VIII. Living near Marblehead and on South 12th

In March, 1925, when Virlee our daughter was six weeks of age, we moved to a house just north of Marblehead. Wilmer had rented farming ground nearby. Close neighbors were the Ed Hatchers, and the Herman Danhaus and Phillip Bock families.

As a young mother, I felt insecure, for we did not live near our parents, and the baby cried a lot. Later I realized she must have been hungry, that she needed more than the breast milk she was getting. Our doctor, Dr. Baker, didn't give me any helpful advice, either.  But Virlee developed into a happy child, walking and talking at an early age.

That spring, on May 25th, we had a late freeze. Tomato plants, green beans, and potato vines were frozen. But, worst of all, wheat in its blooming stage was frosted, so our wheat crop was lost, and we had a tractor to pay for!

The next spring, 1926, we moved to the John Politsch farm located a mile east of Marblehead. Now I really learned the duties expected of a farm wife. I had a lot of vegetables, raspberries, and cherries to can. Also chickens and some geese to care for.

But, the hardest tasks for me were at butchering and threshing times.

We lived in a German community and I wasn't used to their customs.

We were involved in three butchering groups. We helped at the Gus Snell, John Unglaub, and Joe Beckman butcherings, also the John Speckhart, and that of Ed Hatcher.

The families arrived about day break - in time to eat breakfast and to help prepare for the days work.

The hogs that were to be butchered were shot with a rifle, plunged into boiling water, and then with sharp knives the hair was scraped off. The carcasses were cut open so that the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, intestines, etc. could be removed, then hung up to cool off before being cut up into the various meat cuts.

As the women helped prepare the noon meal, they washed and scraped the casings into which the men would stuff the ground sausage meat that afternoon. Another afternoon job was cutting up the fatty portion of the hogs. This would be boiled outside in huge kettles, and from which lard would be rendered, perhaps the next day.

Some of the families made blood sausage. Warm blood had been saved when a hog was killed; the blood was heated and combined with some ground sausage meat and rye flour.

The brains of the hog heads were saved, the blood and membrane removed, making them ready for a special meal.

Meat from the hog heads was cooked and ground and made into head cheese. Cooked liver was likewise made into liverwurst.

Before the families returned to their homes they were served supper, which likely included some fresh sausage patties.

You can see that the housewife had spent at least a day beforehand preparing food for butchering day. Then for days afterward the sausage, bacon, hams, shoulders, and other parts of the hog had to be canned, smoked, or cured in some fashion. This was before the time of pressure cookers, and we had no electric freezers or refrigerators in which to store the meat as we do now.

Butchering time was during the winter months; threshing time was in late July or August. After the wheat and oats had been cut with horse drawn binders the bundles of grain had been placed in shocks or stacked to wait for the threshing crew to come.

In preparation for feeding the men we bought a large beef roast and extra bread, prepared vegetables, and baked pies and cakes. It was an exhausting and often frustrating task to roll out the pie crusts for eight or more pies, and bake them, and three or more cakes in a portable oven set on my kerosene stove in my pantry. Furthermore, one never knew for sure as to whether the crew would arrive before dinner time or afterwards, or if it might rain and delay the threshing.

If the threshing machine arrived in the evening a couple of the men would spend the night and eat breakfast with us.

On threshing day usually Wilmer's mother and one or more neighbor women came to help me. Besides the noon meal, the men sometimes expected a lunch in the afternoon, and some might eat supper before going home.

While living at this location my sister Florence eloped, marrying Clair Haigh at LaHarpe, Illinois, on June 3, 1926. They later moved to Los Angeles, California. A couple years later my sister Ruth, on her 18th birthday, left for Los Angeles to enter nursing training at St. Francis Hospital.

In 1927, after we bought a Model A Ford Coupe, I learned to drive a car, so I joined the Bluff Hall Home Bureau Unit. Also, I learned to play pinochle so I could play with a group of neighbors who met in our homes during the winter months.

On May 15, 1928 our son Bill was born. Wilmer hadn't trailed a wolf or fox that day, but had finished planting a field of corn for Ed Hatcher. The road as far as Marblehead was muddy, so I drove as Wilmer pushed the car through a couple of mud holes. Dr. Hildegarde German Sinnock was our doctor now. She had saved me from having had a mastectomy and gave me advice as I needed it in caring for the children.

Two years later on August 6, 1930, our second son, Gerald, was born.

Before I was discharged from Blessing Hospital both Wilmer and Virlee had their tonsils removed. At this time my parents were with us a couple of months and Clara Henze helped me again.

Later that summer Wilmer was hired by the Adams County Farm Bureau to manage the Adams County Service Company which had just been organized. Wilmer had a farm sale and we moved onto a small truck patch owned by Casper Voth on South 12th Street.

The move to the Casper Voth place (the former Fox Club location) on South Twelfth was quite a day for me. As usual I had not been in the house before moving day, and it was a problem to know where to place the furniture. The kitchen furniture was divided between a summer kitchen and an enclosed porch, but in the winter months we had to eat mostly in the dining area where there was heat from a pipeless furnace. There was a bedroom upstairs above our bedroom where I thought Virlee might sleep, but she was afraid up there alone, so all five of us slept in our bedroom and on a couch in the front room, that could be opened up.


Virlee, six years old, entered Mounds School on South Twelfth. Soon I was elected president of the PT A.

I had a large vegetable and flower garden. Also, there was a large strawberry patch and asparagus bed on the lot, so I was kept busy.

One afternoon while I was resting Billy and Jerry disappeared. They had wandered off to meet their dad, they said. I found them in a cow pasture wading in the creek bed.

The easiest way for me to entertain the boys was to read to them, so I got a card at the Quincy Public Library. One day when returning with books when near South Park, I realized that one of the back seat doors was open. Looking back, I saw Billy lying on the brick paved street. I rushed back and took him to Dr. Hildegarde's office.  Billy had no broken bones, but a bump on his head. I had to see that he stayed awake for several hours, but he was all right.

Another day when the boys and I were returning home from Quincy, we were struck by a car at 24th and Jefferson. My mother and sister, Fern, were also with us. The car landed on its top. I managed to turn off the motor. Mother was hospitalized for observation for several days. But, I was a nervous wreck. To this day, even through I drive, I'd rather someone else was at the wheel.

After Virlee entered school the children had the usual childhood diseases, mumps, whooping cough, measles, and chicken pox, usually about Easter time it seemed.

While living on South Twelfth, Wilmer's parents passed away. His mother on July 14, 1932, and his father on October 15, 1933.

In 1934 Wilmer decided to return to farming. He rented from Carl Wissman a house two miles south of Ursa, and prepared to farm the Cornwell homeplace southeast of Ursa.