Saturday, February 6, 2016

Help Us Celebrate Another Honor

Smithsonian Names Lawrence County Historical Society as Winner of Grant for Youth --
Coffee Hour to Be Held On Feb 10th to Kick-Off Event

In conjunction with the Smithsonian traveling exhibit --Water/Ways-- coming to the Lawrence County Sept 2016, the Lawrence County Historical Society has just received notice that they have been chosen as one of six sites in the nation, to receive a Stories from Main Street Youth Access Grant.  Two other sites in Illinois were chosen as well as one each in Michigan, Minnesota and Mississippi. 

During the course of the project, youth participants from both Red Hill and Lawrenceville High Schools will explore the history of their hometowns by researching primary and secondary source material, conducting and recording oral histories, and analyzing their data to create Digital Interpretive Projects. Students will then create a multi-media product that weaves together a story narrative with excerpts from oral history interviews, archival film footage, and historic images. The initiative is designed to connect youth and their teachers with local history centers for community-based research and to provide them with hands-on experience using “real world” technology and 21st Century Learning Skills.

A coffee hour for the public will be held on February 10, at 10:00 in the History Museum located on the Northwest corner of the Square in Lawrenceville to kick off the project. Anyone who would be willing to share stories about the floods in Lawrence County is encouraged to attend. Project Leader John Clark, as well as the technology coordinators, Katie Kiser (LTHS) and Tammy Parker (RHHS) will be available to answer questions.  

Friday, February 5, 2016

Channel Cat Tales: The Rivers Claim More Lives

Channel Cat Tales
This weekly post features a story or stories  about how Water has affected Lawrence County. This time it about all the lives the rivers have claimed. 

Westport Correspondence: While a few women and children were bathing in the river a few miles below town Saturday afternoon an orphan girl by the name of Pearl Howe eleven years old got in deep water while trying to get a parasol which had blown into the river and was drowned. The body was not recovered until 7 p. m., three hours after the accident. George Groves, after diving several times got hold of the body and brought it to the bank. The burial took place at Charlottesville, Sunday afternoon.

The people of Billett and vicinity were shocked Saturday morning over the sudden disappearance of Mrs. Millard Lawrence. She disappeared about 9 o’clock after considerable search, portions of her clothing were found on the river bank at what is known as the Cassel bend. The river was searched and around 2 o’clock the body was found about three fourths of a mile from her residence.
She was 40 years of age and has a family and children and expected the birth of another in not too distant future. Her husband had been in Vincennes that morning. The coroner was summoned and an inquest held.  At that time nothing developed save that she had at times seemed slightly demented and threatened to take her life.  It is supposed that the deed was done under an attack of this kind.


The body of Elmer Shaw was found floating in the Wabash river near the gas plant in Vincennes Thursday  He had been missing since the Sunday previous when he was seen walking on the railroad track toward Lawrenceville.  Burial was made in White House cemetery. 

S. N. Drybread drowned in the Embarras river near the Eli Jones farm, northwest of this city, Sunday afternoon about four o’clock. The body was recovered about midnight. With a party of Lawrenceville men the deceased had gone to the Jones farm for a squirrel fry and while Mr. Jones was preparing the meal the crowd from Lawrenceville went to the river for a swim. Mr. Drybread was caught in an eddy when about half way across the river and sank before help could reach him. He came to this city about two years ago and was superintendent of the light and water plant until last spring. He was about 36 years old and leaves a mother, two brothers and three sisters. The body was taken to Franklin Indiana for burial.

This city was shocked Sunday by the accidental drowning of Ray Adams, 27 years of age. He with a party of friends was at the swimming hole in the river just above the cemetery. Three of his companions and he were swimming across the river when within six feet of the opposite side he sank and drowned. Whether he was exhausted or seized with cramps is not known.  His body was recovered and removed to Couch Morgue where it was prepared for burial. Monday morning John Adams, brother to the deceased, left with the body for their home in Woodfield, Ohio.
 John and Ray came here six months ago from Ohio. John is at present, proprietor of the Lawrenceville Amusement parlor. Ray was a rig builder with W.A. Cunningham.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Airport,Black Tongue and Royal Catchfly Plant

Some random articles in the research folder…….
Daily Record Tuesday, September 12, 1967
·         Record corn crop expected in September 1967.
·         Chairman Rabb Emison chaired the meeting of the Bi-State authority on Monday in the conference room of the administration building at the Lawrenceville – Vincennes municipal airport. A check for $1500 was accepted by Vice Chairman Bob Gravitt from the Lawrenceville Chamber of Commerce as an additional community contribution to the Lawrenceville Industries Corporation. With this check the people of Lawrence County have contributed $6000 toward this new industry. Among other actions the board accepted the resignation of Mr. Tapley as restaurant operator, approved the allocation of funds for a new roof on the building now being used by the local flying clubs and voted to lease an additional two  acres of land to the Sheehan Pipeline Company.The airport sign at the entrance to the airport has been completely redone. It features scotch light lettering and an arrow permitting better visual use at night.
·         HC Tenney manager of Texaco's Lawrenceville refinery has announced the following affective provides three assignments effective October 1, 1967:
Robert Hipsher to the position of Foreman electrical instrument department
Robroy Tracy to the position of assistant Foreman electrical instrument department
Mack Jackman to the position of assistant Foreman electrical instrument department

The fatal Russian black tongue took both parents of Francis Marion Adams.  They were Daniel and Eliza Chenowoth Adams.

And for you gardeners:   Garrard, Brian R., of Eastern Illinois University wrote his Master’s thesis (1999) about "Vascular Flora of the Allison Prairie, Lawrence County, Illinois." In it he describes the Allison Prairie Restoration area just south of the Centerville Cemetery. “Allison Prairie in Lawrence County, Illinois is a five acre recreation of a gravel prairie. The Allison Prairie Restoration is,” (now in 2016 perhaps was,) “the largest and best remaining example of a sand and gravel prairie in the Wabash Border Natural Division of Illinois. This site contains the state endangered royal catchfly plant and is one of only four remaining locations of this wildflower in Illinois. The site also contains one other noteworthy species, the prickly-pear cactus.” (If you don’t know what a royal catchfly plant is, you might want to do a little research yourself, because it is a rather interesting plant….)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Camp Dexter continued

(Ed Note:  This is a continuation of the description in the Sunday Commercial October 2, 1892 about Camp Dexter, held at Small's Mill.)

The appropriateness of these grounds for camps – requiring no trenches whatever – would cause many an old camper to turn green with envy. Shores, the photographer, in a series of pictures, has given splendid views of the grounds, but to properly appreciate the beauty and convenience one must really see them. The first day’s bill of fare in Camp Dexter was a sample of what the succeeding days had in store for the guests. It is difficult to tell how many meals were served during the day. We will not attempt to enumerate them here but will content ourselves with giving the menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper which is as follows.

Camp Dexter menu card Thursday, September 22, 1892
Breakfast (Dejeuner) (Ed Note: All items were in French but Champagne was the last item in the list.)
Luncheon: fried black bass, fried spring chicken, stewed tomatoes, roasted potatoes, bread, butter, beer, coffee, lemonade.
Fricassee--supper: raw oysters, bass smothered with onions, broiled Embarras mussels, clams, fried oysters, stewed oysters, baked fish, broiled oysters, squirrel, chicken, hamburger steak, breakfast bacon, ham, and coffee, tea, milk, toast, cheese, beer

About 50 guests sat at the dinner table Thursday and fully as many were present on both Friday and Saturday. Sunday, however was the big day, and the contents of five large kettles of fricassee that had seeped and boiled and bubbled over hickory coals for five hours, were no more than enough to go around, so large was a crowd and so gigantic in its appetite.

The saint and the sinner sat down together, forgetting the embarrassment occasioned by the first meeting, in their endeavor to appease the craving created by the aroma from the pots which pervaded the whole woods and filled the air with the delicious flavor of onions --good old Indiana onions for no ‘fruit’ was purchased in Illinois.

There were many conscience-stricken husbands there whose innocent wives supposed them to be at divine worship. The day was a perfect one, and the drive from the city to the banks was heartily enjoyed. But no one who has acquired a taste for fricassee – it can’t be cultivated - can properly appreciate the grandeur of sunrise on the Wabash, nor the beauties of stream and forest, when he leaves home bent on eating fricassee. Indeed it is a mooted question whether a man is more oblivious to his surroundings when he contemplates the dish, or when he is in the act of devouring it. The late Jim Dick, in speaking of the palatableness of fricassee said, ‘it makes a poor man forget his troubles and a Christian his cross.’ No better illustration of this assertion could be given that on the occasion to which we refer and the responsibility rests alone with Deck Gardner and George Fendrich, who dispense with lavish hand their delightful mixture to rich and poor, to saint and sinner.

Charles Lamb’s historical roast pig isn’t in it; and had the essayist been permitted to taste Gardner and Fendrich’s fricassee he never would have elaborated so exhaustively on the delicious flavor of swine. The best hostelries in the country can produce nothing like it. The finest French caterers cannot equal it. There is only one way to prepare it and that is in the open woods where flying ashes and charred wood commix with the ingredients.

And what are the ingredients? They are generally chicken, squirrel, quail, onions, potatoes, red pepper pods, black pepper, breakfast bacon, lemons, Worcestershire sauce, claret wine, capers, mushrooms, parsley, etc., etc. Simple mixtures, you think, but there is a way of preparing every article before depositing it in the pot. There is a certain time to drop the concomitants into the vessel, and there are times when the potpourri should boil slowly and then rapidly. While it is cooking the fricassee is constantly tasted by the cook who flavors it by degrees. Too much or too little pepper or salt would result disastrously to the stew. What is wanted is just enough of everything. The conglomeration that enters into it must be accurately proportioned, and at least four hours must be consumed in its preparation before it is ready to serve.

Assorted tidbits of news.
There were no mosquitoes. Everything was the best. There were bankers present. Lawyers and doctors were there. The coffee could not be equaled. Broiled oysters were a great luxury. 80 gallons of lemonade were quaffed. Merchants and mechanics set down together. The fishing was not as good as it might’ve been. Two of the bottles used were accidentally broken. Milwaukee supplied a portion of the products used. The spring water was a novelty to some of the boys. Much amusement was afforded with the boxing gloves. 160 pieces of china were on the table at one time. A perennial stream of pure water flowed from a spring hard by the camp. Vegetables, milk, butter and eggs were brought regularly into camp twice a day. The camp outfit, when loaded on wagons, resembled an army commissary train. Hot coffee and Havana cigars were at the disposal of everybody day and night. It required a poultry yard, creamery and bakery to run the concern for four days. Champagne cocktails except on Sunday were staple beverages at the morning meal. The camp was supplied with barbers, manicurists, chiropodists, servants, and hostlers. Hearts (cards) took the place of progressive euchre when the boys were not engaged in other games. The camp was not lacking in a single detail. There was everything there from toothpicks to barrels. Mr. Ryder’s exhibition with the dumbbells and Indian clubs occurred daily and was a pleasant before-breakfast diversion. The Indian clubs, when not otherwise in use, answered the purpose of weapons against the invasion of hogs, dogs and other objectionable characters.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Camp Dexter at Small's Mill 1890's

The researchers continue to look for information about Small’s Mill, probably the earliest mill in the county, located on the Embarras just north of Billett. They were intrigued when they began finding articles about ‘Camp Dexter’. This ‘men’s get-away camping party' was apparently an annual occasion in the 1880’s hosted by Dexter Gardner of Vincennes.

The first article, published in the Vincennes Daily Commercial August 16, 1889, stated that Camp Dexter that year was held near Indian Springs in Indiana.  Dexter Gardner was the host and the paper said the occasion had one of the finest pyrotechnic displays ever given. Otto Busse supplied the fireworks.  A long column in the paper was devoted to the elegance and luxury of the camp. These occasions continued to occur at least until 1908 at various places near Vincennes.

In 1891 Camp Dexter was held at the site of Small’s Mill (also known then as Brown’s Mill) Vincennes Daily Commercial May 16, 1891: “The crowd holding a fricassee on the Embarras is still encamped at Brown’s Mill. A happy crowd is there, fishing, hunting and feasting. They are thoroughly equipped for roughing it in the woods. They have tents, carts, cooking utensils, all camping supplies and fishing and hunting accoutrements. Reports brought to the city say that the boys are having a good time. Daily trips are made to the city for supplies, mail, papers, etc. etc. Several gentlemen have taken occasion to drive down and spend a few hours with the fricassee party, and all say a jollier crowd never was known.”

But the article that excited the researchers the most  was the one in the Sunday Commercial October 2, 1892 edition. It was obviously written by a frustrated ‘wantabe’ best-selling author or perhaps poet, instead of a newspaper reporter for a small paper. Despite the literary style, we thought our readers might be interested in the description of these ‘outing parties’ held in the autumn that were then considered the ‘rarest kind of recreation.' Including hunting and fishing (as well as card playing, and drinking) several crowds of ‘upper-crust’ Vincennes men enjoyed ‘roughing it in the woods.’ Since it is rather long, it will be published in installments.

A Fricassee On The Banks Of The Embarras; 
Camp Dexter’s Outing On An Ideal Spot; 
Where Brown’s Mill Stood 
And George Rogers Clark With His Little Band Of Soldiers Crossed The River. 
A Feast That Makes A Poor Man Forget His Troubles And A Christian His Cross.

A fricassee on the Embarras –- in the foregoing words are to be found, volumes for the uninitiated. The clam bakes of New England, the burgoos of the South, are as skimmed milk is to rich cream in comparison. One who has never partaken of fricassee on the Embarras knows not what it is to dine; nor, without having such experience, can one fully realize that:

We may live without poetry, muscle and art; we may live without conscience, and live without heart; we may live without friends; we may live without books; but civilized man cannot live without cooks.

He may live without books, what is knowledge but grieving? He may live without hope, what is hope but deceiving? He may live without love, what is passion but pining? But where is the man that can live without dining.

When Dame Nature, with the hand more skillful than any artists, tinges the foliage with red, crimson and purple, and the breeze gently imparts a refreshing coolness to the September air, fricassees’ on the Embarras are preferable. They are desirable however at all seasons, and the man who has once partaken of them will not allow the weather to deprive him of the privilege whenever opportunity affords. A more appropriate place for fricassee parties than the yellow banks of the Embarras cannot be found. Nature has made the spot an ideal one; and away back in the early ‘50s, when the crystal waters played on the over-shot wheels of Brown’s Mill and the fleet-footed deer slacked his thirst at the river’s edge the place was sought by men whose palates crave the native onion served in fricassee even more than they did Burgundy.

Time and the woodsman have both been generous to the beautiful forest. Floods and high tides in all these years have made little, if any, inroads into the steep banks from the brink of which one looks down on the placid bosom of the silvery stream and beholds the giant trees reflected as in a mirror. 

The picturesque mill has gone. Not a vestige of the historic structure remains, but the dam- over which the waters flow and glisten like gems in the sunlight, lulling to sleep the tired camper at eventide with their monotonous music- is as firm as Gibraltar. The old-fashioned burr, lying close to the South Shore, serves as a signal to warn travelers of the danger of high water. When its worn surface, made smoother by the constant flow of the water, is plainly visible, the river is fordable; when it is not exposed, one who attempts to cross the winding stream undertakes a hazardous journey, such as has in late years, cost several men and horses their lives.

At this point more than 113 years ago Gen. George Rogers Clark and his little band of men, suffering from chill and hunger, and enduring hardships untold, waded the Embarras while on their dreary march from Kaskaskia to Vincennes.

The serpentine stream, which curves and bends a half a dozen times within a quarter of a mile, appearing first on the left and then on the right, puzzled the gallant commander. It confronted him on all sides, and, after much difficulty and embarrassment, he discovered the direct route to Post Vincennes – not, however, until he had twice crossed and re-crossed the river, which was given the name of Embarras by some French traders who experienced difficulties similar to Clark long before the brave warrior took up his triumphant journey that culminated in the capture of Vincennes from the British. 

Here on the spot last Wednesday 21st instant, Messrs. Dexter Gardner and George Fendrich assisted by Mr. E.L Ryder and ex-Mayor Murphy, Councilman John Cramer and others, pitched the tents of Camp Dexter, and bright and early Thursday morning were receiving invited guests. All the comforts of home were to be found there. There was nothing lacking in any of the departments. The sleeping tent, or bedroom, was a model of neatness, with its snowy bedspreads and couches of loose straw and a large mirror in the center. It was deftly pitched on a knoll in anticipation of rain, and put up in such a way as to defy the elements. The other tents -three in number- used respectively for reception room, card room, and sleeping apartment for the servants, occupied altitudinous positions and were so arranged that the heaviest rain would run from the four sides of each leaving the interior perfectly dry and cozy. 

continued tomorrow....wait till you read  the menu for these 'outings'.....

Monday, February 1, 2016

Lawrence County Jail Condemned and Other News of 1894

 Robinson Constitution    researched by D Foote

JULY 4, 1894
G.H. Goodlink pulled his new threshing outfit to Allison Prairie Monday.
Several from here (Flat Rock) attended the show at Lawrenceville Friday. Some of the boys cannot understand why lemonade sells for twenty cents a glass on show days.

JULY 11, 1894
J.S. Kingsbury of the Lawrenceville Republican was in Palestine on business last week.
Dr. H.M. Vaught of Pinkstaff attended church here (Flat Rock) Sunday night.

JULY 18, 1894
Lawrenceville people were surprised last Friday when they learned for the first time that Lawrenceville was never incorporated as a village. The fact came to light before Squire Walton in the case of the People vs W.A. Cochran for letting his cow run (free range through the town). The States Attorney failed to show this was an incorporated village and had to nolle the case. No record was ever made of the vote nor no certificate filed with the Secretary of State. Foster & Robinson and C.F. Breen were for the defendant. (LAWRENCEVILLE HERALD)

JULY 25, 1894
Messers, John Wampler and Henry Allison, two well-to-do farmers and prominent citizens of near Birds, were in the city Wednesday. (LAWRENCEVILLE HERALD)

AUGUST 1, 1894
Tol Parker, Jake Henry, Chas Metz and R.S. Pierson, spent a few days of last week fishing Horseshoe pond, near Russellville. The catch was several pounds of fun and a few fish.
Mrs. Jas. K. Dickerson of Lawrenceville, was called to Robinson Sunday by the illness of her daughter, Mrs. G.G. Stephens.

AUGUST 8, 1894
Oscar, Florence, Rose and Sam Broadstone of Lawrence County visited relatives in this neighborhood (Robinson ) last Saturday and Sunday.
A.J. Richardson of Flat Rock drilled a couple of wells at Lawrenceville, last week.
A little son of Dr. Jenner of Birds, had his foot badly crushed a few days since by a freight train. Another warning to boys to keep off the cars.
Hazel Montgomery, a former resident of this county, died in Saline County Tuesday. He was seining in a pond, complained of not feeling well and started for the bank. He dropped dead a few minutes after getting out of the water. His remains were brought to Birds and interred in the Ford cemetery. The I.O.O.F. conducted the burial services. Deceased was a son of Mr. Wiley Montgomery of Montgomery township. (LAWRENCEVILLE REPUBLICAN)

AUGUST 29, 1894
John Reynolds P.M. (post master) and sister Fannie, of Birds, visited Flat Rock Sunday.
Lawrence County grand jury returned eight indictments for violation of the stock law.

Mrs. Nancy Hunt of Lawrence County died Saturday evening aged about 73 years.
Mr. Mart Kirkwood and Wm Gillespie, prominent farmers living south of Lawrenceville, visited in this vicinity (Flat Rock) Saturday and Sunday.

SEPTEMBER 12, 1894
B.R. Fisher, circuit clerk of Lawrence County, was in Robinson Saturday between trains on his way over to Jasper County to visit his brother-in-law R. Bradbury.

SEPTEMBER 19, 1894
Mrs. John P. Regan, a former resident of this place, died at Lawrenceville Sunday evening.

SEPTEMBER 28, 1894
Wm Cochran's, who have been citizens of our community (New Hebron) for the past two years, moved to Lawrenceville last week. We are sorry to lose such good people from our neighborhood.
Monday last, Bert Little, Deputy Sheriff of Lawrence County, brought Gus Smith of that county here and placed him in jail. There are two indictments against Smith in Lawrence for robbing and burning a saloon at St. Francisville. He was brought here for safe keeping as the jail there has been condemned.

OCTOBER 3, 1894
Hon J.K. Dickerson of Lawrenceville, was re-elected member of the State Board of Agriculture for this district last Wednesday at Springfield.

OCTOBER 24, 1894
Palestine News: Dr. Vaught of Pinkstaff and Mrs. Rose L. Hackett of this village, were married here Thursday evening. Another wedding will soon follow. The above couple has our sympathy.
Dr. McGowen of Lawrenceville and Dr. Bristow of this place, removed a large cancer from the face of Grandma Young last Tuesday.
Eighteen Odd Fellows came up from Birds Friday night to attend lodge here but for some cause unknown to your correspondent our boys failed to materialize. Uncle Joe Mickey was in the crowd who has belonged to the order forty-eight years.

NOVEMBER 14, 1894
Will York and family of Pinkstaff, will move this week, into Albert Correll's house, near the tile mill at Trimble.
States Attorney McGaughey of Lawrenceville, was in Robinson Friday on legal business.

DECEMBER 5, 1894
C. L. Cochran, constable of Birds did business in Flat Rock Tuesday morning.
Charley Goodwin, who is freight conductor on the Big 4, had a narrow escape with his train one day recently. South of Lawrenceville as the train pulled around a curve and a bridge was discovered on fire but was so near that the train could not be checked and ran across it. The train had not gone more than fifty yards after crossing before the bridge fell in.
Monday the Sheriff of Lawrence County brought three men to Robinson and placed them in jail here, as the jail in that county has been condemned. The prisoners were arrested on suspicion of being implicated in "holding a man up" in Lawrence and robbing him of some $125.

DECEMBER 20, 1894
James Rowe was brought from Lawrence County and placed in jail here Friday for safe keeping. He purchased a suit of clothes in Lawrenceville and offered in payment a note with security, which turned out to be a forgery. Judge F.C. Meserve was one of the sureties on the note.
One of the men-Ramsey by name-who was brought here recently from Lawrence county and placed in jail, charged with holding a citizen of that county up to the tune of $140, must be a man of 'influence' with the craft. Sheriff Walters says he (Ramsey) gets a number of letters daily many of which contains sums of money in amounts from $5.00 to $50 with which to make a defense.

Ed Note:  The Robinson Constitution issues for the year 1895 are not available.  

Saturday, January 30, 2016



Preservation is one of the primary goals of our Historical Society.   We help conserve, preserve and restore artifacts that are integral to the history of Lawrence County. We understand that there are many ways to portray local history, but there is nothing like being in the physical presence of an object to make history real. Preservation cannot just mean storing assets and being the ‘county’s attic.’  We have a commitment to make those materials accessible to researchers, historians, and the general public when they stop by the museum or the new genealogy library.

While perhaps not as exciting as preserving artifacts or information, but just as important is preserving our buildings.  Repairs on the Museum building have been deferred too many times in the past. Each year the amounts requested to fix the roof or update the electricity consistently exceed the amount we have available to spend. With every passing year that maintenance is deferred, the need becomes more pressing.

Membership dues pay for some of the things that the Historical Society does: the newsletter, the annual fee for the website, fees and travel expenses for speakers, and subsidizing the activities that the community has come to enjoy such Lunch and Learn, the cemetery tours, and the photo contest.

The monthly costs of keeping the Museum building, and now the new Genealogical library open also have to be paid. These include electricity, gas, water, sewer, insurance, maintenance, etc. However when these are paid, there is little left over, and sometimes not even enough to go around.

That is why we are asking today for those of you who have the means to provide us with additional support. Please send in a donation today to carry forward the important and unique work of the Society.

You may send a check to PO Box 425 Lawrenceville, IL 62439 payable to Lawrence County Historical Society* or go to our website and donate now with PayPal.*

*We are a  501(c) (3) organization as determined by the IRS and your donations will be tax deductible.