When I was in 6th grade (and beyond) I had a crush on a boy named Jeff. For years I wondered what happened to him and finally found him via his grandfather’s obituary. We emailed and texted a bit — our mutual friend, Carol, was much more excited to have found Jeff alive and well.
I remember his family was well-to-do, at least more-so than mine.
I’ve kept some photographs of him, and at least one thing he drew on a notebook of mine. I know he’s mentioned in my online journals too.
As I find more photos and things I will add them here.
I found this old postcard among Mom’s things. According to Wikipedia, “The Elgin and Belvidere Electric Company was a 36-mile (58 km) interurban line that connected Belvidere, Illinois and Elgin, Illinois.”
Wikipedia briefly mentions the strike, saying “[Bion J.] Arnold [the owner] himself was heavily involved in the line’s construction and management, and at one point operated the cars himself during a strike.”
I cannot find anything else about the wreck and strike on the Internet.
A faux alligator skin briefcase sat unopened in Mom’s attic for several years. I brought the briefcase home after one trip to Elgin. Its contents were a jumble of receipts for a Harriet G. Switzer of 270 Watch St. Elgin, Illinois; a newspaper clipping about a meeting featuring Seaborn Wright , a well-preserved Switzer family tree ; and tatting thread, needles and some unfinished bits of lace. I’ve carefully untangled the thread, stored it and the needles with my grandmother’s tatting supplies, I blogged about the newspaper clipping and now I want to discover who Harriet was.
According to Ancestry dot com, Harriet was born Harriet G. Van Volkenburg to Nancy Plummer and John Van Velkenburg in Hampshire, Illinois, September 1871. She married Howard Switzer on January 1, 1889. By the turn of the century Harriet and Howard, still living in Hampshire, Illinois, had two sons, Albert (9) and Elmer (1). Howard made a living at farming. Tragically, Howard died in 1904 at the age of 48.
The 1910 census lists Harriet as living with her 19 and 11 year old sons at 366 Yarwood Street in Elgin, Illinois. She is listed as being employed by the nearby Elgin Watch Factory as a polisher. Albert is listed as being a carpenter. Another tragedy befell the family when, in 1918, Albert, by then a farmer, died in Hampshire.
In 1920 Harriet and her son, Elmer were living at 332 St. Charles Street. Harriet still worked for the Watch Factory, but was now a “piece worker.” Elmer worked as a truck driver for a thread factory . In August of 1920 Elmer married Emma Sommerfeldt.
By July of 1921 Harriet had moved again, this time to 270 Watch Street. According to the 1930 census she owned this home. Harriet began furnishing her home with flooring, rugs and furniture from the Wait and Ross Furniture Company and A. Leith & Company .
Harriet not only furnished her home, but she hired O (?). W. Bayliss (Bayless?) to do some work around her house on 3 separate occasions beginning July 1, 1921.
She bought something from H. B. Cornwall in November 1921 for $40.
In March of 1923 she bought insurance from Ellis and Western for $12.
In March of 1924 she bought 3 years worth of tornado insurance worth $1250 from Edward F. Prideaux for $5.00.
In 1930, Harriet, now 59 years old worked in the spring department of the Watch Factory. Her home was worth $5000 according to the census.
Harriet continued to live on Watch Street until her death in 1943. She is buried in a small cemetery outside Hampshire called “Old Starks Cemetery.”
It’s been fun spending a morning and part of an afternoon learning about Harriet’s life. I’m glad she spent her last 20 or so years in her own house.
which has been published in a book called Atlanta Beer: A Heady History of Brewing In the Hub of the South [↩]
My mother had a mix of cheap costume jewelry and some more expensive items and after she died I was less interested in the expensive items and more interested in anything with sentimental value. I know her father gave her a heart shaped locket when she turned 16, so I took that and a few other necklaces that I knew she liked.
One of these items was a mystery. It was a large gold-toned cross on a long chain. My mother was not all that religious and I had not remembered ever seeing her wear it. I almost dismissed it and left it at the house to be sold with her other things, but I decided to take it because it looked old and I wondered if it might have belonged to my Grandma Patrick. I had no reason, except its age and the fact that my father’s mother was quite religious to suspect it was hers, but I didn’t want to leave it there in case it was. The one thing that threw me though, was that the chain looked newer than the cross and cheap compared to the cross so I was not completely convinced that 1) it was old or 2) had belonged to my grandmother.
A few months after bringing the cross home I was looking at some photos that I’d scanned. One of them was an old photo of my Grandma Patrick when she was maybe 16 or 17 years old. I noticed she was wearing a long necklace and when I enlarged the photo I knew the cross was hers!
Not being all that religious myself, I don’t know when I will wear it, but I am glad I didn’t leave it at the house.
Continuing my never-ending purge/clean-out and I have found many things I want to blog about. Here are three unrelated items, but in chronological order (probably).
I’ve had a life-long love of reusable carrying bags. This must have been one of my first. It may have been a present from my mom (only she would have bought me something like this). I kept my embroidery and needlepoint supplies in it. It is ripping at a seam on the bottom and likely no use to anyone, but I am not throwing it away. I’m donating it. Maybe someone will want a retro bag for a costume party.
The second item is something I imagine my British family gave me for my birthday or Christmas. I tried them on, but the material must have reacted to the cold or heat of my mom’s attic and they no longer stretch. I tried to give them to Clare, but she was not interested. I probably won’t get rid of them. They don’t take up too much space.
I know exactly where this last item came from. In 1978 I was working as a server at the Manor Pancake House in Elgin to pay for my upcoming +3-month long stay in England to student teach in London. I’d worked there long enough to have “regulars” and this item came from my favorite “regulars,” Carol and her workmate Chuck. They worked at Beef Villa and we got to know each other through visits to one another’s places of employment. I don’t know that we ever actually hung out together except at work.
Anyway, on my last evening at work before my trip to England was a very snowy one. I didn’t expect to see too many people I knew at the restaurant, but pretty much all of my “regulars” came in to say goodbye to me. I was really touched. Carol and Chuck even brought me a present. A stuffed polar bear. I named him Chuckles — sort of a combination of Chuck and Carol. All these years later, the three of us have reconnected (on Facebook of course). Chuckles is a keeper.
Until today, I’d never heard of Mary Martensen. Apparently she was a dietitian who wrote cookbooks and cooking columns for newspapers. She also was head of the home economics department at the Chicago American whose duties included conducting lessons for large audiences.
The document below must have been given out at one of the lessons. Lesson 10, Week of June 5, 1934. I wonder if one of my ancestors took this lesson or if it was something that Mom found somewhere. I can’t imagine either of my grandmothers traveling to Chicago to take this lesson, although I know my Grandma Patrick went to the Chicago World’s fair in 1933 or 1934 and Mary Martensen wrote a book called “A Century of Progress” cookbook that was published in 1934. It is possible that my Grandma Patrick picked up the typewritten lesson at an exposition at the fair.
I only wish that I had this document when I hosted my bookgroup for “A Man Called Ove.” I would have used some of the recipes.
Another item I brought back from my mom’s house is a book called A Complete Library of Entertainment, Amusement, and Instruction. This book is all one needed in 1903 to be entertained, amused and instructed. For instance, it gives detailed instructions on how to throw dozens of socials, from an advertisement social to a bird social to a beheading social. It also provides guidance on throwing parties including a progressive soap bubble party, a children’s Valentine party and a brownie party. It gives instruction on how to play ping-pong, how to do various exercises and explains both American football and English football rules. Several of the socials, parties, and instructions are accompanied with “full-page half-tone images” and others are paired with simple line drawings.
I remember looking at this book various times in my life, but it never caught my attention until I took a closer look at the images and some of the content.
So, thought I, what a great idea for a NEW BLOG! Maybe I will actually keep this one going beyond a few posts!
Among the items I brought back a while ago from my mother’s house is an old briefcase that was full of crochet or tatting thread and embroidery floss, a newspaper clipping about a temperance leader, a family tree and receipts for various purchases a Harriet Switzer made in the 1920s. Much of the thread and floss was in a tangle, but I managed to save a small plastic grocery bag of thread to be given away. One bunch of floss caught my eye because it was made in Elgin.
Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was made by Collingbourne Mills. I’ve written about Collingbourne Mills before, but not on this blog. One of my Grandpa Green’s first jobs, and likely the reason I am here to tell his story, was as a sales representative (read traveling salesman) for Collingbourne Mills. His sales route took him to Two Rivers, Wisconsin where he met the woman who would become my Grandmother.
The only thing I really remember my Grandpa Green saying about Collingbourne Mills was that ONT meant Our New Thread. I don’t know if that is true or not. The thread I found says A.B.C.
In 2010, at my father’s funeral, a woman approached me and told me she was the little girl who’d grown up across the street from me. We became friends on Facebook, and only then did I realize she’d married a Collingbourne. I asked if her husband was any relation to the Collingbourne Mills family and she said they were.
So here’s another connection between my pre-existence and childhood and present life with some detours in-between. I love connections.
Interesting fact: Harriet and her husband, Howard, lived just down the street from A.B. Collingbourne, the president of Collingbourne Mills. (Harriet’s address was on some of the receipts and A.B Collingbourne’s address is on the Internet.)
Among Mom’s things are many greeting cards. I am tossing most of them, but there are a few that have caught my eye because they remind me of the past. Here’s a birthday greeting. I don’t know who the card was for, nor do I recognize the names of the people who sent it.