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



“Floats” for Half-Breeds


In 1837, “A government commissioner this year located “floats,” or land set apart for the benefit of half-breed children, on sections 27, 28, and 30, along the south side of the Pecatonica river (Winnebago County, Illinois).  A Frenchman by the name of Hamel, who had a squaw wife secured section 27.  S. and A. Gibson had a claim on section 29, and induced the government commissioner to pass them by and not take their claim for a float.  It is said that the Gibsons had a political pull on the commission.  Dr. Lippitt who settled in Shirland, came west in 1836, and bought a claim on section 30, paying for it a pair of horses, $80 in cash and gave his note for $40.”(a)  He returned on foot to New York (b). “When he brought his family here (to Rockton) the next year, he found his claim worthless by reason of a float having been laid on the section.  He then crossed the Pecatonica river* and made his permanent home in the town of Shirland.”(a)

(a)page 30 The History of Rockton, Winnebago County, Illinois, 1820 to 1898 by Edison I. Carr

(b)page 632 Portrait and Biographical Record of Winnebago and Boone Counties, Illinois

*SPOILER ALERT: two of his young sons will both drown in the river while at a family picnic.

Return to John Lippitt’s homepage

This Curse Could Reach Us – 1886

Return to Phebe Pollock’s home page

Phebe Lippitt Pollock

Phoebe Lippitt Pollock


A Few Thoughts

Although I may not be able to say anything this evening that will interest you, I am willing to try. Glad indeed if I can help even a little – this good cause. I am proud to belong to such a noble band of temperance workers. I think the W.C. T. U. is the best organization for temperance work there’s ever been started.  That it is going more than all other organizations combined and I hope the good work will go on.  That the time is not far distant when every good women in our land will be a member of the Woman’s Christan Temperance Union and if every good man would become an honorary member it would be an honor to him certainly and would help the good work along.  Just think what a grand army that would be marching on to victory.  Well might old King Alcohol tremble on his throne for with such an army in the field, I think his reign would soon be ended.

And now while I try to point out to you some of the evils of the liquor traffic, I hope your own minds will suggest a remedy and your own hearts prompt you to apply that remedy when you have an opportunity as I expect some of you soon will.  I say tonight as I have said before, what we wish to do is to awaken in the mind of every one a feeling of personal interest in this matter.  A feeling of personal responsibility, a realization of personal danger.

Too many there are who wrap the mantle of selfishness around them, sit down in their happy homes, and say this is no affair of mine.  I am not interested in this subject, I am in no danger from this evil.  I tell you this is a subject that ought to interest every man, woman, and child in these United States.  It is a subject of the most vital importance to us as a nation, to us as a community, to us as individuals.  Our welfare and prosperity, perhaps our very existence as a nation depends on how this question is decided.  Whether rum or right prevails, our own safety depends on this decision.

Do you think any of us would feel very safe if the inmates of all the insane asylums in the country should be turned loose to do as they pleased?  Don’t you think there would be some awful work done and yet there are thousands of raving maniacs, made so for the time by drink, who are allowed to go where and do as they please.  If you wish to know what such are doing for the country, read the newspapers, visit our jails and state prisons.  The number and magnitude of their crimes is simply appalling and we read of them from day to day and from week to week with as much indifferences as we read other news.  Why is this?

I have had old soldiers tell how bad it made them feel when they first went into battle to see men falling dead around them and to see a dead body lying by the road side as they passed along.  But after being engaged in active service for some time such things became so common that they ceased to move them and they could look at the dead body of a man with as much indifference as they would look a log of wood.  I suppose it is on the same principle that we read of the crimes of drunken men we are so accustomed to hear of such things.  We expect such things will happen.  But is it necessary, is it right, is there no remedy for such a monstrous evil?

The man who through misfortune loses his reason, is shut up in an asylum for safety, but the man who deliberately makes himself insane with drink is allowed his freedom till he commits some awful crime then the poor wretch is punished.  That looks to me about like locking your barn door after somebody has stole your horse.  As the minions of the liquor traffic served the Reverend George Haddock on the streets of Sioux City as few months ago, so they would be glad to harm every friend of temperance in our country who opposed them in their work of ruining the souls and bodies of men that they may enrich themselves and if possible rule the nation.

There are so many ways in which this curse can reach us.  So many ways in which the innocent can be made to suffer with the guilty.  Let no one think he standeth lest he fall.  To illustrate my idea of this I will tell a couple of stories which I remember reading in the papers.  They are not exceptional cases as similar events are constantly occurring.

Something over a year ago in our own state of Illinois.  A little girl, 7 or 8 years old, was romping and playing in her father’s yard when the stagecoach came along.  In the coach were two men.  They were brothers and they were drunk.  The whisky was in and the sense was out.  As they came opposite the child they saw her through the window.  And one of them thought he would have some fun.  He carried a revolver in his pocket (as such men usually do).  He drew the weapon from his pocket and pointed it out of the window at the child intending to frighten her.  A sharp report is heard and the merry romping child is lying on the green grass in her father’s yard.  Her heart pierced by a bullet from that revolver that he said he didn’t suppose was loaded.  How do you think the parents of that child felt as they lifted the little dead form and carried it into their darkened home.  Don’t you think they felt that the curse of intemperance had indeed reached them?  Although a few moments before they might have felt very safe.

My second story was very extensively published in the papers at the time and was so sad.  So pitiful that it made a deep impression on my mind.  Before telling it, I will say that I don’t pretend to know more than all the doctors.  I presume most any of them know more than I do.  At least they had ought to.  I don’t think they prescribe liquors for medicine near as much as they used to a few years ago.  I remember a friend of mine who was out of health.  Went to a very prominent physician for a prescription.  Said he, “you get some whiskey and every morning take a drink and it will strengthen you.”  “Why,” said I, “doctor you will make a drunkard of him”.  “Well,” said he, “might I not better do that than to let him die.”  “No,” I said, “I think it would be better for any one to die than to become a drunkard.”  Some time after that I went to the same doctor for a prescription for myself.  Said he, “you need some beer.  Just get a keg of good beer and set it behind the pantry door and…” (end manuscript)


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Cheese Factory? Someone must sell the cheese!

In a recent post we learned that the town of Shirland, IL in 1881 had a great volume of milk production and opened a cheese making plant: CLICK HERE

As a dairy farmer, Henry Pollock was quoted in the article by saying his cows would net him $50/head that season which seemed to be above the norm for that time.

But taking this story a step further from dairy production >>> cheese making, we learn that one of the salesmen was none other than Ephraim Powell whose son was married to Henry’s daughter.

The April 1, 1881 Rockton Herald reported that Ephraim “disposed of several cheeses made at the Shirland factory during the month of February.  It is considered a very good article for the season.” (I take it to mean that he sold the cheese, not threw it out).  Just a brief time after this was reported, a “cheese convention” was held at the factory to elect officers for the coming year and to appoint salesmen that included Ephraim Powell.

Click to return to Henry’s page / Click to return to Ephraim’s page



Lots of milk? Build a cheese factory!

Shirland Items. as found in the Rockton Herald February 18, 1881
Shirland, Feb. 4th, 1881
We see by reading your paper that there is some talk of building a cheese factory in your town, if there should be any doubt as to its being a judicious investment, it might be somewhat interesting to look at a statement furnished us by Mr. E. S. Kizer, proprietor of the Shirland factory, as taken from his books.  They show the receipts of 921,955lbs. of milk during a period of seven months, ending with November last.  The product in cheese is 93.474lbs. requiring a trifle less than 10lbs. of milk to the pound of full cream cheese.  This amount of cheese sold readily at 12 cents, net, at the factory.  On the First of December last Mr. Kizer commenced to manufacture what is called “skims”.  He skims to the amount of 2?lbs. of  butter from one hundred weight of milk.  The milk is then made into what is called half-skinned cheese, which requires a trifle over ten pounds of milk for a ounce of cheese. The butter has all been sold at an average of a little above twenty-five cents net, to the patrons at the factory, and the “half-skins” are all sold up to Feb. 1st, at ten cents at the factory, which makes the patrons very well satisfied with the results of the past season.  W. H. Pollock says that his cows will net him for the season fifty-dollars per head.  What and where is the investment that pays a better percent than cows at say from $25 to $40 per head, which pay their cost in six months.  Mr. Kizer intends to build an addition to his factory in the spring as the increase in his business requires more room.  His machinery pertaining to the factory is all nearly or quite new and in perfect order and he has given entire satisfaction to his patrons he may expect to do a big business the coming season.


Something you can cook – Successfully

Within this little book,
Wherever you may look,
Is something you can cook-

The recipes you try
Are fine, you’ll not deny,
We know you can rely
Upon them.

We also recommendshirland cookbook title page
Each advertising friend
The service he can lend
Will please you.

Quite a task we undertook
In publishing this book
We rummage sales forsook
To do it.

The dollars which we need,
To make our work proceed,
Has made us all agreed
Upon it.

But success is always due
To many – not a few.
Our thanks, sincere and true
We give to ALL of you
Who helped us.

May Powell made several contributions to the Shirland Cook Book.  This book was sponsored by EARNEST WORKERS in 1939, to raise money for this group in the small Illinois town of Shirland.  The 2 recipes she provided were Parker House Rolls and Pin Wheel Cookies.

parker house rolls shirland cookbook pin wheel cookies shirland cookbook

Click for more about May