Cake and coffee was served to the guests and the time was spent visiting with friends from East Chicago, Hammond, Crown Point, Valparaiso, Shelby, Hebron and Lowell.
She lives on the old homestead place with her granddaughter, Mrs. Tossie Ebert, whom she reared from infancy.
A sweet-faced, gentle-spoken old lady, Grandma Wallace likes to tell of the part her family played in the pioneering of Lake County. Her story follows:
"My parents, Mr. and Mrs. Adna Vandecar, came to Lake County from New York state in 1846, driving an ox team hitched to a covered wagon. Along with two other families, each driving their own team, they cooked their meals along the roadside and slept in makeshift beds in the wagons."
Earned 50 Cents a Day
"When they arrived here, father started at once to look for work and learned that Uncle Henry Sanger was the richest man around at that time and able to hire help, worked for him, cradling wheat and moving and raking hay.
"Charles Kenney lived where Ernest Ebert now lives and father also worked for him, cradling wheat for 50 cents a day. When he had saved a little money, he obtained 120 acres of land from the government for $1.25 an acre. He built a one-room log house with slabs laid for a floor. When the ends of the slabs warped and turned up, he turned them over. Two holes were cut for windows and boards were set in when it rained. Chairs and tables were slabs with four legs nailed on.
"Mother spun yarn and knit our stockings and my grandmother wove cloth to make our clothes, blankets and coverlids. When father began farming for himself, he cradled wheat for other people in the daytime and cut his own grain in the moonlight.
No Rationing Worries
"Electric lights were then unthought of and light was made by rags twisted and burned in lard. Food was not plentiful but was very nourishing -- such as pumpkin butter, corn bread, and mush and milk.
"Coffee rationing would not have worried people then, for we made our own by browning corn and cracking it fine.
"The first corn planter was a small rake with a spring on the bottom. This was fastened to the hoe handle and when the spring was pushed down and the hoe turned over, the corn was covered. A cradle was first used to cut grain, then a reaper, next the self-rake and finally the binder. Fuel was wood cut in the marsh by hand.
"Everyone helped his neighbor at butchering time, four or five families working together. Four or five days were required for wagon trips to Chicago, where they sold dressed hogs and returned with shoes, barrels of flour and sugar and a bolt of calico to be sewed by hand into clothing.
"The first school I recall was built across the road from where the Orchard Grove school now stands. It had one room with benches facing desks fastened to the wall around the room. There were four months of school in the winter and three in the summer, since boys and girls helped with the work at home. For spelling bees, we often went to the 'Old Sam Bryant' school, now called Center school, or to South East Grove. Our school boasted two pupils who were never spelled down -- George Hill and his sister, who knew the spelling book by heart.
Recalls Early Teachers
"My first teacher was Orlando Beebee, a relative of the Beebees now living in this vicinity, and two early teachers were John Dwyer, the father of Attorney S.C. Dwyer, and Harrison H. Ragon, father of L.W. and Cordie Ragon of Lowell.
"Our first post office was started when a Mr. Warner came from Canada, driving a one-horse peddler's wagon. He first lived in father's log house until he entered the land where Walter Miller now lives. He then built a one-room store and added another room when he was appointed postmaster. Later, he built the store on the corner, which became Jerry Kenney's store. The post office for Orchard Grove was located there until the rural route from Lowell was started.
"Many Indians lived here when I was young and many of them lived on land now known as the Kenney farm. They traded baskets for articles the white settlers had.
We could always see deer through the hazel brush south of our house.
"The first corn was planted on the farm where the Ray Stadts now live. Walter Hole lived there and I dropped corn for 50 cents a day at the time for that first planting.
She's "Tired" at 90
"When cows were turned out to graze, they often wandered as far as Tom Grant's farm, and we girls wandered after them each knowing the sound of our own cow bells, We milked the cows anywhere in the field, put the milk in pans, skimmed it night and morning and churned every day. Many times I counted 100 pans on Mrs. Susan Warner's pantry shelves when she lived where the Carl Kaisers now live.
"The older people worked hard, saved their money and bought farms. Did you ever stop to think how many farms have been handed down to the younger generations by parents and grandparents?
"Yes, I was born and reared on this farm where I now live, My two daughters, Bertha Kenney and Addie Brownell, both dead now, my granddaughter, Tossie Ebert, and three great grandchildren were all reared on this farm.
"My close living relatives include another granddaughter, Nelda Childress of Lowell, and a grandson, Cecil Kenney, of Hebron. I also have 10 great grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren, Mabel and Marion Folson, of Seffner, Fla., and Ronald Ebert of Crown Point. My husband, Lester Wallace, died in February, 1901.
"Yes, 90 years is a long time to live and I am tired."
Go to Stella Vandercar Wallace, "Pioneer History Index," for further information.
Go to Orchard Grove for further information.
Return to Lowell Biographies.