Grandma’s Grandpa

Helen Bowers and her grandfather

Helen Bowers and Conrad Reinhardt 1918

Here is my grandmother, Helen Bowers, at 19 years old with her maternal grandfather, Conrad Reinhardt, in 1918.  I am wondering why she has an umbrella.  Was it raining?  She isn’t holding it above her head to keep the rain off.  I thought maybe to keep the sun off as women use to carry parasols to keep the sun off. The back of the picture says March 20, 1918, Ottawa, Illinois.  I don’t think the sun in March in Illinois would be a problem. Although, it must have been a fairly warm day since both are not wearing a coat or even a sweater.  The picture was probably taken in the Reinhardt’s backyard at 630 Washington Street, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois.[1]

Conrad Reinhardt is 66 years old in this picture.  He was born on 18 February 1852 in Nusselock, Heidelberg, Baden, Germany to Johann Friedrich Reinhardt and Philippina Schuh.[2]  He and his wife, his son and one daughter arrived aboard the ship Bergenland in New York on 5 December 1879.[3]   From New York they traveled to Amana, Iowa arriving on 22 December 1879.[4] They settled in the South Amana village.[5]   They left Amana in April of 1883 because they found no basis in the community.[6]  They settled in Ottawa, Illinois where Conrad was a shoemaker and had his own shop.[7]  Conrad died in Chicago at his daughter, Elizabeth’s apartment[8] on 6 July 1922 of Myocarditis and Chronic Intestinal Nephritis.[9]  His body was shipped from Chicago to Ottawa by train for the funeral at the Gladfelter Undertaker establishment.[10]  Conrad is buried at the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa, Illinois alongside his wife Anna.[11]

Copyright ©2019 Gail Grunst


[1] U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory. The title of the specific directory being viewed is listed at the top of the image viewer page. Check the directory title page image for full title and publication information.

[2] Germany Birth and Baptisms, 1558 – 1898,  LDS Library, Salt Lake City, Utah,  microfilm # 1183248 Page 377 #2.

[3] Germans to America(Vol. 34). (1993). Wilmington, DE, DE: Scholarly Resources.

[4] Amana Church Membership Records, in archive collection of the Amana Heritage Museum, Amana, Iowa.

[5] Year: 1880; Census Place: Amana, Iowa, Iowa; Roll: 345; Family History Film: 1254345; Page: 146D; Enumeration District: 201

[6] August Koch manuscript, Archives Collection, Amana Heritage Museum, Amana, Iowa.

[7] Year: 1920; Census Place: Ottawa Ward 5, La Salle, Illinois; Roll: T625_379; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 141Source Information: 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.Original data: Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA. Note: Enumeration Districts 819-839 are on roll 323 (Chicago City).

[8] Daily Republican Times, Ottawa, IL, Vol XLVI, no 5, Friday Evening 7 July 1922 (front page).

[9] Certificate of Death, State of Illinois, Cook County, City of Chicago, Registration # 17200.  Illinois State Archive, Springfield, Illinois.

[10] Daily Republican Times, Ottawa, IL, Vol XLVI, no 5, Friday Evening 7 July 1922 (front page).

[11] Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois cemetery records, Cemetery card CCY-TS, Burial Location BU, 47C (N ½) Record # 5855.

William Linford dies at 100 years old

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme this week is Oldest.  I chose William Linford because he lived to 100 making him the oldest ancestor (by age) that I have found so far.  William belongs to a collateral line and is not a direct ancestor.  He is the half-brother to my 3rd great-grandfather Charles Bowers.  They share the same mother, Eliza Haggerson Linford Bowers.

William Linfor

William Linford was baptized 28 August 1811 in Terrington-St.Clement England to Eliza Haggerson and Robert Linford.[1]  On 14 October 1833 William Linford married Dinah Essaby in Gedney, Lincoln, England.[2]  They had four children John 1837, William 1840, Sarah 1844, and Robert 1846.[3] They came to the United States on 22 August 1849 and to Ottawa, Illinois on 1 October 1849.[4]  In 1851 William applied for citizenship and in 1854 became a citizen of the United States.[5]  He worked as a Sexton at the West Ottawa Cemetery until the family moved to Section 20 in Allen Township, LaSalle County, Illinois in 1856.  William farmed the land until 1879 when Dinah died and he moved to Syracuse, New York.[6]

After moving to Syracuse, New York, William married for a second time to Elizabeth (last name unknown) around 1882.[7]  Elizabeth was 33 years younger than William.[8]  Perhaps this is why he lived so long!  But William claims there were other reasons for his long life. 

I found a couple of articles written about him and his long life.  The first one is from the Post-Standard, Syracuse, New York, Friday Morning, August 26, 1910.  Below is a transcription of the article followed by the actual newspaper article. 

William Linfor No. 1516 Grape St. celebrated his ninety-ninth birthday yesterday by doing the same things he had done for many years in the past. He arose promptly at seven and had a breakfast of bread, milk, and a cup of tea.  After that meal he smoked his usual pipe and then walked in his garden until friends began to arrive with their congratulations.  There was hardly a moment until late this evening when he was without company. 

Mr. Linfor’s dinner menu included meat, potatoes, bread, coffee, and a glass of ale, and for supper he partook of some bread, milk, sauce, and a cup of tea.  In the evening he smoked another pipe, entertained a few more friends, and retired at 10 o’clock.

Today Mr. Linfor will follow the same routine, for it is this regularity to which attributes his long life.  The things which some persons regard as unhealthful are considered harmless by this jolly old man.  Coffee, tea, tobacco, and intoxicants won’t hurt anyone he thinks, if they are used moderately. 

Care in cooking of food and thorough mastication are urged by Mr. Linfor, if a long life is desired.  Don’t worry is another of his maxims.  Mrs. Linfor says he has nothing to worry about except that he hears very little and can see scarcely at all, so he doesn’t know anything about worrying.  So philosophical are the husband and wife, however, that they did not seem to imagine that the loss of sight and hearing would cause most persons to worry.  Mr. Linfor has a remarkable memory and he delights to quote passages from the books he has read and to recite over and over again incidents of his early life and events that are history to the present generation.

Mr. Linfor was born in Norfolk, England and has lived in this country, he says, “only” sixty-one years. Thirty-one of these have been spent in Syracuse and twenty-eight in the house which he now occupies.  When he first reached this city, the manner of reaching Long Branch was by steamer from Salina Pier, the Onondaga County Fair was held here, the R. W. & O. Railroad ran excursions to Frenchmans Island and the Syracuse Opera Company gave performances at the old Weiting Opera House. 

Mr. Linford has two sons, eighteen grandchildren, and sixteen great-grandchildren.  Two Nieces are the only relatives, except his wife, who live near this city.”[9]

Linford 1

The second find is in a book titled Art of Longevity by B. J. Henley, Syracuse, N.Y. 1911 along with a picture of William Linfor (see above).  They have the wrong place of birth and a couple of other facts wrong.  Here is a transcription of that article.

William Linford – 99 Years Old

Born in Linconshire, England, August 25, 1811 – Now living in Syracuse, N. Y.

From the Syracuse Journal

“William Linfor, 1516 Grape St. is beginning to carry a cane.  He is getting ready to celebrate his 99th birthday, August 25th, and his friends have persuaded him that such an ornament is very appropriate for that time of life.  He finds it very awkward, but says that he can do it.

Mr. Linfor is one of the most self-reliant men in Syracuse.  Born in Lincolnshire, England in 1811, he has been a resident of the United States for forty years.  He is a farmer and has never lost interest in his profession.  He bought a farm in Ransom, Ill., when land was worth $1.75 an acre and lived to see it worth $200.  He has three Children, numerous grandchildren, and finds it hard work to keep an accurate census of his great-grandchildren. 

His activity is the wonder of the neighborhood.  He finds plenty to do and always does it thoroughly.  Neighbors could hardly believe last winter that the spry old man they saw climbing a ladder to clean the snow from the roof of his house was almost a centenarian, but he was and he isn’t nearly ready to quit work yet.”

Mr. Linfor’s habits of life have been extremely regular.  He has always been very moderate in eating and never under any circumstances allowed himself to eat beyond what he knew he could properly digest.  The result is a ripe old age, free from many infirmities of extreme age.  Mr. Linfor is still in possessions of all his faculties, exception his hearing which has failed considerably.  He is mentally keen and can readily recall dates and incidents in his long life.

The strictly temperate mode of living, never allowing his system to become gorged with food is responsible for Mr. Linfor’s long life and excellent health.”[10]

 William Linfor died on 28 January 1912 of pleurisy at the ripe old age of 100.[11]

Copyright  © 2018 Gail Grunst


[1] Baptism for William Linford 28 August 1811; Terrington St. Clement, Norfolk, England; Parish Register Baptism and Burials 1772 – 1812  Item 2; Microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Salt Lake City, Utah at Wisbech and Fenland Museum, Wisbech, Cambs., filmed 26 July 1988, Film Number 13640109, film unit # 2161 NCD 2 Roll # 5.

[2] England Marriages, 1538–1973 database, FamilySearch( : 10 February 2018), William Linfor and Dinah Essaby, 14 “Oct 1833; citing Gedney, Lincoln, England, reference , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 1542146 IT 1.

[3] Year: 1850; Census Place: Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; roll: M432_115; Page: 269B; Image: 191.

[4] Biographical and Genealogy Record of LaSalleCountyIllinois(Google eBook) (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1900), p. 227.

[5] National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D. C.; Soundex Index to Naturalization Petitions for the United States District and Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization service District 9 1840 – 1950 (M1285); microfilm Serial: M1285; Microfilm Roll 112.

[6] Biographical and Genealogy Record of LaSalleCountyIllinois(Google eBook) (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1900), p. 224 & 227.

[7] Year: 1910; Census Place: Syracuse Ward 18, Onondaga, New York; Roll: T624_1057; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0187; FHL microfilm: 1375070.  Source Information: 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006.  Original data: Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Syracuse, New York, Post-Standard, August 26, 1910, Friday Morning, page 7.

[10] Henley B. J., The Art of Longevity (Google eBook) (Syracuse, N.Y, 1911), p. 223 & 224.

[11] Health News. Monthly Bulletin (Google ebook) (New York State Division of Public Health Education, Albany, New York), New Series, Vol. VIII, No 1, Full Series Vol. XXIX No 1,  January 1913.


Close-up in Ottawa, Illinois

Lincoln Douglas Debate

 Lincoln – Douglas Debate Statue in Washington Square Park Ottawa, Illinois

1957 — 1965

Did you ever visit a place and feel that you belong there?  I had that feeling when I was a young.  We would visit a great-grandaunt who lived in Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois with some friends.  The friends had a daughter my age and we became friends.  I would stay with them for a couple of weeks each summer from about the time I was 10 until I graduated high school.  My friend and I would walk all over Ottawa, and I came to know Ottawa as well as my own town.  We went to the parks, the movies, played on the school play-ground, etc. I loved Ottawa and I felt I belonged there.  I wished my family could live in Ottawa.  I had a vague knowledge that we had some ancestors or relatives that had lived in Ottawa at one time, and I knew my grandmother was born there.  Beyond that I didn’t know who they were or even their names and I really didn’t care at that time. 

Fast Forward to 1990 -2018

Now many years later, I am into genealogy and want to know all about my ancestors especially the ones that were from Ottawa.  So my search began and I spent many years researching my two sets of 2nd great-grandparents that settled in Ottawa. My 2nd great grandfather, Charles Bowers, settled in Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois in the 1850’s and stayed in Ottawa until his death in 1897. After his death, his wife and children stayed in Ottawa except for Robert who moved to Chicago.  The other set of 2nd great-grandparents, Conrad and Anna Reinhardt, came to Ottawa in the early 1880’s. They lived there until their deaths. Anna died in 1910 and Conrad in 1920.  All their children moved away from Ottawa. Today there is no family or friends living in Ottawa.

I still love visiting Ottawa and seeing all the places that I visited as a kid.  In addition to researching in the courthouse, genealogical society, historical museum, and the cemetery, I visited all the places I went when I was there in the 50’s and 60’s.  Some things have changed but there are still some things there that remain the same, and I enjoy reminiscing.  I have seen the house where the Bower’s and the Reinhardt’s lived.  One of the things that I learned is that one of great-grandaunt Elizabeth Bowers was a school teacher at Lincoln School.  That is the school play-ground we played on as kids.  One summer day a few years ago I parked my car in front of the school and walked around it. While walking, I thought about how I was walking on the same ground as my ancestor’s walk on.  I still feel connected to that town.  A town I never lived in.  I think somehow I instinctively knew this is where I came from and I belonged here. Between visiting Ottawa and researching both families, I feel I have come to know both the town and the families close-up.

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst

Bower’s Family History 1757 – 1955 Part 9

Ethelyn Bowers

Ethelyn Bowers

Around 1876 or 1878 Ethelyn was born in Ottawa, Illinois to Charles and Alexena Bowers. The 1880 Census has Ethel 4 years old.[1]   Cemetery records have her born 1878.[2]  In 1902 Ethelyn worked for W.C. Vittum as a manager of the insurance department, [3]  and around 1925 Ethelyn married W. C. Vittum.[4]

“W.C. Vittum engaged in the real estate and insurance business in Moloney building.  He came to Ottawa from Galesburg in 1888 and opened “China hall” at 722 LaSalle Street, which he conducted for 10 years, disposing of it in 1898 to enter his present line of work.  Mr. Vittum was one of the original directors in the Ottawa Development Association and has always taken an active part in efforts to build up Ottawa.  His latest and greatest achievement was the battle which he successfully waged single handed to steer the new LaSalle County Electric Railway out of financial difficulties in which it had become involved and place on a solid foundation.  It seems certain that before the close of 1913 this line between Ottawa and Mendota will be in operation. Mr. Vittum’s parents were D.W and Harriet (Childs) Vittum and he was born in Canton, Illinois, May 13, 1859.  In 1883 he married to Miss Nannie G. Hollister, of Champaign, Illinois, and they have one daughter Nina who is the wife of  Dr. Alva Sowers, of Chicago.”[5] W. C. Vittum’s wife Nannie died in 1923.[6]

Ethelyn died March 14, 1935 in Ottawa, Illinois.[7]  She is buried in the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery.[8]  W.C. Vittum died in 1939 and is buried next Ethelyn.[9]

Copyright © 2014 Gail Grunst


[1] Year: 1880; Census Place:  Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; Roll: 79_223; Family History Film: 1254223; Page: 516.2000; Enumeration District: 81 Image: 0554. and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005

[2] Cemetery Record for Ethelyn Bowers, OttawaAvenueCemetery, Ottawa LaSalle, Illinois; Date of Birth, June 20, 1878, Date of Death March 14, 1935, Burial March 16, 1935; Burial location: OT, 18-7, Cemetery Card: CCY-TS, Record: #8542.

[3] OttawaCity Directories 1901-1902.  LaSalle County, Illinois Genealogy Guild, 115 West Glover, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois

[4] Year; 1930; Census Place: Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; Roll: 532; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 68; Image: 77.0. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA:  The Generations Network, Inc. 2002.

[5]Ottawa Old and New: A Complete History of OttawaIllinois 1823 – 1914 (Ottawa, Illinois: Republican – Times Ottawa, 1912 – 1914), p. 142

[6] Cemetery Record for Nannie D. Vittum, Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; Date of Birth 1860, Date of Death 1923; Burial location: BU, 5K (N ½), Cemetery Card: CCY-TS, Record:  # 2565.

[7] Cemetery Record for Ethelyn Bowers, OttawaAvenueCemetery, Ottawa LaSalle, Illinois; Date of Birth, June 20, 1878, Date of Death March 14, 1935, Burial March 16, 1935; Burial location: OT, 18-7, Cemetery Card: CCY-TS, Record: #8542.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Cemetery Record for William C. Vittum, Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois, Date of Birth 1860, Date of Death 1939, Burial February 13,1939; Burial Location:  OT, 18-7, Cemetery Card: CCY-TS, Record # 8537.


Bowers Family History 1757 – 1955 Part 8

Genevieve Bowers

Genevieve Bowers

Genevieve Bowers was born in 1877 to Charles Bowers and Alexena Frazier in Ottawa, Illinois.[1] Genevieve grew up in Ottawa Illinois and graduated from Ottawa High School in 1896.[2]  After graduation she worked as a stenographer for the Marseilles Manufacturing Company.[3] The Marseilles Manufacturing Company of Marseilles, Illinois manufactured power corn shellers and windmills.

In 1898 Genevieve was hospitalized for appendicitis and was operated on at RyburnHospital in Ottawa.[4]  She was unable to recover from the surgery and died at just 21 years of age on July 2, 1898[5] and is buried at the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery in Ottawa, Illinois.

I found it sad that she only lived to age 21 and had not had a chance to experience all that life has to offer.

Genevieve's Obit

Copyright © 2014 Gail Grunst

                [1] Cemetery Record for Genevieve L. Bowers; Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois; Date of Birth; July 31, 1877; Date of Death July 2, 1898; Cemetery Card: CCY-TS; Burial Location: OT, 18-7; Record # 8541.

                [2] Obituary for Genevieve Bowers; Republican Times, Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois; July 4, 1898. Obituary File at the LaSalleCounty Genealogy Society, 115 W. Glover Street, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois61350.

                [3] Ibid.

                [4] Obituary for Genevieve Bowers; Republican Times, Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois; July 4, 1898. Obituary File at the LaSalle County Genealogy Society 115 W. Glover Street, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois 61350.

                [5] Ibid.