Genealogy Road Trip 2021 Vol 5
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”-Mark Twain Our adventure has taken us across South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, and now Ohio. We planned the first leg of our trip to ambitiously:
Visit family (my son, Spencer and his wife Emily) in Minnesota,
Janice’s high school friend (Julie) in Chicago),
Hike three National Parks (Badlands, The Indiana Dunes, and Cuyahoga)
Visit Roadside attractions (Corn Palace, Wall Drug, Spam Museum, RV Museum and Hall of Fame, Sandusky Cholera Cemetery, etc.)
Humor Neal’s genealogy compulsion to discover where did all those Dilleys (my birth last name) live, marry, work and die?
I am amazed that we’ve done all this in three weeks. I’ll leave it to Janice to tell you about some of the folks we’ve met along the way. When last I left the Dilleys family story, my 2nd great grandfather, William S had moved to Aledo Illinois where his son Sumner (my great grandfather) was born. I’m now investigating his father (William C) and his father (Aaron) back to Trumbull County Ohio. I spent the better part of Thursday visiting Aaron and Jane (Story) Dilley graves where they died in 1838 and 1850. The Trumbull County Historical Society found me paging through old county histories, memoirs, historical maps, marriage indexes, etc. and making copies with my I-pad. It turns out that my family was clearing their wilderness farms during the Northwest Territory (Ohio Indian) War 1785 - 1795. It was the first war the new United States of America fought with Native Americans. Land was cheap (for speculators it was 10 cents an acre), many former Continental Army soldiers were paid in “Bounty Land” grants instead of money. The Treaty of Paris stipulated that the land from Pennsylvania to the Mississippi south of the Great Lakes was United States territory. There was a catch. The British kept forts here anyway and supplied the Indians with guns and supplies. George Washington sent troops to protect the settlers. For ten years, there was terrible bloodshed. The Indians were slaughtered, cheated and decimated by diseases. I’m proud of my ancestors and at the same time saddened by the terrible price the native Americans paid. Today this area is quaint old towns, elegant 19th century homes and lush vegetation carpeting rolling hills. There is the occasional confederate flag. Contrast that with the Buddhist and Jain temples down the road! Almost everyone we’ve run across here is friendly to a fault. Just like my ancestors, people here seem to know instinctively that you need to be kind to your neighbor. You never know when you might need a helping hand. - Neal “As I’m walking by a post office in Warren Ohio, I see a UPS truck pull up from a side alley in front me. As I take a few more steps towards the truck and come to a stop, the driver looks over at me, flashes a smile and with the wave of his hand puts the eighteen-wheeler in reverse and backs up ten feet so I may pass. This is the Midwest, where manners and kindest towards strangers’ part of the culture.”-Neal Though I have lived in the West for the last five decades, I am, and always will be, a mid-westerner. I’ve been told I have the accent (it’s a “ruff” not a “roof”) and have managed to embarrass my kids more than once with my folksiness. With that, Neal has deferred to me to write this next piece. Two hundred years ago, the Midwest, (Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois), was the Northwest Territories. After the revolutionary war, people were told that, for a small amount of money, they could homestead. This land belonged to the Native Americans, and it was the front lines of the Indian Wars. Homesteaders gathered into groups of friends and family to move and often settle near each other. They relied upon each other to build houses and barns, to plant, harvest, and mid-wife. They helped strangers. It was about caring for each other. At times, it was about survival. We felt we were in the Midwest when we crossed the South Dakota state line. People smiled and stopped their cars to let you cross the street. They waved as you passed in front of them. They patiently let you merge in traffic. They wave for you to go first at stop signs. They let you ahead of them in the checkout line if you are buying less items. They are solicitous and helpful without being patronizing. At Strawberry Farm Bed and Breakfast, Mary let you choose the next day’s breakfast. The morning always greeted us with her farm-fresh delights such as homemade monkey bread. She never let your coffee cup run dry. Karl followed the tradition of great storytellers. You could not help but be entranced. Maggie, the old Golden, was the concierge.
The Wilton Candy Kitchen is world’s oldest continuously operated candy store ice cream shop. It has been in the same family for generations. We had to go! There, in his crisp white shirt and smart bowtie, the owner stopped to talk to us about the store’s history and the nice lady from the VFW let us have two-fer cookies at the bake sale. My lovely friend Julie, with whom we stayed while in Chicago, opened her home to us with the generosity and grace so typical of a mid-westerner. In these folks I see myself and appreciate my roots (that’s pronounced “ruts”) as I never have. Janice