Monday, July 31, 2017

The words "Grocery," "Ordinary," and "Doggery" Meant The Same Thing in different eras starting in the 18th Century.

Before the 20th Century, the terms "Grocery," "Ordinary, and "Doggery" "had different meanings than today. During this time, whiskey drinking was the reigning vice, and a stock of liquors was being kept for sale, by the glass, in almost every roadside cabin and stops on stagecoach routes. The settlers' cabins often displayed a sign with the word "grocery" printed on it, meaning 'liquor by the glass or bottle sold here.' In addition to the liquor, they often kept a small stock of general provisions and supplies. Doggeries were cheap saloons. The owner of a grocery was called a grocer. 

The distances between one habitation and another were often considerable, and people traveling late in the day were frequently frozen to death in extreme weather, especially in intoxicated conditions. Indeed there were more deaths from freezing than from any other fatality. Winters would kill mostly transient dwellers such as discharged soldiers, sailors, and farmhands out of work for the winter. 

The grocery stores we know today were called "General Stores" back then. General Stores 

Proof: Ordinances of the Town of Chicago were incorporated on August 12, 1833.

The saloon in Chicago had its origin in two places. The oldest was the inn or tavern, a combination kitchen, hotel, and drinking establishment. Much of the city's early social life revolved around Wolf Point on the Chicago River. Such spots included James Kinzie's (John Kinzie's son) Green Tree Tavern
Mark Beaubien opened the Eagle Exchange Tavern in a log cabin on the south bank of the Chicago River in 1829, then added a frame addition to the Eagle in 1831. Beaubien also opened the Sauganash Hotel, Chicago's first hotel, serving food and drink. 

The second type of drinking establishment evolved from grocers and provisioners who began to sell hard liquor in wholesale quantities. At first, their sample rooms were places where customers could taste-test the stock; long afterward, "sample room" became another name for a saloon. By the late 1850s, the term saloon had begun to appear in directories and was commonly used as a term for licensed drinking establishments that specialized in beer and liquor sales by the glass, with food and lodging as secondary concerns in some places. Stops such as Stacey's Tavern in present-day Glen Ellyn or the Pre-Emption House in Naperville were popular among farmers journeying to the city.
As the rapidly growing ethnic population swelled, the saloon ranks through the mid-nineteenth Century, but during the early 1880s, a growing overcapacity in the brewery industry began to force change. Overestimates of future growth and easy rail access to Chicago for St. Louis and Milwaukee brewers left all producers scrambling for retail outlets.

The answer lay in adapting the British "Tied-House" control system. Brewers purchased hundreds of storefronts, especially in highly desired corner locations. The brewers rented to prospective saloonkeepers and all the furnishings, including recreational equipment such as billiard tables and bowling alleys. Schlitz and a few others built elaborate saloons, examples of which still survive in Chicago today. The Chicago City Council also contributed to the brewery domination by increasing the saloon license from $50 to $500 between 1883 and 1885 to pay for an expanded police force supposedly made necessary by the increasing barroom brawls. Relatively few independent proprietors could afford to pay such amounts.
An 1880s Grocer's Newspaper Ad.
The General Store.
Today's stores offer a great variety of merchandise for the convenience of their customers, but in the 1800s, merchants simply sold the items they could obtain and resell. These general stores, mercantile or emporiums, served rural populations of small towns and villages and the farmers and ranchers in the surrounding areas. They offered a place where people could find food and necessities that would have otherwise been difficult to obtain.
In addition to merchandise, a general store offered a meeting place for isolated people to socialize and do business. Many of these stores also doubled as a post office.

During the first part of the 19th ceCenturythese, stores stocked necessities, but as the economy prospered after the Civil War, more and more luxury items found their way onto the shelves. The storekeepers purchased merchandise from salesmen representing large wholesale houses and manufacturers in larger cities and seaside ports.

At first, only locally produced perishable goods were sold in general stores. With the expansion of the railroads, the advent of mass production, and advances in technology, such as the refrigerated boxcar, the local shopkeeper could receive and sell goods from countries far away and southern and western America states.

What was a general store like in the 19th Century?
Indeed, not anything approaching the modern grocery or department store. Most stores had at least one large display window, but inside, they were still dark and gloomy — and, depending on their geographical location, probably damp and humid to boot. Most were crowded with shelving along every wall. The floors were also crammed with boxes, barrels, crates, and tables holding goods.
The front counter held display cases for smaller items and needed machineries such as a coffee grinder, scales for weighing merchandise, and a cash register. Surplus inventory was stored in the cellar or basement or possibly on the second floor if that was not the living quarters of the grocer's Family.

Most of the items found in a general store would be familiar to us today. Food and consumables included coffee beans, spices, baking powder, oatmeal, flour, sugar, tropical fruit, hard candy, eggs, milk, butter, fruit and vegetables, honey and molasses, crackers, cheese, syrup and dried beans, cigars, and tobacco.

The apothecary section of the store, as in a modern grocery or department store, was well represented with patent-specific medicines, remedies, soaps, toiletries, and elixirs. The major difference between the medicine then and now is that it's illegal to sell snake oil! Most patent remedies of the era were alcohol-based, which explained their popularity in many cases. 

The dry goods section of the store included bolts of cloth, pins and needles, thread, ribbon, silk, buttons, collars, undergarments, suspenders, dungarees, hats, and shoes. Essential items such as rifles, pistols, ammunition, lanterns, lamps, rope, crockery, pots and pans, cooking utensils and dishes, farm and milking equipment parts, and sometimes even coffins could be found inside a general mercantile!

The average store would have been considered none too clean by modern standards. The roads outside were unpaved and unwashed; the dirt tracked in by customers would have included animal waste (and possibly human if someone had emptied their chamber pot into the street). The cast-iron stove heating the store during cold weather produced soot that settled over much of the merchandise. And it was not unheard of to discover rodents foraging about inside the store.

When money was scarce, the shopkeeper might extend credit to a regular customer or accept payment in kind (bartering for meat, eggs, and/or crops).

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

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, harbors, and seas. The key requirement for forming a seiche is that the body of water is 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 beach house, 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 recovered Jaworski's body in the rough water by forming a line and pushing it 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 North Avenue beach house steps, 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

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 originally called Kettlestrings Grove, then Oak Ridge, Illinois (named because of the many native oak trees), then the Village changed names and boundaries to Noyesville, then to Harlem, and finally to Oak Park.
Lost Towns of Illinois - Village of Harlem, Illinois (1884-1907)
Joseph and Betty (Willis) Kettlestrings, the first settler, spent 10 weeks crossing the Atlantic with the first two of their 11 children. Only six would survive them. Arriving in Baltimore, a third child was born as they pushed west, eventually coming to Chicago, population 350. Their ox-drawn, covered wagon had pulled them through marshy soil, rocky terrain and boggy wetlands till they came to "a ridge of dry land abounding with oak trees."

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 the 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 AMAZING DETAIL, and view over 25 amazing images. 

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Chicago's Chicken Man, a Maxwell Street performer.

The Chicken Man's real name is 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 showman, 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.”

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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. 

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.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

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.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

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 insistence 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 someone 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 used 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 hometown 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 of her 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 woodshed 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 of Lincoln's 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.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.