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This page will include different writings or stories written by members of the family.

JUSTUS IKENBERRY

A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

A CENTURY OF CHANGE

Justus Henry Ikenberry of Daleville is turning 100 years old this week. He and his wife, Hazel Breeden, have been married for 65 years. Justus was born November 22, 1905 at his home in Trinity in Botetourt Co., Va., the youngest of five children, to Benjamin Riley Ikenberry, originally from Wirtz in Franklin Co. and Idonia Layman Ikenberry of Trinity. The other children were Bennie (Eller), Kathleen (Garst), J. Minor, and Lois (Stinnett). He grew up in Daleville in the home his family built on Glebe Road when he was a baby. Beatrice Ikenberry, Minor’s wife, still lives on the old homestead.

In 1905 more than 95% of all births in the U.S. took place at home, and the average life expectancy was 47 years. When it comes to longevity, however, heredity was in Justus’ favor. A long life was not so unusual for members of his family. His grandmother, Catherine Hirt Ikenberry of Roanoke, lived to be 106. Her daughter Lizzie Ikenberry Peters lived to be 107. Her son Charles Samuel (“C.S.”) lived to be 102, and another son, Wilsie Clayton, lived to be 100.

This past summer, July 29-31, the descendants of Justus’ grandparents, Henry and Catherine Ikenberry, came together for a reunion, the first one in 40 years. There were 120 participants from 10 different states ranging in age from 4 weeks to almost 100 years. Justus and his cousin Henry were the only two grandchildren of Henry and Catherine that attended. Younger participants learned a lot about their heritage. The Ikenberrys can trace their ancestors back 400 years to Rhineland, Germany.

The Friday gathering was held at the Oak Grove Church of the Brethren in Roanoke Co. on land that 200 years ago was part of a large farm belonging to Catherine’s grandfather, Daniel Barnhart. In the past family reunions had been held often. At this 2005 event there was a lot of reminiscing about a reunion celebration in 1945, when “Aunt Catherine,” or “Greatma,” as she was affectionately called, had turned 100. Many mementos were on display, including Catherine’s favorite rocker and a blanket she wove on a loom using hand-dyed thread.

On Saturday, some people took a family history tour, visiting the restored Barnhart home and family cemetery, and Ikenberry ancestral sites in Franklin Co. dating back to the 1700’s. A photo was made in front of Henry and Catherine’s homestead, where the reunion picture had been taken 60 years earlier. That afternoon everyone enjoyed a picnic and early birthday celebration for Justus in Daleville at the home of J.W. and Suzanne Rhoades, his daughter.

The Sunday program at Camp Bethel near Fincastle included a remembrance service honoring departed family members using a PowerPoint presentation. A history of the camp was shared by Doris Quarles, granddaughter of Uncle C.S., “Father” of the camp, organized in 1927. Several Ikenberry cousins served as Camp Manager during the early years. Justus was the manager in 1928. The reunion concluded with a home-cooked meal in the camp dining hall.

Justus Ikenberry has seen many changes in the span of his hundred years from the horse and buggy days to the computer age. Organizers of the 2005 reunion were able to use the Internet to locate cousins who were scattered around the country and to publicize the weekend event with a website. A hundred years ago no one could have imagined all the technology that we have today.

Around the beginning of the last century, farms were largely self-sufficient, producing their own food, including sugar cane for molasses and grain for flour. The Ikenberry farm had a windmill to pump water, a meat house to cure beef and pork, and a root cellar to store vegetables and fruit. In the main house, there was a tank beside the fire to heat water. Wood and coal were used for fuel, and gas lights were still in use. The house wouldn’t have electricity until the 1920’s.

Justus’ mother, assisted by her daughters, made the clothes, as well as butter, lard, and soap. As a young child he would follow her around as she carried out the many daily tasks demanded of a farm wife, singing as she worked. He especially remembers feeding the chickens. In 1907 when he was two, his parents went to the Jamestown Exposition, a World’s Fair held to celebrate the 300th anniversary of English settlement in America. While they were gone, Justus would cry and say, “Mama go James.” Today Virginia is getting ready to celebrate the quadricentennial of Jamestown!

The Ikenberry farm had its own sawmill, and another of Justus’ earliest memories was playing in the sawdust with his toes. Other childhood activities included playing in the hay, sledding, and creek-stomping. Later he liked rabbit trapping, using apples as bait. He could often be found in the pawpaw patch, eating that delicious soft, yellow, oblong fruit, which was a favorite in his family.

When Justus was born, Theodore Roosevelt was president, and the American flag had only 45 stars. There was no federal income tax, and women did not have the right to vote. Sugar cost 4 a pound, eggs 14 a dozen, and gasoline 15 a gallon. In 1905 a lot of advancements in science and technology were made that would radically alter life in the 20th Century. Albert Einstein published his “Theory of Relativity.” The Wright brothers were perfecting their first practical aeroplane, and Henry Ford was developing his Model T, which would soon be widely produced.

A popular song that year was, “In My Merry Oldsmobile.” Though automobiles were becoming available, there were only 144 miles of paved roads in the U.S. in 1905. Justus remembers that work animals were still used for farming and transportation. His family would go to Roanoke by horse and buggy to sell chickens, eggs, butter, and fruit at a market called Price and Chick. It took hours, not minutes, to get there. They would go shopping at Heironimus and the S.H. Kress and F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 stores.

Justus also remembers riding a horse to school, bundling up on sleigh rides in the winter, and hitching up the team to plow. After the family got a car, they would have to wait for dry weather before visiting relatives in Franklin Co. since they used parts of the creek bed for a road. Justus likes to tell about when he saw his first airplane. He was out working in the field and remembers the excitement he felt as he waved to the pilot. 

Young people in the early 1900’s had a strong work ethic. This was a necessity on a farm, where there was always work to do, from household chores for the girls to milking the cows and chopping wood for the boys. When Justus got older, he had a summer job in West Virginia that was common for a young man back then, selling Bible books door-to-door. Each person had a territory and would spend the night with anyone who offered to take him in.

Justus’ family not only worked together, but also enjoyed relaxing together. Music was an important part of their life. When Justus was born, the family made their own music by singing hymns and popular tunes around the piano. Soon the Victrola became popular, and records could be played for the first time. It wasn’t until the 1920’s that the radio came out, and the family could gather around it to listen to music and other programs. These inventions were revolutionizing home entertainment, but the Ikenberrys continued to sing together for many years. Justus enjoyed playing the ukulele, popular at that time, to entertain his family and friends.

Justus has also seen many changes in public entertainment through the years. He was born during the vaudeville era, when live stage acts were popular. Vaudeville gradually gave way to silent movies, accompanied by piano or organ music. Roanoke’s early theaters were the Jefferson, Roanoke, American, Park, Rialto, and Strand. Justus remembers paying 15 at the Rialto Theatre on Campbell Avenue. It wasn’t until the late 1920’s that the first “talking picture” and the first Disney animated cartoon were released.

Many of the family activities revolved around the Church of the Brethren. Justus’ mother and sisters would make the communion bread, and this tradition was continued by his sister-in-law, Beatrice Ikenberry. The Ikenberrys had a strong Christian faith. They were leaders in the development of Christian education, including Sunday school, youth conferences, and camping. The family would go to Annual Conference and stirring revivals. In January of his thirteenth year, Justus was baptized in the lake at Daleville College by Uncle C.S after a two-week revival.

The extended Ikenberry family would always get together after church for a big dinner, so Justus spent a lot of time with his cousins. When there were a lot of people, it was a custom for the adults to eat first. He remembers how hard it was to wait until it was time for the children to eat. When Justus grew up, he served the Daleville church and especially enjoyed singing in the choir. He sang bass and his brother, Minor, sang tenor for over 50 years.

Justus graduated from high school at Daleville Academy, formerly Daleville College, which had now merged with Bridgewater near Harrisonburg. You can still see the historic buildings in Daleville today. Justus attended Bridgewater College, where he studied business and agriculture. Tuition back then was less than $400. He was one of the school’s first cheerleaders and was also a member of the Glee Club. At Christmas the singers presented Handel’s Messiah, a yearly tradition, so this music has always been very special to him. At both of these Brethren institutions, Justus formed close friendships that would last a lifetime.

In 1927 Justus came back to Daleville to be a businessman like his father, B.R. He ran a tomato-canning factory and then a gas station. After that he settled on cattle-raising and the family business of apple and peach growing. B.R. and his brother C.S. had started Ikenberry Brothers. In the early days of the business, Justus remembers packing Winesap apples in barrels and taking them to the train in Cloverdale to be shipped to England.

In 1940 Justus married Hazel Breeden, the teacher in the one-room schoolhouse in Daleville. This school stood next to the Ikenberry & Garst store, which was a familiar landmark from 1934 to 1971. Hazel was born in 1918 and grew up in Arcadia, near Buchanan. She and Justus built a home in Daleville and had three children.

Today their daughter Linda and husband Masaki Shiotani live in Columbus, Ohio. Their son Stephen lived to his 37th year, when he was killed in an accident. Suzanne and J.W. Rhoades live nearby in Daleville. Reflecting their mother’s love of English, both daughters teach English as a Second Language. Justus and Hazel have three grandchildren, who are young for a person his age: Jeremy and Amy Rhoades, in their 20’s, and Emmie Shiotani, 17.

After B.R. and C.S. retired, Justus and Minor ran the orchards. Justus could be seen daily driving his little red jeep from the orchards to the packing house. On weekends the family enjoyed jaunts up Tinker Mountain in the jeep. Eventually the business was taken over by Minor’s son and his family: Jimmy, Loretta, and their sons, Mark and Ben. Today Ikenberry Orchards has a country market on Route 220 in Daleville.

Even after retiring, Justus continued his lifelong love of growing things—planting trees, tending his yard, and gardening. Justus and Hazel tried two retirement homes, but at age 96 he purchased a small home in Daleville at the foot of Tinker Mountain to live out the rest of his days among the people and places he loves.

To what does Justus attribute his long life? Besides heredity, he cites love and support from a strong and close-knit family, hard work and outdoor exercise, commitment to Jesus Christ, observance of Biblical teachings, an optimistic view, and eating all those fruits and vegetables, especially “an apple a day.” Justus’ lifelong sense of self-discipline is epitomized in his favorite motto, “First things first.”

Linda I. Shiotani

Suzanne I. Rhoades

11/20/05

There will be much more to come... It is just a matter of finding the time to enter the transcripts from the journal to the website.
 
If you have any writings that you would like to share, please email them to me via the "Contact Us" page.
 
Thank you.