Photo Album: The Legacy of Grandma Bell

The Bell family leaving their home in Crossgar, County Down for America in 1925
The Bell family leaving their home in Crossgar, County Down for America in 1925

December / January 2008

In this photograph taken in 1925, my mother Kathleen (far left) and her ten siblings pose with their parents, Sam and Ellen Bell, as they leave their home in Crossgar, County Down, Northern Ireland.  The family immigrated to the United States and settled in Chicago where, after only four years, my grandfather died, leaving Grandma Bell to raise a family of eleven children. In spite of suffering the devastating loss of her husband, Grandma Bell was a woman of tremendous faith and fortitude.

The family home was near the stockyards on the south side of Chicago, and Grandma took in boarders who worked in the yards, many of whom were saving money to bring their own families over. She went to mass every morning leaving the older girls, before they went to school, to fix breakfast for the lodgers.

Grandma Bell was a friend to anyone in need of help or a warm meal. She lived to be 94 years old and left a legacy rich in faith, love, and Irish heritage.

Today, my mother, at age 87, is the only one left of her siblings, but she has passed on Grandma’s legacy to her own family of seven children, 24 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.  She and our dad, Jon, have been married for 60 years and their devotion to each other is a love story that books are written about.  We have a lot to be thankful for and much to be proud of.

Submitted by Maureen Foster, Western Springs, Illinois

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