Rediscovering Lincoln’s Bible

In June 1864, President Abraham Lincoln and first lady Mary Todd Lincoln traveled to Philadelphia to help raise money for the care of wounded Union soldiers. There, the Lincolns attended a very large, educational and entertaining ‘sanitary fair,’ the Civil War name for voluntary, locally sponsored, fund-raisers for the Union cause.

For his part, President Lincoln contributed forty-eight signed copies of the Emancipation Proclamation, which sold for $10 each. As a thank-you for attending, the women members from one of the sponsoring organizations gave Lincoln a very large, ornate, presentation-style Bible.

After Lincoln’s assassination, Mary Lincoln kept the Bible until 1872 when she gave it Reverend Noyes W. Miner. Miner had befriended the Lincolns when he lived across the street from them in Springfield in the mid-1850s.

Miner’s descendants safely preserved the Bible and kept it out of sight for generations. In late 2018, the family decided to donate the Bible to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, where it is currently on display.

To learn more about these events, Historic Elsah Foundation will host a presentation from Ian Patrick Hunt, Chief of Acquisitions, ALPLM, entitled, “Rediscovering Lincoln’s Bible – A Gift from the Ladies of the Philadelphia Volunteer Hospital Association.” Hunt, who was instrumental in the discovery, acquisition, and transportation of the Bible from the donors to Springfield, will also provide details of the Bible’s printing and provenance on Thursday, November 12, 2020, at 7:00 pm.

Hunt’s presentation is the one of this year’s Hosmer-Williams Lectures sponsored by Historic Elsah Foundation and underwritten by Liberty Bank. The presentation will be via ZOOM. Attendees should pre-register.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

This presentation is one of this year’s Hosmer-Williams Lectures sponsored by Historic Elsah Foundation and underwritten by Liberty Bank: A United Community Bank.

Holiday Online Auction

You and your friends are invited to the 2020 fundraiser for Historic Elsah Foundation.

You can view items beginning on Wednesday, December 2.

Bidding starts on Thursday, December 3.

Auction closes on Saturday, December 5.

Items up for bid already include overnight stays at fine inns and a variety of gifts from businesses in Elsah, Grafton, and Alton.

More details will be posted here when available.

If you have items or services you’d like to donate in order to benefit Historic Elsah Foundation, please reach us at historicelsah@gmail.com

The Lady Major and the War Governor: Belle Reynolds, Richard Yates, and the Politics of a Civil War Sex Scandal

Beginning with the first days of the Civil War in 1861, Republican Governor Richard Yates of Illinois responded with enthusiasm and loyal support for the Union cause. To answer Lincoln’s call for volunteers, he worked diligently to recruit, enlist, equip, organize, and train the sons of Illinois for the battlefield. He ordered the occupation of Cairo and encouraged Lincoln to protect the federal arsenal in St. Louis. Later he would secure high military commissions for prominent Illinoisans and personally brought hospital supplies to the wounded from the state.

Despite his energetic commitment to wartime activities, Yates still had time to become entangled in a good, old-fashioned sex scandal with Belle Reynolds, a woman Yates honored for meritorious conduct in caring for the wounded during the battle of Shiloh in April 1862. At the time, Ms. Reynolds also just happened to be the wife of an officer who fought in that battle with the 17th Illinois Infantry.

History professor A. James Fuller from the University of Indianapolis will provide the details in a presentation entitled, “The Lady Major and the War Governor: Belle Reynolds, Richard Yates, and the Politics of a Civil War Sex Scandal.”

Historic Elsah Foundation is providing this presentation as part of its ongoing Hosmer-Williams Lecture Series, which is sponsored by Liberty Bank, a United Community Bank. Originally scheduled as an in-person event, the presentation has been moved online and will take place via ZOOM on Thursday, September 17, 2020, at 7:00 pm. Those wishing to attend may use this link to join the talk.

Join the talk on September 17 at 7:00 pm, Central Time. You may want to join a few minutes early to be sure your computer, tablet, or phone is connected.

From the Monticello Female Seminary Archives: The Civil War Letters of Captain David W. Norton to Mary (Mollie) Chapman

This talk is canceled for now for the health and safety of the speaker and community.

Have you ever wondered what Civil War soldiers wrote in personal letters to parents, family members and friends back home? What did they reveal about what they saw or how they felt during fearful extraordinary times in battle and during routine daily events in camp? 

In his presentation, “From the Monticello Female Seminary Archives: The Civil War Letters of Captain David W. Norton to Mary (Mollie) Chapman,” Springfield writer Mark Flotow will tell us about one such correspondence between a young lady attending Monticello Female Seminary and an Union Army officer stationed in Tennessee. 

Mark’s presentation draws from his recently published book: In Their Letters, in Their Words: Illinois Civil War Soldiers Write Home. He discovered the letters written to Mary—she called herself Mollie—in the Monticello Archives in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. He also found more tidbits about Mollie in her student writings and letters to home in Jerseyville. 

In addition to writing the book, Mark is a volunteer interviewer for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library’s Oral History program. He is a past member of the advisory board for the Illinois State Historical Society and has written several articles for the Society’s magazine, Illinois Heritage.

The presentation will take place Thursday, March 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Farley Music Hall in Elsah. It is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required. Parking is available. Refreshments will be served following Mark’s presentation.

This presentation is one of this year’s Hosmer-Williams Lectures sponsored by Historic Elsah Foundation and underwritten by Liberty Bank: A United Community Bank.

Attention media, print and otherwise, for additional information, contact George Provenzano, at gprovenzano@lc.edu, or visit our website, historicelsah.org

Photographers – “Meet and Greet” and “Walk Around Elsah”

Farley

Saturday morning, March 7, from 9 a.m. to noon, individuals and photography clubs are invited to a special Elsah Meet and Greet at Farley Music Hall and “on-your-own Photo-Shoot session” around the valley. This activity is being held to encourage participation and answer questions by youth and adult photographers about the Village of Elsah Museum 21st annual Photography Exhibit. The exhibit theme is “My Favorite Window.” If it is raining on March 7th, the activity will be canceled. 

The Meet and Greet for photographers at the Farley Music Hall provides an opportunity to meet and ask questions of the Village of Elsah Museum committee members and former winners, Marty McKay, Karen King, and Carolyn Schuelter. Participants will be coming and going, as well as taking part in the photo shoot. If participants have submissions ready, they will be accepted at the Meet and Greet at Farley Music Hall. There will be another opportunity for delivery later in the month. 

The Village of Elsah Museum will hold the 21st annual Elsah Photography Exhibit from Saturday, April 4, to Sunday, August 2, 2020. The theme is “My Favorite Window.” The exhibit will be held in the Museum building, Elsah Village Hall, at 26 LaSalle Street, Elsah, Illinois. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, April 4, 2020 during which the winners are announced. 

Submissions are due by Monday, March 16, 2020. Delivery of entries can be done in person at the Meet and Greet on Saturday, March 7 at 37 Mill (Farley Music Hall) and at 26 LaSalle (Village Hall) on Saturday and Sunday, March 14 and 15, 2020 from 1 to 4 p.m. Mail and delivery by appointment are also options for entries. For full details, see url: www.escapetoelsah.com. Questions should be directed to historicelsah@gmail.com

Photographers, amateur and professional, are invited to make submissions to the exhibit and participate in the purchase prize portion of the exhibit. As in previous years, the photographs will be for sale and the photographers will retain all proceeds. 

The Prizes include: 

  • the Village of Elsah (taken at a location in the Elsah valley area) purchase prize of $200 that includes permission rights to use the photograph in publicity for the photography exhibit; 
  • the Greatriverroad.com (taken at a location in the surrounding area, or representative of the larger Elsah area) purchase prize of $200 that includes permission to use the photograph in publicity for the photography exhibit; 
  • the Green Tree Inn will donate a one-night stay for two to the winner of the Village of Elsah (valley) purchase prize winner; and 
  • the Youth Section Prize (taken in either valley or surrounding location) of $100 for a photographer between 12 to 18 for the best submitted photograph taken by a youth; 
  • additional recognitions may be awarded.

Full rules may be found here.