A Trip to Indiana

My grandmother, Jeanette Shrum Willett, left us a wonderful handwritten manuscript of her life which she wrote in the mid 1980’s. She was born August 4, 1897 in Bloomington, Indiana and died March 3, 1988 in Salem, Massachusetts.  I have been transcribing her manuscript here. You can start from the beginning with Part 1.

I love to travel and I try to do it as often as I can. Reading this short, but amusing, entry from my grandmother, I am absolutely amazed that my great-grandfather would take on the task of  driving his family of five 1,000 miles across the country from Massachusetts to Indiana in 1910. How many of us remember taking family trips as kids? I doubt yours were anything like this one. I know mine weren’t.

Part 6

The grammar, punctuation and any spelling errors are left as Jenny Shrum Willett wrote them.

Traveling to Indiana 1910. My grandmother’s brother, Fred Shrum, eats watermelon while my great grandfather, Mark, stops to fix a tire. The little girl seems to a part of the family who is helping change the tire.

“Now my father decided to sell Barney and buy a car. The salesman drove Dad around the block and he was ready to drive – no license or anything. There still were more horses on the road than cars. Now my father decided to drive us all to Indiana in 1910. I was 13 – Merah 15 and Fred 8. We took a minimum of luggage. There were no trunks in the car – one large suitcase wrapped in oil cloth was strapped to the running board. It took us 9 days to get to Bloomington. Every few hundred miles we had to stop and change a tire or inner tube. We had a hand pump and my brother would start pumping the first 100, then I would take over for the next 100 & then Merah & Mother & Dad would finish the job. We scared more horses on that trip. There were no AAA maps or route numbers to follow but an auto co. put out a book with directions like turn right at the red barn, but of course when we got there the barn had burned down and we would go miles out of the way. Many blacksmiths were serving autos and we would stop at them and have our inner tubes patched. The proper dress for auto travel then was a duster and hat with scarf tied over it. The cars were open and if it rained we had to stop and fasten side curtains on. Well, we made it to Indiana & back.”

Changing a tire on the way to Indiana. That’s my grandmother to the left and her younger brother Fred watching. You can see the arm of my great-grandfather, Mark.
I’m not sure who the little girl is posing for the camera, but it looks like the same one who was eating watermelon with my great-uncle, Fred. You can see my great grandmother Luta is wearing the duster and scarf as my grandmother described.

Did you enjoy this? Click below to read Part 7!


I have joined an online challenge by Amy Johnson Crow to write about 52 ancestors in 52 weeks. I’m writing about the prompt “Diary.”  I am hopelessly behind on participating, but Amy says there really is no “behind.” Writing at your pace and getting something out on the page is what is most important.   You can join any time and find all the details here: 

Click here to sign up for the 52 Ancestors Challenge 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *