My Sister Gets All the Good Stuff


1878 – It was her older sister’s 30th wedding anniversary (actually it was her half-sister), so Phebe gifted Mary Jane with a “Linen Shirt Bosom” which was in keeping with the cotton and linen theme of the celebration.

There were many attendees with about 120 persons assembled to celebrate alongside Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Phelps. But there was ample room for them all including  the Shirland band that played several pieces of music.  The feast was sumptuous with bountiful edibles and tempting viands. The company did not break up until the small hours of the new day.

Given how long the party lasted, Phebe likely did not bring her 3 month old daughter May.  But little did she know, May’s future in-laws Ephraim and Nancy Powell were in attendance and brought towels as a gift.screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-5-57-25-pm



May marks high in Deportment

May Pollock attended Beloit High School in Wisconsin.

May Pollock Powell as a teenager

May Pollock Powell as a teenager

Her teacher was A. F. Rote. Here is one of her report cards that indicates she did quite well in school that year.  Her highest marks were in Deportment*.  Her mother, Phebe Pollock, signed almost all months.  Notice that were were only 5 months of school.

Scan 6 Scan 7

*defined by Merriam-Webster as the manner in which one conducts oneself :  behavior

10th Anniversary Celebration- 1911

Dwight and May Powell received a surprise 10th anniversary party from their family and friends on October 17, 1911.  It was all the more surprising because their wedding date was March 2, 1902.   They received $17 as a token for which they purchased a set of dishes.  This information was logged in their original wedding album (link pending).  The gift money that was received is referenced in the poem shown below.

Click for more about Dwight and May

In attendance at the party were Reverend Wesley Feldwisch and his wife Zoe.  Mrs. Feldwisch presented the following poem for the occasion:

Dearly Belov’d, we’re gathered here
as guests, tho’ uninvited,
But one and all with right good cheer
For surely are united.

In wishing Dwight and May the best
That this old world can give one,
And so with laugh and merry jest
We’ve watched the happy hours run.

We bring congratulations here
Tis joy you will agree
To visit our friends to us most dear
And their “olive branches” three.

Oft on (have cooked?) on a tableau here
Surely there is no other
That makes a picture quite as dear
As a sweet, devoted mother.

Doe’r listened to the father’s song
In his melodious bass
And wondered how he kept so long
That smile upon his face.

But these we know the reason is
That Heav’n has blessed this place,
And feel that all the praise is His,
Who keeps us by His grace.

Dear friends, we know that on this day
Nice gifts are quite the thing
But do forgive us if we say
Such things we could not bring.

However for so many days
(Pray do not think it shocking)
We’ve saved our cash, all we could raise
And kept it in a stocking.

For thine we knew it safe would lie
And you could “salt it down”
To purchase whate’er you wish to buy
Next time you go to town.

And, now, again we say to you,
Your friends all wish you well.
May joy and health and sorrows few,
By yours, while here you dwell.

Z. H. Feldwisch
Oct. 17, 1911


10th anniversary poem

10th anniversary poem

10th anniversary poem page 2

10th anniversary poem page 2

1889 Autograph Book of May Pollock

“Dear May, In memory’s wood-box, drop one stick for me.  Your friend and school-mate, M. K. Armstrong”  (Jordan Prairie, Jan. 3, 1889)

“Dear Cousin,  Not like the rose may our friendship wither but like the evergreen live forever.  Your friend and schoolmate, Eugene Miller”  (January 11, 1889)

“Act well your part / Therein the honor lies.”
Your Sister Cora (Shirland 12/24/1890)

“Dear May, When you are old and cannot see, put on your specs and think of me.”  from your playmate M. ???  “Remember me is all is ask”  (Shirland, Ill Jan 22, 1889)

“Friend May, long may you live, happy may you be, sitting on the wood pile sipping catnip tea.  Your friend, Frankie Dreynmay”  (Shirland, IL  1/5/1889)

Shirland ILL Jan. 6 1889 “My Dear Sister, You ask for something original but where shall I begin for there’s nothing original in me, except originality.
Your loving sister Alice Pollock

“Dear May,  There’s beauty all around our paths;  If but our watchful eyes can trace it midst familiar things and through their lowly guise.  Your schoolmate, Leila.”  (10/1/1891)

“Dear Sister, May your life be long and happy.
Your brother, Samuel” (Jan. 6, 1889)

“Dear Sister, May friendship and truth be with you in youth and catnip and sage cheer up your old age. Your brother, Wilbur” (1/6/1889)

“Friend May,  Kind hearts are the garden, Kind thoughts are the roots, Kind words are the blossoms, Kind deeds are the fruits, Love is the sweetest sunshine that worms into life, for only in darkness grow hatred and strife.  Clarence Miller.”  (Shirland 1/21/1889)

“Dear May, When this you see please think of me and bare in your mind let other say what are they may think not of me in kind. Friend, your loving Sister Clara Pollock.” (1/5/1889 age 10)

“Dear May, As every thread of gold is valuable, so is every minute of time.  Your loving friend, Gertrude McKendall”  (Shirland, 1/25/1889)

Dear May Strive to keep the golden rule and learn your lesson well at school from your brother “Trulie” 4 years old Jan. 1889 (brother Truman)

“Dear May, Every day of your life is a leaf in your history. Try to keep each page free from blot. Your schoolmate and friend Ada Nye.” (1/2/1889; Ada Nye later married May’s brother Wilbur Pollock).

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May 9, 1939 May’s letter to her daughter

Life appears to be going quite nicely for May.  Only the Lord knows how long each of us has on this earth.  This is one of three letters I have from May that were written just weeks before she died on May 18, 1939.

To:  Dorothy Powell
From:  May Pollock Powell (her mother)

Dorothy Powell about 1935

Dated:  May 9, 1939

My  Dear Dorothy,

I’m a day late with your letter but Daddy had a school board meeting here last night.  We have had such nice weather the last week.  We had rain Sun. night and nearly all day Mon.  It did lots of good, I have wanted to go to Beloit to get me some shoes and a hat and some curtains for the dining room.  Daddy said he could go Mon. afternoon because it was raining so I went.  He also had time to take down the storm windows and put up the screens.

It is nice today.  The plum trees have been full of blossoms.  The apple trees are out this week.  They sprayed the trees last week.  The baby iris is out also the Japanese quince and flowering almond.

The garden looks nice.  I put the gladiolas out today and some flower seeds.  Daddy has been plowing the pieces back of the barn today.  He is going to hire some of his planting done.

Alice and the reading circle had a picnic tonight in Rockton.  She came home early from school and went with Lois Musselman and Evelyn Wood.  She furnished a salad and dessert that was easy to fix.  Tomorrow her school will eat dinner in our woods.  She is invited to a picnic of Shirland schools Thurs. night.  She will only have three weeks after this week.

Elaine and Josie had a very nice social Sat. Eve.  We went to the supper at 7 o’clock.  They had baked ham.  It was so good.  They gave a very good program.  The school band was very good.  They had a good leader.  There were all little tots.

We went to church Sunday.  We had 60 in S. S.

I hope Jr. can come home next Sun.  Mrs. Cummings thought they might.  Would I love to see my little grand daughter.

I congratulate you on winning first place with your annual.  That must have made you feel good.  Wasn’t it nice you got your contract for next year too.  Alice got hers last night.  They are going to give her $90.  She wants to stay here.  George meets in the school house Fri. night.  No one wanted to entertain.  The ladies are cleaning house.  Leslie is so happy thinking of his trip.  I hope it will be very pleasant for you all.  Uncle Sam didn’t come for the Shirland Home Coming.  He wrote that he was so busy now.  Ruth had her tonsils out and was feeling better.  Uncle Park and Aunt Dell called Sun.  She has her cleaning all done but her kitchen.  Hazel and Harold live a mile from them mow.

Well my dear, good night.  Hope you are fine.  How is your music?  Heaps of love,


Last Will and Testament of Phebe Pollock / Sept. 19th, 1901

This is the last will and testament of Phebe Pollock of the Town of Shirland, County of Winnebago and State of Illinois dated September 19, 1901.  The family had a Double Wedding just a month later.  She passed away not long after on January 5, 1902.  Her young son Truman, who is named in the will, died a year after her in 1903, at age 16.

Of sound mind and of the age of 57 years, in view of the uncertainty of life do by my Last will and testament make the following diposition of my property and estate among my 7 children.

First, I desire the payment of all my just debts.  Second, I give and devise the use of the Homestead of about 37 acres to my Son Wilber* Pollock for the period of 4 years at a rental of $100 per year to be paid or allowed to my estate out of which sum he is to pay the taxes against the estate as Wilber has rented the homestead and because I desire him to go on as agreed between us and next spring to sell my share of the stock of all kinds and pay my debts as far as the proceeds of the sale will go and to use the milk checks or money to help defray the expenses of my son Truman while at School after my Son becomes of age.  The farm is to be sold and proceeds of sale equally divided among my children.

I give my executor power to sell and convey real estate but I am anxious for Wilber to purchase the farm and hope this might be satisfactory to the rest of the children.  I do not desire my household goods to be sold but to be divided among my children.

If my daughter Cora desires to purchase the Piano for $100, I wish my executor to let her have it.  If not then any of the other children should have it at the same price.  If any does not purchase then it can be sold and proceeds divided among them.

I give to my son Truman the Bookcase and books, Rosewood bedstead, bedding sheets and pillow cases and cook stove.

My Daughter May is to have pine colored bedstead, Parlor carpet, cupboard with glass doors and organ.

Wilber is to have black walnut bedstead and fur overcoat.

Cora is to have the single beadstead and bedding.

My son Samuel is to have his father’s gun.

My children to have my best featherbed to be made into Pillows as follows:  Samuel to have 2 pillow, Wilber 2 pillows, Alice 1 pillow, May 2 pillows, Cora 2 pillows and Truman 2 pilows.  Clara to have some of the dishes and one of Hattie’s Pictures and the cushion which Cora gave me for a birthday present.  I desire things in the old part of the house to remain as they now are until Cora comes home and then they can be divided to suit themselves.

My Grand daughter little May Polock is to have salad bowl.  My grandson William Wilmot is to have the deers head.  If there is things among the household goods the children want they should have them.

If the children are dissatisfied because Wilber is appointed sole executor of the Will they or a majority can select some good man to assist him subject to the division of the household goods above mentioned and the gifts to my grandchildren who I leave my blessing.  My daughter Cora is to have the last Rug which I braided.

I nominate and appoint my Son Wilber executor of this my last Will hereby revoking all former Will or Wills by me made.  Witness my hand and seal at Shirland Ills, this 19 day of September 1901.  Signed Phebe A Pollock.

The above instrument (my will) consisting of three half sheets of paper was at the date thereof signed sealed published and declared by the said Phebe A. Polock as and for her last will and testament in presence of us who at her request and in her presence and in the presence of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses thereto: C. Bentley(?) residence Rockton Ill and W. J. Nye residence Shirland, Ill

*Editor’s note: I believe that whomever transcribed the will into the county record misspelled his name throughout.  His name is spelled Wilbur on the wedding invitation a month later and in other references.

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May 1, 1939 May Powell’s letter to her daughter

This is one of three letters I have from May that were written just weeks before she died on May 18, 1939.

To: Dorothy Powell

From: May Pollock Powell (her mother)

Dated: May 1, 1939

My Dear Dorothy:

This has been a fine day- Daddy and I made the best of it.  We have all our early garden made.  We put in early potatoes and green corn this afternoon.  We are so tired tonight.  Daddy is trying to get some help with cleaning the barn yard.  He thinks Frank Boland(?) might come tomorrow.  He was in Rockford helping his brother today but expects to come home tonight.  I hope he does come.

Daddy has his seeding all done.  The oats are coming up fine.  He will be anxious to get his corn in now.

We staid (sic) home all day yesterday and rested.  We didn’t have a caller all day long.  We had callers Sat. Eve.  Norman took a moving picture of our new baby1 last week when he went after Mrs. Cummings.  She staid there a week.  They came out to show it to us.  It was so sweet.  Genevieve and her mother were working in the kitchen.  G. picked up the baby and was trying to wake her up.  Then she was giving her a bath.  She looked so bright and happy.  Then she was dressed.

We couldn’t go down last week.  Rain hindered Daddy with his work.  One morning picture was Jr. hanging out the wash.  It was so natural.

We had a nice time at P. T. A. Fri. night.  The district school went off fine.  She will have one more meeting.  Victor Grevas had an operation on his leg in hopes that he can walk on it.  Ernest King hasn’t done very well.  They expect to take him to the hospital.

The school play was good Thursday night.  They have a band concert this week and one next week.  I don’t suppose we will go.  I would like to go to the Shirland Home Coming of the school Sat. Eve.  I got an invitation today.  They expect to have a baked ham supper.  I think Uncle Sam will be there.

How is your work going?  Have they offered you a job for another year?  Did you hear New York fair over radio yesterday?  We heard it over the band hour last night.  Alice said she heard the President as he opened it.  It is a big fair I guess.  It will be a nice place for folks taking a vacation.

Mary Graham called me one day and said Maria and her husband were in Baton Rouge and called on Leslie.  She wrote them about her visit there.  It was nice they called I think.

Did you have a happy birthday?  I must close now.  It’s about my bed time.  I’m going to stat mowing the yard this week.  Hope everything is fine with you.  With love and kisses,


Editorial Note: 1The new baby was Phyllis Mae Powell.

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