Martin & Daisy Van Dyke Family Escapes Epidemics In the early 1900's infant mortality rates were high. Mothers gave birth to large numbers of children but childbearing and epidemics (Smallpox, Diphtheria, Influenza ) took the lives of many children. The Van Dyke family, with their eleven boys was one of the few families who escaped these epidemics without losing a child. In 1915, a family of eleven sons was unusual enough that a local Cleveland newspaper, The Cleveland Press, decided to run a human interest story about the family. The following story of the family appeared in the Cleveland Press on October 11, 1915. When Mother Van Dyke called the roll before going to Sunday school Sunday morning, the football "eleven" couldn't be assembled - only enough for a baseball "nine". Left to right (down the step ladder), they are: Walter, with Martin in one arm while he salutes with the other, then Arthur, Sidney, Fred, Willard, Howard, Harry, William, and Mother and Father Van Dyke facing them. 11 SONS IN ONE FAMILY WANT LITTLE SISTER _____ "I'm the Richest Woman in Cleveland," Says Mother of Van Dyke Brothers. _____ ALL GO TO SUNDAY SCHOOL _____ "If I Can Raise Them to be Christian Men, I'll be Satisfied." Asserts Father. Van Dyke family, attention! Mother will call the roll. "Walter," she begins. "Present!" "Arthur," "Present!" And on down the line - James, Sidney, Fred, Russon, Willard, Howard, Harry, William and Martin - all eleven of her sons, from eighteen years to four months of age. It sounds like regimental roll call, Mother Van Dyke knows, but how else is she to know they're all in line when the Van Dyke family starts to Sunday school? Quiet Reigns on Sunday. Father Van Dyke is very particular about that Sunday school. Regularly every Sunday morn the Van Dyke house, 7806 Halle-av. and its surrounding yard becomes strangely silent for two hours a week. Then the neighbors know it's Sunday school time. "If I can raise them to be Christian men, then I will not have lived in vain," said Martin Van Dyke, the father. Mother Van Dyke looked fondly at her sons. "I'm the Richest Woman in Cleveland," she said. "One more child and my happiness would be complete. The boys want a baby sister." "For 15 years we've had a girl's name picked out," added Father Van Dyke. Five Chickens Make Meal. To take care of her family Mrs. Van Dyke bakes 13 big loaves of bread every other day. A bushel of potatoes lasts a week. Five chickens make a nice meal for the Van Dykes. Until a year ago Mother Van Dyke made most of their clothing. Since the two eldest went to work she sends the washing out. The middle-aged sons do such chores as washing the dishes, tidying the house and making the beds. Father and Mother Van Dyke are in their early forties. The were married 20 years ago.
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