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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

The Botkins

Through the hard years of the Depression, Ray and Nadine Botkin held their family together. Ray worked at Clay Dooley Tire, and their family slowly grew. The only record of this family is in the city directory -- they never appeared in the census except in 1930 when Ray and Nadine were living in a boarding house and had no children. But when the information for the 1930 city directory was gathered, they had one child. In 1932 they had 2 and in 1934 three children. In 1941, the next year they appear in the record, they had 5 children. The only record that gathers all their names together in one place is the obituary of Edward C. Botkin in 2006. Edward was born in 1936 and his four sisters were: Betty, Dorothy, Anne and Evelyn. Each of his sisters were still living when Edward died, and scattered across the United States.

A small bankruptcy notice appears for Ray Botkin in 1941, and after that date Ray Botkin no longer appears in the Bloomington City Directory. In that year Ray's mother died, and in 1936 his father had died. This was also the year that the Botkin children would enter new homes -- which is why this family is so fascinating to me. The girls entered the Lucy Orme Morgan home and Edward entered Victory Hall.

Various newspaper articles about the Lucy Orme Morgan Home mention three of the sisters: Betty, Dorothy and Annabelle. The first of these is a story on December 18, 1941 about the Christmas party at the Home, which the Rotarians put on each year. Betty Botkin was one of the girls mentioned as singing a song. On June 3, 1943 Annabelle and Dorothy played the cello during the annual meeting at the Lucy Orme Morgan Home and Betty sang with the chorus. The sisters also enjoyed being girl scouts and all the activities of high school. Although none of the Industrial Home girls attended high school in the 30s, by the 40s several of the girls were attending high school, which would have been a great benefit for the girls.

Dorothy Botkin

In January of 1946 the girls of the Lucy Orme Morgan Home were featured in a photo spread in the Pantagraph. The article demonstrated the ways that girls were trained to be housekeepers at the school. Dorothy, an 8th grader at Washington Grade School (sophomore photo left) and Annabelle, a freshman at Bloomington High were both

photographed by the Pantagraph reporter. Betty was the oldest and the only sister to graduate from Bloomington High School (senior photo right). Her graduation year was 1947. She would have aged out of the home at age 18. Dorothy and Annabelle both attended high school two years. In the thirties fewer residents of the Home attended high school and were instead sent out to be housekeepers or baby nurses for the affluent families of McLean County. Possibly Anna and Dorothy were spared domestic service. Later, Anna worked as a key punch operator at State Farm from at least 1950 to 1957, and Dorothy worked as a nurse's aide in 1947 and later as an inspector at Meadows Manufacturing. No record of Edward Botkin's high school career could be found in Bloomington. He served in the army for 20 years and then worked at Nestle-Beich for 21 years.

Dorothy Botkin (photo left) entered the Miss Bloomington-Normal Land contest in 1951 by submitting a photograph of herself. The winner competed for State Fair Queen. Betty had entered the same contest the previous year, which was the first year there was a State Fair queen. Dorothy's married name was Madsen, and at the time of her brother's death she was living in Phoenix, Arizona.

Evelyn Botkin is a mystery -- she is never mentioned in the Pantagraph, nor does she appear in the BHS yearbook. In 2006 she was still single and living in Olney, IL.

Betty married in February, 1948 to Dwaine Cook, a young man from Kempton and an underwriter with State Farm. Betty's paternal aunt was present at her wedding, but no mention was made of her parents. The Cooks had four children and lived a good deal of their lives in Decatur, where their home was on Country Club Road and Dwaine was an executive with Kemper Insurance.

Annabelle was married to Thomas Champion in Maricopa, Arizona in 1962 and was living in Littleton, Colorado in 2006.

Nothing is known of why these girls were living in the Lucy Orme Morgan Home, but their parents both lived many more years. Nadine Botkin was never noted to have employment, but she must have in the nearly thirty years following the break up of the home. Whatever that employment was, it could never have been enough to keep five children. Nadine's own childhood had been a hard row to hoe. At the age of twelve she and her widowed mother were living in a boarding house in Peoria and her mother was a dressmaker. At the age of 13 Nadine was working in a Peoria department store, Block and Kuhl. She knew how hard it was to be a woman raising children alone. Perhaps she felt it was better for them to be in the Girls' Home, where they could attend school, rather than begin working at the same early age she had. Nadine Botkin died in Peoria in 1968 and was buried in East Lawn Cemetery (Bloomington), where her husband's parents were buried. Ray Botkin died in Chicago in 1963 and was buried at Chenoa.

#GirlsIndustrialHome #Family #Bankruptcy

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