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George Wilcox Diary No. 2

 Pictured is George Wilcox, on left, and Kate Wilcox in the wagon.

In his 1916-1917 diary, Kankakee River Guide George Wilcox includes entries about people who worked for him on his farm and home. The longest running person in his employ appears to be Anna Radilyack. Anna and her family emigrated from Germany in 1882, and by 1900 she wass living in the Wilcox home as a servant. Her parents, Joseph and Margaret, owned a farm near Kouts. Her brothers William and Martin served in the U. S. Army during WWI. In fact, the American Legion Post in Kouts is named for William Radilyack. Anna passed away in 1923 and is buried, along with her family, in the St. Mary Cemetery near Kouts.

Bill Platt had a short but interesting employment on the Wilcox Farm. I think the diary entries about Bill are self explanatory.

*January 14: I went to Kouts and got Annie (Radilyack). The trip nearly used me up. Bill (Platt) got very sick.

*February 6: Bill was gone on a drunk.

*March 4: Bill drunk as hell. I was in the swamp in the forenoon.

*March 8: Bill off on a drunk.

*March 9: Bill Platt came back from his drunk to settle up, get his things and pay, to go to Edith Knoll's. Good bye Bill.

Another of George's housekeepers was Gladys Reddin. This is an interesting story. I don't think today's reality shows have much on Gladys' time employed at the Wilcox home.

*January 16: Gladys Reddin came. Very cold. Done the chores again.

*January 23: I went and took Mark Railey down to their (railroad) camp. In the afternoon. I went walking with Gladys Reddin, our hired girl.

*January 30: Gladys's beau (Mark Railey) came and stayed all night.

*February 15: Worked in the swamp all day. Got posts in forenoon. Wood in the afternoon. I was down to the store. Gladys and Kate had Mark here halling him over the coals.

*February 25: Helped Gladys wash. Went down on the right of way and got some (fence) posts.

*March 5: Mark Railey helled around here till 10:40 p.m. after Gladys. Then he took her home for good.

*March 8: Gladys came and got her things. Had a Miss White with her. Pullins brought them. Done nothing but housework and chores.

*March 28: Gladys Reddin came here about 11 p.m.

*March 30: Mark came to see Gladys.

*April 8: We came home by noon. Found Gladys Reddin had taken a dose of poison. Kate sent for Dr. Noland. He got it out of her. Sent word to her mother. She came and took her away.

Wilcox does not mention Gladys any further in his diary, but I have found a fair amount of information about Gladys with my Ancestry subscription. Gladys married Mark Reddin on July 16, 1916 in Lake County, Indiana. In 1919, they are listed as living in Hammond and have a daughter, Mae Evelyn. Gladys passed away in 1930 and Mark in 1951.

I find these diary entries interesting as they give a glimpse into the everyday life on a Kankakee River farm. You can find more stories and historic pictures at www.kankakeevalleyhistoricalsociety.org.

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Community Coordinator

Annette is Community Coordinator for The Times. She has been with the paper for two decades. A resident of Hobart, she graduated from Purdue University with degrees in English and German.