We spent about five weeks with our kids in Helena, then headed to the Dakotas in time for my Mom's birthday Oct. 6th. This is Bighorn River along the way.
This is in Milnor where my Mom lives. There were more piles of corn in a field nearby. This was a common sight a lot of places. The crops were good. The prices are good. The farmers are happy. We actually heard about some farm land in northern Iowa that sold for $21,000 per acre!
After a week with Mom, we spent a couple days in Brookings and a week with our daughter in Sioux Falls. Sunday was a beautiful day and I rode the bike trail around the city, a little over twenty miles, I think.
Good food, good wine, good times with friends! It just doesn't get any better than that. Thanks again G and B.
We met a half dozen or so of these wind turbine blades on our way from Iowa to Illinois. We see tons of the wind turbines all over the country. I wish we had a few in a field somewhere that we could collect the rent on.
We crossed the Mississippi at Fort Madison, Iowa and headed south on Hwy. 96 to Nauvoo, Illinois where the Mormons, under the leadership of Joseph Smith, Jr. built a community and a Temple in 1840. This reconstruction of the Temple that was built between 1841 and 1846 was completed in 2002. It is 54,000 sq. ft. on the original 3.3 acre temple block. It is the 113th temple worldwide and was completely financed by church members, over 14 million worldwide. The moon stones around the base, sun stones along the upper ridge and the star stones at the very top edge are modeled after the originals. It is 162 feet and 5 inches to the top of the Angel Moroni statue with interior staircases at each of the four corners. The window glass from France and Germany is the same type used in the early 1800s and each circular window on the fourth floor has a large star made of red, white and blue colored glass just like the originals. One of the controversial things they do in their temples is baptism by proxy. Their baptismal font is mounted on statues of a dozen oxen with a stairway up to it. Members volunteer to be baptized (full-body immersion) on behalf of dead ancestors and "others". They have different rooms in the Temple for different purposes as you advance in your instructions, including the baptistry, the creation room, the garden room, the world room. the celestial room, the assembly room and the sealing room where marriages are performed that can endure throughou this life and all of eternity. It reminds me that John said, when we got married, if we made it fifty years we were getting divorced just on principle, because no one should have to live with anyone longer than fifty years. That day is fast approaching. I wonder if he's reconsidered yet. They also share this blessing with their deseased ancestors by performing the temple ordinances on their behalf. They say the ancestors are then free to choose for themselves whether to accept the ordinances.
At the end of the walkway is this statue of Joseph Smith, Jr., prophet and founder of the Mormon Church and his brother, Hyrum, overlooking the town of Nauvoo, Illinois and the Mississsippi River. They were leaving town to answer charges in Carthage for interfering with a local newspaper they disagreed with, and having caused it to be shut down illegally. They were never to return, as the jail was overrun by a mob and they were killed. They had drawn national attention for their enterprise and beautiful temple rising on the bluff. There was great fear of the political power of the growing church. The Temple was not completed until May of 1846 after the exodus had already started and was burned down by an arsonist in 1848.
We attended a free nightly musical performance that told of the events leading up to this, that eventually resulted in the great exodus to Salt Lake City. Nauvoo was just a small Indian village when they came here in 1839. By 1845 it was the second largest city in Illinois, almost 12,000, just slightly smaller than Chicago. There was an amazing amount of construction in five or six years and construction was the basis of their economy. They had 2,500 shops and homes, 1,500 log, 650 frame, 350 brick structures and about 4,000 outbuildings. About a third were farm structures outside the city. By 1850 the population was 1,141. The exodus began in February of 1846. They crossed the Mississippi and Iowa to the Missouri where they spent the winter. In 1847 about 13,000 people continued on their way to the Great Salt Lake seeking the freedom to worship as they believed. Between 50,000 and 70,000 Mormom pioneers, many pushing or pulling hand carts loaded with 500 pounds of supplies crossed the plains to the Rocky Mountains, until 1860 when the church began sponsoring oxen-drawn wagons to bring emigrants to the "New Zion". With Salt Lake as their base, they founded more than 350 communities.
Nauvoo means "a beautiful place" in Hebrew and it is a very nice view from the bluff overlooking the bend in the river. Many of the buildings have been reconstructed on the original foundations to recreate the original town. In their cultural building, John got to learn how to make his own rope out of sissel plant, and tie off the ends, so it couldn't unravel. I don't know what we will do with the rope. Maybe we can use it for a clothes line.
They also had demonstrations of barrel making, candle making, weaving and bread baking, where we got samples. At the bakery shop we each got a miniature gingerbread man. At the post office/general store, they explained the workings of mail delivery and shipping of goods at the time.
Next door at the tinsmith, we saw how the metal was cut from patterns, fitted together and seams sealed. I had heard of hurricane lamps, but I never really knew what they were. They are the ones in the upper left-hand corner. The holes in them that make the fancy design are punched from the inside out, so the wind will not be able to blow directly in and put out the candle. Also, in the lower left-hand corner is a tube-shaped container which they stored candles in, so the mice couldn't get at them. Candles are made from animal tallow and the mice would eat them.
Across the street was the gunsmith shop, owned by Jonathon Browning, inventor of the B2000 Shotgun and the Semi Automatic Rifle, two of the world's best known military arms. Also, the Revolving Action Rifle 1854, Browning Repeating Rifle, Auto Load 5 Shotgun, 22 Caliber Pump Action Rifle, 45 Caliber Semi Automatic Pistol (official military sidearm since 1911) and 9mm Semi Automatic Pistol. The Colt 45 and all automatic pistols produced by Colt's patent have been of basic Browning design. His son John Moses Browning invented the machine gun used in two world wars, Korea, Vietnam and by present armed forces all over the world. He is recognized as the world's greatest gun inventor and has contributed more to the national security than any American who has ever lived.
This is Brigham Young's home. He was elected by the church Saints to take over as President of the church after Joseph was killed. There is an above ground root cellar and a well just outside the back door and a small building for horse and carriage.
This is the fireplace in the kitchen for cooking, with a brace on a hinge, so the ladies could pull the kettle away from the fire to stir it. Catching their long, full dresses in the fire was a big danger. The little door in the upper left corner is called a bustle oven. It covers a hole in the bricks that they filled with wood and burned until the bricks were super heated. Then they brushed out the ashes and placed their bread in it to bake. The bricks stuck out on the outside of the house, like the bustle of a ladies dress.
I thought this was a neat little seat, where you could rock the baby while you were reading, sewing or maybe holding another baby. The little box in front held hot coals to keep your feet warm. Kind of reminds me of the little electric heater I have aimed at my feet this very moment.
There is a small child's bed and a chamber pot under the bed. The mattress is held by ropes that can be pulled tighter to keep the mattress from sagging. But the most interesting thing was the paddle laying on top of the bed. They used it to beat on the bed before they climbed in, to beat the bed bugs to the bottom, so they hopefully wouldn't bother you while you slept. I just get the creeps thinking about it!
Joseph Smith, Jr. homestead where he is buried with his parents, his brother, wife Emma and her second husband and other family members. Joseph held ceremonies in the upstairs of his Red Brick Store, where he appointed his son, Joseph III, to be his successor upon his death. His family was upset when the Saints gave that position to Brigham Young. They refused to go with on the great exodus to Salt Lake City when they all abandoned their homes. They stayed and started a new church called the Reorganized Church, now the Community of Christ with World Headquarters in Independence, Missouri and about 250,000 members. I wrote about it in an earlier blog when we visited their headquarters last spring.
Joseph's Red Brick Store opened in January 1842. The second floor was used for all sorts of meetings and ceremonies before other buildings and the Temple were completed. It is part of the Joseph Smith Historic Site along with the Homestead above, the Nauvoo House (currently a hostel for church visitors), the Mansion House (Joseph and Emma's home, which was partly a hotel), the Community of Christ Church and the Visitor Center. Originally called the Olive Branch and then the Reformed Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, they used the second floor for their church services. Torn down in 1890 and rebuilt in 1980.
We went downtown for supper where we saw Grandpa John's Cafe, serving breakfast, lunch and ice cream. Unfortunately, it was closed, so we went across the street to the Nauvoo Hotel for a nice down home buffet with chicken, beef, ribs and catfish. From Nauvoo south, it was a very pretty drive winding right along the Mississippi to Hamilton where we turned east. We passed the Keokuk Dam before we turned east. It was the world's largest hydroelectric dam in 1910. At 32 feet high, it is the highest dam on the upper Mississippi
We stopped in Carthage where we stopped for a short tour of the jail, the site of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum. Check out this "washing machine" in the kitchen where the sheriff's wife did the laundry and cooked the meals.
This is the court room in Beardstown where Abe Lincoln was the defense attorney at the famous "Almanac" trial. There was a movie about it called "Young Mr. Lincoln". The witness swore he could clearly see "Duff" commit the murder because it was so moon bright. Lincoln pressed him to repeatedly swear to it.
Then he brought out the almanac to prove there was no moonlight that night. That pretty much won the case, but he also had a doctor testify on the specifics of the wound. However, his heart-felt closing speech was the real clincher. This was a huge painting on one wall. In the courtroom above there is a photo of Lincoln, that is supposed to be the only one ever done with him wearing a white suit. The courtroom is just a small part of a very nice, free museum here about the history of Beardstown and the Illinois River.
We walked along the levee that was built after many floods of the town. Beardstown Square is also where the famous Lincoln/Douglas debates took place. Lincoln lost his bid for Congress, but the press coverage nationwide built his reputation and helped him win the Presidency two years later. "The Beardstown Ladies' Common-Sense Investment Guide" also came from here.
From here we headed east to Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site. There is a small museum here with a movie about Lincoln's early life. This is where he first lived on his own as an adult after he left home for about six years. Petersburg had better access to Sangamon River and Lincoln surveyed it at age 27, while he lived in New Salem. The village was abandoned when nearby Petersburg was made the county seat. The buildings were pretty much completely gone by 1906 when commercial development was threatening the area. Famous newspaper man, William Randolph Hearst, bought it for $10,000 and gave it to a local association who later deeded to the state. They have reconstructed 22 buildings on the original foundations from pictures, writings and memories of folks who were still living in 1906. One original building was still being used in nearby Petersburg and was moved back here. That is the cooper, or barrel making, building with the barrels setting in front of it in this picture. There is also a saw mill and flat boat replica down the hill by where the river used to be before it changed it's course.
A hat maker lived in this building. He made rabbit fur hats, coon skin hats and felt hats. The big kettle hanging on the brace out front was used for making felt. I have no idea how you make felt. During the summer they have interpreters in period costume and do demonstrations, I think. Abe liked to understand how machines and gadgets worked. He is the only president to receive a patent, for a device that could refloat boats that had run aground.
Oxen walked on the round tread mill to operate this wool carding operation. I have no idea what wool carding is. There is a campground here and we stayed for several days, while we saw the Lincoln sites in Springfield and surrounding area. They also have a live theater during the summer.
Petersburg is just a couple miles from our campground and the site of the first "Circus Barn". In 1883 Harry Lamkin redesigned his widowed mother's barn to practice during winter and become one of the great equestrian acts in the circus world. He attached a harness he invented to the performer and the roof of the barn and taught his young brother to perform as an equestrian. They soon attracted other circus performers clamoring to watch them. They set up bleachers and sold tickets from a window of their mother's home here, that is now the Abstract Office. It is also the home of a famous quarter horse, named Peter McCue, who sired an ancestral line of many other famous quarter horses. It's always interesting the things we just accidentally stumble across. We had lunch here at the Plaid Rooster Cafe.
This is the Old State Capitol that Lincoln and some of his cronies, called the "Long Nine" because of their height, managed to get moved here from Vandalia. A real coup for their city. Statues of his family stand in the courtyard out front. The Lincoln and Herndon Law Offices where he worked is just behind the statues. He tried about 250 cases before the State Supreme Court here and made about $3,000 a year, which is equivalent to about $400,000 now. When Abe came to Springfield there were 20 clergymen, 22 attorneys, 23 physicians, 28 saloons, 2 policemen who patrolled by day and 9 at night.
Quite a trip from a one room log home with a total of about one year of school where he learned his ABCs and ciphering to 3s. He taught himself to read, studied grammar, read law books for about a year and passed the bar. This is a view inside on the second floor. A slave was sold every 3.6 minutes between 1820 and 1860. In 1860 there were almost 4 million people, men, women and children, living in bondage. In South Carolina over half the population was slaves. Between 1820 and 1860 on average 2.5 million slaves were owned by 250,000 people. One statement said, "More books have been written about Lincoln than any other figure in human history, with the possible exception of Jesus."
Lincoln's home in Springfield. It was just a one story cottage when they bought it for $1,500. It has three small parlors and a tiny dining room and kitchen on the main floor. It was not uncommon for them to entertain 200 to 300 guests in their small home. Willies 9th birthday party had 50 to 60 children, an unusual type of party for the era. They had lenient parenting styles and wanted their children to be happy and unrestrained from parental tyranny. Mary grew up in a southern slave-holding aristocracy, but just had one girl to help her and did most of the cooking herself, because she liked to. When Abe was home he milked the cow and chopped the wood. He was gone for almost three months at a time twice a year traveling the judicial district. The four block neighborhood surrounding their house is now part of the Historic Site with lots of old homes preserved and wooden boardwalks.
Union Station was built in 1898 and rehabilitated for state offices recently. Inside is a miniature of Lincoln's Funeral Train which traveled across the country for fifteen days, stopping for processions in twelve cities, so people could pay their respects. It was said that more people saw him in death than ever saw him alive. The car from Lincoln's funeral train was displayed at the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Expo and the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. It was destroyed in 1911 when a grass fire swept over the tracks.
To the side are these sculptures of two charred chimneys from the smoldering rubble of the brutal Springfield Race Riot of 1908. An angry white mob attacked black residents after the sheriff secretly transported two black prisoners out of town for their protection. One was accused of rape and the other of killing a man. They lynched two innocent men, murdered five other citizens and injured many more before state troops took control. Afterwards the white woman admitted she had lied about the assault. The other man was eventually convicted and executed. News of the vicious race riot only a few blocks from Lincoln's home became the catalyst for the founding of the NAACP in New York City in 1909 on Lincoln's 100th birthday.
Just across the street is the Lincoln Presidential Museum on the left, and Library on the right with a walkway connecting them. Each takes up a full city block, so impossible to get on one picture. Inside pictures were only allowed in the entry plaza.
One section was about his early life before the presidency. There is also an Illinois Military gallery about the Civil War. It said there was a 20 to 40% fatality rate from small pox. Doctors vaccinated troops by procuring scabs or lymph from a previously vaccinated, healthy person, preferable an infant or small child. They would make a small cut on the upper arm and insert a small amount of lymph or a bit of scab. Soldiers sometimes tried to vaccinate themselves. In ignorance, they used actual small pox scabs, syphillis infected sores or contaminated matter causing spread of disease or terrible infections that led to arm amputations. Lincoln was actually the most famous small pox patient, coming down with a mild form during his trip to Gettysburg, and taking about a month to recover.
The other section was about his life in the White House and the Civil War. Abe and Mary both lost their mothers as children. One son died while they lived in Springfield, one while they were in the White House and one at age 18 after Lincoln was assassinated. Only Robert survived and he had his mother committed for being insane. Maybe she was, but what a sad and tragic life she and Abe must have had.
In the entrance to the White House they had these dresses of some of the women Mrs. Lincoln had to associate with, like General McClellan's wife, the Secretary of State's wife and others. Each had a story about how badly they treated her and snubbed her and made fun of her.
The new State Capitol with statue of Lincoln out front and closer to the building, behind the tree, is a statue of Douglas. Authorized in 1867, it is Illinois' sixth Capitol Building, the second in Springfield. A railroad was built to encircle the Capitol to provide easy access for building materials. The project was delayed in 1876 when the architect died and in 1877 for lack of funds. Despite the start of construction, Chicago almost became Illinois' fourth Capitol. They were all set to convene there in the fall of 1871 when the Great Chicago Fire occurred. Springfield remained the Capitol and the building was completed in 1888 at a cost of $4.3 million and a balance of $6.35 was returned to the state treasury.
This is the Hall of Governors on the second floor. They haven't put up Rod Blagojevich's picture yet. I wonder why. I think four out of their last five governors have gone to jail.
The House of Representatives. The chandeliers are Czechoslovakian crystal, 17.5 feet long and weigh 750 pounds each.
The top of the rotunda has a stained glass representation of the State Seal with 9,000 pieces of glass. From the first floor to the dome is 361 feet, and to the flag is 405 feet, 74 feet higher than the U.S. Capitol dome. The 24 columns supporting the dome are made of brick and encased in imitation marble.
From here we went across the street to the free Illinois State Museum. There was a lot of stuff about the development of the earth and life on earth. Scientists thought nothing lived on land until plants appeared 420 million years ago. However, microfossils found in the 1990s indicate there were living organisms on land 1.2 billion years ago. Since then, possible evidence of microbial life has been found in Africa in 2.6 billion year old soil beds. Mammals appeared 230 million years ago, but they looked very different than their ancestors. They were tiny, hairy and most likely active only at night. Doesn't sound that much different than creatures you might meet at the bar on a Saturday night, not that I have any personal experience. I am always just amazed how they can figure out all that stuff.
This was funny. Hall of Dinosaurs closed due to lack of specimens. I guess no dinosaurs have ever been found in Illinois, like they have been in a lot of other places. But they're still hoping to find some.
At one time there were button factories that made buttons from the mussel shells in the rivers here. In the early 1900s there were 49 species of mussels here. They are sensitive indicators of habitat and water quality. More than half of those species were gone by the 1960s due to dam construction, silt deposition and pollution. Improvements following the Clean Water Act of 1972 led to an increased number of species. In the 1960s river mussels were harvested to supply the cultured-pearl industry in Japan. Small beads of mussel shells were implanted into oysters and the oysters coated the beads forming cultured pearls.
I thought this was interesting in the Art Gallery. "Army of the Disappeared" by Gerda Meyer Bernstein 1987.
Lincoln's Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield. It is a granite 117 foot obelisk with a bronze Lincoln holding the Emancipation Proclamation. The Eagle holds a broken chain of human slavery. Statuary groups at the corners are the infantry, cavalry, navy and artillery commanded by Lincoln during the Civil War. They were cast in part with metal from 65 cannons donated by the U.S. government. The shields below the statues representing each state ring the tomb symbolizing the undivided nation. This is a huge cemetery covering many rolling hills.
There is also a War Memorial Drive here at the cemetery with a Vietnam Memorial, a Korean War Memorial and this one for World War II listing the major battles of the Pacific Theater on the left wall and those of the European Theater on the right wall.
The Lincoln penny was released in 1909 on the centennial of his birthday. It was the first American coin to feature the portrait of a real person.
The Lincoln penny was released in 1909 on the centennial of his birthday. It was the first American coin to feature the portrait of a real person.
Watching the election results right now. The campaigns were much more vicious back in Lincoln's day and way back to the first presidents.