IX. Farm Life in Ursa Township

In 1934 we moved to a house owned by Carl Wissman, south of Ursa, in time for Bill to enter first grade at Union School. Virlee was in the fourth grade. Miss Emma Sue Rose, Canton, Missouri, was the teacher.

That spring Jerry caught a cold and developed a bronchial cough which frequently returned making it necessary to keep him in bed several days at a time. He finally outgrew it.

In 1936 we moved onto the Chris Cramm farm located two miles south of Ursa on Rock Creek, owned by the Wissman's. Jerry was now old enough to attend Union School.

During these years, community meetings at the schools were very important social events. We had bought from my parents the piano on which I had played and Virlee started to take piano lessons. Later the boys, Bill and Jerry, became more interested in playing the mandolin and guitar, and took lessons from Pete Hunter at the Weiler Music Store in Quincy. Mr. Weiler took a group of young students to entertain at many school and community affairs.

At the age of ten the children started their 4H projects, Virlee first in a home economics club, and then, with the boys, in the Indian Grave Agricultural 4H Club. After her experience in Quincy High School sewing classes she developed into a very good seamstress. I was a club leader for several years, but Wilmer led the Indian Grave Club eight years.

The hill above Rock Creek and our drive way was the scene of many accidents. Several times our car was knocked into the ditch as we were making the turn.

The most serious accident in which I was involved was at threshing time when Jerry and I went after the milk cows, as Wilmer was away helping a neighbor thresh. One cow, who had a new-born calf, turned on me, struck my back with her head, knocking me to the ground. She stepped on my left wrist, breaking it.  I can still see her pawing over me, but, fortunately for me, she left to chase the dog and I was able to get to the house with Jerry's help, just as Wilmer got home.

Now I was an active member of the Ursa Home Bureau Unit, and served on the county board. I enjoyed taking and giving local leader lessons. For me, they took the place of attending college courses.

On July 29, 1941, when Jerry was eleven years of age our youngest son, Larry, was born. While I was in Blessing Hospital my brother Byron enlisted in the service - World War II.

When Virlee finished grade school she rode to Quincy to attend high school with some Ursa boys. During her senior year she stayed in Quincy with Mildred and Louis Hirt. She graduated in June, 1943, and entered Blessing Hospital as a cadet nursing student.

Before Bill and Jerry were old enough to drive a car they had bicycles.

Several times on a Sunday afternoon they rode to Quincy to see a movie with friends. On one Sunday a police officer met Jerry outside the theatre He had ridden to town on a second hand bike that Wilmer had bought for him. It turned out to be a stolen bicycle and had been recognized by the former owner. The boys were taken to the police station for questioning. Quite a learning experience!

On November 2, 1943, my father, then living south of Carthage, died in his sleep. Three weeks later my sister Fern passed away. At this time Byron was in Italy serving as an airplane mechanic.

After Bill and Jerry graduated from Mendon High, Mendon, Illinois they entered college, but in 1951 they enlisted, Bill in the Air Force, hoping to become a pilot, and Jerry in the Navy. Since Bill could not overcome air sickness, he became a tower control operator at Springfield, Massachusetts. Jerry was stationed at Norfolk, Virginia, as an airplane mechanic.

While living in the Ursa community, besides serving on the school board and leading a 4H club, Wilmer served as the Farm Bureau director of Ursa Township, and vice-president and president of Adams County Farm Bureau. He was director of the Prairie Farmers' Co-op Dairy, an active member of Ellington Memorial Presbyterian Church, a charter member of Bear Creek Post of the American Legion, a member of the Ursa Lions Club, and served on the Adams County Fair Board.

Our life was not all work and no play. Several times we attended the Springfield Fair. In 1946 we attended the fair, having won the honor as being the most typical farm family in Adams County. In Springfield we were the third place state winners.

As a family we attended neighborhood platform dances. We spent several days in St. Louis where Wilmer attended ball games.   We all enjoyed the zoo. We planned to attend the outdoor opera but a rain prevented LIS from doing so.

Another time we spent several days vacationing at Chute's Beach at Hamilton, Illinois but I failed to learn to swim. While there we went to Keokuk to see the movie, "King Kong".

One summer (1953) Wilmer and I took Larry and my mother on a motor trip to California to visit relatives. While there we attended a county fair at Ureka, California in Siskiyow County. We were admitted free - for on our windshield was the sticker - "Fair Official" - but the sticker was from the Mendon, Illinois, Adams County Fair!

Other places we visited were in Monte Vista, Colorado where Wilmer had hunted deer; and in Minnesota visiting the Pender family.

While living on the Wissman farm we experienced some extreme weather and hard times. The summer of 1934 was so dry that the lawns were brown by Memorial Day, and the summer so hot we had to sleep out on the lawn. That fall Wilmer bought a rock crusher. To operate it was cold, hard work.

One winter an ice storm made our lane and highway very slick. The ice stayed on the ground several weeks. The boys had fun skating down the lane and all the way to Union School.

One summer a heavy rain caused Rock Creek to overflow and wash away shocks of oats from a field that was beside the creek. Another year corn had been planted in the same field. A heavy rain came and flooded the corn to the top of the corn tassels, but the ears had been pollinated, and the field produced a yield of 80 bushels per acre.

I remember a couple of tornados we experienced. The first was about noon. Wilmer, Bill, and Jerry had gone to Quincy. Larry, then a baby, and I had remained at home. The other was at night and the older boys were at a roller skating party at Scotties on North 12th Street. Fortunately we had very little damage from either of these storms.  

The schools in Adams County had been consolidated into four units by the time Larry entered the first grade in 1947 at Ursa in Unit 4. When in the 2nd grade he started taking drum lessons, and became a member of the unit's grade school band. When he entered high school he was in the marching band. He also joined Quincy's Drum and Bugle Corp and took part in several contests.

Another experience he had while in grade school, a couple of years, was to build a car to enter in the Soap Box Derby Contest which was held at 12th and Locust.

Virlee, Jerry, and Bill were each married while we lived south of Ursa.

Virlee, to Harold Slater, at the Ellington Memorial Presbyterian Church, on June 21, 1947. They went to live in Peoria Heights; Virlee to work at Proctor Hospital as a registered nurse, and Harold to attend Bradley University in Peoria.

On November 9, 1952, while Jerry was in the service at Norfolk, he and Darlene Diseron of Clayton, Illinois, were married in the Clayton Presbyterian Church.

On October 15, 1954, Bill and Betty McGinnis were married in Quincy at St. Mary's Church. They both were employed by the Moorman Manufacturing Company.

In 1948, with John and Ada Duncan we had celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.

Before jerry was discharged from the Navy, Wilmer had bought the Sandridge Farm, located west of Ursa by the Mississippi levee. Jerry and Darlene moved onto the Wissman place and have lived there until the present time. Wilmer and Larry planned to raise feeder pigs and broiler chickens. This did not prove to be too profitable, so in 1956 we had a sale and sold the Sandridge Farm to Leonard Morley. I entered Quincy College as a student and Wilmer sought other employment.

I was glad we were no longer living there in 1965 when the Mississippi River levee broke north of the Sandridge buildings.

Several times we had other anxious moments. Once was while Larry was in the lower grades; he had spinal meningitis. Penicillin and tetromyacin were new drugs then, but with them his life and health were saved.


One summer Jerry had a bout with a ruptured appendix and the infection that followed the rupture.

While riding a horse to Ursa one morning Wilmer was thrown, landing on his head, which caused a hearing loss. Hearing aids didn't give him much help. Once while hunting mushrooms he lost one, so he had to buy another expensive aid.

While several rooms were being papered one winter my diamond wedding ring was lost. I'll include that incident in my next chapter.

In spite of receiving financial loses and disappointments Wilmer remained in good spirits. He was religious and honest, and respected by everyone. He worked hard to provide our children with a good education and a name they could be proud of. As well as being a loving father, he was a good husband and helpmate. Due to his cooperation I was able to continue my education as I taught and get my teaching B.E. degree, and even afterward until my retirement in 1968.