Westward Ho The Migration and New Home of the Elders

On April 1835, a young ten-year-old lad named David W. Elder came to Indiana County with his family.  Fifty years later he described that journey as he remembered it.

David traced his lineage back to George Elder, who migrated to America from Ireland in 1750, and settled in Path Valley of Franklin County.  From there he moved to Centre County and still later he settled at Spruce Creek in Huntingdon County.  Robert, son of George Elder, was born in Franklin Township, Huntingdon County, February 9, 1790.  His wife, Elizabeth, the daughter of James Reed, was born in West Township, Huntingdon County April 9, 1791.  David Elder, their son and author of these recollections, was born in Franklin Township August 22, 1825.  He was the fifth of nine children.

Little is known of the Elder family after its arrival here.  They settled in East Mahoning Township.  Robert, the father, served as township supervisor in 1846.  David and two of his siblings, John Reed and Mary, attended and subsequently taught in the school described in this memoir.  Somewhat later David prepared for the bar and practiced law in Pittsburgh.  He died November 24, 1894.

Following are the edited notes of David W. Elder, penned fifty years after his great trek.  The original notes are in the possession of the family.  Spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar remain unaltered to preserve the literary style of the period.  A contemporary traveler wishing to follow in the footsteps of the Elders would find that the following highways roughly parallel the journey of 1835: Route 45 from Graysville to Water Street; Route 22 to Ebensburg; Route 422 to Indiana; and Route 119 north to East Mahoning Township.

Our Journey

It was Monday about noon on the sixth day of April AD 1835, that we – that is Robert Elder and his family started on our Journey from our old home in Franklin Township, Huntingdon County Pennsylvania to our new home in Indiana County.  If any inquisitive person should wish to discover the place from which we started, he will find it near the foot of Tussey Mountain, half a mile above the Village of Graysville, on a small stream called “Fowler’s Run.”

Our family consisted of Father, Mother and seven children – Jane – J. Reed – David W. – Mary Ann – Elizabeth – Robert B. – and Margaret – the children ranging in age from Eighteen years to Seven Months.  Of these only four remain – J. Reed – David W. – Mary Ann – and Elizabeth.

We had been “Just a going” to start for several days but could not get ready.  Even on that morning it was not certain that we would go.  It had rained some, and the weather was threatening.  What influence set us in motion.  I know not, but about nine oclock it was decided that we should go, and from that time all was hurry and bustle.  I have little recollection of particulars.  I remember that we children had our faces washed, and were fixed up as if we were going to church.  I remember seeing the men carrying out heavy articles of furniture, and packing them in the bed of the fourhouse wagon, that was to carry us over the mountains.  I remember the crowds of neighbors, that came to see us off, and bid us Goodbye.  The farewells were doubtless serious enough between grown persons, but they did not effect me.  I have no recollection of feeling any regret at leaving the old place.  I had only pleasant anticipation of the new sights I would see.  It seemed to me like a holiday excursion.  I did not realize the greatness of the change we were making.  I little thought that in a few months I would be longing for a sight of the mountain top – the brook and the big willow, where I used to make whistles and flutter wheels.

Some of the men and boys came with us a considerable distance to help drive the cows, and get them trained to following the wagon.  After we passed the church and got into the “Barrens” they gradually left us.  Old George Fry drove the wagon the first day, and his son Levi, a gawky, good natured boy was the last of the boys to leave us, and would not have turned back then, but for a positive order from his father.  He left reluctantly bidding us all, Goodbye.

We crossed the Little Juniata where Spruce Creek Station on the Pennsylvania Railroad now is, but there was no railroad there then.  We stopped for the night in the little town of Water Street.  The next morning George Fry returned home, and Uncle David Elder drove the team the rest of the Journey.  We followed the Turnpike1 passing through Canoe Valley, and getting to Holidaysburg in the evening.  We had intended to stop there the night, but could not get accommodations for our stock, and went a mile further toward the Mountain, and stopped at the public house kept by a Dutch farmer named John Widensall.  This day I first saw a Canalboat and a railroad car.

The following day we went over the Mountain on the Turnpike, and were often in sight of the cars of the Portage Railroad which then crossed the Mountain at Blair’s Gap.  We lunched at the “Stone Tavern” at the summit of the Mountain.  We hoped to reach Ebensburg that night, but failed to do so, and had to put up at Wherry’s – a very comfortable place, – a mile or two from Ebensburg, after driving till dark.

Early in the forenoon of the next day, we passed through Ebensburg; and here we left the “northern Turnpike,” and entered what was called the “clay pike,” leading to Indiana.2  As this latter road was not Macadamized, and the ground was wet, and the load heavy, the wagon now made slow progress.  Stopping at a Country tavern at noon kept by an old Welshman named Griffith Rowland, we reached Strongstown, in the edge of Indiana County at dusk and put up for the night.  I was so tired that I fell asleep on the bar-room floor behind the door, and was not missed, till the landlord went to close the door after all the rest had retired.  There were two or three other flittings at the inn, and the landlord inquired which of them had lost a boy.  The family roll was called – I was missing, and was restored to my proper place.

It took us all the next day to get to Indiana, where we put up at the hotel now called the “Indiana House,” though it has been rebuilt since that time.3

On Saturday morning we left behind us not only Macadamized roads but even Clay Pikes, and entered on the rough, hilly and muddy roads of the “Backwoods.”  When we started on Monday we had hoped to reach our journey’s end by Saturday evening, but it was now plainly impossible.  At noon we reached Kate Buchanan’s, the only public house between Indiana and Punxsutawney.4  A little before sunset we reached the house of Joseph MacPherson, an old acquaintance of my fathers.  He took us in, hospitably entertained us til Monday.  ON Sabbath we attended Mahoning Church5, where we met many of our new neighbors, and gave them notice of our coming.

On Monday morning we began the last stage of our wearisome journey.  It had rained the night before, and the roads were very heavy, and the progress slow.  I recollect but few of the incidents of that part of the journey.  On our way we met some of the neighbors coming to meet us.  We made a stop at the house of Scroggs Work.6  Here a path led through the woods to the Cabin.  Reed7 was sent by that route to kindle a fire at the house8, while the wagon went by a more circuitous route.  The public road at the time ran directly past Scroggs Work’s house and kept its course South of, and nearly parallel with the present line of the public road and nearly one hundred yards distant therefrom.

From a point opposite where the end of the lane now is, a road, or rather a path ran up to the house, passing along nearly the same route that the lane does now.  Some young men had cut a way for the wagon that morning, but a four-horse wagon was a machine unknown before in that region, and their road was too narrow.  Men and boys with axes cut a wider passage, and the wagon moved forward a few rods at a time as a way was made for it.  It was just about noon when we reached the house, and just a week from the time we started.

The inn at Strongstown where the Elders spent their first night in Indiana County. Built around 1828 by Thomas H. Cresswell, the exterior walls are trimmed, fitted logs and have never been covered with siding. The location was at the intersection of US 422 and PA 408.

Our Home

The house stood a few feet South of the frame house now standing.  It was a log cabin eighteen by sixteen feet, and a story and a half high.  The longest dimension was from the lower to the upper side, although the gables faced North and South, so that the ends of the house were longer than the sides.  The logs were unhewn.  The roof was made of clapboards kept in place by weight poles.  The door was in the South end and the Chimney in the upper side.  The jambs were about six feet apart, and the Chimney was on the outside.  It was a wooden Chimney, that is, built logs and sticks protected from the fire at the lower part by stone, and the upper part by clay.  The drip of the upper half of the roof fell upon the Chimney just above the Mantle, and to protect it, a section of the hallow log was put under the eve to serve as a spout.  The only window was in the North end, and contained six lights of eight by ten inch glass.  There was no staircase, and the loft could be reached only by a ladder.

The barn stood on a little rising ground between two spring drafts about forty yards South of the house.  It was a double log-cabin barn with an intervening space for a thrashing floor, though, I think there was no floor there.  It had a clapboard roof with weight poles.

A little spring house built on poles with a sloped roof stood just below the Springhead.

The farm contained about Ninety acres of which only about twelve acres was cleared.  All the land lying westward of the present lane or road running through the farm was in woods.  The flat land just below where the buildings stood was a swamp so deep that adventurous cows in the spring time seeking the grass and herbs growing there, sometimes stuck fast, and had to be pried out with rails or poles.  This swamp was the abode of numerous frogs, and their music in a warm evening in Spring time was deafening…

At Simpson’s the Settlement virtually ended.  The public road extended no farther.  An almost unbroken Wilderness extended to the line of Clearfield County.  A few adventurous pioneers indeed had gone into this Wilderness and made improvements, and kept up Communication with the Settlements by bridal paths through the Woods.  Among these were David Brewer, William White, and James Black.  In some sense these people were out neighbors, and they were compelled to depend on the people in the Settlement for assistance in many things.

To the Northward there was an unbroken belt of woodland extending nearly to where the Village of Marchand now stands, containing several thousand acres.  This woodland was in fact an arm of the great Wilderness to the East of us already mentioned.  Cattle and sheep pastured on it in the Summer, hogs grew fat on it in the Autumn, and in some parts of it, huckleberries and rattlesnakes abounded in their season.

The people who lived beyond this belt of woodland on what we called “the Ridge” were not regarded as neighbors.  We met them occasionally at church, and at the military trainings, but we did not have intimate relations with them.

It would be monotonous to describe separately the houses of the Settlers.  A general description will answer for all.  The house was a log cabin of about the same dimensions as the one on our farms.  Sometimes the logs were hewed – often they were not.  Each house was a little above one story in height, and none was fully two stories.  In most cases the roof was of clapboards kept in place by weight poles.  Each house consisted of one room below and a loft above, which was recached by ladder.  The Chimney was sometimes on the outside, and sometimes on the inside, but always had a wide fireplace.  Stoves were unknown and wood the only fuel.

Scarcely any one of these houses was visible from another.  Each settler had cleared a small opening around his buildings, whilst a broad belt of woodland lay between him and his neighbor shutting out the view.  It was only by climbing a hill that one could see that the country was inhabited.

The only grist mill in the neighborhood was Simpson’s.  The nearest Store was Henry Kinter’s near Georgeville.  The nearest Post Office was “Mahoning” at what was then Ewing’s now Stewarts Mill seven miles down the Creek.  It was supplied by a weekly mail carried on horseback.  The only churches within ten miles were Gilgal and Mahoning, and the ministers of both churches resided outside the Congregation.

There was a little school house on the Creek Road about a quarter of a mile below Scroggs Work’s.  It stood in the woods below the road.  It was about fifteen feet square, built of unhewn logs and had a clapboard roof.  It was a Story high, and the joists were high enough for a tall man to stand under them.  The door was about five feet high – hung on wooden hinges and fastened with a pin.  The two windows were merely widened cracks between the logs with no glass in them.  The lower floor was of loose boards – the upper floor of still looser boards.  The fireplace consisted of three flat stones in one corner of the room – one horizontal for a hearth, and two perpendicular in the angle of the wall to serve as jambs.  An opening in the floor above served as a flue, and cracks in the gable and roof furnished an exist for the smoke.  The only furniture in the house was a bench made by driving four stout oak pegs into the round side of a slab about eight feet in length.  Another bench was extemporized by putting one end of a loose board into a crack in the wall, and resting the other end on a log of wood on the hearth.  The building had been used only for Summer School, and had to be refitted before Winter School was held in it.

Perhaps some young man of the present time may, fifty years hence, be recalling the scenes and surroundings of his youth, and noting the changes that half a century has brough about, and while peering through his spectacles from under his gray hairs, his eyes may fall upon this Manuscript; and as he turns its time-stained leaves, and reads its dim and fading leaves, and reads its dim and fading lines, he may learn something of the State of the Country a Century before.

David W. Elder

April 8th 1885

Pittsburgh, PA


1 Huntingdon, Cambria and Indiana Turnpike Road Co. incorporated in Feb. 15, 1815, John Blair, president. Also known as the “Northern Route.”

2 Indiana and Ebensburg Turnpike Road Co., completed Fall 1823.  Width twenty-six feet, filled with clay, stone and gravel to a depth of twenty-two inches.  Still remembered locally as the “Clay Pike.”

3 Charles Kenning, proprietor in 1832.

4 A list of tables in 1807 names Charles Buchanan, laborer, and John Buchanan, farmer.  Arms and White in their 1880 history of Indiana County state that the first improvement “on the site of the village” of Kintersburg was made “early in the century” by John Buchanan (p. 525).  For many years the stage coaches from Indiana to Punxsutawney went by the old road from the present Musser Nursery to Kintersburg and from there to Home, PA. It is unknown what John Buchanan’s wife’s name was.  A map in the archives of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, dated November 26, 1825 lists the following points on the road from Indiana to Punxsutawney: William McHenry on Laughrey’s run, McKee’s run, Alanson Bills, Wm Borland, John Buchanan, Crooked Creek, Machlehoe’s Mills (at two sites), Thompson’s Run, Purchase Line, Ebenezer Brady, Jeremiah Brown, Jonathan Ayers, Little Mahoning Creek, Jonathan Canan, road to Susquehanna River, William Shields, branch of Canoe Creek, James McCombs, Indiana-Jefferson line.

5 Mahoning Associate Presbyterian Church, organized 1828 on the site of the present church (at intersection of Legislative routes 32082 and 32096, East Mahoning Township).

6 Alexander Scroggs Work (1797-1878), farmer and elder in the “Seceder” or Associate Presbyterian Church.  His house is marked in “Work District No. 3” on the 1871 map of East Mahoning Township. (Beers’ Atlas of Indiana County Pennsylvania, p. 13).

7 John Reed Elder, brother of David W. Elder.

8 The Elder site is marked on the Beers’ Atlas as “J.R. Elders” and “Elders Hrs” (p. 13).

Working Women in Indiana County

“In those days, women didn’t go out to work.”  This statement, often made when speaking of the first half of the twentieth century, was for many quite true.  It was a time when women were less likely to be involved in unions than in clubs; significantly, these were concerned less with labor and political activities than social etiquette and hygiene.  For example, the Indiana Evening Gazette reported on a 1905 club meeting where women discussed the problems of “expectorating on the streets” of Indiana.  Newspaper advertisements directed at women then were less concerned with promoting the image of a competent workwoman than with beauty and how to get rid of “sunken eyes and hallow cheeks…and the ravages of dyspepsia.”

jane leonard
Jane E. Leonard – Preceptress at Indiana Normal School

While much of this public image is true, underlying the illusion of women at leisure was the basic reality that many if not most women had to work, especially before marriage or in the widowhood.  The penury of some might be dramatized by tragic news headlines as “Woman Killed on Railroad.”  In December 1905, a 35 year old childless widow of one week was struck and killed instantly while picking coal along railroad tracks near her New Florence home.  In that very year another news release reported the tragic suicide of an unemployed manicurist, a 25 year old Blairsville “girl” [woman] who drank carbolic acid in her room at the YMCA. Of course these were exceptions, but there were many, many women who had to find work, and only a few could find employment in the two occupations generally believed to be most desirable for young women – teaching and nursing.

Other occupations were available to women in the Indiana area. Young girls from the farming community or from town often found plentiful work as cooks, waitresses, chambermaids, upstairs girls and laundry girls.  Though hard and heavy, this work was quite respectable female employment. For many years, the Normal School and the town of Indiana itself offered a large number of such jobs.  Insurance maps of the town dating from the turn of the century attest to the existence of hotels and restaurants for both mealtime and overnight guests, and at these women could find work.  Occasionally some women tested their entrepreneurial talents if they and their husbands were proprietors.  Mr. Long, a native Indianian, recalls with obvious admiration how his mother once helped in directing the West Indiana House, later the Houck Hotel.  While his father took care of the office, buying merchandise and paying bills, his mother interviewed, hired and directed the chambermaids, waitresses and cooks.  Her managerial duties were demanding for the business was extensive.  Mr. Long remembers that “…if they didn’t have 100 at noon, they thought it was a poor day.”

Work as governesses and live-in maids also existed, but its desirability naturally varied according to the attitude of individual employers.  While at times a live-in maid could be treated as a family member, she could also find it was lonely, demanding, and tiring work.  One Indiana woman remembers cooking and making bread for an entire family, while simultaneously acting as a governess for eight children, including infants.  Years later she still remembers the consternation of her employer when she asked for so high a salary – $8.00 a week.  Seamstress skill also offered extremely good employment for those with the necessary skills.  Some women were so expert that they undertook the task of outfitting entire families, perhaps even spending a week or two in homes of well to do citizens of Indiana until the season’s outfitting was done.

Less skilled jobs as “Hello Girls” or telephone operators were equally acceptable for women.  “Hello Girls” were aware that they had important jobs in maintaining communications, especially in emergencies.  When in 1904 the gas in Indiana was shut off for two hours, the news reported “Hello Girls Swamped.”  All of Indiana’s 200 switchboard plugs were flooded with calls of inquiry, the board becoming “…a veritable cobweb of connections.”  For a long time telephone operators also sounded the town fire alarm.  Mrs. Huber of Fulton Run Road, for a time an operator during the 1920s, recalls with amusement how lines were always jammed with calls from the curious asking for information about the fire.

Most of these jobs fell into traditional patterns of occupation, but occasionally even at the turn of the century female stereotypes were shattered much to the surprise of the community.  In 1904, a Miss M. Margaretta Hodge, a resident of Blairsville, was certified to practice pharmacy.  The following winter a news story in the Indiana Evening Gazette praised Mrs. DeVers, a Blairsville rural delivery carrier who was sometimes assisted by her daughter.  The article commended her for she had not missed a single day’s delivery throughout a very severe winter.  Expending the ultimate praise, the article noted that she made “…as good time as her male colleagues.”

head nurse
Head nurse’s private apartment – Indiana Normal School

As the Indiana business community expanded during the 1910s new jobs as clerks and salesgirls became available to women.  Stores such as Bon Ton, Troutmans, Luxenbergs, and McCrorys placed help wanted ads for “girls,” often specifically demanding “good girls.”  In fact in 1917 one ad for a female clerk required that she still be living at home with her parents in Indiana.  Heavier factory work also employed women of the area but only on a limited scale.  Women worked at the Dye Works, the Indiana Candy works, the Diamond Glass Company, the Macaroni Factory, the Indiana Steam Laundry, and King Razor Manufacturing Company, all during the 1910s.

Surprisingly, World War I made no perceptible impact on either the labor market or on attitudes about working women.  At most, news items urged women to do volunteer work to help the war effort.  On May 10, 1917 the Indiana Evening Gazette printed an article encouraging “girls” to make sacrifices for their country.  Here was no call for bravery, or even the study of nursing, or perhaps the replacement of draftees in the labor market.  Instead the article praised one young woman for rejecting five proposals of marriage and then encouraging her beaus to join the service.  The final admonition, “It isn’t fair to remain idle….Every woman worthy of the name will offer her services.”  Now was a call for service without pay.

While the postwar period, especially the 1920s, is touted as an era of economic and political emancipation for women, locally there appeared to be little change in basic attitudes.  The short dresses and bobbed hair of women of the county projected the image of the modern female, but both men and women continued to view women’s work as, at best, a temporary situation filling the hiatus between school and marriage.  However, while the county job market underwent no dramatic change, some companies such as the Diamond Glass Company, King Leather Company and the Indiana Textile Mills did need an increasing supply of working women.

For forty years the glass company in Indiana had been absorbing women into its work force.  During World War I, glass production had boomed.  In the 1920s the Diamond Glass Company employed almost 100 women, or girls as they were then called.  Women inspected the glass, polished, painted, and packed the product which Indianians still remember with great pride.  One former Indiana resident remembers the summer months when she and other youngsters walked across the fields from Wayne Avenue just to watch the young ladies at the factory.  Each woman with a small turn-table in front of her decorated glass with pretty leaves and flowers.  Unfortunately, this employment ended abruptly in 1931 when fire ravaged the plant.  If men found it hard to replace their jobs in those depression years, it was extremely difficult for women.  Some area employers openly discouraged married women and those under eighteen years of age from seeking jobs which men might otherwise take.

Another long standing company, the King Leather Factory, supplied much of the growing market for female workers in the 1920s.  In operation since 1910 it had produced a variety of leather items ranging from money belts to pocketbooks employing primarily women.  In the decade following the war approximately 50 to 75 women were employed at its barn-like factory on North 10th Street.  Only three men worked there; one owned the company and the other two were supervisors.  It was essentially women who produced the product.  On the lower level of the plant where the leather was stored, cutting machines were operated.  On the upper level the process was divided into different rooms where women operated electric sewing machines, stamped the product with gold lettering, and then sorted and packed the final product.

Women learned the different jobs quickly, even without past experience.  As Mrs. Zellman of Ernest remembers, even the sewing “…didn’t take much training.”  As in most firms of the time, few women aspired to managerial work, but those who had long been at the factory were sometimes assigned to supervise the training and work of the younger girls.

The atmosphere at the factory was described by a former worker as “…just like a family.”  Much credit for this was attributed to Mr. King who gave treats to the women at holidays, even joining them in song during those festive times.  In addition to the paternal atmosphere, a pleasant lunch break also stimulated the feeling of togetherness.  A newly widowed woman who lived near the factory began selling vegetable soup and crackers in her own home.  It soon became so popular that instead of bringing lunches, many women ate at her house.  They enjoyed her expanding menu of baked beans and sandwiches, as well as her hospitality.

The newest job opportunity of the Post World War I period was at what longtime residents still call the silk mill, the Indiana Textile Mill, which began operating in the late 1920s.  Probably influenced by the changing market of the Flapper Era which revealed women’s legs, silk mill produced top quality, high fashion stockings.  Unlike today’s stretch stockings, the high fashion stocking was sewn from separately woven pieces and made exactly to the size and shape of the leg.  In this company, as in the Leather Factory, the basic work force was women employed as seamers, loopers, and inspectors.  Business was so good at the silk mill that it operated on three shifts.  Former employees estimate each shift consisted of about 75 to 100 people, ¾ of them women.  Employees enjoyed working there too and felt that job conditions were good in spite of minor problems such as cotton dust from threads.  Though it was an exception for anyone to develop an allergic reaction to the silk itself, it could occur.  At least one woman’s hands became so sensitive to the material that they actually began to bleed, requiring profuse use of ointment every evening.  In spite of the pain, this woman continued to work at the silk mill for she had a family to support.

World War II dramatically reshaped the attitude of many Indianians, male and female, towards working women.  Suddenly, women were encouraged to work in civilian and especially in defense industries.  They entered the work force with renewed self-esteem for as one former defense industry supervisor notes, “They knew they were needed.”  In fact, women were so much in demand that companies such as Acme Dye in Latrobe provided buses to transport women from Indiana and Clymer to its Latrobe factory where they worked with explosive powders and bullets.

In Indiana County itself, defense industry work was soon underway at Federal Labs in Tunnelton, and at Indiana on Indian Springs Road and at the newly opened plant near South 13th Street, in the same building that had previously housed the silk mill.  Work plans for the South 13th Street plant illustrate the new trends at Federal Labs which moved quickly to mobilize the female labor force.  As William Durno, a long time superintendent there notes, the company immediately began “…gearing up for the high speed production.”  Original plans called for one shift of 64 “girls” and five men plus about 6 guards and some government employed inspectors who were usually women.  Soon this was expanded to a three shift operation.  Women worked on the production line, mixed and handled explosives and assembled hand grenades.  They did everything which once only men had done, unless restricted by state law.

shorthand students
Shorthand students at commercial college during World War I.

Indiana women quickly learned of the new opportunities available at Federal Labs and as William Durno smilingly recalls, “If they walked in breathing, we hired them.”  As far as testing goes there was only one primary question, “Are you afraid?”  A timid person was a hazard.  However, during World War II, women maintained a good safety record.  In retrospect, women don’t remember trying to conform to a Rosie the Riveter image.  It was just common sense to wear overalls and wrap one’s hair in a bandanna.  All jewelry was expressly forbidden – static electricity would set off explosives.  One person remarked that it could be difficult to convince some women to take off sentimental jewelry such as wedding rings.  Most interviewees remember that workers were well aware of hazards and quickly complied with safety regulations.  A couple of Indiana women recalled an incident in which one worker let wisps of hair show only to lose some hair and even skin when the hair got caught in the machinery.  An accident such as this was an exception.  Throughout the course of the war, there were no major injuries in Indiana County war industries.

Besides convincing both men and women of the abilities of working women, the war years were responsible for other attitudinal changes.  A new consciousness you might say, had been raised and new expectations developed.  One satisfying aspect of work was the new sense of camaraderie among the women.  Mrs. Goral of Indiana remembers that when her mother worked at a defense plant the factory women associated more even during off hours.  Another more practical change resulted in new perceptions of unions.

Many local women who worked in the early period had expressed some hostility to unions.  They perceived union leaders as either troublemakers or meddlers.  Yet the women who had become involved in the large scale concerns of war industries often discovered that tan active union was a necessary ally.

Even more significant than the satisfactions of new interests and friendships outside the home was the impact of the paycheck itself.  For many women this was the first time extra cash filled their pocketbooks and as Mrs. Ila Murdick comments, it may not have been a great deal of money “…but it was big for them.”  In fact some women dared to suggest that the monetary motivation, not patriotism, was of paramount significance at that time.  As Mrs. Mabel McQuown, herself a former defense industry employee, remarks on the primary motivation of the women, “For most it was the money.”

Yet, in this picture, basic patriotism was not to be discounted.  Though women in the county were working in different jobs and in larger numbers than ever before, their ultimate goal was the war’s end and return of the soldiers.  Again and again patriotism is mentioned as the common denominator among them.  When the war ended they knew they would be out of a job.  As one former war worker said, “I don’t think anyone felt bad about losing a job.  They were happy that the war was over.”  Mrs. Carrolton Philippi of Marion Center remembers a story of one Indiana County woman who took a job replacing a man.  She used to joke that when he returned she would gladly give up her job and then marry the returning soldier.  That was exactly what happened.

For many women giving up their jobs was achieved just as smoothly and as happily. But there were others who felt differently.  They hoped to continue to work somewhere, somehow.  Unquestionably, the 1940s had altered the consciousness of Indiana Countians just as it had nationally.  The former attitude that women should work only before marriage or in widowhood had clearly diminished, to be replaced by a new appreciation of what women could contribute to the labor force.  Surely, a contemporary might report of that period if questioned “Yes, a lot more women went to work in those days.”