Reminscenses of Reuben Pitcher Parkhurst
Contributed by Cathy Moran TruesdaleUsed with Permission
Reuben Pitcher Parkhurst and twin Raymond were born May 27, 1883 on the Parkhurst Family Homestead in Oswego, Kendall County, IL, weighing 17 lbs. collectively. They were the first born children of Amos James and Alice Lillian (Head) Parkhurst. Reuben was named after his great great grandfather, Reuben Pitcher who was a private in the Revolutionary War and his great uncle Reuben Pitcher Parkhurst who died May 1, 1863 in Young's Point, Louisiana, while serving as a musician in the Civil War.
Reuben grew up helping his father on the farm. He was a gifted musician and played the baritone horn in the Specie Grove Band with his father and all three of his brothers. Reuben joined the church his father helped found, the Oswego Presbyterian Church on Feb. 11, 1900, where he was President of the Christian Endeavor Society (which is considered the father of modern day youth ministry) and on the finance board.
On April 11, 1906 Reuben married Etta Bushnell at her parents, James and Elizabeth (Burgess) Bushnell's, home in Watervliet, MI, returning to Oswego to make their home. As chronicled by the Kendall County Record, they were quite busy and active in Oswego: "On Saturday evening Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Parkhurst entertained sixteen friends. Games were played and a delicious supper was served." 14 Apr 1909; "Reuben and Clarence Parkhurst have joined the ranks of autoists, having each bought a machine. Friday, Messrs. Reuben and Clarence Parkhurst took eight young ladies to Starved Rock and Deer Park. Mr. & Mrs. Reuben Parkhurst were in Morris and Minooka on Sunday. " 28 Jul 1909 (Etta's sister Irene and husband Erwin Coop lived in Morris, her sister Mae and husband Alexis Walstrom lived in Minooka); "Mr. & Mrs. Frank Friebele went to the State Fair Thursday with Mr. & Mrs. Reuben Parkhurst, the trip being made in the latter's auto." 13 Oct 1909; "One might have thought our village a live stock exchange from the number of cattle received one day last week....Parkhurst's received 2 car loads." 1 Dec 1909; "The Sunday school continues to grow under the able guidance of Mr. Arthur Rowswell. Preparations are being made for an Easter program at the morning hour by the Sunday school and the evening hour by the Christian Endeavor whose new president, Reuben Parkhurst, is proving himself to be the right man in the right place." 9 Mar 1910; "Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Parkhurst celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary Tuesday evening. Only the immediate family of Mr. Parkhurst with Rev. and Mrs. J. T. Hood were present. A dinner was served. Mr. and Mrs. Parkhurst were presented with one half dozen silver knives and forks to commemorate the occasion." 13 Apr 1910
Reuben's parents retired to Florida in 1908 dividing the farm between their three oldest sons, Reuben, Raymond and Clarence. Reuben and Etta are listed in the 1910 US Federal Census for Oswego Township as living on farm schedule 14, between his brother Raymond, farm schedule 13 and his brother Clarence, farm schedule 15. Each are listed as farmers, owning their own properties and being able to read and write. Reuben and Etta's first child James was born there in 1911, their second child Elizabeth was born there in 1917. In the 1920 Census they were living in Na-Au-Say Township. Their third child Anita was born there in 1920. Anita remembers being told that she was born on the Cherry family farm and that her father had been asked to give up his share of the family farm. Their fourth child Virginia was born in 1924 after the family had moved into Aurora, where they lived at 414 Pennsylvania Avenue. Reuben continued to help out his brothers on the family farm. His nephew Floyd, Raymond's son, remembers his uncle Reuben as being the nicest man. He also remembers riding into Chicago with him on the wagon to deliver cattle to the Chicago stockyards and going into Aurora in the wagon to deliver eggs. He remembers Reuben being there when their house caught fire. It was rebuilt using wood from the cherry trees on their property.
At the age of 42 (1925) Reuben was five feet three and one half inches tall, had blue eyes, gray hair, and a light complexion. He worked for many years for Wertheimer's Cattle Company in Montgomery. In 1940, he was living with his wife and two of his daughters (Anita and Virginia) in a home they were renting at 306 Grand Avenue in Aurora, IL, occupation: cattle salesman in a feed yard, worked 39 weeks in 1939, wage $700 for the year. They were living on the same street as Etta's parents who lived at 614 Grand Avenue (both homes were still standing as of 2013). His family loved him dearly all saying he was sweetest most loving man. He sadly passed away due to coronary artery disease on Nov. 2, 1943 at 60 years of age at his home, 306 Grand Avenue. "Reuben P. Parkhurst, of Aurora, age 60, died at his home on November 2. He was born May 27, 1883, in Oswego, and lived there until moving to Aurora. Surviving are his wife, Etta, a son, James; three daughters, Mrs. Howard Lange, Anita and Virginia Parkhurst of Aurora, four grandchildren of Aurora; two brothers, Raymond and Clarence of Oswego and two sisters, Mrs. Royce Smith and Mrs. Allen Woolley of Oswego. He was preceded in death by a brother, A. J. Parkhurst. Funeral services will be held from the Healy Chapel, Aurora, on Friday, November 5, Rev. John Holland officiating, the songs Old Rugged Cross and In the Garden were played. Interment was made at Spring Lake Cemetery in Aurora." Aurora Beacon News and the Kendall County Record