Saturday, September 20, 2014

Society Saturday - Touring Ansel Brainerd Cook's House

Our fall meeting of the Lac des Illinois Colonial Dames 17th Century chapter was in Libertyville, IL.  We started out with a tour of the Ansel Brainerd Cook house.

Ansel Brainerd Cook was born in 1823 in Haddam, CT.  He moved to northern Illinois in 1845, then to Chicago in 1853.  While in Chicago, he started a stone masonry business.  He provided the masonry for the iconic Chicago Water Tower, one of the few structures to survive the Chicago fire.  The stone came from a quarry which is now the site of the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower - another iconic Chicago building.

He was an alderman in Chicago, and also served in the Illinois State Legislature for 3 terms - initially from Cook County and later from Lake County.

In 1878 he built his country residence in Libertyville, on the site of that town's first post office.  After his death in 1898 he willed this house to Libertyville for use as a library.  He stipulated that his third wife be allowed to live there until her death in 1920.  The house was used as a library until 1968 when the present Cook Memorial Library was built adjacent to the home.

The house became the headquarters of the Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society and contains many donated period pieces, including furniture, small items, and many wedding dresses on display.

One interesting item was a banner on display for the Wide Awake Club.  This was a Republican Campaign Club that existed to aid in the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860.  The Libertyville delegation was the largest contingent to march in a torchlight parade on Chicago's State Street.  At the bottom of the picture are 2 of the torches carried in that parade.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Society Saturday - Merci Train part 2

OK, so this isn't really about a Society event, but it is a follow up to a previous Society Saturday post.

I previously discussed the Merci Train, which I learned about through a program at a Sons & Daughters of the Pilgrims meeting.

On my way to the Ohio Genealogical Society conference (back in April), I stopped to see one of the Merci Train  box cars.  This car is in Port Clinton, Ohio on the Camp Perry National Guard Base.  I was surprised at how short the car actually was.

A week later, I picked my daughter up from Indiana University in Bloomington.  We stopped in the Memorial Union to see "Ugolino and His Sons" by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1827-1875).  This sculpture was one of the archival gifts from France to the U.S. that was transported on the Merci Train that was destined for Indiana.  It was a lot bigger than I expected.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Society Saturday - Lest We Forget

The Illinois Chapter of the National Society Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America had their annual summer meeting in Bloomington, IL.  As is our custom, it was a joint meeting with Illinois Daughters of Colonial Wars and Illinois Court Ancient & Honorable.

This meeting was a special occasion as we welcomed our National President Irene Walker.  Irene and her husband Terry traveled from Pennsylvania to be with us.  After our lunch and business meetings, Irene gave her program on "Lest We Forget".  The flower for NSDFPA is the Forget-me-not, and Irene's theme for her term corresponds.

She told of her national project to support the Fisher Houses for families of wounded soldiers.  A Fisher house is a residence near the military or VA hospital.  They enable families to be together while the soldier is recovering from injuries sustained overseas.  So far in her term, DFPA has donated over $9000 to support this worthy cause.

National President Irene Walker (2nd from left) flanked by members of the Illinois Chapter

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Society Saturday - Secrets of U.S.D. 1812

The John Kinzie Chapter of the U.S. Daughters of 1812 was honored to host the President National for our recent Chapter meeting.

Normally, the President National conducts state visits, but we are fortunate that her sister lives in our area and is an associate member of our chapter.

We met over lunch at a local Italian restaurant.  After lunch, PN Virginia "Ginger" Apyar gave us a very interesting program on "Little Known Pearls of U.S.D. 1812".

The Society itself was founded in 1892 by Flora Adams Darling.  Ginger told us of Mrs. Darling's life - she lost her husband in the civil war and her son at an early age.  She had all her possessions taken from her during the war, and grew increasingly deaf throughout her life.  This could explain why she is never smiling in any of her portraits.

Our membership certificates have a picture of the stained glass window from St. Michael's church in Devon, England.  Ginger told of the long history between our organization and that church.  The church was built by prisoners of war housed at nearby Dartmoor prison.  These POW's were from the War of 1812 and the Napoleonic Wars.

Chapter Historian Kathy Haas, President National Ginger Apyar, Chapter President Kimberly Nagy
Ginger gave many other anecdotes about our Society.  She concluded by saying "1812 is everywhere".

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Society Saturday - Continental Congress

Once again, thousands of patriotic women converge on Washington DC at the end of June for the annual meeting of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Unfortunately, I was only able to attend for 3 days, but it was fun anyway.

This is the 123rd Continental Congress of this organization that is nearing its 125th birthday.

Opening night had the usual long procession of pages, flags, and National Officers to the sounds of the US Marine Corps band.  At the end of the procession, a large flag drops from the ceiling of Constitution Hall.

The keynote speaker for the evening was Alexander Rose.  He is the author of "Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring".  He gave an entertaining talk about some of his research into the Culper spy ring.  If this sounds familiar, his book forms the basis for the TV show "Turn" about the Culper Spy Ring.  Following Mr. Rose's talk, the executive producer of "Turn", Barry Josephson, accepted the DAR Media Award.

The next day, we attended the Units Overseas Luncheon.  Since my daughter is an organizing member of the Mariana Islands Chapter in Guam, and none of their regular members were able to attend, we always help them out with their sales at the International Bazaar.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - Grandma Hill's Poetry, Week 50

This is the last of the poems that have been transcribed.  It is fitting that this week's poem is about her son Victor Hill who was born on August 19, 1897. This is one of the few poems that I can date, but it clearly was written on August 19, 1945.

His Birthday

August 19: Forty eight years ago today he was born
And forty eight years ago tonight, the tiny form 
Lay safe in my proud protecting arm
'Twas my job, through shine and storm
To keep him safe from any harm.

Of the three, it seemed, he was my choice
And I was always cheered to hear his laughing voice
He was always happy, lively, helpful and gay
So passed sixteen years of his youth away.

Then work took him from our home away
For more than a year, I thought "not gone to stay"
When I heard the sad news he was on a foreign shore
The thought came to me "I'll never see him more".

He had gone to help our neighbor country in her dire need
Never thinking of the sacrifice to be exacted for the deed.
He gave his young life to make this world a better place
And I've ever thought 'twas his wish, I should keep a smiling face.

No one knows the sorrow, only another mother so bereft
Nor how this sorrow makes us cling to those who are left.
We can only be thankful to be near them day by day
'Till life is done and our sorrow is ended forever and aye.

Nancy Jane Wiley Hill (1875-1960) was always writing something.  Many of those poems are now in the possession of her granddaughter Shirley Kern.  Shirley, with the help of her sister-in-law Ruth Ormsby, transcribed these poems in 1996 for a Hill-Ormsby-Kern family reunion.  I am going to post many of these poems so that they may be enjoyed by all.

These are copyright 1996 and reprinted with permission.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Society Saturday - Cruising the Rock River

The Chicago Chapter of Colonial Dames of America recently met in Oregon, Illinois.  This is a small town on the Rock River in north central Illinois.

Our meeting took place aboard a Paddlewheel boat, the "Pride of Oregon".  During and after lunch, we enjoyed a cruise along the river.

This part of the state is still fairly undeveloped.  It was the location of former Indian lands that had disputed ownership during the early 1800's.  In 1832, Chief Blackhawk returned from exile in Iowa to reclaim these lands for his Sauk people.  This set off a series of battles and raids known as the Blackhawk war.

The highlight of the cruise was the statue of BlackHawk at Lowden state park.  It was created in 1911 by Laredo Taft and is 50 feet tall.  From the river, one has the sense that BlackHawk is still surveying his former lands.