The Story of My Family’s Farm -as told by Juanita Taylor
My mom was a World War II war bride. My dad was a Navy pilot. After the war Dad remained in the Navy, and our family lived the adventure of traveling every two years across country from post to posting.
It was a wonderful life, but one thing I always longed for was a home in one place where I could watch my friends grow up and go to the same school (I moved 18 times between birth and high school). Luckily we did have a home base between our many moves, my mom’s family farm in Cooksville, Illinois.
The farm has been in our family for 5 generations. It was established in the 1880’s by my great grandmother and grandfather. My grandmother was born on the farm. My mother was born on the farm. I have my mother’s and grandmother’s bedroom set in my home in Richfield. Its 240 acres is currently farmed by my cousin and his son. My aunt still lives in the farmhouse. It was always home to me. It still is.
I get excited every time we approach the farm when we plan a trip to visit family. The deep rich soil, the soy beans and corn growing so tall and green. My aunt’s beautiful garden. Her home cooked meals. The welcoming comfort of the farmhouse. Sleeping in the bedroom my mother slept in as a child. The farm has been a part of the rhythm of my life.
Whenever we went to the farm, my sister and I would head for the attic. Even on the hottest summer days, we’d climb the stairs, open the attic hatch and breathe in the heavenly stuffy stale air that was released as we entered that attic. We always opened the old trunk first – loaded with clothes, a scrap book my grandmother put together in the 1890’s, and little treasures like needle cubes, handmade lace and postcards. We also found out about a long hidden secret involving our family that we weren’t supposed to uncover (you never know what you’ll find in an attic).
My love of old things started at the family farm. I dreamed of living in my grandmother’s time: walking to school and attending the one room schoolhouse located down the road from the farm; imagining the love story blossoming between my grandmother and grandfather (he grew up on the farm closest to my grandmother). I collected anything my family didn’t want from the farm. And I have collected many antiques that I thought would have been a part of our farm.
When my husband and I were about to be married, we decided we both wanted something outside the city with a little land and a century home. We now live in a home built in the 1840’s, have a little over 3 acres with a buggy barn, and a 38 acre preserve in our back yard with paths and a pond. For us it has been heaven.
As we age and are ready to divest ourselves of some of our possessions, we could think of no finer place than Stone Garden Farm & Village to pass on a number of our antiques collected over the years. Some are from our family farm in Cooksville, Illinois. Others have been collected in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. We know the Fry’s and the museum will treasure them as much as we have. Those simple things of such beauty and use that reflect a simple hard working life on a farm.
Juanita Juarez Taylor