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Friday, September 30, 2011

Fort Sheridan Horse Shows (1925 - 1939)



Between 1925 and 1939, the U.S. Army post at Fort Sheridan hosted horse shows and polo matches. The events were part public relations and part training.

The circa 1930 postcard (above) illustrates one of the more extreme stunts at the Fort Sheridan horse shows. LCDM 92.24.255.1.

Fort Sheridan was established in 1887, and became known as a Cavalry Post with the arrival of the first cavalry regiment in 1892.

Following World War I, Fort Sheridan took on a country club atmosphere. Though troops continued to train, cavalry officers in particular showcased their skill in public horse shows and polo matches.


Horse show grounds overlooking Lake Michigan at Fort Sheridan, circa 1930. Ekmark photograph. LCDM 92.24.983.


A dramatic entrance on the Fort's Parade Grounds for the 14th Cavalry, circa 1925. Ekmark photograph. LCDM 92.24.1887.


Page from booklet for the 1936 Fort Sheridan Horse Show and Military Exhibition. It is interesting to note that civilians also participated in certain events. LCDM 92.24.181.


View of a great jump in cavalry officers' event with judges observing every detail, circa 1930. LCDM 92.24.1337


Cavalry rough rider, circa 1930. Onlookers are so close they could almost reach out and touch the horses! LCDM 92.24.251.1


The polo teams consisted of cavalry officers and wealthy North Shore residents. Circa 1929. LCDM 92.24.577.


Like military honors, trophies awarded at horse shows were highly valued and lauded. Pictured here is a display of trophies ready for the victors at the Fort Sheridan Horse Show, circa 1930. LCDM 92.24.758


Fort Sheridan Horse Show trophy presented by Fort Sheridan Officers Club. Hunt Class winners for 1927 - 1937. LCDM 92.24.137


The variety of stunts performed at the horse shows amazed and delighted the crowds that gathered. Circa 1930. Photo by 6th Signal Corps. LCDM 92.24.1175.

The museum's Fort Sheridan Collection consists of over 2,000 photographs, dozens of which are of the horse shows and cavalry rough riders. The Fort Sheridan Collection photographs were digitized thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, and are available online through the Illinois Digital Archives.

To request a free brochure on Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve with information on the history of the Fort and site map, please email me at: ddretske@lcfpd.org.

Friday, September 23, 2011

John Robertson and the Tragedy of Rainbow Road


"Nothing in the whole history of Lake County has ever produced a tithe of the excitement which has been developed here over the killing of 'Squire John Robertson' by Peter Davison... The death of one of its most prominent citizens in this manner has called forth such an expression of public sentiment as is very seldom manifested in the rural districts." Chicago Daily Tribune, September 11, 1877.


John Robertson, circa 1870.

The cause of the terrible incident was a road dispute. The road to Honey Lake, today known as Rainbow Road in Lake Zurich, had been in place some 40 years, but farmer, Peter Davison (1826-1892), decided it was too close to his orchard and petitioned the road commissioners to have it moved.


A section of the 1873 plat map (above) shows the road in dispute. It is located on the map, beneath Lake Zurich and diagonally under P. Davisons' name (misspelled on map).

For a couple of years preceding the incident, Davison had repeatedly blocked the old road with barriers, using logs or fences, and harassed travelers. The Town Supervisor decided the matter was not worth quarreling about and asked that a new road be built, but it would take several months to collect the taxes to build it. In the meantime, the road commissioners needed to remove the barriers for "some road should be kept open."

The road commissioners, including John Robertson, Mr. Kuegge (Knigge?) and Mr. Bees, and some hired men met at the road block on September 8, 1877. Davison had built a rail fence with a board fence on top of it, and secured the gate with a chain and padlock. A hired man took down a portion of the fence before Davison threatened them. Davison and his son, Charles, were carrying clubs, and Davison's wife, Martha, had a fence rail. As the threats continued, Robertson advised the other commissioners to get a warrant for the Davison men's arrest, the commissioners were tired of dealing with this issue and wanted the road open.

One of the hired men was told to continue taking the fence down and the younger Davison hit him with a club. The hired man took the club away and the boy cried out, "I am assaulted" and drew a revolver on him. Robertson then addressed Peter Davison, trying to calm the situation down, but Davison, who was holding a revolver leveled it at Robertson and fired.


The John Robertson farm on the east shore of Lake Zurich, circa 1860. Robertson was a prosperous farmer and road commissioner.

Robertson was struck through the chin by the bullet. The Davisons fled to their home. The men got Robertson on a wagon and took him to his home along Lake Zurich, where four hours later, he died from suffocating on his own blood. Edward Clark, Robertson's son-in-law, went to the Davison home to arrest him, and found Peter Davison sitting in his kitchen smoking a cigar.


The John and Charlotte Robertson home where John died from his bullet wound. Photographed by Korinna Grom, 2011.

In his defense, Davison claimed the killing was accidental, stating that while sitting or leaning on the fence at the time, he was thrown forward, and that the revolver went off in consequence.

Davison and his son (an accessory to murder) were held in jail in Cook County. Davison's hearing was reportedly held in Barrington in a room above the cheese factory. There were so many people interested in the proceedings that the floor began to sag and had to be re-enforced. The Chicago Tribune reported that Davison had two hearings, one before a Justice of the Peace, presumably referring to the hearing in Barrington, and the other on a writ of Habeas corpus before Judge Murphy at Woodstock.

Having been indicted, on December 4, 1877, Davison was called into the Circuit Court in Waukegan. Interestingly, the court session was held at Phoenix Hall, because the county was without a courthouse. In 1875, the courthouse was destroyed by fire, and the new courthouse was not completed until November 1878.

On March 30 1878, after a two-week trial, Davison was found guilty. The jury's foreman read the verdict: We, the jury find the defendant guilty in manner and form as indicted, and fix his punishment at imprisonment in the Penitentiary for fourteen years."

At this, Martha Davison cried out: "My God, is there no justice in this world? Oh, no justice, gentlemen, in this world!"

Davison served a shortened sentence and was released due to poor health. His release may have occurred as early as 1880, since he is listed on the 1880 census as living in Ela Township, Lake County.


Real photo postcard of Robertson Road, named for John Robertson, circa 1910. LCDM 92.27.138

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hough, International Harvester, Dresser & Komatsu


In 1939, the Frank G. Hough Company in Libertyville built the world’s first production payloader tractor shovel. Hough-International Harvester employees and Pay Loader, circa 1965. 2006.15

The company became the largest employer in central Lake County with 3,000 employees, and eventually the world’s largest manufacturer of rubber-tired tractor shovels.


Inventor Frank G. Hough (1890-1965), pictured above, coined the term "payloader."

Hough was working as a mining engineer in Wisconsin in 1920, when he conceived of the idea of "moving bulk materials in large quantities with hydraulically operated, mobile equipment."


By 1933, his company was incorporated and operating out of Chicago. In 1939, he opened his plant in Libertyville, which covered 14,400 square feet, and where the first Model HS Payloaders were manufactured. View of Hough Company, Libertyville, 1939. (LCDM 2010.34) This machine arrived at a time when there were no machines with shovels attached to the front or rear, and it provided speed, maneuverability and fast cycle times.

Hough was an industry and community leader in Libertyville. Under Hough's leadership and legacy, the company defined the modern wheel loader, and accomplished such achievements as four wheel drive, torque conversion and the hydrostatic transmission.


Hough Company entrance. (LCDM 2010-34.32)

In 1952, Hough sold his company to International Harvester. By then his plant occupied over 312,000 square feet and employed more than 1,000 people.


Photo of employees celebrating their anniversaries in November 1957 (as pictured in the company's newsletter). Left to right: G.A. Gilbertson (management); William F. Pentzien, 15 years; Floyd F. Patrick, 10 years; Betty L. Cazel, 5 years; Fred A. Arnold, 10 years; Edgar White, 10 years; Richard H. Moore, 10 years; Minor B. Williams, 10 years; Jack Forney, and George J. Stedronsky, 10 years. (LCDM 2010.34.43)


Drafting department, Hough-International Harvester, Libertyville, circa 1965. (LCDM 2010.34.19)


Offices at Hough-International Harvester, Libertyville, circa 1965. (LCDM 2010.34.5)


Frank G. Hough's office, Libertyville. Photo by Carl Ullrich. (LCDM 98.8)


View of the manufacturing operations at Hough-International Harvester, circa 1965. 
(LCDM 2010.34.35)


Assembly Department, Hough Company, Libertyville. Photo by Carl Ullrich. (LCDM 98.8)

Hough dissolved in 1966 and became a division of Harvester. Dresser Industries bought the plant from Harvester in 1981. Komatsu Ltd. formed a joint venture with Dresser in 1988. Komatsu is a Japanese company that manufactures construction and mining equipment, and was founded in 1917.

Komatsu and Dresser Industries established Komatsu Dresser to make mining tractors and related equipment. This 50-50 ownership lasted from September 1988 to August 1994, when Komatsu bought out Dresser's share.


H-65C Pay Loader, Libertyville, circa 1970. (LCDM 2006.15)

In 1995, Komatsu America Corporation purchased the plant. The Libertyville plant closed in 1996 when Dresser and Komatsu reassessed their manufacturing capacity in the United States. Komatsu's mining products were consolidated under the name Komatsu Mining Systems in 1997.


Aerial photograph of Libertyville plant looking southeast from Route 176,
circa 1975. (LCDM 2010.34)

Like Hough and International Harvester before them, Komatsu still uses the Antioch Proving Grounds for testing earth-moving machines.

Komatsu's headquarters are now in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Komatsu America is the second-largest, fully-integrated manufacturer and supplier of construction equipment in North America.


In recent years, the museum has received several generous donations of Hough and International Harvester items from the company and former employees, including photographic images, newsletters, Payloader models, and even a drafting table and drafter's tools. A sample of the photographs and slides have been shared in this post.

The earliest Hough donation was made to the museum in 1961 by the company itself. The 1939 Hough Model HS Payloader (LCDM 61.51.) is shown in front of the company plant.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Daniel Brewster, Harness Maker (1821-1908)


When Daniel Brewster passed away in 1908, the local newspaper noted him as "One of Waukegan's foremost citizens." Father Brewster, as close friends and admirers called him, was one of Waukegan's earliest businessmen.

Daniel Brewster was born in Laurens, New York in 1821 to Ezra Birchard Brewster and Joanna Stearns Reed. He came to Chicago in 1843, but returned east for a short time before coming to Waukegan (then known as Little Fort) in June 1844.

He opened a saddler and harness maker's shop on the second floor of the Isaac R. Lyon building at the northwest corner of Washington Street and Sheridan Road (formerly known as State Street).


This carte-de-visite photograph of Daniel Brewster may have been made to promote his business, since it pictures him in his work attire, including apron. Circa 1870. LCDM 94.34.33.

After establishing himself in business, Brewster returned east to marry Hannah A. Montgomery in Darien, Genesee County, New York, in October 1847. The couple made their home in Waukegan and had five children.


When this ad was printed in the Waukegan city directory in 1874, Brewster's shop was located at 61 Washington Street.

In 1862, several prominent Waukegan men, including Daniel Brewster, gifted a sword to their friend, and Brewster's colleague in the harness and saddlery business, Benjamin G. Blowney, who had enlisted with the 96th Illinois Regiment. The sword was presented by George Kirk, esquire of Waukegan, while Blowney was in training at Camp Fuller, Rockford, Illinois. Following is the letter that accompanied the presentation as noted in the 96th Illinois's Regimental history:

Waukegan, Sept 8th, 1862.
Lieutenant Blowney:
Please accept this instrument of war, to fight the enemies of our country, and may it never--God willing--be sheathed until the enemy is subdued and the Union remains inseparable, and our country becomes, in truth as wall as in name, "The land of the free and the home of
the brave."

Yours truly,

George Kirk
W. H. Ellis
S. M. Dowst
Jos. Mallon
D. Brewster


It was fairly common to gift friends in the military with horses and swords to better prepare them for war and to show support. Benjamin Blowney returned from the war brevetted Major for meritorious conduct, and continued in the harness and saddlery business in Waukegan.

Brewster was not only a prominent businessman, but also a Mason. He received his degree in Union Lodge No. 78, A.F. and A.M. in 1862. In 1869, 1870 and 1876 he served as Worshipful Master, and became a life member of the Waukegan Lodge.


Photograph of Freemasons, circa 1890. Daniel Brewster is seated second from right (behind). Pictured as numbered: 1 - Jay ??, 2 - Denny Hamilton, 3 - John R. Bullock, 4 - Daniel Brewster, 5 - Joseph Palmer, 6 - Fred Taggart, 7 - Thomas A. Neunham (?), 8 - David Raeside, 9 - C.S. Laugham, 10 - Robert Mutaw, 11 - John K. Bower, 12 - Josiah A. Rice. (LCDM 2011.0.229)


Detail from Freemason photograph showing Daniel Brewster, circa 1890. LCDM 2011.0.229.

Brewster's death was caused by "general breaking down caused by old age," although he had been at his store almost every day until shortly before his death.

At the time of his death, Daniel Brewster was considered one of Waukegan's most familiar and best beloved men.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day - The Working Man's Holiday


In recent years, Labor Day has become a “farewell to summer” holiday, but its true purpose is rooted in honoring the American worker.


Bricklayers, probably in Waukegan, circa 1910. LCDM 63.18.4.

Labor Day was first celebrated in New York in 1882. The first Labor Day parade was held on the first Monday in September 1883, by New York workers. Few, if any workers got the day off, and were threatened with being fired if they attended the parade. Despite the warning, more than 10,000 workers joined the march. Bricklayers in white aprons even paraded with a band playing “Killarney.”

The idea of a “working man’s holiday” spread across the nation. With the growth of labor organizations the holiday became more popular, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers around the country. Oregon was the first state to make Labor Day an official holiday (1887). By 1894, 23 states had adopted the holiday, and Congress passed a law recognizing Labor Day as an official national holiday.


Postcard of Iron Workers' Union, family camp grounds, Round Lake, circa 1912. Photo by C.R. Childs. LCDM M-86.1.710.

The celebrations took the form of a parade exhibiting to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” followed by a festival with recreation, food and entertainment for workers and their families.


Teamsters Union on parade, Waukegan, circa 1906. LCDM 63.18.2.

Strong support for the American labor movement was especially noticeable in industry dominated cities such as Chicago. In Illinois, the first workers’ compensation law took effect in May 1912. Before that time, workers assumed all risks on the job, and if they were injured or killed, the employer was not legally responsible.


Page from the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Injury & Treatment Record Ledger, showing that engineer, Irwin Stetler, got coal cinders embedded in his left eye, June 1, 1914, and that treatment was begun. LCDM

At the United States Sugar Refinery in Waukegan, which operated from 1890 to 1913, workers faced unusually high incidence of death and injury. Over the years, the refinery claimed the lives of 47 people. The single worst industrial accident in Lake County’s history occurred at the refinery on November 25, 1912.


An explosion in the starch house resulted in 14 people being killed and 24 injured. With the new compensation law in place, this was the first time in Illinois history that workers and their families could be compensated. Postcard of the U.S. Sugar Refiner, circa 1906. LCDM 92.27.307


Fansteel workers using magnifying glasses to examine and sort small objects (possibly phonograph needles), Waukegan, 1942. LCDM 2007.28

Though there are few if any workers' parades these days, Labor Day is still a tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength and prosperity of our nation.