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Shopping Saturday: Ella V. Daniel- A Farm Wife

"The Square," Newton, Iowa, 1915. Postcard.
“The Square,” Newton, Iowa, 1915. Postcard.

Roberts Family, Daniel Family

Farmer’s wives had a hard life, as did their husbands. When Ella V. Daniel (1866-1922) married George A. Roberts (1861-1939), she was just 18, George 23. They lived on their farm in Mound Prairie Township, Jasper County, Iowa, with three of the four children born to them, as their first child had died in infancy. George Anthony Roberts, Jr., worked hard on the farm his whole life, and his sister Ethel Gay Roberts worked hard as well (although she apparently was more fond of reading than chores). Their baby, Edith Roberts (McMurray) (Luck), who was mentioned as a wonderful gardener earlier this week, wrote stories for her grandchildren about her years growing up on the farm. She detailed the personalities and events of family, and these are such precious stories to have today, and to tell our own children. (We have our own family version of Little House on the Prairie!)

Shopping was a big thing when one lived on a farm, way out in the rural parts of the county. Usually the whole family traveled together in the horse-drawn buggy for the big outing to town. Edith wrote about a shopping incident that happened probably around 1901-2:

My first recollection of mother was very early. She carried me into the store called Carriers and set me on the counter while she did her shopping. We called it trading. As she went out she evidently heard a clerk say, “They will never raise that baby.”

For farm wives, shopping days were not only picking out new calico for a dress, or staples they could not raise on the farm themselves, but they were truly trading days. Ella would bring in items she raised, gathered, or made, in trade for the items the family needed. Edith continues the story:

In the winter we sold butter and in the summer cream.

Mother was a very good butter maker. The secret was getting all the whey out and later the salt water. We came to Newton each Saturday and they say Mr. Hough had regular customers for mother’s butter and if it was to bad for us to get in the folks would rather scrimp along on what they had until mother came in. It was all shaped in rectangular pieces and she would put designs on top and wrap them in snow-white sugar sacks that she had bleached during the summer.

Ella also baked cakes and pies, skills she taught her youngest daughter well. Edith’s pies, cakes, and cookies were always the first to sell at church bake sales, and Ella’s bakery items were esteemed as well. Ella did sell to other grocers in town, including one named Will McMurray. Will and his wife Lynette Payne McMurray had two sons who probably helped out in the store. One of them, Edward A. McMurray, would eventually become Edith’s husband. Shopping was, obviously, a good way to meet and chat with family, friends, and neighbors- and even future sweethearts.

Edith’s story about her father included:

He dabbled in county politics. The time we spent sitting on the bench at Houghs grocery store waiting for Dad. He would be out on the street talking to some one about the county and township politics.

No doubt this was a frustration to Ella too. As a farmer’s wife, she knew there were lots of chores awaiting their return to the farm. But the wait for George who was deep in political discourse would have been a regular part of their shopping day, so the family learned to be patient.

More about those chores awaiting their return to the farm in our next post.

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Family treasure chest of stories by Edith Roberts Luck.

2) Workday Wednesday: Tilling the Soil, Part 1- http://heritageramblings.net/2015/05/06/workday-wednesday-tilling-the-soil-part-1/

3) Workday Wednesday Continued on Thursday: Tilling the Soil, Part 2- http://heritageramblings.net/2015/05/07/workday-wednesday-continued-on-thursday-tilling-the-soil-part-2/

 

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Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
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Wedding Wednesday: Ella V. Daniel and George A. Roberts

Roberts-Daniel marriage announcement, after 16 Apr 1885. newspaper unknown but possibly one from Prairie City, Jasper County, Iowa.
Roberts-Daniel marriage announcement, after 16 Apr 1885. Newspaper unknown but possibly  from Prairie City, Jasper County, Iowa. (Click to enlarge.)

Ella Viola Daniel was just 18 when she married her 23 year-old friend and neighbor, George Anthony Roberts.

Great-granddaughter wearing the wedding dress of Ella V. Daniel.
The sixteen year-old great-granddaughter of Ella V. Daniel wearing her wedding dress, about 1970 in Edith Roberts Luck’s home. The dress was stored in the attic for over 50 years of hot Iowa summers and very cold Iowa winters. (Click to enlarge.)

Ella and George had four children together, with the first living only three months. Their children were John Robert Roberts (1888-1888), George A. Roberts, Jr. (1889-1965), Ethel Gay Roberts (1891-1969), and Edith Mae Roberts (1899-1982).

Their daughter Edith remembers them as a loving couple, and they had 36 years together before Ella died at age 55. George lived 17 years longer, and remarried, to Lucy L. (Cadwalader) Frank  (1875-1970).

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Family photos and ephemera.

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Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post, 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.

 

 

 

Madness Monday: Ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920

Edith Roberts, center front, with her sorority sisters at Iowa state University, circa 1920.
Edith Roberts, center front, with her sorority sisters at Iowa State University, circa 1920. (Click to enlarge.)

August 18, 1920, was actually not the day of madness- it was all those years before that date that were the madness. How could one half of the population of the United States of America not be allowed to vote? In a country based on freedom, women had no freedom to choose those who would make the laws nor use them to judge. Taxation without representation? It continued long after 1776 for every woman and every black person who was not allowed to vote, despite many of them having taxable income.

The 15th Amendment, passed in 1870, (theoretically) gave men of any “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” the right to vote. Women had worked to help gain suffrage for black men, hoping that it would be realized that women should also have the right to vote. That was not to be, especially because men and those with interest in taverns and the liquor industry thought that if women had the right to vote, alcoholic beverages would be banned. So black men were allowed to vote in 1870 (although discrimination made that difficult in some areas of the country). It took fifty more years of toil, suffering, discrimination, even torture (yes, in the USA!) for passage of the 19th Amendment ‘allowing’ women the right to vote.

I worked to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed back in the 1970s, but sadly, ratification fell short and women still do not have full protection under the law in this country. Back then, when I realized that Edith Roberts had been in college, studying biology in 1920 when the 19th Amendment was ratified, I could not wait to hear her stories. She loved debate- had won a number of contest when young- and in her later years followed politics and international news, mostly through the PBS station in her hometown of Newton, Iowa. I naturally thought she would have been the same as a young woman (without the television, of course), especially since she was studying a ‘man’s’ subject, rather than womanly arts like teaching or music (which was her first major when she went off to college). Her father had been active politically in Jasper County, Iowa- she adored him, so I assumed she followed his political leanings and maybe they even discussed such issues at home. Iowa was such a progressive state- I could only imagine that in an Iowa college, they would have discussed and debated the issue of women’s suffrage. I wanted to know what it felt like to be a part of such a momentous event for women- had she joined protesters marching against President Wilson’s policies? Was she ever arrested due to her vocal call for women getting the right to vote? How did her college classmates react when women got the right to vote? What were her feelings the first time she exercised her hard-won suffrage? I could feel a connection between my conviction and what I imagined was hers, because she had always been a woman of her own mind, independent politically, financially, and mentally.

As I blurted out my many questions, probably not waiting for an answer between, she had a pensive look on her face, and one could see she was traveling back in time 50 years, back to when she was my age. Then there was a slight frown. And a pursing of her lips, the way she did when she was not happy. Her brows scrunched together, and she shook her head in disbelief and almost shame. “I hate to say this, but I don’t remember anything about women getting the right to vote. I was in a sorority, and went to dances and recitals and…” She was more interested in her social life than politics back then, she admitted. Rising from the green ‘divan’ in her 1920s Craftsman bungalow, she climbed the steep stairs to the attic. I followed to that place of family treasures, and she opened an old trunk, way in the back of the attic. Edith pulled out an old scrapbook filled with dance cards, programs, poems, and memorabilia of a joyous part of her life, that time away at college when young and anything was possible. No politics here. For a few moments, she was again a beautiful young woman with friends and pretty clothes and no responsibilities in life. “I was spoiled,” she said. “My father put up with so much from me, probably because I was the baby.” She admitted to not handling her money well and having to write her father to send more- I was shocked, as she had been such a frugal, hardworking woman all the time I had known her. She did talk about how scandalous it was for her to be studying biology, when they had to go catch their specimens for dissection and she was one of only a few women in the classes.

She did seem to regret not realizing those important issues and moments, like August 18, 1920, when women in all the United States were granted the right to vote. (Some states allowed women voting rights before then, but only a few, mostly western states.) Mostly, however, it seemed that she enjoyed the sweet reverie of being 20 years old and being in love with her world, something she had long forgotten.

 

Proposed Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of america. NARA.
Proposed Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. NARA.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Family photos and memories.

2) When I think about not going to vote because the choices are awful, it is cold and rainy, or the lines too long, I think about those who worked so hard to get all Americans the right to vote. And then I go exercise it.

 

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Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post, 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.