by Sharon Grohalski
In the year 1881, John W. Travis, Sr., took a business trip to New York State. He became ill and died there. His wife, Harriet (Hattie) Travis was at home in Union City awaiting the birth of their second child , so Mr. Travis was buried there. Mrs. Travis took the insurance money and purchased two pieces of property in Union City; a winter home near the school and a summer place with 110 acres that she could share-crop with a farmer and earn money for taxes, etc.
The new baby was a boy and she named him John Warren Travis, Jr. He and his older sister,, Gertrude Marion, spent their childhood between these two properties. John grew to be a large young man, who didn't especially like school and tragically Gertrude had became ill with heart problems in her senior year, just two months before graduation. Unfortunately, the school board refused to allow Gertrude to graduate and shortly thereafter she passed away.
It was then that Harriet allowed John to leave school and take over the responsibility of the farm. Harriet never remarried.
In 1924, after Harriet died (at the farm) ownership moved to John and his wife, Nellie (Rupright Travis. They continued to keep both properties throughout the years. Nellie passed with a blood clot to the brain at the age of 34 so John and both grandmothers pitched in to raise daughter, Kathryn and son, Nelson, who were 7 & 4.of age. John continued to farm, but truly loved rhunting and trapping and never remarried.
When situations caused John to be afraid of losing the farm to back taxes, His daughter, Kathryn and her husband, Wade Hammond came to help make the farm more profitable. They not only continued to grow grains, but added milk cows, sheep, pigs and chickens. Throughout the years, the Hammonds took in many children from the court system and eventually took a baby they loved and formally adopted. The Hammonds had two biological daughters, Vivian & Sharon.
In 1954 tragedy happened again and lightening struck the winter home in downtown Union City killing Vivian and baby Carolyn Winn via smoke inhalation. John decided to sell the downtown home and passed ownership of the farm to Kathryn and Wade Hammond. and so it remained until 1963. When Kathryn found she had developed breast cancer, she made arrangements that at her death, ownership would pass to Eugene Hammond and Sharon (Hammond) Grohalski. with a life-lease clause for husband Wade Hammond.
Wade continued to live on the farm and even took in and cared for Kathryn's brother, Nelson until his death.
Now it is 1976 and Eugene was living on the island of Guam and had no plans to return to the farm or Michigan, so Jim & Sharon bought out Gene's half and moved their family from Coldwater to the farm thereby allowing all five Grohalskis to graduate from Union City High School. Jim & Sharon were both graduates of 1958. daughter, Ellen in 1977; daughter, Ellise in 1978 and son Thom, in 1983. The farmhouse is kept in trust for the three children to share equally after Jim & Sharon are gone.
Memorial Weekend is a special time at the Travis Lot in Riverside Cemetery. Remembrances decorate the individual graves for Harriet Travis, Gertrude Travis;, John & Nellie Travis, Wade & Kathryn (Travis) Hammond;, Vivian (Hammond) Winn and daughter, Carolyn Winn; and recently Jim and Sharon (Hammond) Grohalski added their own stone to the lot so the family will be all together.
Jim Grohalski proudly displays the yard sign with dog, Em in the background.