Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, once known as Decoration Day, began in 1866 as a way to remember the dead of the Civil War. One of the earliest towns to establish the holiday was Carbondale, Illinois. Today the holiday commemorates all U. S. men and women who have died in military service.

At the Iles House, we are flying the flag today and also completing our wood fence, which along with the laid sidewalk give finishing touches to the Greek Revial house, built in 1827--nearly 180 years ago.

Please celebrate history, and enjoy the national holiday with your family and friends.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Spring Events

1. On Thursday, May 18, the Iles House became the venue for the Annual Judicial Reception of the Sangamon County Women's Bar Association. Over 90 lawyers and judges attended the event from 5:30 to 7:30. Carol Jean Fraesse catered the event and the spread was sumptuous, as you may see above.

2. On Wednesday, May 17, Anne Wilson-Dooley from Aurora, Illinois, paid a call. She is the mother of three and a descendant of Mr. Billington, who drew the 1858 map of Sangamon County hanging in our front hall. She also has Billington's diary for the year 1858 in which he describes his daily activities in preparing the map. Mrs. Wilson-Dooley is also related to a number of Springfield families, such as Brinkerhoff, Smith, Boardman, Wilson, and Billington.

3. The House is continuing to evolve in its appearance. Workmen are landscaping the front yard and also building a fence, which should be in place soon.

4. Iles House has become a popular location for a broad range of Springfield events and participants. We need volunteers who will donate their time to keeping the house open to visitors. If you enjoy local history and meeting the public, please call the Iles House and leave your name and number. (217) 492-5929

Pictures courtesy of Dick Hart, Iles House Foundation Board

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Iles Family Descendants

On Saturday, May 13, the Iles House hosted a brunch for 50 descendants of Washington Iles, the brother of Elijah Iles. Family members, some from as far away as Texas and Connecticut, were in Springfield to observe the burial of Thelma Iles Teal at the Iles Family Plot in Oak Ridge Cemetery.

The family presented to the Iles House a pistol and holster once used by Elijah Iles. Washington Iles was a resident of Springfield and the owner of several farms, one of them now the site of the University of Illinois at Springfield.

We don't have the names of all these nice folks, but they are related by blood or marriage to Thelma Iles Teal, a charter member of the Elijah Iles House Foundation. For more information on Iles family history, see the Iles Family Genealogy Forum.

Photos courtesy of Dick Hart, Iles House Foundation board.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Elevator Fund: Going UP!

On April 18, over 130 people attended a dinner and fundraiser at the Inn at 825, sponsored by the Capitol Area Association of Realtors. The event launched a fund drive to pay for installation of an elevator at the Iles House, making it accessible to handicapped visitors.

Cherryl Dambacher, President of the CARR, served as master of ceremonies for the festive event. She set a goal of raising $10,000 for the elevator project, which will cost an estimated $80,000.

Dan Sale, Executive Director, recalled that in 1996 the CARR contributed $14,000 for relocation of the Iles House.

That early support was crucial, noted Dave Barringer, President of the Iles Foundation. “They were with us from the beginning and we appreciate their efforts to make Springfield’s oldest House accessible to everyone.”

Before dinner, a silent auction invited bids on over 50 items from local donors, such as a slide bracelet from Tobin Jewlers and a shirt from Joseph A. Banks. After dinner, a live auction proceeded on 25 donated items. Jeff Canterbury served as auctioneer, and with great humor he raised $3,500 in bids.

We are grateful to the CARR and Springfield’s realtors for their support. If you want to help raise funds for the elevator, please send your contributions to Iles House Foundation, P. O. Box 144, Springfield, Illinois 62705.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Donner Party Anniversary

The Elijah Iles House Foundation and the Sangamon County Historical Society recently held a joint meeting to mark a significant anniversary. One-hundred sixty years ago, on April 16, 1846, the Donner and Reed families formed a group who departed from the Public Square in Springfield for an ill-fated journey west.

Enduring great hardships, they managed to reach the Sierra Nevada mountains and then became trapped in winter snows. Without adequate shelter or food, many in the party died and the survivors resorted to cannibalism. Some eventually hiked out and alerted rescuers, who managed to save only 46 of the original 87 emigrants.

The anniversary speaker was Don Springer, a descendant of the Sangamon County Donner family. He recently placed a family heirloom at the Iles House. The flax spinning wheel has been in Don's family since the mid-19th Century.

Approximately 80 people attended the event, held in the lower level Farrell and Ann Gay Museum of Springfield History.