VII. Life on the Dayton Ranch

On Thursday, December 20, 1923, Wilmer E. Cornwell and I, and John Duncan and Ada Shriver were married in a double wedding ceremony in the home of the Ellington Presbyterian minister, Reverend R. O. Gibbons, Quincy, Illinois.

Early that morning Wilmer had come for me in his Ford Roadster. We traveled over gravel roads through Bowen and Golden to Route 24, which was the first hard road to Quincy. We stopped at the Dayton Ranch near Bloomfield, where we were to live, to leave some of my clothing, linen, and bedding that I would later need. Most of our furniture we had ordered from a Montgomery Ward catalog.

Wilmer's brother Elmer took us and John and Ada in his father's Moon car to the minister's residence, where we were married, and then to the C B & Q railroad depot. We spent the night in Galesburg at the Custer Hotel where we had a roast duck dinner.

The next morning we continued on to Chicago for our honeymoon at the Sherman Hotel. While in Chicago I, for the first time in my life, saw a woman smoking a cigarette! We attended the play, "The Passing Show of 1923" at the Appollo Theatre.

We returned to Quincy by train Sunday eve and spent the first night on the farm at Bloomfield. Sunday morning Wilmer helped fix breakfast­ buckwheat cakes with syrup, for us and Elmer. Elmer lived with us and farmed with Wilmer for a year.

On Christmas we drove back to my home in Augusta. Although the roads were muddy, it was a balmy pleasant day.

The Bloomfield neighbors welcomed us with a noisy charivari. And a family friend, Mrs. Willis Seward, gave me a miscellaneous shower. She encouraged me to join the Ellington Home Bureau unit.

Doing the household tasks by myself now was a different experience.  Mother had done most of the cooking, while Florence and I did the cleaning.

I'll never forget the first dinner I prepared for Wilmer's family. The layer cake stuck in the pans, and the lemon pie filling didn't thicken as it should have. Furthermore, lemon wasn't their favorite kind of pie either!

On March 17th we attended the Firemen's Ball in Mendon. The trip to Mendon was difficult for then there was no hard road between Ursa and Mendon. The gravel road was so muddy, that it was almost impassable in spots, but we made it, and had a good time. Wilmer was a good dancer, and I was glad to have a chance to learn to waltz and two-step. Square dancing was more confusing.

Never have I lived in a house that was as cold as there was that winter on the Dayton Ranch. In the morning our breath had frozen on the comforter. And, in the kitchen water in the wash pan had turned to ice, as well as in the reservoir of my new blue enamel kitchen range. All day while in the kitchen I wore galoshes to keep my feet comfortable. We put up a line in the dining room to dry laundry by the heating stove.

In 1924 we bought our first radio. Wilmer spent many evenings listening to programs as far away as Denver Colorado!

Soon after we were married I had my hair cut and received my first permanent, not the machineless kind, but with all the curlers attached to a machine.

On August 18, 1920, the women's suffrage amendment was ratified by Congress.  As I was 21 years of age I could legally vote now, and did so for the first time in April, 1924.

On our first wedding anniversary we entertained John and Ada Duncan.

We celebrated, every year together at some time, at first in our homes, later at nearby restaurants.

Our daughter, Helen Virlee, was born on the evening of January 12th, 1925, in Blessing Hospital. I don't know whether Wilmer was prouder of the new baby or the wolf he had tracked and killed that day!

Even though the baby's birth was normal I wasn't permitted to sit up till the 9th day, or allowed to go home until the 14th day. As the lane to the house was muddy with melting snow, we walked across a field to the house. Wilmer hired Clara Henze to help me with my work for several weeks.