Julia Stephenson Chally from Dr. Craig Stevenson's History compiled 1984
Julia Chally was called Guro at her birth in Norway on March 28, 1867. She had little opportunity to gain an education during her childhood. However, she did attend confirmation classes at South Lisbon Church, even though she had to walk six miles each way to class. After class she walked an additional mile and one half in order to care for the children of her relatives the Pattersons.
At an early age Julia began working as a hired girl, keeping house for neighboring families.
On March 27, 1888, Julia and John R. Chally were united in marriage. Julia, who was twenty-one, and John, twenty-seven, both attended West Lisbon Church, the ceremony was held at the home of the bride’s parents. Reverend P. A. Rasmussen officiated. John, the son of Rasmus and Sara Chelde, was born on a forty acre farm in Section 4 of Nettle Creek Township of Grundy County, Illinois. Rasmus Chelde died when John was still a lad, forcing adult responsibilities on the young boy. John had purchased an eighty acre farm, situated just east of the farm on which he was born, from the estate of his father.
All of John and Julia’s children were born on this farm. Their oldest child Siri (Sarah) was born December 29, 1888. Randolph Lewis was born on January 23, 1891 and another son, Henry Lawrence, followed on August 24, 1893. A third son, Abel Martin, was born July 12, 1898, and the next child Leonard arrived on February 25, 1896.
Farm life was demanding and John and Julia worked very hard. Since John felt that all his land should be put to some use, he dug a well in the center of a timbered area 120 rods from the house and kept the milk cows there in the summer. This meant that Julia milked the cow in the woods, and then carried the heavy pails 120 rods to the house.
John was part owner (with his brother Erick) of a horse drawn threshing machine. Erick owned a farm across the road from the Challys, in Big Grove Township, Kendall County. Eight other local farmers worked in their threshing crew.
The Challys raised enough livestock to feed their own family, as did most farmers of the day. They butchered the livestock, made bologna, smoked meat and canned the remainder. The feet of the pig were put in a thick brine to make pickled pigs’ feet. Milk was kept in crocks in the cellar for a few days. Then the cream was skimmed off and the milk was churned in a wooden churn until one could feel the butter separate. The butter chunks were then removed and kneaded by hand until all the buttermilk was squeezed out. Finally the butter was stored in crocks.
After the turn of the century, three more children were born: Ann Jevean on March 8, 1901; Iva Hazel on July 21, 1904; and Edna Louise on November 29, 1906.
The children enjoyed their childhood years on the farm. Martin, in particular, always seemed on the lookout for something exciting to do. One day he wanted to show off in front of the neighbor children. He climbed to the top of the windmill, grabbed a hold on a vane, and held on as Leonard turned the gears below. The children watched in delight as the windmill turned Martin upside down. On another occasion, Martin and Henry were playing in the corncrib. Martin got angry at Henry and threw a brick, hitting him in the head and splitting open the skin. With Julia’s treatment of lard and kerosene, the wound healed well. Martin’s favorite prank was to drive the horse-drawn wagon into the ditch on the way to Sunday School, tipping it over so that the children all fell out. The smaller children must not have minded this too much because they never told their parents. Another time, when the Stevensons were visiting for the day, the children held a raw egg eating contest. Lyle Stevenson promised to pay Ann one dollar if she won the contest. Although she ate the most eggs (more than twelve), he reniged because when she climbed onto a wagon, she vomited them all up.
In summer, gypsies often traveled along the county roads and stopped at farms to beg for food. Although they got some handouts, they also often helped themselves to chickens. The gypsies usually camped at small country schools because they could get water from the school house pump. The Challys once heard a noise in their cellar during the night. No one investigated until the next morning when they found that some of the food stored in the cellar had been stolen.
As John and Julia’s boys reached adulthood they also became involved in the business of agriculture. However, farming is a business that requires financial backing. John assisted his children by cosigning notes, and assisting them on their farms.
On October 4, 1909 John was able to purchase a 160 acre farm one mile north of the 80 acre farm he had obtained from his father’s estate. John bought this land from Thomas Osmon, and worked both farms until 1918. On December 11, 1918, he sold the 80 acre farm in Grundy County to his brother Erick. On February 27, 1919 John purchased a house in Newark. John and Julia moved to Newark. Leonard, who was mustered out of the service in December of 1918, moved to the 160-acre farm and worked it.
In February of 1921 John purchased a 78 acre farm in Big Grove Township, Kendall County, one mile east of the 160 acre farm. (The West Lisbon Church Cemetery was located within this farm.) Young Henry Chally moved to this farm and worked it. In 1916, Randolph (Ran) Chally had moved to Fonda, Iowa and was farming there.
The hardships of the depression had a devastating effect on the family. In 1924-25 John had taken mortgages on his farms. In 1930 John gave up his home in Newark to pay a debt he owed to Steve Hackerson and moved to his 78 acre farm. Henry Chally, who had been farming this 78 acres, moved to another farm. In March of 1932 John was compelled to sell 27 acres of this 78 acre farm. Still, the depression worsened. The combination of low prices for produce and grain, drought, and insect damage made John and Julia’s financial problems insurmountable. In 1935 and 1936 those who had loaned the Challys money foreclosed and John and Julia lost all their property.
John and Julia moved to a small home in Helmar, where John died at the age of seventy-nine on April 22, 1941. Julia lived in Helmar until her death at the age of ninety-three in 1960. Both are buried in West Lisbon Cemetery.
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