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McBain, MI
 
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McBain, Michigan USA

Evart William Ardis was born in McBain, Missaukee County, Michigan USA on 1913 May 4. His father was Samuel George ARDIS, keeper of the Ardis General Store in McBain. His mother was Katherine Burk ARDIS, daughter of a Scottish horticulturist and landscaping contractor in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, USA.

Samuel met a handsome and artistic woman, Katherine Burk, and asked her to marry him. Katherine's family were Presbyterian, as were Sam's. Her father was strong-willed Scotsman who worked as a horticulturist, nurseryman, and landscaping contractor in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan USA. Among his credits were the design and installation of all the landscaping on the campus of what is today Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant.

Small Town Life

Samuel and Katherine did well in McBain. The general store was successful and they were eventually able to build a large and beautiful Victorian home on Euclid Street, in McBain. They began to have children and both Samuel and Katherine were active in supporting the activities of the Presbyterian (later Dutch-Reformed) Church and the public school system. Several times each week there would be overnight guests in the large house; visiting preachers, teachers, lecturers, and politicians. While Samuel spent long hours tending the store, Katherine not only kept the house and tended to the family needs. She spent long hours at the school and church and had a reputation as a hard-working volunteer, and as an organizer. Hungry children always knew they could appear on the Ardis' rear porch and be fed. Several families unable to provide for themselves would receive a daily visit from Katherine, or one of her friends, with a complete home-cooked meal. Somehow, Katherine even found time to pursue her art in the form of drawing and painting... something she would pass on to at least one of her children (SEE Katherine Ardis Ux).

Small-town life was good to them. Still, gaining fulfillment may have been a challenge for both Katherine and Samuel. Visitors would often remark on their beautiful home and the "good life" they seemed to be leading. Still, Evart remembers his father often replying, "You know, God made the countryside... but the Devil made small towns!"

Whatever limitations they may have seen in the local environment, Samuel and Katherine were determined that it would not limit the development of their children. It was always made clear that there was a whole world out there, and that it was the duty of each child to engage and master it. Ardis children were not to be mere "by-standers," or passive "watchers." And yet, it was very much the expectation that this "engagement" would all be done in the Calvinist manner; with a strong sense of duty... and of restraint. How could it be any different, in this community of 350 souls, almost all of whom were either Dutch Reformed or Ulster Scots Presbyterians?

 

 

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