BACKSTORY: Born in 1894 in Lucas, Michigan, near Cadillac, Nellie Lucas was the oldest daughter of Dick and Betsy Lucas, descendants of Dutch-German immigrants. While teaching school near Lucas she met a young Dutch immigrant named Emo Van Halsema.
|Emo and Nellie, c. 1919|
They fell in love and were married in Lucas in 1920. Bernice Van Halsema, their third oldest daughter, was born in Grand Rapids in 1927; she married Tunis VandenBerg in Grand Rapids in 1949. Susan is their oldest daughter and second oldest of five children.
|the Lucas Christian Reformed Church c. 1920|
|the church today|
The Lucas family has farmed and worked the land in western Missaukee country for several generations and a couple of Bernice's cousins still live there: Dave and Donna Lucas and Dave's younger brother Harvey and his wife Evelyn.
The drive north took barely 90 minutes and we enjoyed the spectacular, broad expanse of the sky in Michigan, warm temps, low humidity and little traffic as we pushed into the wilds of northern Michigan.
We found the house at the edge of the small village of McBain. After saying hello I excused myself and drove the three blocks over to McBain Cemetery to look for Joseph Michael Rounds, Jr., a veteran of Company F, 3rd Michigan Infantry (1861-64). Those of you who know my ongoing research project on the Old 3rd know I'm always looking for gravesites of those men who survived the war.
I found my quarry in no time at all -- it is a small cemetery -- and scooted right back to the house just in time to say hello to the Ten Have Galloway group as they pulled in. After introductions and reintroductions we all settled in for a delicious lunch prepared by Evelyn, Harv's wife. Our group spent a wonderful afternoon reminiscing, catching up on all the family news and enjoying a few funny family stories and just enjoying the company of family.
The afternoon slid by and when the group finally roused itself from warm conversation we all piled into three cars and began the Lucas family tour: from McBain we drove a short distance to Lucas Road and soon pulled into the parking lot of the Lucas Christian Reformed Church where Emo and Nellie were married 96 years ago.
From the church we made our way to Lucas Cemetery and paid our respects to Dick and Betsy and two of their children Abe and Herman (Herman was father of Harv and Dave and brother of Nellie). (I have a separate post on my North American Cemeteries blog; you can find it right here.) We then drove over to cousin Dave's sawmill and had a taste of how real sawyering is done. It was quite a show and quite fascinating: makes one appreciate the skill it takes to cut a log into usable lumber.
After a trip back to McBain we settled back into more iced tea and coffee -- this time accompanied by some of Evelyn's homemade cookies. It was soon time to say goodbye, the shadows began their inexorable march away from the sun. Although the cousins were clearly having a hard time breaking away from each other there were plenty of goodie bags to go around. Not long after we pulled out onto the highway heading home our passengers took a much-needed rest and before long we were back on Eagle Ridge Court and home.
Generosity, hospitality, and fellowship were the hallmarks of that short but very pleasant trip with the Lucas boys in the quiet of northern Michigan.
|Harv and Ev's main house|
|in the back where the chicken coop used to be is now a large space used for entertaining|
|luscious gardens full of flowers and vegetables all mixed together|
|inside the huge screened in porch area: Helen, Evelyn and Bernice|
|visiting Lucas Cemetery: Harv, Helen, Bernice and Jennifer|
|the original Dick and Betsy Lucas farmhouse|
|the current farmhouse (Dick and Betsy's burned down years ago), no longer in the Lucas family|
|the original barn is still there, though|
|across the street from the barn is the house that Dick and Betsy eventually moved into|
|Dave cutting cedar planks -- and Harv helping|