Today, August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will roll across North America. For many, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In Illinois, some people remember the partial eclipse experienced here in 1970 and 1979, but the last time Illinois residents experienced a full total solar eclipse was in 1869. This eclipse was the only time in the history of the state (established in 1818) that a total eclipse had ever been observed! As this Daily Herald article discusses, Illinoisans were building the State Capital building at the time, and attempted to commemorate the occasion with a monument at the capital. Since solar eclipses are such relatively rare occurrences, I wondered, which of my ancestors experienced a solar eclipse during their lifetimes? Continue reading “Solar eclipses in my ancestors’ time”
When I was young, I’d go driving with my grandfather Ed Drake, and he would often point out local landmarks and tell me little tidbits about each place. When we would drive on Pleasant Hill Road, we’d pass his old family homestead. He had fond memories of growing up there. He would mention getting into mischief with his brother, and raising chickens and other animals. Just recently, I remembered that Papa had mentioned that he and his brother discovered some hidden spaces in the barn. At the time, he didn’t realize their significance. Looking back now, it appears that our old family farm was once a stop on the Underground Railroad. Continue reading “The Underground Railroad at Pleasant Hill”
As I promised in my previous post, I’m excited to share what I uncovered during my trip to Salt Lake City last month. I was thrilled to finally break down this “genealogical brick wall” after so many years. Let’s start at the beginning…
My great-grandfather, George Weil, was born in 1889 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Conrad and Louisa (nee Metz) Weil. He had several siblings close to his age. His mother, Louisa, died when he was 9 years old. At this point, he and three of his siblings were sent to an orphan’s home where they were educated and grew up. When he was an adult, George and his sister Marie searched for their parents, trying to find out what happened to their father and discover more about their German heritage. Through the years, his son and grandson searched occasionally for information about Conrad and Louisa, and recently I also took up the search.