Those who survived the "winter of the deep snow” called themselves snow birds and considered themselves the true original settlers of Illinois. In 1882, a group of male snow birds formed a Snow Bird Club for the purpose of calling on old settler ladies every New Year’s Day. A copy of this photo, depicting the 23 members of the Club, was given to each lady they visited in 1884.
Cornelia Young of Hillsboro purchased these candlesticks from peasants in Sorochinskoye, Russia, after World War I. They were cherished possessions, yet the peasants were desperate to raise money in order to buy warm clothing and food.
This 1807 Spanish Reales (both obverse and reverse sides are shown) was worn as jewelry and found around the neck of a person buried in a Catholic cemetery near Kaskaskia. At the time he was buried, Kaskaskia was on the east side of the Mississippi River, but the river’s course was altered during major flooding in 1881, which destroyed most of the town and exposed the graves.
Early coins were made of precious metals, with the value of the metal being equal to the face value of the coin. Since the value of the metal was key to its worth, no one thought twice about cutting a silver coin into pieces; a rather novel way of making change, one might say. This sliver of a silver dollar coin, eight Spanish reales (royals), was found during an excavation of the Fort Williams site on the Wabash River near its confluence with the Ohio River. A Spanish piece of eight was one-eighth of the eight reales coin.
Miss Fanny Matheny wore this dress when she graduated from the Bettie Stuart Institute in Springfield at age 19. The Bettie was a girls’ school that educated the daughters of some of Springfield’s most prominent families in courses ranging from English and math to art and music. After graduation, Fanny married Dr. John Dixon and played an active role in the city’s cultural and charitable organizations. She was involved in the Humane Society, the Red Cross, and the Home for the Friendless.
Twenty-five-year-old Rosa Dietz Hubbard of Mason City assembled this scrapbook in 1891 from colorful trade cards, scraps, and greeting cards.
This shirt was made by Salome Enos for her son, Zimri Enos, to wear to his wedding on June 10, 1846. Salome and her husband, Pascal, came to Springfield in 1823 and became one of the first four landowning families of the town. Their son, Zimri, briefly practiced law before becoming a surveyor and civil engineer.
When Elihu and Sophronia Thorpe moved to Illinois from New York in 1841, they brought this bone toothpick and corncob case with them. It had belonged to Sophronia’s grandfather, Alexander Osborn, who served in the Revolutionary War. According to family legend, Alexander had carved the toothpick and case while he was in camp, sometime around 1780.
This watch chain was made by James M. Daigh of Perry, Illinois, when he was mining gold in California in 1849. Daigh, a native of Virginia, had settled in Illinois during the 1820s and amassed more than 200 acres of land in Pike County.
This decoy of a mallard hen was carved by Robert Elliston (1847-1925), one of the earliest commercial decoy makers and widely considered to be the father of the Illinois River decoy carving tradition. In 1882, Elliston began creating lightweight, realistic decoys for the sportsman who visited the Undercliff Hotel in Putnam County, a popular hunting spot along the Illinois River flyway. His wife, Catherine, painted the ducks with realistic patterns that were soon copied by other painters.