Harold and Annabel (Foster) Ailes, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Harold and Annabel (Foster) Ailes


Both Harold Melvin "Pop" and Annabel Ailes are life-long residents of Porter County. Harold has lived in Morgan Township since his grade school years, Annabel since her birth in the farm house west of the Adams Cemetery. Harold was born a few hundred feet across the road from Morgan Twp. in a farm house near the corner of 450 S. and Smoke Road. Both were delivered by doctors who rushed to their aid: Dr. George Douglas, Sr. and Dr. Sam Dittmer, respectively, on Sept. 30, 1921, and Feb. 13, 1920.

Among their recollections of growing up in this county are walking more than a mile to meet the mule-drawn school bus driven by Ed Cain. He later replaced it with a motorized bus built on the chassis of a Ford A truck. That change cut about 40 minutes off the ride to Morgan School each way. That was in 1931. The social life they recall was simple. They had school activities, like ball games and musicals, and community activities -- square dances, going to an occasional movie, church meetings, and Sunday afternoon rides. Most of their time was spent in work. Farming was done mainly with horses, although Harold's dad, Walter Ailes, had a steel wheeled tractor in the early 1920's. Both their parents milked cows and fed other livestock in addition to their grain farming. Of course, milking was done by hand. Walter Ailes owned the threshing machine for his "ring". As many as 14 families worked together up and down the roads from the owner of the threshing machine. Each family did its own shocking by hand and with the old binders. When the wheat and oats had been shocked, usually near the end of July, the threshing would begin; the gang threshed all the wheat progressing along the road in one direction, then did the oats on the way back. That way the farmer whose wheat was done first would have his oats done last. All worked together to provide labor and the women cooperated to provide adequate meals for the 10 to 30 men and themselves. Although some bought combines to harvest wheat in the early '40's, threshing gangs worked until about 1950.

Pop and Ann graduated from Morgan Twp. School in 1938 and 1939, respectively. He was a member of the Cherokee's County Tourney Championship team in 1937. They were married on Valentine's Day, 1941, at the home of her parents, Ernest and Mabel Foster. They set up housekeeping and started their family with his parents, Walter and Elsie Ailes. In 1951 they moved their growing family to the farm they now live on. It was the old Collison Farm, extending north and east from the corner of 600 S. and Smoke Road, the corner where Morgan, Pleasant, Boone, and Porter Townships meet. By then they had their family complete -- Carol Jane born April 23, 1942; Derald Wayne, July 25, 1945; Lonnie Ray, Nov. 16, 1946; and Joyce Ann, Dec. 12, 1948.

He still kept and worked a team of horses, Silver and Jerry, until 1954, when he sold them to a logging company in Wisconsin. All the children were attending Morgan School. They are proud that they all graduated from Morgan, making them one of only a few families to have two complete generations to do so. By December of 1956, the new house they were building, just a few feet from the west side of the original house, was nearly completed. The day before Christmas, during breakfast, our neighbor across the road, Art Luthi, Jr., came running in the door saying that we should get out of the house right away because it was on fire. The whole family thought he was playing a joke and invited him to sit down and have something to eat. He persisted in his warning and finally persuaded us to go outside, where we saw the smoke curling up from the wooden shingles. His mother Em had already called the Kouts Fire Department, so we went right upstairs and started carrying things outside. Shortly, the flames burned through the upstairs ceiling and we confined our salvaging to the lower floor. In the rush, the Christmas tree and presents were carried out to the front lawn. Annabel and Carol carried the piano out. (It later took four men to carry it back in.) The volunteer firemen arrived soon and extinguished the fire before it did any damage downstairs, but the water they pumped from the ditch to use in fighting the fire made the whole house less than livable. After a Christmas season back at Walter Ailes' house, we moved into the new house, spending much time in the basement, since it was finished first.

The family vehicle was a 1946 Chevy 2 Ton truck until 1951, when a 1951 green Chevy two-door sedan graced the driveway. Since then a succession of various makes and models have served until now. Like his father, Harold prefers his Cadillac.

Besides farming, Pop and his sons operated a livestock truck to the Chicago Stockyards from 1958 through the mid-60's. Then his back operation, Derald's attending Harding College, and Lonnie's being drafted to serve in Vietnam forced a farm equipment and livestock sale in 1967. Through the 4-H programs and FFA, the boys had a respectable Angus herd. The livestock truck sold that day, too.

Having clerked for the Valpo Community Sale under Les Martin and Ralph Herren since the early '60's, he continued there and took a position as teller under Wayne Stoner at First National Bank. Sale clerking lasted until 1975, but his place at the bank enabled him to become currently a Vice-President of the bank.

Harold is a charter member of the Kouts Lions Club and was president for 1966-67. Since 1968, he has been in the Valparaiso Lions, and served there as president for 1970-71. Annabel is active in the Home Extension Club and Lady Lions. Both are members of the Church of Christ. Even though they have had opportunity to travel around the country, neither of them has ever found a place they would have rather grown up or reared a family than right here.

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: 73-74

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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