Martha Polite Article
Newspaper Article Bluffs Illinois Times June 18, 1941
Written by granddaughter Goldena Krusa in honor of GrandmaBinge's 97th birthday.
Mrs. Mattie Binge, better known to this community, as"Grandma Binge" will celebrate her 97th birthday Saturday, June21st. She makes her home with herdaughter, Mrs. William Meyer living east of Naples and although her ability tohear has faded and her eyesight has dimmed with age so she can no longer sew orread, she gets about the house and yard without assistance and insists oncontinuing with such household tasks as washing the dishes for the family'snoon and evening meals.
Walking with such spryness that she made our steps seemslow, she left her finished task to tell us of her life which spans nearly acentury.
Born June 21, 1844 to Robert and Elizabeth Polite, migrantsfrom Ohio, on the farm now known as the Quintal farm south of Naples, herearliest recollections of this community include settled, fairly open countryunder cultivation. Life as a girlincluded the usual household tasks of a pioneer family, her special duty, thatof making all the candles for the family use. Recreation included community dances in both the Oxville and Naplesneighborhoods to which one rode on horseback but never astride the horse. They rode sidesaddle.
Remembers Civil War
At the opening of the Civil War, she went to Newcastle (Noteinserted by Karen Skinner: I think this may be Greencastle in Sullivan County),Missouri near the present city of Macon, to stay with her sister (Note insertedby Karen Skinner: I think this islikely her sister Catherine, wife of Gilbert Farris) whose husband had beencalled to service. She became engagedto a young Missourian in the service who was later reported "missing andunaccounted for in battle." Sorrowing and homesick, after a year's absence from Illinois, shereturned to Scott County in a covered wagon.
Her parents moved to Lincoln, Illinois during the last yearof the Civil War and it was in this community in 1864 that she met and marriedWilliam Harris, a Virginian who had served as a soldier in the recent conflict.Together, they returned to the place of her birth.
To this union were born five children, the oldest (AlbertHarris, age 76) who works at the cold storage plant at Valley City, one childwho died in infancy, two children who died during a spinal meningitis epidemicin the Naples area, and one son, William Bert, who is a retired railroader nowliving in Denver, Colorado. When thelatter child was only five months old, the father died (October, 1874.)
Her second marriage occurred in 1877 to Thomas Binge,formerly of Sheffield, England and a soldier in both armies of the Civil War.Landing at the port of New Orleans during the war, he was conscripted in theConfederate Army. His sympathies beingwith the north, he deserted the southern soldiers at the first opportunity andjoined the northern ranks for the duration of the war. He later located in Naples, married, and asa widower he married Grandma Binge, then Mrs. William Harris.
The livelihood of Mr. and Mrs. Binge was a meat market andproduce business which in Naples included supplying meat to the boats whichdocked sending shipments to other communities. To this union was born one daughter, Mamie, who after her father's deathmade a home for her mother while she taught the Maple Grove and Burrus schools,and on her marriage to William Meyer took her mother to their new farm home.
Throughout the years, she has lived with Mr. and Mrs. WilliamMeyer; she has enjoyed assuming an active share in the household tasks,moderate newspaper reading and the making of quilts. Keeping pace with modern home conveniences, and youth problems,she enjoys the completely modern home in which she lives, (with the exceptionof the radio) and the activities of her great-grandchildren.
Grandma Binge received the customary meager schooling of thethree"rs" at the old Oxville School, pledged herself to the ChristianChurch faith during her first widowhood in Naples, and has lived a simplewholesome life. Never desirous ofchange, she has always disliked to break home ties in moving even from onehouse to another. Although her earlyyoung womanhood was spent during the most illustrious period of Lincoln's career,she never saw him. The historical eventwhich made the greatest impression upon her was the Civil War in which both herhusbands fought.
One son, William Bert, was a soldier in the Spanish-AmericanWar; a grandson, Floyd Harris, a soldier in the first World War. Because of the distress the variousaforementioned wars have brought to her, no mention has been made to her of thepresent world conflict. This has beenpossible because of her dislike of the radio, and her inability to read due tofailing eyesight.
She attributes her longevity to active, wholesome living, toeating what she likes and refusing to eat other foods. She enjoys simple foods such as bread,butter, milk, and fruit, with meat and vegetables on the "taboo"list. In the past two years, she hashad such perfect health that medicine was needed only once.
Relatives will celebrate her birthday at a basket dinnerSunday, and when asked if it would meet her approval she replied, "I'vehad so many I'd just as soon forget them as they arrive now."
During this near century span of life, Grandma Binge hasseem steam, gas, and electricity put to common usage on the farm, intransportation, and in industry, has seen the United States grow from ademocracy of 26 states to its present 48. Small wonder that now she is content "to let the world go by."