Shelby County, Illinois, Grandparent Profiles

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Shelby County, Illinois, USA

George Burnham and Laura Eugenia (Graybill) Herrick

George Burnham Herrick, born 23 September 1879, and grew up in Shelbyville, Illinois with his two brothers, William Fitzhugh, and Joseph Cawdell.  His sister, Kitty, had died of croup at the age of 5.  His father, Jacob Thornton Herrick, was a banker, having been raised by his grandfather, William Fitzhugh Thornton, a very successful banker in Shelbyville.  His mother became a Catholic and raised her sons in the Catholic faith.  Joseph Cawdell Herrick eventually became a Catholic Monsignor and died in a home for retired priests, in St. Louis, Missouri. George Herrick married Maude Dearing in 1906, but sadly, she died as the result of childbirth. Their daughter, who was raised by her maternal grandparents, lived to maturity, but died at age 26, unmarried. George then married my grandmother, Laura E. Graybill in 1910.  They had 4 boys and 1 girl. My father, Thomas Cawdell was born in 1910, 10 months after their marriage. George Ward was born in 1912, Eugene Graybill was born in 1914, Helen, in 1915 and Robert Ewing, in 1919. Things were going along well for this family until 1929.  The stock market crash of 1929 destroyed George's livelihood. He attempted to find work in other parts of the state and in St. Louis, MO, but did could not find steady employment during those turbulent years in our country. Eventually, his son, Eugene or "Beany", as he was known to most, came to the rescue.  He became an officer in the Navy, remained unmarried, and at one point was stationed in Long Beach, California.  He moved his parents and younger sister, Helen to Long Beach, and helped them find a nice residence just a few blocks from the beach. They lived out their lives in Long Beach.
Grandmother Herrick, "Genie", had an inheritance from her father, who had bought land in Mobile AL many years before.  Oil was found on that land and the money from that inheritance helped sustain them through the Depression and for the rest of their lives.  Grandfather never worked steadily again that I know of and Uncle Beany helped them throughout their lives.  He also took care of Grandfather in his old age until he died at 90.

Laura Eugenia Graybill was raised in Shelbyville and in Mobile, AL.  The Graybills had roomy homes in both places.  Laura and her sisters, Therissa, Mae and Bea and brothers, Harrie, and Thomas R., were very much into drama as youngsters, as I have pictures of them in costume and makeup. Laura loved being with her sisters throughout her life.  As they aged, they remained very close.  After the death of Mae's husband, Mae and Bea, who was unmarried, moved to Long Beach to be near Laura and George.  They lived in a duplex, downstairs from the Herricks.

We lived 100 miles south of Long Beach in San Diego, and would be with my grandparents and aunts for holidays.  I remember always feeling loved by them.  They would make food that I liked and would buy me a new dressy outfit occasionally.  My grandfather would take me to the beach as a youngster and I learned to love the beach.  My grandparents only had 5 grandchildren, and I was the oldest and closest to them.  I thought my grandmother "Genie" was an angel and when she died at 84 in 1967, I thought my heart would break. I wish I had told her how much she meant to me.

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