Casefile Clues

01 September 2013

Grandma Neill Would Have Been 103 Today

Today would have been my Grandma Neill's 103rd birthday.

There's a genealogical lesson in Grandma's place of birth. She insisted she was born in Tioga, Hancock County, Illinois, but she wasn't. A variety of contemporary records (including her birth certificate and christening record) indicate she was born in nearby Wythe Township. The difference in geography is small and I never argued with Grandma about it when she was alive. Her father was born near Tioga and that's where the Trautvetters were "from" and that's why Grandma assumed she was born there. In fact, any record where she provided her place of birth will indicate she was born in Tioga. Her birth certificate though, indicated she was born "Baby Girl Trautvetter" on 1 September 1910 in Wythe Township, Hancock County, Illinois, to George and Ida (Sargent) Trautvetter.

Ida (Trautvetter) Neill, 1910-1994, taken near north of Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, probably late 1980s.
The picture in this post looks like it was taken before Grandma had her first stroke, but I'm not certain. Given the clothes she is wearing, she must have been going or just returning from somewhere. The picture was taken in her yard south of the house (Illinois Highway 94 is in the background--that orange sign is for the "no passing zone"). The house is no longer standing and the maple tree which was near where she was standing was cut down a week ago.

Grandma stopped school after the 8th grade and "worked out" for neighboring families near Loraine, Adams County, Illinois, where her family lived. The family moved there when Grandma was small, but now that I think about it, I'm not certain when they actually moved to the farm near Loraine [I seem to think that Grandma graduated from 8th grade in Hancock County, which would mean they moved to Loraine sometime after that]. Grandma stayed home to help take care of her father after he had a series of strokes before he eventually died in 1934. A year later at the age of 25, she married my 32-year old grandfather Cecil Neill in Keithsburg, Mercer County, Illinois. They returned to their respective homes until the spring of 1936 when they "went to housekeeping" on a rented farm near Plymouth, Hancock County, Illinois. A few years later, they purchased the farm north of Carthage where this picture was taken. Grandpa died in 1968 and I have no memories of him. Grandma babysat my brother and I while our mother taught school. We were always admonished not to play in the front yard for fear we would get hit by a car "on the slab."  We next entered or left the house by the front door for the same reason.

I remember Grandma turning 70 and thinking she was old. Now I realize just how long ago that was.

Grandma remained on the farm until her death there in July of 1994. She and Grandpa are buried east of West Point, Hancock County, Illinois, in the West Point Cemetery near other members of the Neill family.

Rest in Peace, Grandma.