Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Joliet Library Event: Winners All Around

Saturday, March 13, was a rainy, gray day -- perfect for an Author Fair!

Kate was one of thirty authors of all genres who filled every nook and cranny at the Joliet Library - Black Road Branch. While the authors enjoyed chatting amongst themselves about the business of book-writing, there was hardly time as a steady stream of patrons made their way through the shelves.

Many visitors were browsing for a good read or hoping to get an autograph from their favorite author, but particularly satisfying were conversations with aspiring writers. Kate talked with several people who had stories floating around in their heads, including youngsters who could barely write cursive and retirees considering a new avocation. Plenty of college-bound high schoolers were in attendance as well, gathering information to help plan their educational goals.

Kate held a drawing of visitors to the Joliet Author Fair for a family pass to Naper Settlement open air history museum. Jenn of Crest Hill was the lucky winner. Congratulations, Jenn!

For readers and writers alike, more Author Events are coming up next month: at the Fountaindale Library in Bolingbrook on April 10 and at the Bellwood Library on April 13. You are welcome to attend either of these events to chat with a variety of authors about books and writing.

The Oregon Trail in Illinois

While recently reading "Searching for Tamsen Donner" by Gabrielle Burton, Kate learned that two of the families of the doomed Oregon Trail party were from Illinois. James Reed was a businessman from Springfield who operated a general store, sawmill and furniture factory, among other ventures, and George Donner himself was a fellow Springfield citizen.

Googling to see if there were any other Illinois ties to the Oregon Trail, Kate found a rather surprising connection: Oregon Trail Days in Oregon, Illinois.

While Oregon has long been a favorite place to visit, Kate had never heard of Oregon Trail Days, and for good reason. This summer will be its inaugural event.

Prompted by the threat of budget woes closing two nearby state parks, a group of concerned citizens decided to launch the festival as a way to boost awareness of the Oregon area as a tourism destination. While one of Oregon's charms is that it is NOT over-run with tourists, it certainly makes sense to get more people aware of what a treasure the area is and ensure that it remains open to all.

Planned for July 16 through 18, the event will celebrate Oregon's Native American and Western heritage. Activities will include Native American dancing and drumming, a cowboy medicine show and covered wagon rides.

The event's committee says: "We are sure that you and your family will have a rip-roaring, foot stomping, knee slapping, gosh darn good time," and they mean it! You have to go to the Oregon Trail Days web site to see all of the fun and interesting events they have planned.

Where History Is Happening

Links to some upcoming events:

The 1950's Park Forest House Museum

March through April
1pm until 3pm
The 1950s Park Forest House Museum at 141 Forest Blvd, Park Forest, Illinois is decorated for a 1950s Easter. Decorations include, honeycomb rabbits and baskets, plastic and tin decorations, and Easter baskets with candy available in the 1950s. Donation is $5 for adults; children 12 and under are free with a paying adult. For details, or to arrange a special group tour, visit the Park Forest Historical Society website.

The 1965 Palm Sunday Tornado
Sunday, April 14,
Crystal Lake Historical Society president, Diana Kenney, presents a look back at the deadly Palm Sunday tornado which devastated Crystal Lake 45 years ago. Program will feature photos and stories of the devastation, rebuilding, and survivors. Registration required through the library.Sunday's program is already full and Wednesday's has limited seating available.

Early Churches of the Calumet Region

April 10, 10 am
Ken Schoon, Associate Dean of Indiana University Northwest's School of Eduction, will discuss Calumet's churches from 1858, founded by early Polish, Dutch and German settlers.
$3 for non-members. Refreshments will follow.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Illinois Governors Are an Interesting Study

The governor of Illinois writes:

"The internal improvement system, the banks, the great plenty of money, had made every one morally drunk. The failure of all these brought about a sobering process."

The governor who wrote this was speaking of Illinois in 1842, but you know what they say about those who don't learn from history being doomed to repeat it.

Thomas Ford was a one term governor who stepped into office knowing the job was going to be a tough one. Hostility toward Mormons settled in Nauvoo was growing and becoming violent. The state of Illinois was in debt to the tune of $14 million and building. The budget wasn't even close to being balanced and anyone holding currency issued by the state banks basically owned scrap paper.

The I&M Canal project was renewed by Ford and was instrumental in revitalizing the economy and getting the state back on track. It would take forty years, but those crippling debts would eventually be paid off, even with a Civil War interrupting things.

Ford was dying of tuberculosis when he wrote his "A History of Illinois." He hoped the proceeds would support his children after his death. Half of "A History" tells of the four years he served as governor and the other twenty nine years are jammed into the other half, so it's a personal sort of book rather than a impartial review.

You can buy a copy of Governor Ford's "History" on Amazon. An original leather-bound 1854 edition can be had for $1,500, but a new paperback version will only cost you $22.72.

Rod Blagojevich's "The Governor" is a bargain at $16.47, brand-new.

Have You Found a Lincoln Penny Yet?

The last of four re-designs of the Lincoln penny was unveiled last month in Springfield, ending a year-long recognition of the President's 200th birthday.

Last February, the first penny was released featuring a log cabin on the back side. The next one shows Lincoln taking a break from log-splitting to read a book. The third one pictures him standing in front of the Illinois State Capitol building and the coin which debuted last month depicts the United States Capitol with the dome still under construction.

Keep an eye on your change to get a good look at the new Lincoln cents. It's also a great way to get your children and grand-children interested in our state's history. See what you're looking for at The Huffington Post.

Where History Is Happening

Links to some upcoming events:

Joliet Library Author Fair
Saturday, March 13
11am - 3pm
Okay, this may not be very historic, but it promises to be lots of fun. Kate and 30 fellow authors of all genres will be on hand to talk about their books. For readers from children to teens and adults. Also for writers who want to talk about the craft and business.

Learn About Your Chicago Home's History Day

April 24,
12 - 4pm
The Norwood Park Historical Society will assist residents to research their house.
Find references on architectural styles
related to the Chicago area, a collection of references to help make appropriate
choices when renovating historic properties and information on preservation and landmark status.
New this year will be representatives of the Kalo Foundation who research Sears kit houses.

Explorer Merriwether Lewis Portrayal

March 20, 10 am
Walk in the shoes of one of America's great explorers, brought to life by one of the nation's foremost Humanities
scholars and actors, Clay Jenkinson. This is a unique opportunity to see this very entertaining program in the intimate setting of the Community Room at the Geneva History Center. Hosted in partnership with Waubonsee Community College. Admission - $25