Dick and Izora McCool, A Family Story
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.
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.
Images From the Great Flood
Genealogy or Family History
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Great Flood of 1937
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- A Portrait of Missouri 1937-1943
A Portrait of Missouri 1937-1943
- The Great Flood of 1937
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