Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

January 24, 2013

Family's photos capture three sets of five generations

Jackson Adams
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — The family photo is a tradition as ubiquitous as turkey on Thanksgiving, but it's the rare family that's able to take photos of five generations of mothers and fathers.

It's rarer to be able to get three of those pictures.

"Every time we've got a five generation picture we feel like it's a blessing and we take a picture," said Janice McNeely of Watson. "We didn't think there'd be so many."

The latest picture was taken in December with all five current generations of the family, including Janice's mother, Pricilla Casteel; her son, Kenny E. Brya;, her grandson, Kenny D. Bryan; and her great-grandson, Walker Lee Bryan.

McNeely moved her family from Arcola to Effingham more than 40 years ago, raising her son in town before moving to Watson recently. Since making the move, she said she's loved raising a family in the community.

"My boys, they've always lived in Effingham," McNeely said. "We're all very close. They're the love of my life, and I'm so fortunate to be close to them."

The documents of that love date back to 1962, when the first photo of five generations of the family was taken in Arcola. There, McNeely held her son with her great-grandmother, Della Humphrey; grandmother, Marquett Smith; and with her mother, Casteel. Another photo was taken in 1989 when her grandson was born.

McNeely said one of the things she's most proud to see in the three multi-generational photos is the presence of her mother, Casteel, who is now 83 and has been the force behind getting the pictures taken.

"It's been wonderful," she said. "We've gotten to keep the grandmas that long and my mother for a long time. It's just been wonderful. My mother, she's wanted every one of [the photos] taken. I couldn't believe we've gotten to take just one photo, let alone three, but it just keeps going. She's a wonderful, wonderful mother, and she's just tickled we even got to do and that she got to see her great-great-grandsons. I'm hoping to get to too."

McNeely said the photos remain not just as snapshots of the way her family has grown and changed but also as physical representation of the love her family has for each other.

"Family's everything," she said. "It's absolutely everything. Just the closeness, the love for helping each other without asking for anything back. I just think family's so important."

McNeely said she's still hoping to see another five generation picture from her family.

"We're just really blessed to have gotten these every 20 years," she said. "We could get another one with my great grandson. He just has to get married at 20 and I have to be around at 82. I'm keeping fingers crossed."

Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com.