The Illk Family

  The house I grew up in after 2nd grade was built by Abraham Illk.  Abraham Illk was born in Württemberg, Germany in 1834 and married Catherine Voth and had 8 children. He passed away on 1916 in Vermilion, Illinois, USA.  The stories I’ve heard tell that Catherine Voth last name was renamed to Ford and there was some story about adoption some where in the family too.  My ancestor from the same time was Mary Ford (Voth), daughter of Frederick Voth. She was married to William Lincoln Elderidge and lived just about 100 yards up the road. The documentation I have showing they were sisters is a newspaper article when their sister Christina passed away.

Christina was born in 1831 (2 years older than Catherine and 4 years older than Mary) and was born in Ohio.  The article says that Christina relocated to Illinois with her parents and family when she was a child.  Four sisters are listed that include Mary and Catherine plus two more a Mrs. John Manning and a Mrs. Julia Beyer.  She had eight children of her own (Fifteen grandkids!) .

When we moved into the house Ralph Goodrich was the owner – a descendant of Illk and Voth.  I still have a doll (the size of a 2 year 0old) that was in the house and said to be brought by the Voth family to the US when they immigrated.  I have down that Mary was born in Ohio according to the 1860 census – her mother Julia was also living with William and Mary Eldridge at the time.  Julia was listed as being born in Germany and was 70 – so her birth would have been around 1790. Catherine is listed as being born in 1833 PA by the 1900 census.  I’m sure the other sisters were living around the same area also.

The stories included that Voth worked at a tavern that was one of the stops for Abraham Lincoln on the Lincoln trail.  The house was then built in the mid 1800s and was put together from blocks made in the nearby woods.  My mother has even told me a story about one of the women from the house that lost a baby after binding her stomach too tight her entire pregnancy to hide the evidence and keep a job.   Life was definitely a lot tougher then…. I know even in the mid 1900s my own grandparents hid their marriage to allow my grandmother to remain teaching, since teachers couldn’t be married. (That’s women teachers, I’m sure there was no such restriction on men)

Ralph Goodrich left a lot things in the house when he moved – and my mother loves antiques.  Which is how I’ve ended up with this family bible.  They aren’t really in my direct family line but I think as my great great grandmother Mary Ford (m. William Lincoln Eldridge) was Catherine Ford’s sister it is worth including in my tree.  Mary Ford’s parent’s were Frederick Ford and Julia Smith and she was born in Ohio.  Julia was living with William and Mary Eldridge during the 1860 census. (Judy has these as William Frederick (Fred) m. Mary Watson as opposed to Frederick and Julia)

People on Ancestry have posted for Abraham (and Catherine):

Abraham ILLK B/2 Feb. 1835, Schorndorf, Wurtternburg, Germany -D/12 May 1916, Oakwood, Vermillion Co. Il.
M/4 Mar.1857 Danville, Il. to Catharine FORD B/20 Aug. 1833, Montgomery Co. Pa.- D/30 May 1916, Oakwood. Vermillion Co. Pa. Ford is not correct spelling for name. Her parents were suppose to be from Germany and changed the spelling of the German name. Do not know what it was supposed to be.
i:Julia Olive B/4 Nov1858-M/Albert Marion RAY, 6 Sept 1882-D/31 Dec 1951
ii:Samule B/30 Sept 1861-M/Elva RAY, ca 1885
D/22 Dec 1925
iii:Sarah Elizabeh B/5 Apr 1863-M/ B. F. Evans 25 Feb 1886-D/11 Nov 1947
iv:Lucy B/21 Sept 1865-D/date unk in Iowa
v:Franklin A. B/18 Oct 1868-D/date unk, Oakwood, Il
vi:Annette B/13 May 1871-D/26 May 1905
vii:Catharine B/28 Jan 1873-D/date unk, Oakwood, IL m. George Goodrich
– Ralph Goodrich
viii:Caroline MAY B/21 DEC 1875-d/10 July 1894

A neighbor, Judy Oakwood posted on the Ancestry Boards:

.  My mother, Ethel Illk Oakwood was the daughter of Frederick Illk and Mary Watson Illk – my great grandfather Gottlieb was a brother to Abraham, the first Illk brother to come to America. So Aunt Kate, as my mother called her was a first cousin to my grandfather Fred; and Ralph and my mom and uncle, Glenn Illk were second cousins. We were very close to Uncle Ralph as we called him.  I remember Uncle Ralph talking about his Grandma Voth so well. We moved to Saratoga, WY in 1982 – love the west. My brother, C.J., is still on the Illk farm back in Illinois – and now owns the house where my grandparents and my parents lived, and where my mother and uncle were born. My dad began farming in the mid-40’s, having been a coal miner, a grocery store owner with his father, and then got to farm – something he’d always wanted to do. He died in 1976, May13th – and my grandmother Mary Illk, died August 13, 1976. Ironically, my mom crossed on February 13, 1999 

My great grandfather was another John Gottlieb Illg – wife- Dorothea Eicholtz(sp?) came to America in the 1860’s with 5 of his 9 children(other 4 born here in USA). Older brother, Abraham Illg came first; then Jacob Frank Illg, then John G. All were farmers, father’s name Daniel Illg; mother Agnes Frank; homesteaded in Vermillion County, IL near Oakwood. They came from Grunbach, Wurtemburg, Germany, and had cousins named Rommel. My grandfather, William Frederick (Fred) )m. Mary Watson) heard from a cousin, Gertrude Rommel, in Germany until the war began. My mother: Ethel Dorothy Illk Oakwood- m. Clarence Glenn Oakwood. Hope this will help in your search for family history.

In the items Ralph left us a bible was included.  I’m going to try to repair as best I can since the cover is detached, but I’ve copied the pages that are covered with family information.  I love saving the information and don’t want to see any of it lost over time.  After repairing it I’m going to check with the Genealogical Society and the Vermilion County Museum to see if either would like to put it in their library.

I would LOVE to find copies of the local newspaper for the Oakwood area for the time, but I’m afraid most have been lost over the years.


Houses in History – Abraham Illk House

IMG_3203Growing up, our first ‘house’ was really a trailer in my Aunt’s yard.  When I reached second grade my parents bought a historic home that had history that included my family.  The Abraham Illk house.  It was currently owned by Ralph Goodrich.  At the time my parents bought it with most of the contents included.

The house had over time been added to and changed.  The original house was made from bricks made in the nearby woods, and hadn’t included electricity or even a regular kitchen.

The house by the time we owned it, had electricity added, plumbing for the kitchen and one bathroom was stuck onto the side of the house.  The window in the picture is where the door to the lean to was.  My parents added a bathroom upstairs and a half bath downstairs, then took the lean to of the house and replaced all the windows.

Over time they also added an attached garage to the house and redid most of the inside. My brother now has taken over the house and has been working on it room by room.

The history of the house starts with the house being built by Abraham Illk.  It’s in the Lakeshore School District in Oakwood Illinois.  Abraham lived from 1835 to 1916 and was from Germany – married to Catherine Ford.  As far as my family, Abraham and Catherine’s daughter Frannie married my grandfather’s twin brother, Lesley. I’ve mentioned the house and Catherine’s history before.

Growing up I’ll always remember though how strong the house seemed.  Inside the house nothing could be heard from outside. My father would say that the house has been standing for 100 years and will be standing for 100 years more.  Ralph Goodrich was related to the family also through the daughter Catherine who married a Goodrich.

Tried to e-mail you, Jeff but didn’t go through. – just happened to find your post on Uncle Samuel Illk – don’t know much about him, but do have some records that I got from Ralph Goodrich – whose mother was Catherine Illk, daughter of Abraham Illk of Vermillion County, Illinois. She married George Goodrich, and lived s.west of Oakwood on the Illk farms. My mother, Ethel Illk Oakwood was the daughter of Frederick Illk and Mary Watson Illk – my grandfather Fred was a brother to Abraham, the first Illk brother to come to America. So Aunt Kate, as my mother called her was a first cousin to my grandfather; and Ralph and my mom and uncle, Glenn Illk were second cousins. We were very close to Uncle Ralph as we called him. …. –from ancestry boards

The house was not huge, but to me as a child it looked huge!  Now going back, I’m surprised at how much smaller it was than I though it was.  The house originally had four bedrooms upstairs that, three that we used and one that my dad turned into a hodge podge of rooms that included a full bathroom, a closet, a gun shell loading room, and a hallway.  The area included a window that looked out over one of my parents fields.  The house wasn’t built with closets originally – when the house was built houses were taxed based on the number of rooms and closets counted as rooms, so my parents paneled every bedroom adding a closet at one end and drop ceilings to lower the ceilings to a more normal height.

My brother and I had a great time with the drop ceilings using them to play hide and seek.  The main rule was that you had to stay on the cross beams holding up the tiles.  One wrong step and you would be in the room below.  There were at least a couple tiles stapled up to fix missteps.  We would climb up the shelves in our closets and disappear. The top of my brother’s closet was huge and became a hang out for a while.  There are probably still little odds and ends up on the ceilings in some of the rooms.

To add conventional heat my parents used the vent work that was in the house as much as possible.  The old house had some vents in place for coal in the basement in order to circulate air, but they were few and far between.  My parents put in vents up the side of rooms in the downstairs under the paneling going up to the upstairs and added heat.  Later they included an air conditioner when they found my hay fever was too much for them to bare living with.  After a few years they added an option for a wood burning furnace.  – We split our own wood and added a wood burning stove to the kitchen also.

The house was always in a state of flux.  To finish off the upstairs, my parents wanted a better way to reach the attic.  The original house had a little square in the ceiling with a metal ladder that was in the hallway at the top of the stairs.  I never saw in the attic myself.  My dad though came up with the idea to build a set of stairs up to the attic out of their bedroom closet.  – My parents had the one room upstairs that was built with a closet originally.  So my dad removed one side of the closet and put in plywood over the stairs at a slant.  I think each project started during the winter and came to an end at harvest season.  This was one that never started up again.  So the plywood slant over the stairs became a place to store clothes and things for my parents.

Downstairs, my parents, added a wood burning stove in the kitchen, redid the kitchen, and I remember them frequently moving where the doorway was for the living room.  It reminds me a little of the Winchester House when I think of my childhood and my parents never finishing our house. My brother now is redoing the house.  He is doing a beautiful job and hopefully will finish in his lifetime.

On the wood burning stove I remember my mother making deer jersey and even maple syrup from the trees in our yard.  We even had a few instances of my mother raising chickens in our kitchen.  I’ll also never forget the day my mother caught the house on fire with dry wood in the fireplace.   My mother was burning wood that was really dry and the fire got extremely hot.  The supports under the bricks in front of the fireplace caught on fire and the fire department was called.  My dad had already gotten the fire out, but all the firemen had to trek through the house and check.

There is also the day that my mother got a new dryer.  My dad let my brother and I disassemble the old one… and play with all the parts.  When the new one arrived, the turn to the basement was 2 inches to small.  The delivery person said he couldn’t get it down the stair without the 2 inches…. So my mother got a hammer.  I think the delivery person about panicked, when my mother said are you sure you just need 2 inches? and then proceeded to make 2 inches more out of the wall (with the hammer!).

The basement was another great place to play in the house.  I think my brother now uses it for haunted houses but for us kids it was pretty cool.  There were three rooms, one that contained the hot water heater – we just never seemed to enter, one that we played school in with some old school desks mom found (and we kept our hamsters there for a while), and the laundry room which included a furnace that took up half the room.  The stairs were old rickety wooden stairs that seemed fine as a child, but looking back….  My mother stored old lunchboxes and things under the stairs.  To the right of the bottom of the stairs was an open door that went to dirt steps going up to the floor of the kitchen.

I remember my cat having kittens under the kitchen and having to climb up every so often to check on them.  The steps originally went out of the house and out to the old summer kitchen which was long gone by the time we got there.  There were a few other places that the foundation was open to the dirt.  With a shovel, I don’t think you could ever get completely trapped in the basement – which probably explains the mice that were always getting in the house throughout my childhood.