|The Carpenters’ Home plays a special role in my family’s history. In December 1926, my father and his parents moved to Lakeland from Galesburg, Illinois. My grandfather, Jacob B. Fifer, was a carpenter and had been hired by Fred T. Ley & Company to work on the construction of the Carpenters’ Home. Work on the Home commenced shortly after they arrived, in early 1927. My father, George C. Fifer, although quite young, was also hired by Fred T. Ley & Company to work on the Home, although I don’t know in what capacity.
When the Carpenters’ Home opened in March 1929, my father was employed there as storekeeper. Although he soon found a job as a machinist elsewhere, he was still working at the Home in July 1929, when he applied to become a Mason at Lakeland Lodge No. 91.
By early 1936, Lakeland, like the rest of the country was in the depths of the Depression. My grandfather was 74, in failing health, and unable to find work as a carpenter. As a long-time member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America, he decided to move into the Carpenters’ Home to ease the burden on my grandmother. He was only there a few months before he passed away in June 1936.
My grandfather’s brother, David M. Fifer, lived in Peoria, Illinois, and was also a carpenter. His wife had passed away in 1934, and he had no children. In ca. 1936, he was in his late 60’s and decided to also move into the Carpenters’ Home. He lived there until his death in 1944.
Both my grandfather and my great-uncle are buried in the Carpenters’ Home Cemetery, east of Lake Gibson Village.
“With all the trees and the lake, it’s like living in the country.”Lillie B
“I don’t have to cook, clean or wash my clothes. That’s the best!”Margaret N
“The people are friendly; I love them all!”Margaret B
“I’m just overjoyed to be here.”Matt G
“You have to come and visit us, because it is beautiful.”Lillie B