Bio: Coyle, Dorothy (100th Birthday – 2016)
Surnames: Coyle, Oldham, Foemmel, Schultz, Beilke, Tews
----Source: Tribune/Record/Gleaner (Abbotsford, Wis.) 14 Sep 2016
(Article written by Cheyenne Thomas)
A centennial celebration marks a rare but very special milestone in one’s history, whether it’s someone’s 100th birthday or it’s a village’s 100 year anniversary. While it is very special to reach the age of 100, the event becomes even more remarkable when someone attains the title of centenarian in the same year as the town in which they lived.
Such an event recently occurred during the Granton Fall Festival, where the village celebrated Granton’s 100 year anniversary of incorporation. At the same time, Dorothy Coyle, a longtime resident of Granton, was honored during the Fall Festival parade for reaching the age of 100 in the same year as Granton.
During her lifetime she has seen a great deal of change and remembers many things that are not around anymore. “It’s a long, long story,” said Dorothy reflecting on her life.
The 100-year-old woman was born 25 days before Granton’s incorporation, on Sept. 4, 1916. However, Dorothy was not born in Granton. She was born about 80 miles south of Granton, in Vernon County in the town of Hillsboro.
After she was born, her family decided to move away from Hillsboro and travel north. “I moved with my parents on the train to Neillsville,” said Dorothy. “By then I was almost two months old.”
Dorothy’s family settled on a farm about three miles from Neillsville, where she lived throughout her childhood. During that time, there was no TV, and cars and radios were almost non-existent. To pass the time, Dorothy said they played card games like Rummy, and listened to music from a Victrola, an internal horn phonograph.
As her childhood went on, radios became more common. However, the radios of the 1920’s did have their problems. “Our family did not have a radio, but our neighbors had a radio,” said Dorothy. “The neighbors always used to talk about the radio and they invited us to come over to their home and listen to it one night. But we were always so busy, by the time we would get done with our work, it would be too late. Finally, after working really hard, we got all our chores done and were able to listen to the radio, but when we got there, the neighbors couldn’t find a station on it, they couldn’t get one in. A good night for them was being able to get something in, and that usually didn’t happen.”
Farm life was different as well when Dorothy was growing up. Her parents, she said, used to grow and harvest beans for the local canning factories. She also remembers the man who used to test their milk. “The milk tester used to sit on our porch,” she said. “He would come right to the door and we would give him little milk sampling jars, and he would take three samples. He would then put them in the tester right on the porch and would give us the results the same day.”
When Dorothy was old enough to go to school, she fi rst attended a country school nearby. After reaching the eighth grade, she graduated from the school and completed her education at Neillsville High School. “I went to a school called Hiawatha,” she said. “It was a country school. I graduated from there, then in the fall, I went to Neillsville High School.”
After graduating from high school, Dorothy stayed home and helped her parents on the farm. Her life continued in this manner until she became about 20 years old. It was then she met her husband, Gilbert, who worked at a fur farm not too far from where she lived. “My husband worked at a fox farm where they would raise the foxes for pelts and they would send the pelts to Chicago,” said Dorothy. “He (Gilbert) would always have to walk past my house to go home at the end of the day. One day, as he was walking past, I was raking the yard, and Dad stopped him and set us up.”
Dorothy and Gilbert were married in 1937, and it was around this time they moved to Granton, settling on the edge of town on a farm on Granton Road. There, they raised 14 cows and two horses and began raising their family. They had nine children together: Gene, Najean (Oldham), Olive (Foemmel), Ollie, Barbara (Schultz), Kenneth, Terry, Patsy (Beilke), and Nona (Tews).
During those years, Dorothy raised the children at home and took care of the farm work, while Gilbert worked on various projects, like putting in the water mains, in town. Her eldest son, Gene, remembers much of his mother’s good cooking. “She had a raspberry patch at the farm, where she would grow the berries and make them into raspberry pies,” he said. “When she would cut wood, she would also gather small sticks to burn on the stove, making a hot, quick fi re. She called that wood pancake wood, and would make pancakes over the fi re from that wood.”
With the good things, Gene also remembers the bad, knowing every good thing he and his siblings received from their mother came only through hard work. The hard work that Dorothy had to do each day, taking care of the children, the animals and the house, was more difficult to do back then, since everything could only be done by hand. “No other farmer worked harder than Ma,” said Gene. “Her full-time job was raising us kids and teaching us how to work. She milked the cows by hand, baled hay and cut firewood.”
In the years that followed, Dorothy’s children grew up and raised families of their own all across the country. In total, she has nine children, 35 grandchildren, 71 great-grandchildren and 32 great-great-grandchildren. Her husband, Gilbert, passed away in 1992. Today, Dorothy resides in Wells Nature View nursing home in Marshfield, where she enjoys the company of others and the employees. She also enjoys looking out the windows to see the children and dogs playing in the dog park next door.
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