The dog days of summer are upon us and I hope that the year has been a good one for you so far! Iím pleased with all that KVHS has accomplished this year, but we still have quite a bit yet to do.
At the beginning of the year I received a call from John Garcia. He had a building that he was tearing down and offered the material to KVHS. The building was close to the same age as the lodge. Gary Overmyer, Jim Bess and I went to Wheatfield and looked the material over. There was a fair amount of flooring and the clapboard matched the Collier Lodge. Ron Landgrebe of Landgrebe Moving & Storage made a generous donation of the use of an enclosed forty-foot trailer and storage space at his business until we need the material for the restoration of the lodge. In early June, Stefan & Kathy Cervik, Louie & Jill Striker, Gary Overmyer and I went to the building site in Wheatfield and moved the material into the trailer and since then Ron has had the trailer moved back to his location. I want to thank everyone involved with this material storage project. The trailer is large enough that we can store additional material we acquire for the restoration of the Collier Lodge. Iím attaching a pic of the work party.
In early June Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana notified me that KVHS had won the HLFI "Affiliate Membership Initiative Challenge." The "challenge" award has two categories: the affiliate organization with the greatest percentage and actual number increased in membership. KVHS won the percentage increase with close to a 280% increase in membership for last year, 2002. The award was presented at the HLFI Affiliate meeting. Beverly & Gary Overmyer and I drove down and met Dean Illingworth at the meeting. After the meeting Dean gave us a tour of Schmidt Associates, which Dean is a partner of. Go to: www.Schmidt-arch.com. Not only was the award the first that KVHS has won, but is also a $500 check for us! Iím attaching a pic of us holding the check at Schmidt Associates. Congratulations KVHS!
For those that may not be aware of it KVHS has another book coming out in the next couple of days. The book is titled: "The Dairy of a Kankakee River Guide-George Wilcox." George was the caretaker and guide of the "famous" Pittsburgh Clubhouse at Baumís Bridge. The diary is from January 1st, 1916 to July, 1917. Sarah Miller owns the old Wilcox home on Baumís Bridge Rd. and graciously permitted KVHS to publish the diary. Sarah and Beverly Overmyer have been extremely helpful in the development of the book. The book is around a hundred pages long and has about twenty-five historic pictures to go along with the diary text. George mentions events in the diary and I was able to locate related newspaper articles and have included them in an appendix along with bios of some of the persons mentioned. I find the diary fascinating! Along with many of the mundane chores of working his farm George mentions many personal events such as purchasing his first car (Lizzie), trips to Indianapolis and Chicago, interaction with his friends and neighbors (George mentions the Colliers many times) and the trauma of dealing with his wifeís struggles with cancer which she eventually succumbed to in 1921. Although Lew Wallace died eleven years before the diary was written, George does mention Lewís son Henry. Henry continued to visit and hunt the Kankakee on his fatherís property near Baumís Bridge. Weíre asking $20 per copy but, KVHS members can purchase it for $15. We have placed an initial order of 300 copies and will order more when needed. Iíd like to thank Ron Foltman, co-owner of R & B Fine Printing, Inc. for the donation of his time. Our only expense was for the cost of material. Thanks Ron! KVHS will be having a stand at the Kouts Porkfest on August 23rd and will be having Georgeís dairy on sale along with Ira Fryís "The Kankakee River" volume 1 & 2. Please visit us, look at what weíll have on display and support KVHS projects and programs by purchasing our publications, joining KVHS or making a donation. Weíll also have the diary on sale at the Kouts Town Hall within a week.
A couple of months ago at a KVHS board meeting our KVHS fund raising/membership committee chairperson, Pauline Ahlgrim, was looking at the diary and thought it would make the basis for a great theatrical production. She formed a committee and has been developing the program. Weíre only in the beginning stages, but Iíd like to share with you what our plans are at this time. Weíre planning for the event to be held at the Memorial Opera House, in Valparaiso, sometime in March. We have a scriptwriter and are looking for music and dance groups to perform in it. Weíre calling it "Yesteryearís Kankakee" and will depict George Wilcox writing in his diary and reminiscing about his and the Kankakeeís past. We are taking a fair amount of artistic license, but I think itíll turn out to be very entertaining. Look for further information as we make progress on the production. Thanks Pauline!
Speaking of activities, KVHS will be holding itís fourth annual picnic on Sunday, September 14th. at Mary and my home, address is 22W1050S, Kouts. Our home is around a quarter of a mile east of the intersection of Baumís Bridge Rd. and 1050 south. Contact me if you need further directions. This is a KVHS member or by KVHS invitation only affair. We will begin to gather at 11:00 AM and KVHS will be supplying hamburgers and hotdogs and will expect you to bring a dish to pass. We will have a donation jar out and ask for a donation to help defer our costs and help fund our KVHS activities. Jim Lambert will be having his horse drawn wagon rides again and our guest presenter will be Bernadine "Bebe" Goff. Bebe is of Potawatomi, Menominee and Cree descent and will discuss the American Indian culture and crafts. The program will be educational and entertaining, we believe everyone will have an enjoyable time. If you are receiving this you are invited. Of course we hope that those that arenít members will become one.
I received a phone call from Dr. Mark Schurr Tuesday. He informed me that he has been asked to give a program at the Archaeological Institute of America -Valparaiso branch meeting on January 29th. The program will be about the Collier Lodge and Markís most recent Field School at the lodge site in June. The AIA is a very prestigious organization and does world wide archaeological work. The talk is open to the public and will be held at Valparaiso University at 8 PM. I know this is a long way off but I couldnít wait to inform you of it. Iíll be sending further information as we get closer to the date. Exciting!!!
I apologize for the length of this newsletter, but itís been a while since Iíve sent one out and a lot has happened since then. Iím going to include a KVHS membership and sincerely hope that you fill it out and send in a check. Membership is very important and is one item thatís looked at when we begin sending in grant applications for the restoration of the Collier Lodge. Itís important that together we save his bit of history on the Kankakee River. You and future generations have the most to gain from its preservation. As weíve seen from Dr. Schurrís field school, this spot has been inhabited for thousands of years. Once restored the lodge can be of use for years to come by us and for the generations that follow us.