Saturday, November 28, 2015

Society Saturday - The Woman's Christian Temperance Union

Yes, the WCTU is a society, but, for the purpose of this blog, one we learned about at a recent meeting of Colonial Dames 17th Century.

We met at the headquarters of the WCTU in Evanston, IL in the former home of Frances Willard.  The Woman's Christian Temperance Union was founded in 1874 to promote social issues such as temperance and woman's voting rights.  Since women were not allowed to vote, this was one way they could get their message out.  The WCTU was a very effective way for women to organize and promote family values.  Their agenda for social change also included campaigns against sex trafficking and for pure food and drug laws.  They are best known for their support of the 18th amendment (prohibition).  They also helped bring about the 19th Amendment (women's voting rights).  The WCTU is still in existence today, lobbying against alcohol and other substance abuse.

Frances Willard was the second President of the WCTU from 1879 until her death in 1898.  She had led a remarkable life up to that point, including her position as President of Evanston College for Ladies, and then Dean of Women at the Women's College of Northwestern University.  Under her leadership, the WCTU became the largest organization of women in the world.  They were extremely influential during the late 19th and early 20th century.

Our meeting included a very interesting talk about Miss Willard by Glen Madeja, Executive Director of the Willard Historical Association, as well as a tour of her home which served as headquarters for her beloved organization.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Society Saturday - Happy Anniversary Isle a la Cache DAR

We celebrated five years of being our own chapter!!!

A little over five years ago, several of us were frustrated with our current chapter.  We had ideas for new projects and a new focus and our old chapter wasn't going along with them.

So, we started a new chapter.  It wasn't quite that simple, but we found an area in Chicagoland that didn't have a chapter, filled out a lot of paperwork, worked with the State Regent and state Board, and a few months later, Isle a la Cache Chapter was born.

Organizing Officers being installed

Organizing Officers and Charter Members

We take our name from a small island in the DesPlaines River in Romeoville, our official location.  This island was used by indians and fur traders to hide their goods (cache) as they traveled to and from the area in the 1700's.  Today there is a museum on the site and annual rendezvous reenactments.

In the past five years, we have been growing with several new members.  Many are young professional women.  We support the Pierce Downer C.A.R. society.  We actively support veterans through our annual scarf donations to homeless veterans and participating in Wreaths Across America.  We honor high school students with Good Citizen awards and JROTC awards.

We have started working on a project to index information about people buried in Bolingbrook (also our location).

All in all, it has been a busy and productive five years.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Society Saturday - Witches in Salem

I have posted about Associated Daughters of Early American Witches before, and many of you know that this is one of my favorite lineage groups.  For the last 28 years (since our founding), we meet in Washington, DC in April during Lineage Week.  This makes sense because so many of us are involved in other lineage groups that meet during  this time.

A few years ago one of our members asked on facebook "Why don't you meet in Salem where our ancestors were?"  That simple question developed into the first Fall Meeting of ADEAW.  While not all of our ancestors were in the Salem witch hysteria of 1692, about half were.  So it seemed like a fitting place to hold this little fall experiment.

After over a year of planning, we met in Salem this past weekend.  We were blessed with beautiful weather - 60+ degree highs - which is unseasonable for New England in November.  We were at the Hawthorne hotel - an old historic hotel in downtown Salem.

Our weekend started with a meet and greet on Friday evening.  Most attendees had arrived in time to enjoy some hors d'oeuvres and a drink.  It was wonderful to meet many members who don't usually come to DC.

The label on our Registration packet - it contained our nametag, meal and event tickets, tourism info about Salem and a cauldron of candy
Saturday was our touring day.  We started by walking across the common to the Salem Witch Museum.  There we saw an exhibit telling the chronology of the 1692 Witch Hysteria and an exhibit telling how witches have been portrayed throughout history.

We are anxiously awaiting the opening of the museum.

After a break for lunch (had to have a lobster roll), we boarded a trolley for a trip to Danvers (formerly Salem Village).  This was where the hysteria itself started, although most of the trials were held in Salem.  In Danvers we visited the Rebecca Nurse Homestead - built in the 1670's.  There was also a reconstructed meeting house on the property.

Our guide explaining the history of the Nurse Homestead

The reconstructed 17th century meeting house.

Inside the meeting house

Rebecca Nurse's house

There were 2 spinning wheels in the house.

Both spinning wheels are still in use today

Along the way, our trolley guides commented on various sights and some historical tidbits of Salem.  Our next stop was the Salem Witch Memorial.  This lovely spot was dedicated in 1992 to the 20 people who were killed during the hysteria.  It is adjacent to the Salem Burying Ground - one of the oldest cemeteries in New England.

Old Burying Ground of Salem

Salem Witch Memorial

The memorial consisted of 20 stone benches - each bearing the name of an executed person.

Yes, the ladies in period clothing were part of our group

Saturday evening was our banquet.  Our speaker was Paula Keene, a Salem resident who lobbied for the exoneration of five remaining "witches".  These five were not included in previous exonerations and they were: Bridget Bishop, Susannah Martin, Alice Parker, Wilmot Redd and Margaret Scott.  She told of her efforts, which culminated in their exoneration in 2001.  She is now working on having Gallows Hill named a National Historic Site.

Paula Keene

Shari Worrell, descendant of Susannah Martin, Paula Keene, and Kimberly Nagy ("Head Witch"
On Sunday morning, we met again for breakfast and a brief meeting.  Everyone told "Which Witch" they descend from, and it was fun to meet distant cousins.  We memorialized the twenty innocent people who were hanged or pressed to death in 1692.

Chaplain General Nancy Merwin conducting the Memorial service.

Kimberly Nagy, Karlene Cupp, and Debbie Cupp - all descendants of Mary Bliss Parsons

All in all, the weekend was a total success.  There were nearly 80 people in attendance from as far away as California, Oregon, Colorado, Texas, North Carolina, and many states in between.  There were families and spouses, all of whom seemed to enjoy themselves.  Our attendees ranged in age from 9 to 90.

Table favor at Saturday's banquet

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Society Saturday - Heritage Weekend

Over 70 members of 17 lineage societies gathered in East Peoria for the third annual Illinois Heritage Weekend.

Heritage Weekend continues to be a fun time for us to gather from all corners of the state for our respective society meetings, and, we have fun getting together.

This year we tried something different.  We were unable to secure a color guard because of conflicting events, so we had a page serve as flag bearer and the various State Presidents processed in for the opening ceremonies.

Our lunch speaker was Dale Phillips who spoke on "The American Revolution in Illinois".

Our dinner speaker was Eddie Price, who came in costume, and talked about "Illinois from the Colonial Frontier to the Civil War.  He had several utensils from the time period and had us guess what they were.

After a day and a half full of meetings, we all drove home, tired, but already looking forward to Heritage Weekend in 2016.

Thanks to John and Jane Schleinzer for some of the photos.