Thursday, July 10, 2008

Family Roots

A few weeks ago my parents, brother, husband, and I made a pilgrimage to Marissa, IL where my dad's parents grew up. He has memories of visiting his grandparents and other relatives there and my sister, brother, and I went there several times with our grandparents. Our great-grandfather, Henry Finger, built this home at 516 Park St. It cost $3,000 to build the house in the 1890's. A neighbor told us that a ghost lives there. My mother assured her that if it is Grandpa Finger, she has nothing to worry about. Across the street from the Finger home is the town park where the school is located. My grandmother told me that when she began school her father carried her across the creek to the one-room school house. The Marissa Academy is now on the National Register of Historical Sites and houses the Historical Museum. I have a document that I was going to donate to the museum but the woman we contacted to let us in was so rude I changed my mind. My great grandfather wrote an essay when he attended the school. In this essay he mentions many classmates by name and describes the town at the time. It was written in 1869 when he was 17 years old. The handwriting is beautiful!

The home with the white pillars is The Finger Home on the Hill which was built by my great-great grandfather, Dr. Heinrich Finger. The current owner graciously invited us in. We showed her some of our photos and documents. The house has had many additions over the years. The living room is orginal to the home. The home stands on a hill outside of town on Finger Hill Road. Mrs. L told us that her husband had grown up next to the Finger home on Park St. and had hunted in the woods around the Finger Farm. He said that someday he would like to live there. When the opportunity arose to purchase the property in the 60's he did so. A story has been passed down that my great-great-grandmother, Auguste Finger was on the second floor of the home when she spied Grant's Army coming towards the town. She got word to the ladies of the town and they put out a spread for the soldiers. Mrs. L also told us that Auguste Finger was known for giving sustenance to those who traveled along the road past the farm on the hill, whether it be to them or their horses. It's nice to know that one has kind ancestors.

The last photos are the little Victorian cottage on Bess St. where my great-aunt Marguerite lived. As I remember, she was short in stature and giggled a lot. The cottage has been a Bed and Breakfast but does not appear to be one now, as there was no sign to indicate such. This house looks like the one I imagined in the Anne of Green Gables series, where Miss Lavendar lived.


Marie said...

What a wonderful story! The letter your great grandfather wrote is such a treasure.

My family still has the farm that my great grandparents worked on over a 100 years ago (in IL!). It is hoped that we can continue to pass it down through the generations.

Paula said...

That is wonderful, Marie! I love the old family farms. What a great heritage.

KPiep said...

Thank You for sharing your family history! I'm so glad you had the opportunity to see all of those beautiful homes that mean so much to your family.

We also still have our old family farm, with the house that my ancestors lived in. I was fortunate enough to live in that house for two years after college, and it was a wonderful experience.

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