Saturday, July 25, 2015

Society Saturday - Bartlett Kelley Circle LGAR

I was recently involved in the chartering of a new Circle (ie local chapter) of the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic.  Several ladies in the area have ancestors (direct or collateral) who fought for the Union in the Civil War.  We organized a new Circle named for the ancestor of our Organizing President.

We were honored to have 5 National Officers of LGAR travel to help us with our first official meeting.  They began by telling about the history of the organization.

The LGAR was originally started in 1880 in New Jersey as the Loyal Ladies league.  There were several other groups in existence at the time, all existed to help care for Union veterans.  In 1886, an auxilliary was formed with 4 allied orders - all with slightly different eligibility criteria.

LGAR, as it exists today was actually started in Chicago by Mrs. Edward Roby.  Their main activities were helping veterans get pensions, and supporting the soldier's home in Quincy.

Today's LGAR works to keep the memory of our Union ancestors alive through support of the LGAR Headquarters and Military Museum in Ohio, and participation in memorial events and markings.

After learning the history of our new organization, the Charter was presented to our Organizing President.

Officers were then installed.

We are off to a great start with over 50 members.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Society Saturday - CAC in the Big Easy

The National Society Children of the American Colonists held their 75th Annual General Assembly in New Orleans.

Prior to the meeting, members and adults spent time in the French Quarter and toured the Presbytere' Museum and Saint Louis Cathedral.

No visit to the French Quarter would be complete without a stop at Cafe du Mond for Cafe au Lait and Beignets.

The Presbytere' Museum had very interesting exhibits on Hurricane Katrina and Mardi Gras culture.

President General Dr. Charlene Herreid and National President Chrissy Herreid
The General Assembly itself was chaired by National President Chrissy Herreid.  Officers and Chairmen gave their reports on how they supported this year's National Project - "Comforts of the Colonial Home".  This was followed by a moving Memorial Service.

Chrissy raised money for the Center for Courageous Kids in Scottsville, KY.  This organization provides summer camp opportunities for children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses.  Some of the monies raised will provide handmade quilts for the campers.  Several of the state CAC's provided quilt squares for a custom quilt that will be donated to the camp.

After the business session, everyone boarded the "Creole Queen" paddle wheel boat for a trip down the Mississippi to the Chalmette Battlefield.  This was the site of the "Battle of New Orleans".

On  the way, our Captain gave some historic background to the battle.  Once there, we were told of actual battle events by a Park Ranger, and we saw the mud rampart used by the Americans for defense.

There was a 100 foot high obelisk memorializing the troops as well.

Back at the hotel, we had our Candlelight banquet with Award presentation and installation of new Officers.  The new administration is already hard at work planning for next year's General Assembly.

New National President Reagan Zolman receving the gavel from Chrissy Herreid

thanks to Carole Holt and Davine Roberts for some of the pictures

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Society Saturday - Touring the Driehaus Mansion

Chicago Chapter of Colonial Dames of America recently toured the Driehaus Museum in downtown Chicago.

The mansion was built in 1879 by the Nickerson family.  They were replacing their previous residence at the same location which had been destroyed by the Chicago Fire.  The mansion is 23000 square feet with walls over 12 inches thick to help fireproof it.  It was built at a cost of $410,000, which is equivalent to over 80 million dollars today.

Nickerson sold it to the Fisher family.  When they moved out, the American College of Surgeons purchased it and used it for office space.  The mansion was ultimately bought by art collector and dealer Richard Driehaus to showcase some of his collections.  He restored the interiors, which are all original, and furnished the house with period pieces and artwork.  It is one of the best examples of a Gllded Age Mansion in existence.

Every room is paneled with a different type of wood, and a different style of decorating.  The drawing room features satin wood, including the piano.  There is fine marketry woodwork and carvings along the walls.

The library is paneled in ebonized cherry wood and is one of the darker rooms of the house.

The gallery has a beautiful domed ceiling.  Nickerson was an art collector and displayed many paintings in this room.  Fisher, on the other hand, was a hunter and displayed animal heads and a tiger rug.

The formal dining room featured favrile glass which used chemicals to provide the colors.  This was a specialty of the Tiffany company.

Mrs. Nickerson's bedroom was decorated in a Moorish style with a lot of German and Austrian woodwork.

The second floor featured a display of period jewelry including long hat pins and the crown which has been awarded to the Queen of the Lombard lilac festival.

The third floor featured a ballroom with a gallery for the musicians.

And, even the bathroom fixtures were original to the house...

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Society Saturday - United Service Organizations

Kathy O'Connor, the Director of the USO of Missouri gave the program at the banquet at the Annual Congress of New England Women.  She told of the history of the organization, as well as some of the services that they provide.  It was clear that she is passionate about her work, and several of us were reaching for tissues during her talk.

The USO was founded in 1941to lift the spirits of our troops and their families.  They provide a lot of different supportive functions for active military, military families, and wounded soldiers.  There are 160 locations world wide with over 7 million visits per year.

The St. Louis airport location alone sees 8-10,000 visitors per month. They provide snacks, meals, a sleeping room, cyber cafe and nursery to military travelers.

Some of the support functions performed globally are:

  • escorting families of wounded and fallen servicemen to the hospital or final journey
  • assist wounded veterans who are transitioning after their recovery
  • provide entertainers to deployed servicemen (ie Bob Hope's tour).  Last year they had 94 entertainers in 54 tours.  Robin Williams was a popular entertainer before his death.  Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band is a current favorite
  • for young family members, there is a Sesame street touring program
  • Deployed servicemen are able to record videos of them reading bedtime stories to their children
New England Women are supporting the USO in a Box program (also known as USO2Go).  The USO deploys a tent to an austere environment.  This tent has some of the comforts of home such as computers, TV with DVD players, computers with internet connections, video game systems, etc.  They provide an opportunity for a little rest and relaxation without leaving the area of deployment.

The four members of our Colony in attendance enjoyed learning more about the USO.