Elsah Village History with Jeff Cowton, Curator, Wordsworth Trust, Dove Cottage, Grasmere, UK

Friday, January 22, 2016, Farley’s Music Hall at 7:00 pm,  Jeff Cowton, BME, will be our guest, mentor, and leader for an evening dedicated to ELSAH VILLAGE HISTORY. Cowton, this year’s Annenberg Scholar at Principia College, is Curator for the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere, UK, and is ready to help us collect, organize, and preserve anecdotes and stories of Elsah. This is an evening about “all things Elsah,” and we hope you will be us.  Principia students will be on hand to record these stories. Refreshments will be served.

Saturday, January 23, 2016, at Wanamaker Hall, Principia College, 7:30 pm. is another evening with Jeff Cowton, BME. He has led the way for the Trust to become the first to offer a modern apprenticeship in cultural heritage.  The Volunteer/Internship Programme he developed has inspired hundreds of young people to follow in his footsteps. Learn more about his work here. Using William Wordsworth’s ideas and poetry, Cowton will persuade us to see, think, and to feel all that is about us and to advance the idea that local history is an important and sustainable activity. Jeff Cowton is the Annenberg Scholar at Principia College for 2016.

These lectures, free and open to the public, are presented in association with Historic Elsah Foundation and its Hosmer-Williams Lecture Series. Maps and directions are available at the Front Gate of Principia College, 1 Maybeck Place, Elsah, IL.

Home for the Holidays Photos

View photos from the December 2015 Home for the Holidays House Tour. We had about 300 visitors to Elsah on a lovely day, with many houses decorated and open for the tour. A horse and carriage transported visitors back in time and around the village. Live music welcomed folks to both churches, too.

Special thanks to PhotogBuddies for your excellent work.

Home for the Holidays Tour, December 5

Experience a simpler time in the quaint, historic Village of Elsah, Illinois. You’re invited to tour a dozen selected private residences decorated for the holidays. The whole village retains the character and feel of a bygone time. Many of the homes on the tour were constructed in the mid-19th century, often with the stone from the local quarry.

Musical entertainment will take place in both churches in the village.

Horse and carriage rides are available and included in the cost of the ticket.

In addition to the private homes on the tour, other points of interest in Elsah, which are open to all, are the Village Museum, Farley Music Hall, the Village Civic Center and historic school room, Maple Leaf Cottage Inn, Green Tree Inn, Elsah General Store, and Christian Science Reading Room.

  • Advanced ticket price $15 – These may be purchased now.
  • Day of event ticket price $18
  • Optional lunch by My Just Desserts (served 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) $11

One of the homes on the tour, the McNair House at 66 Mill Street, built in 1858, includes an original mural of Village of Elsah by renowned artist Glenn Felch, painted in 1973. Several other paintings of Elsah scenes and buildings by Felch will be offered for sale, with proceeds to Historic Elsah Foundation. Read the Saint Louis Post Dispatch article about 66 Mill Street, its current resident, and the mural by Glenn Felch.

House tour tickets may be purchased at Elsah General Store, Elsah Museum, Green Tree Inn, Maple Leaf Cottage Inn, and Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau. Advanced and online ticket purchases may be picked up at the Civic Center at 51 Mill Street. Day-of-event tickets may also be purchased at the Civic Center.

What about Eminence? A lost hamlet on the Palisades?

eminenceSome maps for the Bluff Line Railroad schedule in the mid-1890s listed a number of communities between the cities of Alton and Grafton. One such community was Eminence. Now students at Principia College, under the direction of Professor Andrew Martin, have begun to investigate the fate of Eminence. What happened to this bluff side hamlet will be the topic of a special Hosmer-Williams Lecture Series at Farley’s Music Hall, Elsah, Illinois, Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 7:30 PM.

“Exactly where was Eminence, who lived there and why did they live there, and what happened to Eminence,” asks Tim Tomlinson, President of Historic Elsah Foundation and host for the Series. “How and why do such places disappear?”

Andrew Martin, an archaeologist whose students are looking at these questions, is excited about the opportunity to study and enhance local history. He says the village was “one of the first settlements in the area that was founded in 1828 on the bluffs next to Eliestoun. Eminence rose rather rapidly in importance when in 1831 Congress debated whether to direct a road that it wished to build across the United States through Eminence, which would have made Eminence the ‘New Chicago’ or Gateway to the West. Unfortunately (or fortunately for us) the debate floundered and Eminence was abandoned shortly afterwards. No-one has ever found the village. So a group of students in my archaeology class are investigating the archival records at Principia College, in Alton and at Jerseyville for clues, and in a few weeks time will be doing some survey work on the bluffs, around the area that some accounts suggest it lies. The talk by the students will outline the history of Eminence and the latest results from our investigation.”

The Series is underwritten by Liberty Bank of Godfrey, Illinois. The lecture is free and open to the public.  Refreshments will be served following the lecture. Reservations are not required. Parking is free and easily available.

For additional information, contact Tim Tomlinson, Historic Elsah Foundation, 618-374-1518, text a request to 618-513-7119,
or email a request to [email protected]. Download a flier here.

Lincoln Funeral Commemoration

October 17, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Alton’s Lincoln-Douglas Square. Schedule details below.

A truly amazing reenactment experience, with the Great Rivers Lincoln Coffin reunited with the St. Louis Lincoln Funeral Hearse at this important Alton site. Look for details in a series of articles in the Alton Telegraph, a Telegraph insert on October 15, and other publicity outlets. Abraham Lincoln will be present, as will Mary Todd Lincoln. Frank Sands, Lincoln’s undertaker, will talk about the coffin; Benjamin St. James Fry, a Union chaplain, will talk about the hearse. Civil War period songs will be featured. This is a must-see.

Features: Great Rivers Lincoln Coffin, Abraham Lincoln Funeral Hearse, Lincoln Greatcoat, Flag raising ceremony with1865 American flag

Reenactors: Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln, Lincoln undertaker, Union Army chaplain, U. S. Senator Lyman Trumbull, Veteran Honor Guard

Music: folksinger Barry Cloyd as The Drummer Boy of Shiloh.

Schedule details from Alton Regional Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, and subject to change.

9:30 – 10 A.M.: Music
10:00 A.M.: Welcome – Tim Tomlinson
•    Recognize dignitaries
•    Alton Mayor Brant Walker Presentation
•    Alton-Godfrey Rotary President Elizabeth Parker Presentation
•    State Sen. Haine Presentation
10:15 A.M.: Coffin brought in to square by honor guard
•    Flag removed from coffin
•    Flag raised over Lincoln-Douglas Square
•    Music: Hail to the Chief/Star Spangled Banner (Jerseyville H.S. Band?)
10:30 A.M.: Barry Cloyd opens program with musical memorial to Civil War
10:40 A.M.: Mary Todd Lincoln Reminisces
10:50 A.M.: Frank Sands, Lincoln Undertaker and Coffin Maker
11:00 A.M.: Benjamin St. James Fry, Chautauqua Society Founder, Civil War Chaplin
11:10 A.M.: Lyman Trumbull (U.S. Senator) Reminisces
11:20 A.M.: Barry Cloyd – Little Drummer Boy of Shiloh
11:30 A.M.: William Porter, Jerseyville train employee talks about working on the funeral train
11:40 A.M.: Edmund Beall Reminisces
11:50 A.M.: Lawson A. Parks founder/editor of Alton Daily Telegraph
12:00 (Noon): Abraham Lincoln
Intermission Entertainment: Barry Cloyd
12:45 P.M. Second Program Begins
12:45 P.M.: Barry Cloyd opens program
12:55 P.M.: Mary Todd Lincoln Reminisces
1:05 P.M.: Frank Sands, Lincoln’s Undertaker & Coffin Maker
1:15 P.M.: Benjamin St. James Fry, Chautauqua Society Founder, Civil War Chaplin
1:25 P.M.: Lyman Trumbull (U.S. Senator) Reminisces
1:35 P.M.: Barry Cloyd: Little Drummer Boy of Shiloh
1:45 P.M.: William Porter, Jerseyville train employee talks about working on the funeral train
1:55 P.M.: Edmund Beall Reminisces
2:05 P.M.: Lawson A. Parks, founder/editor of Alton Daily Telegraph
2:15 P.M .: Abraham Lincoln
2:45 P.M. Closing Ceremony (Flag lowered and placed over Lincoln Coffin)

More information from (and photo courtesy of) Alton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau