Saturday, April 15, 2017

Society Saturday - General Grant

At a recent joint meeting of three organizations we were honored to be visited by General Ulysses S. Grant himself.  He told us how he doesn't usually like to make speeches but he made an exception for us.

His story focused on his 1863 visit to Washington DC where he met with President Abraham Lincoln to receive his promotion to 3 star general and commander of the entire army.  He explained to Lincoln that he planned to win the Civil War by engaging the Confederate Army at several locations at the same time since the north had the advantage of more men and more supplies.  Lincoln likened his plan to shearing sheep - 4 men to hold the legs while one man does the actual shearing.

His plan worked and soon the south was ready to surrender.  Lincoln agreed with his plan to allow the rebels to keep their horses and mules since they weren't military property, and allow them to return home since the prisons were already full.  They felt that this would help the country heal.

During the surrender ceremony, the confederates laid down their weapons.  The union army actually saluted them as they did so, since they understood all the sacrifices they had made to fight for what they believed in.

He described that there were several aims of victory from the Civil War.  The most well known are re-unification of this country and freeing the slaves.  Other aims were to allow westward expansion via the homestead act and building the railroad- both of which had been placed on hold when money and manpower was diverted to the war effort.  Overall, the Civil War provided a Trial of Democracy that proved our country could endure because of the government system in place.

General Grant was actually portrayed by Larry Werline, a first-person reenactor.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Society Saturday - Pere Marquette State Park

The State meeting of the Colonial Dames 17th Century was held at the Pere Marquette State Park outside of Grafton, Illinois.  This is a site along the Mississippi River a little north of the St. Louis area.

The meeting was held in the lodge of the same name.  This lodge was a rustic building built in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps .  It had wooden beams and fireplaces.  There was a large lobby with chess sets and ample seating.

The reason that we met there was to dedicate a state marking at the site.  This site was visited by Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet in 1673 when they were exploring Illinois.  They traveled from Canada across Lake Michigan and Wisconsin and down the Mississippi.  It was near this site that they met a group of friendly Indians and learned that the Mississippi Rive actually flowed all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

The state Society placed a plaque which states:
Pere Jacques Marquette
In 1673 Father (Pere) Jacques Marquette, Missionary Priest, and Louis Jolliet, Fur Trader, left Canada to explore the Mississippi River.  They returned by the Illinois river, passing near this area.  Their travels covered four months and 2500 miles.

There is a statue of Pere Marquette just behind the marker we placed.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Society Saturday - Grandma's Aprons

Our recent Branch meeting of NSSDP featured a woman who had an apron collection.

She brought several of the aprons with her and told of the uses of each.

There was the everyday apron - used for wiping hands when cooking, held as a potholder to pull pans from the oven, could dry the tears and wipe the noses of her children.

Some aprons would cover the bodice as well as the skirt - these would be used for dirtier jobs, like deep housecleaning or gardening.

There was a fancy serving apron - this was never used when cooking, but was donned right before company rang the doorbell.

There was a holiday apron - usually with a Christmas design - that  would only appear in December.

Of course, there were a few aprons that were traditionally worn by men - these included a utility apron that would hold tools and other hardware, and of course, the barbecue apron that was worn when grilling.

Do you have any aprons that tell a story?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Society Saturday - Colonial Music

Our entertainment at the recent state meeting of the Daughters of the American Colonists was on the history of music in the colonies.

Sharon and Debbie are two retired music teachers who have researched the topic extensively.  They sang and played the piano with examples of different types of music.

Early colonial music centered on the two most popular topics of the day - religion and politics.  Political topics were primarily things occuring in mother England.  Religious tunes  were biblical psalms set to music, and some early Christmas Carols.

Most songs originated in England and were brought over by the colonists. One of the first songs that they found that originated here was "Invitation to North America".  This tune advertised the abundant land and easy wealth that colonists could find here.  As with most advertisements, this song was somewhat embellished.

In the 18th century, more secular songs became popular and would tell the news of the day or discuss different ways of life, such as that of indentured servants or sea shantys.  Penny broadsides were often set to music as a proponent of certain political views.

Along these lines, political satires and parodies were popular.  One example was "Sons of Liberty" a response to the Stamp Act.  And of course, one of the most famous political tunes of the American Revolution was "Yankee Doodle".

It was very interesting to learn about some of this country's earliest music.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Society Saturday - Wreaths Across America

We were honored to welcome the President General, National Society Daughters of the Union to our John Butler Chapter meeting.  PG Kitty Humphrey is a Veteran, having served in both the Army and the Marine Corps.  She is extremely passionate about Veterans as well as honoring the Flag of the U.S.A., both of which were apparent during our meeting.

Kitty spoke passionately about one of her National projects - Wreaths Across America.  Many patriotic organizations participate in this project, including some of the other organizations I belong to.

She gave the history of Wreaths Across America, which I hadn't heard before:
The organization was started in 1992 when Morrill Worcester, of Harrington Maine had a surplus of wreaths at his company.  He thought back to a childhood visit he had made to Arlington National Cemetery and decided to donate those wreaths to decorate the graves of our veterans.  A local trucking company volunteered to transport the wreaths, and several other volunteers helped by tying on red bows and placing the wreaths on graves.

They continued to do this every year until 2005 when a photograph of the wreaths on the grave stones went viral.  Suddenly, many others wanted to place wreaths across the country.  Worcester donated 7 wreaths to each state, representing each of the branches of service, as well as POW's and MIA's.

In 2006, wreaths were laid on the same day in over 150 locations, and interest continued to grow.

In 2007, the Wreaths Across America was officially founded as a 501(c)(3) organization.  Their mission is to "Remember, Honor and Teach".

By 2014, over 700,000 wreaths were placed in cemeteries across the U.S.A., as well as locations such as Bunker Hill and the site of the 9-11 attacks.  Every grave at Arlington National Cemetery (over 226,000) had a wreath.  Over 2000 organizations participated in fund raising and placing the wreaths, and it continues to grow.

The organization believes in the motto that "A person dies twice, once when they take their last breath, and again when their name is spoken for the last time."  Because of this, their name is spoken as the wreath is placed on their grave.

The actual wreath laying occurs every December - the next one will be on December 16, 2017.