Saturday, April 22, 2017

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Charles Lindbergh airplane hung at the entrance of the Federal Building in Chicago.

The airplane famed aviator Charles Lindbergh flew before making his legendary Atlantic crossing in the Spirit of St. Louis was hung over the Jackson Blvd. entrance of the Federal Building in Chicago, August 1927.

John W. Barker (1822-1863) cabin in Bethel Hollow, Pope County, Illinois.

John W. Barker (1822-1863) at mid-19th century lived in this cabin in Bethel Hollow, Pope County, Illinois. The photo of the cabin is circa 1880s. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hawthorn-Mellody Farms & Amusement Park, Libertyville, IL. (1907-1970)

In 1907, Samuel Insull purchased 132 acres of land called Hawthorn Farm and a farmhouse which occupied the space. It was located on the west side of Milwaukee Avenue (RT 21), and today's Townline Road (RT 60).
Construction on a new house began in 1914, but the original structure stood for some time.
The Insull's new house at Hawthorn-Mellody Farms.
Hawthorn Mellody Estate Farm House designed for Samual Insull in 1914.
1941 Photograph during the Cuneo period.
A one room schoolhouse served children of employees and servants for the Insull home in Lake County. It was demolished in the 1990s, but it had been out of use long before this time.
Hawthorn one room schoolhouse.
John F. Cuneo, who bought the 2000-acre farm from utilities magnate Samuel Insull in 1937 and sold the property in 1967 to the National Industries, Inc. of Louisville.
One of the largest dairy farms in Lake County, Hawthorn-Mellody served the North Shore as far South as Evanston.  
Beyond functioning as a state of the art dairy farm, Hawthorn-Mellody also ran a small, but successful, amusement park including a Children's Petting Zoo, a Steam Train, Country Store, Western Town and the Club of Champs, which displayed autographs and possessions of the star athletes of the time, such as Joe Louis' boxing gloves and Sonja Henie's ice skates.

Film star Hopalong Cassidy made an appearance at Hawthorn Mellody Farms.
Cuneo hoped it would serve as a fun, educational center for children and adults alike to learn about agriculture and the dairy industry. He constructed a public Milking Parlor where visitors could watch the Holstein cows that were milked there every afternoon. The "free of human touch" production process convinced visitors to try Hawthorn-Mellody milk. 

Free of human touch dairy plant.
Hawthorn-Mellody Farms was torn down in 1970 due to a decrease in attendance and an inability to compete with more modern dairy facilities.
Hawthorn-Mellody Farm, Summers of 1964/65

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

My Private Tour of the Lincoln Library Vault in Springfield, Illinois on the 150th Anniversary (April 15, 2015) of President Lincoln's Assassination in 1865.

In March of 2015, when I judged for the Illinois History Day state finals for junior and senior High School students history fair projects and research papersPete Harbison, the Student Historian Program Coordinator, invited me to visit the Lincoln Library and Museum for a private tour of the vault (which I found out rarely happens) on the 150th Anniversary on April 15, 2015 of President Lincoln's Assassination. 

When I arrived at the Lincoln Library, Pete and I were joined by Dr. Sam Wheeler, the Research Historian for the Lincoln Library (today Dr. Wheeler is the State Historian and Director of Research, Collections, and Library Services)

Our first stop was the Library’s research room. Here is where the public may request materials to study. There are not many books on the shelves so you need to ask the librarian for the material you wish to see.
The thousands of Lincoln artifacts not displayed in the Museum are stored at the Library. I was taken to a sub-level where there are 6 miles of movable, electronic filing shelves. 
The Preservation Department is a very important function of the Library. I was introduced to the staff and allowed to take a few photos. They were working on a few projects.
This project being the removal of tape residue from a Lincoln document from the mid-1850s.
Another person was working on the preservation of the “Members of the House of Representatives of the thirteenth General Assembly of the State of Illinois” photo-montage.

I was escorted into a small private conference room in in the sub-basement where Sam left for a few minutes and came back pushing a cart with boxes and items on it. The painting and bronze statute were in the conference room along with some other historical artifacts that were never displayed to the public or were removed from the Museum for a change of exhibits.

I was privileged to be allowed to photograph a couple of the items Sam brought to show me, but not all of them. He told me that these were some of his personal favorites.

The first item is Lincoln’s personal house key. The same house as the “Lincoln Home National Historic Site” at 426 South 7th Street in Springfield where the Lincoln's really lived. I can just imagine Lincoln using this key every day!
The second item is Lincoln’s personal travel shaving kit which he took with him on his travels. Lincoln was clean-shaven when he began running for president. What you see is the kit open and the highly polished metal reflective surface (a crude mirror) Abe would look into to shave. 
Lincoln grew a beard after receiving a letter from Grace Bedell, an 11-year-old girl from New York, in October 1860, a few weeks before the election. Grace said that with a beard he “would look a great deal better for your face is so thin.” Furthermore, she wrote, “All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President.” 

Lincoln responded to Bedell a few days later in a letter. “As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affectation if I were to begin it now?” he wrote.
Abraham Lincoln's first whiskers in 1860.
Little Known Fact: By growing a beard, Lincoln nearly bankrupted a young entrepreneur named Milton Bradley, who had a booming business selling daguerreotype photographs of the clean-shaven candidate. Bradley destroyed his supply of daguerreotypes and turned to designing board games to make a living.
I was shown (no photos allowed) a beautiful Tiffany (from New York) heart pendant owned by Mary Todd Lincoln. On one side were perfect diamonds (of course - it's Tiffany after all) covering the entire heart – on the reverse side was a single flawless heart cut diamond allowing you to view the spectrum of colors from the reverse side diamonds making it see-through. 

Now comes my favorite. I saw a handwritten letter from Mary Todd Lincoln the day after the assassination, written on mourning stationery (black bordered paper) where Mrs. Lincoln is giving instructions (i.e. her last will and testament) about what she desired after her death. She thought her sorrow was so massive that she was going to die any minute. The very first sentence asked that she be in state, open casket, for 48 hours. She was very afraid of waking up after being pronounced dead and buried alive. (The term "Dead-ringer" comes from people being buried [doctors sometimes didn't know if a patient was still alive] with one end of a rope in the casket and the other end hooked to an above ground bell. If the person awoke in the casket, they would pull the rope ringing the bell to summon help in digging them up before suffocating).

Last but not least, I saw 1 of the 3, real Lincoln stove-top hats. This was an early one, before becoming President. It is made of beaver fur where the other two surviving hats are made of silk. There were two worn spots on the brim where the fur had worn through. It is where Lincoln's fingers would grab the hat's brim to tip it in greetings.

All in all --- a wonderful way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's assassination.

Written by Neil Gale, Ph.D

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Why Chicago has Multilevel Streets.

Downtown Chicago, Illinois has some double-decked and a few triple-decked streets immediately north and south of the Main Branch and immediately east of the South Branch of the Chicago River.
The most famous and longest of these is Wacker Drive, which replaced the South Water Street Market upon its 1926 completion. The resulting bi-level street has an upper-level riverfront boulevard, a lower-level roadway for commercial and through traffic, and a recreational walkway at water level

This configuration was due to geography and traffic patterns in the Loop. Unlike most parts of the rest of the city near the river, most downtown streets crossed the river. All of these crossings are done by bascule bridges and each bridge required height clearances at the approaches to and over the river. Further necessitating clearances were many existing railroad tracks that were along the river (as in the west bank of the south branch) or tracks that ended at the river (for example the tracks ending at Randolph Street). Thus along the river at points of many closely spaced crossings, a clearance zone was created. Many double-decked or triple-decked streets came into being as a result of falling within this clearance zone.
Upper & Lower Wacker Drive on the Chicago River.
This also created an anomaly not only in the layout and uses of streets, but also planning of buildings. Generally, the upper levels of the multi-level streets usually serve local traffic. The primary entrances of buildings are usually located on this level. The lower levels generally serve through-traffic and trucks serving businesses along the roads. This level houses the receiving/shipping entrances to the buildings on these streets. Noticeable is the absence of such loading docks at street level.

The first raising occurred from 1855 to 1858, when streets and buildings were raised between four and seven feet above their former elevation, just a few feet above lake level, where they were constantly muddy. The higher elevation allowed for sewers and proper drainage. However, this did not produce any two-level streets; the first of those was Michigan Avenue in the late 1910s. When the Illinois Center development was built on the east side of downtown, a new upper level was built, making most streets in that area three levels.

After about 1890, special interest groups, including recreational bicyclists, farmers delivering harvested crops to market, and motorists, began to mount support for concrete paving to replace the previously common dirt roads. Public road planning in Chicago began in 1910 when the Chicago Plan Commission was created to implement Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett's plan.

The double-decked portion of Wabash Avenue north of the Chicago River was built in 1930, in conjunction with the single-level Wabash Avenue Bridge. On January 3, 2005, the upper and lower levels were closed at Kinzie Street for reconstruction (in conjunction with the Trump Tower Chicago development) but have since been reopened.


Marshall Field Delivery Wagons, State Street Store, Chicago, Illinois

Delivery wagons are lined up neatly in this 1897 image of Holden Court, the alley that traversed the store. Initially, boys made deliveries, toting bundles on foot or via public transportation, but in 1873, the firm switched to wagons.
By 1907, Marshall Field's used 700 horses and 300 wagons to cover its 350-square-mile delivery area. Stabling and caring for so many horses required a hefty annual budget of $686,000 ($17,921,280 in 2016). 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

John Kinzie, one of Chicago's Founding Fathers.

John Kinzie (1763–1828) was born in Quebec City, Canada (then in the Colonial Province of Quebec) to John and Anne McKenzie, Scots-Irish immigrants. His father died before Kinzie was a year old, and his mother remarried. In 1773, the boy was apprenticed to George Farnham, a silversmith. Some of the jewelry created by Kinzie has been found in archaeological digs in Ohio. By 1777, Kinzie had become a trader in Detroit, where he worked for William Burnett. As a trader, he became familiar with local Native American peoples and likely learned the dominant language. He developed trading at the Kekionga, a center of the Miami people.
Illustration of the house built by Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable at the mouth of the Chicago River as it appeared in 1827 when owned by John Kinzie from 1804 to 1828 Claimed to be the first house build in Chicago. 
In 1785, Kinzie helped rescue two sisters, U.S. citizens, who were kidnapped in 1775 from Virginia by the Shawnee and adopted into the tribe. One of the girls, Margaret McKinzie, married him; her sister Elizabeth married his companion Clark. Margaret lived with Kinzie in Detroit and had three children with him. After several years, she left Kinzie and Detroit, and returned to Virginia with their children. All three of the Kinzie children eventually moved as adults to Chicago.

In 1789, Kinzie lost his business in the Kekionga (modern Fort Wayne, Indiana) and had to move further from the western U.S. frontier. The U.S. was excluding Canadians from trade with the Native Americans in their territory. As the United States settlers continued to populate its western territory, Kinzie moved further west.

In 1800 Kinzie married again, to Eleanor Lytle McKillip. By the time they moved to Chicago, about 1803, they had a  son, John H. Kinzie. John H. was brought to Chicago by his fur-trading-friend-of-the-Indians father in 1804 when Fort Dearborn was just being completed. When John H. was 9 years old he witnessed the Fort Dearborn Massacre on August 15, 1812.

Eleanor had three more children in Chicago. Their daughter Ellen Marion Kinzie, believed to be the first European child of European descent born in Chicago, was born in 1805; followed by Maria Indiana in 1807, and Robert Allen Kinzie in 1810.

In 1804 Kinzie purchased the former house and lands of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, located near the mouth of the Chicago River. His partner William Burnett had owned the house since 1800. That same year, Governor William Henry Harrison of the Indiana Territory appointed Kinzie as a justice of the peace.

After the U.S. citizens built Fort Dearborn, across the Chicago River from Kinzie's house, Kinzie's influence and reputation rose in the area; he was useful because of his relationship with the Native Americans. The War of 1812 began between Great Britain and the United States, and tensions rose on the northern frontier.

In June 1812, Kinzie killed Jean La Lime, who worked as an interpreter at Fort Dearborn. He fled to Milwaukee, then Indian territory. While in Milwaukee, he met with pro-British Indians who were planning attacks on U.S. settlements, including Chicago. Kinzie went back to Chicago. During this period, an inquest at Fort Dearborn under Captain Nathan Heald exonerated Kinzie in the killing of La Lime, ruling it was in self-defense. Historians speculate that La Lime may have been informing on corruption related to purchasing supplies within the fort and had been silenced. The case has been called "Chicago's first murder."

Although worried that Chicago would be on heightened alert, the Indians attacked Fort Dearborn on August 15, 1812, and killed most of the people in the fort. Kinzie escaped with his family unharmed and returned to Detroit. Identifying as a British citizen, Kinzie had a strong anti-U.S. streak.

In 1813, the British arrested Kinzie and Jean Baptiste Chardonnai, also then living in Detroit, charging them with treason. They were accused of having corresponded with the enemy (the U.S. General Harrison's army) while supplying gunpowder to chief Tecumseh's Indian forces, who were fighting alongside the British. Chardonnai escaped, but Kinzie was imprisoned on a ship for transport to England. When the ship put into port in Nova Scotia to weather a storm, Kinzie escaped. He returned to U.S. held Detroit by 1814.

Formerly identifying as a British citizen, Kinzie switched citzenship to the United States. He returned to live in Chicago with his family in 1816. Kinzie suffered a stroke on January 6, 1828 and died within a few hours. Originally buried at the Fort Dearborn Cemetery, Kinzie’s remains were moved to City Cemetery in 1835. When that cemetery was closed for the development of Lincoln Park, Kinzie's remains were once again moved, this time to Graceland Cemetery. 
John Kinzie's head stone at Chicago's Graceland Cemetery.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Paul's Grove ─►Storybook Park ─►Storybook City USA, Addison, Illinois. (1952-1961)

The land that Storybook City sat on was originally owned by Paul Werner and was known as Paul's Grove. It is unknown exactly when Werner began to operate Paul's Grove. It consisted of 24 acres and hosted a restaurant and a dance pavilion.

It was located at the northwest corner of Medinah Road and Lake Street in the Chicago suburb of unincorporated Bloomingdale, Illinois, but all advertisements and the mailing address read "Addison, Illinois."

The grove was purchased by John and Marie Spiezio in 1952 and they managed it until 1958.

C. Diane Bishop: "My first job was Cinderella here in 1959. That's Mike the coachman in the seat. My fondest memory is when the horses spooked one day and jackknifed the coach into a tree. Moms were not happy."

Sometime in 1958, the land was purchased by Richard Barrie who changed the parks name to Storybook Park, then later to Storybook City, USA. The City was geared to families with young children.
Barrie added some kiddie rides, built a fairy-tale castle and hired people to dress in costumes, thus bringing the storybook characters to life. After some financial problems, Barrie sold Storybook City USA to Durell Everding in 1961.
Notice the odd seating arrangement on the miniature train.

Everding renamed it Adventureland (<--- click for Adventureland history and photos) in 1961 and expanded the focus of the amusement park to include older children, teens and young adults. The original Storybook City structures remained and the kiddie rides were grouped together in a section Everding called the "Kiddie Korral". Adventureland grew and became the largest amusement park in Illinois after Chicago's Riverview Park closed in 1967. It would retain this title until Marriott's Great America opened in 1976 (now Six Flags Great America since 1984), and Adventureland closed in 1977.
The Original "Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe" from Storybook Park (the toe was enclosed) can be seen at the miniature golf course at Green Valley Golf Range in Hanover Park, Illinois.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Fort Massac, Metropolis, Illinois.

The high bank overlooking the Ohio River at Metropolis drew a series of occupants to the site. Prehistoric Native Americans camped near here. In 1757, after years of intermittent use for trading purposes, the French constructed a fortification to block British expansion into the Mississippi River basin.
The fort was named in honor of the Marquis de Massiac, a French naval minister. The end of the French and Indian War in 1763 marked the fort passing into British hands. 
In 1778 as a prelude to his march on Kaskaskia, George Rogers Clark and his men landed at the mouth of Massac Creek and advanced to the fort which they found abandoned. Under orders from President Washington, the fort was rebuilt in 1794 and garrisoned to guard American interests on the lower Ohio River. A customs port was opened as was a post office. Zebulon Pike, for whom Pike's Peak is named, served here as a Lieutenant. 

After the War of 1812 the post was no longer needed and it was again abandoned.
In 1908, in recognition of its historical importance, the site was dedicated as Illinois' first state park. Archaeological excavations in the 1930's, 1960's and 1970's provided information which ultimately resulted in a reconstructed fort from the American period. Dedicated in 1973, the reconstructed fort was not placed on the original location to the west in order to preserve the site's integrity. 

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.