Monday, August 31, 2009

The Cornelius Family Farm

For years and years, there has been a photograph hanging in our finished basement. It’s an aerial photo taken of my grandparents’ farm in Perkins County, Nebraska sometime in the late ‘50s or very early ‘60s.. The farm site was originally settled by my great grandfather, William Seborn Cornelius, in 1910. He settled a total of three farms in the area. In about 1918, he turned over the farms to his three sons—one of which was my grandfather. My grandparents were married April 4, 1922 and settled on one of the other farms located about 3/4 of a mile north of this farm. My dad was born there on February 8, 1924 and his younger sister, Elaine, a year later on August 12, 1925.

I’m not certain of the date, but my grandparents and the two kids moved to this farm and it is the farm on which my dad spent his boyhood. The rest of my father’s siblings were born on this farm beginning with Eldon on November 1, 1927.

My grandparents ran the farm through the mid-‘60s, but my grandfather started cutting back on his farming once the boys grew up and married. My uncle Lowell was the last of the boys to get married in 1957.

As a young boy, I would look forward to summer vacation when we would visit my grandparents and spend days walking all over the farmland. For a kid from the city suburbs, it was a treat to go out to the country and play. My favorite building was the hog house because it had a low slanted roof and I could climb on to the roof and look south for miles and miles. I have a lot of fond childhood memories of seeing my grandparents and all my aunts, uncles and cousins.

Here is the original black and white photo.
For fun, I also “aged” the photo by applying a sepia tint.

In 1965, my grandmother suffered a stroke and my grandfather turned over the farming to his sons and spent his remaining days caring for my grandmother and for the house. He passed away in August 1968 and my grandmother in March 1969.

After their deaths, the farm remained in the family, but the house and buildings were rented out to tenants. Sadly--over time—the condition of the buildings deteriorated and the decision was made to burn down most of the structures. Today, only the granary is still there. Because of my dad’s declining health, he never saw how the farm looked. The two photos below were taken in January 2002 after he passed away and we buried him in Madrid.

This is the granary and is the only original farm structure still on-site.
This is approximately where the barn and the chicken house stood.

After my dad passed away, I brought the photo over to my house and displayed it in my den. The original frame was starting to show it’s age and so I removed it from the frame to eventually put it in a nicer frame. Since I had it out, my brother-in-law arranged to have it scanned by a commercial scanner (the original photo is 11 x 14) and so now I have a digital copy.

Happily, the land still remains in the family and my cousins farm the land. Hopefully it will always remain in the Cornelius family.

Here’s a Google Map inset showing the location:

View Larger Map

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Harry Truman

This morning my mother was telling me about a book review that she heard about on the radio. The book was about Harry Truman.

She said: "Did I ever tell you that Dad knew Harry Truman?" I told her that -- no -- that little family tidbit was withheld from me.

Apparently my grandfather -- Edward Kostal -- knew Harry Truman from their days in France with the American Expeditionary Force. Truman was an Army captain; my grandfather was a private. We don't know if my grandfather served in his unit or was otherwise aware of him. He apparently did not make much of an impression upon my grandfather as he told my mother that he did not like him and that Truman "would not amount to much!"

Powered by ScribeFire.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Halloween 1990

Here is a picture I took of Lisa and her kids the night they went "Trick or Treating" in 1990. At that time, Lisa and I had been dating for about eight months and were married in August 1992.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My fourth great grandparents

I was surprised recently to check my inbox and see photos taken of the headstones of my fourth great grandparents – John and Patcey Cornelius. For a long time, I’ve known they were buried in Kentucky, specifically the Cornelius Family Cemetery in Christian County. John and Patcey are the parents of Henry Cornelius whose grave I visited last summer.

About a year ago, I joined the Find A Grave community. I enjoy the site – not just for morbid curiosity – but also as a genealogy research tool. You can go on Find A Grave, look for a cemetery listing and request photos of a friend or loved on who is interred there. That’s what I did with John and Patcey…and a kind soul sent me the photos.

Both lived long lives – especially considering the times they live in. John was born on May 20, 1776, a month and a half before the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th and 219 years to the day before my son Kevin was born!

Here is the memorial page for John and for Patcey and the photos themselves.