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Julia Mooney

Photo by Paul Neevel.

“Dad was looking for a job, and California was the place to go,” says Julia Mooney, who left Rockford, Illinois, in a car and trailer with her parents and three siblings, when she was 5. Her dad trained as a typewriter repairman in San Bernardino, bought a house after two years and had three more kids. “We all went to Catholic school,” says Mooney, who entered a convent. She worked as a home health aide, but left her order after eight years and joined Stephen Gaskin and his caravan of hippies on their way to The Farm in Tennessee. She got pregnant, had a baby, then rejoined her parents, two sisters and one brother on their move to 40 acres outside Marcola. She met Dan Mooney at a Fourth of July party. “We’ve had three children,” she says. “We got married in ’75 and started building our house a week later.” Dan Mooney also started a business, maintaining broadcast towers, while Julia got involved in volunteer work in the schools. In 2003, when the nearby Mohawk Grange, a 1918-vintage schoolhouse, was about to be sold after five years of inactivity, she took a lead role in bringing it back to life. “We needed 15 people to be members,” she says. “We got the building and started having fun here.” Her husband, Dan, will demo chainsaw carving at the grange’s October Festival on Oct. 20. Learn more at mohawkgrange.org.