Hardin County

Barbara Gross

CAVE-IN-ROCK, Ill. — Mrs. Barbara Gross who died at her home at Grossville May 11, 1900, wrote the following biography of herself in 1887 and it was printed in the Cave-in-Rock Register. By request we give it again.

Editor of Register: According to promise I send you a history of my past life. I was born January 19, 1823, in Switzerland, Canton Schafflhausen, on the Rhine. I came to Louisville, Kentucky in 1854 but was not satisfied with the country. I had $17 and I hired out in order to get enough to take me back home; when I had $50 I had the chills and spent the last cent to get them stopped.

I then thought I would try again but the doctor advised me to get a position where I would not have to work so hard, so I obtained a position to take care of six children and made $30, and by that time I became acquainted with my husband and we were married October 30, 1856, at Louisville, Kentucky in Avangariah Reformiste Church. My husband had $50 and I had $30, this we spent the next day for things needed to go to housekeeping with.

We moved to Nelson Furnace, 39 miles from Louisville, and lived there one year, then moved back to Louisville, and there we staid sixteen months, and from there we moved to Illinois Furnace which was being run by Wolf and Company. We staid there one year and in March 1860, we bought 40 acres of land, where I now live from Robert Howard for which we paid $215 in gold.

My husband raised three crops on it and December 14, 1862, he went into the war and left me with four little children. Three boys and one girl, the youngest being three months old and the oldest five years and a half. That was all the help I had. In the spring of 1863 I rented the land to Mr. Neel for the half. I had one hundred bushels of old corn when he commenced and I boarded him and some of his children that summer and in the fall I had 120 bushels of corn altogether. I thought that would not do, so the next year I hired hands by the day which I had to pay 75 cents a day for common farm work and in the fall when I. counted up the expenses was more than the crop was worth.

September 1864, news came that my husband had died in Andersonville prison. Then all my hopes was gone. But I afterwards received a pension of $6 a month for myself and $2 for each child. I kept on farming waiting for the boys to become large enough to take charge of the farm but when the oldest boy was 10 years old he died. The next was a girl, and I had to wait for the two youngest. I was compelled to hire hands for 10 years. You can guess what a time I had. I made nothing by farming, but at that time there was good range in the Coalings and I raised horses and cattle by this means I got along tolerably well and bought 120 acres more land making 160 acres altogether.

I am now 64 years old. My children all grown, the daughter married and left me and my two sons, the youngest of whom is twenty-five, are now running the farm.

I think I have done my share of work and would like to rest but under present circumstances I must still do the house work, but am willing to give up for someone else to take the load, as I have plenty to keep myself as long as I live, without looking to someone else for support and have long since learned that a good name is far better than riches.

Thanks to Wanda H. Reed for contributing this article to the Hardin County ILGenWeb site. The Hardin County Independent published this article on Jan. 2, 1930.

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