Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Lincoln's "Progress in Spelling."

Poor spellers may find comfort in the following anecdote that Mr. R. B. Stanton tells in the reminiscences of Lincoln that he gives in the February 1921 issue of Scribner's Magazine.
Mr. Stanton tells the story his Father told him.

On one occasion, said the senior Mr. Stanton, the President gave me what he was pleased to call an account of his "progress in spelling." The incident reveals Mr. Lincoln's remarkable simplicity and open-heartedness, showing the ease and friendliness he could talk to a private citizen.

Having some business at the War Department and knowing my success depended on the President's favor, I called on the President to ask for his aid. At the interview, no other visitor was present. After stating my case, I asked him if he would speak to the Secretary on my behalf. 

"Certainly I will," he said. Pausing a moment, he added, "Or what's better, I will write him a note. Sit down, and I will write it now." He went to his desk and began writing, but in a few moments turned to me and, looking up over his spectacles, he said:

"Obh-sta-cle: is that the way you spell obstacle? I was so disconcerted at the sudden, unexpected question that, for the moment, I was silent. Noticing my confusion, he laid down his pen and turned his revolving chair to face me.

When I had recovered myself, I said, "I believe that is right, Mr. President."

He said, "When I write an official letter, I want to be sure it is correct, and I am sometimes puzzled to know how to spell the most common word."

When I remarked that that was not an unusual experience with many persons, he said, "I found about twenty years ago that I had been spelling one word wrong all my life up to that time."

"What word is that, Mr. President?" I inquired.

"It is very," he said. "I always used to spell it with two r's—v-e-r-r-y. And then there was another word I found I had been spelling wrong until I came here to the White House. It is an opportunity, and I had always spelled it op-per-tunity."

In relating those instances of his "progress in spelling," as he called it, the President laughed heartily and added some words on the importance of giving attention to orthography (the conventional spelling system of a language). Then he finished his letter to the Secretary of War and handed it to me with a warm expression that my mission might be successful. 

Saturday, August 6, 2022

"We Knew the Crack of Revolver Was Not Part of Play," Says Charles L. Willis, Who Beheld John Wilkes Booth Leap From Box.

The curtain rose for the third and last act of the comedy, "Our American Cousin," at Ford's Theatre, on Tenth street, 64 years ago, "and hardly one word had been spoken," Charles L. Willis, of the Willard Court Apartments, "said yesterday, "when the sharp crack of a revolver was heard."
Charles L. Willis
Mr. Willis is one of the two or three persons alive today [1929] who was in the historic old Theatre on the memorable night of April 14, 1865. 

"We all knew it was not a part of the play," the octogenarian pointed out, speaking of the "crack "of a revolver," and ''for a few seconds, everything was still. A cry, 'The President, is shot,' and the audience stood and looked toward the point from whence the sound came."

At the time of the assassination of President Lincoln, Mr. Willis was a stripling of 18 summers, born in Baltimore but a resident of Washington for four years.

"I thought the world of that man," Mr. Willis said, reminiscing. "He had the kindest eye I1 ever saw in a man's head. I remember that I would try to see him whenever he appeared in public. And I am proud to say. that I once shook hands with him."

Mr. Willis' story is a first-hand graphic, eyewitness account of the scene at the Theatre the night Lincoln was shot. In his own words, let him tell it:

"On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, the Washington newspapers stated that President Lincoln and his party would attend the performance at Ford's Theatre that evening.

"Miss Laura Keene, a favorite actress, was to appear in the comedy, 'Our American Cousin.' I was then a young man, 18 years of age, and very fond of the Theatre. I suggested to my chum that we go to the theatre that night. He readily acceded, and we were a part of a large audience present on that occasion. The Theatre was well filled, and the audience was appreciative and happy. The first two acts passed off pleasantly, and when the curtain dropped at the close of the second act, I suggested to my friend that we go out during the intermission." 

As the two young men were on their way out of the Theatre, it might be well to interrupt the continuity to explain that the boyhood chum to whom Mr. Willis refers was John A. Downs, who has been dead for at least twenty years. His survivor estimated. Going on after the interruption. Mr. Willis said:

"While standing on the pavement in front of the Theatre, we saw John Wilkes Booth come out and enter a small restaurant adjoining the Theatre. Booth was a great favorite of all Theatregoers, most especially the young. He was a handsome man with very white skin, piercing eyes, and jet black, curly hair. Only a short time before, I had seen him perform in the same Theatre, with Miss Alice Grey, his last public performance.

"My friend and I reentered the Theatre and resumed our seats in the orchestra pit, our chairs not more than seven rows from the stage and nearly beneath the box occupied by the President and party. As we entered the Theatre, I saw Booth talking to John Buckingham, with whom I was personally acquainted."

Buckingham, Mr. Willis paused again to explain, puffing one of the three cigars he permits himself each day, was the doorman at the Theatre and "an employee of my father, Cornelius L. Willis." 

"The curtain rose io: the third and last act," the old man took up his narrative, "and hardly one word had been spoken when the sharp crack of a revolver was heard. We all knew it was not a part of the play, and everything was very still for a few seconds. A cry, 'The President, is shot,' and the audience stood and looked toward the point from whence the sound came. I saw a man climbing over the rail in front of the box he leaped to the stage a few feet to his right. As he landed on the stage, he staggered; raising his right arm, he muttered a few words and quickly disappeared into the scenery on the left of the stage. 

"A man sprang from the audience, climbed to the stage and made pursuit. The audience was now all standing and with little or no shouting or disorder. I suggested to my friend that we go out, and we did so.

"As it appeared that very few were coming out, we reentered the Theatre. In my excited condition, I went directly onto the stage where actors and part of the audience mingled, gazing up at the box where the wounded President lay. Amid all this excitement, to the best of my recollection, there was not much noise: all were shocked, talking in subdued tones.

"The audience began to leave the Theatre. On the outside, the crowd was great, and I made for a place to avoid the gathering. I took refuge on the porch in front of a house across the street, and in a few moments, four men carrying the wounded President went up into this same house with him [The Petersen Boarding House].

The President died the following morning, April 15, in this house, between 7 and 8 o'clock. 

The crowd by this time was great. Shouts of "Lynch him," "Hang him," "They've got him," were heard all around, and the crowd surged from side to side.

I started toward Pennsylvania Avenue to take a car for my home on Capitol Hill. A man said to me, "What's the matter?" My teeth chattered; I could not speak. I reached the car, and all were talking about the assassination. They said Seward was killed, Grant was killed. The excitement among all was intense; there was more loud talking in that car than in the Theatre. 

When I reached home near midnight, my mother, hearing some tumult, asked me what the matter was. I said, "Nothing." I feared if I told her what had been done, she and my father would sleep no more that night. The next morning I went to the Government department where I was employed and asked to be excused after telling my experience. I walked directly up P street northwest to the corner of Tenth Street and looked toward the house where the President lay, and what seems strange to me now, there were no crowds around the place. Later in the day, all the Government departments closed until after the funeral, which occurred on the following Thursday.

When the body of the President was lying in state in the rotunda of the Capitol, thousands passed through to review the remains, entering on the west front, passing in double file and leaving on the east side.

I forced myself through the crowd, and for the last time, I saw President Lincoln.

Mr. Willis has read more than once, he said, of the death of someone of whom the statement was made, "He was the last person who was present at the Theatre on the night of the assassination of President Lincoln." Mr. Willis characterizes such announcements as absurd: "I was a little more than 18 years of age, and among the audience of more than 1,000 there was, no doubt, many of my age or under. There may be some others living who were present." 

The 18-year-old boy present at Ford's Theatre to see the comedy, "Our American Cousin," one of the very last, at least, of "the audience of more than 1,000, was born in Baltimore on October 17, 1846. A bookbinder by trade, he worked in the Government Printing Office here for 46 years, retiring when the retirement law went into effect in August 1920. Since then, he has been taking things easy, living for his wife of more than 50 years, their sons and their daughters, thinking of the past and the present, and who will win the baseball game today.

                                                                                  —The Washington Post, March 14, 1929


Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Lost Towns of Illinois - Etherly, Illinois.

Etherly was a village located in Knox County, just south of Victoria, Illinois.

Etherly was platted on August 10, 1894, by Samuel L. Charles. This plat filing notifies the State of Illinois and certain government agencies that there is a village named Etherly in Illinois and exactly where it is.

The village was a miners' town, home to the families of the men who worked in the twelve surrounding coal mines in Etherly

The mining companies in the area went out of business around the turn of the 20th century. The Village of Etherly was sold. 

Shortly thereafter, the Sherwood Mining Company bought the area mines and the village of Etherly. The houses and buildings in the town were sold, dismantled, and moved. Many went to nearby communities such as Galesburg and Victoria.

The village site was strip-mined. 
A Smith Cemetery sign is displayed in the Smith Family sections.

The Etherly Cemetery (aka Smith Cemetery) is all that remains of the village's name today. Thirteen documented people are buried at Etherly Cemetery, nine of whom are from the Smith family. The cemetery is located at 1950 North Knox Road, Victoria, Illinois.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Fabulous Story of Bunny Bread in Anna, Illinois.

The Lewis Brothers Bakery (Lewis Bros.) was established on February 1, 1925, in Anna, Illinois. Brothers Amos, Arnold and Jack Lewis mortgaged their mother's house and used that $300 to open a bakery in a rented log cabin at the rear of the property on West Chestnut Street in Anna, Illinois.

At that time, all the kneading and molding of bread was done by hand. The only machinery consisted of a dough mixer and dough brake. The wood-burning oven was made of 'homemade' bricks with the work done by the Lewis family. The business grew, and in 1926, they moved to 111 North Main Street in Anna.

The bakery operated four trucks, three driven by the Lewis Brothers, A.C, A.S. and Jack. New equipment was installed in the bake shop, bringing production up to 400 loaves per hour. They put loaves in and out of the new coke-fired oven with a long peel.
A Long Pizza Peel.
At that time, the bread was named "Milk Maid" and was baked in twin loaves, unsliced and wrapped by hand. Buns were baked in sheet pans, five dozen to the pan. Besides the Lewis Brothers, there were five other employees.

In June 1929, Lewis Brothers moved to 200 North Main Street and renamed it "Sunlit Bakery." The bread was named "Butternut."
Minnie Pearl presented the live radio show sponsored by "Bunny Bread" at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

More new equipment was installed in this plant. It consisted of two peel ovens, one new mixer, new flour equipment and an automatic bread wrapper for unsliced bread.

In 1930, sliced bread came into the picture. The loaves were sliced on an old-style meat slicer, packed in trays, and wrapped in wax paper. In 1933 they bought their first bread slicer with an automatic wrapper.

A new loaf of bread was added to the production line, called "Big Boy" in 1937. They bought more delivery trucks, and the number of new employees increased again.

In 1941, Lewis Bros. purchased the building from A.A. Crowell, which needed considerable remodeling.

On May 8, 1944, A.C. Lewis, general manager, died after a long illness. The business was reorganized, with Jewel and Charles Lewis owning the building and brother Jack Lewis becoming owner and operator of the bakery. 

In 1947, the company was incorporated with R. Jack Lewis, President Charles Lewis, Vice President; Josephine Lewis, Secretary and Treasurer. More new equipment was added as were new employees, now up to fifty. The weekly bread production reached 75,000 loaves. 

The picture of the rabbit going on bread wrappers was purchased.
The Modern Bunny
They decided they were ready to enter new territory with their latest equipment. In 1950 purchased a site and built a building in Harrisburg, Illinois, opening five new delivery routes, making a total of 17 Southern Illinois routes.

Four Classic Bunny Bread TV Commercials from the 1950s.

"Bunny" became so popular and well known throughout the entire territory that consumers began calling for "Bunny Bread." Bunny Bread was trademarked, and they decided to use it on all Lewis Brothers Bakery products.

Outgrowing the product capacity of their current location, Lewis Brothers purchased a site for a new plant at Illinois 146 (Vienna Street) & U.S. 51 at Anna's eastern city limits. Work began on the new building in April 1951 and opened in February 1952.

The Lewis Bros. threw a Gala for the Grand Opening of the new Bunny Bread Bakery. Over 35,000 people from Southern Illinois and southeastern Missouri attended three days of festivities.

Several new delivery routes opened in 1952, and production reached an all-time high.

The Lewis Bros. purchased the distribution rights to Kirchhoff Bakery (est.1873), Paducah, Kentucky, on January 1, 1953. The purchase opened the Kentucky Territory with routes changing to area-based, using multiple trucks per one of twelve delivery regions. (speedier delivery)

In the early 1970s, after more than 45 years in Illinois, Lewis Bakeries headquarters migrated to 500 North Fulton Avenue, Evansville, Indiana. 

By this time, Bunny Bread was being sold throughout the Midwest, and the Indiana facility was a central location. In 1986, a second Indiana facility focused on producing sweet goods opened in Vincennes.

R.J., Jr. continued to grow and expand the company's Midwestern sales throughout the 1970s and 1980s and developed new lines of modern baked goods. In 1987, the bakery became the first in the country to remove trans fats from its products. In 1991, they began selling the first fat-free, reduced-calorie bread on the market, then introduced a line of low-carb products in 2000. Lewis Bakeries was also innovative in developing half-package sizes of their best-selling products.

While their beloved Bunny Bread brand remains a customer favorite, the company's product line includes the Hartford Farms and Gateway brands. They have a hand in several well-known national products, acting as a wholesale distributor of the Sunbeam, Sun-Maid, and Roman Meal brands.

Lewis Bakeries is one of few independent bakeries left in the Midwest. It's also the largest wholesale bakery in Indiana, with annual sales exceeding $265 million. Lewis Bakeries remains a family-operated business in its fourth generation and continues to run operations from its Evansville headquarters.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.
Contributor, Mary Giorgio, Orangebean

Monday, August 1, 2022

The 1893 World's Fair Electrical Subway.

1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition Electrical Subway.

When plans were first formulated for the lighting of the grounds of the World's Columbian Exposition, it was decided that all electric wires and conductors, not only for arc and incandescent lighting but for power transmission, police signals, fire alarm, telephones and telegraph lines should be placed underground out of danger to the public and yet be accessible. For this purpose, the electric subway was designed and constructed. The original plan was to build such a subway of solid brick, but as this was found unnecessary for temporary service and expensive, the plans were changed to a wooden framework lined with cement, plaster and concrete floors. The approved and executed projects called for a subway connecting the electrical plant in Machinery Hall with Mines and Mining, Electricity, manufacturing, Government and Fisheries buildings.

The main subway starting from Machinery Hall was 15 ft. 8 in. wide by 8 ft. 4 in. high and was divided in the center by a fireproof partition, making two divisions 6 ft. 6 in. square on the insides. This subway was run to within 50 feet of the Electricity building where, from the west division, extended two branches 8 ft. 4 in. high by 6 ft. 1 in. broad—one to Mines and Mining and the other to the Electricity building. These were so arranged that all the wires on the west wall turned west to Mines and Mining, and those on the east wall were run directly into the Electricity building without crossing. The east division at the 50-foot point turned east to the bridge at the southwest corner of the Manufactures building, where it widened out into a fan shape the width of the bridge, and the wires were carried across on supports placed between the bridge girders. From the bridge, the subway extended 100 feet east to the western loggia of the Manufactures building, where it turned north, going the entire building length. Still, since all the wires on the east wall turned into the building at branches near the southwest corner and center, the size of the subway changed just north of the west center to a section the same size as the branch to the Mines and Mining building. At the northwest corner of the Manufactures building, the subway turned east to the north center, where it changed to a section 5 ft. 9 in. wide by 6 ft. high, reducing the capacity by one-third. From this point, it turned north, running under the Government building and across the north inlet bridge to the Fisheries building, where the subway ended. In Machinery Hall, there was a large double subway opposite the Thomson-Houston switchboard of the power plant and running 825 feet east under the south aisle, where it connected at the east entrance with the main subway and the west end with a duct trunk line. The general construction of all the subways consisted of a framework of 3 inches by 8-inches material placed 1-foot centers and covered on top, bottom and sides with 2-inch matched planking.
1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition Electrical Subway.

The inside was lined with standard metal lath and Acme cement mortar on top and sides, and the bottom was covered with 4 inches of sand and 6 inches of concrete. The cross-section of the main subway at Machinery Hall showed two bodies of wires in each of the two divisions, supported by arms projecting from the wall. These cross-arms, twelve in number, two feet two inches long, were held in position by cast iron uprights, lagged to the framework of the subway. Each cross arm supported five pins and insulators, making a total capacity of 240 insulators in a cross-section. These uprights were placed at about 30 feet apart through the entire subway and consisted of six different types, known as types 4, 6, S, 8 a, 12 and 12 a; the number indicating the number of cross arms each supported. Types 8 and 8 a, 12 and 12 a, were used around the corners. The cross arms projected into the subway 2 ft. 2 in. from either side, giving a clear passageway of 2 feet in the center. About 6,000 cross arms and 30,000 pins were used throughout the subway. For access to the subway and for convenience in pulling in wires, manholes were placed at distances of about 150 feet apart. These consisted of a round cast-iron box 20 in. in diameter and 20 in. high, resting on the framework of the subway and supplied with a cast-iron cover.

The first contract, which called for the construction of the central part of the subway, was awarded on January 23rd, 1892, to T. C. Brooks & Co., of Jackson, Michigan, for the sum of $35,094.49. Work began the first day of February 1892 and was to have been completed by April 15th, 1892. It was considerably delayed due to frozen ground and rainy weather. The bottom of the subway was only a little above datum, so considerable difficulty was experienced in putting in the concrete and flooring on account of water, but this was overcome by using a portable electrical pump. This contract did not include the subway running east and west under Machinery Hall, the portion under the Government building, the branches under Manufactures, nor the bridge approaches. This work was done by the Exposition Company, except for the plastering on the subway under the Government building, which was done by Wm. Pickland & Co., for the sum of $1,010.00. The east and west subway under Machinery Hall was difficult, chiefly because of the necessity to follow the building aisles and steam and water pipes. The total length of the subway, including the east and west subway under Machinery Hall, all the branches and approaches to the bridges, was 6,195 feet. The subway's wiring began in February 1893 and continued for about six weeks. It was found that there were so many arc wires for Manufactures building that had to be placed on the east wall of the east subway that it was necessary to run two wires on one insulator. For that purpose, a special two-wire insulator was designed and laid the glass insulation between the two wires. Wires were also arranged so that no two wires of different potential would come on the same insulator. The wiring of the subway required 4,000 of the special two-wire insulators and 20,000 of the regular single glass insulators. The subway contained 25 2-10 miles of power, 28 7-10 miles of incandescent and 51 miles of arc wires, making a total of 104 5-10 miles of wire for lighting and power transmission. Besides these were telephone and telegraph cables, fire alarms and police signal wires.
1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition Electrical Subway.

For the convenience of drainage, the profile of the floor of the subway was arranged so that all water that might collect would flow to four points, namely, north of Machinery Hall, south of the Electricity building, and west end of the north railroad bridge and north center of Manufactures building. At the bridge, an opening was made into the lagoon so the water would flow out, but marine pumps were installed at the other three places, and the water was pumped to the nearest catch basin. In this way, the subway was kept comparatively dry except on one or two occasions when a water pipe burst, completely flooding everything.

The subway was lighted with 225 110-volt 16-c.p. Edison incandescent lamps placed at distances of about 30 feet apart throughout the entire length. The lamps were placed five in series and supplied with current from the 500-volt power circuit. The lights of different circuits alternated in location so that in case one lamp burned out, it did not leave the subway in total darkness. For the convenience of keeping a meticulous record of every wire's position throughout the entire subway course, they used a card cataloging system. The cards were printed showing the exact position of all the cross arms and insulators supported by one set of uprights. Each insulator on a cross arm was numbered, and each cross arm was also numbered. On each card was marked the position of the wire on the insulator, and the circuit number of every wire, at any given point of uprights. The uprights were also numbered; a card was made for every set of cross arms and arranged consecutively in a file. By this means, it was always possible to tell the exact position of any wire at any point in the subway. Wires that ran north from the Fisheries building were carried from the subway into a duct trunk line that ran east to the Intramural railroad and thence north, following the road line around the Montana State building. This trunk line was 2,250 feet long and contained 15,270 feet of pump logs. 

A clause in the contract of the Intramural railroad reserved the right for the Exposition Company to carry light and power lines along the structure underneath the roadbed on extension insulators, and lines were run this way wherever they were desired along the route of the road.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.