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the search for toots...

Day #11

This past week, I passed through Ohio and Indiana and am now in Elmhurst, Illinois, where Toots had lived, been married, and where she is now buried. I met with my cousin, Margaret who lives near here, to compare what we knew of the family and our aunt and where Margaret shared her family photos with me. Margaret’s father had come over from Ireland, had lived in the same house where Toots and my grandmother had grown up and came to live with my grandmother for a while when he first came to this country. His father (Uncle Tommie) was the youngest son in his family, living in the family home where his youngest son (Margaret’s Uncle Michael) had once lived, but where Michael's son now lives with his family and continues renovations on the old home.

Above is an old picture of part of the exterior and below is another old picture of the hearth on the interior. The house has been greatly re-modeled over the years; there is no longer the thatched roof! I wanted to include the hearth as I remember stories of its daily scrubbing being one of the tasks for girls in the house. Turf, or maybe coal (later on) was the fuel commonly burned and it left a smoky residue—not to mention that cooking was also done on the hearth before the stoves, with which we are more familiar. I'm not sure who is in the upper picture, but I do know that it is Uncle Tommie and his wife Mary (on the right) in the lower one.

So below are several more photos I was able to get: the church of the Immaculate Conception where Toots was married in 1918 and where now the upper part of the building is the school. Margaret and I were also allowed access to the inside of the church which is kept locked when the school is in session (since Sandyhook we were told). We were also told that little had been changed within the church, aside from cleaning and restoration. There had been a fire at some point, but it wasn't clear when that had occurred.

Finally, I was able to locate Toots' final resting place. How she happened to return to family in Chicago is still somewhat of a mystery, but part of that should become clearer as I move on. Today, I'm heading for Nebraska. Stay tuned.

You can find my posts on: my Facebook page: M.E. Roche; Instagram: author_meroche; and here on my website: I hope you'll join me on the journey!

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