Elder Family Notes
As told to Susan Butler Elder by Agnes Elder, summer 2003

About the Simpsons (her family, her maiden name was Agnes Simpson)

There were 5 Boys and 2 Girls.  At the time of this writing, Frank and Leo Simpson were still living in Tell City Indiana but the others have died.

The children were born at 1135 12th St., Tell City, Indiana.  Agnes lived there until she married H Joe Elder.  The type of home they had was called a "shotgun house".  There were 4 rooms in the house.  No bathroom (everyone had to use an outhouse).  Upstairs there were two bedrooms.  Mom and Dad and the little kids shared one room.  The rest of the kids shared the other bedroom.  When the boys got older they slept downstairs.  Downstairs there was a Kitchen and a Living Room.  They bought the house in 1914 or 1917 for a few hundred dollars.  The house was torn down and now the property is owned by a funeral home that also owns the adjacent lot.

Agnes' parents were "pretty easy going" and there weren't too many spankings that she remembers.  Things were tough during the depression.  The kids went barefoot in the summer so they could save their shoes to wear to church.  Each of the girls had about 3 dresses, mostly home-made by their mother Bertha Simpson.

Agnes went to a Catholic day school.  At the beginning of the day there was a 45 minute mass and then the rest of the day was school.  The kids went home at noon for dinner and then went back to school.  She lived 7 blocks from the school.  For lunch, there was usually an egg sandwich or a meat sandwich.  She had to take an egg sandwich for breakfast and eat it after the early morning mass since she wasn't allowed to eat anything before communion.

Agnes' dad worked all the time, so there was always some food.  They grew vegetables, canned apples, green beans, peaches, pears, raised potatoes.  Never went to the grocery.  Bertha made 6-8 loaves of white bread about 3 times a week.  She had good muscles, everyone did.  Flour came in 24 pound sacks.

For fun, the kids went to the city park which was open all summer, or just played with each other and the neighborhood kids.

When Agnes was little, the family did not have a car.  Most people didn't have one.  They got a car when Agnes was 5 or 6 when her dad worked at the furniture factory.

One summer, there wasn't any work so Agnes' dad worked on a farm and was paid with food.  Her two older brothers got 25 cents a 9 hole round working as caddies for a golf course.  The last two summers in high school Agnes baby-sat a family who had a grocery store.  She worked about 3 hours a day for 25 cents an hour.  There weren't many jobs at all, none for kids.  Women sometimes worked but if they married they were laid off as soon as they married.

  • Owen Bernard "Bunny" Simpson - worked in an office at a chair factory in Tell City and then was a bartender.  He died of a heart attack.  He was called Bunny because Owen wasn't a catholic name????
  • Leo - was general manager of the chair factory in Tell City until he retired.
  • Frank was drafter after high school and later became VP of Tell City National Bank.
  • Paul - youngest brother graduated from IU Bloomington had a civil service government job.  Died at age 41 of alcoholism.
  • Agnes - graduated high school in 1938
  • Catherine

About the Elders (Herman Joseph Elder's family)

Joe's family lived in the country about 10 miles out of Tell City in Perry County, Indiana.  His dad was a country school teacher.  Joe graduated high school at 16, skipping one grade because he was so smart and his dad was the teacher.  There were seven children in Joe's family: Ray, Maurice, Joe, Mildred, Hilda, Wanda and Inez.  Inez died at age 2, probably of pneumonia.  The older kids went to school out in the country and eventually went to high school in Tell City.  Joe graduated high school in 1935.

Joe's family was originally Catholic.  When Inez died, the church refused to conduct a Catholic funeral because they thought Joe's parents were behind on their tithing.  It later came out that the tithing issue was due to a bookkeeping error at the church, but by then Inez was buried and Joe's family had switched churches.

Agnes met Joe in high school but didn't get to know him until they both worked at the furniture factory.  They made radio cabinets, brown with indentations.  Agnes painted the highlights.  Joe was a sprayer and sprayed varnish.  Pay was about 50 cents an hour.  Everything was cheap, candy bars were a nickel and were huge.  Joe asked her to go to a movie and then they went out 2-3 times a week.  Then after movie they usually went out to eat.  Other than movies, people went to dance halls but Joe didn't like to dance (said he had 2 left feet).  Agnes and Joe dated for a year and a half or so and married in 1940.  She doesn't remember when he asked her to marry him but she thinks he asked her in the car.  There was a small wedding.  He wasn't Catholic so they got married in the priest's parlor.  Agnes' brothers and his sisters witnessed the ceremony.  There was no honeymoon since they married during the depression.  They moved in with his mom and dad for a year and a half.  Then, they moved to Fort Wayne to work as attendants at the Fort Wayne State School.  They worked there for about 6 months.  At the state school, they helped with the mentally handicapped children there.  Then Kokomo.  Joe worked as a truck driver at Omar Bakery, delivering baked goods in Marion.  Then, he got drafted in December 1942.  He left between Christmas and New Years.  Went to Ft. Wayne, then N. Carolina, then North Africa for 3-4 months, then Sicily, then England.

While he was gone, Agnes worked 60 hours per week, 10 hours per night, in Evansville.  She worked spray painting parts for the wing of the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane.  She made $1/hour when she started and ended up at $1.25/hour but was laid off when the war ended and all the men came back.

Joe came home 1945.  They lived in Evansville.  He worked a few months for Grand Union Tea, selling tea, coffee and other household products.  When the new Chrysler plant was built he got a job there.

Linda was born in Tell City (or maybe Evansville).  They moved to Evansville and Joe got a job at a factory in Evansville that built window fans.  He ran a machine that pressed the frame for the window fans.  Don remembers taking a "family day" tour at the factory when he was about 5 and being very impressed with his dad's job.

Don was born in Evansville.  Moved to Tell City when Don started Kindergarten.  Moved to Kokomo when Don was in 1st grade.  He went to public school for grades 1 and 2.  For 3rd-7th grade Don went to St. Joan of Arc.  Then Maplecrest for 7,8,9 and Haworth High School until he graduated in 1971.


interesting web site for info about Jarboes:  http://www.stmarysfamilies.com/

elder notes from helen