Friday, December 6, 2013


Photograph of Granny Kilgore

Granny Kilgore lived a simple life up to her death in 1963.  During those last years of her life, she only lived in a small portion of her wood-framed farmhouse.  She resided in one room and prepared meals in another smaller, adjoining room. The reminder of the house was virtually closed off and not used in any way. We are fortunate to have the Kilgore Old Home Place still standing, and hopefully, it can be made livable again someday.

Front Porch Outside Window
off of Granny Kilgore's Bedroom
Granny’s home was built by her dear husband, Virge, our grandfather, and the patriarch of the Kilgore family.  He died on Christmas Day in 1949. There was always children and grandchildren who stayed with Granny upon Papa Kilgore’s death because she was fearful to stay by herself at night.  She lived in the house much like people live in efficiency apartments today.  The bedroom was the primary site of her existence. It was used for a living room during the day, a bedroom by night, and a restroom during the darkest night hours  by pulling out the chamber pot (also called  a “pee pot”) located under her bed. In other words, the space was Granny’s living and sleeping quarters, all in one.  The dimensions of the bedroom was approximately 16 feet by 14 feet (a guess on my part).  My objective in writing  this piece is to describe that living space.

Chamber Pot

Sketch of Granny Kilgore's Bedroom

From the hallway, when standing over the bedroom threshold, the first thing one notices is a large fireplace on the opposite side of the room.  It is so large that it takes up about one-third of the room’s outside wall.  It is made out of large sandstone blocks that Papa Kilgore collected and cemented together to form the  house chimney. When originally built, the fireplace was kept open, and used for both heating the room and cooking the family meals. A simple, extremely wide and long plank, painted dark brown, is used for the mantel.  It shelves an old Victorian style mechanical winding pendulum clock.  The clock sits on a long piece of white scarf cloth much like a runner, and hangs down from the mantel.  The fireplace opening is closed up to accommodate a vent hole for the cast iron wood burning stove that provides heat for the room.  The stove jets out into the room beyond the hearth.  There is a large window on each side of the imposing fireplace.
Old Singer Sewing Machine

Stepping over the threshold through the entrance of Granny’s bedroom, we see immediately to the right and left, two cast iron, whole beds against each wall against both front corners of the room.  One is against the outside wall of the house, and the other is against the wall next to the kitchen. They take up a majority of the room’s space while creating a walking path directly from the door through the middle of the room.  The bed to the left against the outside front wall is Granny Kilgore’s bed.  The bed to the right, next to the kitchen, is for anyone who spends the night with Granny. The grandchildren are the ones who mainly use this bed through the years.

Many times there would be two grandchildren staying the same night at Granny’s house. That one bed  is where both slept.  During their age of innocence, it made little difference if boy cousins and girl cousins shared the same bed for a night’s rest.  There was no such thing as a private personal room for a child during those years.  I remember sleeping in that same bed with my girl cousins’, Joan Spain and Carolyn McKeever.  I also slept in that bed with my brother, Mike many times, which was the same arrangement we had at home.   One of the main reasons the Kilgore Old Home Place means so much to us,  the grandchildren of Papa and Granny Kilgore, may be found in the fact that every cousin who lived in the Nauvoo area  stayed overnight in the same room with Granny Kilgore at some point and time. 

Getting back to our tour, we now stand in the center path of the room, parallel to the foot of both beds while facing the fireplace stove.  We  see a Singer Sewing Machine to our left.  It is located on the same wall as Granny’s bed, but in the opposite corner near the fireplace.  Also, closer to the heater and in front of the sewing machine is a large high-back rocker, dark brown in color, with big arm rests. The seat and the center back is made of leather-like material.  This makes it a comfortable and enjoyable chair for Granny to use as she reads her Bible, sings from her special hymn book, and spends hours watching television. Behind that rocker  and next to the sewing machine is a vanity (not drawn in the room sketch). The black and white, Emerson television is located across the room and to the right of a door that goes into the kitchen.  The T.V. sits on a special table which rotates in order to change the viewing angle of the screen while resting in bed. In the corner, under the window to the right of the fireplace, a low table holds a table radio where Granny tuned in to listen to Joe Rumore's program. 

The walls, floor, and ceiling of the bedroom are of wood.  The  wall’s wide planks are painted an off-white and have small cracks where the planks join. The outside front wall (front porch adjoining) has two long windows covered with lace curtains and shades. The windows on either side of the fireplace also have the same window treatments.  On the bedroom/kitchen wall, beyond the foot of the guest bed, is a door providing access to the small, but modern kitchen (sheet-rock walls, enamel sink, running water, refrigerator, & electric stove). This door has the television on one side of it and the guest bed on the other.  Because the bedroom is divided up by doors and windows, there is very little on the walls, with the exception of a calendar, and maybe, a picture of Uncle Johnny who died at a young age from a motorcycle accident. The floor, painted a dark brown, is made to withstand heavy traffic. To help protect the floor, a large linoleum area rug in floral pattern covers a large portion of the wood surface.  There is a protective metal heat shield base underneath the stove and placed on top of the linoleum to protect it from hot coals and ashes.  The ceiling is ten feet tall, uses tongue and groove planks, and is painted the same color as the walls.  Hanging from the ceiling in the center of the room is a long, electrical chord that ends with a single light socket holding one single exposed fluorescent light bulb having no shade. 

My descriptive tour of that simple small room is complete.  There have been very little changes in that room through the years.  Granny’s bedroom has provided a place for many “precious memories.”  It has provided a place of warmth…love......nurturing….rest….fun….work.  It has provided a place for family and friends.  May it continue to serve as reminder of our heritage.  Much came forth from that one small room.

Kilgore Old Home Place



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