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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Waukegan Bachelors' Club

In 1891, a group of Waukegan businessmen formed the Waukegan Bachelors' Club—a men's club for social and "improvement" reasons. Members included the elite of Waukegan such as future mayor, Dr. William Pearce, banker Theodore Durst, general store proprietor George Warren, and county clerk Lew Hendee.
Lake County official, Lew Hendee, was one of many Waukegan Bachelor Club members. Shown here circa 1910. Dunn Museum 94.34.220

The founding members purchased property on the east side of Third Lake and built a clubhouse with eight bedrooms, a large gathering room with a piano, and a large kitchen.
  Opening Day photo, June 14, 1903. "Opening Day" was usually held on a Sunday in June. According to an invitation sent by Lew Hendee and other members, the event began at 4 a.m. and continued until it was "time to go to work the following day." The bachelors decided the fate of one of their own at that first meeting each year. According to Dr. Pearce, "a candidate was selected by ballot to make a proposal for marriage that year. Some took the verdict good naturedly, others became terror stricken, but before the year had elapsed they have, thus far, persuaded some trusting damsel to share their fortunes."

Bachelors and clubhouse at Third Lake, June 1908. Dunn Museum.

Even after the men married, they remained dues-paying members to help with the property taxes on the clubhouse. The club also held a Family Day when bachelors could bring their girlfriends, and the married men could bring their wives and children for a picnic. The bachelors hosted exclusive parties, but also spent a good deal of time outdoors fishing, boating, hunting, and even had a baseball team.

Bachelors playing baseball at their clubhouse on Third Lake, June 1908. Dunn Museum.

As time went on, more of the men married and interest in the club declined. In 1905, Lew Hendee ended his bachelor days by marrying Miss Lila Favor.

Waukegan Daily News, August 23, 1920. 

By 1920, only four of the original 25 bachelors remained single. With few regular members, the Bachelor's Club turned over the use of their Third Lake clubhouse to local Boy Scout packs. 

In 1922, a new subdivision was created near the Club's property on Sunshine and Lake Avenues. The site of the club was eventually sold and developed. 

- D. Dretske

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Native American Collection

The museum has a significant Native American collection, most of which was collected or donated in the mid 1950s to mid 1960s.

One of the most beautiful and intriguing objects is a birchbark cradle, made about 1870. (BBDM 94.0.7)

In September, Curley Youpee of the Fort Peck Tribes of Montana made a consultation visit to the museum and examined the cradle.

Mr. Youpee noted the mix of Native American and European imagery on the cradle, created with hand-dyed porcupine quills on birchbark, and in the form of a traditional European rocking cradle. He felt the European rooster and chicken design, and Native American floral design represented the blending of the two cultures.

Photo by Mark Widhalm 2006 (left)

Another object carefully examined by Mr. Youpee was a sash.

The museum's files indicate the sash, still on its original loom, and shown here on its conservation mount, was collected at Bad River Reservation, WI in 1915. (BBDM 70.17.46)

The sash had been culturally identified as Chippewa, but Mr. Youpee advised that the leaf shooter design should be classified as Yankton Sioux.

Culturally identifying Native American objects can be difficult and often sources are contradictory.

This bandolier bag has been identified as Chippewa (Ojibwe) from about 1890, but due to the vivid red color used on the floral design, it has been speculated that the bag was made by Potawatomi.
(BBDM 70.16.23)

The bags, worn in pairs one over each shoulder, were adapted from the European style of ammunition belts, such as those worn by British Red Coats. Over time, these pouches evolved into purely decorative costume with the bags sewn shut.

Today, bandolier bags are worn as a symbol of prestige at pow-wows, or given as gifts.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Irish Settlement of Everett

The area of today's west Lake Forest, at the intersection of Route 43 and Everett Road, was once the site of a small Irish settlement known as Everett.

Students of the Everett School wrote in 1918 about the community's beginnings:

"Almost all the early settlers came from Ireland. A few of the very early ones came before the Potato Famine. Most of them came right after it." Cover of the Everett School History, 1918 (right)

The Michael Yore family was one of the first to settle in what would become an Irish-Catholic community. Yore Family cabin built circa 1841, as photographed in 1918.

The Everett School students documented what had been passed down to them by their elders about Michael Yore:

"He fostered education, he befriended the poor, he landed the thrifty and encouraged the shiftless, consoled the griefstricken, quashed the bickering, and by precept and example taught peace, industry and honesty." Photo of Michael Yore's eldest son, George, photographed in 1918 at the age of 80.

Photo taken by an Everett School student of sheep in a pen of an area farm. The photo's handwritten caption reads: "Doing their bit for their country" referencing the World War I war effort.

An anecdote related by the students was that in "those early years, pioneers saw fit to have a 'grog boss' to distribute liquid refreshments at their gatherings." John Bolgar was appointed because he had "many qualifications for this position. He would never indulge too much himself, and had a very pleasant way of being deaf to those thirsty parties who would importune him for another 'jiggar.'"

Until 1892, the community was called "Lancasterville" for James Lancaster who homesteaded here and ran a general store. This real photo postcard show's the store in circa 1910, several years after the town changed its name to Everett. The origin of the name Everett is unknown.

The settlers founded St. Patrick's Church about 1844, one of the oldest churches in the Chicago Archdiocese. Postcard of St. Patrick's Church and Rectory, 1909.

Everett School scholars who compiled the 1918 history of their school and community. Left to right: Harold Tulley, Gerald Yore, Rita Conway, Joe Yore, Florence Zieman, Fred Reum, Helen Man, Harriet Seyl, and Bessie Sneddon.

This school history is available for research at the archives. Grant funding to have this history and several dozen more from other schools transcribed, digitized and made available online is being sought by the museum.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Food in the Atomic Age

The postwar era of the 1950s, changed the way America cooked and ate. Television allowed companies to mass-market their products to consumers, and the automobile culture boomed with the freedom to enjoy food on the go.

The phrase "Atomic Age" was coined by New York Times journalist, William Laurence, who was the official journalist for the U.S. Manhattan Project which developed the first nuclear weapons, and tested them in 1945.

During the 1950s, Las Vegas became a tourist destination known for its casinos and the atomic mushroom clouds seen on the distant horizon, as shown in this 1952 Teich postcard (2CP2072).

The Nevada Test Site, a U.S. Department of Energy reservation located 65 miles northwest of Vegas, was established in 1951 to test nuclear devices. The blasts spurred the growth of the city through tourism and could easily be seen from downtown Vegas hotels.

After the lean years of rationing during World War II (1941-1945), Americans were ready to enjoy life to the fullest again. The new prosperity allowed families to renovate kitchens and buy new appliances for the first time.

The look was cleaner and less fussy than the kitchens of the 1930s, and relied heavily on electricity, which was an efficient power source for the plethora of new gadgets available to housewives. 5CK493 Teich postcard, 1955.

In 1955, the Lyon Company advertised steel cabinets for kitchens with this Teich postcard (D10797). Color was all the rage from pink cabinets to blue blenders. Anything but white was preferred. The cabinet's advantages included doors that opened with a tap, convenient storage in corner, ventilation, and built-in ranges.

Eighteen million women worked during World War II to keep the country and the war effort going. When the war ended, most women left or were forced out of their jobs to make way for returning soldiers.

1950s fashion was characterized by full skirts that accented a slim waistline. The conservatively flattering looks were emphasized by a pageant of colors and patterns influenced by European, Turkish and Asian cultures. Green cotton dress worn in the Mundelein area, circa 1954.

Stainless steel was the material of choice for a durable, modern look. These stainless steel mint julep cups were manufactured by Craft Manufacturing in North Chicago, circa 1950.

Swanson TV Dinners were introduced in 1953 and fit well into the new age of convenience. 9CK713 Teich postcard, 1959.

The postcards and objects shared in this blog are a small portion of items selected and researched by collections staff for the museum's upcoming exhibit, "Food in the Atomic Age" open November 14, 2009 to February 21, 2010.