Sunday, May 17, 2020

Love, Louis (Some of my favorite photos)

This collage has so many of my favorite photos from the book of Louis Rust's journey. People born near the turn of the 20th century saw a lot of pain caused by the circumstances of the times...war, disease, death and economic collapse. But on the small farm, things were much more bearable. 
Food was not as scarce and a family had more control over their lives. It was their land to manage, their own animals to birth and take care of, their own trees and produce to supplement their commercial harvests, and their choice to help their neighbors in times of need. A noble life!

Above: This is how the old Rust farm in Sibley, Illinois looks now. We visit every year, even though it belongs to a nice young man now. It was originally owned by the Hiram Sibley Estate. Sibley also started the Western Union Telegraph Company in the 1800's. He required all the houses painted yellow and the barns red. The renters paid their rent in corn from their harvests.
Louis managed all the hybrid seed corn for the 22,000 acres of the estate. Each farmer rented their land, a house, a barn, and some other essential buildings. They would share a lot of equipment and labor, and even shared bulls!
The farmers on the Sibley Estate had a wide variety of animals compared to now. They would have had a team of horses, chickens, cows, some sheep and pigs. Their crops were a bit more diversified than now. They would throw things in like oats and clover, fruit trees and made sure they did contour farming.

Above: This is one of my favorite photos of Louis. He is flying off to Germany to interview displaced persons in 1951. The State Department asked him to interview families to see if they could do well on farms in America. The immigrants would be sponsored by a family until they could get on their own feet. He earned more in 3 months doing this, than a farmer earned in a year.

Above: I love this photo of Ruth and Loretta Rust in front of the Rust farm truck. Dan's father, Mervyn, married Myra in 1950, and she is sitting in the truck. Mervyn and Louis were in business together on the new farm in Paxton. 1950-1951 was a busy time for them... Mervyn got married, went to serve in Korea, and Louis served the state department in the spring of 1951.

 Above: Pitching hay in Sibley, Illinois...Louis is on the right, circa 1912.
 Julius, his foster parent, is in the window of the barn. This is a messy job. Dan's least favorite job on the farm.

Above: The car photos are a bit of a mystery. The man on the far right is William Wisthuff.
He was visiting the Julius Wisthuff farm in Sibley with a crew and two Jackson cars, around 1912. They look like they are about to race. Where they were going and why---I could never figure out.

Below: This is a picture I took before I was married in 1986. It is a picture of Louis's son, Mervyn.  Pigs were in open pens around the farm running around in the sunshine. I never felt sorry for those pigs, until they were sent away. 
Somehow back then, a couple-hundred acres of corn and soybeans, and some pigs were enough to have a good life. Maybe with this pandemic, we can see the value of the family farm, and the community it builds. That is a hope I had while making this book.

I published 300 copies in November of 2019. They are still available for $30. 
I am proud to have his book in the Library of Congress, the Newberry Library in Chicago, and various museums, libraries and universities throughout Illinois. His hometown of Lehrte in Germany has 10 copies as well.
 But most importantly, Louis's daughter, Ruth Rust Brown, has books, including one in the library of her senior home in New Jersey!  

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Love, Louis (Helping Canadians with crops in WWI)

When Canada was fighting in the WWI, the crops needed tending. A representative came to the University of Illinois, from Winnipeg, to recruit agricultural students to help with the grain and other farming duties. They would receive $50 per month and earn college credit. They were happy to do it!
Canadian Pacific Railroad was happy to have them come as well, as they wanted people to settle in the central part of Canada.
When they got off the train in Winnipeg, in the spring of 1917, the 250 students were served a luncheon at the Cafe Royal, at the Alexandra Hotel, before they were shipped out to the the western Canadian farms. Louis was one of them.
His daughter, Ruth, thought he went to Canada to avoid fighting in the war. She thought that for 85 years! I was able to tell her of this noble cause! America entered the war soon after, and Louis was in the Army Air Corps by November of the same year, serving the country he came to 14 years earlier.

This is Louis' Registration card for the draft in 1917. It says he was in Canada with other students for 3 months.

Love, Louis (Map of Chicago, 1903)

Above: While doing research for Love, Louis, we went to Chicago many times, especially the Newberry Library. My favorite find was a large handmade map of Chicago, in 1903. It came in many pieces and each piece filled my big table at the Newberry.
Below: Louis lived on Fletcher Street when the family arrived from Germany in October, 1903, at the age of ten. Fletcher St. is one block east of Belmont Street. The home is still there, and has been turned into a very expensive one-family home, instead of being a flat. It is not far from Wrigley Field.

Love, Louis (Edith Rust)

Edith Wisthuff, went to University of Illinois in the fall of 1919. Louis encouraged her father to send her to school. She studied Home Economics, as did many women of her time. Home Economics is science!

In her senior year, 1923, Louis asked her to marry him. She said yes, and they lived on the farm her family had farmed for two generations previous.
Below: Edith and her sister in front of McKinley Hall at the university, around 1921.
The picture under that one is my son, sitting in the same spot as his grandmother Edith! that is one of my favorite things to take a new photo in the same spot as an old photo!
(It is not called McKinley Hall anymore.)

Love, Louis (Chicago 1904-1906) Orphanage

State Street, Chicago, 1905. Horses are still the biggest mode of transportation at the time.
Louis became a half-orphan, and his father dropped him off at the Chicago Nursery and Half Orphan Asylum, along with his two brothers. This was one of the many orphanages in Chicago at the time. This orphanage has been turned into a mansion in the Lakeview area of Chicago....175 Burling Street.
(To make research even more difficult, Chicago changed its numbering systems for homes and businesses after this period.)

Below: A postcard titled The children of the ghetto and the ice-cream man, Chicago, Ill.
Sometimes these Italian ice cream vendors were call the Hokey Pokey Man! They would take left over ice cream and serve it to the children from a cart.

Dearborn Street, Chicago. Circa 1905. The National Archives has a large collection of photos that can be accessed by searching various categories online.

Above: is a ledger that was found by my Chicago genealogist. It contains the records of Louis Rust and his brother Henry from 1904-1905.
Orphan records are still hard to find because of privacy laws.

Below: Wealthy men and women in the city would often do charity work and make large donations to the children of the orphanages. They often were on the boards of the orphanages.

Below: A wealthy young woman, Gwendolyn Jones, brought over one-hundred children from the asylum on a special train to her estate in Lake Forest for fresh air and ice cream.
They liked the fountains and flowers the best!

Love, Louis (Research in Germany)

During my years of searching for information on Louis Rust, for the book Love, Louis, I had come to a bit of a dead end. I wanted to know more about his history in Germany, and I wondered if there were more relatives there. Often times there are mistakes in historical documentation, and sure enough there were plenty.  
The ship manifest stated Lehite instead of Lehrte as the town he was from. It also said he was coming to Chicago to see Christel Nolhre, also misspelled.
Once I figured out the correct spellings, I found genealogists in Louis's hometown. They were able to find history of the family back to the 1600's!
They also put an article in the newspaper about how they were looking for relatives of Louis. They hit the jackpot! Not only did they find relatives, they found three letters that were written in 1905 and 1906. They were stored in a secretary drawer!
The first letter was written by the Chicago orphanage, stating that little Louis and his brother would have to leave the orphan asylum for lack of support. Money would be needed to send them back home on a ship.
The second letter was from Louis's negligent father, who also went by the name Louis. His letter is below, and he also asks for his sister in Germany to pay to bring the boys back.
The Third letter is written by Christen Noehre, the same man Rust listed on the manifest. He tells what a not nice person Louis senior is, and again asks for funds to send the boys home.
The boys were not sent home.  
Why these letters were kept all these years is a mystery. 

Above:  In 2018 my boys and husband got to go to Germany to meet the Noehre family. They still live on the same family farm, with a 1000 year old Linden tree. Yes, 1000!

Above: On this trip to Germany, they were given this photo of Emily Sievers (Rust). She was Louis's mother and died from a sliver in her finger soon after giving birth to her fifth child, three months after arriving in America in 1903. She was born in 1870.
This picture was hanging on a wall in the Lange home in Immenson.

Above: The boys posed in the same configuration as Louis and his crew in Germany, 1951. Not the same town, but made me laugh nonetheless. Louis is the second from left, and it was taken in Groningen, Holland.

Above: on the left: German genealogists, and tour guides, Angie and Detlef.  
Historians from the town of Evern are on the right. They presented us with a history of the Rust family in the town of Evern. They typed it out and also did a Google translation! 
They are standing in the original Rust home.
The boys were treated like royalty! Home made cake at every stop that Angela and Detlef set up!
Angela and Detlef also invited a woman from the newspaper and she wrote an article 
in the local paper! Here is the headline below.

Love, Louis---For Librarians

One of my favorite discoveries when researching the book Love, Louis, was the strength and dedication of women, as well as their sense of adventure. 
This is not always talked about when we think of women in the 1910 and 1920's. I found that college yearbooks were full of women going to college, including women from farms.
 They drove cars and motorcycles cross-country, and were some of the best early pilots.
Many heroes were LIBRARIANS!

Ange Milner was an illustrious librarian at Illinois State University.
During WWI she decided to document and support the troops from the university that were serving in the war. She sent them books and magazines and had others do the same. 
She collected letters, documents and photos from over 600 men and women in the war.
 They are still archived today.

While researching, I learned there may be something there from Louis, so we took a trip to Normal, Illinois and found that there were six letters written by Louis in 1918, along with one photo. 
It was one of the best days of my life!
Miss Milner also collected war posters, and the school has one of the best collections in the country.
The library at Illinois State University is now called the Milner Library.

And.....Speaking of librarians, Dee Beaver at the Plymouth District Library has done and incredible job gathering information from 21 local writers to highlight this week for 
Local Author Showcase. 
It was supposed to be an in-person fair, but because of the stay-at-home, she did it all online----and she did it meticulously at that!
 Like Ange Milner, she went above and beyond the call of duty, and did it out of her sense of dedication! I cannot thank her enough for the incredible body of work she has documented
and will be posting throughout the week!

Thank you to the service of librarians who work hard on providing access to our histories, 
even when it seems so inconsequential. 
I could not have written this book to the depth I did 
without their dedication and service. Thank You!
copy and paste.....
Online Local Author Fair: May 16- May 23
My author day is Wednesday the 20th. 

Above: (Not in the book)....Women Librarians, from the yearbook of the Illinois State University, 1919

Above: Louis Rust, immigrant, orphan, student, soldier, farmer, civil servant.

 Early pilots:
Left: Bessie Coleman...She earned her pilot license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale on June 15, 1921, and was the first black person to earn an international pilot's license. 

                      Below: Katherine Stinson....the first woman pilot to perform the Loop the Loop. 

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Daffodils in the Garden

Daffodils are peaking right now. Different varieties peak at different times. For this painting, I put down a pink background using red paint and a permanent white watercolor ground. While it was still wet, I used a wet brush and created the flower shapes by removing the pink to get back to the white paper. After that was dry I gave the flowers a little more detail. This was a new technique for me. The flowers are bringing me joy during this time of Covid separation.