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Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Bright and Prosperous New Year!

Several years ago, I decided to get smarter about handling the rush of the holiday season, and started sending New Year's cards. By New Year's Day, the frenzy of shopping, wrapping, decorating and merrymaking is over and done with, and I can write a nice note to family and friends wishing them the best for the coming year.

What seemed like a novel idea to me, and the people who got my "post holiday" cards, is actually an old tradition. At the turn of the 20th century, sending New Year's greetings in the form of a postcard or greeting card was quite popular. New Year's postcard, circa 1915 (left).

Many of the traditions and superstitions of ringing in the New Year are pictured on postcards. 

This German postcard from 1905 was sent from Chicago, and portrays a pig and monk dancing on a keg of beer. The pig (especially in Austrian tradition) foretells a year filled with fortune and good luck, as do the clovers. The keg of beer and dancing represent the festivities surrounding the New Year. Postcard from the Dorothy Gleiser Collection, 1905 (73.9.99).

This American New Year's greeting is one of my favorite New Year's cards in the collection—mainly because of the cat, but also because it's such a dynamic greeting for the New Year. Of course, the bottle of bubbly represents celebration, but the loud pop of the cork has the added benefit of scaring away evil spirits. Postcard from the Dorothy Gleiser Collection, 1906 (73.9.99).

Noise making stems from Old World tales that evil spirits hover near as the New Year approaches. The noise of blowing whistles and horns, ringing bells, and popping champagne corks, all ward off impending danger.

This design of the "year" festooned with four-leaf clovers was easily understood by the recipient as a wish for good luck throughout the coming year. Year date postcards were particularly popular between 1908-1912. Postcard from the Dorothy Gleiser Collection, 1907 (73.9.99).

There is a lot of symbolism in this 1908 Swiss New Year's postcard. It was sent from a relation in Frauenfeld, Switzerland to Lizzie Schlager in Waukegan, Illinois.

The child with the broom and ladder is a chimney sweep and represents sweeping away the pains and tribulations of the past year and beginning with a clean slate. Also pictured is a red and white mushroom and horse shoe, both symbols of good fortune. And of course, the clock's hands are on twelve, striking midnight to ring in the New Year. Lizzie Schlager Collection, 1908 (61.8.300).

This stunning colorized photo postcard is from Lundsbrunn, Sweden. The children represent renewal, much like babies (versus an "Old Man" the symbol of the past year). The four-leaf clovers, horse shoe and bag of money are all representations of good fortune and plenty, while the number "1" is for January 1st and a new beginning. Postcard 1915 (LCHA).

This is the back of the Swedish postcard, showing that it is addressed to Miss Alice Carlsson of Waukegan.

Any combination of the symbols seen above were employed to make an appealing New Year's wish. Additionally, you might see a stork carrying a baby (rebirth), a couple kissing (good luck to celebrate the first few minutes of the New Year with the one you love), shooting stars (induces prosperity), and elves with red hats ("Tomtens" for good fortune and popular with the Pennsylvania Dutch).

The museum's archival collections hold approximately 160 postcards related to the New Year.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Images of Christmas Past

In December 1865, Susannah Smith of Millburn wrote in her diary:

22nd - Will have no school till Tuesday because Monday will be “Merry Christmas.”

24th - Went to Church.

25th - Cousin William, and family came to spend Merry Christmas with us and we had a merry, merry time. They stayed all night.

As a young unmarried woman, Susannah taught at a one-room schoolhouse, Grubb School, located at Grass Lake and Beck Roads one half mile east of Deep Lake Road (now part of Lake Villa). Her diary gives many insights into rural life, including a glimpse into holiday festivities, and the fact that school was back in session the day after Christmas.

In this 1908 photograph, Mildred Holloway Minto of Millburn sits with her daughters, Ruth (on lap) and Katherine in front of the family's Christmas tree. Mildred married David Harold Minto in 1905, who was the son of Civil War veteran David J. Minto and Susannah Smith. 

Susannah Smith Minto continued to keep a diary for many years. In 1910, she commented on activities surrounding the coming holiday:

December 10th - I rec’d a nice box of writing papers & cards as a Christmas gift from Mrs J.M. Strong of 60 So. Euclid ave Pasadena Cal. 

December 22nd - Men got Christmas trees from our woods. [The Minto property  was on Deep Lake Road north of Grass Lake Road, adjacent to Loon Lake.]

The diary page shown above is for December 23 and 24, 1910. Transcribed here is an excerpt:

Una [Susannah's daughter] has quite a hard cold, hope it may be better tomorrow as she has promised to go to M. [Millburn] to help to decorate Christmas trees for evening. H [Susannah's son, David Harold Minto] making ironing board for K. [his daughter Katherine] on Christmas; he is working down in cellar making it this evening. I made shortbread.

Susannah's granddaughters, Katherine Minto and Lura Minto Johaningsmeier donated the photo above among other photos, family letters and diaries to the museum in 1993. The donation, known as the Minto Collection, has become one of the museum's most invaluable resources to staff and researchers.

On Christmas day 1911, the Wilton Family gathered in Avon Township for this family portrait: 

The photo was probably taken at the Wilton Farm on Drury Lane and Rollins Road. 

Pictured are: William Wilton holding William Bratzke (center of photo), Emma Wilton & Isabel Bratzke, Martha Hucker, Maggie Tweed, Eliza Elsbury, Elbert Elsbury, Joe Wilmington, Charles Bratzke, Fred Hucker, Cora Moody, Net Hucker, Anna Bratzke, Charles Hucker, Harriet Fenlon, Leo Fenlon, Everett Hucker, Marjorie Moody, George Hucker, Evelyn Fenlon, Esther Fenlon, Bessie Moody, Keneth Moody, Harold Hucker, George Elsbury, Lloyd Elsbury, Howard Moody, John Petersen, Bernice Elsbury. Photoby Corel Ruth Hucker. 

Jumping several decades, here are a couple of photographs from a Women's Army Corps holiday luncheon at Fort Sheridan, circa 1962. My mother would be pleased to see they're serving olives. That is certainly a tradition at all special meals at our house!

There's something about this young man that reminds me of my brother at that age. The cowboy look became immensely popular with the advent of television Westerns in the 1950s and 1960s, so this unidentified youngster was certainly having a very good Christmas. 

Happy holidays! 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kenar - Jakubowski, North Chicago

In 2007, a collection of photographs and documents from the Kenar-Jakubowski Family of North Chicago was donated to the museum.

For the museum, the donation enhances its holdings for the North Chicago area, and the period of the 1920s - 1940s. It also increases our understanding of immigration to the county. Much of the county's history is related to settlement and growth, and this donation is the story of first generation Americans.

Jacob Kenar (photo 1944)
The patriarch of the family, Jacob Kenar (1878-1944), was a Polish immigrant and naturalized U.S. citizen. He arrived in the United States in 1900 and settled in North Chicago with his wife, Anna. Jacob became a leader among Polish people in the community, was a member of the Polish National Alliance Society and Holy Rosary Church, and worked for 25 years at the Chicago Hardware Foundry Company.

Julia Kenar (1904-1984), circa 1920
in her North Chicago letterman sweater
The bulk of the donation relates to Jacob and Anna's eldest child, Julia, and her husband Joseph Jakubowski.

The collection gives insight into life in North Chicago in the first half of the 20th century, and into the lives of immigrant families and their children. These were ordinary people living out ordinary lives, and in part that's what  makes the materials all the more fascinating. It's a slice of life.

Julia was the only woman in the Kenar family to drive a car.
Pictured here on Victoria Street, North Chicago, circa 1925.
Julia's husband, Joseph Jakubowski
(1902-1976), studio photo circa 1920. 
Joe worked as a butcher. He's pictured here in
the meat market's slaughter yard. The original
Holy Rosary Church can be seen in the
background at 14th and Victoria.
Photo circa 1922. 

Julia and Joe had this house built between 1941-1946
on Skokie Highway near Stearns School Road in Gurnee. 
One of many receipts related to the
construction of
Julia and Joe's home.  
Another local business the Jakubowski's
patronized as they furnished their new home.
Julia Kenar Jakubowski was a plant superintendent at
Pfanstiehl (Fansteel) Chemical Corporation. She is
shown in this photo at the plant, standing in the back
of the room, 1942. 
The images shared here are a sampling of what the Kenar-Jakubowski Collection has to offer historians and genealogists. The collection consists of one-linear foot of material.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Maynard Log Cabin, Waukegan

In 1844, Jesse H. Maynard (1809-1890) arrived in Waukegan from New Hampshire with his wife, Augusta Marshall (1813-1884), and their children. Maynard family ancestors originally came to Massachusetts from England in 1630. 

Jesse Maynard (1809-1890). Bess Bower Dunn Museum, 94.34.291.

Maynard built a log cabin for his family and farmed land along Grand Avenue east of Green Bay Road in Waukegan. Green Bay Road was a main thoroughfare for travelers and new settlers. Maynard's wife, Augusta, taught the first school at Spaulding's Corner located at the intersection of Grand and Green Bay Roads. The location was named for the David Spaulding family who had settled there in 1836. 

Augusta Marshall Maynard (1813-1884). Wife of Jesse H. Maynard and first teacher at Spaulding's Corner School. 
Bess Bower Dunn Museum, 94.34.273.

In 1856, Jesse Maynard started a brickyard on his property at 3015 Grand Avenue. In 1864, he noted  that Dr. Vincent Price (1832-1914) of Waukegan ordered 1,000 soft bricks. Dr. Price had moved from  New York State to Waukegan in 1860 where he invented and promoted the use of baking powder, and became a wealthy businessman. 

Maynard Brickyard on Grand Avenue in Waukegan. Bess Bower Dunn Museum. 

Locally made brick was in great demand. Using the surface clay on site, Maynard made bricks which were first sun-dried, then stacked and covered for curing, and later baked in kilns located under a roof. A windmill on site provided power to pump water for the manufacturing process. 

In the 1880s, the family covered their log cabin with siding, added rooms and plastered the interior walls (below). 
Maynard Family home, circa 1885. The original log cabin (two-story section above) was covered with clapboard siding and additions made as the family grew more prosperous. Left to right: housekeeper Tilda Sweet (behind shrub), Jesse Maynard seated; and standing at right is daughter, Augusta Phillips (1839-1889). Bess Bower Dunn Museum, 94.34.490

The Maynard family discontinued living in this house in the early 1900s, and rented it to tenants. In 1962, Jesse Maynard's great-grandson, Edward N. Maynard, inherited the 12.5 acre-property and house, and sold it to the North Shore Gas Company. 

The family had retained the knowledge that the clapboard covered house concealed the log cabin their ancestor had built of hand-hewn logs in 1844. In order to save the original log cabin, North Shore Gas donated it to the Lake County History Museum (Wadsworth, Illinois). 

Russell Rouse (left) and Oscar F. Rogers, vice-president of North Shore Gas company. 
The men are examining the hand-forged nails used by Jesse Maynard to build the house in 1844.

In 1964, the central two-story portion of the historic Maynard home was moved to the Lake County Highway Department yard on Winchester Road in Libertyville. That location was chosen since the Lake County History Museum was hoping to build a new museum in Libertyville near the Winchester House (Lake County nursing home).
The Maynard log house moving to its temporary home in Libertyville, 1964.
Bess Bower Dunn Museum 94.34.491.

Maynard log house at Lake County Highway Department, Libertyville, 1972. 
Bess Bower Dunn Museum, 94.34.526.

Despite the best of intentions, the Maynard log cabin lingered outside and exposed to the elements until the mid-1970s while plans were developed for a new museum site. The cabin was carefully dismantled, each section numbered, and transported to Lakewood Forest Preserve in 1977. The goal was to re-assemble the cabin, but by then the damage was done. Much of the timbers had been eaten away by powder-post beetles. 

Sadly, all that remains of this worthy preservation project are the photographs taken to document its journey. Thanks are due to the work of many volunteers, including the Carpenters & Joiners of America Local No. 1996, and George Palaske House Raising and Moving Company, who uncovered and moved the cabin from its original site.

- D. Dretske, Curator

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lakewood Farm - Lakewood Forest Preserve

In 1937, Malcolm Boyle (1897-1959), a wealthy Chicago contractor, purchased several farms near Wauconda totaling 1,250 acres to create Lakewood Farm.

The rolling topography of Lakewood Forest Preserve (formerly Lakewood Farm).
This view is of the Stockholm addition to Lakewood Forest Preserve, 1989.
Boyle was at the tail end of a movement of influential Chicagoans who retreated to the countryside to build estates and operate farms, mainly from the 1870s to 1920s. These farms were known as “gentleman farms” because the owner’s hired farm managers to run them.

Many gentlemen farmers were executives or owners of Chicago businesses, or the children of prominent Chicago families. Their farms transformed the landscape of Lake County from homesteads with traditional white clapboard farmhouses to estate houses with elaborate gardens designed by famous architects. Among these farms were Arthur Meeker’s Arcaday Farm, Grace Durand’s Crab Tree Farm, Robert Leatherbee’s Brae Burn Farm, and Malcolm Boyle's Lakewood Farm.

In 1939, Malcolm Boyle registered the name, Lakewood Farm, for his working farm with the Lake County Recorder of Deeds. It became a showplace with Guernsey cows, pigs, horses, extensive orchards, gardens and grain production.

Wauconda's Independent Register wrote in 1938: "[Boyle] has remodeled the buildings and is making extensive improvements on the property, including an artificial lake."

Boyle renovated a pre-Civil War house on site
 into a country home. Since 1986, this building has been
 used for the museum's archives and library. 
One of the existing buildings Boyle improved was a pre-Civil War house. Boyle renovated it in 1938 into a lovely country home, and in 1986 when the Curt Teich Postcard Archives was donated to the museum, the house was adapted into an archives.

This barn was built in the 1920s and renovated by Boyle circa 1938.
This image is from a Lakewood Farms booklet printed, circa 1965,
printed by Howard Quinn, the property's next owner.
The ponds on the property were enhanced and landscaped by Synnetsvedt, and Boyle dredged a wetland to create Banana Lake and then stocked it with fish. He reportedly planned to dredge a small canal from Banana Lake to Bangs Lake in Wauconda (a distance of about one mile).

In 1953, Boyle’s Guernsey “Hagan Farms Merry Song” won a prize at the International Dairy show. The cow had notably produced 15,000 pounds of milk the previous year.

Silver tray trophy "Champion Northern Illinois Jr. Parish Show
Curtiss Improved Stud Service 1956."
For Lakewood Farm, Wauconda. LCDM 2009.21.2
In July 1961, Howard Quinn, owner of a savings and loan in Chicago, purchased the property. Quinn made many improvements to buildings, and in farming and breeding methods for his registered Guernsey and Angus cattle. He also constructed a Butler building  to be used as a loafing shed for cows waiting to be milked.

Known by its manufacturer’s name, the Butler building was a pre-engineered metal building. 
Beginning in 1968, the Lake County Forest Preserves used it for storing vehicles. 
In 1977, the Chicago Bears practiced here before they had a permanent facility in Lake Forest.
 The building was razed in 2010.
In 1965, Quinn was convicted of defrauding the government. According to the Chicago Tribune, the property was to be sold to "recoup losses from Quinn's handling of savings and loans funds insured by the federal corporation."

The Lakewood Farm property was one of the first sites designated by the Lake County Forest Preserves' for acquisition. In 1968, the land was acquired, and the farm buildings used to store equipment.

Prize bull barn as seen circa 1965.
This structure would be adapted as the museum's lobby and gift store.
The Lake County Discovery Museum opened its doors at Lakewood in 1976. Previously, the museum was located near Wadsworth on Route 41. Several of the original Lakewood Farm buildings were adapted for the museum’s exhibit galleries, collections storage and administrative offices. The museum will be moving in 2-3 years to Libertyville where it will have larger exhibit galleries, and be able to provide increased access to educational programs and to researchers utilizing collections.

Today, Lakewood Forest Preserve totals more than 2,600 acres, making it the largest preserve in Lake County. During the next couple of years the Lake County Forest Preserve’s planning department will develop a master plan for Lakewood, which will consider how the complex of buildings at Lakewood will be used. This master plan will be approved by the Forest Preserves Board of Commissioners.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Homer Dahringer (1890-1918)

When World War I erupted in Europe after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, on June 28, 1914 by the Black Hand, the United States pursued a policy of non-intervention.

However, former president, Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), strongly supported the Allies and demanded a harsher policy against Germany, especially regarding submarine warfare. In 1917, Roosevelt visited Fort Sheridan (shown in photo) to give a passionate speech about the importance of rallying troops for mobilization for the war.

By 1916, the United States had begun to enlarge its army in preparation for war. At Fort Sheridan, much of the training focused on mastering trench warfare. Soldiers constructed and used an extensive trenching system simulating, as closely as possible, the trenches in the European war. (Officers Training Camp trenches at Fort Sheridan, circa 1917).

On April 6, 1917, the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany. Lake Countians began to volunteer for service in the war, and the Lake County sheriff was under orders to arrest all “slackers” or any man who wouldn’t register.

Homer Dahringer of Waukegan (right), who had gone through the First Officers Training Camp at Fort Sheridan in 1916, was commissioned August 15, 1917. He studied aviation in Austin, Texas, and was ordered to France in March 1918.

He was attached to the First Aero Squadron as an observer. In June 1918, he was promoted to first lieutenant. His job was to fly behind enemy lines in a two-seat reconnaissance plane, make observations and collect information and photographs of value to American gunners.

Dahringer had been a star athlete at Waukegan’s Central High School, and captain of the basketball team at the University of Illinois. By all accounts, he was outgoing and well liked.

Homer Dahringer (2nd from right), circa 1913.

Homer Dahringer (left) with friends. Mr. Steinhaus (2nd from right)
was Dahringer's business partner. In 1908, just after graduating
from high school, they formed Dahringer & Steinhaus
Restaurant, Ice Cream and Confectionary
at Genesee and Clayton Streets, Waukegan.

On September 16, 1918 he to wrote his parents from France:

“I am going on a dangerous mission, but we are all keyed up for it and do not anticipate any trouble. Tomorrow’s work is rather a culmination of all my efforts. We are going over the top together with the infantry. I am scheduled to fly an Infantry Liaison plane. It is the worst kind of work and everything rests with God. If I do not come back, you may know that I gave my all and my best to my country.”

He and his pilot, Lieutenant William Cowart, never came back from that mission. Their plane was shot down by a German Fokker, and they were reported missing in action on September 17, 1918.

Dahringer's family clung to the hope that he was alive and would come home from the war. The local paper ran headlines "Vanished Behind Foe Lines in Plane; Homer Dahringer, U.S. Air Observer, Missing in Action." Even the American Red Cross investigated and reported that he was alive and had been taken behind enemy lines. Soon even that report was questioned, since the family never received a letter from their son or any other news.

The Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, but it was not until January 3, 1919 that Dahringer's family received another telegram from the U.S. Army stating:

"Your son, Lieut. Homer Walston Dahringer reported by message dropped from German plane as dead in Germany. Date and cause of death unknown. Will notify of any future information."

Still, the family refused to accept the news. Within weeks, his body was brought to France for burial and it was the final proof that his family needed.

Real photo postcard of the University of Illinois' soccer team, 1910.
Homer Dahringer is seen smiling in the back row, third from left.
He sent the postcard to his sister Edna who was living in Los Angeles
at the time. He wrote: "This is the new game I am playing now.
We played against St. Louis and lost 5-0. Then we played Chicago
at Chicago and won 3-0. Today we played Chicago down here
and won 6-1. This was our last game this year. I am going home
for Thanksgiving soon.
Wish you were going to there too."
Signed, Homer "Darrie" [his nickname].
On October 28, 1919, the newly formed Waukegan American Legion Post was named in honor of Dahringer. Three years later, Dahringer’s body was brought back from France to be buried in Waukegan.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Amos Bennett, First African-American Settler

Amos Bennett was the county's first African-American settler, arriving in Gurnee by the fall of 1835.

Despite this remarkable distinction, Bennett's story was sparsely documented in early histories and went unresearched by historians until the 1990s. The discovery that sparked the museum's groundbreaking primary research on Bennett occurred in 1993 when museum volunteer, Al Westerman, was researching land records at the Lake County Recorder of Deeds. There, Westerman came across records of Bennett's land purchases. The find aroused curiosity since local legend and one published history claimed that Bennett had been merely a "squatter" and not a land owner.

If the squatting story was incorrect, what else might we find about this pioneering settler? The research eventually took myself and Al Westerman to Delhi, New York where we met historian Shirley Houck, who was also interested in the Bennett Family story.

Amos Bennett (1797-18??) was born in Fairfield, Connecticut to freed enslaved people Timothy and Lillie Bennett. Around 1799 or after, the Bennetts moved  their family to Delhi, New York, taking with them a paper verifying their freedom and safe passage. The Bennetts became the first free Blacks to settle in Delhi, and leased property in an area known as the Hardenburgh Patent on Federal Hill. They worked as sheep shearers, laborers and farmers.

Elijah Haines wrote in his Past & Present of Lake County, Illinois (1877) that Bennett arrived in 1834. He "was a colored man, and the first of the African race who came to what is now Lake County; he is said to have once remarked, with much self-satisfaction, speaking apparently with reference to the Indians, that he was the first white man that ever planted corn in Lake County. He was a very intelligent man and much respected."

Gravemarker for Miles Bennett, the brother of Amos Bennett. Bennett Family Cemetery, Delhi, NY. 
Photo courtesy of Shirley Houck.

However, it is my belief that Amos Bennett and his first wife Clara and their children (Henry and Emily) left for Lake County, Illinois in the fall of 1835; leaving behind his Bennett's parents and siblings, including a twin brother Almon. This timeline follows the last record of Amos Bennett in Delhi which is dated August 28, 1835, when he paid a portion of his father’s lease.

Historian, John Halsey, also felt that the 1835 date was likely. Halsey stated in his county history of 1912, that Amos arrived "before the close of 1835" settling "on the River above Vardin's Grove [Libertyville]."

Others have speculated that Bennett came west much later. That he may have been part of the westward migration of 100 families from Delhi that settled in the Gurnee area. This group included Philip Blanchard, who was a friend and neighbor to Bennett, and also an abolitionist.

Bennett built a log cabin southwest of the intersection of Washington Street and Milwaukee Avenue in Gurnee, and later had a house and property on Dilley’s Road north of Grand Avenue near today’s Gurnee Mills. His brother Alfred (1805-1881) lived with him for a time in Gurnee, and purchased property in what is now Greenbelt Forest Preserve. Alfred later moved to Ottawa County, Michigan.

Amos Bennett owned over 140 acres in Lake County. He sent his children to the local one-room school. Bennett was known as Dr. Bennett for his healing skill with herbs. He is reported to have saved the life of Hannah Blanchard (wife of Philip) after she was struck by lightning.

According to primary research by Debra Mieszala, in the spring of 1840, Bennett made an appearance at the first session of the circuit court in Libertyville. His complaint? He wanted a divorce from his wife Clara. Mieszala's published article on the proceedings "Clara, Clary, Clarice! Amos Bennett's First Wife Identified Through the Use of Court Records," appeared in the Lake County Illinois Genealogical Society newsletter, (Volume 21, No. 4, Apr-Jun 2001) excerpted as follows:

"Amos told the court that he had married his present wife, Clara, in the State of New York in July 1820. He stated that in July 1836, Clara had committed adultery with Thomas Wilkinson, a Mr. Wood, and other persons unknown to Amos.... he "remonstrated" against the "wicked practices of said Clary," and as a result she left him. Clara removed to Cook County, where Amos claimed she was living with other men... The case was found in Amos's favor in April 1841."

By 1843, Bennett remarried. The story is that he "traveled south" and when he returned he brought his new wife, Ann Frances. 

In August 1843, Bennett ran (unsuccessfully) for public office for Lake County Commissioner against William Shephard, Seth Washburn and Stephen Bennett. This makes him the first African-American to run for public office in Lake County.

He and his children were welcome at community gatherings, including a Fourth of July celebration at Third Lake in 1844. It was the first Fourth of July celebration in Lake County and held at the confluence of Second and Third Lakes (northwest of Washington Street and U.S. Route 45). Nearly 100 people gathered from neighboring communities, including the Bennetts. When dinner was ready, all the families paraded in a circle and then came together at the chowder kettle where Reverend Dodge (Millburn Congregational Church) blessed the food. After the meal, Reverend Dodge gave a prayer for the freedom of the slaves in the South, and Nat Doust read a copy of the Declaration of Independence.

In 1846, Bennett and 30 other families pooled their money and purchased a three-acre tract of land and created the Warren Township Cemetery.

Bennett bought and sold many acres of land, and borrowed money using his land, horses and a wagon as collateral. The last record found documenting Bennett in Lake County is dated May 13, 1852. That is the day he sold his remaining 40 acres to Philip Blanchard for $200 and paid off his mortgage.

In spite of much effort, the story of Amos Bennett ends in 1852. We have been unable to discover what became of him and his family. Although at least one source claimed he moved to Wisconsin, the Bennetts do not appear in census records there or elsewhere in the United States. It would probably take visits to county courthouses to find records verifying where Bennett re-settled his family.

Delhi, New York historian, Shirley Houck (1926-2013), visiting the Bennett Cemetery on Federal Hill near Delhi. 
Photo courtesy of Shirley Houck.

In 1997, the Lake County Forest Preserves placed a memorial plaque commemorating Bennett along the Des Plaines River trail near Washington Street in Gurnee.

In 1997, the Lake County Forest Preserves honored Amos Bennett by placing a plaque near the site of his homestead in Gurnee. 
Photo courtesy of LCFPD. 

In 2008, descendants of Tim and Lill Bennett gathered in Delhi, New York for a family reunion. 

In 2023, the Village of Gurnee and Warren Township High School's Black Student Union dedicated a new plaque to Bennett at the site of the historic Mother Rudd Home in Gurnee. 

The Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County continues its research on the Amos Bennett Family. We would very much like to hear from descendants or historians with more information. 

- Diana Dretske

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Treaty of Chicago, September 26, 1833

The private ownership of land was a European convention unfamiliar to Native Americans. Land came down to tribes from their ancestors, and in turn they passed over the stewardship to their children and their children's children for countless generations.

American Historian, Clarence Walworth Alvord (1868-1928), wrote: "To allow the whites to use the land was one thing; to cede to them the permanent possession of the land was quite different."

Westward migration by Euro-American settlers after the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 (which connected the Great Lakes with New York City via the Hudson River), put pressure on the U.S. Government to expropriate lands from Native peoples. The Erie Canal increased efforts to open northeastern Illinois to non-native settlement and brought hundreds of settlers into Michigan and Illinois.

Often, mistakenly, the Treaty of Prairie du Chien (there were four between 1825-1830) is cited as the reason Native Americans left northeastern Illinois. In fact, it was not until the Treaty of Chicago in 1833 when their Natives lands were expropriated. 

The Treaty of Chicago brought an estimated three thousand Native Americans, traders, government officials, army troops, land speculators, and adventurers to Chicago, then a small village. Aptakisic (Ah-be-te-ke-zhic) of the Half Day area Potawatomi was one of the leaders present.

American author, Washington Irving (1783-1859), and Englishman, Charles J. Latrobe (1801-1875) (shown at right) happened to be in Chicago at the time of the treaty. (LaTrobe later became the first lieutenant-governor of the colony of Victoria in Australia).

LaTrobe wrote about the event extensively in his book, "The Rambler in North America," published in London in 1835, and excerpted here from John J. Halsey's "History of Lake County, Illinois" (1912). Latrobe noted that the tribal chiefs did not wish to sell their land, but the U.S. commissoner said, "That nevertheless, as they had come together for a council, they must take the matter into consideration."

Latrobe wrote of the scene on September 21, 1833: "The council fire was lighted under a spacious open shed on the green meadow, on the opposite side of the river from that on which the fort stood, [near the north end of the present Rush Street Bridge in Chicago]... Even though convinced of the necessity of their removal, my heart bled for them in their desolation and decline... and their speedy disappearance from the earth appears as certain as though it were already sealed and accomplished." 
Cover page from "Treaty of Chicago" 1833. National Archives at Chicago. 

Indeed, by September 26, 1833, the treaty was signed between the U.S. Government and the United Nation of Chippewa, Ottawa and Potawatomi Indians. Five million acres were sold to the United States including the last tracts of Native occupied Great Lakes’ land.

The treaty stipulated that these tribes resettle west of the Mississippi River by the time the treaty was ratified by the U.S. Congress, which did not occur until 1835. However, fewer than half of the Potawatomi moved onto reservations in western Missouri and Kansas. Some went north into Canada, while others resettled in northern Michigan and Wisconsin.

Settlement of the newly ceded land was not to occur until the treaty was ratified in 1835. Notably, the county's first Euro-American settler, Daniel Wright, arrived in 1833. Wright fondly recalled that Native people assisted him with building his first cabin and in planting crops along the Des Plaines River near today's Lincolnshire. 

Native Americans returned to Lake County for decades after the Treaty of Chicago to hunt and to honor their ancestors. Today, people from many tribal nations call the Chicago region home, and continue to sustain their cultures, languages and traditions. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Revolutionary War Veterans

In 1928, the Daughters of the American Revolution designated two Revolutionary War veterans buried in Lake County–Henry Collins and Reuben Hill.

"Battle of Lexington" April 19, 1775.
Postcard circa 1910, Curt Teich Postcard Archives G1274.
The American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783) was the culmination of a political revolution in which the thirteen united former British colonies rejected the right of Great Britain’s Parliament to govern them and formed a Continental Army to fight for independence.

Henry Collins (1763 – 1847) was born in Southborough, Worcester County, Massachusetts. He enlisted from Southborough on March 3, 1781, at the age of 16 years and 10 months, when a levy was placed on the town to supply a number of men for the army.

These men were mustered in at Sutton, Massachusetts. Henry served in a company commanded by Captain Sewall in the regiment commanded by Colonel Ebenezer Sprout (1752–1805). From Sutton the regiment was marched to Springfield, Massachusetts, and from there to West Point.

Portrait of Ebenezer Sproat (aka Sprout), from "History of the Town of Middleboro, Massachusetts," by Thomas Weston, 1906.

Henry Collins served his two year enlistment in the same regiment, and was discharged at West Point in December 1783 at the end of the war. Collins' discharge was signed by General Henry Knox.

After the war, Collins lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Canada. In 1832, he returned from Canada to Vermont where he applied for a war pension. He was placed on the pension rolls of Vermont at the rate of $80 per year.

In 1844, Collins moved to Lake County, Illinois with his son Joseph H. Collins. They settled on land in Newport Township along Edwards Road east of Hunt Club Road.

On April 10, 1847, Henry Collins died and became the first burial at Mount Rest Cemetery. The cemetery is located just south of the State Line on the Skokie Road. His son Joseph left Lake County in 1855 and re-settled in Iowa.

In 1964, the American Legion Post of Gurnee added a new marker to his grave which mistakenly stated that Collins was the “only American Revolutionary Service Man buried in Lake County.”

Reuben Hill (1765 - 1858) was born in Goshen, Connecticut. While living in New York State, he enlisted in the fall of 1780, at the age of fifteen, with Captain Shaw’s Company. He enlisted twice more with different companies and was discharged as a private on January 1, 1783. In 1834, he successfully applied for a military pension.

About 1840, Reuben's son, Seth Hill, purchased property in Wauconda Township, Lake County. It is probable that the entire family, including Reuben and his wife Patience, came west at that time. In the 1850 census, Reuben and Patience, both aged 85, are living with their son's family. The family farm was in Section 25, along Route 176, south of Bangs Lake.

The Hills are buried at the Wauconda Cemetery.

I came across one more mention of a Revolutionary War veteran. The Biddlecome School History (Newport Township), written in 1918 by students, lists Oded Eddy as a veteran having "served seven years" in the war. However, Oded never lived in Lake County.

Elijah Eddy, grandson of Revolutionary War veteran, Oded Eddy.
Oded Eddy (senior) was the grandfather of Newport Township settler, road commissioner, and Biddlecome School director, Elijah Eddy (1821-1902). I believe the children mentioned Oded on their list of veterans, simply because of the connection to their school's former director.

Oded served as a lieutenant in the Continental Army from 1776 to 1778 (and not for seven years as the children stated). He died in Oneida, NY in 1825.