Dorothy and Olive Whiteside Interview, Belleville Life, 1964.
|"Yes, I was there, I'll tell you just
how it happened." That's the way history came to life for Miss Olive and Miss
Dorothy Whiteside. How could they help becoming ardent patriots, when they grew up
in an atmosphere steeped in the traditions of patriotism?
As children (there were nine of them) they listened to tales recounted by their parents which had been handed down through generations, and relived the stirring adventures of the forefathers, who had played important parts in the developing of this country, from Revolutionary days down to the present.
These stories helped them to visualize the love of liberty, the courage and foresight that had motivated those early pioneers, and with that vision came a deeper appreciation in their own hearts for the privilege of being an American.
Especially, a love for their native city was apparent in all their remarks, as they discussed the growth and development of Belleville. "It's difficult to believe now," commented Miss Olive, "that in our youth there wasn't a single automobile to be seen on the streets, and now there's not a single horse." Miss Dorothy chimed in, "Travel was slow and the roads were terrible, dusty in summer, and often mudholes in winter. Father told us they started to build roads in about 1842, and folks called them corduroy roads because they were made of logs laid crosswise."
The Whiteside home sets back some distance from one of those old dirt roads, now known as Lebanon Avenue and leading into Shiloh. Almost hidden by majestic old trees, the house was originally a three-room brick. In spite of additional rooms and modernization, it retains an atmosphere of the past, emphasized by generations of Whitesides. A large bay window in the living room is brightened by row after row of carefully tended, blooming plants.
"Father's place was know as the 'Whiteside Plantation' and the deeds go back to the original layout. It was a gathering place for all sorts of meetings, and even served as a singing school."
"It was in that very house that the laying out of Belleville was planned." In 1814 John Messenger, a surveyor, had been appointed to lay out the city of Belleville. John Messenger lived about a mile from the Whitesides.
"That new school across the highway is an example of Belleville's progress, with all the equipment necessary for modern education. It bears little resemblance to the one it replaced, where our sister, Daisy, taught for so many years, but it does retain the name of Whiteside."
"Often we hear from some of her former pupils, who recall their happy school days when all the grades were taught in one room by one teacher. Then cafeterias were lunchboxes, and gymnasiums had all the facilities of nature's wide outdoors. As classes grew larger, another room was added and a second teacher was hired."