Loading, Please Wait...
Daily Journal
     April 22, 2020      #42-113 KDJ
Louise Nelson sits with the door open Monday at her Momence residence where she’ll celebrate her 105th birthday today.

Daily Journal/Tiffany Blanchette

Louise Nelson quietly celebrates her 105th

Chris Breach

When Louise “Ella” Nelson was born in 1915, the U.S. was yet to have been involved in a world war, Woodrow Wilson was the president and the population was roughly 100,546,000 — a third of what it is today.

Louise, of rural Momence, will celebrate her 105th birthday today. What’s been the secret to her longevity?

“I wish I knew,” she said when reached by phone on Monday. “I don’t know. I just live it one day at a time. That’s all I can do.”

Louise has seen a lot of changes in her more than 100 years, most of it spent in the Momence and Schneider, Ind., area and Chicago.

“I’m a city girl,” she proudly proclaimed. “... I couldn’t begin to tell you what a difference it is. I saw so many beautiful things happen — cars and then television.”

She was born in Missouri as Louise Savage, and her family moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and then to Chicago in 1925. She lived in Chicago for a number of years.

“We used to come to Momence for the summer,” Louise said. “We had a little cabin on the river. We loved it.”

She also loved going to see a movie while growing up — a real treat before the advent of the TV.

“We were styling then,” Louise said.

Louise married Wilbur Nelson in 1935.

“Everyone called him Bud,” she said.

Their son, Jack, and daughter, Judy, were born in Chicago.

Then Bud and Louise moved to a farmhouse in Indiana just north of Lake Village. Bud left his high-stress job as a mechanical engineer with Western Electric to take up farming, said Judy Millea, who was 8 years old at the time. Bud had enjoyed time he had spent during the summers on the farm of his uncle, Henry Marcotte, who was a farmer in Kankakee County.

“The first house they lived in didn’t have electricity,” said her son, Michael. “They were at the end of the line. Western Electric then came out and ran electric wire to the house so they could have electricity about two years later. That house was 4 miles east of the Indiana line next to Schneider.”

The Nelsons began with just one tractor in 1946 and farmed corn, soybeans and wheat.

“We had a few cattle and pigs,” Millea said. “It was just an old-fashioned farm. One of the first years we lost the whole crop due to terrible weather.”

Louise helped with the farm.

“She drove the tractor, she fed the cattle and she did everything a farmer would do,” Millea said. “It was quite an experience for sure.”

Bud and Louise also helped to establish St. Augusta Catholic Church in Lake Village at the intersection of U.S. Route 41 and Indiana Route 10.

“They helped build it in 1946 so it could be used to hold Mass,” Michael said.

The couple moved to their current farmhouse in Illinois just east of the state line in 1958. Michael lives upstairs of the house, and Louise lives on the first floor. He serves as her caretaker.

Louise’s son Mark, 64, also lives in the area as does Judy. Jack is deceased. Judy became a school teacher and retired from Chicago Public Schools. She lives in Riverside Senior Independent Living in Kankakee.

Louise, who enjoys working crossword puzzles and doing cross stitch, says she has a lot to be thankful for.

“All the blessings that I have received, and I love all the nice people I know,” she said.

Louise said she will celebrate her birthday “very quietly” and enjoy a cake prepared by her good friend, Mary Christianson.

“We’re going to have a family celebration in May or June,” Judy said.

She’ll remain quarantined due to the coronavirus.

“I never had anything like this. It’s terrible,” said Louise, who looks forward to being able to go outside her farmhouse.

“It will be nice to see the flowers,” she said. “I love to go around the house and see all the flowers growing.”

1 of 1

Christopher Breach
With the Clean Ticket Company, your money goes to those who do the work!
Nancy on BROTHER GEORGE BBQ @ 12/14/2020
well written...makes me hungry!
Nancy on Kankakee awarded… @ 12/14/2020
Can't hurt.....
Nancy on Scott Reeder:… @ 12/14/2020
good points by Scott
cocoa ("coh-cah" on Gary Moore:… @ 10/14/2020
"It's a comment.", he says.
cocoa ("coh-cah" on Scott Reeder:… @ 10/01/2020
Post your thoughts or opinions here.
cocoa ("coh-cah" on Gary Moore: Are you… @ 09/17/2020
cocoa ("coh-cah" on Manteno native's… @ 09/17/2020
cocoa ("coh-cah" on Bradley Elementary… @ 09/03/2020
Post your comments for the world to see!
cocoa ("coh-cah" on BOYS GOLF: Watseka… @ 09/03/2020
Thanks for all the great content!