Eslie Mae (Herron) Ailes, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Eslie Mae (Herron) Ailes


I was born in 1898 in a wood frame house just west of Smoke Road on the Malden-Boone Grove Road, just about a mile from where I live now. The first school I attended was at Cole's Corner, where Highways 6 and 49 cross. We had moved to a house about a mile from there and I walked to school and back, about a mile each way. I was 6 years old. I did that for the 4 years we lived there. By then I had 6 brothers and 6 sisters. Then we moved to the house where Berwin Jones lives, a couple miles west of the place where I was born. Then I went to the Malone School north of Ralph Graeber's place. Then we moved to the Anderson place and I went to Mariam School. I still walked to school -- across the fields in good weather and along the road in winter. I graduated from the 8th grade. I started as a Freshman at Boone Grove High School, but had to drop out at Christmas to take care of my sick mother. Through grades 1 to 8, I was always in one room schools with 20 to 25 pupils. Back then you could learn a lot if you just paid attention.

When I was 17, I married Walter Ailes. He was 24 and already had a farm. We lived in his house on the corner near where I was born. He, his brother Bill and his brother Lawrence all farmed together. They dug ditches and laid lines of tile to make a farm out of the marsh. What we call Smoke Road now was just a dirt road along the ditch bank to Valpo. I remember one time riding in the wagon to town (when I was about 13) when the water was up to the wagon box, almost to the horses' bellies.

We built a house on the corner in 1922. George, Arthur, and Harold were born there. Then we built and moved to a little house here, so we could be on better grass for the stock. Mr. Legg sold us the farm for $300 per year. We cashed in our insurance policy and made the first payment. Robert was born there.

The house I live in now was built in 1946-47. Walt drew his own plans. He said, "Mom, what does this look like to you? Is it all right?" I said, "You know more about those things than I do. Just build me a big kitchen." You know, he did, too. My kitchen is still one of the biggest I've ever seen. There was only one night we didn't spend together since we were married until he had a stroke and passed away. That was when he had to go to Wisconsin to close the deal for buying this farm.

Before the milk truck started to pick up milk, we had to haul our own to the RR crossing east of Boone Grove to sell it. We went to Boone Grove Christian Church. We had our wedding reception in the old hall. We really didn't date very long. We went with a bunch of kids to the Kouts carnival and rode the merry-go-round, went to church together, and had box socials.

Our first car was an Overland with a gasoline engine. We drove it to Columbus, Ohio, to a family reunion. There were two couples and 5 children and all our lunches and clothes in that cracker-box car! Each way took a whole day and part of the night. In 1948 we bought our first Cadillac. From then on we never had any other kind. We drove to California and back.

We got our first telephone in the 1920's, I think. We got it after the night Walt was riding the pony home on the icy road. It slipped and fell on him, then dragged him home by his foot caught in the harness. It was late and Bill was about to go looking for him when we heard "Help! Help!" at the gate. We had to cut his boot off. Dr. Sam Dittmer and his wife, pregnant with Dr. Tom at the time, had a flat tire on their way out, so he drove on the rim to get here. He worked and worked to get the end of the bone back in his leg, then he bound it real tight. Walt walked on crutches and scooted a chair around in front of him until it healed. If it hadn't been for old Doc Dittmer, there were lots of folks who wouldn't have made it. But we did -- through smallpox and measles and even the mumps. I have seen a lot of things change, and most of it has been for the better.

Source: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County. 1976. A Biographical History of Porter County, Indiana. Valparaiso, Indiana: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County, Inc. 180 p.
Page(s) in Source: 72

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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