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Local Column

Schrader: Farm family reunion reaches the century mark

Members of the Halverson and Hendrickson families gathered for the 100th consecutive year last month, this time on the David and Dawn Halverson farm south of Cortland.
Members of the Halverson and Hendrickson families gathered for the 100th consecutive year last month, this time on the David and Dawn Halverson farm south of Cortland.

Seldom does a family hold a reunion for 100 consecutive years, but the Halverson-Hendrickson clan reached that number last month.

One hundred and forty descendants of the two families gathered at the David Halverson farm south of Cortland to celebrate their centennial.

Present were two 100-year-old friends: Leonard Osland, a descendant, and his lifelong friend, Don Mosher.

I learned from Wyonne Hegland of the Hendrickson side of the family that an Anna Hendriksdatter (Norwegian name) met and married an Ole Halverson back in the old country, then emigrated to the U.S. in 1884, joining his brothers who farmed in LaSalle County; their descendants moved up to this county.

Early reunions were held at people’s farms, but later such locations included Annie’s Woods, Hopkins Park in DeKalb and Lions Park in Cortland. This time, only David and Dawn Halverson had a barn large enough to hold 140 people seated for a potluck dinner.

Wyonne also shared a note highlighting some of their reunions’ history. She wrote that in the early years, people always were “dressed to the nines” with suits, ties, dresses and hats.

This is evident in the 1919 group photo, the earliest one they have saved.

A program was part of their early gatherings, during which the youngest and oldest attendees were recognized, piano solos were offered by the youngsters, devotions were read, groups sang, and poetry was read.

By 1969, however, it was decided that devotions were not needed “since most people had been to church before the Sunday reunion.”

Donations were made to support the “boys and girls in service” during the World War II years.

It was a tradition to play a game of softball. It was amusing to read in the minutes that in 1978 and ’79, the “Irish Jubilee” was sung by two of the men. Why not a Scandinavian tune?

This year, they decided to take part in the Cortland Fall Parade and Festival. They filled three hayracks and a 30-foot-long gooseneck trailer.

Each branch of the families wore matching, color-coded T-shirts, made especially for this year.

In talking with Dave, I learned he was in the building business in DeKalb for many years, and also operated the Hicksatomic Gas Station at the corner of North Annie Glidden Road and West Lincoln Highway, later known as Halverson’s Citgo.

Reflecting on our own family reunions over the years, I must admit that it is a fading tradition.

It seems the younger generations don’t find spending a Sunday with relatives they have never met or seldom see to be fun. Besides, they probably would pass the time texting friends elsewhere. Guess I am just sentimental about family ties. Plus, I always looked forward to Aunt Ann’s apple pie and Aunt Lila’s brownies.

I’ll end with this quote from an unknown source: “Like branches on a tree, our lives may grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.”

• Barry Schrader can be reached via email at barry815@sbcglobal.net or through P.O. Box 851, DeKalb, IL 60115. An archive of past columns can be found on his website www.dekalbcountylife.com.

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