After moving we stored things we couldn’t use in a shed until we could figure out what to do. One of those things was an antique Duncan Phyfe dining room table from my aunt Kate – my Grandmother’s sister. My aunt Kate had been married twice and couldn’t have children. Her first husband was a miner that passed away young. She had gone on to marry an older widower who had children. She was married to my Uncle Ralph by the time I was born, her first husband Freeman had been gone many years.
They lived in a beautiful house on Logan. I loved playing in that house. It’s now painted blue and has been turned into a hair salon, but at the time it was a two story Victorian with a wrap around porch, basement and several rooms upstairs too. The hair salon has enclosed the wrap around porch (I haven’t been inside to see what else they have done). The dining room was huge with two doors onto the porch, my aunt kept two matching desks across from each other as well as her quilting frame in that room in the section with the doors. There was even a fireplace with what I seem to remember had green marble on it. Their bedroom with a private bath was off of the dining room. The living room had a bay window and I remember a large photo of Niagara falls (It may have been another falls) over the fireplace. My uncle was an photographer in his free time and they would travel all over the United States. They had visited the entire 48 states (that’s how many there were at the time) and collect photos and post cards. The entry had a large stair way that led to the second floor.
I would always venture upstairs where there was a bedroom with a large walk in closet. I can remember a vanity that included a brush and mirror set that I can still see clearly, and a rounded mirror. Across the hall was a large two room ‘apartment’ type bedroom with a bath and a separate kitchen area. I was never sure why it was set up that way, but I suspect the hair place has it set up as a rental now.
I remember during my childhood getting to stay at her house. It was one of my favorite places! We would get dropped off there when my parents needed a babysitter. Most of my memories of the house involve the dining room and getting to explore the upstairs. Later my aunt sold the house as it became too much for her to take care of. She moved to a rental apartment by the park in the same town. I’m not sure what happened to most of her furniture, though at the time the dining room table went to some of my cousins. The cousin’s over-time put it in a shed where I was able to find it upon setting up our house about 30 years ago. We still have one of the matching desks here – my brother had gotten the other and I have no idea if he still has it. My aunt had taken such care of that table. I even have a few of the specially made covers she had made to take care of the top. My cousins had lost the leaves that could extend it, but my husband and I had made some that we used throughout the years. They were slightly warped and always added something unique to our meals. The table when stretched out seated over 12 people. The table has a lot of memories, which were brought up recently because people trying to get other things out of the shed broke the legs off the table without telling me. I just happened to find it while going in to put away a little more of my stuff. Another table would not be the same. It was that table!
My aunt went on to live with my grandmother and we are using my grandmother’s table in our current house. Because my aunt developing Alzheimer’s she later went into a nursing home and passed away there. She and my grandmother though were the two that got me my first computer (my father thought they were unnecessary and useless). It was a Commodore 64. My first paid job was an inventory system for a small company that was using a commodore 64 to manage things. It was in the middle of the 80s. I spent my senior year in high school on that computer with my cousin from Westville Chris McDowell and a few other kids from the area. It was one of the first times I felt like I fit in with a group and I had a great time. DACC had a bulletin board system, and we all left messages for each other at all hours of the day and night. I know my aunt and grandmother had no clue anything about the computer but they supported me.
My aunt also got me started with quilting. I still have an old hat box that has all the little pieces of fabric she gave that were scraps from pieces of things she was working on. My grandmother would piece quilts together and my aunt would quilt them. My grandmother would knit and my aunt would crochet. The two were frequently together. My grandmother had 9 brothers and sisters, but my aunt Kate and my Lena were the two that my grandmother was the closest to.
The bottom picture shows the table in use, though it’s covered by a table cloth. The chairs are old chairs that were much older than the table. My grandmother had recovered them. My grandmother is holding me and it also includes my Aunt Kate, Aunt Lena, Uncle Ervin, and My mom and dad.
Things I remember on this table include birthday parties – throwing a surprise party for my husband with my grandmother there and finding out that 40 candles burn really really hot! The day that I walked out to find my middle son sitting in the middle of the table with pieces of broken leaded glass in his fingers where he had broken a wedding gifts top from my godmother. She had worked so hard to bring that gift to us, since airport security couldn’t xray through the leaded glass and it ended up involving unwrapping it and rewrapping it on the way to the wedding. There were a lot of family parties around that table. It was a drop leaf, so it folded up smaller and it also extended out to become large.
I’m not sure how the guys that broke the table bumped it given where it was sitting. They had to go out of their way to break the table, but my mother who didn’t really like my table to start with has said that she accepted their apology. I’m not completely sure if the table is even worth fixing as the legs will still be unstable after and they have placed it on the top which has probably scratched up the top. One of the cool things about the top was the finish that I could never figure out how it was accomplished. It was glossy, but it was an amazing finish!
Time to go sledding! It finally snowed here! Time to go sledding. Growing up we had a lot more snow than we have here in Kentucky. I remember playing on snow mobiles, riding on the river, going on trips through the woods from house to house. Friends would show up on snow mobiles and we would hop on ours and join the caravan.
My dad would also take the tractor and plow our driveway, making a huge snow pile for us in the yard. My brother and I would spend hours making snow tunnels through the piles. The tunnels would be a few feet long and perfect for sliding down over and over. We would make igloos out in the yard and carry out our supplies to hang out in the yard, then spend the day playing outside.
Snow would drift against all the fence rows and pile up to be several feet high. I remember riding snow mobiles across the tops, above the fields – and that one time we hit the gap in the snow. My mother was driving and I was riding and off we went into the air. Nothing… I still keep saying we were lucky to have survived childhood.
We would ride up hills that I would now swear were at a 90 degree angle to the ground but surely weren’t completely 90 degrees, riding across rivers, with my dad’s instructions to not stop since it wasn’t frozen solid (go fast!), and of course we each had our own snow mobiles. My father’s snow mobile was an el Tigre that had been modified to race. it was rare for my parents to let us ride it…. Mine was an arctic cat and so pretty! I loved it, and I had the full snow suit with helmet, pants, snow boots, you name it. It was our regular outfits for the winter and when not on us you put it on the earth stove to dry.
Of course one of the most important things to remember was to pee first. If you didn’t you had to hold it for a long time. We would go out and ride for hours. I kind of remember sleds being pulled behind snow mobiles, but it was more common years earlier to pull the sleds behind the mower.
Snow in the country also meant power outages, so we would use the wood stoves, wood furnaces, fireplaces, and kerosene lamps. Toilets had to be flushed with whatever water was available and there was no way to wash up…. Well’s don’t work without power. But I don’t remember it being that bad, though I do remember times when the power went out for a week or more at a time.
While we were playing outside, my dad would either join us or work around the farm moving snow with tractors. Sometimes dad would end up having to tow people out of the ditch. Dad was the go to person for anyone in the area being stuck in a ditch… surprisingly this meant we had a liquor closet completely stocked (although I don’t remember my dad drinking much). A lot of the that liquor is still in the closet. Dad would take his tractor and drive to wherever he was needed and pull the car, truck or whatever out of the ditch.
I still love the thought of sitting in the corner of the kitchen by the earth stove during the winter, reading a book! I’m sure I still have a scar on my arm where I touched the stove and got a burn once too often, but I loved that corner of the kitchen. I’ve tried sitting on the floor in front of our fireplace with a book in our house, but it just doesn’t have that cozy feel of the corner behind the wood stove.
The holidays are always a time to get together and tell stories about the past.
My oldest drove in from VT (bringing syrup for everyone) and that spurred stories about my mother making syrup from our trees – in our yard – in Illinois. She would collect the sap from a few of the trees and then let it sit in a big cast iron pot on the cast iron stove in the kitchen for days. I’m not positive if my brother tried it, but I never worked up the courage myself to give it a try.
Growing up my mother frequently was coming up with ideas to try to maker our own. I’ll never forget the chicks being raised in the kitchen in a big pen with a heat lamp. She’s done that one a few times, a few different ways. Then there was deer jerky that she would cut the strips and let them sit on the wood burning stove in the closed top portion. The strips also would lay across the bars for days. That same deer meat used for the jerky was what we used to eat for most meals, and my parents would go out and hunt it each season then hang the deer in the shed. My dad would go out and cut pieces off, bringing them in a little at a time, and the kitchen would become a production facility with my mother wrapping everything in freezer paper and wrapping what it was on the outside. All the scrap pieces would be thrown to the dogs and be scattered throughout the yard for the next couple months.
At one point my mother decided to even try tanning the hide of one of the deer pelts. She scraped as much as she could off the back of the hide and then set the hide in the basement covered in salt. I’m fairly certain it was right after we visited a festival and my brother and I each got sheepskin pelts (died in funny colors). They were so soft and warm, she wanted to try herself.
My aunt needed shells to use to help her control her snake problem, which led to the story of my grandfather and a mouse… Growing up we also had a lot of mice. It was so bad I got to recognize the smell of decaying mouse lost somewhere near my room and would try to burn a candle at night to mask the smell. We had stories about my mother cleaning and throwing toys into a toy box in the dark, feeling something odd only to find it was a dead mouse the next day. Picking up dresses to hang, shaking them and having the feel of little paws going up inside her pants leg – she came out of those pants really fast.
We also had stories about the time my brother put a mouse in an empty hamster cage in my room and just waited for me to find it. He also came into my room and nailed one to the wall with a dart from a dart gun at one point. Hitting a moving mouse was a tradition though! The story of my grandfather sitting with a 22 waiting at the dining room table for a mouse that he knew usually cut through the room is well known. He waited it out until the mouse came around the corner and he shot it. We just had the discussion about whether the hole is probably still in the floor or not.
While up at my mother’s I still like to sleep with television on, not for the television itself, but to drawn out any noise of gnawing. I really dislike seeing the evidence of where the mice have been all over.
While telling stories, the subject of the power going out for more than 2 weeks at a time had to come up. I remember best the year that Headless Horsemen was to be The Wonderful World of Disney – a special every weekend. My brother and I were so excited to see it, and there weren’t recorders, the internet, even DVDs back then (in the 70s). The power went out, and stayed out. In the country we had no water when we had no power. At that point our house didn’t have a wood burning stove yet either, so just a fireplace. After a few days, my dad worked out how to run a tractor and use it to power a couple things like the well. – Not in time to see the show though. I do remember us having a little orange record player that ran on batteries, so that was our amusement. We also always had lots of kerosene lamps, still do. So the kerosene lamps served as light..
The stories of the fireplace and all the times we used it, led to the story of smoldering the boards around the fireplace. My father had always used green wood, but this one year he had dried dead wood. It burned a LOT hotter. My mother had a huge fire going, and we ended up with the steel plate in front of the fireplace red hot. The steel plate charred the wood around the front of the fireplace and caused smoke to come out the cold air ducts. Not having a clue where the fire was, my dad was pouring water everywhere. They did figure out the cause of the smoke and get everything cooled off and put out before the fire department showed up, but the firemen had to all come in and traipse through to see it themselves. There had been a storm going on, so getting out to us, had also meant that fire trucks had all run off the road into the ditches, slid everywhere and the firemen were drenched. The fireplace wood is probably still charred under the front of the fireplace. My brother has now converted the fireplace itself to gas, so it isn’t likely to happen again.
Telling the stories is great, and getting together the whole family at the holidays allows up to tell a story that leads to another. I love the idea of getting family together and recording the stories. Besides having stories recorded I also like scanning all the pictures and trying to get my whole family to name everyone in the pictures. The hard part is finding a way to record the names to go with each picture so that you can identify who each person is.
As I search for information about why my ancestor Corbley lost his farm, I find information on a lawsuit filed by a person named Wilson against Corbley for slander. The case went on to be used as a foundation of law as it was reversed by the supreme court at one point. The law review book shown here describes the case as being originally lost by Corbley when Wilson presented a court case of the act Corbley had ‘accused’ him of and that the end result of the criminal case was not guilty.
When the case was appealed at the supreme court it was decided that the result of the criminal case had no baring on the slander case, so the original finding was reversed.
Each time the case was decided or reversed the case at the time made the paper being big news at the time. I haven’t found so far where to find the specifics of the trial case – what was Corbley accused of saying about Wilson? I do know that Edward Corbley’s brother Lindsey was a lawyer and would have been surprised if he had not taken on a case involving his brother. From what I know now, the plaintiff in a case normal doesn’t have to pay out until all appeals are resolved… So I would think from all of this that Corbley never had to pay out to Wilson. Lawyer fees would have been another matter.
None of the articles I’ve found so far include Wilson’s full name or the crime he was originally accused of. I’m not completely positive of the year also….
The Supreme Court case was decided in 1878 (10/7) and in the paper is listed as Edward Corbley vs. Benj. Wilson. So I am guessing Wilson’s name was Benjamin. Muncie had been platted in 1875 and Corbley’s farm was sold for bankruptcy in 1881 (Sept). Corbley was next found in Missouri in 1884. His residence was listed in Missouri at the time he passed away in Illinois in 1891. Interestingly enough his wife passed away in 1885 in Kankakee Illinois. My great grandmother (their daughter) had married just a few years before (1882), so it may have been that Mary Ann Littler Corbley stayed, not wanting to leave her daughter and new grandchildren. She may also have been in ill health. Kankakee was the location of a hospital at the time. Maybe even the selling of the farm caused health issues?