Ida Mary Walz was born in 1882 in Chicago, the only child of a short and somewhat mysterious marriage. There are few records from her early life, and she never wanted to speak of it. It is known that she attended school until about the 8th grade, and in 1894 she moved to Washington state with her Grandparents, who apparently were raising her. It isn’t known what happened to her Mother, other than records of a later marriage and children followed by an early death at 53 years of age.
In 1903, at the age of 21, Ida married George Whittaker, an English immigrant. They helped work the farms of two of George’s uncles until 1909, when they were able to buy the 150 acre family homestead (for $6000!).
They had 10 children, the first born in 1904, the last born in 1928; 9 of them survived into adulthood, but one, a little boy named Floyd Jeffry, died when he was just a year and a half old (the following photo is not of Floyd, but of George, her firstborn).
According to the memoir of one of her daughters, “Mother sang beautifully. We would always beg her to sing to us when we were sick or feeling badly. She helped us with our harmony and we’d often sing together around the piano.” And, “If we had a problem we would sit on the woodbox and talk to Mother while she was cooking. Somehow this seemed a good place to bare one’s soul. Many a heartache was soothed in that old kitchen.”
The boy in the middle of the above photo is my Grandpa.
As was the case with most farming families of the time, they were very self-sufficient, raising almost all of their food, even the wheat for flour. There were always large stores of canned, dried, and cured food put away for the Winter, as well as piles of wood for heating the house, and lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs and milk in the Summer months.
Ida died in 1975 at 92 years of age. She was survived by 6 daughters, 3 sons, 20 grandchildren, & 22 great-grandchildren (one of the 22 is me, but sadly, I was too young when she died to remember her, the only one of my Great-Grandmas whose life overlapped mine... and no, that isn't baby-me in the photo, it is my older sister).