Saturday, November 08, 2014

Society Saturday - Celebrating the Huguenot Heritage

The Illinois Huguenot Society met to celebrate our Huguenot Heritage.  We are all descendants of the Huguenots - a group of French Protestants who were forced to flee France in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The meeting opened with the traditional singing of Le Cevenol, the Huguenot hymn.  Member Bonnie Gerth sings this a cappella in French or English.  This time she invited us to sing along with her (in English!).

Genealogist General Jeannine Kallal (and member of Illinois Society) told about attending the National Conference in New Paltz, New York. This town was settled by Huguenots in the late 17th century.  Highlights were tours of Huguenot sites, including Huguenot Street, the oldest true street in America, and the Reformed Church which was founded by member Sunny Hayes' ancestor Antoine Crispell.

Plans were made for next year's National conference which will be hosted by the Illinois Society.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Society Saturday - Three Illinois Women in the Civil War

The John Butler chapter of the National Society Daughters of the Union had a very interesting speaker at their meeting.

Betty Carlson Kay is a former school teacher who has written several books about the Civil War and various people associated with the Civil War.  She gave us a program in first person about three women from that era.

One woman was Mother Bickerdyke.  She was Mary Ann Bickerdyke, a widow from Galesburg, IL who was asked to assist at the Army hospital in Cairo, IL for a few weeks.  She realized the great need that the army had for someone to properly care for the soldiers, and ended up spending several years with the army.

Another was Julia Dent Grant.  She was from Missouri, but became the wife of Ulysses S. Grant, a West Point classmate of her brother Frederick.  They lived in Galena, IL before he became President.

The most interesting woman that Mrs. Kay portrayed was Jennie Hodgers.  She was an irish woman who immigrated to this country ca 1860 and settled in Belvidere, IL.  Because she was young and single, she pretended to be a man so that she could work and not be taken advantage of.  Thus, Jennie Hodgers became Albert D.J. Cashier. She joined the Union Army and served throughout the war, retiring to Saunemin, IL.  She continued to live as a man and even stayed in the Quincy Veterans Home.  Her secret was discovered on occasion by a few doctors, but they let her continue with her deception.  Her tombstone was recently marked by our chapter, and contains both of her names.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Society Saturday - Colonial Dames of America

We were pleased to welcome our President General, Sharon Vaino for an official visit.  She had made a point of visiting all 37 of the CDA chapters during her term.

President Vaino told us all about current activities of the Society.   Her husband Jaan traveled with her and even helped serve the drinks for our luncheon.

The society owns the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum in New York city.  This once was part of the country estate of Abigail Adams Smith, daughter of John Adams.  Although it is now in the middle of Manhattan, during the mid-19th century it was a destination in the country.  Most of the national functions are related to the care and upkeep of this museum.

It was interesting to learn more about our national society.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Society Saturday - Touring Atlanta

This year, the Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America had their October board meeting in Atlanta.  The Georgia chapter showed us what southern hospitality is all about.

Our Field Trip day started with a visit to the Atlanta History Center.  There, we viewed exhibits on local Folk Arts, Native Americans, the 1996 Olympic Games, and the Civil War.  The Civil War exhibit was extremely well done and attempted to tell both points of view - both north and south.

Next, we had lunch at the Swan Coach House - a cute little restaurant that is a favorite for teas and showers.  They also had a little gift shop for all those things you didn't know you "needed".

After lunch, we toured the Swan House.  This was a 1930's era mansion in the Buckhead neighborhood.  The gentleman who led the tour did it in first person as Mr. Inman, the owner of the house.

We learned a lot of tidbits about Georgia history over dinner that evening - for example, Georgia is the capital of the four P's - Peanuts, Pecans, Peaches and Poultry.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Society Saturday – Dedication at Adena Mansion

Every President General for National Society Sons and Daughters of Antebellum Planters has chosen a project in keeping with the objects of the Society.  This term, I chose Adena Mansion in Chillicothe, Ohio as the recipient of our Society’s donations.

Adena mansion was built in 1807 by Thomas Worthington.  At one time it encompassed nearly 3000 acres of land.  Thomas Worthington commissioned Benjamin Henry Latrobe (architect of the U.S. Capitol) to build a permanent stone house for his family on a hilltop overlooking the Scioto River.  This mansion was called the “most magnificent mansion west of the Alleghenies”.  He named his house “Adena”, a term descriptive of delightful places that he read in an ancient history book. 

Worthington is known as the “Father of Ohio Statehood“.  He was a delegate to the Federal Government to lobby for Ohio statehood.  He was primarily responsible for the selection of Chillicothe as the territorial capitol, as well as Ohio’s first state capitol.  He was also one of the framers of Ohio’s Constitution.  Worthington was elected sixth Governor of Ohio in 1814.

The view from the front lawn of Adena mansion was the inspiration for the Ohio State Seal.  Adena mansion currently has a series of gardens that are recreated to be as historically accurate as possible.  NSSDAP is funding the construction of a natural barrier to keep deer out of these gardens.

We dedicated this project with a ceremony in the garden.  Three officers of NSSDAP traveled to Ohio and were joined by members of the Adena Mansion Board of Officers. 

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Society Saturday - Lincoln Tales Tall and True

Our banquet speaker at Heritage Weekend was Brian "Fox" Ellis.  He is a story teller from central Illinois.  He gives very interesting programs on various personalities from the 19th century.

His program tonight was a first person interpretation of a boyhood friend of Abraham Lincoln.  He told of how Lincoln almost drowned by falling in muddy creek, how he almost froze to death during the winter of the Big Snow, how he played a trick on his stepmother by putting muddy footprints on her whitewashed ceiling, and other interesting tales.

His stories were interspersed by harmonica music and a sing-along.  It was a most enjoyable way to learn about the early years of our Sixteenth President.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sentimental Sunday - Farewell to an old Friend

This week I attended a memorial service for an old friend, Mary Elizabeth Partridge Albright.

I met Mary in 1995 when I transferred into her DAR chapter.  Despite the fact that she was old enough to be my grandmother we became friends.

During my term as DAR chapter Regent she was very helpful and supportive.  In fact, she was willing to hold offices even though she was up in years and had already served as Regent.  It was because of that the chapter honored her by naming her an Honorary Regent.

Honorary Regent Ceremony - Mary is on right
Mary helped me join some other organizations as well.  In addition to the Daughters of the American Revolution, we were both members of New England Women, Ancient & Honorable Artillery Company, Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America, and Daughters of Colonial Wars.  Mary was very proud of her New England Heritage, having descended from families like the Partridges and the Bulkeleys.

Mary encouraged our chapter to hold a special grave marking ceremony for a previous chapter Regent, "Brownie" Beak.  Mrs. Beak was active in the state and national DAR and had served as First Vice President General.  The grave marking ceremony was held on September 12, 2001.  Despite the events of the previous day, many DAR ladies from around the state were present.

Brownie Beak Grave Marking - Mary is 3rd from left
One day, Mary happened to make a comment that, despite the fact that her middle name was Elizabeth, nobody had ever called her "MaryBeth".  Ever since that day, some of us fondly called her "MaryBeth".  She enjoyed that little nickname.

Unfortunately, over the past few years, her health had declined and she no longer attended meetings of our lineage societies.  We still stayed in touch.

Mary died on 7 July 2014, just one day shy of her 99th birthday.  She is now resting with her husband in Cornell, IL.