52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge this week is “water”. I thought about this for awhile and all of my ancestors came over to the United States on boats so there is nothing new there. Then I thought about my mother’s family always seemed to live near water or take vacations that involved water. I decided on more of a pictorial history of my mother’s family and water.
My maternal grandmother was born in Ottawa, Illinois and lived there for part of her youth. “Ottawa, Illinois is situated at the junction of the Fox and Illinois rivers, nearly the geographical center of LaSalle County. The Fox enters the Illinois from the northeast and with its rapid currents feeds the Chicago and Illinois Canal, which follows the banks of the Illinois River.”  Both her mother and father were brought up in Ottawa, Illinois. Her paternal grandparents lived on Chapel Street in Ottawa and across the street from the river. While still a child her mother moved to Chicago and they lived not far from Lake Michigan and Lincoln Park Zoo. As adult she and my grandfather moved to Villa Park, Illinois and there is no lake or river near by. But they did take vacations to lakes. The one place they went most was to Fox Lake, Illinois.
They also liked Lake Como, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Dells was another popular place with them. In fact my grandparents went to the Wisconsin Dells for their honeymoon.
Starved Rock was another favorite destination. Starved Rock was close to Ottawa, Illinois and on the bank of the Illinois River. This was the family’s favorite picnic spot. They still picnicked there when I was growing up. If we didn’t picnic at Starved Rock we picnicked at Buffalo Rock across the river from Starved Rock. My grandmother would say that there were at least 2 or 3 drownings a year in the Illinois River because of the undertow.
My grandfather liked to fish and some of their excursions involved fishing.
Copyright © 2020 Gail Grunst
- Ottawa Old and New: A Complete History of Ottawa Illinois 1823 – 1914 (Ottawa, Illinois: Republican – Times Ottawa, 1912 – 1914), p. 39.