Floyd and Lala Banister lived in a rural community, but they stayed actively engaged associating with neighbors and friends. Their 1945 diary records many examples of friends, neighbors, and family working together to lend a helping hand.
Friends and Neighbors
Floyd recorded several instances where friends and neighbors helped with the work on the farm and woods, particularly cutting logs and drawing corn.
One event shows the importance of help from your friends and neighbors in a time of need. On October 10 Floyd wrote, “Old Bill got in mire down in spring by Armstrong marsh. We did not get him to barn until 2 A.M. Rob, Marion Cockroft, Jim, Gerald, Chas & Harriett Banister, Chas Webbey (sp?), Chet Betz & Harold Cockroft helped me.”
My best guess is that Old Bill was a horse. Indeed, if a large animal such as Old Bill was stuck in the mire, it definitely would take a whole crew of folks to get him out. The next day, Floyd’s brother Charles and his wife Harriett helped Floyd put Old Bill up in a sling. This is one of those times that I wish I could see a picture of what I am reading. Just how does one put a horse up in a sling? It would certainly be more than a one-man job, so thankfully Floyd had family nearby to help.
The day after that, Floyd said that “Bill seemed better,” but on October 13 we learn that Old Bill is still suffering from whatever injuries he sustained a few days prior. “I led Old Bill out to water he fell down, we had to sling him up, he could not stand we had to send for dead wagon.”
That is not the last we hear about the neighbors, but it is the last we hear of Old Bill.
Another interesting facet of the 1945 diary is reading all the interactions that Floyd, Lala, and their boys had with other family members.
As a family historian, it is a bit surreal to search for ancestors in traditional sources such as vital records and the census and then to find the same people mentioned in something like a diary which has a decidedly more personal feel. Many family members that I only know by name and maybe date or place are casually mentioned here because they all knew each other. All of a sudden, names become people, and those people had lives. They were someone’s son or daughter, brother or sister, uncle or aunt. They had lives and interests and ups and downs just like the rest of us. And just like we interact with our families today, they had the same type of experience generations ago just with a different group of people. They visited one another and helped one another. They had dinner together, attended family gatherings, and supported each other at weddings and funerals. They were just like us.
Floyd and Lala did not give great details in their diary entries or talk about their feelings regarding family members, but we can surmise that they cared much about their family and tried hard to stay connected.
Lala’s mother, Ellen Drucilla (Surbrook) Tabor, died in 1920, so by 1945 Lala had lived longer since her mother passed than when she was alive. It’s no wonder, really, that Ellen’s younger sister, Dora, is frequently mentioned in the diary. Perhaps she was like a mother figure to Lala?
In 1945, Dora Shaw was in her mid-70s and lived in nearby Jackson. They had supper together, Gerald and Jim fixed Dora’s roof, and Floyd and Lala delivered a little oil stove, a slip, a plant, a dozen eggs and blackberries. Dora spent Christmas with the family that year.
The diary also mentions an Uncle Elmer and Aunt Sadie, who are probably two more of Ellen (Surbrook) Tabor’s siblings; she had a brother named Elmer and a younger sister named Sarah (Sadie is a common nickname for Sarah). Gerald stayed over at Aunt Sadie’s house in April after an electro-plater’s meeting.
Lala’s father, Eri Tabor, was also one of many siblings. Two of his sisters, Ruby and Minnie, are mentioned in the diary.
“We went to Ann’s for a family gathering. Took Tom Daker with us. Aunt Ruby died this morning in a hospital,” Lala wrote on July 1.
A few days later, Lala and Gerald made the journey to Belleville, Michigan to attend the funeral. Along the way, they stopped at Aunt Minnie’s house, and then picked up Ann and her husband Densel Fuller for the funeral.
Ann (Garlick) Fuller, Lala’s first cousin, was the daughter of David and Minnie (Tabor) Garlick. Although she was significantly younger than Lala, their families seemed to be very close. They visited frequently and Jim and his friend Tom even spent a week with Ann and Densel. The entire family went to Manchester on October 19 to celebrate Densel’s 30th birthday.
There must have been a close connection between Floyd and Lala’s family and the Garlick family. In September, David and Minnie Garlick visited, bringing David’s brother Albert along with them. Ann’s brothers Emory and Wayne visited a few times in October and went pheasant hunting with Floyd and Jim.
Lala had only one sibling, a brother, Russell. Russell’s family, including his wife, Harriett, and son, Russell Jr., visited a few times.
Floyd had one sister and one brother. His mother, Jessie (Ferguson) Banister, brother Charles, and Charles’ wife Harriett lived nearby and were very interactive with Floyd and Lala’s family.
Floyd and Lala’s relationship with Jessie, or “Mother B” as Lala called her, seemed to be positive, loving, and helpful. They gave her rides and often spent time with her. Floyd kept track of the work that Mr. Dingee did to cultivate Jessie’s fields. On their birthdays, Mother B gave Lala a flower for her coat and Floyd received a six foot rule and two handkerchieves. When it was Mother B’s birthday, Floyd and Lala drove her to Eaton Rapids and bought her a dress.
Floyd’s relationship with Charles, on the other hand, is a little trickier to navigate. Perhaps I am biased based on entries I have read in other diaries, but it seems to me that Charles depended on Floyd heavily; perhaps a little too heavily. From what I have read and what I have been told by family members, Charles struggled with alcohol for many years.
Floyd was about 17 years older than Charles, and their father died when Charles was only 13 years old. It is very likely that Floyd took on a more fatherly role than would be typical between brothers because of the age difference and the loss of their father at a young age. This is another example of things I would love to know, but can only guess based on what I read in the diaries.
Several times, Floyd completed Charles’ chores for him, milked his cows, fixed his tractor chain, and plowed for him. To be fair, Charles did help Floyd from time to time, such as when Old Bill got stuck in the mire and had to be put in a sling.
Floyd’s entry from December 4 shows a side of Charles that will replay in future diaries and over many years. “Chas went away got drunk, Gerald & Harriett went after him. I did his chores.”