in. They walked up the road to the Phil Carolan farm to spend the night. They left the next day and were never heard from again.

After John died, Lucy married Heland Whitmore who was born in 1831 in New York State. He was a Civil War drifter. He and Lucy moved from Winneshiek Co. to southern Iowa. Both died and are buried in Everly. They had 2 sons: Seymore (b. 6 Jun) and Thomas (b. 29 Aug), both born in Everly, IA in the late 1880’s.

Heland made fun of DeWitt when he found him reading the Bible by telling him they were Indian fairy tales. When DeWitt was a boy, his father, John Willson had given him a pair of mules to train and use in farming. However, Heland took the mules when they moved to Everly and traded them for a 1/2 section of land.

When Lucy visited relatives in Winneshiek the summer, she would sit under a tree and smoke her pipe. When anyone came near, she would hide her pipe in her apron packet because she did not want to be disgraced. The children would hide behind the trees to watch Grandma puff away.

Clara Willson was born 1 Nov 1846 in Winneshiek Co. She married James McMullan (b. ca 1844) in 1866. Clara and James had 6 children. Clara died 22 Feb 1927 and James died 14 May 1930. Both are buried in the Phelps Cemetery.

Clara was a Seventh Day Adventist and went to church on Saturdays in Burr Oak. She was against Catholics and she would make life miserable for DeWitt and his wife Margaret “Maggie” E. Dolan. For example, when she lived up the road from her brother DeWitt and his wife Maggie, she would watch to see if DeWitt were going to hitch up a team of horses for Maggie so she could go to Mass at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Bluffton. If he did, she would rush over to DeWitt’s farm and raise all kinds of hell. She did not think Maggie should use the team to go to church. To keep the peace Maggie would take off her shoes and walk barefoot to church. When she got to church she would sit down on the steps, wipe her feet off on her petticoat, put on her shoes and go into Mass. After Mass she would take her shoes off and walk home. She did not want to get her shoes dirty or wear them out.

Willson, Leo and Mary (Hyberger)

(Madelyn (Willson) Wise)

Leo Willson was born 13 Oct 1903, the son of DeWitt Clinton and Margaret (Dolan) Willson. He was born with a club foot and underwent many operations to correct this. Leo married Mary Loretta Hyberger (b. 5 Apr 1906) on 27 Apr 1926 at the Assumption Catholic Church, Cresco, IA. Mary was the daughter of Joseph and Mathilda (Finnegan) Hyberger.

Leo and Mary farmed their entire life. In 1939 they bought a 160 acre farm in Sec. 28, Hesper Twp., Winneshiek Co. Leo raised hogs and had a herd of Brown Swiss cows. They always raised ducks, geese and chickens. For a long time the pet gander waddled behind Leo every step he took. If the snow bank was too deep for the gander, Leo would set down his feed pails and lift the gander over the drifts by its neck.

As a young boy, Leo bought a saxophone. He hid it under his bed and taught himself to play by ear. He was very accomplished in playing the saxophone, violin and several other instruments. Although music was Leo’s hobby, music helped supplement the family income by his playing in bands at dances.

Leo was a quiet gentleman and a great story teller. As a boy, his neighbor on the next farm was Eddie Wicks. They were very good friends - a friendship which continued all their lives and carried through with their families.

Leo always had a well-trained farm dog. Very seldom did we need to "go get the milk cows” from the pasture to milk. We would just tell the dog “go get the cows" and he always would. Leo would put as much butter and syrup on the dog's pancakes as he did on his own.

From his parents, Leo inherited “the other place.” This was 40 acres in Canoe Twp. It was permanent pasture and the “young stock” (cattle) were pastured there. Every Sunday on the way home from church in Decorah, we would stop, pump the tank full of water (with a gas burning pump jack) for the cattle and count them. Kids and all in Sunday clothes! We always got home late and were very hungry, but, lo and behold, in the wood burning stove the chicken and dressing were ready to eat. (There were constant miracles like that!)

Mary graduated from Cresco High School and celebrated many class reunions. She raised a huge garden and always did a lot of canning (usually in 2 qt. jars) which always lined the shelves in the basement. One time the jars were too heavy for the shelf and a whole bunch of them fell to the cement floor and broke. That was a sad day! Another time Mary’s brooder house full of baby chicks burned. That also was sad!

Mary and Leo loved to dance, so they often went to dances. They also “held” many impromptu dances by shoving back the table and chairs when company arrived. Leo would play the saxophone and their neighbor, Leland Gossman, the piano. The best dances were always at home, but were hard on Mary’s linoleum rugs. Leo and Mary also were great with a deck of cards. That was another form of entertainment when company came.

Mary was an excellent cook. She baked afresh “batch” of bread every day and either a cake, donuts or molasses cookies. She could make a kettle full of tomatoes and macaroni and a bowl of steaming hot rice with cinnamon and sugar taste like a gourmet supper.

Mary and Leo always made Christmas and Easter so special for their family that you felt sorry for the people who did not have it so good. Mary ruled with an iron fist, but could cry at the tip of your hat. Leo and Mary were devout Catholics. The highlight of the week was attending Mass at Plymouth Rock Catholic Church on Sunday and visiting with friends afterwards.

Leo died 19 Sep 1988. Mary presently is a resident at the Ossian Senior Hospice, Ossian, IA.


Complete OCR transcription

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