52 Ancestors #21: Lucy Jane Land

Lucy Jane Land was the daughter of the farmer. She lived to the ripe old age of 92 and was spry until the very last year of her life. She was third of 14 children, born on February 17, 1857 to Overton and Mary Ellen (Prather) Land.

Lucy is my paternal 2nd great grandmother. 

Raised in Cottage Grove in Saline County, Lucy was the first of her siblings to be born in Illinois. The family moved from Garrand County, Kentucky (near Lexington) in 1855. She attended school at least through the age of 13 and, unlike her parents, was able to read and write.

1870 Census Lucy Land

1870 Census, Saline County, IL, Lucy Land

On December 20, 1877, Lucy married Joseph Dunn (1850-1930), an Ohio native and son of a shoe maker turned farmer. Joseph and his family lived in Ohio until after the Civil War, when they moved to Saline County where Joseph’s father began farming.

Together, Lucy and Joseph had 10 children:

Sophrona (1878-1927)
Edith (1880-1960)
Lydia (1882-1960)
Josephene (b. 1883)
Clara Agnes (1885-1983, my great-grandmother)
Amos (1888-1962)
Henry (1890-1960)
Mary Ellen (1893-1995)
Georgia (1896-1970)
Bert (1898-1979)

On being a midwife

In her younger years, Lucy was a midwife. She lived long enough to see those she helped deliver early on live to be old men and women. While she gave birth to her own 10, she helped countless others through the process.

Childbirth has historically been a dangerous and painful venture, and it was no different in the days of Lucy’s midwifery profession. Women gave birth at home with female friends and relatives surrounding them. Men still weren’t allowed unless in emergency situations. Midwives intervened as little as possible, allowing the birth to proceed at a natural state. Women, on average, had seven children in their lifetime … some many more … and each posed its own risk. Some women were lucky to apprentice (sort of) with seasoned midwives, but many simple learned their trade through experience.

We’ve probably all seen historical movies where babies were born and can somewhat picture the scene. The personal aftermath, however, isn’t usually depicted. Women went through postpartum depression without medical help we have today, they suffered physical changes that were often painful and irreversible … and potentially hindered future successful pregnancies or births. The women in my family had more than their average seven kids, too … can you imagine? I can’t.

The Social Brethren

Lucy was also a member of the Social Brethren faith, a denomination that was organized in August 1867 in Saline County by individuals who had grown unsatisfied with teachings of their own faiths. Those from Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian denominations formed the core group. They basically created a religious movement that reflected their views and beliefs at the time. In 1887, the loosely functioning organization formalized by adopting a statement of doctrine governing churches and the ordination of ministers.

I often run across pieces of information that elude to the religious background of my ancestors. While I’m not an overly religious person myself, I certainly understand the place of the Church (any church, really) on our history. In southern Illinois’ early days, the Church was as much a social place as it was a place of worship. There weren’t many opportunities to be social, short of work-related ventures like harvesting or house raisings.

Preachers were honored guests in our homes and, at least around here, were often paid in meat and other tangible goods … not often money.

A Long Life Lived

Lucy was a lot like other women in southern Illinois at the time. The lives of nearly all my female ancestors read the same … mom, farmer’s wife, house keeper, midwife, church-goer. Yet, they each have their own story … and they each led to me.

Lucy Jane Land Dunn Gravestone

Lucy Land, Wolf Creek Cemetery, Eldorado, IL

At the age of 92, Lucy contracted pneumonia. She died on January 4, 1950. She left one brother, nine children, 24 grandchildren, 36 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great grandchildren. She was able to celebrate her 92nd birthday with seven of her children and their families, along with four other relatives … one of whom was my Dad’s father, Joab Moore (Lucy’s grandson).

1945 Harrisburg Daily Register

1945 Harrisburg Daily Register

I think my family tree just grew another branch.

Lucy celebrated many of her later birthdays with family dinners … accounts are all mentioned in the local newspaper shortly after the dinner dates. My dad was in attendance for Lucy’s 80th birthday. He would have been almost 4 months old at the time. I have this picture in my mind of an 80-year old woman smiling as she meets her great grandson for the first time.



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