Grandpa McArdle

My grandfather Clifford McArdle (1916-1943) died young in a tragic accident. He was quite a character though! (and he came from a family of unique individuals) My grandfather McArdle lost his mother young (at 6) and was raised by his father (who was trick shooter, moonshiner, and all around character – if I remember the story correctly Elmer McArdle was even friends with Buffalo Bill Cody). He drowned in 1943 when my mother was only three while swimming at Ellsworth Park.

Grandpa McArdle

Most of the stories I’ve heard about him involve his ‘wild’ young days… plus one that involves him sitting in a creek with a high fever ‘rowing his little canoe’ while his sister Hattie Jane was caring for them.

Most of the stories include antics that my grandfather did with his brothers that were everything from dangerous to illegal. Stories include everything from running moonshine, with Clifford driving a decoy car to my uncles burning down a barn. My Uncle Frank chose to go to the military for that one and my Uncle Ralph went to jail. Ralph was released when they found he had TB. He passed away shortly after being released. Stories even include them breaking my grandfather out of the little jail in Belgiumtown Illinois that isn’t there anymore – they pulled the side off from what I remember.

The stories are like things you would hear as tall tales. Clifford McArdle even took a guitar and billy club from a policeman’s car one evening…. Hard to believe it’s true, but I’ve actually seen the guitar and billy club. I have no idea where they are now, but at the time they were being passed down through the family.

Another story included my grandfather going to a dentist during the depression and not paying. He had given a false name and knew the dentist wouldn’t find him. – I wonder how that worked since it’s such a small town you would think everyone knew each other!

Stories from growing up included my great grandfather Elmer expecting the boys to learn to shoot – setting up a small hoop and a bell and expecting them to shoot through the hoop and ring the bell. My grandfather and his brothers would also run around in my great grandfather’s house and reset all his clocks – he was determined to have lots of clocks, all set to the same time). They devoted a lot of time to pulling off pranks.

My grandfather died in 1943 when swimming at Ellsworth park by one of the spillways. The story I had always heard was that he was swimming with my mother and brought her to the shore and sat her down before venturing out into the river again. He was on the spillway when someone opened the gates on the dam upriver. The undertow from the spillway held him underwater for several days before finally releasing him. His hair was a bright red color and finally made it easy to find his body stuck in the trees with the sun shining on his hair.

Famous Distant Cousins?

Jared Ingersoll was an American lawyer and signer of the U.S. Constitution.

Ingersoll is my cousin through the McArdle line. Officially he’s listed as my 4th cousin 7x removed, which makes him very distant… but still in my tree. I usually don’t take my tree out this far at any point, but Ancestry has stories and thrulines that are constantly looking now for stories in the past that can be added to your tree, and Ingersoll came up in mine with a notice through email. The story Ancestry made for me is below. It was interesting for sure! I also learned about Benjamin Franklin being in Paris, where he met Ingersoll. I’m sure I must have heard that sometime in elementary school – but it isn’t in my memory.

My next step would be to look at that portion of the tree is doing and see what my direct ancestor on his line was doing at the same time. My 10th great grandmother was listed in as Alice Bevys. Alice Bevys tied to Ingersoll according to the ‘See relationship’ tag. Doing a search of the tree, neither show up, so finding the relationship in my tree isn’t as easy as it would seem.

In the stories I also noticed my great grandfather Elmer’s middle name was Ellsworth, which to me was a little ironic since my grandfather his son drown at Ellsworth park. I also noticed this morning that my 4th great grandmother Susan Cozard was listed as a farmer. That is so unusual it really needs to be explored more.

Jared Ingersoll’s information is:

American lawyer and statesman Jared Ingersoll was born 24 October 1749 in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of a prominent British official. He graduated from Yale College in 1766, then studied law in Philadelphia and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1773. He later spent more than 18 months in Paris, where he met Benjamin Franklin.

When the American colonies declared their independence, Ingersoll returned home and became a Patriot, despite his family’s Loyalist views. He started a law practice and became a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1780-1781. He later served as a delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention and was a signer of the U.S. Constitution.

From 1791 to 1800 and from 1811 to 1816, Ingersoll served as attorney general of Pennsylvania. He was also a U.S. Attorney for Pennsylvania. Ingersoll is known for arguing two of the first cases to appear before the U.S. Supreme Court, “Chisholm v. Georgia” and “Hylton v. United States.” In 1812, he was DeWitt Clinton’s running mate as a Federalist in the presidential election, but they were defeated by James Madison and Elbridge Gerry.

Ingersoll died in Philadelphia on 31 October 1822.

Playing in Water!

Today was a great day to run down and play in the river. We have lots of land on the river, so we chose a spot with a sandbank. There were minnows swimming in the water, old mussel shells under the water, and fishing lines hanging from the bridge. I walked both directions down the river. Walking in the river, I could see the bottom everywhere I walked. There was some trash, but also lots of really cool rocks and shells. For those that haven’t gotten in the river water, it can be a little cold. The water in little shallow pools that are cut off warms up in the sun. Out in the river where the water is flowing, the water is just the right temperature to cool down in the hot sun in my opinion .

Salt Fork River from Sandbank South of the Bridge

While down at the river we ran into a few groups that were treating the our field area like public property. I remember years ago my father meeting people that were playing in our lake and asking who gave them permission. They all would claim to have permission from the owners, not even realizing it was the owner they were talking to.

My father and his first cousin, Don, made a really nice family get together area around the pond we all still have. There was a drive around a field, and originally a house that was rented out. The house quickly was destroyed, but the pond was somewhere we all got together at for a lot of my childhood. It included a sandy beach, picnic tables, and a bridge across the pond. I remember celebrating my brother’s birthday there with my grandparents and lots of other family and friends. The part that stuck in my mind was playing string tricks with the cord on the new camera my grandma had given me and losing it off the bridge. A family friend, Butch, dived several times to the bottom trying to get the camera, finally giving up. The camera is still somewhere in the bottom of that pond.

My father after too many instances of running into trespassers at the pond, decided to destroy the drive back to the pond, tear out the bridge, and let the pond get taken by trees. Now no one uses the pond – not even our family… My parents explained to us many times that it was a question of liability, and what happens if someone gets hurt on our property. Then there was the mass destruction that large groups of people using an area will cause. Trash and more!

Growing up we also used to go canoeing and play in the river. Playing on the sandbank was fun. So taking the kids to the river was high on my list of things to do. The path we took down to the river wasn’t one we had made, it was one someone using our property to put canoes in to the river had cut through the weeds and trees. While walking down it, we saw everything from discarded aluminum cans to the sprayer for a garden hose. The kids built sand pyramids at the bottom of the path and want to go back to check on them…. I couldn’t tell them that they wouldn’t even last one day with the traffic that cuts through our property.

While there a car was parked at the top of the trail, pulled over on our property. It didn’t move, the people weren’t around. I assume they were canoeing down the river. It had a hangtag from the local high school in the front window. They obviously felt comfortable enough to leave their car parked on our property for hours with no one around it. What’s funny is my family has always been welcoming I think. So people asking if it’s ok, not leaving trash, would be all it would take to not be trespassing.

Our other area Bailey’s Bottom has so much trash being dumped at the entry, we have given up keeping up the road. When we want to go back to the field we walk back, which means we rarely go, since it’s a good distance back. It was another place growing up the family would have parties, swinging out into the river on tire swings, having bon fires, paying on the sand banks! It was where I learned to drive a truck on the road beside the field.

Road to Bailey’s Bottom
Kickapoo Park Property (at the end of our lane)


Teresa Moretto Headstone

Looking at headstones recently I came across a headstone for Ethel Richter Dodge. I had assumed originally I was looking through my files for Ethel Richter (not my Aunt Ethel but another Ethel Richter), who had married into the Dodge family. We unfortunately lost my Aunt Ethel last year, so asking her wasn’t possible. I did find out she was named for a family friend and distant relative Ethel Oakwood as I was working on searching for the family link.

In the past as I’ve looked through the cemetery – and even looking through my own notes, I’m always surprised at the number of names that are reused. My grandmother Theresa Moretto was even named after her sister that passed away a few years before she was born. Her sister was said to have been named after an aunt that great grandmother didn’t want to forget. Reusing names was a way to honor the family member. My grandmother’s sister had come to the US with my great grandparents when they immigrated from Italy and passed away shortly after arriving in the US.

There is also a grave for a Janie Richter that was a sister to my grandfather. The story goes that she was kicked in the head by a horse and passed away very young. That name was also reused. An unusual name was Cleta. My aunt Cleta Fern Richter passed away at barely a year old from pneumonia, but also in the family as a Cleta Henning – My grandmother’s niece.

I had already thought about naming any daughter after one of my aunts. We ended up with all boys and I left it to my husband to choose the names. For each name we discussed the good and bad qualities for each friend, family, and sometimes others that we knew with the same name. None of the boys did end up named after anyone we knew, but we definitely discussed everyone we knew with each name before settling on a name. I always hope my kids are happy with the name they ended with.

Janie Richter HeadstoneI remember growing up trying to change my name a few times. I even successfully changed it once for a few weeks. I always liked my middle name more than my first name, and in kindergarten had come up with the idea to write a note saying my parents had changed my name to my middle name. – As an important note to remember it was in a kindergarteners handwriting, but I did get my mother to sign it. I should also mention a cousin’s husband was the principal, another cousin’s wife was the 1st grade teaching assistant and the janitor was a cousin too.

All that being said, they took my note and changed everything. My mother didn’t find out what happened until parent teacher conferences. – She did make them change everything back. Of course this was the same teacher that kept confusing my best friend and I (the fact that we randomly kept swapping name tags didn’t help), and had ended up accidently sending me for my friends kindergarten immunizations, while she got to skip ( I had already had mine, so I ended up with twice the dose and she got none)…. I often wondered if that was why that teacher quit the next year?

Names can be important, in researching your family, multiple family members with the same names makes following my family line takes some effort and knowing family stories as much as possible.

Playing in the Creek

Having friends over for a holiday, we went down and played in the creek – and wandered through the woods. It quickly brought back memories of all the times we would go into the woods and play in the creek near the house – and even better the times we would play in the river. Robby on a 3 Wheeler

The creek by our house isn’t a spot we went down to often, but across the road under my mother’s house is the deep spot that we would head to play when we got a chance. I remember seeing tadpoles and more in the spot there, and the day that we found someone’s textbooks from the high school that had been dumped in the woods by the stream. Walking across the logs and the rocks in the stream was a great way to stay cool and something to do.

Any more I hear a lot of complaints about nothing to do around here, but all the things we did as kids are still here. The streams to play in, the river to canoe and fish, 4 wheelers to ride, sleds to play on, river to splash in, biking, and so much more! The electronics the kids currently play with can be played with anywhere – so it’s hard to imagine that’s a drawback. There aren’t as many clubs and fancy restaurants to go out to, but as families with young kids (or even families in general) we are totally fine with what is available in the area.

In our area when we really want to visit a large museum or go out to an event, we have our choice of Chicago, Indianapolis or St. Louis within a few hours drive. Champaign Urbana also gets several big names at the assembly hall and the University of Illinois has everything from sports to academics that are available. It’s not the night life of New York City, but personally I don’t need that. I love the family get togethers where everyone sits and talks about the past, shares great food, and the kids run around throughout the group playing. Walking through the woods, playing in the rivers and streams, and watching the wildlife – though I can live without the snakes, spiders, and ticks.

As kids playing in the white water in the river, playing on a sand bank, canoeing down the river, even playing in the old ruins of Conkeytown foundations and treehouses were things that could keep us occupied all day. Other days were spent walking beans and working in the fields trying to help our parents, playing in grain bins, and even riding our bikes up and down the road. Our family had both ponds (great for skating and swimming) and a pool that we used to keep cool during the time we weren’t working. After harvest, my dad would convert the fields into tracks for us to race around as well as making a golf course out of our yard.

It seemed family was always dropping in! I remember playing crochet in the yard being one of my dad’s favorites. He would pull grass up in a line all the way to the wicket to make it easier to hit in. We also were taught how to play Euchre which was a popular evening card game. It seems New Year’s Eve was always Monopoly night though. – I also loved to read, and always had a book (Nancy Drew being my favorite!). It seems we never ran out of things to do. All the things that we did are still around, so it’s hard to imagine how there isn’t anything to do now? I’m starting to think it’s just something to say.

Recycling Bricks!

I still keep finding bricks as we walk around. They seem to be everywhere – with the latest showing up in the field where we have been riding 4 -wheelers around. Following the example of my parents, we have turned the field next to the house into a race track during the season that the field isn’t planted. While riding around the brick showed up! I’ve been digging up bricks all over our yard, reclaiming them from the previous house that was on the site. The brick out in the field is part of the house that was buried here. Really there were a few buildings buried as well as a few wells.

I’m not sure about these bricks but I remember the story that the house I grew up in was made from bricks and blocks that were created in the woods near the house. Bricks are made from something like clay that is molded and then dried – and finally fired (in a kiln). The bricks I’m finding were buried here as each building was torn down.

Currently, I’m reclaiming the bricks and using them for projects on our new home. My first project was a walkway from the driveway up to the side of the house. As I see bricks buried around the yard (and nearby), I dig down and pull them out, making them into a pile. I’m loving recycling and it ties us to the past!