Monday, September 28, 2009

The Frost is on The Pumpkins or at Least on The Squash

"Wed, Sept 29, 1926: Everything froze Sunday morning. It was a very hard frost that made ice in the bottom of pails. It seemed too bad that the squash vines were frozen and all the squash were partly froze. All, but Dad, went to church in the morning. He wouldn’t shave! After church we went up to Aunt Lizzie Dittmar's in the afternoon. Len went to his folks. Tresidders came up this evening to visit with us.

On Monday, Len & Ruby went down to Len Atz’s near Elizabeth, Illinois and got a sheep buck. Meanwhile, Mother and I put up 8 qts of pickles. Tuesday we washed as we do almost every Tuesday.

Today is Ruby & Len's sixth wedding anniversary. Len & Ruby spent it digging potatoes this afternoon. Len had gone to town with feed to grind this forenoon. Aunt Till [Dittmar] came down today. She and I went up on the Weis' hill to look for hickory nuts but didn’t find many. Aunt Till is going to stay with us over night.>"

Living in Michigan, I can, for the first time, relate to the temperatures in Lillian's Diaries. This year has had very unusual weather. Today the temperature had a high of 51 degrees and tonight, we are cutting down from three to one window open in our bedroom. When I was transcribing Lillian's Diaries the weather was so different from what we experience today. Global warming????

Note the lack of fanfare over Len and Ruby's cards, no gifts, no romantic candlelit dinner. Throughout her diaries you will find that Christmas and big anniversaries - 30-40-50th were the only times that the day was marked with cards and/or gifts. Occasionally, Lillian will write that she has received a birthday card from a cousin or aunt, but as she gets older they appear less and less.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sat, Sept 25, 1926: Thursday was a cloudy, rainy day, a very bad day for the Elizabeth Fair. We intended to go if it had been nice weather. We washed in afternoon and made some yellow tomatoe preserve. There were storms and heavy rain that evening. On Friday, we were busy baking and etz, & etz. We made two kinds of jelly. I wondered if the Fair would be put off, as the weather was cold and wasn’t much better than Thursday.

Today is a very cold day but sunshiny. We wanted to go to town today, but Dad has about 3 weeks’ whiskers on and wouldn’t shave so we didn’t go. We spent about all afternoon and evening gathering in tomatoes, peppers, sting & lima beans, cucumbers and etz. Ruby & I went over to the garden at Weis’ place and picked lima beans at eleven tonight with lantern & flashlight - everything was all ready frozen."

Having been a social worker for years before retiring, family dynamics always fascinate me. Here we have Charles and Amelia Dittmar Trudgian[see today's photograph], Lillian's parents living in the house that Charles grew up in with their two adult daughters - Ora Ruby Trudgian Stauss and her husband, Leonard Stauss and of course Lillian. They are living on 88 acres of land - what remains of the original purchase made by Joseph and Mary Pellymounter Trudgian [Charles' parents]. The rest had been sold off in years past [The land the neighbors -Fiedlers - live on once belonged to Charles' parents and then my great-great grandparents - Thomas and Rachel Kloth Trudgian]. In the first volume of Lillian's Diaries: Whispers of Galena's Past there seems to be a division of labor, with everyone helping out when a particularly large task had to be done like husking corn in November.

Now it appears Ruby and Lillian are working, working, working and occasionally their mother helps out. In the meanwhile Charles is out gathering nuts and Leonard is out helping the neighbors and his parents but not at the Trudgian homestead.

In the 1913-1919 period of the first book we see what might be questionable behavior of Charles......everyone is busy working and he takes off and to chance a ride* to another town and stays overnight, sometimes without telling his family who he is staying with or how long he will be gone..... or being so sick that all the womenfolk are worried about him and he is again leaves to chance a ride in the cold and rain to go somewhere.

In today's entry he hasn't shaved for three weeks and is refusing to do so. It seems that the whole family will stay home because he won't shave. Was it necessary to shave before going out in public? Was he growing a beard? I am sure that period of time had many more guidelines as to what was proper to wear or do while out in the community than we experience you agree?
* to chance a ride is to hitch hike

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Harvest Continues

"Wed, Sept 22, 1926: On Mon we made apple sauce plus cooked 2 kettles of plum preserve or 4 ½ qts. and made a batch of catsup. That was besides digging some potatoes, gathering in plums,crab apples,tomatoes and pop corn.I went looking for hickory nuts but didn’t find many yet at our place. Meanwhile,Dad gathered nuts all day on the Weis’ hill. Tue we made 4 qts plum preserve and made crab apple pickles and baked bread, fired two stoves and nearly baked ourselves. Len & Ruby went to town in the afternoon and brought home a box of peaches. Today it is cloudy & gloomy most all the time but cooler. We put up 9 qts peaches, churned, and made apple sauce. Uncle Edd & the Aunts came down this evening brought 4 mush* & a watermelon.

* mush - yes you guessed it - is muskmelon. Although I have heard people pronounce it mushmelon as well as muskmelon. Either way, I am allergic to it and don't even remember what it taste like anymore.

Although this entry is not that exciting, it is an ideal example to illustrate how hard our ancestors worked just to keep going. During the September and October entries each year in "Lillian's Diaries: Whispers of Galena's Past" most of the information is about harvesting, preparing and canning the food that they would live on over the winter months and until spring when the process begins again - this time with all the berries. And all without air conditioning, food processors, electric stoves and all the other appliances and cooking aides that today we consider to be essential!

Once a year I get into my "Lillian" mode and for a few weeks spend all my free time preparing Wolf River Apples....this year we added Michigan peaches so the tiny freezer of our side-by-side is overflowing with unbaked French apple pies, peach cobbler, applesauce, peach freezer jam, peach/blueberry freezer jam and apple crisp! I have about a half bushel left to go and I am exhausted and we are going to buy a small freezer chest to suppliment the one we have! How did they ever do all this work and still manage to go into town?

Today, I also included the picture at the top of the post. This is a piece of farm equipment that Lillian's father, Charles Trudgian, designed and patented. It is currently at the Galena Historical Museum with some other items from the "old Trudgian house". Can anyone guess what this machine does?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Grapes Over The Big Pond

"Sun, Sept.19,1926:We have been busy,busy, busy the last few days. Len helped finish the trashing, first at John Tippet's and then at Win Tippet's. It was a very warm day on Friday and a terrible hot day yesterday. Could hardly work but had so much to do. Thursday we washed and then baked and made 2 kettles of plum preserves besides going to the Weis place and gathering plums and crabs.* Friday we made a cake, cooked more plum preserves, ironed and cleaned up. Uncle Edd went to Apple River on Friday and picked up Aunt Tille and Aunt Maggie [in photo from L. to R. Aunt Annie, Aunt Maggie, Aunt Tillie and Amelia -Lillian's mother] to stay with them for awhile. Saturday night around 10-30* it started to rain and it rained a good part of the night.We didn’t go to church today as the roads were so muddy as usual on Sunday.

This noon when we were eating dinner a car drove up by the gate. Three fellows jumped out and two went down in the ditch and one fellow sat on the bank and proceeded to pick grapes on the wire over the big pond, as big and bold as can be! We got worked up about it. Not that we want the grapes but don’t like to have them picked for wine. Len hollered out the window but they didn’t move. Then Ruby went down and wrote down their license & city license number and ordered them off. They wanted to know who lived here, very much provoked I guess. They stopped at Fiedler’s place.

Len went up there this afternoon. They had asked Fiedlers the way to Nick Weis’. They said they was chased off the property down here. Mr. Fiedler told them they should have asked for the grapes instead of just picking them.

Ruby & I walked up to Aunt Annie’s this afternoon. We staid to supper."

* crabs are crabapples
* 10-30 is 10:30 p.m. As you read Lillian's Diaries you will note how she changes the way she indicates a time. I think this must have been influenced by how others during this period were doing it. I see it reflected in her letters as well as the diaries.

I just found an interesting blog you might want to explore. Check out "Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog" at

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tasty? Treats

" Thu, Sept 16, 1926: Yesterday we put up 4 quarts of tomatoes and 2 quarts of ground cherries*. Then Ma & I went over to the Weis' place and got a few Chickasaw plums*. Also picked a paper sack full of towl grapes*. Today we washed clothes. Dad, Ma, & I went to town late this afternoon. Len helped finish the thrashing at John Tippet’s place."

*Ground cherries are small orange fruit similar in size and shape to a cherry tomato. The fruit is covered in papery husk. Flavor is a pleasant, unique tomato/ pineapple like blend. The ground cherry is very similar to the cape gooseberry, both having similar, but unique flavors. They grow on a small shrub-1-3 height similar to the common tomato as an annual or perennial. Source:

*Chickasaw plums come from a twiggy, thicket-forming tree, 15-30 ft. tall, with fragrant white flowers in flat-topped clusters and yellow fruit ripening to red in August or September. The tree has a short,crooked trunk and flat-topped crown with scaly, nearly black bark. Reddish branches are covered with thorn-like side branches. Cultivated by the Chickasaw Indians and other indigenous peoples before the arrival of Europeans. This plum is eaten fresh and made into jellies and preserves. Source:

*Towl grapes: After searching the internet for an hour trying to find these I pulled out the actual diary and I think the word she has written is tame.
Source: Sheryl's aging eyes

This family was adventuresome with their eating habits, picking and canning foods from field and hill. Has anyone ever eaten any ground cherries or Chickasaw plums? I bet you have had a taste or two of "tame" grapes!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Tue, Sept. 15,1926: Monday Dad, Ma and I went to town. Today, Len wanted to go to Dubuque as Raymond's family [Leonard's brother and family] and his folks were going. So Ruby, Ma & I went along. We took Len's car and went to Scales Mounds and nearly to Shullsburg, Wisconsin. Then we drove through New Diggings and etz. We It was about ten oclock when we got over to Dubuque. I bought a winter coat and hat. Coat is wine color bolivia*. The hat is also about the same color. Coat cost nineteen-fifty and hat six dollars. It was about dark when we got home."

Dubuque, Iowa seemed to be the Trudgian family's favorite place to shop. It appears to be it was like going into Chicago from the suburbs. The big city with so many choices. Lillian is always very detailed with what she bought and how much she paid for it. Where her money came from I will never know. In Vol.I she mentions when her mother or Ruby pays for Lillian's items, so it appears she did have a source of income. And she does write about little projects she works on like the bouquet of flowers she makes and sells. But the whole family often went on shopping trips and Lillian hardly ever comes home empty handed. I don't think her flower bouquets footed her bills. Every year she sat down and created a list of everything she spent money on. Another Trudgian house treasure was finding a stack of these lists. I can tell you how much almost anything a woman needed in the years 1916-1928 cost. I love these little extra views into the time period.

*bolivia - I tried to research this word. Everything tells me that Bolivia is not a color or a fabric, but a country - another time I need that old dictionary. My best thought cames from an Wikipedia article on Chicha which is a term used in some regions of Latin America for several varieties of fermented beverages. In the country Bolivia,amaranthus chicha is traditional and popular. Amaranthus is collectively known as amaranth or pigweed and is a cosmopolitan genus of herbs. Approximately 60 species are recognized, with inflorescences and foliage ranging from purple and red to gold. Not only is it used for a beverage, but also for a dye. I think the "wine color bolivia" blended the whole beverage/dye/chicha concept together and is meant to portray a reddish-purple wine color. Let me know if you come up with a better explanation.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Sun, Sept. 13, 1926: Friday and Saturday was spent doing the usual work. On Saturday we were busy with baking and etz. and etz. But in the evening Dad, Ma & I went to town. On the way home we stopped in at Aunt Annie’s. Today, we all went to town to church in the forenoon. Rev. Smith had a sermon on the sins of Galena. It was very interesting. He is quite worked up over the Eagles’ doing last Sunday. Lots of drinking went on there. This afternoon we all went to Scales Mound to Aunt Lizzie’s [Dittmar], while Len went to visit with his folks*."

The church was more than likely the First United Methodist Church on Bench Street in Galena - pictured above. The family vascillated back and forth between the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches in Vol. 1 of Lillian's Diaries but evidentually Lillian's mother, Amelia Dittmar Trudgian and Ruby, Lillian's sister joined the Methodist Church. She never says in her diaries that she has joined also. The years 1920 thru 1924 are missing and it is possible that she did join during that period.

One of the treasures from the Galena house was a small Methodist Hymnal - the kind you see the women in the late 1880's carrying in their gloved hands as they enter worship service. Inside, written in black ink, is Mrs. Mary Trudgian's Book Sept 4th 1889. Below that in another hand is written Chas Trudgian. Mary is my great-great grandmother - the one who came from St. Austell, Cornwall, England to Galena in 1852. Chas is Charles Trudgian, Lillian's father.

*Ruby married Leonard Stauss in 1920 [one of the missing diary years. He was the son of Jacob and Sophia Sachs Stauss who also lived in Scales Mound. Some of Sophia's handwritten recipes are included in Vol. I.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Quiet Day at the Trudgian Home

Thu, Sept 10, 1926: "Yesterday forenoon Len & Ruby went to town. Mother and I stayed home and washed the weekly laundry and hung it out to dry. No rain, so it was able to dry before late afternoon. We took it in and folded it. Today we ironed. Ruby helped and then we made catsup and put up 10 quarts.”

Here’s a question for those of you who read Lillian’s Diaries Vol. I - did you enjoy the recipes I included from the old handwritten and newspaper clippings cookbooks from Lillian’s kitchen? Or is that something that distracted from your reading the diaries?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day is Spent Laboring

Tue Sept. 8, 1926: Yesterday was Labor Day and the whole family labored. We didn’t go to the Eagles’* big celebration. It had been a nice day and there must have been a big crowd who did attend, as cars went by our house in great numbers. Meanwhile, we all were stuck at home. Dad, Len, Ruby & Mother dug potatoes. Even though they worked hard all day they didn’t finish digging the early ones.

Today we were inside all day as it rained hard all forenoon*. I sewed some on Mother’s black silk that we started to make over last year.

*Turner Hall: The Fire
“1926 was a huge year in the history of Turner Hall. In the spring, the Hall was sold to the Eagles for $10,000. The very popular show “Abbie’s Irish Rose” was brought to the Hall in April 1926. In May, 1926 the Hall was officially dedicated as a combined opera house, dance hall and general hall. Luck was not with the Eagles, however, for 10 weeks later, on July 1, 1926, the Old Turner Opera House was gutted by fire. The loss was considered nearly total or over $12,000. At 10:50 AM, Mrs. F.H. Rickeman of Prospect Street turned in the alarm. According to the Gazette:
“Others also noted smoke issuing from the cupola of this massive building at about the same time, but thought that bats or bees were being smoked out of the apex of this building. The custodian, Wiliam Wilhelmi, was working in the building at the time the general alarm was sounded and did not know that the structure was on fire until he came out to see where the fire was.

The cause of the fire was never determined. At least one person reported seeing lighting strike the cupola of the Hall. It was also suggested that faulty wiring might be the culprit. There was also a faction that believed a pigeon brought a lit cigarette butt up into the cupola. Whatever the cause, the Hall was severely damaged and the $8000 of insurance money collected by the Eagles was not enough to rebuild.


The Eagles began fundraising efforts and made plans to build a modest hall. Their simple plans, however, caused an outcry from the public who believed that a grand, up-to-date building was called for. The support for a modern large Hall was so great that the Eagles relented and made new plans, but asked for financial support from the citizenry as well. In the September 16, 1926 Gazette a list of people donating money to the cause was printed.”*

* forenoon is used to indicate the morning – hours before twelve noon.
* The rebuilt Turner Hall is pictured above. Today it remains a historic landmark in Galena, used for special events.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Weather Ruled The Day

Mon. Sept. 6, 1926: "Buster (their pet dog) did not return today. We have nearly given up hope that he will come home anymore. Len made a round over and around John Weis’ round mound then in to Win Tippet’s and Charles Ehrler’s pasture and up by the church & etz. Dad went up along the ridge as far as the school house and down the road. I went up around on Joe Weis’ hill but did not find him. Perhaps someone killed him. This is Labor Day and the big celebration at Galena. Quite a number of cars went along.

Uncle Edd & Aunt Annie came along about 3-30 and asked Ma & Dad to go along out to Uncle Henry’s with them so we wouldn’t have such a load. They went but soon after it came to look rainy. It got very dark in Northwest. We were all ready by 5-30 but it was such threatening weather we feared to start. By six it began to look brighter. Len didn’t want to go then, claiming it was too late. Anyhow we started. The weather looked so clear and nice back by Weis’ and our road so good. We went along so happily. But as we turned onto the ridge road it got awfully muddy. We stopped and put on the chains, but they were too big. I was afraid to go on that way so we went back and thought we would try it by Scales Mound but it was very muddy up that way so we got gas and telephoned down to Uncle Henry’s and told them we weren’t coming. Then we came home with a very sore heart. After we got home we went to bed without any supper."

If you read "Lillian's Diaries" you are aware of how dependent everyone was on the weather. If you count how many times Lillian and/or her family planned on going somewhere and it "came to rain" (meaning it started to rain) you will find that they cancelled their plans more times than they carried through with their plans. For Lillian, as a teenager, that had to be heartbreaking - to be invited to a party, a anniversary party, a bridal shower, a dance, or a school social and then to not be able to go after all your preparations because of the rain, the snow or the muddy roads!

At the time of the entry above Lillian was still living at home - which would be expected in 1925- with her Mother, Father and with Ruby (Lillian's older sister) and her new husband, Leonard Stauss. The house was made of brick and two stories high with an extension room made of wood in the back that might have been a summer porch or maybe even a summer kitchen in the days before Lillian's family lived there. Charles, Lillian's Father, had lived there all his life, except for the short time he lived with his family of origin in the barn where he was born.(see previous post). I have had the opportunity to tour the house and I can't picture how everyone could have possibly fit into the house. But, as my Mother says "In the old days people were much more inclined to put up with less of everything than we are today."

Friday, September 4, 2009

"Friday, Sept 4, 1926:
Len & Ruby had an early dinner and then went to Warren Fair. Called a little* on way home at the Aunts’. After they got home Mr. Brandt & the agent for the separator they had on trial came. There was such a stew to get milked so they helped milk our cows. Supper had to go to grass and so be and etz*! Then he didn’t get no cream!

We put up eight quarts blue plums or prunes and wasted 1 qt by breaking the jar. Also baked and ironed."

One of the comments from readers of Lillian's Diaries was that there were words and/or sayings that they had never heard or that they did not understand. In the next book I plan to footnote meanings such as;
*called a little means to stop in and visit for a while
* etz. is her abbreviation for et cetera
What do you think? I have also added some words in her text to make full sentences.

When I first toured the house and barn{Pictured at the top of this entry and showing the very tiny windows that I had written about.These were only on one side of the barn just big enough to put a gun barrel through and can be seen on either side of the square opening - if you really squint)I found about a hundred - maybe more - of the canning jars like the one Lillian mentioned above that broke during the canning of the blue plums.

It was not a pleasant task, but I collected as many as I could to take home with me. Unfortunately, all kinds of little critters had made their homes in these jars. I found clear jars, aqua jars, green jars - pint jars, quart jars and 2 quart jars, some with bales some with glass covers. The prize was two very old ones from the
1800's. Some were stacked in paper boxes that had all but disintegrated other were strewn about hidden under clumps of matted hay. I am sure that this was but a small amount of the jars Lillian, Ruby and their mother, Amelia, used for canning throughout the years. When you read her entries throughout the Summer and Fall of each year almost every week they are putting up some sort of food item and she always tells us when a jar has been broken,as if she felt it were very precious.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In The Beginning

In 1852 Joseph and Mary Trudgian arrived in Galena, Illinois after sailing from Plymouth, England on May 3, 1852 on the ship John with two of their own children under the age of 6 and two slightly older children from Joseph's first marriage. ( He had married Ann Woolcock on March 6, 1833 and after having two children, Ann died in 1844. On Christmas Day of 1845 he married Mary Pellymounter who was, as they say, a spinster.)

About 80 acres of land had been purchased by Joseph just outside of Galena.....but there were no structures on the property. Imagine having four young children, coming to a new country and not having a home. The family built a barn - which is still standing today - of field stone and wood and the family moved in and lived there for a year or two until their home was built. The barn's foundation of fieldstone was equipped with special little windows to allow someone on the inside of the barn to aim a shot gun at any intruders [ family stories say the area was occasionally visited by Indians] while keeping out arrows or bullets from "enemy" from harming anyone inside. Both Lillian's father, Charles and my great-grandfather, Thomas were born in the barn, as was their brother, Samuel.

If you have read Lillian's Diaries: Whispers From Galena's Past you will may have noticed that Lillian starts right in with her first entry in 1913 in the here and now. There is no mention of her father having lived on the land from the first day of his life, or of any correspondance from anyone in England or for that matter any mention of her true "roots". In fact, in one entry she states the family is Irish and in another that they are French. So here is a difference between Lillian and I......she appears to never be seeking information about her family tree, while those that know me, know that I can't seem to stop seeking genealogical information about the Trudgians and those associated with them.