Spending time with Family? Too Late?

Judy and Diane McArdle

Judy and Diane McArdle

My cousin Judy passed away last Friday. The story I remember best about her was one my mother told about Judy going to get her Phi Beta Kappa Key from the University of Illinois.  Judy was smart, VERY SMART, but she looked like a sorority girl.  The long bright red hair, Hawaiian shirt, and always ready to go out and have fun attitude.   Well, Judy got in line to receive her key, and was told by the person in front of her that she must have the wrong line!   Why?  Because it was an honor society, not a sorority.  Judy belonged there probably more that many of the people in line, but her looks, and maybe even the generation (and she was a woman)…. led her to be suspect to being in the wrong line.

Judy went on to get her PhD from University of Illinois in Clinical Psychology and work at Adolf Meyer Health center in Decatur Illinois up until it closed.   She originally wanted to work with kids, but the job was with adults, and every time she tried to quit they just kept giving her a raise.  (At least that’s the story she told us)…..  I remember calling her while I was working on my degree in Psychology at EIU in Illinois and asking about my plans as I questioned my career choices.  She talked to me and advised me “Don’t go into Psychology”.  I did go on and get my Bachelors, but taking her advice – I became a computer programmer even before I graduated and never used my degree – going on to get a Masters in Business.

The last time I had spoken to her, it was a while back, but she was evaluating workers for mental stability at the nuclear power plant.  I always assumed there would be more time to see Judy again. We plan to move home after we retire, giving us time to see everyone then……  but is it really.  Judy’s passing was a sad thing, and occurred way before it should have been her time to go.  It’s now impossible to turn back the clock and get more time…..


Dr. Judy A. McArdle, of Westville, passed away at 3:17 p.m. Friday, April 8, 2016, at her home.
She was born on Aug. 18, 1944, in Danville, the daughter of Frank and Ruth (Wilson) McArdle, both deceased.
Judy graduated from University of Illinois and received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and worked as a Psychologist. Judy had a passion and love of animals. She was always rescuing strays and a supporter of the local humane society. She had four cats who were family, Gracie, Wolf, Opal, and Tom-tom, and encouraged everyone around her to rescue animals. Not only was Judy a brilliant academic, but a supporter of the arts. Judy loved to draw, listen to music, and was a voracious reader. She was a runner, mushroom hunter, horse-back rider, and had a green thumb that could grow anything. She will be missed by all, especially by friends in Decatur.
Judy will also be dearly missed by her brother, Gary McArdle of Westville; her sisters, Diane Saddler and Brenda Erickson, both of Danville; her nieces and nephews, Dr. Tracy McArdle, Dr. Amber McArdle, Brock McArdle, and Jenna Maxian, whom she was extremely proud of and of their accomplishments and was a huge advocate for education.

Source: Commercial News, Dr. Judy McArdle Obituary 4/11/2016

Military Service

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.ralph

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.

Guns in Family History…..

My great grandfather had guns that belonged to Wild Bill Hickok and to Buffalo Bill Cody (as well as a hundred others).    Elmer McArdle would perform shows until he died in a fire in 1951.  Elmer would ride in the Westville Illinois parade every year and my mother has stories about her childhood visiting him.

Elmer McArdle

Elmer McArdle

Elmer McArdle Article upon Death.

Elmer McArdle Article upon Death.

My uncles would tell stories about him trying to teach them to sharp shoot.  He would set up a bell with iron rings in front of it.  My grandfather and uncles would have to shoot through the ring and hit the bell.  My uncles being the pranksters they were, would set it up to hit the bell from the side making it look like they hit it – making  it impossible for my grandfather.  My grandfather and uncles were serious trouble makers.  Stories include them breaking out of jail, stealing a billy club from a police officer, and running off from a dentist without paying….  My uncles ended up burning down a barn and one was sent to the army (Frank) while the other went to jail (Ralph).  Ralph ended up dying of tuberculosis a short time later.

Elmer McArdle, April 15, 1916

Elmer McArdle, April 15, 1916

Stories also include my great grandfather having a collection of clocks throughout his house, my uncles and grandfather would sneak in and reset the clocks when he was out.



When Elmer passed away he was found in the ashes from the fire that destroyed his home and his gun collection.  At the time he was over 80 years old and still living on his own in Hawbuck.

There is so much talk about gun violence anymore, I am brought back to the memory of sometimes a gun is just a piece of history.

Marriage of Lizzie Morgan

Lizzie Morgan was descended from Morgan Morgan, Zackwell Morgan, James Morgan (my ancestors)… and then Sylvester Morgan.  I found this record through ancestry.com.  Having a subscription I find all sorts of interesting stories and pieces of information.  This is another one of the ‘gossipy’ stories from the newspaper.  They even list the groom as having ‘a large bank account’, and he visited three times to get his bride!  It’s amazing the things you can find out about family.

Farmer Blue Finally Gets His Jeffersonville Bride

When the Louisville train for Indianapolis drew away from the P., C., C. and St.L railroad station in Jeffersonville yesterday, among its passengers were John M. Blue and bride, en route to Blairtown, Ia. The previous night they had been married in Jeffersonville and it was the third time that Mr.Blue had come to marry the same woman, Miss Lizzie Morgan. Twice, at the final moment, she had faltered, assigning as a reason that her father was too ill. Mr. Blue had tendered Miss Morgan a check for $2000 and had promised her a home in Chicago, but that was no inducement. The last time that Mr.Blue had returned home disappointed was last Christmas. He said that he would be back in five months and take Miss Morgan away as his bride. He did not wait that long, but as the sequel shows that cut no figure.

Mrs. Blue is the daughter of the late Sylvester Morgan whose death recently occurred in Jeffersonville. Mr. Blue is fifty-two years old and a farmer with a large bank account. He is a church deacon and Sunday-school superintendent.

The couple became acquainted through a matrimonial publication. Mrs. Blue is a sister-in-law of Magistrate Eph Keigwin.


From the Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) 21 March 1895, Page 8.




Yes, My mother and I joined the DAR the other day.  Not only that but we joined the Cameo Society in the DAR.  My mother seems to be enjoying it and I really wish I could make it to the meetings – I joined the same chapter since really I feel more at home there.

What’s interesting is while talking about it, my middle son made a comment that made me realize he has no clue how much I care about my family history (and current family).  I have a super amazing family that has done a lot of things for the country, the family, and themselves.   Personally I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’m a farmer’s daughter that went on to college and not only got a bachelors degree but also a masters!  My mother was a coal miner’s daughter that lost her father at 3 years old.  Her mother (my grandmother) who was not only first generation American, English as a second language, and the only one of 10 kids to go to high school went on to own a bar for a short time and keep my mother and herself fed and housed.  My great grandmother came to the US with three kids by herself through Ellis Island to meet up with my great grandfather and kept having kids until she lost my great grandfather when my grandmother was 3.  She cleaned houses to support them all up until she wasn’t able to anymore and the oldest kids could take over.

On the other side of the family my father lost his mother at 13.  That side of the family has some amazing stories also that go all the way back to the founding of the country!  They even include Rev. John Corbly whose second wife and children were scalped by the Indians by Fort Garard PA.  I’m descended from wife 3 but his story is no less amazing with all the things he went through in his life – from being part of the forming of the first government to forming a section of the Baptist Church.

Personally, I’m pretty proud of the family I come from – I’m not sure the best way to instill in my kids that same feeling.

And It’s a Girl!

Yes we have added one more member to our family!  A girl this time.  Actually she’s an exchange student, but for this year we are a mixed family.  3 boys and a girl!

We are learning a lot this year, besides the experience of spending about 3 hours a day driving the kids one place or another in the car each day.  As crazy as this year has been and will be – I wouldn’t trade it.  I do have to wonder what Konnor thinks of the situation – one day we just suddenly added another teenager. I’m not sure what he will think also when she goes home.

Having an extra family member has definitely inspired us to do more fun things as a family this year.  Last weekend we ventured out to Jackson’s Orchard to try out the pumpkin patch and corn maze!  It brought back memories of my cousin Don’s pumpkins (though these were super small in comparison!) and his apples.  Konnor is hoping to ask dad to make him a corn maze.  I don’t think it will happen anytime soon (dad’s not really up to it anymore), but it does make me think I should talk to mom about if they have a patch of unused field that might work for next year.  Apparently Kentucky has a law protecting farms from being sued if they are engaged in agritourism – I really need to check if that’s true in Illinois too!  They are just now combining by the house at home so the timing could be perfect.

While at the orchard we got to take a hay wagon out to the patch.  I think my last hayride was in grade school with the cub scouts and the Flessners.  At least that’s the last one I really remember.  I DO remember though helping drive the tractor by the house while dad and company through hay onto the wagon.  I also remember being banned from participating after accidentally running over dad’s foot with the wagon and stopping the wagon ON his foot when he hollered at me to stop.  – My allergies were so bad that I was always delegated a task that involved me being in air conditioning (yep, they make International Harvester Tractors with cabs that are air conditioned and my dad had a big one!)

I really wish my kids would get a chance to know a little more about farming.

Kevin's First Pumpkin

Kevin’s First Pumpkin

Konnor at the Pumpkin Patch - Jackson's Orchard

Konnor at the Pumpkin Patch – Jackson’s Orchard










At the Pumpkin Patch

At the Pumpkin Patch





Growing up on a farm for Halloween is completely different though.  There isn’t trick or treating quite the way there is in a neighborhood.   Normally parents drive kids around to friends and family to show off costumes and collect some candy.  My parents probably won’t even bother to buy candy this year.   When we were kids I do remember my mother driving us in to trick or treat with the Peak family in Oakwood once or twice.  I don’t remember the trick or treating itself as much as just that we did it at least once.

Living in a neighborhood the kids will probably get enough candy this year to go into a sugar coma if they eat it all.  Would I change it?  No, not really – all in all I’m glad my kids get the chance to have both worlds. It would be nice if they were a little more ‘farm savvy’ but it’s great that they have a chance to experience some of both parts of life.