Generations Picnic at Starved Rock

My grandmother’s family was from Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois.  Near by is Starved Rock State Park, the site for our family picnics throughout the years.  Since it is summer and August, I’ve been thinking a lot about those picnics.  We would get up early on a Sunday Morning and drive about a two hours to Ottawa to meet family and friends and then drive on to Starved Rock for a picnic.  Starved Rock is located on the south bank of the Illinois River. The park has beautiful hiking trails, canyons, historic lodge, and panoramic views from tall bluffs.  “Starved Rock derives its name from a Native American legend.  In the 1760s, Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa tribe, was attending a tribal council meeting. At this council of the Illinois and the Pottawatomie, an Illinois-Peoria brave stabbed Chief Pontiac. Vengeance arose in Pontiac’s followers. A great battle started. The Illinois, fearing death, took refuge on the great rock. After many days, the remaining Illinois died of starvation giving this historic park its name – Starved Rock.” [1]  If you would like more information click the link Starved Rock State Park .

Here is a pictorial of our family history at Starved Rock.

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Mina and Rudolf Kaiser (Great-Grandparents) on Starved Rock year unknown


Eva Bowers (great-grandmother) at Starved Rock 1920 or 21

Eva Bowers (Great-Grandmother) at Starved Rock 1920 or 21

Fred and Helen Kaiser at Starve Rock 1923

Fred Kaiser and Helen Bowers Kaiser (Grandparents) on Starved Rock 1923

Helen Kaiser (Grandma) at Starved Rock 1923

Helen Bowers (Grandmother) at the top of Starved Rock 1923

Helen Kaiser at Starved Rock 1923 (2)

Helen Bowers Kaiser on the path to the top of Starved Rock 1923

Helen Kaiser at Starved Rock 1923

Another view of my grandmother on the path leading up to the top of Starved Rock 1923

Fred and Helen Kaiser at Starve Rock 1939

Helen, son Russell, and Fred Kaiser at the top of Starved Rock 1939

Mom, Grandpa and Uncle Russ at Starved Rock 1939

My Mom (Dorothy), Fred, and Russell Kaiser on Starved Rock 1939

Mom and Uncle Russ at Starved Rock 1939

My Mom and Uncle at Starved Rock 1939

Mom and Friend at Starved Rock 1940 (2)

My Uncle, Mom, and friend 1940

Dorothy Manfroid (Mom) at Starved Rock 1953

My Mom at Starved Rock 1953

Mom, Me, Lynn, Dad, Roy 1953

Mom, Me, Lynn (friend), My Dad and Roy(friend of family) on Starved Rock 1953

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Me, Bruce (husband), Richard (friend) and his daughter at Starved Rock 1971

I realized when looking through photos for pictures of Starved Rock that so many family members were missing from photos including my own children.  I think we will have to make a trip to Starved Rock and take pictures of all of us on Starved Rock.  A few years ago we went there with my brother and his wife.  We climbed to the top of Starved Rock, but did not take any pictures.  Now he is gone, and I don’t have any pictures of him at Starved Rock.  I guess none of us were big picture takers.  

You can see how over the years things have changed there.  Now there are stairs and wooden walk ways to preserve the stone and to keep people from falling.  The path back when my mom was young wound around the outside of the rock.  One time she tried to take me on it when I was little.  I remember the path getting narrow and narrower and below us was the Illinois River.  She said that she didn’t remember it being that narrow and we turned back.  We then went up what was then the new way at that time, but less exciting.  I am also amazed how the women dressed to picnic.  They didn’t exactly have shoes for climbing and walking either.  My grandfather would tell stories of their drive down to Ottawa and Starved Rock back in the 20’s.  He said it would take most of the day, and he would have several flat tires on the way.  Now it’s two or three hour trip from Chicago.

Some times when Starved Rock got crowded we would go to a lesser known park across the river from Starved Rock known as Buffalo Rock State Park.  It was smaller and had a couple of trails.  One trail went along the river on a bluff.  Always hated to see the day end and the good times with family and friends.  After a day of hiking and eating all the great food, I would fall asleep in the back seat before we made it home.  Now after all this reminiscing, I am ready for a picnic there soon!

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst


[1] From website:  Starved Rock State Park

3 thoughts on “Generations Picnic at Starved Rock

  1. I think you are fortunate to have so many wonderful memories and photos of those past times. I don’t have some of those connections but wish I had. Starved Rock remains one of my all time favorite places to visit and explore. Great place. Good idea of yours to take the family now for new photos. Enjoy .

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