THE LIFE AND TIMES Harry Bartholomew O'Connell

Linton Research Fund, Inc., HOME PAGE Guest Book LINTON Gallery BIRD Gallery BLOG LINTON Traditional Lore BIRD Family Tree LINTON Family Tree Today's Birthdays & Anniversaries BIRD Chronicles Table of Contents BIRD Chronicles LINTON Chronicles BIRD Chronicles Membership LINTON Chronicles Membership SURNAME Index BIRD Ancestors in the Civil War 1861-1865 SURNAME Family Tree Menu How to become a Member LINTON Chronicles Table of Contexts Bird Ancestors in the Revolutionary War 1775-1783 LINTON Ancestors in the Civil War 1861-1865 LINTON Ancestors in the Revolutionary War 1775 to 1783

Welcome to the BIRD Chronicles


Harry Bartholomew O'Connell

- March 22, 1896 -- January 15, 1979 -



John Martin O’Connell © 2007  

LINTON & Bird Chronicles, Volume V, Issue 4, Winter © 2010, ISSN 1941-3521


Harry Bartholomew O'Connell ( March 22, 1896 -- January 15, 1979)


Harry Bartholomew O'Connell

- March 22, 1896 -- January 15, 1979

John Martin O’Connell © 2007

LINTON & Bird Chronicles, Volume V, Issue 4, Winter © 2010-2011, ISSN 1941-3521


Harry Bartholomew O'Connell, born when the Indians were still on the warpath and cowboys would shoot up a town on Saturday night just for the hell of it; dad lived to see man walk on the moon.

I used to spend endless hours listening to my father tell me the tales of his earlier life. I enjoyed the stories and loved him telling me them. Most of the stories I heard over and over again, but never did I get tired of hearing him and his tales of yester-year.

On March 22, 1896 my father was born in the small Wisconsin town of Lodi, just north of Madison. He was the first son of John B. O’Connell a railroad construction contractor. The whole family would live wherever the work was; in nearby towns if there were any, otherwise they lived in tents. These tents weren’t "camping tents"; they were large like circus tents. Dad had three sisters Irene, Margaret and Bernice. There were two brothers Jack and Eddie; his mothers name was Margaret (Connelly). Six children, that made for a good Irish Catholic family.

Most of Dad’s education came from Catholic Nuns who were paid by his father to travel with the construction company. He became quite fluent in Latin due to this. Another form of education came from watching the men build the railways and lay hundreds of miles of track. Since much of their work that dad talked about was in the western and northwestern wilderness, they had to move the whole company down the track as the work progressed. This included two hundred to six hundred men, five hundred to a thousand head of stock, depending on the size of the job.

The "company" included the bookkeepers. There were no computers back then, not even a manual adding machine. Accounts payable, was writing checks by hand; manual timekeeping, the payroll was paid in cash. The purchasing people had to order everything a company and a small town would need. The materials to build a railroad not only included steel rails, wood ties, grading equipment, dynamite, horses and mules, but also included feed for the live stock and all the workers. Also, clothing, boots, tents and everything else that was needed to stay alive.

The company included a doctor, if there wasn’t one nearby; a kitchen to supply three meals a day and a blacksmith shop to repair the equipment and shoe the live stock. Transportation of most of the items purchased was greatly helped by the railroads that were being built. Just ship the materials to the "end of the line".

My dad loved building the railroads and later the first highways and he loved to talk about it. I guess that’s the way my father and I became very close. He loved to talk about it and I loved to listen. Some of the tales were about the more colorful happenings of that era. One of his first vivid recollections was at about the age of four; his father was building a railroad out west. He remembered the open planes as far as he could see and all the people building the tracks. But, what he remembered the most about this time was the guards stationed all along the right-a-way with rifles watching for Indians. He didn’t ever recall there being a problem with the Indians but was told that they didn’t like railroads being built across what they thought was their land.

Dad was four years old just after the turn of the century, and though this was long after the civil war, he tells about whips being used on the black workers if they didn’t work hard enough. So much for being free, they were free to leave but very few companies would employ them. Workers came from all over the world but most were European, some were African and some were Chinese. The work was hard with ten to twelve hour days because they were required to lay between five to ten miles of track a day depending on the terrain.

There was a lot of preparation work to be accomplished before they started to put down track. They had to clear forests, tunnel through mountains, build bridges and build up the right-a-way. Laying track was the last thing they did.

I stated earlier that dad learned a lot from observing all the work going on around him. He would ride on the road grading equipment drawn by as many as forty horses. They used large work horses like Clydesdales so these teams were huge. When dad was eleven years old he went to work driving one of these teams by him-self. His father was behind schedule on a contract and short of help. One of his dads drivers were too sick to work so Grandpa told him to get up there and get the job done. Dad remembered that day, just about everyday, for the rest of his life and he took great pride in what he had done.

The nuns, his father and his father’s employees all taught him most of the skills that were needed to build a railroad and manage a company. He was not just schooled in all these things but he was put to work performing each task. The desk jobs, which he never cared much about, included timekeeping, making up the payroll, ordering supplies and general bookkeeping.

There were no time clocks and most of the road-gang didn’t know how to write anyway. So, the timekeeper would sit in a tent and all the workers, everyone, had to check in and out in order to get paid for the day. The timekeeper also had to check the work crews twice a day to make sure everyone was on the job.

It was when making up the payroll records that my grandfather taught dad the "human" side of running a company. Grandpa’s rules were, if you had a good employee that has a family, and they were too sick to work, you would pay them anyway. In those days companies didn’t have anything called sick-pay. I don’t think my grandfather started it but it was a very unusual practice back then. Dad learned that if you took good care of your workers and treated them right, and with respect, they would work very hard for you in return. He followed this rule throughout his road building days and it cost him an important job with a large New York construction company later on.

Payday was always a big deal for both the company and the employees. Payday was normally Friday night but if you wanted them to work Saturday, you wouldn’t pay them until Saturday night. Men, for the most part, would go to town and spend all their pay on wine and women. The next day they weren’t going to make it to work or if they did the company didn’t want them to try to work.

Bookkeeping was required, good records had to be kept in order to be reimbursed by the railroad or general contractor. Government contracting is funded much the same way today. Cash flow is the life blood of business and even then they were audited after submitting requests for reimbursements.

One job my father loved was surveying. He did a lot of surveys for his dad on the railroads. The survey markers had better be placed correctly and marked for the right grade. After the road was graded another survey was completed to indicate where the track was to be placed. The degree of a curve was calculated based on the speed that a train was expected to be going when making the turn. The contractor was given the specifications, speed, weight of the trains, and it was the contractor’s responsibility to build a track to meet them. One can only wander today how many railroads and roads still follow the path that dad staked out so many years ago.

Dynamite, yes he used a lot of it. For almost anything that got in there way when building the railroad, dynamite was used to remove it. Dad hated loud noise and did have exceptionally good hearing all of his life. When dad was in his eighties, I remember a number of times my mother and brother Robert would be in another room from us and whisper something. I could not make out what they had said but dad could tell me.

Blowing tunnels and cutting grades through mountains, removing large boulders and trees; dad had a team of men to help him. The team would chisel and drill and dig the holes for the charges. Dad would set the charge and make sure the area was cleared and then detonate it. He told of tunneling through a mountain from both sides and making them meet in the middle. He was proud that no one was ever injured when he was in charge, though they came close one time.

And so here is another story that I listened to so many times, dad would always smile all the way through this one. I can just close my eyes and hear and see him tell the story again. He was in his early twenties and was still working for his father. They were building a railroad through the Dakota’s and the landscape was still wilderness. The area was heavily forested with giant old growth trees that were sometimes hundreds of years old. Other than the railroad workers none of them ever thought that there was anyone outside of some animals around. When they needed to cut through a hundred miles of this, one became very good and very quick at blowing these trees out of the way. They needed to make sure they took as much of the roots as possible and blow the tree out of the right-a-way so it didn’t need to be moved again. They learned to size up a tree to determine how much dynamite was needed and then plant the charge to aim it where it was to land.

One day they came upon a very large, very old tree, much bigger than anything they had encountered previously. Dad wanted to make sure it didn’t require being moved a second time. Remember these men knew how to move mountains. Enough charge was planted to lift the tree out of the ground and send it back into the forest just like a missile. Dad said he knew he used more dynamite than required, but he set the charge off anyway. This tree lifted up and literally flew over the tops of the surrounding trees and landed a distance back into this dense forest.

Sometime later, two men with shotguns came looking for whoever did this. They were prison guards overseeing a work gang that had been in the woods where that tree had come down. Though no one had been hurt, the guards were pretty mad. My Grandfather cooled them down and paid them off while my father stayed out of sight.

The Dakota’s can be a very hot place in the summer and a very cold place in the winter. From 110 degrees above to 50 degrees below zero, and this does not include a wind-chill factor. Two more of dad’s stories were about such times, one for the winter and one about a wonderful summer.

One long hot summer when he was about twenty-two years of age, dad landed a supervisory job working for someone other than his father, probably his uncle. He was going to work close to a town where his family had built a railroad earlier. His dad and mom had made some good friends during that earlier time and arranged for him to stay with them. There were two special things about the house he liked. One was the large cellar that had a cold water spring running through it, a natural air conditioning system. His friends kept a barrel of beer down there in the cold water and had told him he could help himself anytime. The beer was not the second thing he liked about the house; it was the pretty young daughter of the friend.

There are two reasons I stated that dad was probably working for his uncle. When he was working on railroads, as opposed to highways, he was almost always working for either his father or his uncle. The other reason I think this time it was his uncle was because he said he would knock off work in the early afternoon most days. His father wouldn’t have let him do that.

One can just picture this, its three o’clock in the afternoon and one hundred degrees in the middle of nowhere in South Dakota; you have been working in that hot sun all day. Now you knock off work and go home. At home is an ice cold stream running through a cool cellar, a cold beer and most of all a pretty girl. What more could a young man want? My dad had a lot of good memories of his earlier life and that’s the way it should be.

On the other hand, one winter his family lived in tents out in the wilds of South Dakota. It was a major contract and there was too much equipment and livestock to pack up and take home. Even with the old pot belly stoves the tents were never warm; except one. With temperatures as low as fifty below zero and winds blowing fifty miles an hour it was very cold. About all anyone could do was sleep, eat and read. There were hired hands to take care of the livestock. All the animals were put in one very large tent and to keep them warm, the manure was pilled up in the middle of it. Dad said this tent was very warm so this is where they took their baths that winter.

The next time you think about the Dakotas or take a drive through them, remember these stories. Try to reason why anyone would want to take a bath in the middle of all this livestock and manure. That’s another question I wish I had asked him.

I always liked the story dad told about when he was seventeen years old; they were building a railroad and my grandfather sent him on a four day trip by horseback. I could never picture my father, like in the old cowboy movies, riding alone through open country. He couldn’t remember were he was going or why he was going, but he sure remembered that ride. It was somewhere west of the Mississippi River in flat open and mostly unpopulated country. It was to take him two days to get to his destination and then a two day ride back. Grandpa knew a lady that ran a boarding house and had arranged for him to stay overnight there, this was in a town that was about midway on the trip. So the plan was to stay there two nights, once on the way up and once on the way back.

The ride that first day was taking much longer then planned and he remembers seeing very few people. Hot and dirty after riding all day he arrived late at the boarding house. His hoarse was put up in a stable and he was given a hot bath and fed a big dinner. Tired from what he thinks was fourteen or more hours of riding he went to bed because he wanted to get an early start the next day. Dad slept about two hours when he was awaken by a lot of noise, there were men riding up and down the street shooting their guns in the air. He asked the lady at the boarding house what was going on, she told him it was a bunch of drunken cowboys that had just ridded into town and they would be making a lot of noise until the early morning.

Dad got up, got dressed, got his hoarse from the stable and rode on out of town. He made sure he didn’t stop there on the way back. In fact he said the just slept outdoors on the ground on the return trip. Like I wrote before, Dad never did like a lot of noise.

A few years later when dad was about nineteen years old, this would 1915; his father was building a railroad that followed the river in Dubuque Iowa. I think my father talked about this being an electric train and another question I have, was it the Mississippi River? They were living in tents and moving their small town down along the right-a-way; the equipment, livestock, supplies and people. Most of everything his father owned, valued at a several million dollars back then, was down along that river. In those days there weren’t any weather warning systems and it wasn’t raining there.

It had been a hot day and my father decided to pitch his tent down by the river where it was a little cooler. When dad woke up the next morning he found himself and his tent floating down the river along with everything else grandfather owned. Although dad could never swim, he somehow got out of it alive. Dad didn’t remember anyone losing their life, but his dad did loose most of everything he owned. Grandpa declared bankruptcy, one of several times that happened. But, then it was off to New York to see the bankers and borrow money to get back into business. He had a contract to build a railroad and back then, that was like having gold.

My grandfather made and lost fortunes several times, dad talked about this and how it affected his life. He told me how he felt being rich one day and poor the next. This coupled with the depression starting in 1929 is why he would never take a chance on anything. Whereas grandpa always thought and planned for tomorrow to be better, my dad always planned for it to be worse. He came to believe that the only thing worth having was a piece of gold in his pocket. Only at the end of his life did he change his mind about this.

The Lincoln Highway

One of the negative things about the type of work I was involved in most of my life, accounting and managing computer systems, was I couldn’t show my family and friends what I had done. I could show them my big office or the computer room, but that didn’t show them what I had done. While my father was alive we always lived in and around Chicago and he was always showing me what he had built and telling me some of the stories behind each job. I’m not always sure in what order these jobs were done, but I know which were before he married my mother and which were after.

In the early 1920’s dad worked on the first federally funded highway built in the United States, The Lincoln Highway. Originally this was not a government project. This highway was a very important project in its day, books have been written about it (there are currently 22 books available 1/05) and there are several museums and associations dedicated to the history of this road. Two of these organizations are in Illinois. One is the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition, 200 South State St., Belvidere, Il. And the other is The Lincoln Highway Association at 136 N Elm Street in Franklin Grove Illinois which is on the original Lincoln Highway. The original highway ran 3,389 miles from New York City to San Francisco.

When I started to write this story I found a problem because most of the old Lincoln Highway is now US 30. One of dad’s interesting stories was about construction of the highway west of Geneva Illinois one year when they had a major early snow storm. My dad was General Superintendent of Construction working for a large New York road construction company. His job was to buy the livestock and equipment, hire the men, survey and build the road.

He was not ready for winter to set in so early and had not yet made plans for were to "winter" all the livestock and equipment. After the storm he realized there was no way to continue work that year, so he sent all the workers home until the next spring. Most of these men lived in Chicago so they were taken to Geneva were they could catch a train for the city.

He then took his horse and buggy and rode to a nearby farm. He went in and talked to the farmer about taking care of all the livestock over the winter. It took several hours to negotiate the deal and then dad went out to get his horse and buggy for a ride back to Chicago. The horse and buggy were gone. The farmer laughed and said that some boys from the "boys reform school" (St Charles Boy’s Home) had taken his buggy for a joy ride and they would be back soon. He went back inside the farm house for a while and soon the boys returned with everything being alright. The joke for me was eighty years ago boys were stealing buggies to go for a joy ride; they just do it now with cars.

So what’s the difference between my father’s story and what we know as route 30, Lincoln Highway? Route 30 is about ten miles south of the location my dad talked about. I went to the internet to do some research, maybe he made a mistake and this happened on another job. On the internet I found a map from 1930 for the Lincoln Highway through Illinois. The map shows RT 38 from Geneva west, past the boys home, to Sterling Illinois, about 75 miles, was the original Lincoln Highway.

Because I think it’s interesting that my father was involved in the construction of this particular road I’m going to give you a very short history lesson about it. This is from the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition but the information can be found in a number of publications.

"In 1912, Carl Fisher, founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (more about this a little later), had a dream of a highway spanning our continent from one coast to the other. Fisher envisioned a gravel road from New York to San Francisco.

Henry Joy, president of the Packard Motor Car Company, was an early advocate of Fisher’s dream and came up with the idea of naming the highway after Abraham Lincoln.

On July 1, 1913, the coast-to-coast highway was named the Lincoln Highway. Now that the name had been selected, a route for the highway needed to be identified. As far as Joy was concerned, directness was the most important factor. The original 1913 route measured 3,389 miles from New York City to San Francisco."

There was not any government funds involved in this project for several more years and most of the roads to be posted as the "Lincoln Highway" were existing dirt roads. Fisher and Joy had setup an association to finance their work but they never covered any construction cost.

"After weeks of deliberation, Henry Joy presented the route before the annual Conference of Governors. The highway started in New York City’s Times Square. It passed through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California before ending in Lincoln Park in San Francisco. (A later route adjustment would add West Virginia.) The highway’s routing through Illinois circled Chicago so transcontinental travelers could avoid traffic congestion and the corresponding delays." Or was it to avoid politics and payoffs?" This perhaps was the first urban bypass.

On March 20, 1915, the first Complete Official Road Guide of the Lincoln Highway was produced. The 1916 edition included a map, mileage between towns and a three-page list of supplies and equipment that should be taken. In that same year, a nonstop journey from San Francisco to New York City was made in a record-breaking time of 6 days, 10 hours, 59 minutes.

With the United States entry into World War 1 in 1917, railroad congestion from munitions, armaments and personnel transports resulted in a marked increase in truck transport on highways.

The military need for nationwide roadways was further highlighted in 1919 when 56 military vehicles carrying 209 officers and enlisted men left Washington D.C. for a two-month journey to San Francisco via Lincoln Highway. One participant of the Army Transcontinental Motor Convoy was a young lieutenant colonel named Dwight D. Eisenhower. Later during his presidency, Eisenhower would sign the Interstate Highway Act of 1956.

In March 1925, the American Association of State Highway Officials began forming an organized system of numbered highways. Under the new system, nearly two-thirds of the Lincoln Highway’s length was designated U.S. 30. They also adopted a standard set of road signs and markers, and all markers of all named roads would have to be taken down.

Since the old Lincoln Highway directional signs were removed, a new signage project was begun that lead the Boy Scouts of America to place 3,000 monuments along the Lincoln Highway all across the country on September 1, 1928. At an average of about one per mile, they installed small concrete markers carrying a small bust of Lincoln and the inscription, "This highway dedicated to Abraham Lincoln."

Now I’ll tell you the rest of my dad’s story about his part in building this first transcontinental highway. This portion of the original road was dirt and they were now going re-grade the right-a-way, set curves for higher speeds and pour cement.

My father always tried to make sure his men were well fed so they could do the hard work it took to build roads back then. Most of the men couldn’t go home at night after work. After all, it was a full day’s ride back to Chicago. These men were fed and housed in tents right at the job suite. He had been working on this job more than two years when one time, while approving the food order that was being sent to Chicago, my dad added bananas to it. After the food was delivered dad would send a copy of the order and the bill to the General Contractor in New York. "New York" had warned him before about buying things like fruit for his men. This time they sent someone from New York to explain to him that you don’t waste good money buying these "kind of people" bananas.

Dad told them as long as he was in charge his men would be well fed. They said that the company wouldn’t pay for it again and he walked off the job knowing it would hurt his career. A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. What boss nowadays would give up a big job because the company wouldn’t give his employees something as small as a banana? My dad made a lot of mistakes in his life, but he was always a good, honest person.

Again I’ll ask you to go take a drive down route 38 west of Geneva Illinois, past the boy’s home and think about those days when an honest man, a man with a good heart for others, built that part of the Lincoln Highway.

The Years of a Young Man before Marriage

A project that dad didn’t talk much about was when he worked on building the "Brick Yard", the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Earlier I had stated that Carl Fisher was the man who thought up the idea for the Lincoln Highway. Before that happened Fisher and a partner had built an auto race track just outside of Indianapolis. This was a dirt track that was used by the automobile companies to test their cars. Fisher and his partner found that people liked to come and watch these cars racing around the track. These men knew money when they saw it and started charging people for standing there.

It didn’t take long for them to figure out the way to make big bucks was by racing these cars against each other. They started running two and three races a week during the season but found it was too much, the crowds were small. Then it was decided on having just a few big races each season and auto racing as a spectator sport took off.

In 1911 it was decided to redo the track. It would be larger with banked curves and paved with bricks. This is what my father talked about doing, running the grading equipment and banking those turns before the bricks were laid. My father would have only been fifteen years old, could this be? When dad talked about it, he didn’t tell about his age or what year it was, and of course I didn’t think to ask. I believe my dad; I don’t think he ever lied to me about anything. So let’s take a look back at some of the story I have already told you.

My grandfather was a railroad construction contractor, they knew how to grade roads and bank turns. Doing this for automobiles to run on was something new so why not use a railroad construction company. Now remember my fathers’ first job; when he was eleven years old, his father was short on help and behind on a contract, he put him to work driving a team of horses, grading a roadbed. Do you think my dad would do it just that one time, there were no child labor laws and beside that he was part of the family. So I think that at the age of fifteen my dad did drive the horses, and bank the turns, and help to build the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The "500", prior to about 1980, was run on Memorial Day. This would be the day dad would smile and tell me just how those turns were made, the angle, how fast a car could go through the curve. The Brick Yard has been paved over but there is still a row of bricks at the finish line.

Could this also be the connection for dad getting his big job on the Lincoln Highway is his early twenties? Sometimes after all these years the dots seem to connect.

Dad told another story about constructing something other than roads and railroads. I have no idea of how many private projects he worked on but this story had an interesting twist. He talked about being foreman for the building of the Polo Grounds in Oak Brook, Illinois. Paul Butler Sr., who owned thousands of acres in what is now known as Oak Brook, hired my father to build these grounds which are still part of the Butler estate today.

While dad and Paul Butler Sr. were in agreement on the project, Paul Butler Jr. was not and argued with dad often. He would even interfere with the construction. One day when dad had enough of Jr., he went to Paul Butler Sr. and told him that if Jr. did not leave town for the duration of the project he would quit. Paul Sr. sent Paul Jr. to New York and my father never saw or heard from him again.

During these years my father was dating a lot and one of the places he would often take his dates was Riverview Park in Chicago. That was the world’s largest amusement park for many years and it continued to be so all through my teen years. I can’t see dad going on the rides, although he may have, he was young, good-looking, rich and in those days a fun-loving carefree young man. Having been there many times with my girlfriends it’s easy for me to picture him playing all the games. He knew how to shoot a gun and throw a league ball. He knew how to live and he knew how to love, he had hopes and dreams for a good life.

In another time and place, my dad was working in New York. I don’t know if he was talking about the city or just somewhere in the state. He received a telegram from someone in Chicago; I think it might have been an Uncle that did get some Chicago city contracts. The telegram stated that the Lake Street Bridge over the Chicago River was sinking and they wanted him to come and help with the repairs.

Why him? Well, remember he had been general superintendent of highway construction and he was also known as a road construction engineer. He had overseen the construction of a lot of bridges.

The Lake Street Bridge over the Chicago River is a large structure. The ground level is a four lane road, back then street cars ran on this level with all the rest of the heavy traffic into the Chicago Loop. There is a second level to the bridge for L-trains that still run on it today. The traffic and the weight on this bridge were tremendous. The bridge is made with two spans and opened in the center to allow large boats through on the river.

Dad knew he wanted to fix that bridge only once, so the job had to be done right. He finally decided after having test holes bored that they needed to sink pilings under the bridge supports all the way down to bedrock. Sometime in the 1980’s or 90’s I read about the need to repair that Lake Street Bridge and the article stated that the bridge had not had any major repairs in more than fifty years.

Go, take the Lake Street "L" downtown, ride over the Chicago River on that bridge and remember some eighty years ago when this man who then knew how to live and love, and had hopes and dreams for his life, fixed that bridge.

Drusilla Gay BIRD O’Connell

Life before Marriage

Drusilla Gay Bird, named after her mother and grandmother, she was born on March 1, 1905 in Fort Worth Texas she lived to the age of eighty-six, passing away October 2, 1991.

It’s much more difficult to write about my mother’s life than my fathers. Mom’s life was, for the most, very hard and her brief stories were about the bad times. Most people tend to remember the good times and not think too much about the bad ones. It’s what helps get us through life. My mother almost always talked about the problems, the fights, and the grief.

To begin to understand my mother you must know about her childhood. As with most of us, she was a product of those early years. This is when our minds and personalities are formed.

Drusilla was the daughter of a poor Texas dirt farmer, which is someone that raised some vegetables, a little cotton, always a few chickens and most of the time a cow. They weren’t raising livestock, it wasn’t a Texas ranch. There were no tractors, instead a horse, plow and a lot of hard work just to live from day to day.

The only way a poor farmer could get enough cheep help was to have a lot of children. My grandmother Bird had fifteen children, my mother was number twelve.


Father – Thomas Jefferson Bird – Born 1861 – Died 1931, 70 years of age

Married 1883

Mother – Drusilla Gay Bird (Gay) – Born 1868 – Died Feb 4, 1948, 80 years of age

Children of Thomas and Drusilla Bird – 10 boys, 5 girls

1. Thomas Jefferson (George) – (1884) died at birth

2. Gus Jefferson – (1885-1886)

3. Gertrude (Gertie) – (1886 – 1911) died at age 25 during child birth Married name "Cleckler", see 1910 Fed census (Cleckler ?)

4. Albert (1889 – 1908) died at age 19 from burst appendix

5. Hugh Orlando (1890 – 1964)

6. Jeff Augustus (Gus) - (1893 – 1954)

7. Guy Rowland (1896 – 1949)

8. Harriet Melinda (Hattie) – (1898 – 1990)

9. Thomas Jefferson (Tom) – (1899 – 1969)

10. ? Bobbie or Dorra ?

11. John William (Johnny) – (1903 - )

12. Drusilla Gay (March 1, 1905 – Oct. 2, 1991)

13. Anna Bell (1909 – 1910)

14. Richard Bruno (Dick) – (1910 – 1979)

15. Frank Lafayette (1913 – June 20, 1994)

One of Mom’s earliest memories was being in a covered wagon moving from Texas to Oklahoma. My mother would have been about five and the year would be 1910 or 1911. The 1910 census shows them living in Texas, then my Uncle Dick was born in Oklahoma in 1911(1920 census). They would have moved back to Texas by 1913 because my Uncle Frank was born there.

The family returned to Texas after a bad experience when they tried farming in Oklahoma. Mom only remembers her mother’s stories about what had gone wrong. Her father had several bad years farming in Texas and was hoping for some better soil and a little more rain.

I’ll go to my grave believing in the high level of intelligence my mother had. This is the beginning of the story on why Drusilla became such a hard person. There are many parts to the story but being so smart made her life that much harder. Her farther just did not believe that girls should go to school, so mom was only allowed to attend for three years.

I never saw anything that mom could not read. She read the Bible, a lot of paper back books and newspapers. I never saw any basic math that mom couldn’t do. Just think what a difference a few more years in school would have made in her life. She was always bitter about her lack of formal education, but then Drusilla was always bitter about what life had handed her.

Growing up as a girl on a farm was another bitter pill. She would always hear someone saying how sorry they felt for the boys because of how hard they had to work in the fields. Her dad and brothers would work from sunup to sundown six days a week and after church on Sundays.

Mom had to get up at three AM seven days a week to help her mother fix a big breakfast for everyone. After breakfast she had to help with the dishes and cleaning the house. Then she had to work in the fields with the boys, go back to the house and pick up the lunch that her mom had packed, take it to the "boys", work in the fields after lunch, go home and help her mother fix supper and then help clean up while the boys rested.

Are you starting to understand what a hard, unfair life she had? Well, it gets worse. For now I’m going to tell you about her childhood, if you can call it that, by today’s standards we would call it slavery and put her parents in jail but, life was different then. I’ll tell you another very important thing; she loved her mother and father. She held them accountable for these unfair things, but she loved both of them.

The family still used a fireplace to heat the house and sometimes it would be kept burning for days. Fort Worth can get cold. They seldom see snow but it does happen, even now when it starts to snow there the city shuts down. They don’t have any snow plows or salt trucks. Note: February, 2010 they had ten inches of snow. What did they do?

When mom was eight years old, her younger brother, Frank age two, fell face first into the fireplace. His face was burnt real badly. Mom was there when it happened and remembers one of her uncles brushing the hot coals out of his face. Uncle Frank underwent numerous operations throughout his life but his face remained badly scared.

Only his face was scared though, not his hart and sole. He was a good husband and father of three. He had his own painting business; He worked hard and took good care of his family.

Financially for my mother’s family there were some good years. There was always a lot of hard work, but sometime after coming back from Oklahoma life improved. Uncle Tom told me the story about him and some of his brothers along with their dad building army barracks during WWI (1914–1918). That may be when their dad got the money to buy some property. My grandfather had a nice strip of farm land on the edge of Fort Worth. The city had become the biggest cow town in the South and things were booming. Besides farming my grandfather opened a store and had gas pumps.

Now we call it a "quick mart", then it was a general store. The family had some hired help for the farm and the store. Mom still had to get up at three AM and help to fix breakfast; now there were just more faces to feed. Insert picture

below is a picture of mom when she was fourteen. This was taken in the spring of 1919 on the family farm. Back row L-R her brother John “Johnny” BIRD (1907-?), Drusilla Gay BIRD O'Connell (1905-1991), D front row, brother Frank Lafayette BIRD (1910-1994), their borther's baby Guy Edward “Eddie” Alford BIRD (1919-1991), (son of Jeff Augustus “Gus” BIRD (1893-1954) the youngest brother, Richard “Dick” Bruno BIRD (1910-1979). Photo taken in 1919, in Birdville, Tarrant County, Texas.

The above picture is of my mother when she was sixteen. She was a very good looking girl but didn’t date much. Mom dated a man about forty for a while. He asked her to marry him but she told him no because she did not love him.The story of my farther and mother meeting follows.

The Life and Times of Harry and Drusilla

My mom and dad meet sometime around 1922 – 1923. As I have already written, dad had lived a very good life, for the most part. He had about everything he wanted. He had grown up as the oldest son of the owner of a large railroad construction company. He was the son of the boss and later he was the boss. He had lived a fast life, a fun life. Mom, on the other hand, had known mostly hard times; the daughter of a poor Texas farmer. She had dreams and hopes of having a life.

My father was working for the State of Texas, building a highway near Fort Worth. One day, he was sitting in a barber shop getting a haircut when this beautiful girl walked by. He asked the barber if he knew her. The barber laughed and told him that she would never go out with him. Well my father was good looking, well off financially for those days, and had a good job.

I think he had also been spoiled rotten and was not used to being told no.

He found out the girls name was Drusilla Bird and that she went to a Baptist Church. Now, this good Catholic boy followed this pretty Baptist girl to church one Sunday morning. He sat down behind her and when she put her arm on the back of the pew, he took hold of her hand. She did what any good Southern Baptist girl should do. She turned around and slapped him right across his face. This of course was not the end of it. I never heard what his next move was but he must have improved on his approach or I would not be writing about this, or for that matter, about anything.

This occurred at the time mom’s family owned a general store and a vegetable farm. Dad spent a lot of his spare time helping out around the store and his future father and mother-in-law took a real liking to him. Then he won the hearts of all the family. My mother told me this story, I asked my father about it and he said yes, it was true.

One day his bride-to-be told dad that her father was going to loose the store and all of his land. This was scheduled to happen the next morning because of overdue property taxes that they had no way of paying. The next day, while the family was setting around wondering if there was anything they could do to save the place; my father walked in and gave them a paid receipt for the taxes. If that man had a dime he would give it to others in need before he would spend it on himself.

Sometime between being slapped in the face at church and marrying my mother, they went on a trip down to the Rio Grande Valley around Brownsville Texas. This would be in February of 1924. This must have been a really big deal for my mother who certainly didn’t travel much. I have pictures that were taken then. I have pictures of mom and dad with mom’s brother Tom and his wife Trenie. There are pictures of dad hunting with a rifle and holding up what looked like quail. Dad told me he also hunted Jack Rabbits. According to his story, Texas Jack Rabbits could stand three feet high.

At the time Mom thought this was a wonderful trip. They sang and danced, laughed and loved, and drank the nights away in Mexico. Two young people starting on a trip through life together but, these were to be their best days. When mom talked about these times with me she called them "wicked". She felt that God never forgave her for what she had done and a lot of what followed was her punishment. I know that’s not true, I was much more evil and with me it went on for years, but God forgave me and blessed me after I turned back to him.

Mom and dad were married in Dallas Texas on his twenty-eight birthday, March 22, 1924. They were married for almost fifty-five years. I wish I could write that they were all happy ones, but there were many more bad days than good days throughout their marriage. I do think that in the end they loved each other very much.

The Married Years

Soon after they were married, my parents moved to Chicago, my father’s family were living there at the time. In October of 1924 their first of four sons was born at West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park, Illinois. The town of Oak Park was where Chicago’s wealthy families lived at the time and having their baby at that hospital showed that my parents were doing well financially. In 1960 my first son Todd was born in the same hospital.

Dad had a job at the time as general superintendent of construction on what was the original "River Road". That road ran along the Des Plaines River just west of Chicago. The road still runs on most of the same right-of-way today. At the beginning of construction they were living with my paternal grandparents somewhere on the south side of Chicago. This would be sometime between 1924 and 1928. My mom and dad both talked to me about this time in their life, I think they remembered it as the "good old days"

Dad would take the Irving Park streetcar to the end of the line which was Narragansett Ave. at the Chicago Read Medical Health Center. From there he walked about five miles to the River Road construction sight. Dad went out on Monday morning and stayed until Friday night. My mother, being nineteen years old, having a baby and living with her in-laws, was not happy with this arrangement. So, dad got a big tent and they lived the way he had lived growing up.

About a half of block west of River Road today on Irving Park road you can find a short street that runs north a few blocks and connects up with River Road and there is a sign that reads "Old River Road". On the north east corner of that street is were they lived with their first son, in a tent, until the job was done. They stayed with his parents during the winter while construction was shut down. When mom talked about this, she was never complaining, she seamed to have enjoyed it.

One day many years later, in the late 1960’s, I was with my father at the Harlem and Higgins Newsstand that he owned, when this old man walked up and asked my father if he was the Harry O’Connell that had built River Road back in the nineteen twenties. My father said yes and the old guy told us he had worked for dad building that road and that my dad was the best boss he had ever had in his life. This was just one of the times when I believe that God planned to make sure I knew just who my father really was. How could you want to write the story of someone’s life unless you knew the value of that story and that life?

Now I’ve heard the story from my father about clearing and surveying the land, about building up the roadbed along the river and building retaining walls and paving the road. I’ve heard the stories from my mother about living in a tent with her husband and baby, cooking outdoors, washing cloths in the river and loving life. I’ve heard the story from a stranger about my dad being his boss on this job and the best boss he had ever had in his life. And, I can still show you where it all happened. Go take a walk along Irving Park Road through the forest preserve and across the Des Plaines River to River Road. Stop and look at the spot where the tent was.

Sometime after the River Road job and before 1929 my parents moved to Texas, somewhere in the Dallas, Fort Worth area. Dad had gotten a job with the state of Texas constructing a road. My mother was about to make what I think was the first of two really bad decisions that would effect the family for the rest of our lives. Dad and mom both told me these stories, each from their own perspective. I never told either of them that the other had talked to me about it.

During these years mom’s dad was sub-dividing his farm in Fort Worth and building houses. Remember this is the land my father had saved for them by paying the back taxes. You can still see this street and several houses that were built by my grandfather. Just east of Interstate 35W and less than a mile north of Airport Freeway (Rt. 121); you will find "Bird St.". This is about six miles north of downtown Fort Worth. Originally it was a dirt road through his farm, up to the house. He extended the road, named it after himself, subdivided some of the land, and him and a couple of his sons started building houses. My uncle Tom, full name Thomas Jefferson Bird, their seventh son; showed me the street and houses in 1966. Uncle Tom had helped his dad build most of them and he and his family were living in one of them when my mom and dad came back from Illinois.

I’ve seen the old family house; it’s where my mother was born. It is a good size, two story, home painted all white with two large columns rising from ground level to the top of the house supporting a roof over the entrance. Uncle Tom told me that most of the houses on both sides of that same block were built by them. The family was still farming the land around them and running the general store.

My dad and mom’s dad got together and drew up plans to build a house for mom; it was to be a surprise. At some point in time she found out about it, she became very angry and told them she would never live in it because she had no input into the design. I don’t know why they couldn’t work together on it after that, but I know it was another forty years before they had their first house. The blame was not all on mom; it was dad’s fault also.

The next big problem they had would change their lives forever, and the lives of the entire nation. The great depression of 1929 hit and like most others in those days their world came down. The story that follows covers twenty five-years. They had a quarter of a century of a hard life, broken and lost dreams lying in front of them.

Right after the stock market crash in October of 1929 dad lost his job as a Highway Engineer for the state of Texas. Most state and federal projects were shut down to save the government’s money, adding greatly to the depression. Today the federal government will add projects and even cut taxes during a recession to spur the economy. States still have never figured it out. Most state constitutions do not allow deficit spending so at the first sign of an economic turndown states cut projects, lay off people and make the problem worse. There is a way to fix this, save some money (heaven forbid) during the good times. Well, back to the way life was in 1929.

Now it was my father’s turn for stupidity. This is another story about things and times that should never have happened in their lives. Now we sink into the quagmire of the family history. I don’t like to even think about it, let alone write about it. This is not about sin, this is about stupidity and hurt and pain. Why write about it? Because you must understand that Drusilla was not the only problem and dad, as much as I still love him, was also at fault for all the bad years and the heart ache that followed.

They were living in Dallas and mom had been doing some part time work sewing, and was very good at it. In spite of the depression, business was still good for the people who employed her. They had a lot of work and offered mom a full time job at what she said was good pay. My father had never seen his mother work, most of the time they had servants to clean the house and take care of the children. He told mom that no wife of his was going to work full time to support the family. With no money to pay the rent or feed her child she took the job.

I remember my brother Thomas talking about when they lived in Dallas, he would have been about five years old. He said he would get his little red wagon and take it down to the corner and sit in it waiting for his mother to come home from work. I ask mom about that and she said yes, every day he would be waiting. Mom came home from work one day to an empty house. Dad had taken Thomas and left a note that did not say where they were going. Think about that. In those days a mother had no rights, she couldn’t go to the police. This shouldn’t have ever happened and for this one thing my mother had to endure, I will forgive anything and everything she ever did or said that I didn’t like.

Knowing my father didn’t have a job she guessed that he would go to Chicago where his family was. She wrote letters to him and mailed them to his parents. His parents wrote back that while they wouldn’t reveal where he was, they told her that he and Thomas were OK.

According to both mom and dad, it was a long time before mom went to Chicago to look for them; mom thought maybe a year and a half or two. She went to his sister’s house and to see his parents, and was still told they wouldn’t say were her husband and son was. They did tell her that Harry knew she was in town.

Drusilla settled in for the long run. She was always a fighter; this is what got the family through these hard times. My father would give up and quit; with him it was OK to be a bum. He told me again and again he wished he had been a hobo, and I think he really meant it. Mom never thought about quitting. Life was doing everyday what you needed to do to keep your family and you alive. She never had much, all she knew was hand-me-down clothes and to work hard seven days a week. This is what life had handed her and she would do her best to make something out of it.

Mom found a place to live and despite the depression she also found a job. This is now late 1931 or early 1932. I think her first job, at this time, was sewing but a little latter she went to work at a printing company called Meyercord. I worked at Meyercord from 1966 to 1981 and you’ll read a lot about those years in the story of my life.

One of the really good stories about Drusilla the fighter occurred when she worked at Meyercord. You need to think about who and what she was, how she was raised and what she was going through. She was a twenty six year old white southern girl who was raised believing that black people didn’t even drink from the same water fountain or use the same washroom as white folk. I don’t condone bigotry, we all know better now, or we should. But, this is the way life was for Drusilla and this is her story.

Mom was told that this one big black woman bullied everyone else around and you did what she said or you could get hurt. Soon after mom started work at Meyercord the bully decided to get this little southern girl in line and she sat down at the lunch table across from Drussie. This lunchroom/cafeteria was in the basement of the four story factory and had about forty long rectangular tables that would seat ten people each. This was not a nice dinning room but a plain drab room, painted gray with all the pipes in the ceiling exposed, and it looked like the basement of a factory. The bully then started to give mom a lot of mouth about Texas and how things were going to be different in Chicago. She then physically threatened my mom. Drusilla went over the top of the table and scratched her face and eyes, pulled her hair and beat her to a pulp, hardly getting hurt much herself. The bully never bothered anyone again at Meyercord and a lot of people thanked mom for taking care of her. Life was bad enough without having someone bully you. I don’t believe I ever saw anyone scare my mother. Some thirty-four years latter in the summer of 1966, I sat in that same lunchroom thinking about this story. Now let’s go back to the story about my mother looking for her family.

Mom would write a letter every day and mail it to dad in care of her In-law’s. Several months had gone by and everyday mom would go to the same mailbox, on a street corner close to were she lived, and mail her letter. One day as she went to reach out and put her letter in the box, dad reached out and took hold of her hand. After approximately two and a half years she got to see her son again. That scene could be right out of a movie, but in a movie things would be wonderful and the three of them would walk off into the sunset. In this real story, things were going to get much worse.

Thomas was now about eight years old, and was having a lot of trouble in school. He could not remember most of what was being taught. Because of that, he was being teased by the other kids, and was fighting quite often with them. At home he became unruly and he and dad fought a lot. The ways and means, including money, were not available to give him any real help.

My paternal grandfather, who had sold his railroad construction company and purchased several apartment buildings, had a big mortgage on them. After years of economic depression, most of his tenants couldn’t pay their rent and grandpa couldn’t pay the mortgage. So, he went bankrupt for the final time, never again to regain the wealth he once had. Future generations must learn something from all our ancestors, the Bird’s and the O’Connell’s.

My brother Frank has set the example, he knew better than any of us three boys how difficult life was in those days. Live some, save some, and don’t dig the financial hole so deep that you can’t recover. Don’t depend on anyone else, including the government, to take care of you. Things can happen that you have no control over, so have a backup plan. Plan on another depression, it could happen. Both Mark Bird and my Grandfather John O’Connell have others to blame for being poor in their old age, but blaming others is not going to help you.

My mother was the one who told me about my paternal grandfather and all of his women. It seems that every time he remade his millions, he also spent a lot of it on lovely young ladies. My grandmother knew about them, and she was the one that told my mother. My father also knew about it, and he knew how much it hurt his mother. The history of John Kennedy’s life tells the story of his grandfather, his father, his father-in-law and him, and all their very open womanizing. There is something about having too much money that tends to destroy our souls. It not only affects us, but our whole family. As Jesus said, it will be easier for a rich man to go through the eye of a needle then to get into heaven. Thank God for grace.

Dad had several jobs during the depreciation. He worked for a house painting company in Oak Park for a while. His job was to paint the trim work inside and outside of these big homes. He liked this job and thought it was what he would continue to do for a living. Then, one of his uncles won a contract to raise some of the railroads in Chicago above street level. The city was then going to have viaducts built to carry the trains over the streets and ease the traffic jams. Dad’s uncle asked him to be general superintendent. At first dad said no, then mom found out about it and told him he had to help his uncle and he took the job. My father had talked to me about the work and how he accomplished the job. After his death I was talking to my mother about it, and she told me of her part in his taking the job.

The job called for the elevation work to be done while the trains kept running. His uncle asked him how he was going to accomplish this. Dad explained that he was going to do it with thousands of hydraulic jacks. Holes were dug under the ends of the railroad ties, and the jacks placed in them. Then they gradually jacked up the tracks and kept filling in under them. I don’t know which lines dad raised or how many miles were involved but they were both proud of how it helped the city. When I take the train into the city, or on occasion drive under one of its viaducts, I always wonder if this is the one dad worked on.

After the job was finished, dad tried to go back to painting but no one would hire him. His mom had passed away sometime during these years and his dad was living with them. This was before Social Security and the only income my grandfather had was a very small government check that was for poor people. Granddad was destitute, without my parent’s help he would live in a poor house or on the street.

Eventually, my parents ran out of money from that last job. Mom told me they were laying in bed one morning worrying about how they were going to buy food and pay the rent when someone knocked on the door. There was a telegram from the government stating they had a job for him working as a nutritious. Dad had fed a lot of people when they were out building the railroads and highways, now he would help feed the poor.

Dad sat at a desk, yes a desk, and interviewed people who were on welfare. They would tell him how many people were in their family, how old they were and if they had any special dietary problems. Most people weren’t very particular about what they were given. Soup kitchen lines were very long and usually all you got was soup and bread. So, when the government was going to write up a food order for you and deliver it to your door, you didn’t question what they were sending, you just said thanks. It was a different world; most people didn’t feel "entitled". If you made it through the day and had a roof over your head and a little food to eat, you thanked God and then asked him to help your family make it through one more day.

Almost everyone had learned to work hard, that’s what life was all about back then. It didn’t matter if you grew up on a farm or in the city you had to help the family. Unemployment was around twenty five percent, but having a job didn’t put you on easy street. Wages were low, the hours were long, and the work was hard. There was no job protection, no workmen’s compensation, and no unemployment insurance. Most of the working people were "working poor".

A lot of this could have been avoided through better planning and decisions being made by individuals and families. There are still many people who have not learned how to help guard against this happening to them. Save, invest, and diversify those investments; keep expanding your knowledge by continuing your education. Yes this is hard work, but that’s what it has always taken, today it’s just a different type of work.

The one major problem present today that was not present during the great depression is the amount of credit that the average person has. Never pay anyone twenty two percent interest on the money they loan you. When I was younger the government called this "usury" and had laws against it that would put the people making these loans in jail. These laws were mostly aimed at the Mob, the Underworld, and now we let our banks charge these kind of rates legally. I believe this is a sin! I believe God is going to hold some people accountable for this.

If a bank pays you two percent interest on your deposits and loans that money out at twenty two percent, they have twenty percent income on your money, not their money, your money. Then they have their fees, late fees, fees for asking questions about their bookkeeping, and you had better never, never have a check bounce because if you have any money left they will surly take it. There are ways for you to guard against these problems. People who have money don’t let these things happen to them, or they don’t have their money for long. A day of reckoning will come when the "haves" will be held accountable for plundering what little the "have-nots" have.

My mother and father both talked about dad getting this government job because it was one of the few bright spots during those long hard years. Dad didn’t make much money but it paid the rent, bought some clothes and whatever additional food they needed after the government truck stopped everyday. The big government surpluses were butter and cheese. They had plenty to eat and dad saw that his neighbors also had plenty.

Franklin D. Roosevelt became President of the United States in 1933. My parents almost worshiped him. After that they were "Democrats". I now assume that it was sometime after Roosevelt became president that my father became a nutritionist; the time line fits. Welfare was started, WPA put people to work, the lend/lease program with Britain in support of their war effort helped manufacturing expand.

The country started coming out of the great depression and the future once again started to look a little brighter for mom and dad. After a lot of grief over their first son, Harry Thomas, they decided to have another child. Their second son was borne in November of 1935, eleven years after Thomas. He was born in Texas and they named him Frank.

When the depression ended the government cut back on its social programs and dad’s job as a nutritious came to an end. For awhile, dad and his brother-in-law Jack Robinson started their own business. They rented a store front in about the twelve hundred block of West Washington Blvd. One time when my father and I were riding by on a bus, he showed me the store. It was on the south-east corner across the street from a major Ford dealer.

At that time the Chicago Police Department was purchasing all their cars from that dealership and my dad and uncle were installing radios in those police cars. Would I like to talk to him about how they got that work; knowing that everything in Chicago’s government took a little money in someone’s pocket back then. I’m sure that being Irish also helped. The business only lasted for about a year and then they closed up.

To Be Contunued.


Harry Bartholomew O'CONNELL and Drusilla Gay BIRD OíConnellís 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1974.

Some Thoughts about Life and Why I’m Writing This Story

Most of us will never be so great a person as to have others write about our lives. After the "dust-to-dust" we shall soon be forgotten. If we have a message to give or a story that we think needs to be passed on to the next generation then we, ourselves, must write it. Winston Churchill once said "I am not afraid of what history will say about me because I intend to write it".

For everything under God’s sun there is a time and a purpose. After our death, our time will be known, but will anyone know our purpose? For better or for worse, for good or about evil, I feel this story needs to be told. Most of us have some of both sides to tell. Who did we help and who did we hurt? In the end how will we be judged by those that we have met along the way? But then, all that is really important will be how does God judge us? For he will judge us!

A quote from Emerson’s "Compensation"

"A man cannot speak but he judges himself. With his will or against his will he draws his portrait to the eye of his companions by every word. Every opinion reacts on him who utters it. It is a thread-ball thrown at a mark, but the other end remains in the thrower’s bag. Or rather, it is a harpoon thrown at the whale, unwinding as it flies a coil of cord in the boat, and if the harpoon is not good, or not well thrown, it will go nigh to cut the steersman in twain or sink the boat."

I first read this quote by Emerson, around 1980, after I had already thrown the harpoon. I had not thrown it well, I had hurt a lot of people and I did help sink a boat. I intend to be careful in regard to what and how I write; and stay with the facts as I know them.

I remember a loving, truthful father who had given up on life. I remember a very hard working, loving, God fearing, but angry mother who saw her dream of life fade away. I remember the bad times, but mostly I remember the good times. I remember the sad side of my parent’s lives, but mostly I remember that they loved me. Sometimes it’s very hard to go on writing these stories; sometimes I can remember these times like they just happened yesterday.

"I Remember" is a story or a lot of short stories, about the life and times of my family and me, and of the people I’ve met along the way.

These stories begin with my ancestry, then my father and mother; who they were, where they came from, their life and times. I believe that if you don’t know and understand these things, these people, you won’t fully know and understand yourself. What a shame to get to the end of life and not know who, or what, conspired to shape your personality and help determine your destiny.

I believe that my children, grandchildren, and their children should know these stories. I hope some of them will continue to add their stories to it including names, dates and places. You may think that your life and your thoughts are not very interesting, but a hundred years, or more, from now it will be intriguing information for those generations.

I trust this is interesting reading for anyone who wants to indulge. It’s my story, the way I remember it.

John Martin O’Connell © 2007  


Linton Research Fund Inc., Publication © 1987-2023 "Digging for our Roots"