I was born May 21, 1926 in a house on a farm, located at the end of Sand Hill Road near New Memphis Station in Clinton County, Illinois. I was named and baptised David August Friederich.
The house where I was born was built in about 1835. In the 1849 Cholera epidemic the entire Bloomhorst family died in the house. It was originally built of a heavy timber frame with brick and mortar between, covered on the inside by plaster, on the outside by clapboards. It was two story with a full length screened porch on the rear. The ceilings, including the porch, were tongue and groove narrow wood pieces. A stairway from the kitchen lead to one large room on the second floor. It had a finished floor and sidewalls, the ceiling sloping with the rafters and with a window in each end of the room. It was Harold and my bedroom in the wintertime. It had a full cellar underneath, with brick walls and a brick floor. Later another large bedroom was added to the south side of the house and a door was cut through from the living room downstairs. This addition was of regular frame construction, but covered with the same clapboard siding.
The house was sturdy enough that none of the fierce windy storms they had would shake it, although we did at times go to the cellar when it got particularly fierce. I remember a tornado that hit Belleville in 1938 that scattered debris right across our farm and beyond in line with the house. The house had a fairly steep roof. I remembers being up there helping put a new roof on, or I'd climbed up onto it, where my Dad and Uncle Gustave Klingelhoefer were working from ladders held on the roof by ropes running down the other side. I started sliding off and Dad caught me. I may have acquired my fear of heights that day. I remember that being when I was between 7 and 9 years old because my Mother was still alive then.
The Hole in the Floor
In the cellar below the kitchen floor was a patch that had been patched with a large dowel, like a piece of broomstick. Dad said a man had been cleaning his gun one day and it went off at his wife's feet, making the hole in the floor. He knew the man's name, but I don't remember it now.
We had a large Walnut tree in the farmyard, and when WW II came they needed walnut for gun stocks. Dad sold the tree to a buyer, who even dug up the roots to use for pistol grips.
We had trees surrounding the house, mostly white locust, and they had a very sweet smelling flower in the spring. They were like bunches of grapes. You could eat them, too. They had a good flavor.
Occasionally a flock of quails that had been scared into flight by something would fly through the trees and see the house too late, breaking their neck when they hit the house.
We had a smoke house located about 30 feet from the west side of the house, off the porch in the rear. It had a small room on one end for smoking meat and one long room for butchering, storing, and hanging racks of smoked and preserved sausages, cans of lard, sorghum, and barrels of salted down meats, ten to eleven pound sides of smoked bacon. Hams were smoked and cured with Dad's own recipe, then wrapped in flour sack material and aged for a certain length of time. We also had a cream separator there. Salt was added to water in the barrels for salting down meat, until it would float a fresh egg. Then we knew it would keep the meat from spoiling. There was a small coal heater in one corner, and also an area where we took our baths. There was a hand operated washing machine that was kept and used on one end of the full length screened in porch where Harold and I slept on trundle beds in the summer. The porch had three screen doors with steps coming off it on each end and in the center.
There were lightning rods on the house. The gutters on the west side of the house were directed into a brick and concrete lined cistern just beyond the porch. The water was allowed to run off for a short time during a rain to flush the dust off the roof and then switched into a pipe to the cistern. This was softer water for washing clothes. It had a hand pump on it to pump the water back out. Every couple of years we had to clean it by pumping it dry and then getting down into it with a ladder. We used a device made out of old tire chains to scrub the brick and concrete walls.
The main pump for all; drinking, cooking and for the stock was a drive well pump with a Sandpoint on the bottom of a pipe. It had a pit below it 7 ft. deep to accommodate a check valve in a large cylinder. At that level a rod went down in the pipe to that cylinder. The rod had a metal washer almost as big as the pipe with a leather washer around to make it airtight. The metal washer had a one way valve in it to let the water through. Below it on the end of the pipe coming from out of the ground was a simple check valve that lifted when the other valve was drawn up by the handle on the pump. Water was drawn into the chamber, then as soon as the handle was reversed the lower valve closed and the top one opened. This continuous pumping up and down of the pump handle brought the water up and out the spout of the pump. The Sandpoint on the pipe was just under forty feet into the ground and down in pure sand. It never went dry even in the driest summer, when some of the other local wells went dry. Every couple of years the Sandpoint would become clogged up with some clay, gravel or minerals and had to be pulled out of the ground and cleaned, or a new point put on. It was a brass point with copper screens in it. With chains and jacks it was pulled and sections were unscrewed as it came up. When the new point was put on, a cap was screwed on the end and from scaffolding rigged to a wagon it was driven into the sand again with a large wooden mall, sections of pipe being added as it was driven down until it was about one foot above the floor of the pit. Then the pipe to the pump was screwed on.
The cool water being pumped up through this pit so often through the summer made it a good place to cool watermelons, to keep butter and things like that. Water was hand pumped from the well for the livestock and chickens, also. We usually had about 10 horses, 10 cows, and around 1,000 chickens.
We later added a milk house which had a half barrel that they pumped water through to cool the milk in a can, and other things like watermelons. The water overflowed from this half barrel into the water tank for the livestock.
Many people had seepage wells; that is, a well dug down to below the water table so that water seeped in. Many times the water from these wells had a bad taste because of tree roots. They were lined with brick. Something was put in at times through the summer to keep the water more pure. I think that salt was one of the things used.
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