Leo Joseph Dondanville, the eighth child of Wallace Dondanville and Elizabeth Sherman was born on the farm in Serena Township, LaSalle County, Illinois on March 21, 1890. Leo completed his grade school education in a one room school house located on the south side of the road approximately l/4 mile west of the farmstead.
Leo attended his first two years of high school at St. Bede's, west of Peru, Illinois. He transferred to St. Mary's College, St. Mary's, Kansas. At St. Mary's he participated in football and was described as a "gritty" player, an early indication of the extraordinary willpower that guided him to success in his life. He graduated from St. Mary's in 1909, and returned to Serena, Illinois where he farmed with his father.
In 1918 Leo met Elizabeth Lillian Sullivan who was teaching in Somonauk, Illinois and rooming with Leo's sister, Anne. Lillian was the daughter of Daniel Sullivan and Ellen McCarthy of Harvard, Illinois. Lillian attended De Kalb State Teachers College ( now Northern Illinois University ) and taught in Chicago before accepting a teaching assignment in Somonauk.
Leo Joseph Dondanville and Elizabeth Lillian Sullivan were married on June 22, 1920 at St. Joseph's Church in Harvard, Illinois.Leo's parents, Wallace and Elizabeth Dondanville then moved to Somonauk to live with their daughter Anne. Leo and Lillian moved into the homestead house on the farm in Serena, Illinois and started their family. A son, Edward Joseph, was born in Chicago in 1921, and a daughter Grace Mary in Sandwich, Illinois in 1923.
In 1926, Leo and Lillian constructed a new, modern home on the farmstead, which is still in use. A second son, Leo John, was born in Ottawa. Illinois in 1930. Their oldest child Edward Joseph died in 1934 before his 13th birthday. In 1935, Leo and Lillian purchased the farm from Leo's brothers and sisters.
While he was active in the farming enterprise, Leo had other business interests. In 1950 a separate tenant house was established and a tenant farmer family moved on to the farmstead. Contracting for farm work allowed Leo to be active in other enterprises such as selling insurance, appraising and inspecting property for the USDA Production Credit Association, serving as a director in a local grain elevator, and the Farmer's State Bank in Somonauk, Illinois.
Leo and Lillian purchased a modern home in Somonauk, Illinois in 1967 and moved from the farm. That residence was maintained until Leo's death in 1977. During their final years, Leo and Lillian both spent some of their time at St. Joseph's Home in Springfield, Illinois. Lillian died at St. Joseph's Home infirmary in Springfield on February 4, 1969, and Leo died at Oak Terrace in Springfield on July 10, 1977. Both are buried in St. John the Baptist Cemetery in Somonauk, Illinois.
128.1 Edward Joseph, June 11, 1921 - March 18, 1934
128.2 Grace Mary, June 14, 1923
married Somonauk, Illinois 1944 to William Ernest Kennedy, 1921 - 1985; five children, William Edward '44; Thomas Daniel '47; Michael Gerard '51; Patrick John '57; and Julie Ann '61.
128.3 Leo John Jr. (Lee), June 25, 1930
married Somonauk, Illinois 1952 to Ann Louise Mosey; five children, Mary Susan '54; Patricia Ann '56; Leo John '57; Daniel Joseph '60; and Joseph Edward "61.