Sanderson Home, Lee, Illinois

Having given this post that title, I’m not positive this is the home of the Sandersons or that it’s in Lee, Illinois.  What I do know from Mom’s photo book, the woman on the far right is Isabelle Sanderson (married Richoloson) and the woman next to her is Mom’s grandmother, Mary Ann Sanderson (married Oakland).  Mary Ann was born in 1868 in Lee, Illinois.  The family lived in that area for a long time.  How old are the two women on the right?  My guess is in their early 20s.  That would date the photo to the early 1880s.  What do you see, especially in the clothes?
oakland house

Here are some enlarged images from the top photo.
oakland house det 2
oakland house det 1I’d love to hear from anyone who can identify more of the people in the picture.

US School of Military Aeronautics 1918 Champaign Illinois

These are photos of the United States School of Military Aeronautics, Champaign, Illinois, May 1918.
Our family representative is one of our Oaklands (third row, far right) – Milo Oakland, I think.  I hope someone can find their family member here – they are all named!
This is the squadron photo.
squadron A2 usasma 1918These are the officers and instructors.

usasma u of i 1918

Harriet Duncan In Her Own Words – Part 2

Mom wrote this story of her childhood.  You can see Part 1 here.

[This would have been in the late 1920s or early 1930s.]  One day my Dad took me to the Boston Dry Goods Store and bought me “an ensemble.”  I had never heard of such a thing but I always referred to that two piece knit dress and coat to match as MY ENSEMBLE.  He even bought me some beige shoes with a one-inch heel to go with it — and silk stockings with seams up the back.  When those stockings got a big run I asked him if I could have more.  He said to charge them at Malone’s, so I did.  That was a snap so anytime I wanted something I slid into the habit of charging it to my Dad at Malone’s.  A few months later Grandma Duncan took me to task.  “You can’t go on doing that — these are hard times!”  It sank in and I never charged again — until after I was married.

Lunch at Starved Rocks.

Lunch at Starved Rocks.

Fran and I had many casual boyfriends and a few serious ones.  From time to time we went with the same boys, often in groups, and usually doubledating.  We’d walk to the movies, or go to the Cottage Cupboard for cherry cokes or chocolate cokes or a cheese or chocolate “toastie.”  Those were grilled sandwiches.  Later when the boys had cars we would just ride around and sing and joke.  Later years we would pack a picnic and to go Starved Rock or a lake or Potawatomie Park in St. Charles.  We swam a lot and Fran and I played golf at Sycamore — never got past the dubbing stage.  Some days Fran and I would spend sewing (she was better than I).  We made dresses and teddies to match.  The dresses were always the same pattern — simple waist and full skirt.  We made them in polka dots with teddies to match and another set in red and white checks.

Harriet Duncan & Frances Duffey.  Best friends in matching outfits.

Harriet Duncan & Frances Duffey. Best friends in matching outfits.

Our closest group included Eleanor Case, Helen Kientz, Margaret Donnelly and Helen McNamara.  We had parties with just the six of us sometimes.  When we could we would go to out-of-town football games together.  One time on our way home from a Rochelle game we thought it would be fun to get the football players bus to stop — we were sure they would help us if we were parked beside the road with car trouble.  We parked, put up the hood and the trunk and waited and waited in Helen Mac’s car.  When we saw the bus coming we all stood out beside the care looking helpless.  The guys all waved and went on by.  What a blow!  We got back in the car and it wouldn’t go — had a broken axle.  It was hours before we got home.

I was active in YWCA in high school and Fran more active in Dramatic Club; we both loved G.A.A. (Girls’ Athletic Association).  There were many dances at school.  After school were “Sunset Dances” where half of us stood around and talked waiting to be asked to dance.  But other dances were at night and we always had dates for those and little dance programs with tiny pencils attached.  Your date would line up dances and fill in the programs.  But at the G.A.A. dance the girls asked the boys and we filled out the programs.  There were Junior-Senior proms and Senior-Junior proms.  In other words each year the Seniors would give a prom for the juniors and then the juniors would give a prom for the Seniors before they were graduated.  There was also an annual Christmas Dance.  My favorite prom dress was long and yellow, cut low in the back with a big lavender bow at the waist in back.

Fran was in several plays.  We were both in the Senior Play [they graduated in 1931] — I had a really good part but they told me they couldn’t hear me half way back in the auditorium.  The auditorium was where we had assembly meetings — it had sloped seating as in a theater but the stage was our basketball court so it was huge, but of course draped for plays.  Under that on the basement level was the girls gym with adjoining locker rooms and a big swimming pool.  Fran and I would usually take two P.E. classes each semester, swimming and basketball were our favorites.  Our basketball team played other school.  Fran was better than I at most everything.  Many of our classes were together but when she took soccer, I chose tennis.  When she took sewing, I took economics.  The dumb reason for that was I knew I wasn’t good at sewing and I didn’t want to show how little I knew.  We both went to Glee Club tryouts and made it — not much competition.  Helen had the voice in our family, a lovely alto.

Harriet, Helen, and Barbara Duncan.

Harriet, Helen, and Barbara Duncan.

Our town had money-making plays put on by out of town specialists but using local talent.  We often got in the chorus and it was fun learning songs and dances.  I think the community had great fun watching and laughing at the amateur shows.

One family we saw for picnics and get-togethers were the Herricks.  They owned Hey Brothers Ice Cream factory in DeKalb.  for several years when we were young they lived upstairs over the factory.  I loved to go into the factory.  It was dank and fragrant, always wet underfoot.  The huge vats of ice cream had spigots where the soft ice cream would gush and slide out into what bowl “Uncle” Glen held under it.  The smells were of vanilla and fruit and dampness.  It was a magic place.

The original Hey Brothers Ice Cream was at Dixon.  Their name was Hey and I guess Pauline Herrick was a Hey.  Several families of us went to Heys and with them to Sinnissippi Park for a grand picnic.  I guess I was about severn.  When everyone was stuffed and the last watermelon gone, the group split and went in different cars back to Heys.  They had a well at the Park where people kept the watermelons and lemonade cold and they had a drinking fountain of ice cold water from the well.  On the way to the car I told Mama I was going to go back for one more drink.  Well, they all went without me — families split up in different cars.  I was dumbfounded when I came back to the parking lot and they had all left, but I knew they would come back from Dixon to get me.  Well, nobody came so I walked up the winding entrance to the highway and from there to the nearest farm.  I told the couple my plight and they said they had a telephone and I could use it.  The phone had a crank on it to ring “Central” and I didn’t know how to use it.  Finally the woman cranked it for me and I told Central who I wanted to talk to.  The Heys and all my family were astounded that I wasn’t outside playing with the other kids.  Mother and Dad came for me and felt as sorry for me as I did.

One time at a church Christmas pageant a young girl dressed as Mary kneeled by the cradle and sang Ave Maria.  I was swept away; it was so beautiful.  On the way home I asked Mother what that song was.  She told me but they were hesitant to accept this beautiful song because it was in Latin.  I gathered that wasn’t suitable for a Methodist church.

Uncle Oscar Oakland, Aunt Hannah and adopted daughter, Edna, live on a farm near Creston.  Several summers I spend a week with them.  They had a player piano and lots of rolls.  I would pump away and sing half the day.  Sometimes I rode on the wagon with Uncle Oscar, a big, kindly man.  One day when he was driving a manure spreader with a team of horses he had to stop at the field to open and close the gate.  He let me drive the horse through while he took care of the gate.  A special treat.

Edna came to live at our house while she went to high school and two years of college.  I never thought of it at the time, but no doubt the room and board money came in handy.  We had so many good times as a family.   The craftiest thing we did was make jewelry with candle wax.  Mother bought it in many colors.  She put down papers on the dining room table and lit kerosene lamps for us to heat the wax over.  First we made beads, put a darning needle through them to string them, then we decorated each bead with pretty colored flowers.  Mother was artistic and could crochet, knit and tat was well as do beautiful embroidery.  We made sealing wax pins and “lavaliers” to hang around our necks.  One night as we worked a lamp tipped over and Edna’s arm got terrible burned.  She held it under the kitchen faucet, crying, until Dr. Rankin got there.

After that we had other roomers who came from farms for high school or college — always one at a time.  Orvilla Spencer, Ethel Oakland, Ellis Espe and Ray Wickness.  They didn’t eat with us, just roomed.

Uncle Ed Duncan, Aunt Florence and cousins Mary and Jeanne lived on Normal Road where it is campus now.  The first time I ever tasted leg of lamb was at their house and I thought it was terrific.  Uncle Ed used to referee at our high school and college games.  Then he retired and sold athletic equipment.

Uncle Milo Oakland, Aunt Hazel, Milo Jr. and Donn Eber lived on Augusta Avenue.  He was Head of the Industrial Arts Department at the college.  I babysat for the boys now and then.

Every year there were Oakland family reunions and sometimes Sanderson reunions.  I got to know some of the Oakland cousins fairly well, but there were aunts and uncles I couldn’t remember year to year.

Oakland Reunion.  Harriet, Helen, Barb: center front children.

Oakland Reunion. Harriet, Helen, Barb: center front children.

1910 Illinois School Postcard

1910 pc school


This postcard was sent by my great-grandmother, Mary Ann Sanderson Oakland, to Mrs. Andrew Richolson.  They lived in the Lee / Stewart area of Illinois, so perhaps the school pictured is in that area, maybe even DeKalb.  With luck, someone familiar with the area will let me know!

1910 pc school rev signature


Lee 5-20-10  Dear Friend, If the weather is nice, we will go home with you from Sunday school next Sunday.  With Love, Your Friend, Mrs. Oakland.

Sanderson & Oakland (Part 3) – Thomas’ Death


1913 Thomas Oakland cropOn 23 September 1918 Thomas Lewis Oakland died suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage.  Mom said he was at a church supper when he collapsed.  Mom also remembered that because he had no life insurance and had not paid for the home on Somonauk Avenue that her grandmother lost the house and had to return to work at the age of 50.  She worked in a department store, second floor women’s apparel.


Part One of the Sanderson-Oakland story can be seen here.

Part Two of their story can be seen here.

tlo obit for blog til

Another big shock to the family was the death of the Oakland’s daughter, Albie Duncan in 1927.  During Albie’s illness, Mary took care of her three granddaughters.  She became very close to the girls.  “God’s Minute” was a birthday present to my mother in 1934.

gods minute inscription 1934

In a note to Mom in May 1939 “It passes the time to get away once in a while now that my girlies three have flown away to their own homes.  I sometimes wonder what I had better do now.  But dear I have so much to be thankful for to know you are all  happy.”  Later that month she sent another letter and card to Mom when my sister was born – Mary’s first great grandchild.

mao card & env 1939mao letter 1939My favorite part of this letter is her wondering if Helen has arrived.  Helen is my mother’s sister who helped when all of us were born.  She was a mainstay in our lives.  I think it was a comfort to Mary to know that Helen would be there for my mother.  I know it was a comfort to my mother!

Mary ann oakland formalJust a few months later on 17 December 1939 Mary Ann Sanderson Oakland died in DeKalb, Illinois.  She was 71 years old.  She was survived by one son, five grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.

mary ann death article

Sanderson & Oakland (Part 2) – the Farm

Thomas Lewis Oakland and Mary Ann Sanderson

Part 1 of the story of Thomas Lewis Oakland and Mary Ann Sanderson can be seen here.


In 1905 the Oaklands moved to a farm between DeKalb and Sycamore, Illinois.  On a day in 1910 they held an “Old Time Harvest Day.”  The men look too well dressed for it to be a regular farm day!

1910 Oakland farm Lee IL2

1910 Oakland farm Lee IL3

1910 Oakland farm Lee IL

Old Time Harvest Day 1910

Old Time Harvest Day 1910

Written on the back of this photo:  “This was taken “Old time harvest day.”  The photographer took it standing on the Crib, that accounts for the Machine shed and crib not showing in the picture, (also for barn and silo slanting).  It was taken late in the day after most of the people were gone, still there were a good many Autos in the south end of the yard.  This was taken to get all the machinery in one picture.  There were 2000 people here that day.  Had a fine time.”

In 1911 Albie married Thomas (Roy) Duncan and lived in DeKalb, Illinois.

Eber Oakland

Eber Oakland

On 15 September 1913 the Oakland’s older son, Eber, died of malaria that he had contracted while working in Texas.  He had been engaged to Alice Lee of Meridan, Mississippi.









About 1915 the Oaklands moved from the farm to a large home on Somonauk Avenue in Sycamore, Illinois, a quite fashionable neighborhood.

oaklands 1913 formal

On 27 December 1917 Milo married Hazel Olsten in DeKalb.

oakland osten wedding 1oakland osten wedding 2 There were no longer children living at home.

Part 3 of the Sanderson & Oakland story can be seen here.

Sanderson & Oakland – Part 1

I want to introduce my mother’s maternal grandparents – Mary Ann Sanderson and Thomas Lewis Oakland, the Norwegian branch of the family.  Other than some facts taken from the census, an obituary, and a few family stories, I don’t have much about their early years.  But what I lack in interesting stuff, I’ll try to make up for with some photos!

Mary Ann Sanderson, about 1885.

Mary Ann Sanderson, about 1885.

Mary Sanderson was born 26 November 1869 in Milan Township, Illinois.  Her parents were Anna Moland and Sander H. Sanderson both born in Norway.  Mary was the eighth of nine children.

Sanderson Children: Mary Ann is on the front row left.

Sanderson Children: Mary Ann is on the front row left.

Thomas Oakland was also born of Norwegian parents:  Ira Oakland (originally Erich Tollevsen Egeland) and Isabel Larsen.  Thomas was born 4 April 1863 near Lee, Illinois, the oldest of ten children (two died in infancy).

They married 3 March 1887.  He was almost 24, she was 17.  Both of her parents and his father died before the couple married.

Thomas Lewis Oakland and Mary Ann Sanderson

Thomas Lewis Oakland and Mary Ann Sanderson

They had four children:  my grandmother, Albie Irene (23 July 1888), Eber Stanley (15 June 1890), Hazel Mae (1 June 1892), and Milo Thomas (22 December 1893).  Hazel Mae died within three weeks on 21 June 1892.  Albie was born in Dakota Territory; the other children were born in Illinois.

Eber, Milo, Albie Oakland

Eber, Milo, Albie Oakland

Thomas was listed in the census as a farmer.  They moved from Lee to a farm between DeKalb and Sycamore (IL) in 1905.  More on their farming life in the next part.

You can see Part 2 here.  And Part 3 here.