Saturday, September 3, 2016

Intergenerational Connections

On September 1st 2015 Junction City Mayor Mick McCallister declared September to be Intergenerational Month because as stated in this partial quote from the official Proclamation;
“Whereas, the elderly population is the fastest growing segment in the United States, and; “Whereas, the Intergenerational Clearinghouse and Resource Educational Center (I.C.A.R.E) has their vision a community where youth and older adults thrive through connection, involvement, understanding, respect and role modeling”.
While the mission as a whole is important the word that stood out was “Connection”, as that is usually how histories are handed down.  Families remain connected as each generation shares stories with each other as well as their traditions, their memories, and instills in each the value of communication.  When the elders impart their wisdom and experience to the younger generations they are making an impact through that connection.  When children, grandchildren or students reach out to senior citizens and communicate their knowledge and how current events and technologies are impacting their lives they too are making that connection.
One such family that has made it a point of keeping their connections involved in the family history is the Boller Family who will be celebrating their 150th Family reunion this Labor Day weekend.  Approximately 150 family members from 15 states to include New York, California, Washington, and Florida will return to Geary County to celebrate what was started William P. Boller.  Mr. Boller completed two six-month tours of service during the Civil War and was issued a proclamation deeding him 160 acres of land in Kansas.  He then packed up his family and began the journey to Kansas.  To this day there are descendants living on the farm and working the land producing corn, wheat, milo, alfalfa, and raising cattle.  Peggy Boller shared small pieces of the individual family histories such as that of William Boller who had donated the big bell that adorned the belfry of the Catholic Church of Ogden.  Upon his passing as he had been a long time member of the church the big bell tolled to announce his passing.  He having been a prominent member of the community was remembered by family and friends alike. There is also Felix Augustine Boller who is noted as the First Kansas Lawman killed in the line of duty on December 21 1867 in Ogden Kansas. 
            Mrs. Boller who married into the quiet, loving, generous, friendly, and outgoing family states that the youngest member of the family is only days old while the oldest Boller is 91 years of age and is to this day living on the farm.  She stated that for the most part as they were a large farming family they originally did not stray too far from Kansas.  Peggy Boller herself attended the Departmental School in 6th grade.  The Geary County roots are deep and long in the Boller Family.
            In talking with Mrs. Boller about her family reunion and the planning of it she said that the last family get together had been in 1991.  She mentioned that as there were not many of the older Boller generations left they wanted to share the family stories and instill an appreciation of their history in the their descendants.  To that end there has been extensive research completed by a cousin living in Chicago and he will be sharing what he has discovered in a PowerPoint presentation at the gathering. This is a very small sampling of the conversation with Mrs. Boller in regards to the legacy of her family.  Just by sharing it with me and all the generations of Bollers she is demonstrating how intergenerational communication can be not only invaluable to the historic record but to keeping family and community connected. 
This is also the mission of I.C.A.R.E. to “Build Positive Relationships Between Youth and Adults”.  I.C.A.R.E. in Kansas was founded in June of 2009 and here in Junction City they work to bridge the gap between today’s youth and our elderly community.  By opening the lines of communication and with the exchange of information which takes place when the High School students interview Veterans or children visit nursing homes to play bingo with the residents this program is encouraging connections.  The students share their experiences with their elders who may sometimes be baffled by how invested the younger generation is in their electronics. At the same time the elders can impart their knowledge, their histories, and how their life experiences shaped them. Just as the Geary County Historic Societies mission is “Preserving the Past for the future”, I.C.A.R.E is working to make it possible for the past to be shared with future generations.  Please remember to share the past with your children by visiting the Geary County Historical Society Tuesday-Sunday from 1- 4 PM.

Photo Courtesy of the Geary County Historical Society with Permission from Peggy Boller