He who has water and peat on his own farm has the world his own way. -Old Irish proverb.

Category: Irish Grove History

Flynn Family Reunion

Every summer we have a Flynn picnic at a local Forest Preserve shelterhouse. Everyone in the family is invited, but usually just those of us that still live in the area show up, eat some good food, play a few games and catch up with each others’ lives. Every three years, however, is the BIG Flynn reunion. The one where everyone makes a little extra effort to come, even those that live across country.

This year was one of those years. The year for the geographically-extended family to come back to their roots and hang out near Irish Grove for awhile. The Flynn’s have been in America for 6 generations and counting.  So there’s lots of us by now.  Here’s a small sampling of the crowd.  Can you still see a family resemblance?

Lots of cousins. 

Lots of Flynn’s. 

Lots of love.

Foresight

You’ve seen this picture before.  On the left is my Grandpa Lowell, on the right is his brother, my Great-Uncle Donald.  They were the second generation of Flynn’s to live on and work this farm.  They were partners, as you can see noted on the side of the truck, but eventually, as their families grew, they decided to divide the farm between them.  Our road runs right down the middle of the original farm, conveniently splitting it in two, so Donald took the west side and Grandpa took the east. 

This morning I’m wondering if these men ever imagined that 65+ years and 3 generations later their grandkids and great-grandkids would even still live in the area?  More to the point, would they have guessed that their great-grandsons would become great buddies? 

Could they have foreseen that these two boys would run free around the exact same farm where they grew up, and that they, too, will share wonderful memories of working and playing with their cousins on this lovely family land?

Maybe they did.  Maybe they somehow knew that, even in a vastly different time, the bonds between our family and our land were strong enough to keep us close to home.  Or that they were strong enough, at least, to bring us back when we had decided to take on the outside world for awhile. 

I bet if they had thought about it they would have seen the possibility.  At least they would have felt the hope that it could happen that way.  I know that I’m guilty of thinking that way once in awhile.  Thinking about whether this farm will stay in this family past my generation.  Will my kids, or Laura’s kids, or Matt’s future kids come back to Irish Grove after they’ve tried on the outside world for awhile?   What about the Donald Flynn side and their kids?  Will they?  It’s anybodies best guess, really; everyone must make their own way this world.  But I think I’m safe to say that Grandpa Lowell and Uncle Donald would be pretty pleased to see these kids, these boys, in this day and age, tearing around their barnyard.  I know it pleases me.

One question remains, however, and it’s something that haunts me from time to time.  Do you think Grandpa Lowell and Uncle Donald could have imagined this?

Cemeteries, Gravestones and Procrastination

I’ve always loved roaming around old cemeteries. They’re so peaceful and serene, quietly shaded, and curiously inviting; the type of place that makes me want to sit for awhile, a place to perhaps read an old classic novel while leaning back against an old, sturdy headstone. I’ve never done that, read a novel in a cemetery. But I’d like to.

Irish Grove’s cemetery is especially beautiful. And yes, I’m partial. But what can be more beautiful, peaceful and inviting than a rural church surrounded by the crumbling gravestones of its founders and the newer, shiny gravestones of its more recent members?

So you’d think a few simple requests to find the grave sites of my reader’s ancestors would be pretty easy for me to honor, right? Well, unfortunately not.

You see, Irish Grove’s lovely cemetery was a place I loved to roam up until that fateful day that one of my own was buried there. And now that Dad’s there, the cemetery has become a place to avoid. It’s the one place where I can’t gloss over the pain of loss, where I can’t deny reality, the one place where I’m forced to grieve.

But I go. I do. I force myself to take deep breaths and think positive thoughts, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. I send my kids to jump on their Grandpa’s stone, to “wrestle him” like they used to, which makes me smile and laugh one of those forced laughs….you know the kind. And I think to myself, “If I keep coming here, it’ll get easier.” It will, right?

But today, as I drove to the cemetery to finally take some photos of someone else’s relatives and someone else’s history, ancestry, and quite possibly grief, my stomach started to tighten up. I mean, how could I justify going to the cemetery and not go visit Dad’s grave? What kind of daughter am I, anyways?

But then……well, I saw something. Something, I am ashamed to say, that prompted a sigh of relief to escape through my lips. A lawnmower. I was saved by a lawnmower!! There was a young man mowing the cemetery lawn and I couldn’t have been happier to see him. I mean, I can’t go visit my Dad’s gravesite and cry in front of a teenage boy, now can I? The poor boy is just trying to make a little money. Probably saving up for college. And he was so content, sitting there listening to his iPod and driving around headstone after headstone. Some old lady crying would make him really uncomfortable, and you must agree that that wouldn’t have been very nice of me.

So, Fox’s and Cuff’s……please thank the local teenage lawnmowing boy for your photos. Without him, who knows how much longer it could’ve taken for you to get these.

And please accept my apologies for the delays, especially you, Rex. You’ve waited far too long for this:

PATRICK CUFF
DIED
Oct. 21, 1817
Aged 52 years
Here’s the headstone, up close:

Here is the view behind the stone:

Here’s the stone as it’s found in relation to the church. It’s the small headstone on the right side of the picture:

For the Fox family:

THOMAS FOX

1815 – 1891

SARAH FOX

1813 – 1891

and THOMAS

son of J.B. & C. Fox

Erected solely by J. B. Fox

I must admit that my family and I had to chuckle at that last sentence on the stone. We meant no disrespect, but there must be a good story there somewhere!

Here’s a close-up of the gravestone:

And here is where the headstone is found in relation to the church:

Irish Grove really is beautiful. Maybe I will take that book on over…..

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