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Cumpata: Drive and vision of ancestors is alive and well

Thankfully, this will be my last article for 2012. Unlike many people who make a profession out of writing, I truly struggle putting keyboard to screen. You would think that as much as I like to talk, that writing would be easy – not the case.

So, as I sit here trying to pull thoughts out of my head to share, what continues to rise to the forefront is how blessed I am. Last evening, I participated in an informational meeting at Marengo City Hall to share the vision of a full interchange at Route 23 and I-90 as well as what could be the future along that corridor.

Given that my mother’s family settled in Harmony in 1870 per our family records, and my grandmother’s family settled closer to Huntley, those two communities hold a special connection to me. While my lifelong memories include many of McHenry County’s municipalities, those two communities have many of my relatives still living there. As with many multi-generational families throughout the county, you cannot go anywhere or say anything because you never know who is related to whom.

So, to circle back on why I feel so blessed, when my great grandparents left Germany, they had very little. But, they did have a vision for a better life and the drive to make that a reality. They were farmers who worked hard tending to the land, raising animals and a large number of children. My grandfather was one of nine and my grandmother one of 11, which was normal at that time because you needed farm hands to help with all the work. They did not have all the conveniences of today and, in fact, my grandmother did not always have shoes to wear, but they were happy and healthy.

My grandfather purchased his first farm on Church Road, I believe with one of his brothers, neither having enough money to purchase it individually. When they each decided to marry, my great uncle found another farm to purchase and moved out.

Growing up on that farm was fantastic. My cousins lived just down the road so we were always together. Grandma and my aunts taught us how to garden, cook, pick black raspberries in the woods and appreciate what we had. Grandpa let us have two cookies at lunch – not one more. Family was extremely important, not to say that we did not have disagreements because we did – and they could get loud. But, in the end, the most important things were family and health.

Today, my family is in its sixth generation in McHenry County and that is only on my mother’s side of the family. This county is also home to many relatives on my father’s side. So be careful when you speak of me, you never know who I am related to! One thing I am confident of is that for all my family here in the county, the drive and vision that my ancestors brought with them from Germany is still alive and well. We all have their work ethic and believe that family and health are most important.

Over these past six generations, this county has blossomed into a world-class county with many assets that make it unique. We have accomplished many positive enhancements as the population has grown and yet have maintained the rural beauty. My ancestors had a vision when they arrived in McHenry County and we need to continue to have a vision so that our future generations have this wonderful county in which to live, work and play.

Celebrate the season and look to the future with positive thoughts, in spite of all the challenges ahead. If my ancestors could share, they would tell us that life was not always perfect for them either.

So my wish for you is a happy, healthy holiday season with family and friends. Life is short and changes in a second! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

• Pam Cumpata is president of the McHenry County Economic Development Corp. She can be reached at 815-893-0895 or visit

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