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The First Fifty Years by Nellie Westphal Morgan
Where four townships-Deerfield, Hartland, Tyrone and Oceola meet in the northeast corner of Deerfield township was the site of our home and where I was born on January 13, 1910 and as a squalling infant and the forepart of my life is naturally hearsay on the part of my parents and older brothers and sisters, my being the sixth child in a family of ten children.
My father, William Frederick Westphal, a very hard working honest man, gave application to the quotation, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” for as long as I can remember, he in summer arose at four o’clock in the morning and worked until exhaustion. Sometimes in summer he retired before dark for one night I vividly remember, my brothers Ira and Emery argueing and fighting until dad cam shirttailing out and blistered both of them. He was of German parentage, child of August and Rachel Westphal. He was born in Germany in a small Community about 50 miles from Berlin, on August 27, 1873 and with his parents as a babe of three months immigrated to America. They settled on a farm on what is now Clyde road in Hartland Township. He had two living brothers, Frank and Ira and two brothers and a sister who died in infancy.
My mother, Mary Ann Cranstone Westphal was also one of the busiest people I have ever known and as God made mothers I know he gave us the sweetest and most beloved of all time. She was born in Nebraska on Sept. 22, 1878 and was the third child of John and Margaret Melinda (Lyons) Cranstone. She had two sisters Victoria and Annie and four living brothers, Emory, Artie, John and Albert. Albert’s twin died at birth, also another set of twins were born dead. Mother, at the age of thirteen, came back to Michigan by herself, on the train to live with and keep house for her grandpa Lyons after the death of grandma Lyons. There had also been a set of twins in the Lyons family named Ella and Della who lived to young womanhood; then one died of quick comsumption and the other of slow consumption or as we know it now T. B. There was also one boy Ira, in the family circle. The Lyon family home was also in Hartland Township on Clyde Road, a neighbor to the August Westphals and as has been and will be, love entered in and “Mary and Will” were united in marriage Sept. 12, 1889 at Howell, Mich.
These young people moved into a home on Tipsico road. In the spring they bought and moved into the family home in Deerfield where all the children were born. On June 19, 1899 a little girl Whilhelmina Ruth came to gladden their home and this is what mother wrote of her darling new baby and her romance.
At sixteen, I thought I was in love with a wonderful man
On April 15, 1901 Esther Henrietta came to join the family circle and big sister very delighted with the new baby soon tried to feed her cookies much to mother’s dismay who came to the rescue just in time. On May 25, 1903 a young man Emory Augustus was born. Then August 1905 came the birth of Ira Cranstone. I wish I knew the details of the childhood memories but not having appeared on the horizon I can only speak on little things such as how Ira would climb on a fence post or into a tree at sight of a dog; he was so afraid of dogs. Also Ira was lost a long while one warm afternoon and Mother frantically searched until she found him blissfully asleep amid the green vines in the potato patch. As a boy Ira got so very mad at little things and of course was teased unnecessarily but he grew into one of the mildest mannered patient men I’ve ever known.
In 1908 misfortune seemed to strike this struggling family for on January 10, Howard Frederick was born and lived only 18 days. No matter how many babies for mama and daddy or brothers and sisters once they enter the family there is not one to spare but only God with his great wisdom has the answer to these decisions. In Feb of 1908, fire destroyed the family home with most of the furniture and a great many family keepsakes which are priceless in love and memories. Ruth and Esther were both in school and they tell how at recess the word had reached the school of the fire and the children kept whispering and looking at them and they thought something must be dreadfully wrong with them and it hurt to be the victims of so many “stares”. There were no fire engines at that time near here so only by word of mouth and a few phones could any news be passed along. There was a telephone line going past our house for we used to listen to the poles ding on our way to school. Years later Mr. John Wolverton, who lives in Parshallville told Esther of going to that fire. He said he never ran so fast in his life and had blisters on both heels when he got there. My dad used to remark that a fire was such a good servant but a harsh master. The Robert Dunlap family, our next door neighbors took the needy ones into their living room to live until Dad could get another house ready. The Dunlaps were most kindhearted of people, Mrs. Dunlap a very beloved woman and Robert a kind and jolly man (Ira and I were out in the road one day watching tiny toads hopping about and he came along and said “Out catching warty toads ha’ ha’ ha’. He was a little lax in ambition but he would work with my Dad real good but with Dad’s energy anyone helping him would have to work or be dragged along with him. God bless the Dunlaps in this hour of need.
Father bought a house near Hodgeburg, a small settlement north of Parshallville, and moved the front part which consisted of living room, small bedroom, pantry and a full one room upstairs on to the basement wall on the corner of Allen and McGuire roads and the family moved in. The old woodshed stood and still stands out behind the house and mother had her kitchen there running up and down a ramp from house to woodshed to attend to her family’s needs. In the fall, Dad moved the kitchen next to the rest of the house but for years there was a crack between and as children we were always losing or poking things under the house. There was a hole cut in the flooring and it must have been for that purpose of recovering lost articles but eventually Dad fixed it.
On January 13, 1910, I, Nellie Victoria was born and my earliest recollections were of some toy lamb, Marvin Brown an old man who stayed with my folks a little, bought for me and of Grandpa Westphal who had an old blind horse with a bridle that had a fancy flowered dial on the strap that fasinated me. He took Ruth, Esther and I to Clyde where he bought each of them a grey sweater and me a red one with green lapel front. Grandpa also bought me a big dolly and Fern a smaller unbreakable dolly and Fern says I always add and Fern broke my dolly’s head on the iron bedstead but this is not with malice toward her for now I know she felt as bad as I did. Fern was born Sept. 17, 1912 and of course at home. We children all sat outside on the woodpile, when Dad came out to tell us the big news that we had a new little baby sister. Some of the kids piped up “Why don’t you get some boys around here?” That is an unanswerable question as it was girls all down the line.
1915 was a banner year in our lives as that’s when the model T made its grand appearance in our family life. It looked new, it smelled new, and it was new. It had kerosene lights to be taken off and filled for any night driving. The side curtains went on with snaps for any inclimate weather. There was only one door in front on the right side and a cranking job to do to get started, yet after all it was a thrilling necessity and recreational advent to our family. Many times we all piled in and the first town we hit Dad would stop and buy a dozen bananas for a treat. (Dad really liked bananas) and away we went to see sights we never knew existed before. Fern and I were dressed in our white voile dresses and would beg for gum, then chew, string it out then chew some more usually getting it on our dress fronts until Ruth and Esther begged Mother “Don’t let them kids have any more gum.” The model T garage for sometime was a large canvas that protected it from sun and rain as it stood idle on the front lawn. Our next Ford had a starter but mother had become so used to the crank method that invariably she waited outside for Dad to crank and get in before she got in so we had lots of laughs at Mother’s expense for this. Burchman Gannon of Hartland had the Ford agency where these cars were sold.
During this time Ruth and Esther had finished their eighth grades and started school in Hartland where they could go through tenth grade when scarlet fever broke out and it was so bad that several stayed home and among them Esther. In the last year of school Esther bought a raffle ticket that the Oceola Catholic church was selling and lo! And behold! She won the complete outfit of a horse harness and open buggy. The Reverand Father had bought a new car for he traveled from Brighton to Oceola and needed the new type of transportation so he gave his “rig” to the church. The pony was small and quite old but an excellent horse for the buggy and even worked double in light farm work. After Esther and Jay were married, they went one night to visit Harold and 10 Phipps on Clyde raod and not being tied securely the pony took a notion to return home, when discovered, Jay and Harold, with Harold’s good driving horse set out after the pony who had almost reached her destination before they caught up with her. Maybe she had a little racing blood for she was right behind the Phipps rig all the way back.
Susie Frances was born June 18, 1918 and it was Mrs. Claus Busselman who was with Mother at this time (Mrs. Busselman was a most kindly woman made in God’s own image) and as she sat by the stove washing and dressing the new baby we children stood watching and as she gave the baby a few drops of warm water from a bent flattened out spoon, in my childish mind I thought “Don’t we have a better spoon with which to feed that new baby.” Before Sue was born Fern and I had a game of pretend one girl named Dinghy could do no wrong but the other named Worsey was so bad she could never do right so when Sue was born we begged her to name Dinghy she being such a good girl but somehow mother did not think that very appropriate.
On November 16, 1917 Esther as I have previously mentioned was married to George Jay Morgan, who was working with Cash Hulbert in the Parshallville mill. They made lots of flour and their trade name was “Tippicanoe”. Afterwards Jay ran the mill alone before it was sold to A. Y. Foltz and his trade name for flour was “Successful”. Jay and Esther lived in the corner house (a large house standing on the corner where Pearl Randall now lives) believed to have been built by Isaac Parshall, as he mentioned in his diary of building a store and house combined for a Mr. Roberts and that house had store front windows and door and also living quarters. One time stayed I stayed with Esther and in slack season Jay would tend the store for Paul Murphy its owner for him to go on short errands. Esther and I went to the store to get candy and Jay weighed up two pieces of each kind of candy of which there were approximately twenty but the one I remember was a chocolate Indian head kind. Paul Murphy’s store was located where Tommy Walker’s feed store and workshop now stand but at that time it was a two story frame building which was later destroyed by fire.
That same year Ruth became the bride of Alvin Gardner and she lived with his folks in Parshallville while Alvin was at Camp Custer in the First World War. I had started school when I was four years old just for a little while in the spring, of course at the old school in Parshallville now Guilsfoi’ls general store and was in the third grade when Ruth’s baby Aileen was born in June, my first little niece. She was so wonderful so Fern and I would stop after school to see Ruth and Aileen. Grandma Gardner says, “Do you think the baby will ever be as big as her ma?” Being so bashful we did not reply so she continued, “She probably will be if she lives long enough” which proved to be fact as it was a heartbreaking truth when Aileen died four years later in a car accident.
March 14, 1919 Fern and I came downstairs in the morning and
were greeted with a baby’s cry. Esther was there and said I bet you don’t
know what we have, of course we did, a baby no two babies. Mildred
E. and Martha E. came
to our home and it was so marvelous to have two babies to love but God
in his wisdom took little Martha home seventeen days later. She died
That was the first time I had come in close contact with death but it
was a sad family that bore the little white casket to the Parshallville
we loved the little angel that God had given to us for such a short time,
but it seems we all loved little Mick (as she is still called) she
precious to us than ever, but with all the love our baby got, no one
could say she was
spoiled. She always was and is a very affectionate and kindhearted person.
Alvin had returned home after the Armistice was signed and he and Ruth were living on the Gardner farm in Deerfield where Lucy was born. They moved to the John Wrigglesworth farm near Cohoctah and there Nellie, Ralph, and Harold were born and after a period of some years Bonnie and Linda came to bless their home.
The usual family mishaps occurred in our lives. One of us seemed to forever be stepping on nails out by the old “ash house” and Mother would put a big flaxseed poultice on the injury that oozed up between your toes as you stepped but it always did the trick. Ira got hit in the head with a stone while playing and had to have stitches. Another time he was holding the hog steady as Dad sawed it down after butchering and he got his arm sawed too. I got pushed on the hot oven door of the old cooking range and had my arm severely burned. Fern had pneumonia and for years I was sure I had caused it for just before we were so sick we were chasing each other around the house and I carried a guilty conscience for a long time believing I made her have pneumonia. Our horses at that time as they worked together were Duke and Jill, Pedro and Goldie, and Bob and Nell. One night as we were driving them out to pasture (they were always kicking and biting at each other) one bit at Bob and he whirled and stepped on Sue’s foot and her foot was real bad for months.
The old North road (McGuire road) where our land extended the mile long, holds many memories, the old barn with its granary where Dad had grain stored and an old hay tedder stood in the other side and the woodchucks had holes all around it, the orchard with its cherry trees and all kinds of apple trees, asparagus, wild berries, hickory nuts, wild flowers and the lovely lilac bush also the peach orchard. Fern and I would go through the peach orchard and fill our aprons with peaches on our way after the cows at night but one night one cow had a new calf and was overly protective to her new baby to the point of being cross. She took after us and as she bellered the whole herd came running too. We were so afraid we were “scart stiff” so to speak. As the cow stood bawling and shaking her head at me I reached out and touched her cold slimy nose and I know the Angel was truly with us for she turned and raced wildly to the far corner of the field the rest of the herd running with her. My muscles were loosened and I took off over the barbed wire fence and never spilled a peach from my apron but still carry the marks where I went over the fence, but poor Fern could still barely whisper, “help me, help me”. I had finally found my voice so I called “come on they are gone” and she went into action too. Within a week Dad had sold the ugly cow.
Dad was a good provider, a hard working man and a good father strict, yes, when he spoke we stepped but he was good to us. He spent many long winter evenings playing cards with us children while Mother patched or sewed. With no radios or televisions we created our own fun. Many the carpet rugs we clipped and wound after Mother sewed them. The high light of a long winter day was sitting in the little west window watching for Dave Stoddard the mailman, who in winter drove a pair of horses on a cutter over snowbanks and through some fields to deliver mail. He wore a big horsehide coat and a big fur cap. For a long time he had a full beard and on cold winter days tobacco juice icicles hung from the beard but he really got the mail around. While going to school in Parshallville the first six years and Fern her first three, we walked over the tops of snowbanks and later when the school was consolidated and it was muddy we walked to Parshallville to catch the bus. One year when Hills drove the bus, Harold got stuck in the mud and went home to get his dad and a team of horses to pull the bus out. Harold was scientifically trying to explain to his dad how that mud created a vacuum and holds the bus fast, but Mark spoke out sharply “Hell, you’re just stuck that’s all.”
Uncle Ira and his wife parted when Earl and Bertha were small and Earl went to live with Aunt Em Slover, who was very good to him until she died and he came to live with us. He was like one of our family and sadly missed after his mother came out from Detroit and reminded him that as a small boy he said he would take care of her some day. It must have been God’s plan for he grew up there married a nice girl, has a business and a happy home.
Aunt Lottie and Uncle Frank had a baby grand Chevrolet and the hill part of Parshallville was a sandy snake trail as sometimes one had to back south and get a faster start to make the top of the hill. Our neighbor Walter Van Camp had a six cylinder Ford of which I understand there were only four made, and many times he would have to back down the hill until with a roar he would reach the top. If he had a breakdown he would walk home to fix something and his wife Nora would sit in the car and crochet and little dog Buster would sit calmly beside her until Walter came back with the mended part. One day Uncle Frank’s folks came to visit us so cousin George and the boys were going swimming so Ruth, Esther and I went along to sit in the car which George had turned around and headed toward Parshallville, so we decided to take a ride with Ruth driving even though she did not know how; off we started, first we hit a row of mailboxes that stood at the end of Linden and Parshallville roads knocking some off. We finally got turned around and started back down Linden road. We hit a picket fence near where Georges now live which luckily kept us from going over the bank. Then we sideswiped Buell’s mailbox and took that off and finally ended up in the middle of the road where we left the boys swimming.
Philo French had an open touring REO and the accelerator stuck so he went roaring down Linden road made a circle at Hodgeburg then back home and into his drive way before he even thought to turn off the switch.
Our garden was across the road and on the black ground near the county ditch. One day as we were working and playing in the garden, Fern had a stick and was trying to lift moss off the water and in she went. If Ira had not been there to help she would have drown. Always we were catching polliwags from the ditch and taking them home to put in Mom’s rain barrel much to her dismay. One time in the garden as we heard a strange noise and trying to find out where it was coming from, I said it sounds like that big bird up there and Ira yells “an airplane” so that was my first introduction to the airplane.
Riding down hill was the sport of the winter for the Appling family who were our neighbors and usually our companions on the big hill back of the barn with sleds, tin pans and an old cutter frame, now I wonder how we got it back up the hill but we sure had lots of fun. In summer there was always a home ball game, playhouses and etc. Threshing was an exciting time for we children, for along came the big steam engine pulling the separator and the little house where the threshing gang slept and followed by the team of horses pulling the water wagon.. Dad always had many stacks of grain so they were there two or three days but poor Mom had a lot of work to prepare so many meals. We girls helped but we were usually too excited to help Mother like we should. Mrs. Buell had all the threshing gang to feed between jobs so think of the many meals she had to prepare.
For the first six grades I went to the school in Parshallville. There were six pupils in our class during these first years and approximately thirty pupils in the eight grades at the little school. All eighth grade pupils had to go to Hartland to write final exams at the end of the year. Many games were then played that were different than are now played such as pom pom pull away, duck on the rock, fox and geese, crack the whip, auntie I over, drop the handkerchief, horse shoes and of course the old favorite baseball. In the spring the school boys always had fun damming up the swift running stream that ran across the school yard across the road and to the pond. They were usually soaked when they came in from recess. We four girls in my class sat together by twos in the front double seats and had many games we played while teacher was busy and occasionally were quite noisy so as punishment two were stood in opposite corners of the hall, one in the woodshed and the other on the stairs over the woodshed but through cracks in the stair steps we talked and laughed anyway. In the spring, Mr. Howard Brown who lived next door to the schoolhouse always tapped the row of maple trees for sap to make maple syrup. All the children were eager beavers when cleanup day came in the spring, we brought our rakes and there was no school and we all were so ambitious. Last day of school was the picnic and the boys turned the cranks for our homemade ice cream.
Thanksgiving was truly our day and still is in the Westphal family. While Dad and Mother lived we always went home for Thanksgiving turkey, duck, goose, or chicken. No matter what we had it was wonderful plus all the fancy cakes, pies, salads, and etc., the highlight of the year. Christmas was more quiet with the church services and program, more outstanding in my mind than our home activity. We had a grand dinner and plenty of nuts and candy and a few dates.
As long as I can remember we always went to Sunday school and church and it’s like a second home to me. Mrs. Nellie Farnham was my favorite and most beloved teacher as well as counseler and friend all her life. Her husband Delbert was superintendent of Sunday school and teacher of the boy’s class for years and his ancesters were among those who helped to build the Methodist church in Parshallville. Mrs. Tamlyn was also a very able teacher for many years also. The testimony meetings were an inspiration to the soul because you knew they came from the heart. Mrs. Sharp with her “Blessed Assurance” and Mr. Sharp with his “Higher Ground” were living examples of Christian life and they play an important part in my childhood in Christian training. My earliest memories include the music of Parshallville Methodist church and St. Augustine Catholic church bells as they rang on Sunday morning.
Fern and I always had a playhouse, quite often built up on the sides with wood as Dad always had a big wood pile and many the hours we spent tetter tottering on the ends of the limbs in the wood piles and making mud pies in our playhouse. One time we had our playhouse in the lumber pile until Dad went to use the lumber and the sand on the lumber did not work so good on the saws so our lease was up and we had to vacate immediately. We swept and cleaned the empty hog pen that had a floor in it and set up eggs that didn’t hatch on the cross studding as our clocks but when they rolled off and broke the odor was so bad that again we had to vacate. Many were the hours we occupied during our childhood days.
Ira and Emery dug a cave about five feet deep and built up walls and a slant roof on it. They cut a hole in the roof for a pipe and put a stove in it, arranged bunks along the sides and spent many happy hours playing there. While they were digging the cave they uncovered much soil that was filled with many shiny particles and Mother was going to send it to Lansing to have it assayed which she never did. It was probably fools gold.
In 1920 the Hartland Township was consolidated. Fern was in the fourth grade and I in the seventh when we started at Hartland. There were many arguments among the parents of the high taxes it would create but it gave many of the advantage of a high school education that otherwise would never had the opportunity to go on to school. We rode the school bus to school and there were many times when the bus could not get through the mud and we walked to the burg to catch the bus and if we could not get through the snow our bus driver, Claude Brian (at that time) came and got us with the horses and sleigh. As we started in Hartland the first year there were only three graduates. There was no music, typing nor many of the arts of today. Baseball was the only sport and Hartland had an excellent team. We had assembly each Thursday morning for one hour; it consisted of songs recitations, play-lets and etc. Each year there was a series of five entertainments called lecture courses. W. D. White was the Superintendent and an able teacher. He could surely keep order and his wife Mame was principal and an excellent math teacher. Algrebra to me was interesting but geometry, I had to take two years, I’m ashamed to say and even today it’s a subject I’d rather leave alone. Mrs. White was an able teacher but my stupidity in geometry was something to behold. I believe the second year she must have passed me through pity. Susie and Mildred spent their entire school years in Hartland. Fern was a better student than I was, Susie an excellent student and Mildred was valedictorian of her class. High school days were happy days and each of us as the years set firmly upon us realizes the statement:
Freshie, freshie in the brook
denotes the carefree happy days of high school. Hilda and I were real friends then as now and with teacher’s permission were allowed downtown. The gathering place of many was Tommy Couches store (now the loom shop) where we invariably bought a nickels worth of chocolate stars to munch on but we always liked to buy of Tommy instead of his wife for he gave us twice as many for a nickel. All kids liked him for he was always playing checkers or fooling with them but he was very hard of hearing and for this reason some took advantage of him, one man’s conscience smiting him so he sent money to pay for things he stole at Tommy’s store when a boy in school. It was quite common to see a cat upon the meat block washing it with its tongue or knowing on the end of a string of hot dogs. Yet he sold lots of meat, good meat. He had a large stock of merchandise but I often wondered how he ever found anything as everything was so mixed up. Other days in late May, we strolled back of the cemetery where we feasted on wild strawberries. The baseball diamond was in the field at the left of where Wilbur Steinacker now lives and school was let out when we had a big ball game.
Going back to various happenings at home, habits of dress and coffieure—Ruth and Esther when “a courting” wore high laced shoes, at least 12” up the leg and of course high neck and long sleeve dresses and their hair done up in a bun on the back of their heads. Their bug-a-boo was having to wear a fascinator, which was a huge sort of knit scarf that wound around the head and neck. Fern and I detested the heavy leggings that had a strap fitted over the shoe and shoe buttons to the knee and fastened with a safety pin. Ira and Emery when in their early teens wore knickers with long black stockings and high shoes. Mildred used to have many colds so mother would grease her chest then daub a brown paper with pine tar and put it on her chest and she had to wear it to school to so when it rattled she was so provoked. Fern, Sue, Nick and I all wore our hair in braids long after everyone else had bobbed hair until by bombardment we talked Mother into letting us have it cut. Mother had long hair all her life which she wore on top of her head in a knot.
Along about the 1920’s Dad had carbide lights put in the house. The main
tank was located near the barn, the gas going through under ground pipes to the
house, with tubes fittings and fixtures going to each room and if the starter
did not work you must use a match. The main tank must be filled at intervals.
These lights were a big improvement over the oil lamps and the electric Edison
line did not go through until the 1930’s.
During my high school years Dad added two bedrooms and a kitchen to the house. A new well was driven near the house and now Mother had water in the house, but I shall never forget her carrying water from the well by the barn which had to be pumped by hand unless the wind was blowing. Then of course the windmill turned. Mother (she had weak ankles always run her shoe heels over inwardly) with a pail on each arm carrying water sometimes even for washing “which was done on a washboard” gives me a heartfelt memory that I shall never get from my mind and I know God in His infinite mercy gave her a special blessing for the wonderful mother she was for she truly earned them.
In June of 1927, with seventeen other students, I graduated from Hartland Consolidated Schools. This was quite an honor for I was the first from our family to have a high school education and was the first from our family. It was like Christmas, to receive so many nice gifts for graduation from our family and friends.
Bert Henry Morgan was born June 24, 1904, the third child of Byron and Emma (Leach) Morgan. Byron was born in Birmingham May 9, 1860, the son of Chester and Mary (Heater) Morgan. He had three sisters Ida, Clara, and Alice and one brother, Isaac, also one half-sister, Ellen Ruggles. Grandpa’s childhood was one of hardship – his father was killed in the Civil War and his mother struggles desperately to keep the family together. Emma (Leach) Morgan was born in Birmingham Mich on July 17, 1869, a child of Henry and Julia (Hornbeck) Leach. She had three sisters, Adah, Sylvia and Myrtie and three brothers Jay, Frank and Scott. All of the older generation emigrated from New York state. Byron Morgan and Emma Leach were married in Birmingham March 8, 1865. (Year can’t be correct – probably was 1885) Bert had one sister Alta Mae born Nov 7, 1889 and one brother George Jay born August 27, 1896.
On June 24, 1904 Bert Morgan was born in Oceola Township on Allen road. At the farm home now occupied by the Wray Welshons, then rented by his folks and owned by Wells and Meda Avery. The nearest neighbors were the Thomas Taylors who lived on the corner now the home occupied by the Brigham family. In 1916 his Dad bought our present home, the house originally built in 1841 by Parshallville founder, Isaac Parshall. There was a house stood across the road just east of the Dick Walker present home. A cider mill across the creek back of the mill originally built for a buggy factory with some of the old patters still there when he played there as a boy. Down where Tommy’s feed store or workshop stands there was a large two story frame building and another two story building attached to the first one later divided into two separate buildings.
Between the Walker cement block building and their home stood two stores, all busy at one time in Parshallville but the only business that he remembers was Dr. Rynearson’s office in one of the vacant stores. Doc was a real personage in this town blessed by many and the butt of many jokes by others. As he first started practice and made the rounds with the horse and buggy his command to the horse was “commence” instead of “giddup” and the horse only understood horse English so stood stock still until a slap of the reins stirred him. Doc soon got a new ford run about. The gas station was a small building across the road from the store by the pond where the gas was drawn from the barrels into gallon measure and poured into the gas tank at that time located under the front seat. Occupant must pile out, remove the front seat, place the funnel and pour the gas into the tank, then reverse the procedure. On the bank of the pond by the bend stood a blacksmith shop and across the bridge by Walkers stood another blacksmith shop.
Jay worked for Cash Hulbert in the mill and later worked by himself there. Their brand name for flour was “Tippicanoe”. In Nov. 1917 Jay and Esther were married and in 1919 they moved to Howell and Jay worked for Parshall’s mill there; afterwards he worked for the Spencer Smith Machine shop. Born to them was Helen Agnes on August 14, 1919. On July 9, 1921 Max William was born. Jay and Esther bought the place where Ries’ now live and moved there where on July 9, 1923 Lyle Byron was born and then Gerald Robert on March 16, 1930.
On August 4, Bert and I were united in marriage by the Rev. Blackmore in Hartland. We were married on Thursday and started north on our honeymoon. In Durand we run a stop light and hit a car and I had forgotten my driver’s license and we had damages to pay on the car. We went on to Belding and spent two days then over to Williamston and spent a day then returned home and lived with Bert’s folks until the next spring.
March of 1928 was outstanding on my memory; on March 12 Ira and Helen (Foster) were married and on March 28 Emory and Sadie (Smith) were married. Also in March I lost my first baby in a five month pregnancy, he was to have been born in July and in my mind to be named Richard John. Even with my five boys I wish I could have kept him also.
Soon we bought the Mark Robinson place on Linden road. Aunt Ada and Uncle Clare had sold their place where Borth’s now live and bought a new ’28 Chevy and gone to White Cloud to live with Clare and Ida May so we bought a desk, sewing machine, chairs, a high back bed and a dresser from them. Then we bought a new dresser and a new oil stove, a used table and a used couch and we set up house keeping in our own home. For a year or so we kept sailing making big payments on our place. Bert would go up home (his folks) and do the milking then work in the shop. Frank and Ethel (Francisco) were married and she had Thoral and Keith by a former marriage. Frank was not mature enough to accept the responsibility of a family. He had many jobs never very steady. They lived with us for a long period of time and when you triple the family expense the money did not seem to go very for so we could barely make our house payments. After some time they moved to Fenton and then to Flint but always there seemed to be calls from Frank for help in food, fuel to help him move or even parking tickers when he drove taxi. When Ethel was to have Gloria she came to our place and stayed for another period of time. Depression was every where and money was so hard to get. Bert’s check was cut so the company only paid 50% of what he actually earned but one was lucky to have a job.
In 1932 sister Fern and Harold Brower were married in May. On July 7, 1932 Russell James “our first son” was born. Dr. Rynearson and Mrs. Martin were the attendants and Ethel came to stay for a week with me. Esther came over to help wash and dress the baby for awhile and when I washed and dressed baby for the first few times I worked, shook and perspired so much it was a real job. He was a good baby and a beautiful baby with his red curly hair and there was much happiness in our home when he was born. As he learned to toddle, one day he was on the front porch and pushed the screen door open enough so he caught his little finger in the back door and pulled the nail off. His first real hurt and his mother’s first real scare. About this time Bert was not well and the doctor discovered he had goiter so as outdoor life seemed to be better for him and his father was not well so he couldn’t work the farm so we made plans to all live together on the farm and rent our house on Linden road. In October of 1933, when Russell was 15 months old this move was accomplished and so began farm life and our permanent home to this day. We were happy in a general way but I missed my own home and I think Grandma missed the quiet of her home too. We made butter, raised chickens, calves and all the usual farm work. This was still depression time and money was so hard to get, no food was wasted as for instance the time we butchered and Grandpa fixed a new pine board to weigh down the salt pork. The pork tasted so “piney” we could hardly eat it but we had to there was no other meat.
On Friday May 31, 1935 Robert Earl was born so now we had another wonderful son. Dr. Rynearson and Esther were the attendants. I wanted him to be Bobby but Grandpa had a cousin Earl for whom he had great affection so from the first Robert Earl was “Early”. Grandpa really loved him; he would trot him up and down on his knee real hard and sing, “there was a little boy and he had a little bow and he used to play his fiddle when he wanted it to go”. Earl was also a good baby but so subject to bronchial colds and many times I have sat rocking him and crying helplessly wondering what more to do for his wheezing colds. Earl was only 17 months old when his beloved grandpa died in 1936 and even when grandpa was so sick he wanted “Early” brought to the bed so he could talk to him.
After grandpa died grandma was lonely and she visited Aunt Ada who lived in Mrs. Taylor’s house now owned by Mrs. Kimberly and she stayed there many nights helping to care for Uncle Clare who was real sick and needed much care before he died in April of 1937. After that as Carl and Alta had moved to Howell with Dennis and Marion so Aunt Ada moved into their house where the C. Goss family now lives. Many nights Grandma and Aunt Ada would stay with each other at each others homes and they also visited Aunt Sylvia in South Bend. Money was still so very hard to get, but I shall always feel sad that we did not have more to send to Grandma when she visited Aunt Sylvia but we just could not get it. All during these years I had helped Mrs. Rowley clean house, done washings and stayed in Chas. White’s store and done any jobs I could get and Bert had done the same but wages were so cheap. I got 20 cents an hour and men were lucky to get $2.00 a day. Butter was 20 cents a lb., eggs 15 cents a dozen and the best flour was 69 cents a sack but one could scarcely afford the money to buy any.
In February of 1938 the dam went out when the ice broke up too quickly. Many bridges went out that year. People put boards out on the mud and picked up bushels of stranded fish in small holes. A swinging foot bridge was erected across the stream so one could get across to the stores until a new bridge was built by the W. P. A. men. Very few could get jobs unless they were on welfare.
May of 1939 finds Grandma down to Aunt Ada’s where she was taken with a
dreadful cold which developed into pneumonia. Her heart could not stand this
infection and she passed away on May 28. Always she thought of her loved ones
and shortly before she died she said to me “well sis, we got our screen
for the porch anyway, didn’t we?” She had been so anxious
to have the porch screened and enjoy it more. Aunt Ada came to live with
us and stayed
most of the time until October of 1940. My little Earl had pneumonia
in May of 1939 too, and he was only four. He was so sick and as he got
better he tried
to walk but was so weak he staggered and fell which made my heart ache
but as he gained strength he was O. K.
In October of 1940 we had a big wedding at our house when Aunt Ada and Howard Martin were married and Aunt Sylvia tied the knot. There may have been differences but I really believe they enjoyed life together.
On Sunday December 29th, Joseph Bert was born. Dr. Rynearson and Mrs. Edna Brown were the attendants. Sadie was here too for awhile. This time we expected a girl and Aunt Eva had Nellie Evelyn all picked out for a name but it sounded sissy for a nice baby boy. Joseph was a great bible name and a great name to live up to.
On January 3, 1941 tragedy struck and Lyle was killed in an auto accident. With my new baby and in bed I was not even allowed to go to the funeral, so I shall always remember him as a happy boy who loved life. Jay and Esther were terribly stricken with the accidental tragedy and only God’s healing hand and his assured promise of times reunion can lighten the lead of a broken heart.
Russell and Earl were now in school so only baby Joe was home with me. He also had red curly hair and was a mischievious little boy but a delight to my heart. Bert had not farmed so much this year but had worked on U. S. 23 as it was being built. First he worked on the cement gang then sod gang until in February of 1942 he went back to the shop to work where he has worked ever since.
In March of 1937 sister Sue was married to Robert Keyes and in 1942
on Halloween, Mildred and Ted were married; also on that date Max and
and Rollie Roe were married.
William Byron was born on September 9, 1945 and though he weighed the most of any of my babies, his little body was thin. I heard the nurses say he was born with a veil or caul which means sixth sense or a God given talent. My days were full with two little boys only seventeen months apart. Dad was good. He slept with one baby and I the other.
The same year 1945 in November, Jay died of a heart attack while buzzing wood. Jerry was a young lad and sadly needed his dad but only God knows the pattern of life. Esther went to work at the motors where she has continually worked ever since. Max was now out of the navy and they all lived together for awhile until they built their homes on Cullen road. Many passing of loved ones, such as Aunt Eva and Earl Miller, Harold Gardner, Carl Warner and lots of dear friends occurred about this time.
The 1940’s were filled with family life and having gone through the depression we should surely have learned our lesson to be conservative the rest of our lives. When Russ and Earl were little I had one dollar with which too fill both their stockings with toys for Christmas but they were real happy and that was all the Christmas we had. We could scarcely afford to buy the Sunday which was ten cents. We had some sickness, Den and Bill had red measles which Dr. Taylor said would ruin their teeth and it did. Russ and Earl both had fish hooks in their hands and had to have them out. Earl, Russ and Don Callaghan were spearing down below the dam and had a rope tied to the spear so when Earl threw the spear the rope caught his foot and pulled him in too and he struck a sharp rock or piece of glass. Russ and Earl came running up the road with Earl on Goss’s wheelbarrow. Ma, Ma come quick Early’s hurt and sure enough his heel was cut to the bone and Keddie Callaghan took us to the hospital where they stitched up his heel. Joe ran into the barbed wire and had to have stitches in his forehead. I had to have an operation for hernia.In June of 1949, Russell graduated from High School and the first important milestone of his life was reached.
The 1950’s bring many more changes. Russell was married.
Ruth Ann, our first and only daughter was born on July 24, 1950. This
was a miracle
so many boys I never dreamed I would have a girl. Earl was married in
1955 and during the following year Susan Kaye was born and the next year
Bert and I have had many nice vacations with the children even before we bought the cabin in 1959 August. We have been over a great portion of the state and one time as we vacationed at Fletcher’s floodwaters near Alpena and Den was about five years old, he fell out of bed and I believe he had a slight concussion as he was so sick for a few days. He has always been rather shy but an excellent student in school, a conscientious worker and a good athlete but always reluctant to push himself into the center of things. In 1956, he suffered rheumatoid arthritis and had to have many of his teeth extracted before the aches and pains would stop and he lost nearly a half year of school and still passed on condition but he has always applied himself diligently to his school work.
Bill was a sturdy little boy and given to grasping at all opportunities that came his way. When he was eleven he stepped on a nail the latter part of June and I tried to fix it up so we started on vacation and went across the straits to Jacks at Marquette. We started to Copper Harbor but Bill’s foot got to paining him so much that we turned south intending to take Lake Michigan side of the state home but at Watersmeet, the dynoflow went out of the Buick and we were towed into Land o Lakes, Wisconsin and had to wait several days for them to repair the car. We stayed at Beaver Lodge Lake and rented a car to take Bill to the Doctor, who gave him triple sulfa drug to kill the infection in his foot. Eventually we arrived home and Bill entered Howell hospital for thirty days and then to St. Joseph hospital, Ann Arbor for another two weeks. Penicillin did him no good so they operated and scraped the bone and gave him Albomyocin to kill the Osteomylitis. He had several short casts and went on crutches and finally a walking cast and started school in October. He likes athletics also hunting and fishing but is not given much to studying hard an excellent workman and wanting to grow up to fast.
Ruth Ann, my only daughter is still a miracle to me after five sons and understands when we talk “women talk”. She was a beautiful baby and in her mother’s eye is still beautiful. She fell down the cellar steps when she was one and a half years old and had to have stitches in her hand and forehead. As a baby she held her breath until she turned blue and many times I’ve rushed her outdoors thinking she was dying but the doctor said she would outgrow it which she apparently has except when she is injured real bad she still has a tendency to hold her breath. She can clean as good as her mother if she so desires and in school math is a horror to her. She does not make friends easily for she is shy. Her dolls are always her great companions and I’m desirous that life will deal gently with her.