Those of us with rural ancestors don’t have regular, annual directories like those often used by urban researchers. Generally speaking that was because “everyone knew where everyone lived anyway” and the publication of such directories in rural areas was not worth the expense. Most of the time we are lucky if there are a directories for a handful of years. That’s why directories like this one from Hancock County, Illinois, are so important. Printed in 1918 by Prairie Farmer magazine, it gives more than just names and addresses. It lists other members in the household, whether the farm was owned or rented (including landlord), and the size of the property.
The image used to illustrate this post is for a copy of the 1918 Prairie Farmer’s “Reliable Directory of Farmers and Breeders: Hancock County, Illinois,” which I recently purchased on on Ebay. Other than Adams County, Illinois, it is the only county where I have any ancestors living in 1918. As a quick exercise, I made a list of who should be listed in the directory:
- Charlie and Fannie Neill (including son Cecil)–farming in St. Alban’s Township
- George and Ida Trautvetter (including daughter Ida)–farming in Walker Township or that general area
- Fred and Tena Ufkes (including son John)–farming in Bear Creek Township
- John H. Ufkes–farming in Bear Creek Township
- Mimka and Tjode Habben–farming in Prairie Township
- John and Anna Habben–technically retired and living in Elvaston and may not be listed
- John Johnson–farming in Bear Creek Township
I’ve listed the husband and wife (where both were alive) along with the child who is my connection to them (my grandparents were all “at home” in 1918, except for my maternal grandmother who was not born until 1924). Just thinking about where each living relative was in 1918 was a good exercise. The only one I’m not certain about is George Trautvetter. The remaining families or individuals were landowners (or renting from their parents) whose residence was fairly stable.
I’ve seen the book before (so I know what to expect), but we’ll post some images for specific people when it arrives. These Prairie Farmer directories from the 1917-1918 era are a wonderful source.