Saturday, November 26, 2011

Society Saturday - I see the light!

Chicago Colony New England Women and Illinois Branch Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims recently had a joint meeting with a guest presenter.  Dan Mattausch, from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History gave a very informative presentation  on historic lighting.

We learned that the first light sources in the colonies were candles - usually made of beeswax or tallow.  Colonists used light for the task at hand, not for lighting the whole room.

Soon after, various types of oil would be used in lamps - an early oil used on the east coast was whale oil.  An advancement in oil lamps was the "Betty Lamp" which kept oil in a covered container to keep animals from eating the fuel.

The next major advancement was the Argand lamp in 1784.  The wick was replaced by a hollow wick to allow more air to burn, resulting in a longer, brighter burn.  This was initially a lamp for the elite and servants or slaves would keep it tended.  Miles improved on this by changing the burner so that it would screw in, allowing the lamp to be carried without spilling the fuel.  It also became more affordable.

Other types of oil were used as well, such as turpentine (aka "burning oil") which was much more flammable than previously used whale oil.  Lard was used by many people who lived on farms.  Kerosene was widely used until the advent of electric lighting.

It is always interesting to learn about how different our ancestors' lives were from ours!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday - I am thankful for...

Every year, we try to get together with my mother and my sister's family for the holidays.  Before we start eating our Thanksgiving meal, we go around the table and say what we are thankful for.

Our responses five year ago (2006) were:
Ruth (my mother) - "My family, being all together today and for our new houses"

Donna (my daughter, age 14 - "My wonderful loving family, everyone who has supported me and been by my side through everything, the gift God gave to me to play music, and Dr. Cole for fixing me" (the year of her knee injuries and surgery)

Robin (my sister) - "The good health of my family"

Jeremy (my brother-in-law) - "Family gathering, Good health, life experience and Good fortune"

Zoe (my niece, age 5) - she drew a picture of her family

Amanda (my daughter, age 9) - "The World" :-)

Regan (my niece, age 4) - she drew a picture of her mom

Me - "My 2 wonderful daughters"

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Society Saturday - The Colonial Art of Spinning

Lac des Illinois chapter of Colonial Dames of Seventeenth Century met recently.  Our speaker was Maggie Kraus.  She is a local artist who works in several media, including painting and fabric.  She has been spinning her own yarn for knitting for over 30 years.

She brought her spinning wheel and showed us how she spins - talking as she spun.   She discussed the journey taken by wool after it is shorn from the sheep.  She demonstrated carding the wool and mentioned that it is a great workout for the upper arms!  She then spins the yarn and gathers it into skeins.  She has dyed her own yarn as well - in a large vat over an open fire!  It is not necessary to dye the yarn, though, as there are many naturally occurring colors and shades.

Maggie had brought several yarn samples with her, demonstrating the difference in yarn based on breed of sheep.  Finally, she showed several examples of sweaters and other items that she had knit.  Her homespun yarn and handmade sweaters were beautiful and quite durable.

It was easy to imagine our colonial ancestors spending hours going through this process, just to make a single item of clothing!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Society Saturday - Indian Wars

Illinois recently reorganized their chapter of the Continental Society Daughters of Indian Wars.  This group had been struggling recently but is now going strong under the able leadership of Shari Worrell.

We have 20 ladies who belong and we had a very nice organizational meeting.  One highlight was the presentation of a flag and gavel to the society from Honorary Governor General Marcia Weber, and a large insignia from Past State Governor Josefa Lee Hammond.  We also had a memorial service where we honored our ancestors.

Eligibility is based on lineal descent from a Native or immigrant American ancestor who participated in any capacity in actual hostilities, one against the other, or in any other activity with each other, during the period May 14, 1607 to 1900.  Basically, anyone who fought in any of the Indian Wars, on either side, or someone engaged in trading or other activity with the Indians.

My ancestor was:
John Hannum, born ca 1637 at Dorchester, MA to William and Honor (Capen) Hannum.  He married (1) Sarah Weller on 20 November 1662 at Northampton, MA.  After Sarah's death in 1673, John married (2)  Esther Langton on 20 April 1675 at Northampton, MA, and died 19 February 1712.
John and Sarah had:
Abigail Hannum
Hannah Hannum
Sarah Hannum
Mindwell Hannum
Experience Hannum
John and Esther had:
John Hannum. born 9 August 1676 at Northampton, MA and married Elizabeth Clesson
Eleazer Hannum
Ruth Hannum
Esther Hannum
Joanna Hannum
William Hannum
Samuel Hannum

John served as a Private in Captain Elisha Hawley's Company during a war with the French and Indians in 1655.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Society Saturday - On the I & M Canal

The Isle a la Cache DAR chapter had their 1st birthday celebration today.  Hard to believe that we have only been a chapter for a year.  We started with 12 members and now have 34 ladies with several more in process.  Our members are young and enthusiastic and we enjoy getting together.

Our program today was given by one of our HODAR's (husband of DAR), Ron Vasile.  Ron worked for the I&M Canal Historical Society for several years, so he is definitely an expert on the subject.  It was a beautiful fall day which was perfect for a walking tour of the canal.

The Illinois & Michigan canal was built between 1836 -1848 to connect the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River.  This was a major boon to transportation and shipping of goods and contributed quite a bit to the settlement of northern Illinois. 

Ron explained how many of the workers were Irish immigrants.  The work was dangerous because they had to use black powder (gunpowder) to blast through the limestone.  In addition, there was the danger of disease such as cholera and dysentery.  Many were killed trying to dig this 96 mile canal 60 feet wide and 6 feet deep.  

The canal boats were pulled along by mules, driven by boys who walked alongside the canal on a mule path.  Travel across the state of Illinois now took only 24 hours by boat - previously three weeks along muddy roads.  In addition, grain could be brought to Chicago to sell or ship east - one of the reasons Chicago grew and thrived during this period.

The canal has 17 locks because the water level is higher in Chicago than at the Mississippi.  The first lock is partially intact at Lockport, IL.

We enjoyed learning about this important piece of Illinois history.