My Uncle Frank was always full of stories… surprisingly none ever were things ‘he did’. His favorite comment was ‘I don’t know if the statute of limitations is up on that yet.’ My mother would tell stories of my uncle making moonshine and having my grandfather drive a decoy car while another car with a false backseat would take the ‘good stuff’. There was also a story about my uncles breaking my grandfather out of the westville jail by pulling the side off of the jail. I may have to ask my mother for more details about that. I don’t remember ever hearing why he was there or what happened after.
The story that was told the most though involved how my uncle ended in the military, how my uncle Ralph got TB and passed away, and a barn in Grape Creep. From my memory the story goes that my uncles were disagreeing with someone and it ended with them deciding to burn his barn down. As frequently happens they were caught and brought before a judge. My uncle Frank and my uncle Ralph were given the choice of the military or jail. (I was never completely clear why my grandfather wasn’t involved) I haven’t found the actual record from the courts or documentation of the fire yet, but I have documentation of my uncle Frank in the military in Feb 1943 (Sggt E5) and my uncle Ralph’s death May 18, 1943. My mother retells the stories of my uncle Ralph being found sitting under a tree and how he had been released from jail to die after getting TB in jail. My grandmother and grandfather were living in a small ‘building’ put together by my grandmother’s brothers at the site of the mine my grandfather and his brothers were mining. At the time my mother wasn’t even 3 years old yet and was sleeping in a drawer my grandmother had pulled out of a dresser.
My grandfather’s death was just one month later when he drown while swimming on Flag Day (June 14, 1943). My grandmother moved home to live with her mother shortly after and my uncle Frank was left as the only brother left. (They did have a sister Maude that survived until the year 2000)
My uncle Frank survived until the year 2004 and after the military had went on to sell manufactured homes on the property that his father originally owned. His stories though were always interesting. One even included riding a motorcycle across a beam where a bridge had been located. When hearing his stories you can almost picture all the old shows with ‘good ole boys’ running through the country. Even the name Hawbuck, Illinois sounds like a place where ‘good ole boys’ will be running around.