Discovering the Underground Railroad

Historic Elsah Foundation offers its first Hosmer-Williams Lecture of 2022: “Discovering the Underground Railroad.” The speaker will be J. Eric Robinson, assistant professor of history at the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis. The lecture will be held in person at Farley Music Hall in Elsah (limited capacity) on Thursday, March 3 at 7:00 pm.

The recorded talk is below.

Elsah Museum Photography Exhibit Celebration

The Village of Elsah Museum will be celebrating the annual photography exhibit with a closing reception to honor the winners and participants.  The outdoor reception will be Saturday, July 31, 2021 during open hours, 1pm to 4 pm. with refreshments served outside in Green Tree Inn’s gazebo that is in the next lot north of the Museum.  Remarks and recognitions will take place between 1:30 and 2:00 pm. at 26 LaSalle Street, Elsah, Illinois. 
The purpose of this annual exhibit is to celebrate and foster an appreciation of the beauty and unique qualities of the Village.  This year’s exhibit was carried over from last year with the theme of “My Favorite Window.”  If rain is predicted, the refreshments will include “take away” refreshments. 
This year’s photography judge is Erica Popp, an artist and college instructor.  She commented on the high quality of the submitted images.  In addition to our purchase prizes, there were eight special recognition photographs.  Historic Elsah Foundation featured six historic window photographs from the exhibit on their webpage.     
This year’s Village of Elsah Purchase Prize (for a photograph taken in the valley area) is for “Barbara’s View” taken by the photographer, Barbara L. Clark of Elsah, Illinois.  The purchase prize photograph will be part of the Village of Elsah Museum’s collection.  As the winner of the Village of Elsah Purchase Prize, Ms. Clark also received the Green Tree Inn award of an overnight stay for two.  The photograph is an image of a boat on the Mississippi framed by an interior window of Ms. Clark’s home.
The prize recognizes a photograph that shows the beauty and significance of Elsah’s surrounding area including Chautauqua, the River Road, the nearby bluffs, and the Principia College campus. This year’s prize was awarded to “Foggy Illuminations” by Kim Howland of Godfrey, Illinois. The image stood out as a nighttime photograph of a Bernard Maybeck designed building on the Principia College campus. Like the Village of Elsah Purchase Prize, this photography will also become part of the Museum collection. 
This is the second year for a Youth Award for a photograph submitted by a person between the age of 12 and 18 years old.   This year’s winning photograph title was “Window Waves of Elsah” by Jonah Hosmer of Godfrey, Illinois.  The judge said of this image that it made “full use of the opportunity to use the reflection in the old glass to create a whimsical double exposure effect and yet seeing through to the inside of the building.”
The following photographers are represented in the exhibit: Joan Baker, Jerry Benner, Barbara L. Clark, Linda Davis-Swink, Julie Elmendorf, Gayle Erxleben, Robert Erxleben, Jonah Hosmer, Kim Howland, Karen King, Hope Mader, Marty McKay, Yvonne Mossman, Bonnie Noeninger, Jim Noeninger, Patria Ott. Chuck Parr, Rosa Renner, Carolyn Schlueter, John Tomlinson, Ray Watsek, and Susan Young.
Next year’s photography exhibit’s theme is “Elsah Postcard.”  The 2022 rules are posted on HEF’s website.

Holiday Online Auction

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

Bidding starts on Thursday, December 3, 2020.

Auction closes on Saturday, December 5, 2020.

Items up for bid already include overnight stays at fine inns and a variety of gifts from businesses in Elsah, Grafton, and Alton. These items include artwork, overnight stays, various wonderful foods, and many other items.

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 [email protected]

Rediscovering Lincoln’s Bible

Event date: Thursday, November 12, 2020, at 7:00 pm.

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. Note: Registration has closed because the event is in the past.

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.

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.