Favorite Picture

Dorothy in Center, Left her grandmother (Eva) on right her mother (Helen)

The theme this week for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is favorite picture.  This fits in nicely with what I have been doing lately and that is posting pictures and telling a story to go with the picture.  I have many favorite pictures so it was hard to pick just one. This happens to be one of my favorite pictures because it is three generations of strong women.  The picture  was taken in 1938.  From the left is my great-grandmother, Eva Bowers, my mother, Dorothy Kaiser (age 14), and my grandmother, Helen Kaiser nee Bowers.  I think the picture was  probably taken in front of my great-grandmother’s place in Chicago.  By 1938 my grandparents were living in Villa Park, Illinois and this is not their home.  I wish I could have been in the picture to make it four generations, but I was not born yet and by the time I came along, Eva had already passed away.  I never knew Eva, but heard a lot about her from my mom and grandma.  Eva was born in Heidelberg, Baden, Germany to Johann Konrad Reinhardt and Anna Maria Schwebler on February 14, 1877. [1] Eva came to the United States when she was almost two years old.[2]  Her brother John was born on the boat.[3]  Her first home in the United States was in Amana, Iowa.[4]  They spent a few years in Amana and then moved to Ottawa, Illinois where Eva grew up with her brothers and sisters.[5]   Eva grew into a young woman and sometime around 1896 she married Robert Bowers also of Ottawa, Illinois.[6]  The family story is that Robert and Eva ran off to Chicago to be married.  I have never been able to find a marriage record for them in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. According to family stories, Robert’s family never accepted Eva as his wife or acknowledged that any of the children were Roberts.  I started to wonder if they were ever really married and that is why Robert’s family didn’t want anything to do with Eva or their children.  However, when Robert’s father died, Robert and Eva as his wife signed a quit-claim deed to a piece of property to Robert’s mother.[7]  I was told that if they were not married, Eva would not need to sign the quit-claim deed.  Perhaps they were married somewhere other than Chicago.  Robert and Eva had three children, Ralph born in 1897,[8] Helen in 1898[9] and Frances in 1900. [10]  Shortly after Frances was born Robert left Eva.  Again family stories say they were divorced, however I have never found divorce records for them.  In 1900 Eva was on her own and had to make a living for her and her three kids.  She raised the three kids alone and I believe this made her a strong woman.

My grandmother and mother did not have easy lives and to survive all their trials and tribulations they had to be strong.  My grandmother died at age 82 and my mother at age 62.  I believe my mother’s early death was caused by some of the problems in her life.

Copyright ©2019 Gail Grunst

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[1] Certificate of Death for Eva Bowers;  State of Illinois, Department of Public health, Division of Vital Statistics, Springfield, Illinois, Registration Number 34633. Date of death: December 23, 1941; Place of death: County of Cook, City of Chicago.

[2] Ira A. Glazier and P. William Filbry, ed., Germans to America: List of passengers arriving at U.S. ports, Volume 34 October 1878 – December 1879; ( Wilmington, Delaware, Scholarly Resources,1993), Page 106.

[3] Ibid

[4] Conrad Reinhardt household, 1880 U. S. Census, Amana, Iowa; Roll 345; Family History Film 1254345; page 146D; Enumeration District 201; Image 0155.

[5] From family stories told to this author.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Quit-claim deed record from Robert Bowers and Eva Bowers, his wife to Alexena Bowers, City of Ottawa, County of LaSalle, state of Illinois; deed book 448, page 167.  LaSalle County Illinois Genealogical Guild collection.

[8] Eva Bowers household, 1900 U. S. Federal  Census, LaSalle County, Ottawa township, ED 76, line 37, page 6, dwelling 557, fmily124, National Archives film publication T623, roll 317.

[9] Delayed Record of Birth for Helen Bowers, State of Illinois, Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statics, LaSalle County, City of Ottawa, State of Illinois, Date of Birth: December 3, 1898, Dated August  7, 1957.

[10] Eva Bowers household, 1900 U. S. Federal  Census, LaSalle County, Ottawa township, ED 76, line 37, page 6, dwelling 557, fmily124, National Archives film publication T623, roll 317.

 

Generation after Generation

When studying my ancestors, I think about their lives.  I think about the hardships they endured.  What I find was so common in past generations is early deaths, deaths of children or young adults.  When trying to piece together the family of a great-grandmother or a great-grandfather, I’ll find children who died. I find that so sad and think about how the mother must have grieved for her child.  I’ll find young mothers who died in childbirth, young adults who died of influenza, pneumonia, or appendicitis.  Today these kinds of things are very curable.  In so many other ways we have it better than the generations before us.  We have the advantage of modern medicine.  We have the conveniences of dishwashers, microwaves, washing machines, dryers, vacuum  cleaners, refrigerators, indoor plumbing.  We also have things that entertain us such as TV’s, radios, smart phones, computers, and the Internet.  Information is at our finger tips.  Want a book to read tonight? Download an e-book to your eReader.  Need to go to the store?  Hop in your car and your there in a few minutes, no matter time of day or night.   You don’t have to go back very far to remember when there was no Internet, cell phones, electronic games, microwaves, etc.

Socially we have become accustomed to women working outside the home, people living together and having children, abortions, mixed race couples and children, gay marriage, and now we are dealing with transgender bathrooms.  Generations ago no one ever thought about these things.   So it makes one wonder if we are better off today than generations ago.

Back when people didn’t have the conveniences and access to information at their fingertips, their lives seemed simpler in a lot of ways.  Men went to work, and women stayed home to take care of children and house.  Each had their role, and I think for the most part were satisfied.  At least it seemed that way in my family.  I think my mom and grandmother were content to stay home.  They did things to keep busy and save money that is lost today because working women just don’t have time to do it.  They sewed, baked, cooked from scratch, washed clothes in a wringer washing machine, hung them out to dry, and then had to iron them.  They cleaned the house made sure the children were fed, washed, loved, did their homework, and went to bed at a decent time.  They made sure we ate dinner together every night. When they went grocery shopping they didn’t always have a car so they walked and pulled a wagon for their groceries.  Milk and bread were delivered.  If you lived on a farm there was even more to be done.  Come fall they would start canning all the vegetables they grew during the summer months or the fruit from the fruit trees.  My grandmother would make crabapple and grape jelly from the grapes and crabapples in her own yard.  They gave us chores to do to.  It might be the kids that washed the dishes, cut the grass, took out the garbage, shoveled the snow, and whatever else they could find for us to do.   Sunday we went to church in the morning and later that day the whole family got together for a meal, and we just enjoyed each other’s company and talk about the week.  Saturday night might be a night that friends got together and played cards and talked while the kids played.

I think some of the things we have today are nice and I wouldn’t want to do without them.  I do however worry about family traditions.  Even in our small family as much as I try to keep some of them, it’s a losing battle, the younger generation seems like they just don’t value the same things.  We still have holiday dinners and even some Sunday dinners.  But everyone is in a hurry to finish and go back to watching football, baseball, or whatever the sport may be at the moment, or they are looking at their phones and messaging their friends, or on the computer, or playing a video game.  No one wants to sit and have a conversation or play a board game where we can all be together.  I think there will come a time when they will regret it.  These distractions were not around when my parents were here so I actually spent time with them.   I miss them, and I would give anything to have one more conversation with them.

I picture in years to come that there will be no one around to be the one to carry on family traditions and dinners.  Everyone will eat whenever and whatever they want.  They will spend all their time online, texting who knows who, and not know their own family members.  Hope I am wrong!  Only time will tell.

Daily Prompt: Generation

Copyright © 2016 Gail Grunst