Ah, the old homestead... Like many from "out West," my people have been on the move almost continuously from one generation to the next, on all sides. We keep track of where we have been by where the babies were born. If we do have a "home place," it has only been for 2-3 generations, at most, like the summer cabin my mother's grandfather built (but we no longer own). Wouldn't it be wonderful to have that mythical farm to return to, which has been in the family for hundreds of years? I'm sure it happens for some people, but not mine.
So what's up with these photos, then? Well, there is a place in Utah where my husband's mother's family still gathers (I'm not revealing details to protect their privacy). It is the place where their first immigrant ancestors settled in 1868, and somehow there is still a family member who lives there. We had the opportunity to visit with my mother-in-law, and my husband's brother's family, back in October 2013, and that is where and when I took the above photos. While this was the family's second "home" since their first arrival - the first being just down the road - it was the place that my mother-in-law remembers gathering with her cousins and extended family. It really is a magical place. Our kids, and their cousins, had a great time jumping on the trampoline, and discovering one of my favorite Utah rivers. What a treasure for this family!
A few more thoughts on the topic of family and land... Since I had the chance to go through Salathiel Stanley's Homestead records, I've been hungry to find more. I was fortunate that his documents were part of a collection on Ancestry. I've since found another ancestor on that side who successfully received land through the Homestead Act, but, unfortunately, since his land was in Missouri, not Nebraska, his records are only available through the National Archives. Maybe a trip to Washington, D.C. for our next Spring Break is in order?
I just returned from this year's Spring Break (that's why I'm a little behind on posting), where I was searching for another type of homestead - this time for a Loyalist land grant in Ontario, Canada. I still haven't located the exact site (I'm so close - looking forward to sharing more soon!), but we did drive around the vicinity to get a feel for it. (We also popped into the Lexington & Addington County Museum & Archives, which I highly recommend!) I love visiting places where I know my ancestors once lived - where they worked, where they walked. It gives me so much more perspective on what they experienced, and what they left behind in their continuous search for just the right spot.
I think, in the case of both of my Loyalist ancestors, John Ogilvie and James Lake, they were given land in Nova Scotia and Ontario, on thin soil, in cold, wet conditions, as compensation for the rich farmland they left behind in Georgia and New York. Although in both cases, where they landed was beautiful, wild countryside, after visiting I understand why their children heeded the call to move West (and South), for warmer conditions and better land.