Saturday, July 22, 2017

An illustration of Chicago's Dearborn Street Bridge in 1834. This was the city’s third bridge over the Chicago River and its first drawbridge.

An illustration of Chicago's Dearborn Street Bridge in 1834. This was the city’s third bridge over the Chicago River and its first drawbridge.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Lake Michigan Seiche of 1954 in Chicago.

Definition of a Seiche
A seiche (SAYSH) is a standing wave in an enclosed or partially enclosed body of water. Seiches and seiche-related phenomena have been observed on lakes, reservoirs, swimming pools, bays, harbours and seas. The key requirement for formation of a seiche is that the body of water be at least partially bounded, allowing the formation of the standing wave.

Lakefront Was Caught Off Guard By A Deadly Inland Tidal Wave.
As the line of windy squalls passed out over Lake Michigan that hot June morning 60 years ago, Joseph Pecararo assumed the worst of the day's weather was over. The sky was clear and the lake was still by the time the 24-year-old lifeguard captain arrived for work at North Avenue beach.
With temperatures expected to climb to nearly 100, he expected a big Saturday crowd.

But so far the beach was deserted, except for a pair of fishermen out on the hook-shaped pier and a line of rowboats stored in front of the beachhouse, ready for use in an emergency.

They turned out to be of no use at all against the silent killer racing toward the beach from the southeast that morning: a freakish, 10-foot-high inland tidal wave that would sweep eight anglers to death and pound the Lake Michigan shoreline all the way from the Chicago River to Wilmette on its way into the history books.


"The water came up suddenly and our boats began to float," remembers Pecararo, now general superintendent of beaches for the Chicago Park District.

"We ran out and went to pull the boats up and when we did, there was a wave."

The wall of water crashed over the lifeguards without warning, knocking them from their feet. When they surfaced, "we laughed, we thought it was kind of funny," he remembers.

"But seconds later a person came running over and said there was a fisherman swept off the pier," Pecararo said. John Jaworski, fishing with his 18-year-old son Joseph, had disappeared.

Jaworski was just the first of the victims of one of Lake Michigan's most unusual phenomena: the seiche.

Such potentially deadly waves, the worst of which hit Chicago on June 26, 1954, are formed when a squall line with high winds drives water across the lake, in the same way that blowing on a hot cup of coffee pushes the liquid toward the far rim. The winds then pass off the lake, but the water sloshes back across, producing damaging waves with no storm to warn of their impending arrival.

That morning, the seiche-producing storm started in LaCrosse, Wis., and moved southeasterly through Madison, Rockford and Milwaukee. At 7:30 a.m. it crossed over Chicago and blew out onto Lake Michigan at nearly 55 miles an hour.

At 8:10 a.m. it hit Michigan City, pushing a 5-foot wall of water over the breakwater and onto the shore. It then reflected back and began racing toward Chicago, where it crashed with terrifying fury an hour and 20 minutes later.

Unlike anglers in Michigan City, who fled the squall for higher ground, the Chicago fishermen had no storm to warn them of the deadly wave racing their way.

The only warning Herbert Riederer, then a 24-year-old state conservation officer, had of the impending wave was a wet shoe. He'd just finished writing a ticket to a fisherman without a license when water suddenly rose onto the Montrose Harbor breakwater where he was standing.

"I stepped up to higher ground," he remembers. "As I did, I heard a rush of water, and when I looked back, I saw people being washed off the pier."

"It's not something you can forget," he said. "I can still see that woman, she was riding the crest of this huge wave into the harbor mouth, then she disappeared."

Mae Gabriel, 48, and her husband, Edward, 49, were later found drowned.

Riederer, who had no radio, raced for help to a nearby roadway, where he "commandeered the first car I saw and had him drive me to the bait shop" a half-mile away, where the nearest phone was located.

Soon Montrose Harbor was crawling with divers, including the lifeguards from North Avenue Beach. They had just managed to recover Jaworski's body in the rough water by forming a line and pushing it in toward the shore when a squad car rolled up with the news: "Dozens down at Montrose!" "We jumped in the squad car. It was a wild ride," Pecararo remembers.

Three bodies were pulled from the harbor that morning; four more were recovered later. One was Theodore Stempinski, the man Riederer, who is no longer with the conservation service, had issued the ticket. He had apparently stopped to pick up his fishing gear before fleeing the pier.

The deadly seiche triggered a flurry of scientific study into the phenomenon that quickly saved lives: Just weeks later, on July 6, 1954, a similar storm passed over Chicago, prompting the local weather service to issue a seiche warning.

When the seiche hit, waters rushed into the Loyola beach parking lot and up the steps of the North Avenue beach-house, then raced away. But the beaches had been cleared and no one was hurt.

Since the 1954 disaster so-called seiche fences have been installed on many breakwaters. The simple metal cables and posts anchored in concrete are intended to provide a handhold in the event of a sudden wave.

Large seiches remain relatively rare. Over the last 100 years, weather watchers have recorded about 10 major ones on Lake Michigan. Last year three seiche warnings were issued for Chicago, none for waves approaching the size of those in 1954, Pecararo said.

"We never saw anything like that," Pecararo remembers. "I thought the end of the world was coming."

By William Recktenwald, Chicago Tribune Staff Writer. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Lost Towns of Illinois - Village of Harlem, Illinois

Lost Towns of Illinois - Village of Harlem, Illinois (1884-1907)
After Illinois entered the Union, most of the land west of Chicago was set aside for veterans of the war of 1812. The area was called Oak Ridge, Illinois (named because of the many native oaks), the village changed names and boundaries to Noyesville, then to Harlem, and finally to Oak Park. 

By 1835, the area was known as Noyesville. Ashbel Steele, coroner and later sheriff of Cook County, arrived in 1835 becoming the first permanent resident of Noyesville. Other settlers soon followed Steele to Noyesville, attracted by its proximity to Chicago. 

In 1839 a French-Indian trader, Leon Bourassa, received a land grant from President Martin Van Buren of 160 acres along the Des Plaines River north of what is now Roosevelt Road. By this time, the Indians had been banished to west of the Mississippi River, but one Indian maiden remained to tend the graves of her ancestors. According to legend, she married Leon and they settled here on land which is now part of Forest Home Cemetery. The deed for the government land Bourassa purchased was personally signed by President Martin Van Buren.

Two prominent families arrived in the 1850s and became the first subdividers of the area. The Henry Quick family arrived in Noyesville from Harlem, New York. Quick soon became a prominent landholder and lent his original hometown's name (Harlem) to the eastern portion of Noyesville as well as to Harlem Avenue. The David Thatcher family settled to the west of Harlem Avenue and named their portion of the community Thatcher.

The railroad came in 1856 bringing with it a workforce who settled here thus claiming the date of the community’s first settlement as 1856. 

A German immigrant, Ferdinand Haase, purchased a 40-acre tract of land in 1851 which he eventually enlarged to 240 acres and turned into a popular park for residents and city dwellers, mostly from Bourassa. Haase built a home styled after the manors of New Orleans that he had seen. When he buried three members of his family near the homestead, they became the first white settlers to be interred here. 

When the Chicago and Galena Union Railroad, (now the Northwestern) established a division where Des Plaines Avenue now approaches the track in 1856, it marked the beginning of public transportation in the area. Soon after the railroad arrived, a nearby landowner, John Henry Quick, purchased a farm on the site of what is now River Forest and built a two-story boarding house. At the same time, Mr. Israel Heller erected a store building nearby. There being no municipal control, Mr. Quick named everything that needed a name Harlem, after his hometown in New York City.

In 1856, the Chicago & Galena Union Railroad opened a shop and roundhouse at today's Des Plaines Avenue and Lake Street, bringing 25 men and their families to settle there. 

In the aftermath of the Chicago Fire in 1871, many refugees came to this community to build their homes.

In 1881 a small railway called The Dummy Line was built from Chicago’s west side to the cemeteries.

For several decades after 1880, a small excursion boat called the White Fawn took sightseers up and down the Des Plaines River. Docking facilities were at Haase Park, a popular picnic grove of the time.

The Village of Harlem, which was comprised of the vast area which later became River Forest and a portion of Oak Park, was incorporated in 1884. Twenty gas streetlights were installed throughout town in 1886. They came complete with a lamplighter who received a salary of $12 per month. A sausage factory started in 1890 by Karl Lau became the areas the first industry. The Metropolitan Westside 'L' began electrified rapid transit service in 1895. Because it ran through Garfield Park, it became known as the Garfield Line.

In 1897, the installation of electric lighting for "whomever desired this service," was available to those living on or doing business on Madison Street. The telephone came in 1898.

When the village applied for its own Post Office, they were informed this was not possible since there already was a Harlem, Illinois with a Post Office on the northern fringe of Rockford. Hence, a new name for the Village had to be selected. A contest was held and the last portions of the name of the town North and East were joined in a clever manner - namely Forest Park. At a village hall meeting August 12, 1907, a resolution was passed changing the name of the Village of Harlem to the Village of Forest Park.

The Forest Park Amusement Park opened at Desplaines Avenue and Harrison Street in Forest Park in 1907. It was one of the most spectacular amusement parks in its day, featuring a roller coaster superstructure. Read about the entire life of Forest Park Amusement Park IN DETAIL, and view over 25 amazing images. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Chicago's Chicken Man, a Maxwell Street performer.

The Chicken Man, real name Anderson Punch, who went by Casey Jones and was also called Chicken Charley, was a Jawa. Historically, Jawas were wandering junk men and performers who plied their trades on the street corners of Chicago.

Legend has it that the Chicken Man, who described himself as a show-man, had played the accordion on the streets for many years prior to his chicken phase. When his accordion was broken, he broadened his repertoire to include the chicken act.

Until his death at 104 years old in 1974, he was well-known throughout the South Side, Maxwell Street Market and the Loop for his big white performing rooster. One reporter wrote, “that chicken could do anything but talk.”

Friday, July 14, 2017

Christopher Columbus statue from the 1893 World's Fair in Lake Park, Chicago. 1895

Carriage traffic on Michigan Avenue. 1895
Looking south-east across Lake Park (now Grant Park) at Congress, Chicago. (1895) The original Christopher Columbus statue from the 1893 World's Fair. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Givins Castle, (aka: Irish Castle) 10244 S Longwood Dr, Chicago, Illinois.

The Irish Castle was built 1886-87 under the direction of Robert C. Givins, a highly successful real estate developer and Renaissance Man. According to legend, Givins sketched an ivy-covered, medieval castle situated on the River Dee, between Dublin and Belfast, in his ancestral Ireland. On a ridge overlooking Longwood Drive, the three-story castle, with its three crenellated towers, was built of limestone from quarries near Joliet on about 3 1/2 acres.
The fifteen beautifully furnished rooms were decorated with rich tapestries, elegant chandeliers, and big copper gaslights; they were warmed with tiled fireplaces and were lit with stained glass windows. An exceptional window on the second floor, which bears the motto Dum Spiro Spero, or While I breathe, I hope, was dedicated to the Rev. Saltern Givins, Robert C. Givins' father. The original carriage house for the castle lies just northwest, by Seeley Avenue, although its exterior and interior have been extensively remodeled.
There were five important Castle keepers: the Givins family, the Chicago Female College, the Burdett family, the Siemens family, and Beverly Unitarian Church. 

The Givins family lived there on and off from 1887 to 1909. The Chicago Female College, a prestigious high school for girls, rented the Castle from 1895 to 1897. The Burdett family lived in the Castle from 1909 to 1921. John B. Burdett, a manufacturer, and his wife Jessie had the Castle wired for electricity, installed additional radiators, and added an elegant porte-cochere onto its north side. Dr. Miroslaw Siemens, a prominent physician, and wife Bonnie purchased the Castle in 1921. Dr. Siemens was a founder of the Ukrainian National Museum and led the committee that established the Ukrainian Pavilion of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933-34. The Siemens family lived in the Castle from 1921 to 1942, when the Castle was purchased by Beverly Unitarian Fellowship.
Beverly Unitarian Fellowship purchased the Castle for $14,000 plus an additional $3,500 later for what is now the parking lot. In October 1941, the Fellowship began in Clara and Edward Nieburger’s home at 10718 S. Seeley in Beverly-Morgan Park as an outpost of People’s Liberal Church in Englewood. The first minister of People’s Liberal Church was Rev. Florence E. Kollock, who in 1878 gave services to about 15 Universalists and Unitarians in a Masonic temple in Englewood. Under Rev. Kollock’s leadership, that congregation grew large enough to build a second church in 1889, what would eventually become known as People’s Liberal Church. She filled the pews every Sunday, and Clarence Darrow was a member of her congregation. When Rev. Kollock, the beloved minister of the church who preached character above creed, decided to resign her ministry in 1892 in order to visit the Holy Land and study abroad, the congregation asked her to select a successor.

Rev. Florence Kollock’s successor was Dr. Rufus A. White, who quickly became known for his oratory. Dr. White, who also preached character above creed, was a member of the Chicago Board of Education for five years; and he was a founder of the Chicago Bureau of Charities, which combined several charities into one. He started the Penny Savings Society in which children could save their pennies, nickels, and dimes in a bank. He achieved the highest honorary degree of a Master Mason, the 33rd degree; he gave travelogues of his worldwide trips using a stereopticon in Medinah Temple for at least 14 years to thousands of people in the audience at a time; in the 1920’s he gave sermons on the radio from People’s Liberal Church; he was a founder of Oakhaven Old People’s Home and was responsible for it becoming the Washington and Jane Smith Home, which is now Smith Village, one of the premiere senior living facilities in the nation. Dr. White moved from Englewood to Beverly-Morgan Park in 1922, likely to oversee the building of Oakhaven. He died in 1937 after having served over 44 years as minister of People’s Liberal Church.
After Dr. White’s death, his friend, Dr. Preston Bradley, a Unitarian minister whose sermons were also broadcast on the radio, built his own church on the North Side, calling it People’s Church, and he was a longtime member of the Chicago Library Board. Dr. Bradley encouraged the Church to join the Chicago and national Unitarian groups, which the congregation did in 1939 and 1940, respectively. He served as honorary chairman of the Campaign for the Castle begun by Clara Nieburger to seek funds to purchase the Castle. The Fellowship moved into the Castle in the spring of 1942. Dr. Bradley, who became one of the most prominent ministers in the nation and was celebrated as such in a 1937 article that appeared in Time, gave a talk on the Castle lawn in June 1942 in honor of Clara and Edward Nieburger. In 1951 People’s Liberal Church merged with Beverly Unitarian Fellowship, and in 1957 the name was changed to Beverly Unitarian Church.

Presently, the Irish Castle, also known as the Givins Castle, is a landmark building recognized by the Chicago Landmarks Commission as part of the Longwood Drive District. It is also part of the Ridge Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places (National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior).

Monday, July 3, 2017

Chicago's United Airlines introduced the world's first stewardess service on flights between Chicago and San Francisco.

This Boeing 80, is flying over the Streeterville neighborhood in the Near North Side community of Chicago. (circa 1928)
The first Model 80 was delivered to Boeing Air Transport (BAT) in August of 1928 and was immediately put into service on the San Francisco to Chicago C.A.M. 18 route. 
The pilot and co-pilot sat in a separate forward cabin and were kept informed of changing weather conditions by two-way radio. The Model 80, which accommodated 12 passengers in a heated cabin had hot and cold running water, individual passenger reading lamps and leather upholstered seats, was soon redesigned to carry 18 passengers and designated the Model 80A. The 80A was powered with three 525 hp Pratt & Whitney “Hornet” engines with a cruising speed of 125 mph and a range of 460 miles. The gross weight was 17,500 pounds.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, airline passenger travel was primarily the realm of Business people, the Rich and the Adventurous. The average person preferred to travel by train, boat or by private automobile.

An airline passenger paid up to $900 (one-way) to fly across the United States and upon arrival often found it necessary to transfer to a train or automobile to reach their final destination. There were few airports and were often located in relatively remote areas. Worst of all, the airplane cabins lacked sound-proofing.  In addition to the unsettling noise, vibration was also a problem, one passenger stated that his glasses kept sliding down his nose the entire flight.
Interior of the Boeing 80. (circa 1928)
United Airlines introduced the world's first stewardess service on flights between Chicago and San Francisco. The first female flight attendant was a 25-year-old registered nurse named Ellen Church. Hired in 1930, she also first envisioned nurses on aircrafts. Other airlines followed suit, hiring nurses to serve as flight attendants, then called "stewardesses" or "air hostesses" on most of their flights. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Chicago Photographer, Kenneth Heilbron, Chicago Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus Portfolio.

Kenneth Heilbron
Kenneth Heilbron was born in 1903 in Chicago, Illinois and was a professional commercial and fashion photographer for over 50 years. He worked for Life, Time and Fortune magazines in the 1930s-40s.

In 1938 he became the first instructor of photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he taught until 1942. From the late 1930s through the 1940s, Heilbron became fascinated with photographing the Ringling Brothers Circus whenever they came to Chicago, even occasionally traveling with the circus and its performers. His photographs of circus life and the performers are some of the most intimate and penetrating ever taken.

Heilbron died in 1997 in Galena, Illinois and is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Galena. His archive is housed at the Art Institute of Chicago.




Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus - Sideshow Barker - Chicago, 1939

Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus - Clown "Pierre" - Chicago, 1941

Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus - Clown "Honkalu" - Chicago, 1946

Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus - Charlie Bell dog Trixie - Back Yard - Chicago, 1940

Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus - Clown "Charlie Bell and Trixie" - Chicago, 1940

Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus - Horse "Starlen Night" and Groom - Chicago, 1942

Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus - Bareback Horses - Back Yard - Chicago, 1942

Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus - Back Yard - Chicago, 1946

Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus - Steam Cahize - Chicago, 1937

Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus - Sideshow Visitors - Chicago, 1941


Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus - Chicago



Stearns Limestone Quarry, now known as Palmisano Park in Chicago.

Stearns Limestone Quarry, stretching from 27th to 29th Street along Halsted and from 29th Street to Poplar in Bridgeport. 
The quarry opened in 1836 by the Illinois Stone and Lime Company. A few years later one of the partners in the company, Marcus Cicero Stearns, took over operations and named the rapidly growing hole in the ground his company was digging after himself.
Stearns quarry provided much of the stone for downtown and the nearby Illinois and Michigan Canal. Stearns died in 1890 but the quarry continued to operate for another 80 years. By then enough limestone had been excavated that, at its lowest point, the hole reached 380 feet below street level and covered 27 acres.

After 1970, Stearns Quarry was used as a dumping ground for clean construction waste - wood, brick and other stone materials and ash. This continued until 1999, when the city decided they should probably make something worthwhile of the giant hole. Proposals were submitted by various city departments and the Chicago Park District's plan to fill the quarry and transform it into a nature park was approved.
According to Claudine Malick, who was a project manager for the plan, Palmisano Park is a "closed landfill" project approved by the Illinois EPA. Because the quarry was used as a landfill, the city retains ownership of the park for a fifteen-year period, at which point it transfers to the Park District.

The City approved the Park District's plan in 2004 and the District selected Site Design Group to enact the plan.

The park opened in 2009 as Site 39 (Stearns Quarry) Park and was rededicated in November of 2010 after Henry C. Palmisano (1951-2006), a Bridgeport resident who served as a member of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s fishing advisory committee and was an advocate and supporter of urban fishing. Palmisano's family ran an outdoor shop in the eastern edge of the neighborhood.

Over 40,000 square feet of topsoil was trucked in to cover the debris and be sculpted into what you see at the park today. "Because the Illinois EPA declared the quarry a closed landfill, nothing could be removed," said Malick. At its highest point, the park rises 33 feet above street level, giving visitors a beautiful view of the downtown skyline and surrounding neighborhoods.
The walkway runs 1.7 miles, including catwalks and a quarter-mile running track surrounding a soccer field at the southwest corner of the park, give visitors some incline for exercise.

At the northwest corner of the park the limestone walls serve as a backdrop for a retention pond stocked with goldfish, bluegill, large mouth bass and green sunfish. Fishing in the retention pond is catch and release only.

The pond itself is fed by rain and ground water via an underground piping system isolated from the rest of the neighborhood's storm drain system. The water from the pond is pumped to the northeast corner of the park and cascades back to the retention pond, providing aeration. Vegetation for the cascading system was chosen for its nativity to the area and for their ability to filter out urban pollutants. The deepest area of the retention pond is 14 feet and the elevator shafts that hauled miners down to the quarry were left untouched, to give the park a sense of history.
The Stearns Quarry Fountain was installed in 2009.
Part of the catwalks were constructed from reclaimed wood found in the quarry. Rocks peppered along the park were also found in the quarry and repurposed for usage in the park. As part of the process to turn the park into a nature preserve, the Park District has conducted controlled plantings of more native vegetation and burns of areas along the hill, to help foster its growth.
The hill has become popular among locals for sledding in winter, but the landscape architects incorporated the concrete barriers from the quarry's years as a landfill as barriers, so sledding is discouraged.

Visitors who walk in the park find themselves becoming disconnected from the street bustle along Halsted the deeper they go. By the time they reach the retention pond 40 feet below street level, the noise from Halsted Street can hardly be heard. It truly is an oasis in the middle of the city. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Abraham Lincoln Life Masks

One of the myths surrounding Abraham Lincoln is that a death mask was made after his assassination. In fact, Lincoln had two life masks done, five years apart. The first was produced by Leonard Volk in Chicago, Illinois, in April 1860. Clark Mills completed the second in February 1865 in Washington, D.C. 

Abraham Lincoln Life Mask by Leonard Volk
In 1881, sculptor Leonard Volk explained how he made the first Lincoln mask. He met Lincoln in 1858 during Lincoln's campaign for the U.S. Senate, and invited him to sit for a bust. Lincoln agreed, but it took Volk's insistance two years later before Lincoln came to his studio. By this time it was the spring of 1860, shortly before Lincoln received the Republican nomination for president.
Leonard Volk completed the first mask in Chicago, Illinois, in April 1860
Volk said, "My studio was in the fifth story, and there were no elevators in those days, and I soon learned to distinguish his steps on the stairs, and am sure he frequently came up two, if not three, steps at a stride." Volk took measurements of his head and shoulders and made a plaster cast of his face to reduce the number of sittings.

Of the plaster casting process, Volk said, "It was about an hour before the mold was ready to be removed, and being all in one piece, with both ears perfectly taken, it clung pretty hard, as the cheek-bones were higher than the jaws at the lobe of the ear. He bent his head low and took hold of the mold, and gradually worked it off without breaking or injury; it hurt a little, as a few hairs of the tender temples pulled out with the plaster and made his eyes water." Lincoln said he found the process "anything but agreeable."

Volk said that during the sittings, "he would talk almost unceasingly, telling some of the funniest and most laughable of stories, but he talked little of politics or religion during those sittings. He said: 'I am bored nearly every time I sit down to a public dining-table by some one pitching into me, on politics.'"

Volk left a priceless legacy for future sculptors, as attested by Avard Fairbanks, who said, "Virtually every sculptor and artist uses the Volk mask for Lincoln ... it is the most reliable document of the Lincoln face, and far more valuable than photographs, for it is the actual form."

Volk Casts the Hands in Springfield
Volk arrived in Lincoln's home town of Springfield, Illinois, on May 18, 1860, the day Lincoln was nominated for president. He said, "I went straight to Mr. Lincoln's unpretentious little two-story house. He saw me from his door or window coming down the street, and as I entered the gate, he was on the platform in front of the door, and quite alone. His face looked radiant. I exclaimed: 'I am the first man from Chicago, I believe, who has the honor of congratulating you on your nomination for President.' Then those two great hands took both of mine with a grasp never to be forgotten." Volk told Lincoln he would be the next president and he wanted to make a statue of him. Once invited inside, Volk said he gave Mrs. Lincoln "a cabinet-size bust ofher husband, which I had modeled from a large one, and happened to have with me."
Volk's Cabinet-size Bust of Abraham Lincoln.
Volk returned another day to cast Lincoln's hands. He wanted Lincoln to hold something in his right hand, so Lincoln produced a broom handle from his wood shed and began whittling the end of it. "I remarked to him that he need not whittle off the edges. 'Oh, well,' said he, 'I thought I would like to have it nice.' Volk did the casting in the dining room, and noticed "The right hand appeared swollen as compared with the left, on account of excessive hand-shaking the evening before; this difference is distinctly shown in the cast."
Volk visited the Lincoln home in January 1861, just weeks before Lincoln left for Washington. He said Lincoln "announced in a general way that I had made a bust of him before his nomination, and that he was then giving daily sittings at the St. Nicholas Hotel to another sculptor; that he had sat for him for a week or more, but could not see the likeness, though he might yet bring it out. 'But,' continued Mr. Lincoln, 'in two or three days after Mr. Volk commenced my bust, there was the animal himself.'"

Abraham Lincoln Life Mask by Clark Mills

On February 11, 1865, about two months before his death, Abraham Lincoln permitted sculptor Clark Mills to make this life mask of his face. This was the second and last life mask made of Lincoln. The strain of the presidency was written on Abraham Lincoln’s face.
Clark Mills completed the second mask in February 1865 in Washington, D.C. 

Masks Show Changes in Lincoln's Life
John Hay, who served as one of Lincoln's White House secretaries, noticed that Lincoln "aged with great rapidity" during the Civil War. He said, "Under this frightful ordeal his demeanor and disposition changed -- so gradually that it would be impossible to say when the change began; but he was in mind, body, and nerves a very different man at the second inauguration from the one who had taken the oath in 1861."

Hay had seen both Lincoln life masks and remarked, "This change is shown with startling distinctness by two life-masks ... The first is a man of fifty-one, and young for his years. The face has a clean, firm outline; it is free from fat, but the muscles are hard and full; the large mobile mouth is ready to speak, to shout, or laugh; the bold, curved nose is broad and substantial, with spreading nostrils; it is a face full of life, of energy, of vivid aspiration. The other is so sad and peaceful in its infinite repose that the famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens insisted, when he first saw it, that it was a death-mask. The lines are set, as if the living face, like the copy, had been in bronze; the nose is thin, and lengthened by the emaciation of the cheeks; the mouth is fixed like that of an archaic statue; a look as of one on whom sorrow and care had done their worst without victory is on all the features; the whole expression is of unspeakable sadness and all-sufficing strength. Yet the peace is not the dreadful peace of death; it is the peace that passeth understanding."

Life Mask Inspires Poem
After Stuart Sterne saw a Lincoln life mask in a Washington museum he published this poem in the February 1890 edition of the Century magazine:
Ah, countless wonders, brought from every zone, Not all your wealth could turn the heart away  F from that one semblance of our common clay, The brow where on the precious life long flown,  Leaving a homely glory all its own, Seems still to linger, with a mournful play  Of light and shadow! -- His, who held a swayAnd power of magic to himself unknown,Through what is granted but God's chosen few, Earth's crownless, yet anointed kings, -- a soul  Divinely simply and sublimely true  In that unconscious greatness that shall blessThis petty world while stars their courses roll, Whose finest flower is self-forgetfulness.