My great aunt, Susan Luella Donoho Stokes (1923-2013) was my grandfather’s younger sister and the first person to ever hold me after I left the hospital when I was born.
I am typing everything as faithfully as I can, with no grammatical corrections.
This must have been written around the mid 1990s, as a few siblings, like my grandpa, were still living.
Her previous memoirs are here:
Remembrances of the Past
by Susan Louella Stokes
I have tried looking and and this is the very first thing that I remembered. I was standing at a living room window looking out toward the barn and banging at it with a tin cup. It seemed dark, but there was a light that reflected on the window and I felt like this came from the kerosene lamp or from the pot bellied stove. But I knew I was waiting for my dad to come in with the a big bucket of milk for I knew he’d been milking the cow and as soon as he got into the door, I would get a cup of it. I couldn’t have been but three or four years old at the most. Now this house we lived in was a mile or a mile and a half down the road and around the corner from the house I was born in. My Uncle Sam and Aunt Lizzie* lived in that house and did for many years after. He was my dad’s brother and he out-lived all of a big family.
(*Samuel Isaac Donoho, her dad’s brother, for whom her brother Sam Sr. was named)
(*her first memory must have been 1926 or 1927)
The next thing I remember is looking around the yard for pennies and it seemed like I always could find them, they were Indian head pennies. If I found enough of them, my mom would let my two older sisters- which was Myrtle, who was ten years older than me, and Dica, who was three years older- take me to the little grocery store down the road. It set on a corner, there were other roads coming into it. But me being little, it seemed like it was kind of a long walk from our house.
Then there was a pond of water out by our barn, they always kept the wagons shoved in it all but the wagon tongue would be in the water. This day I remember, it was almost in it. Now this was a summer day and I must of been four years old, my mother and another lady was sitting in kitchen chairs close to the back door, talking and I was out walking up and down this wagon tongue and I fell into the water. I got up out of it and run to my mother crying, saying I was drowning. But I remember how my mother laughed and the woman that was with her did too. I have never remembered who that woman was.
Then next thing I remember is Myrtle telling me, Dica, and a little neighbor girl- Renee Branson was her name, she seemed to be a little older than me and I was still four- GHOST STORIES. She would tell us, Mary on the one step, Mary on the two step and now I am at your door, Mary. I loved it and I begged, “Maddel, tell me another” and then I realized that Maddel wasn’t her real name and I had been calling her that always so I started in repeating Myrtle over and over and never again did I call her Maddel.
Then I remember Aunt Frona* She was my Dad’s brother, Johnny’s wife. He had died during the First World War, not in the war, but while it was going on. She had married again to Wallace Thomas and I always called her Aunt Fronnie and him, Uncle Wall. This night they woke all of us up. She came running in to say she wanted to take Susie. She had been to the Salen reunion (that was the Soldiers and Sailors Reunion that they held every year for a week in Salem, Ill. and I guess they still do.) Anyway, she heard that my mother had died so she thought she would come and get me. Of course they all had a big laugh out of that.
(*https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/87238522/john-amos-donoho he died during the Spanish Influenza Pandemic and his wife was pregnant at the time with their son, Harry Donoho. His wife “Fronnie” also contracted the disease, but survived and gave birth to their son. Frona was quite weak and had no milk. My great grandmother, Emma Daniels Donoho Beck breastfed both Harry and my grandfather, Samuel Sr. They were ‘milk twins’.
Now my Grandpa Donoho* lived with us, but all I can remember of him is the night that Jeff Dial (and it’s funny that I still remember his name) came to our house, he lived somewhere around in the country. He had a jug of whiskey and he was drunk. Him, my Grandpa, and Dad was sitting at the kitchen table and he was wanting them to drink with him. They wouldn’t and they were laughing. I could see the lamp light shining on the table. My mother was getting us kids out of the kitchen and to bed but I felt afraid. I don’t know why.
(*Eli Donoho https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/86450461/eli-donoho 1857-1928)
The next thing I remember is the day my Grandpa died. I was in the kitchen with my little cousin, Lorene Peters. She must have been about two years old. She was standing on a chair at the water bucket, getting her drink out of a long handled dipper and there seemed to be a living room full of people and people in his bedroom too. I could hear their voices. And then they day of the funeral, I was sitting with Flossie* in the Church and a little later, I was standing at the open grave with her, holding her hand and looking up at her. I noticed the hat she was wearing. Now, I would say it was a flapper’s hat. That was in 1928. I was just 5 years old. I suppose that was a new hat.
(*her sister, Flossie Donoho Mains 1909-1998 https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/87300503/flossie-eathel_ellen-mains)
Years later, I was to see my Dad and my Mother buried in the same cemetery. Now all this was happening out of Kell, Illinois. Me being little, I didn’t know how many miles from there, but my mother always called it Hickory Hill. My dad was born and raised there and my mother was born and lived for two years in Arkansas before moving there. Then she married him, when she was fourteen and he was nineteen. His birthday was February 19th and hers was August 17th and they got married April 14, 1901.
Now, getting back to my life, my sister Emogene* was born and was three years younger than I was, but I didn’t remember her being born. She was the the thirteenth child they’d had. But I do remember Kathleen*. She was fourteenth and the last one to be born. That made eight girls and six boys. And they raised all of the girls, but just three of the boys. Here are my brothers annd sister’s births and deaths:
Roy Earl Donoho–Born, June 3, 1902–Died, January 16, 1991
Harriet Elizabeth Doolen–Born February 19, 1904–Died, December 29, 1985
Alta Ellen Renfro–Born December 31, 1905–Died April 15, 1987
Richard Eli Donoho–Born December 3, 1908– Died 1909
Flossie Eathel Mains–Born November 21, 1909–
Harvey Edward Donoho– Born February 10, 1912–Died February 15, 1989
Myrtle Idola Sands–Born May 9, 1914–Died November 5, 1994
Bedford Issaih Donoho–Born March 3, 1916- Died 1917
Samuel Medell Donnoho– Born August 14, 1918-
Dica Eunice Hartsock– Born November 18, 1920
James Curl Donoho– Born September 5, 1922- STILLBORN
Susan Luella Stokes– Born December 5, 1923-
Mary Emogene Harris Elwood– Born December 26, 1926
Rosa Kathleen Gonser– Born September 7, 1928
(*Mary Emogene Donoho-Harris 1926-1998 https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/87301255/mary-emogene-harris)
(*Kathleen Rose Donoho-Gonser 1928-2003 https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/87301473/kathaleen-rose-gosner)
Now, back to the house we lived in, Emogene was born there and so was Kathleen and as I said, I remember the day Kathleen was born. I woke up, I was lying on the bed and they told me I had a little sister. Later, I remember us kids finding Indian head pennies in the yard and going to the store for candy.
Then we made a move. It was five miles from Salem, Illinois. I remember this house because of the honeysuckle around the house. There was always bees and I was always barefooted, it being summertime, and I was always stepping on them.
This was also the time that I stuck my finger in the butter. My mother would churn in a big wooden churn that set on the floor with a big wooden paddle in it. This day she had just taken the butter out into a bowl, when I came by and stuck my finger in it. My mother calmly said, “When I get through with this butter, I’m going to whip you.” I remember thinking, ‘she won’t, she will forget all about it’ and I run outside. I can remember it as if it was yesterday-playing in the yard and it seemed like hours to me, but I hadn’t forgot what she had said. I thought she had though and when I went back in, she grabbed me and spanked me and that was something for me for I never remembered my mother spanking me until then. I know that she would get mad at me if I was near her when she was sewing, she would tap me on the head with her thimble, and that would hurt. I would try to keep out of her way when she had that thimble on.
I also remember my dad giving me the one whipping in my lifetime that I ever got from him and it was at this same house. I was five years old and I was stubborn, very stubborn. I had got mad at something or other and it was supper time and at our house at meal time, we children sat down on wooden benches on each side of a big long table. My mother would sit at the end of it and my dad at the head of it and he would be the last to sit down and then he would “return thanks”. (as my folks always called giving the blessing) So this evening I wasn’t at the table and my dad said “Susie, aren’t you coming to the table?” I said “No, I wasn’t.” and he said “Yes, you are. I’m coming with the razor strop.” and he did and after he whipped me I was happy to go to the table. I was always scared after that. The razor strop always hung on the kitchen wall. My dad always used it to sharpen his razor blade before he shaved but after that, I knew what it was really for and he never had to use it again on me.
I also remember stepping on a rusty wire in the yard, that same summer and it going all the way through my big toe. I could see it coming out on top and I pulled it out for I felt like someone else pulling it would hurt worse than doing it myself and was I ever slick with that! I remember laying around on a pallet on the floor. A pallet was quilt folded on the floor and us kids would sleep like that through the summer months.
I always did my own tooth pulling too. When a tooth got loose, I would go back and forth with it until it would finally give up and come out. I was scared to death that my parents would tie a string around it and tie it to the door knob or pull it with the wire pliers like they did my other sister’s and brother’s teeth.
I started to school while we lived in that house. The school was on the same side of the road that our house was and maybe a mile down the road. I remember my teacher’s name being Margeret Wyman. She was a big fat woman and I was scared to death of her. This was a one room school with two toilets, one for girls and one for boys outside and a good long way from the school. And there was from the first grade to the eighth grade in one room and on this first day the teacher had the first grade class at the blackboard writing something and I was one of them and I had to go to the bathroom. If I had of been at my desk, I knew I was to raise my hand and sh would ask me what I wanted but standing up in front of the classes, I didn’t know what to do and I was afraid of her and I couldn’t hold another minute and I think that was LIFE’S MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT for me for I did go, all down my legs. The teacher brought me a mop and bucket and I had to mop it up, besides wearing my wet panties for the rest of the day after Dica wrung them out. I don’t remember my mother getting mad about her keeping me there and making me scrub the floor but the other mothers got mad about it.
The same teacher was the only teacher I had or every had to give me a whipping. This was later in the year and this day I was sitting in a seat with Dica. She was eight and I was five at the time. And Dica was wanting me to read like she was doing and I was wanting to get my crayons out of my desk and color pictures. When she wouldn’t let me, I pinched her as hard as I could on her hand and she started crying. The teacher said “What’s the matter, Dica?” and I was whispering “Don’t tell her, Dica.” And the teacher was coming down my side of the aisle with a yardstick in her had. She looked as big as a mountain. Dica said, “Susie pinched me” and at that time, I knew that I’d had it and I did, for she grabbed me and really let me have it with the yardstick across my bare legs. But she didn’t stop with me, she grabbed Dica and done for her the same way and sent us both to stand in front of the whole school and have them look at us. The only thing I was pleased about then, that I’m not today, was that Dica had to go up there with me. But I thought, she shouldn’t have told. I know now I was the wrong one.
Then my moved to a house about a mile or so down the road from where we did live. We called it the John Branch Place. It was there I got so sick. The Dr. said I had appendicitis. I don’t know to this day if I had it or not but I do know I was awfully sick. I remember one night I was in bed in the bedroom, I was on a cot and Kathleen or Emogene was asleep at one end of it and I was at the other and everyone else was in the kitchen. The lamp was shining into my room and I saw a tiny little man. He looked like he was wooden. His face was flat and I could hear him walking. He was about two feet tall. He walked up to the bed and laid his hand right down by mine. I was so scared, my heart was pounding so hard. He stood there for the longest time and then I don’t know what happened to him. My folks told me I had been asleep and dreamed him but to this day it doesn’t seem like I was asleep. That was over 62 years ago and I can still close my eyes and see him. Nowadays, we would think it was a little green man from Mars.
The next thing I remember is my dad was helping write a letter to my sister Flossie. She must have been in Michigan then for I know it must have been before she was married.
KEEP LOOKING FOR UPDATES- TO BE CONTINUED! MY EYES AND FINGERS ARE KILLING ME RIGHT NOW.