|Lucy May Doyle,
Mrs. Jack Quick (1902 - 1993)
What is below are the words of Lucy May Doyle, Mrs. Jack Quick. The lady was born April 19, 1902, in Rossville, Vermilion Co., Illinois. She died October 16, 1993, in Niles, Berrien Co., Michigan.
When she was two months short of 15 years old, she married an 18-year-old boy. Their marriage lasted 60 years, until his death in 1978.
With the help of a young great-granddaughter, Mrs. Quick told her story. After a grandson typed the story, Mrs. Quick wrote in her own hand at the top of the first page,
Her story is 18 typed pages. Portions with names and stories about the living have been omitted. Where Mrs. Quick made obvious errors, I have corrected them, but only when I have strong documentation for the correction. And there has been some rearranging of the paragraphs, so that Mrs. Quick's story is presented in a more chronological form.
My name is Lucy May Doyle Quick. I was born on April 19, 1902, and at the time of this writing I am 84 years old. It's been a long life, but I must say here that it has also been a good life. I am the mother of three sons and the grandmother and great-grandmother of many children. I will try to put down the facts of my life the best I can.
I was born and raised along with my brother and sister in a very small town in Illinois called Collison. My mother's maiden name was Mary Louise PAYNE, and my father's name was Elmer DOYLE. Mother was 17 and Dad was 26 years old on the day they married, December 19th, 1900. My people did not have much in the way of money, but what they did give me was love and a happy childhood.
My brother Lester William Doyle was born Feb. 20, 1904, and my sister Hettie Marie Doyle Shaner [Mrs. Vernon Shaner] was born Sept. 20, 1906.
My father was very proud of me because I was always his pet. One day when I was about six years old, I was riding with him while he was plowing corn. I had my thumb in the wrong place, and he cut it with the lever. He took a chud of tobacco from his mouth, put it on the cut, and wrapped it with his red hanky. To this day you can still see the scar.
From the time I was born, my mother and father always went to the 4th of July celebration. There would be the fair; then my mother would fry chicken, make potato salad, pie, cake, and lots more.
When I was young, my father would take us to Church on Sunday in a big wagon. Family and neighbors would all ride along, even in the winter, and we would sing songs and have a good time all the way there and back.
My brother Lester, my sister Hettie, and I walked the railroad tracks to school and back all the time. We would be coming home from school, and Ralph (Jack) Quick would be going the other way. After a while, we started saying hello to him. Then I went to Auntie Pete's house, and I would see him there also. It was the start of 63 years. ["Auntie Pete" was Jack's foster mother.]
A long time before we was ever married, Jack and I lived in the same town. Jack had a pony, and it was quite large. Once in a while, he would let me ride it. One time, about one-half mile from the house, there was a group of gypsies camped in tents along the side of the road. One day, Lester, Jack, and I were in Collison [Illinois], and it was getting dark. I don't remember why, but Jack and Lester sent me home on the pony. The pony could run, and I knew her well. The horse was in a walk, and all of a sudden a man jumped out at the pony and grabbed at the bridle. I pulled the reins in, and that pony stretched out and away we went! Well, nothing much happened, but I never tried passing along that way again.
I should tell in here that my husband Jack and I had been going to church together in a horse and buggy for about one year, so we decided to get married, but we were too young. We lived in Illinois. You could get married at any age in Michigan, without your parents' consent, so we ran away and got married in 1917.
We went to St. Joseph, Michigan, where we got our marriage license and went to the court house there and got ourselves married. I was 14 years old, and my husband was 17. [They got to the train station in Potomac, Illinois, by horse and buggy; then they traveled by train to St. Joseph, Michigan.] So we took the train and came back to Potomac, Illinois, our home. When we got off the train, we had to walk five blocks to get to the horse and buggy. On the way, Jack said, "Don't look back, Lucy. There is a policeman following us." We got in a dark place, and they said, "Hello, where are you going?" Jack said, "We are going home." They said, "Where have you been?" We said, "St. Joseph." They asked what for, and Jack told them we got married. They said, "Oh, you did? Can we see your license?" So Jack showed them the license, and they said, "Well, go on home."
We got the horse and buggy, and when we got back home, we hit a jackpot. They were all there -- aunts and uncles and lots more so they said we could not live together. My Aunt Hettie [sister of Mrs. Quick's mother], said to my mother, "Mary, let them live together as long as they can. It may last for three or four months, and then she will come back home." Since my schooling was over at this point, because there was no money to go on, and since my mother was pregnant again at this time, my parents let Jack and me live together.
Our marriage was headlines in the Danville newspaper.
We were married on February 26, 1917. That summer it was very hot. Jack always had a lovely little horse he rode, and we had not been back to my parents' home yet. We would go to Uncle Pete's house for dinner on Sunday. ["Uncle Pete" was Jack's foster father.] This particular Sunday, Jack said, "Lucy, let's go to your folks today." I did not want to go, as I was afraid. Jack said they wouldn't say anything; it had been at least six months since we got married. We arrived about dinner time, and my dad was sure glad. I washed the dishes after dinner, and we got ready to go home to Collison, where we had two rooms to live in. Jack got the horse to the buggy, and I don't know why, but my parents were not going to let me go back. Jack was in the buggy, and my dad took hold of the horse's bit at his mouth, and my mom grabbed me. She took me into the house. I weighed about 110 pounds; she was about 250 pounds. She shoved me, and I was trying to get away. Jack was still in the buggy and couldn't leave it. She put me in a closet and locked the door. It was very dark in there and hot. Lester, my brother, was there; he had always liked me, so Lester unlocked the door and someway got me to the buggy. Jack and I got the horse going, and we were gone! It must have been a year-and-a-half before I ever went back home, and even then I did not want to go.
When I was about 15-years old, Jack and I went to a church that was about ten miles from the house. It was a Christian church that we joined. I now belong to the same church as my granddaughter, here in Niles; it is the First Baptist Church. I didn't need to be baptized again because I had already been baptized in a horse tank out in the field. The tank, naturally, was put there for the horses and cows for drinking water, but the church was using it for baptizing people. They dunked me in with all my clothes on, and Jack took me home wet as a drowned rat. I must have been 15 years old when this was done, soon after we were married.
NEIGHBORS IN ILLINOIS:
My only other close friend was Hazel DUKER. She had five children. Her last was a boy, and she died in about four hours with peritonitis. I was sick, sick about it. She left five children including that baby boy. The dad never married again, and he raised all five by himself. That baby went to war and was killed over there. His dad brought him back, and I went to his funeral service.
SOMETIME IN THE 1920s:
I also remember that during this same trip we had an old man with us, but the only name I can remember him by is "ole Tucker." We had no money at all, and this man had ten dollars, which seemed like a great deal to us. He had me put the ten dollars in my shoe for safekeeping.
TRIPS TO OREGON, EARLY 1930s:
We went up the lane and found two men who lived by themselves. It was haying time so we said, "Where can we camp?" There was a log cabin on the place, and they put us in it. It had everything -- stove, table, bed. Since we had been sleeping on the ground, we had plenty of blankets. We worked there for two weeks, and that money took us to Pokatello, Idaho.
In Pokatello, Jack put up beans, and I cleaned cabins; in that day, there were no motels. Well, by wiring to Oregon and asking for ten dollars to get there, we made it. Jack went to work picking melons, and so did the two older boys and me. The youngest was too little. We made it until spring; then we came home, and, you know, our house was just as I had left it, even with no locks on the doors.
All Jack's brothers [maternal half-brothers] seemed to be getting married within one year, so we made another trip out to Oregon. One of Jack's sisters was Gertrude [maternal half-sister, born about 1912]. Gertrude lived in California. We went first to California to see Gertrude and found her living in a run-down shack with two small children and one more on the way. Her husband had left her, and she and the children were barely existing where they were. Well, Jack and I just couldn't pull out and leave her there, so we put them all in the car and took them with us up to Mother's in Oregon. Jack's mother was so mad at us for bringing them there that she refused to give them a bed to sleep in, and they had to sleep on the floor, and so did my husband and I.
Gertrude moved into a shack of a house next door to Jack's mother, and the living conditions weren't much better than what she had come from in California. The baby cried and cried all the time, so one day one of the neighbor women and I went over there, and we looked into the cradle. The cradle was lined with corrugated cardboard and such. When we started to tear apart some of the lining of that cradle, we found that it was infested with bedbugs, so we took it out and burned it. That did explain why the baby cried all the time.
I tried to help Gertrude put up some preserves and tomatoes and the like to help her get by, but I found out that I was doing three times the work that she was doing. I got tired of that. I don't mind helping people out if they try to help themselves too. Well, that night I talked with Jack about it, and we got up and left bright and early the next morning and headed back home.
When we traveled out to Oregon in those days, sometimes we would pull off by the road side, and there weren't but five or six cars, and we would all get up about the same time in the morning and start our breakfasts and get ready to eat.
One day we were getting short of something to eat, and it was raining and cold, so we got a cabin for about fifty cents, and just before we got there we crossed a large bridge, and there was a white package lying along side the road. George [Mrs. Quick's son] got out and picked it up; in it was about two pounds of bacon. Well, that night we had fried potatoes and bacon and gravy, and we really thought that was some meal.
After Jack's foster mother and father [the Parsons] had passed away, we came to Michigan as that was where his real mother lived. She had married a man by the name of SIMPSON.
We found a house that we could rent that belonged to a lady doctor from Chicago, but she and her husband were planning on moving to Niles and living in it. She told us that we could rent a house, though, from them, and that place was about two miles away from where they planned to live. A fortune teller told the doctor and her husband that there would be a fire in the basement of this big house, so they were afraid to move into it. Instead, they moved into the house about two miles away, and they rented Jack and me and the big house on the hill here in Niles. There did turn out to be two fires in the basement of this house, but I put them both out without there being any real damage done. On this place, I think there are about 49 acres.
[After the business was doing well], she said she would like to have [more in montly rent] for the place. Well, I had some money at that time, and I bought it. I started this place in 1942, and I worked until 1980.
When we first moved here to this house, Jack had eight or ten milk cows. He went to work at Clark's [a factory] in Buchanan, Michigan. I milked those cows night and morning. A truck would come and pick up the ten gallon cans of milk. I cannot remember how many cans; I have always said there were nineteen.
We worked very hard at this place. I was up night and day. If they [nursing home residents] had to have me, I had a bell that would awake me in the night. They needed me sometimes as a doctor, or sometimes somebody would pass away. Then I would have to get them ready for the undertaker. Then I'd call the family and be up for hours.
A VISIT FROM A LONG LOST AUNT:
My Grandpa Doyle left those little children there by themselves [after their mother died]. A lady and a man took Aunt Ida. Then someone took Amanda. Then some man and his wife wanted my father; they told him that they would change his name, but he said he would not change his name. He stayed with the couple and worked all summer. They told him that, when winter comes, we'll get you some clothes, but until he was 16, he had to put up with what they gave him. His butt would shake [from the cold] sometimes. If it was Sunday, he would not go into the house, and he never went in to eat, so he did without.
Then, I don't know how old my dad was, but he went to work for a man that had two boys about his age. They took him and loved him. They were on a very large farm with lots and lots of cattle. They put him on as boss of all the other men. He stayed with them for years, and he kept in touch with them for years. They got to go to Chicago with the cattle. They'd put the cattle in the stock yards and go to bed, to their room in the hotel. Then all the boys went down to the saloon, so my dad went along. They were drinking beer, and Dad said, "I'll have a drink of that." Well, he took a taste of it and said it tasted like horse piss smelled. That was the last time he ever tasted any kind of beer or whiskey. My two brothers never drank, only water. My husband never drank either. He said he liked whiskey, but he knew not to drink it.
When I was a little girl, about five years old, I recall my parents talking about Aunt Minnie. Aunt Minnie was married to a man by the name of Charles Woody PATTEN and had two children. What I remember is that her husband left her with his parents one day and then took off to parts unknown. (This all took place in Montana.) Eventually his parents kicked her out, but they kept the two boys. Their names were Murray and Tillman. Minnie worked on neighboring farms, cooking and cleaning for people. She met and then married a farm hand from one of the places she worked. She really never knew if she could legally marry this man as she never heard from her first husband as to whether there was ever a divorce. These two ran off, and they weren't heard from for about 35 years.
I can recall that my Grandpa Doyle would give me quarters at various times to go and see a fortune teller to ask where his daughter Minnie was. The only thing the fortune tellers ever told me was that she was out west somewhere, but they told no more than that. [Mrs. Quick's grandfather died in 1916.]
After some 35 years of not knowing whether she was dead or alive, one day we got a letter from her. The letter was asking my father to prove her age. Minnie's husband died and left her alone at the age of 62 years old. She tried to apply to Social Security, but she needed proof that she was 62 years old. There were no birth certificates in those days so you had to find someone who knew you for many years and could testify to your age. The only person that could do this for Minnie was my father, as Minnie was his sister. [Minnie was born May 1, 1880, in Vermilion Co., Illinois; she would have been 62 in 1942.]
Minnie came to my home and stayed for about six months. We learned that Aunt Minnie and her 2nd husband had traveled from state to state in an old covered wagon. They had a baby during this time, which I was told died and was buried along side of the road somewhere. The second time she got pregnant [by her second husband], the child lived. Edward Meeks is the name of that son.
I took it upon myself to try to locate her first two sons, Murray and Tillman. Tillman we never found, but by a great deal of good luck, I managed to track down Murray and found that he was living close to Niles, Michigan. I called a man by the name of John Patten, from out of the phone book in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This was the last place Aunt Minnie's first son had been heard from. The woman who answered the phone was John Patten's new wife, and she had just received a letter from her father-in-law, Murray Patten, the day before. She read me the letter, and I was convinced that this Murray Patten was Aunt Minnie's son. It turned out that Murray was living very close to Niles, Michigan. I called him and told him that I had his real mother staying with me. He came down immediately to see her and talked with a mother he had not seen since he was five years old, 35 years before. Minnie lived out her life in Flint, Michigan, kept in contact with her two sons, and died at the age of 75. [CORRECTION: Minnie died November, 10, 1949, at the age of 69.]
The railroad was next to the house, and almost every day there was a man who would come to the house and ask for food. I always gave them all they could eat. Jack used to say, "Lucy, they leave their mark down at the road." And I'd say, "Well, they need to eat."
When we lived about two miles out of Collison, Illinois, there were about eight houses there. We called it "String town." In one of these houses lived a man and wife; her name was Ethel Porter. Every year she had a baby. Only two lived; the rest passed away. The woman was a redhead, and it was known that she had a very bad heart. Well, she started to have a baby each year, and she had five children. Some were still born, and some lived two or three days. I was always there to care for her and the babies. Jack and her husband went to town, would get a little casket, and I would put the child in it, and they would take it to the paupers cemetery and put the child to rest. Some time later, she passed away.
Then one time we lived in St. Joe, Illinois, and this lady took sick, and they called for me. I did not know them. We used to have what we called a straw bed, but she did not have the tick sewed up, so she lay on a bed of straw. She had twins, and they came in that straw. I got them out as fast as I could and dressed them. By that time, the doctor had got there, but they passed away -- little girls.
MRS. QUICK's SONS:
The first-born was George. He was born on July 20, 1918.
I can recall that he had sick spells that would last for an hour or more at a time. Day after day, and for a long period of days. One day the doctor that we had been seeing called and said that there was nothing wrong with the boy and that I just babied him too much. I wasn't satisfied with that, so I took George to another doctor where they did finally operate on him and found that he had a growth on his bowels. He seemed real good after that, so I was glad that I found another doctor.
When George was 14 years old, he started for Oregon. Well, his dad was very hard on him at home. His grandmother lived there, and so did three uncles. He rode the trains and traveled out there with no money. He got there in about two or three weeks, and he lived by himself and worked in the woods. I believe he stayed out there about two or three years.
The second son born to Jack and me was Elmer. Born December 28, 1919. Elmer passed away July 1983.
When Elmer was a young man -- I believe he did have his first two children at this time -- he took ill. There was no proper medicine, so for seven days he lay there, and all the time he wanted me to sit with him night and day. The doctor called me out in the hall and said, "Mrs. Quick, this boy is going to die, and there is only one thing I can do: I can give him a pill, and it will either kill him or he will get well. But this way, he will die." So, I did not know what to say. After a while, I said, "Well, give it to him." Then I sat by him and had his hand, and we went to sleep. Several hours afterward, Elmer woke up and called my name. Then we both went back to sleep. When he woke up next, we were both lots better.
Elmer was a railroad man for years. Then he took very sick with his lungs. He was sick a long time, and he passed a very hard way.
Garold Winton was our third son and last. Born April 16, 1922.
When Garold was about 12 or 14 years old, he had a bad ear infection, and it hurt him so bad that one day my mother's sister, who was visiting from Gary, Indiana, just came over and put him in the car and took him to the hospital. They operated on his ear, and then it was better.
TALKING, IN 1986:
Then I was sick, and George [son #1] came to see me twice a day, morning and afternoon. Then in that year I could not stay alone, so George and Garold [son #3] worried so much, and they put me here. I like it, as Opal Tittle worked for me for 43 years, and Opal Pierce that long too, and Farnara was with me for 17 years; it's like old times. I think I will live out my life here. [The three women Mrs. Quick named had worked for her when she owned the nursing home; they continued working at the nursing home after it was sold. By 1986, Mrs. Quick was living in the nursing home that she had once owned, and being cared for by some of the women she had once employed and worked with.]
For 37 years, my husband and I owned and operated this home that I am in now. I ran it until six months after Jack passed away.
In 1942, I gave $7,500 for this home that I am in now. I sold it in 1980 to a man called Ron Westman, and I got a lot of money for it, and that is what I have to live on.
I had not been too well for a little while, and I went to the doctor. Garold [son] took me. I have sugar, and it was 255, and it should be 110, so I am a sugar diabetic. I have to be careful of what I eat.
After Jack, in his later years, got too sick to drive, he still wanted to go out to Oregon to [his half-brother] Floyd's one year, and so one of our grandsons took us. After that, Jack never was able to drive, and I drove to Oregon and back with him. I went for three years, back and forth. The last time we went, Jack was very sick, and he said, "Lucy, you can drive and take care of me also." So I did take him, and it was a very long 2,050 miles. The last time I took him, he just lived six months afterwards, but he wanted to go, and I am not sorry that I did it."
It was about three years ago that my sister-in-law Fanny Simpson [wife of one of Jack's maternal half-brothers] and I decided to travel to parts unknown. We gave $208 for a ticket, and we got on that bus and were gone for three weeks, and we sure had a good time. We got off the bus when we wanted to stop some place. We stopped in California and stayed with Fanny's son (Bill Sterling) and his wife, and they took us all over that big city. They were so good to us. We were there all day Sunday. They took us for a long ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and then to see San Quentin Prison. But when we got home, George said, "Mom, you can't take off like that any more." [Mrs. Quick would have been 81 when she took off on the cross-country bus trip!]
One granddaughter is all I have here. All the rest are gone so far from home. You will never know how I love to see my own come to see me, but they do the best they can.
Garold came yesterday, and I got a new pair of red shoes, a red pocketbook, and a red hat.
I have four lovely African Violets. I love them and fool with them all the time. The lady here is going to fix my window for them; it's a large window.
Mrs. Quick died October 16, 1993, seven years after the talks with her great-granddaughter that produced this life story.
For a list of a dozen generations of Mrs. Quick's ancestors, check this: ahnentafel
Match for Jack Quick on 1910 census, Pilot
Township, Vermilion Co., Illinois;
John M. Parsons and his wife Florence (Edenburn) Parsons were the foster parents of Mrs. Quick's husband:
2nd Match for Jack Quick on 1910 census,
Precinct 5, Danville Twp, Vermilion Co., Illinois;
Match for Jack Quick's mother on 1900 census,
Pilot Township, Vermilion Co., Illinois;
Match for Jack Quick's mother on 1920 census,
Harris Township, St. Joseph Co., Indiana;
Match for Jack Quick's mother on 1930 census,
Berrien Township, Berrien Co., Michigan;