Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Frank Long House of Oak Park, Illinois.

Frank E. Long, a publisher from downstate Illinois, was born in 1865. By the standards of the time, he was already an elderly man when he commissioned architect Leon Stanhope to design his house in 1924. Long began his career downstate working for a manufacturer of agricultural implements and became the company's representative for publicity in Chicago, necessitating a move to the area. He eventually became vice president of operations. One of the company's publications lists Long's hobbies as motoring and fishing. He lived in several Oak Park homes before hiring Stanhope to build the 401 Linden Avenue house.
In a suburb made famous for Prairie design and Frank Lloyd Wright residences, the Long House stands apart in its architectural heritage. The cottage style home looks as if it should be sitting on a rolling hill in the English countryside, rather than the western suburbs of Chicago. 

Leon Stanhope, the Chicago-based architect behind the Long House's singular style, was a contemporary of Wright, but rather than embracing the new Prairie Style, he looked back in time in designing a home that combines the charm of a pastoral dwelling with the grandeur expected of a home in the estate section of Oak Park.
The wavy roof has earned the home the nickname the "hobbit house" because of its resemblance to a tiny dwelling that seems to rise from the ground, sporting a roof made of natural materials. While the home's distinctive roof appears to be made of thatching, it is, in reality, constructed of wood.
Often, these types of roofs are made up of steamed cedar shingles, which have the ability to be shaped in curved formations. A custom gutter system and a certain amount of creative underlying construction are also required to support the heavy materials.

The roof is a large part of what makes the Long House an example of the storybook style that was popular for a brief time in the 1920s. Very few homes of this style were built in the western suburbs and the Long House's large size makes it unique for what is usually considered a style represented by much smaller homes.

The house has four bedrooms and 4 1/2 baths which sits on 0.83 acres. It's 3,722 square feet sold in 2014 for $1,800,617.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

America’s First Black Town, Brooklyn, Illinois the 1820s "Freedom Village" (AKA as Lovejoy, Illinois).

In the early 1820s, "Mother" Priscilla Baltimore and husband John led a group of eleven families, composed of both fugitive and free blacks, to flee slavery in St. Louis, Missouri. They crossed the Mississippi River to the free state of Illinois, where they established a freedom village in the American Bottom, named Brooklyn. "Mother" Baltimore was said to have purchased her freedom as an adult from her master, a Methodist minister, and saw to it that religious faith would be one of the guiding pillars of her new community. She also hoped the community would be a refuge for others fleeing slavery. She also bought the freedom of members of her family. Born in Kentucky, she tracked her white father to Missouri and bought her mother's freedom from him.
1940 Aerial Photo of Brooklyn, Illinois.
Shortly after forming their new settlement, the townspeople were visited by Bishop William Paul Quinn, a missionary minister for the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church. Bishop Quinn, after meeting with the families in the Baltimore’s home, helped found the Brooklyn A.M.E. Church in 1825. In addition to its public role as the community's church, Brooklyn A.M.E, later renamed in 1839 to Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church, became part of a network of A.M.E. Churches that formed the Underground Railroad in Illinois. Tunnels still exist under the building that at one point secreted fugitive slaves.
Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church, Brooklyn, Illinois.
The location of Brooklyn on the Mississippi River across from St. Louis, Missouri, helped its residents to become financially independent, providing opportunities for brick masons, carpenters, coopers, and boatmen.  Nonetheless the economic activities of blacks in Illinois were restricted by the Illinois Black Codes, enacted when the state joined the Union in 1818.  These laws restricted the occupations blacks could pursue, virtually eliminated their civil rights, and controlled the entry of new blacks into the state. Aiding runaway slaves was a felony under the law, and authorities could expel any black who could not maintain an income.  

In 1837, five white abolitionists platted the land and created an unincorporated nearly all-black town. Thomas Osburn was one of them, and he is documented as having lived in the area for decades. Priscilla Baltimore built a house on his former land, which she occupied from 1851-1872. In the 1840s and 1850s, the black population of the village was about 200. The white settlers dominated the town politically since blacks in Illinois were not allowed to vote, but it wasn’t until 1886 that black voters, as the majority of the local electorate, regained political control of the town. 

Regional capital investment largely bypassed Brooklyn, taking place in the competing East St. Louis, Illinois, which gained the all-important railroad connection. Other white-majority towns also benefited by being part of the network of investment. "Almost none of the all-Black towns obtained a railroad." The small village soon became all black.

In 1891, then-Mayor Evans dedicated the town's new post office with the name Lovejoy (after the abolitionist Elijah P. Lovejoy, who had been assassinated in Alton, Illinois in 1837). The later high school was also named after him. Black autonomy did not automatically yield unity in the village. Tensions ran high with class and color conflicts by the early decades of the twentieth century, and evidence of political corruption. In addition, with the growth in number of young, single male workers, attracted to industrial jobs, the demographics changed and family life in the village declined.

Archeological and Historic Research
A state archeological survey was required before construction of the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge between St. Louis and Illinois, which would require realignment of part of Rte. 3 near the village. In 2002, work revealed extensive prehistoric artifacts, so many that the researchers named the site "Janey B. Goode" after the popular Chuck Berry song, "Johnny B. Goode". This site lies within Brooklyn's incorporated limits but just east of the historical residential part of town. It lies along the southern margin of the Horseshoe Lake meander just north of the East St. Louis Mound Group of earthworks. By the end of the 2007 field season, the team had excavated 7,000 prehistoric features, making this one of the largest sites ever excavated in the USA. Most of these features are associated with the Late Woodland Patrick phase and early Terminal Late Woodland Lloyd phase, approximately from 600 AD to 1200 AD. They suggest a more complex and dense indigenous community than researchers had known lived in the area.

In association with its work, the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS) (formerly ITARP), a joint project of the state and the University of Illinois, conducted outreach with the village of Brooklyn, volunteering to survey some of the areas associated with its early 19th-century history. A team of archaeologists led by Dr. Joseph Galloy found evidence of early Afro-American occupation from 1830 to 1850, as well as material in other areas from 1850 to 1870. This discovery suggests that the remains of Mother Baltimore's Freedom Village survive beneath the surface in Upper Brooklyn. It also means that artifacts and other evidence of the town's founding may be revealed if additional excavations are conducted there in the future. This would enhance the town's historical significance and research potential.

Since the turn of the 21st century, residents have rallied around new work related to documentation of the village's rich historical past. They have worked to collect oral histories and personal accounts of the village. In 2007, residents founded the Historical Society Of Brooklyn, Illinois. The historical society, together with the ISAS' Drs. Joseph Galloy, Thomas Emerson and Miranda Yancey; Dr. Chris Fennell of the University of Illinois, and the Illinois State Museum, is working to preserve the history of Brooklyn.

ISAS also helped the historical society to review documents to locate "Mother" Priscilla Baltimore's unmarked grave at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis. In September 2010, the Brooklyn Historical Society installed a gravestone in her honor at the cemetery. In addition, ISAS will assist the village in surveying the Brooklyn cemetery to detect gravesites and try to document the history.

Surveys in 2008 revealed that "the archaeological record of Brooklyn lies intact beneath the extensive open spaces of current-day residential parcels." In the summer of 2009, an archaeological field study began to excavate Mother Priscilla Baltimore's freedom village. The results of this collaborative project are expected to yield material that will aid the town in gaining designation for an historic district to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Historical Society of Brooklyn and its collaborators are seeking national designation for three particularly significant sites: the late prehistoric Janey B. Goode archaeological site, identified as 11S1232; Brooklyn's historic cemetery, identified as 11S1233; and Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church. Built in 1836, Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church was the first of that newly formed, independent black denomination to be built west of the Appalachian Mountains, as well as the first in Illinois. The AME Church was founded as a denomination by free blacks in Philadelphia and its region in 1816. 

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Illinois Black Codes

"Your petitioner, though humble in position, and having no political status in your State, notwithstanding I have resided in it for twenty-five years, and today am paying taxes on thirty thousand dollars, most humbly beseech you to recommend in your Message to the Legislature... the repeal of the Black Laws of this your State." Thus began John Jones's letter to Illinois Governor Richard Yates, November 4,1864. By the time Jones wrote this letter he was the best-known and wealthiest African-American in the state. Though wealthier by far than most Illinoisans, still Jones could not vote.

Born in North Carolina in 1816 or 1817, Jones had arrived about 1841 in Madison County, Illinois, where he took up residence illegally. It was not until three years later, as he prepared to move to Chicago with his wife and infant daughter, that he filed the necessary bond and received his certificate of freedom, a document required by every black person in the state. Because he had been born out of state, under the law of 1829 he was required to file a bond of $1,000 to insure that he would not become "a charge to the county," or violate any laws. Although Illinois entered the Union nominally as a free state in 1818, slavery had existed there for nearly one hundred years. It would continue to exist, albeit under increasing restrictions, until 1845.

But the elimination of legal slavery did not mean the removal of the Black Codes. Indeed, it was not until the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the adoption of the Illinois Constitution of 1870 that the last legal barriers (but not the societal) ended. Like their midwestern neighbors, most early Illinois settlers believed in white supremacy and African-American inferiority. Consequently, Illinois' constitutions and laws reflected those views.

According to John Mason Peck, an early Illinois Baptist missionary and historian, the French introduced slavery into the French-controlled Illinois country, perhaps as early as 1717 or as late as 1721. The British, who took control of the Illinois Country in 1765, permitted slavery to continue, and so did the Americans after George Rogers Clark's conquest in 1778. Although the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 prohibited slavery or involuntary servitude, territorial and later state laws and interpretations permitted the retention of French slaves. When Congress admitted Illinois as a state in 1818, the state's constitution permitted limited slavery at the salt mines in Massac County, and it legalized the continued bondage of slaves introduced by the French. At the same time, the new constitution included a provision that would eventually free even those slaves by declaring that the children of slaves were to be freed when they reached adulthood: for women that age was eighteen, for men it was twenty-one. Thus, it appeared that the last slave would not be freed until 1839, or twenty-one years after the adoption of the state constitution and Illinois' admission into the union.

Legislators in the first General Assembly passed measures designed to discourage African-Americans from coming to Illinois. Blacks were denied suffrage, and other laws deprived them of most rights accorded free white men. African-Americans were prohibited from immigrating without a certificate of freedom. Moreover, they had to register that certificate, along with the certificates of any children, immediately upon entering the state. Among other things, the state legislature intended to discourage Illinois from becoming a haven for runaway slaves. Any runaway found in the state could be sentenced by a justice of the peace to thirty-five lashes. African-Americans assembling in groups of three or more could be jailed and flogged. Additionally, they could not testify in court nor serve in the militia. Finally, state law forbade slaveholders, under penalty of a severe fine, from bringing slaves into Illinois in order to free them.
An Illinois Certificate of Freedom.
To counteract those repressive measures, just before the General Assembly convened following the election of 1822, "Free Persons of Color" submitted a petition requesting the right of suffrage. In the memorial they noted, "We pay taxes, work on public high-ways, like others..." The petition was denied, and some legislators increased their efforts to bring additional slaves into the state. When the General Assembly convened in 1822, pro-slavery advocates succeeded in passing a resolution requiring the state's citizens to vote on whether to call a constitutional convention. That decision provoked a long and bitter struggle.

The state's leading political, religious, and social leaders engaged in a strenuous war of words in newspapers and pamphlets, in the pulpit, and on the stump. Many of the state's leading founding politicians, including its first governor, Shadrach Bond, and first lieutenant governor, Pierre Menard, held slaves and supported the introduction of a pro-slave constitution. Newly elected Governor Edwards Coles, secretary of state (British-born) Morris Birkbeck, and pioneer Baptist missionary and historian John Mason Peck led the anti-slavery forces.

Illinois voters rejected (6,822 against, 4,950 for) the call for a constitutional convention. But further repressive measures were taken against the state's African-American residents. The state's newspapers were filled with advertisements from neighboring states offering rewards for the capture and return of runaway slaves. John Crain, sheriff of Washington County, advertised that he had taken two runaway slaves into custody. Unless their owners called for them, paid the charges and removed them from the state, they "will be hired out as the law directs." Slave hunters such as William Rose of Nashville, Tennessee, advertised their services as agents to find runaways in Illinois.

Not only did Illinois newspapers carry advertisements for runaways, the state attempted to further discourage black immigration by raising new barriers. The 1829 law required any free black to register in the county seat and post a $1,000 bond to cover costs should they become indigent or violate state or local laws. Since few black men or women had such sums available, they usually had to find a friendly white man to act as surety for them. At the same time, blacks also had to register their certificates of freedom from the state from which they immigrated.
Broadside about a Fugitive Slave.
Despite the restrictions and repression, the Illinois black population continued to grow slowly. While the number of slaves continued to decline, the indenture system remained harsh and restrictive. As late as 1843, United States Senator-elect Sidney Breese, needing money to set up housekeeping in Washington, D.C., wrote to former Lieutenant-Governor Pierre Menard, offering to "place in your hands some valuable negroes with power to sell them..." By 1845, however, the last legal remnants of slavery ended when the state supreme court in Jarrot v. Jarrot, declared that even the slaves introduced by the French were entitled to freedom under the provisions of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and the Illinois Constitution.

The court's decision, however, did little to change the attitudes of white Illinoisans. B.T. Burke, sheriff of Macoupin County, advertised that he had incarcerated a slave recently runaway from John Henderson in Missouri. In December 1845, an Illinois resident declared in a sarcastic letter to the New York Tribune:
In Illinois, in addition to considering slavery as an evil, its concentrated wisdom, in the shape of the Legislature, considers it criminal to be a slave. If a man happens to have a dark complexion, it is prima facie evidence that he is guilty of the crime. If, through ignorance, want of friends, or other causes, he fails of producing such proof [of his freedom], he of course, is thrown into jail as a slave, to await the coming of his master, in the mean time, minutely described in a public advertisement.
Still, pressure continued to mount to do more to maintain Illinois as a "white man's state." One way to do that, believed some, was to promote the colonization of blacks in the Caribbean or in Liberia. The state had an active colonization society that included such luminaries as Stephen A. Douglas, John Mason Peck, and others. The reasoning of many is illustrated in a communication by a Belleville colonizationist who wrote:
By referring to the census of this State, from 1845, it will be seen that there has been a large increase of the free black population of St. Clair county, in the past few years... One cause, and one that is likely to increase the evil to a much greater extent still, is found in the fact, that the slave states are adopting measures to expel from their midst, their entire free colored population. Some of the largest of the free states have passed laws, prohibiting the settlement of these expelled blacks upon their territory. So they become a vagrant, floating population, to which St. Louis is a common rendezvous. But, they cannot stay there, so they are thrown into Illinois; and especially into St. Clair county. So much for the causes of the increase of our colored population.
Many Illinoisans, both for and against slavery, supported colonization. Most black and white abolitionists, however, rejected the repatriation of the nation's African descendants. They also denounced gradual emancipation and second-class status for these residents. Abolitionists generally supported both immediate emancipation and granting full citizenship with equal rights for all the nation's black residents. Although William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and John Brown were the nation's best-known abolitionists, Illinoisans John Jones, Joseph H. Barquet, and Elijah Lovejoy shared those views.
The Burning of Elijah Lovejoy's Newspaper in Alton, Illinois on November 7, 1837.
Illinois' proposed new constitution in 1847 included a requirement that the General Assembly pass laws to prohibit the emigration of free blacks into the state and to bar slaveholders from bringing slaves into the state for the purpose of freeing them. As the constitution was being debated by the state's citizens, John Jones of Chicago took the lead on behalf of Illinois' blacks to defeat the offending section. His attack on slavery called forth the image of the nation's founders by appealing to the same natural rights claimed by Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and others in 1776. He urged the state's enlightened inhabitants to reject the barbaric slave relics from the eighteenth century:
Now, sirs, we maintain that our claims to the rights of citizenship are founded on an original agreement of the contracting parties, and there is nothing to show that color is a bar in the agreement. It is well known, that when this country belonged to Great Britain, the colored people were slaves, according to the interpretation of the then existing laws. But the darkness of the 18th century has gone by, and we live in the 19th, and in a Republic, too, wherin [sic] men understand the principles of government, and a man is regarded as a man whether his face be black or white.
There were others who shared Jones's views among both races. The Pike County Free Press and the Watchman of the Prairies both carried strong articles against the adoption of the offending article in the constitution.

The exclusion provision, which was submitted separately to the voters of Illinois, won overwhelming support. Following the adoption of the constitution, including the exclusion section, Jones again took up his pen and highlighted the constitution's inconsistencies. He noted that while the constitution declared "That All Men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and Liberty, and of acquiring, possession and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness," its framers had gone on to restrict suffrage to white males. He noted that among those "called white, and whose legitimate ancestors, as far back as we can trace them, have never been held in slavery, there are many shades of difference in their complexions. Then how will you discriminate (be nice about it): And at what point will you limit the distinction?"

Later that year, the "Colored People of Chicago" met to draft resolutions opposing the new constitution and the "unjust and partial laws existing in the State of Illinois, which excludes the Free Man of Color from all access to Law by Oath, and thereby renders him dumb, so that he cannot be a party in law against a white man...." The meeting then adopted a series of resolutions expressing those views and agreed to petition the "Legislature to repeal the aforesaid unjust and partial laws."

Despite the injunction to do so, the Illinois General Assembly failed to adopt the new measures in 1849 and 1851. But in 1853, under the leadership of southern Illinois Democrat John A. Logan, the General Assembly adopted the draconian "Black Law" of 1853. For the most part, the law simply brought together in one place several existing laws. Under this law, no black from another state could remain within the Illinois borders for more than ten days. Beyond ten days and he or she was subject to arrest, confinement in jail, and a $50 fine and removal from the state. If unable to pay the fine, the law directed the sheriff to auction the offending African-American to the bidder willing to pay the costs and the tine and to work the "guilty" party the fewest number of days. If the convicted man or woman did not leave within ten days after completing the required service, the process resumed, but the fine was increased $50 for each additional infraction. Although most newspapers opposed the measure, there is but little doubt that it reflected the views of much of the state's population.

For the next twelve years, Illinois blacks labored under one of the harshest laws in the nation. But, it did not go uncontested. One of the most interesting challenges came from the pen of Joseph H. Barquet, a young black Chicagoan born in North Carolina and recently arrived from Tennessee. He began his objection to the harsh law by illustrating its absurdity when carried to its logical conclusion. Essentially, he asserted, black men will be forced to marry white women, an abhorent thought to whites. Barquet reasoned:
The recent law of inhibition against the negro, passed by our legislature, (if we can say ours, for we did not help to elect them,) bears hard, very hard against Sambo, and to lay the case before the public is my desire. Well, sir, I wish to annex myself to a wife, but the commodity in colors is scarce in our market! What shall we do? If we go from home to import one, the dear creature will be sold to some heartless Logan. What then shall we do? The laws of Illinois do not recognize the marriage tie between a white and negro, and if Mr. Logan shuts out the black girls, why we must take the white ones, that's all.
He then chided the state's leaders for their injustice to its black citizens. He warned that this act of despotism would lead to further restrictions. He concluded that "Europe smiles and taunts American liberty. Her despots smile when Illinois plucks from the eagle, emblem of our country, her lost plumage quill dipped in blood to sign slavery for freemen."

Throughout the period, Illinois blacks resisted, as best they could, the ubiquitous effects of the Black Laws. In addition to meetings and petitions objecting to the laws over the years, they formed several self-help organizations. Perhaps most important was the creation in 1839 of the Wood River Colored Baptist Association in St. Clair County. It soon developed a number of important early leaders in the state, including John Jones, the son-in-law of H. H. Richardson, one of the association's founders. The association took the lead in opposing Illinois' repressive race legislation and encouraged education, even when it had to be separate. Its leaders took the lead in organizing schools and encouraging the state to force local school districts to allocate tax money for "colored" schools in proportion to taxes paid by its colored residents. Many of the protest meetings over the years were held in church structures.

The Illinois Black Laws continued in force until the end of the Civil War. Indeed, in the midst of the Civil War, Illinois held a constitutional convention and a new constitution was submitted to the people of the state for ratification. One of the most remarkable features of that document were three provisions that wrote the Black Laws into the proposed constitution. Although Illinois voters rejected the constitution, they overwhelmingly approved the anti-black provisions. Eventually, however, with prodding from John Jones and the logic propelled by the results of the Civil War, the Illinois General Assembly repealed the Black Laws in early 1865. The repeal, however, did not confer suffrage or civil rights on the state's blacks; they had to await the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 1885.

By Roger D. Bridges
Edited by Neil Gale, Ph.D.