the monsters in convincing fashion but he never 
did really defeat Ming. The crafty Emperor always had an 
extra ace or two up his sleeve and he also changed the rules 
whenever it suited him. The best Flash could get was a draw. 
Villainy at its apogee. 

Incidentally, it was in this movie serial that I first 
became aware of girls. Not those freshly scrubbed soapy 
smelUng apple cheeked pigtailed and pinafored wholesome 
little tattletales who inhabited the eighth grade and were to 
be avoided at all costs, but GIRLS! Even in my sixty- 
eighth year I drool and grind my teeth at recollections of the 
sultry, shapely Princess Aura. How they ever got her 
costumes past the censor (this was the early thirties, 
remember) has to be one of Hollywood's great mysteries. It 
was years before I reahzed that the popular advertising 
slogan "so round, so firm, so fully packed" referred to a 
cigarette and not to Ming's caUipygous daughter. 

But I digress. 

The passport into the matinee was a dime; important 
money. We raised it by going junking, a boyhood ritual that 
is today just a memory. Four or five boys with gunny sack 
and coaster wagon scoured alleys and trash heaps for scrap 
metal, bottles, and other castoff items that might be of 
interest to our junkyard financier. These back alley 
excursions were not casual expeditions. They were planned 
with foresight and care. JuUus Caesar was no more thorough 
in plotting his military campaigns. The degree of skill and 
meticulous precision we exercised would have brought the 
blush of envy to that imperial Roman cheek. 

On Monday members of the junking crew selected alleys 
to be scouted en route to and from school. These forays 
revealed prospective sources of loot and, at the same time, 
shielded the scout from the critical surveillance of those 
adults who watched the world through their front windows. 
It was common boyhood knowledge that all adults were in 
league. Word travelled through this parental grapevine with 

the speed of light. News of boyish activities, especially bad 
news such as windows broken, rocks hurled at stray cats, and 
similar youthful transgressions would automatically arrive at 
the culprit's home long before he did. 

As the week progressed councils were held, plans 
revised and adjusted and, on Friday after school, the exact 
route was decided upon. Saturday morning as soon as 
household chores were done the pilgrimage through the alleys 
and the byways began, to end at precisely one o'clock at the 
junkyard gate where the booty would be surrendered for 

The Man at the junkyard knew our purpose. His routine 
never varied. He would emerge from the office, scan the 
contents of the wagon, reject items he could not use and, 
occasionally, select a prized object for which he paid a 
premium. Copper, for example, brought five times as much as 
scrap iron. Bottles in the gunny sack were sorted, evaluated, 
and set aside. The largest boy stood on the scale with the 
wagon. The rest of us were instructed to line up at the edge of 
the scale. This we did, assuming that hke a teacher, the Man 
wanted us where he could keep an eye on us. Now I realize he 
had a different motive. The Man re-entered his office and 
gauged the weight of boy, wagon, and scrap. Then with the 
wagon emptied of the scrap he weighed boy and wagon again. 
This was the moment of truth! As we watched breathless 
with suspense the Man studied the computing balance arm of 
the scale with intense concentration. Then he looked out the 
window and studied each boy with the same intensity. Only 
after this careful scrutiny had been completed did he 
announce the amount of our take. 

On days when our luck had been good, the wagon filled 
to over flowing, the Man smiled a little smile as he handed 
over the money, as if rejoicing with us that there was 
sufficient not only for the movie but enough extra for goodies 
such as popcorn or peanuts. 

But there were times when our haul was embarrassingly 


meager. On those days the Man seemed especially solemn 
and thoughtful as he studied us through his office window. 
Yet even on those days there were always as many dimes as 
there were boys. Never once were boyish hopes dashed; 
youthful dreams shattered. Never once did we face the grim 
and tragic prospect of drawing straws to see which boys had 
to be left out. As I look back I realize that the Man had 
counted us to be sure, and I strongly suspect that many of 
those dimes came, not from the company cash drawer, but 
from his own pocket. 

From out of the past there comes a twinge, a funny little 
stab that words cannot accurately describe. It is the kind of 
ache that might go away if I could tell the Man that we were 
aware of his generosity. But this is not possible. The past can 
be remembered but it cannot be recalled, summoned back to 
be lived over again. 

From my hotel room window I look across to where the 
theatre stood, and I realize how much that was good has gone 
out of our lives. The building itself is gone. The parking lot 
that has taken its place looks tawdry, obscene when 
compared with the memory of that magnificent palace where 
cinema magic brightened our lives. Gone, too, are the 
cowboys. They have long since ridden off into that final 
sunset. Who knows where they have gone, what ghostly 
range they ride. 

And what of the Man at the junkyard? He, too, has 
gone. I find myself thinking of divine justice for, if there is 
such a thing. The Man Who Counted Boys deserves to be in 
heaven, seated on a chair of purest gold. 


Ernest Danielson 

I will start by saying I was born in Macomb, Illinois, 
November 1, 1902; this being my 80th birthday. I was born in 

the 1,000 block on East Jackson Street. The first I remember 
was when I was 2 years old and my mother was having a 
room papered. The paper hanger had a bucket of paste sitting 
there, and I backed up and sat in it. Boy what a mess! Mother 
and the hanger had quite a laugh. We lived in 4 different 
houses on that street. My dad was thresherman and sawmill 
operator. He also shelled corn for the farmers. He had a big 
business all over the county. 

When I was eight years old we moved to the country 3 
and a half miles N.E. of town. I went to the Wiley School 
about a mile away. It is now a museum in Macomb. We 
played all sorts of games, such as leap frog, anty over, 
blackman, etc. We also made arrows and shot them into the 
air. One time it came a big rain while in school, and the 
Bensons lived north of school two blocks. They wanted me to 
help them get some small pigs across a stream that was out of 
the banks. We made a raft to take them over on. All at once I 
heard a yell and there was dad with a hedge stick. I had had 
orders to come right home when school was out. Boy, did I git 
a threshing. After that I went right home. 

We lived there a year, then moved back to town. We 
moved on east Washington St. two blocks from the Logan 
school, where I put in from 1st to 6th grades, then to High 
school. I was in the 4th grade when we moved back to town. 
We played all sorts of games, such as Baseball, crack the 
whip. Shinny, Rugby, and black man. I was the best hitter in 
baseball. I would knock the ball clear over the 3-story 

Every Saturday the boys would meet at my place to 
play games like Duck on the rock, old sow, hide the whip, and 
shinny on your own side. We played all the rough ones— talk 
about being roughed up we really got it. These games were all 
played with tin cans and clubs. We also made stilts, some of 
them eight feet high from the stirrups, and done all kinds of 
things, like follow the leader, etc. 

When I was twelve years of age someone mentioned 

why didn't we pitch horseshoes, so we headed for the barn to 
get shoes, and as my dad was farming there were plenty of 
them. Dad was farming at the edge of town. I came up with a 
pair of never slips that were used on ice. We pitched around 
30 feet on hard ground and slid them in. It wasn't long until I 
learned to make the shoe come in open to the peg, thereby 
getting a ringer. In 1920 the regulation game came out with 
regulation shoes. Also 40-foot distance. I got really good and 
no one around could touch me. I was pitching 80 to 90 percent 
ringers. After 4 or 5 years every one was using the open shoe. 

When I was 16 years of age dad put me to hauling water 
for the steam engine. That was in 1918 Dad had a 22 horse 
power Advance Rumely on a thirty six by sixty separator. I 
hauled for two years, then dad asked me if I thought I could 
run the engine. I said I thought I could. That was just what I 
wanted. Help was hard to get at least engineers. From then 
on steam was in my blood. I remember northeast of town the 
farmer got some cheap coal and then my troubles started. 
The coal melted and ran through the grates and shut off the 
air. The steam was down to 90 pounds when it should have 
been 150 to 180 pounds. The water was just showing in the 
glass when it should of been half full. Well, I got my poker 
and got underneath and went to work. I fought it for an hour 
or more before I began to gain on it. Dad was running two 
rigs at the time and went back and fourth to get what he 
might need. That night, did I get a lecture. Dad said, "Ernie, 
after this, whistle down." but I didn't want to hold things up. 
After that I told the farmers to git southern lUinois coal as it 
was best to steam with. I never had any more trouble after 

Lots of times we would run until ten o'clock at night in 
order to finish a job. Then we would move to the next job so 
we could be ready to start at six the next morning. All we had 
for Ughts was two coal oil lanterns, one in the front of the 
engine and one with us at the rear so we could read the 
gauges. Some times we would git stuck in a gate and be there 

for an hour or more. Boy, the meals we got! I think the 
women tried to out do each other. Most every farmer had 
three or four girls, and when we puUed in the lot they would 
say "Who's the engineer?" I guess they went for him. I was 
good looking, even through the grease and dirt. I married a 
farm girl. 

At one time dad had 3 rigs running, and the farmers 
would meet and vote to see if they would wait for him. They 
always did wait as dad was the best thresher around. His dad 
ahead of him was a thresher and farmer. During the noon 
hour we would pitch horseshoes or other things. Every wagon 
scales had a 50 lb weight to balance the scales. I was the only 
one there that could raise it above the head. That was quite a 
feat. When we were kids we were always trying to out do the 
other one. We would get a double bitted axe and raise it above 
our head and let it down on our nose. That took nerve, but I 
had plenty then. That was when I was 14 or 15 years old. Dad 
caught us at that one time and that ended our little stunt. 

Dad was threshing south east of town when all at once 
he looked up and the straw pile was afire. Dad pulled the 
machine out about thirty feet with the belt before it came off 
the puUy. Dad chewed sweet mist tobacco then and you 
should of seen the juice fly. They reset and went on 

Dad also ran a sawmill for years and sawed out barns 
and corn cribs, fences, etc., for the farmers. I liked to sit 
behind four good horses and watch the dirt go under. We 
farmed 115 acres at the edge of town. Dad also hulled clover, 
pulled hedge rows and graded roads for the township. At that 
time he had an 18 horse Garr Scott. When we were kids we 
used to skate on the creek at the north edge of town. One time 
we skated up around Bardolph, and never got back until 
dark. Dad stopped that deal. In the fall us kids would go 
waLnuting. One time we got the neighbors old grey horse and 
old wagon. We went out N.E. of town about 4 miles and really 
loaded up. There was a hill about a quarter mile long. Well, 

old Nig, the horse, played out and we all had to unload and 
help him up the hill. We never got in until dark but the folks 
never said much when they seen all the nuts we had. We had 
nuts all winter long. 

I started sawing lumber at the age of 35 up at Swan 
Creek, Illinois. I remember one day the dog shpped that is 
what holds the log in place. It was worn and let go and fell on 
my hand and went through it. I had to wait for the off bearer 
who carried the slabs to come back and get me loose. One 
time I was sawing down by Rushville, when I was logging 
with a twenty-thirty five tractor. I backed up to a ditch to get 
a log. 

This ditch was about five foot deep. I was on one side, 
the log on the other. I was getting ready to git off to hook the 
chain on the log when the seat broke and almost threw me off 
the tractor. I had one hand on the steering wheel and grabbed 
for the brake with the other. That tractor could of lit on top of 
me. That would of been all she wrote. 

This is my 67th year of pitching horseshoes. I have won 
over 240 tournaments pitched over 900 tons of iron and 
pitched more than any other man in the country. I travelled 
over 178,000 miles to tournaments. 

I could go on and on but space will not allow it. 


Burdette Graham 

Anyone driving on our highways these days meet some 
giant machines which are as wide as both lanes of the road 
and just as high. These giants are machines caUed combines. 
They are called combines because they combine all the jobs 
from cutting a field of grain to loading on a truck all of the 
threshing grain. The first combines were smaller but as new 
models came out each year during the last fifty years bigger 
and better was the trend. The first combines cost about five 

hundred dollars, but now some may cost as much as one 
hundred thousand doOars. 

Many giant combines first were used in the large fields 
of the west and pulled by as many as forty horses or mules. 
Then came steam power and large steam tractors pulled the 
combines, usually burning straw for fuel. When the gasolene 
tractor came to the cornbelt a new combine powered and 
pulled by a small tractor came on the market. It was buUt by 
Allis Chalmers and called the All Crop Harvester. Us kids 
and some farmers called it the coffee grinder because it 
sometimes broke up too many of the kernels and the farmer 
had to take a dock on price when selling. This combine came 
on the market about the end of World War I. 

Before the combine the harvesting of small grains (oats, 
rye, wheat and barley) was done by following a series of 
operations. First the grain, after it had turned brown from 
green, was put in a shock to finish curing, going through a 
stage we called the "sweat", after which it could be threshed 
and stored. To get the grain in the shock first required 
cutting and binding in bundles. Originally this was done with 
a scythe like tool with supporting fingers which would hold a 
nice bunch of grain to tie in a bundle, but this went out with 
the invention of the reaper. What we had was called a binder. 
The common makes were Came, Queen, McCormick, Deering 
and other. They all did the same jobs, which were: Cut the 
grain, lay it back on a moving platform, elevate it to the right 
to a bundle forming and tieing mechanism, after which a 
bundle carrier which could hold six or eight bundles carried 
these bundles which were then dumped in a row ready for 
setting up in a shock. Shocking was done by hand, until the 
last few years of binder use, when a shocker mechanism was 
used which would tie the bundles in a shock and set it up. Not 
too many of these were used before the combine took over. 

When the grain was in the shock a waiting period of a 
few weeks was necessary for curing before threshing. During 
this time several things could and many times did happen. 

The shock had a cap to help keep rain out and off the 
tops of the bundles. This cap was made by breaking or 
bending the straw of one or two bundles to look somewhat 
like an umbrella and laying them on top of the shock. Birds 
liked to eat the grain from the caps. Many wind and thunder 
storms removed the caps and soaked the caps and the shock. 
When the sun came out the caps were set up to dry and after 
drying were put back on top of the shock. In a bad stormy 
season this could and did happen up to a dozen times. 
Everyone passing on the road tried to judge the yield which 
was possible by the size and number of shocks, and many 
bets took place among proud owners and tenants. The answer 
came when the crop was harvested. 

Then came threshing. When the big machine came, the 
neighbors from twelve to sixteen farms making up the run, 
gathered at one farm to do aU the jobs. Each farm furnished 
help according to the number of acres each farm had. No 
allowance was made for the amount of straw on various 
fields, which many times was double that of another field. 
Men were assigned jobs according to their likes and ability to 
do a particular job. If your choice was to have a Uttle 
responsibihty for a team or wagon, and if you were wilUng to 
walk and work rather than ride part of the time, you took the 
pitching job. You walked along the rows of shocks and using 
a three tined pitch fork you pitched one bundle at a time up 
on the flat rack wagon where the wagon man took the bundle 
either by hand or with his pitch fork and neatly stacked row 
on row to make a large load to haul to the thresher. A pitcher 
had to have the man on the wagon in sight so as to place the 
bundle with heads toward the man and in front of him. If a 
pitcher went too fast the man on the wagon would just throw 
some of the bundles back on the ground. Some times a bundle 
would have become home to a skunk or a snake, and these 
went up on the wagon. By the time the man on the wagon saw 
them they were not in a very good mood so the wagon man 
just left the wagon with one big jump, until some brave one 

would get on the wagon and remove the visitor. Kids got a 
chance to learn to pitch and were told how to do it and helped 
but not overworked at first. Building a nice square load which 
would hang together for the trip from the field to the thresher 
was difficult. Some men became known for their great ability 
to build very high loads, which made the pitcher's job 
difficult. The trip with the load was difficult as many times 
bridges, or ditches had to be crossed and sharp turns through 
gates were difficult and many a load was upset with the rider 
geting pitched off and lucky if he did not land on a gate or 
barbed wire fence. The job of picking up a spilled load was 
embarrassing and distasteful. Sometimes a spilled load was 
caused by a run away team, but usually a very dependable 
team was used for this job. 

Kids got into the act in two ways. First, many of the 
trips with loads required going through pastures with cattle 
or hogs so someone had to watch the gates which were open 
and keep the stock from getting out. This was a lonesome job, 
all alone, out in the hot sun with little to do but watch. The 
other job was being water boy. Usually this meant having the 
family horse and buggy and several gallon jugs filled with 
water or ice tea or ginger water. The jugs were wrapped in 
several layers of burlap and soaked with water. The 
evaporation of the water from the wet sack kept the jugs cool. 
No cups were used, as each man just wiped the jug opening 
with his sleeve, and drank directly from the jug. The trip 
from the well at the house to the field, serving the pitchers 
and those on the wagons, then to the threshing machine, 
where the crew was watered, from the grain haulers, and any 
guests, then back for refills, and around again ended up being 
six or eight trips during a full day. As a kid, I always felt 
good when a thirsty man put down the jug, gave a big sigh, 
and said, "thanks". 

A good feehng for me always was to see a job finished. 
First making the last round with a binder, and seeing the nice 
rows of bundles. Later the nice feehng when getting up 


shocks, when the last bundle went into the shock and then 
again when the last load left the field. My dad said he liked 
this feeling, but he liked best looking at several bins full of 
nice golden grain. Of course at that time I did not have a 
chance to try to pay the biUs like he did. 

One of the big thrills was to be around the threshing 
outfit even if it was on a wagon pitching in bundles for the 
machine to tear apart and shake the grain out. Many 
accidents took place around the big machinery, usually none 
too serious, but time consuming. A common one was to have 
a fork come loose from the handle and the metal fork go 
through the machine, making a terrible noise and making a 
shut down necessary while men crawled inside and replaced 
the cyhnder spikes. Some wagon men, being in a hurry to get 
through, would overload the machine and everything would 
come to a halt. Of course this made the person in a hurry late 
as he waited for the unplugging operation to get over so he 
could finish unloading. At the end of the season several of the 
workers might run their old straw hat through the machine. 
(I think they probably brought one to work that day that was 
pretty well worn.) 

A highlight of the threshing season was the wonderful 
noon meals prepared by the wives of the farmers. They 
worked together and tried to out-do each other in having the 
most food and most tasty meals possible. One of the field 
hands took a large dish of cherry preserves, poured a pitcher 
of rich cream on it and ate it all as an appetizer before getting 
to the main meal. Washing up was done outside on a bench 
with plenty of soap and water and many towels hanging near. 

Many times something delayed operations and there 
was time for a good wrestling match or telling some good 
stories. One story was about adding gadgets to Model T 
Fords to get more mileage from a gallon. After telhng of 
adding several gadgets the teller was asked if he needed any 
gas at all with all these. He replied, "I'd had to stop about 

every ten miles and drain out a little gas to prevent the tank 
from running over." 

The coming of the combine ehminated many workers, 
and, also the need for neighbors to work in groups to get the 
job done. When they did not work together they did not know 
each other as well or have as much concern for their 
neighbors. It seems impossible that this much change could 
take place in the space of thirty to fifty years. 


Dorothy Mayhew Lay 

Kewanee could be any one of a hundred rural towns 
scattered across the northern Illinois prairie. There are 
numerous small brick factories, a downtown shopping area 
bounded by four compact city blocks, and an out-lying 
shopping center. But in this far from auspicious city, in the 
summer of 1935, the labor-union movement which was 
sweeping across the United States became an important 
chapter in local and national history. The strike at the Boss 
Manufacturing Company in the early 1930's at Kewanee, 
Illinois, was a small but significant extension in the early 
development of unions and was precipitated by the unrest 
which led to the strike-syndrome in this nation. The local 
strike, of which this is a brief reminiscence, produced issues 
which continue to this day and remain of significant concern. 
The small gains wrested from the 1935 community strike 
contributed to the overall momentum of the national labor 
struggle. While the Boss Strike pales in sensationalism to the 
1922 strike which is known as the Herrin, Illinois, Massacre, 
the Kewanee grievance and resultant violence, through 
revisionist history, has ceased to be merely of provincial 
interest and has taken its place as part of the intense 
nationwide effort to estabhsh the rights of the laborer 


through the legitimacy of unions and the necessity for 
collective bargaining. 

I was an impressionable fifteen-year-old when 
dissension and violence struck my agrarian, peaceful 
community. The Boss Factory on the edge of town made 
workingmen's gloves. In the early 1930's, the sewers and the 
leather and jersey cutters became increasingly disenchanted 
with the disastrous economic conditions of the depression 
years. They found life harsh in an economic atmosphere 
where there was never enough of life's necessities, where food 
was ground meat, not ground beef, seven days a week if you 
were fortunate enough to have meat at all, and where short 
work schedules of 2 hour days, or at most, 24 hour weeks, 
were the norm. The workers began to challenge a system 
plagued by favoritism which elicited glaring inequaUties. The 
workers suspected their subsistence-economic welfare was 
being increasingly worsened by the unassaOed policies of 
their Boss employers. 

The men and women who originally went to work at the 
leather cutting tables and sewing machines in the locally 
founded glove factory were representative of the immigrants 
who came inland from their eastern port of entry. The 
manufacturing profile of Kewanee had offered jobs for 
unskilled labor. Poles, Belgians, and Lithuanians were soon 
joined by German, Irish, and Swedish immigrants. They were 
hard workers and grateful for the opportunity to work, but, 
as they became more and more oppressed, they over-came 
their hesitancy and pushed for a more equitable division of 
piece rate scale and of the work. The main issues centered 
around the right to collectively bargain for wage and piece 
rate parity. 

As a young high school student, I was torn between 
management and the phght of the striking workers. The Boss 
Company had, quite UteraUy, supphed my every piece of 
bread for my entire life. My father, who died when I was 
three, had been placed in an office position upon his return 

from service in World War I. He remained in Boss employ 
until his death at age twenty-six. His young widow, my 
mother, was given work in the clerical department of the 
Boss Office to help support her young daughter. When I was 
seven, my mother married a wealthy banker from Quincy, 
Illinois, recently hired by Boss to develop an efficient credit 
department for the quickly expanding work glove business. 
In this way my family background firmly planted my 
loyalties on the side of management. It was difficult for the 
founders and owners of Boss Manufacturing to understand 
the apparent ingratitude of the unskilled workers whom they 
had hired, trained, and nurtured at a time when these workers 
could scarcely speak English. The officers at Boss viewed 
tight controls and absolute decision-making as their 
necessary prerogative if profits and dividends were going to 
continue in the midst of a depression economy. 

In spite of the influence of my family on management's 
side of the labor problem, I had many high school friends 
whose parents skimped to keep their children in high school. 
Many of these students were forced to drop-out and find 
menial labor. The glove finishers and sewers at the Boss plant 
used their piece-rate wages to feed famihes in their clean, 
spotless, small, rented frame homes across the railroad tracks 
in an area known as the North Side. My acquaintances were 
the young students who constituted a first-generation of 
secondary educated children who spoke English as well as the 
native tongue of parents. These were the football captains 
and husky Unemen whose tough, fiesty, survival instincts 
made them the favorites of coaches. But these were also the 
students with cardboard in the soles of their shoes with 
whom the South Side girls, daughters of management, did 
not associate with after classes and were forbidden to date. It 
is an era blessedly now passed in the locality, but in 1935 the 
dividing line of class consciousness was emphasized as strike- 
violence became a part of the local battle for collective 


Kewanee citizens, in the 1930's, were basically not quick 
to sympathize with radical changes such as the 
estabhshment of labor unions. 

Mid-west provincialism and the conservative rural- 
agrarian outlook, however, seemed to be modified since Boss 
employed a relatively large segment of the 17,000 plus 
inhabitants. In this 1935 labor dispute, there appeared to be a 
total involvement of the townspeople. The entire area of 
Henry County depended, to a large extent, on the economic 
progress of the Boss factory, and it was impossible to remain 
uninvolved when lives and relationships touched closely upon 
one another. 

On August 5th, a Monday morning in 1935, the dreaded 
strike could no longer be averted, and Glove Workers Local 
No. 85 voted to go out. The full support of organized labor 
was behind this decision and national representatives had 
been in Kewanee since early summer. All efforts to bargain 
had failed to force Boss management into dealing with the 
Union as a bartering agent for the workers. The strike vote 
shuttered the Boss factory and the company was forbidden 
to open or fill orders without negotiating with the union. 

Boss management had great difficulty taking the strike 
seriously. Legal referents in the early 1930's were either non- 
existent or had been ignored where they did exist. 
Management was well aware that the majority of its 500 
workers were not actually union members. The officers at 
Boss felt strongly that most of the factory force was not in 
favor of the strike. And many, many workers were, and 
remained throughout the three months of the strike, faithful 
to management. 

Early August was hot and humid in Kewanee and 
tempers were running short. Discussions between the union 
leaders and Boss management on the issue of collective 
bargaining were at a deadlock. The strike situation was 
escalating with strikers milling around the downtown general 
office and the west-end factory in well planned 

demonstrations. 1 remember clearly a shiny Model T Ford 
that was kept parked on Chestnut Street just outside the 
Boss office west windows. Along both sides of the car were 
signs in large white letters which said LOCAL NO. 
85-OFFICIAL CAR. Pickets carried well-made, 
professionally made signs reading, THIS COMPANY IS 

By the end of August, the Glove and Mitten Workers, 
Local No. 85, began to publicize and sponsor a city-wide 
Labor Day Picnic celebration. The elaborate plans and 
publicity for this event made it clear that the expenses and 
headliner entertainment acts were most certainly beyond 
local union funding. The funding for this public forum had to 
reside with the more affluent national union. However, the 
citizens, as a whole, and the mayor and city fathers supported 
the entire festivity planning with enthusiasm. Local citizens 
did not regard the labor strike as a radical disturbance but 
rather as a grass roots attempt to remove economic 
inequalities. An air of great anticipation surrounded the 
picnic plans and what a celebration it turned out to be! 

The all-day activities took place in the west-end 
recreational area known as Chautauqua Park. Three 
thousand people attended. The program included civic and 
union speakers, music, and games. When the speeches ended, 
the festivities began. Games and prizes abounded. There was 
a RoUe BoUe Contest at 11 A.M. followed by a soft ball game 
and horse-shoe pitching contests. Races for men, women, and 
children were scheduled with a new event and prizes starting 
every hour. The organization and detailed planning were 
awesome. At noon a basket dinner was served. By 4:30 P.M. 
the high pitch of excitement had readied the crowd for a 
stellar amusement attraction. Dal Cameron of the Flying 
Camerons, an aerial troupe, performed a breathtaking, single 
trapeze act called The Spanish Web. It was a sensational 
double loop executed from a bar erected high over the 
picnicers heads, and it was a crowd pleaser. A Hill Billy Band 

played while the single-men's soft ball team won the 
championship game amidst drum rolls, girlish squeals, and 
masculine cheers. But as evening and darkness dispersed the 
happy crowd, the reality of strike violence was soon to 
disturb the festive, convivial air. 

As the strike entered its ninth week in early October, 
violence erupted. At 10:30 at night on October 8th, eggs, 
rocks, and bricks were tossed into the factory by the strikers. 
Thirty five to forty plate glass windows on the east and south 
sides of the building were shattered. Deputy sheriffs were 
placed on 24-hour guard duty alongside the striking workers. 
I remember young boys being paid two and three cents a sack 
or bucket for rocks and stones they could gather from the 
nearby railroad tracks and relay to the strikers. 

By October 14th every window of the factory had been 
broken by hand tossed objects. The sheriff and county 
deputies attempted to aid local police, but they could not 
control the angry strikers. Rocks and bricks continued to 
smash against the brick building. At the same time the 
downtown office was assailed with paving blocks and bricks, 
smashing plate glass windows and landing on desks which 
destroyed typewriters and equipment. There was 
consternation and concern, I remember, each morning as my 
step-father left our southside home for the walk to his desk in 
the Boss downtown office. 

As violence had escalated by mid-October, the State 
Militia was summoned. Five thousand curious spectators 
descended on the city, and Governor Henry Horner began a 
thorough investigation of the strike from his capital office in 
Springfield. Local Kewanee civic leaders, national union 
officials, and the local union officials were all summoned to 
Springfield for consultation. After several days of 
conferences with Boss officials, the Governor submitted a 
compromise proposal. 

On October 16th, Local No. 85 members were called to 
an emergency meeting at the Kewanee Labor Hall. After a 

brief meeting chaired by national labor leader James E. 
Taylor from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Local No. 85 voted to 
accept the Governor's proposal. One hundred and eighty 
workers cast their vote, and at 3:45 P.M. issued this 
statement: "Glove workers Local No. 85 this afternoon voted 
unanimously to accept Governor Horner's proposition and 
return to work." 

On October 17th, the Boss Factory whistle once again 
blew at 7 A.M. and a number of employees, both union and 
non-union, pitched into the job of cleaning up the factory and 
set about repairing sewing machines and factory equipment. 
Management sent in glaziers to replace the windows and 
slated a resumption of full production within two weeks. The 
vote to return to work ended the hardship and violence. The 
Henry County News, in its October 17th edition, summed up 
all our feelings when it ended its editorial with these words: 
"The community has just emerged from a trying situation. 
Out of the struggle comes the hope nothing like it will ever 
occur again." 

In this way the 1935 Boss Strike passed into a chapter 
of American labor history. It also became forever an 
important part of my young womanhood. The strike gains 
were only modest but were prophetic. They were important. 
And while the Kewanee violence did not reach the 
proportions of the 25 lives lost at Herrin, in the coal fields, 
the Glove Workers Union Strike, while remote and relatively 
minor, remains ideologically and historically a vital part of 
the national labor struggle, and a fifteen year old girl 
witnessed an unforgettable confrontation between the 
"haves" and the "have nots." 


Eva Baker Watson 

It was only a shadow of big time crime, but to the people 
of Brownfield (population, minus one hundred), it was a 
bizarre event, full of excitement and intrigue. 

The robbery of the Union State Bank on October 22, 
1924, netted its perpetrators a little more than one thousand 
dollars. But the gossip mill that ground continously around 
the stove in the cafe next door spilled over with grist 
harvested from the caper. It had all the requisites of a true 
suspense story, complete with a startling revelation when the 
mystery was finally unscrambled. 

I remember that afternoon. I remember how Mama was 
curious about the strange car that a few minutes earlier had 
come racing up the hill and on past our house. 

"1 do wonder who it could have been!" she said. 

Her curiousity was piqued mainly because the driver 
had been speeding, something people in those parts knew 
better than to do on those rough country roads. So that car 
must have been driven by an outsider. 

Brownfield had no police force but it had something 
that worked pretty well— it had lots of watchers. And two of 
those watchers had been right on the job that day. The 
grapeview news service soon spread the word. 

We learned that two teenage boys, "Dood" and Bidley", 
had been loafing on the store porch, a favorite vantage point 
for keeping tab on happenings (if any) up and down Main 
Street. At somewhere near 3:15 p.m. their interest perked up 
when they saw an unfamiliar black Chrysler stop in front of 
the bank. 

They watched two men get out and go in, leaving 
another man and a woman in the car. Said Dood to Bidley, 
"You know them guys?" 

"No," replied Bidley, "but that fellow in the car LOOKS 
like somebody." (He was to recall that observation later on.) 

After only a few minutes they saw the men rush from 
the bank, jump into the automobile and take off to the north 
in a cloud of dust, going Like sixty. 

Now all of this was too much for Dood and Bidley to sit 
still about so they got up, sauntered over to the bank to do 
some sleuthing. Surveying the scene inside they noted the 
absence of Cashier John Crawford. And they heard muffled 
sounds seeming to originate from the region of the closed 

It took no great amount of investigative skill for Dood 
and Bidley to guess that Mr. Crawford was shut up in 
there— and for no good or legal reason. They knew something 
must be done quickly for there was little or no ventilation in 
that vault. 

Figuring the blacksmith was the local person most 
eminently qualified to do the unauthorized but certainly 
warranted lockpicking, the boys shifted into high gear and 
did a fast sprint down the street and around the corner to the 
village smithy. 

Its operator, "Week" Frye, was in his car and enroute to 
the bank almost before the boys had finished telling him the 
problem, was soon standing outside the vault awaiting 
instructions from its occupant, the only one who knew the 

The vault walls, of course, in compliance with 
fireproofing regulations, were two feet thick. Mr. C. was a 
calm, soft-spoken man who even in moments of stress had 
never been heard to raise his voice, let alone squander an 
unnecessary word. Also, his delivery was always with great 
deliberateness. First he would tilt back his head, contemplate 
with eyes shut, then blink a few times before making even a 
casual comment. I'd heard my father say, "If you ask John 
Crawford a question he has to take a nap before he can 
answer you." A thoroughly reserved and unemotional 
Presbyterian was our Mr. Crawford. 

And so it was that Week Frye had the very devil of a 

time hearing the instructions that Mr. Crawford called out 
(and I use that phrase loosely) to him through those walls. 
After several unsuccessful twirls of the dial, though, at last 
the great door swung open. 

Out stepped Mr. Crawford— he, the ultimate 
unflappable— blinking his eyes "hke a frog in a hailstorm," as 
one wag expressed it, to speak what was probably the nearest 
to a spontaneous utterance he ever made in his life, typically 
understated: "I tell ya, it's just a little bit stuffy in there." 

Well, needless to say, the community was rocked. This 
was the most fun anyone had had in a long time. But it looked 
as if the hold-up men had made a clean getaway. 

I was fascinated, not only by the drama of it all but 
mostly by what to me was the real mystery: How Mr. 
Crawford had survived being squeezed into that vault. 

Childhood on the farm had done Uttle to familiarize me 
with facilities and installations necessary for the 
safeguarding of large amounts of money. My idea of a vault 
was something like the smaD safe I'd seen in the back of the 
general merchandise store at Brownfield. And I knew Mr. 
Crawford to be a tall man of ample proportions. I could not 
for the hfe of me see how those robbers had managed to cram 
him into the vault in the first place, and also why he hadn't 
smothered before he was rescued. I was relieved when Mama 
explained to me that the vault was actually a small room and 
not the tiny safe I'd imagined. 

I eavesdropped on all the grownup buzzing— and there 
was much— about who the robbers were and speculations as 
to the likelihood of their being caught. There was doubt about 
the latter. 

However, someone offered a ray of hope. For here in 
Pope County there lived a man who, as deputy sheriff a few 
years back, had cut a wide and fearsome swath through the 
hills tracking down bootleggers and still operators in those 
Prohibition days. He was now serving as constable. So it 
wasn't surprising to hear one man opine, "If they'd get 

Constable Jim Featherstone (not his real name) on the job, 
he'd make quick work of those robbers! " Everyone said amen 
to that. (Indeed, we were to see that Featherstone did play a 
uniquely significant role in the resolution of the case.) 

But despite skepticism, within a short time four 
suspects were rounded up and jailed in Golconda, the county 
seat: Two Pope County fellows, one from Herrin and a 
nineteen-year-old youth from St. Louis. And what of the 
woman who had waited in the car the day of the robbery? 
"She" was one of the local men— in female garb. 

The first one apprehended tipped off the officers that 
they might find a second man, Courtland (not his real name), 
in Brookport, a short distance down river from Golconda. 
When Courtland was arrested he turned state's evidence, 
fingering the other two. Shore and Badger (not their real 

When they brought to jail Badger, then face to face with 
informer Courtland, irately reminded him (as was reported in 
the weekly paper, "in terms more emphatic than elegant") of 
their pre-caper agreement not to allow themselves to be taken 
alive. To which Courtland retorted. "Then what in hell are 
YOU doing here?" Ah, the perfidy of partners in crime! 

The Herald Enterprise publisher-editor-reporter bore 
little resemblance to today's cool, objective news writer. He 
editorialized sorrowfully at the close of the page-one account 
of trial, conviction, and sentencing: " . . .what is the paltry 
sum of $1035 divided between four men, compared to 
personal loss?" He continued in a compassionate, almost 
grieving tone: "It is a most lamentable tragedy, an 
occurrance that it is painful to record, since two of our own 
boys are unfortunate participants." 

As to the "two of our own boys", the community was 
stunned to learn one of them was none other than the fearless 
crime-fighter, still-demohsher, bootlegger-catcher, the former 
deputy sheriff. Constable Jim Featherstone. It was revealed 
that it was he who, with the "woman", had waited bravely in 

the car, machine gun at-the-ready just in case mild Mr. 
Crawford turned out to be troublesome. 

The editor finished with plaudits to the law officials who 
had brought this case to just conclusion. 

"You men have done your duty and the people are 
pleased. Officers of your tj^De will make law-breaking less 
popular in this section." 

Prophetic words. Pope County's banks, which have 
dwindled from five in those days to one at the present, have 
never again been robbed. 


Mahala Yeoman Lafferty 

Among the recollections of my childhood days near 
Avon, Illinois, is the spring time of the year when in the 
1920's my mother, Belle Yeoman, prepared for the days when 
in the summer we would have our first fried chicken. Back in 
those days, on the farm, we looked forward to the day the 
baby chicks grew big enough to be dressed and eaten. It was 
a long procedure which began around the first of April. 

My mother was a pro at raising chickens "from 
scratch". In the daily gathering of the eggs she would take 
note of any hens who seemed to want to stay on the nest 
while she was reaching under them for the eggs. If they 
seemed meek and docile while she sUpped her hand under 
them, she would know that those particular hens would be 
willing to sit on a batch of eggs until they were hatched. 

There was a special building that mother would prepare 
for the three weeks' hatching process. She always made sure 
there were enough roosters among the hens to insure fertile 
eggs. The building was prepared by making from twelve to 
fifteen wooden boxes with wooden Lids on them. Clean straw 
was put in the boxes. Each hen had fifteen eggs put under her 

and her three weeks of sitting would begin. Bricks were put 
on top of the box lids to keep the hens from getting off the 
nests, as that would chill the eggs and then they wouldn't 
hatch. There was always an old wash tub full of coal ashes for 
the hens to flounder in occasionaUy as that was supposed to 
keep them from getting Hce. Once each day mother would 
scatter oats and corn on the floor of the building and let the 
hens out of their boxes long enough to eat and use the 
floundering tub and then get back into their nests. They had 
to go back with the Uds and bricks in place. Once in awhile a 
hen would be fiesty and not go back to her nest. She would be 
beheaded and we would have a batch of chicken and noodles 
for Sunday dinner. Either another hen who looked hke she 
was a promising candidate for motherhood would replace the 
biddy who changed her mind, or the setting of eggs would 
have to be thrown away. 

During the three weeks of waiting for the chicks to 
hatch, we always hoped for warm weather by the time the day 
arrived. Most likely, however, it would be chilly or rainy, so 
as soon as the baby chickens pecked their way out of the 
shell, they were brought into the kitchen and put by the old 
cook stove for a few days. 

They were pitiful looking creatures at first, long legs 
and their fluffy fuzz didn't fluff out for a few hours. They 
looked as if they had malnutrition, but soon became peeping, 
fluffy yellow baby chicks running around inside of a large 
pasteboard box lined with clean newspapers which mother 
had prepared for them. The first nourishment they got was 
water to which a pill had been added which made the water 
yellow. I don't recall what the pill was or what it was for, only 
that mother got it at the drugstore and it was something all 
baby chickens were started on. Hard boiled egg yolks and 
uncooked rolled oats were their first food. 

After a few days in the kitchen and on a nice warm 
sunny day they were transferred to little individual coops to 
be with their mothers. The chicken coops were aluminum. 

some were A-frame shaped and some were round like 
miniature silos. Mother had some of each kind. As a 
precaution against being blown away by the wind or 
varmints upsetting them and eating the chicks, mother 
would wire two bricks together and put them over the roof of 
each coop. At night each coop, which had a Uttle sUding door, 
was closed at sundown. That was an every evening chore, to 
shut up the chickens. The next morning the little doors were 
opened again and each hen came clucking out of her coop, 
coaxing her chicks to follow her. She would strut around the 
barnyard with her brood looking for insects or worms. The 
coops were moved every week so that the hens and chicks had 
a clean place to sleep. 

Mother always tied a rope to one leg of the mother hen 
and tied the other end of the rope to a wooden stake driven 
into the ground. That was to keep the hen from taking her 
chicks too far from the coop m case a chicken hawk would 
swoop down and take off with some of the chicks. 

As the chickens grew, their diet was changed from the 
initial diet to ground corn. It was a weekly chore to shell the 
corn with a hand corn sheller. That was my two brothers. 
Bun's and John's, and my job. Then the shelled corn was 
ground fine with the aid of a corn grinder run by a gasoline 
engine attached to the grinder by a long belt. Bun kept the 
gasoline engine going while John and I kept the corn grinder 
hopper filled with shelled corn. Back in those days children 
didn't get paid for doing their chores. They were designated 
to do them and they knew they had to be done. 

By the time the chicks grew big enough to eat, mother 
would wind up with from 75 to 100 pullets and roosters. A 
certain amount of chicks were always lost due to weather, 
varmints, unfertile eggs or eggs getting chilled during the 
incubation process. 

By the Fourth of July mother would decide the first 
young roosters were big enough to be fried. Sometimes they 
were a little small, but July fourth was the goal for our first 

fried chicken of the year. What a tasty dish that was for July 
fourth and then every Sunday there after. There was no such 
thing as freezing frys back then so when the young roosters 
were too big to fry, then they became roasting chicken which 
was just as good in the early fall. 

Mother always kept enough pullets for laying hens all 
winter so we had our own eggs. The roosters were mostly 
eaten, so she had to replenish them in the spring so the cycle 
started over again at "chicken hatchin' time". 

This is one "Henny-Penny" story that always turned 
out to be "Chicken-lickin" good. 


Guy S. Tyson 

When Roscoe and I were about eight and ten years old. 
Dad asked us if we would like to go to a Shivaree in Scab 
Holler one nite after supper. Of course we wanted to go 
although we didn't know what he was talking about. Our 
house was about a mile west of Scab Branch that went 
through Scab Hollow, or Scab Holler as most people called it, 
and about seven miles east of Rushville. 

Dad owned 80 acres, 40 acres were on each side of the 
branch, and he told us the crowd was to meet in his bam 
down in the hollow. After supper, he got his shotgun, and lit 
the lantern and we walked down the road to the barn. Most of 
the neighbor men and boys were there. The boys were up in 
the hay mow catching sparrows and putting them in a paper 
sack. The men all had shotguns and the boys had bells to 

Maro Parks was a widower who owned the adjoining 
farm and he had just married a new bride. When everyone 
arrived at the barn, they turned out the lanterns and we 
walked very quietly over to his house and surrounded it. 

Then everyone started to yell, ring the bells, and shoot their 
guns. Maro turned the lights out inside the house and one of 
the boys outside pried open a window and turned the 
sparrows loose in the hving room. 

After Maro thought we had all had enough fun, he lit the 
lamps, opened the door and invited us all inside. He had 
bought a new box of cigars, which he passed around to 
everyone. Some of the boys ht up and before they got home, 
they were really sick. 

After a few years, my folks moved to a farm about two 
miles south of the Scab School House that was situated on 
top of the hill going south out of the hollow. There were three 
roads to get out of the hollow. One north, one west and one 
south. To get out of the hollow each road had a hill so steep 
sometimes a Model T. Ford couldn't pull itself up the hill, and 
if you came down the west hill, you had to ford Scab Branch 
twice to get to the road going north and south. 

Some new neighbors moved onto a farm east of the Scab 
School House and shortly after they got settled, their oldest 
daughter get married. She and her husband didn't have a 
house to hve in, so they planned to live with her folks until 
they could get a place of their own. 

The neighbors decided to shivaree the young folks. The 
neighborhood women said they would make some 
sandwiches, bake cookies and they would have a party and 
get acquainted with the new neighbors. They were to meet at 
the schoolhouse and would all go together. They sUpped all 
around the house and all shot their guns together, the boys 
rang their bells and everyone started to yeU. 

A redheaded woman slammed open the door, and yelled 
to stop that noise. She told everyone what she thought of 
savages who would act that way, they wouldn't have moved 
into the neighborhood if they had known what kind of people 
hved there, and to get off of their place and stay off. 

There was a family who lived down Sugar Creek whom 
everyone liked. They had two daughters and a son. When one 

of the daughters got married she wanted the wedding in her 
parents home, and a wedding supper after the ceremony. 
There was quite a group of relatives and friends invited. All 
the young folks from the surrounding area decided to 
shivaree them as soon as the wedding was over. We met up 
the road a httle early and aU went together to the house and 
watched the ceremony through the windows. As soon as they 
were married, we started to yell, hit the side of the house with 
sticks, and ring bells. We didn't bring any guns. The brother 
of the bride came out and told us the box of cigars the groom 
had bought for treats for the shivaree crowd was upstairs on 
the dresser in the bedroom. One of the boys climbed on the 
porch roof and went through the window, got the cigars, and 
took them out and hid them under the seat of his buggy. The 
father of the bride was also outside in the dark watching. He 
got the cigars and took them back in the house. 

On the back porch was two boxes full of brick ice cream 
in a tub full of ice. While everyone was watching the wedding, 
someone carried off one of the cartons. He took it down 
behind the barn. The bricks were frozen hard so we cut them 
in pieces with our pocket knives and ate them out of our 

After they thought we had enough fun, they invited us 
in the house and we were surprised when the groom brought 
out the cigars and passed them around for everyone. In later 
years they also bought candy bars for the ladies. 

When Elsie and I were going to get married we had been 
getting our house ready for several weeks. Saturday we had it 
all finished and ready to live in. I took her down to her folks 
and I went to town to get the marriage license and ask Rev. 
Rippy, the Methodist preacher, to marry us that night. When 
I went to the door, Delia, their daughter, answered and asked 
what 1 wanted. 1 said I would like the minister to marry us 
that night. Her mother caUed from the kitchen wanting to 
know who was there. She said, "Some poor sap wants to get 
married." When we came in that night, they had the living 


room decorated and Delia and her mother were witnesses. 

Like all other small towns at the time Rushville was a 
Saturday night town. Everyone came to town to buy their 
groceries, go to the picture show, and visit with their friends. 
After we were married, we went up town and walked around 
the square and visited with the people we met and went home 
about 11 o'clock. 

My folks had never locked a door in their life but when 
we got ready for bed, Elsie wanted to lock the doors. We 
locked the doors and went to bed. About 12 o'clock, Elsie 
heard someone outside. We opened our eyes and there were 
flashlights shining in all the windows. We didn't take time to 
light our kerosene lamp. Elsie put on her dress and got it on 
wrong side out, and I pulled my pants on just as they came 
into our bedroom. One of the men had a rope and said they 
were going to tie me up and take me out to the cornfield and 
leave me all night. They had found a window that wasn't 
locked and came in through it and unlocked the door from the 
inside, and everyone came in. The women said it would be 
cruel to tie me up so Elsie made some coffee and I passed out 
the cigars and we sat around the room and told stories for a 
couple of hours before they finally decided it was time to go 
home and go to bed. 

When Harold, our oldest son, and Mary got married, 
they were staying at our house because their new house in 
Beardstown was not quite done. A group of his friends came 
out and loaded him and his new bride into their cars and 
everyone followed to Rushville where they made him push 
her around the park in a wheel barrow. Everyone followed on 
foot or in cars making all the noise they could. 

Dick, our second son, was in the navy. He and Jean were 
married while he was home on furlough. She had an 
apartment in Beardstown. The shivaree crowd made him 
push her around the square in Beardstown in a baby buggy. 

The young people were getting more violent in the 
1960's, usually a few would have a few drinks and when the 

crowd got in the house, they would pull down the curtains, 
scatter flour on the new rug, etc. Too, times were getting 
better and most newly weds took a honeymoon trip and by the 
time they returned home, everyone had forgotten so the 
shivaree was another old custom that has disappeared into 
the past. 


Glada Z. Hatfield 

In the early days of this century a soap club was started 
by a dozen women living in Galesburg, 111. My mother was a 
member of this group, which met once a month in the 
afternoon to sew, knit, visit, or play cards. Their husbands 
got together once a month in the evenings to play cards, a 
game called "Whist" which was similar to our modern day 
bridge. Sometimes they had card parties for both the men 
and women in one another's homes. 

The women caOed their group a "soap club" because in 
the beginning they got together to exchange coupons which 
came on Fels-Naptha soap when it first appeared on the 
shelves at the corner grocery store. They sent away to 
Chicago for a catalog from which they picked premiums for 
their coupons. Some of these premiums were very nice things, 
such as furniture. My mother got a small red rocker for 100 
coupons and $1.00 and a piano bench for 200 coupons and 
$2.00. of course, furniture was very cheap then. I remember 
my mother buying a child's rocker for 75 cents at a local 

While the women were busy at one of their meetings, the 
subject came up of doing something for the children. Each of 
them had two children, and they decided to go on a picnic in 
the Fall of the year. 

That September there was a very heavy frost on the 

Saturday they chose, but they went anyway. A young man 
living on West Main Street who owned a team of horses and a 
hayrack was asked to take them, and they contracted with 
him to spend the entire day at the picnic site, for which they 
paid him the magnificent sum of $3.00. 

About 7:30 in the morning he started to pick them all up 
at their respective homes. Baskets of food were put on the 
hayrack, along with plenty of gunny sacks. The baskets 
contained, among other things, fried chicken, baked beans, 
and a new kind of cake called "angel food". 

We were on our way for a nutting party. We stopped at 
the last house on South Seminary Street to pick up the last 
group and continued on south to the fork in the road that 
took us to the winding country road up hill and down dale to a 
place called "south timber". 

It took the horses until 11 o'clock to drive us into the 
big timber, where immediately the boys started to look for 
different kinds of nuts, which they piled into the gunny 
sacks. There were black walnuts, hickory nuts, butternuts, 
and pecans.. 

The women started to get dinner. They spread 
tablecloths on the ground, and took the food out of the 
baskets. Everybody was hungry. Two irons stuck in the 
ground and one laid across them were holding the coffee pot 
hanging on a hook in the center right over the roaring fire, 
and bottles of milk were brought up from Brush Creek where 
they had been put for cooHng. It wasn't much of a creek; it 
had just enough water in it for the children to go wading and 
get their feet wet. In those days we did not have homogenized 
milk, so the cream that rose to the top was carefuUy taken off 
to use for whipped cream and other uses and the skim milk 
was for drinking. When the boys came back loaded with nuts 
and ready to eat, the food disappeared Uke magic. 

After dinner many of the women went out hunting nuts 
also while others stayed with the smaller children. A three- 
year-old had to take a nap but protested loudly, as all children 

do. After all, he was on a picnic, and that was no time to take 
a nap. He was supposed to sit on the bank, but he slid down 
into the creek anyway, and had to be dried off and quieted 

One of the women who was short and fat got hung up on 
a fence she had tried to climb over and had her picture taken 
from the rear, a most unflattering pose, by her daughter, who 
had brought along a camera on a tripod and was taking 
pictures all day to record the event for scrapbooks. Finally 
some of the boys came over and helped the poor woman over 
the fence. 

By later afternoon we started to gather things together 
and eat what was left for a little supper, and finally we 
started home again, about 4:30. The young man patiently 
waited for us all to get tucked into the hayrack, which was 
already well loaded with gunny sacks full of nuts. As it 
started to get dark a full harvest moon rose in the East and 
lanterns were lit and set up on the sides of the hayrack. While 
the smaller childrn slept the older ones started to sing the old 
songs that everyone knew. All the way into town we sang 
"By the Light of the Silvery Moon", "Peg O' My Heart", 
"Shine On, Silver Moon", "Peggy O'Neill", "Redwing", and 
many others. 

Some of the boys spied a cornfield on the way in and had 
us stop long enough for them to go over the fence for 
pumpkins that were growing between the rows of corn. 
Luckily, they didn't get caught. 

Finally the last family was deposited safely on their 
doorstep, and it must have been almost midnight by the time 
we arrived at our house, tired, happy, and loaded with nuts to 
last all winter for baked goodies and just to eat out of hand. 

These nutting parties went on for a number of years, 
until summer homes began to be built up around the lake 
which belonged to the Chicago, Burhngton & Quincy 
Railroad (fondly called "The Q" in Galesburg). The railroad 


had made this lake by damming up our Little creek, and used 
the water to service their steam engines. 

The area is now owned by the Lake Brackan 
Association, a group of homeowners out there, and they have 
beaches for swimming and piers for docking boats, a golf 
course, and all the other luxuries of living on a lake. Many of 
the trees that gave their nuts to us for the winter are now 

gone, and the squirrels have managed to make off with the 
nuts from most of the few that are left. 

Thus nutting parties became a thing of the past, but I 
shall always remember them foldly as some of the nicest 
times of my childhood. Pleasures were simple and life moved 
at a slower pace. 

II Teople of the "^ads 


It is not hard for the present day high school student to 
understand that life as it is now is far removed from hfe as it 
was fifty or sixty years ago. If one could go seventy years 
into the past, he would find that the American Midwest still 
had a good deal of the frontier in both its material and 
cultural aspects. There are a great many small towns which 
flourished in virtual isolation, except for the commerce 
brought to them by nearby railroads. Roads were poor and, 
although the automobile was an evergrowing presence in 
each community, trips were limited by conditions. There were 
few gasoline stations to be found between towns, no motels, 
and, indeed, few maps by which a traveler might be guided. 
Towns were thereby insulated to a degree, but to a degree 
only. One may be reminded of our new found knowledge, that 
long before Christ, Phoenician ships were plying a trade to 
Britain and France. Norse sailors were trading over 
thousands of miles of sea and land with the Turks. So it was 
in the American heartland after 1900. The people of 
Colchester, Illinois, far down the Une from Chicago, got their 
metropolitan newspapers four hours after they were printed. 
Mails carried the news, and so did the party-line telephones. 
In small towns throughout Illinois, there were to be found 
proud owners of gramophones who, almost without 
exception, could produce a recording of the great Enrico 
Caruso. Yet, by contrast, down the street could be found the 
old livery stable still operating and still sending out an 
effluxion of odors and fhes. These were all signs of America in 

There are aspects of this cultural exchange which only 
Americans of a certain age will remember. What comes to 
mind first are the perennial and ubiquitous representatives of 
various commercial companies— mostly men, but 
occasionally women— who sold the products of their firms 
with uncompromising loyalties. They were the Watkins 

people, the McNess peddlars, and the Swenson salespersons. 
Their modern counterparts, indeed, the remnants of that old, 
old practice are the Avon "ladies", and the Fuller Brush men. 
What those earlier hucksters did was to sell almost 
everything. If they did not have it on hand, they ordered it 
for their customers. Spices and flavorings were their 
specialties, and by all accounts, were of an exceptionally high 
quality. Each firm had its own version of a curative vaseline, 
some mixed with a mild infusion of carbohc acid, others with 
borax or some other agent not calculated to do either much 
harm or much good. But the farmers swore by their 
Cloverleaf salve, or whatever the brand name might be, and it 
was used for everything— wounds, bruises, as a hair 
preparation, for the complexion, for sore feet, colds or 
whatever the affliction might be. 

As time went by, and as the roads improved along with 
the growing use of automobiles, the Watkins and the McNess 
people eventually began to disappear. One of the last such 
peddlars in my own memory was a Mrs. Kiel, a widower, who 
eked out a hving selhng Watkins' products in a southern 
Illinois town. The depression squeezed her out, however, and 
she packed up her Model T Ford, along with her son Harry, 
and they made their way to California. Harry grew up, 
changed his name to Howard, and eventuaUy became a 
singing star in London and the movies. That is the way 
America was. 

It is hard to believe that one of the more interesting 
aspects of hfe at the turn of the century was the traveling 
show company— not because they simply existed, but 
because their importance seems to have been more 
significant than many historians have been led to believe. 
There are two stories here— the tale of the Gordiniers whose 
show partially emanated from Bushnell, and the Jessie 
Colton Company, whose show was based in Orion, lUinois. 
Both shows were highly respected— so much so that a 
surprisingly large number of Americans in their seventies or 

eighties recall having seen one or both of them. For their 
time, their repertoire was varied and it appealed to all tastes. 
As one would suspect, a performance of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" 
was as unavoidable as the plague, but then the Gordiniers did 
offer "East Lynne", and the Colton Show gave "Lightnin"', 
PygmaUon", "Little Lord Fauntleroy", and "Rip Van 

They too would go, however, leaving as remnants of a 
past age the medicine shows, the gypsies, the traveling 
musicians, and last but not least, the tramps and hoboes. One 
could not leave this subject without writing something about 
the latter. Mostly men, the hoboes and tramps were nomads 
who drifted about America by the thousands. Where they 
came from, few people knew; where they ended up, few people 
cared. Robert Frost, the American poet, wrote his epic "The 
Hired Man" about a character who was almost of the same 
genre. During the depression days of the early 1930's, the 
ranks of the drifters were sweOed by truly honest hard 
working men who simply could not find a job. Whatever the 
case, the temporary local home of any hobo or tramp was the 
"jungle". Located usually on a piece of land near the railroad 
tracks, it was the spot to which all returned at night, some 
bringing food or items to be cooked or shared. An ordinary 
"jungle" meal was a kind of inelegant stew into which almost 

any kind of meat and vegetable was thrown. Ordinarily, but 
not always, a "jungle" was a perfectly safe place for a 
townsperson to pass through. The hobo or tramp knew, 
above anything else, that a lawman's view of the "jungle" 
was one of strained toleration. 

When morning came, each man left the "jungle" for his 
chosen section of town. He often carried a piece of chalk so 
that, once he had been fed at a certain home, he might mark 
the gate, thus indicating to others that a "soft touch" was 
available. Occasionally but not often he might perform some 
task for his meal. If not, he was on his way, perhaps back to 
the "jungle", perhaps to the rail yards, where he could catch 
a freight for the next town down the line. Some Americans 
thought it to be a romantic life, but in its best reaUty, it was 
demeaning and sad, and highly comparable to the life which 
drifters and derehcts Uve in urban centers today. 

The people of the road are almost gone now. Who are the 
doorbell ringers of our times? The aforementioned Avon 
ladies, an occasional brush salesman, a pair of religious 
proselytizers, and the quadrennial politician with his case to 
sell. Alas! Perhaps the frontier has at last disappeared from 
our lives. 

Victor Hicken 



Norbert F. Overs tolz 

It was a hot August evening about 7:30 p.m. The sun 
was setting fast. It was a beautiful red sun set, and was now 
casting shadows from the trees and houses on our ball 

We had chosen up sides, our side had 6 boys and their 
side had 7 boys. Because it soon would be dark, we decided to 
quit— our side lost 23 to 17 in 6 innings. 

The basebaU diamond was on a lot across the street 
from the Catholic Church and Parish house. It belonged to 
the church and the Priest had helped us lay out the baseball 
diamond. They also had built a back stop out of four by fours 
and chicken wire. It was built for all, Catholic and Protestant. 

Just as we were ready to leave. Father Semler came 
across the street to greet us. Father said, "Boys, you better 
get in all the play you can. School starts next Tuesday. By 
the way, did you know that the Royal American Carnival is 
coming in early tomorrow? You had better get there early if 
you want to see them unload, feed the animals, and set up the 
booths and tents. You can bet I'll be there at least by 6 a.m.," 
he said. 

The Royal American was the largest of the carnivals 
that came to our town. It was like a small circus. Of course 
Ringhng Brothers or Barnum and Bailey did not come to our 
town. We would have to go to St. Louis to see them. 

The next morning I didn't wake up until 9 o'clock. While 
eating my breakfast I thought about the carnival coming in. 

When I finished eating my breakfast, I thought maybe 
some of the other guys might have overslept too. I started 
phoning the fellows. The first five had already left, the sixth 
call I got Marion Cornet and he agreed to meet me and go 
down and watch the carnival set up. 

It was after 11 o'clock when we got there. When we got 
there it was all set up except for a few minor things. 

We started moseying around. We saw the Fat Lady, the 
show dogs and horses and several wild animals. 

A man walked up to us, asked us if we would like to 
work in a sideshow act. He explained to us what we would 
have to do. There would be one act in the afternoon and one 
each night. Our pay would be $1.00 for each act. Two bucks 
for this httle work? Even though the Carnival lot was more 
than 2 miles from our houses, we agreed to take the job. 

Before each show the barker would stand in front of the 
side show tent. He would holler, "Ray-Ray-Ray. You had 
better HoooRay to see Bosco the Snake Eater, eats 'em like 
you would eat a meal. See the bee-u-tee-ful girls. See the 
Indian with the strongest head of hair in the land. Two men 
hold onto his hair while he swings them around. It's a sight 
you won't want to miss. See the Professor of Music with the 
dancing kitten, the only trained cat in the world. Also see the 
Wild Man from Borneo and the Rose Colored Horse. AU this 
for ten cents, one thin dime, one tenth of a dollar. Step right 
up and get your tickets." 

We were the two men in the act with the Indian. The 
Indian's long black hair hung in long braids on either side of 
his head. Marion would hang on one braid and I hung on the 
other. The Indian would hold us up by our sides, while we 
were holding onto the braids. He would turn round and round 
until he got us swinging. Then two other Indians beat on 
Tom-Toms and he shouted some crazy Indian song. The 
whole act lasted about 5 minutes. We sure got the boos from 
our friends when we came on the stage. 

Another act in the side show was a guy that called 
himself "The Professor of Music" with the only dancing 
kitten in the world. The barker had given this act a big play. 

The Professor would come out on the stage dressed in a 
purple cap and gown, playing the harmonica. He played 
several numbers on a big, regular size and real little 
harmonica. He was quite a showman and really could do his 
stuff on those harmonicas. His gown had a large pocket in it 

from which he took out a small kitten and placed it on a table. 
He immediately started playing "The Skaters' Waltz" on the 
harmonica. The kitten started shaking its paws as if dancing 
to the music. When he finished playing the waltz, he put the 
kitten back in his pocket, bowed and left the stage. The 
Professor never spoke a word. He was from Austria and 
couldn't speak English. 

I was so amazed to think that this man could train that 
kitten to dance. I kept raving and talking about it so much 
that one of the roustabouts with the carnival got tired of 
hearing me. He said to me, "Forget it, kid. That Professor is a 
faker, that kitten ain't trained to dance. That bum puts a 
little piece of sticky fly paper on each paw. That cat can't 
dance." He said, "Any cat wiO do the same thing, especially a 
big cat would really go into a dance. Try it on a big cat but 
put a bigger piece of fly paper on each paw." 

Of course Marion heard the story when I did. We could 
hardly wait to try it. Neither of us had a cat and the only one 
we could think of was Henry, the old yellow cat at the Drug 

The next afternoon after the Carnival left town, we cut 4 
pieces of sticky paper. Marion and I went to the drug store. I 
finally got Henry on my lap. I put a piece of fly paper on each 
of his paws and set him down on the floor. He kicked each 
paw several times and then he went wild. He jumped upon a 
table knocked off two ice cream soda glasses. Then he jumped 
on the candy case, knocked over a jar of jelly beans and a jar 
of chocolate non pareiUes. 

The jars fell to the floor, broke, and candy was spilled aO 
over. Women were screaming, Henry was going crazy. The 
darn cat jumped on a customer, Mr. Runge's shoulder. Mr. 
Runge grabbed Henry, held him and ran to the screen door, 
opened it and threw him out on the side walk. 

That was the last they ever saw of Henry. He never 
came back. Some folks said he got distemper and died. 

The druggist figured out that the broken jars, soda 

glasses and candy amounted to $6.00. He said, "I need a boy 
to work. You can work it out. I'll take a little out of your pay 
each week." 

My job was to deliver orders, sweep the floors and 
sidewalks and wash the dirty fountain glasses. I worked in 
the evening from 5:30 to 9 p.m. My pay was $2.50 per week 
and all the ice cream I wanted to eat. 

I worked for over a year. The druggist was very good to 
me. He never did take out for the jars, glasses and candy. I 
got interested in sports at high school. That's why I quit. 
However, I still ran errands for him, so I never had to pay for 
an ice cream soda. 

I might add here— I married the druggist's daughter, 
Marsha, and I will soon be married 61 years. 

We were blessed with two wonderful and beautiful 
daughters, two fine sons-in law and four lovely, good and 
talented grand children. 


Ruth B. Comerford 

"I'm not a tramp! I'm a hobo!" 

Dick and Angle had arrested his walk toward the 
kitchen door of The House and were coaxing him into The 
Carriage House, our house. 

He was a little man, somewhat shabby, with intense 
blue eyes and a stubble of whiskers. Defiance and wounded 
pride made him reluctant to accept the children's offer of 
friendship. Gidge was more practical "We've got food". 

Somewhat mollified: "A tramp is a beggar; a hobo is a 
gentleman of the road who works for his vituals!" 

Gidge assured him that we were too young to know 
that. Perhaps he would eat with us and tell all of us the 

difference. We were too young to know that we'd come upon a 
garrulous lonely man who was fond of children. 

All five of us were between the ages of eight and eleven. 
Gidge was the eldest, I was next, then Dick; we belonged to 
The house. Angie and Marge, who were sisters, were our 
playmates and neighbors. Although they were blonde, be- 
ribboned and doll-like in appearance, and daily wore starched 
pinafores, they were full of fun, mischief, and imagination. 

It was the time when the horse and buggy were fading 
and the automobile was still a novelty. The war was ending 
but the adults in The House had problems. Our father was 
gravely ill, and required much nursing care. Consequently 
when we were given The Carriage House for a playhouse, we 
were also inadvertently given much freedom from close 
parental scrutiny. We often raided the ice-box and the pantry 
without undue protests as long as our appetites at dinner 
were not noticeably diminished. These raids provided 
imaginative "Parties" for us at The Carriage House with a 
most unorthodox assortment of foods. 

The House was a large white clapboard affair boasting 
two gables and enough gingerbread trimming to be a 
painter's nightmare. It occupied a corner lot facing the 
Baptist church on the south and the United Methodist 
church on the east. Two wide verandas ran along the south 
and east sides. The large lot was screened by untended 
forsythia, spirea, and Ulac bushes. The Carriage House stood 
perhaps a hundred feet to the rear of the House and was in 
the same ornamental style. It was almost hidden in the same 
wild profusion of shrubbery. Not too long ago, it had housed 
three horses and two carriages, but it had been so scrubbed 
that it was no longer redolent of its former occupants. Above 
the main floor was a loft in which hay and straw had been 
stored; some of it remained, and afforded not only a hiding 
place for our treasures but matting upon which to rest. 

The day that the hobo arrived was one of golden 
sunshine. We clustered about him fascinated for although 

tramps were common at back doors, we had never been so 
close to one, and his smile was delightful. 

The promise of food overcame his wounded pride, and 
brought forth his good nature as we led him into our abode. 
At once scouts went forward to forage for food, appearing in 
untended kitchens of The House and the Walsh house, the 
abode of Angie and Margie. The provendor was excellent and 
certainly more plentiful than usual. We came up with a large 
piece of cold lamb, bread and butter, iced tea, apples, a piece 
of pie, and a generous portion of chocolate cake. Our guest fell 
to his meal with little conversation, and a seeming 
unawareness of five pairs of eyes which followed each 
mouthful. The feminine watchers decided that his next meal 
should be accompanied by silverware and some sort of cloth, 
for although a gentleman of the road, the consuming of the 
meal was not a dehcate operation. 

As he finished, there was extreme benevolence in that 
wondrous smile as he settled himself back in the straw, and 
asked for work. We put all the broken toys in front of him. As 
he fingered them, he started to set us straight about hoboes 
and tramps. He went on to tell us tales of hobo camps, police 
inconsideration, and modes of travel. He was a fascinating 
story teller and the afternoon melted away. We invited him to 
be our guests for the night. Before we left for dinner, he 
already seemed asleep in the straw. 

Two more days and nights passed and we were very 
busy supplying his meals. They were often odd combinations 
which he graciously received and our friendship deepened 
during the long tales of adventure. He became Our person. 

We slaved for his comfort, fetching and emptying water, 
providing soap and towels, finding an old carriage robe and 
pillow for his bed, even forbidden matches and tobacco from 
Mr. Walsh's desk. He asked for nothing but accepted what 
we provided with delicate gratitude. No one knew of our 
guest in The Carriage House. 

Then a new problem arose. We sat discussing the 


baptismal that would occur at the Baptist church on the next 
Sunday morning. This event occurred once a year and was 
one of the highhghts of our summers. Although neither of our 
families were members of that church, we were permitted to 
attend the service for we found the actual immersion of the 
applicants fascinating. 

Our Person wistfully mentioned that he had always 
wanted to belong to a fine church. Our Person had a desire 
that we could not fulfill. As we looked at one another an idea 
was born. 

Mrs. Whetlock, who lived down the street, was a 
member. She had a son who was one of the casualties of the 
war. The Walsh girls volunteered to ask her if she would 
approach Reverend Slater to request Our Person as an 
applicant for the baptism. We decided to introduce Our 
Person as a visiting soldier on his way home from the war. 
The dear old woman took it right out of our hands and that 
very day told us Reverend Slater would be most happy to add 
his name. We didn't know his name! Quickwitted Marge 
came up with "Charles Bremer". When we told Our Person he 
merely laughed and said although they used the name of 
"Charles Bremer", God would understand and supply the 
right name on his roles. That sounded very reasonable. 

Once again we faced reality. Our Person was not very 
presentable, but he was Our Person! We would outfit him, we 

He had set through our last conclave with the plaintive 
look of a bewildered child, brightening as decisions were 
made. We decided that this would take more sophisticated 
purloining but we could do it. By Saturday morning we had 
obtained a high-buttoned suit of my father's that had been 
set aside for cleaning, and a silk pinstriped shirt and a 
detachable white stiff collar whom the unsuspecting Mr. 
Walsh had provided. At the last minute Dick found a tie. 

The wash tub temporarily disappeared from the 
laundry, and we carried hot water for the tub until our backs 

ached, but we were exhilarated when we left Our Person to 
perform his ablutions. We were estatic when we were finally 
called to view Our Person in his baptismal attire. He was 
magnificent! The Suit was a little large, the pants and coat 
sleeves too long, but he was clean shaven, scrubbed, and 
smiling from ear to ear. There was one problem— no socks and 
his shoes were horrible. Dick scurried away and returned with 
stove blackening and socks! We worked on the shoes for a 
long time: They became passable. 

Excited we left him at dinner time, promising to be 
there the next morning. The evening was endless; we had 
never awaited Christmas with such anticipation. We were so 
animated that The Adults stole curious glances all 
throughout dinner. 

Sunday morning we waited on the veranda for Angle 
and Marge while we watched the congregation assemble 
across the street at the church. They came and we hurried 
inside and found seats in the front row. 

The sermon was endless. The hymns went on forever. At 
last the flooring over the baptismal waters was removed and 
the Reverend Slater strode to the pulpit to remark on the 
service to be rendered and to introduce the applicants. They 
had filed in slowly from the vestry. Our Person was there and 
he was beautiful. His turn came and as he shd into the waters, 
we all felt qualms about returning the drenched garments. 

He reappeared, received blessings, and then turned and 
looked directly at us and smiled the warmest smile. We 
started, giving back tremulous smiles of embarrassment. No 
parent ever felt a heart so warmed as we did for Our Person. 

Crossing the street eagerly on our way back to The 
Carriage House, we mentioned the problem of the wet 
garments. How were we to know that there would be no 

In the sun-streaked twilight of the loft, on the cloth that 
had served as his table lay five candy bars and five jaw 


Dorothy L. Chilberg 

"Mama, the Swensen man is here." How exciting it was 
to give that message to my mother. In the early 1900's we 
lived on a farm near Orion Illinois. Most of our medical 
supphes were bought from the Swensen man. Swensen 
products were known throughout the country. The first I 
remember about the man who sold them— he was from MoUne 
lUinois and his name was Swenson but he was not related to 
the Swensons. He came throughout the country in a spring 
wagon drawn by a team of horses and his products were in 
covered boxes along with locks. Later, the spring wagon was 
adorned by a cab holding all the products— a great 
improvement. He came in our area in the spring and fall. 
Swensen products? The most popular was the hniment. It 
was good for everything— not only for aching joints and sore 
muscles rubbed on at night before going to bed. If one had a 
cold, some was poured in a glass along with a teaspoon of 
sugar and some hot water and drank down fast. It burned all 
the way down, but it killed the cold. This formula was good 
for indigestion or any problems with the stomach. A bottle 
was always kept in the barn too, to be used if a horse had a 
strained muscle; it was rubbed on the area to ease the pain. 
Also, if a horse had cohc, a type of indigestion, some was put 
in a bottle along with some baking soda and water and forced 
down the horse's throat and it was sure to help. Then there 
was the cough medicine— none has ever surpassed it to this 
day and this product was a "must" on the fall trip. Then 
there were the vanilla and spices for the kitchen— the best 
ever and Mama stocked up on these items. Also, the bag 
balm— an ointment put on the cows udders in the winter time 
when they would become chapped and sore. I remember my 
father and the hired hands rubbing it on their hands in corn 
picking time when their hands would become sore and 

chapped. There was also a carboUc salve for any wound, boils, 
cuts and what not— it was sure to heal. 

The salesman had different routes in the country and he 
planned to be at certain farmer's home at mealtime and had 
his favorite places to stay all night and got his horses fed, 
watered, unharnessed and put up for the night. The fee? One 
of the items you purchased was free. He always had a few 
good stories to tell of his travels— weather, roads, people he 
encountered so there were many a good laughs. 

Finally, the automobile took over the horse drawn 
spring wagon. The progress was thought to be great. 
However, I never forgot the spring wagon drawn by a team of 

I am not sure where the Swensen products were made, 
but it seems to me it was in Ohio. Since the work horse was 
replaced by the tractor, combine and corn picking machines, 
many of these products were not needed so some of them 
became obsolete. And we don't have the salesman coming 
through the country selling any of these items. I do 
remember some of the home owned drug stores caried a few 
products, but they too have been replaced by the chain drug 
stores. So that is progress. Oh, yes, I remember the salesman 
always had a stick of gum for the children which was a big 

Beulah (Moody) Donaldson 

The testimonials were impressive: "The McNess man is 
a Merchant— not a mere agent or a peddler. He is an 
mportant factor in reducing the cost of Uving for the farmer 
. . A McNess selling career promises the ideal way to earn 
extras' that make hfe happier and provide a full family 
income. No experience required." 


No experience required! What experience did C.E. 
Moody have? Born and raised on a farm; Papa, as we called 
him when we were little, didn't know how to do much of 
anything besides farm work. He was orphaned at the tender 
age of four and separated from his sister and two brothers, 
each one going to hve with first one relative and then another. 
His education was scant, as he attended the rural school only 
through the fourth grade. When the opportunity came to 
open up a new territory for F. W. McNess Company, he was 
working as a farm hand for $30 a month, with a hog to 
butcher thrown in, plus some chickens to raise. Here was a 
chance to be his own boss and he decided to give it a try. Our 
father was not quite thirty years old when he signed the 
contract to become a traveUng salesman and full time 
demonstrator. He never regretted making the decision and he 
stayed with McNess for over fifty years. 

We left the farm in February of 1917, and moved to the 
small village of Maquon, near Spoon River in Knox County. 
It was the logical place to locate since it was centrally 
situated in the three-county territory assigned to our father 
to introduce McNess Products. Maquon was twenty-five 
miles away and we didn't know a soul who Uved there. 

Mama has told us it was a bitterly cold day when we 
made the move. Papa had driven us to Maquon in the family 
car, a 1913 model T Ford. The touring care had side curtains, 
but no heater, and we were all chilled to the bone by the time 
we arrived. The kindly Dr. Knowles, from whom we rented, 
invited Mama and we children to stay at his warm house until 
the furniture was moved in. It was a long wait as the 
furniture and all of our worldly goods were coming in farm 
wagons pulled by teams of horses plodding slowly over the 
frozen rutted roads. The good doctor bought sandwiches for 
us to eat but somehow neglected to provide for Mama, then 
almost as shy as we bashful youngsters chnging to her skirts. 
Leaving the familiarity of the farm to adopt a new life style in 
a strange town was, no doubt, an awesome venture for our 

mother, who was not yet twenty-five when the move was 

For a monthly rental of $12.50, the Knowles' property 
on Main Street consisted of two lots with a one story eight- 
room clapboard house, a large barn with a chicken house 
attached, plus a good sized shed with a lean-to coal house, 
and of course, a privy— there was electricity but no inside 
plumbing. The roomy shed would accommodate the stock of 
goods which would be shipped by rail from the factory in 
Freeport, Illinois. The place would suit our needs. There were 
fruit trees— apple, plum, and pear— grape vines, rhubarb, and 
space for a big garden. Also, a large yard with shade trees 
where we children would play. There were four of us. Glen 
was seven, I was not yet five. Wilbur was three and one-half, 
and Gerald, the baby, would be two years old in June. In two 
more years, Raymond was born. It was here that we grew up, 
for we stayed eighteen years. The rent remained the same, 
and any fixing up was at the renter's expense. 

C. E. Moody began peddhng McNess products from the 
1913 model-T Ford; during the winter, and at other times 
when the roads were impassable, he relied on "Dude" and 
"Mae", the team of horses he kept to pull the high wheeled 
medicine wagon. He made regularly scheduled calls several 
times a year at homes in the towns as well as the country. A 
penny post card was mailed ahead of time to let the customer 
know of his arrival. At first, the hne of goods consisted of 
medicines, ointments, extracts, spices, and stock and poultry 
tonics but, later, it was expanded to include coffee beans, pie 
fillings, dessert mixes, nectars, cosmetics, vitamins, 
insecticides, brushes, brooms, mops, and many other items. 

The huge sample case, with its colorful and intriguing- 
smelling contents, was a source of fascination for his 
customers. In the days when most farm families seldom got 
to town and consequently chose most of their needs from the 
pages of a maOorder catalog, the arrival of the McNess man 
was an occasion. For his part, C.E. quickly learned which 


women were the good cooks and accordingly arranged his 
calls to arrive at the right place at meal time. 

Firmly believing in the products he sold, C.E. was able 
to give most of them his personal endorsement, having tried 
them out at home with his family. But in most cases, he 
didn't have to use high-pressure salesmanship, as many 
items almost sold themselves once they had been tried and 
become rehed upon. Both McNess black pepper and McNess 
vanilla, preferred by champion cake bakers, quickly became 
best sellers. McNess 's "Doctor on the Shelf" included 
preparations for man or beast, as the bottles and tins 
themselves proclaimed. The customer was permitted to use 
from the bottle and, if he wasn't completely satisfied with the 
results, he would be reimbursed the next trip around for the 
unused portion. This practice was discontinued with the 
introduction of the sanitary sealed bottle, when a small 
sample bottle was given free with the purchase. 

Papa was a good looking salesman, neat about his 
person and dress, and always wore a suit and tie when he 
made the rounds. He made friends easily as it was natural for 
him to relate to farm people. He was an ex-farmer and 
farmhand himself and he knew their needs and problems. In 
the summer time, when school was out, we kids hked to go 
with him, and took turns doing so. Our job was to open and 
close gates, but the highlight of the long day was eating 
dinner away from home! Like most kids, then, we went 
barefooted at home, but we had to dress up and wear shoes 
when we went along with Papa. With well-scrubbed faces and 
neatly combed hair, I think Papa enjoyed showing us off to 
his customer friends. What fun it was travehng through the 
rolling countryside, past wooded hills, fields of growing corn, 
hay, oats, or wheat, past green hills where cattle and sheep 
grazed, ever on the lookout to spot a white horse, a favorite 
game for kids. The rough planks of country bridges rattled as 
we crossed over meandering creeks. We begged to stop on the 
larger iron framework structures spanning Spoon River 

where one could look down and see leaves and sticks floating 
lazily by on the surface of the water. These were contended 
happy times for Papa too. I can remember him softly 
whisthng or humming a few bars of two old hymns; "In the 
Sweet By and By": and "When the Roll is Called Up 
Yonder," reminiscent of services at Cottonwood Church, 
where he met comely Annie Laurie Dawson. She was sixteen 
when they were married in 1908. 

Tallying up the day's sales and receipts was a routing 
chore every evening after supper. Papa accounted for every 
last penny as he sat at the old bookcase, his bookwork 
illuminated by the hght from a bare bulb suspended from the 
ceiling of the long hving room. Considering his scant 
education, he was good at figures and his handwriting was 
firm and even. When describing the benefits and properties of 
the potions and articles he endorsed, he often times 
mispronounced words he had memorized from the sales 
Uterature. Later, we noted words were misspelled also, but 
perhaps the customer was unschooled too, and unaware of 
these errors! 

In 1919, the Sanitary Salesman, the McNess 
pubhcation, printed Papa's report "I have been with the 
Company shghtly over two years. I now have my own team 
and wagon. I also have a new car. I have also purchased many 
household needs. My earnings now are all the way from $10 
to $25 a day." 

It was a prosperous time and the lean years on the farm 
were in the past. Farmers had cash to pay for their needs 
from the "store on wheels" when the McNess man came 
around. Papa often brought home farm-fresh meats, eggs, 
produce, and fruits he had bought or taken in trade. Mama 
dutifully "put up" large quantities of cherries, blackberries, 
peaches, and whatever in season the farmer had to exchange. 
For our large family, she canned mostly in two-quart Mason 
jars, the kind with a rubber ring and a glass-hned zinc hd. It 
was seldom that she lost a jar for the boiling foods were 


dipped from the open kettle into sterilized containers. Often, 
butters or preserves bubbled in a dishpan as they cooked 
down to the right consistency on the back of the coal range. 

We raised vegetables in our big garden but mostly 
potatoes, for potatoes were the mainstay of our meals; boiled 
with the jackets on, hash browned, or mashed. At planting 
time in the spring, we children dropped the cut-up potatoes 
evenly in the deep furrows. Papa had been careful to see that 
each one had at least two eyes with which to sprout. Besides 
weeding and cultivating, there were pesky potato bugs to be 
dislodged with a piece of shingle into a can of kerosene where 
they would die. These were kid's jobs. At harvest time, gunny 
sackfuls of potatoes were stored for the winter in the cellar, 
and cabbages and carrots put into a barrel, sunk into the 
ground near the shed, to be dug up as needed. The cellar, or 
"fruit room" as we called it held a vast store of foods. A 
twenty-gallon stone jar held pork, put down in brine. Hams, 
cured by a salt and brown sugar process, hung from the 
ceiling along with onions and dill. There were baskets of 
apples, squash, and pumpkins. The room gave out a 
delightful tangy aroma. Papa made handy shelving by 
stacking the wooden boxes in which McNess goods had been 
shipped, and these held Mama's canned fruits, preserves, and 
jellies. Later such boxes would become collector's items and 
bring good prices, as would the old medicine bottles, 
ointment tins, and other containers. 

C.E. Moody's name appeared at, or near, the top of the 
high sales lists many times throughout his years with 
McNess. He was one of forty-eight merchants who were 
selected to attend the "Convention of Prize Winning Men" in 
1919, a four-day extravaganza held in and around Chicago for 
top salesmen within the company. He was honored in 1930 
with the award of an Elgin pocket watch, on the back of 
which was engraved: "In appreciation of good service 
rendered." There were gifts of lesser value— Uve turkey at 
Christmas time, woolen blankets, a set of dishes, tableware, 

shiny aluminum skillets and cookware, and many other 
household items. 

During the Depression Days, business was on the 
downgrade. The fanner had no cash, and it was necessary to 
accept anything he had to offer to make a sale, or "carry him 
over" until the next trip around when he might, or might not 
have the money to pay. Dad, as we began to caD him by this 
time, had his service car equipped with a crate on the front 
bumper to transport live chickens he sometimes took in trade 
for merchandise. He carried an egg crate also and he, in turn, 
traded eggs to the groceryman in payment of our needs. The 
chickens were sold or consumed. It was hard times for 
everyone, and especiaDy disheartening to be told that the day 
or the week before that the competitive Raleigh, Watkins or 
Hebberhng man had been ahead of him and the lady of the 
house "wouldn't be needing anything, thank you." 

Rural roads were graveled and improved after the first 
few years in business and it was no longer necessary to use 
the horse drawn medicine wagon. A succession of service cars 
followed the wagon and 1913 model T Ford. He favored 
Chevrolets, and owned several panel jobs, but he also had a 
Ford roadster with a custom-built box on the back, a Dodge 
panel truck, and his last service car was a 1957 pink colored 
Pontiac station wagon. With the exception of the last vehicle, 
the wagon and all the others were lettered to advertise 
McNess Products. He traveled thousands of miles and our 
father was well-known in the area he served, supplying each 
generation with trusted products and a treasury of told and 
retold anecdotes. When he died in December of 1973 at the 
age of eighty-six, he was still using and recommending the 
McNess Products he had peddled and sold throughout the 
countryside for over fifty years. Many people hold fond 
memories of the McNess Man who had given them a 
cherished stick of gum, McNess brand, of course, when they 
were children on his route. 



Glenn Philpott 

The old Rock Island freight train came to a "hissing" 
stop in a cloud of steam and another non-paying customer 
jumped from the side door pullman onto the grass along the 
tracks. It was 1934 and another traveling sign painter had 
invaded our small town of Tiskilwa, Illinois. 

He represented free enterprize which was a common 
attribute during the Depression Years. With a bent up hat, 
shaggy coat and crumpled pants he represented himself as he 
was— just a regular guy looking for an honest dollar and 
ready to work for it. 

Usually the first stop in any town was the nearest 
tavern. Here he was able to "bolster" his spirits and also be 
guided to the possibility of his first job. Usually some truck 
driver needed a new sign on his truck door or the barber 
might need a new sign on his window. 

Most sign men were loners because of the scarcity of 
jobs. With very few exceptions they only had close 
companionship with that little brown bottle carried in their 
back pocket. In a few hours he could pick up a few dollars and 
this would supply his basic needs until the next town. 

I have always been interested in signs of all kinds and as 
a kid it was only natural for me to watch this artist in action 
and marvel at all the curves and exactness of his work. He 
never seemed anxious to divulge any of his trade secrets. 

With a half-smoked, hand-rolled cigarette dangling from 
his lips and the smoke curling over one eye he could almost 
dazzle you with the swiftness of his brush strokes. This man 
was a true artist because he wasn't trying to do a good job for 
repeat business because in all probability he would never be 
in our town again. He was only trying to please his customer 
of the moment. Sign painters took great pride in their work 
because they all had a small trade mark of some kind that 
was painted near the bottom of their work for identification. 

In those days most small towns could not afford to 
sustain a sign painter of a permanent basis so this enabled 
these men of the road to pick up a few honest dollars for a few 
hour's work and be on their way. Their inventory was very 
small. A half dozen cans of paint and few bottles of "goop" 
and "turp" kept them going for several days. 

Of course those days are gone now. As I travel around 
the country, once in a while it is nice to get off the main 
highways and visit some of the old bypassed towns. When I 
see an old delapitated building thats been deserted for years 
and ready to faD down, with its broken out glass windows, I 
have to wonder was it possible that the faded Grocery sign 
could have been painted years ago by that old sign painter I 
watched as a boy in TISKILWA, ILL. 

One old sign painter left his mark on the side of the old 
blacksmith shop I walked by to school as a boy. 


Owen T. McManus 

The great exertion put forth by the thousands of young 
musicians— week after week, in the ever-present street 
parades, up and down the football fields, or perhaps sitting, 
disciplined in concert on a stage or even now in our modern 
Rock groups, is an ever-present phenomenon. 

My thoughts turn to around the turn of the century, say 
from about 1900 to 1930. Well, I was born in 1903, so let's 
start about 1916. 

I lived in a small central Illinois town of a poetic 
origin— which was and is Nokomis, after the character from 
the lovely Longfellow poem, "The Song of Hiawatha." 

This small town was a thriving, bustUng, hustling place, 


boasting of two very productive coal mines and about five 
thousand population, including Sunny Jim Bottomley first 
baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, and one Charles "Red" 
Ruffing, fireball pitcher for the New York Yankees.* 

I played first cornet for our forty-piece City marching 
band— juveniles, if you please. We had spanking new white 
trimmed in black uniforms, paid for by our parents, as were 
our instruments. We had no school connection. Our band had 
little trouble with finances until one day we were invited to 
play at the Wisconsin State Fair. Well, we couldn't raise the 
thousand or so dollars to transport, bed and room over forty 
people for a week at the Fair. The people of that day were not 
so familiar with the need for the performing arts as they are 
today, so we kept on with our weekly downtown concerts, 
playing the great marches of John Philip Sousa and the 
compositions of Brahms. 

World War I ended, and so did the coal mines. We 
moved back to Decatur, still in Illinois, where later George 
Reid and I formed a ten-piece dance band with such fine 
musicians as Glen Khck, Horace Alexander, Marty 
McMillan, Jimmie Ross and many other fine musicians. The 
band was called "Red McManus and His Orchestra," not 
because I was such a great musician, but I played drums and 
did a flair on trumpet, although Harry James was never in 
any danger. I was an entertainer and did all the funny stuff 
up front of the band. Then there was, our "ace in the 
hole"— entertainment. We produced perhaps a real 
conception of local vaudeville with the tune "Ding Dong 
Daddy." I did the number to the hiliarity of many thousands 
over Illinois. We played the college route— Millikin 
University, Bradley University, University of Illinois, as well 
as Stephen Decatur High School, and all the large hotels and 
ball rooms from north to south in Illinois, save of course 
Chicago. That is another story I played part in— during the 

•Both in baseball's Hall of Fame 

Sally Rand World's Fair. All Bradley dances were played in 
Peoria; at the Pierre Marquette Hotel, the North Shore 
Country Club, or the Country Club of Peoria. We played 
many dances for the Knights of Columbus of Peoria. In 
Springfield, Illinois, we gained much fame broadcasting over 
Radio Station WTAX, from their famous ball room, the 

When George Reed and I formed the band, radio was 
just coming in. So we had to have a "signature song", so 
George and some of others chose "Who's Sorry Now." 
George and Glen Klick were both dedicated musicians. Glen 
Klick did all of our arranging, and his work gained many 
accomplished congratulations. I give credit to these two men 
for molding together our fine organization. 

I can never forget the day a man came to me and said, 
"Hey, Red, there is a band playing at the Lincoln Square 
Theatre onstage and it has a bass horn in it." "Oh, come now, 
who ever heard of an orchestra having a bass horn in it" Well, 
the price of a ticket convinced me. Big bands were on their 

Many of our present generation have no way of knowing 
that the great Bob Hope was once an attraction and Emcee at 
our local Lincoln Square Theatre. Yes, he was just starting 
out then. Decatur's Lincoln Square Theatre in those days was 
a real show place, with a pit orchestra— sixteen men, with 
many fine musicians recruited from across the country, and 
of course some of our local talent too. 

I would say that during the 20s and up to the 30s 
Decatur had its share of good local bands. Lee Homebrook 
Society, Carl Yeagle Dixie, Les Cripe College, Zackie Moore 
Potpourri, Tiny Hill Big Time, Ben Bradley Modern, Chet 
Walker back to Dixie Land, and then later came BiU Oetzel 
and his Orchestra, perhaps the nearest thing to the Lawrence 
Welk Band. 

Carl Yeagle at one time had a five-piece Dixie Land 
Band, which was undoubtedly the finest this side of New 


Orleans. He had a trick drummer, one Harley X. Hall, and he 
alone was worth the price of admission. Jimmie Quinn was on 
fiddle with Yeagle, and he was very good in the Dixie swing 
and beat. Drummers like Clyde Greenwood would be hard to 
beat, as was Lew Hogan, who was also Decatur's impressario 
of our town's most thriving dance emporium, the Illini. We 
played there so much Lew once asked if we had "squatters' 
rights," but we did draw the crowds. About once a month we 
did a stage show at the Empress Theatre, and modestly (?) I 
must say we sure did pack them in for that stand too. 

Our other appearance on stage here was a stand at 
Jimmie Soules' Restaurant on North Water Street. Jimmie 
had a flair for the theatre and had a stage with aO the stage 
lights, even a spot hght which gave me added help doing my 
novelty tunes. This was when beer first came back, and 
Jimmie packed them in. 

One sad note in my memory is that I did not personally 
know any black musicians in Decatur. Decatur had some, and 
one on saxophone landed in Paris, France, where he did very 
much all right, and that was not with Armed Forces of 
course. Nearly all the name bands stopped in Decatur at one 
time or the other— Paul Whiteman, Duke Ellington, Count 
Basie, Lawrence Welk, the Kansas City Night Hawks (Coon- 
Sanders). I remember that the very few times I stood in line 
to hear a musician was when I did that to hear the great 
Louis Armstrong. He was a master of the horn and a great 
personal friend of Bing Crosby, and a man near and dear to 
the hearts of the great as well as the common man. 

One of my jobs with the band was to sing novelty 
parodies, which I had composed, of popular tunes we 
played— "My Sister Kate," "Shanty Town," "Ding Dong," 
and others. (Some I wouldn't mention here) But anyway one 
evening a lady walked up to me and says, "I like your soft, 
vibrant voice. It reminds me of the distant call of the buzz 

Later in life, as retirement fell my way, after a few stops 

along the way— a stint of over twelve years traveling for 
Sears, a stint as deputy sheriff and bailiff for one of the finest 
and especially dedicated judges on the bench of any court, 
Donald W. Northland, whose decisions never ceased to place 
me in full agreement, then a stint for the then Secretary of 
State, Paul Powell, and into retirement. Actually I was rather 
"pushed" into retirement. 

Music styles change except those of the old Masters. 
Tin Pan Alley songs are made to sell, but of course many, 
many of them will endure. Civil War songs are of course 
obsolete, but they were the thing, at the time. Rock and Roll 
had to come. It was time for a change, and youth makes those 
changes. Country and Western, long a rural American 
favorite, didn't come out of its shell until some wise Tin Pan 
Alley boys must have told the Nashville boys, "Look, you are 
sitting on a gold mine. It is time to put Country and Western 
in its proper place, with dignity and $ $ $." They did and now 
we have those same dedicated, honest, sincere people 
becoming millionaires with their real place in the lime light 

We are back to my early days in Nokomis, where I 
served Mass so much the people said I began to look like our 
parish priest. My son Bill and I are both with all those boys 
and girls that every Saturday step lively down the football 
field or with the Rock group that draws thousands of 
dedicated fans, and with the Country Western talents, who 
have perhaps the largest consistent audience of all. To them 
we say, "Right on, every youthful." Bill and I are not music 
fans, we are addicts. 


Glenna Lamb 

It was a clear, though bedraggled summer morning. A 


rain, during the night had left everything looking fresh and 
strangely new. To the eyes of a six-year old the surroundings, 
though familiar, cried out to be explored. With breakfast out 
of the way, I set out to do just that. 

Our house sat on a ridge in Greene County, about five 
miles northwest of Patterson and approximately the same 
distance, as the crow fUes, south-west of Glasgow. Miller Hill 
was bout an eighth of a mile east of our house. The road 
between the two hills was quite flat, and our family referred 
to it by that name. My exploring trip took me down into the 
"Flat." The rain had washed all the ruts out of the du-t road, 
leaving it smooth like a table-top. It was packed down, not 
muddy. The total absence of tracks increased my feeling of 
newness and wonder. 

Many interestingly shaped, lovely colored pebbles lay 
exposed by the side of the road. They were a little girl's 
jewels, and I began gathering them to take home to keep, 
with my other treasures. 

Suddenly, the silence was shattered by the sound of 
pounding hooves and jangling harness. I looked up to see 
some kind of covered vehicle, drawn by a team of mules, 
bearing down upon me. Immediately, there flashed through 
my mind stories I had heard from grown-ups, about Gypsies 
who traveled through the country kidnapping children. These 
children, so the stories went, were never seen again. At that 
moment, I was certain this was to be my fate. I began 
running toward home as fast as my short legs would carry 
me. After a moment, I knew the wagon was catching up to 
me. There was a patch of red clover growing beside the road, 
which was about waist high to me. I decided my only hope 
was to try to hide there, so I dived into it and lay flat on my 
stomach, heart pounding, trying not to breathe. 

"Ho, ho, ho! " a deep throated, jolly laugh rang out from 
the driver's seat of the wagon. "Come on out, little girl," he 
boomed. "1 won't hurt you. I'm going to sell your mother 
some pots and pans." His wagon was standing beside me. 

Slowly my emotions began to turn around. His laugh and 
voice sounded friendly. I reasoned that he might be telling 
the truth; if he weren't, he knew I was there and could kidnap 
me anyway. I decided I might as well come out. Gingerly, I 
got on my feet and inched my way out of the clover. His voice 
was kindly amused as he said: "Get up on the seat beside me, 
Uttle girl. I'm not a Gypsy; I'm a peddler. Ride up to the 
house with me, and see what 1 have to sell." My trust did not 
go quite that far, but I felt half-safe, walking beside his 
wagon up to the house. He pulled into the drive-way and 
stopped beside the trumpet-vine that grew by the front 
porch. Again his booming voice rang out to summon my 

When she came, he opened the doors of his vehicle, and 
displayed an interesting array of merchandise. On the inside 
of the doors were hooks, from which hung an assortment of 
things such as brushes, long handled spoons, scissors, 
feather-dusters etc. In the interior of the wagon were built-in 
shelves and compartments, which contained such items as 
bolts of cloth, dusting powder for insects, milk crocks, and as 
he had said, pots and pans. It was like a magician making 
things appear from nowhere. Some things are difficult to 
recall, but it seems to me that he presented his wares pohtely, 
with no undue pressure to buy. I think he just made his 
merchandise available, if we needed it. By now, I was 
beginning to like this man who, twenty minutes ago, had 
been my arch enemy. 

I don't remember if my mother bought anything or not. 
She probably did, if she had enough butter and egg money to 
pay for it. It was a busy season for farmers, and trips to town 
were few and far between. Whether or not the peddler made 
sale, I'm pretty sure his visit was the highlight of my 
mother's day. He brought, not only the unexpected 
opportunity to shop at home, but he gave her a break from 
her daily routine, and he brought news from the outside 
world. This must have been especially welcome, since we had 

no telephone. As you can see, he filled some important needs 
in the life of a busy farmer's wife. He also gave this farmer's 
daughter an amusing story to tell her children, many years 
later. For this, I feel enriched. 


Dale L. Thompson 

I was born and raised in Macomb, lU.— then left there in 
September 1915, to go to college in Beloit, Wis. In the 
summers of 1913, 1914, and 1915, a 'medicine man" came to 
Macomb for a period of about two weeks, and set up his tent 
in a vacant lot on West Jackson St. across from the Cathohc 
Church. As I recall, he put on a free show each night. On the 
platform at the front of his tent, there were huge glass jugs 
containing samples of "tapeworms" which purportedly had 
come from the bodies of certain of his patients after thay had 
used his medicine. 

He had a versatile musical entertainer who put on a 
different performance each night to draw a crowd. Since I 
played the piccolo, I was interested especially in the 
performer's tricks with "penny whistles". One of his special 
acts was to play them by blowing through his nostrils. He 
said, "I took my little flootlets, and I played them with my 
snootlets". He had two "flutelets" which were tuned 
harmoniously, and he played a duet. One night he had a 
string of imitation sausages, one of which was an ocarina, or 
"sweet potato whistle". He also had a home made cigar box 
fiddle— and other things— something different each night. 

After the "musician" performed, the "doctor" would 
explain how tape worms operated. He would have a 
"testimony" from a different person each night. They would 
tell of all the suffering they had endured— all the doctors and 
different patent medicines they had tried— unsuccessfuUy 

—until they took this man's medicine— and "after three days, 
I had a big bowel movement, and out came this" as she 
pointed to one of the big jars with the "giant worms" in it. 
Then the "medicine man" would sell bottles of his special 
medicine for one dollar each. 

The medicine man's entertainer became a personal 
inspiration to me. I already played the piccolo, harmonica, 
Jews' Harp, mandoUn and cello. I was intrigued by the 
medicine man's "flootlets that he played with his snootlets". 
I had a flutelet, but it had a sharp metal mouthpiece which 
hurt my nostrOs. Finally I found one with a plastic "nose 
piece". It was no problem to play it with my one "snootlet". 
But— I couldn't find two which would harmonize. So I 
thought, "Why bother with two? Could I possibly play one 
"flutelet with my snootlet" while I whistled a second part 
with my hps? I had to learn to blow through my nostrils and 
my mouth simultaneously. Then I found that I was wasting 
air through my other nostril. So I now put a cork into the 
unused nostril, and am able to play a duet with my "snoot- 
floot" as one of my sons-in-law calls it. 

I thought it would be fun to play the harmonica while 
standing on my head. But to do that, I had to use both hands 
to help me keep my balance, so I learned to play the 
harmonica without holding with my hands— and I really play 
it— not just make a noise. 

My next project was to play a duet— mandohn and 
harmonica— with a different harmonizing tune on each. This 
required extreme spht concentration— but now I play "Silver 
Bell" on the mandohn while playing "Home, Sweet Home" on 
the harmonica. 

I also imitate mocking birds with my "sweet potato" 
whistle— also play the musical saw. 

At age 86 I still entertain with my musical novelty 
tricks inspired by the Macomb medicine man. 


Mary B. Rainey 

How easy it was, "back then" to please the heart of a 
child. How Uttle was required to bring excitement into the 
lives of children growing up in a tiny, rural Illinois town. I 
remember, vividly, one of those small pleasures. 

During the summer of 1928, the Toby Show came to our 
town. A huge tent was set up in the vacant lot, between the 
hardware store and Mrs. Fern's house. I am now aware that 
the tent was really both small and grubby. Oakwood could 
hardly contain the curiosity and excitement of it's four 
hundred citizens. The "smeD of grease paint and the roar of 
the crowd" consumed each of us. 

The Toby Show provided nightly entertainment for 
three wonderful evenings. The purpose of the performance 
was to stimulate the sale of soap. I'm not sure what kind of 
soap it was. It must have been some wonderful, magical facial 
soap. In addition there was for sale, a marvelous eUxir. This 
elixir held no small mystery for the children. We knew nothng 
about "women's ailments" and very Uttle about balding. 

The actors, talented though they were, were responsible 
for putting up the tent and placing the concrete blocks which 
held the planks for the unreserved seating. They also 
packaged incredibly awful candy, which had a prize in each 
and every sack. This candy along with the soap and elixir, 
was sold during multiple intermissions. 

The show had a decidedly vaudeviUian flavor. There was 
a short, slap-stick skit, singing, a viohn and some stand-up 
comedy. The star of the show was Toby, the clown. He 
appeared during the intermissions. His role was loud and 
repetitious. He simply shouted at the top of his lungs, "C-0- 
P-E, soap. It's the finest, bestest, most beautifying soap in 
the world. C-O-P-E soap." Can this, really, have delighted 
me? It did! I have no memory of how the candy or ehxir were 
touted, but "C-O-P-E, soap" will be forever with me. 

The few days the Toby Show was in town provided an 
excuse for many things otherwise unacceptable. Little boys 
could be late for noon dinner because they were working for 
the show. Little girls could congregate in gigghng groups in 
Mrs. Fern's yard and not be called home to baby sit or stay in 
the yard until supper. High school people had a real place to 
go on a date. Grown-ups had an occasion to go early and talk 
together. The atmosphere was carnival, sophisticated and, 
best of all. different. 

Merchants kept their doors open late. The grocer and 
the druggist did extra business. The juke box in the Blue 
Room played continually and provided music for dancing. 
Cherry cokes flowed Hke wine. The younger kids stood 
outside looking through the window to see the dancing. 

One more aspect of Toby's visit to Oakwood stays with 
me. Our parents required, at the risk of severe punishment, 
that the girls stay away from the tent during non-show hours. 
The boys were "allowed". They deHvered flyers door to door, 
ran errands, cleaned up the debris from the last show and 
earned a ticket to the evening performance (25 cents). Boys 
alone, could brag of personal acquaintances among the 

I was unsure at the time, why we weren't "allowed." I 
can only assume that our mothers were not ready to have 
their girl children subjected to what might have been, too 
worldly contact. After all, who were these people? Where did 
they come from? (Where, indeed?) Would they carry us away 
into their glamorous, unknown world? 

We really didn't care. We didn't analyze, conjecture or 
even think about anything except the deUcious excitement 
provided by three nights of Toby yelling, "C-O-P-E, soap." 


Margaret Kelly Reynolds 

It was in the fall of 1942, a time of people being on the 
move. It was also a time of broken homes because so many 
men were in the Armed Forces. My husband was in the 
service in Florida and 1 was biding my time, waiting until he 
was out of an Army Air Corps school so I could join him. 

At the time, I was staying with my sister, Kathryn, and 
her husband Elwin, Taking care of their first child while 
Kathryn taught school. Donna, their baby girl, was just five 
months old at the time. They lived one-half mile from the 
little town of Hull, Illinois, on a main gavel road, and next to 
the Wabash railroad tracks. The railroad ran through the 
center of town and the tracks were quite close to the edge of 
the road on one side with their house setting back some 
distance on the opposite side of the road. The house itself was 
a big, old, barn-like, two-story, spooky, frame building 
surrounded by very large, scraggly and constantly creaking 
old pine trees. 

This was war-time, and there were many troops riding 
the trains. They were often side-tracked close to one side of 
the house for several hours. It was interesting to see them get 
off the trains and drill in one of the vacant fields, at least from 
the security of the house: However, I had been warned to 
always keep the doors or the screen doors locked. Also, there 
was always the chance of a tramp, or hobo, coming to the 
door, because they too used the railroad by hopping a freight 
trains. There were a great many tramps on the move at that 
time and many did stop, especially if the train they had been 
on was side-tracked for a long time period. Most often, it was 
in the early evening when Elwin was home. They would stop 
and ask for a handout and then move on. Since I was afraid of 
them, probably partly because of their shabby and often 
times dirty appearance, I would never open the door to a 

tramp, and also, I was warned repeatedly not to open the 
door when I was alone with Donna. 

Sometimes in the afternoons I would wheel Donna in her 
baby buggy the short distance to the small town of Hull just 
to get a few groceries and to show her off. She was such a 
pretty little black haired, black eyed baby girl, and was so 
good natured, that is, unless she was hungry or needed a 
diaper change. I always carried an old red shoulder bag 
pocketbook to put Donna's bottle in, also an extra diaper, and 
the other odds and ends necessary for a trip to town with the 
baby. Very httle money though! I could always push Donna 
with one hand, carry my groceries in the other, and let the 
pocketbook swing from my shoulder. 

On that particular day I had taken Donna for a stroll 
uptown, had gotten a few groceries, and was on my way home 
when the shoulder strap on my old red pocketbook broke and 
spilled Donna's bottle, diapers, and all the other odds and 
ends in the middle of the road. We were right by the railroad 
track, and there was a troop train side-tracked. To say that 1 
was embarrassed would be putting it mildly. There were 
probably a few hundred soldiers watching me as I struggled 
to pick up the stuff. They never said a word— just watched 
and whistled. I was so mad at that old pocketbook that I 
jammed part of the stuff in Donna's buggy and carried the 
rest; anything to get home as quickly as I could! 

When 1 got home, I fed Donna, diapered her, and put her 
down for a nap. Then I happened to think about fixing the 
strap on that old pocketbook. 1 got out the butcher knife to 
pry a metal clamp loose so 1 could re-insert the strap, and had 
just started to pry it off when someone knocked on the door. I 
was still mad about my embarrassment during the trip home 
from town, and I forgot all about not going to the door. When 
1 opened the door, I froze. There stood a tramp! He looked at 
me and started backing off the porch, mumbhng something 
hke: "Lady, I didn't mean you no harm" He was stuttering 
and stammering and backing away. When he got to the end of 

the porch he turned around and ht out in a dead run down the 
railroad track. I don't think he even looked back! 

I just stood there and for the life of me, I couldn't think 
what was the matter with him— until I looked down. I was 
stiU holding that old red pocketbook in one hand and— a 
butcher knife in the other one. Needless to say, we weren't 
bothered with too many tramps the rest of that fall, and the 
incident was a standing joke in our family for several years. 


Ruth E. Pearson 

The century was very young and our immigrant parents 
were youthful, too, busy estabhshing their families and eager 
to learn the language and customs of this strange new 
vibrant land. There was not yet a chicken in every pot or a car 
in every garage. Cars were scarce in the half-town, half- 
country that was Mohne. But the newcomers soon discovered 
that service came to the home and provided convenience for 
adults and a source of delight for children. 

In the country they had left, our parents told us, sitting 
for one's photograph was a rather solemn event and the 
portraits became cherished keepsakes; so when the itinerant 
photographer came into the area, he was always welcome. 
Sometimes he came prodding a reluctant donkey, sometimes 
a long-haired goat pulhng a cart. He set his hooded camera on 
a tripod, and as he fussed with the scene, his head bobbed in 
and out of the black hood, startling the little watchers. Later 
he returned with pictures showing three small, frightened 
children perched on donkey or goat cart: treasures recorded 
for all time in the family album. 

Now and then, on an early morning, we would wake to the 
sound of the clip-clop of horse's hoofs in the quiet street, hear 
the jingle of coins in bottles, then the chp-clops receding in 

the distance. The driver remained an unknown figure to us, 
but always on the porch were the milk bottles to be taken in 
and the rich cream poured from the top for grown-ups' coffee. 
If the bottles were left outside too long on a wintry day, the 
cream would freeze and rise an inch or two above the bottles, 
the cap titled precariously on top. 

On summer mornings the sound of the ice wagon 
brought the neighborhood children running to watch a 
familiar ritual. After the driver secured his horse with a 
weight on the pavement, he glanced at the card in our window 
and began to chip away at a block of ice until it reached the 
desired size. With tongs clamped securely in the ice, he 
hoisted the block onto a rubber pad on his shoulder and went 
around the house to the back hall where he deftly fitted the 
piece into the ice chest. In the meantime, back at the wagon, 
we sucked on our ice "lollipops." knowing fuO well we were 
forbidden to do so. When the driver returned, he hung up his 
tongs, picked up the weight and was off to his next customer. 
I often wondered how that little weight could hold that big 
horse, and what would happen if, on a hot July day, a 
firecracker went off close by. Stories of runaway horses were 
not unknown, but, alas, this stolid horse was never put to the 

After lunch on those hot days, children as a rule would 
rest quietly inside where shades throughout the house were 
drawn against the sun. But on Sunday we were allowed to sit 
on the front steps, nickel clenched in hand, and to wait for the 
ice cream man. At last, the melodious bell would sound up the 
avenue and the familiar horse drawing the glass-enclosed 
wagon would come into sight. The driver would wait 
patiently as we stood at the window watching the popcorn 
tumble out of the machine. Then the moment of indecision 
was over, and most often it was the smooth, cold taste of our 
favorite ice cream that we relished as we returned to the 
house to wait for the cool of evening. When coolers came into 
the stores, the ice cream wagon stopped making its rounds, 

but for many years it was a landmark on Moline's fifth 
avenue and continued to dispense ice cream and popcorn 

Almost every neighborhood had its little corner store to 
which we were sent for staples: flour, sugar, lard, meat for the 
evening meal— sometimes penny candy! For other goods our 
parents depended on Mr. Greim, who came each week for 
orders and returned with fresh-from-the-garden-and-orchard 
vegetables and fruits grown on land south of Town. Each 
week, too, Mrs. De Beyer came from her chicken farm on 
Coaltown Road with large, fresh eggs for the baking that was 
a daily task in every home. Occasionally the "vanilla man" 
stopped by to leave extracts. 

Each of these vendors filled a need of the time, but 
perhaps the person who held the most fascination for us was 
the "sheenie". It was a thrill of anticipation that we heard the 
reedy voice caUing "racks, ol' i'on, racks, ol' i'on" as the 
dilapidated cart came through the alley. We soon learned that 
his calling card was "rags, old iron," but his collection was by 
no means confined to rags and iron; broken toys, pieces of 
pipe, wood, aluminum, steel, all were thrown onto the cart to 
join the rejects there. He would dole out the pennies he 
thought an article was worth, then snap his purse almost in 
our faces. 

We were a httle afraid of him: perhaps it was the dark 
hair that hung to his shoulders, the rheumy eyes beneath 
black brows, the scraggly beard under the big, hooked nose: 
perhaps it was the threat of older children as they sang out: 
"The sheenie will get you if you don't watch out." Or perhaps 
it was the somber mien that disguised some enigma a child 
could not fathom. We were secretly relieved when the peddler 
flicked the chspirited horse with his whip and whisked away 
down the alley, the black coat that hung loosely on his 
meager frame flapping in the breeze like a giant bat. 


Mrs. Lillian Nelson Combites 

After the scraps, rug rags and any usable parts were 
used up, the remaining material was put in a gunny sack and 
carried to the store house at the back of the lot and added to 
all year. In the Spring the rag man come in a wagon drawn by 
his horse all the way from Macomb. It was a long trip by 
horse and wagon on dirt roads. He stood up on the wagon 
with his scale hooked in the tied end of the sacks and weighed 
the sacks. Sometimes we would get two or three dollars cash. 
We were always excited for it meant some little extras for the 
house or us. They said they used the old rags to make paper. 

Then one day along came the junk man and bought the 
old iron we picked up and neighbors gave us. This gave us a 
few extra coins. 

The next peddler was the scissor grinder. We couldn't 
afford many knives for Mama had an old crock she used to 
whet our knives on. She did need our scissors sharp after all 
that cutting all winter. He usually only charged a dime or if 
more than one pair a quarter was enough. Sometimes a hobo 
come along and sharpened them for something to eat. 

Next was the peddler with his covered wagon full of 
anything you needed. We never had much to buy with from 

Then there was the chicken buyer. One time I had a red 
hen all my own. A Rhode Island Red that laid brownish color 
eggs. I named her Nina after our neighbor girls that had red 
hair. I remember how sad I was to seU my very own chicken 
even if I got the money for her. It was either sell or eat her. I 
never could have stood for Mama to cook Nina. 

There were many peddlers and traveling salesmen in 
those days come to the door but these were the ones I 

We done some peddling ourselves as Mama sold truck 
patch and we "kids" peddled it. We took beets to Jason 

James and Minnie Rothrock bought cucumbers. She would 
get her salt shaker and eat one right there before we left her 
house. We ground and sold horseradish door to door every 

Peddlers were part of American way of life at that time. 
Almost everyone had something to peddle to help make bring 
in a httle more money. 


Gwendolyn Banner 

It happened a long time ago when I was very young. I 
don't believe I was as yet going to school although I might 
have been a first or second grader. It was in the summer, I 
think probably in July for it was very warm. It was evening 
for my Mother was sitting on the side porch with us children, 
and I remember the lamp was lit in the kitchen. 

Our next door neighbor, OteUan Hintz, came over after 
she had put her Mother, Mrs. Luhring to bed. Otehan was a 
dressmaker. She was not married and she made pretty 
clothes for other ladies but wore skirts and striped waists 
herself. I think she had two sisters but I can remember only 
one who hved a few blocks away and came with her little boy 
to see Mrs. Luhring but not to help with her care. 

This day her husband had stopped for some reason as he 
went home from work and he had been telimg his in-laws 
about an animal that was being exhibited in a vacant lot 
down town. When Otelian told about it there was awe in her 
voice. "It sweats blood", she said. Nothing did that my 
Mother assured her. But Otelian had believed her brother in- 
law, and was determined to go see it. 

She could be reasonably sure her Mother would be all 
right there alone, but my Mother thought it "too late for the 
children to be going anyplace"— and I suspect she thought it 

was a fake of some sort anyway. But Otehan could not, of 
course, go out on the streets alone at night and Mother 
eventually succumbed to her pleading. We children were 
hastily prepared to go downtown. Mother changed from her 
house dress and apron, and we went across the park and on 
up to Prairie Street, as it is called now. This was an adventure 
for us children and we danced and pranced about our Mother 
and Otelian, thrilled with this unexpected outing. 

It was beginning to grow dark and the street hghts were 
not very bright, but in a vacant lot behind a store fronting on 
Main Street someone had strung up three lights over what 
looked like, to me, a wagon box. There was no tent. Just the 
"wagon box" with the dangling, dusty light bulbs, and those 
not too bright either; a man with a sort of box for a table 
where he sold tickets; and a big boy at the other end of their 
business arrangement. The boy had a long, long switch with 
which he would flick anyone trying to get close to look before 
giving him a ticket. There were not enough people to form a 
good hne, until after the tickets were turned in. Then the 
people moved slowly along the "wagon box" and in that area, 
it was a hne. 

The whole thing smelled— something like a cow barn but 
different, too. There was an animal lying in the "box" which I 
have realized since I was older was really a tank. The animal 
looked as if it were made out of brown leather. I think I could 
have reached down and touched it. It did look as if it were 
sweating blood, bigger drops of the blood than the drops of 
water-sweat also on the leathery hide. It was breathing, not 
panting as I recall, but I had no wish to touch it, not even to 
try to. 

I had not noticed a tail. The animal was big and filled 
the tank from side to side, and from end to end, but it was 
just rounded on top, and there were no legs to be seen either. 
When I finally reached the other end, after several pushes 
from my Mother, suddenly there were the two httle bitty 
ears— nowhere near as big as a cows or any but a quite small 

pig's. I was fascinated by those little ears on that big 
creature. And in front of those ears were eyes that stuck up 
about as high as the ears. One of them opened and it looked at 
me, but the eye was httle, too. Then there were some other 
sweOings, and I might have reached for them but my older 
sister said, "Ugh, That's his mouth." Long afterward, I saw 
another hippopotamus in a zoo, and those "swelhngs" are 
above the mouth but they are not his mouth. His nostrils, I 
think. Some more people came, several at once, and the Une 
began to get pushy, I wanted to go around the front and see 
the mouth better, but my Mother and Otehan were ready to 
go home. They had seen what they had come to see. They 
discussed the sweat all the way home. We had all seen more 
than the last people because we were only a little way down 
the street when the lights were turned off. 


Lloyd V. Johnson 

"Hey Mamma! Come quick!" 

"The gypsies are coming!" 

My brother and I had been playing in the orchard when 
we had spotted them. We came running and shouting to the 
back yard where Mother responded, "Go in the house, boys, 
and stay there." 

She also ran in and seemed as scared as we were. Mother 
went directly to the wall telephone and turned the crank for 
one extra long ring which was the signal for all on the party 
line to listen for a special announcement. "Gypsies were in 
the vicinity." She also reminded them to lock their doors. 
Then she quickly returned to us and made sure we remained 
in her sight. The caravan of three or four covered wagons 
passed our place and turned into the untraveled road that 

bordered on the south side of our farm located in Henry 
County near Woodhull, Illinois. 

Memories of scenes Uke this date back to about 1911 
when 1 was about six years old. The gypsies would come in 
mid summer and would stay a month at least. A rather large 
tent was put up and close by, a camp fire was built for their 
cooking. Their wagons were in a poor state of repair. The iron 
rim tires were held on with wire and their canvas covers were 
patched. The tent was also patched in many places. 

The gypsies called themselves horse traders and I 
remember their spare horses trailing along behind the 
caravan. These horses and the ones that had drawn the 
wagons were let loose to graze on the roadsides. All the 
horses were very thin and we could count their ribs. They had 
to drink from Pope Creek which ran through our pasture 
since Father would not let them drink from our water trough 
for fear of distemper or disease which they might have. 

The group that usuaUy came by our farm said they were 
from Tampico, a small town in north central Illinois. They 
spoke Enghsh but with a strange dialect. Their dark skin and 
ohve eyes matched their black hair. Large ring type earrings 
hung from their pierced ears. 

All wore unique clothes but the womens' costumes 
especially stood out. Lace shawls covered the women's heads. 
Long skirts of all bright colors reached their high top shoes. 
The colorful aprons they wore they would gather up at the 
bottom hem to form a sack into which they dropped the 
"loot" they got from begging. Their clothes were wrinkled 
and seemed to have a pecuhar dirty smell. 

Both men and women would be very persistent in 
begging for most anything. In asking, the women would say: 
"I'll pray for you and I'll ring the bell." They would also want 
to tell everyone's fortunes. Mother often gave them some 
things from the garden and a gallon of milk for the children. 

Father often gave them a sack of oats for the horses. 
But in their deahngs with my folks, if they were ever 

disappointed, they would threaten to put the "hex" on them 
and would say: "It's a long way to Tipperary." 

This same response was reported frequently by all the 
other farmers in the area that the gypsies had called on for 
trading or begging. And every year after they had left, there 
would be chicken feathers and bones and also corn cobs from 
the young field corn they had cooked and eaten. What was 
left about the campsite seemed to indicate the fields and farm 
yards had been raided, regardless of what they had been 

Years later after World War I, they would travel in 
motorized caravans. When approaching a city, the police 
would escort them through town and send them on their way. 
No one seemed to trust them and where ever they were, this 
feehng seemed to prevail. 


Ruth E. Rogers 

It had been a long time since the gypsies had been in our 
neighborhood. In fact we children had never even seen a 
gypsy. We didn't know what one looked like, but according to 
the horrible things our grandparents had told us they must 
have long black hair, the women were ugly old hags and every 
man had a wicked eye. Why, the men even had long sharp 
knives which they held between their teeth, bespeaking good 
for no one. They even had spare horses to trade to folks who 
didn't know any better. My Grandpa said many a farmer 
ended up with a poor old nag on his hands after a trade with a 
shrewed gypsy. Anyway it had been so long since anyone we 
knew had seen one that we supposed they may have all died 
off long ago. 

There were many stories of bygone days, stories of bad 
things they had done as they traveled through the country in 

their covered wagons, with their dogs shnking along beside 
them. There were tales of chickens stolen from their roosts in 
the middle of the night and of children stolen, as they played 
in their yards right in broad daylight. It was said they could 
hide a child— could hide one most cleverly from the relatives 
and friends who came riding after. 

The very mention of gypsies sent the naughtiest of boys 
temporarily to the best of behavior. In fact gypsies worked a 
few miracles where nothing else was effective, even better 
than the wood shed. 

I was probably nine or ten years old before I began to 
think. Maybe we children could rank the tales of gypsies 
right along with Santa Claus as the things grown ups told us 
to keep us in line, since we had never seen them nor had we 
ever seen Santa Claus. 

When we older children congregated around the corner 
of the school house, at recess, we decided there was a 
difference in Santa Claus and gypsies. Santa Claus was 
connected with love. Parents told us about him only because 
they loved us. These gypsy stories were pure horror. They 
were different. In fact they ended up in nothing except 
making us better than we wanted to be. We decided, this was 
a "dirty trick" to play on us. This long before the phrase 
"dirty trick" was heard across our land. 

School was out and the long lazy summer days went by. 
We hved half a mile from where the U.S. Government saw fit 
to deposit our mail in a metal box atop a post. It was one of 
my pleasant duties to ride my pony that half mile, down a 
long hill and around a wooded bend in the road to the bridge 
across the creek, where the mail box was located. This day it 
was about four o'clock and the afternoon shadows had began 
to become longer— making dark places in the woods. 

My pony had a mind of her own. She would allow me to 
ride to the mailbox. There she dumped me and her blanket. I 
always had to walk home carrying the mail and the blanket. I 
would fuss and jaw as I walked up the hill. I just knew if 


Grandpa would let me have a saddle I wouldn't be in this 
predicament every day. 

This day as I rode around the bend my pony began to 
whinny and take funny, unusual side steps. When we 
rounded the bend, I saw three gaily painted wagons, with 
horses tethered nearby. People in different clothes were doing 
various tasks— this I remembered afterward. 

Nell didn't wait to be kidnapped, she just dumped me 
right there and started home on the run, with me right behind 
her. We ran and we ran. By the time we reached the hill we 
were out of run. She didn't even stop to get her usual nibble 
of grass. She was a better runner than I. 

I panted and puffed as I told my grandma there were 
gypsies down by the creek and she had better hide me. No 
time for that, a big man was right behind me. His dark face 
broke into a smile as he handed my pony's blanket to my 
grandma, with: "Please maam, can I buy a chicken and some 
eggs?" Right then and there the grownups' last tool in 
keeping their children in Une had gone. Now they would have 
to depend on "child psychology". Anyway, one growing girl 
was never afraid of strange looking people again. 


Martha K. Graham 

It must be true that there's no business like show 
business. In the early and mid nineteen hundreds two 
showmen. Earl G. Gordinier and his brother Otis and their 
families captured the interest, the admiration and the 
imagination of midwestern Illinois. They supplied the towns 
throughout this region with a superior type of tent show 

Every summer in Roseville, my home town, big posters 

would bloom all over the place, announcing the coming of the 
Earl G. Gordinier Company. For miles around people looked 
forward to enjoying several nights of varied entertainment. 

Most of the actors and other entertainers were drawn 
from the two Gordinier families themselves. A maintenance 
man or two traveled with them, but when their big trucks 
pulled in, local labor was recruited to help unload, raise the 
big tent, erect the stage and move the old upright piano into 
position. The boys earned show tickets by placing the 
benches down in front, and the more comfortable folding 
chairs farther back. 

The Gordiniers were not above doing some of the 
manual work, and they were so well organized that, to people 
watching, it seemed that the tent almost went up by itself 
with a final fluttering of bright colored little flags strung 
along the supporting ropes and on the peaks of the canvas 
top. Their trucks were parked at the rear of the tent and 
served as scenery storage and as dressing rooms. The ticket 
booth set up in front was always manned by a Gordinier 
sometimes in costume and makeup, which lent glamor to the 
mere purchasing of a ticket. 

The Gordinier brothers were tall, handsome men, with a 
distinguished bearing reminiscent of the famous John 
Barrymore. They made their permanent home in Bushnell, 
and traveled with their tent show only during summers. Their 
children, brought up in the show business tradition, were 
personable and accomplished in music, acting, dancing and 
"elocution", and they had no small part in the success of the 
Gordinier family enterprise. 

When the show played Roseville, Earl G. Gordinier and 
his family always rented rooms in the Von Dissen home, 
across the street west from their show tent. The Von Dissen 
children, Leha and Robert, were happy to share the young 
Gordiniers, so every summer, town and show chUdren played 
together. Nedra Gordinier and her brother were near my age, 
but they both seemed much more mature than the rest of us. 

Their interest was mainly in what was transpiring in the big 
tent, so often the playmates watched rehearsals or explored 
backstage. Though the Gordinier children were much more 
accomplished and self assured than any of us, they did not, to 
my memory, ever try to make us feel inferior. We were 
immensely interested in these children who Uved in a world so 
different from ours, and we were more than a little in awe of 
them and of their parents. 

The Gordiniers were a proud people, proud of their 
families and of each other as individuals. They were proud of 
their accomphshments and of their family project, the show. 
Probably because of this special kind of family pride in their 
work and because of the participation of the whole family, 
whether children or adults, their performances were 
exceptionally free of vulgarity and off-color remarks. 

Their repertoire was varied, a different show presented 
at every performance. Among the plays I remember were 
"East Lynne", "Lavender and Old Lace", (or was it "Arsenic 
and Old Lace"?), "The Master's Violin" and "Uncle Tom's 
Cabin." Especially "Uncle Tom's Cabin", when real 
bloodhounds bayed on poor EUza's trail and Little Eva 
ascended, on almost invisible wires, to a cloud filled heaven. 

Whatever the plot, every play had a hero, a heroine and 
a villain. Audiences were not above cheering for the hero, 
booing the villain, and greeting the heroine with wolf 
whistles. The action was always so straightforward that the 
audience was never left wondering what the point of it all 
was. Evil never won out. Crime never paid. 

Between acts, candy bars, cracker jacks, and peanuts in 
the shell could be purchased. By final curtain time the ground 
was littered, and next morning enterprising children could 
earn a ticket to the next show cleaning up the mess. 
Sometimes lost coins were to be found. 

I do not know what the Gordiniers did in winter. They 
may have had other work. They may have played towns with 
theatres and auditoriums, but I doubt it. Roseville had the 

Isis Theatre, but the Gordiniers never came to Roseville in 
the winter. 

Probably winters must have been spent preparing for 
the coming summer tour, reading and choosing new plays, 
assigning parts, rehearsing, memorizing new material, 
getting the necessary costumes fitted and finished, or buying 
ready made. They had to plan and rehearse to change 
costumes or shift scenery. New scenery had to be built and 
painted. The planning and work necessary to the production 
of the coming summer's entertainment must have been both 
exacting and exhausting, and required artistry and 

The Gordiniers were committed to show business. They 
thoroughly enjoyed presenting their travehng shows, for 
they put thair all into entertaining the people of western 
Illinois who crowded into their show tent. 

Whether or not they knew it, the Gordiniers provided a 
much needed fantasy break in the work-a-day world of the 
town and country people who looked forward every summer 
to the coming of the Earl G. Gordinier Company. 


Kenneth Maxwell Norcross 

Our small village, Orion, Henry County, Illinois was 
once the home port for a most unusual group of actors and 
actresses known as "The JESSIE COLTON COMPANY." 

The Jessie Colton Company consisted of nine 
members— all related— a sort of a "family" business. Jessie 
Colton, from whom the theatrical troup received its name, 
was trained from an early age to be an actress. She eventually 
achieved many Broadway triumphs. Bert Richardson, her 
third husband, was a local Orion boy, son of the village 
blacksmith, who quite by accident, became an actor. "Jessie" 

and "Bert", as they were greeted by Orionites, met while 
performing in stock companies. 

Bert is said to have made his initial appearance as a 
professional in this manner. About 1890. a travehng show 
was in Orion for a weeks stand. For some unknown reason, 
their pianist without warning suddenly left the company. In 
desperation, the troup manager inquired about town in hope 
of locating a suitable substitute. It seemed that Bert 
Richardson, then but a mere lad, had the reputation of being 
able to play a certain tune on the paino immediately after it 
was "hummed" or "whistled". Bert was persuaded to 
audition and so impressed the manager with his musical 
abiUty that he was promptly hired. When the company left 
town, Bert was asked to go with them. Had he decided not to 
go, there would never have been a Jessie Colton Company. 

Bert and Jessie were married in 1895. In 1900 they 
returned to Orion and formed a traveUng tent show whose 
performers were mostly family members. Occasionally, they 
would engage one or two actors, or actresses, to act special 
parts in a play. 

Jessie's eldest daughter, Lottie Pearce, was a child by 
her first marriage. Isaac and Philena Chappie were the 
children of her second marriage. Bertha and George 
Richardson were the offspring of Jessie and Bert. Most of the 
children were equally at home in the orchestra or on the 
stage. Lottie Pearce married Bert's brother, Ralph 
Richardson, and to them was born a daughter, Rosalie, who 
played children's parts and sang between acts. When Bertha 
Richardson married the orchestra leader, Frank Bauer, the 
company gained a handsome actor which brought the 
membership to ten. The troupe was therefore well distributed 
in age groups and enabled them to produce almost any play. 

From 1900 until the early 1930's the Jessie Colton 
Company toured the midwest annually. It was their custom 
to begin rehearsals in the early spring. Practices would be 
held in the Orion opera house or in one of the local lodge halls. 

Each year their first and last performances would be 
presented in Orion. If the weather was cold— they'd use the 
opera house. If the weather was warm, they might erect their 
spacious tent. Sometimes the company would travel during 
the winter months, playing in the many smaU-town opera 
houses so prevalent then but so sadly missed now. 

Beginning in May and running through September, the 
company played a tent repertoire circuit throughout central 
Illinois. Cambridge and Woodhull, Illinois were among the 
local villages in which they would pitch their tent annually. 
"Tent-Rep" is derived from the players' custom of staying a 
week in a town, offering a repertoire of six comedies or 
dramas, "with a different billing each and every night." 
Admission at one time was ten and twenty cents with no 
reserved seats. There were usually three acts of about twenty 
minutes each with special vaudeville features between 
scenes. Candy, popcorn, peanuts and chewing gum were sold 
at every opportunity to the audience. 

Their weekly repertoire included such plays as 
"Lightnin", "East Lynne", "Pygmalion", "The Rail 
Splitter", "Little Lord Fauntleroy", and perhaps their most 
successful play— "Rip Van Winkle." 

Bert and Jessie built a Hollywood-style home in Orion 
and would reside there during the off-season. Adjacent to the 
home they owned a large lot on which they would erect their 
large tent. Performing "under canvas" presented many 
difficulties. The tent, scenery, seats, hghting equipment and 
instruments had to be transported from town-to-town every 
week. Actors and actresses were often called upon to aid in 
erecting the tent or to help hold it down during a wind storm. 
Thus they all played many parts. 

Year after year, the Jessie Colton Company followed the 
same circuit. Their annual sojurn in a village had more the 
nature of a visit to old friends than of merely eking out a 
hving. Many of their fans could call them by name. In May, 
1931, the Country Gentleman magazine published an article 

about "tent shows" in which they gave Jessie Colton the 
credit of having one of the most successful shows on the road. 

During off-season months, the members would find 
employment in various businesses. George, Philena and Isaac 
were professional musicians and readily found employment in 
bands, etc. Bert sold life insurance and later served several 
terms as village Mayor. Ralph always had a position waiting 
for him at the local Poultry and Feed Store. Jessie, Lottie and 
Bert would often coach high school or home-talent plays and 
many declamatory winners attributed their triumphs to the 
expertise of their instructor. 

Jessie and Bert Richardson retired from the Company 
in 1925 and the children then carried on the family tradition. 
The depression of the early 1930's, the arrival of "talking 
pictures", and better high-ways made it unprofitable to 
operate the tent show. The company was forced to disband. 

The Orion Fire Department sponsored a home-talent 
show at the Orion Opera house November 18 and 19, 1935. 
Jessie and Bert were persuaded to head the cast, with many 
local people participating, to produce that old favorite, "Rip 
Van Winkle". The duo had presented this play many, many 
times during their career. An interesting fact concerning this, 
their last performance, was that both Jessie's grand- 
daughter, Rosalie, and great-grand-daughter, Fanchon 
McCombs, were included in the cast. Bert's brothers, Ralph 
and Floyd, were also on stage with him. 

Fans from far and near, from many of the towns on their 
annual tour, came to see and hear the last grand appearance 
of these great performers who for almost two score years had 
delighted their audiences. It was rather sad in a way. There 
was standing room only at curtain time! 

Bert Richardson died February 8, 1937. It was then that 
our opera house was made use of for a most unusual 
performance— the funeral services were held there! It 
seemed quite appropriate since the theatre had been Bert's 
lifetime work. Business houses closed during the service and 

again every seat was filled with friends paying their last 

Jessie Colton died July 27, 1940 at age 73. Jessie and 
Bert are buried in the Western Cemetery, Orion. Quite 
fittingly, on their tombstone there is engraved "Life's Drama 
Has Ended; the Curtain Has Fallen." 


Robert L. Plack 

We didn't often see an automobile or truck, except on 
the main streets, back in 1918. It seemed hke everything 
moved by horse-drawn vehicles in the city, although Chicago 
had the electric trolley cars that ran on some of the major 

In the early morning hours we were often awakened by 
the clip-clop of the milkman's horse as he pulled the wagon up 
the street. The street had only been paved a couple of year 
and that brought many changes— mostly for the better. No 
more scenes of drivers whipping their horses to pull the 
wagons out of deep muddy ruts. Also, when the streets had 
been just mud roads, one didn't hear the surface sounds of 
passing vehicles, or of horses' hoofs on the pavement. 

Most famihes had their milk deUvered, as few had cars 
to shop with. Besides, three or four quarts of milk in addition 
to other grocery items became quite a load to carry from the 

The milkman would make his deliveries early— before 
sunrise— to protect the milk from the heat and the rays of the 
sun. He would place it just outside the kitchen door. In those 
days the exposure of milk to direct sunlight would change the 
taste and folks would complain. Furthermore, if the milk 
stood very long in the summer sun, the heat would turn it 
sour. In the cold months it usually wouldn't stand there long 
before someone would open the door— often in nightgown or 


pajamas and a robe— and reach out and take the bottles 

He would leave two— three— maybe four bottles of milk, 
and on certain days he would also leave a bottle of cream or 
buttermilk. The milk and cream were deUvered in clear glass 
bottles— quarts, pints, and half-pints; no gallons or half- 
gallons. The bottles were sealed with waxed paper caps 
pressed into the collar. In the winter months, if not taken 
inside promptly, the milk often froze and rose an inch or more 
out of the bottles. 

The milkman knew how many bottles of milk to leave, 
and whether the customer wanted other items. It worked like 
this. When the bottles were emptied, they were washed and 
placed near the kitchen door. At night they were set outside 
for the milkman. In one bottle was a slip of paper telhng him 
what to leave the next morning. He would carry two "milk 
baskets"— each with eight spaces for bottles. There would be 
a bottle in each space and one or more smaller bottles on their 
sides in between. Since he didn't know beforehand what the 
customer would want, he came prepared. After awhile on the 
route, however, the milkman had a good idea as to what each 
customer would want from day to day; yet, sometimes he was 
surprised so he had to come prepared. Because some 
customers Uved on the third floor, he took precautions to 
avoid having to run back to his wagon for something he 
wasn't carrying in his basket as he started up the stairs. 

On a certain day of each week, the milkman would come 
back later in the day to collect. Most housewives seemed to 
look forward to having the milkman stop by, as there was 
always some conversation along with the collection. With no 
radios or TVs and few telephones, communication was not 
plentiful and conversation with someone you were acquainted 
with was welcomed. 

He carried a small, pocket-sized record book in his back 
pocket in which he noted each delivery as he made it. When 
he came collecting, he had the book and could write up the bill 

in no time at all and hand it to the customer. It was a simple 
system that worked quite well, and there wasn't much 
overhead cost. 


Mary W. Rocke 

Back in those days, the 20 "s, when we were school age 
our protected social hfe centered around family and church, 
friends and neighbors. Our Grandmother who raised my 
brother and me let us attend special Saturday movies as 
many of the other "sophisticated" neighbor children did 
every week. I remember seeing "Twelfth Night" which was 
presented by a traveling group of Shakespearian actors at the 
university and a wonderful marionette show at the High 
School. However, those experiences were rare. Of course, we 
had the furmies in the Decatur Daily Review, the periodical 
"Youth's Companion", library books and gifts and books at 
Christmas to entertain us, but no radio or TV, no paper back 
novels. When there was a big news story, the paper printed 
an extra edition and once I remember the newsboy came clear 
out in our neighborhood calling, "Extra! Extra Paper! Read 
all about it!" Being continually entertained did not have the 
priority it has today. 

Therefore, when the medicine show came to the Pines, a 
parklike block in our end of town, and our Grandmother 
allowed us to go with our young friends it was an exciting 
time for us. The medicine show people set up a roughly built 
platform for a stage about 5' above the ground with curtains 
on the sides and back and a pull curtain in front. There were 
steps up to the platform at the rear of each side and a crude 
Ughting system. The troupe had some kind of shelter in back 


of the stage where they kept their wares and camped, I 

Every night at dusk for a week there was a free show 
and the neighborhood gathered to be entertained and perhaps 
to make a purchase of the healing medications that were 
peddled during the long, tiring intermission. The leader 
would give a lengthy spiel about the wonderful elixirs or 
salves that were claimed to cure everything from rheumatism 
and lumbago to catarrh and parasites. They also sold boxes 
of candy. The pieces were wrapped in twisted paper like 
peanut butter kisses. If you weren't too intested in the candy, 
they enticed you to buy a box because some contained 
"valuable" prizes. There was usually a shill planted in the 
audience who would hold up a shiny wrist watch or a ring 
with a large jewel that he had found in his box and that would 
make us wish we could be so lucky. When we did take a 
chance and found a watch in our candy it was stamped "made 
of tin" and with no mechanism inside— just a shell of a watch. 
It was our introduction to the outside world of people with 
different values, characters whom we knew required our 
caution and skepticism in dealing with them, but the skits 
and the humor in the shows gave us much enjoyment. We 

remembered the witty wise cracks and, later, acted out the 
play for our relatives who hadn't seen the show. There was 
one black troupe member called "Lightning." In one skit the 
actors were looking for Lightning. The punch line was, "He 
went across the stage so fast you didn't see him." Now-a- 
days his nickname would be labeled an example of disrespect 
but we only knew he was personable and we liked him. 

One night they had amateur night and my ham-bone 
brother played the ukelele and sang and he gave a reading 
about a baseball game. It was all kind of corny but he won the 
prize of $2 or $3 and the medicine show people invited him to 
join their group. He didn't consider that, of course. He saw a 
very pretty girl behind the scenes, the daughter of one of the 
performers. He confided to me that her name was Billie and 
she didn't have much on in the way of clothing. In later years 
I wondered if that could have been Joan Crawford. 

Sometimes when we take my 80 year old Aunt to the 
municipal band concerts in Central Park on a balmy, summer 
evening and I see the family group enjoying the music in the 
open air at the close of a day, I remember the medicine shows 
and the small-town quality of friendliness and enjoyment of 
simple entertainment in those days. 

Ill ^ales from the T^rohihition Era 



The Progressive Era, which lasted from approximately 
1890 to approximately 1920, was an uncompromising 
crusade, the aim of which was to "re-direct" American 
society. Its roots were firmly planted in the white middle 
class of the nation, its credos were mostly stimulated by the 
Protestant ethos and, in fact, it was tinged broadly with the 
brush of Old Testament Protestantism. It was for education, 
it was against sin, it inveighed against vices of all types, and 
it considered its view of morality as final. This does not mean 
to imply that the Progressive Movement was engrained with 
bigotry and narrow-mindedness, for one only has to look at 
its accomphshments in order to belie that charge. The 
Movement was responsible for conservation and the great 
national park system, it regulated the food and drug 
industry, it slashed into the power of the railroads, it 
reformed the medical schools of the nation, it cleaned up the 
big cities of the country, it was responsible for the income 
tax, and it brought about the direct election of senators. 
There were a great many other achievements in the period, 
but the Movement's major weakness was the notion that all 
that one had to do to wipe out an evil was to have an 
appropriate law passed. 

A prime example of moral Progressivism was in the 
passage of the Mann Act, making it a criminal act to 
transport women across state lines for immoral purposes. By 
one stroke. Progressives had hoped to wipe out prostitution. 

Toward the latter years of their power, the Progressives 
brought about two immensely important reforms. In two 
amendments to the Constitution, women were given the 
power of the franchise; and it was made illegal to buy and sell 
liquor. Thus, in the two giant strokes of legal action, one right 
was given and another was taken away. 

The 18th Amendment, which initiated prohibition, was 
the greatest example of that essential weakness in the 

Progressive philosophy; that all one had to do to eliminate a 
vice was to have a law passed. Within months of its 
acceptance it was obvious that the new laws simply would 
not work. R.B. Hulsen, in his fine essay, "Prohibition", gave 
many of the reasons why— that is, the nation's polyglot 
population; newly immigrated Europeans, Blacks, and 
peoples from all parts of the world, were not ready to change 
the habits of centuries. It was no less hard for the older 
American stock to adhere to the laws. President Harding 
continued to serve cocktails in the White House until one of 
his advisors told him that he also was subject to the law. 
Anyone in the diplomatic pool in Washington eagerly sought 
invitations to foreign embassies where they might have the 
chance to sip Europe's finest wines. But, as most of our 
writers state, for the ordinary Americans, finding an 
alcoholic drink to quench one's thirst simply meant flouting 
the law. 

In the very early days of prohibition, domestic 
manufacture of booze was about the only way to go. All one 
needed was a large crock, a bottle capper, lots and lots of 
bottles, and malt and other necessary ingredients. What 
resulted was usually a tasteless beverage called "home brew" 
which, if the maker's luck was right, contained enough 
alcohol to ease one's aches and pains. Later, however, the 
large operators began moving in. Organized into gangs, they 
each claimed territorial powers in Illinois. Charhe Birger 
(sometimes Berger) and his gang centralized their operations 
around Marion, Illinois; the Shelton gang were centralized 
around Fairfield, the Newman gang operated in Macoupin 
County; and Johnny Torrio (later Al Capone) handled much of 
northern Illinois. They fought vicious battles over 
borderlines, and old enemies were never forgotten. The last 
Shelton was wiped out several decades after prohibition 
ended. Roger Touhy, a northern Illinois gangster, was 
gunned down weeks after having been released from a long 
prison term. 

By far and away the most powerful gang mogul of all 
was Al Capone. He operated between Cicero and Chicago, ran 
a brewery rather openly which produced a beer called 
Canadian Ace, and in one election campaign, his followers 
actually ran the club headquarters of mayoral aspirant, 
William Hale Thompson. After that particular election, 
Capone's clout was enormous. He was even able to produce a 
pardon for one of his followers, a certain "Greasy Thumb" 
Guzik, a week after Guzik had been sentenced to the state 
penitentiary for being involved in the white slave racket. 

So, in a way, the Progressives really lost out. A whole 
new gangster elite was created. And as far as our stories here 
go, they are rather innocent little capers which hardly made 

anyone better or worse for the experience than he or she had 
been before. There is much to commend our writers for, 
however, Josephine Oblinger's literate account of fraternity 
and sorority days and nights at Urbana during Prohibition is 
charming. Kenneth Brasel hilariously recounts his own 
experiences as a still tender, and he could never understand 
the actions of the family hound. Like some stories of much 
telling, one or two seemed to be warmed and enlarged from 
reality by evenings with "white Ughtnin"', "bathtub gin", or 
"white mule". But so what— the flavor is still there. 

Victor Hicken 


Hazel Delbridge 

The town of Colchester was not set out much different 
than it is now. There was the restaurant, train station, a few 
churches and several stores, besides residential homes. It 
was a wild kind of town during the prohibition days. There 
was bootlegging and gunfights, gangster style. I was 
eighteen years old during the Roaring Twenties. And roaring, 
they were. 

I was a substitute teacher and lived with my parents in 
town. We also ran a restaurant near the train station. Eleven 
passenger trains would pass through in one day. 

Kelly Wagle was a known bootlegger during that time. 
He was a brazen sort of a man in his thirties that would do 
anything. His mother worked as a cook for our restaurant. 
Kelly would often come to the restaurant or visit at my 
parent's home. Our house was right next door to the Church 
where he stored his hooch. This we found out later. 

One rainy day after substitute teaching at the 
Colchester schoolhouse, Kelly gave me a ride home. I usuaUy 
walked the four miles to and from town. I can still remember 
how scared I was when Kelly went up the hill backwards. 
Kelly Wagle sure had a lot of nerve. One time when he was 
cornered by the poUce, he drove right down a steep 
embankment to get away. 

There was not much of a pohce force in Colchester, so 
help had to come from Macomb. Kelly was wanted by the 
police on several accounts, including bootlegging. Even 
though, he was wanted by the police, everybody like him. 
Kelly was good-natured and always helped others. He did 
several good things for me. 

Kelly's wife was from Carthage and I remember how 
pretty she was. She was shot and killed before Kelly died. It 

was said Kelly was shot and killed in Colchester by a man 
who was once his friend. 

Although everybody liked Kelly, I don't remember 
anyone making an effort to find the person who killed him. 

Colchester has really changed from its "SHOOT EM 


Truman W. Waite 

It was the roaring twenties. World War I had ended, 
and the Eighteenth Amendment that prohibited the 
manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages had been 
ratified. We were entering a period that was to be referred to 
in the later years as the "the noble experiment". In a short 
time all the bottled-in-bond liquors were exhausted and soon 
"hootch", bottled in the barn, appeared on the scene. 

Many articles have been written about the many 
gangsters hke the Sheltons, Bergers, Al Capone and others 
who made fortunes in the "bootleg " days. However, very 
httle was ever written about the small operations that took 
place in about every community. The men who made their 
products in the smaU secluded places have long since passed 
away and their stories were buried with them. 

The stills were operated as secretly as possible and if 
you did not drink their product, you were not aware of the 
locations of the stills. However, I recall many incidents that 
took place during the time that prohibition was in effect. 

I married a local farmer's daughter and we started 
farming as share croppers on a small farm in Western Illinois. 
In those days a few chickens were part of the legacy that a 
farmer's daughter received when she married and left home. 
When I cleaned out the chicken house I discovered a 
basement under the floor. Upon investigation, I discovered a 


secluded entrance and the place where a still had been in use 
by one of the former occupants. 

We lived there one year and then moved to another farm 
a short distance away. One day while hunting rabbits, my 
little terrier dog "treed" in a brush pile. Instead of a rabbit, 
the httle dog was barking at a dark object that was concealed 
by brush and leaves. After removing the brush, I discovered 
a still that had been hidden when the owner left the 

On March first of the following year, we moved again. It 
was not too long after we moved that Mr. Kenneth A. Elmore 
made a raid on a still only one-fourth mile away. Shortly 
thereafter, they raided another farm close by where, in the 
barn, a still was in operation. 

One of the requirements of operating a still was a supply 
of cool water to cool the condenser coils. Also a few hogs 
nearby, to dispose of the still-age, was a valuable asset. The 
valley near the river was an ideal place for operating the still 
because the water could be had by driving a sandpoint a few 
feet into the earth. Also the underbrush provided the 
necessary cover to hide the still from view. The towns along 
the rivers provided a source of supply for the mash and a 
market place for the finished porduct. 

Much of the Liquor was sold wholesale. Large cars made 
periodic runs during the night to pick up and deliver the 
cargo, but enough was left to take care of the local demand. 

During the roaring twenties the old time "hoedown" 
dances were quite popular. Invariably a supply of Uquor was 
available to hven up the dance a bit. Quite often the supply 
was sufficient to terminate the dance with a knock-down- 
drag-out brawl. 

I remember on one occasion two neighbors (names 
withheld) went to the dispensary in a nearby town in a Model 
T Ford Roadster. They bought a gallon jug of "Mississippi 
Dew" and started home. A short distance from town they 
were ordered to stop by the local deputy. When they failed to 

pull over, the trigger-happy deputy or his companion fired a 
bullet into the back of the automobile. Luckily it went 
between the two passengers. The men pulled over and 
stopped, but not before destroying the evidence by breaking 
the stone jug against the iron brake pedal of the old Model T. 
They were immediately placed under arrest and brought to 
trial. The only evidence presented at the trial was the deputy 
saying that he could smell the product in the car when he 
arrested the men. Needless to say, the men were released. 

During prohibition many of the fisherman along the 
river resorted to the making and selhng of "Mississippi Dew" 
to subsidize their earnings. One of the fishermen, "Old 
George", was known to have a supply available. One day as 
he came over the levee carrying a gallon jug in each hand, he 
was ordered by two "revenuers" to halt. The shots fired at 
"Old George" accelerated his speed and when he reached the 
rivers edge, he broke the two jugs on the rocks. 

Another time I remember was when Mr. Brown 
(fictitious name) took some of his product to town to sell. 
Before delivering the jugs, he parked his car on the east side 
of Washington Park. The hquor was soon discovered by the 
officers and Mr. Brown was arrested. He was taken into court 
and fined the customary $400.00 and court cost. When Mr. 
Brown was asked why he had taken the chance of getting 
caught, he rephed that it was for advertisement. He was just 
starting to make whisky and now people knew where they 
could get it. He could have received a prison sentence, but 
that was usually omitted for first offenders. 

Mr. Jones (fictitious name) was not so fortunate. After a 
long period of operation, the law finally succeeded in 
arresting Mr. Jones and took him to court. The judge made 
the fine the usual amount of $400.00 and court costs where 
upon Mr. Jones arrogantly replied: "Judge, I've got it right 
here in my pocket." The judge upon hearing this remark drew 
a deep breath and replied, "and six months in Vandalia. Have 
you got that in your pocket too?" Mr. Jones objected to the 

six months in Vandalia saying that he could not get away 
because he had hogs at home to feed. Needless to say, Mr. 
Jones went to Vandalia where they found hogs for him to feed 
at the penal farm. 

Incidents like 1 have related became so numerous that it 
was impossible to apprehend every one who was involved in 
the "Geltoob" (bootleg spelled backwards) business. Finally 
the Eighteenth Ammendment was repealed and it was the 
end of an era. 


Margaret Kelley Reynolds 

It was the prohibition era during the summer of 1930. I 
was twelve years old and had been taught to cook and do the 
many other chores connected with housekeeping as most 
young girls were taught at that time. As I was the fourth 
child in a family of nine children, I was also handy at taking 
care of my younger brothers and sisters. 

Our family lived on a farm in the Mississippi river 
bottoms where our dad a local school teacher and farmed in 
his spare time. In our early lives, a trip to town was a major 
event, so when an old friend of my mother's came to visit and 
to ask if I could go home with her and her husband to spend a 
week, I was tickled. The lady had been sick and needed 
someone to help with the housework and to help care for their 
three little girls. They also told mom they would pay me two 
dollars for the week's work. 1 was not sure my dad would let 
me go because he had often remarked that he didn't know 
how that man made a living on their scrubby little farm up in 
the hills on the bluff in southern Pike County, lUinois. 

After pop and mom talked it over, they did decide to let 
me go— with many warnings to work hard and behave myself. 
We all climbed into their old Ford touring car and took off. 1 
was intrigued by the car, especially the isinglass curtains 

that could be fastened in case of rain. 1 snapped them off and 
on until the man told me loud and clear, "leave them alone, " 
so I did. 

1 Hked the family, especially the little girls. They were 
shy and quiet at first, but were soon chattering away. 

As we were going up a steep hiU to their house, the old 
car got hot and the radiator boiled over. We had to sit and 
wait until it cooled off and then the man put in water from a 
jug he kept in the car. As we drove on, I could see their house 
about halfway up the hill. There were several trees in the yard 
and a few flowers, but the house was an unpainted, 
dilapidated looking old two story house with a screened-in 
porch across the front. As we drive in the yard and got out, an 
old turkey gobbler came running up to flog us. 1 soon learned 
to watch for him when I went outside. 1 hated him! 

It didn't take too long to get used to the family. The two 
little girls showed me around and told me we'd probably go 
blackberrying in a day or two because the berries were almost 
ripe. The lady told me that she'd teach me to make a 
blackberry pie since I'd never made one. 

The man didn't seem to do much work, but every 
morning and every evening he'd get on the old horse. With 
his old straw hat pulled down low over his forehead and his 
overalls flapping open at the sides, off he'd go, galloping up 
the hill. I asked his wife where he went, and she said, "to 
check on the hogs, and see if the blackberries were ripe. " In 
the evenings after he came back down from the hill, we'd pop 
popcorn, and he'd tell us funny and sometimes scary ghost 
stories. 1 noticed he laughed a little louder and told funnier 
stories if he stayed up on the hill very long. 

One morning the lady told us we could go blackberrying. 
She said not to go too far up the hill, just to fill our baskets 
and come home. As we wandered along, we spied a large 
patch of luscious looking berries at the edge of a large grove 
of brush and trees. Even though we had our buckets almost 
full, we climbed on up the hill to pick some more, and then we 

started playing a game— swing the bukcet. We swung around 
and around to see who could swing the highest without 
spilling any berries. As I swung mine higher and higher, my 
foot slipped, the bucket went sailing over the patch of brush 
and disappeared. Then we heard someone swear and around 
the bushes came this man, blackberries smashed all over him, 
and shouting language I'd never heard before. He said, "git 
for home, and don't come up here again." "Too many 
chiggers and snakes up here anyway." he said. 

When we got home, the lady scolded us and said never 
to go that far up the hill again. She did help me make a pie out 
of the berries that survived our game, but I wasn't very 
hungry for pie any longer. 

The next day was Saturday— the day to go to "town" to 
do grocery shopping. We got all dressed up in our gathered 
skirt dresses and were ready to go. That man gave each of us 
a dime to spend while they bought their groceries. When we 
got in the car, much to my surprise, behind the front seat on 
the floor were several jugs. The man told us to just put our 
feet over them and cover them up with our skirt. He said they 
were water jugs in case the old car got hot, but if anyone 
stopped us, just to sit still a keep our skirts over the jugs. 

No one stopped us, but at the edge of the town we were 
going to, we stopped at a filling station. The man told us to 
get out while he drove the car into the lean-to garage on the 
side to fix a tire. They shut the door, and in a short time, he 
drove out on the other side. We got back in the car, and lo and 
behold, the water jugs were gone! Naturally I started telhng 
them they had been stolen. The man yelled at his wife and 
said, "shut that kid up, we're almost in town," so I shut up. 

While they were getting their groceries, we spent our 
dimes for a nickle's worth of stick candy, and each one got an 
ice cream cone. We all got different flavors so we could all 
have a Uck off each one. 

When we were ready to go home, the man seemed to be 
in an awful hurry. He got us back home, took in the groceries. 

and jumped back in the car and took off lickety-split down 
the hill for town. He didn't come back until late that evening. 
We had just put supper on the table, and I could see his wife 
was nervous. She told us kids to go out on the porch and stay 
until he had gone to bed, and not to be scared because she 
thought he was full of "moonshine." I wondered what that 
meant. When he came in she asked him to eat his supper and 
go to bed. He yelled, "Don't boss me!" and then we heard a 
loud crash. He had pulled the tablecloth off the table— food, 
dishes, and all. It was a mess! I started to clean it up, but the 
lady said NO! He'd clean it up when he came home and he'd 
bring more dishes and food. I didn't beUeve her. I shook all 
night, and scratched chigger bites, and wished I was home. 
Home looked awfully good to me right then. 

He drove in the next morning and as we watched from 
the porch, his wife met him to help carry in the new dishes 
and groceries. He came up the path to the house wearing a 
silly, sheepish grin, put his arm around her, and gave her a 
present— a pretty dress he puUed out of a sack he was 
carrying. "For his best girl," he said. Right then I decided I 
didn't want to be anyones' best girl— ever! 

He cleaned up the mess, got breakfast, and told us to aU 
get ready as they were taking me home. I sure was glad to be 
going home. They gave me my two dollars, and we all piled 
into the old car and took off. 

As soon as I got home, I saw my mother and her friend 
having a private conversation out by the privy so I sneaked 
out to listen. The lady told my mom all that had happened, 
and said her husband was a good man until he drank that rot- 
gut whiskey. She said she was so ashamed that he made 
"moonshine" at his "still" up in the hiUs, and was sorry us 
kids had to cover the whiskey jugs with our skirt in case the 
law stopped us, but that she didn't have any choice in the 

So— my trip to the hills was very enhghtening 
experience for a twelve year old girl. I found out what a 


"still" was, how "moonshine" affected people, and how that 
man made his living. 


Keith T. King 

This is a story of Kelly Wagle. Kelly Wagle was one of 
the big bootleggers of Western lUinois, probably of all of 
lUinois, outside of the Chicago area. It is a true story. I am 
Keith King. I'm telling a story of Kelly Wagle delivering 
alcohol during the Prohibition Era. Kelly was one that always 
did things differently than anybody else. You never could tell 
what he was going to do. To try to predict Kelly was a hard 
thing to do. You just couldn't predict him. That's the reason 
that the local sheriffs and what have you had trouble with 

I was going with his stepdaughter, Eleanor. I was only 
in high school at that time. One night I was at Kelly's house 
sittin' on the front porch with Eleanor, when Kelly came up 
to me and said "Hey, you kids, would you like to go to an ice 
cream supper?" Well, an ice cream supper sounded great to 
me. He said, "Okay, be ready in about 15 minutes." We had 
no idea about where we was goin' or what or why. In about 15 
minutes here he come chuggin' up in an old Model-T touring 
car, a 1923, all rusty and fender's flappin'. But she run good 
and had good tires. So what did he do but load Eleanor and 1 
and Eleanor's grandmother in the back seat. Dino, Kelly's 
buddy, drove. Kelly's wife was sittin, in the middle in the 
front and Kelly on the outside. And away we went up the old 
Argyle road and west to Friendship Church and there we all 
piled out. Kelly threw me some money. I don't know, 2 or 3 
dollars. At that time it seemed like a heap of money. He said: 
"Buy them all ice cream." Which I did. I bought them all ice 
cream. He said: "We'll be back in a little bit." So he and Dino 
took off with the Model-T and left. Well that didn't surprise 

me any because that's the way generally that Kelly would do 
things. But Friendship Church did have a big ice cream 
supper and you could get a mountain of ice cream for a dime. 
And everybody was having a good time and runnin' and 
hollerin' and eatin' ice cream. So we got our ice cream and we 
ate a couple of helpins of it and then we all started circulating 
around in different groups, really enjoying a lovely spring 

This was probably sometime in the late spring of '28 
because Kelly had a new 1928 Ford, one of the very best but 
he didn't have it this night. He was driving this old Model-T. 
Well it went on for about an hour or so and the first thing you 
know he drove up and got ahold of me and says: "Round up 
the gang. We're gonna leave." So I got the four of us together 
and herded us all into the Model-T. When 1 stepped on the 
back fender the car went gurgle, gurgle, gurgle. Kelly said, 
"Them blasted eggs is sure rolhn around aren't they?" Well 1 
knew what it was. From past experience 1 knew Kelly. I knew 
him pretty well and I just kind of giggled to myself and 
thought: "Oh boy! We're in for it tonight." We took off 
towards Fountain Green, and it was getting pretty late; it 
was getting almost dark by then. By the time we got to 
Fountain Green, it was. It was pitch dark. But I remember 
the house very well. It was a house on the corner just across 
from Bouseman's Auto Wrecking place now. There was no 
auto wrecking place there at that time. And Dino just set the 
Model-T down into a slow idle and Kelly made us jump out of 
the back seat, and he grabbed a couple of gallon cans by the 
handle and took off across the yard. 1 can still see him to this 
day hippety-hoppin' across the yard with those 2 gallon cans 
of whatever he had in there. He said they were eggs. Maybe 
they was eggs. Who knows. 1 didn't taste it. But anyway 
what made Kelly hippety hop was that he got run over with a 
train one time when he was working the railroad up at 
Galesburg. So he always run with kind of a hippety hop limp. 
Well, it wasn't but just a few minutes that here he come back 


and without the cans he wasn't limpin' as bad as he was going 
in. He was empty-handed. 

He jumped in the car and he says: "Okay, let's go." Well 
we took off out of Fountain Green west, towards Webster. 
And when we got to Webster we made one short stop there 
and he didn't make us got out of the back seat there. Then we 
went on to Carthage and he made us get up and he got one 
can out there. I can't remember the size of the can or how 
many of them in Carthage and I can't remember where the 
house was either. But as soon as he made his delivery of so- 
called eggs in Carthage he said: "Let's go." Well we got in the 
car. The car was going along at so slow a pace I thought, "Oh 
my golly! Anybody could just stop us with a flashlight. What 
on earth does he mean not staying in his good car." Then I 
got to thinkin', well they'd never imagine that he'd have 
alcohol in that old Model-T, running hquor in that old Model- 
T right through the middle of all the sheriffs and police there 
was. They just wouldn't believe it. But that was Kelly for 
you. I thought: "Oh boy, I wonder where we're goin now." 
Well we stopped at, I believe, a place in Hamilton; I think on 
top the hill, right at the west edge of Hamilton. We went on 
down the hiU and across the Mississippi River bridge and I 
thought wouldn't it be easy for the sheriff to nail him right 
there at the bridge, but there was no sheriff there and we just 
kept on a goin". We left from there and went down to a house 
that's since been torn down. It was where one of the 
supermarkets is today and he went in there. It was kind of a 
rough loo kin' place. I would have been scared to death to 
have gone in there, even if I'd had a big gun. It didn't seem to 
bother him. He was one that would play the odds and do it 
fast and do it easy. 

It was but very few minutes before Kelly come back out 
and when he come out he jumps in the car and says: "Well, 
the evening's works over. I've got all the eggs delivered." He 
said: "Let's go have a hamburger and some coffee." 

Dino said: "That's great. You know, I'm cold." 

And it was gettin' pretty nippy as far as the weather 
was concerned even though it had been a warm day. So we 
went into the only hamburger joint open in Keokuk, a greasy 
spoon we used to call them in those days. Three or four tall 
chairs around, somebody a-frying hamburgers, coffee you 
could float a battleship on much less an egg. But we had 
coffee and hamburgers. We got back in the old Model-T and 
came back home. It was almost mid-night or later by the time 
we got home. But that was an escapade that I had with Kelly 
on a bootleg run during Prohibition. 


Vernon F. Barr 

Man's desire for alcoholic drinks is probably older than 
the word itself and was first recorded in our Biblical history. 

The pioneer settlers in our river vallies were largely 
Scotch-Irish-Appalachian Mountain stock who in their 
migrations through West Virginia-Kentucky and Tennessee 
had acquired the skills to produce good a bourbon whiskey 
from a small still and they found a ready market for their 
product on the frontier. 

Then the successive moves of German-Irish-Italian 
immigrants settled in the midwest and broke the prairie sod, 
built our railroads and manned the mines and mills. They 
brought the know-how to start vineyards and run breweries 
and distilleries, plus a traditional taste for the products. 

With this mixed population and their assorted 
appetites, the supply and consumption of alcoholic drinks 
grew rapidly and fortunes were made in the attendant 

The evils of excessive use of the "Demon Rum" were so 
evident through out our society that they just justified the 
long campaigns of the prohibition groups such as the Anti- 

Saloon League, the Women's Christian Temperance Union 
and others. 

When they persuaded Congress to pass the 18th 
amendment and the Volstead Act in World War I years, their 
truly noble efforts had reached a worthy climax but the 
nation as a whole was hardly ready for that much sudden 

My boyhood memories, from the httle village of 
Chesterfield on the western side of Macoupin County, include 
the operation of a fast car, a high topless Chalmers sedan, 
known as the local "booze special", by some restless young 
overseas veterans of World War I. They had been off the farm 
and had seen the bright hghts and tasted the good wine in 
naughty old "Paree." The east side of our county had many 
coal mines manned by people with Southeastern European 
backgrounds and was thereby a ready source of alcohohc 
beverages. Expressions like "moonshine", "White mule" and 
"dago red" first joined our vocabularies in those Prohibition 

Along my father's rural mail route, from Chesterfield to 
Plainview and return, the wooded and hilly acreage along 
Macoupin Creek was populated by descendants of those 
pioneers from the Cumberland county who were experts at 
producing good "first run"— "sour-mash" bourbon whiskey. 
They could easily sell it through bootleg channels and 
supplement meager farm incomes. On a calm clear day Dad 
could stop his horse drawn buggy on the brow of the north 
bluff of the creek and pointing to the wisps of wood smoke 
rising from the timber along the south bluff, he could name in 
detail the men who were "cooking off a batch" of corn mash 
that day. 

Probably the worst evU of the prohibition era was the 
sale of poison hquor (usually wood alcohol) to customers on 
the lower edge of economic scale. Such a sale occurred in the 
late 1920's down by the stock yards on the south side of 
Peoria, and resulted in the deaths of nearly a score of the 

customers. As a young student at Bradley Institute, I still 
remember the chemistry professors, who had analized the 
contents of some of the victim's stomachs, lecturing and 
scaring the students and giving them an opportunity to whiff 
the resultant and distinctive formaldehyde smell. 

A small new industry evolved from furnishing 
equipment suppUes to the "ilhcit booze " business. Copper 
sheets normally stocked for roof flashing were shaped by 
local tinsmiths into mash cooking kettles, and rolls of copper 
tubing from the plumbing trades were skillfully looped into 
condensation coils. 

The increased sales of yeast, hops, and sugar soon made 
certain individuals highly suspect but in general the local law 
enforcement men were very tolerant. They could even 
overlook the reactivation of an old grist miU to grind more 
corn since its apparent destination was to an increased 
chicken flock on the farm. 

When the organized gangs who acquired fortunes and 
infamous reputations in Chicago and St. Louis tried to 
"muscle" in and dominate the illegal hquor business in cities 
hke Havana they ran into big troubles. They found the local 
characters equally as tough, very skilled with fire arms, and 
far more knowledgeable of access to the stills through the 
swamp trail and the backwater sloughs. The big-city 
gangsters compromised their takeover efforts by buying the 
local product at a fair price in unlimited quantities. They 
learned of the location of many old isolated hunting and 
fishing camps through these local contacts. They could then 
use these cabins as hide-outs when the "heat was on" in 
Chicago-St. Louis or Kansas City after some notorious mob 

It was common knowledge that members of the Capone 
Gang had such arrangements at some river bottom location 
around the LaSalle-Peru area on the Illinois River. Where a 
large segment of the local population was of the same 
nationality background. 

I can remember the impressive Irishman from Chicago 
reputedly a tough gangster from the Dion O'Bannon (Irish) 
mob who regularly showed up around Oquawka for a quiet 
hunting or fishing vacation after some highly publicized gang 
warfare incident in Cook County. 

But violence came with the fierce competition for the 
illegal Uquor profits in the downstate territories. When it 
produced a murder like the shot-gun slaying of Kelly Wagel, a 
local man in the Colchester-Tennessee area, the rural county 
law enforcement officials hounded the city gangsters back to 
their home territories for a while. 

As the "Prohibition" years of the 1920's rolled on, 
illegal alcohohc drinks became easily available in most areas. 
There was always plenty of good wine available around 
Nauvoo and I remember buying some very smooth bootleg 
whiskey from a commercial fisherman there in 1932 at $5.00 a 

Legally produced near-beer was commonly spiked (or 
fortified) with grain alcohol and so called "bath tub gin" was 
mixed in the cities in all kinds of containers except perhaps 
the toilet bowls. "Home brew" was produced in such 
quantities that suitable containers were at a premium. One of 
my unpleasant memories is of sampling some brew in a corn 
crib on the sand ridge east of Oquawka on a summer night in 
1931. The bad taste at the bottom of the bottle prompted an 
inspection by lantern hght that revealed that the container 
was a bottle originally used for a laundry bluing solution. 

By 1932 the general public and both political parties 
were convinced that the noble social experiment called 
"Prohibition" had failed and in 1933 the passage of the 21st 
amendment, followed by similar action in most states, 
returned legal alcoholic drinks to the majority of the 
American Citizens. 

I still remember my first glass of such legal beer. We 
were building State route 95 from Marietta to Smithfield and 
on east in the hot dry "dust bowl" summer of 1934. When 

word reached the paving crew on one such day that 
Magnoliar's Tavern in Cuba had a quantity of cold draft beer, 
the work virtually shut down and the construction men 
headed for town. 

As the old saying goes, it certainly would cut the dust 
from your throat on a hot summer day. And the price was 10 
cents a stein. A colorful era in American history had passed 
and the "Happy Days" were here again. 


Rue Densch 

In the quiet Brownfield community in the heart of Pope 
County where I grew up, the early days of the Great 
Depression did not drastically change life and general living 

One day a stranger appeared on the scene. He 
purchased a small farm near my boyhood home. He was a 
huge Scotchman and soon became known to everyone in the 
area as Mac. 

Next on the agenda he met an old maid who had been 
withering on the vine for many years. After a very short but 
discreet courtship they were happily married. 

It was quite evident that Mac was not a farmer, 
however he was not without funds and had a pension or some 
source of steady income. At that time any kind of money was 
looked on with great respect. 

People learned right away that it was no simple task to 
separate Mac from his money— with one exception. He had an 
enormous thirst. 

By the time the Eighteenth Amendment had become an 
accepted fact, but the quantity of hard "hkker" was not 
affected. Only the quality left something to be hoped for. 
Saloons had been replaced by bootleggers who phed between 


the nearest manufacturing center about 25 miles away and 
the local market. The wholesale price at the source was 
usually about $2.00 per gallon. The retail price was whatever 
the trade would stand with a minimum markup of 100%. 

Mac became very popular with the bootlegging 
fraternity because he would buy at least two gallons at a 
time. His popularity was further enhanced by a new twist to 
the game. 

Working in pairs, one of the bootleggers would socialize 
with Mac and give him a few free drinks while the other one 
would manage to steal at least one and sometimes two of the 
half gallon fruit jars they had just sold him. The local boys 
were soon vying with each other to see who could sell Mac the 
same whiskey the most times. 

As Mac's popularity increased his love hfe diminished. 
His wife, becoming despondent over her inabihty to compete 
with John Barleycorn, picked up her toothbrush, her 
knitting, and went sadly home to Mama. 

Following the departure of the little woman, Mac 
became very lonely and my friend Skriney (who hved with his 
father only a short distance up the road) became his only 
friend in the community. Skriney and I were through school 
but still in our teens. 

About this time Mac's Scot's instinct began to assert 
itself and he became a little harder to deal with. It is almost a 
certainty that he was becoming suspicious of the integrity of 
his bootlegger buddies. Be that as it may, he quietly arranged 
for all of them to come to his house one Sunday. He bought a 
goodly supply of bologna in 5-pound rolls with cheese, bread, 
crackers, etc. 

By noon at least eight of the special guests, along with 
my friend Skriney, gathered at Mac's place. Mac broke the 
news to the boys that he had decided to have a party. This 
was not viewed with any special alarm as all of them had just 
happened to have a gallon or more moonshine with them. 

The weather was rather cool so they aU gathered in the 
spacious dining room. Everything was going along smoothly 
when Mac came to a sudden stop and said, "Boys, I forgot 
the soup! We can't have a dinner without soup!" 

He pondered this dilemma a short time and came up 
with the answer. He delegated two of the guests to go to the 
chicken house, kill and prepare a pair of fat hens, while he got 
the water hot. 

The guys who drew this assignment hurried out to 
complete it. In fact, they were in such a hurry that they only 
beheaded and plucked said hens. What the heck, they both 
agreed that they were going to be somewhere else when the 
soup was served. They returned, dropped the fowls in the pot 
of hot water, and sat down to enjoy another drink. 

By this time, a little unrest and nervousness was 
beginining to develop among the guests. Two or three of 
them remembered they had urgent business to attend to and 
would have to leave. 

Mac handled this quickly and efficiently by bolting the 
back door and informing the guests that "nobody leaves 
Mac's parties until the party is over." 

He then picked up a large carving knife and a 5-pound 
roll of bologna. He tested the edge of the knife by shaving a 
sizeable patch of hair off the his forearm, and proceeded 
around the table. As he passed each guest he loped off a 
generous portion of bologna and invited him to "eat that, you 
S.O.B." Everyone ate. 

By the time the bologna was consumed, Mac decided 
the soup was ready. He placed the pot on the table, 
distributed bowls and spoons and, using the dipper from the 
water bucket for a ladle, gave each a large helping of soup. 

Again he issued an invitation to eat that was hard to 
refuse, since he had kept the carving knife very much in 
evidence aU the time. It is absolutely amazing how much 
influence a 280-pound man with a 12-inch carving knife can 


have over a group of people in a closed room. Each of the 
guests devoured his soup with gusto. 

Finally one of the boys who was much better known for 
his speed than for his valor, catching Mac and his knife at the 
opposite end of the room, made a break for the door. As he 
opened it he found he was looking squarely at the point of 
Mac's knife which had just penetrated the thin panel of the 

Now Mac without a knife was not anywhere near as 
formidable as Mac with a knife, so the guests aU began a wild 
rush for the exits. One of them even created a new door where 
a window had been. 

In a very few seconds the room was empty except for 
Mac and Skriney who, relying on his friendly status with 
Mac, felt quite safe. 

Mac went to the door, recovered his carving knife and, 
looking around, saw Skriney was still there. He asked him 
why he was there. Skriney said, "Hey, man— I'm your friend. 
I'm going to help you clean up this mess." 

Mac's reply was, "Ha! I have no friends and I don't 
need your help." To add emphasis to this statement he 
grabbed Skriney with one hand, slammed him against the 
wall and began to explain to him how easy it would be to cut 
his head off with one stroke of the knife. 

This revelation probably gave Skriney a Uttle extra 
strength. At any rate, he managed to get loose from Mac's 
grasp and fled through the front door of the house with Mac 
in full pursuit. 

The front porch was about two feet off the ground. As 
Mac lunged through the door he miscalculated his distance 
and missed the top step. He fell fuU length in the yard with an 
earthshaking crash which knocked him unconscious. 

Skriney, realizing his life was no longer at stake, 
returned and examined Mac. He decided Mac was not 
seriously hurt, just out for awhile. He studied about the case 
for a short time and came up with a brilliant idea. Since he 

was no longer in good standing with Mac, he might as well 
steal the rest of his moonshine. 

He re-entered the house and found three half-gallon jars 
that were still full. He gathered them up and headed for 
home. He did not go far until he decided to hide his loot in the 
fence row until a better plan developed. 

Later that evening at church I met Skriney at which 
time he gave me this story as I have written it. He suggested, 
"Let's you and me walk home together after church." As an 
added incentive he offered to let me sample his moonshine. 

But when the meeting was over and a bevy of beautiful 
maidens emerged from the building, Skriney 's mind 
promptly flipped from adventure to romance. He had very 
little trouble persuading one of the sweet young things that it 
was unsafe for her to walk home alone. 

This left me walking home alone. 

Now there are few things that will stimulate the 
imagination more than walking alone a couple of miles on a 
dark country road. So by the time I reached Mac's house a 
more or less brilliant idea had taken shape. 

Mac had regained consciousness but was still lying in 
the yard groaning and cursing. However, my Good 
Samaritan instincts were not in control at this time and I, like 
the Pharisee, passed by on the other side of the road. 

It did not take any superior detective work with my 
flashhght to find the three jars of moonshine Shriney had 
hidden. After ascertaining that the stuff was possibly fit for 
human consumption, I gathered it up and proceeded on 

After all, I couldn't let my friend turn into an alcohohc, 
could I? 


Guy S. Tyson 

On Oct. 28, 1919, Congress passed the Volstead Act 
which made it illegal to buy, sell, make or have in your 
possession any alcoholic beverage that contained more than 
3% alcohol. The breweries went ahead making a beer that had 
3% alcohol, and tasted just like regular beer but was called 
near beer. Any one who wanted a cold drink and liked beer 
could buy it in almost any town. 

Most people, even if they were not drinkers, resented 
the law and thought Congress had gone too far in a free 
country. Many people who had never drank before, began to 
drink in defiance of the law. Soon almost every community 
had one or more people who made home brew in their 
basement and would sell it to trusted friends. 

It wasn't long until the same thing happened with 
moonshine. Some people called it bathtub gin. Feed grain was 
soaked in water until it soured. Then the Uquid was run 
through a distiller and if you were not used to drinking, the 
first swallow would almost knock the top of your head off. 
Some of it was 90% alcohol. 

One fellow in Rushville made moonshine in his 
basement and every night had a poker game upstairs. He 
would fill a water pitcher half full of moonshine and finish 
filling the pitcher with water. He kept the pitcher at the 
kitchen sink. He would fill everybody's glass then return to 
the kitchen and pour some water in the pitcher. He said as the 
man got more drunk they didn't know the difference and were 
lots better off, and always able to go home. Also if he was 
raided by the police, he just tipped the pitcher over in the 
sink and the evidence was gone. 

In 1923, my folks moved from the Milby farm north of 
the four mile turn to the Rethorn farm north east of 
Pleasantview. There was an empty house directly across the 
road from our house. One day a man named Bert Bluett, his 

housekeeper, and an old man moved into the house. They 
were friendly and good neighbors. In a short time everyone 
was sure they were making moonshine. In a few weeks, the 
rumor in the neighborhood was that he had made a deal with 
the local sheriff that he would not bother Bert if Bert 
wouldn't sell any of his hquor in Schuyler County. After they 
had been there a few months, one morning my mother was 
sweeping our front porch when a car with four men in it 
turned into the drive across the road. Mother said when they 
started to turn into the drive, one of their tires blew out. 
Mother said it sounded like a shot gun. Instantly all four men 
jumped out of the car and threw themselves on the ground by 
the car or in the road ditch. They each had a revolver in their 

One of the neighbor boys, Ivan Dewitt, came around the 
corner of the house and told them he had been asked to keep 
an eye on the place all day as the folks were going to be gone. 
The four men, which were federal revenue officers with a 
search warrant, and after searching the place and finding 
nothing, they left. 

When dad, Vaughn and I came in for dinner, mother 
told us about all the excitement. We talked about where they 
had moved and who could have tipped Bert off. Dad never 
said a word and mother said, "Ed! You didn't did you?" Dad 
said, "Well! Bert asked last night if he could use the old 
house down the road to store some things in". Vaughn and I 
looked at each other and as soon as dinner was over, we ran to 
the house, opened the kitchen door and there was the old man 
half asleep in a chair and three charcoal distillers going fuO 
blast. He thought he was being raided, but we just went 
upstairs and got some cherry wine out of a closet that we had 
made. We took it home and hid it in the hay mow where we 
thought dad wouldn't find it. 

In a few days Bert moved to a house in a lane east of 
Pleasantview. His housekeeper had left him so he hired a 
local girl and soon he was in business again. The federal men 

were out to get him and one morning they made a surprise 
raid and caught him in full operation. They took a gallon of 
moonshine as evidence, put him in the car and went to 
Springfield. When they got there the jug of moonshine had 
mysteriously disappeared. My mother and dad and most of 
the neighbors were served notices to appear as witnesses at 
the trial. They were not called to testify as he pleaded guilty 
and his sentence was almost nothing. Bert hadn't been gone 
long when his house burned to the ground. 

One Sunday my sister Ruby and her husband, Clarence 
Trotter, came out to our house for dinner. After dinner a 
neighbor came by and wanted Clarence and I to take a ride. 
We went through Frederick toward Beardstown and followed 
the railroad around the comer to the river where the old 
dump road went under the railroad back of Frederick. About 
100 yards up the river he stopped where a cabin boat was tied 
in the brush on the river bank. 

We went inside and there was "Stormy" Vincent, a 
bootlegger from Beardstown. The officers in Beardstown 
were bothering him and he had moved across the river and 
started his business in Schuyler County. There were several 
other men there drinking beer. After we had been there a 
short time, two girls came out of the state room and wanted 
someone to buy them a drink. Antoher car drove up and the 
men came on the boat, said hello, and ordered a drink for 
everyone. It was Jim Kelly, the sheriff of Schuyler County. In 
a few minutes, Clarence and I looked around and our 
neighbor was gone. We supposed he was ready to go home so 
we went to the car but he wasn't in sight. Soon he came out of 
the brush and we started home. He said he thought the place 
was being raided and we would all be arrested and locked in 
jail over night, so he had gone out the side door and hid in the 

When Frankhn D. Roosevelt ran for President, the main 
plank in his campaign was that, if elected, the first thing he 
would do was to have the Volstead Act revoked. Before the 

election everyone knew he was going to be elected. The 
morning after election, everyone who wanted to have a tavern 
had already made all their arrangements and had gotten their 
supphes and had opened for business. I never knew when the 
act was revoked, but I assume everything was made legal in 
due course of time. 


Dorris Taylor Nash 

Depression days and nights created a desperate need for 
a way to make men forget their troubles for awhile. They 
wanted to forget their jobless status, the worried faces of 
their wives, the hnes they stood in to receive a government 
handout of food to feed their famihes. The stigma of being on 
reUef soaked into the very marrow of their bones. It was a 
very humiliating time. 

To blot out the reahty of poverty many men and women 
patronized the local bootlegger's estabUshments in my small 
hometown White Hall, Ilhnois. One of these undercover 
business men operated his business from the basement of his 
home on my street. 

Grout Street, three blocks long, was aUve with nearly 
forty youngsters mostly under age sixteen, and we quickly 
became accustomed to the sight of the bootlegger's 
customers proceeding down our street in various degrees of 
drunkenness. Some were funny, some pitiful, and few were 
vulgar with their words and actions. 

My father, a definite non-drinker, would grit his teeth 
and swear loudly as my brothers and I regaled our parents 
with the sights we had seen. We soon learned not to mention 
anything at supper regarding the business across the way 
because Dad became so angry. He would loudly declare what 
should be done to that so and so across the street! 

The bootleg business flourished for a long time because 
Prohibition laws kept our Uttle town "dry". We gradually 
became used to the activity across the street except when a 
drunken driver killed our dog. All of the neighborhood kids 
gathered in our backyard and we had a funeral for Buster 
with flowers pulled from Mom's flower bed for his grave. We 
had an unspoken agreement that we didn't like that 
bootlegger and Dad would growl under his breath once in 
awhile though he would speak to the bootlegger if they 
chanced to meet on the street. 

Eventually a circumstance caused bootleg whiskey to 
play an important part in our family hfe. My younger 
brother, six years old, became very ill with double pneumonia 
one winter. When a grown man was earning just thirty five 
cents a day he doesn't take a child to the local hospital. Our 
family doctor made house calls in 1929 so he made a daily trip 
to our home to see my brother. A nurse, friend of my parents, 
came each night to care for my little brother so that Mother 
could rest. She cautioned my parents that his condition was 
grave and was worsening and warned that a "crisis" was 
pending which would decide whether he Uved or died. 

Keeping a close watch on the boy she announced one 
morning that she believed the "crisis" would occur within the 
next twenty four hours. She told Dad she needed the best 
whiskey he could find to administer to the sick boy. 

Looking back, after more than a half a century, I reahze 
now that it took a tremendous amount of fortitude for Dad to 
cross the street, look that bootlegger in the eye and ask him 
to sell him booze in order to try to save his son's hfe. The 
bottle of whiskey came home with Dad and nurse, Ella, began 
giving small doses to the weakened child. She stayed by his 
bed, watching him closely, seeing him labor for breath, and 
dosing him with the booze. After many long quiet hours and 
following an extra large dose of whiskey my brother began to 
choke and cough while gasping frantically for air. All at once 
the suffocating mucus came up that had been clogging his air 

passage. With a glad cry Ella turned to my parents and told 
them he had a chance. She was right. It took four months for 
him to regain his strength and become completely well, but 
thanks to the bootlegger's whiskey he survived! 

A few days follwing the night of the crisis the 
Bootlegger knocked on our door to inquire about the sick boy. 
Dad met him at the door with an outstretched hand and 
thanked him for his part in saving the Ufe of his first born 

They never became friends in the truest sense of the word 
but dad made a point to be friendher and no more angry 
words were said by him in our hearing. The end of Prohibition 
wiped out the bootlegger's business and after he no longer 
sold booze he gradually became a neighbor that all of us 
neighbored with. He and his family Uved on our street for 
many years and became part of the neighborhood. 


Clifford J. Boyd 

The roaring 20s around the La Crosse area was very 
mild compared to the big city exciting glamour of 
speakeasies and gang like problems of that era. However, 
there was no shortage of alcohoUc beverages for anyone 
desiring to imbibe in drink and the compatible results from 
overdrinking resulted. 

Home brew beer could be made easily and cheaply by 
mixing sugar, malt, water and yeast in a large crock, letting 
set a few days and at the correct time botthng and capping. 
The crucial part of the process was capping at the correct 
time because if you capped too soon it might blow up and if 
too late it would become flat. Brew makers quickly learned to 
store the beer in a cool place after capping to retard some of 
the blow ups. The advent of the use of a beer hydrometer was 

a big advancement in the making of beer as this device aided 
in determining the capping time. The alcohoHc content of this 
brew generally tested out about 10%, depending on how 
much sugar was used. Some drinkers who did not take the 
time to make the brew would buy near beer, a non-alcohoUc 
drink and mix it with moonshine alcohol. Some drinkers also 
mixed beer and wine to make a concoction called appropriate 
enough, beer-wine. 

Some of the local people who liked wine would buy a 
barrel of grape juice each year so they had a barrel of wine 
fermenting while the barrel they had bought the year before 
could be drunk. The grape juice and sugar used to make the 
wine was very cheap so this made a cheap drink. Cleve 
Patterson owned and operated the grape-vineyard and press. 
His vineyard, located a mile south west of La Crosse where 
Mike Boyd now lives, was a very busy place during the 
harvesting with all the wine makers trying to refill their 
barrels. A big shed is all that remains of this once thriving 

La Crosse, like every other small community, was not 
without its bootlegger who made and sold moonshine. As far 
as I know, no one ever knew where his still was located. I 
remember hunting rabbits on his land and inadvertently 
thinking maybe I would come across it but I never did. He 
had a Model T. Ford for which he had ingenuously buUt a 
wooden box on the back in order to carry his illegal 
beverages. You would find him at most all the neighborhood 
dances selling his intoxicating drinks and no one or the law 
ever chased him away. 

One of the popular pastimes in summer at that time was 
outdoor dance floors where both square and round dances 
took place. Fountain Green had two at different times and 
another was located at the Pilot Grove Corners. These 
outdoor platforms were probably about 30 feet by 30 feet. 
Lighting was provided by kerosene lanterns and Coleman gas 
lanterns for the dance floors in the country. Music was 

generally provided by the Grey family who lived at the Pilot 
Grove Corners and also operated the dance floor in his 
barnyard. Mr. Grey, on his fiddle and his son Stephen, on the 
guitar sawed out, "Turkey In The Straw", "Them Golden 
Slippers", "Bye Bye Blackbird" and the other popular tunes 
of the time. La Crosse did not have the outside dance floor 
but had their dances in the old Tadlock Store which was 
located just west of main store. Everyone danced from the 
young teen ager to the very elderly as the price was right, 
generaUy fifty cents for the men and the ladies were free. The 
Charleston dance, associated with that era was seldom 
attempted but occasionally a couple of the young girls would 
try it. 

Of course, these Saturday nite dances, mixed with the 
moonshine that generally flowed freely, caused some 
problems. You could usually depend on at least one good 
fight. The less inebriated would part the brawlers and 
occasionally have to lock one up in a corncrib, as there was no 
law to help keep things in order. The nearest law was the 
sheriff in Carthage about 15 to 20 miles away and by the time 
he arrived the dance would be over and tempers would be 

Women of this time were slowly becoming more 
liberated. Women were now voting and, as today, usually for 
the same candidates as their husband. You would 
occasionally see a woman smoking in the big cities but not in 
the La Crosse area. If a woman smoked or drank in the La 
Crosse area it was in the confines of her home. Their dress 
and make-up were changing rapidly. Their long hair was cut 
and curled and dress hems were rising. A special curUng iron 
was marketed that could be heated by placing in a kerosene 
lamp chimney. One La Crosse lady ventured to Ft. Madison 
la. to get one of the new permanent waves. Many of the 
jealous women in the neighborhood commented how awful it 
looked and what a waste of $25.00. Many of the young girls 

experimented with making themselves spit curls, which gave 
them the cute Betty Boop look. 

In the late 20s and early 30s gangsterism was rampant 
in Chicago and the big cities but I can only remember two 
incidents of it in our area. Liquor runners with large powerful 
fast cars were now delivering supples from big city 
distilleries to bootleggers in the rural areas. This came to 
light in the La Crosse area when one broke down near the Gay 
Wright corners, which is a couple miles East of La Crosse on 
the Ft. Green road. 

Not wanting to get caught with the illegal liquor, the 
driver hid 40 gallons in the cornfield before going to the 
Wright residence for help. Someone in the Wright house 
called the sheriff while they were gettng the car going again. 
The driver became scared and took off in his car never to be 
caught. The 40 gallons of alcohol was found and it was of 
such good quality it was turned over to hospitals for use. 

Another incidence happened in Colchester where a local 
citizen was gunned down gangland style. The man was 
standing on the corner when this large car with gangsters 
drove by and opened fire, killing the victim instantly. 
Witnesses were of little help either because they were afraid 
or because it happened so fast no one got a good look at the 

Note: For those not familiar with the La Crosse area, it 
is located in the northeast comer of Pilot Grove Township of 
Hancock County. The Lamoine River (Crooked Creek) 
meanders just one mile north and west of the village. La 
Crosse at one time was a thriving and busy village with two 
general stores, a railroad depot, post office, two small 
factories, a garage, blacksmith shop, a large Christian 
Church, stockyard, grain elevator and a doctor's office. It also 
supported a community owned steam threshing hing rig. 
Progress has taken its toll and all that is left now is three or 
four houses. It is sad but it stUl brings back fond memories of 
yesteryear to anyone who grew up in the area as I did. 


Joshephine K. Oblinger 

At the age of 16 I, an only child, left the discipHned 
atmosphere of my home to attend the University of Ilhnois. 
The date was September, 1929, and what I expected on the 
Champaign-Urbana campus only partially was true. There 
were classes and papers, rushing, involvement in campus 
activities, and making new acquaintances. There were also 
Handleys and Prehns, the campus hang-outs, which I had 
never pictured even in my wildest dreams; fraternity parties 
which I had never even heard about; and deans whose jobs I 
in my innocence believed were confined to course counsehng. 

Students were not allowed to have cars on campus so all 
of our activities were confined to campus and the town of 
Champaign. Handleys and Prehns were first choices of places 
to spend one's leisure hours, and because a depression came 
soon after our entrance in the university coke, I mean Coca 
Cola at 10 cents, was our main accompaniment to socializing. 
A date never asked "what wUl you have'?" but "what kind of 
coke do you want?" Cherry and Chocolate ones were our 
favorites. I soon learned that these drinks were usually 
"spiked" with raw alcohol. However, this had to be done 
judiciously— with a minimum of activity (bottles were slyly 
taken from pockets and alcohol added to glasses under the 
table) and with an eye to the clock. You see. Dean Freddie 
Turner patrolled these "dens of iniquity" on a rather regular 
basis. When he arrived at Prehns on Green, a quiet settled 
over the place, an air of expectancy, because he went from 
table to table smelUng the cokes to see who was indulging in 
liquor. When a drink was positive, that student was 
immediately marched out of Prehns, and the next day the 
student was on his way home— expelled. It really was a 
variation of Russian Roulette. 

If students wanted to circumvent Dean Freddie, there 
was always the fraternity dance held at the fraternity house. 


Although there was no guarantee that he would not show up, 
it was worth a chance. The preparation of liquid refreshments 
was a shared activity. This was the making of the famous 
"purple passion"— people were assigned to purchase grape 
juice, others to secure juniper berries, and still others, those 
enrolled in chemistry classes, to secure bit by bit the alcohol 
from the chemistry labs. All of these lovely ingredients were 
then mixed in and served from the bath tub. One of the 
students became so addicted to this lovely potion that 
whenever we saw him, we chanted, 

"The stag at eve. Has drunk his fill. 
*But Barry Tandem is drinking still." 

As the years 1930-31-32 passed, these activities 
continued in spite of expulsions, crack downs and student 
disabilities caused by the drinking of these noxious 
concoctions. Then dawned the fateful year— 1933. 

We had a new President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 
who had campaigned on repeaUng the 18th amendment. 

Up to this time our only contact with beer had been with 
3.2 near beer. Of course, the accept method of drinking this 
beer was to pour out the contents of the bottle "down a neck" 
and fill it with alcohol, shake it up, and then swill it down as 
we saw the characters in movies do. 

One fateful day real beer was now declared legal— the 
date in May, 1933. This date was also the date of the annual 
Interfraternity Dance. All that day every booth in Handleys 
and in all the Prehn estabUshments were filled, and a crowd 
was milling about among the tables— drinking beer. What 
should be mentioned was that two train carloads of green 
beer had been brought in on the Ilhnois Central for student 

Young people unaccustomed to beer, at least strong 
green beer, drank all day prior to the dance. What a bunch of 

"Not the name of the actual person. 

That night each fraternity had a dinner preceding the 
dance. I was invited to the Phi Kappa Psi house. When my 
date told me the ladies' coat room was on the second floor, he 
was silent on what else I might experience. Imagine my 
surprise when I walked down the second floor hall to 
encounter a bevy of young men cavorting in the nude and 
singing drinking songs! This was unrehearsed— only a result 
of beer day. I can assure you that the dance that night was a 
bacchanalian event. We had snake dances, solo dances, and 
group entertainment, the likes of which were never seen 
before or since in that old armory. 

Soon after that momentous occasion, we graduated. 
Now when we return to campus, there are sophisticated 
cocktail parties, cheese and wine tasting events, and beer 
brawls with true veteran beer drinkers. There'll never again 
be the forbidden drink handed around the horsedrawn milk 
wagon on the Phi Gam Harvest Moon party or the purple 
passion party at the Phi Delta House or the wrestling 
celebration observed at the Beta House with the famous 
hemlock drink. But then never again will there be the class of 


Marvis Rasmussen 

It was depression years when my family, the Frank 
Taylors, moved to Tampico from Chicago. My dads job 
working on the highline was at that time located close by. 

The day we moved into our house on Benton Street, my 
dad met our neighbor Dewey Adams. He also found out that 
Dewey was running a "Bhnd Pig" business there at his home. 

It turned out that Dewey and my parents became very 
close. Like, when the cops were about to raid Deweys place, 
my folks let him hide his alcoholic drinks and beer in our back 

room. He even ran in and out selling his booze to his regulars 
when he needed to. 

That went on all that fall and winter. Until Dewey got 
another idea, he rented a three acre plot from a farmer and 
the back room was then turned into a greenhouse where Mr. 
Adams started to grow his many plants and we helped water 
and transplant all these things. 

The sale of the booze was still going on until he moved 
to the farm. 

What no one will understand is, he never used his 
earnings on himself. He kept four families in groceries, our 
family too. He was modern day Robin Hood we decided. Pa's 
job ended in a month after we left Chicago and he could only 
find a job unloading a carload of coal at $15.00 a month. Not 
much to hve on! 

So after Dewey moved, he got along fairly good with the 
raids until one day. The cops finally caught Dewey and off to 
jail he went. After four months of jail and the "bull pen", he 
got an idea to make wine in the cell. There was these three 
large stone jars stored under one cot. The men, four of them, 
were getting an over supply of many fruits from friends and 

They then got sugar smuggled in and they were in 
business. When the wine was ready, there was far too much 
for four men to drink so since a sewer pipe ran up the corner 
to a cell upstairs, they sold their drinks to the thirsty men up 
there. Down would come a cup on a string with a dime in it 
and up went the cup fuU of wine. The sewer pipe had quite a 
space around it that accommodated the cups with much room 
to spare. And the guards never smelled the wine or ever 
caught them. I heard all this from Dewey when he got out. 
Those were good old memories. 


Vivian Layton 

When I was in my late teens and my father, C.R. Mars, 
was sheriff of Woodford County 111., we hved in the jail in 
Eureka, 111. Our living quarters were in the front of the jail. 
Our kitchen had a pantry area with a solid steel door and 
heavy lock. This door opened into the jail. On another wall in 
that room was a steel door that went into a smaU office with 
an outside entrance. 

My Mother cooked for the prisoners. She gave them the 
same food that she cooked for us. My brother and I often took 
the food in to the prisoners. This article is about prohibition 
as we lived thru that memorable time in our lives. 

At one time during this period a truck driver attempted 
to avoid being caught driving through by going off the 
highway and thru the side streets. He got stuck in an alley 
and was caught with 700 gallons of 90 proof bootleg whiskey. 
This was good enough for hospital use, but, because it was 
bootleg whiskey it could not be used in a hospital. 

My Father was offered 1500 dollars just to leave the 
back office door and jail door open. That could have appeared 
to be a breakin. The man who offered this to may father was a 
handsome, well groomed Italian gangster from Peoria, 111. 

My father refused the offer and a big black car with a 
machine gun stuck out of a back window would drive slowly 
by the front of the jail to frighten us. That was the only time 
that our front door was locked. 

My father asked the county judge to give him an order 
to pour the whiskey down the creek, then he took a minister 
with him to witness the disposal. Imagine what those poor 
fish went thru! 

My father had to raid many individual homes where 
whiskey was being made and sold. 

It was made and sold by many women. One night on a 
raid Dad brought in huge jars of potato whiskey. It looked 

like a foamy fermented mess that you would take out to feed 
the hogs. 

On another raid, he took extra deputies along. One of 
them called the women and warned them so, when dad 
arrived with his deputies there was beer poured all over the 
basement floor. One deputy mopped up beer and put it in a 
bottle for evidence. The bootlegger hit the deputy over the 
head with a bottle. 

Prior to this period in our history, I remember the old 
saloons. No women ever went in. There were only isolated 
cases of drunkenness. The men went to the saloons and spent 
hours playing cards and drinking beer. I knew of children 
who appeared at the back door of the saloons to get a bucket 
of beer to take home to their fathers. 

During Prohibition many people made a fortune and 
retired on it. Many people were bhnded by the poison that 
posed as hquor. Many saloons went into the bootleg business 
in order to survive. We had their owners in and out of jail at 
this time. Prior to Prohibition we had no problem with 
drunken drivers. Today we are paying the price of 


Bob Hulsen 

"Old Mr. Van Bunke got caught last night. Had his 
hooch hidden in the hoUow table legs." 

"Well they finally got foxy old Mrs. DeSmet. Funny 
everyone knows she is a bootlegger but the Sheriff. 
Somebody must have squealed on her." 

" Alfonse's Dad is in jail. The Sheriff found his still and a 
whole batch of moonshine in his pigeon coop." 

"Mr. Alonsky didn't get his wine dumped in time. His 
customers were all around a big table when the police raided 
the place." 

These were common news items kids passed around all 
during my elementary and high school years. Although only 
seven years old, I remember how elated my grandmother was 
when prohibition was announced. Whiskey had been a 
problem for most of the men in her family since before the 
Civil War. As a boy chmbing in the barn on the farm of her 
relatives, I recall being struck by the number of empty 
bottles labeled "Stomach Bitters" 1 found in the horse feed 
boxes and other unlikely places. 

It seemed that only a small percentage of the folks in 
our town favored prohibition. Practically all of our neighbors 
were immigrants. Many had come from the low countries of 
Western Europe. The Sports Department of the Chicago 
Tribune once referred to the East Moline High School 
football team as the "League of Nations". It seemed that at 
least half of the families had surnames beginning with Van, 
De, or Vander. A postmaster in a distant city once had a 
letter addressed to someone in Belgium, llUnois. He wrote on 
the envelope, "Try East Moline" and sure enough, the family 
lived there. 

In addition to the Belgians, Dutch and French, we had 
Greeks (enough to support an Orthodox Church), Poles, 
Jugoslavs, Czechs, Serbians, Italians and a sprinkle of 
Swedes, Germans and Irish. Our black people lived in 
Watertown near the river and most of their houses had 
foundations 8 to 12 blocks high out of respect for the mighty 
Mississippi. Mexican people all seemed to work for the Rock 
Island, Burlington or Milwaukee Railroads and lived in 
humble cottages along the creek south of Warners Crossing 
(19th Street). 

Coming from Europe where one, 1 am told, drank water 
at considerable risk, many of our neighbors had been raised 
on wine and beer as well as milk, tea and coffee. Every 
grocery store carried cans of malt, hop, bottles, bottle caps 
and capping machines. Barrels and kegs were common 
merchandise and hardware stores carried wine presses as well 

as sauerkraut cutters and apple peelers. More sugar was 
bought in 100 lb. bags in a week than is now sold in the town 
in a year. To the hundreds who made their own wine and beer 
from old family recipes, prohibition was an unexpected 
calamity. Because the 1920 law prohibited all manufacture, 
transportation, sale and possession of alcoholic beverages, it 
drove hundreds into a cat and mouse game with law 
enforcement agencies. Because prices soared, many, although 
not intending to be criminals, shared their production with 
others. Although my folks were Baptist teetotalers, I 
remember a dear old neighbor lady giving my Mother a bottle 
of whiskey which rested and matured on her pantry shelf for 
forty years. 

Some recognized bootlegging as a profitable occupation 
and went to it with great industry and cunning. An 
accounting of items from which alcohol was distilled or 
flavored and which had been seized by the police in raids was 
often astonishing. Anything that would ferment and produce 
alcohol became a raw material. Sugar, of course, was a major 
ingredient. Peaches, over-ripe bananas, potatoes, all kinds of 
out-of-condition fruit, and I once heard of acorns used with 
grains to make hooch. 

The humorous stories came from incidents such as the 
batch blowing its caps from the bottles while the maker was 
telling the Sheriff of his innocence. Sometimes one of the 
httle kids would stumble over the still and wreck the 
apparatus or fall into a vat or teU the neighbors Dad was 

The sad stories were those of the poor people who, in 
their eagerness and through lack of connections, got bad 
liquor called rotgut. Some severely addicted people would 
drink anything alcohohc, even lemon extract. Some in their 
desperation tried radiator alcohol and died. It was common to 
hear of blindness, convulsions or "snakes in his boots". The 
term "SkuU Pop" was apt for much of the bad stuff that 
made drinkers sick for days. 

There was a kind of beer for sale wherever soda pop was 
sold called "Near Beer". It was about as near beer as Belgium 
was to East Moline and its sale was mostly to uninitiated 
wanting an idea of the taste of the real brew. 

We kids usually knew who was bootlegging. We could 
tell by the apparent increase in the money a family had to 
spend and sometimes by the smeD when a batch was coming 
off. We also knew those who simply made a supply of beer or 
wine to share with family and friends. Children were pledged 
to silence and every family who produced anything alcoholic 
walked in fear of the Sheriff and his raiders. 

It wasn't easy for thirsty strangers to find a drink in 
those days. Back rooms and back stairs leading to club rooms 
or "Speakeasys" were the usual retail outlet. Doors were 
locked and would-be customers were scrutinized through a 
peephole or other device for identification before admittance. 
Getting in was a game. For safety's sake, there was no 
admittance unless someone in the party was known and 
would vouch for the others. Honest lawmen had a tough time. 
Raids were reported several times a week and officers needed 
evidence. Very few of the families who made beer and wine 
and kept it at home were ever bothered. Police hunted the 
bootleggers who were in business— a dangerous and lucrative 
business. Even if caught with all of the paraphernalia, if the 
law breaker could get his stock dumped down the sink or into 
the toilet, there was no evidence to arrest or convict the 
culprit. I recall a story of a deputy quickly removing the 
gooseneck under the sink to retrieve enough for evidence and 

As always with illegal operations, there were quarrels 
and fights over territories and outlets. People were 
threatened, hurt and killed in the struggle for control of the 
illegal business. 

In those days of raccoon coats and the Charleston, 
young people could get liquor if they had the desire and the 
money. Because the source of liquor could not be traced. 

much of it was dangerous even if not poison. I am quite 
certain many kids tried liquor the first time because getting 
it was a game and a test of audacity and courage. 
Fortunately, Model T's didn't run very fast and there weren't 
as many of them. Drunken drivers ran into ditches, streetcars 
and sometimes trains. They got in trouble then as all 
intoxicated people always will. 

Some of the bolder immigrants did extremely well, first 
in avoiding trouble with the underworld, and second in 
accumulating wealth. Some bought the farm of their dreams. 
Others bought businesses that flourish to this day. Some 
financed the college education for their children. To them, 
prohibition was a siUy law clouding the American Dream. 
They took advantage of an opportunity when the market was 
there and were relieved of the strain when the game was over 
and they came out winners. 

The saddest year for the underworld and the bad guys 
and the happiest year for the immigrants— the solid hard 
workers who only wanted to get their noses wet with a beer 
after a hard day at the plant— was 1933— the year prohibition 
was repealed. 


Robert C. Richards, Sr. 

Carrie Nation first received National attention when she 
weiled a hatchet and destroyed a saloon in Kansas. This was 
the first known attack against "demon" rum. The Women's 
Christian Temperance Union was organized in the early 
1900's and waged a real battle against the evils of liquor. 
Local option, as a real battle against the evils of Hquor. Local 
option, as it was known gave the people a choice of having 
liquor in their community. Many small towns and counties 
first adopted Prohibition throughout the United States. The 

"Volstead Act" or the National Prohibition Act was adopted 
by the Congress of the United States in March, 1920, and it 
was also known as the "Noble experiment". The crime rate all 
over the United States increased as the Bootlegger Barons 
fought to establish territories for their operations. New York 
City, Detroit, Michigan and Chicago were the scene of many 
killings and the rivals would end up in a cement overcoat and 
the final resting place— a river. 

Wine making, home brew (beer) and stills for making 
whiskey increased all over the country. People that would not 
violate the law otherwise had two 20-gallon crocks or Jars 
behind their cook stoves to keep an even temperature for the 
making of beer. They bought bottle cappers, caps, malt and 
all the supplies to make their own beer. They would let the 
crocks of beer work for seven days, scrape off the foam from 
the top of the jar or crock and bottle it in quart bottles. Some 
times they would get in a hurry and bottle it too soon before 
the fermentation stopped and the caps would come off the 
bottles and the resulting explosions would sound hke a war in 
the basement. Wine making in homes also increased and 
many people would try to out do each other with their 

Stills for making whiskey were made out of copper wash 
boilers and remodelled by soldering a copper tube on top of 
the lid and a copper coil was soldered on the spout. The mash, 
corn sugar, was mixed in water and put in fifty gallon barrels 
and this was also fermented for a period of seven to ten days, 
depending on the temperature. After the whiskey would stop 
fermenting, the mash would be cooked in the copper boiler 
and the vapor would rise to the top of the boiler and go 
through the coils that was in a barrel of cold water. The 
alcohol would dip in glass or jug containers. When the alcohol 
first came out, it would be 188 proof. The bootlegger would 
cut it with water until it was 100 proof and some times would 
flavor it with various fruit flavors. The pure whiskey was 
known as "white lighting". Some bootleggers would use 


carmel coloring to create the illusion that it was aged in 
barrels to make it a brown color. Some would put brand 
names on the jugs like "Steve's Best", "Leo's Special" etc. 

The first brewery in Wethersfield was the Henry Meir's 
on lot 39 in 1870. G. Zeigler ran the estabhshment for some 
time and October 10, 1878, the building was bought by H. 
Clay Merritt who turned the brewery into an ice house. 

The See Brewery in Kewanee was established in 1867 
and just lasted for a few years. It was in the 1400 block of 
Lake Street. 

The next brewery in Kewanee was owned by Dave 
Pollock and Frank Whiffen and was called the Kewanee 
Brewing Company. They came into existence August 21, 
1902 and ceased business February 28, 1921. The Prairie 
Chicken Beer was made here. 

In 1893 there were 8 saloons in Kewanee and in 1913 
there were 18. Kewanee voted on prohibition April 8, 1914. 
They voted "dry" and on election day the "wets" were on the 
east side of 214 N. Chestnut and the "drys" on the westside 
of 211 N. Chestnut Street. They shouted words at each other 
back and forth but no violence erupted. 

Mendota, Illinois, did not go dry until May, 1920, so 
much liquor and beer was shipped into Kewanee to quench 
the thirsty Kewaneeans. The bootleg joints also started to 
come into existence and by 1932, there was no problem to get 
beer or whiskey. The City, County and Federal Police fought 
a losing battle to arrest all the violators of the law. All kinds 
of schemes were devised to outwit the law. One man had his 
stiU in the basement of a large hog house and he fed the corn 
residue to the hogs. He had a large number of hogs 
staggering all over the place but the hogs did well. They even 
had whiskey stills in cisterns. 

The Volstead Act or National Prohibition law was 
repealed December 6, 1932, however each town and county 
had to vote on the repeal of the local law. Kewanee, Illinois, 
voted "wet" in May, 1933. In 1935 Kewanee had 53 taverns 

and in 1976 there were 25 licensed taverns. Even for a few 
years after Prohibition ended several bootleg places 
continued to operate. During Prohibition a product known as 
wood alcohol or canned heat was strained through a 
handkerchief and drank. One time this did not work and four 
painters in Kewanee died from poison. 


Kenneth R. Brasel 

During the Prohibition era, which began January 6, 
1920 and ended December 5, 1933, it was common practice to 
circumvent the law for profit by "bootlegging"! 

Born in July 1916, I was five years old when I "stood, 
still"! I was old enough to remember, but not old enough to 
actually to know that what we were doing was against the 

We lived in Kewanee in the next to the last house on 
East Sixteenth Street North of town, and Mary and 
Raymond DeSaye hved on the next hill in the last house. Our 
ten acres was mostly pasture land, but we did have grapes, a 
garden patch, and a field of corn. I have no favorite "hooch" 
recipe to record, and never cared to know how the "stuff" was 
made! As far as I was concerned, watching the flow, and 
reporting when it ceased was a very low paying job. What we 
did with the resulting "mash" I never knew. 

I do remember we had chickens; loved and protected by 
a shaggy haired Airedale dog, who enjoyed scattering them 
to the four winds whenever you opened the back door, or 
whenever a car drove into the yard. Our flock must have been 
sustained by eating the "mash" or they would never have 
grown into "chickenhood"! It might also explain their 
"skittishness"! Perhaps it was the mutt that ate the "mash", 
for he was without doubt the most decrepit looking dog I've 
ever seen. 

My brother Earl was a couple of years older than I, so he 
was in school and played no active roll in our "bootleg" 
business. When Dad left for work I was set to watching the 
still, and mother would do the next necessary step in the 
operation when the time came. Nothing ever blew up so I 
must have known something of what I was supposed to be 
doing. Dad's heating element was the family furnace. 

We heard that Mary and Raymond DeSaye had a 
similar process going on at their place, but with no kid to do 
their "trickle watching!" They did not appreciate our 
operation, especially when their confused customers began 
stopping at our house thinking that it was the last one! 
Fhght of our chased and squawking chickens always 
announced that a caller had arrived. 

These chickens never understood why they ran from 
this dumb dog, and I never understood why the entire barn 
yard had to be cleared of them in order to have room in which 
to stop a car! 

It wasn't long before it became apparent that Mary and 
Raymond's still would not show a profit if we got the 
business! To take suspicion and a certain amount of guilt off 
of themselves, at least in their own minds, they reported our 
efforts to the local poUce. This process is known as squeaUng 
on a "Bhnd Pig." 

It was Dad's first offense, and I was too young to 
prosecute, so the fine and destruction of our operation and 
resulting product was all that ever came of the raid with one 
notable exception. 

After the poUce left, it was discovered that mother had 
wept bitterly over a ten gallon jar of some choice Concord 
Grape Wine, saving it for posterity. 

Not long after this Dad emptied the jar of wine into 
some bottles and cemented them behind a wall of the 
basement where we had the still! 

About 40 years later, the folks with whom we had 
traded homes (Adams by name) did some remodehng and in 

the process discovered the wine and reported on it's excellent 

Now this story would not be complete without relating 
how the score was made even all around, and quite by 
accident at that! We always suspected Mary was the 
"blabber" mouth, but we couldn't prove it, besides we were 
not out for revenge. 

Anyway the next summer when a Medicine Show came 
to town. Dad loaded our 1920 Dodge touring car with mother 
and I in front, where she always sat in almost complete 
control of her side of the car! Then there was Mary & 
Raymond, brother Earl, three of mothers brothers Clyde, 
Jack, and Ralph in the back! We were off to have a good time 
for free. The show was on the West side of North Main Street 
about a block from the railroad crossing. 

We were almost to our destination when suddenly we 
found ourselves close to the curbing on the wrong side of the 
road. Dad was trying to avoid a car coming towards us on our 
side. Two wrongs don't make a right, not even in this case. 
Obviously drunk, and already sporting a tire from another 
car, Lu Zeigler hit us broadside at the right front door. 
Mother had a leg injury, I was cut and bleeding from a head 
would sustained when I hit the 2 piece windshield. Mother 
didn't know I was hurt until my blood finally reached her 
hands folded across my lap in front of her. 

Uncle Ralph had a cut in the back of his head where it 
hit the robe rail anchor. He was sitting on the floor behind 
mother and I. 

Mary DeSaye was screaming bloody murder because 
the impact had Ufted the top catching her long redbrown hair 
between the rear cross bow and the canvas. The way she kept 
trying to stand up it was difficult for one to tell where she 
was really hurt! 

I was taken to the nearest house, then to a doctor's 
office for some stitches, then to grandma's house on west 

eleventh street for the night. This part was related to me later 
because I had passed out. 

Morals in those days were not any better than they are 
today. The only difference is when they heard what some 
poor degenerate soul did then, they displayed a trifle more 

Our Airdale never was broken of his chicken habit. They 
say that you can cure a dog of chasing cars by tying him to 
the back of one and taking him for a spin, a Uttle faster than 
he cares to run. This method might work with chickens too, 
but I'll leave that experiment for someone else! 


June T. Tumbaugh 

During the depression, there were those who didn't get 
by, some who got by weD enough, and some who got by 
famously— even infamously. The news reports of "Pretty 
Boy" Floyd, "Baby Face" Nelson, and "Scarface" Al Capone 
chilled the blood when one considered that these Prohibition 
gangsters were killers on the loose who might choose to 
maraude any community at will. An incensed public chose 
Gang-Busters as a favorite radio program during the 1930's. 
Citizens loved to hear the Sloan's Linament production 
narrated by Phihp H. Lord, who told of the G-Mens' action in 
halting these crime sprees. Hard working self-denying people 
who made their livings in honorable ways wanted to see these 
outlaws brought to justice, and perhaps centered their wrath 
on one in particular— John DilUnger, Public Enemy Number 

It was with great rehef when we learned of the conquest 
of the law over Dillinger. The dramatic recounting of his girl 
friend's (the lady in orange-red) betrayal, and Dillinger's 
chaotic death by gunfire on a Chicago street as he exited the 
theater, was on all the airwaves and in all the newspapers. 

The drama and justice captured my childish mind, and I slept 
a little easier. The furor of it all died down and the man and 
event were somewhat forgotten for a few weeks. 

There was in our country neighborhood, a farm family 
who Hved about a mile and a half away. An arrangement 
proposed by them was worked out that in return for our 
provision of transportation and my dad's knowledge of 
Chicago driving, that we would be guests of the Chicago 
relatives that they wished to visit. I remember seeing the el 
trains, and tall buildings such as I'd not seen before. Then I 
remember our locating the apartment where we would be 
staying. To gain entrance, we mounted some back steps. We 
were introduced to the relatives, and it wasn't long before the 
conversation took a turn toward the Chicago gangsters. The 
subject was still very much ahve, and I remember my father 
expressed satisfaction that they "finaOy got Dillinger." The 
host and hostess responded yes, and that they had got his 
apartment, and that "you are in it right now." This, then, was 
where the arch-criminal had holed up just before going to the 
movie house. What's more, they were prepared to show us the 
scene of his final minutes on earth. 

After some lunch, we walked to the theater. Of course, 
there was no Dillinger left to see, but I did notice what 
appeared to be a bullet-ridden telephone pole. There also were 
deep brown stains that had run down from the holes. 
Whether it has been documented as true, I cannot say but my 
imagination suppUed vivid details of Dillinger's death at that 
spot. Our hosts seemed to be of the opinion that the pole was, 
indeed, the scene of Dillinger's death struggle. 

The trip was one of many firsts for me— it was the first 
time I'd seen trains running above my head, my first time to 
drink milk poured from a glass quart bottle, and the first and 
last time, to my knowledge, that I occupied a gandster's 


Mary Jane Simmons 

In 1918 my parents bought a farm of 86 acres on 
Farmington Road in Peoria, 111. and we moved when I was 
three years old and made our home there. My Father owned 
several businesses besides farming AND had a real estate 
office in downtown Peoria, a grain elevator, a sand and gravel 
business, and owned race horses. When he lost five crops of 
corn in as many years because of the overflow flooding of 
Drun Run Creek, he rented two houses on our farm that had 
formerly been used by men and their families who cared for 
the crops. 

My father was gone a lot of the time trying to make a 
hving for all of us and was not at home a great deal of time. 
During the summer he would go to see his race horses in 
action and my mother was not one to scout around and see 
what the people renting the tenant houses were doing. In all 
honesty I never thought my parents knew about any illegal 
activity going on in the two houses, but times were not good 
and they welcomed the rent money. 

One night there was a terrific explosion and flames from 
the one house were visible for miles. I can remember the fire 
engines speeding past our house and going down the lane to 
extinguish the fire. Then it was discovered that the tenants 
had been operating stiUs arid making whiskey, which was a 
violation of the Prohibition Law and, of course, carried a 
strict sentence if my parents were found guilty. My father 

was out of town on business and came home immediately 
when my mother called him. To her horror, he was placed in 
jail. His picture was in the Peoria paper and until his attorney 
could get him released, he stayed in jaO. 

There was a big story in the local Peoria paper regarding 
the activity in the two houses being the making of illegal 
whiskey and this was in the Prohibition Era when it was 
illegal to buy alcoholic beverages and certainly was against 
the law to make whiskey in home-operated stills. A lot of 
people did make whiskey in stills and were not apprehended, 
but when they were caught, they went to jail and remained 
there. There was a trial for my father and, while he was not 
convicted, nevertheless, it was a very traumatic time for aU of 

Kids are sometimes cruel to their classmates and, when I 
went to school in 1927, the day after the newspaper article 
about my father was published, it seems the children heard 
their parents discussing the situation and, as I was walking 
home from school, a girl who also lived on Farmington Road 
said, "Your father is a jailbird!" I was in tears when I got 
home and my mother consoled me saying, "Neither your 
father nor I have ever violated the law. We were renting our 
two houses thinking they were reliable people and failed to 
check up on them. You don't need to feel we did anything 
dishonest, but we were too trusting and too anxious to rent 
the houses. Next year, the tenants will be fanners helping to 
plant crops. And your father is not a jailbird!" 

IV "^ceipts hy ^olks 


People have been utilizing common plants from their 
environment to cure themselves since before recorded time. 
The earliest written records and cave paintings indicate that 
primitive man was instinctively aware of the curative powers 
of herbs and minerals in the world around him. Although 
there generally existed within archaic tribes a Shaman or 
Shamen whose task it was to oversee the healing, both 
physical and emotional, of members of the tribe this process 
more often than not included aU of the tribe in some way or 
other. Heahng was a group process for primitive man. 

From gathering the herbs and minerals into the 
Shaman's pouch through and up to the time of the cauldrons 
of the alchemists, the production of medicine became the 
responsibility of chemists and druggists. Scientists assumed 
responsibility for determining the content of medicines and 
physicians, who had completed the rituals and initiations 
prescribed by modern medical schools and perhaps not too 
unlike those suffered by Shamen of earlier times, assumed 
the responsibiUty for diagnosing illnesses and prescribing 
these medicines. Coupled with western civilisation's 
Christian preoccupation with death and the corresponding 
concern for the preservation of human hfe, 19th century 
man's worship of physical science as a means to know 
absolutely and to control his world led to an equally strong 
reliance on and faith in the simultaneously developing and 
sister science, medicine, as a means to know absolutely and to 
control disease and dying. By the 20th century modern man 
had relinquished responsibility for his own health and 
doctoring. Health care was removed from the social group of 
which he was a part to an impersonal hospital setting where 
he was cared for by paid professionals who were strangers to 
him. However, in 1958, a book. Folk Medicine, written by a 
small town doctor from the state of Vermont surprised its 
publisher by seUing over 500,000 hard back editions. By 1962 

when the book went into its sixth printing and appeared in 
soft cover, the New York Daily News was calling it, "A 
fascinating book by a distinguished Vermont physician", and 
the New York Journal-American reported that the book 
contained, "... good, down-to-earth horse sense." The doctor, 
D. C. Jarvis, wrote of the curative powers of plants and 
minerals that were available in their natural form from 
"Nature's Drugstore". He wrote: 

Our pioneer ancestors discovered the rudiments of 

their folk medicine in the healing plants sought out 

by animals suffering from elementary disturbances, 

fever and wounds. By observing how animals cure 

themselves from disease, they learned how to keep 

themselves healthy by Nature's own methods. The 

animals know unerringly which herbs wUl cure what 


Dr. Jarvis was a prophet. His emphasis on natural 

foods, herbal remedies, exercise, etc., presaged a movement 

by present world populations back to self-help health care 

that includes some of the folk remedies known to former 

generations. In 1982, twenty four years after Jarvis wrote his 

book, John Naisbitt wrote Megatrends, a book that claims to 

report on bellweather trends in the United States. These 

trends, according to Naisbitt, include the growing concern of 

Americans for reactivating their "natural instincts" in 

relation to health care, diet and doctoring. Americans, he 

wrote, have begun to "disengage" from modern medical 

practices and to demand a return to "whohstic health care". 

Whohstic health care, according to Naisbitt, is the care that 

pays attention to the interrelationships among the body, the 

mind, and the emotions and does not treat one separate from 

the others. He cites the hospice movement as an example of 

whohstic health care. 

In hospices, birth, illness, and death are treated within a 
circle of family and friends who administer part of the 
treatment and participate in the healing or dying process. 


This is in opposition to impersonal medical procedures that 
rely on drugs and isolated hospital care by professionally 
trained people. One thinks of this whoUstic health care and of 
early tribal healing rituals while reading in "Receipts by 
Folks", the following section of Tales III, Louise Efnor's 
words, "... Uves were saved. ... A favorite cure-all has 
ingredients known to all: 'pleasant words are as a 
honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones'." 
Helen Rilling further supports the contention that emotional 
elements contributed to recuperation, when she writes, 
"There was always lots of love and care available from 
mother and other family members." 

Both Jarvis and Naisbitt indicate that man's natural 
instincts can lead him to those things that will make him well. 
Jarvis discusses the medicinal and nutritious value of natural 
plants and minerals. In Mary Chenoweth's story, "Flaxweed 
Wave-set", she tells about going to the woods with her 
mother to gather boneset, sassafras and wild cherry bark. In 
Early American Herb Recipes by Alice Cooke Brown, black 
cherry bark syrup is recommended for diarrhea. In the 1833 
edition of American Frugal Housewife cherry bark is 
recommended as a remedy for jaundice. 

In Herbs and Other Medicinal Plants published by 
Crescent Books, folk claims about the medicinal qualities of 
certain herbs that are mentioned in the stories included in 

this section are verified. For example, the lowly onion is 
known to be effective as a diuretic and to alleviate intestinal 
discomfort. Rhubarb and blackberries are good as a 
purgative. Red clover tea is effective treatment for whooping 
cough and hogweed or cow parsley can be used as a sedative. 
An infusion of the entire goldenrod plant can soothe a sore 

But many people dismiss folk remedies as just a 
collection of "old wives tales", and, indeed, myths do creep 
into the literature. Of such myths, the most popular in this 
region seems to be that of the asafoetida* bag which was 
mentioned in most of the following stories. Eva Baker 
Watson tells of another, the "Madstone", which was 
supposed to protect one against rabies infection. She 
cautiously asks the question, "Was it only faith, and not the 
madstone, that worked the cures?" 

In a similar vein Georgia Rogers ponders, "My 
grandmother never lost a patient. It could have been by the 
grace of God or just sheer luck. Decide for yourself." But 
Louise E. Efnor maintained, "it was ... no secret ingredients. 
No compUcated formula, but just plain common sense to use 
everyday and to pass along to our children's children." It 
seems that Dr. Jarvis and over half a million other Americans 

Jerrilee Cain-Tyson 

•One of many ways to spell this word. 



James B. Jackson 

Home remedies and home treatments are making a 
comeback. Many modern doctors now recommend simple 
home cures using ordinary household items or simple drugs 
such as aspirin. When the doctor used a horse and buggy to 
make his house calls, home remedies were almost a necessity. 
Many were, and still are, as effective as the modern medical 
treatments. Here are a few of the remedies used in the late 
1800's and 1900's. 

ASTHMA: A common treatment was to smoke dried leaves of 
Mullen in a pipe especially reserved for that purpose. Dried willow 
leaves were sometimes mixed with the mullen giving it a sUghtly 
aromatic odor. Pity the poor asthmatic in the days before modern 

BURNS: Immediate relief from pain in first and second degree 
burn could be had by applying the jelly Lke pulp from the thick leaves 
of Aloe Vera. This is still a valuable remedy. Aloe can be grown in a 
pot on the kitchen window sill. Some reUef could be had from a paste 
of baking soda and water applied directly to the burn and covered with 
a moist bandage, kept damp by adding cool water. The very worst 
thing that could be done to a third degree burn was the most frequent 
treatment— smear it Liberally with lard or ohve oil or butter or salve! 
For minor bums a cold wet compress gave some relief and, if ice was 
available, that enhanced the effectiveness. A poultice of wet tea leaves 
bound loosely over the bum and kept moist was also a common 

BLEEDING: Squeeze the wound tightly with a clean rag. If in 
an extremity, elevate the arm or leg while treating. Pack wound with 
clean spider webs. (It has now been estabUshed that spider web 
contains quantities of vitamin-K— a blood coagulant.) For nose bleed, 
put piece of folded brown paper under upper Up and press firmly! Also 
lean head back and apply ice or cold compresses to back of neck. Put 
plugs of cotton in nostrils and do not blow nose. Oddly enough, some 
of these remedies are still used in more or less modified form. 

COLDS COUGHS, ETC.: Hot salt water was a standard 
treatment— gargle for sore throat, sniff up nostrils to irrigate stopped 
up nose, soak feet to "ward off" a cold after exposure to cold wet 
conditions! For chest colds— mb chest with goose grease, lard and 
turpentine, Vicks Vapor Rub or Mentholatum and cover with hot 

flannels, changed frequently. Mustard plasters were also used to 
break up chest congestion. The plasters could be bought at any store 
or made at home with dry mustard and flour and hot water spread on a 
cloth and apphed hot to the chest. A piece of woolen flannel or a wool 
sock tied around the neck, which had been hberally rubbed with any of 
the ointments used on the chest, was supposed to help a sore throat. 
Home made cough medicines were common: equal parts honey, lemon 
juice and whiskey and as one old neighbor said, "Hit don't hep the 
cold much, but you seem to enjoy it more." Another very effective 
cough medicine was made by stewing a thinly sliced onion in a small 
amount of water for fifteen or twenty minutes. Discard the onion, add 
sugar to make a thin syrup and administer hot. a teaspoon full every 
half hour or oftener until cough is abated. Wild cherry bark was also 
used to make a thin syrup similar to the onion syrup. Willow bark was 
sometimes added to the cherry bark and a couple of drops of 
turpentine or kerosene! Not too much attention was paid to avoiding 
colds, other than to stay as warm and dry as possible. However, some 
people believed that eating quantities of raw onion was a good 
preventative. Others depending on a Little bag of assafetida hung 
around the neck and worn next to the skin all winter. At the very least, 
the assafetida certainly guaranteed that no one would come any closer 
than was absolutely necessary because of its vile and sickening odor! 

CONSTIPATION: Epson salts, castor oil or carcara were used as 
purgatives on stubborn cases. Watkins' "Syrup of Pepsin" or Syrup 
of Figs was milder. Later "N.R." (Nature's Remedy) came on the 
market and was widely used. Natural remedies included prunes, figs, 
slippery elm bark, poke root tea or poke greens and, also, stewed 

DIARRHEA: Water from boUed rice or barley was especially 
favored for babies but worked equally well for adults (still does). 
Paregoric (tincture of opium) was available without a prescription and 
was used in severe cases. Herbal remedies included blackberry cordial 
or tea made from dried leaves of blackberry or strawl)erry or from the 
dried bark of blackberry roots. Bananas and "Rat" cheese were also 
favored to slow down milder cases in a more pleasant way. 

EARACHE: The patient should plug the ear with a wad of 
cotton and stay in out of the cold wind or put two or three drops of 
sweet oil (warm) in the ear or lay the affected ear on a bag of salt 
heated in the oven as hot as the patient can bear in comfort. Reheat 
the salt frequently. 

FLATULENCY: Candied ginger or ginger syrup made from wild 
ginger is generally effective. To prepare it you gather wild ginger root 
in late fall or early spring. Trim off rootlets tmd leaves. Scrub clean 

and rinse well, cut in one inch lengths and simmer in enamel pan with 
small amount of water until tender. Add sugar to form a heavy syrup 
and boil gently for a few more minutes. Let cool. Lift roots from syrup 
and let drain and then roll in granulated sugar. Store in a tightly 
closed glass jar. Chew a piece or two Like candy. The syrup is also 
effective when a spoonful is taken after meals to halt or prevent 
flatulence. Eat an orange when you have any kind of cooked, dry 
beans— does wonders. When cooking dry beans, parboil with baking 
soda and then add one teaspoon of fresh castor oil per pound of beans. 
ITCH: Rub generously with sulphur and lard, cover and leave on 
over night. Bathe in warm water and soap. Repeat once or twice more 
if needed. 

TOOTHACHE: Yell, howl, moan, groan, cuss or beat your head 
on the table with your fists! Try the hot salt bag. If the tooth is 
cracked or broken apply a drop or two of beech-wood creosote which 
will kill the nerve. If all else fails ride your fastest horse to the nearest 
"Tooth Dentist" and have the offending fang extracted. No wonder 
Burns wrote a six stanza "Address to the Toothache." 

TUBERCULOSIS: Whiskey and poke berry juice was once 
beheved to be a specific for T.B. Some people put great faith in 
burning feathers in the sick room. In many cases exposure to 
sunshine and fresh air was carefully avoided and the patient kept in a 
quiet, darkened, airless room. 

MISCELLANEOUS: For a refreshing drink, "Indian 
Lemonaide ", pick a couple of dozen heads of Sumac berries when they 
are just ripe enough to be bright red and shiny. Pour over them, in a 
clean container, two or three quarts of fresh cool water. Poke and stir 
vigorously with a potato masher or a clean stick. Strain the water 
through a few thicknesses of cloth. Sweeten to taste with honey or 
sugar. Chill and serve over ice. If made double strength it mixes well 
with gin or vodka and is very high in Vitamin C. 
I hope these brief notes will serve as a reminder to 
others of the folk medicine and home remedies that they used 
or at least "heard tell of" in the early days of this century. 


James B. Jackson 

We used to call veterinarians "horse doctors" and with 
good reason. The old time farmer rarely turned to 
professional help unless a valuable horse was critically sick or 
injured. Minor illnesses were treated with home remedies or a 
linament, salve or pills that could be bought at the general 
store. The minor farm animals and poultry got along with 
minimum care. Few pets were ever treated, except, perhaps, 
dogs for distemper or worms. There was almost always 
someone in every community who was well versed in treating 
most ailments of hvestock and who could handle minor 
surgery, such as dehorning cattle or doing castrations. Many 
pioneer remedies had been handed down from generation to 
generation and some of them persisted into relatively recent 
years. Following are a few of the more common ones. 

WORMWOOD (Artimesia Absinthium): A strong infusion of 
this plant picked just as it was ready to bloom made a very effective 
vermifuge for hogs, especially young shoats. This decoction was 
mixed with slop and fed to the pigs in the morning after they had been 
without feed for some twelve hours and were hungry enough to eat a 
full dose. The evening feeding was skipped to give the medicine time 
to do its work. One treatment was usually enough to rid the pigs of 
round worms but a second treatment could be administered a week or 
ten days later if needed. 

PENNYROYAL or PENNYRILE IHedeoma Pulegoiades): 
Before flysprays and modern insecticides became common, fresh 
pennyroyal was used with some small degree of success to keep flies 
off the cows at milking time. The usual method was to take a good big 
handful, give it a hard twist or two to release the fragrant oil and then 
rub it on the cow's withers, back and flanks. It was also mildly 
effective against mosquitoes. Used in combination with citronella 
candles, it made the warm summer evenings bearable, especially if 
there was a breeze blowing. We tried once to make a water infusion of 
permyrile but it was not successful. 

HORSEWEEDS (Ambrosia Trifida): When horses grazed on 
white clover that had gone to seed, it caused them to slobber 

copiously. This was a most unsightly condition when one was driving 
to church or on a date. To correct the condition was simple: pick a big 
handful of horse weed— giant ragweed— and feed it to the horse who 
would eat it with great relish, and in just a minute or two the 
salivation would stop, and all passengers in the front seat of the 
surrey would be safe from flying froth! 

BLOODROOT (Sanguinaria Canadensis): Horses shed their 
heavy winter coat in early spring and they look very shaggy and 
unattractive during the process in spite of a daily application of 
curry-comb and brush. To speed the shedding and insure a lustrous 
coat of new hair, a few pieces of bloodroot chopped fine could be 
mixed with the corn and oats in the feed box. A small amount of 
sulphur (flowers of sulfur) was sometimes added or administered 
without the bloodroot. The old timers put great faith in this 
treatment but I am not sure it had any significant effect— it seems to 
me that somehow, with or without help, all of the horses finally shed 
their winter coats and by warm weather were sUck and shiny. 

SULPHUR: Sulphur was almost a universal remedy, alone or in 
combination with other ingredients. Sulphur and lard was used for all 
skin diseases and to kill lice on chickens or hogs or children. Minor 
wounds and scratches from barbed wire or thorns usually responded 
well to a salve made of sulphur and lard. 

TURPENTINE and LARD: Turpentine and lard was used for 
treating surgical wounds and it had the added advantage of keeping 
flies from laying eggs in the wound. Straight turpentine was used as a 
Unament although it would sometimes raise a bhster. Every barn had 
a bottle of turpentine which was available for both man and beast and 
was often the only antiseptic ever appUed to either. 

POTASSIUM-PERMANGANATE: A mild solution added to 
the water for the chickens would cure and prevent the spread of 
blackhead or sore head or sore eyes. We bought a dime's worth of the 
crystals every spring and that was enough to last all summer. I never 
heard of needing it in the winter. 

ALUM: A strong solution of alum in water applied to the neck 
and shoulders of the work horses in early spring helped toughen the 
hide so the collar would not cause sores when hard spring work 
started. If galling did occur, the sores were bathed with salt or alum 
solution and a hole was cut in the collar pad to reduce the presstu'e on 
the injury. 

COPPER SULFATE: Used to treat fistulous withers in horses. 
This disease was known to most farmers as "fistalow" and it was 
much feared. The fistula could be flushed out with a water solution of 
copper sulfate or whole crystals were sometimes forced down into the 

sore. Similar treatment was occasionally tried on "poU evil", a 
running sore on the top of the horses head, which was often fatal. The 
horse doctor usually was called in for this malady. 

EPSOM SALTS: Both horses and cattle were treated with salts 
for bloating. It was quite a trick to administer the medication. For a 
horse we used a twitch— a short loop of heavy cord attached to a stout 
stick. The loop was placed around the horse's upper hp. By twisting 
the stock the loop could be tightened enough that even the most 
fractious horse could be controlled. A short piece of hose was run 
down the throat and the salt solution was poured through a funnel 
into the hose. Drastic treatment for either coUc or bloat— but it 
almost always worked. For a bloated cow we simply tied her head up 
to a post or tree so her nose was pointing upward. The dose was 
administered with the funnel and hose. In severe cases a sharp knife 
was used to make a small puncture through the distended hide 
between the rib cage and the hind leg. Again, drastic but effective 
treatment, saving many a cow and many a doctor's fee. 

PINE TAR: Used for heahng wounds and keeping off fUes when 
cattle were dehorned. Also used on cracked hoofs of horses or cattle. 
It would stay on even if soaked with water or blood and it had much 
the same antiseptic properties as turpentine. It was simply smeared 
on with a wooden paddle and let dry in the air. It was also used in 
badly cracked skin on fingers at corn shucking time. 

SALVES and OINTMENTS: One of the most common remedies 
and one that could be found in almost every barn was some type of 
"carbolated" salve. The salesmen for Watkins or Raleigh was the 
principal source of such stuff and it came in a large, flat brightly 
colored can that held upwards of half a pound. It smelled strongly of 
carboUc acid but it had a gentle soothing quality. Bag Balm was 
another standby and it is stiU available. Milkcows often got sore teats 
that had to be treated and any of the salves were useful in preventing 
infections or excessive drying and cracking. Home made salve with 
lard or suet base and a bit of sulphur or boric acid was also used with 
good results. 

RED PEPPER: Used as a counter irritant or to discourage suck- 
egg dogs. If the offending dog was your own, an egg or two was 
opened sUghtly and a good big pinch of red pepper injected. The eggs 
were left where they would be found and "sucked". Or, if this didn't 
work, a heavier dose of red pepper could be added, the egg put in the 
dog's mouth and his jaws pressed together to break the egg. This 
usually ended the dog's taste for raw eggs. If the offending dog 
belonged to a neighbor, stronger methods might be used. In addition 
to red pepper in the egg, a tin can with a few rocks in it could be tied 

to the end of the dog's tail and a dab of turpentine under the other 
end. That dog would never return and if its owner found out who did 
it, you also lost a friend. 


Sarah J. Ruddell 

I lived all of my life in the Ursa community; was born in 
the village in 1905; but my early recollections are when we 
were on a farm Vi mile north from the intersection of the Ursa 
Road and the Bottom Road. (I guess so called because it 
follows the bluffs into Quincy and parallels the North-South 
road through Ursa into Quincy.) It was 15 miles into Quincy 
so by team and springwagon (comparable to our pick-up 
truck) or surrey it was quite a trek. 

The community was blessed with two physicians. 
Doctors WiUiam Mitchel and W. D. Groves. The latter 
dehvered all of mom's children. I was the 7th of 10. Their 
transportation was by horse and buggy. AU families knew 
remedies for common ailments and maladies that today 
would be treated at the emergency room at a hospital. Most 
of the treatments were recommended by the local physician 
or handed down from one generation to the next. There were 
no rural telephones to contact a physician until about 1910. 

One evening in March, after dad and we kids had spent 
the evening playing parcheesi and eating popcorn, which we 
had grown and we kids helped prepare it to dry, dad went to 
the kitchen as we were preparing for the night's sleep, then 
called us to come out, too. When I saw the bowl of sugar on 
the table, I knew what was going to take place: a procedure 
we went through about three times a year to kill worms. 
Today I guess you would call it "deworming us." Dad said he 
could tell when we needed this done, we were grumpy while 
playing parcheesi and if he did not do it, it has been known for 
worms to come up into the throat and nose and cause us to 
pick our nose. We all agreed we did not want that to happen. 

so we all took the 3 drops of turpentine on V2 teaspoon of 
sugar. This was to be 3 nights straight followed on the 4th 
morning with a tablespoon of castor oil. Believe me, we all 
tried to be pleasant while playing rummy, old-maid, rook, or 

Throughout the winter, each of us would have a siege of 
the croup or a deep chest cold. That meant medicated 
turpentine again and how we hated the smell. It was mixed 
with goose-grease, then heated and rubbed into the pores, 
then covered with a heated woolen cloth and pinned in place 
to our under clothes: one piece longies. Then after about 10 
days it would be unpinned at night. It gradually slid out of 
place and we then removed it in the morning. I remember 
once staying up all night by the wood burning stove while 
dad kept hot salt bags on my chest. There were two salt bags, 
heated on top of the stove, one bag applied while the other 
heated. Goose-grease was rendered each year when two or 
three geese were dressed for our New Year's feast. 

Ear ache sometimes accompanied a cold. The same 
procedure of "salt packs" was applied after dropping a couple 
of drops of oil in the ear: oil pressed from a fresh cracked 
black walnut. If a cough followed a cold, it was a teaspoon of 
warm syrup made from sHced onions and honey boiled 

Each fall dad would spot a "bee tree" and maybe a 
neighbor would help harvest the honey and share it. 

The turpentine was in constant use for cleaning cuts, 
abrasions and such since we children went barefooted in the 
summertime. One time I remember my sister Frances and I 
were helping dad trim the hedge fence on one side of our 
orchard and I stepped on a hedge thorn which was said to be 
poison. Dad tied a wad of chewing tobacco on the wound until 
I could get home to clean it with turpentine and bandage it 
properly with Watkins Salve. Bandages were torn from rags 
kept in the "rag bag", then tied with strings, also torn rags or 
cord strings made into a ball saved from store bought 

packages. Rusty nails caused frequent wounds. We were 
faithful in taking care so as not to get lockjaw. 

Watkins' Salve and Linament were standbys both for 
the family and animals. When we kids would complain of a 
belly ache it was lay face down and take a tablespoon of 
sweetened liniment water fixed in a glass every hour. Usually 
two glasses was sufficient. 

The one outstanding remembrance was the smell of 
assafetida. Most everyone at school wore some tied around 
their neck so I guess we got used to the smell. Dad wore some 
too to keep from getting lumbago. 

Some one of us would get a boil, usually in the spring. 
We were told that aO the poisons in our body would be drawn 
to that one spot so it was good to have one. It was quite 
painful and meant we had to apply help to draw it to a head 
which was a hard core with pus. The core would sometimes be 
as large as a dried pea. Mustard packs would sometimes be 
appUed to help "ripen" it. We used the hning of a fresh egg 
shell to cover the area. When the egg shell hning dried it 
would draw. When it was "ripe" sometimes the core and pus 
would pop out with the removal of the hning. 

1 remember some years during the spring we kids would 
get a head-wash with coal-oil (it was called then) then a good 
sudsing with tar soap. The folks had been notified that 
someone at school had head-hce. 

When my oldest sister was two years old (1894), she 
broke her hip. The next day dad drove to Quincy by horse and 
buggy and brought Dr. Johnson and another physician to 
attend her. Surgery was necessary which was done on the 
dining room table. Part of the bone was removed which 
caused her to wear an extension on the sole of her shoe. 


Florence Ehrhardt 

While there is much medical folklore, old wives' tales 
and superstitions, not all are without foundations and 
without logic. Ancient peoples beheved that their gods would 
send pestilence and death when angry, and could be soothed 
by music and song. In later days, health and disease were 
attributed to evil spirits. In modern times, our ideas about 
disease and health are passed along in less romantic forms. 

The early settlers turned to the country about them, to 
the tradition of their homeland, and to the methods of the 
Indians, and came up with a medical lore all their own. 
Coincidence played a large part in estabUshing the 
effectiveness of the remedies. Warts, which come apparently 
from nowhere and disappear for no apparent reason, gave 
undeserved reputations to the innumerable remedies, such as 
rubbing with a bean and throwing the bean away, rubbing 
with salt pork and burying the pork, rubbing with a dishcloth 
and hiding the cloth, or tying as many knots in a string as an 
individual had warts and leaving the string where someone 
would find it; the finder was supposed to get the warts. My 
mother would tie off a wart by making a knot in a string just 
above the wart, bury the string, and when the string had 
rotted the wart would be gone. 

Various kinds of charms or amulets were worn around 
the neck. Perhaps the most famihar was a bag of asafoetida 
or camphor which was supposed to ward off communicable 
diseases. Anyone who has ever had a good whiff of asafoetida 
will realize that this was not such a stupid idea, because it 
most effectively kept people at a distance. Now we know that 
diseases are spread by close personal contact. This is perhaps 
one of the best examples of how Grandma not only was not 
always wrong, but was likely to be right for the wrong 
reasons. My Dad talked of wearing an asafoetida bag. 


Rheumatism called for many soverign remedies and 
preventives, beginning with the well-known buckeye or horse 
chestnut. Various kinds of teas were popular for the rehef of 
rheumatic joint pains, including the leaves of the Canadian 
thistle and camomile. 

Almost every ailment known to man has its own folklore 
remedy. Gold earrings were supposed to help weak eyes. Sore 
eyes were bathed in rose petals; rose water preparations are 
still on the market today as eye washes. Warm milk directly 
from the mother's breast was supposed to help sore eyes in 

Naturally there were blood medicines, of which the best 
known is sulphur and molasses. Molasses was generally 
credited with a great deal of value. It was also combined with 
sage, rhubarb and dandelions, wormwood and vinegar, 
sassafras tea, elderflowers, bloodroot, aloes, and poplar bark 
mixed with burdock. All these have been recommended as 
blood medicines. 

Mullein leaves boiled in vinegar were used for sprained 
ankles, and catnip was supposed to relieve swellings when 
used as a poultice. 

There were treatments for earache, nosebleed, dropsy, 
fever, colds and sore throat, skin diseases, snake bite and 
poison ivy. Some of the more remote methods employed were 
treating cramps in the legs by turning the sufferer's shoes 
upside down under the bed. This is closely related in its 
reasoning to the idea of putting a sharp knife, edge-upward, 
under the bed during childbirth, in order "to cut the pains in 

Baldness was treated with a plant that had hairy 
characteristics. This treatment was as successful as anything 
that we have today; in other words, it did no good 


Kenneth R. Brasel 

Folk recipes for maladies have been gradually getting 
away from us, so it's difficult to uncover new ones. In a life 
time a person has few chances to even try an old cure, and yet 
many of the modem drugs we use are old standbys! 

The common cold has caused man a lot of misery over 
the years, and we only succeed to a degree in the fight against 
it. It's not true about "feeding a cold and starving a fever." 
When we got a cold we also got an overdose of liver and 
onions. GarUc might have been better, but we didn't know it 
then. For a cough the standard cure was a teaspoon of honey, 
made black with pepper. 

Castor oil was my mother's cure-aU in my case. She 
mixed it with orange juice, and to this day whenever I eat an 
orange I can taste castor oil! 

Eating green apples was a sure way to get a belly ache. 
We didn't have aspirin. We had Epsom Salts! The 'salts' was 
but a bridge between the use of laudanum and aspirin. 

Whenever I happened to cut my hand or a finger, I 
would suck the blood a moment, spit it out, and let the air do 
the rest! In this day and age, there's a lot more germs about 
so we dress the wound with a 'breathing' bandage you can't 
see and it takes twice as long to heal. 

My uncle Ralph punctured his foot on a rusty nail, and 
granpa took the cud of tobacco he was chewing out of his 
mouth and put it on the hole and held it in place with a piece 
of torn sheet. If that had been granma she might have used 
pulverized plantain leaves or onions instead, only because she 
didn't chew! 

The use of hot water foot baths got we kids through 
German Measles, Whooping Cough, and Mumps. The theory 
here was to make your feet so hot you forgot your other 
pains; at least that's what I've concluded since. You've no 
doubt heard of kill or cure methods? The funny part is, 

whenever dad got sick he always apphed heat to his head. I 
never have understood that, or why I'm keeping a small 
amount of Salt Petre of his around, or what he used it for. 

We never got hooked on coffee, because of a certain 
"drug". We gave our support to Green Tea, and look where it 
is to-day. You can't hardly find it in the store. We told 
fortunes from the leaves, besides being 'stimulated'! 
Whether it has kept any of us from the nut house has yet to 
be shown! 

It was common practice for dad to use an 
'eye(glass)cup'. He'd mix up a bit of Boric Acid and put a 
small amount in the eye cup and hold it up to his eye and 
throw his head back. It wasn't hke Chinese torture, waiting 
for the "drop" to drip method we endure to-day! 

One of the old time sources of information was a series 
of 3 books by Dr. Chase, the last one came out about 1889. 
There was just about everything in it. Doc Chase went 
around teaching women the art of making bread! He had 
prepared a 'tonic' for debiUtated females' which called for half 
whiskey and half hard cider. He finally admitted helping his 
wife consume it. For the record he also pubhshed a cure for 
"AlcohoUsm". Eat an orange before breakfast, and stay out 
of places where alcohol is sold! Using Whiskey as a medicine 
often leads to a drinking problem, or another excuse! 

My brother and I used to drive our dad to the brink of 
murder! In self defense, dad armed himself with the 
appropriate length of rubber hose, and always knew where it 
was. It was dad's appUed psychological remedy, otherwise 
known as a spanking— not a good spanking— a spanking, and 
I can see me yet, running from that particular dose of 
medicine. Folk medicine for sure!— Most people never use it 


Mary C. Stormer 

My Grandparents hved on a farm in Woodford County, 
two miles west of Metamora, Illinois. They were married in 
1866, and went to housekeeping on that farm. 

Grandma was a wonderful cook and baker. She loved to 
tell about how she prepared the wild-game that Grandpa 
would bring home from a day's hunting trip. 

He would leave early in the morning with his rifle and 
the two hunting hounds. They always came home in plenty of 
time to clean and prepare the game for cooking. All the 
animals like the Coon, Possum and Deer were skinned and 
hung up in a cold storage shed until ready to prepare for the 

Grandma mentioned that on the day that Grandpa 
fetched home a Deer she had to enhst the aid of her mother-in- 
law for help in the preparation of it. The winters were bitter 
cold and so there was no fear of meat spoiUng. The family 
enjoyed her delicious Venison Roast, Coon and Dressing, 
Possum and Chestnuts, not to forget the ever-plentiful wild 

The only game that I had the opportunity to taste and 
to really enjoy was Grandma's "Fricasseed Rabbit." Served 
with cream gravy and biscuits. Grandma said that the only 
way and the best way to cook rabbits was to "fricassee" 
them. She mentioned that the rabbits were on the stove aD 
day and kept warm in the top warming oven in the old 
kitchen range. Here are some recipes I have taken from 
Grandma and am passing on. 

Fricasseed Rabbit 

Cut up the rabbits, about three. Put them in a stew pan. 
Season with cayenne pepper, salt and chopped parsley. Pour 
in a quart of warm water and place on a slow fire till rabbits 
are tender. Add 6 large chunks of butter which have been 


each one rolled first in flour. Just before serving, add a quart 
of thick sweet cream. Stir well. Put the pieces of rabbit on a 
hot platter and pour the cream gravy over them. (Grandma 
used a pretty Tureen for serving.) Serve with hot biscuits. 

Grandma's Hot Biscuits 

1 cup sweet cream 

Vi teaspoon baking soda 

1 teaspoon salt 

2 cups flour 

2 teaspoons baking powder 
Mix soda well into the cream. Now mix the flour, salt 
and baking powder thoroughly and add to the cream to form 
a soft dough. Place on a board and roll out 1 inch thick and 
bake in an oven. Moderate (350) for 20 minutes. Be sure to 
flour the board well before rolling out the biscuits. 

Coon and Dressing 

Cut coon into small pieces and soak overnight in a 
solution of 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon soda in enough 
water to cover. Next day, take out of the solution, rinse well, 
and put into a kettle with water to cover. Boil until tender. 
Save the hquid. Put coon pieces into a roasting pan. Season 
with pepper. Cover with dressing made as follows: 

Moiston 12 shces of bread with the juice from the 
cooked coon. Add more moisture if necessary. Add 2 eggs, 2 
tablespoons sage, V2 teaspoon ground cloves (Optional) and 1 
teaspoon salt. Mix well. Bake in a hot oven (350 degrees) until 
the dressing is nicely browned. This will assure a tender, 
tasty Coon without being too greasy. Serve with baked sweet 
(The sweet potatoes came from her own garden.) 

Venison Roast 

Cut a breast of venison into steaks or leave in one whole 
chunk. Melt 1 cup of butter in a pan and rub the meat in a 

mixture of flour or rolled crackers, finely crumbled. Fry a 
deep brown in the melted butter. Place the venison in a 
roasting pan with one cup boiling water with 2 tablespoons of 
current jelly dissolved in it. Bake in the oven until tender. 

Grandma mentioned that she often just boiled the 
venison in salted water, until tender, and served it with boiled 
vegetable. Such as potatoes, carrots, turnips, etc. 

Possum and Chestnuts 

Scald the prepared possum in boiling water. Rub inside 
and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the inside with chestnuts, 
applesauce, and bread crumbs in equal proportions (1 cup of 
each). Cover with slices of sweet potato. Pour 1 cup boiling 
water and V2 cup cider vinegar over all. Add 4 tablespoons 
butter and baste often. Cook in a heavy iron kettle with a 
tight fitting lid until tender. 

Note: Although it wasn't stated in the recipe, I'm sure 
that the possum was put into the kettle before the liquid was 

Grandma was 86 years of age when she passed away, in 
March of 1930. On Thanksgiving Day in 1929, she prepared 
the rabbits that Grandpa brought home from his last hunting 
trip. We enjoyed the deUcious "Fricasseed rabbits" and the 

Grandpa was 89 years of age and still loved to hunt. 

In my estimation a nice walk in the woods with his rifle 
would put meat on many an unemployed man's table. Come 
to think of it with Ught and gas bills soaring, many people 
who are unable to pay them and who have their heat cut off, 
etc., would find a wood burning stove ideal. 

We may all come to appreciate the old fashioned way of 
living which wasn't too bad. 

Our ancestors survived— why can't we? 



M Carrison Chenoweth 

Most illnesses and minor injuries were treated in the 
home when I was a child. People went to the hospital mainly 
for surgery. Home remedies were very common for animals as 

Early each fall my mother would take us in the Model T 
to our timber pasture northeast of Shinn School in Fulton 
County. Here we gathered boneset, sassafras, and wOd 
cherry bark. We also watched along the way for hops that 
frequently grew wild on the roadside fences. 

The boneset and sassafras each made a good tea when 
boiled down. The boneset was boiled down more and added to 
fresh lard (or lard and sheep taUow if available). This was 
used on cow udders for milk fever. In the winter, it was also 
used on the cow udders to keep them from getting sore so the 
cow wouldn't kick when being milked. Father also used 
boneset and carbohc salve on horses sore necks where the 
collars rubbed. 

The wild cherry bark and hops were boiled and sugar 
added to make cough syrup. I hated to see it run out for then 
kerosene on sugar was used to cure our coughs or croup. 

Silver vitellin, better known as argyrol was used to 
paint our infected throats and tonsils. Mother used a cotton 
swab on a crochet hook to apply the mixture. Warm salt 
water was also used for gargling and snuffing into infected 
sinuses. Hot onion poultices were used for chest congestion. 
Mother's garden always provided plenty. 

Every fall father bought a big supply of large and small 
capsules at the drug store and I helped him fill them with 
quinine. The large 5 grain was for adults and the small ones 
for children. These were given for bad colds and flu. Later I 
found these very helpful for muscle cramps or so called 
"Charlie Horses". 

Syrup of pepsin was used for indigestion. Also the 
linings of chicken gizzards were saved, cleaned, dried, and 
crushed to be used for upset stomachs. Our medicine 
cupboard always had a bottle of Ipecac to be used for colic if 
we ate too many apples, pears, etc. 

One time my brother Max ate a jar of pickles while 
mother and father were at a church meeting. When they came 
home, we were all asleep but Max's bed was 
shaking— convulsions— so he was given Ipecac. He was soon 
alright. One summer I was helping my grandfather Wilson in 
Table Grove take honey from the hives. My grandmother had 
just made bread. She warned me, but I ate until I got honey 
coUc. They gave me baking soda— no results. Then they tried 
hot salt water— it worked, but I sure thought mother's Ipecac 
was much quicker. 

Mineral oil was bought by the gallon and used for a 
laxative. Epson salt was also used, but my mother thought it 
was too severe. 

Fat meat and turpentine was used on infected cuts and 
boils which I seemed to have a lot. Bread and milk was used 
sometimes, too. My grandmother Carrison stayed with us 
many winters and her cure all for our cuts, bruises, and 
bumps was Witch Hazel. 

Mother would make finger stalls and bandages of 
different widths and lengths out of worn out, white, bed 
sheets. Sometimes I would help roU the bandages and all 
would be put in a cloth bag. Elastic bandages were used for 
sprains. Dish towels made of flour sacks made good slings for 

Baking soda and epson salts were used in bath water 
during the summer to help heat rashes. Epson salt was also 
used for athlete's foot. Often times, we got chiggers when we 
went to clean off graves at the Barker and Miner cemetaries 
east of Adair. We used salty meat fryings or rubbing alcohol 
which burnt like fire if we had irritated the area by 


One time Adair Schools had the "itch" scare so my 
father mixed lard and sulfur to be put on anything he thought 
might be "itch". He doctored a spot on himself, thinking we 
kids had brought it to him. The area kept getting bigger and 
more inflamed, so he finally went to Dr. Carnahan. The doctor 
told him to quit the lard and sulfur, and his affliction cleared 
up. He had been poisoned by the sulfur. Father always 
thought if a Httle helped— a lot would be better. 

A bottle of boric acid solution was always made up for 
use on sties and if we had any foreign material get into our 

Oil of clove was always on the shelf to be put on cotton 
and put into an aching tooth cavity until we could get to the 
dentist to have it filled. Some people used heated salt bags for 

Heated salt bags were also used to warm cold beds, but 
mother used wrapped flat irons as salt bags were apt to 
burst. We also used heated soapstones to warm our beds in 

Flax seed was often used for making poultices, but I 
boiled them to make wave set for my hair. I used vinegar for 
hair rinse. 

One time I used lemon juice and salt to get rid of my 
freckles, but I got a sore face instead and the freckles 
remained. Mother had used this to takes stains from table 
linen, and I hoped it would do the same for my face. I found 
oatmeal masks helped my face, but I still have my freckles. 

Every fall fresh rainwater was saved and hand lotion 
was made in a gallon glass jug. Here is the recipe: 


3 Pint of rainwater 
1 Ounce tragacanth 

4 Ounces glycerine 

5 cents carboUc acid 
10 cents any perfume 

Mother would put the ingredients in the jug and father shook 
it every day for about a month so it was mixed well. It was 
much like the Corn Huskers Lotion of today but thicker. We 
also used lanolin on our hands which Mother rendered from 
sheep tallow. 

I will always be grateful to my parents for seeing that I 
had the best health care available. 


Eva Baker Watson 

Long ago in the Brownfield community where I grew up 
the mere mention of a mad dog bite was enough to revive an 
old debate. Subject: The madstone versus the Pasteur 

My family had never entered actively into those 
arguments. But the time came that we found ourselves 
having to stand up and be counted as to which side we were 
on. Our httle dog suddenly went berserk and bit my brother 

The dog was killed and decapitated, its head boxed and 
mailed to the lab (in Springfield, I think) for analysis. In a few 
days the report came back confirming our fears that the dog 
had been infected with rabies. So my parents had to quickly 
decide which course of treatment they would seek for Don. 

Cautious neighbors warned us to go slow about risking 
the Pasteur treatment for there was a general distrust of all 
"shots". They reminded us that the old tried and true 
madstone had been around for a long time. 

This "tried and true" rabies preventive was a rare stone 
that, according to legend, had been found in the stomach of 
an albino deer. It was reputed to have the power to prevent 
hydrophobia in one bitten by a rabid animal. Many 
considered that we were lucky to live within reach of the 
Gullet family who owned the madstone. 

The Gullets guarded this treasure carefully. The 
procedure for treatment was that the patient be locked in a 
room and the stone appUed to the wound which had been 
scraped until it bled. So long as it adhered to the wound the 
danger existed. When it fell off its job was done and the 
patient could rest assured that he wouldn't develop the 
dreaded rabies. 

The owners of the madstone weren't allowed to charge 
for this but anyone receiving the service was subtly given the 
idea that a freewill offering was most appropriate. Being thus 
snatched from the jaws of a horrible death, treatment 
recipients were inclined to be generous. 

Since it was thought to be of such worth, this madstone 
was the bone of contention in a hot family feud that lasted for 
years between the Gullets and another branch of the family 
that claimed right of custody of the stone. The Gullets won, 
though, and the coveted stone was passed from father to son 
on down through the years and was never sold. 

People in these parts respected the madstone, a 
dependence estabhshed long before they had access to 
laboratories where the condition of a suspicious animal could 
be scientifically determined. And so it was no surprise to my 
parents that they came in line for criticism when they opted 
for the Pasteur treatment and took Don to Dr. Barger in 

This treatment consisted of a two-week course of daily 
injections. These were given in the abdomen and were 
extremely painful. 

Rumors soon came back to us that there was a gloomy 
prognosis by some old heads of the community over this rash 
and irresponsible decision my parents had made. Feeling was 
so strong that we wondered if those skeptics might have been 
disappointed to see Don survive, which he did. Not so, one of 
our hens. 

One day about that time when Mama was feeding the 
chickens, she happened to see one of the old biddies, for no 

apparent reason, begin flopping around convulsively then fall 
over dead. We surmised that the poor thing must have had a 
tragic encounter sometime earher with our rabid pet. 

But even with the proven Pasteur treatment available 
locally, the Gullets and their madstone were still patronized 
by some. One of these, years later, was my brother-in-law. For 
several days he was sequestered in that locked room, the 
madstone clinging to his wound that had been made by a 
rabid dog. Like Don he, too, survived. 

All of which again raises unanswered questions 
concerning actual worth, reliabihty, proof. Were all those 
biting dogs reaUy mad? Or had frightened victims often 
simply been dog-bitten and not MAD dog-bitten, but happy 
to give the madstone credit for saving them? Or was it 
possible that some of them may have had a natural immunity 
to rabies! Or, as seems to be the case with many cures, was it 
only faith, not the madstone itself, that worked the miracle? 
And— a spark that has never quite died out— does the 
madstone, indeed, have healing powers though not 
scientifically proven? 

Local medical professionals at that time, as a rule, pooh- 
poohed at the madstone's real worth. But the story was told 
of one doctor who was sounding off, declaring belief in the 
madstone to be outright superstition. 

A man standing nearby spoke up, "But Doc— say your 
own boy got mad dog-bit. Honest— what would YOU do?" 

The doctor's quick reply was, "Why I'd take him 
straight to the madstone, naturally!" 


Dorothy E. Ray 

I grew up on a small farm in central Illinois in a family 
of one brother and five sisters being the youngest. Families 
were closely knit in those days, everyone at the table at meal 


time. Mama started the oatmeal or graham flour breakfast 
food cooking the night before in a dark blue granite double 
boiler letting it cook slowly all night on the back of the 
cookstove. Breakfast was a hearty meal: cereal, fried ham, 
brown gravy, fried potatoes, homemade bread and at least 
two dishes of jelly, jam or preserves. When Mama poured the 
gravy out into a dish you got to take a piece of homemade 
bread and "lick" the skillet. If you never have, you've never 
really lived. 

We had lots of company, in fact if anyone was there 
around meal time, they were invited to stay. A very delicious 
dessert which Mama made was Suet Pudding. It was: One 
cup chopped beef suet, one cup sour cream, one cup raisins, 
one half cup brown sugar, one small teacup molasses, two 
tablespoons melted butter, two teaspoons cinnamon, one 
teaspoon soda, one teaspoon nutmeg and flour to make like 
cake batter. Mix well, pour into buttered pan, place in a 
steamer for three hours. Mama had a tin steamer which was 
placed over an iron pot of boUing water on the cook-stove. 
When served, it was put in sUces while warm, covered with 
Mama's "Guess and By Gosh Sauce" which you made by 
taking four tablespoons sugar, four tablespoons flour, pinch 
of salt, stir smooth with cold water, then add boiling water, 
keep stirring and cooking until it was satin smooth, add one 
tablespoon butter and one half teaspoon nutmeg and serve. 

Sunday night supper was a huge crock of broken up 
bread with hot, salted and buttered milk poured over, or 
bowls of "Thickened Milk". This was flour and butter worked 
together until it was like tiny balls, stirred into milk which 
you heated, stirring constantly until it thickened a bit. Boiled 
custard was served in heavy water glasses. Bowls of 
cornmeal mush and milk was a supper dish, extra was made, 
poured into a loaf bread pan until the next day at which time 
it was sliced and fried and served with syrup or sorghum 
which came in tin half gallon or gallon pails. You made toast 

by putting a piece of bread on the tines of a steel fork, holding 
it close to the hot stove top. 

We had doctors in those days but there were many 
remedies used at home. In winter, people got chilblaines on 
their feet which were big red spots and caused by your feet 
getting cold. These chilblaines would become itchy when your 
feet got warm. They were treated by rubbing kerosene on 
them. In the summer some people had hives and these were 
treated with flour to help stop the itching. When you required 
a doctor, most of your medicine was measured doses of 
powder done up in individual tissue papers tightly sealed. 
Turpentine was used as an antiseptic. When we had a sore 
throat,«Mama would sometimes make a funnel from a piece of 
paper and blow a httle bit of sulfur down to dust our tonsils. 
We also heard some children at school who said their Mama 
had them wrap their stocking around their throat next to 
your sore throat when they got ready for bed. 

Papa went out in the fall and would bring in a bunch of 
boneset which grew wild. Mama dried and picked the leaves 
off, then as soon as she heard a cough or sneeze she made a 
tea of it, poured it in a big blue earthenware cup and kept it 
on the back of the cookstove. Everytime you passed the 
stove, you had to drink some. It was always a question 
whether to drink it to get well or forget it and die. Bitter, it 

Such was the way we lived and survived some of the 
remedies that were used when I was growing up. Times are 
much different now. 


Helen E. Rilling 

As a child I lived in the usual unadorned farm home. 
There was just one closet in the whole house. There was no 
bathroom so our medicine cabinet was a corner of the hired 


girl's room. During winter months the Uquid medicines were 
pushed close to the chimney. A few items were kept on the 
spice shelf of the old oak kitchen cabinet. Others were kept 
behind the kitchen door on a shelf. 

During a spell when the whole family had flu or a head 
cold mother would throw a small handful of powdered sulfur 
on the red hot lids of the kitchen range and coal heaters. It 
blazed with pure blue and bright orange flames. The air was 
filled with a strong odor. This was supposed to purify the air. 

When we had childhood diseases or just common winter 
ailments mother always fixed us a special menu. Mostly this 
was a bowl of milktoast. She'd heat whole milk until very hot. 
On top of it she'd lay a piece of toast made by laying a slice of 
homemade bread on the hot stove top until it was browned. A 
dab of butter floated on the milk. 

If we developed a toothache, mother soaked a tiny wad 
of cotton in oU of peppermint and poked it into the cavity 
with a toothpick. It made the toothache go away and we 
enjoyed the good minty taste in our mouth. We didn't have 
toothpaste to keep our teeth white and clean. A mixture of 
table salt and soda was used. On rare occasions father 
smoked a cigar on Sunday afternoon. He'd let the ash form 
and then tap it off onto our hand. We'd mix it with the salt 
and soda and rub our teeth with a finger. We didn't have 
toothbrushes until we were well into our teens. For an 
earache a drop or two of pure olive oil was warmed and 
dropped into our ears with an eyedropper. 

When spring finally arrived everyone was treated to 
cups of rosy red sassafras tea as a blood tonic. Sassafras 
roots were steeped in a big pan of water on the back of the 
range. Each person fixed their cup of tea as they preferred 
with just sugar or with a bit of cream in it. 

Father's favorite remedy was quinine for the winter 
blahs or when he felt like the hard Ufe on the farm was a bit 
too much. It came in a pretty blue bottle. He kept it locked in 
the old roll-top desk. He'd open the small blade of his pocket 

knife and wipe it on his overall'd leg. He dipped the tip into 
the white powder and tapped it on the edge until he had just 
the right amount. He put this on his tongue and swallowed it. 
It was very bitter. I know because I tried it once when he 
wasn't looking. 

Pink eye was a childhood disease that appeared 
reguleirly each winter. When we caught it at school it went 
through our entire family. Mother would scrape raw potatoes, 
put them between thin cloths, and bind them over our eyes. It 
had a cooling feeUng and kept our eyelids from sticking 

Every spring we knew just as sure as the old hens got 
broody we would get our yearly dose of calomel. It was a 
fungicide and was given to us to rid us of intestinal worms. It 
was a tiny pink pill but it worked like dynamite as a 
purgative. We were warned not to eat anything sweet or sour 
after taking calomel because our mouth would draw up to one 
side close to our eye. I don't know why they worried for by 
four in the afternoon we were so sick we couldn't eat a thing. 
We hardly recovered from this wonder of early medicine until 
Grandfather showed up with a handful of shiny new quarters. 
There was one for each of us— if we would eat several cloves 
of garlic. This, too, was to rid us of worms. How terrible we 
smelled for a few days. Mother kept us outside mostly until 
the fumes went off our breaths. Oh well, a quarter was big 
money in those days. 

There was no aspirin tablets for headaches when I was a 
child. Mother would lie down with a wash cloth wrung from 
cold water over her eyes. We all had to be quiet until her head 
was better. Since headaches were usually the result of upset 
stomachs or constipation those problems were treated as 

Hard water and cold weather caused the skin on the 
hands to crack and become sore in cold weather. A s^ve 
called bag balm was used for sore udders of the milk cows and 
was rubbed into sore hands by the men. Mother often rubbed 


pure lard into her hands when she was cooking or greasing 
baking pans. There was a liquid hand lotion that was nice to 
use and not greasy. It was made with glycerine and water. A 
few drops of rose oil was added for a pleasant odor. 

Home remedies were used in most cases. There was 
always lots of love and care available from mother and other 
family members. A few days of bed rest, bowls of milk toast, 
and the threat of more epsom salts usually brought a 
miraculous cure. 


Louise E. Efnor 

Many times during my growing-up years I heard my 
Dad say to his brother "This will either kill or cure you" in 
reference to some home remedy. This was always done with a 
wink so that I would know that they were teasing and that 
they really wouldn't be taking it if it were going to harm 
them! Dad and his brother were about the same in likes and 
dislikes so it was Httle wonder that what one got the other 
had to have whether it be a cold or a car. It was the same in 
regard to home remedies— they both had to try them. 

The saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" is 
often countered with the one "an onion a day keeps 
everybody away". Whether these were ever proven true or 
not I do not know but I do know that both apples and onions 
were among the staples kept in our home. Onions were used 
both for cooking and for remedies— from poultices to cough 
syrup. My husband's grandmother was a firm believer in 
onion poultice and was said to have nursed many a person 
back to health with said remedy. Our two older children well 
remember her recipe for onion syrup as I made up some of 
this one night because I had nothing else available to stop 
their coughing. I chopped one onion very fine, put it in a 

sauce pan and covered it over with a little water and some 
sugar and boiled all of it until it was rather thick. In a short 
time the syrup was given to the children and they settled 
down to sleep the rest of the night and so did their mother. 

"Sweating the fever out" was a method doctors used for 
many years and passed it along to their patients who in turn 
passed it along to their children, generation after generation. 
I had pneumonia when I was about five years old and I 
remember that our family doctor had my mother fill half- 
gallon glass jars with hot water. These were sealed so no 
water leaked out and placed around me— with a light cover in 
between jars and me to keep them from burning. Extra 
blankets were placed over me. The kindly doctor and my 
parents set anxiously by to watch me "sweat it out". I 
sincerely praise the Lord for such fine family doctors such as 
Dr. Lee Hoyt who was our family doctor for many years. He 
was always there when any of us were ill and he stayed to 
make sure we were on the road to recovery. Well, I do believe 
I am living proof of the sweating-out method or I wouldn't be 
writing this, right? 

The white of an egg mixed in a pint of boiled water with 
a pinch of salt was often used as a remedy for intestinal 
disturbances in smaU children. One remedy which is still used 
in our home today is that of mixing a scant teaspoon of soda 
in a half a glass of water and drinking it for an upset stomach. 
Soda was and is a staple found in most evey household and 
with just as many uses. 

Mother was a firm believer in ginger tea (a remedy 
probably passed down to her from my grandmother). This tea 
made with a small amount of powdered ginger and sugar and 
hot water was especially good for young ladies bothered with 
monthly cramps. Through the years people learned to use 
herbs and spices for many purposes other than cooking or 

Did you ever drink a cup of black coffee for onion breath 
or perhaps chew on a whole clove or piece of stick cinnamon? 

How about leaving a flannel belly band on a baby sununer or 
winter for colic? Here is a very sticky and smelly one— paint 
tar on the bottoms of your feet to eliminate foot odor. This 
might eliminate the odor by how does one get the tar off 
afterwards— maybe it just wore off with the bad smell! 

Another useful item most folks had in their homes was 
kerosene. Besides filling the purpose of heating and 
lamplight kerosene was used for various remedies, one in 
particular being the destroying of head Uce. To do this one 
simply daubed a liberal amount of kerosene on the scalp and 
hair for three consecutive days and then the hair was washed 
with a good laundry soap (or castile if you were fortunate to 
have some on hand). If the scent of kerosene was too over- 
powering one could add a little sassafras to the kerosene to 
make it a httle more 'wearable'. Bedbugs were filthy, 
aimoying httle red bugs that often found their way into 
mattresses, featherbeds, or strawticks. Kerosene could even 
be used to get rid of these nuisances in the same way as on 
the hair— daubing it directly around the seams of the 
mattress or ticking in generous amounts. If this failed to get 
rid of the pesky critters you could always touch a match to 
the mattress and burn them— this was a sure cure! 

Dad and his brother used a liniment, guaranteed for 
man or beast, as a cure-all for most every kind of minor ache 
or pain, from head to toe (you didn't have to be told when one 
was ailing— you could smell them because they used it 
generously!) One time in particular my uncle was suffering 
severe pain in his neck and shoulder, and he rubbed this 
favorite Uniment very well into the painful areas. On top of 
this he added a little variation of his own— a very hot, heavy 
cloth, covered with a towel to keep the heat in! Over several 
hours of this treatment the pain was more severe than ever. 
Yes, you have probably guessed what happened— he had a 
very bad burn! Talk about kill or cure, my uncle probably 
wished himself dead in the ensuing weeks of pain. He had 
surely found no cure! 

Remedies, cure-alls, favorite methods of treating ills, 
old-fashioned as they were, hves were saved whether by these 
or the providential hand of the Great Physician. Since 
doctors often lived far from the scene of the illness common 
sense usually prevailed and they used the God-given 
knowledge endowed them. A favorite cure-all of generation 
upon generation and a favorite of mine as well has 
ingredients known to all and in every household— "Pleasant 
words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to 
the bones." See— no secret ingredients, no comphcated 
formula, but just plain common sense to use every day and to 
pass along to our children's children. 


Ms. Georgia M. Rogers 

My grandmother was a direct descendent of a 
Pennsylvania family that migrated in a covered wagon from 
the Pennsylvania Dutch country to Knoxville, 111., where 
they settled and hved on a small farm just outside the city 

Of course they brought along the superstitions and 
medical recipes of their native country which they passed 
from generation to generation. My grandmother being the 
oldest grandchild received the greatest part of this education. 
And she made the most of it. 

Now my grandmother. Flora Breedlove by name, 
fancied herself quite talented in medicine. What she hadn't 
learned from her ancestry, or made up on her own, she would 
pick from the local Doctor's brain. 

I Lived with her for 18 years and gave my grandmother a 
subject to practice on. And believe me she did. When I would 
get a catch in my side from exercise, my grandmother would 
always diagnose it as appendicitis no matter which side the 
catch was on and she would pop me into bed and rub lamp oil 


on my abdomen to pull out the poison in the appendix. When 
my abdomen blistered from the lamp oil she would declare 
that it had done what it was intended to do. 

The walls in the veins of my nose were very thin and I 
had a nose bleed at the slightest touch. My grandmother had 
three remedies that she applied. First she would get a bit of 
brown paper and soak it in vinegar and tuck it under my 
upper Up; next she would tie a red, real silk thread around my 
left wrist, which she believed was closer to the heart, (what 
that had to do with anything I never found out); next she 
would get a cold case knife and lay it flat on the back of my 
neck. In spite of all that I didn't bleed to death so it must 
have worked. Any way, my grandmother swore by the 

Ocasionally I would get a skin rash, an allergy of some 
kind or, perhaps, dry skin from the sun or water. Now my 
grandmother had a sure cure for what ever it was. She would 
get out the hog lard and mix in a goodly amount of sulfur. 
(She never measured her ingredients). Or she would mix Hog 

lard and turpentine and apply it to the affected part. The 
remedy seemed to do its job. 

My Grandfather developed what is known as shingles. 
My grandmother called the local Doctor and he didn't seem 
to know what to do for them. He gave her an ointment to 
apply but it did no good. Believing that if the shingles went 
completely around a person's waist they would kill the 
patient, my grandmother turned to her Pennsylvania Dutch 
remedies. One night she went out in the hen house. It was the 
dark of the moon. She picked a black chicken and cut its head 
off and saved the blood in a pan. She took the blood in and 
rubbed it on the shingles and my grandfather's shingles 
started to go away. I have heard of others since that doing 
the same thing with the same results. Now I don't know if the 
blood really worked a cure but I do know that the shingles 
went away after that. 

My grandmother never lost a patient. It could have 
been by the grace of God or just sheer luck. Decide for 

V T^i^ers and (greeks of Our Tast 


Rivers have played a vital role in our national 
experience, in fact, the settlement history of America would 
be impossible to chronicle without constant reference to the 
James, the Kennebec, the Susquehanna, the Ohio, the 
Mississippi, and many other notable waterways. And 
America's thousands of creeks, although less significant, 
suppUed essential water power for many frontier settlements 
as well as fish and drinking water. 

Moreover, hfe along some large or small stream is 
always expressive of a unique locale. A home in the forest or 
on the prairie could be almost anywhere in a vast 
homogenous landscape, but a home along the Illinois River or 
Grindstone Creek is somehow uniquely located. Roots go 
deep by running water. 

Perhaps the most extensive multi-volume exploration of 
America's cultural history is the Rivers of America series 
pubhshed by Holt, Reinhart, which runs to more than sixty 
volumes and includes several rivers associated with Illinois. 
Every book in the series teOs a distinctive story. 

It is not surprising that our most beloved and 
influential novel, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn is set on 
and along the Mississippi River and conveys a profoundly 
American experience. And it is somehow appropriate that 
young Abraham Lincoln came floating along the Sangamon 
Like "a piece of driftwood," to gain a foothold in frontier 
society that eventually led to the presidency. 

In the history of Illinois, rivers have always been a 
promise and a threat. The early settlement of the state 
followed the major rivers because of the transportation 
advantages, and pioneer communities along the Mississippi, 
Ohio, lUinois and other streams expected to become cities. 
Most of them didn't. But many river towns have had to cope 
with flooding that has brought periodic destruction and 
occasional tragedy. Among the memoirs that follow, "Life 

Along the Illinois at Beardstown" and "Golconda— and the 
Worst Ohio River Flood" vividly describe the anxiety and 
devastation of major floods. 

Perhaps nothing has expressed America's romance with 
rivers as much as the steamboat, which symbolizes an entire 
era of midwestern culture. The sternwheelers and 
sidewheelers, which arrived in the 1820's have long been 
gone, except for a few boats hke the Delta Queen and the 
Julia Belle Swain, which now operate because of our 
nostalgia. But fortunately, there are many senior citizens 
who can still recaU the excursion boats of the early twentieth 
century. This section of Tales from Two River III has a 
particularly remarkable group of memoirs on that subject, 
from Leshe C. Swanson's chronicle of "The Streckfus Saga" 
to the recollections of travelers hke Marie Freesmeyer, 
Carroll Ochsner and Teckla Keithley. 

The nostalgic hold that steamboating has on 
contemporary culture is reflected in Oquawka's viUage 
resolution that calls for the sounding of whistles when 
steamboats approach the old river town. The glorious era of 
steamboating is gone, but it can still be evoked along 
America's major waterways. 

But river experience was much less glamorous for most 
people. It didn't offer excitement so much as economic 
opportunity. Delbert Lutz recalls his years as a towboat 
deckhand, which meant twelve-hour days and weeks at a time 
away from home. Landa Griffith remembers similar long 
days as a crew member on a dredgeboat. 

The memoir on mussel fishing describes a Uttle-known 
occupation that flourished in the late nineteenth and 
twentieth centuries due to the market for buttons made from 
sheUs. Not that pearls weren't also sought, but they were 
rare. The mussel shells represented a much more dependable 
source of income. In 1912 Illinois River shells were worth $12 
to $15 a ton, while Mississippi River shells (which were of 
higher quality) often brought twice that price. No wonder 


thousands of people were involved in "clamming" at that 
time, despite the long hours and hard work. 

But of course, fishing has always been the characteristic 
occupation associated with rivers and creeks. Ivan R. Lyon's 
memoir about seining in the Mississippi reveals that 
commercial fishing could be arduous too, while the varied 
recollections of James B. Jackson display the mixture of 
practicality and enjoyment that has always characterized 
fishing on a smaller scale. 

Many of the memoirs in this section refer to changes 
that have made past experiences impossible to duplicate. 
Perhaps that is nowhere more evident than in the writings 
about creeks that were used for fishing, swimming, and 
playing in childhood days. The authors all refer to changes 

that have rendered the creeks unfit for the activities they 
once enjoyed. Silting due to run-off from cultivated fields has 
probably been the biggest factor. 

But where the landscape resembles its former condition, 
memories also remain. Hazel M. Smith's "A January Walk 
Near the Spoon River " attests to that. Her evocative account 
depicts the special associations between person and place 
that are characteristic of a life lived along some river or creek. 
And her memoir reminds us that although streams of every 
size are natural symbols of time and change, they also 
represent variety and continuity, which are essential for 
meaningful human experience. 

John E. Hallwas 


Effie L. Campbell 

Henry David Thoreau said: "Time is but the stream I go 
afishing in." But the stream of time flows swiftly, and the 
rivers we walked by when we were young sometimes seem far 
away. Still, they are easy to remember, especially if the 
stream you've gone a-fishing in was the Illinois. That was the 
river whose banks I used to walk along, and where I 
sometimes impatiently waited for an unwary fish to bite on a 
worm dug up in the backyard, or on some of the boys' 
"stinkbait." But the Illinois was and is not just a stream to 
go a-fishing in, although it is that too. Thousands of pounds 
of catfish have been pulled from her rolling waters. 
Beardstown, my hometown is famous for its catfish. 

So plentiful was the bounty of the river in those days, 
when I was growing up along the lUinois, that each summer 
when the carnival came to town, the American Legion and 
some of the merchants hosted a free fish fry. Hundreds of 
pounds of catfish and carp were fried golden crisp and put 
into pasteboard trays to be passed out to long Unes of men, 
women, and children. You ate your fried fish, bread, onion, 
and pickles somewhere around the town square, within sight 
and sound of the merry-go-round and the noisy whip. It was 
that same town square that was the scene of our Wednesday 
night band concerts. 

All through the summertime, the band concerts in the 
park never failed to draw appreciative crowds. We stood up 
when they played the National Anthem; we tapped our feet to 
the tune of "Oh Susanna," and clapped enthusiastically for 
all the grand old marching songs, while the grade school set 
played "tag" under the trees, mothers sat chattering on park 
benches, and here and there one gently rocked a baby buggy 
under the stars. It was a time for relaxation, for visiting with 
friends, as well as a time for sharing some wonderful music. 

But long before the band concerts became a town 
tradition, the river had brought a more exciting form of 
entertainment to our door--one that, even today, stirs the 
echoes of memory. It was the time of the floating palaces, the 
showboats. From the history of Beardstown and other towns 
along the river, the names of the showboats read like a string 
of magic hghts: The Golden Rod, the Cotton Blossom, the 
Water Queen, the Floating Palace, and the Princess. 

I don't recall that I ever saw a showboat, but I do 
remember the excursion steamers. With their lively bands 
and the dancing on board a moonlight cruise, nothing was 
ever quite so romantic. Even "going up the plank" to board 
the steamer gave you a floating, airy feeling as if you were 
about to embark on an exotic, round-the-world trip. 

The lUinois has always been alive with boats: excursion 
steamers, showboats, tugboats, barges, and even houseboats. 
I remember when I was about twelve or thirteen, I had a 
terrific yen to Uve on a houseboat. The sudden dream was 
brought about when I saw a shantyboat drifting down the 
river with an older couple and a girl of about my age on board. 
"There," I thought, "is the life." While I stood there 
dreaming on the banks of the river, that girl was going 
somewhere and going in style. Food was there for the 
catching in those shimmering waters beneath the boat; the 
wind was at her back, and all the world was caUing before her. 

In the past the river had brought many steamships to 
tie up at our docks in Beardstown, and a few of those ships 
had carried some very famous people. Such was the case in 
1858 when our town was the site of one of the celebrated 
Lincoln-Douglas debates. On that occasion, the Illinois 
brought Mr. Abraham Lincoln to Beardstown aboard the 
steamship Sam Gatty, and a stone marker in the town square 
still commemorates the big event. Only a few months earher, 
the city had been the scene of the famous "Almanac Trial," 
the case in which Mr. Lincoln defended Duff Armstrong for 

murder. The old town hall in which the trial took place still 
stands on a corner of the square. 

Although Mr. Lincoln was undoubtedly the town's most 
celebrated visitor, he was certainly not the last. In years gone 
by, the town has had its share of well-known visitors. But 
after the Civil War passenger travel on the river declined, 
giving way to the railroads. And yet, despite the fact that the 
railroads took their toll from the river, the Illinois remains a 
busy waterway. It has also given the inhabitants of 
Beardstown and other towns along its course some very 
anxious moments. 

"The river's rising again . . . reached the flood stage. 
Crops are under water lots of places . . . people moving out of 
the lowlands. They're sandbaggin' the levees . . ." Those were 
some of the things one might have heard along the Illinois in 
the autumn of 1926 and again in the spring of 1943. I was 
there both times. 

In October of 1926, I was a httle girl at home on our 
farm just a mile east of Beardstown. What I remember quite 
clearly about the flood was the windmill turning in the wind 
while the rising waters stole slowly over our barnyard. The 
cows and horses were tied up on high ground in the front of 
the house, in between the mailbox and the gate, and the old 
lilac bushes. Wearing hip boots, the boys sloshed through the 
high water in back of the house to carry hay and grain to the 

Mom's chickens were left to roost in the snug brick 
henhouse, all but one foolish old hen. Somehow she had 
managed to get herself trapped on top of the woodpile. With 
my nose pressed to the kitchen window, I worried so much 
about that old hen that finally one of my brothers waded out 
to rescue her. But for all his trouble, the ungrateful hussy 
flew squawking into his face and pecked him soundly! 

In 1943, 1 was the mother of two bttle boys, and we were 
temporarily making Beardstown our home. When the deluge 
of spring rain started coming down, our little town felt 

relatively safe. We had the seawall by then— that would 
protect us. Built to a height of twenty-seven and a half feet, 
with attachable splashboards up to an additional two or three 
feet, the seawall was to be our insurance against the 
capricious river. We didn't know how close it would come to 
sounding our doomsday. 

The residents of Beardstown first became concerned 
when the flood news started crowding the news of World War 
II off the front pages of the newspapers. Suddenly, instead, 
the headlines were about crops being inundated in the 
lowlands of the Sangamon VaUey and about the residents of 
Browning and ChandlerviUe being evacuated from their 
homes. That was about the middle of May when the river had 
risen to a mere twenty feet. Before she was finished with us, 
the old lUinois had surged to a record-breaking stage of over 
twenty-nine feet! But, by that time, most of the women, 
children, and old people had been evacuated from the city. 

When the fire siren blew long and loudly around 
midnight, when we heard that high, ominous whine start up 
at the "witching" hour, we knew it was time to go. The 
seawall had been sandbagged and guarded day and night by 
the men and boys of Beardstown, by the Boy Scout troops, 
and by a contingent of National Guardsmen. They were all 
tired and edgy, but so far, the seawall was intact. However, if 
the old Illinois went any higher, if she pounded long enough 
and hard enough at that manmade bulwark, she could burst 
through the seawall Like a tidal wave! Our homes would be 
kindling wood; our famous old town square could be washed 

I remember the cars, the Army trucks— aU packed with 
people and their possessions heading eastward out of 
Beardstown. And I remember one old man on a bicycle, pack 
on his back, pedaling and waving at the stream of cars as 
they went by. I think he set the standard for our exodus from 
Beardstown— everyone taking it on the chin and making the 

best of a bad situation. Of course, the kids thought the whole 
thing was quite a lark. 

Well, by the grace of God, and due to a lot of time and 
effort on the part of the men who stayed to guard the seawall, 
Beardstown survived. The river crested just short of thirty 
feet and then started falling. Gradually, the people of the 
town moved back in to their homes, and in a few weeks time, 
the Illinois was lapping along past our town in the best 

It has been a long time now since I've gone walking 
beside the river. In fact, I only see the Illinois at Beardstown 
when I go over to visit my sisters. But the history of the river 
and Beardstown will always be with me wherever I go. And 
life along the Illinois goes on and on. 

The river still blusters and threatens every now and 
then. She still carries barges and boats along on her churning 
waters. But her colorful past is gone. It drifted around the 
bend with the last of the old-time river captains. It floated off 
into the sunset to the tune of the calliope on the last of the 
old-time showboats. 


Truman W. Waite 

My first recollection of Meyer and the Mississippi River 
was the Fall of 1908 when I went with my father in a high 
wheel wagon to that village in order to get a load of wheat 
middlings to make slop for the hogs. The middUngs were 
delivered on the river there by one of the steam boats that 
hauled freight and passengers and made stops at Meyer. 

In the years that followed, I made many trips across the 
river with my father on the steamboat Cantonia for supplies. 
The round trip fare on the boat was five cents for passengers 
and fifty cents for team and wagon. In the Winter when the 

ice became six inches thick, we crossed the river on the ice 
and hauled our grain and hogs to the markets in Canton. 
After the dam was built, the current below the dam was so 
swift that the river never froze solid enough to cross with 

The most memorable trip that I ever took on the river 
was in 1911 when a group of neighbors chartered the Canton 
ferry for one Sunday in August for an excursion to see the 
dam that was being constructed at Keokuk, Iowa. With our 
picnic baskets filled with enough food for dinner and supper, 
we boarded the boat at Meyer and slowly made our way up 

On the deck of the boat was a refreshment stand where 
you could buy a dish of ice cream or a bottle of soda for five 
cents. On the upper deck were special accommodations for 
women and children. About one o'clock we arrived at the dam 
site and were guided about the area where the dam was under 
construction. At the time of construction, it was to be the 
largest water powered electric plant in the world. Much of our 
tour was on land that was later covered with water from Lake 
Cooper. The lake was named in honor of Hugh Cooper, the 
engineer of the dam. 

It was late in the afternoon when we started home, and 
the evening on the boat was enjoyed by the young people 
playing the parlor party games on the deck that were so 
popular during the turn of the century. I was too young to 
participate but I remember about "Old Dan Tucker, He's In 
Town, Swingin' The Ladies All Around." Another tune they 
were singing as they promenaded around was 

Lost My Dish Rag What Shall I Do 
Lost My Dish Rag What Shall I Do 
I'll Get Another One Better One Too 
Skip To My Lou My Darling. 

On the way down stream we were passed by the steamer 
Keokuk which was a newer and faster boat. The Keokuk 
made daily trips from Quincy to Keokuk and returned 


carrrying passengers and freight. On Sunday it carried only 
people to see the dam. The Keokuk continued trips on the 
river until trucks took over the hauling. It was retired in 1923 
and burned about three years later. Other boats stopped at 
Meyer and took loads of baled straw and wheat in two bushel 
sacks to Quincy. 

The Village of Meyer was laid out about 1890 by Mr. J. 
W. Caldwell on land that he owned. At that time and for years 
afterward, fish were in abundance in the river and in Lima 
Lake that adjoined Meyer on the east. Fishing and gathering 
mussel shells for buttons were the main occupations. Some of 
the fisherman that I recall were Roy Downs, Phil Todd, 
"Brae" Barnes, Lee Booher, Joe Cline, Gilbert and Arthur 
Andrew, "Tort" Snyder, Walter Agard, and Ed Breen. To the 
south of Meyer were Joe Fuhrman, George Tuttle, Garett 
Hendrickson, John Booher, and Virgil Poulter. Two of the 
residents of Meyer, Addison Crouch and Jack Price, were 
boat builders. Another resident, Joe Lloyd, married his 
school teacher, Cornelia Quinn, and was employed as a 
captain on a government boat. He took his wife along, and 
she was the first woman ever hired as a cook on the river. 

As a supplemental source of income in the Winter, some 
hunted coon, trapped, and shot wild ducks and rabbits. 
Ducks sold for around five dollars per dozen and rabbits 
brought from five to eight cents each. During Prohibition, the 
dense cover along the levees and on the islands provided 
security for an occasional still. 

It was in 1933 that construction was started on the 
Lock and Dam No. 20 that supplied work for many of the 
residents of Meyer. The dam took three years to be completed 
by the S. A. Healy Construction Company. The laborers were 
paid fifty cents per hour for a thirty-hour week. 

Just a stones throw north of Ida Lloyd's store was a 
secluded place on the top of the levee that was known as 
"Little Rock." It was here during the Summer that 
"fortunes" were made and lost by playing CEirds and rolling 

the dice. It so happened that such a game was in progress on 
a midsummer day in 1914. It was not a lucky day for one of 
the players, Jess Ferguson. An argument took place about 
the money that he had left in the pot. Henry Maples, his 
cousin, argued that he was out of the game. Ferguson 
insisted that he still had five cents left in the pot. The 
argument was settled later that evening in true western 
style. Maples went home and secured his pistol and shot 
Ferguson in the head while Ferguson was standing under the 
large hackberry tree in front of Ida Lloyd's store. Maples hid 
out for several days, but was apprehended, tried, convicted, 
and sentenced to prison. 

That old hackberry tree was also the scene of another 
incident of somewhat different nature in the Spring of 1922. 
The story of the finding of King Tut's tomb in Egypt was 
making headline news when Mr. John Merritt discovered a 
large flat rock along the river bank near the old hackberry 
tree. The rock had recently been left uncovered by the river 
when it receded from its Spring raise. Being a flat rock made 
it unusual, as all of the rocks along the river were worn round 
by the water and sand. On further investigation he saw a 
bone with an arm band protruding from under the stone. He 
turned the stone over, and under it was a human skeleton. On 
and around the skeleton were numerous artifacts. One cross 
ten inches in length, two small crosses about four inches long, 
a number of belt buckles, arm bands, a crucifix, a very small 
jug and hundreds of beads were recovered. No doubt, in the 
hasty search more artifacts were not recovered. Who the man 
was, where he came from, when he came, and where he was 
going are subjects of controversy. Some think that he could 
have been a member of the Marquette and Joliet expedition, 
or possibly an Indian chieftain. Due to the crosses, beads and 
crucifix, it is quite likely that he was a Catholic missionary. 
At any rate, it will always be a mystery of the Mississippi. 

Over the years, the Mississippi has taken its toll of lives 
in the vicinity of Meyer. Some were in unusual 

circumstances. It was the night of August 31, 1926, that the 
news came over the telephone that our next door neighbor, 
DeWitt Beatty, had drowned while swimming near Meyer. 
The body was recovered the next day. An inquest was held 
and a verdict of accidental drowning was returned. It 
happened in a secluded area south of Meyer, and no one 
present but his wife, a bride of two weeks. My uncle, Horace 
Tripp, who was employed on a government boat, was sitting 
on the deck after supper and saw the accident from across the 
river. He saw the car drive down and park some distance from 
the water. Two people got out of the car and started running 
toward the river. One of the runners outdistanced the other 
and never stopped running until he disappeared into the 
river. He watched from the boat and never saw anyone 
surface from the water. The other person stopped running 
before reaching the water and returned to the car and left. 
She went to Meyer to report the incident. 

Another drowning occurred on July 11, 1932, when 
Charles Stoneking sUpped off a dike when he was taking his 
horses across the chute to Polly Bar to pasture. The dike has 
been known since that time as Stoneking Dike. 

A more recent drowning was Walter Ennen on August 
3, 1967, while working on a barge at the elevator. No one was 
present at the time, and it is not known just how it happened. 

It was early September in 1957 that the National boat 
races were held in Meyer. Boats from many states were 
entered in the races and several world records were made. 

The Mississippi was very peaceful from 1903 until 1944. 
The heavy snows in the north and heavy rainfall were too 
much, and on May 25, 1944, it broke the levee south of 
Warsaw and flooded the area and the town of Meyer. Again in 
1947, it exceeded the 1944 stage, but with much work day 
and night the levee held. However, in 1960 it was a different 
story. When the record snowfaU that we had that year 
melted, it was more than the levees would take. On April 5, 

1960, we got a repetition of 1944, when it broke just north of 
Meyer destroying many more houses in the valley. 

Years ago there were sixteen houses on the road from 
the bluff to Meyer. Now there are only four. Other changes 
have occurred over the years that I have noticed. The wild 
ducks that once migrated down the valley in the Fall by the 
millions still come down the vaUey, but only a small fraction 
of what they did years ago. Rabbits that were kiUed by the 
hundreds are seldom seen on the river levees and the 
adjoining valley. Fish that were so abundant have decreased 
to the point that now only one fisherman, Clinton Downs, 
remains, and his catch gets smaller and smaller each year. 

On the river bank near where the fishermen used to dock 
their boats with their daily catch now stands a giant grain 
terminal that ships millions of bushels of grain down the 
river, where it goes to ports all over the world. The old 
sternwheel ferry boat has been replaced for the past forty 
years by a motor barge that makes timely trips across the 
river. However, there is one thing that has never changed: 
Old Man River— he just keeps rolling along. 


Eva Baker Watson 

"River, Stay 'Way from My Door" was the theme song 
in Golconda during that wet January and February back in 
1937. The Ohio, whose beauty had been tunefully 
immortalized, the lifeline waterway that had played such a 
vital role in the settlement of mid- America and our own small 
town, was now showing us its other side. 

At that time here, as all across this nation, we were still 
struggUng to regain the economic foothold we'd lost in the 
Great Depression. The flood seemed a crowning blow. 


It had been a rainy winter. Creeks and small streams ail 
along the Ohio swelled and rushed frothing at the mouth into 
the mainstream. Soon the river was not only overflowing but 
was backing up into those very tributaries that had filled it. 
That in itself was not unusual along the Ohio from time to 
time. People expected it. And not since 1913 had there been a 
really widespread flood. Many citizens were too young to 
even remember it, and those who could remember blithely 
assumed it wouldn't happen again. 

But as rain came down day after day and water rose 
relentlessly, we felt nervous. Then worried. Lots of "They 
say's" floated around. 

"They say it's going to be higher than 1913!" 

"They say it's bad, upriver." 

"They say the Bay Bottoms folks are ah-eady moving 

Then one day U. S. Engineers arrived in Golconda with 
the ominous warning that before the flood reached its crest, 
water would inundate the business section and much of the 
residential area. Only those on the hill to the south would 

Some scoffed. "Four feet deep on Main Street? Who 're 
they kidding!" Others, more prudent, did start moving, 
feeling a bit foolish for, of course, even in 1913 it hadn't been 
THAT high. 

Yes, as in Noah's day, some believed, some didn't— to 
their eventual regret, for, also as Noah's day, prophecy came 
true. Homes on high hills to the north, south, and west 
opened their doors to refugees. Business people downtown 
worked feverishly moving merchandise, furnishings, and 
equipment to their second floors. 

Located on Main Street, one block from the wharf where 
in normal times valued customers from Kentucky were 
delivered, stood the Watson Hardware Store. A partner in 
that business was the young man who later became my 
husband. Many times in the years since then I 've heard him 

tell of their evacuation and the heart warming assistance of 
friends and men sent from the nearby CCC Camps. It was a 
time of helping, of sharing, of counting blessings. When the 
flood crested water was six feet deep in the store. 

A few blocks further up the street I, too, worked 
feverishly— but not to move out, for my beauty shop was on 
the second floor above the Post Office. My rush was to get as 
many of my partons prettied up as possible before I was 
forced to close the shop. Come fire, destruction, or high 
water, heaven forbid that a woman should be caught with her 
hair a mess. 

Came the day, though, when the water reached the 
Light and Power Plant and electricity was a thing of the past. 
I locked my door and went home to wait out the flood with 
my family in our farm home happily situated on a hill 
overlooking Brownfield. 

From our home we had a panoramic view of the village 
and it was a shocking sight, awash with Bay Creek's muddy 
backwater. Here and there we could see buildings sitting 
strangley askew, swept off their foundations. And the rain 
continued to fall, making the outlook even more gloomy. 

A young woman and her grandmother moved in with us. 
The poor soul was a private, secretive person. She was 
distraught when she realized that some valuable papers she 
had left hidden under the rug were under water. She kept 
pleading, "Can't I get somebody to swim in there and get 
those things for me?" But money couldn't buy much then 
and certainly couldn't persuade anyone to swim that icy 

We had a battery radio and it was a godsend. We had it 
going all the time and became soap opera addicts. Also, we'd 
hsten to distress calls being broadcast in cities upriver: "Pick 
up man on roof at 4th and Walnut." "Family of five stranded 
on porch north on Washington." It sounded so horrible to us, 
safe and sound in our own home. We caught the terror of it, 
sometimes found ourselves wondering if God had forgotten 

his promise and the whole earth would be flooded again. 

With such constant use, the radio battery soon began to 
get weaker, weaker, then died. We felt doomed, isolated in 
silence. There was no place to buy another. 

But it was the darkest day of the entire time when news 
came that three young men drowned not far from our home. 
Their boat had struck a snag and capsized as they were 
attending to some stranded cattle. All the inconvenience and 
boredom we'd been complaining about seemed as nothing 
compared to this tragedy that left wives without husbands, 
children without a father, and took lives that had barely 
begun to live. 

Back in Golconda people were coping. The Post Office 
had relocated in a private home on the hill. A hospital had 
been established in the Lutheran Church on the hillside. 

It was staffed with Red Cross workers, local doctors and 
nurses. Boats cruised the streets. Food, clothing, bedding, 
fuel were brought in daily by the Red Cross. 

The Riverview Hotel (ironic name, at that point), whose 
furnace and laundry room was flooded, housed the Red Cross 
personnel. Its main quarters were just above water. The 
proprietress was working almost the clock around washing 
linens, keeping the fireplaces going, sweeping out the mud 
continuaUy tracked in on boots. 

On a slightly elevated vacant lot next door was a huge 
pile of coal and a bonfire burning beside it. There a man 
dispensed coal, one bag at a time, to people needing fuel. Old 
kerosene lamps were shining again in the glory of renewed 

The weekly Herald-Enterprise published on January 28 
carried this two-inch headline: "WORST OHIO RIVER 
FLOOD IN HISTORY." Soon after this edition came out, the 
office closed. The editor/pubhsher found another location and 
there, with the help of a temporarily displaced lERC typist, 
using a printing plant borrowed from the Farm Bureau, put 
out a small emergency sheet that kept the news circulating. 

The H-E office at the flood's crest was under four feet of 
water. Back in 1913 the water had just reached the floor. 

Women with time on their hands finished piecing those 
quilts that had been lying half-done, forgotten. Some did 
volunteer work at the soup kitchen and hospital. Housed-in 
children played the new game, Monopoly, that had been 
given them for Christmas. Many big deals were made, 
fortunes won, and lost. 

And if you happened to be riding the waves in the 

vicinity of the submerged wharf, you might have been 

startled to come upon a sign barely visible above the water: 



Before the long watery tale was told, Golconda had 
reason to owe much to the Red Cross, WPA, CCC, lERC, the 
Army, Navy, and Coast Guard, to say nothing of legions of 
local heroes and helping hands. 

Eventually the flood crested, receded, and at last the 
Ohio River flowed again within its banks. It left behind an 
unbelievable mess of mud, debris, and dying fish. 

By this time the townspeople had begun to get their 
dander up. Enough was enough. Despite the fact that the 
river is a mighty romantic sight on a moonlight night, it is 
downright disgusting when it flows up and down the main 
thoroughfare, sloshes around in homes and business places, 
ruining carpets, furniture, equipment, and damaging 

And so it was that the U. S. Engineers returned— 
welcome this time— to build for us a seawall. Golconda, which 
had received a double whammy, first with the Depression, 
then the flood, began enjoying a minor boom as transcients 
moved in for the construction. 

We had no inkling of it at the time, but a future celebrity 
was here then. One of the construction families had a small 
black-haired fifth-grade daughter whose name was Polly 

Bergen. Few today can even remember her, and not many can 
honestly say "I knew her when—." 

The building of the flood wall brought not only 
economic blessings but also new topics of conversation and 
argument. There were those who opposed it and vowed it 
would ruin the town. Others said, "I'll move out if we have 
another flood— that levee can't hold back the river." Still 
others announced, "All my property will be for sale!" 

But most who had scraped mud from their homes and 
business places and who were trying without success to rid 
their houses of the foul smells, who months later were still 
sweeping sand that sifted from walls and floors— they were 
less inclined to be critical. They saw the Ohio as something 
that should be controlled if possible. 

And so we whose houses were built close to the river and 
who used to enjoy watching the ever-changing spectacle of it, 
now watch other people watching the river— as they ride in 
their cars along the flood wall. We savor the security. As to 
the feeUng of being fenced in that some fuss about, most of us 
prefer a slight case of claustrophobia to the recurring worry 
of being flooded. 

As for me, I respect the Beautiful Ohio as our water 
supply, as the waterway for river traffic, for boating fun for 
those who like it, and I relish the catfish— if someone else will 
clean it. But regarding anything more intimate in our 
relationship, I can only say this to 01' Man River: You stay 
on your side of that wall, 01' Man, and I'll stay on mine. 


Iva Ingles Peters 

The day began much like a day in April, the softness of 
the air in contrast to the date on the calendar: January 23, 
1938. Already Sarah's mind was turning to the garden she 
would be planting and the hundreds of baby chicks she would 

be raising come Spring. Sarah Morrell loved to work, as did 
her husband, Charles M., better known as "Charlie." The 
days were never long enough for them to accompUsh all they 
hoped to do, and their lovely farm home and buildings were 
evidence of the long hours they spent improving them. Folks 
were always advising them to slow down, but somehow 
rocking chairs and continual rest had no appeal unless they 
were really tired. 

Their large home stood on a high bluff overlooking the 
Lamoine river, better known as "Crooked Creek." Charlie and 
their two sons had farmed down in the creek bottoms for 
years and it gave Sarah pleasure to look out the east window 
and view that expanse of land and know that this year all of 
the grain was in the bams. She could see the movement of the 
cows and horses and sheep far away as they gleaned the grain 
left in the fields during harvest. She could not help 
remembering the many times that there was no grain in the 
barns because "Old Crooked" had beat them to it. Every wife 
along the length and breadth of the creek lived in constant 
fear of the treacherous stream that could, and often did, 
destroy a whole season's work in a matter of hours. Somehow 
the farmers were better able to withstand the anxiety of it, 
because most of them persisted in farming the lowlands as 
long as they lived. 

Sarah's reverie about spring plans were brought short 
when she remembered that the date was only January 23 and 
surely spring was a long way off. It was much too early to be 
thinking of garden seeds and baby chickens! 

It was a Sunday morning so she put a plump baking hen 
into the blue splatter-ware roaster for the usual delicious 
Sunday dinner, because Sarah Morrell was also well known 
for her tasty meals. Numerous hired men could attest to the 
good meals served there, most of them taking three meals a 
day at Sarah's table. She was washing the dishes after the 
noon meal when the wind came up with a blast, followed 
shortly by rain beating against the windows. Before she was 


finished it was so dark she ht the Aladdin lamp to give her 
better light to finish pohshing the chrome on her large black 
iron cook stove. Even the black iron Uds on Sarah's range 
shone when she was finished with her cleaning. 

When she was finished she found Charlie peering out 
the windows looking toward the leaden skies, declaring that 
in all his born days he had never seen such a rain in January! 
Much too warm, too, he thought. The rain continued without 
ceasing all afternoon, and when chore time came it was 
necessary for Charhe to bundle himself in rain gear to do the 
chores around the barn. When he brought in the foaming 
pails of milk he allowed that if this kept up "Old Crooked" 
would surely be out. But, he added, no one ever heard of a 
flood in January, so it would surely stop by morning. 

Nighttime brought httle rest, as the rain continued to 
pour down, giving Sarah and Charlie a restless night. They 
were not young people and had seen a lot of weather in their 
times, but never anything hke this in the winter. 

In the cold gray hght of dawn, Charlie once again did his 
chores in a downpour, and by gazing intently toward the 
bottoms, he imagined he could see the beginnings of overflow 
water creeping onto his land. If only it would stop raining 
long enough to round up the stock grazing down there! He 
checked his rain gauge and to his dismay found almost three 
and a half inches had fallen, and his long experience told him 
there would be a flood. 

His son Lloyd, who hved nearby, volunteered to ride a 
horse to the bottom ground to see if he could drive some of 
the livestock to higher ground. But before he could reach 
them, he ran into water so deep that the horse was forced to 
swim. The water was by now rising so fast one could actually 
see from the bluff the changes hour by hour. To add to the 
horror of the day the temperature began to drop rapidly, and 
the rising waters began to freeze. Sarah watched nervously 
from the windows, but Charlie continued to work and wait 
out in the snow and extreme cold, trying to figure a way to 

rescue the horses and cows and sheep they could see huddled 
in tight groups on the few high places the creek had not yet 
covered. By Monday night, only thirty hours after the rain 
began, they could no longer see the sheep, and httle could be 
seen of the other animals because of the swirUng sleet and 
snow that had replaced the rain. It was indeed a terrible 
night, with the blizzard howhng outside, the bitter cold 
creeping through the cracks, and Charhe and Sarah unable to 
reach the animals they had so carefully raised. 

Tuesday morning dawned with only flurries but below 
zero temperatures. A visit to the bottom of the hill revealed 
the ghastly sight of some of the forty sheep floating on the 
not-yet-frozen water in the deeper areas. None were ever seen 
again, obviously floating away when the flood waters 
receded. The thirty-eight head of cattle could still be spotted 
on a high spot that was surrounded by water estimated at 
seven feet deep, and freezing rapidly. By now the water was 
too deep to permit rescue operations until the water was 
frozen enough to hold the weight of the animals and men. The 
faUing temperatures through Tuesday night brought a thick 
but dangerous layer of ice by Wednesday morning, and word 
about the phght of the animals had travelled throughout the 
area. Rushville was ten miles away, and was the site of a 
C.C.C. (Civihan Conservation Corps) Camp, estabhshed by 
the Roosevelt Administration to help alleviate the 
unemployment problem of the the 30's. J.W. Coleman was 
superintendent of the camp and he brought fifty of the men 
from the camp to assist in the rescue operations. It was an 
extremely dangerous assignment, but the C.C.C. men and 
several neighbors and friends managed to walk the 
treacherous ice, which by Wednesday covered every foot of 
the area. When the men reached the spot where the cattle had 
taken refuge, they found that three were dead, eight others 
had disappeared in the current, and of the remainder, four 
were so disabled they had to be loaded on sleds and pulled out 


over the ice. The remaining twenty three were able to walk 
across the ice to shelter. 

The horses did not suffer the fatalities the other animals 
did, but their pHght was also pitifully complicated. Six of 
them were found milling round and round in a small area. 
Their movement had kept the water a slushy ice, and the 
water on their tails had frozen into balls about the size of 
wash tubs. Ropes were secured around them and they were 
dragged out onto the ice. Five were able to walk to safety, and 
one was loaded on a sled and hauled into the barn. It was 
necessary to cut off the lower part of every horse's tail, for on 
each was a cake of ice weighing as much as one hundred 
pounds. All the rescued animals were the worse for the wear, 
having gone two days and nights without food and standing 
in water in sub-zero temperatures. 

The trauma of the flood and the rescue operations also 
took its toll on the health and life of Charlie Morrell. He 
developed pneumonia and died soon after his 74th birthday 
the following AprO, three months after the memorable flood. 

My husband, Lewis Peters, also farmed Crooked Creek 
bottoms for forty-five years and witnessed much loss and 
destruction in the swirUng flood waters. But the winter flood 
of 1938 stands out in his memory as the most unusual one 
ever staged by that unpredictable stream. Much heavier 
losses would have been sustained had it not been for the 
unselfish efforts of dozens of brave men and God's protective 
hand over them as they labored in the icy waters that 
January of 1938. 


Al Hartman 

Monroe County has about fifty miles of frontage on its 
western boundary with the Mississippi River. The actual 

mileage varies through the years, and decades, with the 
vagaries of the river. 

There were an amazing number of river landings 
established through the years— forty-five and stiU counting! 
A few were marked on maps, but most were handed down by 
word of mouth, and with river stories galore! 

Monroe County's eastern boundary also has river 
frontage— along the Okaw (Kaskaskia) River, Steiger's 
Landing was used to ship out farmer's grain and produce. 
Grist mill stones from France, made from a special gritty 
kind of buhrstone, were landed at Steiger's and hauled by 
oxcart to the Heinrich Buss mill at the northeast county line. 

Lafayette, just outside of the south corner of Monroe 
County, had a landing on the Okaw, to ship flour from its 
mill, and was also used to ship flour from the rolling mills of 
Red Bud, in Randolph County. 

Flat boats, batteaux, broad horns, and keel boats plied 
the river from the earliest settlements, to haul out the rich 
bounty from the prodigal American Bottom land. They 
hauled out grain and flour, and brought in European and 
Eastern manufactured goods and housewares. 

Philip Renault used the river town of Ste. Philippe as a 
staging point for his mining operations that extended to 
LaMotte and Potose in Missouri. Renault gave up and left in 
1745, and Ste. Philippe was swept away by the river 
sometime later. 

In the 1700's Dennis Datchurst operated Salt Works 
under the Bluff at Salt Lick Point. Salt works used a lot of 
cord wood and slave labor. So did steamboats! (This high 
promontory rises to 827 feet, 437 feet above the nearby 
Harrisonville Landing, with a 390 foot elevation above mean 
gulf level). Today we still refer to State Route 156 to 
Valmeyer as Dennis (or Denny) Hollow. 

At the end of the 1700's the Ryan and Kinney Mills (at 
present Monroe City) shipped large quantities of flour to St. 
Louis, New Orleans and Europe, all before the War of 1812; 


this was also the time when Capt. Nicholas Roosevelt 
brought the first steam boat to the Mississippi. 

The hst of river landings include such names as Sand 
Bank, Pull Tight, Cottonwood Tree, Smorless Ferry, 
Corduroy, Smith, Sulphur Springs, Meissner Island, Ihorn, 
Harrisonville, Bamber, Nolan, Calico Island, James, 
ModgeUn, Heatherly, McCauley, Frest Home, Harlow, LiUy, 
Lowry, Goodman, Martins, Kemper, Ivy, Durfee, Selma, 
Ollyers, Prieskers, Penitentiary Point and Farmers. There are 
stories to be told about each landing, but alas, our 
storytellers are passing on at an increasing rate! 

Some landings were named after the environment- 
such as Sand Bank, Forest Home and Ivy. Pull Tight 
Landing had a steep bank. The teamsters had to "pull tight" 
on the horses 's reins on the steep descent. Some landings 
were given first names of people as with Martins' and Denny 

The largest number had family names. James' Landing 
was named after Gen. Thomas James and his descendants, 
who remained in the grain and shipping business for 100 
years. A historic marker at Monroe City (once known as 
James' MiD) tells his story. Thomas James and his wife 
Catherine (Keller) James, are buried on the Madonnaville 
Church Yard. Alas, time and weather have taken their toll. 
The Stone is broken into four pieces and is no longer legible. 
It really merits replacement as a historic marker. 

The Lawrence McCauley family operated the McCauley 
Landing just below Mitchie. The Heatherly Landing was 
operated by James Heatherly and Zack Vous around 1910. 

A landing operation could be as simple as a farmers wife 
waving her dish towel or a hat at the passing packet, to get 
the captain to take some eggs or produce to the opposite side 
for 50 cents. Or perhaps a night time traveler waved a lantern 
at the packet to take him across for 50 cents. 

The big money operation was on a much grander scale. 
There was a whopping amount of grain, cattle, hogs, horses, 

lumber— commodities of all sorts, plus passengers to be 
taken to market or transported to some other place. The 
Merchants Exchange in downtown St. Louis was an 
imposing building for representatives of various firms, who 
had offices and a trading floor there. It also had agents at 
various landings, who built and maintained stock pens, long 
sheds for grain storage and/or general stores. 

The Harrisonville general store was located near to the 
landing and was run by the Grazianos and the Castelles. 
Their prominent roadside tombstone in the Madonnaville 
Cemetery is noteworthy for today's generation. The two 
names at the top of the stone— in a county of Germans, 
English, Scotch, Irish, and French— are Itahan, a rarity. 

These general stores were a chief source of supphes for 
the Bottom's farmers. They brought in produce, butter, and 
eggs to exchange for salt and pepper, coffee, tea, and sugar. 
There were flavorings and spices; coconuts, prunes, and 
raisins; dry goods and dress materials by the yard: cahcos, 
wools, and silks. There were black veils and brooches and jet 
rings for mourning; guns, knives, axes and hand tools, garden 
tools, nails and hardware of all sorts. The boys brought in the 
pecans they gathered to trade for pocket knives, etc. The 
girls traded their pecans for fancier things, hke French moire 
hair ribbons. One still sees antique housewares at sales— hke 
dishes with the elaborate crest of Royal Ironstone China by 
Alfred Meakin of England. It must have been brought in by 
the boatload! 

Often, when people ordered something special from a St. 
Louis firm, like a player piano, they came down to the landing 
on the day of dehvery to get it right off the boat. The Bottom 
was fuU of musicians. The base vioUn was a popular 
instrument. It could be bumped on the floor to "keep the 
beat." In the German vernacular, it was a "Bums Geig" 
(bump viohn). Once my sister and Dad went to Boxtown, 
where a bass viol was advertised. When they saw it, it was 
pretty much cracked. Frieda ended up with a violin instead. 


Mail was delivered by packet. But also, from the earliest 
days, mail was brought over from Mississippi by skiffs to 
Post Offices hke Meramec Point, Mickie, and Rush Island. 

When a steamboat made a landing, the captain blew the 
whistle, and the mate was at the rail asking, "What you got?" 
Singing and shouting colored lads tied up the boat with 
heavy ropes as soon as the gang plank was lowered. (Under 
the supervision of the mate, often with a black snake whip in 
hand). These roustabouts did all the work of loading or 
unloading. The captain sometimes took local kids (and 
parents) on a tour of his boat. 

Nanson Commission Company had long warehouses for 
storing grain at James Landing. Austin James, and then 
Bennett James, his son, ran the operation. Bennett James 
was also postmaster at Mitchie. 

Then, when the St. Louis Iron Mountain Railroad came 
through the Bottom in 1902, Nanson left the river landings 
and buUt elevators along the railroad tracks. The coming of 
the railroad gave birth to Valmeyer, right under the bluffs at 
Dennis Hollow. Vabneyer was chartered in 1909. The town of 
Ivy, once perched on the river bank is now three miles east of 
the river. Good Man's Landing has also disappeared. Sic 
transit gloria mundi! The heyday of the river landings had 

But Kemper Landing is still very much alive. There the 
Bunge Corp buUt large bins, conveyors, and a loading dock to 
export grain. It is now owned and operated by Monroe 
Service Co. And as they have for years. Dads still bring their 
families down to the landing on Sunday afternoons to "look 
around." After all, for miles and miles the river bank is 
inaccessible, because of sloughs, swamps, and dense 
undergrowth, with no decent access roads between the level 
and the river. 

Floods and the ravages of the river and the weather 
meant frequent repairs to the landings. Ray Rippelmeyer told 
how he helped his father, Gus R., rip-rap Kempers Landing 

when farm work was slack in the winter months. That meant 
hard work— hauUng large rocks from the quarry and hand 
throwing them into place on the bank and shallow water. 
They also hauled out lumber from the delivery point at the 
landing to the building sites. He said rafters in the 
McCormick home (now his son's residence) were stamped 
with the address "Kemper's Landing." So also were the bells 
in the Madonnaville Church tower, albeit thirty years earlier, 
as related by Fr. Charles Hellrung. 

Ray Rippelmeyer said they also hauled whiskey and 
beer, in barrels, to the various taverns. For years many 
Missourians came over by skiffs to the saloons on the Illinois 
side. There weren't many bars in Missouri, and the few there 
were closed on Sunday. 

In 1908 the Federal government initiated the 
government Fence Program. This was done to prevent bank 
cave-ins. Long "fences" of cypress piling were driven to 
extend out into the river, especially at outside bends. 
Cottonwood and willow mats were woven and rip-rap stones 
cast on them to be sunk around the piHng. This was to 
prevent scouring and loosening of the pilings. 

During Teddy Roosevelt's first term he came down the 
river on a boat to inspect this work. Ray Ripplemeyer and his 
band played at Lawrence McCauley Landing for the occasion 
as the President's boat cruised by. 

Besides repairs on the landings, there were also markers 
and guides (red and white targets) for navigation, to keep in 
repair. Cleaning and lighting the navigation Ughts every 
evening was done by landing custodians. Some packets had 
generators to power bright lights for night navigation and 

For years the local tax districts tried to maintain levees 
and drainage ditches, but with little success. High water 
against the inadequate levees caused "sand boils" and the 
levees were soon breeched by the turgid water, carrying filth 
and disease. Then in the 1950's the Federal Government 


spent "a million dollars per mile" to build immense levees 
that could hold back 50 feet of water. These great earth 
works extend continuously from St. Louis to below Fort de 

Louis Rippelmeyer, who tended bar at Fults and lived 
just below the bluffs at Salt Peter Cave, took off his shoes 
and sat bare-footed on his front porch as he told us river 
stories. He spent part of his boyhood at Forest Home 
Landing. He said the same road was used for Forest Home 
and McCauley's Landings and sometimes this caused 
feuding. He hid in the hay loft and watched as shots were 
fired, but no one was ever hurt. 

He also told about Cora Higgins, whose mother 
remarried after his father's death, and who was raised at the 
McCauley Landing. In 1901 Cora Higgins married Robert 
McCormick, owner of a large farm just north of Harrisonville. 

When I was a boy in the late 1920's my parents 
sometimes took me along to visit the McCormicks at 
Harrisonville. Dad and Mr. McCormick went outside to 
smoke their cigars and talk about crops and farming. 1 stayed 
inside with Mom and Mrs. McCormick, who was a very 
charming, gracious and outgoing lady, with an unending 
supply of river stories. She tried many stories of her Ufe long 
the river, some quite hair raising about tragedies and 
drownings, crooks and thieves, about skiffs, heroic actions, 
plots and intrigues. Alas, that was ahnost sixty years ago; I 
can recaU the drama, but I can't recaU the details! One I know 
was about a praticularly bad flood, when their beautiful two- 
story home was flooded to the second floor stairway landing. 
In the dead of night they were loaded onto a skiff from a 
window at that landing and taken five miles south through 
the rushing waters to the bluffs at Brownsville (Fults). 

The McCormicks are buried in the Madonnaville 
Cemetery: "Robert A. McCormick, 1873-1951" and "Cora M. 
McCormick 1877-1966." My mother passed away on June 24, 
1966, aged 88 years. 

During the 1930's Syl Engel and his partner ran a 
fishing business at Harrisonville. They built a durable, 
gabled house on wheels at the Harrisonville Landing. If high 
water came, they could hitch a team or tractor to their house 
and move it to higher ground. 

Frank Oexner and George Niebruegge operated a ferry 
from Harrisonville to Bates Landing at Herculaneam, 
Missouri in the early 1940's. Later Syl Engel took over the 

In the late 1800's, when the river was at a very high 
stage, an intrepid steamboat captain ran his boat past Sand 
Bank Landing and up against the bluff, normally several 
miles inland. The water suddenly receded and his boat was 
left high and dry. It eventually had to be dismantled piece by 
piece, and, hauled away. That took several years. There 
might still be pieces laying around, or used on fancy house 
trim there. Captain William S. Carroll of Strekfus Steamers 
showed me a fifteen-foot-long blueprint, charting the river, its 
islands and boat landings. He's an avid fan of river lore, and 
recalled several early St. Louis mayors that came from Alton, 
implying control of St. Louis politics from the Illinois side. 
Actually, I beheve St. Louis and its Illinois neighborhood 
were an integral part of an ongoing business. 

When Albert Horn was the Monroe County game 
warden back in the 1950's he asked Bob Voris (a local editor) 
and myself to go along to a "Heron Rookery" on an island 
south of the Harrisonville Landing. Albert's son, Richard, 
also went along. 

The river, at its best, is wild and treacherous, with 
strong and tricky currents, quicksand and other frightening 
aspects. Our boat ride downstream is a 22-foot open boat, 
powered by a 75 horsepower outboard, pretty much hugged 
the shore, but nonetheless it seemed wild to me. 

It was further than I thought. After quite some time we 
landed on a heavily wooded island. The shore was high and 


solid enough; as we headed to the three line, the woods 
seemed aUve with noise and motion. 

Stately herons and snowy egrets perched atop the 
highest trees watching us, uttering shrill cries. Blue herons, 
gray herons, green herons, great herons, lesser herons, 
egrets— all the heron kin folk! There were thousands, perhaps 
tens of thousands— birds of aO ages and stages of growth, 
making an enormous din, running the gamut of low 
squawking to high pitched shrieks. There were birds all 
around us, on the ground, perched in vertical tiers in the 
trees, big trees, httle trees, saphngs. We could touch them; 
they didn't move for us. But they disgorged fish on our 
heads. Some pieces of carp and buffalo were two to four 
inches across. The ground was covered with shiny fish, bird 
droppings, feathers, greenish-blue egg shells and broken 
branches. (The stick-nests high in the trees were coming 
apart.) And smell! We apparently made the fledglings sick; 
they disgorged more fish on our heads. They were distressed 
at our trespassing! Some of the larger fish sections made 
quite a plopping noise as they hit the giound. But not as loud 
as when a young bird lost its balance and came plopping 
down at our feet. Richard caught it by its left pin-feathered 
wing. It squawked and pecked, and went into a circular dance 
with Richard, all the while frantically pecking at us with its 
sharp beak, and flailing us with its free wing. As some of the 
adult birds moved in, Richard very wisely turned the 
youngster loose, and the threatened mass attack ended 

One of the smaller babies, with a fuzzy head and fuzzy 
pot belly, fell out of a tree. His efforts to regain his perch were 
comical but effective. He crammed his big head into the fork 
of a tree and pulled himself up by his neck, kicking his feet 
against the tree trunk with aO his might, until he got his 
footing on the lower branch. Then he crammed his head in the 
next higher fork, and repeated the operation. What 

It became obvious we were intruders, a disruptive force 
in the birds hatchery and nursery. The smell of fish was 
awful, simply awful, and walking was a problem. So, after 
Bob V. finished his photography, we executed a fast retreat 
with much jeering and railing from the birds! Somehow our 
trip upstream back to Harrisonville Landing didn't seem as 
wild and long, even though we were bucking the current. All 
is relative! 

During the 1960's when I represented the Mobil Oil 
Company at its river dock, I got to know river men at this 
Cahokia Chute Landing. Some times the captains or pilots on 
the tow boats, the roustabouts on the barges, but mostly the 
"trouble shooters," like Smitty. His real name was Schmidt. 
Smitty had an instant grapevine on anything going on, up 
and down the river from Bettendorf to Baton Rouge and New 
Orleans. By radio, phone and sixth sense, he knew all about 
catastrophies, drownings, men being eaten by catfish, 
"floaters" fished out of the river— all of the gory details plus 
just plain gossip. 

Some two boats handled a lot of barges. I 've seen thirty 
lashed together handled by a big tow boat. In a strong wind 
the loaded barges handled okay. But watch out when high 
riding empty barges were blown side ways by the wind! Only 
another tow boat skipper coming to the aid of his compadre 
could save the day. On hopeless occasions a whole string of 
barges could be driven by the wind right up and over the river 
bank, over raib-oad tracks, across fields and onto state 

I recall talking to a young, huge red-bearded barge 
hand. The giant was coming down the river on a "sealed" 
wine barge. He ingenuously devised a siphon— a rubber tube 
he ran down a vent pipe into the hold. He could then suck up 
some of the cargo. 

Then there was an odd Uttle repair boat daily scooting 
up and down the river past the dock. It was a red bus body 
mounted on a scow. All you could see was the bus shape. The 

way it scooted I think the engine was souped up. 

Huge tow boats— as big or bigger than the River Queen 
and stately looking— pushed long strings of huge grain and 
oil barges up and down the river. As I recall, such tow boats 
as the Federal Barge Lines "flag ships" and the Mobil Leader 
moved with pomp and circumstance— throbbing with 50,000 
to 60,000 diesel horsepower, handling millions of bushels and 
barrels. A lot of power but nothing to equal Old Man River. 


Leslie C. Swanson 

Much of the history of Illinois revolves around its many 
rivers and Lake Michigan, which surround approximately 
four-fifths of the state. The rivers were broad highways into 
the interior in the days of the voyageurs, the pathfinders, the 
settlers, and the pioneer river men. These periods were 
followed by the Great Steamboat Age of the nineteenth 
century— the days of the rafting and famous packet boats. 

Next came the Great Excursion Boat Age, which began 
in 1900 and extended far into the twentieth century. It was 
the writer's privilege to have participated in a small way in 
that history-making era, serving on the crew of the Steamer 
Washington of the famed Streckfus Lines, which dominated 
the excursion business on the Mississippi for almost a 

The Streckfus company was founded by John 
Streckfus, a Illinois native, who grew up at Edgington, 
fifteen miles from my home town of MoUne. He left the farm 
when a young man to enter the grocery business in Rock 
Island. After a few years in that business, he yielded to a 
hankering for river life, purchasing a small packet boat to 
launch a new life work on the Mississippi. His next venture 

was the construction of the steamer J.S.. which enjoyed a 
great excursion business from 1900 until 1911, when it 
caught fire and burned at Bad Axe Island near La Crosse, 

Undaunted by this discouraging loss, Streckfus 
purchased four huge packets from the fading Diamond Jo 
Line in 1912 and converted all of them into beautiful 
excursion boats. The two largest were the side-wheelers St. 
Paul and J.S. DeLuxe. and slightly smaller were the paddle- 
wheelers Washington and Capitol. 

The Streckfus boats drew tremendous crowds wherever 
they stopped, bringing a brand new type of entertainment to 
the sleepy river towns. The boats were all considered floating 
palaces in their day, providing luxury and splendor found 
only on the river. The beautiful music of the majestic 
calliopes on all four always heralded the approach of the 
boats to many cities and towns in Illinois such as Rock 
Island, MoUne, Fulton, Savanna, Keithsburg, Quincy, 
Warsaw, Alton, Chester, and Cairo. Stops in Iowa and 
Missouri ports also drew many people from Illinois. 

Huge crowds gathered wherever the boats put in 
appearance. The tooting caUiope and the throaty blasts of the 
steamer proclaimed the fact that it would be a great night for 
entertainment. Crowds would start swarming aboard the 
boats an hour before the scheduled departure time. The 
entertainment was economical, too, as the entrance fee was 
only 50 cents and soft drinks were priced at 10 cents. 
Moonhght trips were the most popular feature but the boats 
also offered dayhght trips over a fifty to sixty-mile route. 

The river excursions were an integal part of the exciting 
times in the Roaring Twenties. But the era was not as wild as 
some modern day writers picture it. Newspaper stories 
depicted it as a riotous time of bathtub gin, the Charleston, 
flappers. Model T Fords, speakeasies, hip flasks, decaying 
morals, and every night like New Year's Eve. As one who 
lived through that period, this writer finds that description 

highly exaggerated. If not, I must have missed something 
there some place. 

The dancing crowds on the Streckfus boats were very 
orderly and all came impeccably dressed. In all the years that 
I was on those boats, it was never necessary to throw 
anybody into the "brig" for revolting conduct. As a matter of 
fact the boats were not equipped with a brig. 

The Streckfus boats had an important role in the 
development of jazz. Dixieland jazz emerged shortly after 
World War I, and the Streckfus boats carried it all the way 
from New Orleans to St. Paul. Before the writer signed on 
with the Streckfus boats, he was a frequent visitor to them, 
being attracted by the strange but fascinating new jazz 
sounds. When you heard this Dixieland rhythm you knew the 
days of ragtime and syncopation were over. All of the local 
bands quickly adopted the new style of playing. 

In the midst of this exciting era, the writer enUsted as a 
calliope player on the steamer Washington. He readily signed 
a contract as a caUiope player although he had never tried 
operating one. However, the art of operating it was mastered 
within a week or so, and it became the most interesting part 
of steamboating in those days. The calliope player gave deuly 
fifteen-minute concerts and at night he went down to the 
ballroom to back up an eight-piece band on the piano. 

The Streckfus boats had many well-known bands, 
including Tony's lowans, Burke-Amidon, "Heavy" Elder's, 
Fate Marable, Maurie Bruchman, and "Doc" Wrixon. Several 
jazz immortals began their careers on the steamboats. Louis 
(Satchmo) Armstrong began his career on one of the 
Streckfus boats at the age of eighteen. Other well-known 
musicians appearing there included Wayne King, Claude 
Thornhill, Roy Bargy, and the legendary Bix Beiderback. 

After a long colorful career the four Streckfus boats 
were gradually phased out in the 1930's and 1940's, being 
replaced by the beautiful steamers the President and the 

In the 1950's the Delta Queen entered the passenger 
trade on the Mississippi, covering all of the river from New 
Orleans to St. Paul and occasionally venturing into the 
IlUnois River as far as Starved Rock State Park near La Salle. 
In 1975 her sister ship the palatial Mississippi Queen, was 
launched to ply between Cincinnati on the Ohio and all of the 
cities on the Father of Waters. The writer was proud to have 
been aboard on the two maiden trips into the Upper 
Mississippi in 1978 and 1979. 

History is still being made on the Mississippi as the 
Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen continue their trips 
into the upper river. Joining them in perpetuating 
steamboating and calliope music are the excursion boats 
Natchez and the President, stationed at New Orleans, the 
Belle of Louisville at Louisville, and the Julia Belle Swain at 

When you hear those vibrant of sounds of the steam 
pianos on those boats, you fully sense the call of the river and 
magic of steamboating. It is very gratifying for me to have 
been a part of it all. 


Marie Freesmeyer 

The steamboats were the life's blood of our isolated 
county. Its history could never be written without giving the 
steamboats a leading role. Calhoun County was and still is a 
long narrow peninsula lying between the lUinois and 
Mississippi Rivers with no railroads. Before the era of trucks 
and the one bridge which spans the Illinois at Hardin, this 
county depended solely upon steamboats for both imports 
and exports. We had busthng river towns as long as the boats 
could ply the rivers on both sides, but isolated communities 
during the long winter months. 

My mother, Arvelia Jane (Hirst) Wilson, who lived to be 
108, told us how her father came from England to New 
Orleans and then came up the Mississippi on a steamboat to 
Hamburg. He married and bought land near the river (no land 
in this county was far from one of the rivers), cleared some of 
the land to farm, and sold much of the wood to the 
steamboats for their fuel. 

My introduction to the steamboats probably came at a 
very early age when I heard them whistle for their landings 
along the Mississippi. Each boat had its own whistle, Uke the 
telephones on the party lines— such as one long and two 
shorts or three longs. These landings were numerous as the 
transportation to and from them was quite slow. 

Later, when Papa and Mama took me with them, along 
with a case of eggs and perhaps a coop of squawking hens, I 
was sometimes given the opportunity of watching a 
steamboat come in and load or unload its cargo. The fancy- 
dressed passengers on the upper deck were as interesting to 
me as the quaint httle town was to them. Many of them were 
from the city and made the round trip occasionally for an 
outing or a relaxing vacation. If the boat was to remain for 
sufficient time, they would come ashore and stroll about the 
town. Since there were never any colored people living in our 
county, I intently watched the colored deck hands as they 
trotted up and down the gangplank, toting or pushing the 
various types of cargo. When the loading or unloading 
(depending on whether the trip was up stream or down) was 
finished, the captain would tap a bell which was a signal for 
all crew members and any passengers who had disembarked 
to come aboard. The ropes which secured the boat to the 
wharf were loosed, and the gangplank was swung to its 
position over the cargo deck. 

As a youngster I had the joyful and frequent privilege 
of staying a few days with my aunt and cousins who lived on 
First Street in Hamburg. From their front porch or yard 
fence I could watch to my heart's content the life in a 

steamboat town. The large warehouses, where incoming and 
outgoing freight was stored, were located on the very bank of 
the river and blocked my view somewhat: but one could, and 
many did, rush down to the wharf when the whistle of an 
arriving boat was heard. Everyone by the whistle which boat 
it was. The cry, "Here comes the Belle of Calhoun" {named by 
a local girl, Anna Woods, who had received the most votes as 
the belle of Calhoun and had christened the new boat), would 
be shouted to some observing citizen and repeated by others. 
From some vantage point I watched closely all the 
interesting happenings and longed to go aboard for a ride. 

One eventful day the pilot, Selby Grader, a local citizen, 
took my cousin and me up that mysterious gangplank and 
showed us all over the boat, including the pilothouses, which 
was considered off limits for all but the most intimate friends 
an associates of the pilot. 

Later this same cousin and I were to spend a week with 
our grandmother who lived about twenty miles farther north. 
Arrangements were made by way of the old crank telephone 
that we were to go up the river on the steamboat to the 
landing nearest their home and someone would meet us there. 
So that was my first ride on one of these majestic boats, and a 
more exciting voyage was never taken. We watched over the 
upperdeck raihng as passengers threw pennies to the deck 
hands below. Their antics as they scrambled for them made it 
quite encouraging for more and even larger coins to be tossed 
to them. The smoothness of the gliding vessel, the ever- 
changing scenes along the banks, and the cooling breeze from 
the water made the trip a pleasant one. We spent 
unnecessary time in the "Ladies Room" at the stern, as we 
were able to look down through the available hole and watch 
the huge stern paddle wheel bringing up and dispensing the 
water as it performed its task of propelling the boat up the 
river. All too soon we heard the captain's cry, "Rip-Rap 
Landing," and we realized that our pleasure ride had come to 
an end. 


This first trip only heightened my desire to take a longer 
one, so it was with unbounding joy that I later received the 
news that Papa was to take me with him when he went to St. 
Louis to purchase the winter's supply of staple groceries. 
Many people in that area took advantage of the opportunity 
afforded by the steamboats to go to St. Louis in the fall and 
purchase their winter's supply wholesale. Most of the farm 
machinery and tools were obtained in this way. Besides these 
thing, we also bought several hundred-pound sacks of flour, a 
barrel each of salt and sugar, sacks of cabbage and potatoes, 
and crates or boxes of oranges, cookies, prunes, crackers, and 
farina. These would all be shipped to our village before the 
steamboats made their final trip up stream. 

This trip to and from St. Louis was one of the highlights 
of my girlhood days. After registering on the Dubuque's log, 
we were assigned a cabin. In this tiny room with scarcely 
more than a double bunk plus some hooks, a mirror, and 
chair, we deposited our valise with its bare necessities and 
went out on the front deck. We found seats near the raUing 
where we could watch the changing scenes as we traveled 
quietly down stream. Papa soon became engaged in 
conversation with fellow passengers, which left me free to 
roam at will and to further explore the premises. I watched 
with great anticipation as the colored porters put leaves in 
the side tables, which extended them the full length of the 
long expanse between the two rows of cabins. These were 
covered with starched tableclothes and set with good china 
and silver. The bell sounded for the evening meal, and a 
delicious one it was, indeed! Each place setting was complete 
with a linen napkin, more silver than I was accustomed to 
using, and even finger bowl. After a three-course meal had 
been served, the tables were reduced to their original size and 
put to one side, clearing the area for games, dancing, or 
socializing. I much preferred to go out on the open deck and 
watch the "Mighty Mississippi" and the ever-changing vista 
as they appeared under a moonUt sky. 

All too soon Papa came and said it was bedtime. We 
reached our cabin (it was too small to be called a stateroom) 
by the outside or deck door, where I quickly donned my 
nightgown and climbed to the upper bunk. The rocking 
motion of the boat and the distant hum of the engines were 
conducive to sleep so I probably did not stay awake long. The 
next thing I knew. Papa was shaking me and saying that it 
was time to get up and we had a big day ahead of us. It 
couldn't possibly have been any more exciting than the 
preceding one. We had two more delighful meals and met 
several interesting people before we arrived at our 
destination, the busy dock on the St. Louis wharf. The return 
trip was even better because I found a congenial girlfriend 
with whom to share all the joy and excitement. 

Autumn was the busiest time for the steamboats as 
they had the task of transporting thousands of barrels of 
apples from the Calhoun landings to the St. Louis market. 
Soon after the warehouses and wharves had been cleared of 
this cargo and the merchants had received their winter's 
supply of various commodities, the steamboats made their 
final run of the season. 

Calhoun citizens were reluctant to see the steamboats 
make their final trip, realizing that this link with the outside 
world would be severed for months. It was only when they 
returned in the spring that our village really came to life. 
Then you might hear the familiar cry, "Steamboat's a 
comin'," or even one of the villagers singing, "Happy Days 
are Here Again. " 


Carroll A. Ochsner 

The Keokuk, a small sternwheel steamboat, plied the 
Mississippi River for several years, making daily runs 


between Keokuk and Burlington, Iowa. It stopped at several 
places along the Illinois shore, including Nauvoo, 
Pontootsuc, and Dallas City, among other places. 

I am sure that its owners thought the Keokuk to be a 
fine and worthy vessel, but the local clientel had less 
complimentary names, such as "The Tub," "Old 
Paddlewheeler," and "Shake-Me-Down." It is true that as 
soon as one was boarded, the gangplank drawn in, and the 
boat started in motion, every joint and timber rattled and 
shook as the paddles powering the craft struck the water. 

It was a three-decked boat with the lower deck only 
about four or five feet above the water line. The second deck 
was covered, and that is where most of the passengers rode. 
It contained crude wooden seats facing, as I recall, the 
outside of the craft on each side so that no one would be 
riding backward at any given time. The top deck was little 
more than the pilot house and the roof of the second deck. 
Standing on the shore you could always tell from what 
direction the wind was blowing by where the few passengers 
on the top deck were standing. They were always facing the 
wind direction as, otherwise, when the engineer threw a few 
shovels of coal into the steam boiler, a coat of black soot 
would surely rain down on you. The boiler and the steam 
driving mechanism were located to the extreme rear of the 
first deck. They were surrounded by a brass railing, and you 
could stand and watch it in operation, which, of course, many 
children on board chose to do. 

Before the advent of the cement highways, a lot of 
passengers boarded the Keokuk even from the small village 
of Pontoosuc. My brother, Cecil, and I would dig mussel 
shells from the Mississippi River and boil them to remove the 
contents. We would walk from our farm home, about half way 
between Dallas City and Pontoosuc, carrying perhaps a two 
weeks supply from our labors in a gunny sack. We boarded 
the Keokuk about mid morning at Pontoosuc landing and 
rode to Dallas City. The fare was ten cents for each of us. 

Once at Dallas City, we sold our shells at The Pearl Button 
Works on Front Street and then walked back home. The 
proprietor bought our supply of shells just to help out us 
kids, since most of their supply came in much larger 

People who rode the Keokuk came from all walks of life, 
fishermen, shopkeepers dressed in suits and ties, and laborers 
dress in bib overalls. Cecil and I were especially intrigued 
with one man and his wife as the wife departed from 
Pontoosuc to journey to Dallas City. As the gangplank was 
being lowered for boarding, they would embrace and 
repeatedly caution each other to be careful and not to forget 
each other, even though you could see the building in Dallas 
City from Pontoosuc landing on a clear day, and she would be 
returning on the evening run. 

The front end of the Keokuk 's lower deck was reserved 
for the produce which she carried, and I recall that many 
times this included iced down barrels of fish being carried 
upstream. On occasion there would also be crates of chickens 
or ducks. There was nearly always derogatory remarks made 
when the pilot let down the gangplank to unload a crate or 
two of chickens at the produce house in Dallas City, operated 
by Andy and Guy Kirby, before he allowed his human 
passengers to disembark at the nearby boat landing. 

On special occasions and holidays I have seen the 
Keokuk with standing room only and folks still at the boat 
landing waiting to board. As soon as the cement highways 
came into being and bus service gained notoriety, passengers 
chose the faster mode of travel and soon the Keokuk was seen 
no more. 


Teckla Keithley 

Boat excursions were one of the delights of my life from 
age two through the teen years. Those years were near the 
close of the heyday era of the entertaining riverboats. World 
War II came along, preceded by many new dams and locks 
which helped to cause the dechne. I still love excursions but 
don't get to go very often, as we have to go to St. Louis to 
board the S. S. Admiral or to Peoria on the new Julia Belle 

There were excursions for me in my youth, on both the 
Illinois and the Mississippi Rivers. On the lUinois, there was 
the annual Sunday School and Church picnic on the Columbia 
steamer, an all day trip usually up the river to Henry, then 
back to Peoria. My father was a tool and diemaker at Avery 
Company, and every summer they had a moonlight 
excursion, on the Columbia. This boat sank in 1918. Our 
church had had its picnic the week before, and from then on, 
the picnics were held in the parks. 

After 1918 most of our excursions were on the iirst Julia 
Belle Swain and were private in nature. When relatives 
visited us from places not near navigable rivers, we would 
take them on a boat trip, which they considered a great event. 
Usually my parents would give them a choice of going to a 
movie, theatre play, vaudeville, excursion, band concert or a 
picnic, but they always chose the boat trip. 

Every summer I would spend some time with my 
grandparents, who Uved on a farm near New Boston, on the 
Mississippi River. Grandma was very fond of boat excursions 
too, so when there was an excursion from Keithsburg 
Grandpa would hitch up the horse and buggy and we would 
drive the four or five miles from the farm to the boat. A few 
years later Grandpa and Grandma Johnson retired from the 
farm and moved to Keithsburg. We never missed a daylight 
excursion that I can recall. These excursions usually would 

run between Keithsburg and Burlington, Iowa. There were 
moonlight trips, but I never went on those at Keithsburg 
until I was about sixteen. 

On Saturday before Decoration Day in May of 1929, 
there was an excursion on the Streckfus Lines' Steamer 
Capitol from Burlington, Iowa to Oquawka, to Keithsburg, 
then return to Burlington, back to Oquawka and Keithsburg. 
The people leaving Burlington in the afternoon called this a 
daylight excursion, and those leaving Keithsburg in the 
evening called it a moonlight excursion. Those trips were 
round trips and sometimes were reversed, starting with a 
daylight trip from Keithsburg. 

The Capitol with many passengers left Burlington 
around two in the afternoon, going upstream to Oquawka, 
where more passengers boarded the boat, and later around 
suppertime, docked at Keithsburg. The boat was tied up for 
an hour or so, and those who wished, walked up town to shop 
or eat supper. Others were met by friends or relatives for a 
pleasant visit. Some went to nearby homes and some stayed 
near the landing. 

The boat would whistle about ten minutes before take- 
off, and everyone would hurry back to the boat. During this 
hour stop-over many people from Keithsburg and 
surrounding towns had already walked up the gangplank and 
onto the boat. The final whistle was sounded, the boarding 
plank was lifted and hoisted into place, the steamer backed 
away from the landing into the river, and it turned around 
near midstream and headed back to BurUngton, about a 
three-hour trip downstream. 

There was a ballroom where we danced about forty-five 
minutes out of every hour, then a fifteen-minute break. We 
always liked to go to the top deck and v/atch the river, the 
islands, and the shore line. It was fun to watch the small 
boats riding the wake, the sail boats floating in the breeze, 
the campers along the shore or on the islands. Some were 
fishing, some getting their suppers, some swimming where 


there were beaches, and some singing to the tune of a ukelele 
or guitar or both. Once in a while we would hear a harmonica. 
The river wading birds were fun to watch. Some of the islands 
were habitated with hogs. Farmers leased these islands from 
the government and would take hogs to them in the late 
spring, gather them up in the fall, take them to their farms 
and corn-feed them to the desired weight before shipping 
them to Chicago. 

The commercial fishermen were busy pulling in their 
nets and casting out others. There were the clammers, too. 
Button factories were common along this part of the river, so 
the clammers had a close market. Today they send the shells 
to Japan. It was fun to watch the tug boats and barges we 
met, traveling in opposite directions. Everyone was friendly 
and we'd wave to them as they waved to us. Then there was 
the grand finale, a gorgeous sunset reflected in the rippUng 

Besides dancing, much time was spent talking to 
friends we hadn't seen for a year or two. Many families had 
their reunions on the boat. I met a friend from Pekin on this 
trip. I asked her what she was doing this far from home. She 
said her family came about every year, meeting other 
relatives from central Iowa, to spend the day together. It was 
about a half-way mark for each of the families to travel. She 
asked why I was here. I told her my parents had come to 
Keithsburg to decorate the graves at the cemetery, visit 
Grandma, Sis and I, and to take the boat trip. 

Arriving at Burhngton, passengers disembarked and 
farewells were said, and a "See you next year" or "WiU 1 see 
you on the next excursion?" was heard many times. There 
were usually about three or four trips every summer or other 
boats beside the Capitol. They were the President, the 
Washington, the Minneapolis, and others. 

The boat turned around and we headed back upstream. 
Darkness was on us now. We danced some more, and at 
intermission went back up on the Prominade Deck and 

watched the wake, which was usually silvery and 
shimmering. Not tonight. It was getting cloudy and the 
waters seemed quite dark in the distance. We saw many 
campfires along the shore, both on the Iowa and lUinois sides 
and also on the islands. These were Prohibition times, and I 
had heard of rum-runners on the river, but look as I always 
did, I never did see any. I suppose it was because I didn't 
know what they looked like. Night was cooling off, and a light 
"steam" was collecting above the water. The day had been 
unusually warm for May, and the coolness caused the mist to 
be wafted around in many patterns, as varied as the clouds in 
the sky. By the time we arrived in Oquawka, it was getting 
quite foggy. 

After leaving Oquawka, we hadn't gone very far when 
the boat began to shudder. Many people got frantic, 
especially those who couldn't swim. The river was very low 
this spring, and I knew we were scraping bottom. I had seen 
boats grounded on sand bars north of Peoria. 1 was not 
afraid, but many panicked. 1 don't think I ever heard so many 
say "O Lord, Save Us" as some people thought the boat 
would sink. I think they had read too many stories about 
shipwrecks, tempest-tossed boats, river disasters in storms, 
and the sinking of the Titanic. 

The boat managed to pull through one sand bar after 
another. Burlington. There was more concern. This scraping 
the bottom of the boat might cause a leak or break out the 
bottom of the boat. I wasn't too concerned. We couldn't sink 
very far as we were practicaUy on the bottom of the river. 

It became worse, both the shuddering and the fog, 
which the search hghts could not penetrate anymore. The 
boat was halted, and had to back up untO we were clear of a 
sand bar. The pilot would veer the boat to the left, then start 
forward again. The meandering Mississippi, as it zig-zagged 
back and forth, was a big problem for a pilot in a fog. The 
backing up and inching forward kept up for several hours. We 
kept on dancing to keep warm. Our clothes had become real 


damp from the fog. A light breeze was blowing, which made it 
seem colder. During the intermission we would climb to the 
top deck and view the "pea soup" fog. You couldn't see the 
floor you were standing on. 

Finally, we heard some yelling at the front of the boat, 
so being curious, we went down there. Here we found 
deckhands, although we couldn't see them climbing down the 
front end of the boat, on rope ladders to the water's edge. 
They had long bamboo poles marked at 6 ft., 7 ft., and 8 ft. 
They would yell up to another deck hand on the lower deck "7 
ft.," and he with a giant voice would turn and yell up to the 
pilot "7 ft." and the boat would back up some more. At the 
call of "8 ft." the boat would back up a Uttle more, and veer in 
another direction. When the water was over 8 ft., they would 
yell "No Bottom" and the boat would move slowly forward. I 
really never knew if we went more forward or backward that 

People were still scared, but I wasn't. I could swim if 
worse came to worse. Someone asked me how I 'd know where 
I was swimming on a night Like this. 1 told them about the 
powerful pull downstream of the Mississippi. I said I would 
sUng off my coat, kick off my shoes, then float, letting the 
current carry me downstream a ways, then I'd turn left at a 
right angle and swim until 1 came to the shore or a sand bar. 
If I got on a sandbar, I'd stay there until rescued, as there 
were step-offs and I wouldn't chance taking off as long as I 
felt safe where I was. 

My sister and I and our dates knew where the life 
preservers were, and we planned to use them if necessary, but 
I was not happy with the thought of having to do this. What 
if we'd swim to one of those hog islands. I was scared of hogs. 
Or the mucky shore line instead of a beach, or a high bank 
where you'd have to hold onto trees in order to cUmb to the 
top of the bluff. Perish the thought; this probably wouldn't 

The light breeze was getting stronger and the fog 
thicker if that was possible. Our clothes were getting damper 
and more saturated, and we were getting colder. There were 
some who had no coats or sweaters, and I really felt sorry for 
them. We shared ours with them while we danced to try to 
keep warm. The roll-down awnings had been let down to cut 
off some of the breeze. As a rule, these awnings were only 
used to keep out the hot sun in the summer on the sunny side 
of the boat, or during a rainstorm. It didn't cut off all the 
breeze, but it helped. 

People were getting tired and some were sleeping on 
benches. Others were too nervous to sleep. Several benches 
had two or three children sleeping on them while mother and 
father hovered over them to try to keep them warm. Many 
huddled together to bear the elements. Some tried to sleep in 
the steamer chairs, while others tried to rest their heads on 
their crossed arms on some table-tops. We kept dancing. 
Even the orchestra was getting tired. They'd been playing 
over twelve hours. 

The shuddering got worse, and I assume the captain 
had many complaints. At 2:30 a.m. he gave us a talk, saying 
we were not accomplishing any headway; fog lights and 
search lights couldn't locate the buoys which marked the 
channel, and all we were doing it seemed was scraping 
bottom. Rather than chance getting grounded on a sandbar, 
we would anchor for the night and wait for the dense fog to 
lift. The engines were running quite hot. He said he knew we 
had several good musicians aboard so while the orchestra 
members rested awhile anyone who wished could play for the 
dancing. We had plenty of music the rest of the night. The 
orchestra members left their instruments and their music for 
anyone to use. The tension from many faces seemed to be 
relieved, and a new place prevailed for those who had been so 

The captain said there would be a free lunch served 
starting at 3 a.m. The dining room could not hold all the 

passengers at one time so we would have to take turns. He 
added that he reaUzed many of us had parents or friends 
worrying themselves sick at home or at the dock where plans 
had been made to meet, but he felt we would get home sooner 
if we anchored and waited for the fog to raise. If we ran 
aground, we'd still have to wait for the fog to Uft, and then 
wait until they could get some tug to pull us out of the mud. 
Rev. Kemp of the First Christian Church at Keithsburg 
closed the meeting with a prayer for our safe return and a 
prayer for our parents and friends, to relieve them of their 

Since we had eaten a piece of pie and had coffee at 2 
a.m., we said we'd go to the dining room toward the last. 
Someone said it was warm down in the engine room, so we 
went down there. The greasy, oily fumes given off by the hot, 
overtaxed engines was too much for me, so we gladly gave up 
our standing room to others. I couldn't tolerate those gassy 
odors, so we left in a hurry. Finally, we went to eat. We were 
served a hot ham sandwich, the ham being about a half inch 
thick, and a cup of hot coffee. It sure tasted good, and the 
dining room was not as damp as most of the boat. 

When the fog cleared somewhat, late Sunday morning, 
enough so the captain and pilot could see the channel 
markers with the use of the search lights, we started moving 
again; no more shuddering or scraping. People by the 
hundreds were at the landing to meet the boat, including my 
dad, right down front, and we waved to him, so he knew we 
were all right. By the time we got off the boat, almost 
everyone knew what had happened. When Sis and I hadn't 
got home by one o'clock. Dad drove down to the landing. He 
talked with many who were waiting to pick up friends and 
relatives. He drove home, but couldn't sleep, so decided to go 
back to the landing, to see if there was any word. At 3 a.m. he 
went to the telephone office and called Oquawka. He found 
out the boat had left there on time shortly after 10 p.m. Dad 
went back and told the people that the boat was somewhere 

between Oquawka and Keithsburg. Some men thought they 
would get in a motor boat and go in search of the steamer, 
thinking it was grounded. The motor boat hghts couldn't 
penetrate the fog so they didn't go. Dad went back to 
Grandma's house and tried to sleep. They ate breakfast and 
waited around home as it was still quite foggy. Then they 
heard the boat whistle for a landing, and Dad took off for the 

He asked us if we were afraid, and we said we weren't. 
We knew we could swim if we had to. I wasn't Uke so many 
who thought the boat would smk and we would all drown. 
"Dad, if you recall, you told us, when the Columbia sank on 
the lUinois River, when I was ten years old, what to do if 
anything like that ever happened to us, but you didn't tell us 
how to keep warm on a cold night when your clothes were 
saturated," I chided. 


Delbert Lutz 

We had a telephone call one night in November, 1953, 
from a friend who was an engineer on the towboat, Vivian 
Parker later named Volunteer Cities. He offered me a job in 
the engine room on his boat. Being unemployed at the time, I 
accepted, and within an hour he picked me up and we left for 
Lock and Dam 18 near Gladstone, lUinois. 

The Mississippi River forms the western boundary for 
the State of lUinois from Cairo to East Dubuque, which is 
about 580 miles. The numbers seen on the buoys, shore 
hghts, and daymarks, designate the number of miles above 
the mouth of the Ohio River, which flows into the Mississippi 
River at Cairo. 

There are 15 locks and dams on this part of the river, 
and I 've seen them all. From north to south, the first one is 


about 23 miles below East Dubuque. The next one 34 miles 
down stream, next seven miles above Moline, next four miles 
below Moline, next 16 miles below Andalusia, next 4 miles 
above New Boston, next five miles below Oquawka, next 
Hamilton, next 19 miles above Quincy, next Quincy, next 23 
miles below Quincy, next 15 miles above Hamburg, next 17 
miles below Hamburg, next Alton. The last one is the Chain 
of Rocks which is 17 miles below Alton and is the last one on 
the Mississippi going south to the Gulf of Mexico. 

The boat also operated on the Ohio River and the 
Illinois waterway, which includes the Illinois River, Des 
Plaines River, and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. 

The Vivian Parker would be my new home for almost 
two months at a stretch, where I stood two watches a day, 
each watch consisting of 6 hours. We were supposed to work 
forty days and get twenty days vacation; but most of the 
time, for me, it was about sixty days on the boat. 

The company paid all of our expenses from the time we 
left home until we returned. Our vacation pay was half of the 
pay that we received while working on the boat. We were not 
allowed to go on vacation until some one was on the boat to 
take our place. 

I soon found the two things that I didn't like; the main 
one was being homesick, and the other was the terrific noise 
of the two diesel engines, which caused loss of hearing, some 
of which I never regained. 

Most of the time the channel was at least nine feet deep. 
The only time it was less than that was due to a lack of rain 

The speed of the boat would vary greatly, depending on 
the velocity of the current, whether the barges were empty or 
loaded, and whether we were traveling upstream or 

The cooks on our boat were always man and wife. The 
food was delicious, three meals a day, family style, and 
snacks were available any time of the day or night. We would 

get oysters in the shell, by the bushel. I did most of the 
shucking of the oysters. 

The crew on our boat was like a family. We ate at the 
same table and were allowed anywhere on the boat. It was 
different on some boats, where the licensed crew ate at a 
seperate table, and the engine room and pilot house would be 
off limits to some of the crew. 

The only time I remember of transporting any cargo, 
other than oil products, was a barge load of molasses. 

The company that I worked for had five boats. There 
were times when we would exchange tows, and go in a 
different direction, and other times we had our orders 
changed. This would make it difficult to get mail, which 
would sometimes be three weeks old. 

The reason had to be very urgent before they would call 
you personaDy, by way of telephone and radio. I had three 
calls, about one a year; the first two were about deaths in the 
family, and the third was a call to report back to my old job. 

I was happy to be called back, and very fortunate, 
because it was soon after that crews from all five boats were 

I left the boat at Cape Girardeau, Missouri which was 
about 51 miles above Cairo. The captain said that I could 
come back if I didn't pass the physical examination that I 
had to take before returning to my job on the fire 
department. The crew said that I would be back, as I had 
been on the river too long and wouldn't be able to stay away. 

I had many pleasant experiences and had made many 
new friends; some stiU visit us after 27 years. I spent much 
time on the river, but I have never had a desire to go back to 
work on a boat. 


Landa and Nellie (Cox) Griffith 

I did the last of my dredge boating in Illinois in 1916 in 
what they call the American Bottoms around East St. Louis. 
A dredge boat was a boat that dug ditches for drainage in the 
low lands. The dredge boat floated on water. The water 
followed the boat but there was no water ahead of it. We went 
in there to the lowest parts of the area, wherever there was 
some water and dug a ditch clear down into the pumping 
station. Then the farmers went in there and ran their tile into 
that drainage ditch, and the land was drained and the ditch 
carried all that surplus water to the river. There was a 
pumping station at the river which pumped the water out of 
the ditches over to the river to keep the ditches from 

A dredge boat was a long boat about 24-25 feet long and 
18 feet wide with a three-foot huU to float it on. It had a flat 
top where the machinery sat. The boat had spuds with feet 
about three-foot square on each side and on the back. The 
ones on the side were set down on the bank and they held the 
boat when the dipper was swinging back and forth, and the 
one on the back kept the tail of the boat from swiveUng 
around. The boom on the boat was about 10-15 feet above the 
boat in an A-frame. The front of the boat was a 3/4 yard 
bucket, called a dipper about three feet by three feet by three 
feet, which was attached by a large cable that went up over 
that boom on a pulley. Then the cable went back down 
through the A-frame, up over the crew, back down through 
the roof of the machinery shed, and finally onto a drum in the 
machinery area below. 

The engineer wound up the cable on the drum when he 
was loading the dipper; then when the dipper was up over the 
water he swung it around and dumped the dirt on the side of 
the bank. I was what was called a cranesman. I started out as 
a deckhand, then finally got up to fireman on the boiler, and 

then went up to cranesman. The crew included an engineer, 
cranesman, deckhand, and fireman. The fireman had to keep 
steam up in the boiler by shoveling in the coal. It was a coal 
fired burner and steam powered. The deckhand had to keep 
everything on the boat oiled and greased, and when we got 
ready to move up, he had to go out on the bank to keep the 
boat from tipping while we were working. The cranesman let 
the bucket in and out of the pit where we were digging. The 
engineer pulled the dipper out there and the cranesman would 
hold it with his brakes untU the engineer pulled the backing 
cable and dumped the dipper. Then the cranesman would let 
the dipper run back into the ditch and then pick up another 
load of mud. There was also a coal flunky who hauled coal to 
places along the bank. Then he loaded the coal into a boat 
that held about a ton, and pulled the boat up behind the 
dredge boat and unloaded the coal into the dredge boat for 
the fireman to put into the burner. 

In dredge boating there was usually a crew of eight men, 
four working and four sleeping, plus the wife of one of the 
crew, who served as cook. We ran double shifts, working 
twelve hours, six to six. Then sometimes we split the shift, 
half a day and half a night, which I didn't like, but we worked 
it anyway. We got up at noon and went to work and worked 
till midnight, and then the other shift came on and worked till 
noon the next day. My wife still talks about when she was a 
girl living on Fairbanks Ranch in Greene County, Illinois, 
hearing the dredge boat whistle at night way off in the 
distances it was calling for the deckhand. 

There was no place to sleep on the dredge boat. We slept 
in a floating cabin tied behind. It consisted of a hull 
underneath and a cabin on top. It was about forty feet long 
and eight to ten feet wide and was usually double deck. Down 
below were the kitchen and dining room and a little bedroom 
for the cook and "her man." Upstairs was sleeping quarters 
for the rest of the crew. 

The last of my dredge boating was a few months in 


1916. Nellie Cox and I got married Christmas Eve 1915 in 
Hillview in Greene County, Illinois. There was a big snow on 
at the time. Charlie Hazelwood married us there in town, and 
his two girls were our witnesses. The girls and boys of 
Hillview shivareed us, but they had to wait for about a week 
afterward due to the snow. There was a big crowd of them 
and they made a lot of noise, beating on tin cans and shooting 
off their guns. Then we had to treat them to cigars and candy. 

I had been dredging in Indiana in 1915, tiU the bad 
weather came and closed us down, and I was laid off. So when 
I came home was when we decided to get married. We stayed 
with her parents, Jacob D. and Lora (Chapman) Cox, tiU I 
could find a job. There was most always an opening for 
someone experienced, and I had a two foot long list of the 
names of drainage companies or contractors to whom I could 
write. If they had an opening they would write back with a 
notice to come to work. On this East St. Louis job my wife 
knew the engineer, Claude StiUweU, nicknamed "Bony," and 
the cranesman, Tom Martin, and I had worked together. So 
several weeks after we were married they came up and got us 
to go back to work with them. My wife and I took the train 
from Hillview to East St. Louis, where the crew met us. They 
took us five to six miles northeast to the American Bottoms 
area where we were to make a new ditch down to the 
Mississippi River. I believe the pay was $50 a month, plus my 
wife got some extra for cooking. 

There was only 1 crew of us there. They didn't have a 
night shift. Besides the engineer and the cranesman, there 
was the fireman, who was a stranger from around St. Louis, 
and I think I was doing deckwork that time. We and Tom 
were from out of Hillview, and Claude was from Fairbanks 
Ranch, where my wife had come from. 

The cabin boat was only a single deck. My wife and I 
had our own bedroom, and there was the kitchen and dining 
room, and on the far end were two bunks for the other two 
men. There were partitions separating the rooms. We had an 

old cast iron coal stove for my wife to cook on. We generally 
got our provisions out of St. Louis. The company did the 
buying. We sent them the list of whatever we needed, and 
they bought it and sent it back. 

While I was working my wife did a lot of crocheting, 
embroidering, and reading till mealtime. She also did a little 
fishing, catching catfish with balls of biscuit dough as bait. 
We were on the water 24 hours a day, but the cabin was tied 
up right against the bank. When I had time off I could get off 
the boat and walk to a nearby small town. My wife got 
pregnant and developed a craving, but instead of pickles she 
wanted oranges and bananas, so I remember that I walked 
into town and got them for her. 

One day she was going to catch some fish for dirmer so 
she went out on deck. However, she had morning sickness 
and between that and the boat swaying, she almost fainted. 
As I didn't want to have to fish her out of the water one day, 
we quit the job. 

We came home to Hillview and I went to work in the 
McClay Orchards, and on November 12, 1916, we had 
identical twin boys, Keith and Kenneth. And that was the 
end of our dredge boating. 


Mr. Francis J. Bunce 

Quincy Bay is a back-water branch of the Mississippi 
River. During the winter of 1926-27, it was the site of 
recreational and commercial activities for those who were 
aware of its potential for pleasure and profitability. 

After a period of freezing temperatures, the Bay water 
froze to a solid thickness, safe for ice-skating. Skaters with 
various degrees of skill came to enjoy the out-door sport. 
Every Saturday morning eager participants of all ages 

desended to the Bay from the bluffs over-looking the winter 
play-ground. Beginners, racers, figure skaters, and hockey 
teams appeared to share the fun. The hockey sticks were "L" 
shaped clubs cut from tree branches in the vicinity. The 
pucks were crushed, well-beaten tin cans. 

The Hutmacher Brothers Ice Company maintained a 
constant vigil on the thickness of the ice. After a prolonged 
period of sub-zero weather, the depth of the frozen acreage 
became acceptable to the firm, and the ice harvest began. An 
experienced crew equipped with ice saws, pole hooks, tongs, 
two snow sleds, and a team of horses, went to work. On the 
East shore of the Bay there were two ice storage warehouses. 
The buildings were approximately thirty feet wide, seventy 
feet long, and two stories high. The dirt floor in the wooden 
barns was covered with straw. Two hundred pound cakes of 
ice were cut and Ufted from the frozen surface. The first sled 
was loaded and the ice blocks were transported to the rear 
door of the warehouse. The second sled was loaded and 
waiting for the return of the empty sled. Horizontal rows of 
rectangular units were placed on the ground floor from the 
back of the building to the front of the structure. Quantities 
of granulated cork mixed with straw were appUed to the tops 
of the blocks to prevent "welding" to the next layer of ice to 
be stored there. The harvest continued day after day, until 
both of the bams were loaded to capacity. The front and rear 
doors were then bolted shut. The ice was secure and remained 
in good condition to be used for a commercial need that would 
develop with the arrival of the summer months. 

Al Hutmacher, one of the owners of the Company, was a 
big, congenial man with an eye for business and a patronizing 
heart. He gave two of the high-school students who had 
participated in the fun and games of the winter an 
opportunity to work in the ice warehouse during the summer 
vacation period. The "straw-bosses" on the job were two 
brothers. They were big and powerful men. And they were 
black. Their first names were "Nate" and "Tate." They were 

loyal to the employer and worked hard. Junior Hutmacher, 
the grade-school son of the owner, was the fifth member of 
the ice loading team. Nate and Tate engaged in a continuous 
round of brotherly spats, replete with humorous accusations 
that furnished entertainment for the youthful members of 
the work force. The work objective was to fill the ice bins 
located at each end of an empty fruit and vegetable railroad 
freight car. 

There were five or six box cars sitting on a railroad 
siding that existed close to the front of the buildings. A long 
ramp made of broad planks placed end to end, formed the 
runway that extended from the interior of the warehouse to 
the top of the empty box car. Nate took a position on top of 
the car to be serviced. The lid cover on the ice bin was 
removed and the empty space below was ready for ice. Tate 
and the two high-school students worked inside the 
warehouse. They used metal pry bars and wooden poles with 
metal hooks and sharp steel points on one end to dig and pry 
the blocks loose. With ice tongs and maturing muscles, the 
two hundred pound cakes were Ufted into place on the ramp. 
Three to four blocks of ice were placed on the runway end to 
end, for the trip to the top of the freight car. There was a long, 
strong, hemp rope threaded through a unique pulley system 
that was suspended from a joist that extended out from the 
front of the building. A large pair of ice tongs was attached to 
the end of the rope in the interior of the barn. The other end of 
the rope was tied to a wagon hitch that was harnessed to a 
mule. Junior Hutmacher was assigned to lead the mule along 
a path that ran parallel to the railroad tracks. The big tongs 
were clamped into the sides of the rear block of ice on the 
runway. Then Tate would yeU, "Heave Ho!" Junior would 
lead the mule and the ice chunks moved forward to the roof of 
the freight car. Nate would holler, "Whoa!" and junior would 
stop the mule. Nate would then maneuver the heavy blocks 
into position and drop them into the empty space below. 

Occasionally, a cake would buckle in the line and slip off 


the ramp. The mule would be stopped. The students would 
rassle the block back into place and the forward movement 
would resume. Outside Junior would taunt, fidget with, and 
tease the mule. When the offended animal had had enough, he 
would balk and refuse to budge. Tate, or sometimes Nate, 
would jump down to the ground, scold Junior, and coax the 
mule to continue the pull. When one end of the box car was 
filled with ice, the car had to be moved to place the other bin 
in line with the door. A stout hardwood pole with a small 
"jack-knife" device on one end was used to "pump" the car 
forward. The business end of the jack would be jammed 
tightly between one of the rear wheels and the steel rail 
beneath it. The leverage created by the position of the jack 
made it easy for anyone, including the grade-school son of the 
employer, to move the car forward. By applying downward 
force to the end of the jack handle the ponderous vehicle 
would move two or three inches. By quickly repeating the 
jamming-pumping action the car would slowly roll. This was 
a fascinating diversion for the young members of the crew. 
Each one alternately claimed that it was his turn to operate 
the jack. The cars serviced each day were pulled off the siding 
during the night to be dispersed to various locations in the 
Midwest, where they were to be loaded with fresh perishable 
foods to be shipped to waiting markets in the larger cities. 
Another group of empties would be waiting on the tracks 
when work began the next day. 

The students, including Junior, were paid $20.00 for a 
five-day week. It was a generous amount to be paid for 
summer employment in those days. The work day began at 7 
a.m., and ended at 4 p.m. There was a one-hour lunch period. 
Friday was payday! Al Hutmacher would arrive shortly 
before 4 p.m. to inspect the work, check the remaining 
inventory, and pay the help. 

Two of the summertime student employees have 
survived a modest number of winters since then. One is a 

retired Appellate Court Judge. The other is a retired 
accountant turned author of memorabilia. 


Vernon F. Ban- 
Fresh water mussels, commonly called clams, once 
flourished by the millions in the Mississippi River and its 
tributaries. Biologically they were bi-valves belonging to the 
Unionidae family. 

1 first encountered them in 1915 when, as a small boy, I 
was wading in the Illinois River at Bartholemeu Beach at 
Kampsville. The species called "razorbacks" (or 
"headsplitters") were a real hazard to bare footed swimmers. 
They were interesting to dredge out of the river bottom, and 
challenging to pry open. River lore included many 
exaggerated tales of the valuable pearls to be found in the 

History usually gives credit to John Boepple, a German 
immigrant from Odense near Hamburg, for developing the 
use of these American muscle shells for pearl buttons. 
Having heard of great beds of shells in rivers southwest of 
Chicago, he left for American in 1887, bringing with him the 
necessary tools for the button trade. 

He worked as a laborer on a farm near Gibson City, and 
while bathing in the Sangamon River, he cut his foot on a 
"razorback" and realized that he had finally found one of the 
shell beds. He was informed that millions of similar mussels 
lined the river bed of the Mississippi at the mouth of the Rock 
River near the Quad Cities. He moved to Rock Island in 1888, 
found the shells were available by wagon loads, and started 
trying to interest some bankers in financing the start of a 
small button making business. 

He moved downriver to Muscatine and received some 
encouragement from Henry Gran, a prominent business man, 
and by 1891 he had two partners willing to invest $200 in 
machinery. Thus, he started the fresh water mussel, pearl 
button trade that gave Muscatine one of its major industries 
in the next three decades. The business grew until nearly all 
river cities in the Midwest had one or more button cutting 
shops, and it provided employment at low wages for 
thousands of residents of the river valleys. Most small shops 
cut only the blanks, using water cooled rotary hole saws, and 
these blanks were then shipped by the tons to the button 
finishing plants in Muscantine. 

I remember visiting such a plant with my mother in 
Havana in 1918 and seeing the shells near the old Fleming 
boat rental yard. With my uncle, William Sawrcy, we rented a 
skiff, obtained some mussel shell meat for bait, and rowed 
across the Illinois to the mouth of Spoon River for a very 
successful fishing trip. Then we found more of the live shells 
in the sand while on a bathing and picnic visit to Quirer 

By 1896 Boepple had a steam-powered mill in 
Muscatine and was employing 150 men. The heyday for the 
pearl button business was reached during World War 1 when 
nearly 160 blank cutting shops were located there in the 
"Pearl Button Capitol" of the world. While working on road 
construction projects near Keithsburg and New Boston in 
the late Thirties, I visited some of the Muscatine button 
plants and tried my skill as a cutter. 1 now remember the 
company names hke Iowa, Hambege, Automatic, and McKee. 

But as clothing styles changed to fewer buttons, and 
snaps became popular fasteners on underwear, there was a 
steady decline in the demand of pearl buttons. But as late as 
1953 George Wickstrom in his popular "Town Crier" column 
in the Rock Island Argus recorded that Muscatine still had 
seven pearl button factories. Later, the advent of plastic 

buttons and zippers eliminated the pearl button trade in the 
United States. 

I had numerous opportunities to go shelUng (or 
clamming) on the river with the men who struggled to make a 
Uving in that hard hfe. Most of the mussels were caught by 
slowly dragging downstream across the shell beds hundreds 
of crowfoot, barbless wire hooks suspended from a shaU bar 
(or bail). The mussels, partially buried in the river bottom, 
had their shells (or valves) open upstream to filter in their 
food. Reacting to the touch of the hook, a shell would clamp 
on it with such force that the entire bi-valve could be dragged 
from the river bed and hoisted into the boat. The men used 
their John boats, drifting broadside downstream using a 
sheet of canvas to harness the river current. 

Taken ashore, the "green" shells were dumped in the 
hot water vats, and then the shells were easily opened and the 
meat scraped out, in the process, a search made for pearls. 
Those shells suitable for buttons were then roughly graded 
and sold by the ton to the button cutting shops. The mussel 
meat was not considered edible, although history records 
that the Indians sometimes ate it. It was most often used as 
fish bait, hog feed, or fertiUzer. 

The work was largely hard, wet, unpleasant and not 
very rewarding in cash. But it was a way of hving for those 
independent river men with a strong work ethic. 

At Oquawka I can remember the men with family 
names like McOlgan, Olson, Ruberg, Foundyce, and Jones 
associated with shelhng. commercial fishing, duck hunting, 
and other river related activities. In 1976 Glen Smith, having 
been a riverman all his life, prepared a hst of the common 
names of the fresh water mussels. His hst included yellow 
sand, black sand, buckhorn, three ridge, washboard, and pig 
toe shells. Also, there were pimple back, maple back, coconut, 
niggerhead, glass back, butter-fly, pancake, squaw fdot, 
mucket, and razorback shells. 

When working in Fulton County in 1933-34 I saw part of 
a great collection of such shells that had been assembled by 
the pioneer naturaUst-biologist, Dr. William Strode, at 
Bernadotte. In his day there were probably seventy-five 
species in the Midwestern rivers. Today experts hke Dr. 
Richard Sparks of Havana, Illinois or David Stansbury of 
Columbia, Ohio could add other colorful names, hke white 
cat's paw and pale lilliput, to the list or find the correct 
species name in Latin for all of them. There are now about 
twenty-five pearly mussel types on the federal endangered 
species list. 

In Oquawka in the late 1950's the last button cutting 
factory, located east of the depot on the south side of 
Schuyler Street, was operated by John Peterson. He could 
manually salvage a few more blanks from shells that had 
already been through the automatic cutters at the Muscatine 
shops. I tried cutting again and found myself unskilled at the 

1 bought a ton or more of the final residue, the punched 
out shells, as filler for tiled field trenches. They had greater 
bulk and porosity per ton and a lower price than any other 
available filler material. 

In recent years, during Henderson County Heritage 
Days, Clyde Simpson of Oquawka has volunteered his efforts 
to stage a popular button cutting demonstration for the 
visitors. He has had the shells dredged and prepared locally 
by a former fisherman and has borrowed at Dallas City one of 
the few surviving machines. He has given most of the blanks 
to the interested visitors but saved some for me, together 
with the punched out shells. I've shared them with river-buff 
friends and distributed many to museums in Davenport, 
Keokuk, and Alton. 

The combination of pollution, siltation and slow 
currents in many Midwestern rivers has ruined the habitat 
for many species, but a few beds still survive. State 

conservation agents permit clamming in specified areas 
during selected seasons. 

In recent years, I've watched and helped with some of 
the harvesting near Oquawka. It was done by the use of the 
old shell barsmith hooks, tongs, and clam dredges pulled by 
power boats, and by several scuba divers. 

The "green" shells were taken to Sparrow's old canning 
plant in Lomax to be cooked and cleaned out for export to 
Japan. There they were used for pearl buttons and costume 
jewelry and then finally pelletized for insertion into oysters in 
their huge cultured pearl industry. 

John Boepple, who saw his first pearly mussel sheDs 
from American while still in Germany nearly a century ago, 
would hardly beheve that the flourishing industry he started 
has nearly terminated on the opposite side of the world. 


Pearl V. Steckman Gonse 

Seems hke all my Hfe was connected with the pearl 
button industry. Beginning with my birth on the lower 
Muscatine Island, alongside of the Mississippi River. 

My folks were independent but poor, making their own 
way somehow. Folks felt responsible for their famihes much 
more in those days. I was the fifth of six children. Father did 
a bit of farming and in spare time dug shells. Of course, he 
told kids he found me in his boat. Hard to tell what my name 
would be otherwise. Makes me shudder to think about it. 

Before I was a year old my folks moved to Illinois to 
Kimball's ranch, 1600 acres of very hilly, bushy land. It is 
now Loud Thunder Game Preserve. He had many cowboys 
and broke many loads of western bronchos here, also run lots 
of cattle after dehorning them, along with 500 goats. This my 
father supervised for five years or so but wanted us children 

to attend school on a regular basis, so we moved to 
Andalusia, Illinois. He cut ice from the Mississippi River and 
helped farmers, and finally reverted to the button industry 

Mom kept us all well fed and happy. I stiU wonder how. 
Anyhow, in June we were bedded down along the stream in 
our rag house, which was our summertime home, all of us 
cozy as could be. Mother had a sheet iron stove, and besides 
heating on chilly days, she baked many pastries and bread or 
roasts in the small oven. We only ate the best fish in those 
days, as the rivers were full. We mostly preferred catfish, 
sturgeon, perch, or once in awhile a large baked carp. 

My folks bought a large old house in Andalusia. Garden 
spot, fruit orchard, barn, etc. Payments due in faO. But they 
were acting sort of worried, not their usual selves those days. 
I was round 10 then, but sensitive or maybe just plain 
snoopy, but found out that interest was due on the new 

My sister, four years older than me, was cleaning the 
sorting table and shell cooking vat, and Our Lord gave us our 
httle miracle. She came in the tent with a lovely round Pink 

Mother got ready at once and went to either Davenport 
or Muscatine to one of the many buyers. She had plenty for 
interest and more left over for needed things. 

After we older girls got through the Andalusia school, 
ninth and tenth grades, the folks knew we would need jobs, 
and it was to be the Tri-cities or Muscatine. Anyhow down 
the old Mississippi we came, bag and baggage, canned fruit, 
vegetables, and all. Much work was available in the dozen or 
so button shops. 

I married my husband in 1917. He heard so much of the 
joys of shelling from me and was anxious to try it. He would 
be undecided until around April. We had a small comfortable 
home and a small daughter. But folks found it hard to 
manage on small incomes and often had a left over doctor bill 

or coal bill, etc. So we had left over equipment consisting of 
tent, boat and motor, shell bars, cooking vat, etc. Our boat, 
usually 25 feet long and quite deep and wide, was known as a 
John boat or flat boat. Shell bars were hung on each side of 
the boat, and chains from these contained crowfeet, as the 
hooks were called. The shells move on the river bed in a 
standing position, partly open. When a hook hits the clam, 
the shell closes up on it. We used a socalled "mule" in the 
river, drug behind the boat. This was a box-like affair of 
gunny-sacks or canvas, and ropes were on each side of it. We 
had it very low for slow travel over the shell bed. It was also 
used to guide the boat. 1 used this when we were not busy 
cooking or sorting. There was a nice long shell bed below 
Muscatine, that ended near Beatty's Light. 

We also camped near Rockford, Illinois on Rock River. 
Very good grade of shells there. That year we were very 
young and came home in our second hand ford (1917). Often 
camped with six or seven families of hard working friends. 
Washings were done in river water, quite clean at that time. 
We taught many the art of shell sorting and where to look for 
pearls or slugs in the clam. Some of the shells we got, to name 
a few; yellow sand shell (it was the most expensive), black 
sand shell, lady finger, butterfly, pig toe, monkey face, 
pimple back, glass back, nigger head, deer horn, elephant ear, 
mucket, and pocket book. These shells were steamed open in 
vats. Women did this while men were digging more. Had lots 
of teasing and often killed snakes which we placed in men's 
boats. Baby was so happy and rugged in the open air. 

Sometimes we cooked fish— plenty for all. Just did not 
know much about that art but must have had extra time to 
spare. Sis caught one fish and it bit her when she released the 
hook. Then I happily caught several two or three-pound 
salmon. I was sure these were game fish, perhaps fresh water 
salmon. Guess 1 put on my rose-colored glasses, as the Mr. 
always accused me of doing. Anyhow, we kept the heads and 
cooked a large platter full. Men were pleased until my man 


looked at the heads. I got heck for being dumb. Other 
clammers ate them, but don't know what we fed our men. 
Then around Sept. or Oct. we had to return home. Darn it! 

So much to dream about over the long winter. River of 
glass, tranquil evenings, steamers, sun sets, cranes, and 
hearing bull frogs or large fish jumping after food in the 
evening. So glad to have been a part of it all. 


Ivan R. Lyon 

The seine we used in the Mississippi River was over a 
mile long. It was fifteen feet wide. At the bottom was a one- 
inch weighted rope. At the top was a one half-inch rope 
threaded through wooden spools spaced about two feet apart. 
All of this was strategically piled on the rear of a large John 
boat. The heavy bottom rope, or lead line, was coiled in 
approximately eight-foot circles and the float line was piled in 
the stern. 

We worked the Iowa shore, near the levee at the Green 
Bay area. The loaded boat was backed into the shore and a 
one-inch hne was tied to a sturdy tree; the other end was 
attached to the seine. The motor was started and the boat 
was headed straight across the river. A man stood behind the 
coiled lead hne and tossed a coil at a time over the side of the 
boat. This had to be done carefully because if the seine had 
been freshly tarred, your hand could stick to the Une, and you 
found yourself at the bottom of the river. But all you had to 
do was get your hand free, and climb the seine to the top. In 
the meantime the fellow running the boat had stopped the 
engine and was trying to keep the netting from fouling the 
screw. Besides getting very wet, you also got cussed out by 
the boat operator. 

When about six coils were left, the boat was headed 
down river. With the seine all in the water and a one-inch by 

about 100-foot Une played out, the boat continued to puU the 
seine. Another smaller motor boat would then pull alongside 
and tie onto the big boat, and they would continue pulling the 
seine in a large curve toward shore. 

Then the work began. On shore we had a portable 
framework that held a windlass. This was an hour glass 
formed chunk of wood about eight inches in diameter at the 
large ends, tapered to about two inches at the center and 
about twenty inches long with a crank on each end. The 
cranks had about an eighteen-inch sweep. Another fellow and 
I manned the cranks. The rope was wrapped a couple of times 
around the center of the unit, and another fellow pulled on the 
end of the rope as we cranked. The rope had to be slipped 
occasionally to move it back to the center of the unit. If we 
were pulling hard and the fellow let it slip too much, we, on 
the cranks, got a terrible jerk, and we would tell him what we 
thought of him and his ancestors. 

After the end of the seine had been secured to the shore, 
the other fellow and I would step into the framework, pick it 
up, and carry it up stream. The seine had thirteen stations or 
places where the rope was tied to the lead Une and to the cork 
Une. While we were struggling up the river with the winch 
frame, the boss was up to the first station with a rope that he 
had tied to it, and then we rowed to land where we set up our 

While we were pulUng this section in, the boss rowed up 
to the end of the seine and rattled his oarlocks to scare the 
fish down into the open portion of the seine. He would then 
untie the rope, load it in the boat, and start out to station 
two. We continued in this manner until we had one large loop 
left, and as a rule it was fuU of fish. 

We would then slowly puU in the lead Une and cork Une 
together while the boss brought up the smaUer motor boat, 
and we would start scooping fish into the boat. There would 
be between fifteen hundred and two thousand pounds of fish 
in this confined area— mostly white perch, but also lots of 

buffalo, carp, spoonbill, catfish, and some soft shell turtles. 

This was quite an experience, standing hip deep in water 
with a bunch of very excited fish. Occasionally, one of our feet 
would start to move and we knew we were standing on a soft 
shelled turtle. 

After all the seine was in and all the fish were in the 
boat, the boss would take the fish across the river to the 
market at Dallas City. The rest of us would take it easy for a 
while, eat a bite, and then start loading the seine back onto 
the big motor boat, one man in the stern loading the cork hne, 
the other fellow coiUng the lead line. One man had to wade 
along behind the boat to keep it away from shore while we 
pulled the seine onto it. 

When the boss got back we were ready to make the 
second haul. I was paid two dollars a haul and we averaged 
three hauls a day. Six dollars a day was a lot of money in 
those days. 

When it was time to go back to school in the fall, I had 
muscles on top of muscles and was tan as an Indian. 1 helped 
with this work from 1930 through 1935. 


Ivan R. Lyon 

Mr. Brakeville was one of the most interesting men I 
have ever known. He was a short, squat man, slightly bow- 
legged. He wore rubber boots most of the time and was a 
Holland Dutchman. He was a master craftsman, built all his 
own boats and also did aU the machine work on the boats and 
the marine motors. Mrs. Brakeville was a tall slender lady of 
French ancestry. They were both proud of their heritage. 
They raised six kids— two girls and four boys. The youngest 
boy was about my age, and we were together most of the time 
on, or near, or in the river. 

The Brakevilles lived in a house boat that was pulled 
into the bank near the old elevator at Niota, Illinois. Mr. 
Brakeville had built this home near Meredosia, Illinois, 
floated it down the Illinois River to the Mississippi, and then 
pulled it up river with two motor launches, the Gypsy and the 
Irma, to the place where it was moored. This was about 1919 
or 1920. He later used the launches to ferry people across the 
river when the old Santa Fe bridge burned in approximately 

The houseboat was about fifty feet long and twenty- 
eight feet wide. It had a front and back porch and a railed 
walkway along both sides. It also had a low pitched roof that 
extended over both porches and the walkways. This was all 
built on a barge-like structure, about five feet deep, that 
made it float about three feet from the waterUne to the deck. 

The year we boys were about six years old we liked to 
build sail iDoats. We would build them out of any kind of wood 
we could find, drill a hole in them for a mast, hang an old 
tobacco sack on them for a sail, tie a kite string to the stern, 
and see how far we could send them out before they capsized. 

The walkways along the sides of the houseboat were off 
limits to us, especially the upriver one. But this was an ideal 
spot to launch our boats, so we would sneak out to the end of 
the walk-way, lay on our stomachs, and scoot out, reach 
down, and drop our sailing yachts in the water. 

One day, Mrs. Brakeville saw us. She very quietly came 
out to where we were, took off her slipper, knelt down with 
her shin across both our legs and paddled us very soundly 
with her slipper. Mother couldn't figure out why I wanted to 
stand up to eat supper that night. I didn't dare tell her 
because I would have received another severe paddling on an 
ah-eady sore posterior. 

Mr. Brakeville was always busy, but he never seemed to 
be in a hurry. When he wasn't out on the river tending to his 
nets or fish baskets, he was making new baskets, tarring his 
nets, or making a new boat. He sold most of his catch to the 

fish market at Fort Madison, but he always had a few choice 
catfish in the Uve box next to where his boats were tied up. 
People from Niota would come down, pick out the fish they 
wanted, and Mr. B. or one of the boys would clean it while 
they waited. Catfish sold for about 20 cents a pound in those 

On a nice day he would sometimes let us kids go with 
him to work the nets and baskets. The last one in the boat 
would shove it away from shore. Mr. B. would set the spark 
lever, pull the flywheel over against compression, and the two 
cycle inboard engine would start in the opposite direction. We 
would back out into deep water and then he would pull the 
rudder cord, move the spark lever to center position until the 
motor just about died, move the lever over the opposite way, 
and we surged forward and were on our way. 

We had to go relatively slow till we got out of the bay 
area, following a hidden channel until we got out into the 
main part of the river. Then we would breeze along at about 
eight miles an hour. 

When he started to slow down we knew we were close to 
where the first net was located. He had looked up and down 
the river and then he looked at the horizon, first one shore 
and then the other. This was how he located his nets. 

We dropped a grappling hook and caught the throat line 
of the net the first try. The net was pulled up, the throat 
opened, (a draw sting sort of an affair), and six or eight nice 
big catfish were dropped to the bottom of the boat. The 
anchor rope of the net was stretched out and dropped back in 
the river, and we were ready to go to the next location. I don't 
know how he could remember all the locations, but I never 
heard of him losing a net. A tree on one shore, a house on 
another, a smokestack or the corner of the third bridge 
pier— any of these might show the location where the lines 
crossed; "X" marks the spot. 

After we had worked all the nets we started for the Fort 
Madison fish market. This was a smelly place— always tubs 

of fish setting around. We put our fish in tubs, they were 
weighed, Mr. B. collected his money, and we headed for home, 
smelly and hungry, but happy. 


Floreine McCausland Harris 

My Uncle Fred and the Illinois River, as it sidestreamed 
past the sandy slope just about a half-block west from route 
78 in Bath, Illinois, where he lived, were inseparable. My 
jumbled, early memories project huge hoop nets, trammel 
nets and seines drying while stretched out in the shade of the 
trees between his home and the water. A hand-pump in the 
cement walkway alongside of his simple one-room block home 
was frequently the site of a tub of fish ready for washing to 
sell or give to friends. Flopping, black rubber hip boots folded 
down at the knees, dark green twill pants with a long-sleeved 
shirt of the same color and a khaki-colored cap covering his 
short, greying hair were Uncle Fred's familiar garb. He had 
the strong, penetrating voice that seems to characterize any 
man who has spent long hours working around rivers. 

But a log that he had kept from July 31, 1906 until 1914 
reveals what a versatile man he was. This ambered and torn 
little record book, which was given to me after his death in 
1968 at the age of eighty-four, begins with a shopping list: 
"Pumpkin seeds, blue cotton, shoes, hat, two pair of drawers 
(we, of the older generation, know that a pair of drawers is 
underwear), rat poison, # 1 shells, tooth brush, butter, bread, 
corn and Postum." (My mother told me that he was a very 
fastidious person when he was young. Old photographs 
reveal that he was also lean and handsome.) 

The log goes on to reveal that there was scarcely a job 
that Uncle Fred had not undertaken to earn his Uvehhood. He 
shoveled clam shells for a Sam Loveless, buyer, at twenty 

cents per hour, making a total of one dollar and sixty cents 
for eight hours labor. (These shells apparently were used in 
the nearby pearl-button factory. The banks of the water 
below Bath once were strewn with shell halves which had 
little circles punched out of the select portions.) On one 
occasion, he sold shells for nine dollars and fifty cents a ton 
on a twenty-five ton sale. 

He often found pearls when shucking shells. His record 
book shows that he sold one ten-grain pearl for five dollars, a 
two-grain pearl for three dollars, a "Rose bud" for nine 
dollars, and one larger pearl brought him twenty-seven 

Prominent in the ledger are the times spent trammel- 
netting, setting and raising nets, and making hauls (of fish or 
clam or mussel) in "the head of the lake" or "lower pocket" 
and "in below the narrows" "in Slim Lake" in the year 1909 
and "at the lower cottonwood" on January of 1910. In 
between fishing trips, he could be found tarring and mending 
his nets. Marlin (marline) was one of his frequent purchases. 

Besides fishing for mussels, and husking and shoveling 
them into wagons for transporting, he harvested hay in 1909 
for his Uncle Fred Young of Fulton County and for a John D. 
Bell. He mowed weeds, plowed corn, hunted rats (for 
extermination), drove colts, sold coon and mink hides, 
repaired and roofed a barn, commenced clearing on the 
Duvall Ranch in 1914, butchered hogs, and rendered the lard 
(cooked the fat trimmed from the pork in large, black steel 
rendering kettles over an open fire outdoors), chopped and 
hauled wood and logs, hunted rabbits (for meat), fixed 
telephone line, sold slugs (lots of them), harrowed fields 
(using a flat, toothed, farm implement pulled by horses), 
broke for buck wheat (readied the soil for planting), hauled 
fodder (which was chopped cornstalks to be mixed with other 
grain residue for cattle feed), cut bee-trees (hollow trees that 
yielded a supply of honey), which resulted in numerous bee 
stings, cleaned boat landings, including Matanza, filed saws 

(well do I remember the heavy two-man saws which belonged 
to my father), plowed for oats, sheathed a corn crib, hauled 
and laid blocks, mixed plaster, built fences, made garden (his 
garden was out by a pair of pecan trees), built hog fences, and 
cooked hog feed. (This probably refered to the day-long 
simmering of threshed wheat grain in immense fifty-gallon 
vats outdoors, which my father also did.) 

Uncle Fred kept track of how many hours he worked on 
these various jobs. He worked three and one-half days for his 
Uncle James Wilson McCausland of Kerton Township, 
Fulton County, at twenty-five cents per hour, and for a John 
Carlock and Hobart DeWeese in the year 1909 at seventy-five 
cents per day. It was probably farm work for all three of the 
men just mentioned. He specifically records that he husked 
seventy-nine bushels of corn one day for four dollars and 
ninety cents in wages. He also built a fence across Pin Oak 
Ridge (the bottom-land drainage area in Fulton County where 
my parents lived when I was born in 1919). 

Other men who had hired Uncle Fred were a Fred L. 
Edgar, a John Hack and Son, for whom he husked corn in the 
years of 1906 and 1907, a John and Ed P. Howard, an H.G. 
Bruning in October of 1906, and James Harley McCausland 
of Fulton County, his brother and my father, and also 
deceased, as well as their father, William F. McCausland, also 
of Fulton County. 

Uncle Fred was a real old hand around dredge-boats. He 
decked, tended, siphoned off water, ran the engines, fired and 
dredged. He worked for a C. Brusso, a Hadley, and an R. H. 
McWilliams on the dredge boat. 

One mystery in the ledger was the frequent mention of 
the phrase "run rollers". This was cleared up in a 
conversation with John Gamer of East Peoria, a retired 
railroad man, who once also worked on dredge-boats. The 
rollers were pipes twenty feet long and twenty inches in 
diameter used to pump silt out of river channels. The men 
would fasten the rollers together end to end and run the pipe 

as far as was needed to pump out the silt. Sometimes the 
river chamiel would be in the middle, and sometimes close to 
one shore or another; and the length of rollers needed varied 
accordingly. Uncle Fred was running rollers for an Alfred 
Swan in November and December of 1913 and for a Benima in 
January of 1914. 

Before detailing what seems to have been a highlight of 
Uncle Fred's younger years, it is interesting to compare with 
today's prices some of the few unit prices that are quoted in 
his ledger. Uncle Fred bought two pigs (on the hoof) for 8V4 
cents per pound. Some loaves of bread were 15 cents. Then 
there was the time that he bought bread for 25 cents and 
butter for 90 cents from Aunt Hannah (Carlock) McCausland 
of Fulton County, James Wilson's wife. He brought meat at 
Lacey's grocery store in Bath for $1.15. One coon hide 
brought 75 cents. A rooster cost him 75 cents. On May 9, 
1909, he bought bread for 25 cents and butter for 75 cents. 
Another time he purchased ten gallons of gasoline for $1.50. 

Now here is the record of Uncle Fred's trip down the 
Illinois River with a dredge-boat, just as he wrote it: "We 
started with the dredge Thursday 22nd, fifteen minutes after 
three o'clock, 5 miles south of Havana, 111. and landed at 7 
o'clock and 20 minutes about 4 miles above Beardstown. We 
coaled up at Beardstown and ate dinner and left there at one 
o'clock; Friday, bumped into a bridge at Meredosia; arrived 
at a little town called Florence at 15 after 7 that night; 
started from there at 5 o'clock Saturday, and came to the 
mouth of the river at Grafton at 30 minutes after 2 o'clock; 
started up the Mississippi River at 3 o'clock; anchored about 
8 miles up the Mississippi at the Y.M.C.A. picnic grounds at 
7:30; left there at half past 5 Sunday and traveling at the rate 
of 2 miles an hour in a 5-mile current, anchored that evening 
about 30 miles above Grafton; something wrong with the 
pump and we didn't start Monday till 20 minutes of eleven; 
passed French's Show Boat at Copiegrey Landing Sunday; 
passed Hamburg at 5 o'clock Monday ..." 

The trip continued on into bordering states, and this 
last page in my bachelor uncle's book points out the other 
places where they stopped. It is with nostalgia and a little 
sadness that I reached back and touched a time slot which I 
missed because it existed before I was born. 


James B. Jackson 

Until I was thirty-two years old I had always lived near 
enough to Crooked Creek to fish its murky but bountiful 
waters. In the early days it was a much favored fishing place, 
especially for catfish, carp, and buffalo. Crooked Creek 
fishing was meat fishing, not sport fishing. Most of us 
stopped when we had enough fish for our own use. No fish 
were wasted because any surplus was shared with friends and 
neighbors. Meat fishing can be and was fun, and most of the 
fishermen were sportsmen. 

The meandering stream created many fishing holes 
good for pole and Hne fishing. The few dams, such as those at 
Glenwood Park, Colchester, and Brooklyn, were prime spots. 
I have taken many a fine channel cat at all three dams and at 
many of the deep holes in between. 

Night fishing was popular and was fun as well as 
productive. We planned for days getting lines and bait food 
ready. Our campfire at night was a place for tall tales, jokes, 
pranks, and a rare friendship. 

We used bank lines with a hook and sinker but no 
bobber. They were tied to a short pole stuck in the bank or to 
an overhanging tree limb. The bait was sunk a couple of 
inches in the water near the bank. Dough balls were the 
favorite bait for carp and buffalo. Each fisherman had his 
own favorite formula— usually a mixture of cornmeal, flour, 
salt water and a secret ingredient: cheese, tankage, anise oil. 

or some other strongly scented material. These lines were 
used mostly for night fishing. 

Throw Unes were fifteen or twenty feet long with half a 
dozen hooks spaced about two feet apart. A weight tied to the 
end was tossed out into the stream and held the line away 
from the bank. This line was easy for one person to bait and 
handle and was usually set in a deep pool or fairly fast water. 

A trot line was similar to a throw Hne except longer. It 
might have twenty to thirty hooks and reach all the way 
across a wide hole. Crayfish, and minnows or dough balls, 
Uver or big grass hoppers were used for bait. Trot Uning was 
easier for two people, and a boat made it real fun. 

One of my favorite places for night fishing was the old 
Foley farm between Colmar and St. Marys. We would get our 
lines in before dark— often a couple of hundred hooks. Then 
we built a fire to keep off mosquitoes and to heat coffee 
during the night. At dusk we would run the Lines, stringing 
any fish that had been hooked and replacing missing bait. 
This might take an hour, and then we'd rest and drink coffee 
and maybe have a snack. We ran the lines three or four times 
during the night, and took them up soon after sunrise. We 
rarely failed to take home a good catch. 

I once set a trot Une on the Berry farm west of Macomb. 
As I waded across the creek I hooked live mirmows on the Une 
and let it float down into deeper water. Before the Une was 
completely baited fish were hitting the minnows from all 
sides. I quickly finished baiting and started unhooking 
fish— nice black bass that weighed about two pounds apiece. 
There were five in the sack when I finished. I roOed up my 
line and was home before dark. 

In times of high water fish came up the creek from the 
Illinois River to feed in the flooded fields. They were mostly 
carp and buffalo and some of them were huge, fifteen or 
twenty pounders. In the shaDow water it was not too difficult 
to spear a fish with a pitchfork. There was a great harvest. 
Tubs and sacks of fish were speared, grabbed, or netted. Fish 

fries were quickly organized, and friends and neighbors were 
surfeited with fresh fish. This plentitude of fishes was one of 
the few benefits of the annual floods. 

Some meat fishing methods bordered on the illegal, but 
they were all highly effective. Grabbing or hogging was done 
simply getting in the water and catching the unsuspecting 
fish with the bare hands. Two people working together 
increased the probability of success. On one occasion my 
brother and a cousin were down in a deep hole and located a 
big fish under a sunken log. Each thought he had touched the 
other's leg but when they compared notes they realized what 
they had found. After an underwater tussle they landed a 
sixteen pound river cat. The boys were treated like heroes all 
the rest of the summer. 

Big pools were often seined. This took several men or 
big boys and a couple of smaller boys on the bank to carry the 
fish. Brush piles, root-wads or drifts were surrounded with 
the seine, and it was a simple matter to grab the entrapped 
fish and toss them out on the bank. 

When fish enough had been caught to ensure everyone a 
"good mess," the fish were divided into as many piles as 
there were families involved. One of the older men would then 
step out a few yards and turn his back. Another man would 
point to pile of fish and ask: "Whose is it?" The first man 
would call out one family after another until each family had 
a pile of fish. 

Fish traps were definitely illegal, but it has been so long 
since I built my last one that the statute of Umitations has 
surely run out. I got a big banana crate from Sam Barsi's 
fruit store on the West side of the Macomb square. I 
reinforced it and put in a few extra slats and a throat. The 
throat is the crucial part, and it consisted of a funnel made of 
tapered, flexible slats firmly fixed in the open end of the crate 
so a fish could enter but could not leave the trap. A small door 
was hinged on one side and the trap was weighted with rocks 
to keep it from floating. A couple of ears of well soured corn 


was used for bait. My last trap set near the bridge just north 
of Macomb. Between there and Wigwam Hollow I took 
dozens of fine channel cat, quite a few soft shelled turtles and 
more carp than we wanted. 

During the four years that I was principal of the two 
year high school in Brooklyn, I fished "Old Crooked" from 
Frank Reece's sawmill to the upper end of the William Lewis 
farm, but being the "Perfessor" I did not dare use or condone 
any illicit method of fishing, although I knew a few 
individuals who did. 

The last time I fished Crooked Creek was in August of 
1946, just after returning home from a tour of duty in Japan. 
I took my son and daughter, ages eight and five, out to what 
is now the north edge of W.I.U. campus, where we set four or 
five of my old throw Unes. Next morning we lifted them one 
after the other and they were empty— except the very last 
one. It had a four-pound channel cat firmly hooked. The kids 
bore it triumphantly all the way home. Now in their mid 
forties, they still vividly remember that morning. 

Today, fishing in Crooked Creek is no longer popular 
and for good reason. The fine clean lakes offer much better 
sport and more game fish. But I am glad I had the rich 
experience of fishing Crooked Creek. 


Ivan E. Prall 

There was no pollution then. At least we didn't know the 
word, or worry about it. So when Elmer Johnson came riding 
his horse up our lane Saturday morning with news of a fish 
gigging, my father responded with alacrity. 

"Bring a spade, a pitch fork, and gunny sacks," Elmer 
said; "We'll all gather by the sloughs along the south bank of 
the 'Kish' (Kishwaukee) in Carlson's fields." He then galloped 
off on his horse to alert more of the neighbors. 

We had never participated in a fish gigging before and 
did not know what to expect. My folks had both been raised 
on farms, but for a decade in the twenties had lived and 
worked in town. Always they saved for the opportunity to 
return to the Ufe they had loved. 

Finally, two years before, my father had had a chance to 
rent this seventy-six acre farm in a wooded area four miles 
north of Sycamore, and he put all of his savings into the 
necessary machinery and hve stock. It was horse farming, no 
tractors yet. The locahty had been settled by Swedish 
immigrants in the late 1800's. We were the only family that 
spoke fluent Enghsh. 

Now it was 1930 and the depression had started. We, 
Uke our neighbors, could hve on milk, eggs and an occasional 
chicken, but there was no spare money for rent or groceries. 
An opportunity for free fish seemed like manna from heaven. 

My dad harnessed Old Fanny to the spring wagon and 
threw in the requested sacks and tools. I climbed on to the 
seat beside him, and we took off at a fast pace down the lane. 

Reaching the road, we turned left and pursued our way 
up the hill past Johnson's, then turned down a long cow lane 
toward the river. It was spring and the roads and lanes had 
no gravel. The wheels cut into the mud many inches. 

As we neared the river we could see that many of the 
local farmers had already arrived. The so called sloughs were 
low-lying fields adjoining the river. When the snow melt had 
come, the river had overflowed its banks, filhng these low 
spots. Many fish had come in with the high water, and now 
that the river was receded, they were trapped in the low-lying 

Oscar Carlson had started spading a trench from the 
river back to the first pond. Ole Anderson was digging from 
the pond toward the river. Pete Olson was working on a 
section in between. Alfred Johnson was trimming willow 
limbs into two foot lengths with an axe. Shortly the last 
earthen dam was broken down and the water started to flow 

to the river. My dad was pounding the willow sticks into the 
trench, forming a grate which allowed the water to pass 
through but retained any escaping fish. 

An hour went past as the water drained before the 
movement of the larger fish could be discerned on the surface. 

Soon the farmers were wading in the muddy water with 
their pitchforks, stabbing the fish and throwing them on to 
the shore. Oscar Johnson was driving a team and grain 
wagon around the edge, while Audin Wellander and my dad 
were pitching the fish into the wagon. 

When that and several other large ponds were drained, 
the wagon was nearly two thirds full of carp, suckers, bass, 
bull heads, and a few northern pike. I helped my dad hold the 
grain sacks while the fish were divided out. The weather was 
warm, and no one owned freezers or refrigerators. Fish taken 
must be cleaned and eaten immediately, although some of the 
older Swedes were adept at smoking it for preservation. 

When we returned home with our sack, my mother and 
dad started cleaning at once. Nothing was wasted. The 
innards went to the hogs, and the heads to the chickens. It 
was depression and the feed was scarce. I was carrying in fire 
wood, and soon my mother had the oven on and filled with 
baking fish. Our available skillets sizzled on top. The meals 
for several days were going to be fish, but it was delicious. 


Sarah J. Ruddell 

The land from Quincy Bay to Bear Creek, and from the 
Mississippi River to the bluffs, was organized into the Indian 
Grave Drainage District. The first organization was in the 
late 1800's. On September 10, 1895, the County Court 
approved a tax of ten cents an acre on all the assessable lands 
within said district and called it a repair tax. At that time, the 
three commissioners were Charles W. Weber, Edward Bitter 

and Henry Meisser. The Clerk of the County Court was Willis 

This area was a paradise for fishing, duck hunting, 
trapping, and skating. Fishing by Quincyans and area people 
was very popular. Game fish were abundant at Yellowbanks 
and all the main sloughs that connected with it. Gigging for 
large carp and buffalo was enjoyed after the river was high in 
the Spring and water had backed into the low areas. Jenkins 
Creek, West of Marcelline, Ursa Creek, Rock Creek, Frazier 
Creek, and Homan Creek all emptied into the area. 

My father, when I was about five years old (1910), 
gigged a large buffalo (much like a carp only darker and 
broader) that weighed about fifty pounds. The fish carried it 
home on the gigging fork over his shoulder and he said the 
tail would flap against his heels when he walked. It was not 
unusual to gig a twenty-five or thirty pound fish. To 
successfully gig, the fork should pierce the bladder so they 
can't swim. 

In 1914 plans were made to drain the area. A levee had 
to be built at the Quincy Bay to keep out the backwater when 
the river was high. That included a pump station with a full 
time engineer and dwelling and a floodgate (a spillway) to 
pump the excess water into the bay. It meant main ditches, 
then many branch ditches. Money was approved for such by 
decree of the Court on September 4, 1914. Commissioners 
then were WiUiam Greisser, WilHam O. McCormick, and 
L.H.A. Nickerson. The levee was soon buUt under the 
supervision of Seldon Earel, Grandfather of Stanley Earel 
who later became an engineer there to operate the pump 
station. Farmers, both land owners and tenants, donated 
time with teams, scoops and needed machinery. Three shifts 
were organized to build the levee, and the draining was put 
into operation in 1917. 

After the pump station came the dredging of the bodies 
of water and drainage ditches, the main one known to 
fishermen as Yellowbanks. We lived on the Fred Kordsimon 


farm, five miles West of Ursa, the Yellowbanks bordered the 
farm and a main slough went through the farm. With a 
dredge boat, the waterways were made deeper and narrower. 
A young couple lived on the boat and visited with us of 

There were eight of us children, one brother married and 
two younger brothers, so my sister Frances and I helped with 
farming. In the Spring of 1917, Frances and I were harrowing 
with a team of four horses, preparing for corn planting, and 
Dad had us stop for an hour in the afternoon to gig. The grove 
bordering our field was about knee deep and fish swarmed all 
around us. It did not appeal to me but Frances got a six 
pound carp. That was my only experience with gigging. 

Later, ditch digging and levee making started being 
done with a dragline. Much of the work was done by my 
husband, the late Millard (Stubb) Ruddell. He built all of the 
levee from Ursa Creek to the pump station. His oilers were 
Art Jackson and then Harold Andrew. 

On the map showing the profiles, plats and plans 
including the pump station and ditches, and of course each 
land owner's name and the location of his farm, you can see 
where the river levee broke in the 1890's. Instead of 
rebuilding where the original levee ran, a curve-shaped levee 
was built joining the two ends of the break. This left a flat 
area on the river side of the levee, which was ideal for 
recreation purposes when the river was normal size. This was 
called Houghton's Landing, where many picnics, church and 
family gatherings were held. Many fond memories remain. 
The break in 1928 was the Indian Grave School and washed 
away the school building. 

Thus, through progress, the paradise became 
productive farm land. No more gumbo roads. No more prairie 
grass. No more willow groves. And no more fishing. 


Glenna H. Lamb 

The experience I wish to share with you was sometimes 
pleasant, sometimes frightening, and no matter what else it 
was, it never failed to be exciting. 

I was a junior in high school; my brother, Carl Howard, 
was a freshman. Our family had moved the previous March to 
a farm about five miles west of Hillview, in Greene County. 
Our house sat almost against the levee, along the Illinois 
River, approximately one fourth mile south of the Pearl Ferry 

Where to attend high school was a problem that 
demanded an immediate solution. We had no transportation 
for the five-mile trip to Hillview. It was most of a mile walk to 
Pearl, but the river flowed between us and the viDage school. 
It was during the depression in the early 1930's and we could 
not afford to cross the river on the ferry. "Peelie" Jones, the 
ferry operator and our nearest neighbor, offered to loan us 
one of his row boats, a very kind act, considering that it 
worked against his own business. 

Our father accepted his offer, and Carl and I both 
learned to row. "PeeUe" gave us some very valuable pointers 
on safety. "To keep from drifting down-steam, row toward an 
object," he said. We made his ferry "hitching post" our 
target. He also taught us how to ride the waves and not 
capsized by them. "When the fog is heavy, keep the railroad 
bridge in view", he cautioned. So, with "PeeUe" as our friend 
and counselor, crossing the river in a rowboat became an 
exciting part of our daily treck to school. 

One wintry morning we started to cross, with Carl 
rowing. The fog was very heavy, but we remembered 
"Peelie's" advise to stay close to the railroad bridge and to 
keep it in view at all times. Pretty soon, I felt uncertain as to 
wether or not I could see the bridge. I asked Carl if he could 


see it, and he assured me that he could. Plagued with the 
feeling that I could not, I shortly asked him again if he was 
sure that he could see it. Again he said he was sure. It was not 
long however, until we both knew that the railroad bridge 
was indeed out of our sight. In fact everything was out of 
sight. We could not see the faintest outline of either bank. We 
could see absolutely nothing except each other, the boat we 
sat in, and the water under us, for a distance of five feet or so. 

Then we became aware of a strange fact. We could not 
tell which direction the water was flowing. We did not know 
which was upstream or down. There was no object anywhere 
to give us our bearing. Since we didn't know which direction 
to row, we just stopped rowing altogether. This way, we at 
least knew one thing, we were drifting downstream. It was 
comforting to know that our house was also downstream. We 
had no idea how long it would take to drift the one fourth mile 
to our home, or whether we would know when we were near it, 
but somehow, we felt more secure just knowing that we were 
drifting in that direction. 

We began to be quite cold but there was very little we 
could do about it. It would be foolhardy to stand up or change 
positions in the boat. We could easily upset the craft and find 
ourselves in the icy water. About all we could do was move 
our arms a little and blow on our mittened hands. Even the 
blowing turned out not to be helpful: it made our mittens 
damp, and in the end, our hands became colder. 

At one point, a situation developed which kept us in 
terror for several minutes. We heard a steamboat whistle. We 
could not see it and we knew that, in all probability, the pilot 
would not be able to see us. We wondered if we would be in its 
path. We could hear the splashing and dripping of the paddle 
wheel as it approached. We began to feel the waves. 
Helplessly we huddled in the boat, waiting to learn our fate. 
Slowly, menacingly, it churned its way past us. We never saw 
even a shadowy outline of its form but we felt as if it had 
barely missed us. I can't speak for my brother, but during the 

episode, I prayed for God's protection and breathed a thank- 
you when I knew it had missed us. 

After a while, we saw a veiled sun dimly penetrating the 
fog. Our spirits soared. We knew that the sun was in the east; 
our home was also in the east bank of the river. It stood to 
reason that if we rowed toward the sun we would reach the 
east bank. It didn't take long to get there. Stiffly we alighted 
from the boat and tied it to a tree. We scurried up over the 
levee to see our house, only a short distance south of us. As 
we trudged along the snowy road-way, toward that blessed 
haven, home, I suddenly noticed with horror that Carl's ears 
were a clear color. "Carl", I cried. "Your ears are frozen!" "I 
know it," he replied in an unbehevably calm voice. 

When we reached the house, our mother's astonishment 
quickly gave way to concern and then to swift action, when 
she learned that Carl's ears were frozen. She was wise in the 
ways of home remedies. She began to put handsful of snow on 
the frost-bitten ears, explaining as she worked, that they 
must be thawed gradually. I can't remember if there was 
anything more to the thawing process or whether or not Carl 
suffered any difficulty with his ears. I do remember that we 
crossed the river again the very next day. "How could you 
possibly start out in that row boat again, after such an 
experience?" someone asked. The answer, of course, was that 
necessity is a strong disciplinarian. 

There was a period of time when the river was frozen 
over. During that time, we walked the railroad bridge. This, 
to me, was more frightening than crossing in the boat. On 
such occasions, we followed our father's instructions and 
always put our ear to the rail to listen carefully. If a train 
were coming, we could hear it in this way. No matter how far 
back it seemed to be, we waited until it passed before starting 
across. Even with this precaution, my heart was always "in 
my mouth" until we reached the other side. I could visualize 
our getting caught by a train, in the middle of the bridge, and 
having no place to get out of it's way. 

We lived next to the river only one year. The following 
March my father was able to rent a farm back home in Scott 
County, near Glasgow. Our friends were there and we were 
very thankful to be back with them. We were also grateful 
that getting to school was now less exciting. But I wouldn't 
take a million dollars for the lessons we learned when going to 
school included crossing the Illinois River. 


Helen D. Rilling 

Fortunate was the child that had a little creek to play 
beside. As children we were blessed with three. We called 
them "Little Creek," which angled across the calf pen just 
below the garden, "The Creek," that ran from the west 
boundary of the farm almost to the east side where it joined 
"The Timber Creek." The "we" included my brother, "Big 
Zack," and my sisters Nellie and Jane. 

The creek was deep and about four feet wide when it 
rained and ran full to the top of the banks. The Creek began in 
a pig wallow among some willow trees. There was a spring 
there and the overflow from the neighbor's pond furnished 
some of the water. 

The willow trees made shade where the pigs shared the 
wallow with the four of us. The trees were a great place to 
play by yourself. You could pull them down and ride high in 
the air getting a good view of everything if you kept your 
eyes open until the trees tossed you flat on your back on the 
other side of the wallow. 

A heavy rainstorm was cause for lots of action. We 
hastily nailed together waterwheels. We'd build an open 
crate-like frame and put a paddle wheel made from wooden 
shingles on a broom handle axle. We pounded these into the 
banks on curves where currents ran fast and turned our 

wheels with great speed. If we had good luck finding 
materials sometimes we'd get three wheels made and 
whirling before the water went down. 

On other days we'd set afloat boards loaded with yellow 
corn for gold, clover for hay, and weed pods and seeds for 
grain. Big bugs were used as prize livestock but they posed 
the unsolvable problem of keeping them on the boards. We 
took the boards a half mile up stream then ran like crazy 
yelling at each other as our craft raced down the creek. We 
carried long poles to get them loose when they ran aground 
under long grass or dead limbs. Sometimes we played 
"Pirates" and stole each other's gold. We imagined we were 
on the Mississippi River even though we'd never seen it at 
that time. We were delighted when a small island appeared in 
the center of the stream and imagined ourselves trading with 
the people who Uved there. It took some doing to dock our 
craft and unload it with the end of a limber stick. 

We often spied a big snapping turtle sleeping in the sun 
and prodded him with our sticks until he stuck his head out of 
his shell to see who was rapping on his house. If we were 
quick, we could slip a loop of twine over his head. We tied the 
twine to our boats and shoved Mr. Turtle into the stream. 
After much thrashing about, our loop would usually float to 
the top of the water and our prize propeller would be sunk in 
the mud hidden by the dirtied water. Oh well, heck. We 
docked our boats in the weeds. It had been a fun-filled 
afternoon and we went home to await another day and 
another trial for turtle-power. 

When it was dry weather we'd try to dam the creek, 
planning a huge lake with a place to dive and swim. The dams 
were weak since we used spades to dig big hunks of sod along 
the bank where it was soft and spongy. It was easy for us to 
dig there. The water soon soaked through and gushed away, 
or an inquisitive cow or pig walked over the dam, causing it to 


Just below the barn a large metal culvert had been put 
in the Creek. It probably had been the boiler from an old 
steam locomotive. There were large round holes in a number 
of places. Since it was five feet in diameter, we could walk 
through it standing straight up. On hot days it was 
dehghtfully cool and dark inside. We'd stick our legs down 
through the holes in the bottom and squish our toes around in 
the soft mud and never once thought about snakes. They 
lived all along our creeks, and we weren't afraid of them. The 
culvert formed a bridge for horses and wagons to go over to 
the fields across the Creek. Often the horses got skitterish 
and refused to cross. They'd rear up on their hind legs and 
back up. Father would slap them with the reins and yell 
loudly, "Giddap! " He'd been really mad if he had known who 
was hiding in the culvert making funny noises. 

During dry spells the Creek ran sluggishly since its only 
source of water was field tiles. During the early Twenties 
hues of tiles were laid in many directions across the fields to 
drain them in wet years. Crews of a dozen or more men dug 
long deep trenches with spades and shovels. In the bottom 
they laid terracotta colored tiles end to end. The silver-tipped 
water that ran through them was icy cool on a hot day. To 
drink we lay head down our fingers dug into the mud with our 
feet up the side of the bank. We'd put our faces into the water 
and suck it up. What a treat for a kid on a hot summer's day 
to experience drinking pure water from a field tile. 

Mother had to discard an old wash tub one summer. We 
carried it off to our Creek and set sail. Alas, the water ran in 
the holes and we were soon in trouble. We hopped out and 
dumped the water, stuffed the holes with rags then boarded 
our ship again. We never got further than a few hundred 
yards, but it was wet and muddy fun. Mother was an angel 
and seldom reprimanded us when we came home at dusk. 

There were many varieties of dragonfhes, sometimes 
called snake doctors, that flew up and down the Creek. We 
chased them for miles and miles and were never able to 

capture one. It was pure magic the way they skied on top of 
the water. There were many bees, butterfhes, birds, and bugs 
along our Creek. It was a dehght to spend the day chasing 
after first one then another. 

The raccoons left tiny hand-like tracks in he mud as 
they traveled from timber to timber. We'd track them for 
hours in the summer. In the winter we'd listen to the 
coonhounds braying as they chased the wily animals up and 
down our three creeks. 

We liked to ride our white Shetland pony, Dixie, to bring 
in the milk cows at chore time. It was a special thrill to get 
him to gaUop fast and leap the Creek from one back to the 
opposite side. Often he'd suddenly stop at the edge and we'd 
slide over his head straight into the water. I swear I could see 
laughter in his blue eyes as he struggled out of the Creek and 
shake off the water. 

When father turned the horses out after a long day in 
the fields they would race for the Creek. There they stood 
heads down drinking the cool water. What a sight to see. A 
whole line of rumps stuck up in the air tails switching at the 
flies. The creeks on our farm were enjoyed by the animals as 
well as the kids. 

The Timber Creek was much deeper and wider. It began 
miles to the northeast and was the tail end of Spring Creek. 
We walked across it on fallen trees. This was scary when you 
were just six years old. But it wasn't much fun to sit 
astraddle and sort of bump yourself across. You soon learned 
to get upon the sHppery log and walk across to the other side. 
There in the shady damp soil along the Timber Creek we 
picked violets, Dutchman's breeches, lady's slippers, 
buttercups, daisies, may apples and bluebells. We also found 
wild onions and devoured them with rehsh. We topped them 
off with wild cherries and crab apples. Mother had lots of 
good remedies for bellyaches. 

Those days spent along our Creeks were the happiest of 
our Uves. Now the little steams are all dry. Many have grass 

covered bottoms. The timbers are gone and a wide highway 
runs across where our meadow lay. Cars flash by instead of 
beautiful dragonflies. The willows are chopped down and 
there are no happy children squeahng as they rode slippery 
mud-covered pigs across the hog wallow. No leaky tubs sail 
by little water wheels turning as the creek flows down to join 
another creek and on to the sea. 


John C. Willey 

I don't know where it got its name, unless the sandstone 
in the Grindstone Creek bed was used for grinding and 
sharpening other tools. This narrow creek starts north and 
east of Industry, Illinois and crosses under Highway 67. 
Including the highway bridge there have been eleven bridges 
across the stream, one of which is gone and another of which 
is not now in use. The approximate length is about twelve 
miles, across most of Industry Township and most of Bethel 
Township. It empties into Camp Creek in the southwest 
comer of Bethel Township. When I was a lad, in the 1920's, 
the water in the creek ran clear, and there were lots of deep 
water holes where we could swim. 

Before my time, my dad, who was Link Willey, stored 
ice which was cut and brought in from the creek. The ice was 
stored in the old log house where he had been raised. They 
packed sawdust around the ice to keep it from melting. It 
would keep for use in the summer. 

When we were young we used poles cut from hazelbrush 
for fishing. One time my brother, Ray, and I caught eighty 
small fish in one day. Today people would throw them back 
because of their size, but we cleaned and ate them all. The fish 
we caught were mud cat, sunflsh, and sucker. Some were very 
boney, but they were also very good. 

There was a family of boys and girls by the name of 
Dorethy who lived very close to the creek on the north side. 
Sometimes Ray and I would go down there carrying a 
kerosene lantern, and we would all go fishing at night. We 
used long poles with heavy cord and a heavy weight just 
above the hook. We did not use a cork or bobber as you could 
not see it bobble at night. We used worms for bait and 
dropped the hook into the water until the slack in the line told 
us where the bottom was. Then we would raise it a few inches. 
One could feel the strike on the line and tell when a fish was 
hooked. We called it "tight One" fishing. Mostly catfish were 
caught in this way. 

One night on the way home, I saw something which I 
have never seen since. I was walking ahead of the lantern 
when I saw what looked Uke glowing embers of fire. It was 
along the side of the road in the creek area. When Ray 
brought up the lantern we saw that it was just a mass of 
decaying wood, no glow. I found out later that it is called 
foxfire. There seems to be a certain fungus in the decayed 
wood which causes it to glow. 

In the winter when the weather was very cold, the 
stream would freeze over except for the riffles. We boys in the 
neighborhood would go there and make two base lines on the 
ice about forty feet apart. Then we would each hunt a club. 
The ideal club was about three feet long with a curve on the 
end. We would choose up sides and set a can in the center of 
the area. The idea was for one side to knock the can over the 
base line and through the opponent's line. We were on skates 
and had no pads for protection. By the time we quit our legs 
and shins were usually black and blue. We called the game 
"Shinny on the Ice." Today it is called Hockey. 

Along the creek there were always squirrels to hunt in 
the fall, as well as the coons which used the stream as their 
hunting ground. And there were muskrats to trap in the 
winter. The muskrats would go out in the water about three 
feet from the bank, ending the burrow with a den above the 

water line. At the end of the den, they stored their winter 
food, such as corn and grasses. The muskrats would climb 
out onto the bank to gather food and then, on their return, 
slide into the water in the same place. This left a mark or 
"slide" that was easily found. I often trapped them by 
placing a trap below the slide. I ran my trapline at night, as I 
went to high school during the daytime. The pelts brought 
three or four dollars each, and in those days that came in 
handy. It is illegal now to set traps under the slide, and I am 
not so sure that it was not illegal then! 

Once in awhile a "bee tree" was found along the creek 
bank. One time an Industry friend, Roy Roberts, came home 
with me from school. We had a bee tree spotted, and that 
evening we loaded ourselves with an axe, a saw, some rags, 
and some sulphur. We also took along a copper wash boiler in 
which to carry home the honey. The way it turned out, we 
needed only a small container, as there was very Uttle honey. 
We had lots of work with little results. 

One time in mid-winter we had received lots of rain. The 
creek went out of its banks and spread all over the bottom 
land. When the weather suddenly turned very cold, the water 
froze before it could recede back to normal. The result was 
Thick Slabs of ice above the natural height of the stream. The 
water went down leaving the ice just supporting itself there 
above the water. One day after the weather warmed, I was at 
the creek when the ice began to break up. The sound it made, 
traveling up and down the creek sounded like heavy artillery 

We knew where there was a ford, a place where we could 
cross the creek when the water was low. The bottom was 
sand-rock and sometimes during the summertime we would 
drive the family car into the water. There we could give it a 
good wash, as well as a bath for ourselves. 

Today Esther and I live on the road marked 300 N, near 
1300E, which crosses Grindstone Creek by means of an old 
bridge. In 1980 a young man who worked for the EPA out of 

Champaign, Illinois came to our door and offered me a chore. 
It seems they wanted someone to take water samples from 
the bridge. This place hes just above the existing coalfield. 
He offered me three dollars per sample. I was supposed to 
take it once a day, but when the water was high, twice a day. I 
was told to write on the bottle cap the time of day, the date, 
and the temperature of the water, and then store it in the 
little building which they had built there. I did that, and 
every so often someone would collect the samples. 

In Bethel Township, on the road marked 900E, there is 
another bridge just below the coal field. A local man there 
was to do the same thing. This had something to do with the 
possible water pollution from the coal field. After the drive to 
cut expenses, this job was terminated on both bridges. 

This unimpressive small stream did not have any 
navigation or business connected with it, but it was 
important to the local people who lived near it. When I was a 
boy, as I have said. Grindstone Creek ran clear and had a 
sand-rock bottom. Today after the years of farming and soil 
erosion, the stream bed is covered with mud, and the water is 
very shallow. 


Hazel Montooth Smith 

This afternoon I went for a walk up to our north woods. 
I tramped in my warm boots straight out east to the high 
bluff above Spoon River, which almost bisects our farm. 

I followed the bluff along the edge of the cornfield. 
There was only a smattering of snow. Down the hiU was the 
river with a narrow strip of ice along its shores; the sandbar 
had snowy ice covering it. I remember last fall when I tried to 
walk along the foot of the hill close to the river, but was 
stopped where the bank had washed out. Not wanting to 


backtrack about forty rods, I climbed almost straight up the 
hill to the cornfield, grabbing and pulling myself up by small 
trees and branches. 

The pin oaks are always reluctant to loose their leaves, 
so now they are half clothed in dry, rustling, brown tatters, 
shaken by the persistent wind. 

Once I went after the cows during a light spring rain. As 
I started down into the woods by the river, a fairy tale scene 
came into view. Six or seven wild rabbits were playing a Lively 
game that resembled tag. They didn't hear or see me. I stood 
quietly and watched their carefree play for several minutes. 
Then the cow grazing between us suddenly took several 
steps, and they became aware of me. Leap! Leap! They aU 
vanished over the medley of spring flowers and into the 

Another time, when I hiked up to the north woods for 
wildflowers, boys with bare bottoms surprisingly exploded 
out of the river and ran for their clothes. They were our two 
and three neighbor boys, only six to twelve years old then. It 
was funny. 

One night that summer they camped out in the north 
woods, but after midnight they came tearing down to the 
house in a great panic. "Something white" had come 
prowling around where they were lying on the ground. We 
never did find out what it was. I suggested that it was 
probably one of our nearly white, milking, shorthorn cows, 
but they emphatically denied that. Later we kidded twelve- 
year-old Stuart about almost wiping out a cornrow as 
dragged six -year-old Paul to "safety." 

I remember the rowboat that Len helped the children 
build. On a late May afternoon, the six of us and my visiting 
sister Martha launched it on the waters of Spoon River and 
went for a ride. It leaked a little, but we had on our swimsuits 
and the children splashed us anyway. The wild geraniums 
along the banks were in pinkish lavender bloom, and bluejays 
were talking back to some crows while squirrels ran up and 

down tree trunks, peering around inquisitively at us. How 
satisfying was our homemade recreation! 

The children did not have much time for play, because 
their dad kept them busy as they grew older, helping him. 
But he was as enthusiastic as they when it came to building 
something for fun. He engineered a twenty two foot high 
ferris wheel out of an old disc axle and two twenty-foot two- 
by-fours. There was a swing seat at each end for the two 
riders, preferably equal in weight. 

When the river was frozen deeply enough, that was the 
time for skating parties. Our children would invite other 
teenagers from neighboring families. I would bake a plentiful 
supply of cookies. Len would build a great fire on the 
riverbank. All ages would gather around the fire to warm up, 
then they'd go swooping down the river for maybe a couple of 
miles, Len with them. I would bump across the cornfield in 
our Ford to the fire with a big kettle of cocoa and cookies. 
When the skaters came dashing back up the river, 
refreshments were ready. 

We celebrated my parents' fortieth wedding 
anniversary up in the north woods in July, 1946. Many 
relatives arrived to enjoy a bountiful potluck dinner and the 
lovely outdoors on that midsummer day. For their fiftieth 
anniversary, we held an open house in our front yard under 
the spreading maple. Stuart sang a solo, Eileen played the 
marimba, and my father quoted James Whitcomb Riley's 
"That Old Sweetheart of Mine" from memory. 

These woods along the river have also hosted wiener 
roasts for my classes in October when I was an elementary 
teacher. In summer, pupils came to wade and hunt shells. 

Now the woods are growing up with brush and 
multiflora rosebushes, sown by the birds They haven't been 
pastured since the Lord took Len home four and a half years 
ago. Weed killer will get rid of the briars temporarily, but I 
hate to poison the soil. Where it isn't too steep, maybe we can 
use the shredder on the 464. So many things a farm widow 

needs to consider. But after being married to a farmer for 
forty-eight years, the love of the land is deep in my bones, 
here among the Spoon River, where the earth holds memories 
of earlier days. 


Lavern B. Sturman 

I was born and spent most of my Ufe in the town of 
O'Fallon, Illinois. Today it's the city of O'Fallon, having gone 
from a population of 3,000 to about 13,000 in a relatively 
short period of time. 

When I recall some of the happiest memories of my life, 
they seem to center around five streams in my locahty: Ogles 
Creek, Engles Creek, Rock Spring Creek, Silver Creek, and 
the Kaskaskia River. The three smaller creeks are tributaries 
to Silver Creek, and Silver Creek is a tribuatary to the 
Kaskaskia River. 

By today's standards the creeks aren't too valuable 
except for drainage ditches, but to me they were and still are 
very important. Fifty or fifty-five years ago, these streams 
were pure and clean, running through a countryside of 
wooded hills and pastureland. Some of the water feeding the 
streams came from springs found in several places along it's 
banks. Boy! I can still taste that cool pure water that 
refreshed us on a hot summer day. At that time, I thought 
the fishing offered by those streams was all a fisherman could 
ask. Using an old wiOow pole with a "store string" line and a 
bottle cork as a bobber, we caught some lunker bullhead, 
suckers, and sunnies that were as much as six to eight inches 
long, and they tasted better than anything found in the best 
seafood restaurant. Maybe time has enhanced the taste 

Now if you were a connoisseur of seafood, you could 
please your palate with just a little effort. Just get a piece of 

"store string" about a foot long, tie a piece of bacon rind on 
the end, and dabble it in a craw-dad hole, and in a short time 
you had the makings of a "Poor Man's Shrimp Dinner." 
Crayfish tails can be fried, boiled, or broiled. I think if you 
tried them you would be pleasently surprised. 

Back in those days swimming pools were few and far 
between, at least for some of us, but the streams such as 
Ogle's Creek also offered us a place to swim. I remember one 
place about three miles north of O'Fallon, where Ogles Creek 
meandered through a beautiful green pasture, dotted with a 
few large trees for shade; what a spot for a "Swimming 
Hole." There was a hole in the creek with about three feet of 
water, just not quite deep enough for good swiming. 

The friendly farmer who owned the ground gave us 
permission to build a dam to create our own swimming hole. 
We mooched some burlap sacks from the owner of the local 
mill, filled the sacks with sand, and built a dam high enough 
to give us about five feet of water, being careful to leave 
enough water run through to keep our swimming hole from 
becoming stagnant. It took quite a bit of work but it was 
worth it, giving us many hours of pleasure during the 

Engle's Creek had its origin at what was the northwest 
city hmits of O'Fallon, just west of the city cemetery. It's 
really just a branch at its origin, but increases in size as it 
meanders through the country side for approximately five 
miles, to where it empties into Silver Creek. 

Many years ago, when I was quite young, I can 
remember an area about a mile north of town called Mase's 
Grove. It had large trees bordering the creek bank, and a 
spring poured fresh clear water into the stream. As I recall, 
there was a large wooden barrel buried in the ground that 
caught the sparkling clear water before it emptied into the 
creek. A tin cup hung on a large oak tree beside the spring, 
ready for any passer-by to have a drink of the cool refreshing 


As this little stream flows happily on it's way, it passes 
through wooded hillsides, and pasture land with cattle lazily 
grazing in the shade of the large sycamore trees bordering it's 
bank. About a mile before it empties into Silver Creek, 
Engle's Creek is fed with clear spring water from a small 
tributary called Rock Spring Creek. This little stream is quite 
unique in this area as it has large rocks in its bed, having a 
soUd rock bottom in some places. In a few places there are 
small water falls of maybe two feet in height. I know it 
doesn't challenge Niagra Falls, but it's beautiful to me. 

I hadn't been in the Rock Springs area for quite a few 
years, and then about two years ago my wife and I were out 
shooting landscape pictures in the Engle's Creek area, and I 
recalled an old rock bridge that spans the creek 
approximately a half mile south of Engle's Creek, I suggested 
it might be worth taking a little jaunt to see this beautiful 
structure. When we arrived at the bridge it was even more 
beautiful than I had remembered, and she thought it was 
quite a sight. We shot a number of pictures, and my wife later 
made an oil painting of it. 

She did some research on the history of the bridge and 
found it was finished in 1902, just in time to complete a 
streetcar Une from Lebanon, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri for 
the 1902 World's Fair. We've been back several times to 
admire this beautiful example of architecture and 
workmanship of days gone by. Every rock and piece of 
mortor is as sohd as the day it was buUt. 

To me Silver Creek just doesn't match the other creeks 
I've previously written about for beauty and fond memories. 
1 guess the reason for this is that it was channelized before I 
was old enough to know it. From some of the old creek bed 
I've seen, I imagine it was beautiful too, with winding bends 
through heavily wooded bottom land. 

One place that I do remember fondly was Giner's 
Pasture. Old Dan Giner and his wife owned the ground; they 
were a wonderful colored couple. Every time I see an Aunt 

Jamima pancake box, it reminds me of Mrs. Giner, standing 
on her porch wearing an immaculate red and white checkered 
apron. She was truly a beautiful person. 

Mother, Dad, and I spent many a Sunday afternoon 
picnicing in that pasture. Occasionally, we would catch a few 
fish, but our time was mostly spent swimming in the creek. 

Of aU my favorite streams, I guess the Kaskaskia River 
influenced my life the most. My dad and several friends built 
a clubhouse along the river the year I was born, and we kept 
it until I was twenty -eight years old. It was located about 
three miles south of New Memphis, Illinois, nestled in acres 
of virgin timber, a true paradise for an outdoorsman. 

Before commercial fishing became legal, fishing was 
great. The river had contained a good population of different 
species of fish, namely channel cat, flat head, drum, buffalo, 
and carp. There was also some of the undesirable, such as gar, 
and dogfish. 

The river's depth at normal level varied from as httle as 
two feet to as much as forty feet in the deep holes, and the 
current was quite strong in some areas. 

Back in those days a motor boat was a rare sight. Our 
only mode of travel on the river was via a fourteen-foot 
wooden boat, a set of oars, and a strong body. Maybe today 
the motor boat is faster, but I'm not too sure that it's better. 
It deters much of the peace and quiet we once knew. 

Almost all species of trees common in south central 
lUinois grew in the timber bordering the banks of the river, 
making it ideal habitat for animal life. There were large 
numbers of fox squirrels, gray squirrels, flying squirrels, 
chipmunks, opossums, raccoons, red foxes, mink and even a 
few beaver. 

The bird family was also well represented, from the tiny 
chickadee, up to large owls and hawks. At certain times of the 
year large numbers of waterfowl inhabited the area, 
especially when the river was high and flooded the bottoms. 

In my lifetime I've hunted waterfowl from Batchtown 
to Cairo, but none compared to standing in the flooded pin 
oaks watching large flocks of mallards settling in to feed on 
the acorns. 

These sights are indelibly engraved in my memory, I 
only wish I could have had the camera equipment I have 
today to record those sights on fihn for others to enjoy. The 
sun glistening on those majestically colored green head 
drakes and the bronze bodied hens are a sight everyone has a 
right to enjoy. 

In recent years the Kaskaskia River has been 
channelized from New Athens, Illinois south to where it 
empties into the Mississippi. It was supposed to bring new 

industry to the area, but the only industry it has benefited 
thus far, in my opinion, is Peabody Coal Company. Maybe 
someday it will be beneficial to the entire area. I really hope it 

These are just a few of the streams that have afforded 
me great enjoyment in my lifetime. I know many "Old 
Timers" have had similar experiences and enjoyed them too. 

Some of these streams I've written about have become 
polluted, much of the timber has been cut, and with it much 
wildlife habitat destroyed. I hope and pray that years from 
now people in future generations can write about "The Good 
Old Days," having enjoyed life along these streams as much 
as I. 

VI TlLlar (^omes to Illinois 



As is known by all, war is one of the four horsemen of 
the Apocalypse. It comes upon men periodically like the 
scourge, and is of base content overlain with the cloak of 
nobility. The United States was born out of war, it erased the 
evils of slavery with another confUct, and it threw back the 
Satanic ambitions of Adolf Hitler with a third. We know war 
as young men (and now women) marching off to uncertain 
glory, each filled with pride of mission, and girded with 
armanent of the just. We also know war as seeing the same 
ranks returning, disillusioned in many cases, decimated in 
numbers, and certain that each has witnessed the dawn of 
eternal peace. 

History is replete with the stories of the nobiUty of war 
or of humanity's crises. We all know the tale of the Greek 
messenger who ran to Athens bringing the news of the Greek 
victory at Marathon— presumably a good 26 miles and 385 
yards. Florence Nightingale became a legend in the Crimean 
War with her attempts to bring sanity into the treatment of 
the wounded. All— the legendary drummer boys of Sherman's 
victorious army, the Mexican schoolboys at Chapultepec, 
Sergeant York in World War I, and the nameless soldiers of 
all time who fought for causes they thought to be right— all, 
were part of what the French like to think of as the greatest 
aspect of war. Glory. 

But for anyone who remembers World Wars I and II, 
there remains a certain sense of the nobiUty to be found on 
the home front; in this case, in Illinois. If you were there, in 
that time, and in that place, you remember the sights and 
sounds of it all. There were the trains bearing the weapons of 
war and the soldiers who were to man them. TraveUng 
anywhere meant crowded railroad stations filled with the 
colors of confUct— Marines, their chests bedecked with 
ribbons, sailors in white or blue hurrying to catch the last 
train to base, and soldiers in khaki, the wounded ones going 

to hospitals, the fresh recruits off to take their places. 

There were the songs of war, appropriately trotted out 
at Red Cross Canteens in World War I, or at U.S.O. Centers 
in World War II. As one reads the remembrances of our 
authors about the music of World Wars I and II, he may be 
struck by the uncompromising martiality of the words. But 
these were home songs, music designed to keep the passions 
of war and productivity up to certain levels. On the cutting 
edge of the confhcts, the songs were different. They evoked 
memories of white Christmasses at home, or of the girls at 
home, the Lili Marlenes "underneath the lampposts ..." 

All of these stories shake out the dusty corners of our 
minds. Who now remembers the contributions of Seneca, 
lUinois to the war? All of those LST's, landing craft 
necessary for victory, which were turned out by shifts of men 
and women which overlapped in order to make for a twenty- 
four hour working day. There were the boyfriends who did 
not come home, and Virginia Dee Schneider remembers hers. 
Marjorie Smith was working in Peoria at the time of Pearl 
Harbor, and recalls the savage and desperate attempt to beat 
a rival newspaper to the street with the news of the war's 
coming to lUinois. There are the wives' tales— that of Juanita 
Morley, who suffered from loneliness and typhoid fever 
during her husband's absence— and Mildred Nelson's 
touching story of a housewife's attempt to cope with a farm, 
a child, and life in general without electricity or a telephone. 
In reverse, there is Erwin Keyster's time-tinged memory of a 
wife, faithful and true, whose last words to her departing 
soldier were "Please come back." 

But there is so much left to remember! Almost all of our 
writers were indelibly touched with the events of Pearl 
Harbor day. They remember their own struggles with war 
stamps, with rationing and traveling, the trials of bad news 
from the war fronts, or the effects of wars upon small towns. 
Few offer memories of how busy aU lUinoisians were— how 
each industrial plant worked night and day, and how crowded 

busses carried workers to and fro across the state. Almost all 
remember the scarcities of butter or automobile tires; none 
offered the single memory of young girls who, bereft of their 
long length hose, turned to the use of commercial dye to 
darken their legs. Almost all remember the sacrifices 
everywhere, but few offered recollections of the oneness of a 
people, the helpfulness of strangers, or that the single aspect 
of hard work and effort brought on by the war having a most 
unusual effect. Men and women were turned out of 
themselves. Their own personal problems were diminished by 
the problems of others. It is a fact that both the physical and 
mental health of the American people on the home front was 

remarkably high between 1941 and 1945. After all, greed was 
eliminated by the wage regulation boards, ambition was 
curbed by the labor supply boards (one could not change his 
work position without great effort), and one couldn't eat all of 
those sweets and fats which he didn't really need. They too 
had gone to war. 

So it was, as our writers imply. We worked hard and we 
sacrificed, and few of the coming generations would 
understand. How could they? You had to be there! 

Victor Hicken 


Hazel Delbridge 

My mother and step-father owned a restaurant in 
Colchester, Illinois during World War Lit was located across 
the street from the train depot and the town well was right in 
front of the restaurant. The troop trains on their way to 
Camp Grant would stop in Colchester to take on water before 
they continued on to Rockford. When they stopped, the 
porters would be sent to our restaurant to buy pies. Mother 
would make them three to five times throughout the day. 
They were mincemeat, raisin, apple, apricot, chocolate and 
cream pies. At this time, pies could not be bought in stores, 
so the townspeople would buy our pies for twenty five cents 
each. Mother figured how many pies she made one year and it 
came to nearly 10,000! The restaurant kept my family busy 
day and night. 

Our restaurant kitchen was furnished with a MaUble 
Stove that burned either wood or coal. The back had a 
reservoir that kept water hot throughout the day. On cold 
days we would sit around the stove to keep warm. The 
restaurant also had a wooden ice box. Every other day the ice 
man would deliver a fifty pound block of ice for 25 cents or 

When making pies or doing any cooking, we had to use 
brown sugar because white sugar was unavailable. We were 
luckier than most. Because of the restaurant we were able to 
get more gas, food and other necessities. We could even get 
all the white flour we needed from Hoar's Mill in Colchester. 
Dry goods were bought in large quantities from TerriU's 
General Store. We would get one hundred pound cloth sacks 
of brown sugar and flour. We would buy butter and eggs from 
a local farmer. My family raised enough radishes, onions, 
green beans and other vegetables in our garden to use at the 

My family never took many vacations. Our restaurant 

was open every day from five a.m. to ten p.m., and even open 
Christmas day. We did not hire much help. We did have a few 
ladies to help cook and I did the dishes after school for three 
dollars a week. My mother and step-father would take orders 
and visit with the people who came in. Most of our customers 
were local farmers. 

We always had plenty of customers, probably because 
of our good food at such a reasonable price. Roast pork or 
beef, two side-dishes, a big helping of potatoes and pie for 
dessert, costing only thirty-five cents. Besides the pork or 
beef, we always had plenty of cornbread and beans. 

There have been many changes in appliances as well as 
prices over the years. The Mahble Stove that burned wood or 
coal has now been replaced by the electric or gas stove. The 
wooden ice box has been replaced by the electric refrigerator 
and deep freeze. The roast beef, vegetables, potatoes and 
dessert that was bought for thirty-five cents, would now cost 
around three dollars and fifty cents! So with reminiscing, I 
remember how happy those days were. 


Ruth (Roberts) Lingle 

World War I became a reality to me when Miss Peck, 
our fourth grade teacher at Bozeman, Montana, told us that 
school was dismissed for the rest of the day, so we could join 
the parade to the depot and wave goodby to the boys who 
were leaving for training camp. She said from there they 
would be sent to fight and maybe die in a war far across the 

I followed with the crowd and saw a long empty train fill 
with cowboys who had just came in from the ranches of the 
vast mountain range. They wore wide brimmed hats, bright 
shirts and spurs on their high heel, high top boots. All the 

windows on all the coaches were open and when the train 
puUed out everyone was waving and some on the platform 
were crying. 

The crowd soon left the depot. The sun shed a golden 
glow as it sank beyond the snow capped mountains. The 
horses that the boys had ridden in stood tied in the corral 
with their empty saddles still on them. Around the dying 
embers of the fire inside the corral were a handful of sad and 
lonely looking cowboys. Being from Illinois, these were the 
first real cowboys I had ever seen. 

Alone I started home. I had no idea how many blocks 
the depot was from the school or how many more blocks it 
was from there on home. When I got back as far as the park, I 
sat down on a bench to rest. When I looked up I saw my 
mother coming to meet me. She had become worried when I 
didn't get home from school on time, and had come looking 
for me. When I told her where I had been she said, "No 
wonder you are late and tired, you must have walked five or 
six miles. We must hurry on home as it will soon be dark." By 
then twilight was fast spreading over the city streets. I was 
glad she was there to go the rest of the way home with me. 

A short time later we moved to Worland, Wyoming, 
where my father found a job in a sugar factory. At quitting 
time everyone's dinner bucket was inspected to make sure no 
one was taking home any sugar with them. 

Worland had one big brick school house for all the 
grades through high school. Here my teacher's name was 
Miss Rawlings. She told us about the war and said we could 
bring our quarters to school and buy war stamps. When we 
filled our card we could trade it in for a five dollar stamp. And 
when we filled the five dollar card we could trade it for a 
Liberty Bond. Each room vied for the most stamps bought 
each week, and the winning room received a prize. 

She also told us about things we could make and little 
things we could buy to put into "Ditty Bags" for the soldier 
boys. This many years later I still have the amber knitting 

needles I used to knit little brown woolen squares that were 
collected by older students, who then made them into 
blankets for the soldiers. 

I remember my parents had to buy several substitutes 
to be entitled to buy a large sack of flour. One of the 
substitutes was com starch, another was corn meal, another 
was graham flour, and another was rolled oats. I remember 
hearing my parents talking about a man that was arrested 
because the biscuits served at his home did not contain any of 
the substitutes. 

In the city's drive to sell Liberty Bonds, Kaiser Wilhelm 
was hanged in effigy. They also issued a decree that on one 
certain day no one could appear on the streets of Worland 
unless they were wearing a little insignia to show that they 
had bought a Liberty Bond. 

In the spring of 1918 we came back home to Bee Creek, 
Illinois. The rationing here was probably the same but not so 
strongly enforced. I remember we ate lots of corn bread, had 
lots of mush and milk and sometimes ate fried mush for 

My mother made blackberry preserves using sorghum 
molasses instead of sugar and I can assure you it was not a 
culinary success. Even though each person was allowed a 
pound of sugar we still tried to use sorghum or honey in tea 
and coffee. 

The little village of Bee Creek is not far from the Illinois 
River in the southern most part of Pike County. 

Sixty-five years ago, T. B. Fisher owned a general store 
and operated the post office there. The post office was served 
twice a day by the Star Route mail carrier, who came up from 
Kampsville on his way to Pearl with his team and buggy. He 
also stopped on his way back and brought the mail that had 
come in on the trains each day. 

The store had always been a favorite gathering place 
especially on cold winter evenings, where the men sat around 
the pot-bellied stove and chewed their tobacco or smoked 


"Long Green", while swapping yarns, or watching others 
pitch pennies at a crack in the cement floor, or occasionally 
kibitzing the checker players. 

But now there were not so many to gather there but 
they came more often to see if any had received any letters 
from their boys who were far away on the battle fields of 
Belgium, France, Germany, England and Italy. 

There were large posters encircling three sides of the 
store up near the ceiling, depicting the atrocities that the 
Germans were perpetrating against their neighboring 
countries. The reason for these posters was to encourage 
everyone to buy Liberty Bonds to help win the war. 

There was a larger crowd than usual that November 
evening as there had been a rumor that the war might be over 
soon. These neighbors had assembled here for months and 
had argued the pros and cons of the war, backing their 
opinions by what they were reading daily in the St. Louis 
Globe-Democrat or the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 

The telephone on the wall rang and Mr. Fisher (Uncle 
Truman) answered it. A hush fell over the crowd as each one 
strained to hear as much of the conversation as possible. It 
was Mrs. P.M. Thurmon (Truman's daughter, Zulah, who 
lived at Pearl). She had called to tell him that the word had 
just come over the telegraph wires at the depot that an 
Armistice had been signed and the war was over. 

My Dad, J. Walter Roberts came home and told us the 
war was over and for us to hurry and put on our wraps and we 
would all go over to the store. We were soon ready and he 
banked the fire and closed the damper. Then mom blew out 
the light in the coal oil lamp and we stepped out into the crisp 
night air. We did not take the lantern as the moon was 
shining almost as bright as day, and the frost glistened in the 

When we got there aunt Jose, (Mrs. T. B. Fisher) told us 
that everyone was going to march up to the church house and 
ring the bell. She was passing out things to make noise with 

and she gave me a lard can lid and a spoon with which to beat 
it. She and many others carried shotguns. Finally everyone 
filed out of the store. Those on horseback and those in 
wagons went first and the rest of us walked. The horses' 
hooves clattered over the rough frozen ground. All the way to 
the church there was more noise than there would have been 
heard at a charivari. 

When we all got there those with guns fired volleys of 
shots into the air. The others just continued making noise. 

The door of the white, one room church was locked and 
as none wanted to desecrate a holy place by breaking into it, 
some men climbed upon the roof and reached into the belfry 
and rang out the glad tidings like the famous Liberty Bell 
had rang so long ago. The silent majestic hills joined in re- 
echoing the loud joyous peals spreading the glad news 
throughout the Bee Creek valley. 


Katherine Zimmerman Adair 

World War II did make more changes in our family life 
than World War I. Perhaps, though, I was more aware of the 
effects the second time around. After all I was pretty young 
when World War I ended. About all I remember was potato 
bread, the fact that my dad would have been called in the 
next draft and the celebration of Armistice Day. By the time 
of World War II, I was grown, married and keeping house. 
We had one child and we lived with my folks. My husband 
worked as a painter since there had been no teaching jobs 
open for an industrial arts major after he graduated in 1930. 
We were thankful for a good steady job. When the war really 
got underway he got a job teaching welding at Bettendorf, 
Iowa. These classes were under the direction of the Navy. 

In 1942 we went to Davenport, Iowa to live for a few 

months. We had a one-room kitchen apartment on the second 
floor of an old house. I can still remember vividly how 
exhausting it was— doing the washing in the basement— then 
carrying the wet clothes up to the third floor cold attic where 
I hung them to dry. This was during the time I was pregnant 
with our second child. Our three year old daughter would be 
so eager to get outdoors that abnost every night, even during 
the winter, we would walk to an ice cream store nearby and 
then walk home while we ate our ice cream cones. There was 
no one for her to play with, we did not know anyone to visit, 
we could not afford to go anywhere to eat, or even to a movie. 
I don't remember whether we had a radio, but I think we 
must have had something to Usten to. We just stayed in the 
apartment except for the times we could get enough gas to go 
to Macomb. 

In the spring of 1943 we moved back home. We did live 
with my folks for awhile but that proved too much of a trial 
for all of us. We needed a place of our own— two small 
children just made the place too crowded. My husband had 
finally gotten an honorable discharge from the Navy and 
started to work in the warehouse at Camp Ellis near Table 
Grove. This camp was basically for German prisoners and the 
site of one of the few cavalry units. 

We bought a small house on Clay street for $1600 in 
1944. We had to borrow some money from my uncle because 
we did not have enough at the time to take care of the whole 
amount. We soon paid him back. It was so good to be by 
ourselves even if the house was small and old. There was a 
nice yard and fruit bushes— a nice grape arbor and a beautiful 
big maple tree in the front yard. Fortunately many of our 
friends were also not of draft age— we were old parents. If the 
war had gone on longer I expect more would have been taken. 
We started our four year old daughter in kindergarten at the 
Laboratory School. At that time there was a four year and 
five year kindergarten. I started taking her to the cultural 
programs. They were our most pleasant and relatively 

inexpensive means of entertainment then. 

Another reason for our return to Macomb was that we 
could get along on our rations better here. My folks had a 
small grocery so we were able to get our share of the rations 
without standing in line. Each of us had our own ration 
books. The most important things rationed were: tires, gas, 
shoes, canned goods, meat, butter, oils, cheese and coffee. 
There were at least four different books. I checked the 
number TWO books I had saved— all the coupons had been 
used. The number FOUR books had coupons left. Evidently 
rationing was stopped on those goods before we used the 
coupons up. Cars, refrigerators, radios, stoves and hardware 
were also in short supply. 

Farmers were allowed extra tires and gasoUne for their 
tractors and there was additional provision made for those 
farmers who raised chickens. Rents and wages were tightly 
controlled during this time. 

We had substitutes for many goods edible and inedible. 
Rayon was produced and used instead of silk. There were 
coffee and sugar substitutes and probably many more that I 
was unaware of. 

On the back of the ration books were these directions: 
Never Buy Rationed Goods Without Ration 

Never Pay More Than The Legal Price. 
Important: When you have used your ration 
salvage the tin cans and waste fats. 
They are needed to make munitions for 
our fighting men. Cooperate with your 
local Salvage Committee. 
Another suggestion at the end of the Instructions was 
—"If you don't need it, don't buy it." 

The number of the armed forces got extra rations when 
they were home or on leave. Occasionally my husband would 
bring home a treat for the children from Camp Ellis— things 
we couldn't buy in the stores. 


As I look back over those war years they were reaUy not 
too hard for us. The Pearl Harbor incident made us all reaUze 
for the first time what it meant to be invaded. I beUeve we 
were willing to go without some things that we had always 
taken for granted. I certainly hope that there will never be a 
World War III to adjust to. 


Erwin 0. Keyster 

I was a boy eleven years old on a northwest Iowa farm 
through which ran a railroad. I remember how, along with my 
brothers, we would go to the tracks when the passenger train 
went through so we could wave good-by to young men 
leaving for World War I service. I remember the same train a 
few years later usually carrying a casket of a service man to 
be returned to his family in our town or a nearby community. 

The servicemen did not always die on the battlefield. 
Many died in army camps from the influenza epidemic. This 
aU seemed Uke an unreal world to a farm boy in those years. 
Only two decades later war became real to me. 

Having lost our farm in the Great Depression my 
parents and all of us eight brothers and three sisters 
emigrated from Northwest Iowa, eventually most going to 
Peoria, Illinois, where most of us estabhshed ourselves in 
occupations, marriages and homes. 

In the second half of the 30's, rumors of war came into 
the picture. Geographically and historically I understood the 
world differently than I did as a boy. I now was part of this 
world. I hstened to the radio news. I heard many of Hitler's 
speeches about "lebensraum" and "Deutschland Uber 
Alles". The sense of war was ever sharper. Chamberlain's 
"Peace in our time" is still very real to me; Dunkirk; the 
German flank drive around the Maginot hne; the great 

anguish in the United States; and the bombshell of Pearl 

The draft started calling up millions of young men and 
women. My brother Art was the first to go from our 
family— a young man going for training in the dry southwest 
to be prepared for fighting in the Pacific theatre of war. 
Brother George was the next to be called. He was older than I 
but he was single. His training also pointed to the Pacific. 
That came true as he was later stationed on the Fiji Islands. 
My youngest brother Wallace entered the Air Force. 

In the early 40s the tremendous fire and manpower of 
the allies started taking its toll on Germany and its allied 
powers. But the war was far from over. In the spring of '43 
my brother Gordon was called to serve. I felt that, because 
the war tide was beginning to turn and because I was near 
the age of thirty-seven and, also, because I was to become a 
father in a few months, that the chances of my being called 
were almost nil. But in 1943 came my "Greetings" letter. We 
were stunned. War was already heavy upon us. George was 
sent back from the Pacific to the Veterans Hospital in 
Danville, Illinois. The bomber Wallace was in was shot down 
over Germany and he was hsted as missing in action. Arthur 
was on the fighting front near Japan. We did not fight the 
"Call" I received. It was a summons from our country. 

On my last stop home after indoctrination at Camp 
Grant near Rockford, I bade good-by to my wife. Her last 
words were, "Please come back." 

After my first months of training in Mississippi I 
received a telegram stating, "You have an eleven-pound son 
named Stephen." I was fortunate to see him when my wife 
joined me in Springfield, Missouri, where I was taking a 
"crash" medical course to better prepare myself for the 
Medical Corps. I was never to see my son again. 

I left for the European war front on New Year's Eve 
from New York on a very crowded troop ship. In Germany 
my first real encounter with war was watching a large dead 


German sergeant being dragged into a garage to lie there for 
later burial. A few hours later I went back to that garage. He 
was still there. Beside him, scattered on the floor, lay pictures 
of his family, a pretty blond woman and two pretty blond 
girls. That scene still comes to mind. I stood there thinking of 
the pictures in my pocket and of the futility of war. 

I am willing to state that I disliked being in the service 
but I will also state that I always tried hard to be a good 

The days passed on and the war was beginning to wind 
down. My wife wrote letters almost daily. Tragic letters 
began to come. Our little Steve had leukemia. My wife 
contacted the Red Cross. Due to the circumstances of war our 
unit could not find a Red Cross representative. Finally, after 
about a month. Colonel Unger told me to take a driver and a 
Jeep and see what we could do. A contact was made but it 
was too late. While stationed at Mosbach, Germany, I 
received two letters the same day, one from a brother teUing 
me that our brother Art was shot through the head by a 
sniper on Luzon. The other was from my wife, telling me our 
son had died in her arms. 

Those were dreadful days. One great impact made on me 
at this time was that the German lady, whose home we had 
taken over in Mosback, heard of my letters. She came over 
the next day and gave me a large vase of flowers from her 
garden. It made no difference to me whether she was 
German, Lutheran or Catholic. Her gesture of love 
transcended war. That impact endured through the years. 
Two years ago, while in Germany, a nephew. Colonel Taylor 
stationed near Weisbaden, took me to Mosbach. The town 
had changed dramatically. We had no name or street. It took 
us three hours to find the home. I learned the people had long 
ago passed away. I stood there, faced the home, and once 
more said, "Thank You." 

I was finally released from my unit so I could go home. I 
found my way to Scotland by truck train; and ship. I was put 

on a cargo plane. After passing over Ireland, the plane had to 
turn around and go back to Scotland because of engine 
trouble. I finally made it back in another cargo plane. 

My brother Louis and wife Opal left my wife and their 
car at the Peoria Depot. They left. That's the way my wife 
wanted it. She, alone, wanted to meet me. The next day we 
left for Devil's Lake, Wisconsin for a week to put our lives 
together again. 

I needed to be back in service again until I could be 
mustered out at Ft. Sheridan. I was stationed at the 
Galesburg Army Hospital. The very next day, walking into a 
ward, I was astounded— there stood my brother Wallace who 
had been missing in action. He had survived the plane crash 
and been a prisoner of war. 

My brother George never fuUy recovered from his war 
experience. Gordon was released from a California camp. 

My wife and I did adopt two children and later had a son 
Gregory. When he was fourteen, he was killed in a bicycle 
accident. My wife died in 1977. Her bravery and sacrifices 
during the war were greater than mine. 

Now it is 1983. Forty years have passed since my wife 
said, "Please come back." Two wars— the Korean and Viet 
Nam— have come and gone. Yet my war experiences seem but 
a few years ago and to think of it, over one half of all 
Americans living were not yet born! 

AU my souvenirs are gone now except a scrap book 
under my bed, a bronze star medal in my dresser drawer and 
all the letters my wife wrote me, but the memories are still 
there. I can stiU picture the five stars hanging in my mother 
and father's window. 

It does not seem likely, with the present build-up of 
nuclear age, that a major war will come again but I shall ever 
hope that never again will someone have a chance to say to a 
loved one going off to war, "Please come back." 


Carl Ericson 

Florence McGee played the piano and I stood on the 
bench— five years old— singing at a World War I bond rally in 
our own first Presbyterian church: 

"Somewhere in France is daddy— 

Somewhere in France is he; 
Fighting for home and country, 

Fighting for land and Uberty. 

I pray every night for the AUies, 

And ask God to help them to win; 

For my daddy won't come back 

'Till the Stars and Stripes they tack 

On Kaiser Wilhelm's flagstaff in Berhn." 

My father, however, was not in France. He was Ustening 
to me from his usual pew because a saddle horse had landed a 
cripphng kick on his knee. 

This was Virginia, Illinois— the land of Abraham 
Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas and, stretching geography a few 
miles, of Edgar Lee Masters and The Spoon River Anthology. 

First Presbyterian Church not often was crowded for 
God, but that starry, spring night it was filled for war. I 
remember the faces and the sound of my voice. In those days 
we called the narthex a vestibule, and its doors were open for 
standees, the thick beU rope dangUng above them. That 
twisted hemp was my temptation. They let me sing in church 
but wouldn't allow me to ring the bell. "You might turn it 
over," the sexton kept saying. "Takes just the right touch." 
Actually, I never knew what he meant. Our town was clean 
and prosperous. A few families came in the Thanksgiving- 
basket-on-the-front-porch catergory at one time or another; 
one or two ravines held trash beyond a fringe of yellow 

daisies; and like other middle America towns of 1500 had its 
share of homes where secrets were shaded by dingy panes 
and drawn curtains. But apart from such cultural sagas the 
place looked and smelled clean in a way small towns have lost 
and few recall. Living there then was Uke being in a play. 

I remember a man— was his name Zimmerman? He was 
a fat, moustached, street sweeper who pounced on sleek 
mounds of drayhorse droppings with artistic flourish even 
before they stopped steaming. I cannot prove how much 
better they smelled than exhaust fumes. Mixed with green 
lumber, ripe berries, straw cascading from a steam thresher, 
warm milk in the barn on a quick winter night, and lilac- 
watered farm boys at box suppers— all of that marked a 
world we never really paid for or took final deUvery on. 

"The war to end war" did more than to create an 
exciting new tempo for the song every small town kept 
singing— that although it might be hard to get them back on 
the farm after they'd seen Paree— everything still was all 
right with the AU-American world. And for us, stuck in the 
middle west pincushion, what other world was there? 

As for my song at the rally, even now I remember the 
passion. My cheeks must have flushed, childish treble 
stronger because of the rally's hateful prelude. We all 
stopped first in the meadow, north of the church, divided by 
the crooked string of a creek, where men and older boys yell 
cruel, bloody taunts against Germans, sang the National 
Anthem, pulled a straw-stuffed effigy of "Kaiser Bill" onto a 
high pole and set the strange, sad doU afire to the cheers of 
half the population of the righteous, church-going, mild- 
mannered village. 

In those days, even Presbyterians had an annual 
preaching visit by some well know evangelist. One of them 
scared me half to death, as an aunt of mine used to say. 
Maybe he looked like Abe Lincoln in his general store new 
Salem years. He bellowed about hell so often and 

passionately that some said a smell of smoke hung in the red 
brick church weeks after. 

The night of the rally, people brought smoke with them. 
It was real and drifting from the Kaiser's image, black 
smoldering and charred, spark-dead bits of cloth and straw 
on the innocent green grass of the little valley. 

I kept remembering that night, especially at age 14 or 
so when I was asked to recite "The Gettysburg Address' in 
the town cemetery on Memorial Day. Quite a crowd came to 
the stone-studded grove for that, too; but I always knew this 
gathering was different from the war rally, almost a decade 
earlier. Among the graves, people listening were familiar 
friends, faces and garb just right, comforting and known. 

By the vantage of the years I understand that, to burn 
Kaiser Bill, the people put on special, imaginary costumes of 
a sort, keeping them on to sell and buy war bonds in church. 
Hate changed us all. I can remember never knowing a time 
like that, ever again. 

I asked my father how he felt about World War I and 
the rally when I wanted to write a paper about it in high 
school, maybe when I was a senior, 1930. After our talk I 
chose another subject. 

He recalled saying on the way home that night in 1918 
there would be trouble for the winners in spite of God— or, 
maybe because of him, that even our flag would have rough 
flying in Germany. Of course, he was right, and trouble began 
to show there that very night. 

When the fire in meadow and heart died down in the last 
patriotic hour, a gang doused a bucket of yellow paint on the 
house-barn of a quiet, German-born couple who stayed home. 

They left it there for years. 

I could walk to school two ways and began to be 
obsessed with going past the neat little barn— actually a 
garage— wishing I could remove the yellow smear that 
daubed the conscience of us all. 

Our town never was the same. They say it was the first 

and last time any supposed enemy was hanged and burned in 
Virginia town. 

Years later, they left it out of the anniversary pageant. 


Edwardine Sperling 

Crew-cut boys and bobby-soxed girls sat silently in my 
English classroom as the loud-speaker clicked on. "My 
Friends," greeted the President in his mellifluous, albeit 
solemn voice, "the United States has just declared war upon 
Japan for the unprovoked attack at Pearl Harbor on Sunday, 
December 7." 

Students and teacher alike felt a warm surge of pride 
and patriotism. A seriousness settled over the entire school 
until dismissal time. 

Avid for news, we rushed home to hear of and to read 
about the Arizona and see the picture of a former Woodruff 
student who was one of the casualties. 

The next morning we sensed a feeling of oneness and 
determination permeating the atmosphere. Little then did we 
realize how long the conflict would last as we began to gear 
up for our small but important war effort. The Pledge of 
Allegiance brought tears of affirmation. Even sports took a 
back seat. 

We organized our home rooms into "squads." The scrap 
drive was on. We were fired with patriotism, determined to do 
our small bit. 

A quiet Sunday afternoon, a few weeks later, was 
shattered by the arrival of a huge truck of scrap iron and a 
load of eager boys from my home room. The school had 
cordoned off the football field so that each room could stake 
its claim to build a mountain of scrap iron for the war drive. 
Eager beavers of my home room took the prize. 

With a zest we sold saving stamps in school and 
automatically purchased war bond from our pay checks. A 
faculty member was appointed to catalogue all personnel, 
prepare index cards on each one, and put pertinent notices on 
the bulletin board. A large flag with service stars was 
installed on one side of the auditorium. 

As spring came, greening the campus, more and more 
lists of draftees and volunteers appeared in the Journal-Star 
as did the names of the increasing number of casualties. 

When the great airplane-carrier, the Lexington, was 
sunk, I lost my first student, a dear red-haired boy, who just 
one year before had been a student in my English class. 

Personally I signed men for the draft, I issued ration 
books, I knitted sweaters, rolled bandages, and served at city 
canteens. By final examination time in June, my senior 
English classes were composed of girls only. Unbelievably 
every boy in it had left for war. 

Then the teachers took leave. The W.A.C.'s claimed our 
business teacher; two other women enlisted in the W.A.F.'s. 
The navy, air force, and army claimed all able-bodied men 

By the next faD the first contingent of trainees returned 
to Woodruff to walk the corridors proudly sporting combat 
ribbons. Proudly they visited their former classes, strutting 
in bell-bottoms or knife-creased khakis. We loved and blessed 

So we rode out the storm, "praising the Lord and 
passing the ammunition." Little did we know that in the 
fifties and the sixties we would have to be fighting another 
battle, this time on the home front. Hitherto docile students 
would rise up against established conventions demanding to 
be heard as they shouted their invectives against us. Had 
they been the ones who had gone forth to fight in Viet Nam, 
we could have perhaps better understood their rebellion. 


Juanita Jordan Morley 

There had been rumblings of unrest in the world, but no 
one dreamed it so near. Reality was born that afternoon that 
my brother was leaving our little home on Lincoln Avenue in 
Watseka, Illinois. Wayne was in the Navy Reserve and much 
closer to things of that nature than we. He had his car radio 
on that day on December 7, 1941 and was pulling away from 
our farewells when he heard the news. It was a shock and he 
knew immediately what that would do to his future 
plans— but in a little town in the middle of Illinois in the 
middle of the U.S.A.— it seemed like a nightmare and far 
remote from us. 

Two years later, my husband, "Stix" Morley, was 
presented his papers to appear in Chicago for a physical. 
Being a teacher and the father of two small children made 
this duty hard to accept as reality. That brisk winter morning 
he boarded the train with several others from Watseka to 
have their physicals in Chicago at the Recruiting Center. He 
was by far the oldest of the group and was the first through 
his physical— first being passed by the Army, then the Navy 
and finally Marines. At the end of the day the men were all 
home again, but not all were assigned to duty. 

After a two week leave "Stix" boarded the train again 
for Chicago— this time to be shipped out to boot camp at San 
Diego in California. By this time it was nearing Christmas 
and I still couldn't believe it was actuaOy happening. But one 
day not too long after his departure I received a bundle of 
clothes— "Stix's" civilian clothes which he had no use for 
now, I think it was then it hit me— the grave reality of it all! 

As each day passed I became more and more depressed 
—I didn't want to cook— my interest in our home had 
disappeared— even I feared I would not feed our little 
ones as I should. Thus our visits next door to Grandad and 

Nanny Jordans— they fed the Uttle ones and I nibbled if I 
could get it down. 

It so happened my brother was stationed at Peru, 
Indiana. He had purchased from the cheese factory there a 
large round of cheese and had brought it to the folks. This 
seemed to be the only thing that tempted me— and I nibbled! 

In order for my two young daughters to have a Uttle 
money to spend of their own, I took orders for sugar cookies. 
(Stix's pay in the service was $50.00 a month for aU of us.) 
That day I was filling the orders I really felt terrible. I 
thought I was getting the "flu". The little girls wanted to go 
to the basketball game that evening and I took them— still 
feeling terrible. In a day or so I was really flat on my back, 
sweating what seemed like gallons of water. I remember my 
Dad got a hospital bed for me and he would lie on our bed and 
watch me through the night. Those nights seemed forever. A 
nurse friend from our neighborhood made jeUos and puddings 
for me, which I did not want to eat. The doctor said I was 
grieving for "Stix" and would be all right and he left for 

After ten days of at-home care they decided I should be 
in the hospital. Tests were run, cultures taken and the health 
official out of Chicago paid a visit. Finally it was diagnosed 
TYPHOID FEVER. They pinpointed the cheese from Peru, 
Indiana as the culprit. 

My temperature plummeted up and down— 106 degrees 
to below normal for nigh onto three months. Wild dreams 
filled my mind of snakes on the bottom of my bed— my arms 
flying around in space and leaving my body to be joined again 
on the next revolution. I would sweat untU I had drenched 
my clothes and the bed. I remember the nurse coming in with 
clean clothes and linens and warming them on the hot water 
pipes as the hospital got cool in the night. I remember I ate 
jello that was like rubber— two nurses caring for me (day and 
night nurses). The faithfulness of my father and his morning 
visits to check on me. 

Time went on and I didn't seem to show the usual signs 
of getting over the typhoid, and the seriousness of the attack 
prompted "Stix" to be called home. This was accomphshed 
through the Red Cross and Navy Relief (with some help from 
my brother who was Lt. Commander in the Navy). "Stix" has 
told me he probably had the longest leave of any enlisted man 
in the service— 45 days. 

Finally he had to go back to boot camp— he had been 
called the last day out, now he had to face going through boot 
camp all over. Leaving me was hard because I had a long 
recovery yet before me. I had developed a blood clot in my 
left leg and it had broken loose, but fortunately had lodged at 
the base of my lung. I had lost many pounds and I beUeve 
when I finally was discharged from the hospital I weighed in 
the seventies. I had to learn to walk aO over again, and it was 
not until I could do this with some degree of achievement 
than I was released. 

Homecoming was on the day of our youngest daughter 
Tena's third birthday, March 24, 1944. My babies hardly 
knew me— I was so thin, weak and frail. My first real interest 
in cooking came at rhubarb time. I wanted a pie— and I made 
it, but with great difficulty. I remember also a dear friend 
coming to take me for a walk in a wheel chair afterwards. She 
had lost her daughter to typhoid and wanted to do something 
for me. When we came to the road crossings I would get out 
and walk across and the dear woman pushed me all around 
many blocks. 

As postscript, I might add my doctor sent me the 
statistics published in the medical journal of that typhoid 
outbreak. Of the over two hundred plus cases in Indiana, I 
was the only one in Illinois. 



Glenrose Nash 

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl 
Harbor. On December 17, 1941, my father died. For a while, 
the second event obscured the first for me. I was a young 
teacher in my second year at Tiskilwa High School. It was a 
small secondary school set in northern Illinois, a village 
nearly circled by hiUs. A spur of paved road stretched from 
the county seat, Princeton, seven miles north. At that point, 
the CB&Q Railroad (now the Burhngton Northern) carried 
passengers to Chicago, not far to the east, and westward as 
far as Denver. Most important to me, however, was the stop 
at Galesburg, some seventy miles west. All the while my 
father had been iU, I had stepped off the train there most 
Friday evenings and boarded it Sunday afternoons. 

On that fateful first Sunday in December, 1 was to 
experience a sample of what changes from normal life that 
war would bring. All passes for military personnel had been 
revoked. Men in the armed forces had been called to duty. 
Thinking only of the grave situation at home, I was surprised 
at my time of departure to be caught up in a crowd scene at 
the depot. All seats were taken on the train, as it pulled in 
from the west. Service men were standing in the aisles, their 
gear stowed nearby. I listened to bursts of excited 
conversation and nervous laughter. Most of the men were 
bound for Fort Sheridan or Great Lakes Naval Training 
Station, both near Chicago, 

A little knot of civiUans was gathered at the Princeton 
depot seeing their young men off. When they would return, 
no one knew. In Tiskilwa, it seemed strangely quiet after the 
excitement of the train ride. The streets were deserted, hghts 
gleaming cheerily in the windows. Nothing gave me a clue 
that this serene little town would never be the same. 

Next morning 1 began to observe the first stirrings of 
the patriotic spirit that would soon become first in our lives. 

At school, junior and senior boys stood in the hall, speaking 
determinedly about quitting classes and joining up to defend 
their country against the enemy. IVo of the men teachers on 
our faculty were subject to the draft, as was the fiancee of our 
young English teacher. That morning the principal called an 
assembly. He spoke solemnly to the hushed student body. He 
told of President Roosevelt's call for war. We pledged our 
aOegiance to the flag, with real meaning this time. The 
principal promised that the school would do its share. Then 
we all filed out quietly. Some of the girls, thinking of family 
members who would be involved were crying. 

It was amazing how quickly, even in a village in Illinois, 
an organized war effort could begin. High school students 
would collect scrap metal. Indeed, before victory came, 
statues and ornamental fences were melted. Paper drives 
took place. War bonds were sold. The U.S. government 
already had ration books at hand. We would be Umited in our 
driving. New tires, new vehicles, and parts for them would go 
to the mihtary. Items from silk stockings to meat, coffee, and 
sugar would be rationed. The Red Cross instructed women in 
the community how to roll bandages. I 'm afraid I never did 
master the art, but I bumbled along with the others. Others 
more skilled, knitted socks and scarves. 

During the ten days before my father died, I went about 
in a dream. I heard the news of preparations, but was scarcely 
fully aware, as my personal tragedy intervened. When I 
returned for my father's funeral and to spend a few days with 
my mother, I stepped into another dream world. At home, 
everything had changed. Yet my loss gave me some idea of 
what would happen to many people's lives. They too would 
lose loved ones, and worse, those in the prime of Ufe— the 
young men. 

Back in Tiskilwa, I found more changes. A defense plant 
was about to open not far away. Housewives were applying 
for jobs. Those whose sons were in the armed forces could 
work on an assembly hne. Big billboards soon urged, "Be the 

woman behind the man behind the gun!" The local draft 
board had swung into action under stepped-up demand. 
Businessmen and farmers gave many hours to its operation. 
They were the key to the destinies of so many. I soon found a 
small part to play in that drama. Men registered at the high 
school. The teachers acted as registrants. As the war went on, 
those subject to conscription included many middle-aged 
men, including our band teacher. 

The work was interesting. I was amazed that some 
could not write their names— immigrants who worked on the 
farm and at a local saw-mill. I was surprised that others, 
while literate, were not born in this country. Nevertheless, 
they were eager to do their part. One man from County Cork, 
Ireland, as he said proudly, had a large family, but he would 
fight willingly if necessary. 

Now, as the weeks went by, boys who had reached 
eighteen left school and enlisted. It was decided that if they 
had started the second semester, they would receive their 
high school diplomas in June. How sad that graduation 
service was, as mothers came to claim their son's diplomas! 
By that time, some of the young men were already overseas. 
Others were in training camps. 

Patriotic fervor ran high. The son of a local minister 
became a conscientious objector. His congregation split down 
the middle. One group sympathized. The other boycotted the 
church. When time for yearly ministerial appointments came, 
a new pastor arrived. The young man in question was serving 
as a non-combatant. The incident was soon all but forgotten. 
Too many tragedies were touching people's own families as 
the casualty lists lengthened. One who would never return 
was a young, red-haired, freckle-faced boy who had been in 
one of my classes. He had been so eager, so vigorous. Our 
young engaged teacher was hastily married on a week-end 
when her fiancee was home on leave. She never saw him 


I was surprised one day to receive a letter from 

Washington, D.C. The Signal Corps offered a job as a civilian 
decoding messages. Since I was a Latin teacher, a recruiter 
must have thought that anyone who could solve its mysteries 
could crack a code! I didn't accept. By now there was a 
scarcity of teachers, and I felt that I was needed more in Uttle 

Along with most young women, I wrote letters to 
service men. Censored answers came back. One soldier on the 
Italian front mentioned Salerno cookies, meaning he was near 
that town. We made candy and cookies to send. Mostly, 
though, the girls missed the boys. 

One popular song went, 

"They're either too young or too old 

What's good is in the army. 

What's left will never harm me!" 

Although this was a cruelly amusing set of lyrics, other 
songs showed the other side of broken relationships, such as 
the following. 

"Don't sit under the apple tree 

With anyone else but me, 

Till I come marching home." 

Some were patriotic songs like, "Praise the Lord, and 
Pass the Ammunition,", "Off We Go into the Wild Blue 
Yonder.", and "Comin' in on a Wing and a Prayer". "Johnny 
Doughboy Found a Rose in Ireland" gave another view of the 
war situation. 

Life settled into a routine that now included volunteer 
work, such as visiting the wounded in Veteran's Hospitals, 
serving at the USO in a neighboring city. Old tires were 
retreaded, old cars patched up. Old people took the place of 
the young in field and factory. If we drove anywhere, Uncle 
Sam pointed accusingly from a signboard, "Is this trip 
necessary?" Most people cooperated with wartime 
regulations cheerfully. There was a black market, but not so 
much in our rural area. 

The town suffered, as all others suffered. Some 


businesses had closed. New ones faltered. Then, as gasoline 
permitted, people began commuting to work. Returning 
servicemen had seen another part of the world. They brought 
stories of those far-away places. Tiskilwa, at the end of a 
concrete slab, would never again be isolated. New ideas and 
new ways spread. Pre-fabricated houses now came right from 
a factory. Flood control was studied and brought into the 
little valley. The high school emphasized physical fitness and 
shop courses now. A modern language, Spanish, was added to 
the curriculum. Small, country schools closed, due to lack of 
funds and teachers. Busing began. Only in the park appeared 
a public reminder of the sad times. Those who had served 
their country would have their names listed in a bronze 
tablet. The private sorrows were not displayed, but everyone 
knew and sympathized in the little village of Tiskilwa. 


Mildred M. Nelson 

It was a damp, chilly evening near the end of April, 
1944. Supper was ready and I was keeping the food warm on 
the back of my old blue enameled cook stove. My husband 
would be in soon from doing the evening farm chores. It was 
beginning to get dark, so I Ut the kerosene lamp. It seemed to 
be taking my husband longer than usual to do the chores. I 
had already fed our four month old son. Our four year old son 
was busy pushing the chairs up to the table, including his 
own kitchen stool. Finally, chores completed, we sat down to 
eat. My husband seemed unusually quiet tonight. 

Then suddenly he said: "I went down town after work 
today and joined the navy. I'll be leaving soon to take my 
boot training at Great Lakes Naval Station. I figured that I'd 
soon be drafted and I would rather have a hammock on a ship 
for a bed than a foxhole in some foreign country." He went on 

to explain that I would receive a monthly allotment of sixty 
dollars for myself and twenty dollars for each of the boys. 

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Why, I didn't 
even know how to drive a car. I guess I just hadn't given it a 
thought as to what I would do if he had to enter the service of 
his country. My husband assured me that he would teach me 
to drive before he left. He also mentioned that I could sell the 
livestock if I wanted to, but I made up my mind right then 
that I would keep the Livestock. I would keep everything as it 
was until he returned home. 

Early on the morning of May 19, 1944, he caught a train 
for Great Lakes. This was the beginning of many new 
experiences for my husband as well as for myself. 

The first thing on my agenda was to get my driver's 
license. I would need to haul feed and supplies for the 
livestock and would also need to buy groceries. One day when 
I was feeling very confident, I got in our old 1934 Ford car 
and headed for Macomb, Illinois. I passed the written part of 
the test and seemed to pass the driving part except I did 
notice that the old fellow giving me the test gripped the door 
handles as though he were ready to jump out anytime. When 
we got back to the station, he took his little notebook and 
went to the front of the car telling me to turn on my lights. I 
explained that I had not a single light on the old car. 

He threw up his hands and in a very angry tone said: "I 
can't issue you a drivers Ucense! In the first place, you had no 
business driving this car up here without a drivers license. 
Someone should of brought you to take the test. In the 
second place, every vehicle must have hghts." 

I explained to him that my husband was in the navy and 
I needed the car to haul supplies. There was no one to drive 
me to town. Everyone that I knew was working long hours in 
factories making war supplies. I would only be driving the car 
in the day time. The old fellow shook his head, gave out a big 
sigh and issued me a permit. 

I had one problem when I did the farm chores, and that 

was what to do with my small sons. On nice days I took the 
boys to the barn with me and sat them in the hay while I did 
the milking. Sometimes, I would give them some toys to play 
with and put them in a corner of the yard where I could check 
on them every few minutes. If the weather was bad, I had no 
other choice but to leave them in the house close to a window 
where I could peek in at them from time to time. Once in a 
while, a younger brother or sister of mine would spend a few 
days with me and baby-sit with the boys while I chored. 

Our well was at the bottom of a very steep hill. Many 
times if there was ice or snow I could only make it up the hill 
with a half bucket of water. I could water the cows in an old 
washing machine tub at the well, but all of the water for the 
hogs, chickens, and the house had to be carried up that hill. 
One day one of the cows got her horns caught in the tub and 
when she raised her iiead, the tub slid down over her head. 
She began running wildly up one hill and down another one. I 
did not know what to do. I decided the best thing to do was to 
get over the fence so she wouldn't run over me. I expected her 
to either fall down and break a leg or worse yet, run into a tree 
and break her neck. Finally, she lowered her head and off 
rolled the tub. She seemed none the worse for her experiences. 

I tried to get a telephone installed, but the telephone 
company denied my request and said there were already too 
many houses on the line. They, Uke the electrical companies, 
could only get enough wire to repair existing lines. So when 
my husband got into port, he would call our good neighbors. 
Then they would drive to our house, pick up the boys and me 
so we could talk to my husband on their phone. The 
telephones were the old crank style with everyone on the line 
having a different ring. I always felt as if there were a dozen 
people hstening in on our conversation. 

Many items were rationed. Each member of the 
household had a ration book full of all kinds of stamps. Each 
time a rationed item was bought, a stamp was removed. On 
the back of the books were printed the words "Never Buy 

Rationed Goods Without Ration Stamps. Never Pay More 
Than the Legal Price." Sometimes people would buy rationed 
items on the black market, paying two or three times more 
than the legal price. 

We were allowed two pairs of shoes a year. Gasoline, 
coffee and sugar were among the many items rationed. I 
used saccharine to sweeten many things and even made 
pickles with saccharine. Many items including laundry and 
hand soap were just plain hard to find in the stores. It always 
seemed as though the store's supply was exhausted by the 
time 1 made it to town. I had some old lard so I made lye 
soap. This was pretty strong soap! I remembered trying to 
find some sheer hosiery to wear to a funeral. All I could find 
in the stores were cotton and heavy rayon hose in very dark 

1 can remember seeing the school children gathering 
milk weed pods along the country roads. These pods were 
used in the making of parachutes. One pretty fall day, I put 
my two sons in a little red wagon, pulled them down our 
country road and gathered milk weed pods for the school 

My father planted and cultivated our few acres of farm 
land with a team of horses. He also kept my coal house full of 
coal and did many repair jobs for me. 

On April 12, 1945, President Roosevelt died, and Harry 
S. Truman became President. People were concerned that the 
death of the President might delay the end of the war. 

The first part of May, the neighbors brought me a 
telephone message that my husband had called from New 
York and was on his way home on a leave. But hardly had the 
neighbors got back home when a telegram came telling my 
husband to return immediately to his ship. As soon as he 
arrived home, he had to catch the next train back to New 
York. The war with Germany had ended and many of the 
ships that had been in the Atlantic Fleet were being sent to 
the Pacific to aid in the war with Japan. 

The two boys and I rode on the train with my husband 
as far as Chicago. He told us that the first ship he had been on 
was a merchant ship carrying a load of trains to Russia. 
Authorities in Russia took all cameras and magazines away 
from the U.S. sailors and they were not returned until the 
ship left Russia. Russian women loaded the ship with lumber 
and the ship load of lumber was taken to Scotland. In 
Scotland, the same ship was loaded with Scotch whiskey and 
shipped back to the United States. It would seem that the 
United States traded a load of trains for a load of whiskey. 

Most of the time my husband was a gunner aboard a 
tanker carrying high octane gasohne to England and 
Australia. He said that on one trip they had a Uttle difficulty 
in the Enghsh Channel with "Buzz Bombs." He gave me a 
piece of a "Buzz Bomb". It seemed to be made of heavy 

We said our "goodbyes" in Chicago. He went to New- 
York and the boys and I returned to the farm. What a shock 
to find that someone had broken into our house while we were 
gone! Dresser drawers were turned upside down, tables and 
chairs knocked over. The only thing that I could find missing 
were the children's piggy banks. After that, I always kept a 
410 shotgun close at hand, and I let it be known that I 
wouldn't hesitate to use it if necessary. 

In the summer of 1945, the telephone company installed 
a phone. At last I was allowed on the line. Also the electric 
company notified me that I could now get electricity. It was 
difficult finding someone to wire the house. I finally found an 
old fellow to do the wiring. Since he had no teeth, I was quite 
concerned as to what to fix him for lunch. He mentioned that 
he Liked good milk gravy. He informed me that to make good 
milk gravy, you must boil it for some time and stir it 
constantly. To my surprise, my gravy turned out good, and 
to this day my grandchildren think that I make good milk 

It was nice to have electricity and a telephone. I think 

about the first call was from my husband saying that he was 
back in Port and was finaUy going to get a leave. So he was 
home when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on 
August 6, 1945, and when it was dropped on Nagasaki three 
days later. Japan surrendered— the war was over! We were so 
happy. We thought that after my husband's leave was over, 
all he would have to do was report back to his ship and get his 
discharge. How wrong we were! Only sailors with three 
children or more were given discharges, and aW the others 
boarded a ship for the Philippine Islands. There my husband 
spent another six months. 

Finally, early in 1946, my husband received his 
discharge. We were more fortunate than many of our friends 
and relatives. My husband made it back home and he did 
have a hammock for a bed instead of a fox hole. Most of the 
time, his hammock was on the deck of a tanker above six 
million gallons of high octane gasoline. 


Virginia Dee Schneider 

Right after Japanese planes bombed our American 
naval base at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands without 
any warning on Sunday, December 7, 1941, everyone in the 
United States became determined to fight until Japan was 

Woody, who was my dear friend, proved to be no 
exception. Especially, did he want to go and fight to settle a 
score for his best pal Bob, who served in the navy and was 
killed at Pearl Harbor that day. Woody couldn't wait to enhst 
for he felt he had his own personal vendetta. 

Although Woody 's mother tried to convince him to wait 
until he was drafted since he was her only son, Woody was 


adamant. He would not change his mind and enhsted 

The good-byes were painful enough. What was worse 
was my living without Woody in the days that followed. Too, 
the fear that I might never see him again, preyed on my mind 
constantly. A popular song, "When the Lights Go On Again 
All Over the World," mirrored my feehngs exactly. Another 
song, "Put Your Arms Around Me Honey and Hold Me 
Tight," would set off a non-stop flow of tears and yearnings 
for Woody. 

The tension of waiting until the war would be over got 
to me as well as to everyone else. Shortages of tires, gas, 
sugar, coffee and even nylons, resulted in rationing. We had 
to make do or do without for manufacturers stopped making 
cars, refrigerators and other peacetime products to make 
guns, planes, and tanks needed to fight the war. 

It made me feel better about doing something towards 
the war effort by folding bandages for the Red Cross and I 
sincerely hoped while I folded them that Woody would never 
have need of one. This work kept me busy evenings after 
work and left me less time to worry. 

Too, we could talk while we folded them and this way we 
were able to release our own tensions by listening to others 
who had dear ones in service. One mother had six stars on the 
flag in her window which indicated that six from her family 
were in service. Yet, she showed an amazing fortitude and 
inspired us to do likewise. 

Whenever I 'd get a letter from Woody, I 'd be overcome 
with joy! Before he enUsted, Woody was always the party 
clown and in his letters he'd write amusing stories about the 
oppressive climate in New Guinea . . . either extremely hot or 
wet or both. Woody 's write that, "It doesn't just rain here . . . 
it comes down like a deluge!" Also, he'd tease me about those 
"good-looking" girls in New Guinea. Hah! At least, I didn't 
have the worry that some good-looking girl would lure him 
away from me. That was my sister's extra worry. Her 

husband was stationed and fighting in Germany and some of 
those blonde, blue-eyed frauleins were quite fetching! I did 
worry though about those poisonous snakes and crocodiles 
that I heard were abundant in New Guinea. 

I was pleased that judging from Woody's letters, he was 
in good spirits, optimistic and adjusted to army life. When he 
sent me a coconut carved by a New Guinea native, I was 
delighted! It seemed to bring him closer to me. Yet, it lulled 
me into a false sense of security for after that I didn't hear 
from him for a long period. 

Then came the night when I saw Woody for the last 
time. He appeared thin, wistful and somber which was not 
like him at all. I asked him, "Are you all right Woody? You 
don't look at all well." 

Woody smiled gently while shaking his head with 
resignation. Then he whispered that everything was fine. He 
admitted though that he did feel somewhat exhausted and 
would soon be going home to rest. Just as I reached out to 
put my arms around him, my alarm went off. 

... I just broke down and sobbed to think that it was 
only a dream! 

Soon after I had that dream, I received an overseas 
letter. However, when I saw that it wasn't Woody's 
handwriting, I felt a numbing sensation of fear envelop me. 

Yet, it wasn't as bad as I anticipated. Woody's buddy 
had written to say that Woody's been ill with malaria. He 
added that he was recuperating in the hospital and assured 
me that I'd hear from him soon. 

What a hft that gave me! 

Only to be let down again for a month later I received a 
letter from his chaplain who informed me that Woody did 
indeed go home to rest as he had told me in his dream. 


Eva Baker Watson 

Soon after the beginning of World War II my father was 
elected sheriff of Pope County. Our family then moved into 
the Jail House, so-called because the sheriff's residence and 
the jail were housed under one roof. 

Papa's only law enforcement qualifications were his 
thirty-one years of discipUning in rural schools. However, 
since at that time the sheriff's major duty was tax collecting, 
he felt he could handle the job. 

But this was an alien environment for us. I'm sure my 
mother felt less adequate to fulfill her part of their 
partnership that had begun when she married a 
schoolteacher years before. She'd grown up in a sheltered 
atmosphere, never dreaming fate would involve her with law 
breakers. Yet there she was, the official turnkey in my 
father's absence, unlocking the jail door to admit drunks, 
thieves, even murderers. And there she stood watchfully by, 
as was required, while they were visited by family, friends or 

I was a war bride and still living with my parents. I 
operated my beauty shop by day and shared their 
responsibilities in off hours. 

We all had a feehng of being incarcerated because 
someone always had to be in the house— the jail must not be 
unattended. Also, we were practically running a restaurant 
for feeding the prisoners was another duty. But this didn't 
bother Mama for it was her joy to serve meals. This part- 
would be simply an extension of her normal lifestyle. 

She was advised to feed "jailbirds" anything cheap and 
handy— the commonest of fare. Mama would have none of 
that. It was her creed that what we ate anyone under our roof 

Even while revolted by closer encounters with those she 
considered not "our kind," her compassionate nature 

asserted itself and soon she was playing another role— that of 
"The Listener." 

In the wall between our kitchen and the jail was a small 
opening through which food trays were passed. This became 
a sort of confessional, for inmates found that here they could 
talk to her. Here they would unburden themselves of their 
guilt, protests of innocence, rationalizations. 

This took its emotional toll on Mama. It was then she 
began doing something that proved to be good therapy for 
her. She started keeping a journal. 

Today as I read her diary I see what I lacked perception 
to realize back then. I see a mother with two sons and a son- 
in-law away fighting a war, and I see that in "doing unto the 
least"— to those people under her care— she was 
unconsciously "doing unto" her absent loved ones. But her 
benevolence backfired, sometimes. 

When a runaway boy was apprehended at a County Fair 
carnival, it seemed unsuitable to lock up one so young with 
older offenders. My parents agreed he should occupy one of 
our bedrooms for the night. His name was Don. 

"Of course we took him in," wrote Mama in her diary. 
"How could we have refused? He was only twelve and even 
his name touched my heart for our own Don was now far 
away somewhere in the Pacific. I rununaged through drawers 
and found clean underclothes for him and set him to the 
bathroom to scrub up." 

Next morning before Papa took Don to the bus that 
would take him home. Mama served him breakfast. 
Afterwards, putting a bag of donuts into his suitcase she saw 
that it was falling apart. While she was securing it with a 
strong cord the boy, seeing her occupied, said he wanted to go 
back to the upstairs bedroom "to get my mother's picture I 

That evening I noticed articles missing from my 
room— also upstairs— some cash, my watch, and a 
honeymoon gift from my husband. Chagrined, my parents 

realized they'd been had. I doubt if it changed them. I 
suspect they'd have done the same thing again. 

Once a young man was brought in for being drunk and 
disorderly who also was AWOL from the Navy. He was to be 
held until officers came for him. 

His drunken spree had fouled up his Navy neatness. My 
mother's sympathy was again enlisted when he said, 
"Shucks, them guys will give me more hell for bein' dirty 
than for bein' AWOL!" So she washed his suit and ironed it 
dry, doing for him what she would so loved to have done for 
her own Navy son. 

Some "guests" were hilarious despite the tragic 
circumstances of their arrests. 

George's story occupied several pages of the journal for 
his was an extended stay. Charged with steaUng chickens and 
for seriously wounding a neighbor in a fight, his reputation 
was bad. No one would go his baO. But his wife and children 
were devoted and came often to see him. 

Between visits he sent letters to his wife, Mary— fervent 
declarations that he couldn't live without her. These he 
dictated to his private secretary, my father. Mary's 
answers— read to him by my father, for George was 
illiterate— were equaDy amorous, closing with many O's and 

A minister called, showed interest in him. George, quick 
to see his advantage, engaged this man of the cloth to come 
regularly and cut his hair. 

Barbering served a dual purpose. It kept George 
presentable and also provided momentoes to send his wife: 
hair cUppings which he inserted in letters along with his nail 

"No doubt," wrote Mama, "George has winning ways 
for although we've had deep snows, Mary still comes each 
week, walking and hitchhiking the eighteen miles." 

When a young black mother was arrested for neglecting 
her three small children. Mama was demoralized. She wrote, 

"This is the first Negro woman we have jailed and I've been 
nervous all day, tripped on rugs, bumped into door facings. 
Another colored woman who helps me occasionally has been 
here ironing. She sensed it wasn't too safe to be near me and 
once when I passed by her she rolled her eyes and said, "take 
care! Don't you come too close to this here ironin' boa'd!" 

"That evening just before dark I answered a knock at 
the back door. There, standing in the snow, were the jailed 
woman's three httle children. One of them said, "can't you 
put us in jail with Mama 'cause we ain't got no place to 

"This was the most pathetic situation I could imagine. 
The authorities decided to release the mother overnight to 
care for the children on promise that she would return to jail 
next morning. As she left she said to me, "I'll be back 'cause I 
like it here and I like the food." 

"The crisis resolved, I thought I would relax. But 
returning to the kitchen, I accidently pushed a whole pan of 
dishes off the table. I don't want another day like this." 

A winter entry: "Old ItaUan found wandering, brought 
in for questioning— useless, for he speaks no English. Surely 
has been tramping a long time. No socks, feet sore. I gave 
him warm water, soap, foot ointment, and a pair of woolen 
socks. Poor old fellow, a weary wanderer in a strange land." 

Later: "Old Italian released, nothing to charge him 
with. So cold. I gave him a hat and heavy overcoat Don left 
behind. If my boy has the good fortune to survive this 
terrible war he shall have a new coat and hat when he 

After months of varied and undreamed-of experiences 
Mama wrote, "This old jail can serve many purposes, we've 
learned. A man whose derangement had reached the point 
where his family no longer could cope with him was locked up 
until he could be formally adjudged "insane." Was removed 
next day to Anna State Hospital, rebelliously vowing to 
escape and come back to Golconda. He did come back only a 

few days later— in a funeral coach. He died soon after being 
committed. Sad— it seems he didn't have a fair chance in 

The jail door opened one bitter January day to receive a 
miserable old man, wet, moaning and shivering. He'd 
decided to end it all by jumping from a high bridge into a 
creek. Mama recorded the event: "He made the jump, but 
called for help when he hit the water, was rescued. Here in the 
warm jail he was stripped of his wet clothing and wrapped in 
blankets. Since he was the jail's only occupant that day the 
big door remained open while the poor man's friends came 
and went offering encouragement. Finally his only relative, a 
good woman who lives near arrived to take him to her home." 

By the end of my father's term the war was over and our 
three men had miraculously returned. I'd moved with my 
husband into our own home. But I shared some of the feelings 
my mother expressed in her journal's final entry: 

"On the whole, these years in this place people call The 
Jail House have been pleasant. I've served in a way I'd never 
thought of doing. I do not regret the gruesome and harrowing 
experiences for they have been an education to me— I've seen 
a picture of hfe's other side that I didn't know existed. I came 
here sort of reluctantly, but I have come to love this house." 

Rereading Mam's diary today, I sense that the strange 
demands of hfe in The JaU House surely provided the 
distraction we all needed to help us endure the 
unthinkable— knowing that those so dear to us were far away 
fighting a war. 


Albert Shanholtzer 

When the United States entered World War II, the first 
registration under the Selective Service Act called all men 

from 21 to 36 to report at the place designated within their 
township, giving their name, birth date and other pertinent 
information. The Village Hall in Coatsburg was named for 
Honey Creek township, and being in that age bracket, I 
comphed. Before the war ended our nation would have the 
largest number of men in the armed services for any conflict 
we ever engaged in, 8,400,000 by 1945. 

Soon plans were made to issue rationing coupons to 
people for aU sorts of things, gas, tires, meat, sugar ... in 
fact, everything our men in service would need, so they could 
be suppHed first! 

As soon as the first registration was completed the next 
call was for men 18 and 19 and up to 45 years old. Using 
volunteers to do this had been found feasible. I was one of 
several named to serve Honey Creek and Gilmer Townships. 
Choice of those to call on was determined by capabihty and a 
wide acquaintance with people of the area. Edgar Brosi was a 
few years older than me, and as a cream tester and egg buyer 
for the grocery store in Coatsburg run by his brother, Albert, 
knew a great many farm folk. For the past 15 years I had 
issued a small newspaper in my commercial printing shop, so 
between us we knew almost everyone. We were sent to 
Columbus Grade School, on the west side of the Village 
Square and across the street south of the masonic Building 
(The school has been replaced with a dwelhng, but then it had 
adequate room for the registration). Most registrants came in 
the early morning, and in time other volunteer registrars 
arrived also. About mid-morning the chief registrar gave Ed 
and me a packet of forms and asked us to go to the Adams 
County Home where there were some men in the 36 to 45 year 
bracket to be registered. 

The home was a huge three story brick building 
standing just west of the north-south road, about one and a 
half miles northwest of Columbus and the same distance 
southwest of Coatsburg on the County Farm, with a barn, 
corn-crib, machine shed, and the superintendent conducted 

farming operations, hiring help. As a result most of the needs 
of the people hving there for meat, milk, vegetables in season, 
even poultry and eggs, all were produced the year around. It 
had existed since the late 1800's as a refuge for people who 
became old, injured, or in ill health, with no relatives and 
unable to hve alone any more. The Home was built on the 
highest spot, giving reason for the common reference to those 
forced to seek shelter there as a last resort as "going over the 
hiU to the poor-house." As we approached from a mile away 
the dense coal smoke from the taU smokestack was a black 
column lazily ascending into a windless sky. 

As we arrived at the main entrance on the east side, not 
far from the road, the Superintendent met us at the door, 
escorting us through a small hall into a spacious room where 
some twenty or so people sat, some reading, small groups 
conversing, some sitting in the warm sun's rays through big 
east windows. Making our mission known to the people, 
stating we would return to register those men in the 45 years 
and under bracket, we followed the escort to the infirmary on 
the second floor. Opening into the hall were several rooms 
with east windows, a bed in each corner near the hall, a small 
table and chair at each bedside, two rocking chairs near the 

Hearing our reason for coming aroused both men in the 
first room to a sense of eagerness to respond. Ed approached 
the man in a chair by the window; I shook hands and 
introduced myself to the man resting on his bed. As I asked 
his name, he sat up, swung his feet over the edge of the bed, 
put on a worn pair of carpet shppers and very carefully 
spelled it out to me. I asked for his birth date and place, (and, 
just as everyone we interviewed the questions were answered 
eagerly, with some boyhood memories usually recalled.) For 
verification, I read each question and his answer back to him, 
then asked him to sign the printed form. His handwriting was 
very shaky, but after signing, as I took the paper and 
thanked him, his blue eyes misted with tears as he said, "I 

wish there was something more I could do!" 

Following the draft registration, rationing had its day! 
We volunteers sat across the table as the people (mostly the 
men) came in. Tires were scarce, rubber was at a premium for 
the army needed tires. One question read: "Have you any 
tires other than those now on your truck or car?' Most 
answers seemed honest. "Yes, four old baldies on a hay 
rack!" Or, "No, and even the spare I have is in poor shape!" 
The work of the applicant, whether, if commuting to work, he 
was sharing rides in a car pool, a number of things regulated 
the purchase of new tires. 

The most amusing answers came with sugar rationing. 
"Have you any sugar on hand?" 

"Well ... a sugar bowl on the table about half full." 

"How much would that weigh?" 

"Oh, a pound, more or less, I reckon." 

So it went, aU down the line. Meat, coffee, gasoline, 
kerosene. Gasoline was rationed according to job use. Fuel for 
the farm tractors was paramount; gasoline for the doctor, 
mail carrier, volunteer fireman, veterinarian . . . those who 
served the pubUc were entitled to ration stamps adequate for 
their needs. A great many conscientious persons drew the 
allotted stamps and used them sparingly so often their quota 
was never fully needed. They saw the blue service stars in the 
windows and as the war dragged on the gold stars in some 
told of far greater sacrifices being made. 

On Memorial Day, or Armistice Day, whenever I think 
of loyalty, I remember those men in the County Home 
infirmary, too ill or too crippled to do much of anything, 
signing their draft questionnaire, indicating in one way or 
another the thought expressed by the first to register as he 
said pladntively, "I wish there was more I could do!" 


Nellie F. Roe 

World War II really began for me on a lovely Spring 
morning in 1943 with the arrival of the mailman— news from 
my mother that my youngest brother, Frank, was "Missing 
in Action" in the Navy and a notice from the Draft Board for 
my husband. Bill, to report for his "physical". The latter was 
not unexpected as many young fathers were being "called 
up" but with the optimism of youth, we had tried not to dwell 
on the fact. 

We had married in the Spring of 1941 and war clouds 
had been rumbUng for many months with strained diplomatic 
relations with Japan and Hitler's Nazi armies "goose- 
stepping" across Europe. 

Then Dec. 7th, as we were looking forward to our first 
Christmas together, Japanese war planes bombed Pearl 
Harbor leaving our nation stunned and outraged. Suddenly, 
we were at war with Japan, Germany, and Italy! I will not 
attempt to go into detail about that day or the discouraging 
news of major Japanese naval victories throughout the 
Pacific or Germany's many coups in Europe. This is all 
recorded in history for all to read. Suffice to say, the situation 
looked grim for some time before the United States' 
involvement began to turn the tides of the war. No, this is a 
story of war on the home front, fought by the wives and 
children left behind! 

In our case we had become the proud parents of a baby 
daughter born March 25, 1943. We named her Mary Anne. 
For the past six years Bill had managed a small chain grocery 
store in Mt. Sterling so arrangements were made for our 
young butcher, Lawrence Horbuckle, to take over that job. 
Not an easy task! Food rationing was in "full swing" by then 
to prevent hoarding of scarce items such as coffee, butter, 
sugar and any "sugar-related' items such as syrup, pudding, 
jello, etc. A Ration Board had been formed in each County to 

issue ration books containing stamps for certain products. 
They were dated and had to be used before the deadline. Then 
you were issued a new book. If you didn't need all your 
stamps, they could be passed on to others or traded for others 
you needed. We soon learned to adjust our eating habits 
accordingly. The stamps were collected by the grocer at the 
time of purchase and it then became his job to sort them, 
count them, paste them in books and turn them in before he 
could order more merchandise— at time consuming job! 

Gasoline was also rationed. If you wanted to take a long 
trip, you saved your stamps until you had enough and then 
you would hope the "wind would be at your back." Needless 
to say. Bill passed his physical with "flying colors" and we 
began to make plans. Many service wives went to live with 
parents or relatives and many took jobs formerly held by men 
and found they could shovel coal, rivet, or run businesses just 
as well as a man (I think the seeds of the E.R.A. may have 
been planted then). However, I decided to "keep the home 
fires burning" and try to get by on my $85 a month 
allotment. Rent was $25 a month and my other needs were 
few. I had canned fruits and vegetables and Bill lugged home 
several cartons of baby food even though Mary Anne didn't 
Uke it. 

It was a sad day when he left especially when he went 
into take a last look at the baby, stiU sound asleep. I cried 
myself to sleep for several nights and then "took myself in 
hand" and decided to count my blessings. BiU was sent to 
Fort McClellan, Ala. for his basic training and was soon 
writing about the rigors of Army Ufe. In Oct. he located a 
room for us in Anniston, Ala. through the U.S.O. where we 
could be close to him for a couple of weeks. It was a rough 
train trip with luggage, baby, bottles, blankets, etc. and 
living conditions were a little cramped in the one bedroom 
where I had to wash my clothes and the baby's diapers by 
hand in a wash basin. However, when Bill could get a "pass" 
and be with us for a while, it made it worth the inconvenience. 

When it got colder I headed back for Mt. Sterling and 
"settled in" for the duration. Bill finished basic training in 
Dec. and got home on a week's furlough at Christmas time. 
Army life seemed to agree with him— he looked great! 

His orders were to report to Ft. Meade, Md. which 
meant he probably would be shipped to Italy or England. 
There were several anxious weeks of waiting before I learned 
he was stationed in England. We tried to write each other 
every day but his letters were censored so he couldn't tell me 
much. He usually used V-mail which was a type of folded-up 
note that went through mail quicker than regular mail. I 
might go for a week without a letter and then get 6 or 7 at 
once. Every evening I sat glued to the radio to listen to the 
war news. My favorite commentator was Gabriel Heatter as 
he often used the expression "Ah, there's good news tonight" 
and it made me feel better. 

On June 6th, 1944— D-Day— Allied troops landed in 
Normandy and that seemed to be the turning point of the 
war. Bill was not with the first group but his unit was 
shipped to Southern France a month or so later. By then, he 
was with a Replacement Depot, whose job it was to forward 
the troops to wherever they were needed most. He was now a 
Sgt. and I proudly wore a pin on my coat lapel with Sgt's. 

In the meantime, I was saddened to learn that, after a 
year, my brother was declared dead. We never learned how he 
died. He was a signalman on a ship torpedoed by the 
Germans but there were some survivors. It also made me sad 
to see some of the blue stars placed in windows around town 
being replaced with gold stars. Two of the casualties were 
boys who had worked in our store. 

In the fall of 1944 I took Mary Anne and went to stay 
with my sister and family in College Park, Md. for a few 
months. She was helping my brother -on-law in a new business 
venture and it proved to be to our mutual advantage. She 
needed someone to care for their two small sons and it would 

give me a financial "boost." They soon became attached to a 
Mary Anne and vice-versa. She tried to mimic everything her 
cousins did even to calling her Uncle Bob "daddy.' When the 
boys would pick up blocks they would call out "bombs over 
Tokyo" and she would help and "chime in" with her year and 
a half old "lingo." Little did they realize how prophetic the 
expression was. 

I left right after Christmas and when we got home I 
realized how much I appreciated my good neighbors, who had 
kept an eye on the house for me. How lucky I was, to live in a 
small town where people really cared! That same neighbor 
had at one time rescued me from a mouse in the kitchen 
wastebasket! I had many friends and some would ask Mary 
Anne "where's daddy" just to hear her say "Till in Fwance, I 
dess." One friend heard me remark that I had some coal in 
such large chunks 1 couldn't get it in the furnace. The next 
day her husband was down and broke it all up for me. We 
service wives would get together often for meals and 
"outings" with our children or sometimes just to visit. 

The days and weeks passed by and the war news was 
more and more encouraging and then "Happy Day"! On May 
9th the Allies celebrated the unconditional surrender of 
Germany. Then, on August 14th, after atomic bombs had 
been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan 
surrendered and World War II was history! The awesome 
responsibility of dropping that first atom bomb has come 
back to haunt us, but at that time it brought an end of a long 
and costly war. 

The troops began to arrive back in the United States on 
a point system, based on length of service overseas. 
Finally,— an anxiously awaited telegram— "Arriving 
Coaldale Victory in Dec." Shortly before Christmas, I pushed 
a stroller through the snow with one hand and dragged a tree 
with the other (I think the groceries were on back of the 
stroller) and prepared for a joyful holiday. 

Every morning I listened for the names of the ships 


docking in New York but I needn't have worried about 
missing it. I had several calls— "Nelly the Coaldale Victory 
docked this morning." It was delayed because of a storm at 
sea but you can bet that Christmas tree stayed up. Then, on 
New Year's Eve almost two years to the day since I had last 
seen him, a beloved voice on the phone— "I'm in Peoria— be 
home in about three hours." 

I guess if I had to pick the happiest day in my life, that 
day would rank right up there with our wedding day and the 
births of our four daughters (three post-war!). I knew there 
would adjustments to make but together we could face 
anything! We had both been through a war and had passed 
the test. 


Robert Taylor Bums 

Some crew members called them "Ugly ducklings!" 
Others supplied a more complimentary name, "Wonder ships 
of the Navy. " They were the famous tank landing craft 
known as LST's during the hectic days of World War II. 

There were a number of things unusual about those 
ships. They were specially built to make independent 
landings on hostile beaches. They were flat bottomed, could 
get in close to shore and by means of a stern anchor and 
winch could puU themselves away from those beaches 
without aid of tugs or other units. Their cargo could be 
unloaded directly from the third deck onto land. 

But there were more things far from the ordinary about 
those LST's. Although they saw action on far flung invasion 
fronts of North Africa, Italy, Normandy, Okinawa, New 
Guinea, Leyte Gulf and Luzon, they had been born in an 
lUinois cornfield near Seneca. Top executives of the Chicago 
Bridge and Iron Company huddled over a governmental 

order to build 40 of the shallow draft ships by the end of 1943. 
All this just within a year's time, which would have to include 
the herculean task of first building a shipyard. 

Donald Leach was summoned from Oklahoma where he 
had served the company as an engineer. He was a native of 
Indiana and far removed from any direct knowledge or 
experience in construction of naval craft. "I knew nothing 
about ship buOding," Mr. Leach, now deceased, confided to 
me after his retirement across the street from my home. A 
lesser man than Don Leach would surely have been 
overwhelmed at the challenge tossed upon his shoulders. But 
he put his fine reputation as an engineer upon the hne and 
tackled the job with perseverance. 

Before any LST's came forth I remember the stories of 
the successful venture, the hustle and the bustle— the influx 
of workers who hved in war homes when Seneca burgeoned 
from a town of 1,000 to a city of 12,000 while families of the 
1 1,000 workers who built those ships welled the population of 
communities far removed from the 200-acre farm site where 
things had begun to hum. 

Folks didn't ordinarily visit the shipyards during 
construction of the plant and the subsequent production of a 
highly successful total of 147 LST's before war's end. But we 
did on occasion get an invitation to attend a launching. We 
suffered with Mrs. FeUx Loeb, wife of one of the builders who 
had been picked to launch the craft on the day of her visit. 
She performed her task nobly but the champagne bottle 
didn't. It took a number of heft swats at the bow before, with 
assistance of an aid, the foamy Uquid splashed as deisgnated 
on the newly christened ship. 

Launching was spectacular. Released sideways down a 
327-foot slide, this equally long craft picked up speeds 
estimated from 22 to 26 miles per hour until it slapped into 
the lUinois River. Then, after a period of inspection and a 
shakedown run of equipment, the newest "baby" of the 
building effort would head downriver via the Illinois 


Waterway system to the Gulf and thence toward war areas to 
deliver tanks, men, heavy artillery and half-tracks to the 
invasion areas. 

We were invited to go aboard one of the ships during a 
special stop in Ottawa. Immediately we were given an 
unforgettable introduction to jungle warfare. There were 
special effects, enacted by naval and military personnel 
including some camouflaged soldiers startling visitors by 
their abihty to conceal themslves until the visitors had 
practically run into them head on. We visited the various 
decks and learned that not only did the craft serve as a troop 
and armament carrier, it was equipped to become a hospital 
ship for evacuation of wounded men from the carnage on far 
flung beaches. 

Back to the work of building. Some 300,000 cubic yards 
of overlay had to be scooped off, leaving a nearly flat slab of 
sandstone 2,000 feet square at the base for structures in the 
working area. Three wells had to be dug, producing at their 
peak one half miUions water per day. Sewers, fire protection, 
electrical power and drainage were needs and problems to 
solve in a hurry. 

The ship yard began on May 1, 1942, deUvered its ship 
January 20, 1943, was 21 days ahead of its schedule or 
contract when the 40th vessel was deUvered into naval hands 
Decmeber 9, 1943. Under a sub-assembly plan designed by 
yardmaster Leach and his co-workers, the tempo of 
completion went to the nearly unbelievable rate of seven per 
month. The craft were 90 percent completed on land, thus 
reducing delays and making it possible to dehver this ship 
soon after launching. The completed ship (or nearly so) was 
moved a quarter of mile on land. Veteran Eastern 
shipbuilders said it couldn't be done. But ingenuity prevailed 
and it was done. 

LST's acquitted themselves very well, they were 
dubbed as "best ships of the fleet" "And I saw one of those 
157 craft made at Seneca's cornfield still going strong in 

Hong Kong harbor in 1968—23 years after the war's end," 
reported Don Leach, a world traveler in his retirement years. 
And in tribute to the production effort of that team of 11,000 
workers who made such a contribution to the war's 
successful end, the pointed out: "We won the coveted Army 
Navy flag with four stars for our work in beating deadlines 
and in maintaining lowest cost production of all firm 
manufacturing LST's. And 82 percent of all bonuses received 
were returned to the federal taxes," he proudly concluded. 

Through the efforts of the yardmaster we were able to 
receive a valuable model of the LST, the miniature structure 
encased in a hermetically-sealed glass case measuring 44 
inches in length and 15 " x 9 " in height and width. This one-of- 
a-kind memento of the great struggle won by good old 
Yankee ingenuity reposes in the LaSalle County Historical 
Society's Museum in Utica. 


Marjorie M. Smith 

In the words of our then third-term President F.D.R., it 
was a "Date of Infamy. " To me— a 19 year-old aspiring 
reporter at the Peoria Evening Sfar— December 7, 1941 was a 
"Date of Immediacy." 

That historic Sunday my mom and dad, my kid sister (a 
loyal Woodruff student), and my visiting grandmother from 
Chicago were gathered around the Sunday dinner table in our 
comfortable frame house in the East Bluff. As was the family 
custom at this early afternoon meal, we had the radio tuned 
to the delightful 'swing and sway' rhythms of Sammy Kaye's 
big band. 

. . . "We interrupt this broadcast" . . . 

Like umpteen other Americans, we were shocked, 
horrified, incredulous at the Japanese attack; but because I 


was also emergency switchboard operator at the Star, I was 
galvanized into action. 

These were pre-TV newscaster days and the fastest way 
to reach the public was the old-fashioned newsprint "extra." 
To get such an extra on the streets required an able-bodied 
"skeleton crew" (editors, reporters, composers, printers, 
circulation men, etc.) be assembled at our Madison Street 
plant to "crank out an edition." We were located in a 3-story 
edifice where the Pere Marquette ballroom now stands— a 
noisy old building redolent of cigarette smoke, coffee fumes, 
and greasy machines. 

I convinced my mom it was imperative I contact Mr. B. 
(CharUe Barnum, our managing editor) to be sure he'd heard 
the news and would get downtown and open the plant. I 
dialed his number got an aggravating busy signal (found out 
later he was busy dialing me having heard the atrocious 

I called a cab (I didn't drive and for some reason dad 
couldn't take me) and the weather was clear and seasonably 
cold. I gave the cabbie my destination but not my reason for 

As we neared downtown, we ran smack into a Masonic 
parade, leisurely making its way down Main. The driver 
slowed, cogitated, and seemed in no apparent hurry as 
though he would gladly wait for the fez-topped marchers to 
sashay by before depositing his fare. 

Anxiously, I asked the cabbie if he had his radio on 
earlier as I was sure he was completely unaware of the sneak 
attack on U.S. ship at Pearl Harbor. He blithely answered in 
the negative. When I told him the startling news and that it 
was imperative we get an "extra" on the streets he did some 
fancy maneuvering to drop me at my destination. Arriving 
simultaneously, were the managing editor and a few of the 
required personnel. 

Mr. B. got the heavy door unlocked and I headed 
breathless for the big board in the front cubicle— turned on 

the machine, slid on the headphones, "snaked out" the plugs, 
and started dialing all of the workers needed to activate an 
extra. It was go, go, go! 

Meanwhile, up in the third floor newsroom the teletypes 
were going wild— rat-a-tat-tat— AP, UP, INS filing staccato 
and our little machines receiving. Reams of print and papers 
were about to be strewn over the dark floor; only the Wire 
Editor was just as busily tearing it off, digesting it, and 
setting up copy. 

Downstairs my Board was lighting up "like a Christmas 
tree" with incoming and outgoing calls. Anxious Peorians 
were checking rumors and I tried to handle queries pohtely 
while sidestepping details so that the extra could hit the 
streets before the Journal-Transcript's version. Although we 
were moraOy shattered by the news and its ramifications, we 
still were guUty of that old competitive fever inherent in a 
two-paper town and wanted to be first. 

We didn't have long to wait and we did beat the J-T! 
Our fantastic crew assembled that extra in record time and 
our newsboys were soon loudly hawking it at Madison and 
Main and other downtown intersections. 

So much followed that particular day— President 
Roosevelt's Declaration of War, the young men going off to 
fight, the ration books, the air raid drills, the emergency first 
aid classes, the heartbreaking stories of battles involving 
local service personnel. 

My own news career changed as a result. Up to then, I'd 
been Mr. B's secretary (in his little office just off the 
newsroom), emergency switchboard operator, and 
occasionally the recipient of typical cub assignments. 1 
handled minor obits, church and club news, "The Rising 
Generation" and "Chats & Snaps" (these were both picture 
features where all I did was write innocuous captions). 

The following year because of Peorians' interest in their 
military, the Star established "The Service Parade". I 
started handling the stories about men and women in 


uniform, expanding it to a daily two-column and eventually a 
two-page spread on Sundays. My title was "Service Parade 
Editor" and once I was lucky enough to gamer an exclusive 
"Banner" (front page headline and lead story) about a couple 
of local sailor heroes in the Pacific. 

It was a "Date of Immediacy" for me, but it was also a 
time of beginnings. I know my genuine love of people and my 
optimistic philosophy of life were nurtured by the kindness 
and "we're— all-in-it-together feehng" that a young working 
girl discovered that December 7th and in the days ahead. 
Those personality traits were generated by the "tough but 
tender" news guys that made up the employee roster at the 
old Peoria Evening Star. 


Garnet Workman 

After the construction of Camp Ellis, near Ipava, was 
completed in 1943 and soldiers were stationed at the new 
Army Camp, the Lewistown Umted Service Organization 
was first located back of Hyzer's Garage, on East Euchd. 
Later it was relocated in more spacious quarters at the old 
Baldwin Elementary School on South Main Street. 

According to my diary, the U.S.O. hostesses held a 
supper and skating party for an engineer group on Tuesday, 
October 12, 1943. A Halloween party was sponsored on 
Saturday night, October 30, 1943. As I recall, I told fortunes 
with cards in a booth surrounded by cornstalks. 

After the U.S.O. headquarters were moved to the 
Baldwin School, a Dedication Program was held Wednesday, 
December 22, 1943. I still remember attending a Valentine 
dance there in 1944 and feeling quite glamorous in a 
borrowed white formal gown. 

A Miss Dobson was the U.S.O. director of activities and 

volunteer workers. To this day, I still have my certificate for 
meritorious service as a volunteer. 

Included in activities at the U.S.O. were potluck 
suppers, dances, bingo, cards, ping-pong, Chinese checkers, 
dancing classes, Spanish classes and group singing. 

The U.S.O. had a snack bar which was usually a busy 
place. One of my friends, Irene Gordon (now Irene Wherley), 
baked a ham every Saturday and served ham sandwiches to 
the servicemen at the U.S.O. She also prepared breakfast for 
them on Sunday morning. 

A number of business men in Lewistown, including the 
late Moses Boyd, set up cots on the top floor for G.I.'s to 
sleep overnight. 

The U.S.O. Jr. Hostesses, under the supervision of a Sr. 
Hostess, made bus trips to Camp Ellis to attend dances at 
the Service Club. Many talented musicians made up the 
Camp band, to which some outstanding jitterbugs from 
Brooklyn "did their thing." At one of these dances, I was 
proud to receive Charles Bickford's autograph. He was a 
popular movie star and had starred in the movie "Brigham 

Coming home on the bus was a fun-time too, with Sr. 
Hostess Natalie Baily leading group singing. The girls sang 
with such gusto that I am surprised the bus driver didn't 

As World War II progressed, German prisoners of war 
were brought to Camp EUis. I still remember the elaborately- 
decorated potato salads and other dishes prepared by P.O.W. 
cooks and served buffet style to the visiting U.S.O. girls. 

The U.S.O. ladies also visited the Hospital at Camp 
ElUs and cheered the sick and injured. One soldier was 
wearing a large leg cast, so we autographed the cast for him. 
He was quite pleased. 

I dated a few of the servicemen stationed at Camp Ellis, 
and a little Jewish boy named Harry Frank stands out in my 
memory. After he was sent overseas, to Europe, he mailed a 

card to me, stating he had no word of his parents and family. 
I have often wondered if he was a relative of Anne Frank. 

On Sunday, January 14, 1945, a group of U.S.O. 
hostesses went to Camp Ellis and played cards with the 
fellows at the Red Cross Recreation Hall, then to a Mess Hall 
for supper, after which a tea dance was held at Service Club 
No. 1. 

Mrs. Dorothy Quinones, wife of a Lewistown physician, 
made silhouettes at the local U.S.O. on Washington's 
Birthday, Thursday, February 11, 1945. My silhouette, 
showing my shoulder-length hair, is preserved in one of my 

Tuesday, May 8, 1945, was V.E. (Victory in Europe) 
Day. The Public Assistance Office, where I was employed, 
closed for this great occasion. My diary further reminds me 
that I attended a U.S.O. dance at Camp Ellis and that I took 
my sister, Mrs. Irene Beadles, as guest. 

An entry in my diary states there were very few soldiers 
left at Camp EUis by September 5, 1945. 

On Sunday afternoon, September 9, I went to the Red 
Cross Hall at Camp EUis with the U.S.O. for the last U.S.O. 
party to be held on the Post. I did, however, attend a farewell 
party at the Service Club on Friday, September 28, 1945. 

I am now almost sixty-three years old, but I still have 
vivid memories of the U.S.O. in Lewistown. 


Martha K. Graham 

When World War I broke out in Europe I was at first 
dimly aware of it. My parents, Herbert and Mary King of 
RosevUle, followed the war news avidly, but they and most 
other RosevOle people, took it calmly, as if it could be none of 
their affair. 

The complaisant attitude began to change when 
German submarines sank some of our ships. My grandfather 
Pery McCaw, always ready for a verbal battle, was incensed, 
as were others, when the Lusitania, not an American ship, 
was sunk with all aboard lost including some American 
passengers. Hatred for Germans erupted in Roseville. 

President Woodrow Wilson promised that we would not 
get into the war. We would send food and suppUes to help 
France and England, but no troops. But soon men were 
required by law to register for Selective Service, and people 
began to realize that American troops would be sent overseas 
to fight. 

I worried that my father would have to go and perhaps 
be killed. But my mother said that it was unlikely because 
some years ago he had had a serious injury that would 
prevent him from doing the things soldiers must do. A farm 
machine disc he had been sharpening in his blacksmith shop 
slipped and cut his leg almost off. I felt guilty about being 
glad that accident had happened. I was glad that my father's 
war effort was on the home front, keeping farmers' machines 
in repair and their horses shod. But he did not escape a 
certain amount of censure. 

People talked in slogans: "A war to end war", "Make 
the world safe for democracy". Patriotism mushroomed 
everywhere. When war was actually declared by the U.S.A. 
hysteria reigned. There were parades and more parades whOe 
the boys went off to training camps and overseas. 

Everyone got behind the war effort. At home we raised 
bigger gardens, and my mother canned the surplus produce 
until the cellar shelves were full. We saved bacon grease and 
other fat, for it was used in making munitions. We had 
"meatless and wheatless" days, and felt we were keeping 
soldiers from going hungry. We saved everything and wasted 

Everything cost more, even sending a letter. Coffee and 
sugar and other things could not be bought without a Food 


Saving Stamp, so people would not buy more than their 

Not many people of our relatives were of Selective 
Service age, But my mother's cousin, Archie Pauly, was 
among the first to go. He sent us a postcard photo of himself 
in uniform and overseas cap. Mother wept over it. She knew 
he had not wanted to go. War was against his religion, but he 
went when called anyway. 

We school children filled our Goldenrod tablets with 
pictures of airplanes, blimps, army tanks, machine guns 
pointing at the hated spiked helmets. More to the point, we 
saved small change and brought it to school to buy War 
Saving Stamps to paste in folded cardboard War Stamp 
Savings Books. A filled book could be exchanged for a small 
denomination War Savings Bond. We cut old flannel into 
two-inch squares which we threaded onto long stout strings 
for soldiers' "gun wipers". Clean sheets from home we tore 
into strips for bandages. We made pin-needle-threaded cases 
of folded and tied flannel for use in soldiers "kit bags." 
Everywhere people were encouraged to "Do Your Bit", and 
school children and their teachers were really hooked into the 
war effort. 

We felt we were being patriotic even when we chanted 
such doggeral as: 

Kaiser Bill went up the hill 
To take a look at France. 
Kaiser Bill came down the hill 
With bullets in his pants! 

But children and some adults made derogatory remarks 
at people unlucky enough to have the prefix Von to their 
names. The proudest families were those who could display a 
blue star in the window for each man who had gone to war 
from their house. Some families, with a different feeling, 
displayed a gold star. A gold star meant their soldier had 
given his life in the service of his country. 

War songs spring up overnight. Perhaps it is the songs 

that I remember most about World War I. Our family often 
gathered around the piano singing them to my mother's 
accompaniment. Some were carefree and frivolous: 

"Madamoiselle From Armentiers, Parley-vous?" 

"How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm?" 

Some bolstered up courage: 

"Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag and 
Smile, Smile, Smile!" 

"Keep the Home Fires Burning." 

"We're Going To Take The Sword Away From William" 
Some could bring tears to our eyes; 

"Just A Baby's Prayer At Twilight For Her Daddy 
Over There." 

There's A Long, Long Trail Awinding." 

"Old Pal, Why Don't You Answer Me?" 
The song 1 remember most clearly is "Over There." It had 
such dignity and determination and confidence about it, as if 
everything would be all right now that the U.S.A. had finally 
decided to get in there and bring the war to a close. 

World War I came to an end at exactly 11 A.M. on 
November 11, 1918. Newspapers proclaimed it in letters 
inches high. Roseville, as well as the whole country, went wild 
with joy. The Armistice was signed. The world was safe for 
democracy at last. It was ARMISTICE DAY (pronounced in 
Roseville with accent on the second syllable). More parades. 
More hysteria. The boys would be coming home. 

For years, on November 11, at exactly 11 o'clock, we 
school children stood solemnly beside our desks and silently 
faced the east for one minute. It was our tribute to those who 
gave their hves in World War I. 

My mother's cousin Archie Pauly came home, a wraith 
of his former self. He, whose outstanding trait was 
gentleness, had fought in the trenches and had suffered 
"shell shock". He was a casualty of war, as disabled as if he 


had sustained a serious physical injury. He brought us an 
artillery shell casing. 

Above our piano, while we were singing all those World 
War I songs, hung a dark, forbidding picture called "The 
Watch On the Rhine." It had hung there long before World 
War I broke out, but I cannot imagine why it kept its place all 
during that war when we had no love for Germany. 


Helen Wickliffe 

The seats were uncompromising oak slats. I chose one 
of two empties, lifted my three-year-old daughter to my lap, 
and prepared to wait for the westbound train. 

Through the door, I saw a baggage truck being moved 
into the place on the station platform, noting idly that some 
farmer was shipping a spotted calf in a wooden crate. 
Everything and everybody was being moved by rail, it 

The waiting room was jammed with servicemen and 
civilians. Suitcases and boxes were stacked everywhere. 
Somewhere a baby gave a fretful wail, and Sarah wanted a 
graham cracker from the zipper bag. 

An eastbound train ground to a stop. People left and 
others came in to wait. The ribbons on the servicemen were 
different. The suitcases and boxes were different. 

I thought it was time we made a trip to the ladies' room. 
On the wall was a stern admonition to young girls to beware 
of white slavery. The toilets were high, monstrous 
contraptions that gave an earth-shaking roar when flushed. 
Sarah gave a frightened screech, and had to be coaxed to let 
me lift her to the seat covered with a welter of protective 
toilet paper. 

We went back to the waiting room. Soon, Sarah relaxed 
and dozed against my arm. 

Random thoughts came to mind. How long would the 
war last? How many of these uniformed men were on their 
way overseas? How many would come home? It was easier to 
take the local from Chicago since it left at a better time, but I 
still had to change in Burlington for the Carthage Branch 
south. How lucky I was to have a husband who bought my 
ticket and checked my suitcases the night before. Union 
Station. How strange, those Russian soldiers I saw standing 
in a circle facing in! Only their officers striding around the 
perimeter could take a look at America. The folks would be 
glad to see their only grandchild. 

A troop train sped through headed west. In a few 
minutes, two freight trains going in opposite directions shook 
the station. I had seen a blur of tanks. 

Sarah was awake and hungry, and I found I was too. 
Leaving the zipper bag in the seat, we had sandwiches and 
soda pop in the lunch room. We got back to our seat just as 
another eastbound train came in. 

Somebody's Uncle Joe arrived to claim a young soldier 
and three civilians opposite me. Voluble and happy, they left 
the station. 

Quickly, the empty seats were occupied by three adults 
and a child, all well-dressed. They were a middle-aged man 
and woman, an attractive young woman who seemed to be 
their daughter-in-law, and a blond boy of about four. Even 
the way they sat showed suppressed excitement. 

Every hair in place, the child had been scrubbed till he 
shone. He wore a gold-colored suit, a white shirt and brown 
tie. Even his shoe laces lay in precise angles. 

When he squirmed to get down from the seat, his 
mother held him firmly. "You might get dirty," she said. 
"Daddy is coming home on leave, and we haven't seen Daddy 
for a long, long time." The boy still whimpered, but settled 
down when his grandmother popped a life saver in his mouth. 

Was that the train? I could hear a welcome rumble in 
the east. People were stirring and there was movement 
outside. Grasping Sarah by one hand, clutching ticket, purse 
and zipper bag in the other, we made our way through the 

The spotted calf was still on the baggage truck. When it 
started to move, he gave a frightened baby-bellow, wedged 
his small rear through a space in the crate, lifted his tail and 
left a long trail of green-brown slime on the red bricks. 

I knew about calves and raised tails and managed to 
escape the splatter. Others were not so lucky and went to 
their destinations redolent of the bam yard. 

But no one was as unlucky as the little boy in the gold 
suit. Free from restraint, he dashed down the platform 
toward the east, his mother after him. The grandparents had 
stopped just beyond the station door. "Here he is!" they 
called joyously, and embraced an immaculate army 
lieutenant, his chest covered with ribbons. 

The little boy heard. Still ahead of his mother, he came 
dashing back down the platform. His feet hit the mess; he 
slipped, almost regained his balance, then fell forward and 
slid in the wake of the spotted calf. 

I didn't see the reunion of the lieutenant, his wife and 
son, because a friendly sailor was helping me on the train. But 
I did look back at the tableau on the platform: the backs of 
the men, the faces of the horrified women, and the screaming 
child, his face, his hands, his beautiful suit covered with the 
green sUme. 

The train pulled away. 

When we went back to Chicago, my little girl still had a 
father waiting for her. She grew up, married, has two 
daughters, and has become a free-lance writer. What of the 
little boy? Did he grow up to be a doctor or a computer 
expert? Did his father come home from the war? How many 
people remember the episode of the spotted calf? I have often 

VII ^he c^men (Corner 



They were austere, those early 20th century churches, 
and earnestly reflective of the rehgious beliefs and 
philosophies laid down by John Calvin and the Puritans 
centuries and decades ago. Their teachings dictated bare- 
bone living— no frills and no frivohty. Just an emphasis on 
God, hard work, duty, and responsibility. Teachings that 
imphed that life was a serious matter. 

Indian Creek Church, as described by Marie Freesmeyer 
in the first story in THE AMEN CORNER, symbolized the 
religious beliefs taught there. It had a center door, three bare, 
plain glass windows on each side, uncluttered white plaster 
walls and hardwood benches with perpendicular backs. 
Religion should be a bit uncomfortable to be effective! 

The ministers acted as role models for their 
congregations and were enthusiastically dedicated to scaring 
the Devil out of these sinners. After all, hadn't John Calvin 
written that each new born babe carried the seed of sin 
within? Hadn't Calvin decreed that man was guilty and 
corrupt? Hadn't he appointed the church leaders as the only 
ones capable of saving mankind through the rituals of 
communion and baptism? No wonder Vera Simpson writes of 
these ministers, "... there they were, aware of temptations 
on every side and the predeliction of mankind to sin, and in 
their zeal they tried hard to save us from the hell for which 
they apparently believed most of us were headed!" 

Steeped in Calvin's teachings and in the values of the 
Puritan founding fathers, these men of the church went forth 
to do as they believed their God wanted: to save IlUnoians 
from themselves. They hauled people into "church courts" 
for such unChristian-hke behavior as card playing, fiddle 
playing, game playing on Sunday and adultery and they 
demanded that the culprits pubUcaUy declare their guilt and 
plead for forgiveness! As Eva Baker Watson observed, even 
as a child, the judgementabiess of these church courts 

seemed to turn a blind side toward prejudice, gossip and 
unkindness. Good and Evil, hke black and white, were clearly 
etched in the minds of these clergy and they seem not to have 
thought about walking in the shoes of the accused for one day 
as native American Indians had sensitively suggested to 
their own people. 

According to Calvin, salvation lay in communion and 
baptism and these two rituals provided a welcome break in 
the seemingly otherwise homogenous and sometimes boring 
church routine. An entire community quickened with 
anticipation when one of the churches in its midst planned a 
Revival. It seems not to have mattered which denomination 
was hosting the Revival, famiUes from other churches flocked 
in to witness the dramatic process by which their neighbors' 
souls were to be wrenched from Satan's grasp and offered to 
the Lord. Revivals broke the isolation, loneliness and the 
ennui of rural small town life and offered a rare opportunity 
for experiencing and expressing deep, intense spiritual and 
personal emotion in an accepting environment. It might not 
be acceptable to dance or play the fiddle, the church seemed 
to say, but it was alright, nay, even desirable, to moan, shout, 
sing, exult, and cry in abandon during these church initiated 
gatherings. What a relief it must have been to rid oneself each 
year of all the pressures born of repressed feelings: fear, 
sorrow and joy! 

And so, although the church did serve as a repressive 
force in the community, it also served as a place of gathering 
and of sociahzing with friends and neighbors albeit under the 
watchful eyes of the Lord's delegates, the ministers and 
church offlcials. 

As our authors tell us, many a boy saw his future wife 
for the first time across the aisle in the "women's section" of 
his church or at the annual Revival. Like the rural school 
house, the church served as a "community center" where 
picnics, "church suppers" and other gatherings were held. 
Children sequestered on remote farms connected by 


sometimes impassable roads, looked forward to meeting their 
playmates and chums each Sunday at church and the smell of 
old roses and peonies wafting in church windows from the 
adjacent cemeteries remain a pleasant memory in their adult 

Times changed. WWII, television, and travel, made 
possible by improved roads and transportation, eroded the 
control of the church over the minds and values of the 
congregations. People learned about other religions and belief 
systems held by people of other societies— other people who 
seemed as good or evil as themselves and just as apt to make 
it up to Heaven! A post-war humanistic movement in the 
United States and the National Council of Churches 
maintained that all people had the right to the dignity of their 
own religious beliefs and hfe values. The government, 
reflecting this surge of concern for individual human rights, 
made prayer-in-the-school unconstitutional. What might the 
"old men in the amen corner" have thought of that? 

Things have a way, however, as the ancient Greeks 

understood, of coming full circle, or, at least returning upon 
itself in an upward spiral. The 1980 Census Report indicates 
that for the first time in many years the number of churches 
is growing and that a large percentage of these churches 
represent new sects or divergent denominations. Meanwhile 
the country is witnessing a strengthening of the influence of 
Fundamentalist churches not unlike those discussed by the 
authors in THE AMEN CORNER. 

We know that since prehistoric times man has 
expressed his spiritual need for unification with a power or 
powers greater than himself and his environment. In our own 
era, thinkers like C. G. Jung and Rene Dubos predict that the 
latter quarter of the 20th century will be marked by man's 
search for spiritual reconnectedness. If this is true, the 
stories contained in THE AMEN CORNER have added 

JerrUee Cain-Tyson 


Marie Freesmeyer 

Three miles south of Hamburg, adjacent to a large 
cemetary, stands a white, frame building known county-wide 
as Indian Creek Church. My first memory of it was when it 
stood in a peaceful setting of huge maple trees. It has been 
there since 1885, when the congregation that had met for a 
couple of decades in the Indian Creek school buildings (first 
log, then frame) decided to build it on this lovely spot near the 
cemetary. Both have since been enlarged but, in my mind, I 
see the church as it was in the early part of the century. 

The building was a typical one of the era for a rural 
Church of Christ Congregation. It had a center front door 
(some had two), three plain glass windows on each side, white 
plastered walls above the usual wainscotting. The windows 
were purposely left bare to better let in light and the summer 
breeze. A center aisle, extending from door to the ten-inch 
rostrum, was flanked by rows of sturdy seats (never called 
"pews"). These seats were hand-made of hardwood with 
backs perpendicular to seats and built to withstand a century 
of abuse. A jute runner extended from door to a crosswise 
strip in front of the rostrum and narrow altar. One flowery 
framed motto hung on the front wall proclaiming "Christ is 
the Head of This House." 

Bible study services were held each Lord's Day at 10:30: 
plenty of time for farmers and their wives to get their many 
chores done before time to "get ready for Meetin". 

Many came to services on foot but others arrived in all 
types of vehicles or on horseback. If one should arrive early, 
he would see teams of horses and mules, both mixed and 
matched (bays, roans, dappled grays) and prized riding 
horses turn in from the "Big Road" in front. They would all 
tie up at the crude hitching racks which were under the 
maples on both sides of the building. 

The vehicles were as varied as the teams that pulled 

them. There were wagons of every sort: brightly painted ones 
with high wooden wheels and fancy spring seats: some with 
iron wheels, a low unpainted bed with only a quilt-padded 
board for a seat; and the popular spring-wagon which was a 
two-seated Ught wagon. There were fancy surreys with flat- 
fringed tops and one-seated buggies pulled by either one or 
two horses. 

My family rode in a spring-wagon until my father 
purchased a black, shiny surrey with a rounded top like a 
buggy and sidecurtains with tiny ising-glass windows. On 
our arrival at church. Mother would hold her long full skirts 
at a discrete distance to enable her to back out and place her 
foot firmly on the small protruding step. Other ladies arriving 
in wagons were either helped to jump down or they had to 
hold their skirts even higher to climb over the side. 

On arriving all the ladies, young people and children 
went directly into the building (unless there was reason to 
visit one of the little houses out back), but the men might 
remain outside to swap a few farm stories before entering. 
There was no bell to summon them, but when the singing 
began, all would assemble. The men and older boys always 
sat on the left side and the women, girls, and small children 
on the right. 

The service began by all participating in singing several 
familiar hymns without any musical accompaniment. Two 
deacons passed the communion each Lord's Day, then 
picking up their hats (everyone wore hats or caps to church in 
those days) they passed them for the collection. The many 
and varied places from which the adults secured their 
offering always interested me. We girls had our coin tied 
securely in the comer of our handkerchief (sometimes too 
securely). But the women kept theirs in many kinds of 
leather, cloth, and beaded bags or large snapping 
pocketbooks. One or more of the older ladies would lift some 
of her full, black skirts and rummage underneath to find Rer 
coins. I was told that there was a pocket sewn on one of her 

petticoats. The men had theirs in long, leather pouches, 
buckskin bags, or even tobacco sacks. 

We didn't always have preaching because we depended 
on traveling envangelists or local talent who also shared their 
time with other congregations. Late, when there was a 
minister residing in Hamburg, he preached at Indian Creek 
every third Sunday of each month. We always quoted 
memory verses containing a designated work and had Bible 
study with all ages together. Everyone who could read would 
read one verse of the chapter to be studied, then the teacher 
explained and asked questions about the entire chapter. 

The building was heated by a long, low cast-iron stove 
with an equally long drum held several inches above by two 
lengths of stovepipe. This drum would get almost as hot as 
the stove, thus nearly doubling the heating capacity. On the 
coldest days a roaring fire failed to get the buUding 
comfortably warm. The only way to be comfortable on hot 
days was to open the windows on both sides and be sure to 
find a seat in the crossbreeze. There were always plenty of 
small pasteboard fans with a pretty scene on the front and a 
funeral advertisement on the back. Some of the girls carried 
dainty folded fans which they used with considerable 
elegance. But most of the women prefered a large palm leaf 
fan. Some of these were bound with black velvet making 
them more durable since the unbound ones often split, 
especially if youngsters used them to swat flies (or each 

Easter was not celebrated with any special service but it 
was a red-letter day, none-the-less. It was the day to wear new 
spring clothes, especially a new hat or bonnet and squeaky- 
new shoes. Many dresses were made-over ones and the hats 
merely sported a new flower or ribbon, but they were special 
in our minds. 

During the summer months, if we had a visiting 
minister, there would be what was known as a "basket 
dinner " with another service following. We were apt to have 

many visitors, so this was a day looked forward to with much 
preparation by the adults and no little excitement for us 
youngsters. My mother always filled a large-sized (No. 3) 
galvanized tub with food since there were six of us. After 
dismissal, containers of food appeared like magic and colored 
tableclothes were spread in the shade. In later years, the men 
constructed crude plank tables the day before. Whatever the 
table, it was always loaded with home-made goodies: fried 
chicken, chicken-and-dumplings, deviled and pickled eggs, 
plus many delicious pies and cakes. Of course, we children 
were milling about, anxious to begin eating, and had to be 
told to "Get until called". After a lengthy prayer of thanks 
for our many blessings the good old pottery plates were filled 
to overflowing. 

There was no need of a baptistry in this meeting house 
as most immersions took place in a deep pool amid the 
massive limestone rocks of the near-by creek; or it could take 
place in the Mississippi River. 

These things all come to mind when I occasionally visit 
The Indian Creek Church. Usually these occasions are sad 
ones because most of the decendants of those early members 
sooner or later return here to be laid to rest in the peaceful 
cemetery beside the church. 


Esther Fowler Willey 

When 1 was a child and growing up in the community of 
Mt. Zion (Gin Ridge) on the McDonough-Schuyler County 
Line there was a Free Methodist Church building and 
congregation. This would have been in the 1920's. The church 
was part of a "circuit" which included a congregation in 
Colchester and one in the Eagle Community just north of Mt. 
Zion. The ministers, who lived in Colchester, would drive out 

to the country churches to held their services. Our time came 
on a Sunday morning, with the preaching being after Sunday 
School which began at 10:00. Often some of the Colchester or 
Eagle membership would also drive to Mt. Zion to take part 
in our services. 

After church was over our parents usually (weather 
permitting) drove on to Center Ridge to visit our 
grandparents. Our relatives knew that we would be late 
because "Ben's always come after church." Our parents were 
not actual members of the church, but they were quite 
supportive. So, we always attended church as well as the 
Sunday School. 

For Sunday School the preschoolers and probably the 
first and second graders, were gathered in a circle of chairs to 
the right of the altar. When I was that age the class was 
taught by a very devout lady, Mrs. Andrew Stoneking. All 
the children called her "Aunt Rachel" and so, of course, I did 
also. (Much to the consternation of my mother's younger 
sister, who was my real aunt!) It was in this class that we 
learned our first Bible stories and were given our first picture 
lesson cards. 

At certain intervals revival meetings were held. That 
meant preaching every night for a protracted period, maybe 
two weeks. Our parents attended quite faithfully, perhaps 
not every night, but most of the time. It was the practice for 
various famiUes to invite the preacher or as was often the 
case, the preachers and their families into their homes for the 
noon or evening meals, which our family often did. Thus it 
was that we were sometimes exposed to the preacher's 
children. I can remember one instance in which my brother 
and I were trying to entertain a minister's son with our box of 
toys. It was quite evident that he was more worldly than we 
were because he was not the least bit impressed with our box 
of treasures. 

In the church there was a prime example of what was 
called the "Amen Corner". During the preaching services at 

any time, but especially during revivals, or protracted 
meetings, certain of the elder members of the church would 
sit in special pews to the left of the podium and of the altar. 
As the preacher built into his discourse, various ones of those 
worshipers would begin adding their verbal "Amens" to 
punctuate his strong points. As the sermon progressed the 
"Amens" would become more frequent and louder, 
sometimes becoming shouting. By this the preacher knew 
that his efforts were being appreciated. 

Then there were the testimonials. Before the service 
would end the preacher would ask for people who wished to 
give testimony of God's efforts in their hves. These might 
become quite lengthy and some ended in shouting for joy. 
The faith was very evident. There were some people who felt 
impelled to testify at each service, but, of course, not 
everyone. There were some, Uke our parents, who were more 
reserved in their behavior. These people would stand, make a 
simple statement, and then sit down. 

That was also true of the prayer part of the service. 
Some people made quite lengthy prayers, perhaps ending in 
shouting before it concluded. Others, again, were more 
reserved. Prayers were dehvered standing or kneehng. Quite 
often, especially during the altar call in the revivals, kneehng 
was the rule. At that time the prayers would be passed 
around among those who felt the "call" to pray. As the 
service continued individuals might pass among the 
congregation giving words of encouragement to possible 
converts. NearLng the end of the services often there may 
have been several people who would make their way to the 
altar to kneel and pray. At the close those who were already 
Christians would also kneel at the altar to pray and to 
encourage the new converts. The prayers continued until 
everyone felt he had resolved his commitment to God. People, 
who thus made their way to God, were said to have "gone 
forward" and to have "gotten reUgion". Those who later 
forgot it were said to have "backsUd." 


At some meetings the concern seemed to have been 
centered around the younger people, including children. I 
suspect that the simplicity and eagerness of the children's 
attitudes made a touching moment for some of the older 
people. I remember the evening when I took part. Later my 
father commented on smiles he had seen among some of the 
praying supporters. 

At a later date those who had made a conversion would 
have an opportunity to be baptized. This was done outside in 
a nearby stream. I can remember seeing this done in 
Grindstone Creek and in Camp Creek. It was really a thing of 
awe to see those preachers wade out into the water with 
someone holding either side of the converts to dip them back 
into the water. 

It was from this church that we learned most of the 
hymns we have "always" known. Singing was a very 
important part of the service. "The Old Rugged Cross", "In 
the Garden", "Little Brown Church", "Jesus Loves Me" . . . 
these were some I remember. This singing was all done 
without the accompaniment of any organ or other musical 
instrument. (I beUeve that there was some idea that an 
instrument was unethical, just as there also was a beUef that 
men should not wear neckties and women should not wear 
jewelry. It would have been too worldly.) People who knew 
the songs "led" the singing and we all learned them. One 
lady, Mrs. Tom Stoneking, who was very talented, had an 
organ in her home. One summer she and our mother were 
responsible for preparing the Children's Day Program. They 
decided that it would be so nice to have an organ. So Mattie's 
organ was brought into the church. However, before the 
program had been presented, that organ had been removed. 

As we grew older we were promoted into an older 
Sunday School Class. There we were expected, not only to 
attend, but to study the lessons in the Quarterly before class, 
and to memorize Bible verses. At one time I recall our class 
having been promised New Testaments as a reward for our 

efforts. I don't recall how many Sundays we were required to 
learn a verse, but I still have my New Testament. It was from 
such progress as these that many of us learned much of what 
we know of the Bible today. 


Lucius Herbert Valentine 

Sylvester Valentine, living near Pleasant Plains, met 
my Grandmother when he was on a trip to Woodstock 
Township in Schuyler County. She was Sara Ann Shupe and 
they wrote letters for one year and then he returned to 
Schuyler County and they were married and proceeded to 
farm and raise a family of four, one girl and three sons. 

Over the years when someone got sick in their 
community, they called him day or night to come to their 
home and pray for them. He would hitch up a horse and go. 
Many believed his prayers helped them regain their health. 

When World War I started, my Granddad and 
Grandmother started going from home to home to unite the 
community to help build a church at Palm Cemetery. This 
church was to be a nondenominational so the doors would be 
open to people of every faith for funeral services and no 
rehgious party or denomination could ever organize a certain 
class or party in it. The building was to be a memorial to 
those who had been our nation's heroes (12), to the loved ones 
who fell asleep in the peaceful walks of Ufe, and to serve to 
unite the community to a closer fellowship through 
community interest, social betterment and religious unity. 

To begin this, Mr. and Mrs. George Naught gave the 
ground, the Valentines $175 and 65 loads of gravel, Griffiths 
$75 and Mr. Houser, Mr. Swisher and Mrs. Swaney $25 each. 

J. Arthur Thompson was the architect and Verne Dace 

the contractor. Memorial Chapel was 34 by 46 feet with a full 

A cistern was built and water piped into the basement 
with a pitcher pump, a furnace in the basement and a Delco 
light plant for electric Ughting and hitch racks along the 
west, east, and partial north sides for tying up horses. 

Memorial Chapel dedication was on September 30, 1917. 
The weather was good and people began to gather before 8:00 
a.m. for the services of the day. Dr. George L. Snively of 
Lewistown had been secured as master of ceremonies. $2,200 
had to be raised this day for sure and $3,200 was placed in the 
hands of the treasurer, Mrs. George Naught. 

Fully a thousand people were in attendance during the 
day and if there was one present who did not enjoy the 
triumph of this day, it must have been the one who had no 
part in it, if such a one was there. 

I started to go to church there in 1920 and attended for 
thirteen years. The Fifth Anniversary of the Dedication was 
held on Sunday, October 1, 1922. This was a wonderful day 
for me. 

Throughout my life, regardless of where I hved, when 
this church needed paint, a new roof, a new furnace, or a drop 
ceiling, I always managed to give a little money because 
throughout my hfe this church and cemetery seemed a part of 
me. It also served many of my ancestors who are now asleep 
in the cemetery next to "Memorial Chapel." 


Avis Ray Berry 

I am a P.K. (Preacher's Kid)! I have earned this title 
because both my father, and maternal grandfather were Free 
Methodist ministers. Now, there are both advantages and 
disadvantages to being born into a minister's family. To me 

the two greatest advantages were the warm friendship and 
love given by a congregation to their pastor's family and 
getting to attend a camp meeting for almost two weeks each 
year in late summer. 

I never remember a summer when we didn't attend such 
a meeting. The camp grounds that 1 remember best are: the 
"Durley Camp" in Bond County; the "Monk's Grove" north 
of Rushville, and the "Joe Hummel Grove " east of 
Lewistown. The latter is about one and one-half miles from 
my present home and, as I drive by the now deserted woods, I 
sometimes stop and nostalgically locate the spots where the 
"tabernacle" and our own family campsite stood. 

Now Camp Meetings did not just "spring out of the 
ground" like mushrooms. They took lots of foresight and 
planning. (As the camp was demolished you'd hear such 
remarks as, "Next year we'll do this differently.") A 
sufficient supply of tents had been ordered from a tent and 
awning company. Before the day of trucks, arrangements 
were made for transportation of these tents to the grounds. A 
large supply of straw and lumber was engaged and 
transported. People coming from a distance were met at the 
depot and dehvered to the grounds. I never remember a time 
when it was difficult to get transportation for these things. 
Not only "professing" Christian farmers volunteered their 
teams, wagons and services but, also, farmers who were not 
"born again" Christians cheerfully volunteered their services 
and welcomed the camp meeting to their neighborhood. 

A large tent similar to a circus tent was erected in the 
center of the area. At one end a platform was built on which 
was placed a pulpit stand and several chairs. In front of this, 
a crude "alter" or "mourners bench" was erected. A thick 
layer of straw was strewn on the ground and benches were 
built for the congregation. Around this tent, rows of camper's 
tents were erected in a "four-square" pattern. 

Most of the tents were small with gabled roofs and 
straight sides but our family owned a different type of tent 


(of which I'm afraid we children were "sinfully proud"). My 
father had purchased it from my grandfather before he 
moved to Wyoming to "homestead". This tent was 16 x 16 
and square in shape. Red scallops hung around the edge of 
the roof. Over this was tightly stretched a canvas known as a 
"fly". This formed a double roof which protected us from 
heavy rains. Inside Papa built a rough platform about 2 feet 
high which stretched almost the full length of half the tent. 
At the end was a small curtained dressing room. On this 
platform was placed "ticks" filled with straw. These were 
covered with sheets (made from flour sacks), quilts, and 
pillows. This was our family bed. The other half of the tent 
had a rough board floor covered with stips of woven rag 
carpeting. A small rocking chair in which Mama rocked the 
baby and a big trunk was our furniture. 

Another canvas "fly" was stretched over the area just 
back of the tent to form the kitchen (No side walls). Our dining 
table was rough lumber held in place by log stakes and 
covered with white "oil cloth". Rough benches on either side 
of the table completed the dining room. Mama cooked on a 
two burner oil stove that had a portable oven. She baked 
crusty, good smelling bread in this for her family. For weeks 
before, Mama had baked ginger cookies, spice cakes; made 
preserves; and canned apple sauce and garden vegetables. 
Papa made a crude refrigerator by digging a deep hole, 
burying a large wooden box, surrounding it with straw and 
covered with a wooden lid and a straw mattress. (We hadn't 
yet heard of "insulation" but evidently we used it.) Wooden 
boxes served as our cupboard. It seemed very cozy unless the 
"yellow jackets" (hornets) decided to visit our plates at meal 

After all was in place, the true camp meeting began. A 
spirit of consecration and prayer pervaded. Some began to 
fast and pray. There was always an atmosphere of quiet 
friendliness and Christian fellowship among the campers. 

Camp meetings were held to encourage others to 

become Christians, to experience personal growth in the 
grace of God, and to participate with others in Christian 
experiences. The opportunities to enjoy these experiences 
were many. The day began with a before breakfast prayer 
meeting at 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. At 9 o'clock a "love feast" was 
held where testimonies were extemporaneously given by 
anyone who felt the "spirit" moving them to tell of God's 
help in time of need and his saving grace after which they 
exhorted others to repent of their sins. This was frequently 
an emotional meeting with tears and shouts of victory. 
Following this, a sermon was dehvered by some pastor of the 
district. This sermon was usually filled with suggestions for 
growth in spirituality, as most of this congregation were 
"born again" Christians. In aU services, there was 
congregational singing (with much "gusto") as well as 
"special music." You would hear frequent "Amens" and 
"Praise the Lord" from members of the congregation. 

After lunch, came the "Children's Hour." Every child 
was present at this service. We didn't have "Arts and Crafts" 
but we were instructed in Bible history and the danger of 
indulging in "Strong drink" and the use of tobacco. We were 
taught how to say "No" to sinful pasttimes. Following this 
the adults had another service complete with congregational 
singing, a sermon, and an altar call for anyone who felt in the 
need of such help. 

In the evening, a larger crowd would gather from near 
by farms and towns and the spiritual tempo increased. There 
was more music and an evangehstic sermon followed by an 
altar call. Sometimes this service lasted until quite late in the 

We children were expected to attend all these services 
excepting the early morning prayer service but we could 
leave the evening service at any time we felt tired and could 
go to bed. Sometimes we would be awakened at a late hour by 
the fervency of "sinners" repenting during the altar call. 

Sundays were great days! Families came in high 

wheeled farm wagons to enjoy the camp meeting. At noon 
picnic lunches were spread under the trees. We saw people 
that we truly loved, whom we could meet only at camp 
meeting time. 

When the second Sunday was passed, camp meeting 
was over. Tents were taken down and shipped back to the 
awning company. Rented lumber was hauled back to the 
lumber yard. All the straw was raked up and burned. Every 
stake and post was taken up and the entire area was tidied 
up. Only a few beaten paths remained to show that people 
had hved here for a few days. Plans were being made for next 

Our own tent was thoroughly dried (lest it "mildew") 
and bagged for storage. The straw ticks and dressing room 
curtains were washed, folded and stored in the big trunk in 
preparation for next year. 

These meetings made many changes in many people's 
lives. Some decided to change to a better way of hving. 
Romances sometimes began that resulted in marriages. Some 
few received a "call to preach" or to become workers for the 

As for us children friendships which lasted for years, 
were made. For us, at times, it had a vacation atmosphere but 
for the adults it served as an opportunity to grow in Christian 
grace and consecration to God. 


Harriet Wetzell Cordell 

A long in the late 1880's my maternal great- 
grandparents, Pios and Catherine Carson, came to Astoria, 
lUinois from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. They then 
moved to Fandon, Illinois, in McDonough County. 

Grandpap, as they called him, was a carpenter by trade 

and he and great-uncle Dan Burgard, grandmom's brother 
and the grandfather of Albert Burgard, now living in 
Colchester, built the old Camp Creek Church southwest of 
Fandon. Grandpap also built the house they lived in on the 
curve at the west end of Fandon, where Joe Myers now lives. 
He and Dan Burgard constructed many of the grand old 
barns around the area. 

One of grandpap's sons, my mother's father, was Andy 
Carson, who married Effie Stookey. They and their family of 
nine children attended the Camp Creek Church. My mother, 
Gertrude, their only daughter married Harry Wetzel and 
they lived in Tennessee, Illinois. They had fourteen children 
of whom I am next to the oldest. On Sunday we would go to 
church at Camp Creek if the weather permitted. Otherwise we 
attended Tennessee Methodist Church, which we dearly 

On a designated Saturday evening in the fall, usually in 
September, we Camp Creek Church folk would meet to 
observe the Lord's Supper or, communion, also called a love 
feast. Here we would break bread, partake of the wine, which 
was fresh grape juice, and wash one another's feet, after an 
appointed someone read Jesus' words as He spoke them to 
his disciples (Matthew 26:26-29). This was done on occasions 
when the members met for meetings of different kinds, 
business meetings, etc. 

It also happened on one of these occasions, a love feast 
in the fall, when I was twelve years old a cousin of mine, 
Virginia Carson from Macomb, happened to be visiting us 
and went to church with us. She wasn't a member of the 
church, therefore, she didn't join us in the observance. The 
rest of us, around twenty or so, sat on benches at the front of 
the church. All of us, children and grown-ups alike who had 
been previously baptized into Christ, had removed our shoes 
and stockings and sat with our bare feet on the floor made of 
wide, wooden planks. We had hstened to the reading of the 
word, had passed the loaf of bread and had broken off a piece 

for ourselves and had drunk the wine or juice. Then we began 
to wash each other's feet. Starting at the end of the bench, a 
person would wash the feet of the person on the left, kneehng 
in front of that person. The only sound I could hear was the 
soft hissing of the old gas Ughts hanging from the high 
ceiling. I could smell the faint odor of wood smoke coming 
from the two pot belly stoves at each side of the large room. 

Just as I knelt down to wash the person's feet next to 
me, I glanced back at Virginia, sitting a ways back on one of 
the pews. She began to giggle. I began to giggle (Things are 
funny to young'uns.). We both giggled. Gradually everyone 
seemed to catch the giggles. It became infectious, and all but 
a few of the older people were struck with this unasked for 
but uncontrollable urge to giggle. After awhile this emotional 
outburst subsided, and we asked God's forgiveness, looking 
at one another in a new way. Here during a very sacred and 
solemn affair, the human side of us became very evident as 
well as the spiritual, for here was a group of very human, 
human beings, sitting in that beloved old church building on 
a Saturday night long, long, ago. 

Do you suppose we disturbed the peaceful sleep of 
grandpap and grandmom in the cemetery back of the church? 


Clotison Fellinger 

Some rituals in our churches are the same as years ago, 
but, thank goodness, some customs have changed. I am 
ninety-two years old and have many memories of early 
customs and rituals of the churches of my neighborhood. The 
way Holy Communion was taken by some elderly men comes 
to my mind. 

1 grew up in a small town in southern Illinois and went 
to the Methodist church. That particular church had what we 

called the "Amen corner". The church was just one large 
room and at the front was a raised platform for the choir and 
the pulpit for the preacher. This platform occupied about two 
thirds of the width of the room and the part left at floor level 
was the "Amen corner". The few pews there were occupied by 
very elderly gentlemen, bearded, mustached, and full of 
"amens". Many were Civil War veterans and they were first 
to give their testimonies, lead in prayer or sing an 
impromptu, unaccompanied song: 

"I'm bound for the promised land; 
I'm bound for the promised land. 
Oh, who will come and go with me? 
I'm bound for the promised land." 

At that time in my life I was about sixteen years old and 
played the reed organ for church services. At communion 
services I would play an old familiar hymn as people came to 
the communion rail. Of course I watched them as they took 
the bread and juice so I would know when to play them back 
to their seats. 

When the preacher invited people to come forward and 
take of the elements, these old men from the "Amen corner" 
were the first ones to come and kneel around the platform. 
The minister read the scripture pertaining to Jesus and his 
disciples at The Last Supper. First he passed the plate of 
small pieces of bread, which each person took from and put 
the piece in his mouth. Following this the preacher passed the 
cup, which was a glass goblet of grape juice. Everyone drank 
a sip from the same cup. 

Because these old men had long bushy mustaches, the 
sip of juice left as much hquid on the mustache as was 
swallowed. They had a remedy for this. After the sip, each 
man opened his lips, pushed his long mustache in his mouth 
with his right forefinger and sucked off the juice. 

Because I saw the dripping mustaches on the old men 
and saw so many drinking from the same cup, is it difficult to 
see why I disliked taking communion? I was "turned off" by 

this procedure at that early age and was never able to forget 

I am very glad we now have communion sets with 
individual glasses at our churches. The mustaches are back in 
style for many men, but, thank goodness, not the communal 


Eva Baker Watson 

The Saturday Business Meeting held at the Brownfield 
Baptist Church was a tradition of long standing when I was 
small. That afternoon session was the kick-off for the regular 
once-a-month services held Saturday evening, Sunday 
morning and evening. Now and then a part of the business on 
the agenda was a church trial. 

The meeting was presided over by the pastor who would 
have arrived earlier that day by train. For his weekend in the 
community he took his chances that some hospitable member 
would offer him lodging. The burden of entertainment fell on 
only two or three families most of the time. The minister was 
called "Brother So-and-So" or "Elder So-and-So." But as he 
chaired this meeting he was addressed as "Brother 

This little country church, about a quarter of a mile 
from our home, stood white and shining, its tall steeple 
pointing to heaven. It was the center, social and spiritual, of 
our lives back then. Not that there were any actual socials 
held within its walls for the belief was that it would have been 
a sacrilege to defile its consecrated interior by anything other 
than worship or the saving of souls and the keeping of those 
souls within the confines of the straight and narrow path. 

And confines meant CONFINES. This church had rigid 
rules and unswerving guidelines, the straying from which 

brought a call to accounting, stern and swift, a summons to 
the judgement seat of the next business meeting, there to 
confess one's sin and beg forgiveness of the lord. 

For me, as I sat fidgeting beside my mother, most of 
these meetings were duU. But occasional court sessions made 
up for the hours of boredom. At these times I could feel the 
climate change and tension mount. I was intrigued. 

The most mysterious transgression to be dealt with was 
adultery. The introduction of this charge injected still 
another quahty into the atmosphere and it caught my 
attention. I couldn't put my finger on it but I could tell that 
this sin involved more than was being spelled out. 

(As I look back I'm amused that it was called 
"adultery" and not more precisely, "fornication." I've 
concluded that distasteful as it was, "adultery" was the 
euphemistic avoidance of a word that was just too exphcit for 
those latter-day puritans to say pubhcly or in mixed 

My curiosity as to the real meaning of the charge caused 
me to consider certain clues. Two things I noticed about 
members hauled on the carpet for this sin was that they all 
had recently had a baby and that they had not been married 
very long. This appeared to have a bearing on the situation, 
though I didn't have the foggiest idea why, since I hadn't yet 
learned the significance of counting months. Indeed, as I saw 
it, the fact that those two happy events were so close 
together were nothing less than dehghtful. A romance 
culminating in a wedding and then, wonder of wonders, the 
arrival of a sweet httle baby. What could be nicer? 

I did observe that grownups (who often took strange 
attitudes toward things) were incUned to discuss the baby's 
birth in sort of regretful tones at first. But after awhile 
everyone seemed to relax and start gushing about what a 
darUng that httle thing was and didn't it look EXACTLY Uke 
its daddy? 

Things came to a head in my thinking after one court 


session in which an apology letter was read. It was from a 
young man who, as he stated in the letter, had had to make 
"an unexpected trip out of town" on the day of the meeting 
and could not appear in person. In writing he confessed his 
sin, begged forgiveness, promised to try to do better and was 
reinstated as a member in good standing. 

Now this unsettled me because I knew both the man and 
his wife. (She had not joined the church so she didn't have to 
answer for her complicity in the matter.) Their baby, I 
thought, was the cutest I'd ever seen and if I knew what 
being good was, those folks were good. So I up and asked 
Mama what in the world was adultery, anyway? 

There was a minute of complete stillness. Then Mama 
cleared her throat and said, "Well— it's when two people live 
together before they're married." 

Live together. Now I was really confused. I KNEW 
those two hadn't Uved together before they were married. I 
KNEW where each of them had hved and I KNEW it wasn't 
together. What was Mama thinking of! But her tone and 
expression discouraged any more questions so I didn't 
pursue the subject. I just stayed confused. But I began to 
keep my eyes open and to listen carefully to everything. (I 
also consulted the dictionary but it didn't enUghten me much 
more than Mama had.) 

Other sins for which members were brought before the 
church were more clear cut. (Why they WERE sins was not.) 
One of these was Sunday ball playing. Or even just attending 
Sunday ball games. Card playing was also frowned on. But 
the cardinal no-no was dancing. 

One man who had grown up in the church and whose 
family were called its pillars loved to fiddle. It was rumored 
then proven that he frequented local hoedowns and played 
his fiddle for the dances. These affairs had earned a bad 
reputation on several counts but the only charge against this 
man was that he fiddled for dancing. He was unrepentant 
and, notwithstanding the presence of his saddened kin at the 

hearing, was excluded from the body. 

During all those years I never knew of anyone's being 
charged with unkindness, gossip or prejudice. 

1 came to have a hearty dislike for those trials as in 
maturity I began to wonder about the purity of those sitting 
in judgement on others. Also, I sensed that reprehensibility 
lay not in the sin, itself, but rather in getting caught at it. 

Today I no longer Uve in that community but I hear 
reports of how the little church is thriving— with relaxed 
rules, no doubt. I'm told that members and friends often 
enjoy fellowship of social events held in the building's nicely 
equipped basement. 

I hear of church-sponsored outings, trips to places like 
Opryland— where one just might have a brush with fiddhng 
and dancing. 

I have not known of any recent hasty marriages. But I 
suspect that, if they occur, they're viewed with charity and 
perhaps a sigh of relief rather than with condemnation, 
considering the easy Ufestyle of some free souls, couples who 
choose openly to have their unions not shackled by the 
blessing of the church. 

And as for Sunday ball games, I've known of some 
modern pastors who like to get home from church in time to 
turn on television for the afternoon sp.orts events. 

So, is it possible that that little church is thriving 
because today it lives by the rules of the Man who said long 
ago, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone"? 


Floy K. Chapman 

In 1910, our family moved from a small farm in a 
closely-knit community of Southern Baptist relatives to a 
large farm near Virden, Illinois. The move marked great 

changes in our way of life, not the least of which were 

In May, after we moved to the new farm, Mrs. KUne and 
her daughter, Effie, came calling. They were friendly and 
invited us to come to the little country Wesley Chapelchurch, 
just 1*4 miles from our home at the corner where 
Montgomery, Sangamon, and Macoupin Counties meet. 

"What denomination is the church?" Mother asked. 

"Well," Mrs. Khne replied, "it claims to be Methodist, 
but you will see. All the neighbors go except the Lutherans 
and the Church of the Brethren. The Lutherans have their 
own place over at Chatham, and, of course, no one expects the 
Brethren to worship with others. In our church, there are a 
few Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, and one family 
from the Christian Church." 

Mother shook her head. "I do not understand," she said. 
"We always said we were Christians. Now, you say we are not 
all Christians. The Lutherans and the Brethren believe in 
Jesus, too, don't they?" 

"Yes, indeed. I don't understand it myself, but there are 
some little differences. I guess the German Lutherans and 
the Brethren would not feel at home with us. I am sure I 
would not feel right attending church with aO those bearded 
men and women wearing the plain clothes and bonnets. They 
are good people, but their ways are not our ways." 

The women talked on and on. Finally, assured that there 
was no major conflict between our belief and those espoused 
at Wesley Chapel, we started going to the little white country 
church. It was a pleasing experience. The Methodists sent a 
minister once a month, and, occasionaUy, an evangelist would 
come, but the Sunday School was strong and happy and 
vacation Bible School flourished. Mrs. Kline was a deaconess; 
the Sunday School superintendent was a Northern Baptist; 
his Baptist wife was organist; and the Sunday School 
secretary was a Methodist. Two very fine Presbyterians were 
adult teachers; a member of the Christian Church taught a 

big class of young people. My mother, a Southern Baptist 
(different from the others), taught the little folks. When 
differences arose, we talked it over, and generally decided it 
wasn't very important and did some compromising. The 
Klines and the Clark family were about the only Methodists 
involved. Mr. Clark was in charge of finances and he had a 
hard time raising enough money to pay the minister. In fact, 
we thought we got along better without some of Mr. Clark's 

There came a day, however, when I suppose he felt 
something should be done. One Sunday, he attacked the 
dilemma. "I never saw a church like this," he said, and 
proceeded to say that if the church were to be kept within the 
Methodist fold, some changes would have to be made. He 
spoke of all the Baptists, Presbyterians and Christians 
holding positions in the church and told them the offices 
would have to be filled by Methodists. 

1 can still see the stricken faces of our good neighbors 
and the frozen look of the Presbyterian adult teachers. 
However, Mrs. Kline was the one who answered him. She 
stood up and spoke in a clear, level voice. "Brother," she said, 
"if you are going to fill all these offices with Methodists, you 
wiO have to send to Sears Roebuck to get them. There are 
none in this neighborhood." 

The meeting ended abruptly, and everyone headed for 
home. The men were angry and the women were crying. The 
children were confused. 

It was really the end of the church. Cars were becoming 
more common and everyone began going to the church of his 
choice in town. Wesley Chapel dragged along for another year 
or two, and finally died. Now, not even the grove that 
surrounded it remains. Only a few of us still remember the 
Sunday School parties, the strawberry socials, the Bible 
School and our love for each other. Corn grows where the 
church once stood. It has been seventy years. 

Unless surrounded by a strong, stable community of 

like-minded people, most of the little country churches that 
dotted Illinois at the turn of the century disappeared along 
with the small farms, horses, and the one-room country 


Helen Sherrill-Smith 

In our small river town of Browning, lUinois, anything 
out of the everyday routine became an item of community 
interest. So when, in the months of late winter, one of the 
churches issued a call for revival, this could be expected to 
stimulate participation from all. An Evangelist, always an 
intense and eloquent speaker of good voice and gifted in 
Ufting his audience to peaks of emotion, held forth nightly. 
There was lots of singing, several readings of the word, and 
then the sermon. This was long, usually expUcit in points of 
fundamental beliefs with emphasis often given to the certain 
bitter end awaiting the unbeliever. When the speaker was 
ready inspired, one could almost feel the flames and see the 
golden streets guarded by gates of pearl. Then came the 
invitation, by word and by song, to come and be saved. 

"Come Home, Come Home O' Sinners!" with voice 
trembhng with the fervor of the pleading and arms 
outstretched, the visiting Evangehst strode back and forth 
across the pulpit. The people, crowded into the small church 
awaited the response. They were not disappointed. From 
what was known locally as the 'Amen Corner', members with 
right hands raised high in Testament, called phrases such 
as,"Praise the Lord!", "Halleluhah!", "Bless His Holy 
Name!". Somewhere in the front rows lifted a strong sure 
voice leading the assembled in that old song of invitation, 
"Just As I Am," and down the aisle came the penitents, some 
tearful, some smihng, to kneel at the "Mourners Bench." 

Muted whispers swept through the crowd and heads 
turned to see who was "going up." At the sight of some still 
in place, seemingly tempted but indecisive, older members 
would make personal appeals. The hymn "Almost 
Persuaded" would be sung, hoping to encourage the 
uncertain into acceptance. 

Down they came, young, old and all ages between, 
drawn by the promise of redemption, to the Altar. Amid 
words of praise and thanksgiving lofted by the faithful, the 
new believers confessed their sins and received the blessings 
of the redeemed. 

At the end of the protracted meetings, which usually 
lasted two weeks, came the crowning event: the baptism. On 
a Sunday afternoon, there was a gathering of church 
members and of spectators. After all, this was not a casual 
happening. The river bend at the sandbar made a nearly ideal 
spot; a good sandy beach, a gradual descent to the proper 
depth of water, and comparative privacy. The Evangehst and 
the resident Pastor, with some strong church members as 
assistants, waded out waist deep into the gently flowing 
stream. The newly pledged were carefully led out, one by one, 
to be consecrated by the same rites that John the Baptist had 
given to Jesus. Prayers of hope and commitment were 
offered, then the minister, with one hand firmly on the back 
and the other just as firmly over the nose and mouth, bent 
the convert backward and quickly immersed him (or her) 
crying "I now baptize thee in the name of the Father, the Son, 
and of the Holy Ghost." The new-born Christian, with sins 
washed away, was wrapped in warm blankets by caring 
hands and enveloped in loving kindness. Hymns were softly 
sung aU during the ritual, then prayers of hope and of faith 
were offered, and the Revival had ended. But the results 
Ungered on: there was a renewed interest in Bible Study, the 
new additions strengthened the membership, and emotions 
and interest had been stimulated during the meetings. 

With the closing ritual of baptism, tension gave way to 

spiritual satisfaction, faith was renewed and souls were 
saved. The Revival Meeting had served its purpose well and 
would be repeated again and again. 


Vera Burgard Simpson 

Long before I was bom in 1914, several churches had 
already come and gone in Fulton County, a section of the 
country rich in religious experience with many denominations. 
Three different cultures met there, bringing into the area 
their own particular brands of rehgion. Shortly after the War 
of 1812, people from northeast United States migrated to 

Along with the Yankees arrived Southerners who made 
their way up from Kentucky, on through Indiana, and then 
into Illinois, as the Lincoln family did. Then came the 
Pennsylvania Dutch. The religious practices and customs of 
these diverse populations differed somewhat, although all 
were zealous in disseminating the Holy Word. 

Poor roads and Umited transportation resulted in local 
churches springing up to accomodate rural communities. In 
my memory five churches existed in the countryside between 
Ipava and Astoria: the Woodland Church of the Brethren, 
still in existence with a large attendance every Sunday; 
Union Chapel; Pleasant Dale; Mount Pleasant Church of the 
Brethren; and Howard. Possibly there were others. 

There were at least four churches in Ipava; the 
Presbyterian, Christian, Methodist, and Free Methodist, and 
Astoria was also the locale of various churches. Church 
services were occasionally held in nearby rural schools. AO 
were of Protestant denomination. A Catholic settlement lay 
along Spoon River, northeast of Ipava, and a few Jewish 
merchants were in the country, with no churches or 
synagogues near for their worship. 

I was fortunate or unfortunate, depending upon the 
point of view in that during my youth I attended several 
different churches representing numerous denominations, 
although I lived at the same place for my entire childhood 
and early adult years. This was partially a result of 
friendships we children formed with young people from one 
church or the other, and also because my parents would 
attend church in the evening wherever services were held. 

The churches were similar in many ways, although there 
were degrees of difference. In the Presbyterian Church there 
was moderation in worship and people were somewhat 
restrained, leaning toward conservatism. The hymns sung 
during church services tended to be somber although the 
songs used in Sunday School were the well known ones such 
RUGGED CROSS", and the Uke; less dreary and foreboding 
in nature than the hymns. The leaded stained-glass windows 
of the Ipava Presbyterian Church are beautiful with their 
shimmering opalescent hues and probably rank among the 
finest in Illinois. When I was a child, I spent much time 
looking at the windows and pipe organ with its stately pipes 
extending nearly to the ceihng. 

Many of my ancestors belonged to the Dunkard Church, 
a Permsylvania Dutch denomination, that expected members 
to bring their disputes to the attention of church authorities 
for settlement rather than to courts of law. My parents 
resented this because they felt decisions were too often 
biased rather than objective. 

We frequently attended meetings at the Woodland 
Church of the Brethren, a Dunkard sect. I was fascinated by 
the prayer caps of white net worn by the women, with dark 
bonnets over the prayer caps, and also intrigued by their well 
scrubbed faces, untouched by face powder. A unique custom 
there was for men, generally with long beards, to sit on one 
side of the church while women sat on the other. It was not 
unusual to hear a sonorous voice from the men's section 

intone a "Praise the Lord" or "Amen" in appreciation of 
some point of the sermon. As I sat quietly by my mother, I 

often stared at Mrs. F , a member of the congregation 

who had a beard, like the men. My mother later explained 

that Mrs. F was a pious woman and did not believe in 

altering the face, so there was the beard, to be marveled at by 
curious little girls. 

I was usually kept awake in Dunkard churches by the 
pounding on the lectern and the shouting of the ministers, 
who were often untrained members of the church and were in 
the pulpit because they had received "the call" to preach. 
Since I never was a recipient of "the caU", I'm not clear as to 
exactly what it was nor how they could be sure they had 
received it. But there they were, aware of temptations on 
every side and the predilection of mankind to sin, and in their 
zeal, they tried hard to save us from the hell for which they 
apparently believed most of us were headed! Their sermons 
were generally predictive of terrible things to come unless we 
made every effort to mend our ways. For an hour or so after 
hearing them preach, I tried to keep out of trouble! 

Meetings were held in the Mount Pleasant Church of the 
Brethren for a few summers during my childhood. One 
preacher, in particular, preached for two or three hours 
consecutively, every Sunday. A certain worthy member of 
the congregation, apparently intent on the enjoyment of the 
fruits of this world as long as possible, promptly fell asleep 
and slumbered blissfully throughout the sermon. It was even 
more exciting to watch him than it had been to look at Mrs. 

F and her beard, for an occasional fly would 

sometimes hover in contemplation about his open mouth as if 
debating whether to enter that inviting cavern. This 
gentleman had an excellent singing voice and it was a joy to 
hear his rich, melodious tenor join in the singing after he 
awakened sufficiently to look on the page his kind and loving 
wife had found in the songbook. The sexes were not seated 

Birds in a nearby forest added their brand of harmony 
and, to the delight of children in church, grasshoppers 
sometimes came in the open doorway. I don't know if they 
were converted or not, for they usually made a hasty exit, 
especially if they landed in the vicinity of certain small boys! 

When I was a child, I listened to adults discuss "tractic 
meetings". I later learned they were actually talking about 
"protracted" meetings, that is camp meetings and revivals 
that they had attended in their early years. The preachers 
were often the dynamic "hell and brimstone" type and the 
afterUfe for the wicked was described in frightening detail. 
Not only that, but those worthy evangelists mentioned sins 
indulged in by people occasionally sitting in the audience, 
perhaps only a coincidence because the devil finds willing 
recruits everywhere, but people speculated that the sermon 
had been targeted toward the wayward individuals. 
Confessions were heard at some of these meetings and there 
were those who liked the stardom so much that they 
apparently confessed to sins they had not as yet committed 
but only contemplated. Many people were converted, 
although a few of the converts were said to promptly set out 
to secure a multitude of additional sins to repent at the next 
year's revival meeting. The occasional humorous overtones 
inherent in these meetings, however, do not obscure their 
value in recharging spirital batteries that were easUy 
weakened by the hardships of that day. 

My mother mentioned singing schools which were 
usually affiliated with churches. An interesting feature 
taught in these schools was the usage of "shaped notes", an 
efficient method used to read notes of the scale, without 
knowledge of sharps and flats. Any song could be sung in any 
key, after the pitch had been determined, with the use of a 
pitch pipe or a tuning fork. I think this fact may account for 
the beautiful singing in Dunkard churches in my childhood, 
without piano accompaniment, where the pitch was often 
established with a tuning fork in the hands of a 

knowledgeable young lady who used a degree of 
showmanship, no doubt to properly impress the people 
watching her. 

Those rural churches served many purposes, perhaps 
religious being first and foremost, but social possibihties 
were provided, too. Many a young man, engaging in earthly 
pursuits during the sermon, let his eyes wander toward the 
girls; and the girls, in subtle ways that those avowed 
innocent maidens of an earUer day mastered so well. 

communicated their availabihty to the boys. Romances were 
triggered, gossip disseminated and quarrels begun, especially 
in regard to the conducting of affairs relating to the churches. 
The advent of the automobile and improved roads 
hastened the demise of these country churches, which played 
so important a part, and served a real need, in the isolated 
and often spiritually hungry lives of many members of rural 
communities in the early part of this century. 

VIII hunters and bounds 



Illinois was once a hunter's paradise. During the pre- 
Civil War years, vast numbers of deer, waterfowl, and upland 
game birds were killed every year. In fact, the Ust of legal 
game not only included ducks, geese, prairie chickens, quail, 
deer, rabbits, partridges and wild turkeys, but also swans, 
cranes, hawks and anything else a man wanted to shoot. The 
first Illinois game laws were not enacted until 1855, and they 
did little more than limit the hunting season to August 
through January. 

Two factors have greatly diminished the supply of game 
since that time: the virtually unregulated hunting for much 
of the nineteenth century and the gradual destruction of 
habitat due to increased cultivation and the draining of 
sloughs and shallow lakes. In our time, hunting is still 
enjoyed by many thousands of Illinois residents every year, 
but its successful continuation depends on careful regulation 
of the hunters and energetic conservation of most species of 

As the following memoirs reveal, hunters live in a 
special world, of challenge and comradeship, guns and dogs, 
pride and persistence. It is a world of traditional values, 
where an individual's stature depends on what he can do 
under the pressure of confrontation with the game he has 
decided to hunt. 

Robert L. Brownlee's "Bird Hunting When I Was A 
Boy" is a fine example of one distinctive form of hunting 
story: the initiation of a boy into the fellowship of hunters. 
When he shoots the old drake "right through the eye" with 
his .22 rifle, the boy's stature changes: "From then on I was a 
full-fledged duck hunter." But the greatest challenge comes 
when he decides to prove himself worthy of having a shotgun 
by using the "old Zulu rifle" that had been bored out for shot. 
It is an enormous old gun that almost knocks him over as he 
fires it, but when he bags the ducks at the pasture pond he 

receives an old Winchester pump gun and becomes his 
father's hunting companion. His initiation is complete. 

It is interesting to contrast Brownlee's fine memoir 
with Lavern Sturman's "Every Hunting Trip Can Be A 
Success," a self-study by an old duck hunter whose half 
century of experience has taught him to appreciate the 
process regardless of the result. His coffee drinking and 
snapshots from the duck blind suggest the real purpose for 
this outing: to savor the experience of that morning with his 
dog and take in all the aspects that make it memorable. 

Sturman's account also raises a central question about 
hunting that none of the memoirs attempts to answer. As 
much as he appreciates the wildlife of the slough, Sturman 
nevertheless fires at a "beautiful drake," wings it, and sends 
out his dog to finish it off. The hunter may have deep 
appreciation for the animals of the wild, but that doesn't 
prevent him from kilhng some of them for his own 
momentary satisfaction and his eating pleasure. And in that 
act, an ancient assertion of dominance and dependence, there 
is a mystery as deep as man's simultaneous unity with and 
separation from the natural world. 

Surely none of these memoirs is more exciting than 
"The KiUer Wolf of Henry County" by Phil R. Pobanz. The 
match between the fierce, marauding old wolf and the 
determined young man is stuff of which great hunting stories 
are made. It is the drama of the hunt raised to the level of 
high seriousness, and the ninety-year-old author places the 
historically remote episode vividly before the reader. 

But there are humorous moments in hunting too, 
expecially when inexperience is put to the test, as in Lyman 
Inman's anecdotes of the Deep Plain Hunting Club members. 
On the other hand, Harold Donkle's "The Hunting of the 
Turkey" depicts a contrived practical joke, the humor of 
which depends on the reader's appreciation of the code of 
ethics that so many hunters— such as Oscar in his 
story— take so very seriously. 


Trapping requires a special dedication, for walking the 
traplLne in the early morning has to be a regular activity. And 
the more successful a trapper is, the more additional work he 
has to do in preparing the pelts for sale. Trapping is still a 
very common activity in some parts of Illinois, and it is 
increasingly controversial because most traps allow animals 
to suffer for long periods before they die. The motivation for 
trapping is often thought to be strictly economic, as the 
memoirs by Carroll Ochsner, Thomas Wall, and Truman 
Waite suggest, but many people simply enjoy the challenge 
of taking wildlife with a cleverly set trap. 

Coon hunting offers the special excitement of a 
nighttime hunt, and well-trained dogs are essential, as 
several of these memories reveal. Oddly enough, the most 
beautifully written account of a coon hunt was produced by a 
woman who never participated. LaVerne Melvin's "The Coon 
Hunters" filters the events through the minds of a httle girl 
and her grandmother, but she manages to convey the 
mysterious attraction that coon hunting has for those who 
engage in it. Her memoir also explodes the pretension of 
expertise that surrounds hunters and hounds in so many 
coon hunting stories. 

But of course, hunting dogs are remarkable, and they 
deserve the appreciation that is displayed in the several 
memoirs about them. Effie L. Campbell's account of 01' 
Lady, the three-legged coonhound, reminds us that dogs have 
many inner qualities that distinguish them from each other 
and make some of them a privilege to hunt with. "Drum" by 
Lyle Robbins is a fine memoir about a dog who was a failure 
at hunting, and a boy who eventually come to understand 
that love can sometimes limit self-development— in children 
as well as dogs. 

It is both appropriate and inappropriate that this 
section of the book closes with James B. Jackson's wonderful 
recipes for cooking small game. On the one hand, the cooking 
pot was and is the fate of many animals that are hunted, but 
at the same time, the people in these memoirs did not hunt 
because they were hungry or couldn't supply the family table 
any other way. They hunted because of various satisfactions 
they derived from the process, satisfactions which made all 
the preparation and effort not only worthwhile but, in the 
long run, memorable as well. 

John E. HaUwas 



Robert L. Brownlee 

I was born on a farm in Mercer county, Illinois, in 1899. 
We were about twelve or fifteen miles north of Monmouth 
and the same distance east of Keithsburg. I grew up with 
guns and hunting. I got my first gun when I was eight or 
nine, a 1000 shot Daisy air rifle. Mother bought it from a 
Sears Roebuck catalog. As soon as 1 learned to handle it and 
shoot accurately. Dad bought me a Stevens .22 single-shot 
rifle, and then I could go out and shoot squirrels and rabbits. 

In the spring and fall ducks would settle on the big 
water holes in Henderson Crick, that meandered through our 
pasture. I'll never forget the time I got my first duck. The 
crick was flooded and I was walking along with my little .22, 
when I heard a duck quacking. I slipped up to the crick bank, 
and here came a pair of Mallards, a hen and a drake. I took 
careful aim and shot the old drake right through the eye. I 
had a hard time getting him out of the crick, and I ran all the 
way home to show my mother. She was very proud. We 
cleaned it and cooked it, and it was delicious. The best duck 
I've ever eaten. From then on, I was a full-fledged duck 

My brother, Roy Brownlee, Hved on the farm next to us. 
He and Dad hunted ducks together every Spring. That was 
before Spring shooting was outlawed. I'd always go along 
with them and take my little .22 rifle. They'd get the ducks 
up off the ponds and shoot and maybe get two or three. It 
was a wonderful time for a boy and lots of excitement. But 
they had all the fun because they had the shotguns, and I had 
only the single-shot rifle. I was ten or eleven, rather tall and 
skinny, and the only thing big about me was my feet. 

We had an old Zulu rifle out in the smoke house, and it 
had been bored out for shot, just a straight bore, 12 gauge. It 
was heavy, ten or twelve pounds, with a 32-inch barrel and a 
gate in the breech to load it. It had a big hammer, at least 

three inches high, with a spring so strong I had to use both 
hands to cock it. It was too high for me except I could rest it 
on something to shoot it. I got it out and cleaned it up and 
found a dozen brass sheUs that had been reloaded with shot. I 
sneaked down in the pasture and laid it over a stump to see 
how it would do. The shells were loaded with black powder 
and made a hell of a noise when it went off, and it just about 
kicked me flat. 

But I figured I 'd have to put up with that so one spring 
morning the ducks were flying and after I got my chores 
done, I got the old Zulu out and went down to Shares' pasture 
to a big pond. There were bushes along one side, and I 
crawled up and peeked over and there were some ducks on the 
water. So, I sUpped the gun up and rested it on the bank. The 
ducks were maybe thirty yards away, quite a bunch of them. 
I knew I couldn't hold the gun up to shoot at anything flying 
so I took aim and fired and mowed a swath through the flock. 
I killed six of them, and the old gun kicked so hard I tho't it 
had broken my shoulder. But what the heck, I'd killed six 

I had to wade out in the pond to get them. Then I lugged 
the old gun and all my ducks back up to the house, and Dad 
and Mother were surprised and Dad was tickled that I could 
get ducks. I think that he enjoyed shooting but he didn't care 
much if he hit anything or not, for he missed about two-thirds 
of the time. I shot the old Zulu a few more times, but Dad had 
bought a new gun and gave me his old Winchester pump. He 
told me it was my gun! 

After that we'd go duck hunting every Spring, using 
live decoys. The fist ducks to come in were teal, and they are 
beautiful little ducks. Next came the sprigs, or pin tails; later 
on the Mallards and canvas-backs. 

After spring duck hunting the fields dried up and farm 
work started, and everyone kept his nose to the grindstone 
until sometime in July, and then we started hunting doves. 
We fed them back of the barn. I scattered ground corn on the 

bare dirt. Maybe a hundred doves came to feed. My cousin 
taught me how to shoot doves, and I got so I could hit one 
once in a while. Then Fall came and we could shoot quail. I 
was fifteen or sixteen years old by then, and I could really 
knock quails. For some reason or other, I could shoot and 
could even get doubles— that is, two on one covey -rise. When 
it got cold we began to shoot rabbits. We always had a dozen 
or so hanging frozen on the clothesline. I think we had rabbit 
three or four times a week. That was our main meat until we 
butchered hogs or a calf. So the wild game was very 
important both Spring and Fall. 

My friend and I would go to a big swamp north of 
Keithsburg over on the Mississippi, along about 1916 and 
1917, to hunt ducks. I had a old Model-T Ford truck— really 
just a stripped down car with a flat bed and a box to sit on. 
We'd take a crate of live decoys, a drake and five or six hens, 
because they are the ones that quack loudest and call in the 
wild birds. Well, before sunrise we'd be at the swamp and 
wade in a few yards to set our live ducks. We knew the area so 
weO we could find our way in the dark. As soon as we had tied 
our decoys to weights, we would move back to a blind in the 
cat-tails, sit on the side of the crate, and wait for the action to 

Just before day-break the ducks started to move out 
from their night resting places. The air was full of ducks, 
thousands and thousands of them. As daylight came small 
flocks of eight or ten or twelve would come in to feed with the 
decoys. The time to shoot a duck over decoys is just as it sets 
its wings to land. This way you could get two shots, the 
second one when they turn to fly away. We'd kill two or three 
from each little flock until we had about a dozen ducks, all we 
could carry with our guns, and a crate full of decoys, and then 
we'd go back home and clean them. Some hunters kept on 
shooting as long as the ducks came in they killed thousands 
of them. That was one reason why the laws were passed to 
stop spring shooting. 

In another year or two I got so busy running the farm 
for Dad and making a living that I didn't get to do any more 
hunting for many years. But it was a thrilling sport and vivid 
memories come flooding back anytime I see a great flock of 
migrating ducks, whether it's in the Fall or in the Spring. 


Arthur Bowles 

During the later teens and early 1920's we had a duck 
hunting camp on an island in Lima Lake. (Nine of us 
neighbors made up the gang.) It was a large lake twelve miles 
long and five or six miles wide, half in Adams County and the 
north part of Hancock County. It was fed by seepage from 
the Mississippi River; when the river was high the water in 
the lake was high. 

Along towards Labor Day we would take the tent and 
equipment and build the blind about five hundred yards out 
on the lake. There was roughly a foot and a half of mud and a 
foot of water to wade through. We wore hip boots. There were 
open places where no flagan grew. Tha.t's where we built the 
bUnd. It was on the west side of the open place for the decoys 
facing east; so we could do our "before-sun-up" shooting. 

Along about the last of September we would take the 
decoys (Uve, tame mallard ducks which we had raised at 
home) and put out about fifty on a sort of trot line each 
morning. We kept the ducks in floater boxes at night in the 
bUnd. While it was still dark (about four a.m.) we set the 
ducks out as decoys, and then we sat in the blind and 
shivered until it was light enough to see to shoot at the wild 
ducks as they circled our decoys. We also had two tame 
mallard hens in the blind with us, called "flyers." We would 
toss one of the flyers up into the air as the wild ducks circled, 

and they would fly and light with the decoys right off. We 
never did "pot-shot" them, but we rose up in the blind to 
scare them up and then we would shoot at them on the fly. A 
few of the hunters did "pot-shoot." They would wait until 
four or five got lined up and then kill as many as possible, 
which was wrong. 

Wib Helgenbrink and I were in the blind one slow day. 
Nothing was moving. Then about nine a.m. one lone mallard 
came around and made a couple of circles over our neighbor 
Freese's blind. They both rose up in the blind and emptied 
two automatics, shooting at the ducks, but then didn't ruffle 
a feather. My friend Wib and I stood up and " Ha-ha 'd." Then 
in a few minutes one circled us, and we gave it all the shot we 
had. We failed to touch the bird. Then a loud "Ha-ha" came to 
us from the Freese's blind. The sound carried very clearly 
over the water on a still day. 

One fall my dad's sister and family were coming for 
Thanksgiving. Pop told "Hap" Oblander (my brother-in-law) 
and me to take a few decoys and go up to the camp and get 
wild ducks. The hunting season was over but the tent and 
equipment were still there. It was cold. We found the lake 
frozen over but not enough that it would hold us up. So we 
took clubs and broke the ice in the path to the blind and also 
broke out a place big enough to hold the decoys. After we 
were all set and in the blind, the wild ducks would come in 
and light on the ice and slide clear across the pond. (Ducks are 
clumsy, and watching them skid around on the ice was a real 
circus.) Some would even turn over on their backs and slide, 
squalling all the way. We managed to get seven. Then we saw 
two men putting a net in the drainage ditch to the west; so we 
waited until evening and waded over and pulled the net in. It 
was chuck full of fish. We got a gunny sack full and waded 
back. Picked up the dead ducks and decoys, and headed 
home. We had fish and wild duck that Thanksgiving. Mom 
always saved the wild duck feathers for pillows. 

Our bed in the tent was right on the ground. First we 

made the bed up with bed leaves, then straw with a tarpaulin 
on top. Then we made the bed up with bed clothes. As Wib 
and I came into the tent one evening, a three-foot water 
moccasin slithered across the floor and disappeared under 
our bed. We played cards extra late that night working up 
enough nerve to go to bed; but we finally did. The snake 
didn't bother us. Maybe it didn't like our company either. 

Lima Lake was a hunter's paradise in those days. Some 
of the old timers said it would never be drained because there 
was much seepage from the Mississippi River. How wrong 
they were! When you look at it now, there's nothing but corn 
and soybeans as far as the eye can see. 


Lucille J. Walker 

When I was eleven years old my Dad decided I was old 
enough to have a 410 shot gun. What a thrill this was. I had 
gone hunting with Dad many times but never had a gun of 
my own. He let me shoot his 12 gauge once, and I never asked 
to use it again. I didn't have it back against my shoulder 
tight, and it kicked, and I went over backwards. 

Dad was as thriOed as I was on the first outing with the 
gun. We went duck hunting. Dad had built a duck blind in a 
field on a farm belonging to Hershey Atwater, about seven 
miles east of Havana, Illinois on a dirt road. Dad built the 
blind back in the field away from the road as we didn't want 
the one or two cars that might go past to scare the ducks. 
This road is now the Manito Blacktop. 

The duck blind was not a work of art but served the 
purpose to hide the hunters from the ducks. Hedge posts 
were put in the ground and narrow boards nailed to the posts, 
and corn stalks were tied with bailing wire both to the inside 
and outside of the bUnd. Some corn stalks were put over the 

top but not solid, as the hunter had to stand up and shoot out 
of the top of the bUnd. Then on all four sides a peek hole was 
made to watch the arrival of the ducks. 

Dad would buy corn from the farmer and put a pile of 
corn on the cob out away from the blind and then put shelled 
corn in a path to the blind. This was in 1929, and there was no 
limit to the number of ducks you could kill in a day and no law 
against feeding them. 

While we were waiting for the ducks to fly in. Dad would 
rehearse me on the safety of the gun and how and when to 
shoot, etc. The time came when Dad said, "Get up and shoot! 
Here they come!" He was so excited that I was going to get a 
good shoot that he stood up and stepped on my feet. I had on 
rubber boots and several pairs of sox, but my feet were so 
cold I couldn't move. The shooting was over in just a few 
minutes, and after Dad had pumped shot into all the ducks he 
could, he turned around and said, "Why didn't you get up, 
honey"? I had to tell him why. He felt so bad. I can still 
remember him taking my boots off and holding my feet in his 
hands to warm them. 

I didn't have to wait long for a chance to use my gun. 
Dad went hunting every day. We would go out to the field 
about 5:30 a.m. and wait until sun up to start shooting. After 
we got all the ducks we wanted, we would go back home and 
get there in time for Dad to get ready to go to work at 7:00. 
The next morning we were in the blind waiting for the ducks 
to start coming in, and a large flock came circUng overhead, 
and Dad said, "I won't get up, I'U tell you when to get up and 
then you shoot." So when the said get up and shoot, I did. 
When he saw there were many more ducks coming in than I 
could handle with a single-shot gun, he joined in with his 12 
gauge pump gun. We sure had a lot of ducks down, some dead 
and some crippled. After the ones that could fly had left. Dad 
told me to get out of the blind with him and wring the necks 
of the cripples. Something was lost in the translation of the 
word wring. I was thinking of wringing the necks on chickens 

when you would wring their necks to kill them to get them 
ready to dress to eat. So I was really wringing away before 
Dad noticed I was wringing their necks off and what a bloody 
mess I had. He said, "Oh, not that way," and showed me 
what he meant— to crack their necks. That morning we got 
thirty-six ducks. 

We would take the ducks home in the back of the car. 
Dad would tie about four or five in a bunch with a piece of 
twine. We would hang them on the back porch. It was not 
enclosed and the temperature was freezing. Then after work 
that evening Dad and I would pick the ducks and put the 
feathers in a paper sack for Mom to use in stuffing pillows. 
Some of the down was still on the duck and couldn't be picked 
off, so we would rub rosin (a hard coarse yellow substance) on 
the ducks and then dip them in boihng water and the httle 
fine feathers would just peel off of the skin. The skin would be 
so nice and clean. Then dad would finish dressing the ducks (I 
always thought it should have been said "undress," since you 
are taking the feathers off). He would cut the skin at the end 
of the breast bone and pull the entrails out, saving the liver 
and gizzard to use in giblet gravy. Mom would take over at 
this time and wash the ducks in cold water until they were 
clean. Then she would cook them so very good. She would 
parboil the ducks in a large kettle of water with an onion 
stuffed in the cavity. When they were tender after about an 
hour, she would drain them and stuff them with pork sausage 
and put them in a roaster and bake them for about 2 hours on 
medium heat. She would make dressing from bread and stuff 
some with this. Everything tasted so good you didn't mind 
finding a shot once in a while. 

I would say hunting ducks today is much different from 
what it was in 1929. I doubt if an eleven-year-old girl of today 
could enjoy hunting as I did because of the many rules and 



Lavern B. Sturman 

For many years I've been blessed with the privilege of 
spending much of my spare time in the realm of Mother 
Nature. But only in recent years have I realized the true 
meaning of a successful hunting trip. 

I've found that bagging a limit of ducks, quail, doves, or 
any species you may be hunting, is of little importance in 
having a successful hunt. If you will just think of the 
physical, mental, and spiritual benefits you derive from each 
hunt, I'm sure you will return home much richer than when 
you left. 

Duck hunting has always been my favorite sport, and 
I've hunted these birds for nigh on to fifty years. Many a day 
I've sat in a blind from sunrise to sunset, never firing a shot, 
and come home feeling I had spent a very successful day. 

One of the most successful hunts I can remember was in 
November of 1982. I guess hunting alone is more rewarding 
for me. "Excuse me. Windy— I'm never alone, you are with 
me on every hunt." Let me introduce you to Windy. She's my 
English Springer, a fine retriever, and a true friend. 

Windy and I usually leave home about forty minutes 
before shooting time; this gives us enough time to be in the 
blind with ten minutes to spare. The area I hunt is an old 
slough with approximately forty acres of water, surrounded 
by willows on three sides. The north shore is dotted with a 
few dead oak snags, the remains of a small timber before it 
became flooded. 

Hearing me load my hunting gear in the car meant one 
thing to Windy: This was going to be a fun day for both of us. 
In her excitement she was making enough noise to wake the 
entire neighborhood in this pre-dawn hour, so I released her 
from her kennel as quickly as possible. 

With her head on my shoulder as we drove to our 
destination, I felt a closeness to this true friend that is 

difficult to describe. As the car came to a stop Windy turned 
her quiet love for me into excitement, as she anticipated the 
joy of the day before us. I slipped on my weather-beaten hip 
boots, hung my camera around my neck, took my twenty- 
gauge double in one hand, Windy 's leash in the other, and 
headed down the old dirt road toward our slough. 

Arriving at the edge of our slough, we found our old 
wooden boat nestled in a group of willows, partially covered 
with brush to camouflage it from view of some other passers 

As I quietly slipped the boat into the water. Windy 
stood proudly in the bow. Pale shades of pink, gold, and blue 
brightened the eastern horizon. The squeal of a hen wood 
duck, flush from the willows, disturbed the silence, as our 
boat slipped quietly toward the bhnd. Observing the beauty 
that surrounded me, I felt the closeness of My Creator, 
presenting me with a priceless gift for which I was deeply 

Tying the boat securely to the boat-blind. Windy and I 
climbed into the blind. We had about ten minutes until 
shooting time. After checking the three dozen decoys 
surrounding the bhnd, I got down to the next order of 
business, Ughting the kerosene heater. The old heater doesn't 
look like much, but it surely takes the chill off a frosty 
morning, and brews a mighty fine cup of coffee. With the 
coffee pot filled, I slipped a pair of high brass number fives in 
the old double and we were ready for action. 

I perched on my stool in the northeast corner of the 
blind. The only waterfowl in the area were about two dozen 
coots swimming about a hundred yards to the east and a pair 
of mudhens diving around the decoys. I glanced down at 
Windy cuddled next to the heater. She raised her head 
slightly to acknowledge my friendly "Good Morning." 

The aroma of fresh coffee took my mind off hunting for 
a moment. I poured myself a steaming cup of "Java," lit my 
pipe, and returned to my prime objective, duck hunting. 

I had just taken my first sip of coffee when I noticed a 
pair of mallards heading right at our set-up. In my 
excitement I spilled half of my coffee trying to set my cup 
down quietly. By now they had circled behind us. Giving a 
low feed call, I was answered by the low raspy call of the 
drake trying to make conversation with her decoys. My 
heartbeat was in high gear as they passed over, a hen and a 
drake, still about sixty yards high. They looked as if they 
were heading for parts unknown. Grabbing my call, I gave 
them a pleading high-ball call. The drake must have hked 
what I said. With a quick turn he set his wings, lowered those 
bright orange feet and headed straight at us. I could almost 
smell roast duck and dressing but the "Old Hen" must have 
spotted something wrong. With a frantic distress call, both 
flared, and my delicious duck dinner disappeared. 

With the excitement over, I armed myself with my cup 
of coffee, my pipe, and sat back again to relax. Looking down 
at Windy, I sensed a look of disgust. I had disturbed her 
slumber, but also saved her a cold swim. I sat there basking 
in the morning sun, enjoying my old corn cob, one of my best 
friends at my side, and completely at peace with the world. 
What more can a man ask from life? 

By now the entire outdoor world was coming alive. An 
entire symphony was taking place. It seemed all of our 
feathered friends were taking part. The notes of the red bird, 
finch, chickadee, marsh wren, and numerous other small 
birds, topped off with the call of the pileated woodpecker, 
blended in perfect harmony. Enjoying every note, I thought 
to myself that if some person were to compose a piece of 
music such as this, we would call it a work of genius. 

Standing up to stretch my legs and to get a better view 
of the surrounding skies, I noticed a small flock of mallards 
moving our way. I knew by the way they were flying that 
they were just passing through. They were well out of range, 
and so I waited until they were overhead and took a shot with 
the camera. It won't be a prize-winning photo, but it will be a 

permanent remembrance of that wonderful day. 

I had just settled back on my stool when I spotted four 
wood ducks flying toward us. Whisthng softly to imitate 
their call, I tried to get their attention, but they had made up 
their minds that the thicket on our north shore, loaded with 
food, was their destination. It was a beautiful sight watching 
them settle into that heavy thicket like four small helicopters 
making a precision landing. 

About this time my stomach told me a toasted cheese 
sandwich was in order. The sound of the aluminum foil on the 
top of the heater aroused the attention of my dozing friend 
and she sensed that she too was about to have lunch. I could 
never eat lunch and enjoy it without feeding her too. When 
my sandwich was ready, I gave her a handful of dog biscuits 
and we both enjoyed one of the highlights of the day. It 
seems the lunch you have on an occasion like that is 
especially enjoyable. 

It was almost ten o'clock, and except for a few scattered 
shots throughout the bottom, my world seemed very much at 
peace. A hght breeze had kicked up and the decoys were 
taking on a more hve-Uke appearance. This was a point in our 
favor, should any birds start moving. 

Three quick shots about a quarter of a mile to the west 
brought me to attention, and turning as slowly as possible, I 
caught sight of five bluebiUs, just skimming the water, 
coming in our direction. Grabbing my call I started a frantic 
chatter similiar to their feed call. I kept up the constant 
chatter, giving those birds all the energy and technique I 
could. My lungs felt as if they were ready to burst. The birds 
banked at the east end of the slough, heading straight for our 
decoys. Those httle black and white rockets were bearing 
down on us at what seemed the speed of sound. Slipping my 
safety off, I jumped up. Most of them had sped by, my only 
chance being the last bird. Snapping off two quick shots, I 
managed to wing that beautiful drake. 

On the command, "Dead Bird," Windy hit the water, in 

pursuit of the fast swimming drake. I could see she was in for 
a real workout, but she would enjoy every minute of it. These 
birds are excellent swimmers and their diving tactics will 
challenge the most experienced retriever. That Uttle duck 
tried every trick he knew to give Windy the shp. After about 
a fifteen-minute chase Windy came up the victor. As she 
came swimming back toward the blind with the bird held 
tenderly in her mouth, I snapped several shots of her. 
Dropping the bird into my hand, she sat there, proudly 
knowing that once more she had done an excellent job. 

I poured the remaining coffee into my cup, lit my pipe, 
and thanked The Lord for blessing me with a wonderful day 
such as this. Coffee finished, I rinsed the pot, unloaded and 
cased my gun, and headed home where a few unfinished 
chores awaited me. 

Walking back to the car, I realized this day had been 
beneficial to me physically, mentally, and spiritually. I had 
exercised my body; my mind was relaxed, and I had become 
aware of God's gift of beauty in our visits in the out of doors. 
If I hadn't fired a shot, the day would have been a success. 


(Rev.) Phil R. Pobanz 

As soon as I was old enough and strong enough to carry 
a gun, I became a hunter and a trapper. It paid off, for in one 
season I sold enough pelts (mink, muskrat, raccoon, skunk, 
etc.) to pay for my first year of coUege tuition. 

When the following event took place I was living in 
Edford Township, on a rural route out of Geneseo, Illinois. It 
was 1912. Something had been going on in that area, and 
when I heard about it, it captured my interest. Farmers in the 
area had been losing their calves, lambs, and sheep to a big 
timber wolf. The wolf had been seen numerous times, but no 

one had ever gotten close enough to capture or kill it. 
Numerous traps and snares had been used, but to no avail. 

I vowed to get the killer. I loaded some brass 12-gauge 
sheOs with buckshot and lead-balls. I was ready, but the wolf 
did not show up. The gun and the shells were stored in the 
summer-kitchen when I left home, for college. 

Late the next spring I returned home. When I went to 
bed on that first night at home, I did not know that on the 
next morning I would experience one of the greatest thrills of 
my hfe. I was wrapped in the arms of Morpheus and was in 
the land of dreams when my older brother shouted from the 
stair-door, "Phil, get up quick; the wolf you have been 
waiting for is down in the creek-hollow; I saw him." Shoes 
and trousers were all I put on, and in less than a minute I was 
in the summer-kitchen for the brass shells and the gun. They 
were where I had left them, but they had turned green and 
the gun was rusty. Would the shells fire? 

My brother indicated the spot where he had seen the 
wolf lie down, a clump of weeds. The wolf's temporary resting 
place was approximately 120 rods away, to the southwest. 
The wind, which was Ught, was coming from the south-west, 
which was a definite help. It would have been impossible to 
approach the wolf at all if the wind had been reversed. By 
skirting a hOl and getting into a deep long ditch, I could 
sneak to within fifty yards of the wolf. 

Excited and breathing hard I came to the end of the 
ditch, but I could not locate the exact spot. In the open, I 
could not expect to get any closer without being seen. There 
was but one thing to do, and that was to rush the 
unsuspecting animal. I cocked the trigger and ran as fast as I 
could, holding the gun in position. As soon as I emerged from 
the ditch the wolf jumped to his feet. It was now or never, so I 
fired. Part of the load scored a hit, for he let out a yelp, 
twisted, and sped for the fence and the creek. He gained 
ground but was stopped by a barbed-wire fence, closely 
spaced. By the time he worked his way through the fence, I 

had reloaded and was within twenty yards of the fugitive. 
When I fired again, he dropped, but he was on his feet almost 
instantly. Now his progress was retarded for he had been 
partly disemboweled. Nevertheless, he dragged himself to the 
creek and disappeared over the embankment. 

That was something I had not anticipated. If he could 
manage to cross the shallow creek he could easily vanish in 
the heavy thicket and woods on the other side. Meanwhile, in 
attempting to cross the fence, I encountered difficulty 
myself. In my hurry, I lost my footing and straddled the 
barbed wires. Before I extricated myself, I had numerous 
painful scratches and cuts and a pair of well-ventilated 

Undaunted, I reloaded and ran to the creek, to the spot 
where the wolf had disappeared. With my eyes focused on the 
other side, I was unaware of the wolf on a ledge just below 
me. He was badly maimed in body but he was full of fight and 
his jaws were not crippled. His snarl was fierce and his foamy 
jaws snapped. If it had not been for the warning snarl I might 
have suffered something resembling an amputation of my 
left ankle. I jumped and fired at the same time. The charge 
was meant for the head but it struck the neck, tearing it open. 

Now the wolf was dead, I sat down to relax. As I looked 
at the wolf I was impressed by its size, and I wondered how 
many sheep and calves had given their lives to such a 
massive body. 

The scalp and the ears were all that was required to 
collect the bounty from the county, but I found that the knife 
I had was too dull, so I started homeward dragging the 
carcass behind me. It would have been easier to carry it on 
my shoulder, but the contact of the bloody carcass on my 
bare skin was repulsive. After frequent stops for rest, I 
finally dragged my prize to the home woodshed. My youngest 
brother suggested that I take a picture of it. My cheap Kodak 
had a film in it so we did just that. It passed through my 
mind that if I ever had grandchildren that picture might just 

be of interest to them. 

The news of the kill spread. I recall a newspaper article 
which was headed: "Divinity Student Captures the Killer 
Wolf." It went on to say that for years frenzied farmers and 
officials had tried every means to capture the kiUer. I learned 
that one farmer, who hved two miles away, had almost 
succeeded in taking the pleasure away from me. He had 
hidden a wire snare in an opening in his hedge-row. On the 
day before the wolf gave up his Ufe, the farmer had noticed 
that the wire noose was gone. It had been twisted and broken. 
When I scalped the killer I found the wire loop still fastened 
around his neck. 

Many of the farmers expressed their gratitude. The 
tangible reward for ridding the county of the destructive old 
killer (and he was OLD) was the ten doOar bounty which I 
collected from the County Clerk at Cambridge. But of course, 
there were other less tangible rewards that were important. 
That was the high point of my early life as a hunter. 


Lyman Inman 

The live decoys in a pen that ran from the land out into 
the water made a few calls that caused me to look up from my 
daydreaming, but it was only a few blackbirds flying over. 
The place was the Deep Plain Hunting Club located six miles 
up the Illinois River from Grafton in Calhoun County. The 
club was owned by Robert Myers of Deer Plain and several 
other business men from St. Louis. They leased the eighteen 
hundred acres which contained three lakes that covered 
about one fourth of the grounds. The rest of the land was 
covered with timber with a lot of pecan, maple and pin oak 
trees, large and beautiful. This place was a hunter's paradise. 

Besides the waterfowl, there were rabbit, squirrel, oppossum, 
mink, raccoon, and fox to hunt and muskrat to trap. 

I was working as a guide for Ross DeSherila, who was 
caretaker at that time. When I started working there, Ross 
was working at the club for Steve Creech. Ross is a cousin of 
mine, and we had grown up together. Shortly after I went to 
work there, Steve Creech left to be a federal conservation 
officer, and Ross got the job as caretaker. The clubhouse had 
twenty-eight rooms and was only a few years old, as the 
previous building had burned down. My job was to help take 
care of about two hundred live decoys and take the decoys 
out to the blind where the hunter wanted to hunt. Some of the 
members were not too good at hunting, so Ross and I, or 
some of the other workers, would stay in the blind and kill 
ducks for them to take home. 

One of the best lakes to hunt required a motorboat trip 
down the river and a half mile walk. One time I was out in the 
blind with a member who had bought a high price labrador 
retriever from England. After shooting several times and not 
getting a duck down, he gave me his gun to shoot. He wanted 
to see his dog retrieve. I soon shot a duck down and he sent 
his dog after it, but it brought back a live decoy. 

Another time Ross brought a member down to this 
same lake and went back to the house with the motor boat. I 
was taking the hunter out to the blind, and he fell out of my 
boat in about four feet of water. It was cold that morning so I 
got him back to dry land and he decided to call for help. Steps 
led up to a telephone on a large maple tree above the high 
water line. When I called Ross and told him what had 
happened, he said he would be down and pick him up. The 
hunter not only got wet and cold, but it spoiled his hunting 
for the day. 

Two brothers, John and Rudy Pehm, lived about one 
quarter of a mile from us, and one cold winter evening, John 
came to the door wanting help. He had been drinking and 
needed help with Rudy, who was down in the snow and 

couldn't get up. He could not tell us just where Rudy was, so 
Ross and I back-tracked John through some timber and out 
to the edge of a field where we found Rudy, face down in the 

We got him turned over and started dragging him to his 
house, which was only about two hundred yards away. John 
and Will caught up with us and helped get him to their house, 
which was cold, so we started a fire in the King heater, which 
was a sheet metal wood burner that got red hot in a short 
time. We had left Rudy in the kitchen and went to the living 
room to build the fire. Will stayed in with Rudy and drank 
some hooch while we built the fire. Will came in and told John 
that his brother was dying. John asked what was wrong with 
him. Will said he was freezing to death. John picked up a 
sheep skin vest, wrapped it around the stove until it was 
smoking hot, and then put it in Rudy's face and held it there 
for awhile and told us Rudy wouldn't die. Rudy didn't die 
that night, but his face showed frostbite and bums the next 

There were bootleggers along the river, so it was easy to 
get hooch. Most of the men hving along the river drank a lot, 
got drunk, and did a lot of fighting. One time, there was a car 
going along the river road when a shotgun blast from the 
brush put a number of bird shot in two men. That was 
evidently someone's way of settling a quarrel. 

One of our neighbors, the Phem Brothers, had a cousin 
Henry Pehm, that went out one day and never came back. 
There was a large search party that searched the timber, river 
and lakes for several days, but did not find Henry or any 
place where he had been. That happened in the early 
Twenties, and in 1930, when I went home for lunch one day, 
my wife, Ruth, and Ross's wife, Marie, told me that they had 
heard on the radio that a man who had been caretaker of this 
club by the name of Hoosman was on his death bed and 
confessed to killing Henry Pehm. He said he used an ax and 
had taken the body out on the ice in the river and had 

chopped a hole in the ice and put the body into the river. 

There have been a lot of changes since those days, and 
that beautiful place that I thought would never change did 
not last. When the lock and dam at Alton was built, the club 
house was torn down, and most of the timbers were cut and 
burned. When I visit the Pere Marquette State Park these 
days, I look across the river v/here the club house stood. I see 
a narrow strip of land with a few trees on it, I think of the 
happy days that I spent there, and I turn away and leave 
with a empty and sad feeling. 


Harold L. Donkle 

When I was a young man in my twenties, around 1925, 1 
enjoyed hunting and fishing, and at that time had as my 
teacher an older man by the name of Edgar Aleshire. Edgar 
was one of the very successful insurance salesmen in 
Plymouth and the father of my pal, Lee Aleshire. 

Edgar was in his late seventies but enjoyed hunting and 
fishing with younger hunters and fishermen. He was not able, 
because of his age, to tramp the woods an fields hke in his 
younger years, but was quite content to wait in the car, 
always thinking up tricks to play on his unsuspecting friends. 
He also enjoyed eating lunch and Ustening to their stories of 
the hunt. 

I was working in my father's lumber yard at the time, 
and one day Edgar asked Dad if I could drive him on an 
insurance call. This was his way of getting out of the village 
and into his first love, the country. On this trip we saw a big 
old turkey hanging around an old corncrib a little distance 
from the home of Paul and Jean Powell. We stopped at the 
house, and Edgar inquired as to who owned the turkey at the 
corncrib. Jean said it belonged to them. He then asked if it 

might be for sale, and Jean said she would be more than glad 
to sell it, as they could not keep the bird at home. He paid 
Jean her asking price, with a Uttle added, and told her if she 
heard a gun shot the next day around the crib, she was to 
send Paul over, if he was home, and catch us with the bird red 
handed. He told her to tell Paul to act angry and tell the 
group he was going to swear out a warrant the next day, and 
have the whole bunch arrested for trespassing and killing his 

On our way home, he explained his plan to me, knowing 
I would go along with him one hundred percent. 

The next morning, we gathered our group together, 
consisting of Everett Swisgood, Roland Kendall and Oscar 
Clemens loaded the dogs, and away we went for a day of 
hunting fun. 

Would you dare to guess where we finally found 
ourselves? At the Powell farm. We unloaded the boys and 
dogs, telhng them to hunt around a fence row of a big field, 
and we would meet them at the corn crib with the car. When 
Edgar and I reached the corncrib, he asked me to see if I 
could find the turkey. I soon returned to the car and reported 
that it was roosting on the tin roof of the corncrib— just what 
he wanted. 

We watched carefully for our hjinters to return, and 
when we spotted them, Edgar loaded his gun and went to 
meet them, telling me just what to do when he came to the car 
carrying the game. 

After he met up with the hunters, they started to return 
to the car. All at once I heard two quick shots and saw the 
turkey skidding down the tin roof, and I knew Edgar had 
done his deed. Of course, the three hunters were 
dumbfounded at what Edgar had done. I remained in the car 
and was supposed to get abusive with Edgar at what he had 
just done, but seeing him trying to carry that big flopping 
turkey with a satsified smile on his face from ear to ear and 
the astonishment and disbeUef on the hunter's face was too 

much for me. I laughed so hard I could hardly see or get my 

I finally got control of myself and began to bawl Edgar 
out with all I could think of and a little more, stalling awhUe 
and thinking Paul Powell would show up soon. Much to our 
disappointment, he was away from home at the time. 

I finally told the boys to put the turkey in the car trunk 
as I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible and I was 
not making any inquiry as to who might own the bird. AD the 

time, with Oscar's help, I was giving Edgar holy H . 

Oscar, a very upright individual, still wanted to find the 
owner and tell him "What this old fool has done." Oscar 
finally said, "If this is the way you folks feel about this kind 
of thing, take me home at once as I do not want to hunt with 
you ever again." For some reason, Everett and Roland 
remained silent. 

We finally arrived in Plymouth and took Oscar home 
first. The fun-loving Edgar than offered Oscar the turkey, 
and the latter's response is unprintable. 

We told the group we would pick them up early the next 
day for another hunting trip, but Oscar didn't answer us. 
Roland finally took the turkey. After leaving them, Edgar 
and I went on hunting and had a fine afternoon. 

The next day, we called to pick Oscar up, but his wife 
said he was sick in bed, and she was sure he didn't feel like 
going. We asked what the trouble might be, and she told us 
that he was worried about what had happened the day before. 

WeU, that wasn't what we expected either, and knowing 
that the turkey episode was the cause of his sickness, we 
thought it best to go and see poor sick Oscar and tell the 
truth— that we had bought the turkey from Mrs. Powell the 
day before. Once that was said, Edgar and I got told off 
plenty, with some of Oscar's well chosen swear words. 

Smooth-talking Edgar persuaded Oscar into getting out 
of bed and getting dressed, and away we went to pick up 

Roland and Everett. We told them about our joke, and the 
we all had a good laugh and were friends again. 


Carroll A. Ochsner 

During the early fall of 1931 I started a trapline and 
"run" it most of the winter. On school days it was only two 
miles in length. Even so I had to arise at four o'clock every 
morning in order to do my assigned chores, run the trapline, 
and get to Dallas City in time for school. 

I started out in the fall by trapping a lot of moles. They 
were very tedious to skin but 1 was desperate for money and 
their skins were worth from six to seven cents each, 
depending upon size. Carroll Barker ran a grocery store in 
Pontoosuc and bought fur on the side, and he was eager to 
get the mole skins for they were much in demand at the time. 
I caught a lot of rabbits, and during the cold weather Carroll 
Barker readily bought all that were available at ten cents 
each. They were frozen soUd, of course, by the time he 
received them, and they were packed sohdly in barrels and 
shipped by express to the Chicago market. I must have 
caught a dozen weasels during the winter. Their skins were 
worth sixty to seventy cents each, again depending upon the 

On weekends I would extend my trapUne to cover a 
distance of roughly five miles. There was quite an honor 
system among trappers in that day. No one would think of 
molesting any other person's traps or invading another 
person's territory. If you traps were in the dens, that was 
your territory and anyone else wanting a trapUne had to look 
elsewhere. On weekends 1 trapped on Casting's Creek, which 
was about two miles as the crow flies, from our home. 

Raccoons were so scarce that one day I found coon 


tracks in the creek, and I told a couple of trappers in 
Pontoosuc of my discovery. They didn't believe me so they 
followed me to the creek so I could point out the tracks in the 
soft sand of the creekbed. Whereupon they helped me, and we 
dragged two large logs to the spot. We covered the top of the 
logs with large flat stones from the stream bed. In the center 
of the enclosed area we dumped a basket of fish heads 
obtained from the Pontoosuc Fish Market. We carefully set 
traps at each end of the enclosure. During the coming days 
we caught a number of opossum, but I guess the recalcitrant 
raccoon never returned that way. 

The skunk pelts were all bought on a graded basis. The 
black pelts brought the most money. The next grade was the 
short, which meant that the pelt had white on the head and 
extending to the back of the neck. Next in Une was the 
narrow, meaning that the white stripe extended in a narrow 
line from the top of the head to the tail. The least valuable of 
the skunk pelts was the broad. This meant that the top of the 
head was white and a broad white stripe extended down the 
back all the way to the tail. The black pelts were worth in the 
neighborhood of four dollars a pelt. 

Sometimes when the weather was warm in the evening 
and it turned bitter cold during the night, the critters would 
be frozen solid in the traps. This meant that they had to be 
thawed out before they could be skirmed. Especially in the 
case of the skunks this chore had to be done by hanging them 
behind the stove located in some outbuilding. Even so I 
sometimes incurred the wrath of my grandfather for always 
smelling up his wash house. 

Wild animals are pretty smart. In order to remove any 
human scent and to further duU the color of new traps, I 
boiled all of my traps in a solution of water and wahiut hulls 
or walnut tree bark before I set them out in the dens. 

As the winter wore on I ceased to capture much fur. 
Perhaps I had thinned the critters all out. I then decided to 
put my trapline out along the Mississippi River, located 

about a half mile from our home. At this time I also set traps 
in the water in the culverts underneath the Santa Fe Railway. 
The very next morning I caught a large mink in one of these 
traps. Boy, did I hit the jackpot! Carroll Barker said that it 
was a black mink, and he paid me the small fortune of 
eighteen dollars for the pelt. 

When I sold my winter's fur catch in March, I made 
fifty-five dollars. I really felt wealthy. 


Thomas C. Wall 

As a youngster I probably beat on that tree twenty or 
twenty-five times when I was out hunting or trapping. I 
think it was a big, dead, slippery elm, but it could have been a 
Cottonwood since it stood in a large depression. We would go 
across country north and east from Avon to Shoo Fly Road, 
then over into the old Cooney Roy timber. Those woods were 
dense, heavy timber with a lot of tangeled undergrowth. Not 
unlike an old woodsman, which I certainly am not, I can't tell 
you how to get there. I'd have to size up the land to see if I 
could find the spot. You see, that was before I went into the 
Navy, even before World War I. 

The Cooney Roy timber wasn't vast. In fact, there 
wasn't much to it. We never bothered to set any traps out 
there, but it might be worth a detour when setting or running 
traps just to beat on that ancient tree. We would pick up a 
fallen branch and drum a tattoo on the trunk. In response, 
four or five flying squirrels were sure to come sailing out. The 
exact color or size of the flying squirrel I really can't 
remember, but they were shghtly smaller than the red or gray 
common variety, I beUeve. Also, unlike the common squirrel, 
they never spoke to you. They didn't fuss, chatter or 
otherwise scold. I do remember that their skin was webbed 


between leg and body, and they would come out of the tree in 
a silent glide. Those flying squirrels didn't get into an updraft 
and soar like eagles or hawks; they just sailed into a nearby 
tree and disappeared. We didn't pursue them beyond that. 
No one would have thought of harming the little things. We 
were just curious boys. 

Many boys hunted and trapped back then. We wouldn't 
have had a nickel to spend in the winter if it wasn't for the 
animals we trapped. My brother Sandy Wall, Arbon 
Fullerton, and I generally hunted or trapped together. We 
roamed from such diverse points as the railroad lake to the 
old Albert Poisett place near what today is called "Trails 
End." The C.B. & Q. Railroad buUt the small lake just east of 
Avon (now known as Avondale Lake) as a reservior to supply 
ample water for steam engines. There weren't too many men 
trapping there at first and muskrats were plentiful. We each 
staked out our own territory. The season came in around mid- 
November, and we always hoped for kind of a soft night. By 
that I mean a night with the air soft, maybe even a gentle 
rain, as contrasted with a cold, brittle night. Our muskrat 
traps would be staked about fifteen inches out from the shore 
and at the bottom of a slide. A slide is the place where the 
muskrat always went into the water. A little apple bait would 
be placed on a stick about the water level, and when the rat 
snapped the bait, the trap would snap back. 

On the Poisett place we mainly did "crick" trapping. 
Albert Poisett and his father farmed or controlled about 1600 
acres, and we were not welcome thereon. Albert was a draft 
horse breeder and kept about 200 head of horses down there. 
He also had a large herd of black cattle of somewhat wild 
disposition. We always had a dog with us. The inevitable 
result was that the dog would bark, and the cattle, bawling, 
would crash through the brakes. Albert would hear the 
commotion. Albert Poisett was a diminutive man but he was 
well known for the sheer volume of his bellow. Standing high 
up on his hillside he would holler at us, "Get out of my 

timber." We trapped along his creek and did what we wanted, 
forcing him to evict us with great regularity. 

Our prime targets in trapping were skunk and muskrat. 
It's strange to reflect, but there were very few raccoon 
around Avon in those days. We rarely caught a coon or a fox. 
There were mink, however, and brother Sandy got to be quite 
a good mink trapper. Three types of traps were in common 
use. No. 1 and No. 2 steel and the Victor Jump Trap. We each 
marked our own with a particular mark, as others would 
occasionally lift our traps. If they didn't steal them, they 
would at least "run" them taking your fur. Those traps cost 
money, and if you hoped to stay even you had to "lift" a trap 
or two yourself if you found them in the right place. One man 
here in Avon— and, I'm not going to mention a 
name— purloined a large number of our skunk. I can show you 
his bam for it still stands. In its loft we found some of our 
skunks, after an illegal search motivated by an anonymous 

When I reflect now on that aspect of our youthful 
adventures, I fondly remember Jinx Jewell. Jinx was a local 
"hunter" of particular note. Avon residents always remarked 
that he was the luckiest hunter in Union Township. He never 
was seen to set a trap, and may never have owned one. Yet, 
Jinx always appeared with skunk he found tangled in a wild 
grapevine, or perhaps coon he had discovered caught in a 
woven wire fence. 

The very first skunk I ever caught I sold to Jake Hovell, 
who ran the slaughter house east of Avon. He paid me the 
princely sum of 25 cents, and I had carried the polecat all the 
way in from Shoo Fly Road. I soon became more 
sophisticated. Times changed and muskrat eventually 
brought $1.50 and skunk considerably more. But, that was 
during the World War, and things were a good deal higher 
then. A nice short stripe skunk might then have brought 
$6.00 depending on how the hair lay. The value of skunk 
varied inversely to the amount of white. Broad stripe was the 


cheapest and short stripe or black the dearest. Muskrat was 
priced by how prime the fur was. In the fall, when the season 
was in and rats easiest to trap, the fur was the lightest or 

The furs would be scraped and stretched. When a 
number were accumulated, or when we were particularly hard 
up, they were taken to the depot and shipped via the C.B. & 
Q. to Funston Brothers or F.C. Taylor & Company in St. 
Louis. Then we would begin the wait for our checks. 
Sometimes we would get burned. A fur which we thought was 
a pretty good rat they'd call a "kit." Therefore, the next sale 
would be to a company we thought hadn't beaten us the last 
time. In order to ship the furs a gunny sack would be cut open 
on the sides, wrapped around the stack of hides and then 
sewn shut again. 

Our youthful hunting efforts were always a source of 
joy to my mother. The poor woman was permitted to take 
several days off every two years or so to have another baby. 
Around the time I was ten, Sandy and I barged right on in to 
her "confinement" exhibiting for her a fresh skunk we had 
caught. We were "fresh" also. She didn't seem to share our 
enthusiasm even though we patiently explained how we had 
to cut it from the tangled roots of the large tree wherein it 
had sought its final sanctuary. 


Truman W. Waite 

It was in the summer of 1908 that my older sister and I 
went to the home of our neighbor to get a Uttle fox terrier 
puppy. We grew up together, and as I grew older we made our 
daily trips each evening to bring in the milk cows. One day 
"Pood," as we named him, found a possum in a brush pile. I 
was a proud boy when I brought that "dead" possum home 

with the cows that evening. My father killed and skinned it 
for me, and I sold it for forty cents to a local fur buyer. It was 
the first money I ever earned. 

In the years that followed, the Andrew brothers, Alger 
and Gib, my brother Ralph, and I spent many a Sunday 
afternoon in the fall and winter in the woodland. Sometimes 
Pood would locate a possum or skunk, which occasionally was 
responsible for an unexcused absence on our report cards at 
school. On one occasion we got a coon. In those days coons 
were very scarce because most of the den trees had been cut 
for lumber. 

About the time that the First World War was over, 
there was a big demand for fur and prices were high. A large 
star black skunk could bring as much as twenty dollars in St. 
Louis. An extra large possum would bring four dollars, and 
muskrats were in the same price range. 

Skunks were graded in four divisions according to the 
stripes. A star black skunk, which you very seldom saw had 
only a spot of white on the head. A short stripe was one where 
the stripes extended only to the shoulders. It too was very 
scarce. A narrow striped skunk had stripes not over one-half 
inch wide and did not reach the tail. A broad strip was one 
with stripes over one-half inch wide and the length of the pelt. 

Shortly after the war was over, furs went down in price. 
Also, skunks got a disease and many died. Fur prices got so 
cheap that there was not much incentive to have a trapline. It 
was during this time that I had another interest, a farmer's 

In the course of time we were married. During the 
depression of the Thirties we were share croppers on a small 
farm in Western Illinois. With the price of corn at ten cents 
per bushel and a good mink hide equal in value to forty 
bushels of corn, I found it necessary to run a trapline to 
provide for some of the necessities of life. 

In order to get the best prices for your fur, the skins had 
to be carefully removed without cutting holes or tearing 

them. Also the tailbone had to be removed. The next step was 
fleshing the hide. This was accomplished by placing the skin 
over a smooth round surface and removing the excess flesh 
and fat with a corn knife. You had to be careful not to cut the 
skin or get too close and draw the hair through the pelt. It 
was then placed on a board that was slightly tapered from the 
bottom to the top so the skin could be removed when it was 
dry. Stretched tightly on the board, the skin was placed in a 
cool dark place to dry. Most skins were removed, "cased" 
from the animal, but raccoons were often skinned open hke a 
beef. The hide was then stretched as square as possible on the 
side of a building. At that time coon hides were in demand to 
make coats that were very popular for the boys who went to 

It was pay day when local buyers came to your home to 
buy your furs. He would try to buy your furs as cheap as 
possible, while you tried to match wits with him by 
concealing any defects the pelts might of had. Buying and 
selling furs was often mentioned as a "skin" game. 

Other markets for fur were in St. Louis. I can recall five 
that were in business at that time, especially F.C. Taylor. 
Others were Funsten, I. Abraham, Fouke, and Hill Brothers. 
All of them were located on Olive Street. Two other buyers 
that I recan were Herskovitz in New York City and Sears 
Roebuck in Chicago. 

During the Thirties much of the livestock raised on the 
farm was shipped by rail to Chicago or East St. Louis. You 
could get a care takers pass to ride the freight train to market 
with your livestock and come home on the passenger train 
the next evening. 

It was New Years Eve in 1932 that I shipped some hogs 
to East St. Louis which had been loaded at Ursa, Illinois. 
After riding all night in the caboose, I arrived at the market. 
When the hogs were sold, I took the trolley across the 
Mississippi to St. Louis to sell the furs that I had with me. 
After checking out some of the buyers, I sold out to F.C. 

Taylor, where I received as much for a mink hide as I received 
for one of my two hundred pound hogs. That was five dollars. 

Today it is much different than it was during the 
Thirties. The fur markets that were estabhshed in St. Louis 
when it was a fur trading post on the Western Frontier, at the 
mouth of the Missouri River, are no longer in business. Nor 
are those in Chicago and New York. 

The years have brought changes in the fur bearing 
animals. The beaver that was absent for over seventy-five 
years due to the early explorers and trappers, has returned 
and in such numbers that it is again legal to trap them. On 
the other hand, skunks are seldom seen because they have 
been killed off due to the fact that they are supposed to be a 
carrier of rabies. 


Marjorie Melvin 

Across the hills and hollows of the timber, and into the 
kitchen of the old farmhouse floated the eerie chorus of the 
coonhounds. Snuggled in the warmth and security of 
Grandma's lap, I asked, "Why do they make so much noise?" 

The rhythm of the big old wooden rocking chair slowed 
a little as she thought about it. Grandma always answered 
my questions; in addition, even though I was almost old 
enough for school, she still rocked me at bedtime. I loved to 
visit at her house. 

"Well, honey," she told me now, "the best I can tell you 
is that the noise is just part of coon hunting." 

"Do the dogs want to eat the coons?" 

"No, no! Those dogs wouldn't hurt a coon. All they do is 
track him. When they find the tree that a coon is in, they let 
the boys know where to find them." 

A note of pride always crept into Grandma's voice when 

she spoke of the boys. They were her three sons, Henry, John, 
and Fred, who had not yet married. They did the farming and 
the chores; on winter nights they took their dogs and went 
coonhunting in the timber. 

"How do the dogs find coons?" 

"From the scent, honey; they just put their noses to the 
ground and follow that trail until it ends at the base of a tree. 
And that's the tree where Mr. Coon is hiding. The dogs that 
the boys raise are just born with a knack for hunting; and 
then the young dogs learn by going hunting with the older 
ones, like Old Blue. That's why hunters from all over come 
here to buy their dogs." 

I wished that I could prolong forever that magic time in 
the circle of light from the coaloil lamp on the big table and 
the warmth of the black cookstove. I enjoyed the comfort of 
the kitchen more because I knew the rest of the house was 
unheated and unlighted. I had looked forward to this part of 
the bedtime ritual, which would come after Grandma finished 
washing the supper dishes and stirring up the mixture which 
she called the sponge, to be used in tomorrow's bread baking. 
While she was busy, I had sat down on the woven rag rug in 
front of the cookstove where the big yellow cat was curled up, 
sleeping in his accustomed place. Softly I had stroked his fur 
until the striking of the clock on the wall had reminded 
Grandma that it was time for bed. 

"I'll get your nightgown and night cap and you can 
undress here behind the stove," she had told me. "I've got 
the flat irons heating on the stove, and here's the outing 
flannel to wrap them in. They'll make a nice warm spot in the 
bed for your little feet," she had promised. "And now. 
Tommy. . ." 

"Can't he stay in the house tonight. Grandma?" 

"No, it's all right during the day but not at night. Come 
on now!" Firmly she picked up the sleeping cat, but I noticed 
that she was stroking his yellow fur as she opened the door 
and set him out. "Now hurry and run to the barn," she had 

advised him, "and make yourself a nice little nest in the hay." 

The opening of the door had let in a blast of cold air as 
well as the distant baying of the dogs. Since that time, while 
we were rocking, the sounds of the coon hunt had increased 
steadily in volume. Even though I was almost asleep, I 
realized that the dogs were getting closer. 

"Are they bringing the dogs back,?" I asked Grandma. 

"They're coming back all right, but I can tell from the 
sound that they're following a trail. They sound like they're 
this side of the timber. They must have scared that coon 
awful bad to make him run right out of the timber and into 
the open." 

She carried me to the window from which we could see 
the lanterns that my uncles were carrying coming closer and 
closer. At the foot of the big tree outside the kitchen window 
there was much noise and confused activity. The dogs were 
frantic with excitement, while flashlights were beamed up 
into the tree. Even more frightening than the sounds of the 
dogs were the shouts of my uncles. "Where is he?" "Shine the 
light up thataway!" "I think I see . . ." "That's no coon!" 
"What is it?" 

"Grandma, I'm scared," I whimpered, hiding my face in 
the softness of her shoulder. "Those boys and their dogs!" 
she sputtered with as much feeUng as she could summon 
against her sons. "This is no place for a sleepy little girl to be. 
Come on! We'll go to bed and let them handle things." 

Looking back fearfully, I was carried into the cold 
bedroom, but as soon as I had cuddled down into the feather 
bed between the blankets with my feet on the warm iron I 
was so drowsy that I barely managed to say my bedtime 
prayer before the sounds from the yard were blacked out by 

It all came back to me as soon as I opened my eyes the 
next morning and saw that Grandma had already gotten up. 
What was in that tree? Maybe a bear? And did it get into the 
house? Could it be over there in the corner on the other side of 

the dresser? I pulled the covers over my head. Curiosity 
overcame fear when I recognized from the sounds in the next 
room that the family was getting ready to eat breakfast. I 
heard the heavy tread of my uncles' boots as they came into 
the house carrying their pails of milk. Carefully I hstened 
until I had identified the voice of each of them as they hung 
up their coats and caps on the hooks behind the kitchen door 
and washed up at the washstand for breakfast. A great desire 
to see if they were really all right as well as the tantalizing 
aroma of breakfast cooking made me jump quickly out of the 
bed and run to the warmth of the kitchen. 

"And there's my little girl!" said Grandma happily, 
looking up from the pan of biscuits which she had just taken 
out of the oven. I hardly heard what my uncles were saying to 
me; all I wanted to hear about was what had happened last 

"Did you find out ..." I began, as we sat down at the 

"Hush, Babe," said Grandma softly, "until after I ask 
the blessing. Dear heavenly Father ..." 

The prayer fell on deaf ears. I didn't even bow my head. 
I was inspecting my uncles for injuries incurred in the great 
struggle that must have taken place. I knew that I must wait 
until after the important rite of the passing of the food before 
asking questions. There was a platter of thick sHces of side 
meat browned to a turn, fried eggs, fried potatoes, big fat 
biscuits to be broken in two and covered with syrup. 
Everyone but me had a thick mug of coffee. They ate in 

"I wanted to ask ... up in the tree ... I saw out the 
window . . . What was it?" They continued to eat, paying no 
attention. "The dogs had something treed. What was it?" 
"They're coondogs so what do you think they had treed?" 
asked Uncle John. 

"But I heard you say it was no coon." 

"Well don't worry about it; you can't beUeve everything 

you hear." 

"But I want to know! I thought it was a bear! And I'm 
scared of bears!" 

"Now you know," he said, "there are no bears around 

"And it's a good thing, as dumb as those dogs are!" 
muttered Uncle Henry. 

"Grandma, make them tell me!" 

"Well, if you have to know," said Uncle Fred with a 
scowl, "it was . . .nothing but that old tomcat." He glared 
balefully at Tommy, who was again curled up on the rug in 
front of the stove. 

"But how did he get down out of that tree?" 

"Who cares? He was at the door this morning yowUng 
to get in when we went out to do chores. He had all night to 
get down." 

"Those worthless dogs!" exploded Uncle John. "That 
stupid Old Blue, thinks he's a hunting dog!" "The rest are no 
better. I've a mind to take the shotgun to the lot of them!" 
said Uncle Henry. "They sure made fools of themselves, and 
us too," growled Uncle Fred, "and, mind you," he fixed me 
with a unaccustomed stern look, "not one word of this to 
anybody. Nobody would ever buy another one of our dogs if 
they knew they had treed a cat." 

"But it was kind of funny," added Grandma, passing 
the plate of biscuits again. With that, one of the uncles began 
to laugh, followed by the others. When I saw that Grandma 
was laughing so hard that her double chin was trembhng, I 
joined in the laughter, not sure what was so funny. 

"I promise I'll never tell" I cried shriOy, hoping to bring 
their attention back to myself. 

And I kept my promise for over sixty years. Now the 
timber where Old Blue and his descendants used to hunt is a 
cornfield which stretches over the area where Grandma's 
house and farm buildings used to stand. Grandma and her 
boys have long been gone, but I like to think that they are 


waiting for me in another place where there is a big patch of 
timber, lots of coons and hounds, and maybe even a lazy 
yellow tomcat. 


Leslie C. Swanson 

King was a true bred fox hound with a lot of promise 
when he was reared in Pennsylvania Kennel. He matured fast 
and ran with abandon with the pack, looking as if he was 
slated for a great career with the hounds. But alas, he fell into 
evil ways. He started chasing rabbits, an unpardonable sin 
for any potential well-trained fox hound. In short, ICing 
landed right in the dog house. The kennel owners quickly put 
him in the group advertised in a sports magazine as "fox 
hounds broke on rabbits." 

He was soon sent out our way to Moline, Illinois, where 
he quickly made himself at home. My father and I both soon 
concluded that King was the best rabbit hound we ever had. 
We had used several different type of rabbit dogs previously, 
including Beagles and Pointers, all of which had some good 
points in chasing the cottontaOs. 

King operated differently than any dogs we had seen in 
the fields. All you had to do was to take up a vantage point in 
a cornfield or on top of a hay stack, and he would eventually 
bring the rabbits your way in a vast circling movement. Our 
only objection to this method was we did not get much 

One day the writer and three younger hunting pals 
drove to the Watertown area, a vast wooded area and an old 
mining region two miles east of East Moline. Hunting was 
good and we bagged about a dozen rabbits by noon. King had 
been working them around to us in his usual manner. 

We stopped for a short lunch along the edge of a ravine 
before calling in the hound and heading for home. King had 

other ideas as his usual baying echoed through the woodland. 
We expected a rabbit to emerge into view any moment, and 
we grabbed our shotguns. But nothing happened. The baying 
went on relentlessly, and seemed to be fading off into the 
distance part of the time. It also appeared that what the 
cottontail King was chasing was just leading him in circles. 

Our patience was wearing thin, and repeated attempts 
to call him in were fruitless. We even discharged a couple 
rounds of shotgun shells in the attempt to divert his 
attention and bring him back to the party. The baying and 
circling around us continued unabaited for over an hour. We 
attempted to move in the direction from whence the baying 
came, but the sound just shifted off further to the right or 

Finally, we just sat on a hillside, hoping that King 
would wear himself out and give up the chase. Suddenly I 
noticed something move through the grass at the top of a hill 
across the ravine from where we were standing. The animal 
looked a little too large for a rabbit, and for a moment it 
appeared to be a fair-sized dog of some kind. As the animal 
emerged from the grass and started slowly down the hill 
toward us, we could not be mistaken— it was certainly a fox. 
It was still out of range and it continued to move toward us, 
apparently unaware of our presence. He turned his head back 
a few times as the baying of the dog was getting closer. The 
grey fox leaped across the small creek and continued in our 
direction. When the distance was down to about 40 yards, I 
raised my 20-guage shotgun and started firing as the fox 
raced off in the direction from which he came. We thought at 
least one of the shots might have found its mark as the fox 
appeared to slip as he went up the hill. 

We chased up the hill following his tracks in the snow. 
About a hundred yards beyond the top of the hill we found 
King proudly standing over the body of the fox. Apparently 
he had finished off the crippled animal. At least one of my 
shots had found his mark. King had redeemed himself as a 

fox hound. King had found the first fox reported to have been 
sighted in Rock Island County in the last twenty years. 


Lyle W. Robbins 

For a ten-year-old I felt wealthy. I placed my holdings 
upon the kitchen table— all five dollars worth, mostly in 
stacks of dimes, nickles and pennies. I had earned aU this 
wealth by doing odd jobs on the farm a few years before the 
Great Depression. I liked to look at the evidence of my 
success. I Uked to count all this money, to feel it and hold it in 
my hands. I also liked to spread it all out on the table for my 
mother to see. 

"Take care of your money and spend it wisely," she 

I intend to do just that— spend it wisely. 

"What are you going to do with all that money?" my 
mother inquired. 

"I think rU buy me a dog. Mom, a real black and tan 
hound pup— somethin' that'll make me rich sellin' rabbits at 
ten cents apiece." 

My mother didn't say anything. She just swallowed a 
time or two, Uke maybe she wasn't in favor of it but still 
didn't want to raise much of a fuss. 

In a way I could see her point, not bein' much of a 
hunter herself. But I knew what I'd be getting for my five 
dollars. I'd be getting a whole new life to share. And five 
dollars wasn't much, really, for a whole new life, when you 
think of it that way. 

With all that money in my overall's pocket I hurried 
down the country road to the Truman Belfour residence, a 
half mile west of the Schuyler County hne, where the pups 
were for sale. I would pick out the best looking male pup. 

Why a male? I didn't know— except my dad said it had to be a 
male. The girl dogs looked just as good to me, and they were 
only three dollars. Of course, that was long before ERA and I 
would expect they would be the same price now. 

There were six in the htter, two females and four males. 
I knew it would be difficult choosing one of the four. One of 
the males, an awkward black and tan, stumbled over and 
picked me out to be his owner. It was that simple. I paid 
Truman the five dollars and then the two of us went home. 

I named my new friend Drum. He was an open trailer 
and had a certain syncopated rhythm in his hunting song. I 
loved that black and tan hound pup. It was a privilege to own 
a high priced dog like Drum, and we spent many happy hours 
together on the farm while the two of us were growing up. 1 
talked to him quite a lot. He would cock his head to one side, 
as he looked up at me, to assure me that he understood every 
word that I said. 

At the age of ten, I didn't know much about training a 
dog. I thought all he needed was love and affection. As I grew 
older I was to learn that love and affection, while very 
desirable traits, would not, by themselves, turn a fine looking 
hound pup into a valuable hunting dog. 

As one my surmise, my qualifications as a dog trainer 
were not entirely adequate. When Drum was about six 
months old, I decided to start him out on rabbits. Rabbits 
were plentiful. They seemed to be everywhere. This, I later 
learned, was a serious mistake. Good hunting dogs were 
supposed to be taught early in life to have nothing to do with 
a lowly rabbit. Instead, they were to be trained to go after fur 
bearing animals. At that early age, I had not learned the fine 
art of discrimination. So we both chased rabbits. 

Drum would bark loudly while chasing a rabbit. When 
the rabbit went through a fence. Drum would place his front 
feet upon the wire and bark and bark for me to hft him over, 
so that he might continue chasing a long gone rabbit. Years 
later, I continued to help Drum over fences when he became a 


grown dog. I don't remember that Drum ever caught a 
rabbit. I doubt if he ever got a fur bearing animal. 

As the years rolled along and Drum became an old dog, 
I never loved him any less. However, I developed a certain 
sense of guilt for the way I brought him up. I don't regret 
that I had Drum. I learned from his a very valuable lesson. 
Years later, when we had children, we showed them love and 
affection, too, but when it came to climbing fences, we let 
them learn to climb them alone. 


When we lived at Dow, a village in central Illinois, about 
1914, my Dad had two of the prettiest brown and black rabbit 
hunting dogs, named Buster and Bee. They were his pride 
and joy, as he had never been able to afford any really good 
bred dogs. He had owned many dogs, but all were of the 
Heinz 57 variety. These were pedigreed or something so they 
were very special to him. It is a wonder they would even hunt, 
the way we kids treated them. We tried to drive them to our 
wagon, but that didn't work, even with Cousin trying to lead 
them and carrying food ahead of them. They would just sit 
down and stay there. We also put clothes on them if they 
didn't run under the porch and hide from us. 

Dad loved to hunt, especially rabbits. Our table was well 
supplied with rabbit all during hunting season. There was no 
such thing as the fear of "rabbit fever" then. Mom would fry 
nice fleshy backs or back legs and put them in our school 
lunch buckets. Oh my, I don't ever want to see another piece 
of rabbit. Anyway, we didn't go hungry. 

Back to the rabbit dogs. Dad was so proud of those 
dogs. "Rabbit season" was in the fall of the year, just when 
he had to shuck corn so he couldn't go hunting as he Liked. 

The farm where we lived was back off the highway and was a 
good hunting area so lots of people wanted to hunt there even 
though it was "posted." It was easy for hunters to come in 
the back by way of the A.J. & P. Railroad and Dad not know 

This particular morning, as Dad took his team and 
wagon to the field to shuck corn, he decided to turn Buster 
and Bee loose so they could run rabbits while he worked. He 
enjoyed hearing them bark as they would "flush" a rabbit 
and chase it until it got away into a ditch or a brush pile. 
There was plenty of both for them to hide in. It wasn't long 
this morning until they "flushed" a rabbit, then another and 
another. This went on for a long time. Rabbits were plentiful 
then as there were numerous ditches and brush piles for them 
to nest in. It wasn't like it is today, with all the fences gone 
and all the ditches cleaned out. Wildlife has a much harder 
time now to find any kind of protection. There is no place for 
them to "hole-up." 

When Dad got his load, he decided the dogs were having 
such a good time, he wouldn't call them until he got his 
second load. Anyway, they most always followed him to the 
house. This time they didn't. When he went back, he didn't 
hear them, but he thought that perhaps they were tired and 
had found a sunny spot to lie in and had stopped to rest as 
they sometimes did. They liked the sun. When they didn't 
show up soon, he began to worry and to call them. He often 
called them with his "fox hunting" horn. This was a horn 
made from the large curved horn of a cow that had been 
"hollowed out" (the horn that is) so when you blew into the 
small end of it, it made a noise, "a monstrous sound," that 
would wake the dead. This particular time he didn't have his 
horn with him. So he thought, "When I get to the house, I'll 
blow the horn and they will come or maybe they are already 
home." When he got home, they weren't there. He tied up his 
team and went to find them even before he unloaded his 
wagon. This he never otherwise did, tie up the team with a 

wagon hitched to them. He didn't find them. They never did 
come home that fall, though he looked and looked and asked 
everyone about them. 

It was a mystery as to how two hunting dogs could 
disappear so completely. However, Dad hade a "feeling" 
someone had stolen them as he remembered hearing shots in 
the direction of the raUroad ear her in the day. 

Well, next hunting season came and no dogs. Dad kept 
an eye out for them as he went to shuck corn again this next 
year. He watched extra careful to see if by chance they would 
show up, "being" someone else's dogs now. They didn't 

One evening as we sat at supper, just about dusk, there 
was a whinning and scratching at the back door. It had to be 
something unusual as Dad never got another dog of any kind. 
We didn't even have a "cur" for us kids to play with, even 
though we begged for any kind just so it was a dog. Well, Dad 
opened the door ever so carefully, as no teUing what could be 
on the other side, maybe a skunk or something. Surprises of 
surprises: there were Buster and Bee at the door, collars and 
all just as fat and "roly-poly" as they had been the fall before. 
Were they ever happy to be home. 

Someone must have borrowed them for a season and 
when they came back to hunt that fall, those dogs just plain 
came home to their master. 

So ends the Saga of the Rabbit Dogs. 


Al Keith ley 

Having spent forty years coon hunting with hounds, I 
can recall many pleasurable nights spent in the woods. I 
always considered that there was quite a difference between 
hunting for the fur and hunting for pleasure. The fur hunter 

takes all the coons he can find. Many are legal catches, and 
some are illegal. The pleasure hunter leaves many coons in 
the trees, especially if his dog trees more than one in a tree. 
Often he will take one coon and leave the others that might be 
there. It all depends on what makes for an enjoyable hunt. 

For those of you who have not done any coon hunting, I 
should mention something about the dog. Once when I was 
talking to a group of men who were not coon hunters, it 
turned into more or less of a question and answer affair. One 
gentleman asked me how I could tell what the hound was 
doing, whether he was running a track or treeing? Knowing 
there were some bird hunters in the group, of which he was 
one, I explained: "Some of you men have bird dogs. When 
you go to the field, you are watching your dog at all times. 
You can tell if your dog is smelhng quail, or if he is about to 
flush them. By the same token, a coon hunter hstens to his 
hound. When your hound is in the woods, he is talking to 
you." This brought about a big "Yea, Ha, Ha." I went on to 
explain: "When a hound barks, his tone and delivery are 
different for each situation. Not all dogs have the same tone 
of voice or delivery. When he strikes a cold track, his voice is 
much different from when he hits a hot track. When he bays 
or is barking at one coon, face to face, it is still a different 
from of baying. When he is tapping or marking a tree, it is 
still another voice. His tree bark, when he is sure in his mind 
that he has found the right tree, is a different sound yet. The 
hunter must know and understand the dog that he is hunting 
with and recognize the various types of barking." 

In forty years of hunting, there were lots of good nights 
with much pleasure for both man and dog. There were also 
poor nights when nothing went right. There can be deer 
chases, fox chases, rabbit chases, or maybe even a skunk 
chase. I think one reason I liked coon hunting so much is that 
no hunt was the same; every one was different. 

One short hunt that 1 made a few years ago was 
especiaOy memorable. I was getting along in years and only 

had one hound left. It was a fifty -pound registered Walker 
hound, named Gypsy. I was very much attached to her, as I 
always was to aU of my hounds. 

It was a cold windy night. I had not had a chance to 
hunt for several nights and although the weather was bad, I 
decided to go anyway, as my dog needed the exercise. I went 
up to Lloyd Thrasher's place north-east of Good Hope. I had 
gone there lots of times when I wanted a short hunt, as I 
considered the area a small hunting territory. Just as I left 
Macomb, it started to snow. I went anyway. 

I let the dog out, put the hunting light around my neck, 
picked up my gun and I was on my way. I doubted there 
would be coon out on such a night, so there was no need to 
load the rifle. 

I went to the creek and walked slowly down along the 
bank, wondering why I was so stupid to come out on a night 
like this. By the time I had reached the edge of the cornfield 
and I was climbing over the fence, I heard the dog bay once, 
real quick, and afterward, another bay. By the time I hit the 
ground on the other side of the fence, she was treeing. I knew 
there were not trees there, so I was puzzled. I hurried to get 
there, as I didn't know why she would be treeing at this place. 

When I arrived I turned on my light. The dog was 
running back and forth between two fence posts. There was a 
coon on top of each post. Stupid me, with no shells in the rifle. 
I hurridly dropped to my knees in the snow and placed five 
shells in the gun. I figured one or both of those coons would 
get away. I decided that when the dog went to the farthest 
post, I would shoot the nearest one. This worked and as soon 
as I shot the one coon, she left the other post to shake the 
coon I had shot. I quickly took her by the collar and led her 
back to the other post and toward the direction the other 
coon ran. She quickly treed it in a large tree on the creek bank 
about a block away. When I shot the coon, it fell into the 
creek. The dog brought it out to the bank. When she shook 
the wet coon, ice water sprayed all over me. 

Anyway, both dog and hunter were happy. We had done 
something I had never done before in over forty years of coon 


Lillian D. Miller 

It was during World War One and my early teens that I 
was able to fulfill my desire to be a "Coon Hunter." Me— a 
girl, at that! I had a brother, Rol, nine years my senior, who 
was an avid hunter. Dad was also a "sort-a" hunter. Some of 
their enthusiasm had rubbed off on me, and even as a 
youngster I would beg to be taken along on their hunts. This 
brought a rash of "No-Nos" from the family. Mom said, 
"Girls don't go coon hunting." Dad said, "You're too small; 
why you are only knee-high to a grasshopper." Rol said, 
"Nothing doing! I'd have to carry you all the way home." 

At the onset of the war, the goverimient brought up 
many acres of fertile farm land in an area known as Shiloh 
Valley, situated near Belleville, Illinois and not far, "As the 
crow flies," from our own farm community, known as Turkey 
Hill. When the first English-speaking people arrived here in 
1797, they found the Tamaroa Indians had settled here some 
years previously, and because of the huge flocks of wild 
turkeys flying in each evening to roost in the Oaks atop the 
ridge, they had named this territory "Turkey Hill." The 
turkeys, the Indians, and the early settlers have all vanished, 
but the name of Turkey Hill remains. 

The land purchased by the government was 
transformed overnight. Barracks, hangars, and other war- 
related buildings sprang up like mushrooms, and Scott Field, 
now known as Scott Air Force Base, came into being. 

There came a day when Rol (I can still see him) walked 
over fields and through timbers to Scott and enlisted. No 


doubt he preferred walking to first driving to Belleville and 
from there taking the dirt road leading to the base, which was 
either hub-deep in mud or ankle-deep in dust, in keeping with 
the season. 

When Rol was called to duty at Scott, he had to join a 
group leaving from Belleville. It was raining hard when we 
drove him to town, which gave us the excuse to pretend it 
was rain, not tears, coursing down our cheeks. When Rol 
kissed me farewell, he said "Kid, take good care of Fannie and 
Ring and don't let Fannie run away to the woods to hunt on 
her own." I was now official Dog Sitter and proud of it. 
Fannie and Ring were Rol's favorite hounds. 

When we arrived back home, I found there was more 
than honor associated with dog sitting. As we climbed out of 
the old Studebaker, we heard Fannie treeing down in the 
woods. I knew Rol's method of calling her home and got out 
the shotgun. As I walked across the porch holding the gun 
before me ready to blow into the barrel, I hit a rough board in 
the floor and rammed the gun into my mouth. To my chagrin. 
Dad had to take over the job of caUing Fannie home while 
Mom and I nursed by bloody, swollen and painful mouth. 

By the time hunting season opened in the Fall, Rol had 
been transferred to Little Rock, Arkansas. He wrote home: 
"Dad, be sure and take the dogs out to keep them in shape. 
Also, I hear fur prices have skyrocketed." Dad Uked to hunt 
but not alone. Finally, my chance to go hunting was within 
grasp, and I quickly volunteered to fill the need. 

It took much parental discussion and a lot of persuasion 
on my part before I was permitted to be Dad's hunting 
partner. Rol was as tall as I was short so I cut off his overalls 
to fit. I added a coat, sweater, shirt, cap and hunted up an old 
and small revolver lying around the house to complete my 
outfit. After I had concealed my long braids under the cap 
and Dad had covered his bald head with a spanking new 
miner's cap with a carbide hght attached, we were off, with 
Mom's "Do be careful" echoing in our ears. 

Our first night yielded two possums. Several nights 
later we were thrilled to have a coon in our catch. And so it 
went throughout the season— some hunts gainful, some 
mediocre, others no good. 

One night we found ourselves on a neighbor's farm. Dad 
called to identify himself and the neighbor came out to chat. 
Dad did not introduce me (another one of his practical jokes) 
even though he saw the man was trying hard to identify me 
and was consumed with curiosity. When we returned home he 
had a hearty laugh as we related our experiences to Mom. 

Another night our experience was far from humorous. 
The dogs treed a possum. We spotted him in the tree and 
since he was very smaU Dad decided to use my revolver. But 
he missed the possum, hit a limb, and the bullet ricocheted, 
knocking Dad's cap off his head. We returned home that 
night by the gleam of my flashlight, with a small catch and 
very badly shaken. That experience was too close a call to be 
taken lightly. 

Dad was quite skillful in cutting stretching boards, 
skinning the animals and shaping the pelts. When taken off 
the forms, after being thoroughly dried and turned right side 
out again in preparation for sale, they were a pleasing sight of 
soft, silky fur. 

We spent every favorable night during the open season 
hunting, and when it was over, we proudly displayed a nice 
catch of coons, possums, and even skunks. But our prize 
catch was a timber cat. It was alien to our locale, 
exceptionaOy large, and had a very heavy fur of a beautiful 
tawny color. He had given our dogs several sly and skillful 
"get-a-ways," and when they finally cornered him, he also 
gave them some spht ears and cut noses to remember him by. 

There were two large fur houses across the river in St. 
Louis, Funsten's and Taylors, to whom we sold. It was 
customary to get an estimate from both houses, then sell to 
the highest bidder. Our efforts had netted a nice Uttle sum. 

Coon hunting taught me a lot. I found a dog's bark had 


identifying tones that told whether he was trailing or treeing, 
whether his prey was possum or an exciting coon. I learned to 
know the night life of the forest, its danger and its beauty. 
This was my first and last season of hunting, for by now, 
"Girl Things" were taking precedence, and my Tom-boy days 
were fading. But I have always looked back on my hunting 
experience as an interesting, educational, and unusual part of 
my youth. 


Effie L. Campbell 

Although it's been at least thirty-five years ago, I can 
still hear the crunch of boots on our closed-in back porch and 
smell the strong odor from a carbide lantern. I also remember 
someone laughing and talking about starting "a little 
smoodge" down in the woods to take the chill off the autumn 
night. There were three generations of men and boys out 
there then, getting ready for the first coon-hunting trip of the 
season, and one of the "biggest boys" in the party was my 
sons' paternal grandfather. 

When our coonhound was led out to join the other 
happy, excited dogs. Grandpa laughed. "Think she'll be able 
to keep up with our hounds, boys?" 

The boys were my sons' half-uncles. The dog Grandpa 
was kidding about was a little coonhound we had just gotten 
in the summer of that year. Although we called her 01' Lady, 
she was really only about four that autumn. We used "old" in 
front of her name in a kind of affectionate way. 

or Lady was beautiful, with a shiny red coat, ears hke 
two pieces of floppy velvet, and eyes that could be eager and 
rarin' to go, or sad as rain on a picnic. Sometimes she turned 
the sad or the eager looks on and off like the blinking of neon 
lights, and we loved to watch her. Fact is, we thought our 

little coonhound was just about perfect, except for one thing. 
01 'Lady had only three legs; one had been amputated after 
she had gotten caught in a barbed-wire fence. 

That night of the hunting party, our oldest son Norman 
was one of 01' Lady's staunchest defenders. Whether she had 
three legs or four made no difference to him— she was his dog, 
and he was almost nine years old and going on his first 
hunting trip. In his overalls and boots, his warm flannel shirt 
and heavy coat, Norm was right out in front when the 
hunters started off into the night. 

Since Ray was only four at the time, he stayed home 
with me, and the two of us relaxed by the Uving room fire. 
Then, shortly afterwards, Ray fell asleep, and just as I was 
reaching down to pick him up and put him to bed, I heard the 
first of that strange, excited "music" of the coonhounds. It's 
a sound like no other in the world— that sound of a pack of 
coonhounds in full cry. It send shivers chasing up and down 
your spine as if foghorns have suddenly split the night air. 

At first, the dogs' baying was close at hand, but then it 
began to fade until finally there were only intermittent 
echoes. With my mind only partially on the book 1 was 
reading, I dozed off in my chair but was awakened soon after 
by the sound of voices. Then the back door opened, and the 
hunters were home. 

"Didn't think she had it in 'er." That was the grudging 
voice of Grandpa Downs. 

"She did though," someone answered. "Treed that ole 
coon slick as a whistle. He had the other dogs fooled by a 
country mile." 

I was rubbing sleep from my eyes, putting on the coffee 
pot and only halfway Ustening to their talk. But after we 
settled down at the kitchen table for cookies and coffee or 
milk, I heard, in full, the tale of their night's adventure. And 
the bottom line was that our little three-legged coonhound 
had been the heroine of the hunt. 

When the pack got the scent of a big raccoon, the chase 

was on. In full cry, the dogs led the men through the woods, 
over the hills, and across the shallow waters of the creek. But 
somewhere along the way, the hounds became confused. 
They circled, yelped, and began to drop behind. The men were 
disappointed: "They've lost him. He's given 'em the slip." 

Then from somewhere in the back of them, the men 
heard the music again— this time, long and loud and certain. 
But it was coming from the throat of a lone coonhound. When 
the fellows got back to where the sound was coming from. 
Lady had a big, sassy raccoon up a tall sycamore tree. 

The wise old raccoon had used a trick as old as the hiUs 
to throw the dogs off his scent. He simply re-crossed the 
creek and doubled back on the trail. Slowed by her disability 
and well behind the other dogs, 01' Lady was waiting for him 
when he came doubling back. Listening to the story, I 
resolved then and there to give our Uttle heroine an extra big 
portion of "cracklins" the next morning. 

Of course, that wasn't the end of 01' Lady's hunting 
career, but she wasn't always as successful as she was on that 
night. Still, she loved to hunt. Let anyone appear carrying a 
gun, and Lady was up on three sturdy legs ready to go. Even 
when Ray took a httle wooden popgun outdoors one day, 01' 
Lady got up and hobbled along beside him— the hunting Ught 
shining from her eyes. 

Staying back, so the two couldn't see me, I followed and 
watched them go into the outskirts of the bottomland 
cornfield. Lady seemed to sense that her big game hunter 
wasn't all he pretended to be, but to please him, she scared a 
timid rabbit out of the cornstalks. Ray pointed the popgun 
and yelled, "bang! bang!" The rabbit scurried away into the 
underbrush, with 01' Lady giving half-hearted chase. But she 
soon gave it up and went back to check on her miniature 

In the spring. Lady gave birth to four beautiful red 
puppies. We named them Lucky, Rusty, Sally, and (the runt 
of the litter) Little Red. 

We didn't have 01' Lady for very long. Her former 
owner missed her and wanted her back again. So, along with a 
few tears, we let her go. The puppies had all been sold with 
the exception of Little Red, and he was soon to take his 
mother's place in our affections. It wasn't long before we 
were hearing the spittin' echo of 01' Lady's music ringing out 
across the night from woods and hollows and over the hills. 
Little Red was Living up to his mother's reputation and then 

As the years went by, there were other coonhounds in 
the family menagerie and other stories to be told— like the 
time Grandpa decided to show his sons and grandsons they 
were not the only ones who could cross the creek Tarzan- 
style. After the boys (one by one) had swung out over the 
creek on a twisted rope of vines. Grandpa grabbed hold and 
swung. But somehow he lost his grip on the "rope" and 
landed on the opposite side with one foot in the water, 
Scrambling up the bank of the creek, he didn't say anything 
for several moments. Then suddenly, he said, "A guy could 
get hurt doin' a fool thing like that." 

Thinking about those times when the boys were home 
and Grandpa was "young," I'm glad the boys have such 
wonderful memories. I'm also happy to remember that we 
once had a little three-legged coonhound we called 01' Lady. 
She was truly one of a kind. 


James B. Jackson 

Most farm families in the early 1900's depended on 
smaU game as regular part of their diet. Rabbits and squirrels 
were the stand-bys, but many other animals and birds were 
used for food. Preparation of game was usually very simple, 
as was true of any meat. In more recent years hunting has 


become almost entirely a matter of sport, and there are exotic 
methods for cooking any and all game. 1 shall deal only with 
the simple old-fashioned methods of preparation. 

Rabbits were hunted during the open season, which was 
from November through January, but half-grown young 
rabbits were often taken out-of-season, from mid June 
onward. They were very tender and were always fried, hke 
chicken. Full grown rabbits, in the fall and winter months, 
were also fried, but quite often they were dredged with flour, 
browned in hot fat or drippings, and then put in the oven in a 
baking pan, with a httle water aded, and baked for an hour, 
until the meat practically fell off the bones and the rich gravy 
made a real feast. When rabbits were plentiful, they were 
often dressed and hung on the clothes hne to freeze for later 
use. The big hind legs and backs were some times cold packed 
or canned in a pressure cooker. We liked to use wide mouth 
pint or quart fruit jars, fill them with the raw pieces, add a bit 
of salt and water, and then process and seal. The canned meat 
could be heated and served as it came from the can or used to 
make meat pies or stews, all of which was excellent eating. 

Squirrels were probably the next most common game. 
The season opened about July first and closed at the end of 
December. Young squirrels were fried in much the same way 
as chicken or rabbit. Mature squirrels sometimes needed 
more cooking and were either given the oven treatment or 
were stewed. A favorite way was to take the meaty pieces of 
half a dozen squirrels, stew them until tender, with salt and 
plenty of pepper and some onion, if desired. When the meat 
was quite tender, unraised dumpUngs were made hke pie 
crust, but with less than half the shortening. They were rolled 
a quarter of an inch thick and a little more, cut into pieces of 
maybe one inch by two inches, dusted generously with flour, 
and cooked until tender. The flour thickened with broth 
sHghtly, and the result was a hearty satisfying dish that was 
hard to beat. It was the custom in some families to soak 
either squirrel or rabbit in salt water overnight, before 

cooking it. Squirrel or rabbit was the basic meat for 
Brunswick stew. The best recipes, also, called for chicken. 

Brunswick stew is still a rare treat and can be made 
without game, substituting veal, lamb, or tender beef for the 
squirrel or rabbit. Mixed vegetables, fresh cut sweet corn, 
green hmas, diced potatoes, diced carrots, and onions in 
layers, alternated with layers of chicken and squirrel, rolled in 
flour and browned, are put in a stew pot and water, salt, 
pepper and a bay leaf or two added. The pot is brought to a 
boil, and then simmered gently for an hour or more, without 
stirring, untO the meat is very tender. There should be 
enough water so that the result is truly a stew, but not so 
much that it results in soup. 

Coons and possums are rehshed by many hunters. They 
are usually roasted or baked. The younger animals are the 
best eating. They must be carefully dressed and the lymph 
glands in the "arm pits" removed, as well as all possible fat. 
Most cooks hke to soak both kinds of game for several hours 
in salt or vinegar water and then parboO for thirty minutes. If 
roasted whole, either can be stuffed with bread dressing such 
as is used with turkey or chicken. Some cooks prefer to cut 
the carcass in serving-size pieces, flour and brown it in hot 
fat, cover with water, and cook slowly for a couple of hours in 
the oven or on top of the stove. In this case, a few onions and 
carrots and a stalk or two of celery enhances the flavor. Sweet 
potatoes are often piled around a possum and baked for the 
last hour or so of cooking time. Any way they are prepared, if 
done properly, both animals are fine eating. 

Young woodchucks are fine eating, too. They are 
dressed the same as a squirrel or a rabbit, fat and lymph 
glands removed and the serving-size pieces fried or prepared 
the same as rabbit or squirrel. Mature woodchucks need more 
preparation— soaking for a few hours in salt or vinegar water, 
parboihng, long slow moist cooking at low heat. 

Wild duck can be cooked in many ways: baked, 
barbecued, fried, broiled or steaked. Baking is the most 

common method and, in my opinion, the best. After the ducks 
are cleaned and all shot possible picked out, they should be 
soaked in salt or soda water, washed thoroughly to remove 
blood clots, and the imbedded feathers removed. Then rinse 
well and pat dry. Season inside with salt pepper and poultry 
seasoning. Put a small onion and a piece of celery in the body 
cavity and pin or lace shut. Put ducks in baking pan, breast 
side down, brush with butter or cooking oil, and sprinkle with 
salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Bake covered at 325 
degrees for two and a half or three hours. Baste with butter 
three or four times. Turn breast side up and leave uncovered 
for the last hour of baking. 

Wild goose is also a prime candidate for the oven. Clean 
and prepare as recommended for duck. Then immerse in cold 
water and bring to a boil, pour off the water and wipe off the 
grease and dry the body cavity. Pack loosely with bread 
dressing, containing half a cup of raisins and two coarsely 
chopped apples. Pin a couple of strips of bacon onto the 
breast. Set on a rack in roaster, breast up, cover tightly with 
aluminum foil, add a cup or more water, put cover on roaster 

and bake at 350 degrees for three and one-half hours. Then 
pull foil back from the breast let bacon slide down to the 
sides, and roast uncovered for another half an hour. Serve 

Quail is the most common and the most abundant game 
bird in central lUinois. They should be cooked as simply as 
possible to preserve the natural flavor. They can be baked, 
broiled, fried, made into pies, or fricasseed. My favorite for 
either quail or doves is fried. Dry pick the birds and clean and 
wash them thoroughly. Salt and pepper and dredge with 
flour. Fry in deep skillet or Dutch-oven in plenty of fat until 
brown. Drain off the fat and add water to almost cover the 
birds. Cover with close fitting lid and simmer until very 
tender, about two and one-half hours. Serve with pan gravy. 

Probably few of us will ever again be able to enjoy wild 
game as we did in our younger days. But just reading over 
these several ways to prepare and serve small game may 
bring back fond memories and a longing for just one more 
fine game dinner. 

List of (Authors 



Arthur Bowles 

Enid Click 

Flora Donley 

Florence Ehrhardt 

Gerald Freiburg 

Clara Haddenhorst 

Bertha Joeckel Haley 

R.B. Hulson 

Ellen A. Kelley 

Mary L. Otte 

Gertrude Owen 

Adie Petzoldt 

Glenn Philpott 

Rev. Phil Pobanz 

Margaret Reynolds 

Sarah RuddeU 

Albert Shanholtzer 

Mildred Luckel Shanholtzer 

Truman W. Waite 

Helen Wickliffe 

Louise Woodruff 


John Q. Lawless 
Nellie Roe 
Duward F. Tice 


Jane Stetson Bennett 
Freida Meyer 

Frances Helen Smith 
Col. Smith L. vonFossen 


Marion Baker 
Walter Geister 
Mary Jane Nicholson 
Norbert Overstolz 
Nancy Schmidt 
Vera Simpson 


Vivian Layton 


Ivan Prall 
Jenny Sexton 


Elizabeth Turner 


Bernace S. Baxter 


Alfred Fink 
Esther Osier 


Virgil Hinshaw 
Iris L. Jones 


Louise Barclay VanEtten 


Avis Ray Berry 

EUa K. Bolon 

Elizabeth Schumacher Bork 

Harvey S. Bubb, Sr. 

Grace Runkle Breeding 

Mary Garrison Chenoweth 

Hubert R. Cripe 

Ruth DeWitt 

Louise E. Efnor 

Landa and NeUie Griffith 

Joe Helle 

Mahala Lafferty 

Edward R. Lewis, Jr. 

Naomi Merrill 

HoUis Powers 

Esmarelda T. Thompson 

Thomas Wall 

Victoria A. Waters 

Garnet Workman 


Lora G. Allen 
Floy Chapman 
William J. Locher 
Dorris Nash 
Leta Rogers Spradlin 


Louis Anderson 
Clifford Boyd 

Bill Bradshaw 
Florence Braun 
Delia Mae Brown 
Loren Clark 
Maxine E. Crossland 
Greta Dennison 
Harold Donkle 
Mary Rice Douglas 
Mattie L. Emery 
Mrs. Charles T. Evans 
Ila Hushaw 
Delbert Lutz 
Mrs. LaVerne Melvin 
Mildred M. Nelson 
Robert C. Richards, Sr. 
BilHe Thompson 
Ruth E. Van Horn 
Myron B. Wait 
Lulu R. White 


Willis E. Dixon 

Beth Glenn 

Eloise Melvin Hutchinson 

Rev. Carroll Ochsner 


Ethel Andris 

R.F. Barry 

Eunice Stone De Shane 

Lloyd V. Johnson 

Dorothy Mayhew Lay 

Margaret McAvoy 

Charlotte Magerkuth 

Inez Martin 

Kenneth Maxwell Norcross 
Marvis Rasmussen 
Corlys Saathof 


Clo Fellinger 


Loraine L. Chappell 
Marie Freesmeyer 
Elma M. Strunk 
Ralph J. Thompson 


M. Gordon Colbert 
Beulah Donaldson 
Genevieve Hagerty 
Glada Hatfield 
Alice M. HuUck 
Ivan R. Lyon 
Glenrose Nash 
Ruth O'DonneU 
Georgia Rogers 
Louise Parker Simms 
Lorene SulUvan 
Burnedette Symmonds 
Marie Sellers Thompson 


Robert T. Burns 


Anna W. Hitchcock 


Katherine Zimmerman 


Dorothy Anderson 

Evelyn Ayers 

Lois Bliven 

Kenneth R. Brasel 

Floyd Bump 

Effie L. CampbeU 

Hila Chandler 

LiUian Nelson Combites 

Harriet Cordell 

Hazel Delbridge 

Mary Depot 

CM. Fleming 

Burdette Graham 

Martha Graham 

Lena Hedden 

James B. Jackson 

Alvin Keithley 

Teckla Keithley 

Keith King 

Theressa Williams Lindquist 

Margaret McClure 

Beulah Jean McMillan 

Stella Skien MauUn 

Juanita Jordan Morley 

Mrs. George R. Patrick 

Lyle Robbins 

Lillian Roberts 

Ruth Rogers 

Susan Root 

Bertha Sayers 

Mary Schaaf 

Leona Snowden 

Ruby Sexton 

Mary Cecile Stevens 
Helen A. Taylor 
Dale Thompson 
Josie A. Torrance 
Gertrude Wetzel 
Esther Fowler Willey 
John C. WiUey 
Edward Young 


Gwendolyn Danner 


Ralph Duvick 
Judy Friedlein 
Bettye King 


Enid Bach 
Mabel Cox 

Mildred Coulter England 
Owen T. McManus 
Mary C. Rainey 
Mary Rocke 
Harriet Story 
Madolyn Teele 


John F. EUis 

Marjorie L. Fisher 

Mary Rittenhouse Huebener 


Eleanor H. Bussell 


Esther A. Gum 
Carrie Keith 
Lillie Munsch 
Roy Poppleton 
Hollis Powers 
Ahce Scherer 
Edward W. Walker 
LuciUe J. Walker 


Robert L. Brownlee 
Pearl Swanson Donaldson 
Arthur T. Larson 
Thelma Pease 
Arthur Vanstrom 


Albert E. Hartman 


Phyllis Fenton 
June T. Turnbaugh 


Vernon F. Ban- 
Mrs. Everett Brown 
Francis J. Bunce 
GaiUard Childers 
Mary Jane Simmons Conlan 
Harriet L. Feuchter 
Carmen Herron 
Loretta A. Hornbacker 
Erwin Keyster 
Glenna Lamb 
Charles R. Lewis 

Marjorie M. Smith 
Edwardine Sperling 
Dorothy Hubble Stauffer 
Lucius H. Valentine 


Viola Ervin 
E. Francis Grimsley 
Ruth Townley Kerr 
Ruth (Roberts) Lingle 


Rue Densch 

Eva Baker Watson 

Irene Baker War drop 


Newton E. Barrett 
Esther BuHinger 
June Chatterton 
Doris Chilberg 
Francis Wait Danielson 
Pearl Engholm 
Rev. Carl E. Ericson 
Pearl Gonse 
Frances D. Harrel 
JuHa D. Harrel 
Martin E. Herstedt 
Lina Johnson 
Agnes J. Koerber* 
Blondelle Lashbrook 
Ruth Pearson 
Robert L. Plack 
Rose Sabath 
Leslie C. Swanson 


Betty Davis 
Velma M. Kerley 
Ruby Davenport Kish 
Bonnie Lenz 
Josephine Oblinger 
Maude Pigman 
Helen E. Rilling 
Virginia Dee Schneider 


Eileen M. Greco 
Clarence Hall 
Virginia Hill 
Louise Knight 
Lilhan Miller 
Vera Niemann 
Lavern Sturman 
Bruno Valeika 


Alline Armstrong 
Lyle Baker 
Clarice Dickerson 
Eleanor T. Dodds 
Margaret Eyman 
Ruth Kearby 
Leota King 
Edward F. Lytakker 
Iva I. Peters 
Lewis Peters 
Robert E. Reno 
Laurence Royer 
Frances Helen Smith 
Lillian Elizabeth Terry 
Nell Dace Turner 

Guy S. Tyson 
Lorraine Unger 


Stella Hutchings 
Mrs. Bernard J. Moore 
Nina L. Vortman 


Bill Kirkwood 
Beulah Knecht 


Effie Bort 

Dorothy M. Robertson 

Hazel Montooth Smith 


Ruth B. Comerford 

Joanne Cox 

Florence Flynn 

Ohve Gresham 

Floreine Harris 

E. Marek 

Bill Patch 

Arnold Kramer Schoenheider 

Mary C. Stormer 

Lucius Herbert Valentine 

Herbert Veil 


Elizabeth Allaman 
Lyman Inman 
John P. Kramer 
Dorothv M. Miller 
Ruth S! PoUitt 

Dorothy Ray 
Mabelle J. Shimmin 
Louise Simms 
Eugene Tinker 


Frances Caroyl Beckstrom 


Signa Lorimer 
Dorothy Van Barriger 


Joyce Wiley Whisler 


Irene Brei 

Phyllis Grace Bowles 
Ernest Danielson 
Hazel E. Gracev 
Elizabeth R. Harris 
Doris M. Heino 
Lyn Vodak Larkin 
Helen McNeeley 
Frances Sanford 
Ann Hall Walden 


"But there they (the ministers) were, aware of 
temptations on every side and the predeliction of 
mankind to sin, and in their zeal, they tried hard to 
save us from the hell for which they apparently 
believed most of us were headed!" 

Vera Simpson 
Cook County 

"My Uncle Ralph punctured his foot on a rusty 
nail, and granpa took the cud of tobacco he was 
chewing out of his mouth and put it on the hole and 
held it in place with a piece of torn sheet. If that had 
been granma she might have used pulverized plantain 
leaves or onions instead, only because she didn't 

Kenneth R. Brasel 
McDonough County 

"Scald the prepared possum in boiling water. 
Rub inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the 
inside with chestnuts, applesauce, and bread crumbs 
in equal proportions. Cover with slices of sweet potato. 
Pour 1 cup boiling water and V2 cup cider vinegar over 
all. Add 4 tablespoons butter and baste often. Cook in 
a heavy iron kettle ..." 

Mary C Stormer 
Tazewell County 

"OV Lady was beautiful, with a shiny red coat, 
ears like two pieces of floppy velvet, and eyes that 
could be eager and rarin' to go, or sad as rain on a 
picnic. Sometimes she turned the sad or eager looks on 
and off like the blinking of neon lights, and we loved to 
watch her. Fact is, we thought our little coonhound 
was just about perfect, except for one thing. OV Lady 
had only three legs ..." 

Effie L. Campbell 
McDonough County 

"The Streckfus Company was founded by John 
Streckfus, an Illinois native, who grew up at 
Edgington fifteen miles from . . . Moline . . . after a few 
years in the grocery business, he yielded to a 
hankering for river life, purchasing a small packet boat 
to launch a new life work on the Mississippi. His next 
venture was the construction of the Steamer J.S., 
which enjoyed a great excursion business from 1900 to 
1911, when it caught fire and burned ..." 

Leslie C Swanson 
Rock Island County 

"Kelly . . . was a known bootlegger during that 
time. He was a brazen sort of man in his thirties that 
would do anything. His mother worked as a cook in 
our restaurant. Kelly would often come to . . . visit at 
my parents' home. Our house was right next door to 
the Church where he stored his hooch. " 

Hazel Delbridge 
McDonough County 

"The draft started calling up millions of young 
men and women. My brother Art was the first to go 
from our family . . . Brother George was next . . . My 
youngest brother Wallace entered the Air Force. In the 
spring of '43 my brother Gordon was called to serve . . . 
I was near the age of thirty-seven . . . But in 1943 came 
my "Greetings" Letter. We were stunned." 

Erwin Keyster 
Peoria County 

"King was a true bred fox hound with a lot of 
promise, when he was reared in a Pennsylvania 
Kennel. He matured fast and ran with abandon with 
the pack, looking as if he were slated for a great career 
with the hounds. But, alas, he fell into evil ways. He 
started chasing rabbits ..." Leslie C Swanson 

Rock Island County 

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