When the blood in your veins returns to the sea, and the earth in your bones returns to the ground, perhaps then you will remember that this land does not belong to you. It is you who belongs to the land. — Native American Proverb
(Final installment in series)
When my father was born in 1932, a central part of his life became his paternal grandfather, Herbert.
He worked the fields with his grandpa, grew to adore him and learned a love of family history in those early years. It is through these stories, passed from generation to generation, that illuminates our ancestors and keeps them alive.
Herbert described the day his parents led their children from the small log cabin to the new home Samuel had built.
When my father told this story, it felt as though we all were there.
Every photograph of Herbert was in profile, and I remember inquiring about it. When my dad described the rip saw accident that disfigured his grandfather’s face, I asked if his appearance was disturbing to him as a youngster.
He thought for a bit, then answered, “I knew he only had one eye, a bright blue eye, and that the other side of his face was indented, but maybe I thought all grandpas looked like that. I sure loved being with him, and that was when I learned to love working on the farm.”
It was also in those early years that my father soaked up stories of his great-grandparents, Samuel and Elizabeth, and an impressive amount of local history. When my dad’s mother died at age 35, her father-in-law took the loss especially hard.
The next day, Herbert experienced serious heart issues, and the doctor warned the end might be near.
Thankfully, he recovered, and returned to farming with his horses. My dad’s parents had purchased the family farm by this time, with the grandparents remaining there.
My father said it was a great way to grow up, having grandparents under the same big roof.
Herbert lived long enough to attend the wedding of my parents, and there is a photograph of four generations, with great-grandfather Herbert holding a baby girl, my oldest sister, my dad and my grandpa leaning in on the club chair Herbert sat in, smiling.
He died at age 82 in 1954. Samuel and Elizabeth had been supporters of the Jeromesville Mausoleum, and both were interred there, as were their three children.
Unfortunately, the building lacked a trust to provide maintenance, and when my father learned this, being told all bodies will one day be removed and buried in a common grave, he knew he needed to do the respectful thing.
I was in high school when my parents began the paperwork process to move ancestors from the deteriorating mausoleum.
This included searching for the only child of Stella. Roscoe was a baby when his father, Dr. Dennis, died while on his way home from Samuel and Elizabeth’s, his horse pulling a sled with a pig readied for butchering.
His horse played out, and the young doctor, not accustomed to such physical labor, stressed himself by pulling the pig the rest of the way home in bitter cold. He came down with pneumonia and died.
Stella and her baby then moved back home. I have a beautiful wedding invitation on heavyweight stationery.
“Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Young announce the marriage of their daughter, Stella Young Dennis to Daniel Morrison, October the third, 1909, at eight o’clock, Jeromeville, Ohio.”
This second wedding was held in the home, and local historians will note the spelling of the village.
Jeromeville at some point became officially “Jeromesville,” though all of my older relatives throughout my life continued to use the old pronunciation. Roscoe was 13 at the time of his mother’s second marriage.
She had purchased a farm with her inheritance after her parents died. With Stella’s death in 1930, age 53, Roscoe sold his mother’s farm, packed his truck and headed to Florida.
Though my dad knew none of these ancestors, he felt a respect and a responsibility to do the right thing.
It became a mission for my father to find Roscoe. Somehow, working off of a vague address, my parents tracked him down, living a very secluded life, a younger couple looking out for him as he grew old.
The old truck Roscoe had loaded with all his worldly possessions sat in a field, weeds having grown up around it. When my parents visited, Dad dialed up his own father, a cousin he grew up knowing, for Roscoe to talk to.
Roscoe held the telephone upside down, totally baffled by it. My own father was baffled by the idea of leaving family behind, for good. By this time, the two elder Young couples had been moved from the mausoleum to a burial place with headstones.
My father explained this to Roscoe, who agreed he wanted his parents moved, as well. He was penniless, and my father assured this long lost grandson of Samuel it would be taken care of, with solemnity and respect.
When Roscoe died, just months after my parents located him, my parents arranged for his body to be brought home to the village cemetery, a monument placed which pays honor to his service in World War I, buried beside his parents, all in the same row as the elder Youngs.
All his life, my father taught by example. We knew he was doing the right thing, at considerable expense, to see this through.
All along the way, he told great family stories, wishing he could have known the great-grandfather who he most resembled in every way.
Like Samuel, my father started with nothing. Over his lifetime, his farm land grew in direct proportion to what Samuel had attained.
Samuel’s goal was to own a “section” of land, which is 640 acres. With a good head for business, combined with incredibly hard work, my father managed to attain a section and more in his lifetime.
When his own father died in 1991, my dad bought the home farm, in the Young name since 1876, from his surviving sister and brother.
Like Samuel, he lived his life honoring his family. When my father died just four short years later at age 63, he was laid to rest beside his grandparents and great-grandparents, who, in many ways had influenced him, helping him to set and achieve worthy goals over the course of a life well lived.
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