Dick and Izora McCool, A Family Story

Dick and Izora McCool   1945 copyright © Sandra Mireles
Dick and Izora McCool 1945 copyright © Sandra Mireles
Dick and Izora McCool family.
Dick and Izora McCool family. | Source
Harvard Wayne (Dick) McCool
Harvard Wayne (Dick) McCool
James Edgar McCool
James Edgar McCool
Izora Johnson McCool
Izora Johnson McCool
Dick and Izora McCool Family
Dick and Izora McCool Family | Source

Early Years

The marriage of Dick and Izora McCool took place in Tennessee where Izora was born. Dick McCool was a long way from where he was born in Louisville, Mississippi. Born in 1903, Dick McCool was a member of a large family who had lived in Louisville for more than sixty years. His grandparents were natives of Alabama who moved to Mississippi during the early the 1800s.

Dick’s parents, James Edgar McCool and Viola Crowson McCool moved from Mississippi to Missouri. They were sharecropper farmers and moved around a lot. Work was scarce and that is how Dick and his brothers ended up running moonshine whiskey.

The years before Dick married Izora were turbulent as he lived on the edge of the law and running from the revenuers. Family history says that once he had to swim the Mississippi River to get away from the law men. He was not always successful. Family history also says that Dick McCool was locked up in the New Madrid County jail fifty-nine times and that he wrote his name on the wall every time...but that is the stuff of legends.

He was always on the move during those years and it was easy to lose touch with the family. One time he found himself in a small town. Everybody knew everybody else and someone told him that he looked a lot like a new family that had recently moved onto a farm outside of town. He decided to check it out and found that his family had moved into the town. These events happened around New Madrid, Missouri.

On one occasion Dick headed home after not seeing his mother for over a year. As he got close to the farm he was recognized by the law who followed him in hot pursuit. Granny McCool found her long lost son running in by the front door and out the back door to get away from his pursuers.

Dick had a brother named Ted. Ted was planning to get married in Missouri on one Saturday morning. They had to go into the woods to check on the still before heading into town. When they finished their work they went their separate ways before planning to meet back in town for the wedding. Ted got stopped on a railroad track and was hit by a train. He was killed on his wedding day. I heard this story from my childhood but never really understood the life changing pain and suffering that happened that morning until I got older. These are real people and their lives were changed in a heartbeat.

Dick and Izora McCool were married in 1925. Prohibition did not end until 1933. I do not know much about Dick McCool’s whiskey making career after his marriage although I do know that he was still in the business because he once set up his still in Izora’s kitchen! What a mess! Those years must have been a harrowing time for Izora.

The birth of their first child, James Edward, must have been a happy occasion for the young couple. Their happiness would end in tragedy when at the age of eighteen months he was taken from them with the whooping cough. Izora talked about James Edward even in her final years. Some things you never ever forget! Some grief never fades! When prohibition ended, Dick McCool went back to farming in Missouri. They lived in Lilbourne when their next two children, Luther and Lorene, were born.

Image from 1927 but is similar to devastation in 1947
Image from 1927 but is similar to devastation in 1947 | Source

The Great Flood of 1937

The Great Flood of 1937 caused wide spread flooding from Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri. The Ohio River overflowed its banks and the extent of the rain caused massive statewide flooding such as we saw last year down the Mississippi River. Many people in all these states suffered loss of life to their families, property, and animals.

Dick and Izora had to leave their home as the flood waters approached Lilbourn, Missouri. They had to evacuate but could not take their household furnishings with them. Dick ingeniously ran wires close to the ceiling in the house where he managed to hang all the furnishings. Their property was saved although their house was flooded for days. The flood came during the winter and the water froze in the ditches hard enough for a sled drawn by horses to move people around in Sikeston, Missouri where many of the evacuees took shelter in a school. Dick and Izora brought their mattress and placed it in the stair well where the family rested and slept.

There were so many people sheltering from the flood that sickness spread in the close quarters among the evacuees. A kitchen was set up on the lower floors of the school and it became necessary for a hospital to be set up as well. I can only imagine the fear that must have gripped Izora’s heart when her older son, Luther became ill. She had only a few years earlier lost her firstborn to whooping cough.

They went back to the farm but times were tough during the 1930s. Dick McCool rented 640 acres in New Madrid County where he farmed with two of his brothers. The young McCool family grew steadily through the following years. These were the years of the Great Depression.

show route and directions
A markerLilbourne, Missouri -
Lilbourn, MO, USA
[get directions]

Where Dick and Izora McCool lived during the great flood.

B markerHenderson, Tennessee -
Henderson, TN 38340, USA
[get directions]

Where Dick and Izora McCool were married.

Images From the Great Flood

Confiscated still in era of 1930s
Confiscated still in era of 1930s
Bird's Point: 1937 shorpy.com
Bird's Point: 1937 shorpy.com
Dead Horse in a Tree due to flooding Image Credit: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lmk/?n=horse
Dead Horse in a Tree due to flooding Image Credit: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lmk/?n=horse
Missouri 1937
Missouri 1937

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Comments 13 comments

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

I just love how you have told your family history in a story format. It is a great story, and the photographs add so much. I have linked this hub to mine about making family history interesting here: http://hubpages.com/family/How-to-Make-Genealogy-I...

Plank 4 years ago

This is just truly amazing. My dad had just told me this story not even 30minuets ago, and i look online an here's my family story. Smireles, your my dads first cousin, which makes you my second. I loved reading this. Thank you so so much.


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Smireles 6 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you, bayou lady. Dick and Izora are my grandparents. Their life could be in the movies! Thanks for reading.

bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

This was enjoyable read for this rainy evening. I like your style. Super photo choices.I am following you!

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Smireles 6 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you so much. I love getting to know the family history and talking/writing about it!

fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 6 years ago from Southern California

Very interesting Smireles. I like your storytelling abilities. I look forward to reading more.

jiberish profile image

jiberish 7 years ago from florida

I liked part 2 very much, the pictures tell their own story. Thank you, it was great.

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Smireles 7 years ago from Texas Author

I will have to find out about the Oregon floods. It seems these disasters never end. Last year we were in Hurricane Ike in Houston.

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 7 years ago

Yes that horse is amazing.How in the world is the horse able to stay up in the tree? Quite the flood. I lived in Oregon the year they declared it the Lake state. I witnessed house, cows, and what not floating down the river. Crazy as it sounds, some people were without running water and electric for a month or so. I remember the Tilamook Co. cheese losing over 600 cows.

Smireles profile image

Smireles 7 years ago from Texas Author

I was amazed by the horse in the tree and am still having trouble understanding what is holding the horse up? Thank you.

Duchess OBlunt 7 years ago

Thank you Smireles. I was looking forward to this after reading the first installment. I was not disappointed. You did a wonderful job of making their story come alive. I enjoyed reading this one as much as the first one. You paint a clear picture of life during those difficult years.

Amazing picture with the horse up in the tree!

Smireles profile image

Smireles 7 years ago from Texas Author

I am sure she does. From what I read about it, it was a major disastor.

judydianne profile image

judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

Very interesting hub. I'm sure my grandmother remembers the flood of 1937. She lived in Columbus, Ohio and she was 39 years old.

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