WIlliam McCulloh’s “Westward Journey” Candle Box

William McCulloh's Candlebox

William McCulloh’s Candle Box

William McCulloh’s “Westward Journey” Candle Box

  (Photo provided by Lawrence Yoder)

(The following relates the significance of the candle box as told by Vida McCulloh Yoder to her son Lawrence Yoder in 2005)

“After William’s father Amos died, mother Hannah McCulloh worked hard to obtain food for the family. She took in laundry work and sewing to make money to buy what the family needed. One time she apparently became so desperate that she hanged the family dog on the wash line until it died. It was during this time that the older children of the family began to think about going west. First Will’s older brother John left home and traveled by train to Whiteside County in the northwestern corner of Illinois.

“Some time later Will decided to leave home to follow his brother, though he had no money to buy passage by railway. Instead, he put all of his possessions in a small wooden candlebox and struck out on foot, carrying his candlebox of things on his shoulder. He was 17 years old when he left Fort Loudon and it took him two years to make the journey to Illinois, working for farmers along the way to earn food and a place to sleep at night, if only in the barn. He worked with a gang of threshers in the summer during harvest time. Saturday night the men would go to town. They tried to persuade Will to drink whiskey with them. He gave in and started drinking. Before long he realized that he liked the stuff and was in danger of becoming a drunkard, so he quit. He always told us never to touch whiskey. He said if it hadn’t been for the grace of God he would have been buried in a drunkard’s grave. He had been baptized in the Methodist church in Fort Loudon when he was age 15.

“The chest was my hope chest. But when I came to Pennsylvania the chest was given to my oldest brother Paul. Paul later came to live with us in Yorkana. When he married Grace Paulus, he said he didn’t want the chest any more so I purchased it from him.”