An Inheritance of Ghosts

Walter Andrew Mattocks and Rachel Idella Crane

Posted in Rachel Idella (Crane) Mattocks, Rachel Idella Crane, Walter Andrew Mattocks by Gregg Mattocks on 25 April 2009

Walter Andrew Mattocks [8]

Father: Cyrus Rumsey Mattocks [16]

Mother: Hester Ann Hess [17]

Mattocks Family Heritage entry

Rachel Idella Crane [9]

Father: Peter M. Crane [18]

Mother: Sarah Emily Blackburn [19]

Mattocks Family Heritage entry


Walter Andrew Mattocks [8] reportedly was born 25 August 1858 in Illinois or Indiana.  His gravestone gives his year of birth as 1854.  However, Walter does not appear in his parents’ household in the 1860 census, and therefore may actually have been born shortly after this census was taken. Genealogist Carl Kenneth Mattocks wrote that the divorce papers of Walter’s parents recorded that Walter was born in August of 1862.

I believe Walter may have been named after his grandfather Andrew Hess and his grandfather’s brother, Walter B. Hess.  Alternatively, he may have been named after his uncle Walter Allen Mattocks.

Walter has not been located in the 1870 census, though it does not appear he was living with either of his parents (who had divorced by this time).  Indeed, Walter’s mother Hester had probably died by this time.

1880 Census, Newton County, Indiana (click to enlarge)

1880 Census, Newton County, Indiana (click to enlarge)

In June 1880, Walter, a laborer, aged 19[?], was living in the household of Peter M. and Emily Crane at Iroquois Township, Newton County, Indiana.  Also in the home was the daughter of Peter and Emily, Ida Crane, aged 13, who would, a year later, marry Walter.

Walter Mattocks married, 5 August 1881, at Niles, Berrien County, Michigan, Rachel Idella “Ida” Crane [9].  She reportedly was born 5 June 1867 or 1868 (though her gravestone gives her year of birth as 1865) at Goodland, Newton County, Indiana, the daughter of Peter M. and Sarah Emily (Blackburn) Crane.  The 1930 census recorded that Idella was 16 at the time of her marriage, but it seems likely that she was even younger.  Amy Tanner wrote that Walter’s father presented his son with a milk cow at the time of his marriage.

1870 Census, Benton County, Indiana (click to enlarge)

1870 Census, Benton County, Indiana (click to enlarge)

In August 1870, Rachel, aged 3, was living with her parents at Parish Grove Township, Benton County, Indiana.

According to census records, Walter and Idella were able to read and write.  Amy Tanner wrote that Walter’s father Rumsey sometimes lived with Walter and Idella in the last years before Rumsey’s death.  Their son Carl was born in December 1885 in Indiana.  Daughter Maud was born in November 1886 in Indiana.  Son James was born in November 1888 in Indiana.  Son Beverly was born in July 1891 in Indiana.  Daughter Hattie was born in December 1893 in Indiana.  Son Elwyn was born in September 1896.  Son Orville was born in February 1899 in Indiana.

1900 Census, Newton County, Indiana, part 1 (click to enlarge)

1900 Census, Newton County, Indiana, part 2 (click to enlarge)

1900 Census, Newton County, Indiana, part 2 (click to enlarge)

In June 1900, Walter, a farmer, aged 41, was living with his wife Idella, aged 31, and seven children, on a rented farm at Lake Township, Newton County, Indiana.  At that time, it was recorded that Idella had given birth to eight children, seven of whom were living.

Son Glenn was born about 1903 in Indiana.

1910 Census, Porter County, Indiana (click to enlarge)

1910 Census, Porter County, Indiana (click to enlarge)

In April 1910, Walter, a farm laborer, aged 54, was living with his wife Ida, aged 44, and four children in a rented home at Pleasant Township, Porter County, Indiana.  At this time, Ida had given birth to ten children, of which nine were still living.

1920 Census, Jasper County, Indiana (click to enlarge)

1920 Census, Jasper County, Indiana (click to enlarge)

Walter Andrew and Rachel Idella (Crane) Mattocks

Walter Andrew and Rachel Idella (Crane) Mattocks

In 1920, Walter, a farmer, aged 62, and his wife Idella, aged 52, were renting a home at or near Parr in South Union Township, Jasper County, Indiana.  Also in the household were sons Elwyn, Glen, Oliver, and Beverly, Beverly’s wife Gladys, and Beverly’s infant son Carl.  Walter and Idella were joined at Parr, Indiana, by their Leverenz grandchildren where they lived until 1929.  Granddaughter Lola (Leverenz) Jordan remembered that, with their grandparents, she and her sisters would “go camping every summer when school was out.”  Therefore, Lola wrote, she considered herself an “old time country river rat.”  In 1997, Lola published an eloquent memoir in the Illinois Sports Outdoors magazine:

[Note: The images that appear below are not of any of the individuals mentioned in Lola’s story. The photos are instead scenes of the Kankakee River area, of approximately the same time period that Lola wrote about.]

At age 84, there are many fond memories of family and times long gone.  My lifetime of outdoor memories began on a homestead on the prairies of Montana and have paddled along with me on the lakes and rivers of Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

But what I am writing about now are my precious days of camping on the Kankakee River in the 1920’s with Grandpa, Grandma, and my three sisters.  We granddaughters ranged in age from three to ten.  I was the ten year old.

When the cruel disease took our mother away, Grandpa and Grandma Mattocks took us in and our father traveled to the big city to find work.  We would only see our dad on weekends, but our grandparents had lots of love to spare.

I think most of Grandpa’s life was spent outside.  He was thin, wiry, and strong.  Every summer before school was out, Grandpa would go out along the Kankakee River scouting for a campsite.  It would not be a fancy cottage.  Sometimes it would be just one room downstairs and up a ladder to one room upstairs, or often no cottage at all, just an area for tents.  There would be a large one for sleeping and another for storage.

Grandpa would clear the land by the riverbank, making stacks and stacks of firewood, and then spade the soil to plant a big garden.  When he had erected our table and benches under a canopy and had a big grate ready for cooking, he would get his boat ready for fishing.

After the end of the school year, the uncles would load up Grandma and us girls along with the grocery staples, dishes, pots and pans, bedding, and clothes.  Then off we’d go to join Grandpa on the banks of the river.

In western Indiana near Roselawn, Shelby and Thayer, the Kankakee River had been dredged and straightened so there were huge sand hills and extra oxbow sloughs of water from the old channels … an ideal place for adventurous children.  It seems we played and swam all day!  Bathing suits were the usual attire.  Up and on the go in the daytime, in bed at dark.

Grandpa was a great outdoorsman, mostly a fisherman.  He seemed to know where to fish, when to fish, and what bait to use.  He would put our lines out or sit along the bank.  Sometimes he might travel little up river.  There was no motor, just oars or his hand made a paddle.

Occasionally, a relative stopped by with an order of extra groceries.  We also would get eggs and milk from a local farmer and vegetables from our garden, but we mostly ate fish … lots of fish!  Since I was the oldest child, I had to help Grandpa with the garden and fishing.  I remember once we went to a slough and there were as many mud turtles as fish.  How I hated those mud turtles!  They’d swallow your hook so you would have to stretch out their neck and stomp on their back to retrieve your hook.  Grandpa put the fish in his wire net basket and the turtle carcasses were thrown aside for the wild creatures of the night to clean up.  We sure didn’t want them to come alive and bite again.  Grandpa teased that I was fishing for turtles and accidentally caught fish.

Another time Grandpa took his spear along some shallow back water.  The water was very clear and we had to be very quiet.  “Don’t move, don’t move.”  Then all at once Grandpa’s spear went sailing out!  I couldn’t believe he could throw it so far and impale a big buffalo or carp.  I can close my eyes right now and see him pulling up his boots to wade out after that flopping handle with a big fish attached to the prongs of the spear!  Holding the fish to the bottom, he would ease his way to the shoreline.  Then the water would explode as he would swing the thrashing carp out onto solid ground!  I can keenly remember being very proud of Grandpa!

I have always loved the outdoors and the times that were shared there.  In those carefree years of childhood, my sisters and I were happy and healthy.  Thank you, Grandpa and Grandma!  I believe you knew how to care of us four little girls after having raised two girls and seven boys of your own.

It’s hard to believe that 70 years have past since those sweet days of summer-long vacations spent with Grandpa and Grandma along the Kankakee River.  I close my eyes and we are all there together, Grandpa and Grandma Mattocks and us four granddaughters.  The Kankakee blesses two states with clean, cool waters and emerald hardwood bottomlands.  In Indiana, the main channel of the river was dredged and straightened, stirring the mud and tempers of those of those downstream in Illinois for years.  Indiana’s monumental task resulted in deep sloughs and drainage canals for fish and waterfowl and a river with a unique character.  In the 1920’s, it all seemed like a paradise to us.

Grandpa always picked a new campsite for us each summer.  One particular time we had a small one-room cottage located on a narrow strip of land between the river and the fenced-in farmland beyond.  There was no real road to the cabin, neither was there a gate for the fence.  The farm field beyond the fence was off-limits, forbidden territory, despite the fact that the farmer had built a stile across the fence directly in front of our cabin.  The bright galvanized wire and rugged steps of the stiles were always tempting us to cross them.

“You must not go over the stile or beyond the fence!” Grandma told us.  She didn’t really tell us why, but we could feel that somehow this area concealed dangers just as real as the swift waters of the river.  Grandma would let us play on the steps, but to cross them into the cornfield beyond was forbidden.  To four adventurous girls, this was hard to understand.  Before the summer was over, we would see things more clearly.  But as far as we could see right then, our little corner of the world was a safe and perfect place.

Although our cabin was plain and unpainted, not fancy, it served our needs.  I’ve often wondered about the origin of these cottages that sometimes became our summer home.  I suspect these simple shelters were built to accommodate workers dredging and cleaning the river.

Outside we always had awnings of canvas to shelter our table and benches, as well as a covered workplace and other necessary conveniences.  No indoor plumbing, of course, but if there was no well, Grandpa would simply drive a shallow well for an outdoor pump.

Once our garden was planted, Grandpa’s main job was fishing, but he also was quite a cook!  At least the fish thought he was!  Grandpa had a big iron kettle hanging over the cooking fire grates.  Grandma always did the real cooking, so we girls thought it was pretty amusing when Grandpa would mix and cook the doughballs he used as bait for his trotlines.  He told us he had a secret recipe, “tough and tasty!”  He must have been right, because it seemed we always had plenty of fish.  Too bad he didn’t give us the secret to pass along!

As the oldest, I had to help Grandpa run the lines.  The river was swift so handling the boat was difficult.  This was the most exciting part of my day.  It was nice to feel that my little help with a paddle was needed.  And I really liked working with the fishing lines, grasping them and feeling then [sic] shake.  You knew right away you had at least one fish.

Our catch was tossed in a tub of water in the boat—no live wells back then.  When we returned to camp, all the live fish went into a live-box.  The one’s [sic] that were not so lively were quickly cleaned and became our next big meal.

We didn’t need newspapers or radio weather reports to tell what was going on in our little world.  Living under the sky each day kept us in touch with all we needed to know.  But there was one frightening afternoon when a fast-moving thunderstorm came bursting in to shake up our peaceful existence.  And the danger touched us in an unexpected way!

“Hurry!  Hurry, get inside!  Inside, everyone!” Grandpa called!  As we all scrambled into the tiny cabin, Grandma remembered she had left dishtowels hanging to dry on the wire fence by the stile.  Out the door she rushed to gather then [sic] up before they were blown far out into the cornfield beyond.  Just as she grabbed them, a huge bolt of lightning struck, knocking her to the ground!  It felt as if the lightning bolt had pierced all our hearts and souls as we watched through the open cabin door.

But even before Grandpa could fly to her side, magically Grandma scrambled to her feet, clutching the dishtowels.  Grandpa gathered her in his arms and helped her inside, with all of us girls still screaming and crying, but now bursting with joy.  All that our dear Grandmother had to show for her close encounter was singed hair on the front of her head.  We were lucky that day and thankful that Grandma survived to supervise many more years of camping.  And when Grandma warned us of danger, we never again questioned her judgement [sic].

In April 1930, Walter A., not working, aged 75, was living with his wife Rachel I., aged 64, and their four Leverenz granddaughters, on a rented farm at Rives Road east of Kankakee, Aroma Township, Kankakee County, Illinois.  At that time, Walter was paying $10 per month in rent.  The census of that year recorded that Walter and Idella owned a radio set.

Apparently, about 1932, Walter, Idella, and the Leverenz girls moved to Roselawn, Newton County, Indiana.  They may all have returned to Momence somewhat later.

Walter died 10 December 1943 at Thayer, Newton County, Indiana.  He was buried at Hobart Cemetery, Hobart, Lake County, Indiana.

Idella, of Walkerton (in St. Joseph County, Indiana), and Hobart, died 10 June 1952 at La Porte, La Porte County, Indiana, allegedly aged 87 years and 5 days.  She was survived by 39 grandchildren and 45 great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Mattocks was a Christian.  All her life she was a member of the Methodist Church.  She was a member of the Earl Park Methodist Church at her death.  Her faith in Christ as her Savior sustained her on the long journey thru life, and at last opened the Gates of the Celestial City.  There she has met her Christ and loved ones who have waited long for her coming.

Funeral services were conducted at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, 13 June 1952, by the Reverend H.L. Adams of the First Methodist Church at Pflughoeft Chapel in Hobart.  Idella was buried at the Hobart Cemetery.

Children of Walter and Rachel Idella (Crane) Mattocks:

+    8.1.  Carl Peter, born 18 December 1885.
+    8.2.  Maude Anna, born 20 November 1886.
+    8.3.  James “Jimmy” Park, born 18 November 1888.
+    8.4.  Beverly Earl [4], born 25 July 1891.
+    8.5.  Hattie Mae, born 18 December 1893.
+    8.6.  ——, female.
+    8.7.  Walter Elwyn, born 18 September 1896.
+    8.8.  Orval Benoni, born 16 February 1899.
+    8.9.  Glenn Howard, born 16 May 1901.
+    8.10.  Oliver Kenneth “O.K.”, born 28 August 1904.


  • 1860 United States Census, Kankakee County, Illinois, page 130, (M653-192).
  • 1870 United States Census, Benton County, Indiana, page 332 (M593-332).
  • 1880 United States Census, Newton County, Indiana, page 258 (T9-301).
  • 1900 United States Census, Newton County, Indiana, pages 316B-317A (T623-394).
  • 1910 United States Census, Kankakee County, Illinois, page 212 (T624-298).
  • 1910 United States Census, Porter County, Indiana, page 155 (T624-374).
  • 1920 United States Census, Jasper County, Indiana, pages 137-38 (T625-440).
  • 1920 United States Census, Kankakee County, Illinois, page 3, (T625-377).
  • 1920 United States Census, Wayne County, Michigan, page 240 (T625-806).
  • 1930 United States Census, Atchison County, Missouri, page 34 (T626-1175).
  • 1930 United States Census, Jasper County, Indiana, page 124 (T626-594).
  • 1930 United States Census, Kankakee County, Illinois, pages 2, 8, 12 (T626-526).
  • —, “[Obituary of Rachel Idella Mattocks],” copy of unidentified newspaper clipping circa June 1952, from the papers of Carol Lee Mattocks.
  • —, Mattocks Memorial Package, a genealogical report prepared for Carl Kenneth Mattocks by an unidentified genealogist (circa 1989), (some pages contain page numbers and the heading “Birchwood – Simsbury Printery”).
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, “Family Search Internet Genealogy Service,” at, submitted, at least in part, by Mary Fran Downey, accessed 22 February 2000.
  • Ma Fisk (Lola Jordan), “Memories of Grandpa’s Fish Camp,” Illinois Sports Outdoors (February 1997), page 22.
  • Ma Fisk [Lola Jordan], “Grandpa’s Fishcamp: Part 2,” Illinois Sports Outdoors (March 1997), page 16.
  • Lola Jordan to Chauncey Leon and Carol Lee “Suzi” Mattocks, letter, 1 January 1997.
  • Lola Jordan to Gregg Leon Mattocks, letter, 13 April 1997.
  • Carl Kenneth Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, letter, 20 May 1999.
  • Carl Kenneth Mattocks, genealogical information from the research of Carl Kenneth Mattocks.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, letter, 30 August 1992.
  • Porter County Public Library System, “Obituary Index,” at, an index to obituaries published in The Vidette-Messenger (to 1994) and The Vidette-Times (1995-present) of Valparaiso, Indiana, accessed 7 April 2005.
  • Amy Tanner, family history, undated. [LINK]
  • Amy Tanner to Louise Schmidt, letter, 1 May 1979. [LINK]