I knew it had been a long time since I wrote, but I hadn't realized how long; nor can I blame it all on the scorching summer (though it does explain the last few weeks).
Nor has it been due to a lack of things to do - there have been many an interesting activity. So interesting that I still want to do an overview:
April offered two fascinating events.
The Sangamon County Historical Society
(http://sangamonhistory.org/) offered a bus trip to the C. H. Moore Homestead (http://www.chmoorehomestead.org/) in Clinton, Illinois. The C. H. Moore house is a beautifully restored Victorian home, with exquisite furnishings, and material examples of the life of the time. The curator, Larry Buss, has a wealth of knowledge on the house and grounds, and along with the house's collection there is also the DeWitt County History Society's museum in the basement, three farm museums, a blacksmith shop, and a telephone exhibit.
This fine outing was followed by the Springfield Art Association's "Titantic Tea." (http://www.springfieldart.org/)
They had the Tea Ladies (http://www.thetealadiesinc.com/)back to host a tea party, which offered foods that would have been on the Titanic. The Tea Ladies then offered a brief history of the people on board, and asked that all those attendees of the tea party to read a card (or more) regarding some of the survivors.
With the coming of May came both the Central Illinois Highland Games (http://www.central-illinois-standrewsociety.com/)and the precursor to the heat), and Clayville's Spring Festival (http://www.clayville.org/).
Both were as fun to perform at as always.
The increase in the heat did cut into the performing schedule, with Clayville not having their usual July activities, and the Elijah Iles House (http://www.ileshouse.org/)cancelling their Strawberry Festival, but I have not been idle.
During this time I have decided to launch Tales of Sangamon (http://www.talesofsangamon.com/), which is a website devoted to collecting stories of Sangamon County, and the surrounding area.
I am truly excited about the site, and hope that some will use it so that stories of the area can be documented, since there is so little Illinois lore in print.
Though this probably also should be called, "From Memorial Day to 4th of July," and it admittedly has a touch of "Story Musing."
While not intentional, since I kept hoping to write sooner, I seem to have managed a thematic framework in terms of dates.
On Memorial Day Springfield had the opportunity to recognize a long-forgotten hero, Leroy Key, who was buried out at Oakridge Cemetery. For the expanded story here are links to two Illinois State Journal-Register articles: (http://www.sj-r.com/top-stories/x487935511/Dave-Bakke-Civil-War-buffs-find-grave-of-Andersonville-prisoner-in-Springfield) and (http://www.sj-r.com/top-stories/x1555987949/Dave-Bakke-Hero-of-Civil-Wars-Andersonville-prison-to-get-grave-marker-at-Oak-Ridge).
What better way to recognize Memorial Day then to awaken the memory of a man who had long been lost and forgotten. A man who not only survived the horrors of Andersonville Prison, but organized against the Raiders - men who preyed on fellow prisoners. Yet a man who had to carry the weight of his actions as he was the one to supervise the trial, and execution of these Raiders - men who were also Union soldiers.
And that weight, plus health issues, may have led to his suicide in 1880. Over a century later who is to say.
Author Frank Crawford, and his brother John Crawford, found the grave, which lacked a tombstone, while researching,
Proud to Say I am a Union Soldier: The Last Letters Home from Federal Soldiers Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865.
The day for the unveiling of the stone was a perfect day, crystaline skies, with fluffy clouds, and though warm it was not so hot as to be stifling.
And for whatever spirits might linger at Oakridge, particularly Mr Key, and the other civil war veterans, the scene would have seemed reminiscent of the early Memorial Days. The Municipal Band played, and with the fine outfitting of the 114h Regiment Reactivated and the 10th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry Regiment Reactivated, and the ladies of the Aid Society, the scene could have been cut from a hundred years past.
The speeches were very moving, and as was fitting for Memorial Day, the ceremony bound together a recognition of all of our veterans.
I was also privately proud of my Treeing Walker Coonhound, Winston, as he proved as calm as ever as the 21 gun salute went off. (To be accurate - he slept through it.) I know it sounds strange that I brought my dog with me, but Winston has already proved unaffected by loud sounds (he gets bored with bagpipes, and gets even more bored being home), and I have hopes he can train as a therapy dog due to his patience and gentle temperament. He's come a long way from being the nervous young hound that I brought home from the Animal Protective League.
My silence of the month actually stems from other canine activity, since I also added a 3 month old coonhound mix, Fiona, from Animal Control. I, however, will admit that I should never name anything when tired, since I later learned that "fiona" means "white" or fair," and the pup is nearly all black.
On July 1st I performed at the Elijah Iles House, "Clara Irwin's Strawberry Party." (http://iles-house.blogspot.com/)
This is always a delight to perform at. While the weather the was hot the evening was clear, and I was out under the tent. This makes for a very casual time for telling as families would come out so their children could try their hands at marbles, checkers, or ring toss. And soon they would settle for story or three, and a little discussion of history.
Nor was an offer of strawberry shortcake turned down.
I am a Springfield, IL based storyteller with a fascination for how folklore travels, and for history.