FULTON — From horse-drawn cart to school bus, members of the Eytcheson family have been ferrying students in Fulton County for about 100 years.
Conflicting accounts from clippings of publications in the mid 1900s — when Elmer Eytcheson’s tenure as a bus driver started raising eyebrows — date the beginning of his career at 1910, 1914 and 1919.
While the dates in each article differ, each state he started out taking kids to and from school in a horse-drawn cart, often referred to as a “hack,” fitted with straw, blankets and a small stove to keep commuters warm in the winters. Hooking the horses up to a mudboat was required in conditions of extreme mud and snow.
The clippings go on to record the farmer’s fondness for the kids and tales of driving through fields when weather rendered roads impassable over a career that included his children and grandchildren as passengers.
Indianapolis Star Magazine wrote highly of Elmer Eytcheson’s safety record in a 1958 article, stating he had to use his accident insurance only once for an X-ray for a girl who bruised her back after falling down the bus steps.
“Some kids complain that I drive too slowly, but their parents never complain,” Elmer Eytcheson is quoted as saying in the story.
Elmer Eytcheson would not be the only member of his family to work as a bus driver between harvest and planting. Elmer’s brother, Ralph, drove a school bus, as did Ralph’s son, Donald. Donald’s son, Jerry, followed suit and was joined in the trade by his wife, Jeanne, in 1969.
After her husband passed away about ten years go, Jeanne is the only Eytcheson driving a school bus and will likely be the last stop on a map that has spanned three generations.
“My son, he would care less,” the 73-year-old said with a chuckle of her only child’s interest in the family’s side job.