Wednesday’s Child: The Daniel Children and Family Migration

Crossing the Mississippi on the Ice by C.C.A. Christensen, 1878, via Wikipedia. Public domain. (Click to enlarge.)

Roberts Family, Daniel Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

The second oldest son of Charles M. Daniel and Elizabeth (Thomas) Daniel, our ancestor Robert Woodson Daniel, 24, also travelled in a covered wagon to Iowa with his wife, Margaret Ann Hemphill, then 28. They had with them their first child, who was the mother of Edith (Roberts) [McMurray] Luck: Ella V. Daniel. It must have been a challenging trip, as Ella was a toddler of just 2 years.

Margaret bore 4 children after Ella, but three died in infancy.  We know that John W. Daniel was born in 1868, and Charles H. Daniel in 1869- perhaps she was pregnant with one or the other during the trip, or maybe John died as an infant on the way to Iowa. One or both of the children could have gotten an illness from the water, spoiled food, or an infectious disease- we just don’t know the particulars of the trip or anything about the deaths of their children, unfortunately.

Another child was also born to Margaret and Robert, although we do not know the name of that child, nor when she/he died. Burial records for these three children have not yet been found.

It would have been tragic to lose a child while on the road to a better life, but even more heartbreaking if they had needed to bury a child along the road that they might never again travel.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Family records.

 

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Family Recipe Friday: Edith Roberts Luck’s Pineapple Cookies

Grandma Edie's Pineapple Drop Cookies- front. (Click to enlarge.)
Grandma Edie’s Pineapple Drop Cookies- front. (Click to enlarge and see below before making.)

Grandma Edie's Pineapple Drop Cookies- back. (Click to enlarge.)
Grandma Edie’s Pineapple Drop Cookies- back. (Click to enlarge.)

Roberts Family, Daniel Family (Click for Family Tree)

Cooking was an integral part of the life of a farm wife. Edith Roberts McMurray Luck inherited the cooking gene from her mother, Ella V. Daniel Roberts. Edith wrote in her family stories:

Mama was an excellent cook. Nothing fancy, but just good country cooking. There was always room for another pair of legs under our table. Always enough for another mouth. I still feel I should do the same thing. Funny how these teachings stay [w]ith us. 

One of the most special stories that Edith wrote to her grandchildren was entitled, “A Winter Afternoon 1904.” Edith was just five years old, and it was amazing how she was able to so clearly remember incidents from her very early years. She reminisced:

Mother and I had had a nap and I was playing in the kitchen, while Mama was taking out of the oven huge loaves of bread and a pan of six inch high biscuits.

There must have been a dozen in this particular pan she always used for these biscuits. The fragrance from the freshly baked bread was delightful. The golden-browned tops were well greased, making them even more delicious to eat. Mother used a potato water starter. I don’t know just how she did it. I do know that sister was always warned not to upset the cup of starter on the table in the pantry. She baked once a week.

Of course, during harvest season Ellie Roberts would have been baking probably every day, as there were a lot of hired hands to feed. She would have had help though, with neighboring women coming to the Roberts farm to assist in the kitchen, and then Ellie Roberts would go to one of their farms when the threshers moved on. Add in the extra women, young girls who helped, and little children, and there were a lot of mouths to feed!

Edith continued her story:

It was about time for the kids to come home from school. If I timed it right I could stand on a chair and watch for them to leave the school grounds. We were just a quarter of a mile from the school-house. This afternoon I was standing on a chair jugging from one foot to the other with a carpet ball in my hands. A big basket of them was under the resevoir [sic]. Also near the stove was a tall can of thick cream. It was being warmed to churn the next morning. Mother had warned me to be careful. Finally, while I was shouting; “They are coming, they are coming.” she said sharply; “Edith Mae Roberts, if you drop one of those carpet balls in that cream you will get a hard spanking.” Under my breath I said; “I wish my name was not Edith Mae Roberts.” I was teased about this for years. “So you don’t want to be called Edith May Roberts huh?”

The kids came in all hot and breathless and covered with snow. All hungry as little bears. I knew mother would fix them one of those fresh biscuits and I would get half of one too, with either plum butter or apple butter on it. Delicious! I can almost taste them now.

**********************

The above recipe was a family favorite. We don’t know if it was passed down from her mother or if Edith found it elsewhere. These cookies are unique and totally delicious, especially when frozen and ‘liberated’ from the deep freeze in the midst of a hot Iowa summer without air conditioning.

Like most family recipes, it was told to the writer as Edie was cooking, and she had made the recipe so many times that she didn’t think about things like whether or not to drain the pineapple, which is likely the way to go- it will depend on the moisture in the air when you are baking, and you may need a bit of the juice. These are excellent without the nuts, too, although pecans are very good in them. If the kitchen is warm, pop the dough in the refrigerator for a bit to firm up before baking, or the cookies will spread out too much. The bottoms of these cookies brown quickly, as do the pineapple bits, so do not use a dark pan- an insulated sheet might work better, though of course such things were not available to Edith or her mother as they baked in a wood-fired stove and later Edith’s prized electric oven.  Edie always added a buttercream icing after cooling that was delicious plain or with additional crushed pineapple mixed in. The yield of 3-4 dozen was for farmhands and threshers, it seems- they are very large. Smaller cookies puff up taller and have a better icing:cooky ratio per results of many taste tests over the years.

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Family recipe.

2) “The kids” coming home from school would have been Edith’s brother George A. Roberts, Jr. and their sister, Ethel Gay Roberts.

3) The above is not Edith’s handwriting- that was challenging to read. She typed most of her recipes but this one was written as she told it, probably sometime in the 1960s or early 70s.

 

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Ella V. Daniel Roberts- A Day in the Life of a Farm Wife, Part 3

George Anthony Roberts with his wife Ella V. Daniel Roberts and their three children: Ethel Gay Roberts standing in back on left, George Anthony Roberts, Jr. standing on right, and little Edith Mae Roberts between her beloved parents, circa 1904.
George Anthony Roberts with his wife Ella V. Daniel Roberts and their three children: Ethel Gay Roberts standing in back on left, George Anthony Roberts, Jr. standing on right, and little Edith Mae Roberts between her beloved parents, circa 1904.

Daniel Family, Roberts Family (Click for Family Tree)

Very few of the clothes of the female members of the family were store bought in the late 1800s-early 1900s, although the men’s clothes may have been purchased, especially work pants. Ella V. Daniel Roberts probably made her own dress in the above picture, and that of her daughters, and may have made the men’s shirts. She probably did not make their suits, especially since by the date of this picture, they were prosperous farmers and could afford store-bought suits for George Sr. and Jr. Otherwise, Ellie Roberts did all the family sewing, which probably included quite a lot of mending. Her sewing tasks would also have included bed coverings such as quilts, curtains, tablecloths, towels, etc. Much of the sewing would have been done by hand, though she did use a treadle sewing machine that was later was used by her daughter Edith for many years, making dresses and doll clothes for her own grandchildren. (Heart-wrenchingly, the sewing machine was put on the front lawn and auctioned off, along with other family treasures, something Edith never wanted to happen after her death.)

Edith described the clothing worn in a story written for her grandchildren:

Mother dressed like all farm women of that day. Calico dress. That is print now. Long skirt gathered to a waist, usually a collar and mid arm length sleeves. A long apron gathered to a band ending in strings tied at her waist. Sometimes there was a bib. Pinned on both sides to the dress. All I can remember about under wear was the corset. The kind that laced at the back. It was in two pieces. Guess that is why they called them corsets. A heavy hook fastening at front that really flattened your tummy and pushed up the bust. To control that you wore a corset waist. That really flattened the bust. It was buttoned up the front and pinned to the corset at the waist.

Her hair was curly and auburn. I can see her sitting down after the dinner work was done combing her hair, she used hairpins that were rubber and a comb in back. Maybe one on either side too.

That is the way she got her rest I suppose in these little daily tasks that let her sit down. She did all the sewing. Now I wouldn’t say all as her very best dress was made by a dressmaker in Prairie City. I wonder what happened to the beautiful black dress that she had on in the picture hanging on the wall in my bedroom. It was heavy satin. Almost heavy [enough] to stand alone. White ruching around the collar and braid a foot up from the hem and a hair braid underneath the hem to keep it from wearing. She was beautiful in it. 

Sadly, we only have the above picture of Ellie Roberts that is close enough to see what she looked like. We do not know what happened to the picture Edith mentioned above, nor to the items listed below. There are also two pictures of the house and extended family that include Ellie, but it is very hard to see many details in either. We have no pictures of her early life, nor George’s- if you, dear reader, do have pictures of this family, please contact us!

One thing I remember was the plumed hat mother wore. Black with huge plumes and long black hat pins, to hold it on. Sometimes a veil over her face. Can’t remember gloves but always a purse, and high shoes, laced and polished. I can’t remember a coat. I wonder what happened to all her things. In the front room bedroom off the parlor was a built in closet in which she kept the good clothes. I would get into that closet once in a while and rummage. There was a tin box with old rings and memory books etc. Also Christmas gifts. How did I know that, well I rummaged and found them. I do have her tatting shuttle and some of her hair combings after she was grey. Wish I had some of her lovely auburn hair, she rolled high on top of her head. Little scolding locks would always be around her face when she was hot.

When the clothes were just took ragged to mend, they became rugs:

These winter afternoons were quiet and comfortable as I think back on them. This afternoon I had been playing with a big ball of sewed carpet rags. Mother in the evenings would tear up all the old worn clothes and then sew them together to make rugs. She would take a big basket of balls to Prairie City to a lady that had a loom.

There were a couple of utility quilts that were passed down in the family, but they were in pretty rough condition, with some of the fabric rotted or worn away. There are also some dish towels that Edith embroidered as a young girl- handwork was definitely not a skill she loved. It is likely that Ellie Roberts was the same, as there just was no time for fancy needlework, as utility sewing and other chores took up so much of the life of a farm wife.

Roberts Family Farm- barns in 2012.
Roberts Family Farm- barns in 2012.

Hard physical work, long days from sunup to sundown and beyond, the emotional toll of bad weather and subsequent crop or livestock loss, the illnesses and death that occurred at much younger ages than currently with modern medicine- all these made farm life hard around the turn of the 20th century. All the more reason for love and laughter to have a part in the life of Ellie Roberts and family:

Well one evening we were trying to think of a womans name. All were deep in thot and all at once mother said “What was Mrs. Haffertys name” That was the name they were trying to think of. Every body laughed and what a dear relaxed time it was.

Georgie [George Anthony Roberts, Jr.] was such a tease. He never went out to work that he didn’t tie mother to the chair with her apron strings. She knew what he was doing but would not let on so he could have his fun. How she loved that boy. 

And how we love these stories of times past. Thank you, dear Grandma Edie, for making the past come alive through your letters and stories. And they help us to know that we “come from good pioneer stock, and can do anything we set our minds to do.”

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Excerpts in green are from letters and stories written by Edith Roberts Luck. They are protected under copyright law since she wrote them in the 1970s and 80s, so may not be published or posted elsewhere. Family members may request permission to republish for non-profit use; please use our contact form.

2) Family photo.

3) Grandma Edie would tell us the above about being from good pioneer stock when we faced adversity in our lives, and helped us to know that we will survive, and be successful.

 

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Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
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Workday Wednesday: Ella V. Daniel- A Day in the Life of a Farm Wife, Part 2

"Farmer's wives are the people to be pitied this hot weather." Marion Daily Star , 30 Jul 1885, Vol. 8, Number 232, Page 4.
“Farmer’s wives are the people to be pitied this hot weather.” Marion Daily Star, 30 Jul 1885, Vol. 8, Number 232, Page 4. Posted with kind permission. (Click to enlarge.)

 

Daniel Family, Roberts Family (Click for Family Tree)

Some seasons were more labor intense for everyone on the farm, and especially for a farm wife like Ella V. Daniel Roberts. Her daughter, Edith Roberts Luck detailed this in stories and letters about her family:

Mother worked all summer canning and pickling and being like a squirrel getting in winter supplies. Dad (George Anthony Roberts, Sr.) was pretty smart. We had enough strawberries and cherries and other small fruit so that someone in the neighborhood came in and picked on the shares. Even then I can still those [?] cans of berries that had to be stemmed or cherries pitted. Sometimes we used a cherry pitter but mother was a bit skeptical of that as some of the cherries might have a worm in them.

Dad also fixed up a place in the old house… where mother could use a gasoline engine for washing and churning and Dad could use it for cleaning seeds. It was a shaft with belts going over the pulleys and out a window where the engine was housed. He was very ingenious. He made a cistern next to the house and water could be pumped into the house and then into the sink. It was on the east side of the kitchen. Next to the stove. If you wanted hot water, rather warm, you got it out of the reservoir attached to the range or stove on the south wall.

Oh yes, Dad sharpened knives and scissors on this set up in the old house. He could not stand a dull tool.

Although they had an inventive setup, making life a bit easier than in other farmhouses, life was still full of tasks. Processing the farm’s produce, canning, and cooking were hot and time-consuming tasks. When a home was being built, as in the excerpt below, or if it was planting, harvest, or threshing season, there would be many more mouths to feed.

Can you imagine mother cooking for all those workmen, a dozen or so in all that mess. I would have to stand and shoo the flies off the table with a branch from one of the trees. Hot, oh it was so hot. Not small wonder that she died at 52 years of age. The men slept in the old house and when she churned she would call to them when she had gathered butter and they would come from all directions to get the fresh buttermilk. The men cleaned up out side at a bench with towels and soap ready. Just imagine the work she had to do.

This meal for the workmen would be a meat and potato meal. Vegetables two or three of them and pickles and jam and relishes. Pie and cake and bread that she baked herself with coffee and tea and milk. Sister at that time was a teenager and did help but mother never did have hired help unless she was sick. Come to think of it, I cannot remember her ever having help. Now the neighbor women came in at threshing time or other times when there were men to cook for but never paid help.

Edith reported that her mother was a kind and loving soul, and very hardworking, but,

There were two chores that irked mother…

[One] thing that mother had a hang up about was having supper before the chores were finished. You see in the fall and winter and spring too, everything was done by the men before they came in to supper. In the summer mother wanted to have a little daylight for her to work out in her garden after supper. I can see both sides and always it was a bit of a thing.

“Dinner” was the noontime meal, and was the biggest meal of the day since everyone had been up working at dawn (or before) and still had many hours of chores left. “Supper” was a lighter, evening meal, so a little less work for Ellie Roberts.  They did sometimes have company though, such as the man that George Roberts bought his first car (a Rambler) from, in the big city of Des Moines, Iowa:

The dealer and his family came to see us often. Mostly at the evening meal. I know he just came for a good country meal. Suppers were mostly leftovers and with company it was pretty scarce for us kids. Mr. Miles would say ”he could not make his bread and jam come out even” so he would eat on. I don’t blame him as mother’s apple and plum butter and homemade biscuits were delicious.

George Sr. and Jr. plus their hired hand would have gotten their usual portions of food, since they worked hard on the farm. The women and children would share the leftover leftovers.

Winter comes early in Iowa, and keeping the fruits of the year’s labors protected was important, as was heat for the house. We are so lucky to be able to flip a switch from ‘cool’ to ‘heat’ or our programable thermostats do it automagically. Not so in the early 1900s and before, as Edith describes the second chore that irked her dear mother:

She would have to talk and talk to get Dad to put up the stoves in the two front rooms. She would polish them with black stove polish, her hands would not be free of it for days. Then the stove pipes would have to be fitted. The piece of metal that covered the opening during the summer would have to come out with a lot of soot and a big metal piece put down for the stove to set on. Well it all added up to stress for sure. The stove in the parlor had to be put up because of the fruit and vegetables in the cellar under this room. Much of mothers summer work had to be protected from the freezing weather. It was a much nicer stove than the one in the sitting room. It had [isinglass] or mica you could see thru and we burned anthracite coal. That is what is called hard coal. The embers burn a long time seemingly with out flames or smoke. It was fun to sit on the floor and just watch the burning coals thru this glass. The ashes had to be taken out each morning in the other stove and I am not sure how often in the parlor stove as it was much cleaner and needed less attention.

Illnesses, of course, clustered into preferred seasons, and a farm wife had to be prepared to treat everything from poison ivy to assisting with childbirth:

In the neighborhood mother had the reputation of being very good at helping the doctors when emergencies came up. In this same house where Ruby was born mother helped deliver a child that was a real hard case. When there was illness in the neighborhood they would call for mother. Just being around her would instill confidence and trust.

 

 

To be continued…

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Excerpts in green are from letters and stories written by Edith Roberts Luck. They are protected under copyright law since she wrote them in the 1970s and 80s, so may not be published or posted elsewhere. Family members may request permission to republish for non-profit use; please use our contact form.

2) Ruby Robinson DeMoss was the child of Ethel Gay Roberts Robinson, Edith’s sister.

 

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Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
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Ella V. Daniel Roberts- A Day in the Life of a Farm Wife, Part 1

Ella V. DANIEL ROBERTS, circa 1904. Cropped from a family portrait.
Ella V. DANIEL ROBERTS, circa 1904. Cropped from a family portrait.

 

Roberts Family , Daniel Family (Click for Family Tree)

A farm wife’s life revolved around the simple rhythms of the seasons, the crops, the animals, and her family. Her youngest daughter, Edith Roberts Luck, later wrote stories and letters to her family, detailing the people she loved. She particularly loved her mother, Ella V. Daniel Roberts:

I know she lived the life she loved and she was happy… She worked so hard with Dad [George Anthony Roberts] to pay for these acres. I am sure she enjoyed it all. I never did think she enjoyed the new house as she did the home place. It was just too fancy. 

Although a large woman and short, that did not slow her down with her farm work.  Edith wrote:

I have heard women say; “No one can move as fast as Ellie Roberts.” “She can get more done in less time than any of us.”

Milking was a constant chore on the farm- it HAD to be done twice daily. Ellie Roberts used a small three-legged stool- Edith wished she still had it, and never could believe that her large mother was able to use such a small stool for milking.

Mother milked too. I can see her coming up the grade from the barn carrying two big buckets of milk. The cats following along behind ready to lap up the foam if she had to get her second wind to continue on to the milk house which was just east of the kitchen porch. Imagine two hundred pounds and working like that.

An old, well-used milking stool. Via WikiMedia Commons.
An old, well-used milking stool. Via WikiMedia Commons.

Writing about the horses and cows, Edith remembered:

The barn was warm and noisy with their movement and eating. We would go up in the hay mow and throw [hay] to put in their mangers. Brother helped mama milk, and I would have to go Protesting to the house, because I couldn’t be in the cow-barn where they were milking. 

Brother (George Anthony Roberts, Jr.) … did the separating too. Before we had the separator mother skimmed the cream off the top of the tall cans. In the winter we sold butter and in the summer cream.

Chickens were usually the responsibility of the wife and sometimes children as they got older. Feeding them and gathering eggs was a chore done every day as well.

There were eggs to gather and mother always raised her chickens from eggs out under setting hens. She never had an incubator. I don’t know [w]hy.

I was scared of those old hens. They could really peck you. I can see those little chickens breaking out of the shells and Mother going along and helping some if they were having a hard time. That was why she was so mad at the two snakes that were twined around each other when she was carrying water to the hogs that were so hot on a summer day. She discovered these snakes on the way to the hogs and she set down the water buckets and took a hoe and killed the snakes. Nowadays we know bull snakes are good to catch rats etc. But all mother could think of was them getting in her hens nests and eating her eggs that were about ready to hatch or had hatched. You cannot blame her. She was rather a timid person and I was so scared for her.

Roberts Family Farm- small barn circa 1970s.
Roberts Family Farm- small barn circa 1970s.

The animals on the farm required constant attention, and it was all a part of being a farm wife. For Ellie Roberts, even her vacations had to do with farm work:

When she was forty years old and I was ten we had the first vacation I can remember. I can see her now on the scales at the packinghouse we visited. Packing house you say. Yes that was it. Mother said, “She had seen so much stock driven or hauled off the yard she wanted to see what happened to them.” This was in Council Bluffs. We visited an Aunt Net. Well your grandmother couldn’t take it. I saw those squealing hogs being dipped into hot water and I was sick, so Aunt Net took me away. But mother, she stayed thru the whole procedure. Where they took care of the cattle was not so bad I guess.

To be continued…

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Milking stool- Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license via http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tabouret_pour_traire.JPG

2) Excerpts in green are from letters and stories written by Edith Roberts Luck. They are protected under copyright law since she wrote them in the 1970s and 80s, so may not be published or posted elsewhere. Family members may request permission to republish for non-profit use; please use our contact form.

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
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