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.
This home easel would have been used in a Victorian parlor to showcase paintings, drawings, prints, or other framed items. A functional piece of furniture, the easel is also a work of great artistry, elaborately hand-carved with stylized floral motifs.
This Windsor-style rocking chair belonged to Conrad Will, a co-author of Illinois’ 1818 constitution and the namesake of Will County.
Mining hats provided some protection from soot and dust, but their main function was to serve as a place to mount a lamp, which was essential for working underground. This hat would have had a carbide lamp attached to the metal piece over the bill. Carbide lamps burned more cleanly and brightly than oil lamps, although the open flames still posed a danger with the potential of igniting methane gas underground.
Dr. John Miles Waite used this amputation kit as a surgeon on the 1st Illinois Cavalry during the Civil War. Waite was born in Richfield, Ohio, in 1834. He later attended the Cleveland College of Medicine and then opened a pharmacy in St. Louis. When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted as a private to escape domestic discord with his young bride. After the war, he divorced his wife and moved to Mound City, Illinois, where he became one of Pulaski County’s first physicians.
This bucket contained animal fat or tar used to grease the wheels of the ox-drawn wagon that transported John Ivins Foster and his family to Illinois from Kentucky in November 1829. Foster, a gunsmith and farmer by trade, settled in Curran township, Sangamon County, where he eventually amassed more than 360 acres.
Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were engaged in a heated rivalry (known as the War of the Currents) to see whose invention would ultimately be adopted by the world at large. The first light bulb pictured here is a model of the first incandescent bulb invented by Thomas Edison. It ran on direct current (DC), a current of electricity that runs continuously in a single direction. While DC was standard in the United States in the early years of electricity, it could not easily be converted to higher or lower voltages. Nikola Tesla solved that problem by developing alternating current (AC), which could easily be converted to different voltages using a transformer.
This typewriter was produced by the Oliver Typewriter Company, which had its headquarters in Chicago and its manufacturing plant in Woodstock. Oliver was the first company to produce a “visible writer” that allowed typists to see what they were typing. On earlier typewriters, typists had to raise the platen to see what they had typed. At the company’s peak in the late 1910s, it was producing 375 machines a day.
The pharmacy of Edward M. Hoy and Dr. A. C. James was located in Springfield at 122 South Sixth Street from 1901-1906. Medicines sold there included Dr. Rankin’s Kidney Tablets, Kodol Dyspepsia Cure, and Mystic Cure of Rheumatism and Neuralgia. The mark on the base of the bottle identifies its maker as the Western Bottle Manufacturing Company of Chicago that opened the same year as Hoy and James.
This bottle was made for Glidden & Co. at 101 North Fifth Street between 1869 and 1875. Henry H. Glidden started in business in 1868 by becoming a partner in Melvin & Glidden Wholesale and Retail Druggists. Melvin left the business in 1870, and it became Glidden & Company. Henry H. Glidden was described in an Illinois State Journal article as a “highly accomplished and intelligent gentleman, intimately acquainted with the drug business in all its departments.”