52 Ancestors Week 10: Strong Woman
When Loraine Beebe Lynds died Wednesday night at about 10:45 o’clock p.m., November 30, 1904, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Jack Freeman in Momence, from a stroke of paralysis, Momence lost one of its oldest citizens at the age of 92 years, 7 months and 7 days.
Loraine was born April 23, 1812 in Windhall, Vermont, the daughter of Hardin A. and Susan McMillan Beebe. Her family lived in Vermont until they moved to Momence, Illinois on November 17, 1836, and was one of the first settlers in Momence, there being only five or six families in Momence before them. Three miles up the Kankakee River there was a Pottawatomie tribe of 150 Indians.
Loraine was the first school teacher in Momence. She said, “I taught the first school during the winter of 1837 in Asher Sargeant’s house. The children of two Sargeants were all the scholars I had. I only taught three hours a day when I could cross the river on the ice. The next year I taught school in the log house where the Metcalf place is, up the river. I ferried the children who lived south of the river over with myself.”
The story is told of White Pigeon, the Pottawatomie Chief, who would get intoxicated several times a year on whiskey, which was cheap and plentiful. Joe Barbee would be sent for because he could keep the Chief restrained until he was sober. One day Loraine and Joe ran into each other, and Loraine told Joe to tell White Pigeon for her, that he needed to stop drinking. White Pigeon’s answer to Loraine was “White man make ‘em, Indian drink ‘em; White man no make ‘em, Indian no drink ‘em”. Only the bravest and strongest people would have talked to the Indian Chief this way.
On December 22, 1842, Loraine married David D. Lynds. In 1845, her husband was named postmaster, and the office was named “Loraine”. That name didn’t change until 1849 when it officially became Momence.
Loraine and David had three children, and on May 19, 1877, her beloved David passed away.
In 1894, Momence built a school on the Southside, and it was dedicated to Loraine. I actually attended the Loraine School when I was in 6th grade.
In the 1900 United States Census, Loraine was living with her daughter, Eva Freeman, her son-in-law and two granddaughters.
Loraine lived to see Momence and the State of Illinois pass from the Indians and prosper. I cannot image few women of today’s generation who could live through the hardships that she did. She continuously gave to her community as long as she could.