This 120 acre site had been the cherished home of the DeGroff family and their descendants, the Jay family since 1857. After 149 years of continuous family ownership Arlene and Richard Jay wanted their beloved land to be preserved and enjoyed by others.
The basis for this exhibit was a series of handwritten journals kept by Anna DeGroff as she and her small family traveled from Pleasant Valley, New York to their new home in Rock Island, Illinois. It was thrilling and humbling to read Anna's journals.
We knew from the start the map would be the centerpiece of the exhibit. Anna's journal entries are copied on the map at the point along their travels were the entries were made. I was unable to find an original map from the 1830s. Instead I created this map after researching maps from the period. I hand drew this map using 1830s railroad maps as reference.
The land was so important to the family. The children were educated using the land as their classroom. They were taught the Latin names of all the native wildflowers and grew up becoming very conscientious stewards of the land.