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Title: Early 1900 Pioneers of Warren County, Indiana
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Alpha (Marion Alpheus) and Ida (Blanche Harper) Wagoner raised a family of eight children, Hazel, Vernie, Freddie, Edna, Wilma, Marjorie, Maxine and Norma along with other relatives in their home. They spent most of their life with other relatives in their home. They spent most of their life around Riverside, Independence, Greenhill and finally Pine Village. In those days it wasn't easy to make a living if you were not farmer or had some kind of business.

Dad was a jack-of-all trades. He built many buildings around lower Warren County - barns, hog houses, cribs, chicken houes, garages, etc. Dad was a ditcher and laid thousands of rods of field tile. Dad did it the hard way. Dad was conscientious about doing a good job. He built many chimneys, dug many graves, and took care of several cemeteries at different times when there was nothing else to do. Finally in the early 40s, he built the family home on SR 26 west of Pine Village. He also went fox hunting for pelts and rabbit hunting for food in the winter time.

My mother, Ida Wagoner, was a busy homemaker keeping food on the table and packing lunches for 1 to 6 kids in school at a time. She raised a garden. She was the family seamstress making or patching our clothing. She was also the family barber. I remember we lived in Independence in the 20's when women started bobbing their hair. Mom cut and bobbed hair for several women in Independence and relatives. Her reward was usually twenty-five cents. She canned everything she could get her hands on. She always canned at least 100 quarts of blackberries and usually a few raspberries. Of course, it was up to my brother, Fred and me to pick these berries. That was no little chore; berry picking alway came in hot weather and when the chiggers were lurking on every sticker that hooked to our clothes or bare skin. Do you remember chiggers?

The girls were usually helping out with the household chores. Marjorie, Maxine, and Norma would help with the picking of berries. I think when they picked strawberries they would eat more than they would bring in. Edna and Wilma were singers together, and entertained several times at various occasions, such as the Saturday night talent shows that used to have at Independence, Greenhill, and Otterbein.

In the fall Fred, I, and sometimes our granddad Wagoner who was living with us gathered hickory nuts and walnuts by the bushel. These nuts had to be hulled and dried for winter food. In the 30's on many a winter evening, the family sat around the chief cracker, each with his individual pan of nuts and a nut pick, picking out his or her evening snack.

In the 30's many evening were spent playing music. Of course, none of us ever had a lesson in music, but it was fun. The girls sang and were pretty good. In the 20's Dad, Mom, Mom's brother, Frank Harper, and Dad's brother, Earl Wagoner, put a little icing on the cake by playing the music for home dances. These were times that we wouldn't have eaten if it hadn't been for the playing at these dances. Dad and Mom placed for many of them by themselves. Later in the 30's my brother, Fred and I got in on it by helping with the music. Then Fred, I and friends, Raymond Knowles and Ralph Carter, carried on the tradition for a spell.

In 1927, Dad at 41 years and his brother, Earl, entered a 25 mile walking race in Attica. They won first and second respectively against 15 or 20 other entries. Arch Idle won third. In 1928 they had another one, and Dad took first and Arch Idle second. I don't know the date for sure, but the third race was arranged for Arch Idle and Dad alone for a 5 mile walk - apparently a grudge match. Anyway, on one Saturday night, they walked back and forth, up and down Perry St. in Attica, side by side, or one just behind the other right down to the last fifty yards. Arch started taking long jumping strides to take the lead and win. Of course, this was not really walking. I was there that time: I know what happened.

In 1927, sister Hazel at 18 years and cousin, Iva Harper at 14 years also walked in a 10 miles race at Attica at the same time that Dad walked. Hazel won first in that race, and Iva Harper won second among many entries. Hazel received a $25 gold piece which she saved until after she was married. She later used it to pay her doctor when she had her first child. I believe also got gold pieces for his winnings.

November 4, 1936, was Dad's 50th birthday. I was shucking corn for George Akers. Dad was shucking corn for Willard Briar. We lived in the Willard Briar tenant house. The corn wasn't real good that year. By now I began to think that I was getting pretty good and that maybe I might just try for the magic number (100 bushels) in a day. This was the first and only year I ever shucked corn by hand. Anyway, I put out just a little extra effort that day and weighed in two nice loads at 104 bushels. By the time I scooped the second off, I was very pleased. I went home. When I got home, Dad was scooping off his third load which was 154 bushels. And this was on his 50th birthday! Right then I knew I had a little maturing to do and needed some more experience.

My mother, Ida Wagoner, besides being one of the hardest and most efficient workers in Warren County, made another mark for herself in trap shooting. In 1951 and again in 19055, she was the Indiana State Handicap Champion for women. Of course she did this during her leisure time, which didn't come until after family were out of the way.

This could go on, but perhaps it's of not too much interest. I believe I will end it with a remark from my wife. When I was about halfway through this thing, my wife read it and said, "How come all you wrote about was poverty?"

I answered and said, "That's about all we knew, until the mid-thirties."

"Well," she said, "You know you finally struck it rich when you found a jewel in Benton County -- ME!"
-Who was Wilma Sturgeon.

(I must add this sad note. My sister, Marjorie, passed away this morning, August 25, 1989, after a bout with cancer.)

Date: 9/1/1989
Origin: Backward Glances
Author: Vernie Wagoner
Record ID: 00000130
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

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