Edith Roseanna Stoens
Edith Stoens was born on a farm west of Magnolia in Putnam County, Illinois. Edith was such a tiny baby that her parents put her in a baby buggy by the stove to keep her warm because her father said that on that morning the thermometer on the back porch read 28 degrees below zero. Edith's mother remembers her father looking down at Edith and saying "She's so little, she looks just like a doll. Pet, lets call her Dolly." From that time onward, Edith was known to most of her family as Dolly.
At the time of her birth, Edith's father worked as a tenant farmer on a farm called the "Rismire Place." Her family remained there for several years before moving to the Shlesher Place. When Edith was about 4 years old, she had gone into the barn to play with her kitties, even though she had been told to stay out of the barn. When her father came home with the cows, he let them into the barn, not knowing Edith was in there. To a four year old, those cows seemed massive and very scary. Edith climbed right up a round pillar in the barn to the top. Her father had to get her down. To this day, no one knows how she got up there.
Because the Shlesher place was so extremely cold and Edith's mother was expecting her younger brother, her family moved again in 1941. The house they would be moving into wasn't ready yet, so they moved to a farm outside of Henry for just two weeks. This was the first house the children lived in that had electricity and they were fascinated with the electric lights. Edith and her brothers kept running around the house turning them off and on.
From there, Edith's family moved to the Spangler Place west of Toluca. It was there that Edith started to school. She attended a little school in the woods called Bennington Grove School. Edith was the only girl in the school, the rest of the children were all boys. She attended school there until it closed in 1945. After that her brother Howard and a neighbor took turns driving the children to school in LaRose, Illinois.
Edith spent her childhood on the Spangler Farm. Because she was the only girl with two older brothers, she had to be as good at everything as they were for them to let her play with them. Edith's mother would say that when she looked out the window, she would see the boys in a tree and at the top would be Edith.
Edith also loved to read and constantly had her nose buried in a book. One time her reading got her a little bit in trouble. Her mother was canning, and Edith was suppose to be watching the pressure cooker. This was a boring job, so Edith thought she would read for awhile. Naturally, she soon became so engrossed in her book that she forgot all about the cooker. The cooker started squeeling and Edith's mother came rushing in to shut it off. Edith had been sitting right beside it and hadn't even heard it.
When Edith was in high school, her family moved again in 1950 to the Hydridge Place where her father tried his hand at hog farming. It unfortunately didn't work out and by 1953, they had moved back to the Spangler place.
Edith's older brothers taught her how to drive without their parents knowledge when she was 15. One day, her father thought she was old enough to learn how, not knowing that she had already been driving for quite some time. He was amazed at how well she did on her "first driving lesson". It wasn't until years later that she told him that the boys had already taught her how to drive.
Edith has always loved animals and while growing up, she always had a pet or two. The family dog Shep was always raiding animal nests and would bring home the babies to Edith, unharmed. One time, a neighbor brought Edith a nest of baby squirrels that was found in an old tree that had been cut down. Edith bottle fed the squirrels and raised them as pets. She even had them in the house occasionally. The squirrels had a habit of climbing into people's shoes. One day, when Edith's father went to put on his slipper, there was a squirrel inside and it bit his toe! Well, her father said a few words that shouldn't be repeated and the squirrels went outside.
Edith graduated from LaRose High School in 1954. Her family moved to a house in Toluca in 1955. Edith continued living with her parents after high school and went to work for the Toluca Garment Company, sewing. By this time, her brother Bob was in the service and brought some of his friends home on leave with him from time to time. One of those friends was a man named Richard Norton, who would later become Edith's husband.
Edith Stoens and Richard Arthur Norton were married at the Presbyterian Church in LaRose, Illinois.. They had two children, Nancy Jo and Judy Ann. After their marriage, they continued living in and around Toluca for several years. By 1959, Edith and Richard had moved to Ottawa, Illinois where Richard went to work at Burns Machine Company.
Edith and Richard continued living in Ottawa for several more years. Their marriage was shaky though and by 1962, they had separated. Edith's parents put a mobile home in their back yard and Edith and her two girls moved in. She went to work again at Toluca Garment Company, while her mother baby-sat for the children.
Edith and Richard tried to patch up their marriage and by 1963, they had moved back together and were living in Ottawa. Unfortunately the marriage continued to fail and they were only together a few months before separating and finally divorcing. Edith and her children continued living in Ottawa. She met another woman, named Valerie Perdun that was in the same situation and they soon became close friends. Edith and Val decided that it was foolish to keep separate households so they moved in a little house together.
On time when Edith was using a self-propelled lawn mower, it stuck in the forward gear. It got away from her and Edith had to chase it all over the yard while her children sat laughing on the steps. The only way she got it to stop was to knock the spark plug wire off with a stick.
This was also the place of the sand episode. Edith and Val thought it would be nice if the kids had some sand to play in. They got their little shopping cart and went off to the gravel pit to get some sand. Needless to say, that sand was too much for the little cart and before they had gotten too far down the road, the wheels broke off the cart. The men at the pit must have been watching and waiting for this to happen because it wasn't too long before a truck pulled up to take them all home.
During this time, Edith met her second husband . Edith married Wayne Tucker in Ottawa, Illinois. Edith and her family moved to Roanoke, Illinois on New Year's day, 1966. Edith and Wayne had two children. Katherine Marie and Lisa Kay. Edith and her family continued living in Roanoke until 1971. They then moved to Washburn, Illinois.
Edith and Wayne divorced. Edith had gone back to work at Toluca Garment Company in 1971 and continued working there to support her family. Edith's parents needed a new roof for their home and couldn't afford to put one on. Edith bought her parents home from them to put a roof on it in 1973. She made a home for her family in the basement of the house, doing most of the work herself. Edith put in her own plumping, wiring, subfloors and cabinets. She also divided the back area into bedrooms, putting in her own walls and bathroom.
By this time, Edith's older daughters had married and were out on their own. Her home was always open to them though and they knew they would always have a place to come home to when times were rough. (Which happened on more than one occasion.) Edith continued living in Washburn until 1984 when she decided to buy a home closer to her job By then her father was in very poor health and in a nursing home. Edith talked her mother into moving in with her and they shared a home for about 8 years.
Because of pay and working conditions, in 1991, Edith helped lead a strike that installed a union at Toluca Garment Company. After being approached by union representatives, one afternoon half of the factory simply got up and walked out. The business had no choice but to call for a vote as to whether the employees wanted a union or not and the union was in.
In 1992, Edith sold her home to her daughter, Nancy and bought a small trailer in Rutland. Edith found though that she really didn't like living by herself and Nancy's son was now old enough for his own place, so they traded. Edith moved back into her old home and Mike got his own place.
Edith continued to work for Toluca Garment Company until her retirement in January 2001. She served as President of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union at her company for the last four years. Edith enjoys raising plants, gardening, tropical fish and bird watching. She continues to reside in Toluca with her daughter Nancy and family.
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