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Louise Hancock, 1916The Life of Louise B. Hancock

The life of Barbara Louise Hancock Overstreet can be pieced together with information from a variety of sources. With no living siblings or other close family members, her life might have been forgotten had she not kept a diary.

The following account of her life comes from information found in her diary, school yearbook, and local newspapers.


Early Years

Barbara Louise Hancock was born December 3, 1898. In the 1910 census her address was listed as 1304 Main Street, Sullivan, Illinois.

We don't have any photographs of Louise's early years. The earliest photo is her sophomore year in high school in the photo below. We think she's in the first row, second from the right, but we're not sure.

Sophomore Year 1915
(Louise Hancock and the Sophomore Class (Sullivan Township High School Yearbook, 1915). Click image to enlarge.)

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School Days

Little is known about her early education, but she appears in the high school yearbooks.

Louise Hancock 1916
(Louise Hancock, Sullivan Township High School Yearbook, 1916. The quote was "Life is a jest, and all things show it, I thought it once, and now I know it." Click image to enlarge.)

Louise graduated from Sullivan High School in Sullivan, Illinois in the class of 1917.

She attended Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois in 1918. Although scheduled to graduate in 1921, she only appears in the freshman yearbook.

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Young Adult Life

Although she speaks in her diary about working in the "shop," it's unclear whether she ever worked in retail as a full-time job.

Her wedding announcement in the Sullivan Progess in 1922 stated that she taught one year in the Sullivan school.

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Louise married Albert Overstreet October 26, 1922.

(Luncheon Given for Two Brides-to-Be. Sullivan Progress, October 24, 1922. Click image to enlarge and view the entire article.)

According to the Sullivan Progress, Mrs. McLaughlin hosted a luncheon for two women: Hortense Miller and Louise Hancock. Eighteen guests attended the luncheon that included four courses. The color scheme was yellow. The guests made cook books in the shape of wedding bells and presented them to the brides-to-be. They also performed a mock wedding.

Wedding article
(Pretty Wedding at Sullivan. Sullivan Progress, October 26, 1922. Click image to enlarge and view the entire article.)

According to the Sullivan Progress, Louise and Albert were married in her home at 10AM on Wednesday October 26, 1922. Thirty-five relatives and guests attended the ceremony that was performed by the pastor of the Methodist church. The songs "I Love Your Truly" and "Oh Promise Me" were sung. The bride was dressed in a brown suit with hat and slippers. A three course dinner was served by Miss Eloise Ireland and Miss Eleanor Palmer. They went to Chicago for a trip. The article stated that "They will reside with the bride's grandmother until spring when they will go to housekeeping."

Marriage License
(Marriage License of the time period from State of Illinois. Illinois Statewide Marriage Index. )


(Dinner Party, Decatur Review (Decatur Illinois, January 6, 1923. Click image to enlarge.)

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Only a few months after her marriage, Louise became ill. Although the illness was diagnosed as a "deep seated cold," it may have been more serious.

(Mrs. Albert Overstreet's illness, Decatur Review (Decatur Illinois, January 2, 1923. Click image to enlarge.)

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A couple months after their first anniversary in January 1924, Louise and her husband Albert were given a Farewell Party. Albert had sold the Ben Overstreet and Son jewelry store in Sullivan that he had been managing. The couple planned to move to Paxton, Illinois.

Farewell party
(Farewell Party, Decatur Review (Decatur, Illinois, January 18, 1924. Click image to enlarge.)

When Louise and Albert moved, they took Louise's grandmother to live with them in Paxton. In June, Albert and his father took Louise's grandmother with them to Sullivan on a Friday. Mrs. Barbara Stankey planned to stay a few days to attend a party in her honor that was being hosted by friends the following Wednesday. On their way home from Sullivan, the car Albert and his father were driving overturned in a storm. Luckily, they weren't hurt. The day after the party, Mrs. Stankey got word that Louise was seriously ill and she left Sullivan immediately.

Accident in 1924
(Accident in Storm, (Decatur Daily Review, Decatur, Illinois, June 21, 1924). Click image to enlarge.)

(Entertained (Sullivan Progress, June 27, 1924). Click image to enlarge.)

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According to the Sullivan Progress, Louise suffered from tuberculosis. This disease was widespread in this time period. In the 1930s a nationalwide crusade began to fight the disease. Learn more about tuberculosis at the following websites.

TB posterTB poster
(1 - Take part in America's crusade against tuberculosis Cook County Public Health Unit, 1930-40, Library of Congress ; 2- March on to health : Get your test now : City of Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA . Click image to enlarge.)

Louise died June 27, 1924 in Ford County in Paxton, Illinois. She was only 25 years old. She was buried in Glen Cemetery.

(Death Record for Barbara Louise Overstreet. Illinois Statewide Death Index, 1916-1950. Click image to enlarge.)

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The Diary Lives On

After Louise's death, we can only speculate on what happened to the diary. Below is our hypthesis based on the evidence we've collected.

Louise died on June 27, 1924. There are entries in another person's handwriting on July 5, 1924. It appears to be the writing of a child.

Louise and Thelma Steele were neighbors in Sullivan. Other than her husband, father, and grandmother, no other family members were living in the area. Could Thelma have found the diary while going through Louise's personal effects?

It appears that Thelma kept the diary her entire life. Thelma Marie Steele married Andrew Cecil Carter on December 8, 1926. Thelma died November 27, 1982. The diary was probably stored with her other personal items. When her husband Andrew Cecil Carter died April 28, 2004, the diary was sold at an estate sale. Below is a photo of Cecil Carter and the wonderful lapidary (rock) collection he left to the Moultrie County Historical and Genealogical Society. His daughter Marilyn Wood still lives in Sullivan.

Cecil CarterCecil CarterCecil Carter
(1 - Cecil Carter, 2 - Andrew Cecil Carter Collection, 3 - Background Information on Cecil Carter, Moutrie County Historical Society. Click image to enlarge.)

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