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Irene Hostetler

Tater Time

Irene at graduation

Irene: I was born in a log cabin down there in the country. We had the old local doctor, Fred Murray, and he one time told me. He had a real cracky voice, and he said, “I had the choice to make whether you would live or die.” And if my mom had been living now it would have been Caesarean, definitely. But, he said that, and he told me one time I was born in “tater diggin” time. [laughs] He was comical, he was a comical old guy. He had a real cracky voice. [laughs]

Carrie: You were born in what? What did he say?

Irene: Tater digging time! October.


Irene: Man, were the people of Kokomo and Howard County, and all of Indiana and other places, too, how they were hoodwinked. Good respectable people would join that outfit, and as it turned out, well. The Grand Dragon, they called him, the head of it all. Stephenson, his name was Stephenson. This is all in history if you look it up. He was imprisoned for murder of a woman, how do I say this? Well, today they call it abuse. Yeah, he abused her. As a result of it, she died. So he ended up in prison. Now I don’t know whether he ever got out or not, but people joined that organization to this extent. So, what made Wilbur laugh was, which was very foolish of my mother to do it, but they were wrapped up in that stuff. She made me a robe, and I went to a Halloween party with it. I thought I was something, paraded down the street. I didn’t realize, you know. It was more or less a secret society.

Shepard cabin

Carrie: So, what would happen? Would they have rallies? How did they get people to join?

Irene: Oh yes, yes, yes. Oh, they would all dress in robes, and they had peaked hats. The robes were made out of a real heavy twill. Well, they were big, because they went over your clothing. Yeah, they’d go to rallies. One big rally that was really talked about in history a lot was held in Kokomo. I would say that was in the late 1920s, because he would take people from Kokomo, they’d come in from all over, and he would take them out to Malfalfa Park. I went with my dad, I remember. It was in the heat of summer, and people were just lined up just bumper to bumper all the way from Kokomo out to that.

Carrie:And that’s where the meeting would be or something?

Irene: Mmm hmm. They had a big meeting. I was trying to think what else I can tell you about it, but that is the thing, well, corrupt. It was just corrupt.

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