Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Fun Filled Saturday

Saturday dawned early, and we were all eager to head to Spencer, Nebraska where the reunion is held. (This is the little town near where my great-great grandfather homesteaded, and it now has around 500 people living there.) The only problem was that our tire had lost five pounds of pressure overnight. Dad knew there was a leak somewhere and wanted to get it fixed before driving more. So he borrowed a phone book from the hotel clerk and found a place that fixes tires. He drove down there only to find a sign that said "Closed September 20th". What to do next? With the help of a gas station cashier, Dad found a nice tire shop that got him in right away and found the problem to be a leaky valve stem. Once that was repaired, we were on our way! (At 35 mph so our speedometer said ;) Yes, the speedometer quit working again for a time, but after awhile jumped up to the speed we were actually driving. Needless to say we were all wondering what could be causing this problem!)

The drive between O'Neill and Spencer is probably my favorite drive ever. The prairie is so beautiful, the sky so clear and old two-story farmhouses so picturesque against the landscape. The view was a feast for the eyes with windmills, cattle, horses, clouds, the Elkhorn river and rolling hills.

The Drive:
(note: all photos taken from our moving vehicle, thus they are not the greatest!)


A lone windmill

A dam over the Elkhorn River

Farmers working their fields - note the beautifully rich soil!

Haystacks

Grazing Cattle

Before long we could see the little town of Spencer in the distance . . . excitement was growing! We arrived at the town's tiny park and piled out of the vehicle to be greeted by family members that we had not seen since last year's reunion. Then came the visiting! Catching up on each other's lives, reminiscing and listening to the older ones share childhood memories, and also discussing family history and the like.


As usual, we set up our computer and scanner to scan historical family photos that others had brought to share (to add to the family history website.) We were just getting started and having a wonderful time going through a big box of old photographs with some of my Dad's cousins when the computer stopped working properly so we were unable to scan any more. We still enjoyed looking through the photos, though, and hearing stories related to them . . . this is your Great-Uncle Howard out at the farm . . . this is your Grandpa in his Navy uniform . . . so fun! And looking at photos like this always brings out the "Remember when . . ."'s. :)
At the Reunion:


Visiting

Leah looking at old photographs

Mom and Dad visiting with, Leonard, the oldest attendee at the reunion . . . . 92 years young. :)
Great-uncle Otto and Grandpa visiting

Visiting the Homestead:

And the Family Reunion is not complete without a visit to the farm that my great-great Grandpa homesteaded back in the late 1800's. (It is no longer owned by anyone in our family, but the gentleman who does own it is so kind to let us go out and visit each year). My great-great Grandpa originally built a tiny house that his family lived in (the foundation is still there), before building an impressive house, barn and outbuildings. Some of the buildings are no longer there and are remembered only through old photographs, but the house, barn, chicken house and pig barn are all still standing.

The barn . . . sadly looking worse and worse each year.

Leah photographing inside the barn

Three of our cousins' adorable children sitting in the doorway of the barn

Leah

Mom with Aunt Marci (my Dad's oldest sister)

Ryan listening to our Grandpa share stories . . . one of the 'legs' of the old windmill is right behind Ryan.

The house now surrounded by trees . . . when it was first built, there was nary a tree in sight save for a few little scrub bushes.

The once beautiful screen door

Dad, Ryan, Leah and I along with my Dad's sister Judy and her husband Jim in the upstairs of the house. The wood work in this house is absolutely amazing! It is neat to think of my great-great Grandpa building all of it! This house is also where my great-grandparents lived and where their younger children grew up including my Grandpa. My Dad remembers going there as a little boy and visiting. Fun memories! The house is deteriorating more and more each year, so it may not be too many more years before we cannot go into it any more.

My Dad remembers taking baths under this old pump when he was a little boy visiting "Grandpa and Grandma".

The pump handle

Me

The Chicken House

Ryan and Uncle Jim visiting

A bunch of us also walked across the road to the South House where other family members had lived (including my great-grandparents for a time before they moved to the homestead shared about earlier).

Aunt Judy, Mom and I visiting with my great-grandpa's brothers' daughter, Rosie.


After several enjoyable hours of visiting, exploring, laughing and sharing, we headed back to the reunion site. The day was finished off with a large potluck meal (large as in enough food to feed around 150 people with enough left over for lunch the following day.) Once the meal was over, I had so much fun working with my Mom and a bunch of Dad's cousins doing dishes and the like. Our extended family as a whole is a light-hearted, cheerful group of people who always have a great deal of fun together. It is so special to be a part of this family!

Before long darkness began to fall, and it was time for our family to depart for the evening. We were going to be helping with the breakfast along with a few of my Dad's cousins the next morning so needed to get to bed at a fairly decent time so we could be up bright and early the next day.

To be continued . . .

12 comments:

  1. Your photos are absolutely GORGEOUS! I love the nostalgia of the old homestead. Too many forget the old way of life or never have the chance to see things of the past...so this is a treasure I am sure you will enjoy for years to come.

    ~blessings

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  2. That's so special that you are able to visit the homestead where your great-grandparents farmed and photograph the buildings that are still standing. My uncle lives in the house my great-grandparents purchased when they moved to Michigan. My grandpa was an only child who only had three children, so we don't have any big family reunions...yet.

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  3. How neat that y'all are able to go and visit the homestead AND that some of the buildings are still standing! It's wonderful that your family has something that they can "point back to" and say "this is where_____ began his family". Is the place even more to special to you since your Dad has memories of being there?

    The picture of y'all inside the house brought to mind the few times we've gone inside old houses that are going to ruin. It's sad that these old places are decaying for they are really neat and have a story of their own to tell.
    ~Ashley

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  4. I really enjoyed seeing all the photos and reading. It must have be so neat to have something like that to see! Does the pump still work?

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  5. How awesome that you can explore your family's old stomping grounds. My husband's dad's family lives in Valparaiso, IN. We do a reunion up there and their great grandparents farm is still "there", but its been divided up and has houses all over it now. The old farmhouse burnt down back in the early 80's.

    Your pictures were wonderful. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

    In Him,
    Darelina
    http://darelinagreen.wordpress.com/

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  6. Thank you, Heart 4 My Home! I, too, love the old homestead! I am so glad that we have had the opportunity to visit it and to photograph it. And we always look forward to going back each year with our grandparents, aunts and uncles and other relatives!

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  7. It was special, Amy! How neat that your uncle lives in the house that your great-grandparents purchased! It would be nice to have a place like that still remaining in your family.

    Our family reunion was fairly small when we first began going 10 years ago, but as time goes on, more and more family members are finding out about it, and it has been growing each year. But a family reunion, no matter the size, is always going to be fun! :)

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  8. It was/is neat, Ashley! We always love going out to the old homestead each year and hearing the stories. And yes, it is even more special to me because of my Dad’s memories . . . I love listening to him tell stories as different things (such as the pump) stir-up memories.

    It is sad to see these beautiful, old homes decaying. This one especially as not only is it such a beautiful home, but it also holds so many memories! But at least we have had the opportunity to visit it and to take lots of photographs. :)

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  9. I am glad that you enjoyed it, Amy! :) We do not know if the pump works or not . . . the well is dry and the pump looks like it needs some work. But I know very little of such things, so it may work just fine! :)

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  10. You’re welcome, Darelina! Family reunions are so fun, aren’t they!? How special that you are able to go up to your husband’s family’s reunion. And even though their great-grandparents’ old farm is now covered with houses, what memories it must bring back!

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  11. Dear Sarah,

    What a wonderful family treasure, indeed! Those old homesteads have a real spirit about them, don't they?
    And to have that be your family legacy, wow!
    My in-laws live in Kansas City, so if we do move there, we wouldn't want to live TOO far from there. James Port looks tempting, though (we'd love to live close to the Amish)!
    I'm sure the landscape in Nebraska must be pretty similar to Missouri!

    Thanks again for sharing such a special time with your family.

    Love,

    Marqueta

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  12. I would agree, Marqueta, the old homesteads do have something about them that draws the heart of those looking at them! I love old homesteads. :)

    I hope that it works out for you all to move to Missouri! I am sure that you would love it!

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Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)