Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday Trimmings

On November 29, we had a great day at the Iles House 
decorating for the winter holidays.  

Trimming the porch with greens: Linda Cunningham and Farrell Gay.
Making trim for the House: Dean Clough, Linda Denk, Linda Garvert, 
Betty Ann Poage, Jackie Stites, Elaine Kerhliker and Martha Clough.
Linda Cunningham, Jackie Stites and Linda Garvert 
welcome a special visitor to the House: an oil portrait of Elijah Iles, 
on loan from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.  
A close-up of the portrait. 
Thanks to Dave Barrigner locating it in storage and to 
Linda Garvert who pursued the paper work for a loan.

Pictures and captions: Dick Hart

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Robert Irwin's 200th

Saturday, Nov 8, 2008 marked the 200th birthday of Robert Irwin, a former owner of Iles House. For a profile of Mr. Irwin, see the entry for April 6, 2008. Here Dick Hart, Linda Garvert, and Kathy Kincaid unveil the Irwin portrait, donated to Iles House by J. P. Morgan Chase, formerly Springfield Marine Bank.

A game of eucher, played by George Souther, Logan McMinn, Skip Turnbull, and Larry Stevens. Standing is Bob Sherman, portraying William Corneau, a neighbor of Irwin. He often played cards with friends and neighbors, including Nicholas Ridgley, Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and Dr. Merriman.

In the back parlor, docent Margie Adkins in a grand period dress is busy at tatting, or lace-making.

On the lower level, Linda Denk and Jackie Sites view an exhibit on the life of Robert Irwin, prepared by Linda Garvert, chair of the birthday event. Also available: hot apple cider and various baked apple goodies, to welcome Robert Irwin back to his home and wish him a happy 200th birthday.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween by Candlelight

Halloween by Candlelight will be held from 6 to 8 pm on Oct 31 at the Elijah Iles House. From its 171-year-old parlor master storyteller Cathy Mosley will tell tales to capture the imagination and pleasure of visitors of all ages.  In the old darkened basement, kids of all ages can decorate monster cookies.  Nearby, plates of Halloween supper-fare (barbecue, chips and drink) will be served.  Admission is free.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Old Settlers Day

The second annual Old Settlers Day will be Sunday, October 19 from noon to 4 pm at the Strawbridge-Shepherd House, on Shepherd Road between UIS and LLCC. (Click on the picture to enlarge.)

The public may tour the house, and various experts will explain its renovation. Entertainment, historical exhibits and demonstrations will be available. Mrs. Shepherd's Pantry, hosted by UIS alumni, students, and faculty, will provide delicious home-baked, kettle-cooked foods.

Old Settlers Day revives a custom from the early years of Sangamon County, set to honor the Sugar Creek settlers who survived the bitter winter of 1832. Once restored, the Strawbridge-Shepherd House will serve UIS as the Sugar Creek Institute, offering a program of studies in prairie ecology, cultural history, and architecture.

The Iles House Foundation is directing restoration and welcomes volunteers and donations to complete this major preservation project.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

SSH Meeting

Members of the Strawbridge-Shepherd House Committee recently met on the House site at the UIS campus to discuss plans for renovation, which continues in 2008, thanks to generous donations from supporters.

In the picture above, committee members examine drawings of the SSH as it existed in 1972. An important discovery: the house then had a north porch, which will now be restored. The early plans will facilitate improvements in room plans, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing.

The objective is to renovate the house in a manner that's historically appropriate and versatile for UIS and student use. Assisting the committee is Dave Barrows (left), an architect and facilities director for UIS.

In attendance for the meeting and picnic supper (below) are committee members RLou Barker, Bill Siles, Carolyn Oxtoby, Sue Massie, Tom Bundy, and Dick Hart. If you wish to donate funds to support the renovation, please call the Iles House (see above).

Pictures by Dick Hart

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Urban Frontier Exhibit

The second exhibition in the Farrell and Ann Gay Museum of Springfield History, lower level of the Iles House, is "Springfield as Urban Frontier, 1818-1836." About 75 persons attended the opening on May 29, 2008 and heard remarks by Farrell Gay, Linda Garvert, and Curtis Mann.

The exhibit displays photographs, documents, maps, tools, and household items. One outstanding item is a map of early Springfield, based on John Stuart’s description of the town upon his horseback arrival in 1828. The map was researched by Linda Garvert and painted by Sophia Lang.

The display presents Springfield life between 1818 and 1836, the pre-Lincoln period. Springfield began as an isolated log-cabin village, at the northern edge of Illinois settlement and the western edge of the American frontier. A town began to emerge with a post office, frame and brick residences, professionals, merchants and tradesmen. Roads brought trade goods and settlers, and by 1836, Springfield had access to many East Coast refinements.

Research: Curtis Mann and Linda Garvert of the Sangamon Valley Collection, Lincoln Library, the Illinois State Museum, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, the Illinois Regional Archives Depository, Floyd Mansberger of Fever River Research, and artist Sonia Lang.

Design: Edward Russo and Corrine Frisch of Sangamon Researchers.

Grant: Farrell and Ann Gay.

The Urban Frontier exhibit will run until October 1, 2008. The public may view it on Wednesdays and Saturdays, 12-4 pm.

Pictures by Dick Hart

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

SSH on the Move

Alumni of UIS are taking an interest in the Strawbridge-Shepherd House.
At this May gathering, Tom Bundy displays a model of the roof installation.
Mary Caroline Mitchell, UIS Alumni Association, arranged the program.
We welcome donations from alumni and friends to further our work.

Two members of the SS House committee at work in the northeast room.
Caroline Oxtoby (l) and Sue Massie (r) welcome all volunteers.
Call the Iles House (see above) if you want to help.

Pictures by Dick Hart

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Spring at SSH

Strawbridge-Shepherd House (SSH) is a busy place this spring. In May the UIS Alumni Association will hold two educational seminars on the grounds. SSH volunteers will discuss the history, ongoing restoration, and future of the building and site. In early June a Reception will introduce community leaders to the project. Later in the year, the house will host a community-wide open house and the second annual Old Settlers Day.

Strawbridge-Shepherd House lies between the UIS and LLCC campuses along Shepherd Road. The Iles House Foundation directs restoration of the 1845 homestead, located on UIS property.

Work to date has progressed steadily. Funded by several generous donations and small grants, restoration expert Tom Bundy rebuilt much of the foundation, underpinned the structure, and installed a new wood shingle roof. Several student and community volunteers have assisted with the project.

Restoration this year will focus on major systems within the house and finishing work on the interior. We urgently need assistance in the form of contributions, donations, volunteer time, etc. If you can help, please call Sue Massie at 217-544-3210.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Real McCoy

Did you know....that the "real McCoy" was born in Sangamon County, Illinois? Joseph McCoy (1831-1915) later emigrated to Texas, where he became a cattle baron. He promoted the Longhorn (see above), turned Abilene into a cow town, and sent two million head to Chicago in four years, a feat that spawned the "real McCoy" phrase. McCoy wrote a history of his achievements, not published until 1974.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Scouts visit Elijah Iles House

Dozens of Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts from all over Illinois visited the Elijah Iles House during their visit to Springfield for the 63rd Annual Lincoln Pilgimage. One troop came all the way from Davenport, Iowa.

The scouts learned all about frontier-era Springfield during their visit and the kind of place the town was when Abraham Lincoln first arrived. The new museum exhibit in the basement was of particular interest to many.

The scouts had their choice of many historic sites to visit in Springfield. We were thrilled that so many of them chose to include the Iles House in their itinerary.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Robert Irwin Portrait

Chase Bank, formerly Marine Bank, recently gave to Iles House a portrait of Robert Irwin, early Springfield merchant and friend of Abraham Lincoln. Irwin lived at Iles House from 1841 until his death. He was a director of Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Company, and he helped to finance Lincoln's presidential campaign in 1860.

During Lincoln's term of office, Irwin collected local debts owed to the President. A month before the assassination, Irwin died on March 8, 1865. He is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery, at the north end of Springfield. His oil portrait is believed to be the work of American artist George Peter Alexander Healy (1808-1894).

Photos: Richard Hart

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Prairie Archives

One of Springfield's great cultural gems is Prairie Archives, launched by John Paul in 1971. This classic book store has become a fixture on the south side of the Old State Capitol Plaza. A recent story in the Chicago Tribune pays tribute to the store and its long tradition of serving history buffs who visit Springfield from all parts of the world.

Picture courtesy of Jerome Prophet, a current Springfield blog.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

1860 Ball

An 1860-period ball was held at
the Executive Mansion on
Saturday, Feb 9, 2008.
The State Journal-Register
has a gallery of 11 pictures, all by
Ted Schurter of the SJR staff.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Holiday Book Signing

On December 19, 2007, Iles House hosted the Sangamon County Historical Society. Members took a house tour and heard talks by contributors to In Lincoln’s Shadow, a new book that presents stories by 43 persons who have family plots at Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Not just food for the mind: Phyllis Eubanks and Jone VanWinkle present a holiday spread of cookies and brownies, served with hot and cold cider.

Edith Trutter Hauff, daughter of John Trutter, 1st president of SCHS, speaks about his life. He was a veteran of WW II, a retired vice-president of AT&T, and chancellor of the Lincoln Academy for 16 years.

Ida Mae Johnson (center) is one of the book contributors. She brought family pictures to share, including one of her grandmother, who was a slave in Missouri and moved to Illinois after the Civil War. Behind Ida Mae are her daughters, Myra (left) and Kris (right).

Ida Mae Johnson shows some of her photos to the group, assisted by Nancy Chapin, treasurer of the SCHS. In the background is Martha Woods Wolters, contributor to In Lincoln’s Shadow, who later shared more Woods family stories.

Audience, left to right: Nancy Chapin, Ida Johnson, Dr. Gil Pilapil (chair of the book project), Pat Rudolph and Phyllis Herndon Brissendon (both contributors) and Carolyn Moore, president of the SCHS. In the background is Arnold Stern, also a contributor.

Signed copies of the book are available from the SCHS web site.

Pictures by Dick Hart; captions by Jane Chapin.