Memories of Lila Neville Parks

submitted by

Sandi Pope -


I was born September 10, 1896. My parents were Samuel and Etta Neville.

My grandfather Neville was born in Tyrone County, Ireland. He emegrated to America, saling from Liverpool, England in 1843. He married my grandmother, Margaret Duncan in Philadelpia. My father was born in Philadelphia, they later moved to Kickapoo, Illinois, a small town outside of Peoria. They lived there until their family was mostly grown. They then moved to Taylor County, Iowa, where my father and mother met and mere married. My mothers name was Etta Dutton. Grandpa Dutton was born in Wyoming, New York. He served in the Civil War, after which he went to illinois where he married my grandmother Mary Jane Cole, whose lineage has been traced back to King Edward the Thirdís reign. Some of her ancestors were signers of Englands Magna Carta.

My mother was born in Kewanee, Illinois, when she was eight years old my grand parents moved to Iowa settling on a farm about three miles north of Gravity which they owned until their death.

After my parents marriage they lived in Gravity, Iowa, a small mid western town about three miles from the farm where my mother was raised. The town had mud streets, a town well and hand pump, and a long watering trough on main street where people would water their horses. The stores all had false fronts and board walks in front of them, and of course there were plenty of hitching racks to tie the horses. At that time it was a thriving bustling town of about eight stores and a mortuary combined, a varity store, three general stores, grocery store, butchershop, two banks, three churches, an opera house above one of the stores, a barber shop, post office and of course a depot with trains serving the town. It had a brick kiln and a cheese factory, a veternary, and a doctor.

When I was two and a half years old my parents moved to my uncles farm about three and a fourth miles north of Gravity and about one and three fourts miles west of my grandfather Duttons farm. I remember few things that happened the year we lived there. I remember that my father had a milk route. He hauled the milk to the cheese factory in a spring wagon with a team of horses he brought with him from a liverty stable. He was very much attached to this team, not work horses but they did farm work too. I remember a patch of plaster falling off the ceiling above the tale while the tabe was set for dinner. I remember going behind the living room door and swallowing my chewing gum. Another time when we were getting ready to go some place I put my fathers boots on and they had a hard time getting it off. He had a small foot, and word a size six shoe, I may have had my overshoe on too, for I was all ready to go and he was getting ready. One time I heard a team coming down the road and ran and jumped on the couch which was in front of the window I came down on my knees on my sisters drawing slate and broke it. I had a good reason to remember the last two incidents.

The next year my parents bought the eighty acre farm across the road and I grew up there. I have many memories of those years. The first year we lived there my uncle, aunt and two cousins, Tillie and Tom Neville lived across the road where we had lived. One day my sister and I, my tow cousins and another cousin who was visiting us were playing in the front yard. I ws three years younger than any of them. My parents had two or three hives of bees and the kids dared me to sit on one of the bee hives. I never figured out whether they thought I wouldnnít do it or knew I would. anyway I not only sat on the bee hive but I kicked the side of it as I sat there. Well out came the bees by the hundreds, and were they angry. Of course I got a few stings. My cousins who were much older were sent home by my aunt. They and my sister got a good scolding and I was baied. The other kids were really scared, ut fron that time on the kids teased me about sitting on the bee hive, just as if I had done something stupid. After we were grown we laughed about it many times. None of us ever forgot it.

It seems bees figured a lot in my childhood. Our lawn was native blue grass and with clover. Bees were partial to white clover so they were always getting honey from it. The kids always went barefooted and I donít think I could add the numer of times I stepped on bees and got my feet stung. When the bees would swarm, my parents didnít want them to leave so when anybody say them swarming they would always call, "The bees are swarming." Then mama and we kids and papa if he was around would make noise and go out to settle the bees in a near by tree. Then papa would bring another hive and place under them and shake the limb and we would have another hive of bees. I donít know whether the noise had anything to do with their settling or not, but we lost very few swarms and always had honey.

Our Christmasís were celebrated much like today but much simpler. We had all the anticipation and excitement the children have today but things were much simpler. We would hang our stockings for Santa to fill and we always got an orange and a banana, nuts and candy in our stockings and we would get one nice toy such as a doll or doll buggy, once I dot a doll trunk, once a doll dresser. In those days, we never had a Christmas tree at home. Christmas trees were for Churchs and school programs at night. The Christmas trees they had were not like ours. It would just be some kine of native tree, as evergreen trees were not native to that country. The decorations were toys. They were never wrapped, but dolls and toys hanging on the trees made a beautiful tree and lots of excitement as the children had to wait all through the program to see if a particular toy was theirs. If Christmas trees were lighted it was by candles for there was no electricity. The limbs of the tree being bare were often wrapped in cotton to look like snow. Christmas was the only time we received toys so we took care of them. the stores didnít carry toys only at Christmas. Mamma would usually knit us a pair of mittens for Christmas. Of course we though Santa Claus brought them. there was lots of snow on the ground and it was cold. I can still hear the noise the carriage wheels made on the frozen snow. It is undescribable, but like music to me. We had heavy lap robes and sometimes we had a heated soap stone to keep our feet warm, but we enjoyed every minute of it. We never thought about how cold it was, when we took a bob sled there would be straw in the bottom of the sled with plenty of comforters or robes, and oh! the music the sleight bells made when we went in the sleight or sled. At night the stars were so pretty.

I attended Cottage Grove, a one room country school one fourth of a mile from home, where all eight grades were taught. We had three terms during the year, two months in the faill with a months vacation, three months in the winter, and another term in the spring. These vacations were so the boys could help their fathers in the fall husking of corn, and help with the spring work in the spring. Sometimes we would have two or three teachers during the year for they were only hired for a term at a time. It they didnít like the school they would get another school next term, or if they were not satisfactory the school director would hire another one.

Each school yard had a well with a hand pump and a water pail with a long handled dipper that the children all drank from. In warm weather one of the childen would ask and be permitted to "pass the water". They would pump and carry in a pail of water and pass it around the room. Each child would take a drink our of the same dipper. It was mostly a case of getting out of the usual routine of school work instead of thrist.

Every body had a slate and slate pencil. Most of our school work was done on a slate. A tablet lasted a long time. Everyone had a piece of rag or cloth or sea sponge, not the synthetic kind we have today. That was another diversion, getting to wet the slate rags. There was an enameled wash basin which everyone used and of course there were two small buildings some distance apart, one for girl and one for boys.

The school houses were two miles apart each way. The children attended the school closest to them. There were no buses to take them to school everybody walked, even five year olds walked more than a mile sometimes, and that was all kinds of weather.

At recesses and noon hour we had lots of fun, playing all kinds of games and in the winter we would grab our sleds and coast down the hill, for winters were cold and we had lots of snow. Somehow we didnít mind the cold as we were dressed warmly with long underwear, high topped shoes and overshoes. The girls wore heavy petticoats, the fotunate ones wore wool hand knitted stockings. I was one of the fortunate ones as my mother knitted us stockings and mittens for winter. Sometimes in the winter our noses would freeze but that was accepted as a way of life. In the spring we couldnít wait for May first to take off our long underwear and go barefoot.

During the sumemr horse traders would travel over the country just trading horses with anybody they could who had a horse. Usually there would be two or three covered wagons and several horses for trade. They always camped in the nschool yards as each school house had an acre of ground. They would make that their headquarter for a few days.

Another common thing was gypsies traveling through the country. They always had lots of kids and dogs. They too would camp in the school yards. Sometimes getting run off.

During the school terms there sometimes would be some one with a magic lantern come to the school and show pictures at night. There was so little entertainment to go to that nearly everyone in the district would attend. I remember one time when my father was school director he kept and fed the man and his team over night for our admission to the show.

The school house had a kerosene lamp on each side of the room which furnished light for evening entertainments. The houses were not warm like they are now. Our kitchen floor had no sub floor and the floor was really cold. Our heat was a wood burning kitchen range and a wood heating stove in teh living room. The rest of the house was not heated. Every winter I used to have chill blains either from getting my feet too cold our of doors or being on the cold kitchen floor.

It was the childrens job to carry in the wood and corn cos for the stoves, no matter how cold it was. The bed covers would have frost on the edge where you breat froze, but the frost on the windows had fantastic pictures and figures on them. You could figure out almost anything, according to your imagination.

Now donít feel sorry for me or anyone living that life, for we never felt sorry for ourselves ad had as much fun as children do today. It was just accepted as a way of life, we knew no different. There were five of us children, Clara, myself, Elmer, Floyd and Hazel.

For entertainment we read books and played games by kerosene or coal oil lamps as we called the. We had no TV or radio, or stero. I remember when the first telephones were installed in that part of the country, also I remember the first graphphone I heard. We were visiting my Aunt and Uncle who lived four miles away one Sunday and their neighbor had a new graphophone which none of us had ever seen or heard. In fact the first in the community. He was so proud of it he brought it over to show. That was as amazing as the telephones, just simply unbelieveable that you could turn a crank and sound would come out of that box. I remember they played an Uncle Josh record. I remember the first automobile I saw, that was while I was in high school. People who were driving horses on the road and saw an automobile coming would get out and hold them by their bridles as it would frighten them and cause them to run away. I was twenty four years old before I heard a radio, so you see all the conveniences and luxuries have come into being during my life time. Electric lights were installed while I was in high school, and that was only in towns. There were no electric appliances even then.

The farm only had ten acres of land cleared for farming, so there was a long struggle getting the timber and brush cleared. My father would give the wood to people for cutting and clearing the rush, besides cutting and working himself. Then when the stumps would rot he would grub and plow them loose. Mamma and we kids would help load the stumps in the wagon and take to the house where we would burn them in the heating stove in the winter.

In the spring we kids would go wild flower gathering, there were flowers of all kinds in the timber. There were wild goose berries and mamma and we kids would go goosberring. She would take a flour sack and we would take buckets, and oh! those gooseberry pies and jelly. In the summer there would be wild plums, we would gather them for jelly and some kinds she would can. There were wild crab apples, red haws and black haws which we didnít gather, but I liked the red and black haw to eat.

In the fall we would again take flour sacks and gather hazelnuts which were like filberts only smaller and hard to get the hulls off. They grew on hazelbrush. We had bushels and bushels of black walnuts, somtimes we would take a wagon and go along the creek that ran through the place and gather walnuts. We would hull them with a hand corn sheller, also there were hickory nuts close by.

Our carpet was always rag carpets. Of course some people had wool carpets. Mamma saved all the worn our clothes as did other people and they would ttear them into strips about and inch wide and sew the ends together and sind them into balls. Often they would have rag sewings and several neighbors would meet at each others homes and sew carpet rags. then they would take them to someone who had a loom and have them woven into strips about a yard wide and as long as the room. Then they would take them home and sew the strips together and instead of thick carpet pads like we now have. they would either put old news papers under the carpets or if some bright threshed oat straw was available that was laid down on the floor and carpet placed over it. They had carpet stretchers which had a claw foot which would stretch the carpet tight then there was a plunger with carpet tacks which when plunged down would automatically tack the carpet. Oh! how your fett would sink down and for a couple of weeks what a sound it would make as you walked across the straw, and how bright and pretty it was, how proud everyone was of it. Then also everybody pieced quilt tops and quilted quilts, and tied comforters. No one had a lot of ancy blankets for the bed. Again people would have quilting and invite their neighbors and firends to the quiltings, sometimes spend the day and have diners and what a good time they had. It took a lot of warm bedding for a family.

When threshing time came no one hired any help. The neighbors helped each other, they called it exchanging help. There would be about twenty men and they were served dinner and supper whenever they were. The women would help each other cook and serve the meals. Two times we had threshers for three days. Try that one for size. We cooked the meals with wood ro corn cobs. It was as hot in the summer as it was cold in the winter, and with the heat from the stove, there was no air conditioners then, or refrigerators. We pumped thewater and carried it in.We had no sinks or cabinets as we have now with working space coutertops, and that was a time of feasting. pies and cakes, meat vegetables, all kinds of salads, beands and every dish imaginable were put on the table. Part of the time we baked the bread, went to the garden and dug the potatoes with a spade, churned the butter, killed and dressed the chickens. We had no dish washers either, and again donít feel sorry for anybody who had to do those things. They were happy days.

I spent many happy days at grandma and grandpaís. Sometimes staying for weeks. Neighter one ever said a cross word to me. Grandpa always called me "Pet".

When I was large enough they paid me fifty cents a day to lead the hay horse puling big forks full of hay into the hay loft. How sweet the hay smelled.

One time when my uncle was still at home, I knew he was going to see his girl that night so waitng for hay to come in, I braided his fly nets. Fly nets ere meade of strings of leather or heavy cord and nch or two apart, fastened to straps of leather made to fit the horse, and the ends hung down about the feet below the horses body and was thrown over the regular harness. When the horse moved the strings would flap around and keep the flies off the horses body. These happened to be made of heave cord and easily braided, into I wouldnít guess ow many braids. Well, my uncle was late that night anyway getting through the filed work and chores. I wasnít there that night but I was told fire and brimstone practically flew as he had to unbraid the fly net. He never said anything about it to me through.

Our neighbors across the road had five girls, my sister and I had fun over there. They were very poor and never went any place, but were happy. They didnít have much furniture and in the winter they would push it out of the way and we would play pussy want a corner, ect. Their father had a sorgum mill, people would riase sugar cane and in the fall they would strip the leaves off it and haul it to the mill where the juice would be aqueezzed out of it y running it between large rollers which was operated by a hose going around and around in a circle turning the rollers. They they had a long vat and would put the jucie into it and build a fire underneath it and cook it until it became sorgum. What fun we kids had evenings around that fire and sorgum vat. They used large paddles to stir the sorgum. Was it ever good. Buying sorgum at the store was unheard of. It was used extensively for the table and cooking.

Gene Posten owned the butcher shop, and also an ice house, which he filled in winter from ice cut from ponds and packed in saw dust so it would keep all summer. When anyone wanted to cake ice cram they would drive a eam to town and get fifly or one hundred pounds of ice.Also he had a spring wagon covered and fixed to haul meat, mostly beef as farmes butcherd and cured their own pork, but beef was a treat in the summer. He kept the meat cool with ice. He would ring a bell in front of the house to let people know he was there.He always gave we kids a ring of balogna when my parents bought meat even if they only bought a soup bone.

Also one of the genreal stores had a huxter wagon. It was fixed up to carry a few groceries and also dry goods. Calicos and percales. It had a wide board on hinges which was let down to measuere off yard goods. It was a great help often saving farmers wives a trip to town.

Another common thing were Italian peddlers called Degos. They would walk through the country carrying their packs on their backs filled with notions, pins, lace, beads, thimbles, etc. Selling or trying to from house to house.

Once my girl fired and I were riding horseback to visit her married sister. We were riding along when all of a sudden a bee must have stung my horse for suddinly she jumped and started to run when I came down I was sitting in the middle of the road and the horse was still going visiting I didnít come down in time to go with her.

When we wanted to go play with our friends we waled across the pasture or on the road which ever was shorter.

Young people had parties in the homes. The young fellows took their girls in a buggy which was lsower than the cars now but had its advantages. It only required one hand to drive a team and didnít have the accidnets and casualties they have now.

On Sunday nights the young fellows would line up outside the church after services and as the girls came out, one of them wanted a date they would step up and say, "May I see you home?" If they were lucky they took her home, if they werenít the girls went home the same way they came. There were no shows or any place to go so young people went to church Sunday nights.

I attened Gravity High School, three and one fourth miles from home. Sometimes I drove a horse and buggy, sometimes i walked and part of the time I stayed in town with Aunt Maggie Morris. After i graduated from igh school I attended Des Moines College one summer, they taught country school for three years. My highest wages were forty-six dollars per month, and i paid four dollars per week board and room. I carried in the coal, cleaned out the clinkers from the stove once a week. I started the fires each morning and swept the floors and dusted each night, washed the balcboards and carried in a pail of water each morning.

On May 12, 1918 I married John Parks. He was born December 5, 1896. His fathers name was Albert Sherman Parks. He was the youngest of the twenty-three children. Part of the children were half brotherts and sisters. His parents died of typhoid fever when he was twelve years old. From that time he was more or less on his own. Living with differnt people. He married Etta Konecne. Her father name was Frank Konecne. He was born in Vienna, Austria. He lived in Bohemia and came to the United States with his parents. His youngest brother was born on the ship on the way to America. He swerved all through the Civil War, after which he married Emily Eels and they moved to Gravity.

John or Johnnie as he was always called in Iowa was one of eight children, Moses, Estle, John, Pearl, George, Anna and Kenneth.

After our marriage we farmed in the same vicinity in which we were raised. First we rented farms, then bought my parents farm after their death.

We had three children. Duane, born February 21, 1919, Fayne born January 18, 1921, Nadine born May 9, 1927. They attended Cottage Grove grade school. Duane and Fayne both attended Gravity High School.

The year we were married we bought a Model T Ford. When it gave up on us we drove a team of horses or mules. I remember the team of mules would always bray as we were going down main street. I was embarassed about it in town, but we laughed about it at home. Finally we bought a new Model T from Johnnie Carsons grandfather who had a garage. He gave Duane a toy tractor and Fayne a doll as a bonus. He was a Spanish War buddy of twoof my Uncles.

On December 31, 1929, when Nadine was two and a half years old our house and all the contents burned. We had only what we were wearing that day. Friends and neighbors really rallied around. The church aid society met the next day and sewed and tied comforters and it seemed friends and neighbors suddenly found things they didnít need even to a house to live in while we were building a new one. Neighbors helped on the building. Of course we had a carpenter too. Soon we were in our new house. Oh, yes, I helped lath and lay hard wood floors and helped finish all the floors and woodwork. It was really a nice house. That was the biginning fo the depression of teh 1930ís but they were happy dyas for us. Living on a farm we had plenty ot eat, a nice comfortable house and lots of friends and neighbors who were no better off than we ere. We didnít have a lot of clothes or money, but neight did anybody else. We had our own meat nad vegetables, milk, butter and eggs, and in the fall we would take a few sacks of wheat to the mill about twenty miles wawy and get our flour for the winter. We would buy a hundred pound sack of sugar. We didnít need so many groceries of couse part of that time we agina drove a team instead of a car. We had droughts for a few years and summers were so hot we decided to move to Washington State. We had a sale and sold everything except what we could haul in a two wheel trailer behind our Model A. Ford. We left Iowa August 4, 1936, arriving at Camas, Washington where my cousins Thelma dn Lowell Hughes had located in the winter before. we were there about a month then came to the Yakima Valley. We were there for two months, then left to see the west and decide where we wanted to live. We built a trailer house and spent the winter at Somerton, Arizona. We had a good time that winter, but when spring came we decided to go back to Washington, where I have lived ever since.

Duane married Ruth Prather, they have thrree children Sharon, David and Cathy. Fayne married Harold Davis and have three children, Dick, Paul and Peggy. Nadine married Allen Chisholm, they have two children Dennis and Sandra. I now have twelve great grand children.

During my life time I have lived from horse and buggy days, and when everything was transported by train until now, when we have gew trains and much transportation is by truck . I have traveled through all but two or three states west of teh Mississippi River and some east by car or bus, and across the United States to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on a jet airplane.

I have had a full, happy life. Of course it has had it ups and downs, but we were a close family and we enjoyed our children and grandchildren. The family circle was broken July 15, 1965 whe, husband, dad, and grandad was taken from us by death. He did not get to see any of his great grandchildren except Brian. He loved and enjoyed him so much and he would have loved and enjoyed the rest of them as I have.

The following was added by Nadine Chisholm:

I am adding a few things to Momís story. I thought that in future years it might be of some help, or even added to if any of these copies still remain.

Mom spent several winters with us. She would tell us things that happened when she was a girl and growing up. We convineced her to write these things down for her children and grandchildren.

She would not write anythng past the death of Dad or much about their life together after moving tothe Yakima Valley. She said it was something she couldnít do and I never tried to urge her as it seemed to be too painful for her to put on pages.

She loved to ride the bus and made numberous trips to our place. She made several trips to Iowa by bus and train, and one trip to Cape May, New Jersey by bus. We took her to Disney Land once and to New Jersey and on to Disney World in florida. We enjoyed tose trips it her and I am sure she enjoyed them too. We were with her when she flew to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to see our daughter Sandra Pope and family when Dennis was stationed there with the Coast Gurard. She also flew to and from Iowa. She seemed to enjoy seeing places wehre history was made.

We had some funny and interesting things happen while we were on one of our trips. One was when we were cmaped out y Marine Land out of Los Angles. We had gotten up that morning and were getting ready, Al had gone up to the cab to shave. Mom was changing clothes in the camper in front of the window by the cab, that whoud have been all right but with her back to the sindow she forgot to close the window. You can imagine how surprised Al was when he looked in the mirror. We had many good laughs about that.

She managed to live alone until after her eighty nineth birthday. She has been in a nursing home since January 28, 1986. In November of 1991 she finally went to be with God.

When God made my Mom Iím told,
He threw away the lovely mold.
He gave her love and gentle cheer,
that I have always held so dear.
She was always there my tears to dry,
When ever I had the need to cry.
She would lift me up and brush me off.
And never did I hear her scoff.
She taught us all her gentle ways,
That stayed with us all through the days.
Her strength was like a steeple tower,
Her smile like a pretty flower.
I thank the Lord for my Mother,
As there could never be another.
Becuase as Iíve been told
They threw awya the lovely mold.