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Oak Park

​​On July 21, 1899, at 8:00 in the morning, Dr. Clarence Edmunds Hemingway and his wife, Grace Hall Hemingway, welcomed their second child (and first son) into the world. Ernest Miller Hemingway had thick black hair, was 23 inches long, and weighed nine and a half pounds. Even amid the celebration of his birth, no one could have predicted his eventual fame. He was simply the latest child of a middle class family from suburban Chicago.

The Hemingways lived in Oak Park, Illinois, a pleasant and prosperous suburb 10 miles west of downtown Chicago. Clarence Hemingway was a respected family doctor whose office was at the family home and who specialized in obstetrics. He visited his patients using his horse and buggy and later, a new Model T Ford. He was also a man who enjoyed being outside and he spent many hours hunting and fishing and studying the natural world. He liked gathering plants and bringing them back to his office and looking up information in his library.

He delighted in taking his children to the zoo and the natural history museum and taught them to be careful observers of nature. He enjoyed cooking and canning preserves and typically he was soft spoken and affectionate but he was given to mood swings and could be harsh in his punishments. His Christian beliefs were strong and he disliked the use of tobacco and alcohol.

Grace Hall Hemingway was a talented and modern woman for the time period. Before her marriage to Clarence Hemingway in 1895, she had prepared for a career as a professional singer and had even spent time in New York City taking lessons and performing. After the marriage, she turned to giving music lessons and, according to her daughter, the income she received from these often was greater than the money her husband made as a doctor. She disliked traditional household responsibilities (cooking, cleaning, and sewing) and benefited from having one or two hired girls to perform these chores. She was very involved in cultural affairs and took it upon herself to see that her children experienced art, music and theater. Eventually she also discovered that she had talent as a landscape painter. She was strong willed, verbal, and, like Clarence, was a strict and devout Christian.

Birth House 

When Ernest was born the Hemingways lived with Grace's father, Ernest Hall, in a large Victorian home. After his death in 1905, the Hemingways built a new three story modern home at that had eight bedrooms, a music room for Grace and a medical office for Clarence.


Grace's uncle Tyler "Tyley" Hancock was a traveling salesman who often stayed with the family and he always had a room set aside for him. He would also visit them at their Michigan cottage where he and Dr. Hemingway would go on fishing trips - sometimes as far away as to Brevort Lake in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.


FamilyThe family would eventually grow to six children - Marcelline (b. 1898), Ernest (b. 1899), Ursula (b. 1902 ), Madelaine "Sunny" (b. 1904), Carol (b. 1911), and Leicester (b. 1915). (Beach family portrait) The children were all very involved in church and community activities and the Hemingway household was one in which everyone was expected to be God fearing, educated, and active. Dr. Hemingway especially disliked idleness and was quick to make sure the children were always involved in doing something worthwhile.



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