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.