Last February my Mom and I went on a family history road trip to Illinois and Indiana. Mom has really been into family lineage for awhile and she wanted to do some more research. We decided to do this trip together in February because we both tend to fall into a winter slump around that time every year and we hoped this trip would remedy that!
The only thing we didn’t really think through was the amount of snow we would encounter…lots and lots of snow! But I feel like I got a true Midwestern winter experience out of it!
We stayed in the small town of Marshall, IL. It’s a three and a half hour drive south of Chicago and a 20 minute drive west of Terre Haute, IN. It was a 4.5 hour-ish drive for us, though, coming from Nashville. The drive took us right through the towns where A League of Their Own was filmed, which you can read about here!
Both of my mom’s parents grew up in Marshall and their parents either grew up in or lived in Marshall for quite some time. So there is a lot of family history here!
I’ve decided to write this post in reverse chronological order of family members and the places of significance to them because a) I think it will be more interesting to read if you have no idea who these people are, and b) because it will help me organize all of this in my head and be a good reference for later. SO. Here it goes:
M Y M O M
My mom was born in January of 1960 in Terre Haute, IN (the same hospital I was born in!). She was taken home to this house in Marshall that my grandparents had recently purchased. Mom says the house used to be white and was much cuter. (Completely insignificant side note: What is it with people decorating with wrought iron stars? This is not cute. Please stop!)
M Y G R A N D P A R E N T S
My Grandma & Grandpa Miller were married in 1954 in this church. They were both 19 years-old. The area to the left of the door is a more recent addition as you can tell with the difference in brick color. This is also the church where my mom was baptized. My grandparents divorced in 1982 when my mom was 22 years-old.
Me, my Mom, and my Grandma Miller
Below is the farmhouse where my Grandpa Miller grew up! He was actually born in the front room of the house. When Highway 1 was being built, this house had to be moved back about 25 feet to allow for an easement. (I spot another wrought iron star! Noooo!)
A couple days later when we were visiting Grandpa in Tennessee, he showed us some home movies he took of the house before his mom moved out of it. He carried the camera around the house and she talked about the rooms and the significant pieces of furniture in them – some of which were in our houses growing up. Such priceless footage!!
my Mom, my Grandpa Miller, and me
M Y G R E A T – G R A N D P A R E N T S
My Great-Grandma Ruth & Great-Grandpa Jacob Miller lived in the farmhouse as shown above. They kept cows and pigs and had a vegetable garden. There was an acreage across the highway where they kept the cows in the summer time to let them graze. Every time they needed to take the cows over to the acreage or bring them back by the barn they would have to call the police so they could stop traffic on the highway to let the cows cross. Oh, what a different world from what I grew up in!
Aerial shoot via Google Maps of the farmhouse property, acreage, and Hwy 1 that splits them.
From what I have been told, my Great-Grandpa was out whacking weeds by the barn when he fell in the ditch and died. This was about two weeks before my parents got married.
After my Great-Grandma sold the farmhouse, she moved into the house pictured below. I remember staying in this house when we came to visit when I was 12 years old. Great-Grandma was in the early stages of alzheimer’s and I remember it having a big impact on our visit. She passed away in 2000.
The house is in pretty rough shape now. Not sure that anyone is even living here.
Great-Grandma Ruth & Great-Grandpa Jacob Miller buried together in Marshall.
On my grandmother’s side, her parent’s – my Great-Grandpa Wayne & Great-Grandma Ruth Hollenbeck (yes, both great-grandmothers on my mom’s side are named Ruth!) – owned an appliance store a block or so from downtown Marshall (behind the courthouse, which will have significance here shortly). Wayne was an electrician who worked on small appliances. The old appliance store location is now an Edward Jones business.
Ruth and Wayne lived in this house, located directly behind Wayne’s parents house.
Wayne died before I was born, but I do remember Great-Grandma Hollenbeck coming to visit in Oklahoma and us visiting her in Illinois. Ruth & Wayne are buried next to each other, along with other Hollenbeck relatives, at Marshall Cemetery.
M Y G R E A T – G R E A T – G R A N D P A R E N T S
My Great-Great-Grandpa William Tell & Great-Great-Grandma Louisa Hollenbeck lived in this beautiful, and huge, corner lot Victorian home (the one I mentioned Ruth & Wayne living directly behind). We like to refer to it as “The Big Blue House”.
My gosh I want to see the inside of this place so badly!
William was a prominent judge in the area with the reputation of being a jack ass. He worked in the Marshall Courthouse and one day he fell on the steps inside, hit his head, and died.
The courthouse steps where my great-great-grandfather took his spill.
A front view of the courthouse.
William’s headstone at the same location as Ruth & Wayne’s, pictured earlier.
After Louisa passed, Ruth & Wayne moved into The Big Blue House for awhile. One day Wayne came home and told Ruth that he had sold the house. Didn’t consult her or anything. Just sold it! She was so mad at him, and rightfully so! Wayne wanted to move out to the country, so they bought this place.
It was in this house that Wayne died, at the kitchen table. I so hope that these freak deaths are not a genetic thing…!
A couple other bits about this trip to note! A family friend let us stay in his home while we were visiting. I loved this house! It was walking distance from downtown and it had that instant feeling of comfort when I walked in. You know how some houses just have that feeling? Maybe it’s just me??
We did quite a bit of cemetery hopping. It proved to be the least opportune time to do this because of, oh I don’t know, all the snow! LOL. It sure did look pretty though.
I think it’s safe to say that I’m officially hooked on family history research. Mom has done so much work already that it makes it really easy to piece together when I get confused. Oh, and have I mentioned that thanks to her research we found out we’re related to President Abraham Lincoln?! He is my mom’s 1st cousin 5x removed. I’m not sure how exactly that translates to me, anyone know? I want to start researching my dad’s side as well. My Grandma Wakefield has written family history notes as Christmas gifts for years, and I’m so unbelievably thankful for that!
I have one more family history post to share from this road trip with mom. We went to Terre Haute for an afternoon (a really snowy afternoon!) where we saw the hospital I was born in and my first home! Check back soon! (or you can get an email when a new post goes up by email subscribing in the top left sidebar!)
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