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.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Society Saturday - Heritage Weekend Begins

We are in the midst of the Second Annual Illinois Heritage Weekend.  This year we have 4 more organizations joining us and more attendees as well.

A national organization joined us for our luncheon - The Guild of Colonial Artisans and Tradesmen 1607-1783 was planning to have 2 national representatives join us and give our luncheon program.  While this organization traditionally meets in April during Lineage Week, they try to have an occasional fall meeting somewhere outside of Washington DC.  They thought that our Heritage Weekend would be a good opportunity for them to visit Illinois.

The Guild was founded in 2004 to honor our working-class ancestors.  Men and women who descend from a colonial artisan or tradesman are eligible.  The Guild website has a listing of these colonial trades - some of which are no longer in existence.

President General Nell White was planning to fly in from her home in Arkansas.  Unfortunately this was the same day as the air traffic control disaster, so her flight was cancelled.  Honorary President General Jeannine Kallal stepped in and gave her program about the "Trades of the Mayflower Passengers". 

We learned that many of the passengers were weavers, some were merchants and one was a blacksmith.  It was a very interesting program and inspired many of our attendees to look for an artisan or tradesman in their lineage.

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.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - Grandma Hill's Poetry, Week 49

The White Cross

Yes, he is gone, his name is written there
In jet-black letters, staring from the white.
And yet, because I yield not to despair, You look
askance, and think my grief is slight.

I felt the greatest depths of mortal pain
The day I know, from Canada he'd sailed away.
Surely, such anguish could not come again; And
life, in any human heart, holds sway.

All that was mortal of that boy of mine
Now lies afar beneath the war scarred earth.
But that which gave him life, the spark divine,
His spirit, was set free, a second birth.

And when often I give up and think can't go on,
'tis useless to try.
It seems I can feel him near me saying,
"Please mother, don't cry."

And so, I go my way, with proud head high,
Knowing full well that he's all mine once more,
A close companionship that can not die, Sweeter
than any we'd ever known before.

He gave his beautiful young life away, that others,
in this torn world might be free
His soul died not, and it belongs today, To no one
else, but just his God and me.

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 09, 2014

Society Saturday - Mr. Jefferson's Home

The Business meeting of the Children of American Colonists was held on Saturday morning.  National President Mitchell C. presided and a lot of business was accomplished.

That afternoon, we toured Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.  It is an estate on top of a mountain overlooking Charlottesville and the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Inside were objects sent to Jefferson from Lewis & Clark, some inventions of his, his book collection, and artwork he brought from France.

Mitchell's National Project was to help fund the Mountaintop Activity Center there.  This is a hands on area for children to learn more about Jefferson.  We were shown a replica of his traveling desktop.

Then, everyone signed their own copy of the Declaration of Independence with a quill pen.

After touring the mansion and Activity Center, we walked down to the cemetery.  Only descendants of Thomas Jefferson are buried there, and the family maintains the graves.  We were given a brief tour by one of his 5th great-grandsons.

Then it was back to the hotel to get ready for the candlelight dinner.  Accomplishments were celebrated and new officers were installed.

The 74th General Assembly of NSCAC was a success.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - Grandma Hill's Poetry, Week 48

I dream not of that lonely grave in France
Wherein your battle wearied frame finds rest.
I know you found the sweetness of God's glance
The day he called your brave soul West.

I cannot think your race is wholly run
Tho' dark as night, the intervening veils
Somewhere beyond the setting sun,
Your valiant barque still sails.

I cannot look into your pictured face
And think of you as lying still and cold.
Rather, I see you wiser grown in grace,
Courageous as of old.

I think of you, as in some other sphere
Rounding your talents in some task divine,
Loving the ones you left behind you here,
Ever growing, through love more fine.

Just as you are, with loyal heart, and true
Waiting my coming, tho' the years seem slow,
Praying for our eternal rendezvous,
Nearer than we may know.

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 02, 2014

Society Saturday - Mr. Jefferson's University

The National Society of the Children of American Colonists has their General Assembly in June.  The location varies, which allows the members and adults to visit different parts of the country.  The day before General Assembly begins is usually a fun touring day.  This year's General Assembly was in Charlottesville, Virginia.  We toured the University of Virginia Grounds.

UVA was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, who considered it one of his most important accomplishments.  He believed in lifelong learning, so there is no designation of "Freshman, Sophomore, etc."  Instead, the students are called First year, second year, and so on.

The center of campus (called the "Grounds") is comprised of the Lawn.  This  is a large open space with long buildings on 2 sides.  At the north end is the Rotunda, a recognizable building.  The Rotunda, which cost $60,000 to build, is currently being renovated at a cost of $6 million.

The long buildings consist of 10 Pavilions with several smaller rooms in between.  The smaller rooms are still used as student residences.  The Pavilions were where the faculty lived.  The professors would live on the second floor, and their classrooms were on the first floor.  Although the classrooms have been moved elsewhere, faculty still live in the Pavilions.

Interestingly, each Pavilion has its own architectural style.  This was by design.  Students could learn architectural elements such as the difference between Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns just by studying the Pavilions.

After the tour, we drove to historic Michie Tavern.  This served as a stagecoach stop in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains.  We had a delicious lunch in the Ordinary, then toured the tavern itself.  While there, the members learned a Colonial Reel.