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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

A World Turned Upside Down

1930 census, April 16, 1930

1930 census, April 30, 1930

These two clippings from the 1930 census in McLean County represent a world turned upside down for five children. Ewing and Evelyn Whalin were probably a poor couple, facing a hard life at the start of the Depression. He was the janitor at the public school. She had five children to care for. On April 16, 1930 the enumerator visited their home and counted their children: Martha (8), June (6), Howard (5) Doris (2) and Clara (1). Fourteen days later the enumerator visited the Soldier's and Sailor's Children's Home and counted the same children again.

This stay at the ISSCS must have been a short one, possibly as a result of an illness of their mother or a temporary domestic upset. Doris (1928 - 1999), the next to youngest Whalin child, was interviewed in 1977 when she visited Bloomington. She remembered happy family picnics at Miller Park and her father finding the money in the lawn to buy ice cream treats for his large family.

Ewing Whalin appeared to work steadily at the public school between the years of 1930 to 1950. Around 1936, the Whalins divorced. Both parents remarried, Mrs. Whalin moving to Hammond, Indiana. From 1936 until 1940, various Pantagraph articles demonstrate that the girls were living at the Lucy Orme Morgan Home. They were reunited with their mother after her marriage sometime after 1941, when it is known Doris Whalin graduated from Washington Grade School as a resident of the Lucy Orme Morgan Home.

Tracing the children of this family has proved extremely problematical. But on the date of their father's death in March 1967 their married names were recorded: Martha Garrison, Doris Starkey, Sue Igyarto (Hammond, IN) and June Wright (Albuquerque, NM).

Martha Whalin (b. 1922) married James Brunson in 1937 in Indiana and married again to Cecil Garrison before dying of cardiac arrest at the age of 49 in East Chicago, Indiana. In 1945 she lost one of her children in a swimming pool drowning.

Doris Louise Whalin (1928 - 1999) married three times: Schnabel, Starkey and Slavik. At the time of Doris' first marriage in 1943 (age 16) her mother, Evelyn Whalin, had remarried and was living in Hammond, Indiana. Doris died in 1999, location unknown.

Clara Sue Igyarto (1929 - 2008) died in Chicago, Illinois August 5, 2008.

No further information could be developed about June Lavonne Whalin Wright (b. 1924).

While it was not completely unusual for girls to marry as early as Martha and Doris did, but were they hurried into marriage by the conditions under which they were living, either at the Home or as servants in someone else's home? Although the older sisters would have been high school age, there is no indication that they attended Bloomington High. The only advantage available to them at that point in their lives was to seek as much education as possible so that in the event of widowhood or divorce, which both experienced, they would have at least a high school education to help them find employment. Otherwise they would run the same risk of losing their children when their earning power was compromised by a lack of education (not that the wages of modestly educated women made it possible to support a family.)

#GirlsIndustrialHome #Family #ISSCS

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