Saturday, June 27, 2015

Society Saturday - Lincoln Highway

Kay Shelton, a speaker with the Illinois Humanities Council spoke to our Branch of Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims about the Lincoln Highway.

The Lincoln Highway was the brainchild of Carl Fisher (also the founder of the Indy 500 race).  He envisioned a highway from New York City to San Francisco and called it the Coast to Coast Rock Highway.  His idea didn't take off until 1913 when Henry Joy changed the name to Lincoln Highway.

This "highway" essentially connected existing roads, which were largely dirt.  Henry Ford was approached to invest, however he wasn't interested because the Model T could travel in mud while some of its competitors couldn't.

Over time, the roads were improved, sharp turns were straighened and some sections were rerouted.
Along the way, several attractions popped up, along with businesses that catered to travelers.  Miss Shelton showed examples of some attractions in Illinois.

The Lincoln Highway can still be travelled today and can be identified by the red white and blue signs marking the route.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Society Saturday - from Colonial Wars to Martha Washington to Victorian Hats

I wasn't able to attend all of my DAR State Conference, but I did see three interesting programs at the allied meetings during the 24 hours that I was there.

The Colonial Daughters of 17th Century luncheon hosted Martha Washington portrayed by Barbara Kay.  I have seen Mrs. Kay give programs before on Dolley Madison and Betsy Ross.  She always gives well researched first person programs.

That evening, the State Officers Club hosted the Tea Ladies.  They are two ladies who give programs focused on Victorian times and customs.  This program was all about hats from the Victorian period until World War II.

They brought a huge selection of period hats and recruited 2 ladies from the audience to model them.

Finally, the next morning, our breakfast program was given by Dr. Claiborn Skinner.  He is a History Professor at the Illinois Math and Science Academy.  He talked about the importance of Illinois in the Colonial Wars and how it helped shape the future of our country.  He was also recognized as the State and National Recipient of the Outstanding Teacher of American History by the Daughters of Colonial Wars.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Society Saturday - George William Fairfax's London Shopping Spree

Adam Erby, Curator at George Washington's Mount Vernon, gave an interesting presentation to the National Society Daughters of Colonial Wars.  The current National President's Project is to digitize some of the papers at Mount Vernon, including those that Mr. Erby spoke about.

George William Fairfax was the owner of Belvoir Plantation, just south of Mt. Vernon.  In 1763 he traveled to London to buy furnishings for his home in Virginia.  His diary, now in the possession of Mount Vernon, details his purchases and describes many of the pieces he bought.

In 1774, George Washington notes in his ledger, the purchase of many of the same items from Belvoir plantation.  In fact, when the Fairfax family sold their possessions before they returned to England, they sold approximately half of their possesions to their soon-to-be-famous neighbor.

The combination of Fairfax's diary and Washington's ledger have been extremely helpful to the curators at Mount Vernon.  They are now able to recreate several rooms more authentically.  For example, Washington purchased a bed chamber decorated with blue damask at the auction. Based on information about this purchase, as well as from the diary, the curators now know that he painted the room Prussian blue to match his new furniture.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Society Saturday - Ancestors Among Us

The Associated Daughters of Early American Witches enjoyed a program by mother/daughter duo Debra Lynne and Addie Avery.  They have been involved in crusading for the exoneration of the Connecticut Witches.

Addie had learned of her ancestor Mary Sanford when she was 13 years old.  She launched a project which involved contacting various Connecticut legislators with the hope of exonerating her ancestor and others.  She told us about her efforts to clear their names.  It was very interesting to hear of Addie and Debra's quest to right a wrong that occurred almost 350 years ago.

The following was used with permission by the author in the Black Swan, Spring 2015 issue.  It was partially excerpted from “Begging Connecticut’s Pardon: A Quest for Posthumous Justice” by Kathleen Powers-Vermaelen, The Black Swan, Fall 2012, p. 2.

 Debra and her daughter Addie first learned of their descent from Mary Sanford, a victim of the Hartford Witch Panic, from a visiting cousin in the summer of 2005. It wasn't until they attended University of Connecticut Professor Walter W. Woodward's lecture that October, however, that they realized no official pardon had ever been offered by the state. "Immediately, Addie wanted to right the wrong," said Ms. Lynne. "She has always simply considered it a miscarriage of justice and [believes] that we collectively should be able to look back, acknowledge a wrong, set it right in spirit, and learn from past mistakes." Fueled by determination to see Connecticut's "witches" exonerated, teenaged Addie began a quest to obtain state recognition of the wrongful convictions.

Her efforts led to a meeting with State Senator Andrew Roraback and State Representative Michael P. Lawlor. The result of her efforts—S.J. Resolution No. 26: Resolution Concerning Certain Convictions in Colonial Connecticut—was proposed at the legislative session on March 20th, 2008. At the hearing Addie, her mother,  and Laura Barber Cayer, a descendant of Lydia Gilbert, testified about the shady evidence leading to the witchcraft convictions and officially requested exoneration of the convicted. Despite the abundant enthusiasm conveyed by judiciary committee members that day, the resolution fell by the wayside when the legislature ran out of time. "[We were] really disappointed," said Ms. Lynne. "It would have been easy for the Judiciary Committee to send the resolution to the House of Representatives, but it seemed like it just wasn't important enough."

To date, an official exoneration of Connecticut's "witches" remains stalled. Addie and her mother have not surrendered hopes, however, that something eventually will be done to honor the victims of Connecticut's witchcraft trials. "It keeps surfacing with inquiries here and there about the status of it," said Ms. Lynne. “This, we think, means that perhaps we're meant to see it through after all. Perhaps working towards one or two memorial plaques and then approaching the Governor on a proclamation might be the way to pursue it."

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Society Saturday - Thomas Worthington

Kathy Styer, Executive Director of Adena Mansion in Ohio, was the speaker for the joint meeting of the National Society Sons and Daughters of Antebellum Planters and the Descendants of Colonial and Antebellum Bench and Bar.

She spoke about Thomas Worthington, the Father of Ohio Statehood.  He was born 16 July 1773 in Charles Town, (West) Virginia, the son of Robert and Margaret (Matthews) Worthington.    Robert was disowned by the Quaker faith of his childhood when he married outside the faith in 1759.  Robert died in 1779 and Margaret died in 1780, leaving six-year old Thomas and his five older siblings.  

Thomas was raised by his older brother Ephraim, and Colonel Darke, a family friend.  He spent two years as a sailor aboard the Brittania sailing from Scotland to Cuba and Jamaica.  After returning from the sea, he served in the militia along the Virginia frontier, achieving the rank of Captain of an artillery company.  He received, and purchased, a number of Virginia military land warrants along the Ohio River and set out on horseback to claim them on 20 June 1796.  He returned home that fall and married Eleanor Swearingen on 13 December 1796.  The following May, he returned to the area with his brother-in-law Edward Tiffin and settled in Chillicothe, Ohio.  At that time, he claimed 7600 acres in the area.  He returned for good in 1798 with his wife, young daughter, and several other family members.

One driving force for him to relocate to Ohio was that he despised the institution of slavery and wanted to leave it behind in Virginia.  Once in Chillicothe, Worthington spent a good deal of time in land speculation, as well as building a life for himself.Between 1805-1807, he commissioned Benjamin Henry Latrobe 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 was active in the politics of his new home.  He was major of the local militia, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and Register of the Land Office at Chillicothe.  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 one of the first senators from Ohio in 1803.  While in that office he worked tirelessly for internal improvements which ultimately resulted in the building of the Cumberland Road, and the acquisition of school lands in Ohio.  He was thought of as an authority on western lands, and introduced a bill that resulted in the formation of the General Land Office.  He had earned the trust of native Americans and hosted Indian leaders such as Tecumseh at his home.  He also hosted other dignitaries such as President James Monroe at him home.
Worthington was elected sixth Governor of Ohio in 1814.  During his four years in that office, he continued to strive for internal improvements, such as better roads and water routes, and establishment of a public school system.  He also purchased the first 500 books of the Ohio State Library.

After retiring from public service, he continued to oversee his lands at Adena, which had increased to over 15000 acres, as well as several other business interests such as mills, meat packing and a distillery.  He died on 20 June 1827 while on a business trip to New York.

Reference: Alfred Byron Sears, Thomas Worthington: Father of Ohio Statehood, Ohio State University Press (Columbus, OH) 1998.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Society Saturday - The Welcome Fleet

At the Annual meeting of the National Society Descendants of Early Quakers, Dr. George Hill gave us a program about William Penn's Welcome Fleet.  Most people know of the Mayflower and the Winthrop Fleet, but not many have heard of the Welcome Fleet.

This was the fleet of ships carrying William Penn and his Quaker colonists to the new world in 1682.  There were 22 ships of varying sizes and speeds.  Some made the voyage in about a month, the flagship "Welcome" took 57 days.

The passengers were mostly English Quakers, but there were 3 Welsh families.  Unfortunately they were joined by smallpox, which took the lives of 1 in 3 on board (passengers and crew alike).  Ultimately 292 people arrived in New Castle, Delaware.  They settled in Philadelphia.

The Quakers were early abolitionists.  They established the Pennsylvania colony as a place of refuge for all with Quaker ideals.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Society Saturday - the National Cathedral

Every year, the members of DFPA have a post-General Court tour.  This year, we visited the National Cathedral.

Our tour guide Lenelle was very knowledgeable, and seemed glad to be giving a tour to a group other than school children.

We learned that:

The National Cathedral is the 6th largest Cathedral in the World.  The vaulted ceiling is 100 feet high, and the main hallway is a tenth of a mile long.  It is built on Mt. St. Alban's, the highest point in the District.

It is the Nation's place to celebrate and to mourn.  The prayer service following Obama's inauguration was here, and four state funerals were held here.  Woodrow Wilson lies buried in the Cathedral.

The large Rose window over the main entrance contains over 10,000 pieces of stained glass.  While there was damage to the stone structure during the earthquake in 2011, none of the windows was damaged.

The most famous stained glass window is the "Space Window", built in 1969.  It actually has a moon rock placed in the center of it.  

The Canterbury pulpit has numerous carved detailed figures depicting the translation of the Bible into English.  It has been used by Billy Graham, Bishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, and Martin Luther King's last Sunday sermon before his assassination.

Most of the stone carvings on the reordas' were done in situ.  There are 10,600 organ pipes over the choir gallery.

St. Mary's chapel has painted wood carvings and several 400 year old Flemish tapestry hangings.