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Thursday, September 3, 2020

Flowers for Hull House

Guest post by Steve Ferrigan, Collections Digitizer for the Dunn Museum

When the Dunn Museum staff were told to shelter in place back in March and work remotely, one of the first things collections staff did was to take digital photos of diaries in the Minto Family Collection in order to transcribe them from home. 

It turns out you can learn a lot more than just about your own family by being cooped up at home for months. Sometimes you can learn about farm life in the early 1910s. 

The diary I was tasked with transcribing was Susie Minto’s from 1912. Every once in a while, very rarely, something happens in a Minto Diary. Between the days listing who is working where and on what; between the small trips to nearby towns for supplies or new equipment; around the brief recounting of church services attended and occasional church events; the greater world and its events and characters reaches through and touches the lives of the Minto family. 

In 1912, the family living at the Minto homestead included Susie and David J. Minto, daughter Una Jean, and son David Harold and his wife Mildred and their two daughters. (See Diana Dretske's Minto post for a history of the family).

Susie Smith Minto and daughter Una Jean Minto photographed about 1898. Minto Family Collection, Dunn Museum, 93.45.89.

One such diary entry occurred on Monday, August 12, 1912: "Una rec’d her mail today a letter from Jane Addams of the ‘Hull House.’”

Throughout her diary, Susie Minto (1839-1914) of Antioch/Loon Lake, then in her early 70's, makes mention of her daughter Una Jean (1876-1963) gathering flowers from the family’s garden to send to Hull House. They sort and tie bunches late into the night and box them up to be sent with the milkman on the earliest Wisconsin Central line train to Chicago.

By 1911, Hull House had grown to a 13-building complex in Chicago. In 1912, Hull House added a summer camp, the Bowen Country Club in Waukegan (today's Bowen Park). V.O. Hammon postcard. 

Jane Addams (1860-1935) was a pioneer in the settlement movement of the late 1800s. Hull-House, opened in 1889 by Addams and Ellen Gates Starr (1859-1940) soon emerged as a vital tool for immigrants, children, and the poor of Chicago. They provided childcare, an art gallery, a library, and classes in English, citizenship, job finding, art, music, and theater.

Jane Addams photographed at her writing desk about October 30, 1912. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 

Susie’s diary entry continues: “[Jane Addams] kindly thanked Una for sending the lovely flowers & said ‘the size of bunches did not really matter although the small bunches such as came yesterday seemed to give particular pleasure to the small children in the Mary Crane Nursery which is housed in one of the Hull House Buildings. The flowers were in splendid condition with much appreciation of your kindly thought of us & the courteous letter, I am sincerely yours.’ The above is a partial copy of letter rec’d by Una [and signed] Jane Addams Aug 12, 1912."

Susie Minto's diary entry for August 12, 1912. Minto Family Collection, Dunn Museum 93.45.289.

After seeing this routine mentioned numerous times, and after seeing the thank you letter Susie describes, I decided to do a little investigating to find out what the flowers were used for.

I quickly found some Chicago Tribune articles covering the Hull House and mentioning flowers for the children. From the Chicago Tribune on November 1, 1891:

“In the dining-room is the ‘advanced’ class, absorbed in the mysteries of cutting and putting together in a logical fashion muslin underclothes. On the sideboard is a great shining tin dish-pan filled to the brim with marigolds, and geraniums, and sweet old-fashioned mignonette—an explanation, perhaps, of the presence of some of these light-hearted, carefree little daughters of Italy, to whom a whole afternoon of serious application to anything but play must be irksome to a degree. But all the children love flowers—none more than these.”

Illustration of Jane Addams distributing flowers at Hull House. Chicago Tribune November 1, 1891. 

The small bouquets in this illustration are similar to the ones Una and Susie Minto had worked so tirelessly to gather and send.

Susie Minto in her flower garden. Minto Family Collection, Dunn Museum

The Tribune article continued: 

“And after the sewing is all folded neatly away, the awkward thimble and troublesome needle safely hidden in the depths of the sewing-bag for another seven days; when all the hats and coats have been given to their rightful owners, then that dish-pan is moved out into the hall and every child receives from Miss Addams’ hands a bunch of flowers for her very own. It is worth traveling a long distance just to see this distribution, the joy in it is so evident. With a funny compromise between a bow and a curtsey, a 'thank you, teacher,' and a face wreathed in smiles, each child receives the bit of bloom and fragrance."

After reading Susie Minto’s diary and day after day of chore lists and weather reports, discovering this small glimpse of the larger world as seen through the Minto lens was a beacon of sunlight on an otherwise gray page. It made me start reading closer and looking for even more details connecting these early 20th century rural farmers to larger world events.

Reading old script can be difficult, but by transcribing these diaries the Dunn Museum can make them more accessible to researchers and the general public to enjoy and to make their own discoveries about the past. 

~ ~ ~ 

The Bess Bower Dunn Museum's Minto Family Collection is available online through the host site Illinois Digital Archives.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Sinking into the Grave: the 19th Century's Tuberculosis Epidemic

A French illustration of a young consumptive from Le Journal IllustrĂ©, No. 34, October 2-9, 1864. Library of Congress.
In the 19th century, waves of epidemics such as cholera, smallpox, and the measles came and went, but tuberculosisthen known as consumptionremained ever-present. 

The infectious disease had plagued human kind for thousands of years. In the 1800s, tuberculosis reached epidemic proportions killing "one out of every seven people in the United States and Europe." (Centers for Disease Control) 

The disease was thought to be hereditary, unavoidable, and possibly caused by "bad air." The slow process with which people suffered and died was often characterized as "sinking into the grave." Its' true cause, a contagious bacteriumMycobacterium tuberculosiswas not discovered until 1882. Advancements in treatment followed with diagnostic skin tests, chest radiographs (x-rays), and in 1921, a vaccine for use in humans. 

One of the earliest known deaths from consumption of a Lake County resident was Elizabeth Boyd McKay in 1845. 

Elizabeth was the wife of Scottish immigrant James McKay (1808-1887). In 1841, the couple and their 1-year old son moved from Chicago to Waukegan (then known as Little Fort). The family gained in prestige as James became influential in the city's growth by building hotels and taverns, and his election to public office. (see my post on James McKay). 

When Elizabeth became ill she returned to Chicago, perhaps to be near family. She took residence at the Sauganash Hotel where the town's finest accommodations were available. It is unknown how long she suffered from consumption, but generally it was a slow death taking many months. 
Elizabeth Boyd McKay's death notice published in the Little Fort Porcupine, August 6, 1845. Newspaper Collection, Bess Bower Dunn Museum.
In the spring of 1850, young married couple Olive and William H. Gipson died in Waukegan from the dreaded disease. Both were born in Maine and had recently settled in Waukegan where William worked as a merchant. 

The 1850 mortality census lists William as having been ill with consumption for 150 days before his death. For a time, he may have continued to work at his business, unwittingly infecting customers and neighbors just by speaking to them and releasing droplets of the TB bacteria into the air. 

While caring for her husband, Olive contracted the disease. She died 30 days from the start of her symptoms. William died a month later at age 35.

The U.S. Federal Census of 1850 included a "mortality schedule" with a list of individuals who had died within the previous year. The 1850 mortality schedule for Waukegan included Olive and William H. Gipson (shown here).
The classic appearance of a consumptive included flushed cheeks, pale skin and red lips (due to a constant low grade fever), shiny eyes, a chronic cough, and spitting up of blood. Victims also suffered from chills, fatigue, and loss of appetite. The person wasted away and was virtually "consumed" by the disease. 

Without a cure, people tried a variety of remedies including fresh air, vinegar massages, cod liver oil, and inhaling hemlock or turpentine. (Centers for Disease Control). Others found a way to make money off those who suffered by selling tonics that falsely claimed a "cure" for ailments including consumption. 
An advertisement for one of the many tonic "cures" for consumption, circa 1890. Advertisement Collection (2013.0.97), Bess Bower Dunn Museum.
From a letter by Edwin P. Messer (1838-1915) of Libertyville dated April 19, 1860, we learn of the death of a young friend. Messer wrote to William Minto of Loon Lake (Antioch Twp.): "I suppose you have heard of the death of Mary Abbott she died about the middle of March."

Though Messer did not mention the cause of death, through genealogical research I found that Mary had died of consumption after being ill for three months. She was 18 years old.

1860 mortality schedule listing "Maria E. Abbott" dying of consumption in March 1860 in Waukegan. 
Mary E. Abbott was born on the family farm near Millburn in September 1841 to William Abbott and Elizabeth F. Barry Abbott. 

Messer's letter indicates that he and William Minto (1837-1919) were acquainted with Mary. Since Messer did not live near Minto and Abbott in the Millburn/Loon Lake area, I wondered how the three became acquainted. From correspondence in the museum's Minto Family Collection I knew that Minto and Messer had attended the Waukegan Academy together. I suspected that Mary Abbott might also be connected to them through the Academy. 

Waukegan Academy on Genesee Street. Printed in the Waukegan Daily Gazette, March 22, 1915. The Academy operated from 1846 to 1869.
As the first institution of higher learning in Lake County and with abolitionist-leanings, the Waukegan Academy attracted male and female students from throughout Lake County and also Wisconsin, New York and Australia. (see my post on the Waukegan Academy). 

A review of Academy catalogues confirmed that Mary Abbott attended in 1857 along with Edwin P. Messer and his twin brother Erwin B.
Wauekgan Academy Catalogue for 1857, listing students Mary E. Abbott (top right) and Edwin P. Messer (bottom right). School Collection, Bess Bower Dunn Museum. 
Young adults, such as Mary Abbott, were particularly susceptible to consumption, although anyone could contract the disease. In the following decades, another group would suffer from the disease at high ratesUnion veterans of the Civil War.

Historian Brian Matthew Jordan noted that Union soldiers returned to their homes "prematurely broken down." Their bodies were "atrophied by years spent exposed to the elements and disease in unsanitary army camps." This led to veterans succumbing to consumption, and heart and kidney diseases at much higher rates than the general population. 
Union veterans at the dedication of the Civil War monument in Waukegan, August 1899. Civil War Collection (64.39.2), Bess Bower Dunn Museum.
William Monaghan (1841-1871) of Wauconda mustered-in with Company B, 96th Illinois Infantry on September 5, 1862. He was the son of Irish immigrants, Eliza and James Monaghan, who came to Lake County in 1837 and settled on property within today's Singing Hills Forest Preserve. 

William was considered "an excellent soldier" and served with the 96th Illinois until the end of the war. The regimental history noted him as being 6 foot 4 inches tall and having "a powerful frame," which made it all the more difficult for his family to accept his death from consumption not long after the Civil War. 

By the late 1800s, the best cure for TB was thought to be fresh air and good nutrition. The growing realization that TB was likely an infectious disease led to isolating patients in hospitals and sanitoriums. With improvements in socioeconomic conditions, nutrition and living standards, public health initiatives, and the use of sanitoriums, a path to controlling the disease was on the horizon. 
Lake Breeze Sanitorium was established for TB sufferers in 1909 on a 16-acre parcel east of Green Bay Road on Grand Avenue in Waukegan. Tuberculosis Collection 77.20, Bess Bower Dunn Museum.
Public health initiatives such as this poster educated people on disease prevention. Circa 1925. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Lake County's Tuberculosis Sanitorium was established on Belvidere Road in Waukegan in 1939. In addition to providing the latest in diagnosis and antibiotic treatments, the facility had patient rooms that opened onto private balconies for fresh air. (see my post on the TB Sanitorium).
Nurses's station at TB Sanitorium in Waukegan, circa 1940.  Tuberculosis Collection 77.20, Bess Bower Dunn Museum. Today, tuberculosis remains a public health concern in part to a rise in drug resistance. The disease has re-emerged as a pandemic killing 1.5 million people worldwide each year. However, in the U.S. the number of new cases continues to fall steadily. For more information visit the Centers for Disease Control 
For centuries, the origin of tuberculosis was not understood and contracting it was thought to be unavoidable. With the advent of germ theory and the discovery of the bacterium that causes TB, people began to understand how to control the spread of the disease through isolation, and eventually prevent it through antibiotics. 

Telling the stories of Lake Countians who died from tuberculosis or worked to treat those with the disease is possible because official records and archival materials have been preserved and made available for research. Today, we are experiencing a struggle that is similar to the one our 19th century counterparts endured. To understand this moment in time, museums around the worldincluding the Bess Bower Dunn Museumare collecting stories and photos related to the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

Historians and researchers 10, 20 or even 50 years from now will benefit and find perspective from the stories we archive today.

Please consider sharing your experience with the COVID-19 pandemic through the Bess Bower Dunn Museum's COVID-19 Documentation Project

Sources: - 1850 and 1860 U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, Lake County, Illinois. 

Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County. 
Centers for Disease Control and
Manoli-Skocay, Constance. "A Gentle Death: Tuberculosis in 19th Century Concord." Accessed May 22, 2020.
"Died." Little Fort Porcupine and Democratic Banner, Little Fort, Lake County, Illinois, August 6, 1845. Newspaper Collection. Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County. 
Jordan, Brian Matthew. Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War. New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2014.
Partridge, Charles A. History of the Ninety-Sixth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Chicago: Historical Society of the Regiment, 1887.
Murray, John F. "A Century of Tuberculosis." Accessed May 28, 2020.

Friday, March 27, 2020

The Historic Logue Log House

Irish immigrants, William Logue and Bridget Collins Logue, brought their young family to Lake County, Illinois in 1844.

The Logue home was one of the longest inhabited log structures in Lake County, and came to represent a romantic ideal of the county's settlement and the American frontier.

Logue family log house, circa 1844 - 1903, Zion, Illinois. (BBDM 2001.3.15)

Researching these settlers was difficult due to the scarcity of information left behind. But the search was all the more satisfying when bits of their lives were found in government records, the occasional written history, and photographs.

After immigrating from Ireland, William and Bridget Logue lived in the borough of Manhattan in today's New York City. This was a tough environment for poor immigrants, and the prospect of owning land on the newly opened frontier brought hope for independence and a fresh start. 

While still in New York, William acquired 96 acres in today's Zion, Illinois.
Land patent for Logue's purchase in August 1844 while living in New York County, NY. General Land Office Records

Logue purchased 80-acres directly from the Federal government at $1.25 per acre costing him $100 ($3,449 today). Sixteen additional acres were purchased from Jeremiah Eaton at $25.75 per acre costing $412 ($14,210 today). The cost for the 16-acres seems unreasonably high. Or was it?

Historically, a high sale price indicates that the property had been improved. At this early date of settlement that would mean a structure had been built, likely a cabin. William Logue would have purchased the property knowing of the improvement and willing to pay more to have a shelter for his family when they arrived from New York.

Further research indicates that a log house was built by Clark G. Corser, who had purchased the land in March 1844 and sold it at a slight profit to Eaton a few months later. This was Corser's first land purchase in Lake County, and as such he built a small cabin to live in. Eaton, who came to the area in the late 1830s, had built his family homestead elsewhere, and therefore would not have built the structure on this parcel.

In the fall of 1844, William, Bridget, their six-year old daughter Margaret (Maggie), and William's brother Edward arrived in Lake County. This was a world away from Manhattan's population of nearly 500,000. In Lake County's Benton Township where the Logues' settled, there were only a few hundred inhabitants. The entire county had a population of 8,236 in 1845.

Logue property in Benton Township shown on 1861 map of County, Illinois. Note two residences delineated as squares above "Logue." William's brother, Edward, is shown as the property owner.

The 1861 Lake County map shows two residences on the property (above). The square on the left is a house built by William Logue, and the square on the right may be the log house built by Clark G. Corser that the family initially lived in. Perhaps these two buildings were brought together to form the double-wide house seen in historic photographs.

The unusual construction of the Logue house has created much speculation on when and how it was built. 
Some historical data suggests Clark G. Corser built one half in March 1844 and William Logue the other half in autumn 1844. The two structures could have been used as separate residences until brought together (possibly after 1861) to form the double-wide log house. The house was located southwest of Salem Boulevard and Galilee Avenue in today's Zion. Photo circa 1900. Dickertown School History, Dunn Museum 2003.0.9.

An approximate location of the Logue log house (outlined in red) west of the McClory Bike Path along Galilee Avenue. 

T. Arthur Simpson (1869-1954), county superintendent of schools and a neighbor of the Logues, recalled that the double-wide log house was located "west of the North Shore's Skokie line tracks." In 1963, the North Shore Line closed and became a trail which was later named the Robert McClory Bike Path. Based on Simpson's account and historic maps, the double-wide log house was situated west of the bike path and southwest of the intersection of Salem Boulevard and Galilee Avenue. (above)
Detail of the house where the two halves meet. The protruding logs at the corners define the shape of each section of the building, adding to my suspicion that the house was originally two separate residences. Photo circa 1900. Dunn Museum 94.34.639. 

Circumstances interfered in the family's prosperity. Less than five years into life on the frontier, William Logue died (prior to March 1849). This left Bridget with two daughters: 11-year old Maggie and one-year old Mary Ann. (Four other children died in infancy). Edward took up the bulk of the farm labor until his death on October 1, 1860. 

By 1870, William's widowed sister, Rose Ann Kane, came to live with Bridget and her daughters.

The 1870 U.S. Agricultural Census provides a glimpse into the women's lives. Bridget, then fifty-years old, was listed as "Keeping House" for her family. Maggie, Mary Ann, and Rose were listed "At Home," which according to the Census Office could include domestic errands or family chores, but was not considered an occupation. The Logue women relied on their farm for income.

From the census we know that the farm consisted of: 40 acres of improved land (60 acres unimproved), 6 dairy cows, 6 cattle, 4 hogs, and 10 sheep. The farm produced 36 bushels of spring wheat, 200 bushels of Indian corn, 20 bushels of oats, 30 bushels of buckwheat, 40 pounds of wool, 50 bushels of Irish potatoes, and 12 tons of hay.

Not listed in the farm's inventory were horses or oxen. These animals were valuable to a farm's operation, but also expensive. An average workhorse cost $150 ($3,072 today), plus harness and feed. In 1870, the farm's total value of income from livestock and crops was $620 ($12,242 today).

To manage the farm without a hired man, Bridget may have rented a portion to a neighboring farmer. The women also churned milk from their dairy cows into 600 pounds of butter. In 1870, butter cost on average 15 cents per pound.

On February 26, 1876, matriarch Bridget Collins Logue died. She was buried in the newly established St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery in Waukegan.

Gravemarker for Bridget Collins Logue (1820-1876) at St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery, Waukegan.

Bridget left the farm of 100 acres, 8 cattle, 23 sheep, and household furniture to her daughters. Before the estate could be settled, Mary Ann died in May 1883. She was also buried at St. Mary's Cemetery.
Probate record for Bridget Logue Estate filed with County Court by Margaret Logue in May 1876.

The former Logue property outlined in red on a 2018 aerial. For reference: Lewis Avenue (left), Salem Boulevard (top), 27th Street (bottom), and Shiloh Park Elementary (bottom far right). 

The diagonal property line followed the old New York House Inn and Southport Road, which had been laid out in March 1840. The road ran northeast from the Inn near the intersection of York House and Green Bay Roads and onward to Sheridan Road in today's Winthrop Harbor. Most of this road was vacated by 1860.

About 1900, a photo of Margaret "Maggie" Logue was taken outside the family's log house. She is seated in a doorway wearing a gingham apron and holding a potted flower.

Photo of Maggie Logue taken by John M. Latto (1873-1915), brother-in-law to T. Arthur Simpson. Dunn Museum 94.34.639.

By this time, cousin Thomas Healey had joined Maggie Logue and Rose Kane on the farm. Healey took over the bulk of the farm labor.

The Logue log house with Maggie Logue seated in doorway. Both sections of the house were likely built at the time of settlement in 1844. Photo by John M. Latto, circa 1900. Dunn Museum 94.34.639.

Maggie Logue lived here from 1844 to 1903, making this the longest continuously inhabited log house in Lake County.

This homestead was built at the time of settlement and the only upgrade appears to have been enlarging the house by bringing two structures together. Generally, families upgraded theses houses by covering them with stucco or clapboard siding. The log houses were hidden from view until torn down decades later to reveal (to everyone's surprise) the house's true origin.

The fact that the Logues' did not put siding over the hand-hewn logs made it a charming curiosity to locals. Knowing the hardships the family faced, it may also indicate they lacked the means to make cosmetic improvements to the structure.

In April 1903, Maggie Logue sold the family farm (consisting of 83 acres), to John Alexander Dowie, the founder of the City of Zion. She was paid $9,550 ($280,724 today).

The Logue house being razed, and the large oak tree already gone. Date unknown (post-1903). The fence was built after the property was sold to Dowie and was the type used to pasture horses. Dunn Museum 94.34.640

Maggie retired to Waukegan where she lived until her death on May 19, 1920.

Margaret "Maggie" Logue's signature on receipt in probate record, 1899. 


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Reverend Dodge and the Anti-Slavery Movement

The Reverend William B. Dodge (1783-1869) of the Millburn Congregational Church was an outspoken abolitionist and leader in Lake County's anti-slavery movement. 
Rev. William B. Dodge (1783-1869), shown here in 1860.
Image from: The First Hundred Years: the Story of the Millburn Congregational Church 1840-1940. 

Dodge was 61-years old when he came to Millburn in 1844. His roots in New England, where he worked in education and the anti-slavery movement, set the stage for his leadership role in Lake County. 

Dodge was born in Rowley, Massachusetts in 1783, the son of Revolutionary War veteran, Phineas Dodge, and Lucy Nelson Dodge. In early 1807, Dodge married Sarah Dole (1781-1870) and the couple moved to Salem, Massachusetts. 

In Salem, Dodge opened the city's first Sunday School, and was an educator in the public schools for over thirty years. In 1827, he was appointed chaplain of the city almshouse, a position he retained for 17 years.

Salem, Massachusetts in 1839. Engraving by J.W. Barber. 

In 1834, the city established an elementary and high school for African American students. Although Salem's schools were integrated, the free African American community still faced adversity. William B. Dodge was hired as the school's principal due to his reputation as a teacher and anti-slavery activist.

One of Dodge's pupils was Robert Morris (1823-1882), who became one of the first African American lawyers in the United States. As an attorney, Morris worked on cases regarding African American education and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. 

Robert Morris (1823-1882), lawyer and abolitionist. (John J. Burns Library's Blog)
Dodge was invited by his former students to return to Salem for a visit (around 1861), and Robert Morris was one of his hosts. Morris recalled that Dodge was responsible for his education and had ensured he was "treated justly, and even kindly." 

The entire Dodge family was active in the anti-slavery movement, and abolitionists on the Underground Railroad. The family used their home on North Street to harbor individuals escaping from slavery. 

In 1834, Dodge's wife, Sarah Dole Dodge, and daughters, Lydia Little Dodge (1811-1848) and Lucia Nelson Dodge (1815-1845), became founding members of the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society.

Sarah Dole Dodge (1781-1870), wife of William B. Dodge. Photo circa 1860.
Robert Miller Collection,

The society's constitution stated: "That slavery should be immediately abolished; that people of color, enslaved or free, have a right to a home in the country without fear of intimidation, and that the society should be ready to acknowledge people of color as friends and equals." 

Ledger entry from the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society regarding a meeting held at the William and Sarah Dodge home on January 10, 1838. Original ledger in collections of Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum
Online collections Congregational Library and Archives 

By 1842, Dodge retired from teaching and became the "antislavery agent" in the churches of Massachusetts.

Around this time, part of Dodge family headed west to settle on the frontier, including daughter Hannah Little Dodge (1819-1884) to Millburn, Lake County, Illinois, and son Samuel D. Dodge (1809-1875) to Peoria, Illinois. 

In the spring of 1844, William and Sarah Dodge set out "to settle among [their] children" and arrived in Millburn on May 14. They purchased 120-acres on the southwest corner of today's Route 45 and Sand Lake Road in Avon Township. 

Millburn Congregational Church circled in red (top center). William B. Dodge farm denoted by red star (bottom center), and Dodge Schoolhouse across from the Dodge farm, circled in red. Map of Lake County, Illinois, 1861. 

While William and Sarah undoubtedly wished to be near their children, uprooting themselves to begin anew on the "frontier" was a remarkable undertaking. More than likely Dodge understood the opportunity this provided him to continue his work in the anti-slavery movement.

Within a few months of his arrival, Dodge was asked by the congregational community to become their pastor. His official installation was held at the dedication of the church's new meeting house on June 1, 1847. (From 1840 - 1847 the congregation met in a log structure). 

Reverend Dodge became known throughout the county as "Father Dodge." He spoke at meetings and celebrations across Lake County and "entered heartily into all reforms as they claimed his attention and support." 

By the mid-1840s, northeastern Illinois was the strongest area of anti-slavery sentiment in the state. This was in part due to the large concentration of settlers from New England (such as the Dodge Family), who brought anti-slavery sentiments with them. 

Dodge aligned himself with people of like mind, and soon distinguished himself as a leader. In 1846, he co-founded the Lake County Liberty Association which denounced the notorious Illinois Black Laws (1819-1865) that restricted the civil liberties of African Americans.

Dodge continued to take a great interest in education and in 1854 supported a tax levy to build a new schoolhouse. Neighbors met at his home and voted to approve the school, which was named Dodge School. The schoolhouse was built by William Bonner (see previous post on Bonner) and located across the road from Dodge's homestead. The first teacher was Dodge's son, James M. Dodge (1812-1887).

The community of Millburn, though small, was very much engaged in national affairs. Of particular interest was the growing divide between North and South over the issue of slavery. The news of radical abolitionist John Brown's impending execution after his failed raid at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, October 16-19, 1859, brought the Millburn congregation together for a special meeting. 

On December 2, 1859, the congregation passed a resolution that read in part: "That we will do good to those who have escaped from bondage as we have opportunity by supplying their present wants and aiding them in their flight." 

Excerpt of the resolution passed by the Millburn Congregational Church under the leadership of 
Reverend "Father" Dodge, December 2, 1859.
Original in the archives of the Millburn Congregational Church.

This resolution was in direct opposition to the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which required that all "escaped slaves" be returned to the South and that citizens of free states cooperate or be fined and jailed. Involvement in the Underground Railroad was dangerous and illegal, and therefore very secretive, making the open defiance of Reverend Dodge and his congregation quite extraordinary. 

In 1862, due to deteriorating health, Reverend Dodge resigned his position. 

From letter of Anna White to David Minto, November 1862: "I believe we are to have a new minister at Millburn before a great while. Mr. Dodge is to be released from the church next Tuesday. There seems to quite a difference of opinion in regard to which they shall have presbyterian or a congregational minister but I presume it will come out all right." 
Minto Family Collection, Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County (BBDM 93.45.502.2)

Though Dodge gave up his duties as pastor, the door to his home was always open. William and Sarah Dodge welcomed their neighbors with a cup of tea and comforting words. 

During the Civil War, Dodge's support of his neighbors remained unwavering. A number of young men from Millburn enlisted, including two of Dodge's grandsons: Samuel W. Dodge (1838-1909) and George C. Dodge (1842-1904), who served with the 96th Illinois Infantry. On the home front residents worked tirelessly for the war effort by making quilts and bandages, and writing letters to the "Soldier Boys." 

Following the war, the congregation's membership had grown and a new church was needed. When the church was dedicated in January 1867, "Father Dodge" had the honor of addressing the congregation in the old church. With his aged Bible in hand, Dodge walked alongside the new pastor, Reverend Bross, followed by a procession of the membership to the new church. 

Reverend Dodge led a procession from the old church to the new Millburn Congregational Church (shown above), 
on January 20, 1867. Photo circa 1880.
Photo courtesy of Historic Millburn Community Association

Reverend "Father" Dodge died on April 1, 1869, leaving a legacy of good works and selflessness. He was steadfast in his anti-slavery activism and concern for the oppressed, and was "greatly revered for his knowledge and for his great goodness of heart." 

  • Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County
  • Congregational Library and Archives, Boston, Massachusetts. Online collections "Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society." 
  • Dodge Family Association 
  • Historic Millburn Community Association www.historicmillburn.
  • John J. Burns Library, Boston, Massachusetts. This library is the repository for books from the personal library of Boston lawyer, Robert Morris (1823-1882).
  • WikiTree. William Bradford Dodge.
  • Boyle, Elizabeth A.  "Mobility, Migration, and the 1855 Philadelphia National Convention: Robert Morris." (2013) Colored Conventions: Bringing 19th-Century Black Organizing to Digital Life. 
  • Centennial Historical Committee. The First Hundred Years: The Story of the Millburn Congregational Church 1840-1940. (Millburn, Illinois, 1940). 
  • "Dedication of the New church at Millburn," Waukegan Gazette, January 27, 1867. 
  • Genealogy of the Descendants of John White of Wenham and Lancaster, Massachusetts : 1638-1900 : in Memorials of Elder John White, One of the First Settlers of Hartford, Conn , and of His Descendants, Almira Larkin White, Haverhill, Mass., Chase Bros., printers, 1900-09.
  • Halsey, John J. A History of Lake County, Illinois. (Chicago: R.S. Bates, 1912). 
  • Hefferman, James. "Robert Morris: A Man of Energy and Will." John J. Burns Library's Blog
  • Johnson, Reinhard O., The Liberty Party, 1840-1848: Antislavery Third-Party Politics in the United States. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009). 
  • National Park Service. African American Heritage Sites in Salem: A Guide to Salem's History, (Revised edition, 2008). 
  • "Obituary: Rev. William B. Dodge," Waukegan Gazette, April 10, 1869.
  • Portrait and Biographical Album of Lake County, Illinois (Chicago: Lake City Publishing Co., 1891). 
  • Turner, Glennette Tilley. The Underground Railroad in Illinois. (Newman Educational Publishing Company, Glen Ellyn: Illinois, 2001).
  • Wilson, Cynthia. "Robert Morris Sr. (1823-1882)," March 25, 2018.