Stateline Travelers Part 9 –
A “Shack Beautiful” Cinderella Story and Me;
The Very Modest Cottage
July 9, 2017
by Vicki Ruthe Hahn, SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter
Part of an On-going Series – Stateline Travelers
This Posting of the Stateline Travelers is the story that caused me to start this series about “people” moving across state lines, (and my series “Other Travelers”), in the first place. Stateline Travelers Part 9 A “Shack Beautiful” Cinderella Story and Me; The Very Modest Cottage was only going to be one Post, but I realized it was linked to so much more. The Posts in the Other Travelers Series are stories that are connected to me, but are other than stateline experiences.
If you remember, I have connections from south central Wisconsin (Walworth and Rock Counties) all the way down to central western Illinois (Winnebago, McHenry, and McDonough Counties). The other Posts in the series have gotten us to the point where I can finally segue way into my connections to this little shack. In this case, the “person” who moved across state lines is a building. This particular building has a unique connection to me, and other people that I know.
Hint- studying a building’s history can tell you a lot about the people who are associated with the building. Did you know that you can do genealogy of a building, house, or place?
Patrons come to the Beloit Public Library all of the time to look up the history of their houses. Sometimes it is to see who is haunting it! Sometimes it is just to know more about the people who had resided in it before them, and to see how old it is. We have some nice big maps and City Directories of Beloit throughout history.
The Very Modest Cottage and Me
The cottage started its travels in Beardstown Illinois, which is along the Illinois River and about 38 miles north of my childhood Table Grove area farm home. I grew up hearing “Beardstown” in the local news and weather. I will have to ask my Mom what events we attended there in my childhood. I am remembering fish fry picnics there. Even though we moved when I was 7, we visited my paternal grandmother many times per year in Table Grove.
In Sugar Creek Township, north of Elkhorn, there is a very modest cottage near where I live now . The shack was moved from Beardstown (central) Illinois north across the stateline 200 miles to its new home and sixth life.
Tereasa had come across the shack while visiting her grandmother in Beardstown. When Tereasa bought the shack, she did an extensive search for its history with countless interviews of locals, and the genealogy search of library and courthouse records to get accurate history. She discovered 6 previous lives of her shack, and several previous moves!
“A Very Modest Cottage”, by Tereasa Surratt, is a beautiful book full of tales and photographs about the history, moving, remodeling, decorating, and transformation of a shack into a cozy, welcoming guest cottage in a new location. It is inspiration for the methods, and a final keepsake, of how you can trace the history of your own house. Her book tells the stories of two locations.
You can get a better feel for whom your ancestors were by discovering the places that they lived in and how local, national, and world events and history affected their life decisions and experiences.
I did that very thing, by reading the Morgan County, Ohio history “mug” book on our WHS Wisconsin Historical Society trip, to find out more about my elusive ancestor Thomas Campbell and his wife Mary Jane Adams.
On our WHS fieldtrip 2 years ago, I thought I had traced them back to Ireland. The WHS librarian advised me to try a different family in the interest of time, as those names in Ireland would be too numerous to search effectively until I learned more. He also knew that the Pennsylvania County that I was looking for had not been created yet.
Hint – ask the staff as you research at societies and libraries.
Of course the librarian was right. I have since found that it was a few more generations back to when that family had “crossed the pond” from Scotland to America. I traced my relatives from Pennsylvania to Ohio where Thomas Campbell had a connection to the Underground Railroad. (Read “Other Travelers Part 9 – The Underground Railroad and Me; My Ancestor Thomas Campbell was an Abolitionist!” posted on June 29, 2017). Search “travelers“ to find the other Postings in my two series “Stateline Travelers”, and ”Other Travelers”.
As a librarian, reader, writer, photographer, and creative person, I just appreciate a beautiful book and Tereasa’s creativity and work.
The Beloit Public Library staff was so delighted with my copy of the book, that they purchased two copies – one for the Genealogy collection, and one to check out. It is a how to book on researching the genealogy of a building.
The modest 91/2″ X 7 1/2″ book of 175 pages reflects the 12ft x 12 ft 1920s shack, yet it is such a little gem of a book that you may want a copy for yourself. $25 at:
Yes, I do know Tereasa because she lives in the area near me – in the summer and weekends. She and her husband David Hernandez are also stateline travelers – from their jobs at an Ad Agency in Chicago to their private “country resort”, Camp Wandawega.
The Modest Cabin is one of their many resort residences that one can rent for a vacation get-away – “private, vintage pair of cabins overlooks the lake and wetlands, nestled within the legendary Wandawega Lake Resort, aka Camp Wandawega. Lake Wandawega http://www.wandawega.com/
I am getting to know this whole area of Walworth County. There are a lot of great historic stories that I will be posting here. And it started with this gem.