The following was written by Jessie Bench for her Granddaughter, Tracey Haley.
It is not complete as she was working on it a little while at a time. (1979 – 1982)
LIFE OF JESSIE ELIZABETH (BENCH) DAWKINS. Born in Livingston County, East several miles from Utica, Mo. Mar 20, 1904. Grandfather & Grandmother Bench owned a big farm near the Burlington Railroad bridge over the Grand River & there were many :&eight & passenger trains that used it then. They went through every town. Granddad had a big house, 5 bed rooms (4 upstairs & 1 down). He owned many acres of land on both sides of the tracks. His boys-John, Jesse, Frank & Charley did most of the work. My Dad was Jesse. He graduated Utica School & he kept the books for everything they bought & sold. Grand-dad had a big heard of cows, bunch of horses & a small pony horse for Mom or anyone to drive to take their separated cream to produce place & to grocery store -Closest one at Utica, "The Dome Brothers".
Grand-dad watched over every thing (Like Mr. Hedrick somewhat). He had concrete poured all around the house & out to the barnyard & the building we called the pump house. It was built around a large windmill. The floor was dirt & always damp & Grandma Bench kept crocks of milk sitting on damp ground. She'd cover the crock with a plate & put a medium rock on top.
She cooked a lot with milk. She made molasses cookies, cake, pie & milk gravy with meat the men liked. They had a hand separator with two spouts-one for cream & one for milk. Once a week they would take cream cans to the produce place in town.
Grand dad & boys grew a large garden on the opposite side of the tracks - just walked under end of the bridge. They just raised everything & where the new Hiway (U.S. 36) is now - that was a large apple orchard.
Grand-dad & Grandmother always had help-(Mom, after marriage & Mom's sisters. They helped on special things like cooking for the threshing crews. Grand-dad had hired men & had big threshing machines-don't use those now. They would thresh their own grain, then if the neighbors had any, they would do theirs.
I missed telling about the pump house. When the wind blew, the windmill would pump water thru a long pipe through a place in the wall into a big round high water tank for the horses & cows to drink from. When the tank was full someone would go out & inside the pump house & turn off the pump. Grand-dad had a sawmill & hired a couple of men to run it. Grand-dad's boys would haul it to house for Grandmother (Sarah Elizabeth).
She had a huge big kitchen stove & a hand pump inside, one outside too, Never was muddy around that house. They had a long red barn (later burned - think sparks from train did it - maybe not).
On up road & over the tracks (North) were other houses. John, the oldest son, lived in one & raised his crops & had cows of his own & hogs like his Father. Farther on was another house (not big house). The Fraziers rented this from my Grand-dad. The Fraziers were Mom Lockes Parents. They paid rent from crops they raised. Not far from house was a creek & Mom went there fishing. Her Dad & Mom called her Frances (Mary Frances). One day when she was fishing, my Father (not then) came up, so they got acquainted. He asked her if she wanted to go to Utica Baptist Church on Sun. He was the Superintendent - so she did.
If the weather was o.k. they would go Wed. to bible study - held in different homes. His folks had a pony horse named Babe & a nice buggy with a top. (No cars until 1900's). If it was rainy or cold there were sides to snap onto buggy. They had talked of marriage. Later, Mom worked in Chillicothe for a lady living near the business college & this lady did sewing. Mom saved her money & bought some sky-blue silk & lace for a front yoke & collar that went clear up on neck with staves to hold it up. Then she had medium blue ribbon ruft1ed around yoke & had her hair done high. She had thick black hair.
When they went to Sunday School they never said anything to anyone about marriage ¬ only to the Minister. (I did know the Ministers name, she told me but I forgot). [[July, 2000 Note: The minister's name was Oscar Lionel Woodard of Liberty, Missouri.]] After Church the Minister asked if anyone wanted to stay for a wedding. That was Oct. 13, 1901. Dad was 21 years old.
Then Mom moved from her folks home over to the big Bench house. She worked & helped with everything. Her folks names were Amanda Elizabeth & Joshua Frazier. In 1902, Nov. 21 an infant son was born to Jesse & Mary Bench. He lived 8 days. (They never named babies early in those days, so no name) He was buried in the S.W. part of the Utica Cemetery. Then on Mar. 20, 1904, I was born. On Feb. 8 , 1906 James Joshua (Jim) was born and on Feb. 16, 1908 my sister Frankie Marie was born.
My Father wasn't so well, especially in the winter, he would get deep seated colds in his lungs. So Grandmother & Granddad decided to go to Texas (Rock Island-West of Houston) as he had property there & Grandmother Bench's sister, Mandy Jones & her husband & 2 big girls (Minnie & Cynthia) looked after it. We had 2 covered wagons with feather beds in each & utensils & wash tubs to stop in country & make fire to cook & make coffee & Mom to wash diapers. (We didn't have the type diapers that babies have now). One day we were on muddy road & one wheel mired to axel & I was scared. We started from Mo. in Sept. & got to Rock Island before Christmas - was skift of ice on the horse tank. We skipped across S.E. comer Kansas & through Okla. & into Rock Island. Much later in Spring my Mother was baptized in the horse tank at this place. Grand-dad raised peanuts, cotton, potatoes, watermelons, Etc. They knew many neighbors there & had 21 cows to milk by hand. They had hand separators & tall cans for cream to be taken to produce store. Mom drove in once a week with cream & to visit with Grandma's sister, Aunt Mandy Jones & several others.
Well, My Dad wasn’t so good so we came back to Mo. to old home place. Then Grand-dad bought us a 3 room house in Utica. Later Dad went back to Texas with his Dad to see about business. He kept books & while he was gone Jim was born. There was snow & when he got word that he had a son he couldn't wait to get back. But he had to help his Dad with other Brothers for $1.00 a day. Of course our house was free.
On the day he died he asked Mom to go to farm with him but her excuse was she had a big ironing (We had flat irons in those days). Later she was sorry she didn't go for he came in at noon, sat down on well curb & had a lung hemorrhage of coughing & died. They put 2 wide boards, covered over & lay him on that until the undertaker came & next brought Mom & us down (Marie 8 Months old) & they took me in to see him. They had money (coins) over his eyes to keep them shut. Had funeral at house in parlor (Something like our living room), had a beautiful organ, soft plush chairs, leather couches, glass bookcase, roll top writing desk in it. The hearse was black with glass sides & drawn by horses. Dad's sister, Jennie, the oldest girl, [[July, 2000 Note: Actually, Sophia Elizabeth Bench was the oldest girl.]] (She did live in Corvallis, Ore., but she died at 97) was tall & looked like her Dad. We went She & I, upstairs & watched out the window & it was raining hard. I remember that & crying & Aunt Jennie trying to console me. Mom was so sorry - she could have left her ironing. In those days you sprinkled clothes outside (Some starch) & rolled them down and she had a basket load to do.
After that Grand-dad bought a town house with 3 bed rooms (2 on East), long wide hall, big wide door with those colored ornament strips hanging down from top, long ones on side & each one shorter in middle & same on both sides, left a door like place to go into parlor, then dining room, north bedroom, & he built on a big kitchen & a big pantry with shelves, 1 window & wide shelf below where Mom set a crock of milk or two when she brought up from cellar & a built in porch. In comer by door was table for bucket for drinking water & pail beneath to empty in & towel rack for roller towels- when one spot got wet the next who used it could pull it down & around until it could be taken out to be washed. This place was even with pantry & an enclosure except front side was screened with door. We had soft water pump outside door on big back porch. We had a big ice-box (opened on top) near one of our bedroom windows & the rest of the space was filled up with cord wood.
After my Father died, few years later Grandma died. She was 66. Blood turned to water called in those days, also Dropsy. Today I believe cancer of blood. (Maybe I’m wrong) So Grand-dad had us to leave our house & come there & Mom cooked & washed for him.
The houses were not insulated then, but it was new house, never got upstairs finished, but I used stairs to put some of my personal things on & in summer I would play with a small doll (although I had a big one). I like the small one best & it had hair & moveable arms & legs & I would get empty cigar boxes up at drug store to put doll clothes in. rd make underclothes, pretty dresses, coats & caps etc. Never had anyone to play with - sister was too little & when we lived at other house (this was big brown house we had before we moved to after Grandma Bench died where the gypsies came) she got malaria & Mom had Aunt Ora to come & stay with us. Thought she would die - sat up with her day & night.
The houses then were cold & big rooms. The big place was shut up half of house, with 2 bedrooms, parlor & big hallway. Hallway was carpeted & had place near East end bedroom (Granddads room) to open to go to the cellar to get our vegetables. The boys raised everything & would bring wagon loads of apples, also sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips & potatoes. They would butcher pork - not much beef (as he sold them) & we had a nice wood stove (like the church had). Had Isinglass in the door & Mom had lamp (Bonnie has now) on kitchen table that was against the wall & didn't hardly show in the living room. The fire would glow through the isinglass & would make the room so pretty. We had a big old kitty named Tom, (later he died in Mom's rocker) I still have the chair. Marie cut his long whiskers off when she was little. We'd rub him & in the dark room sparks came off him when we brushed him.
If we had company, any kids, we would sit on the floor around the stove & tell ghost stories - one was (can't remember name, but went something like this) I'm coming up the 1st step, coming up the 2nd step, & so on. And then suddenly whoever was talking would grab someone & say real loud "I got you". There were others like Little Black Sambo, about a little colored boy who took butter that his mother sent to grandmother (or someone) & he carried it on his head & the sun melted it & got him really messed up, Our bedroom was North & we'd keep it shut if zero weather in day time & open it up at nights & build a bigger fire.
Mom had huge cook stove with warming oven & resevoir & we had a cabinet (antique now, like Dee has found & is using). Had 2 small drawers & 2 big pullout bins, that didn't come way out - only pulldown & she made her own bread like everyone else did. We bought large sacks of Gold Medal Flour. She put her big sifter in it & a wooden bowl & each week, sometime twice, she used yeast from a jar, called a starter. She would take this wooden bowl & fill 3/4 full of flour & make a well & pour in _ the starter. Then she would add to the jar with buttermilk & flour mixture to fill up again & stirred it & set it in a cool place to use again. Some people would borrow a starter so she'd fixed it over. She worked a bowl of dough & put it on a large board which slipped in over the 2 small drawers in cabinet & kneaded it & put it in a greased round crock, then covered it & let it raise. Then in an hour or so she would punch it down & let it raise again. Then back to the board & knead a minute or two & make 4 loaves & put them in a big black tin (4 or 5 inches high) bread pan. It had raised rounds in bottom. The cover was just like the bottom only it had a circle on side so you could turn it & see if the bread was high enough to put in the medium oven. We had no temperature controls but Mom had a hot stove & could tell by opening door & putting hand in to tell if it was ready. Once a week she would make plain sugar cookies & use 2 cups of buttermilk, 3 eggs, sugar, & flour which would make a tall gal. crock full. She cut them large. She put them in the pantry & anytime you wanted a cookie, just go get 1 or 2. They raised big, but did not decorate them.
Forgot to tell you, the Bench boys (all of them after my Father was gone) would go to their sawmill & cut wood for all the workers & their homes & they'd bring us loads & loads & pile it in our backyard. So every Sat. Jim & I would have ajob. We'd carry & stack (even) in woodshed. One side for wood & one side for coal.
Before Grand-dad left for South for winter he’d buy a ton of coal for $4l.50 & that was used in cooking stove & he'd put up some heavy canvas where screen was to keep out snow for it was on the North & we never had any storm windows & we'd wake up with snow on our beds. But it must have kept us warm. We had 1 big bed & smaller one below for Jim. We also had covers & feather bed. Before Grand-dad left for Texas, Little Rock, Ark Or Tucumcari, New Mexico he had a room way down the hall & he had one of these oil heaters (small) Tall & little openings on top. He'd light this stove, made the room pretty at certain time of the evening. There was a handle to carry (maybe you have seen picture of them). But when he & the boys got all winter work done (cutting wood & butchering) he'd take off for the South & stay until planting time again.
In kitchen, back in comer from the big cook stove, was a big, high wood box (it had a high back so wood wouldn't scratch the wall). After school Jim & I would carry out of the wood shed wood stacked by icebox to screen porch (enclosed) about four ft. high & fill the big wood box. It wasn't empty all of the time, but we'd do it anyway.
We had snows over the fences. We had a hill close by to sled down. Then Mom's folks butchered, they would bring us a tub of fresh meat - some to make sausage & every other kind. But during first world war, Hoover-Food Administrator, later President, made the people mix white flour with rye or something & made bread real dark. No one liked a lot of changes.
The Red Cross had the building where Tom McCoy had his store. (He died in 1981) I was 14 & they let me come there & make bandages from old sheets for soldiers. Many coaches, each loaded with soldiers, came through. We saw our Utica Boys off - all came back except Florence (Dome) McDonnal's brother & Archy Taylor. He is boy in that picture that Evelyn painted - apple tree - he picked apples at Young's Orchard west of Utica.
I never told you when Utica was young it was considered for sometime being the county seat, but changed to Chillicothe instead. By the way, the first train station we passed coming home from Dee's on Amtrak was Chillicothe, Ill. Didn't know about that only a Chillicothe, Ohio. That was a surprise.
Utica had a big school (1st one), had 3 stories. Top was Lodge-Masonic & Eastern Star. 2nd floor- one thru 8th Grade. My Father graduated from that building & I got to go there several years. I cant remember if they took it down or what. The second more modem building exploded & burned. Marvin graduated there. Then there was one where the church is now.
There were 5 churches. Baptist, (1 st one gone) where your Mother (Evelyn) & my Mother was married, Methodist, an Advent, Negro & Catholic. A barber shop, a large mercantile store on comer (nothing there now). In it was a post office, Material in bolts for sewing, hardware in back & much more. A bank, drug store with ice cream tables & chairs. Dome Bro's Grocery store (Florence McDonnals brother Len ran the store & her Dad Charley, worked at the brick plant). The store had everything- like crackers, pickles, even cookie ¬shaped maple candy in barrels & had rainbow sacks for candy. Mr. Dome would not even weigh it, just filled sack full for a nickel. Grand-dad would only buy Post Toasties & they were in larger boxes than we have now. (3 for a 25t). The crackers were larger too & Grand-dad would buy tall sack for a quarter. Mom's sister, Della's husband Ross was with the Wabash R.R. & they would order a supply of staples from Sears Roebuck like navy beans, crackers Etc which came in crate by railroad. They lived up away from Main St. in Brunswick while their 3 kids were growing up & the depot was close. He & couple of other men there had to go off to other places up R.R. Hi-line to work & they'd take clean clothes & other supplies & when job was done, came home. In day or two start work again.
Utica had an Ice cream parlor in front & in back end was a barber shop run by Mr. Lee. He taught colored school & played horn & she played piano, cooked pies & restaurant. eating for brick plant men to put in their lunch boxes & Mr. Lee had a room off back for barber shop. Farther up town from big hotel was another barber shop. There was a long hall above Mr. & Mrs. Lee's ice cream store, with stairs leading up from outside & stage shows used to come in off trains. The shows would have 3 or 4 different parts, each with different scenes & the curtain would come down each time & they would re-decorate the stage. While curtain was down, certain funny guys would come out and entertain before time for the next act or some one would come out to sing. Mrs. Lee had a small round table at door with cigar box where she'd collect money when people came in. Usually hall was packed & every one paid with silver dollars, because there was no paper money then. Grand-dad would go every time & take Jim & me & he'd always take front seat & cup his ear so he could hear everything.
Then other times Mr. Lee had a compartment away back & a picture Machine & would have silent pictures. You had to read fast to keep up. All kinds of shows - some funny & some were westerns, on certain nights there would be a serial & of course you'd have to come back each time until the ending.
The hall was used for graduations, for box suppers, dancing (mostly Catholics). Anyone could go to the box suppers, but mostly young folks fixed & trimmed pretty shoe boxes & usually Dorothy Cullins husband (forgot name) & Mamye Neal's Dad, Mr. Walz would be bidding & if they knew whose box it was (like Mom Locke's sister, Ruth- she was 6 yrs older than me- had Mom fill her box with fried chicken & banana cream pie & everyone knew Mom made it for Ruth (Ruth was Eileen McCoy's mother later) they would hold up a box & say "Would anyone like some of Mrs. Bench's fried chicken" & every one would know they would get to eat with Ruth if they bought the box. There were long banquet tables & the church ladies would fix the food & have valentine parties there. There was a big red box & anyone could put in a valentine for anyone else & then the names were called out & valentines delivered.
[n the summer, south there was a high fence & bleacher seats & every Sun. afternoon they would have free ball games. A big guy named Otis (Barbara Boorne's Mother's brother) was a good player. They called him Puzzy Smith. He also helped at the Depot with freight, mail & sold tickets.
Also in the summer a company called the Lyceum Theater & would be real interesting – had speakers & mixture of international education stuff. There was a charge & most of the evenings would result in pretty good sized crowds.
My grand-dad's place was a big square, don't know how many lots that would be. Our house was on S.E. comer across from a pool hall. There was Walz's blacksmith shop with another pool hall upstairs there too. There lights would light up our yard. Sat evenings country kids came over & played while their parents were shopping.
On the other end of that big square was Grand-dad's blacksmith shop & he hired Mr. Benson to run it. It was interesting to watch him work, with his big leather apron (to keep sparks from forge from burning him) & long iron to get the horse shoes red hot. Then he would put it on big steel square & hammer it to make it fit. He had much business.
On the other comer of the square, Grand-dad built an apartment house (beautiful rooms) over a garage & he hired Mr. Ralph Rice to run it & he had a helper sometimes. Cars were just coming in. The rooms were I long living room with light tan calsamine walls, dining room not quite as long & off dining rooms were the 2 bedrooms-blue & pink & trim at top of the rooms & smaller white kitchen with built-in cupboards & a pantry. Ralph & wife lived there after Randall & Aunt Sophia (My Dad's Sister) split up. Randall went to Rolla Mo. Mining University. Later went to Colo. & was in ore business. (I have a piece of this ore.)
Well, down a ways from wood & coal house (with long narrow toilet in the front of it ¬Mom kept floor & tops cleaned - 3 holes - small for children, medium for ladies & biggest for men) was a meadow. It was just right for our cow. She kept it mowed. In meadow was a fine well for drinking water, with a small pump. After school I went & pumped water for Guernsey cow. There was a wooden barrel cut in two & had to keep water in it always so that the circle bands & staves would hold together. If it got dry, it would fall apart. Out in the meadow, halfway to fence, we had a red haw tree & in summer when I wasn't picking strawberries up on the hill for Aunt Sophia (where Jackie's place is now) I'd take a rug or something & pick up the red haws & with a big needle would string red haws - several strands & wear them around my neck & eat on them. They are like a little red apple with a small seed core. Some times I would gather brown (not green) cockleburrs & bring them in yard & stick them together & make furniture for playhouse. I also would pull seed off some tall grass (don't remember name) & Marie & I would put up a wide board near our swing & other things & play store. We stripped the seed from this weed to be brown coffee. We even got pan of dirt & sticks & water & made a black dough & shaped cakes & pies & layed them on plank to put up & dry.
My Grand-dad hired a cement mixer & made walks from our front porch to garage & past our house & clear on down to blacksmith shop & I remember trying to skate. I don't know who made walks on down to depot & on to Dr. Carpenter's, west of blacksmith shop, also going from barber shop clear on to past 5 houses going to Baptist Church. Had to cross over or else go up road if it wasn't muddy. No gravel road then & no highway.
The way to Chillicothe was through Utica & on past our garage & turn east by Catholic Church & turn north & down hill (forgot the name of that hill) & turn east like going to Grand-dad’s country house. But about a ¼ mile west of house you crossed over R.R. & there were a lot of trains in those days & there was an incline on both sides of track. Then road went on to Grand River & a wagon bridge (everyone called it that) still on Granddad's property & east end he had a big sand bar & he put up a gate & if anyone needed wagonload of sand they had to stop at our house in town to get key & pay 10 cents a load, then they would bring key back & when they paid we'd give key to Grand-dad & he'd hang key where we could get it. Then this road lead on across river & on around near RR. trestle & turn & go north & then a little further on it would turn east again & be on 3rd St. & lead on into Chillicothe, past the Industrial Home & on into town.
I don't remember Mom's chicken house, maybe in part of barn (the barn was farther back than wood shed across a gate in pasture) but she had setting hens & if she wanted a different kind she'd send me down to Pott's below Catholic Church & get Wyandotte setting. They were higher than eating eggs, we paid 60cents a dozen. Mom would put them under her hen & when they hatched Mom would put a heavy string on hen's leg & tie her out. The chicks would not leave her & she couldn't get in the road.
Utica was more populated then than Mooresville is now. Bank, drugstore, Catholic Church, Baptist, Methodist, Advent & a Colored one (gone now). Brick plant running much of the time. Tore down nice church where my Mother was married & made another one into a school in town. They have it already paid out, but all colored people gone except this lady, Mrs. Green (she's dead now). She came there & no one knows what became of her money. The minister left, some accused him (of getting the money) and there were other accusations, so Marie McCain (never married) & her brother, who is married, gave some property of theirs to the ones who were left & they made a new Community Baptist Church near the hiway & Betty's brother, Bobby, found an organ for them someplace he was working. Gayle & Connie sang in certain cases & their Uncle played for them. After Connie was out of school, she married Rick Harp there. Better tell you right in the middle of what was our cow meadow is now a trailer home of Howerton’s. Looks so funny to be there.¬
Maybe I ought to tell you about the old church everyone loved. My Dad was Superintendent there when he lived there &, would walk a mile & a half to prayer meetings at night, or Sunday School or Church before he was married. I was 13 when I was converted &, baptized down by the brick plant hill in Grand River.
There was a narrow road leading around the hill to Stampers &, there was a shallow place &, lots of rocks. Up above was the bridge crossing where several people (Farners) lived. One was Blanche Sherman who later married the schoolteacher, Brian Dowell.
But I must tell you, my dad's sister. Sophia &, her husband (he was the Constable) owned a big nursery up a lane from turn-off of main brick plant road, west. They had finest anywhere around & put the strawberries in wide rows with straw so you wouldn't get your shoes muddy. I was about 8 &, she wanted me to come with McCoy girls. Mike & Frances Ludwig. Hallie McCoy (Opal Bournes Mother) &, others (I have an old picture). We had to wear long sleeves to keep from sun burning. I told Aunt Sophia I didn't know how to pick berries. She showed me, so as not to mash them. They came on about two weeks after school was out. She and Randall took care of patch. Had a nice pony-horse to plow rows to keep free of weeds & later straw. Those berries were culled in a shack close by with a long built in table. Pour the berries out &, pick out the firmest & largest & put in Qt. boxes & fill crate with 24 boxes.
Randall had a Buick car &, Grand-dad got a new Ford every year when he got his grain threshed (Car $600.00) &, Aunt Sophia filled up back seat pretty high with berries, also on the floor & he'd take them over back road over R.R. & on over to wagon bridge, on into 3rd st &, into Chillicothe to a nice grocery on comer (N. W.) of Courthouse run by Pardonner's & they wouldn't last any time. Well, Grand-dad was on his way home (1927), came to R.R. tracks, run up incline &, onto crossing. Train whistled (so they said) but he didn't hear & the train hit the Ford and carried it about a block down the tracks & he was killed. He was a very b active man for his age-72 years. [[Note: James J. Bench was 83 1/2 years of age when he was killed by the R.R. train.]]
At home he'd get up & come down hall, open middle door &, Mom would be getting breakfast & he would go out on the inside porch, a place between pantry &, our bedroom &, would wash &, use the roller towel Oust use a place and next person would roll to next dry place-when all used up, a new roller towel would be put on) &, then he would go to middle room & we had a shelf clear across from middle door to N. wall & on end he had a liquor bottle he bought at drug store with stamp across top (I suppose it was for tax &, to make it legal). He'd take it into kitchen - get his medicine glass & measure, then pour it into larger glass & add hot water-- sometimes he'd give us some, but we'd put nutmeg &, butter in ours. Thought we'd rather have ours at night time, but never did. At breakfast he had coffee. He had large mug to keep his mustache out of cup. Then he'd go to post office &, get mail. He'd get Tucumcari paper.
He bought a lot of acres there but too rocky to raise anything & he let taxes eat it up. So we all got papers about the land from the Tucumcari courthouse about it after he was killed. They never knew how to spell my married name. Spelled it Dockins. We did not do anything about it. Who wanted rocky land in New Mexico?
Ramona & Earl have been through there-I still have papers. Jim & Mercedes stopped there on their way to Calif. last year (1978). They went up from Fla., then went west & stopped over night in New Orleans, then went to Calif. Came back through Colo. & on to our place & stayed several days. Went to see Aunt Hattie on week-end & went back to Fla. He came around Memorial day in 1980, but not this year, 1981. There were many deaths, including Marvin's wife, Betty's Mother died suddenly day after thanksgiving. In 1980 Jack's Mother died too & her sister, Aunt Helen, age 58, died July 7, 1981, day before Dee's birthday. She had been a nurse. Also Peggy's mother was ailing for a year with deteriorating heart & died Sept 13, 1981, age 59. Iris's husband, Sammy died of Emphysema Aug. 23, 1981, he was 56. So we didn't have a family reunion as we intended, so Jim didn't come. Maybe next year, 1982.
I was born on farm in Livingston County, Utica, Mo. on South side of Grand River & Ray was born on West 3rd St. road on North side of Grand River. We were married Oct 18, 1924 in the country by Grahams Mill Bridge at his cousins. A minister who used to preach at Utica Church was having a revival in that area. Next, his 20th birth day (we had a RR. pass for he worked with May's husband Mike on RR) we went from Chillicothe depot Burlington R.R. to Ruby's & Jim's, stayed a week. Came back & had a surprise shower for us around Halloween - had lighted pumpkins all over house, had 5 gal Ice cream & home-made angel food cake.
We had a room there for winter, as RR laid off & Ray worked with older brother at brick plant. We gave 'l2 our money for room & board to his folks, He helped his Dad butcher & they raised cabbage & his Mom & the girls made a barrel of kraut. We got 2 rooms at Dr. Carpenter's new house. His office in front had basement to wash clothes. Ray worked with older brother, Cecil at brick plant, later went to work at Swift poultry & moved to Chillicothe & had 3 rooms on Cherry St. Carmen born at Utica, Dec 1925. Iris born on Cherry St. Feb. 15, 1928, Ramona 1929 on Webster St., Marvin on Hickory St., May 27, 1933. Moved back to Utica, house below Catholic Church. Bonnie born Aug. 22, 1935, Dee on July 9, 1937. Same year as my Sister Marie that died June 12th. Mr. Locke, my step-father, died also in 1937. He was 63. The year 1937 was a bad year for us.