By Edith Bradley Rendleman

From All anyone Ever sought after of Me was once to Work... "Starting round 1950, humans stopped elevating chickens, milking cows, and elevating hogs. they simply purchase it on the shop, able to devour. much purchase a steer and feature it processed in Dongola and positioned it of their freezer. What a distinction! ladies have gotten it really easy now. they do not even recognize what it used to be wish to start off. and that i bet my mother's existence, whilst she began, was once as difficult back as mine, simply because that they had to make every thing by means of hand. i do not comprehend if it will possibly get any more straightforward for those women. yet they do not know what it used to be like, and so they by no means will. every little thing is packaged. All you do is visit the shop and purchase you a package deal and cook dinner it. automated washers and dryers. i am completely satisfied they do not have to paintings like I did. Very glad." Edith Bradley Rendleman's tale of her lifestyles in southern Illinois is striking in lots of methods. Recalling the 1st half the 20th century in nice element, she vividly cites vignettes from her adolescence as her kin moved from farm to farm until eventually settling in 1909 within the Mississippi bottoms of Wolf Lake. She recounts the lives and instances of her relations and friends in the course of an period long past forever.Remarkable for the bright information that evoke the previous, Rendleman's account is unusual in one other admire: memoirs of the time—usually written by way of humans from elite or city families—often reek of nostalgia. yet Rendleman's memoir differs from the norm. Born bad in rural southern Illinois, she tells an unvarnished story of what it was once particularly like growing to be up on a tenant farm early this century.  

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Extra resources for All anybody ever wanted of me was to work: the memoirs of Edith Bradley Rendleman

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Mark Wagner identified sites on maps; Professor Gary Kolb and members of the 1992 field school in ethnohistory and documentary photography at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale made copy negatives of Edith Rendleman's photographic collection; and the extremely helpful staff at the Research Photography and Illustration Facility, SIUC, printed the photographs. Kevin Davie at Morris Library, SIUC, scanned maps so I could trace them. Thanks also to Valerie Yow, Ronald Rich, and anonymous readers, whose comments enabled me to revise the manuscript; to James Simmons, editorial director at Southern Illinois University Press, who helped initiate this project; and to the sensitive and careful editing by freelance copyeditor John Wilson, Managing editor Susan Wilson, assistant editor Tracey Sobol-Hill, and the rest of the staff at SIU Press.

Rallo Cemetery, where many of Edith's relatives are buried, lies on a low ridge between the road and Clear Creek (see map 3). By the 1890s logging had moved west into the Mississippi bottoms. The broad bottoms, cut by swampy meanders of old river channels, were subject to annual flooding and occasional massive floods, like one in 1844 that drove many settlers from the area. The bottoms had always been distinct from the rest of the county. Malaria-infested, subject to inundation, swarming with snakes, turtles, and other reptiles in spring and fall, but also the Page 5 home of giant nut trees and the wintering ground for huge flocks of geese and ducks, it was not attractive to families who wanted to farm in stable communities.

Known as the "Goodman Ditch," the project faced strong opposition by some neighboring landowners who challenged Page 7 it both in court and by direct action, repeatedly dynamiting or attempting to dynamite the dam. The conflict came to a head in February 1894 when the sheriff and his deputies confronted a group of men hired to destroy the dam. After a chase they arrested two men who implicated several large landowners; a third man was found some weeks later drowned behind the dam. The affair finally went into the courts.

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