Monday, February 25, 2008

where i come from

Katie's challenge for this week was to post about "where I come from", however we wish to interpret that.

I have been a genealogy nut ever since I had to do a family tree project in 7th grade, so I decided to write about my ancestors, the family I come from. It is always fascinating to me, to think about all the generations of people who came before me, and how, without them, I wouldn't even exist.

My ancestors immigrated from Germany (on Mom's side), England, Scotland, and Ireland (on Dad's). Most of them settled in the north central part of Illinois in the 1860's - 1880's. The families lived there for several generations, and some continue to live there still. Some of my ancestors helped to found the small town of LaMoille where my parents grew up. (I even lived in LaMoille myself, for 3 months when I was in Kindergarten.) Though we rarely visit LaMoille now that my grandma passed away in 2001, I still have great affection for the little town, and feel like it is a part of who I am. Here is a picture of LaMoille's Main Street... I'm not sure when it was taken:

I wish that I had copies of all the ancestral photos my parents own, because I'd love to share them all. I only have a few of them, but will share what I can.

These are my great-grandparents, Henry and Lillian Kerchner (my maternal grandmother's parents). Henry was born in Germany, but his family moved to Illinois when he was a toddler. Lillian was born in New York City, and I'm not sure when she made her way to the midwest. When Henry grew up, he became a farmer, like his father before him. He and Lillian had 14 children, but 3 died in infancy, and 2 others passed away before reaching adulthood. Henry was killed in a corn-picking accident at the age of 50, when my grandma was only 12 years old:

My maternal grandfather's parents were William and Louise Fischer. They were both born in Illinois, but their parents were from Germany. William was also a farmer, like his father before him. William and Louise had 6 children, though 1 died as an infant.

These are my mom's parents, Fred and Esther Fischer, on their wedding day in 1937. My grandpa was a farmer, also. They had 5 children, and both of their sons farm. Grandpa passed away in 1990, and I still miss him very much. He would've gotten such a kick out of my kiddos (and his other great-grandchildren), and would've called them all "corkers". :) Grandma has had some health issues, but still lives alone in her own home at the age of 89:
These are my great-grandparents on my dad's side, his mother's parents, Frank and Margaret McCray. They were both born in Illinois, though all of their parents came from Pennsylvania (and from Scotland and Ireland before that). Frank was an automobile mechanic and owned his own garage. Margaret was a seamstress and sewed her own wedding dress. They had 2 children. Margaret died before she turned 50, but Frank lived to be almost 93, and we have a few pictures of him with me as a baby:
My dad's father's parents were Winfield and Sarah Hall. I don't know much about Sarah, but Winfield was born in New Jersey, where his parents and grandparents had been born as well. (His great-grandparents came from England.) His family moved to Illinois when he was 2. Winfield was a farmer, and he and Sarah had 10 children.

My paternal grandparents didn't have a wedding picture because they eloped. This is my grandma, Bernice, who was a teacher. As mentioned earlier, Granny passed away in 2001, when she was almost 96. She had lived on her own until a year or so before that, despite being legally blind since the 1980's. She was a very independant woman, who loved her family greatly. She was the one who fueled my interest in genealogy, and I miss her a lot, too:And this is my grandpa, Marion, who everyone called Bear. (He was Grandpa Bear to me.) He was an auto mechanic like his father-in-law and owned Hall's Garage in LaMoille. He was my bestest buddy when I was little, and I was devasted at 6 years old, when he died. He and Granny had 5 children: And this is a picture of my parents, Bev and Rick, on their wedding day:

As young adults, they left Illinois to live in Iowa, where my dad attended Iowa State University in Ames. That is where I was born, a year after they got married. Though we also lived in Madison, WI for 4 years (where my sister Christine was born), then Maryland for 3 months, and LaMoille for 3 months, we returned to Ames in 1974, when I was a Kindergartner. Ames remained my home until George and I moved to the Chicago suburbs in 1994, and Ames is very much a part of who I am. We still visit several times a year, but I often miss my hometown. (We've lived here so long now, though, that I would really miss the Chicago area if we ever moved back to Iowa.)

So, there you have it. That's where Janelle comes from. :)


Blogger Dawn said...

How cool, Janelle! I love that you have photos going back so far.

February 29, 2008 7:05 AM  
Blogger Jodie said...

Janelle. You are so lucky to have so much information about your family. I have lots of pics, but not a lot of stories to tell. Hope you have a heritage album with all these pics and info tucked away somewhere.

March 11, 2008 4:06 PM  

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