The Stories of Individuals Who Designate Family Property as Greenspace
Individuals who donate their land as greenspace have intrigued genealogist Judy Rosella Edwards for more than a decade. Greenspace Genealogy is her newly launched newsletter through which she shares the family history of these individuals.
“There are individuals all across the United States who donate their private property to be enjoyed as a public greenspace,” Edwards explains. The first issue will focus on Blenkiron Park in Pekin, Illinois. She has other stories lined up about Beardsley Park in Bridgeport, Connecticut; Ballard Nature Center in Altamont, Illinois; and Fort Lane Park in Seminole, Florida.
“Some donations are ambitious projects consisting of thousands of acres that become recreational areas,” she explains. “Others are corner lots, usually referred to as tot lots. Then there are the conservation and preservation areas, city parks, and county parks. They run the gamut.”
As a professional genealogist, Judy Rosella Edwards says she is inspired to share these stories. She says every time she shares even one of these stories, people ask for more.
“Most people assume that these families are tycoons and socialites,” Edwards explained. “Margaret Guzy, donated her family farm to the Department of Natural Resources and it is now known as the Margaret Guzy Pothole Wetlands Land and Water Reserve. You may have driven past it on the way to a camping trip at Lake Shelbyville in Central Illinois.”
She went on to explain that Margaret was a hairdresser. Her parents were Polish immigrants who began life in this country where her father found work as a laborer in the Penwell Coal Mine in Christian County, Illinois.
“They all have intriguing stories to tell,” Edwards says. “We don’t often give much thought to why a greenspace is called a certain name. Those names are often the family name of a donor. I find that so much more charming than land that was purchased with tax dollars or taken through eminent domain and then named for someone who had no real connection to the land.”
“I will never run out of these stories,” Edwards said. “I have identified hundreds of instances where individuals who have set aside their own property for public enjoyment.”
Edwards is a long-time contributor to Gen Weekly
and has worked as a news reporter for three newspapers over the years. She is the Peoria, Illinois small business Examiner for Examiner.com
and a contributor to TellPeoria.com
The Greenspace Genealogy newsletter is only available via email. Subscriptions to the monthly publication are available for $12 per year. For more information, visit Greenspace Genealogy
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