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Context and Connections

The diary of Louise B. Hancock begins on Saturday January 7, 1916 and continues through September 1919. There are some long breaks in the diary. For example she skips from May 1916 to May 1917. We selected specific entries that reflect the time and place. Photographs, maps, advertisements, documents, yearbook pages and other materials related to the time period are included to make the diary entries more meaningful within the context of the time and place. When possible local primary resources have been used such as the Sullivan High School yearbooks.

This page is divided into six sections:


One of the things that makes Louise's diary fascinating is that it's more than just a log of events. It contains insights and observations as well as a sense of her personality. Louise is a typical teenager using the popular terms of the day. For example, she describes things as "swell," "jolly," or "punk."

Wednesday March 5, 1916
I am feeling very, very silly today (nothing unusual I assure you).

Friday May 12, 1916
Lloyd & Meg, Ruth & Wade, Don & I are going to the show tonite. Ha! Ha! It was awful cold and damp. The show was punk, but we had a good time.

Tuesday September 16, 1919
Sam called a while ago and said he might be down for the dance tomorrow night but I doubt it like the dickens.

Like everyone, Louise had her up's and down's. She was sometimes sick and often lost her voice.

Tuesday February 29, 1916
I was sick all night with my side.

Saturday May 12, 1916
I was sure all in today, can't talk, etc. I wish I could talk.

Sunday May 14, 1916
This was a very dull day. Don came down and we stayed home all evening. I couldn't talk and he had to sing to keep himself company. Ha! Ha!

Monday September 15, 1919
I have no pep today - but hope to lay in a supply before night. I didn't dress until 5:00 P.M. and felt pretty punk.

It was clear that Louise was a lively person. Like many teens, she told little lies, ran around town, and "ditched" guys she didn't like. However she always had a good time.

Monday May 26, 1919
Came home for supper and went back to the show. Mr. Gunther was with Thelma. We went out to the park and ditched him at our house on way back. Then we went up to Coventrys and ate. He was in there.

Wednesday May 28, 1919
Claudia and I came to town, met Liz, and "Griny" Gunther & pal. We stalled them off and got away from them. After the show Red took us a ride.

Friday June 6, 1919
This man S --- has a terrible line and I can't say a word for him. He wanted a date but I couldn't see him.



Louise really got around town. This section explores the area where Louise lived and visited. Although Louise never tells us where she lived, we were able to figure it out based on census records and the places she mentions in her diary.

Downtown Sullivan

Louise lived in Sullivan, Illinois. This small midwestern town is located in central Illinois. She lived on Main Street within walking distance of the downtown area. She enjoyed shopping, going to movies, and eating at the restaurants on the downtown square. She worked at a shop, but we're not sure which one. The photo below is from the same time period as the diary entry.

Saturday February 19, 1916
This is one grand day, warm and sunny. I went up to the shop and stayed all afternoon. Thelma came down about 5:00 P.M. and we started out to walk around the square. We met Dave and Ollie and they asked us to go to the show. "Uncle Josh." We had some time.


Harrison and Washington Streets - Main and Jefferson, Sullivan, Illiinois
(Harrison and Washington Streets - Main and Jefferson, Sullivan, Illinois (Reid, 1917). Click image to enlarge.)

Harrison and Washington streetlamp
(1 - View toward Harrison and Washington Streets. 2- Street lamps (Lamb, 2005). Click image to enlarge.)

Examine other older views of download Sullivan Illinois: Harrison Street.

Moultrie County Court House

The Moultrie County Court House sits in the center of the downtown square.

Moultrie County Court House, Sullivan Illinois
(Moultrie County Court House, Sullivan, Illinois (Reid, 1917). Click image to enlarge.)

(Moultrie County Court House, Sullivan, Illinois (Lamb, 2005). Click image to enlarge.)

The Public Library

Like many communities, the Public Library is an important local resource. The Sullivan Public Library was built in 1915, so it would have been new when Louise was in high school. Today, a new library is south of downtown.

Public Library, Sullivan, IllinoisPublic Library Interior, Sullivan, Illinois
(The Public Library, Sullivan, Illinois (Reid, 1917). Click image to enlarge.)

"The Public Library efficiently supplements by its reference books the facilities of the public school in very important particulars... the library contains over 4,000 volumes of well selected books." (Reid, 1917)

Public LibraryLibrary
(The Public Library in Sullivan, now an outreach center. (Lamb, 2005). Click image to enlarge.)

Louise mentions trips to the library after school. Like many teenagers, Louise liked to talked. It sounds like she got in trouble for talking in the library.

Thursday February 10, 1916
The day before our most wonderful Dance. Our tickets are selling better and we are feeling better also. I went to the library after school and prepared my report for tomorrow.

Tuesday February 15, 1916
After school we went to town and spent some of our money. Then we went down to the Library and intended to read but -- Lucy sent us out because she thout we were making too much noise.

The Railways and Street Cars

In the 1910s, trains were very popular for regional transportation from town to town. Louise often took the train or met people at the train.

Thursday May 18, 1916
The day of our first Band Concert. Marguerite Brown came in on the 2:28 for the dance.

Railroad Station, Sullivan, Illinois

Railroad Station, Sullivan, Illinois
(The Railroad Stations at Sullivan, Illinois (Reid, 1917). Click image to enlarge.)

"With the advantages of three big railroads, the Illinois Central, the Wabash, and the Chicago & Eastern Illinois, with twenty odd passenger trains to and from daily, Sullivan is kept in close touch with all the great centres of the Midwest Country. St. Louis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Terra Haute, Decatur, Pana, Mattoon, Springfield and Danville are all within a convenient distance." (Reid, 1917)

Saturday December 8, 1917
It was terribly cold and I didn't got to my 9:00 o'clock class. I went over to the corner and caught my car. Don Miller took my suit case and stayed at the "Transfer" with me unit the Depot car came. I got home about 12:00PM and went to town and bought a new dress.

Louise spent lots of time in Decatur. We think she's referring to the "Transfer" known as the Decatur Transfer House. This area is known as Lincoln Square and is at the intersection of Main Street and Main Street. A small round building at the center is called the Transfer House. The area was used as a central transfer point for streetcar lines. Learn more about the Decatur Transfer House.

Decatur Transfer House
(The Decatur Transfer House, postcard from 1920s. Click image to enlarge. Or, find online version by H. George Friedman, Jr.)

Friday October 18, 1918
A.W. Howe called me and then I went to the train to see Lloyd start for Cal.

The School

While Louise was in high school, the town was working on a new high school. Louise went to the old school shown below.

High school
(Original Sullivan High School (Yearbook 1916). Click image to enlarge.)

"The Township High School has all the desirable appliances, apparatus, and facilities devised and invented for the training and education of the boys and girls of the twentieth century." (Reid, 1917)

The Theatre

Louise loved going to the theatre. She particularly liked going to the new Jefferson Theatre. In the 1910s, many theatres were used for both stage productions and movies. Ushers led people to their seats.

Saturday January 7, 1916
Today is the opening of the Jefferson Theatre and every one is more or less excited... I wore my blue messaline dress, white hat and coat. Mrs. Bruce and another lady came down while they were waiting. Don was rather late but we got there in plenty of time. The ushers got our seats mixed up and we had to stand in the aisle, it was some embarrassing to. Our seats were with Bob's and Ziggy's. Meg sat on the other side. I had one lovely time and I will never forget it. It was mighty cold and before we got home we were nearly frozen. Never the less we lived over it and will never forget it.

Jefferson theatre
(The Jefferson Theatre (Sullivan Progress). Click image to enlarge and read an article.)

Jefferson Theatre site
(Jefferson and Hamilton in Sullivan. The small building on the right is the site of the Jefferson Theatre. (Lamb, 2005). Click image to enlarge.)

Although Louise attended an opening January 7, the official dedication was January 15. People can from throughout the state to attend.

Jefferson Theatre Dedication
(Stranger Speaks at Dedication. (Decatur Review, January 16, 1916). Click image to enlarge.)

The Jefferson Theatre stood on the corner of Jefferson and Hamilton streets. The theatre was managed by Joe H. Ireland. The Armory building and theatre were both destroyed in a fire on December 1, 1924.

(Opening (The Daily Review, Decatur, Illinois). Click image to enlarge.)

Uptown, Sullivan, Illinois
(A Familiar Scene About the Court House, Sullivan, Illinois (Reid, 1917). Click image to enlarge.)

"The Jefferson Theatre, on Hamilton and Jefferson streets, is the leading house of this section, seating six hundred people. It is devoted principally to the moving picture features, but in the regular season occasionally presents a good stock company in the legitimate." (Reid, 1917)

The Jefferson Theatre and The Globe Theatre... "are both under the management of Mr. J.H. Ireland." (Reid, 1917)

Wednesday February 9, 1916
After supper we went to the Globe. Mrs. Bland and I were feeling fine and we had lots of fun teasing the rest of the crowd.

"The Globe Theatre, another house seating 250 people in a movie-picture show house on Harrison Street." (Reid, 1917)

Friday February 4, 1916
After the game we went to the show at the Jefferson and after the show we stopped into the Inn.

Jefferson Inn
(Ad for Jefferson Inn from Sullivan High School Yearbook, 1916. Click image to enlarge.)

"The Opera House block is one of the noticeable buildings of the city, and besides the theatre, accommodates the Chamber of Commerce, the City Club, the Jefferson Inn, and the Central Illinois Public Service Company." (Reid, 1917). This location is currently the home of the Little Theatre on the Square.

Louise also went to the theatre in Decatur. The Lincoln Square Theatre was built in 1916 and served as both a movie theatre and playhouse. It seated 1250-1371 people. Learn more about the Lincoln Square Theatre. Some people say the theatre is haunted. Learn more at Paranormal Activity Investigators.

Lincoln Square
(Lincoln Square Theatre in the mid 1900s. Click image to enlarge.)

The Park

Wyman Park is an important landmark in Sullivan. The park is located north of downtown. It was named for Albert Wyman who lived from 1833 to 1912. He donated 45 acres for the park. The Lincoln Monument would have been in the park when Louise was alive. In the 1910s it was a popular place for town gatherings, concerts, and recreation.

Saturday January 7, 1916
In the afternoon Marguerite and Agnes came down and Lloyd and Wade stopped on their way home from the Park where they had been skating.

Photo of painting
(Skaters, painting by Gari Melchers, 1900-1920, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection. Click image to enlarge.)

Sunday May 7, 1916
The Boys Band gave a concert in the park this afternoon.

Sunday Afternoon at Wyman Park, Sullivan, Illinois
(Sunday Afternoon at Wyman Park, Sullivan, Illinois (Reid, 1917). Click image to enlarge.)

Lincoln MonumentLincon MonumentModern plague
(Lincoln Monument at Wyman Park in Sullivan, Illinois. 1 - original marker; 2 - closeup marker; 3 - modern marker. The monument reads "This marks the place where A. Lincoln spoke Sept 2. 1858. Erected Sept 20, 1912". (Lamb, 2005). Click image to enlarge.)

Wyman ParkWyman ParkWyman ParkWyman
(Wyman Park, Sullivan, Illinois. 1 - posts along edge of park. (Lamb, 2005). Click image to enlarge.)

The Garage

With Louise's excitement about automobiles, it's not surprising that she often stopped at the garage. The photo below shows a man standing with a car at a garage in the midwest during this time period.

Garage in early 1910s
(Man posed with automobile halfway out of garage, 1900-1920, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection. Click image to enlarge.)

Saturday September 13, 1919
I went up town about 2:30 and stopped at the garage.

Monday September 15, 1919
About 7:15 - stopped at the garage and talked to Kenneth a while.

Central Illinois Public Service Company

Louise had a friend who worked at the CIPS (Central Illinois Public Service) company.

Saturday September 13, 1919
Then we went down to the CIPS office.

Monday September 22, 1919
I went up to the CIPS office in the afternoon - when Liz got off Claudia came by and we went to town.

CIPS advertisement
(CIPS advertisement, Sullivan, Illinois (Reid, 1917))

(City Building Light and Water office. (Lamb, 2005). Click image to enlarge.)


Louise talks about going to the Greeks. She was probably talking about an ice cream parlor on the town square known as "Jimmy the Greek's".

Saturday May 24, 1919
We went over to the Greeks. Glenn, Lloyd came in and we went for a ride.

Sunday May 25, 1919
We ate a lunch and were into the Greeks when the boys came in.

Places in the Diary

Louise mentions many places in her diary.

These include:

  • Candy Kitchen
  • Next to the Little Theatre - Restaurant - whether they hung
  • Jefferson Theatre (opened 1916), Jefferson Inn
  • Rexal (p. 55)
  • Big Bijou
  • Lincoln Square - Decatur?
  • First National Bank
  • the Greeks (p. 58, 59)
  • Jimmy the Greeks - Ice Cream Parlor - He was greek.
  • Jefferson Inn (p31)


  • Arcola (p29, 46)
  • Bethany (p47)
  • Champaign (p50)
  • Decatur (p46)
  • Findlay (p47)
  • Lovington (p46, 59)
  • Mattoon (p61)
  • Pana
  • Shelbyville (p47)
  • Windsor


Sunday February 13, 1916
Tabor took me home and invited Don and I to go to Charleston Feb 26 to a "Dinner-Dance."

Return to Top


Louise participated in many school and social activities. While some meetings were arranged at school or in person, the telephone was becoming popular. The photo below shows a telephone. At the time the telephones just used three numbers.

(Early telephone, 1915-1925, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection. Click image to enlarge.)


Basketball Games

Louise often went to high school basketball games. There are numerous diary entries that depict her excitement over the games. According to the 1916 yearbook, basketball had only been a varsity sport for five years at Sullivan High School.

Friday February 4, 1916
I then went home and was reading when Don called up and made a date for the Basket Ball game... It was a very exciting game and we sure did our share of rooting.

Friday February 18, 1916
Thelma and I went to the Basket Ball game we rather had a slight disappointment. Don was sick and couldn't go.

It's unclear from her entry whether she was more disappointed that the team lost or that Don was sick. The team only lost a few games in the 1916 season including Shelbyville, Arthur, and Charleston.

Team schedule 1916
(Excerpt from 1916 Sullivan Yearbook, The Retrospect. Click image to enlarge.)

Wednesday February 23, 1916
The B.B. are working hard for their trip to the Tournament, and we have hopes of winning first place.

Thursday February 24, 1916
The boys leave this evening for Shelbyville... We went to the station to see the boys off.

Yearbook excerpt
(Excerpt from 1916 Sullivan Yearbook, The Retrospect. Click image to enlarge.)

Although Louise had hoped her team would win the tournament, the Sullivan High School Yearbook of 1916 indicates that the basketball team placed second in the Eastern Illinois Basketball Tournament.

(Excerpt from 1916 Sullivan Yearbook, The Retrospect. Click image to enlarge and read entire article about the team.)



Cards were popular in the 1910s. The photo below shows a girl playing Solitaire in the early 1900s. Although there's no reference to playing Solitaire, it's likely that Louise played card games.

Playing cards
(Girl playing solitaire, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection. Click image to enlarge.)

Many people held card parties.

Tuesday April 25, 1916
At noon Mrs. McPheeters called and invited Don and I to a card party that she was giving... We had a good time at the party although I was mighty tired from the night before and so was Don. We had a fine time.

Even after she married Louise continued to enjoy card parties.

Card Party
(Card Party, Decatur Review (Decatur Illinois, March 11, 1922. Click image to enlarge.)



Louise doesn't talk very much about cooking. However she does talk about making Welch Rarebit. They likely purchased eggs, flour, milk, salt, pepper, mustard and cheese. It can also include beer. The mixture is melted and served on crackers or toast. Think of it as a cross between nachoes and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Sunday October 20, 1918
We bought the stuff to make Welch Rarebit.

Tuesday October 22, 1918
We went down to Hortense and made some Rarebit and rared all night.

Read an article about this interesting dish called Hunting the Welch Rabbit from The Journal of Antiques and Collectibles.

Check out some recipes of Welch Rarebit:

Thursday September 18, 1919
We made candy.

Letters and Letter Writing

Letter writing was a very popular activity in the 1910s. Louise mentions spending time writing and reading letters.

Monday March 20, 1916
I went home and then came back to mail some letters.

Tuesday October 22, 1918
Got a letter from Jake and one from Hazel Hortense.

Monday June 9, 1919
I came home and wrote Bob a letter.

Tuesday June 10, 1919
The mail man brought me a letter from Bob.

Tuesday September 16, 1919
I am sitting around waiting for the "mail man" sure wish he would come and bring me a lovely letter.



Although she didn't particularly like school, Louise seemed to enjoy reading. The photo below shows a girl of this time period reading. Many people participated in Reading Circles.

Girl reading
(Girl reading, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection. Click image to enlarge.)

Monday October 14, 1918
Just an ordinary school day. After school I went to Reading Circle. I had a chapter. Carmen and I went to town and loafed around then we came home.

Wednesday October 23, 1918
I came home, undressed, wrote letters and read.

Tuesday May 20, 1919
I didn't want to go to town tonight so I stayed home and read and went to bed early.

Monday September 15, 1919
I read a while and went to sleep.

Saturday September 20, 1919
I read a long time after I went to bed.


Riding in Cars

In 1903 Henry Ford proclaimed "I will build a car for the great multitude." Riding around in cars was a popular social activity.

Packard automobile
(Packard automobile, Packard Motor Car Company. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection. Click image to enlarge.)

Tuesday February 8, 1916
Don called while I was there and asked me to go "auto riding" with Tabor and Duncan and the rest of the bunch, we argued for a while and finally decided to go. They came bye for me and we sure had one hilarious time. He rode until 12:00, Irma, Duncan, Don, and I myself occupied the back seat most of the time and then Don drove the car a while. I had a most wonderful time.

Friday February 18, 1916
Tabor took us for a ride after school and we nearly froze to death.

Sunday February 20, 1916
There we met Don and we started out for a walk. "Whitey" Wolf came along and took us a ride in his Studebaker.

(1916 Six Fifty Touring Studebaker (Studebaker National Museum). Click image to enlarge.)

1916 Studebaker ad
(Advertisement for 1916 Studebaker. Click image to enlarge.)

In 1916, a Studebaker would cost $1050.

Thursday February 24, 1916
Sater "Ted" Austin came along in his "Regal" and asked Thelma and "Meg" to ride, they got in and asked us but we wouldn't go and just then Harry Harsh and Ollie drove up and we got in with them.

(1910 Advertisement for the Regal. Click image to enlarge.)

Sunday April 16, 1916
Then we took a ride and were out on the hard road and Lauren had a blow out. "Pat" had to bring us back to town.

Sunday April 30, 1916
Bonnie came down and later Todd's asked us to go riding we went to Lovington and from there to Arcola. It was awful windy we had a blow out.

Monday May 8, 1916
After school Glenn got the car and took us for a ride, then I met Don and he walked home with me.

Thursday May 11, 1916
After the show we met Don, he had his "Lizzy" and he asked us to take a ride, then we picked up "Bottle", the "Zig" and "Pat", we had one jolly time alright. I lost my voice. The stayed out until after 11:00.

A "Lizzy" or "Tin Lizzy" was a common name for a Model T.

Sunday October 20, 1918
After he left I read a while then I dressed and went down to Hortense's. She took the car and Gertrude, Thelma, Claudia Hortense and I went riding. We rode all afternoon.

Sunday May 18, 1919
Thelma, Claudia, and myself had a luncheon at Irelands and invited the boys, Sam, Red, and Davy. Thelma went riding with Dr. and Atherton and left Davy.We had a terrible time chasing them and finally lost track of them. It was a gay night. We drove up to the train to see Davy off and then went home.

Saturday May 31, 1919
We rode home on the fenders of Jim Booge's car.

Ford Company, Sullivan, Illinois
(Ford advertisement, Sullivan, Illinois (Reid, 1917). Click image to enlarge.)

Saturday May 31, 1919
We got up at 6:20 and dressed and went over to the station to meet the Co. C. boys.

September 14, 1919
We took a ride out the hard road with Glenn Dolan, then we ate lunch and walked a while. It was absolutely a dull day.

Monday September 15, 1919
Met Bill - he took us home in his Ford.

Sunday September 21, 1919
Then we met Glenn Dolan and he took us back up to the Irelands.

Ireland & Harrison Sullivan Illinois
(Ireland & Harrison Advertisement, Sullivan, Illinois (Reid, 1917). Click image to enlarge.)

Friday May 30, 1919
After the show we went riding with Red Harsh.

Saturday September 13, 1919
We took a ride out the hard rock and had a puncture - Rita, Red, Sally, and myself.

Tuesday September 16, 1919
At last our opportunity came - the big red Stevens was in town and as soon as they saw us halted and took us for a ride - gee! it was horrible. The fellow I was with was a scream. His name was Bushart and lived in Bethany. His eyes were built right up against his nose and he thoroughly resembled an ape with all due respect to Mr. Bushart. Our ride was the climax of a lovely day.

The Stevens-Duryea was a touring car. They were only built for a few years. See a photograph of a red 1913 Stevens-Duryea Model CC.

(Stevens-Duryea Advertisements from 1910s. Click image to enlarge.)




Louise wasn't very enthusiastic about school. However some of her diary entries discussed school assignments, homework, or reading. The photo below shows two girls from the time period reading and writing.

Girls reading and writing
(Josephine and Mercie, photograph of painting by Edmund Tarbell, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection. Click image to enlarge.)

Monday February 21, 1916
Things are in a very solemn condition. The German class was requested to remain after 3:30 and study.

Freshman drawing
(Freshman Class Drawing, Sullivan Township High School Yearbook, 1914. Click image to enlarge.)

Yearbook CoverDrawing of junior class
(Yearbook Cover and Junior Class Drawing, Sullivan Township High School Yearbook, 1916. Click image to enlarge.)

April 28, 1916
No classes for the juniors today: Hurray.

Tuesday February 29, 1916
I went down to "Meg's" and we copied History notes until time to go.

Tuesday March 21, 1916
Just the same old drag -- School --.

Friday April 14, 1916
School was unusually dull today so I look it upon myself to liven things up a bit, well I did and O.B. Lowe settled me.

May 1917
I spent the greater part of the month studying History and rehearsing for our class play to be given June 1.

Although she didn't seem to enjoy school, she continued her studies in college.

Her friend Irma may have become a teacher.

Friday October 18, 1818
Irma came and I went out home with her to stay all night. We went out to her school house and in the evening Babe W, Arthur Palmer and Glenn Cochran came out.

It's unclear when Louise may have begun teaching. In her 1919 diary she talks about school, but we don't know if she was going to college or teaching school.

Monday May 19, 1919
After school we chased around as usual and came home about 6:00 o'clock.

Tuesday May 20, 1919
Just an ordinary school day. Nothing doing except rain and it sure is doing that.

Friday May 23, 1919
The last day of school and I am not a bit sorry. I went over to school and got my cards ready. We dismissed early and went down to the Jefferson to rehearse for the exercises. We drove around and got the flowers to decorate the stage with and then left for lunch. The program was a grand success after which we went up to the lub rooms and decorated for the party.

The Report of Moultrie County Schools was published July 1916. It indicated that $15,000.00 was available for educational purposes.

School Report
(Annual Report of County Superintendent, 1916. Click image to enlarge.)



Sewing was both a pleasure and a necessary activity in this time period. Although Louise went shopping, she also sewed. Go to Fashion Pictures 1915-1919 for examples of the clothes for the time period. Also, explore some patterns from 1916 and 1917 at Vintage Sewing.

The photo below shows a woman sewing in this time period.

Woman sewing
(The seamstress, photograph of painting by Joseph Rodefer, DeCamp, 1920. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection. Click image to enlarge.)

Hats were very popular in the 1910s. Louise often went to the shop and worked on hats. It's likely that she would have explored the fancy magazines searching for new styles.

1910s hats
(Hat advertisements from 1915-1916. Click image to enlarge.)

However it's likely that most of the time she would have worn a simple bonnet as shown below.

Two women wearing bonnets
(Two young women wearing bonnets 1900-1920. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection. Click image to enlarge.)

Saturday March 4, 1916
..finished my hat, it was the blue one with the green bow on it.

Tuesday March 14, 1916
We trimmed Tom's "minstrel hat" and put it in the case.

Wednesday April 8, 1916
Things are running to suit me today, what a wonder. I am making a new hat (my poke bonnet).

Friday May 5 1916
Bonnie went up to the shop with me and I fixed my hat.

A poke bonnet is a hat that provides room inside the bonnet for a woman's hair. They became popular with pioneer women in the 18th century. In the 1910s, "Another fashionable new hat was a small round hat with a chin strap, which was dubbed the 'poke bonnet'." (thegavel.net)

Monday October 21, 1918
I started on my blue serge skirt this A.M. and worked until 4:00... I worked on my skirt all evening.

Tuesday October 22, 1918
Finished my skirt this morning.

Wednesday June 4, 1919
I made my blue serge skirt longer and wore it with my sweater.

Serge is a twilled wool cloth often used for skirts and suits. View a reproduction made from a 1905 serge skirt pattern.

Friday September 19, 1919
I went over to Todds and got the vest and braid for my dress and came home to fix it. I sewed all afternoon and then dressed for the show.

Saturday September 20, 1919
Got up this morning and finished my dress.

Tuesday September 23, 1919
Ripped Lucille S. red sweater for her - she came down and asked me to knit it for her. I went up to the show and promised to knit Mrs. Parker a sweater.


Louise wore a blue messaline dress to the Jefferson Theatre opening. This type of dress would have been a soft silk and would cost around $9.95.

Friday, April 14, 1916
"Red" Harsh took us a ride and then dumped us at the Rexall.

Wednesday October 23, 1918
We came to town about 6:00 and went to the Rexall then I came home.

(Ad for J.C. Ponder & Co and Rexall Drug Store from Sullivan High School Yearbook, 1916. Click image to enlarge.)

Hat Shop advertisement
(Hat Shop advertisement, Sullivan, Illinois (Reid, 1917). Click image to enlarge.)

Monday February 21, 1916
I got my gray shoes after school and I was sure tickled.

Todd Store in Sullivan Illinois
(Todd Store advertisement, Sullivan, Illinois (Reid, 1917). Click image to enlarge.)

George Bros in Sullivan Illinois
(George Bros. advertisement, Sullivan, Illinois (Reid, 1917). Click image to enlarge.)

Saturday March 4, 1916
We were in the Candy Kitchen about an hour.

Monday October 14, 1918
My furs came in on the afternoon delivery and after supper I spent the evening with Miss Perrin.

(Mrs. Charles S. Wharton, sitting in a room, 1914, (Library of Congress, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, DN-0003451. Courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society). Click image to enlarge.)

Saturday May 24, 1919
In the afternoon Claudia and I went to town, I got my new hat and she got her satin pumps.

Tuesday June 3, 1919
I loafed into Collins store all afternoon as Claudia had charge.


Sunday School

Louise often attended Sunday School. It's unclear whether she attended the Methodist church. However, she was married by the Methodist pastor. The church cornerstone reads 1846, 1861, and 1893.

Sunday March 26, 1916
I went to Sunday School.

Sullivan Methodist Church
(Sullivan Methodist Church. (Lamb, 2005). Click image to enlarge.)


Talent Show

Wednesday February 23, 1916
Every one in a big commotion over the home talent, we go to practice every evening. It is going to be lots of fun.

Thursday February 24, 1916
Rehearsals galore and lots of fun. The play comes off a week from today.

Thursday March 2, 1916
The day of our first appearance before the foot lights - Ah! Ha! I got my white coat today. Ruth and "Meg" came down and we went up to the Jefferson for our final practice. Ruth got sick and had to go home so "Meg" had to take her place. Ruth was still unable to be there that night so "Meg" took her place again. We had a perfectly grand time. "Meg" came down at 7:00PM and we went to the show together. Don and Wade waited for us and they teased us a fright about being "chorus girls." I had lost my voice. The violinist was some cut up. Ha! Ha! he sure did fix our eyes. Some time --

She continued to enjoy being involved with theatre even after marriage.

Club threatre

(Friends-in-Council Club play, Decatur Review (Decatur Illinois), April 2, 1923. Click image to enlarge.)


Train Travel

Louise enjoyed taking the train to area towns to visit friends and shop. She particularly liked to shop for clothes and sheet music. It's likely she rode in a train car similar to the one below.

Train car
(Chicago and Alton Railroad chair car, 1900-1910. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection. Click image to enlarge.)

Saturday May 6, 1916
We went to Decatur on the 2:28 P.M. and Bonnie came very near being late, but we made it. We had a dandy time, we came back on the 9:37. Bob met us. We bought a lot of new music.


Motion Pictures

Louise loved motion pictures and the theatre. At first we thought it was odd that sometimes she would go to dinner and still have time for a couple movies and a dance all in one evening. Then, we figured out that many of the movies were only 10-15 minutes long.

Thursday February 17, 1916
June and I went to the Jefferson to see the "Circular Staircase." It was some mystery. Glenn walked home with us after the show. What do you know about that? Huh?

The "Circular Staircase" was an 1915 silent movie starring Guy Oliver. This mystery was directed by Edward LeSaint. (IMDb)

Saturday February 19, 1916
We met Dave and Ollie and they asked us to go to the show. "Uncle Josh." We had some time.

Uncle Josh in a Spooky Hotel
(Frame from silent movie Uncle Josh in a Spooky Hotel (1900). Click image to enlarge.)

A number of "Uncle Josh" movies were produced between 1900 and 1902 including Uncle Josh at the Moving Picture Show, Uncle Josh in a Spooky Hotel, How Uncle Josh Defeated the Badgers, and Uncle Josh's Nightmare. They were short, silent, black and white, comedies.

Thursday February 24, 1916
The boys took us to the show, and it was rotten, a Western.

Friday February 25, 1916
We went to the Jefferson to see "Why Girls go wrong." We had a box party.

Why Girls Go Wrong
(Theatrical sign for Why Girls Go Wrong.)

Saturday March 11, 1916
We went to the Globe to see "Rags" and then to the Jefferson to "The Raven".

Mary Pickford was the star of the movie "Rags". You can watch this movie at the American Experience: Mary Pickford from PBS. Learn more about "Rags" at the Internet Movie Database.

"The Raven" is the story of Edgar Allen Poe. Learn more about "The Raven" at the Internet Movie Database.

Tuesday March 14, 1916
Mrs. Pifer and I went to see the "Green Eyed Monster."

"Green Eyed Monster" was a silent movie drama. Learn more at the Internet Movie Database.

Wednesday March 15, 1916
Aunt Emma was home when I got there. Lloyd came at 7:00PM and we went to see "Cabiria."

Cabiria 1914
(DVD cover for Cabiria.)

"Cabiria" was a 1914 silent movie adventure/drama. Learn more at the Internet Movie Database.

Thursday May 11, 1916
Ruth and I went to the Jefferson to see "The Flirt". After the show we met Don, he had his "Lizzy" and he asked us to take a ride, then we picked up "Bottle", the "Zig" and "Pat", we had one jolly time alright. I lost my voice. The stayed out until after 11:00.

"The Flirt" was a 1916 silent movie drama. Learn more at the Internet Movie Database.

Sunday October 20, 1918
We went down to the show and they ran "the vamp" over, it was good.

"The Vamp" was a 1918 silent movie running 50 minutes. Learn more at the Internet Movie Database.

Monday June 9, 1919
I went up to the show then and came home at 11:20. They had the "Auction of Souls" tonight. Fine.

"Auction of Souls" was a 1919 silent movie later renamed "Ravished Armenia". Learn more at the Internet Movie Database.

Tuesday September 16, 1919
After the show tonite we went to town as usual and dodged the angry mob that was moping around the square.


Jeffersn Theatre ProgramJefferson Theatre Programs
(Programs of the Jefferson Theatre. Click image to enlarge.)

Monday February 7, 1916
Thelma and Marguerite came down and went with Don and I, we went bye for Ollie on the way to the theatre. "Seven Hours in New York" was the play. We had a swell time, we stopped at the Inn afterward. Then we went home. We sure had some time.

Tuesday February 22, 1916
A stock company playing all week at the Jefferson. Don and Ollie took Thelma and I to the show. "The Country Boy" was the play and we took them a piece (not far). I sure had a swell time. It was real warm and we didn't go into the house.

The "Country Boy" was written by Edgar Selwyn. It first appeared on Broadway in 1910. (Internet Broadway Database)

Thursday March 9, 1916
A show in town what a blessing. I met Don on my way to school and he made a date for the show. Ruth had a date with Glenn... Our seats were next to Ollie's and of course it was rather embarassing. The play was "A pair of Sixes" and it sure was good. The best one yet. After the show Bonnie & Bob, Madge & Horner, Natie & Leo, Ruth & Glenn, Dow & myself, went into the Inn, we had a jolly time in there and then we went to town. I had a most wonderful time. it was 12:30 when Don left.

The play "A Pair of Sixes" was written by Edward Peple and first appeared on Broadway in 1914. (Internet Broadway Database)

Wednesday March 22, 1916
We were in the Inn after school and the troupe came in (a poor looking bunch). We went to the show about 8:15. It was "The Broken Rosary."



Dancing played an important role in Louise's life. She enjoyed planning and attending dances. Not everyone shared her enthusiasm. An October 1, 1919 article in the Decatur Herald shared area concerns about dancing.

(Laymen Condem High School Dancing Order (Decatur Herald, 1919. Click image to enlarge and read entire article.)

Friday February 11, 1916
Alas! The fatal day has arrived and it sure is miserable under foot, water ankle deep. The Mattoon girls cam on the 2:13. They went up to the Hall with us after school. Thelma and I ran all the errands, we bought the fruit for the punch and took it down to the Blands. Then we went back to the Hall and strung our Programme's. When I went home I found a dozen pink roses, Don had sent there for the Dance. They were lovely and I was elated over them. Don came about 8:25 P.M. there was quite a few there when we arrived. He slipped off down stairs and I had to fill his programme for him. We had one grand time and it was a wonderful success. There were about 35 couples there. We had a three piece orchestra, a violinest from Arcola and Mar and "pick". We danced until 2:00 A.M. I'd almost lead when we quit but I managed to peg along. We went down to "Buds" and got a lunch, which revived us a little. Oh! What a wonderful time.

Friday March 8 1916
About 9:30 Don called up and said that there was a dance and that he would be right down and we would go up. We sure had some fun. "Meg" and her cousin were there.

Friday March 10, 1916
A dance, can you imagine anything better? Well I should say not. I am sure some happy kid today... I worn my blue dress and truly, I nearly froze to death. I had a lovely time, of course I always do. We quit dancing about 12:40, then went down to Bud's and stayed until 1:10. Then we went home and I got to bed about 2:00 AM.

Friday April 21, 1916
Dance - and I am perfectly happy. We tried to sell the remainder of our tickets after school, but it was raining and no one wanted to get out in it so we left it to fate. Don sent me a dozen pink rose buds, they were lovely. Our dance was a success and Don filled out my programme just the way I like it. I had "Shadowland" with him, it was a moon-light and truly I never loved any thing more in my whole life. Nothing can express it.

Monday April 24, 1916
I am simply bubbling over with mirth today, I can't write any more today. Back again. After school Meg and I went down to Ruth's and then to town. There was an Italian Orchestra playing on the streets. We followed it around and then we met Pete and Art and we hired them (the orchestra) to play for a dance. We rented the Hall and positively I had a divine time.

Dancing couples
(Politician, John Richert and Mrs. Leonora Meder dancing, 1914, (Library of Congress, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, DN-0003451. Courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society). Click image to enlarge.)

Saturday January 11, 1919
The day of our wonderful dance.

Saturday September 13, 1919
This is the day of the Moose dance at the K of P Hall. I have a date with Clyde Sallee but I am not a bit anxious about the dance... I had a splendid time at the dance - Thelma and Claudia stayed all night with me - we had an all night session.

Most of the time, Louise had a great time at the dances, but somethings things just don't work out.

Wednesday September 19, 1919
We started for the dance. Liz and John A. had a slight difficulty about "breaths" so the party broke up - Sam and I had a fuss so the boys went home and we went to the dance. I never did have such as punk time and I never will go again unless I dance a straight program. I came home alone about 12:20 A.M>



Like dancing and theatre, Louise also enjoyed music. She talked about buying sheet music and attending concerts.

Wednesday: February 15, 1916
Bonnie was with us. She went home with me to get my copy of "Shadowland."

Thursday May 18, 1916
The day of our first Band Concert... I went bye for Meg to go to the Concert.

Listen to the Shadowland music (MIDI file). Shadowland (1915) composed by Lawrence B. Gilbert (Aristokrat, 50054)
Music from Eleventh Batch of Player Piano Roll Scans

Lousie loved to ride in cars, so she probably enjoyed the popular music of the time period. Automobiles were often a theme.

Ford Song Sheet Music

Old Zeke Perkins sold his hogs the other day,
The gosh-darned fool threw his money right away;
Rode into town, sittin' on a board,
Came home ridin' in a brand-new Ford!

("A Ford Song," Quartet or Chorus for Men's Voices, A. Flivver, composer,
1918 (Duke University, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library).Click image for sheet music. )

Sheet music

(Historic American Sheet Music, He'd Have To Get Under, Get Out and Get Under To Fix Up His Automobile," 1913 (Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library). Click image for sheet music.)

Saturday September 13, 1919
Played the piano for a while.

Tuesday September 16, 1919
This will surely be a gala night - band concert - gee! that sounds thrilling.


Louise talks about working at a shop throughout the diary. Since she didn't work every day, it appears that she just worked part time in a downtown shop. An advertisement indicates that there's a Hancock Commission Company, but we don't know if this is connected to her family. If it is the same family, it's likely this is where she worked.

Saturday February 19, 1916
This is one grand day, warm and sunny. I went up to the shop and stayed all afternoon.

Saturday March 4, 1916
I worked at the shop.

Monday March 15, 1916
I worked after school and we had lots of fun.

Friday October 18, 1818
We put up stoves all day and about 2:00 P.M. Irma came and I went out home with her to stay all night.

The Hancock Commission Company
(Hancock Commission Company advertisement, Sullivan, Illinois (Reid, 1917))

Louise also talked about other jobs including teaching and working at the theatre.

Saturday May 24, 1919
I took tickets at the show.

Thursday September 18, 1919
Thelma got up this A.M. when the second school bell was ringing and she was an hour late for work.

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Memorable Events

Louise's diary discusses many important events. Although she doesn't spend much time talking about world events, she does mention local events and personal milestones.


December 3, 1917
My birthday and I am nineteen years old. Glenn sent me beautiful pink roses. He's grand to me. Beulah, Marie, Charlotte, and I went to the Big Bijou to see Billie Burke.

Billie Burke was a very popular star. Like actresses to today, the often represented products. The photo below comes from a Pond's Vanishing Cream advertisement. Learn more about Billie Burke at Internet Movie Database.

Billie Burke
(Why your skin needs two creams advertisement, 1915-1919 (Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library). Click image for to enlarge the image or go to the ad.)

The Big Bijou was a popular theatre in Decatur, so the friends probably took the train.

Big Bijou
(Decatur Review, September 30, 1917. Click image for to enlarge the image.)

Circus and Shows

The circus was a big deal for small towns. Check out the circus camels in a parade in a photo from 1915.

Tuesday March 7, 1916
"Circus day"... We rode in the parade with Kenneth Roughton... we went down to Ruth's for supper. Then we went to the Circus.

Show troupes sometimes came to town.

Monday February 7, 1916
The show troupe had arrived about 1:00 P.M. and the school kids were following them all over town.


Louise discussed the illness and death of her mother.

September 3, 1918
At nine this morning Mother died.

Spanish Influenza Epidemic

One of the most interesting entries in the diary related to the Spanish Influenza Epidemic of 1918. The flu probably originated in Europe and was brought to the US by returning soldiers. People have speculated that the flu originated in Fort Riley, Kansas where the first 107 cases were reported in March of 1918. More than 500,00 people were killed between March and December 1918. Theaters and other social areas were closed to prevent the spread of the flu. Although it's possible that Louise's mother died of the flu (September 1918), it didn't became an official epidemic in Illinois in October of 1918.

Tuesday October 15, 1918
Schools all closed today on account of the Spanish Influenza Epidemic. I got up this morning and was so sick. I couldn't go to school, but as luck had it the schools were closed. I remained in bed for two days.

Wednesday October 16, 1918
Still in bed, gee it's awful. Dad came home from Indianapolis on the 2:30 P.M. and stayed with me. Jake came to see me.

Thursday October 17, 1918
Got up this morning - felt fine - but stuck around the house all day and played with my dog (haven't named him yet.) About 5:30 a box came for me and it was pink roses from Jake. Stayed home and went over to Monroe's for a while.

Sunday October 20, 1918
We went with Dr. on a call.

Learn more about the Spanish Flu Epidemic in Central Illinois.

Influenza Map from PBS


Louise loved the idea of romance. She often talked about the wonderful times she had on dates. She particularly enjoyed receiving roses. The photo below show roses from a Garden show doing the time period.

(Roses, grown by Frank Holznagle, American Carnation Society Exhibition, 1900-1905. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection. Click image to enlarge.)

Friday April 21, 1916
Don sent me a dozen pink rose buds, they were lovely. Our dance was a success and Don filled out my programme just the way I like it. I had "Shadowland" with him, it was a moon-light and truly I never loved any thing more in my whole life. Nothing can express it.

Flower Shop Sullivan Illinois
(J.A. Wibe, Florist, Sullivan, Illinois (Reid, 1917))

Although Louise dated many boys, she primarily dated Don Miller in 1916 and then Glenn in 1917.

May 1917
I went to all our rehearsals with Glenn and we soon got over being sore at each other. The 26 day of May I quit going with Don and began going with Glenn. On the 27 day we had a rehearsal in the afternoon, it was Sunday.

In 1918, Louise was involved with Jake, but we're not sure about their relationship. Once she even lies to him to keep him from coming to visit.

Wednesday October 23, 1918
This morning Jake called me before we were out of bed and said he would be down in the afternoon. We went home about noon and Jake came down at 1:00PM. He stayed until after two. He was so serious. I could hardly understand him. After he left he was examined and came back about 2:30. I am really shocked at his seriousness.

Louise dated many boys in 1919.

Sunday May 18, 1919
I couldn't go with him (Ziggy) as I had a date with Sam.

Monday June 2, 1919
Red and Bob Storms came to the show and I immediately "fell" for Bob. We went over to the Greeks and they came in. Bob brought me home and asked me to go to the dance Thursday night. Gee, I'm glad. I like him.

Thursday June 4, 1919
Bob and Lloyd came home with me. Gee! I am sure strong for Bob Stroms. At 7:30 he came for me we talked awhile and then went to the show, then Red, Rita, Bob and myself went over to the Greeks and then to the dance. I sure had a wonderful time and Bob is a heavenly dancer. I danced until 12:30. We traded one with Red and one with Sallee and danced the rest of them together. "Till we meet again" was the "moonlight" and believe me it was perfectly wonderful with Bob. After the dance we came home and sat out on the porch until 1:45 and then Bob went up town. I sure fell hard for him and he is coming back Saturday evening and staying over Sunday.

The song "Till we meet again" was popular at the end of World War I. Go to Vintage Audio and read the words and listen to the music. You can also find it at Halcyon Days.

Till We Meet Again
(Sheet music from Till We Meet Again, 1918. Click to enlarge image.)

Friday June 6, 1919
I am all up in the air this morning thinking about how I love to dance with Bob. It is 1:00 P.M. now and I haven't done a darned thing.

Friday June 6, 1919
Sam called at noon and talked about the dance, he wants to come Sunday, which shall it be Bob or Sam. Bob of course.

Saturday June 7, 1919
Rita and I went up town for some gum and we met Bob. Bob and I came home and stayed until 9:30 then we went up to the show and came back home again. Really I like him so well I am surprised at myself, but I sure do like him. He left after a perfectly wonderful evening at 1:50 and is coming back tomorrow. He missed his train in Windsor and had to come up in a taxi - gee! he is sure a peach.

Sunday June 8, 1919
This was a day of days, and I don't ever want to forget it. I got up about 11:30 and ate dinner, after that I read the paper and dressed. Bob came down at 2:30 P.M. and we stayed at home until about 5:40 then we took a walk and went up to the Greeks. We came back home and Bob went up town again, while I changed my clothes. Postively I never fell for any one so hard on such short acquaintance. I could just love him to death for he sure is the sort of a fellow I like and I hope he likes me, just half as well as I like him and I will feel good. Bob came back at 8:00 P.M. and brought me three small pictures. I put one in my locket and one on my watch crystal. I am sure glad to get them for now when I feel all fluttery and feel like sighing I will have the pictures to look at and dream about him. We walked up past the park and back home again, then "Bo" Wood, Claudia and Thelma came along and we took a ride with them. I don't believe I ever did enjoy a date with anyone like I did with Bob. He is postively the grandest, sweetest fellow I ever met. It seems so funny to be with him because a long time ago I would think myself flattered if he would even smile at me, but that was when we were mere children, more it seems as though a child hood dream has come true and I am afriad to move for fear I will find it is only a dream and I haven't been with him at all. I could rave on like this for a week and then never be able to express just how much I think of him and how a funny little flutter occurs every time I think of him. I know I have lost my head and heart also. After Bob had gone last night and I came in I thought I couldn't go to bed I was too wide awake thinking so I tried to read - no - how could I read when there was so much to think about. I couldn't sleep either as I thought and thought and thought just about Bob and nothing else. I connected nothing with my thoughts I heard the clock strike 3:00 A.M. and some how I went to sleep and woke up with him still on my mind.

Monday June 9, 1919
This morning I got up at 11:00 A.M. did a few things around the house and dressed for the afternoon in my blue and white voile dress. Bob came down at 2:15 and stayed until 4:00 then we went up town and went down to the show with Caludia. We stayed there until his train time and he went to the station. I am certainly strong for Bob and hope he is for me.

It's likely that Bob Storms is Robert L Storm of Ash Grove, Shelby, Illinois. He was born in Wyoming in 1898 according to the 1900 Census.


Louise really disliked rain and bad weather.

Tuesday June 3, 1919
Terrible storm last night. I sat on the floor of the clothes closet until it was over.

Sunday September 21, 1919
Could you beat this. Rain. it is just pouring down. No chance to go to Decatur or have a date either. Rotten luck.

St. Patrick's Day

Like many holidays, Louise liked St. Patricks Day.

Friday March 17, 1916
Everything presents a green appearance. The bunch is going down to Todd's tonit to a St. patricks party. We danced all evening and we sure had a good time. We left at 12:00.

Valentine's Day

Girls the age of Louise enjoy Valentine's Day. In the 1910s, comic Valentines were popular.

Monday February 14, 1916
Saint Valentine's Day and I didn't receive a valentine, altho I fully expected to get some comics. Ruth and I went up to Bonnie's after school and waited for the girls, then we went to town. We bought a lot of comic valentines and sent them to the boys. We were up town until 6:00 P.M.

Campbell's ValentineComic Valentine around 1910
(Comic Valentines from the 1910s. Click image to enlarge.)

Decoration Day

Thursday May 29, 1919
June, Katherine and myself went out to the green house and got some plants and took them to the cemetery to plant.

Friday May 30, 1919
Decoration day. This morning I went to the cemetery and planted some flowers.


New outfits are common for the Easter holiday.

Sunday April 23, 1916
Easter Sunday and every one is sporting something new.

Jr. Sr. Banquet

Louise was active in school activities. She made many of the plans for her Junior/Senior Banquet.

Tuesday April 25, 1916
I made out the programme for our Jr. Sr. Banquet and took it to the printer.

Wednesday April 26, 1916
Grand preparations for the Banquet. Class meeting galore, committees assigned. We ordered our decorations and went to the Hall after supper. We made our "Dome" for the dining room. We had had several strenuous nights in succession but we managed to get the paper nearly hung in the dining room. We left rather early.

Thursday April 27, 1916
Out of classes all day today, oh! what fun we are having. Tomorrow is the eventful day. We finished most all the decorations today. The font hall was in green & white Senior colors and the Banquet room was in red and white the Junior colors. Ruth and I went up in the morning and the boys made the gates. We roade around getting silver ware, etc. We had lots of fun. We worked all day and went down to Meg's for supper then we went back after supper and stayed until late. I was sure some tired girl.

Friday April 28 1916
No classes for the Juniors today. Hurray. Work! That is no name for what we did. We carried dishes and everything else all day at 5:30 the hall was closed and we went home. I studied on my toast and at 7:00 I was still studying. I am beginning to get nervous about it. I was on the receiving line and how formal that sounds. I was so tired that I could hardly dress. We had an orchestra, 8 pieces Don waited for me, I left about 12:00PM B.H. Gault refused to let us dance.

Saturday April 29, 1916
This is the day after the night before. We had to clean up the Hall. We returned the borrowed things in cars and washed dishes. This was once we had enough work. We left the decorations up. We paid bills in the after noon. We were sure glad when night came I was so tired.

World War I

Louise didn't mention many of the things happening at the national level. However World War I hit home when her old boyfriend Don left for the service.

Thursday December 13, 1917
A night I shall never forget. Don called me about 5:45 and said he had passed his examination and was leaving at 7:30 for Jefferson Barracks St. Louis. He came out at 6:15 and stayed until 7:15. I certainly did hate to see him leave. I took him over to the car line and I kissed him goodbye.

Jefferson Barracks was established in 1826 as the country's first "Infantry School of Practice." It was a gathering point for troops and supplies for many wars including World War I.

Jefferson BarracksJefferson barracks
(1 - Iron Mountain Depot, Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Mo, 2 - Relieving Guard at Street Car Depot Jefferson Barracks, Mo. postcards from 1910s. Click image to enlarge.)

Don may have worn a uniform like the one below. The photograph below is from the neighboring town of Charleston, Illinois.

WWI uniform
(Profession studio portrait of man in uniform, 1914-1917, photograph from Localités/Localities and/or Coles County Legal History Project. Click image to enlarge.)

The famous "I Want You" poster was published July 6, 1916. Learn more at the Library of Congress.

I Want You for U.S. Army

(I Want You for the U.S. Army, James Montgomery Flagg, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Click image to enlarge.)

It's likely that Don Miller would have been a member of the 66th Infantry Brigade in Regiment 131st or 132d of 33rd Division through June 1919 as part of the Illinois Army National Guard.

"It (66th Infantry Brigade) was re designated on 23 June 1913 as Company L, 5th Infantry Regiment and called into Federal service on 25 March 1917; mustered into Federal service on 26 March 1917 at Decatur; and drafted into Federal service on 5 August 1917. It was then reorganized and re designated on 16 October 1917 as Company A, 124th Machine Gun Battalion, an element of the 33rd Division. It was demobilized on 30 May 1919 at Camp Grant, IL." Learn more at the Global Security website.

In the early 1900s, many Women's groups organized Tag Days where they sold tags. People wore the tag to show their support of the project or cause. Sometimes the Tag Days were associated with the war. In other cases they were used to raise funds for plants for Arbor Day or local medical facilities.

Saturday May 31, 1919
We decorated the stand on the corner of the First National Bank and sold tags all afternoon. I sold over half of all the money taken in and I am so glad. I met "Newton", Jake gave me $10.00, and went home at 6:15 and Claudia called me and asked me to play for her. Jake came down and took me up to the show in the car. After the show Claudia W. came home with me to get my bag and I stayed all night with Thelma. We rode home on the fenders of Jim Booze' car. We got up at 6:20 and dressed and went over to the station to meet the Co. C. boys.

Upon their return in 1919, they would have probably participated in one of many parades like the one in Chicago below. The women are greeting the men in the parade.

WWI paradeWWI parade
(1 - 33rd Division, Infantry, U. S. Army, women welcoming home soldiers marching along street in Loop community, 1919; 2 - 13th Engineers Division, three women greeting soldiers as they march on street, 1919, (Library of Congress, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, DN-0003451. Courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society). Click image to enlarge.)


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Like teens of any time period, friends played a central role in daily life. Louise spent much of her time socializing. Riding in cars, dancing, and movies were popular activities for teenagers.

Friday March 24, 1916
On my way home I met Don and he walked home with me, we talked a long time. He came back about 8:30 and we went to the Jefferson. Then, we took a walk. We had a very heated argument. We stayed on the porch a long time.

Wednesday April 5, 1916
Mrs. Foster called me and wanted Don and I to come to a card party she was giving... We were surprised at being invited and when we got there we hated to go in. They gave us an awful kidding about being married. We had a fine time, if it was unexpected.

Monday October 21, 1918
Hortense called this morning and invited me to her slumber party tonight. Then Jake called and said he was coming down and would call at 6:00PM. I went up town and met the bunch and we decided to have a weiner roast at Claudia's so then we met Irma and we rode around. I came home at 6:00 and Jake got sore because I told him not to come. I told him it was raining down here and he didn't believe it - so he drove down to see (and it wasn't). Finally I managed to talk him out of coming to see me. We had two cars in the bunch and after the weiner roast we went riding. We went out to Whitfields and climbed in the window and were dancing when they came home.

Friday September 19, 1919
Rded had his Ford so we started for a ride Red, Rita, Claudia, Art P., Claude W., and myself. We saw the Northern lights and stopped out in front of Palmers to watch them. We got into an argument about the Bible - politics etc. Thelma is positive a fish has brains. About 12:00 we went home.


Many of the people Louise mentions in her diary were in her graduating class.

Marguerite Bishop
(Marguerite Bishop, Sullivan Township High School Yearbook, 1916. The quote was "Hastening hither with modest eyes downcast." Click image to enlarge.)

(Carmen Greene, Sullivan Township High School Yearbook, 1916. The quote was "But let me laugh awhile; I have not time to grieve." Click image to enlarge.)

Claudia Ireland
(Claudia Ireland, Sullivan Township High School Yearbook, 1916. The quote was "That which I said then, I said, but that which I say now is true." Click image to enlarge.)

Ruth Moore
(Ruth Moore, Sullivan Township High School Yearbook, 1916. The quote was "Debate is masculine; conversation is feminine." Click image to enlarge.)

Thelma Palmer
(Thelma Palmer, Sullivan Township High School Yearbook, 1916. The quote was "A still mouth maketh a peaceful home ." Click image to enlarge.)

Irene Pifer
(Irene Pifer, Sullivan Township High School Yearbook, 1916. The quote was "Duty is ever secret, but pleasure sweeter, and pleasure wins the day." Click image to enlarge.)

Wade Bland
(Wade Bland, (Parents are Mr. & Mrs. Perry Bland) Sullivan Township High School Yearbook, 1916. The quote was "Never did mockers waste more idle breath." Click image to enlarge.)

Lloyd Hancock
(Lloyd Hancock, Sullivan Township High School Yearbook, 1916. The quote was "Oh Jupiter, how weary are my spirits." Click image to enlarge.)

  • Aunt Addie (p41, 50)
  • Agnes (p25)
  • Atherton (p. 57, 60)
  • Sater "Ted" Austin (p32)
  • Babe (p53, 60, 61)
  • Bill (p. 67)
  • Bill Gransickel (p 69)
  • Bland's (p29, 32, 35, 37, 38, 39, 40, 42)
  • Blanche (p. 60)
  • Bob (p25, 26, 38, 43, 48, 62, 63)
  • Ram Bohin
  • Bonnie (p26, 30, 35, 36, 38, 40, 41, 43, 46, 59)
  • Bo Wood
  • Jim Booze (p34)
  • Mrs. Bruce (p25)
  • Dad (p26, 53, 54)
  • Carmen (p53)
  • Casey Davis (p62)
  • Claudia Hortense (p54)
  • Claudia (p. 54, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 68, 69)
  • Clyde Sallee (p62, 66)
  • Davy (p. 57)
  • Emma - Aunt (p26, 39, 50)
  • Duncan (p27)
  • Dutch (p62)
  • Elaine (p. 61)
  • Mrs. Foster (p41)
  • Glenn Dolan (p. 66)
  • Glenn Cochran (p53)
  • Glenn (p29, 30, 31, 36, 37, 47, 48, 58, 61)
  • B.H. Gault (p45)
  • Gertrude (p. 54)
  • Mr. "Griny" Gunther (p. 54)
  • Handy (p. 58)
  • Harry Harsh (p33)
  • Mrs. Hawkins (p. 55)
  • Hazel (p. 54)
  • Henry (p. 58)
  • Holzmuellers (p30)
  • Homer (p33)
  • AW Homer (p53)
  • A.W. Howe (p. 53)
  • Hortense (p. 54)
  • Mrs. Ireland (p. 59)
  • Irma (p27, 33, 53, 60, 61)
  • Jake (p. 53, p. 54)
  • Johns A (p. 68)
  • June (p29, 31, 36, 39, 43, 59, 66, 70)
  • Katie (p42)
  • Katherine (p. 59, 61)
  • Kathryn (Monroe?) (p. 54)
  • Leo (p33, 42)
  • Liz (p. 58, 59, 62, 68)
  • Lloyd (p25, 30, 33, 38, 39, 58, 62, 63)
  • Lois (p38, 41, 42, 47)
  • Loren (p38, 43)
  • Mable (p. 60)
  • May Lucas (p460
  • O. B. Lowe (p42)
  • Mrs. McPhieters (p44)
  • Marguerite (Meg) (p25, 27, 29, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, 39, 40, 41, 44)
  • Marguerie Brown (p48)
  • Meekers (p. 54)
  • Don Miller (p27, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 38, 42, 43, 47),
  • 1917 went to Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis
  • Geo. Miller (p. 54)
  • Ralph Miller (p 62)
  • Ted Miller (p. 60)
  • Millers (p 54)
  • Monroe (p32, 53, 54)
  • Mother (p27)
  • Arthur Palmer (p32, 60)
  • Pat (p43)
  • Miss Perrin (p53, 59)
  • Perry (p50)
  • Mrs. Pifer (p38)
  • Ethel Poland (p36)
  • Ollie (p25, 27, 30, 31, 36, 37) - His grandmother died)
  • Otis - Uncle (p26, 50)
  • Ram Bohan from Decatur (p. 66)
  • Red (Henry) Harsh (p36, 42, 57, 59, 60, 61, 62, 66)
  • Rita (p. 61, 63, 66)
  • Ross (p40, 60, 61)
  • Ruth (Moore?) (p25, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 42, 43, 44, 47, 48)
  • Kenneth Roughton (p26)
  • Clyde Sallee?
  • Sam (p. 57, 60, 63, 67, 68, 70)
  • Sally (p. 66)
  • Smiths (p31, 40)
  • Mr. Steinheimer (p. 62)
  • Bob Storms (p. 61)
  • Susan (p. 60)
  • Tabor, Duncan (p27, 3031)
  • Thelma (p25, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 54, 57, 63, 69)
  • Tubby (p39)
  • Wade - ushers (p25, 30, 32, 35, 37, 38, 47, 62)
  • Whitfield's (p. 54, 60)
  • Lucy Williams (p28, 30)
  • Ziggy (p25, 38, 57)
  • Written in separate pages - 1925
    • Wanetta Steele
    • Ferne Goodwin
    • Miss Thelma Marie Steele

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Family played an important role in Louise's life. She spent most of her time living with her mother and maternal grandmother. Her father was often out of town for work.

According to the 1920 Census, Louise lived with her father (William Hancock) and grandmother (Barbara Stanke). The census lists her father as a commercial trader.

Paternal Grandparents

Louise's paternal grandfather arrived in the area in the mid 1800s. His land was located south of town.

Sullivan Illinois Map
(Map of Sullivan, Illinois from mid 1800s. Click image to enlarge.)

Maternal Grandparents

Louise's grandmother, Barbara Stanke lived to be very old. According to the obituary of W.L. Hancock, she was living in Mattoon in 1925. It is assumed that she moved to Mattoon after the death of Louise.


When Louise was born, her father, William L. Hancock, was listed in the census as a saloon keeper. According to Moultrie County Illinois County Court Document No. 494, William got in a little trouble a couple years before Louise was born.

William L. Hancock and Thomas F. Harris were arrested for betting on an election. According to the criminal document dated May 15, 1895, the two men wagered on the outcome of the local mayoral election on April 16, 1895. A horse would be the prize. Betting on elections is illegal. Both men plead guilty and were fined 100 dollars. The legal action ended on August 6, 1895.

Court Document on William L. HancockCourt RecordCourt DocumentCourt Document
(County Court document, 1895. Click to enlarge and read the entire document.)

Louise's father traveled for work. For example, the Jefferson Theatre opened on January 7, but it was new to her father when he returned home in February. He was home for only a day before leaving again.

Saturday, February 5, 1916
Dad came home on the 2:13 unexpectedly... I went to the Jefferson with Dad, it was the first time he had ever seen it.

Saturday February 26, 1916
We were rather looking for Dad home but he didn't come.

Tuesday May 16, 1916
Dad came home on the 4:28 P.M. He brought me some black & white hose.

HoseWoman with hose
(Advertisement from The New York Times, June 17, 1917, Library of Congress, Serials and Government Publications Division, Washington, D.C. Click image to enlarge woman and see striped hose.)

Sunday October 20, 1918
This morning I slept late we had an early dinner as Dad was going to Indianapolis on the noon train.

Her father died October 14, 1925 of heart failure. He had been living with his sister Mrs. John Riggin in California at the time of his death. His obituary indicated that he was a traveling salesman who worked in New England and the eastern states.

W L. Hancock death
(Will L. Hancock Dies in California (Sullivan Progress, October 14, 1925. Click image to enlarge and read entire article.)

dad death

(W.L. Hancock Dies In West, Decatur Review (Decatur Illinois, October 14, 1925. Click image to enlarge.)


Louise discusses both the illness and death of her mother. According to her obituary in the Sullivan Progress, Maria Antonetta Stanks Hancock was born in Terre Haute, Indiana on January 6, 1868. She moved to Sullivan at the age of five. She married W. L. Hancock on June 1, 1887.

Louise doesn't talk very much about her mother. Her mother died September 3, 1918 in the Mattoon hospital. According to the Sullivan Progress, she had been ill for two years. She had been in critical condition in the hospital several days before they operated on a tumor. She was buried in Greenhill cemetery.

Mother died September 3, 1918 in Coles County.

Monday February 7, 1916
...went to meet Mother and went to the Doctor's office with her.

Tuesday September 3, 1918
At nine this morning Mother died. Dad, Aunt Addie, and myself were at the Hospital with her. The shock is terrible but it has to come. We came home on the 2:30 this afternoon. Mr. & Mrs. Bland, Aunt Emma, Uncle Otis and Lloyd came to Mattoon at noon and came back with use. We stayed all night at Aunt Emma's and Perry stayed with me. Bonnie and Jessie came to see me.

Mattoon railroad station
(Mattoon Big Four Train Station around 1920, postcard. Click image to enlarge.)

(Mattoon Train Station (Lamb & Johnson, 2005). Click image to enlarge.)

Wednesday September 4, 1918
It has rained all day today - Dad and I went up town to select a casket, then we went bak to Emma's. Hortense and Gertrude came to see me. I worked on my sweater almost all day. In the evening I went over to Perry's and stayed all night there.

Thursday September 5, 1918
A pretty day for the funeral, but my heart is heavy. oh! no one knows how I feel. Jake called from Champaign. After the funeral we went home and Aunt Addie stayed with us. It was a terrible dark night in thoughts for me. May the Lord help me.

Mrs. Hancock illTona Hancock Obit

(1 - In the Hospital, September 3, 1918; 2 - Mrs. Hancock of Sullivan Dead, Decatur Review (Decatur Illinois, September 4, 1918. Click image to enlarge.)

Mrs. Hancock
(Mrs. Hancock Dies in Hospital (Sullivan Progress), September 4, 1918. Click image to enlarge and read entire article.)

Aunts and Uncles

Louise's Uncle Otis and Aunt Emma Hancock came to visit sometimes. In at least one case, Louise and Emma went to movies.

Saturday February 5, 1916
I didn't go to Sunday School because the snow was too deep... Aunt Emma and Uncle Otis came down in the afternoon and Dad went away on the 4:28.

Saturday May 13, 1916
Uncle Otis came down and took Mama and I for a ride, we went up to hear the band and then we rode a while.

Aunt Addie is the sister of William Hancock.

Friday March 31, 1916
Aunt Addie was spending the weekend with us.

Albert George Overstreet

Albert's father was named Ben and was a jeweler in Paxton, Illinois. Albert George Overstreet was born February 16, 1896. According to the Sullivan Progress wedding announcement, Albert was a graduate of Paxton High School class of 1914 and of the Bradley Polytechnical school of Peoria. He resided in Sullivan since January 1921. He worked for his father in the jewelry store in Sullivan.

Albert completed is draft card on June 5, 1917 and he was still single and living at home. He listed his occupation as watchmaker.

Draft card
Draft Card, Ford County, Illinois. Click image to enlarge.)

After the death of Louise, Albert J. Overstreet considered a jewelry business in Shelbyville.

Husband jewelry
(Shelbyville, Decatur Review (Decatur Illinois, March 17, 1926). Click image to enlarge.)

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Historical Connections

Local History

May 26, 1917. Tornado strikes north of Mattoon killing 85 and injuring hundreds. See photographs from the tornado devastation.

October 1917. Bond campaign drives raised money for the war effort.


History of Moultrie County and Sullivan, Illinois

Detroit Publishing Company Collection, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Available: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/detroit/dethome.html

Reid, J.A. (1917). Sullivan: The Picturesque Capital of Moultrie County. J.A. Reid. Available: http://www.edenmartin.com/sullivan

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Other Young Adult Diaries

Two Diaries of Theresa Sniffen Lesher Cook
These diaries are from December 25, 1915 to December 25, 1919 and December 26, 1919 to June 11, 1923. Teresa was born in 1894, so she was 21 in 1915.

Wynne's Diary - the life and times of an edwardian woman (1895+)
On November 18th 1895, aged 16, she began writing a diary, and continued doing so until her death. There are 30 large volumes, a record of an ordinary life. This great diary includes photographs!

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Created by Annette Lamb, 1/05. Updated 2/05. All Rights Reserved.