My Mother’s Family Stories–Installment 2

My mother’s 100th birthday will be this November (Martha Evelyn Mount, born November 28, 1916, in Morrow, Ohio and passed away on July 31, 1991).  When she was 72 in 1989, she made a taped recording of family stories of both sides of the family.  In her honor, and still incredulous that she sat and dictated all of this into a tape recorder by herself, I’m going to post what she wrote along with pictures whenever possible.  She had a rather rambling, random method and said whatever came to her mind at that moment, punctuated by hearty laughing.   I’ll post the stories in the order she told them and will only edit the posts to keep out anything that might be offensive or embarrassing to other members of the family.

8/89 – Family Stories Tape by Martha Applegate
Transcribed 5/19/01 by Lillian – notes in parenthesis by Lillian


In 1921, John B and my grandmother, Lillian Frances Illie, were divorced when my father was 9 years old and his brother, Frank, was 7.  John B got custody of the two boys and took them with him on the road to blacksmith at county fairs.  Here is my mother’s version of some of their adventures.

John A and Frank A 1917Frank and John A. Applegate

Ca. 1920

Then when John (B) and Grandma-up-Dayton (our name for our paternal grandmother who lived in Dayton, Ohio) had separated, John had the boys (John A. and Frank E. Applegate), he was taking care of them – he’d get drunk.  Well, Frank was so little they couldn’t leave him out so when he’d get drunk and they’d put John in jail, they’d put Frank in with him and he’d get in there and he’d climb up and down the bars like a monkey and rattle the tin cup up and down and they’d finally  have to let John go to get rid of Frank.

One time John (B) and Frank and Johnny (John A) were shipping horses on a boxcar train out to Missouri, I guess it was, and John was drunk as usual and they were all shut up in this boxcar with the horses and for some reason they got side-tracked and put onto another track and was left sitting there for days.  They didn’t have a thing to eat, nothing to drink, and the horses and Grandpa drunk – that was a bad time for the boys.

When Frank (Applegate) was a little boy, Grandma-up-Dayton (Lillian Illie) and Grandpa (John B) were still married at the time, gypsies came through and they wanted to tell their fortune and they said, “No, no, get out of here, we don’t want our fortunes told”.  Grandpa said, “Get out of here”, John (B) said, because gypsies, they’d steal anything that wasn’t fastened down and they said, “Either tell your fortune or we’ll put a spell on that baby”.  John said, “Get out of here, get out of here” and he chased them off.  Well, right after that, Frank just went into convulsions and had fits and they thought they were going to lose him.  John got on a horse and he took out and he hunted those gypsies until he found them.  He found this woman and he said, “You take that spell off that baby or it’s going to be the end of you” and so she did, she took the spell off the baby, she took the spell off of Frank and he didn’t have any more convulsions.

When Frank was little and hadn’t gone to school yet, Grandma-up-Dayton made them both little baseball suits to match and Johnny took him to school to visit and all through school they kept smelling something and smelling something and thought what on earth is that?  When he got up to go out of the room, they found out what it was – Frank had pedooped all over the back of his baseball suit, it was all yellow – Johnny was so mad at him.

school-j&fSchool Picture – John A (4th from left, row 2) and Frank

(3rd from right, row 1)

Next time, we’ll hear some stories about Johnny before his parents divorced and about life in rural Ohio in the early 1900s.

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Lillian Applegate Westfelt was a mother of 4, grandmother of 6, and great-grandmother of 3. She was an 86-year-old widow living in a nice little bungalow with her oldest daughter and a beagle-dachsund named Addie. She passed away in November, 2018.

7 thoughts on “My Mother’s Family Stories–Installment 2”

  1. Thanks! What interesting times she knew about. I’m so glad you got these and are transcribing them. The part about the gypsies was really interesting!

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