My husband(Tony) & I(Ginger) are still trying to uncover all the history of Grandma & Grandpa's Farm.
First let me begin by sharing that this was MY Grandma & Grandpa's Farm (Charles & Dortha Gray) and in actuality is was my Great Grandparent's (Frank & Bessie Gray) who built the homestead.
My great grandparents, Frank Gray & Bessie Holmes met after a Revival Meeting when Bessie and a girl friend asked for a ride home in Frank’s new buggy. On October 11, 1914 Frank & Bessie were married and purchased their first farm in Valparaiso, Indiana where Frank had been in school studying Commercial and Scientific Work. After graduating from the 3 year course, Frank taught grades 11-12.
In 1916 Frank & Bessie returned to Marshall County, Illinois, driving a team and wagon where they first rented 240 acres and then purchased a farm in Saratoga Township and built a new home. They raised milk cows, pigs, chickens and kept a wonderful garden that supplied fresh vegetables that Bessie took care of. This is the home we are now living in.
We have discovered many things about the home & its surrounding property. Such as, the home was actually a Gordon Van Tine kit home which had to be assembled . Parts came by rail car to Camp Grove which is about 5 miles away and then had to be picked up by horse and wagon and brought back to the homestead for assembly. We still need to do a little more research, but we think the house was built around 1917. The blueprints of the home show a bathroom on the second floor, but this bathroom was never put in. Recently, I found out electric lighting was probably added around 1938 and a bathroom on the first floor was finally added around 1950.
A year later(1951), my Grandparents,Charles & Dortha Gray, along with their daughter, Connie and son, Tom moved back to the farm.
Many years later, when I was 6, I would find myself moving back to Marshall County with my family Connie(mom) and Wayne(dad) to keep the family farm going. We lived just 1/2 mile down the road from Grandma & Grandpa's Farm where we rented my great aunt's house. We had a very large vegetable garden, bailed hay in the summer, raised bucket calves, had chickens for eggs and my mom & dad farmed with my grandma & grandpa. My parents and I attended LaPrairie Presbyterian Church, where at age 8, I would accept Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. We worked hard, slept well, ate healthy and relied on God for everything. My younger brother (Adam) was born here and later my younger sister (Dulcie).
So many memories of the family getting together for holidays at the farm--great grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins would come from miles around to celebrate and share in one anothers lives. To hear the old stories--grandpa riding his horse over to Camp Grove and stabling it in a local farmer's barn while he went to school. Grandma working at a gas station while grandpa was away at war.
I learned what life was really all about out here on this farm. It wasn't about how much money you had or what you could buy. It was what you could give, it was about sharing the love of the land, it was about gaining wisdom and knowledge from past generations so those things could be passed on to future generations.
When I was age 13, for financial reasons, my family had to move off the farm that I had grown to love so much. But, I've come to understand God had his reasons and everything becomes clear in His time.
So today, 31 years later, I sit here at my grandpa's desk, in my grandparent's dining room sharing my heart with you because, call me old fashioned but-- I believe in Grandma & Grandpa's Farm and what it represents should be shared with all of you. Whether it be at farmer's markets, at the farm, or through CSA's I want to pass on the wisdom, knowledge, and love that was passed on to me so very long ago.
With all my heart,
Growing Local and Sustainably Raised Food
Grandma and Grandpa's Farm
The top photo was taken in 2002. The bottom photo was taken 2012. Although we are still researching the exact date the house was built, We know it was built somewhere between 1914 and 1917. The Gordan Van-Tine kit was shipped to Camp Grove, Illinois from Davenport, Iowa which is where the Gordan Van-Tine company had their warehouse.
The floor plans in the left advertisement are the exact floor plans this house has.
Below is an advertisement we found for a Montgomery Wards home designed by Gordan Van-Tine called the Orlando. (The earlier version of this design didn't have the 2 center columns in the front nor had Gordon Van-Tine partnered with Montgomery Wards when our house was built)