Search This Blog

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Great Heart - Horse High Jumper at Fort Sheridan

One of the greatest high jumping horses of all times—Great Heart—made an appearance at Fort Sheridan in the 1920s.
Great Heart clearing an obstacle set at 8 feet 3 inches at Fort Sheridan, circa 1923. BBDM 92.24.1307

This champion horse has escaped the local history books, but fortunately this photograph survived to document the event.

The snapshot came with a collection of photographs donated to the museum in 1992 by the U.S. Center for Military History out of the former Fort Sheridan museum. The 5 3/4" x 3 3/4" photo has pieces of black photo corners adhered to it from when it was stored in someone's photo album.

Over the years, I have probably looked at this image dozens of times, but recently something made me stop and take a really good look at it. Then I wanted to know more. Well, once you get the bug you've got to do the research!

At the beginning of the 20th century, horse high jumps were an integral part of horse shows. In the Chicago area there were a number of horse shows held each year at Fort Sheridan, Onwentsia Club in Lake Forest, Soldier Field, Chicago Riding Club, South Shore Country Club and so on.

In 1910, the world's record high jump was reportedly set by a horse named Confidense who cleared 8 feet and 1/2 inch at an event in Ontario, Canada.

In 1922, Charles Weeghman's chestnut gelding, Strongheart, won the high jump at the International Horse show in Chicago, clearing the bars at 5 feet 6 inches. That same year, at the South Shore Country Club's horse show, Great Heart cleared the bar at 7 feet 6 inches to win the high jump championship, but failed in his attempt to best the world record.

Great Heart at the South Shore Country Club horse show in Chicago, June 1922. Great Heart won the high jump, but would not set the world's record until the following year. Chicago Tribune photo, June 11, 1922.

Chicago coal baron and founder of Peabody Coal, Francis S. Peabody (1858 - 1922) had purchased Great Heart as a young colt, and after Peabody's death in 1922, his son Stuyvesant "Jack" Peabody continued to train the horse. Great Heart had an affinity for jumping, especially bars set at 6 feet and above.

Great Heart made appearances at Lake Villa's Horse Show in 1921 and 1922.   

In August 1921, Great Heart entered the horse show held on Otto W. Lehmann's property in Lake Villa. 
Waukegan Daily Sun, August 3, 1921. 

Great Heart was entered into the South Shore Country Club's horse show in 1923 with the intent of breaking the world record. On June 8, 1923, Great Heart cleared the mark, becoming the world's greatest high jumper by jumping bars set at 8 feet and 3 inches.

Great Heart breaking the World Record, June 8, 1923, ridden by Fred Vesey. Photo courtesy of the DuPage County Forest Preserve.

Detail of Great Heart clearing bars set at 8 feet and 3 inches at Fort Sheridan, circa 1923. This must have been a repeat performance for his fans after his June 8th triumph in Chicago. Notice the photographer has written the height of the bars at the right of the photo. BBDM 92.24.1307

Great Heart was retired to the Peabody farm (presumably Stuyvesant "Jack" Peabody's rural farm in Lemont, Illinois) soon after winning the world's champion title. In 1924, the family honored the horse by choosing "Great Heart" as the trade name for the fine grade of coal being mined at Peabody's Mine 30 in Kenvir, Kentucky.

One source claims the world champion high jumping horse is Huaso, a horse ridden by Chilean Captain Alberto Larraguibel, who set the high-jump world record on February 5, 1949, by jumping 8 feet and 1 inch—two inches less than Great Heart's jump of 1923.

Perhaps someone with more information on these statistics can clarify this. Until then, Great Heart is my world's champion.

Special thanks to Janneke Fowers, Heritage Interpreter, for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County for additional information and the photograph of Great Heart breaking the World Record.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Swedish Christmas Tree - Ljuskrona

In 1976, Ruth Olsson Dixon (1910-2006), wife of Judge Laverne A. Dixon, donated to the museum a unique expression of her Swedish-American heritage—a ljuskrona.

The Olsson Family ljuskrona made in 1922 by a tinsmith in Moline, Illinois. LCDM 76.15.60

Ljuskrona (pronounced use-kroona) is a term used for candelabra, and in this case, one in the shape of a tree used during the Christmas season from December 13 to January 13.

The ljuskrona is linked to the Swedish holiday of Saint Lucia Day (December 13), who is the "bringer of light." This feast day replaced the winter solstice, which in ancient times was celebrated on December 13.

Saint Lucia Day marks the beginning of the Christmas season. Very early on that morning, the eldest daughter of the family wakes up her parents and brings them a warm cup of coffee with lots of milk and a special cake. The girl wears a wreath of candles on her head, bringing light to her family.

The holiday tree in this postcard is reminiscent of the Olsson's ljuskrona with its festive decorations and lighted candles. The Swedish Christmas postcard was sent to Alice Carlson of Waukegan from Klara in Lundsbrunn, Sweden, 1919. LCDM Collection.

Ruth's mother, Anna M. Olsson (b. 1879), immigrated from Smöland, Sweden in 1894. She married Gustaf A. Olsson in 1900, and soon thereafter settled in Rock Island, Illinois, where Ruth was born.

According to Ruth, about 1922 her mother decided to "omit the usual fresh Christmas tree with lighted candles. She asked a friend who was a tinsmith in Moline, Illinois to make a ljuskrona which could be kept and used every year."

The tinsmith needed 3" crimped "pie plates" for the candle drip pans. Ruth found them (above) at Luknow's (?) Pharmacy on 14th Avenue and 42nd Street in Rock Island. The metal plates were filled with a chocolate fudge mixture and came with a tiny inch-long spoon, and cost only a penny each. I'm sure twelve-year old Ruth was very excited by her tasty contribution to the family's ljuskrona.

Weeks later, the tinsmith delivered the ljuskrona to the family. "It was not very attractive until it was 'dressed' with fringed tissue paper," Ruth wrote in a letter to the museum in 1991. Detail of ljuskrona LCDM 76.15.60

When Anna came to live with Ruth in Lake County, she brought the ljuskrona and gifted it to her daughter. Ruth then updated the decorations with gold-beaded garland and gold ornaments.

The Olsson's ljuskrona is an unusual piece of folk art and remembrance of the family's Swedish heritage. As Ruth wrote: "Without electric lights the candle lighted ljuskrona is fascinating."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Waukegan Academy 1846-1870

Lake County's first school of higher learning was the Waukegan Academy, a place where many prominent citizens became students.

The Academy (two-story building) and Baptist Church are shown on Genesee Street in Waukegan, circa 1870 stereograph. BBDM 2011.0.236

Prior to the Academy's establishment in 1846, schooling in Lake County was limited to grade school level courses provided at local one-room schoolhouses.

In July 1846, the Academy's first classes were held in the basement of the county courthouse (shown above) in Little Fort (Waukegan). Henry L. Hatch (1814 - 1892) of Vermont was the teacher. Hatch and his wife Elizabeth arrived in Lake County in 1845, and purchased land in Warren Township along the Des Plaines River.

The Academy was first known as the Little Fort High School and then Little Fort Academy. In 1848, a school building was constructed on the northwest corner of Clayton and Genesee Streets with an oak frame and Portland cement foundation.

The Waukegan Academy building photographed, circa 1900. BBDM Collection.

It has long been asserted that Hatch was responsible for the building's construction, but new research shows that Reverend David Root (1791-1873) of New Haven, Connecticut paid for the construction. Reverend Root was an abolitionist and strongly encouraged the teaching of abolitionist ideals. His connection to Hatch is unclear, but Root purchased Hatch's Warren Township land, and moved to the Chicago area about 1851.

Henry Hatch was the Academy's principal and English teacher, Isaac L. Clarke the associate principal and ancient languages and mathematics teacher, Miss Alathea Crocker the preceptress (instructor) and modern languages and music teacher, Miss Calisia E. Branchard the preceptress, Miss Frances A. Shekell music teacher, Miss Sylvia L. Clarke the superintendent of the juvenile department (for very young scholars), and Dr. David Cory the school's secretary.

On March 12, 1855, Reverend Root donated the land and the Academy to Beloit College (Beloit, Wisconsin) under the condition that it continue to hire a professor of theology who had abolitionist principles.
Isaac L. Clarke (1824-1863) was the Academy's associate principal and teacher from 1848 to 1850. Clarke then went to the California gold mines and returned in 1857 to practice law. In 1862, Clarke enlisted with the 96th Illinois Regiment and became its lieutenant colonel. He was shot and killed at the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia on September 20, 1863.

Scholars, both male and female, attending the Academy could choose college prep classes or a curriculum which emphasized education for future teachers. Tuition was by course and ranged from $2.00 for German, French and Spanish, $3.75 for science and philosophy, and a whopping $5.25 for Greek and Latin.

Rooms were available for boarding in the school's basement for $2.00 per week. Most students found lodging elsewhere, since the building could not accommodate the 140 scholars it had in 1849, and 472 in 1854. About one-third of its students were from Waukegan and the rest from Lake County, Chicago and Milwaukee.

Among the Academy's scholars was Joseph C. Whitney (1833-1914) of Lake Zurich. (above)

On September 29, 1854, Whitney left home to attend the Academy. He wrote to his parents: "We arrived safe and sound, but the dust was so bad that we arrived black as Ethiopians. We went down to Lake Michigan and had a wash which altered our appearance very much. It cost me one dollar to get to Waukegan. We stayed at Dan's the first night... Now we are settled at Mr. Gentzel's boarding house for 14 shillings a week [$1.40]." Later he wrote that the school had: “a complete and excellent board of teachers throughout.” Image of Whitney and quote excerpted from the book "Kiss Clara for Me" by Robert J. Snetsinger.

In August 1862, Jannet Minto of Millburn pouted in a letter (above) to her brother David: "I should like to go [to the Academy] first rate but then I know better than to say any thing about it..." (Minto Collection BBDM 93.45.521.2)
Jannet Minto, circa 1855. Minto Collection BBDM 93.45.75

David was fighting in the Civil War and the family did not have the means to send her to the private school. In the same letter, Jannet went on to say: "I have been kind of bawkey ever since you went away because they would not let me go to [the Academy] I'll pay them for it some time." (Minto Collection BBDM 93.45.521.2)

The Waukegan Academy remained open until at least through the summer term ending in July 1870.

In March 1871, the building was used for Miss Gale's primary school. Later in 1871, the buidling began being referred to as the "old academy" and utilized for a musical performance, and the silversmithing business of Kingsley & Heard.
Advertisement for Miss Gale's "select Primary School" at the Waukegan Academy. 
Waukegan Weekly Gazette, March 25, 1871.
The "old Academy building" being used for the silver-plating business of Kingsley and Heard.
Waukegan Weekly Gazette, August 5, 1871. 

Photograph of the Academy building before it was razed in 1915. BBDM Collection

Postcard of the Academy Theater and behind it the Baptist Church, circa 1945. 
L.L. Cook Company postcard. BBDM 92.27.453

In 1916, the Academy Theater was built on the site of the former Waukegan Academy, hence the theater's name. The theater was open until 1986, and about 1988 became the Fiesta Palace, a center for Waukegan's Mexican community. In 2004, the theater was destroyed by fire. 
Other higher learning schools followed in the Waukegan Academy's footsteps and included: Wauconda Academy (1856 – c. 1866), Lake Forest Academy (est. 1858), Ferry Hall (est. 1869), Waukegan High School (est. 1870), Lake Forest College (est. 1876), and the Northwestern Military Academy (1888-1915).

Diana Dretske 

Special thanks to museum volunteer and researcher, Al Westerman.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Native American Place Names

It has been 190 years since the Treaty of Chicago (1833) removed the Potawatomi, Chippewa, and Ottawa peoples from their lands and relocated west of the Mississippi River. 

Today, local place names hold reminders of Native peoples, the original stewards of the land on which we live. 

The Fox River is a major waterway and tributary of the Illinois River, and its' headwaters are northwest of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Fox enters Illinois and passes through Lake County by way of the Chain O' Lakes and meanders through western Cuba Township on its way south to the Illinois River at Ottawa, Illinois. 

The river is named for the Fox Tribe (Menominee) of Wisconsin, whose self-given name was "Red Earth People." In the 17th century, explorers Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette interpreted their name as "Renard," meaning "Fox" in French, referencing the red color of foxes. Fox Lake is the progeny of the Fox River. (Source: Encyclopedia of Native Tribes of North America, Michael Johnson, 1993; Place Names of Illinois, Edward Callary, 2008). 

Photo postcard view of Fox Lake with the Illinois Hotel and Willis Inn resort in the distance at center and right respectively, circa 1910. BBDM M-86.1.165.

The name for Nippersink Lake in Grant Township, north of Grand Avenue, is probably of Potawatomi origin and signifies "at the little water/lake." The post office at Fox Lake was called Nippersink until 1901.
Photo postcard of iron bridge over Indian Creek, Half Day (today's Lincolnshire), circa 1910. BBDM 92.27.82.

The village of Indian Creek was named for the creek of the same name, which runs through Lincolnshire. The creek is apparently named in remembrance of the Native American villages found in this vicinity before settlement by newcomers. There is an Indian Lake in Lake Barrington, presumably named to honor Native Americans as well.

Sequoit Creek in Antioch got its name from early settlers who came from Oneida County, New York where there is a Sauquoit Creek. The word "Sauquoit" is Iroquois and possibly means "smooth pebbles in the bed of a stream." 

The Skokie River was historically a large meandering stream that included sedge meadow and wet prairie, and ran from Waukegan Township south to Chicago. During early non-Native settlement in the mid-1800s, farmers partially drained the area to plant crops. In the early 1900s, the river became a drainage ditch. The name "Skokie" comes from the Potawatomi word Chewab Skokie for "big wet prairie." 

The village of Mettawa adopted its name in 1960 to avoid such common appellations as grove, lake and woods. Mettawa was a Potawatomi leader/chief whose village was near the junction of the Des Plaines River and Indian Creek. Mettawa was unable to attend the signing of the Treaty of Chicago in 1833, but his friend, Aptakisic wore his moccasins to represent him at the proceedings.

Wauconda large letter postcard, Curt Teich Company, 1950. OCH1780.

Wauconda is a term used by American Indians (spelled Wakonda) to signify "when the power believed to animate all natural forms is spoken to or spoken of in supplications or rituals." (Source: Frederick W. Hodge, Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, 1912).

Village residents claim Wauconda was a young Native American chief who is buried on the south shore of Bangs Lake. There is no evidence of such a person. The town's first non-native settler, Justus Bangs, is reported to have selected the name from a character in a book he was reading.

Waukegan large letter postcard, Curt Teich Company, 1946. 6BH1342.

The largest community with a Native American appellation is Waukegan. The city of 87,000 was once known as Little Fort for its 17th century trading post (speculated to have been built by the French or American Indians). In 1849, when the community increased to about 2,500 inhabitants, it became clear that "little" no longer fit. Native American language experts, John Kinzie and Solomon Juneau, were consulted and the Algonquin word for trading post "waukegan" was selected.

The name that sounds the least Native American and causes the most confusion about its origin is Half Day. Though people believe the town was given the name in relation to its distance from Chicago (which it was not), the name actually honors Aptakisic, a Native American chief whose tribe lived near there from about 1830 to 1834. As discussed in a previous post on Aptakisic - Half Day, Half Day is named for Aptakisic, whose name can be translated to "sun at meridian" or "half day."

The name Aptakisic remains in use as Aptakisic Creek and Aptakisic Road. However, the town of Aptakisiconce located south of Prairie Viewno longer exists.

Native American place names that are no longer in use include: Indian Grove, which referred to a grove of trees near today's Forest Lake in Ela Township (circa 1839). The name was also formerly associated with the area around Sylvan Lake. Indian Point referred to an area on the northwest side of Fox Lake, and Round Lake Heights was first known as Indian Hills subdivision.

The newest place name in Lake County is Manitou Creek. The name change was approved by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names in December 2021. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, among the most used place names in the U.S. with a derogatory term is "squaw," which historically has been used as a slur for Native American women. 

Since the 1840s, the name Squaw Creek was used for a tributary of the Fox River (via Fox Lake) in Lake County's Grant Township near Ingleside. The Manitou (formerly Squaw) Creek Drainage District worked with local organizations, historians, individuals, and tribal nations with historic ties to the region, to find an appropriate name for the creek. After much consideration Manitou Creek was selected. "Manitou" is the spiritual and fundamental life force among Algonquin Native American groups, and honors the spirit of the waterway.

Native peoples from many different nations call this region home and continue to sustain their cultures, languages and traditions. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

James McKay of Waukegan

One of the most influential citizens in the development of early Waukegan was Scottish immigrant, James McKay, who lived there from 1841 to 1869. 
James McKay. City of Waukegan website.

McKay (1807-1887) constructed many of the town's first buildings and held office as Sheriff and Mayor of Waukegan.

James McKay, and his first wife Elizabeth Boyd, arrived in Little Fort (Waukegan) in May 1841. They had been living in Chicago from 1835 to 1841.

It can be difficult to piece together an individual's life and influence, especially when few records exist from this period. Fortunately for this research, James McKay was active in construction and politics, leaving a trail to follow.

In October 1841, the McKays built their dwelling house in the area of today's Jackson and Glen Rock Streets. The following spring, they purchased 160 acres of the heavily timbered land around their home. McKay subdivided much of his land into residential and business lots known as "McKay's Addition to Little Fort," and in 1844 "McKay's Second Addition to Little Fort."

In 1845, Elizabeth McKay contracted consumption (tuberculosis) and died at the Sauganash Hotel in Chicago. She was only 30 years old.

Sauganash Hotel, Chicago. History of Chicago, A.T. Andreas, 1884.

It is unclear why she was staying at the Sauganash, but the hotel was described by Chicago pioneer, Juliette Kinzie (1806-1870) as "a pretentious white two-story building, with bright blue wood shutters, the admiration of all the little circle at Wolf Point." Wolf Point is the location at the confluence of the North, South and Main Branches of the Chicago River, and is historically important in the development of early Chicago.

In 1847, McKay married Margaret Allison.

One of McKay's early projects was to build Little Fort's first hotel, the Exchange Hotel. In 1843, he built the McKay Tavern on Washington Street, and leased it to another party to manage. In the 1850s, he built and owned the Vollar House Hotel, later known as the Transit House, at the northwest corner of Sheridan Road and Water Street.

The McKay Bridge was also built in the 1850s. The bridge was either named for him because he had it built or because he had so much land in the vicinity. The bridge was constructed over the Waukegan River ravine at Washington and Glen Rock Streets. At the time, Washington Street did not extend west of the bridge, and Glen Rock extended diagonally to Libertyville.

McKay's Bridge, Washington Street, looking east. Image circa 1870. Dunn Museum 94.14.97

McKay's political career included serving as sheriff from 1842-1847, and mayor from 1863-1865. In 1845, he was elected as president of the Little Fort Reading Room and Library Associates. He was also a founding member of the Waukegan Horticultural Society (along with nurseryman Robert Douglas), which evolved into the Lake County Fair Association.

There are two letters in the museum's Horace Butler Collection related to McKay and politics. In 1844, McKay wrote a letter to Horace Butler (1814-1861) in Libertyville opposing the nomination of Daniel Dickinson to public office. Butler lived in Libertyville, was a lawyer, justice of the peace, and from 1844 to 1846 a member of the Illinois State Legislature.

James McKay's letter of April 1844 to Horace Butler of Libertyville. Dunn Museum 92.25.3

The letter reads:

Littlefort 25th April 1844

Friend Butler,

There is a hellish Plan on foot here, among the Clique, and Patterson [Arthur Patterson] is the fool to accomplish the object, he has this day put up the notices to take the assessment for Dickinson [Daniel O. Dickinson] commencing in the month of May in the Irish Precincts and goes on slowly to the tenth of July among the friends in Bristol & Mill Creek.

It was remarked to me and I saw you that Sheepard is to run for the Legislature. If Patterson can be bought on your part it will stop this draft.

Be sure to write Wentworth not to change our P.O. and if no one else will give Dickinson hell I will in the fall.

Yours in haste,

J. M.

Bristol and Mill Creek were two of ten voting precincts located in Antioch and Millburn respectively. The "Wentworth" mentioned in the letter is assuredly "Long" John Wentworth (1815–1888), the editor of the Chicago Democrat, two-term mayor of Chicago, and a six-term member of the United States House of Representatives.

In June 1844, Butler received a letter concerning James McKay from John O'Mealy, written on behalf of his Irish friends in Little Fort:

They are very much dissatisfied with the nomination of James McKay and they are fully determined to give every opposition to his election that they possibly can give... Neither time nor money will be spared to defeat McKay in his election.

The letter has a decided anti-McKay tone, but the crux of the upset was that the Irish immigrants felt their opinion was being ignored, since Benjamin Marks was their candidate of choice. However, O'Mealy writes in the last paragraph (of the two-page letter):

For my own part I never had reason to be dissatisfied with him [McKay] as a public officer nor as a private individual and would vote for him in preference to any other person that could be brought forward were it not for Mr. Marks being brought forward by so many of my Countrymen.

In 1854, there was much political upheaval over Stephen A. Douglas's Kansas-Nebraska Act in which men of the new territory could vote on the slavery question for themselves. James McKay along with Dr. David Cory, Henry Blodgett and 500-600 of Waukegan's citizens consisting of Whigs, Democrats and Free Soilers, met on the public square and burned an effigy bearing the initials S.A.D., and calling Douglas a traitor.

"Forcing Slavery Down the Throat of a Freesoiler," by John L. Magee, 1854. 

This 1854 cartoon (above) depicts a giant Freesoiler being held down by James Buchanan and Lewis Cass standing on the Democratic platform. The Free Soil party opposed the expansion of slavery.

The Waukegan men's resolution printed in the Chicago Tribune read in part: "Resolved. That Stephen A. Douglas and his little band of hangers-on and selected bullies, will please understand that the people of Illinois have learned to estimate men by their intellectual and moral virtues, and that the day is past when those really small can be bloated into Giants solely by the aid of political machinery and bad Whisky."

These documents only begin to tell the story of James McKay in Lake County, but by all accounts, he was respected and admired. There was even a schooner built in Waukegan and named "The James McKay" in 1848. The schooner sailed Lake Michigan until November 4, 1856, when it foundered in a gale at Chicago's harbor.

In 1869, McKay sold his Waukegan land and retired to Chicago with Margaret. When he passed away in 1887, his estate was valued at $50,000.

Special thanks to Al Westerman for his research on McKay in the Lake County Recorder of Deeds office.

- Diana Dretske, Curator

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gangsters Bring Prohibition Violence to Fox Lake

Prohibition gang violence spilled into Lake County on June 1, 1930.

Mobsters from the Capone and the Druggan-Lake gangs were gunned down at Manning's Hotel in what came to be known as the "Fox Lake Massacre." Above: watercolor by sketch artist Andy Austin for WLS TV. Dunn Museum 77.23.4.

The Chain O' Lakes region became a notorious hangout for Prohibition gangsters. The likes of Al Capone (1899-1947) and his gang could freely gamble and drink the nights away. Capone was reported to have owned a summer house on Bluff Lake near Antioch, and to frequent the Mineola Hotel in Fox Lake. George "Bugs" Moran was also reported to have a home on Bluff Lake.

Colorized postcard view of Bluff Lake, Antioch, where Chicago gangsters owned private residences and frequented lakeside resorts during Prohibition. Dunn Museum M-86.1.24.

The reason behind the "Fox Lake Massacre" is still debated. Many believe the hit was part of Chicago's beer wars, and control of the Chain O' Lakes region beer distribution between Al Capone and Bugs Moran.

Mario Gomes, Al Capone expert and webmaster of the encyclopedic My Al Capone Museum website, noted that: "Moran and his men had to constantly out-think and stay one step ahead of the Capone boys in order to survive." By the time of the Fox Lake Massacre, Moran was being squeezed out of his territories and his days as a Chicagoland gangster were coming to an end.

The Manning Hotel on Pistakee Lake, showing the enclosed porch where the gangsters were seated. Chicago Tribune June 2, 1930.

According to the Chicago Tribune, "Alderman Manning had changed beer dealers, putting in Druggan beer in preference to 'local beer' in which the Bugs Moran gang—hibernating in the resort country—had taken a partnerly interest." James Manning was a Fox Lake alderman and the proprietor of Manning's Hotel. Manning's was located on Pistakee Lake near W. Grand Avenue, west of Route 12. (The building still stands as a private residence).

Chicago gangsters and their "molls" drinking at Manning's Hotel the night of the shooting. One of the victims, Vivian Ponic McGinnis, is shown at back in pink dress. Watercolor by sketch artist Andy Austin for WLS TV. Dunn Museum 77.23.1

At 1:40 a.m. on June 1, 1930, gangsters in the enclosed porch at Manning's were machine-gunned without warning.
Fox Lake Massacre gangsters shot and fleeing the scene. Watercolor by sketch artist Andy Austin for WLS TV.  Dunn Museum 77.23.5. 

Three of the five victims were killed. Left to right: Michael Quirk (Klondike O’Donner Gang), Sam Pellar (Capone Gang), and Joseph Bertsche (Druggan-Lake Gang). George Druggan (shown right) was severely wounded and was the brother of Terry "Machine Gun" Druggan, the head of the Druggan-Lake Gang. Chicago Tribune photo, June 2, 1930.

Vivian Ponic McGinnis from Chicago Tribune June 2, 1930. 

Also wounded was Vivian Ponic McGinnis (1903-1993), wife of Chicago attorney Arthur J. McGinnis and girlfriend of George Druggan (1901-1943). Vivian's mother, Anna Ponic, ran a resort next to Manning’s. Vivian McGinnis was drinking with the gangsters when the shooting occurred. She and George Druggan were driven to Chicago, two and half hours away, for medical attention. In 1934, Vivian married George Druggan.

Chief of Detectives Stege commented: "Ordinarily it would be bad medicine for them to invite a war with the Capone-O'Donnell and Druggan-Lake outfits, but the Moran and Aiello hoodlums have been up in Fox Lake long enough to start any kind of war."

In the aftermath of the shooting, a policeman points at a detail of the crime scene at Manning's Hotel. Dunn Museum 2011.5

Louis Capella, the bartender at Manning's, said all was "merriment" that night. "They were having a good time all evening." Just before the shooting he started sweeping around the Druggan table to give them the hint to leave. When he heard the first shot, he dove behind the bar and escaped injury. "When it was quiet, I looked out and saw some of the injured people running."

State's Attorney A.V. Smith interviewing the Manning Hotel's bartender, Louis Capella. Chicago Tribune June 2, 1930.

There is also strong speculation that the Fox Lake Massacre was in retaliation for the St. Valentine's Day Massacre on February 14, 1929. Seven of Moran's associates were lined up against the rear inside wall of the garage at 2122 North Clark Street (Lincoln Park neighborhood on Chicago's North Side), and executed.
Obituary for Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo (1906-1992), reputed triggerman for the 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre. The San Francisco Examiner May 29, 1992.

According to Bugs Moran biographer, Rose Keefe: "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre on February 14, 1929 marked the end of Moran's reign over the North Side. For over a year, the shaken gangster debated the feasibility of continuing the fight, briefly partnering with minor league Capone rivals such as renegade Sicilian Joe Aiello and pimp Jack Zuta."

In late 1930, Moran finally conceded defeat. But he did not slink away in disgrace. Keefe wrote: "The door had closed in Chicago, but he found windows of opportunity elsewhere."

This photo postcard near Bluff Lake provides an accurate view of roads at the time of the Fox Lake Massacre. Dunn Museum M-86.1.19

Local authorities did not seem interested in solving the shooting at Manning's. Within several days of the Fox Lake murders, State's Attorney, A.V. Smith, announced that he believed the killers were professionals from New York and were long gone.

Bugs Moran was arrested at Elizabeth Cassidy's resort on Bluff Lake in October 1930. The arrest was not related to the shooting at Manning's Hotel.

For continued reading on this era and Bugs Moran, I recommend, The Man Who Got Away: The Bugs Moran Story by Rose Keefe.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fort Sheridan Horse Shows (1925 - 1939)

Postcard of one of the more extreme stunts at the Fort Sheridan horse shows, circa 1930. BBDM

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.

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. 
BBDM 92.24.983.

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

Page from 1936 Fort Sheridan Horse Show and Military Exhibition booklet. Interesting to note that civilians also participated in certain events. BBDM 92.24.181.

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

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

Polo teams consisted of cavalry officers and wealthy North Shore residents. Circa 1929. BBDM 92.24.577.

Display of trophies ready for the victors at the Fort Sheridan Horse Show, circa 1930. BBDM 92.24.758

Like military honors, trophies awarded at horse shows were highly valued and lauded.

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

Cavalry stunt photographed by 6th Signal Corps, circa 1930. BBDM 92.24.1175.

The variety of stunts performed at the horse shows amazed and delighted the crowds that gathered. 

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.