Family Culture

My son is currently doing a project on family culture….  I think the class is cultural anthropology.  The real question is what is our families cultural history.  I also was struck recently seeing online a quiz a teacher gave for extra credit on race.  The real question comes from if your family immigrated to the US (aka great American Melting Pot) at the start of the country, what is your cultural background?

My grandmother Wakeland’s family immigrated to the US in the early 1900s after 3 of her sisters (my aunts) were already born.  I can link superstitions and our Catholic upbringing to them… but beyond that it becomes more of a question.  My husband’s family came to the US in the 1920’s, but didn’t really bring a lot of cultural heritage that we know of.  The family was also Catholic, but didn’t seem to have all the superstitions that my Italian family did.

For my family the McArdle on my mom’s side and all of my father’s side, were more the been here for ever, what would you consider culture.. but maybe that is a culture?

Culture is:

Family tradition, also called Family culture, is defined as aggregate of attitudes, ideas and ideals, and environment, which a person inherits from his/her parents and ancestors.

Both sides of the family have lots of family history to fall back on.  There were strong attitudes too, most were incorporated into the family for generations…  My ancestor Rev. John Corbley’s museum still has a family reunion every year at the church near his former farm.  Rev Corbley was originally part of the House of Delegates for the state of Virginia, but was voted out due to separation of Church and State in 1777.  Corbley was not an ordained minister but was thought to be enough of a minister to be ousted from the government.

Corbley later was part of the resistance during the Whiskey Rebellion when the settlers objected to the first tax imposed by the new country.  The government made a new federal tax on whiskey distilled in the area of Pennsylvania.  President Washington later released everyone and sent them back home.  Stories from Corbley’s life tell of him being allowed to go out during the day and return to the jailers at night until finally being told he could return home to his family.

Other stories from the family include tales of family that were some of the first Postmasters (McArdle), platted towns (Edward Corbley), Farmers (Richters), and even some of the first school board members of their area (Abraham Lincoln Richter)….  These ancestors all helped shape the country that we currently live in.  Many faced adversity and though some have faded into obscurity, they helped make the nation that exists today.

The question really is though how does this fit with our current family’s culture…  When I think of it, I see my mother who is now active in the Daughters of the American Revolution…  many of my cousins and aunts that have been active in politics.  I also see my cousins and my children doing what they can to help others and standing up for those in need.  We’ve tried to instill in our children to help people when they see injustice or need.  Though we sometimes slip, we try to focus on the positive.

Every one I know is a mix of something.  It may be race or religion….  or it could even be brain wiring.    Not everyone’s difference’s are visible, but they all matter.  To me it seems whatever your own difference, that’s the one that is the widest divide……

Corbly Family Bible

Corbly Family Bible

CoverI’m currently working on repairing a family Bible. The Bible itself is pretty amazing. I’ve fixed the spine already and am now working on the pages. The center of the Bible contains the family information and is readable.

Throughout the Bible are pages with beautiful pictures that appear to have had tissue paper pages on the opposing sides. All the images other than one appear to be in good shape. The image needing the most repair includes Moses with the 10 commandments.

The pages have all taken on a yellow tinge from the acid in the paper.  Supposedly paper kept out of the light and air will stay white, but this bible was stored in an attic, then a basement and over time moved to be stored in a bedroom until finally coming to stay with me.  I have the Bible now in an acid free box with small containers to absorb any moisture.  Included in the box is now acid free tissue paper.

Bible PageI’ve been taking the Bible out as needed to work on the pages. I chose a kit from Gaylord Archival that is museum quality. Gaylord has several Book Repair kits, including some new tool kits.  The kit I have includes book binding materials, binding glue, tape for the pages, and several other materials.  – I’ve finished the binding and am now working on the pages.

Filmy tape allows the page to be placed together and the tape to be placed over the tear.  The tape is almost invisible after being put over the repair.    I’ve fixed a few pages, and the tape is working perfectly when the page is whole – but has a rip in the page.   I’m at more of a loss when it comes to the repair of the pages that are missing pieces. Missing pieces along the binding edge are the most complex.  I’m still working on finding the best method to deal with those pages, but first have been working my way though the pages that are least damaged.


Later I will need to look through the pages and find the best way to deal with the yellowing.  The yellow pages are throughout the Bible and if there would be a method of reducing the discoloration it might take some time and effort.  The Bible is definitely worth the effort though and the majority of the sections have minimal damage.

Bible Page

MosesBible PageThe Finding of MosesPageRoaz and Ruth



Inside Page

A trip down memory lane – Champaign, Muncie, and Home

A trip down memory lane – Champaign, Muncie, and Home

Driving from Champaign to home past Muncie I decided to click some pictures. The road before Muncie is flat with fields – apparently a new hog farm (huge) is being discussed for the area North of Muncie.  Parks Livestock and another group are planning some hog farms. At the turn of the century Muncie was a mining town.  The mining dirt piles are all covered now, but the area is on the east side of town.    

The second picture shows a couple places I thought the train station may have sat, and then the main road in Muncie. Population 200 by the sign but 155 at the 2000 census…. According to the 2010 census, Muncie has a total area of 0.18 square miles.  Interestingly enough I remember the High School on the east side of Muncie has the address of Fithian Illinois – so is Muncie surrounded by Fithian?

Oakwood High School looks different from when I was a student but a lot more similar to when I was there than when my dad was there. During the years my father was a student the high school burnt and only the gym was left. (According to my aunt the high school exploded?) The high school I went to was built around the gym my father attended.  The drive that came in to the front door and went off in each direction is no longer there.  The drive now goes across the front and includes a parking lot, but the drive from the road is gone.  Seeing the new drive did make me question my memory a little. Even the name has changed a little.  The school was Oakwood Township High School, but has now dropped the Township. 

As I moved toward home and turned onto our road I passed the location my father went to grade school – one room school house at the time, and the house he grew up in. Finally I passed the location of my great grandparents house! Where the orange flowers grow.  Those flowers caused my allergies to act up every year!

The one room school house was turned into a residence many years ago and burnt one night.  It was named Lakeshore school for the area that the school was built in. A new house stands on it’s spot.  My grandfather’s house still stands in the same spot with a new family living in the house. 


Racism didn’t exist?

I originally wasn’t going to write anything about this, only because to me it seemed like a part of our family history that maybe should just be forgotten.  I just recently read the article about the Ohio campaign person saying that racism didn’t exist in America until Obama was president.  To me that was a lot like rewriting textbooks the way you want them, and also blaming the victims.

Much as I try very hard myself to not be racist – and raise my children that way…  and yes I do find myself profiling people, but not on the things you would think…. Personally I have to mentally tell myself to ignore it when someone smells like smoke (I have a really hard time breathing around heavy smells – same thing with heavy perfume too), really obese (no clue, probably projection and the fact that I’m scared to death that I’ll become more heavy), and of all the weird things – people that have really bad grammar and spelling)…  I try really hard to not let any of those factors make any difference on how I see someone and have had some great friends in all those categories!

What I’m really getting at though is that I had found out a few months ago that my grandmother, one of the grandmother’s that was gone before I was even alive.  Gone before my parent’s were even adults….  was what I would consider very racist.  The story I’ve heard is that she would walk into a restaurant and is she saw someone that was black, she would walk right back out refusing to eat there.  (Especially if they worked there)….  To me that’s crazy!  What difference does it make…. of course this was in the 1920s to 1940s, so before segregation really occurred.  The story left me embarrassed and floored to think that a family member of mine would do this.

I did know growing up that we were in a town that was very homogeneous.  The demographics of the town would pretty much make a solid pie chart on every descriptor, and anyone trying to change that would be run out on a rail.  I was a very oblivious kid and had no clue (other than the 5 Catholics and I caught that because my mother was one).  Leaving for college was really my first experience with anyone different in any way.  My first road trip with a friend we dropped by my parents – 4 whites, 1 black in the car and my dad explained to me that I was not to bring them home again.  He used a lot of not so nice words.  I am amazed I wasn’t disowned after the major fight we had at the time.  That was the only discussion I had ever had with my father about race…. and I think I never had another again after that.

I took a job with the university and never lived at home again, so the topic never came up, though I did bring a friend from the Philippines home a couple years later.  My friend stayed at my grandmother Wakeland and the topic never came up….

The thought though that racism didn’t exist before Obama just has me amazed.  I consider myself fairly young – just under 50, and also grew up very sheltered… and I remember hearing about the KKK burning crosses in yards nearby as I grew up. Stories about people trying to move to near by towns and things horrible things with derogatory words and XXXX ‘go home’ painted on big buildings in town.  These were towns with less than 2000 people and this was the 70s (long before Obama was president)!

I’m sure I’m rambling, and I’m sure that there were more relatives in my family that were openly racist.  There were probably even ancestors that interacted with slaves in one way or another, though I know there was one ancestor that came to the US as an Irish slave also.  He was kidnapped from the docks in Ireland and put on a ship, forced to work way to the US on the ship and then work to pay off his transport when he reached the New World.  The thing is, he was able to work off the passage and get freedom. He did fear for his life on the ship, but he wasn’t shackled under the decks.  He was grabbed on the docks and not able to let his family know what happened, but then he had the rights to send a message back to Ireland later on a returning ship.  That ancestor went on to own a plantation and in 1776 was a respected member of the Virginia community.

Notice in the above I have a hard time even saying that an ancestor may have owned slaves, yet we all know any ancestor in the south before slavery was abolished that was a landowner had the possibility.  I also can’t bring myself to type the derogatory words that were written on buildings during my childhood.  I recently saw someone post calling Obama HNIC and had no clue what that was.  When replying that I didn’t know why they were saying it was my HNIC someone else finally filled me in to the acronym.  I hated that I had used the acronym even!   President Obama is just that, the President.  Freedom of Speech in the US does give you the right to say free speech, but that free speech should not include bullying and insulting other people!

I would like to ignore the parts of my history that include racism, bigotry, and even slave ownership while I’m researching my family history…. but it is a part of my history. I have to take the good with the bad and I can’t just decide that it didn’t exist.  What I can do personally is try to make sure that I never let race, sexual orientation, religion, or even appearance affect how I treat anyone.  AND that I try to speak up for people when I have a chance to help right an injustice.

It’s the little things too, like Pay it Forward and Random Acts of Kindness that make a difference.


600 A.D.? Really? (You traced your line back that far)

I was just at my parents and ran into someone that traced their line WAY back…. And to admit it I have a tree that has that too.  I know what I need to do to my tree and what’s wrong with it….. It needs SOURCES! and in reality to go back that far the odds of finding sources are pretty near impossible.  Though how far really is that back, how many generations?  If you think that each generation probably got married younger as you go farther back – up to a point – my grandmother Richter got married at 14 I think…. But I would say an average of 20 to 25 years old.  So taking the year 2000 minus the year 600 and an average mother’s age of 25…. You get 56 generations back!  Looking at the chart below I suppose by the time you get that far back you pretty much have most of a country (or all of a country) in your family tree…..  My tree does go back and I know I need to work on my sources.  I have a few places that I need to shore up my documentation definitely.

What do you use for documentation once you get back a certain number of generations?  The census and other government records are great here in the US to document back to 1850, but going beyond that you run into what to use?  For one side of my family we have a family bible.  Family bibles can be a great source of information!  There are also newspapers that have some information, church records, and military records.  I’ve found probate records for wills that have also helped.

Going back beyond the 1800s though becomes tougher.  For some members of my family that are well known there are books that I can find where others have taken the time to trace the tree.  I’ve collected all I can find as these books get harder to find as time passes.  For regular family lines it gets almost impossible though.  Add to that the records being oversees and frequently not in English and the search gets tougher.  I’ve slowly been working through my records to add sources, but wondered about everyone else’s trees.  I’m also ordering the DNA kit. I thought I may as well give it a try.

I think the biggest mess in family trees on ancestry comes from the family tree merge…. I know when I first started out and saw it…. I made that rookie mistake and am still trying to clean it up.  Ancestry allows you to merge other peoples trees to your tree.  I also started tracking my family tree when I was about 14… Commodore 64 and paper time, and was just questioning relatives.  I didn’t document anything and relied on my memory for some.  I do have the paper copies of what I wrote, but my wonderful relatives from the time are all gone.  Between family member sources that aren’t documented and merged trees with unreliable sources, I am now using my tree as a source of hints that need researched.  I don’t have my tree set to public knowing there is information out there  that shouldn’t be relied on.  I do have a lot of great information and I have documented almost all of my direct line as well as a lot of other great pictures and documentation, but ughhh!  cleaning up a tree with thousands of people is a mess.  I never merge family trees now. I will turn on that feature and look when I want new hints, but I won’t link the information…..

What do you use for hints?  Sources?  How far back does your tree go?


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.