Rod Sellers
Southeast Chicago
Historical Society

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Southeast Chicago Historical Society News
July, 2009        Newsletter Editor Rod Sellers      Volume XXIII No. 3

A Few Words From the President:

       Our Annual Installation dinner held May17, 2009, was a success thanks to the support of the membership.  We also want to thank all of the people who donated money and prizes for the raffle that was held.  Our theme for this year is the Burnham Plan and its affect on the Southeast Side.  Rod Sellers gave an interesting presentation as only Rod can. The Burnham Plan Centennial is an ongoing program thru 2009. We invite you to visit the museum to see our special exhibit and materials we have related to this special plan which had such a major affect on Chicago history.  Among items which we have in our own collections is a copy of Wacker’s Manual of the Plan of Chicago written by Walter D. Moody published in 1912.  The manual was named for Charles Wacker chairman of the Chicago Plan Commission.  The manual was designed for use in schools so that Chicago schoolchildren would be educated about and familiar with the specifics of the Plan of Chicago.  We also have a copy of the Harbor Plan of Chicago commissioned by the Commercial Club of Chicago and published in 1927.  This plan is significant because it was commissioned by the same group that commissioned the original Plan of Chicago and it modified Burnham’s plans to build a commercial port in South Chicago in Lake Michigan near the mouth of the Calumet River.  It moved the site of the proposed South Harbor commercial port to Lake Calumet. 
       We request that members who know of anyone who has moved or passed away or who may be ill to notify us as soon as possible.  John Clasby, a lifetime member and a long time East Sider passed away last September without our knowledge.  His newsletter was returned to us and only after some investigating did we discover that he had passed away.  Our condolences to his family.  Condolences also to families of Charles Davis, life member from Lakewood, Colorado, and Andrew Koval. 
      Gerald Barry an East Sider  and a member has so much confidence in the Society he decided to become a lifetime member.  Welcome also to new life members Eleanor Roemer, Reuben Rodriguez, Marlene Kabza of Saranac Lake New York and Clyde Davis of Pound Ridge, New York.  Thank you.        
       Mike Garvey is always on the lookout for Bowen Year books we do not have. Recently he found a 1980 year book on eBay and donated it to the museum.  Charles Davis donated a 1923 Bowen yearbook.  Our collection is nearing completion. Beginning with 1917, the first year we have, the only 
years that are missing are 1926, 1969, 1971 and 1977.   We are also looking for C.V.S.,  George Washington and St. Francis De Sales year books as well as any issues of school newspapers that are available. 
       John Dorigan, a member of reknown and a former teacher at C.V.S., continues to bring memorabilia from  his former school.  He recently donated a large C.V.S.flag with the C.V.S. logo, two photos of the schools 1946 football team and another which may be from the early 50's.  Included in his donation was a large scrapbook filled with many photos taken while C.V.S..was under construction starting in 1939.  Some members may remember when the U.S. Navy took it over in 1942 for training men in aviation mechanics.  I remember watching the sailors play 12 inch fast-pitch baseball which was foreign to us.  This was from behind the fence since we were not allowed inside the facility.  John taught aviation at C.V.S. for thirty years.         Al Ramos donated a plaque awarded to Joseph DeLira at a recent event for his service as a coach and community leader in South Deering.  Stop by the museum to see this recent donation.
       Paul Love, a C.V.S. graduate, donated a florescent lamp which he made in 1956 at the schools electric shop along with a C.V.S. metal emblem. 
       We urge members and your friends and relatives  to remember us if you decide to throw away your keepsakes which we may look at as treasures.  We are particularly interested in old telephone directories, plant magazines, school memorabilia, church histories and historical photographs.
       Please make sure you dues are up to date.  We recently were forced to delete several individuals from membership because membership dues were more than 2 years in arrears  Yearly membership is $10.  A lifetime membership is only $100.  This is a great deal and you will never have to worry about paying dues again.
      If you have any questions or comments stop by the museum or e-mail 
And check out our web site at:                                                                        Barney Janecki                President

Important Announcement
       The East Side Chamber of Commerce has relocated to the Park National Bank (formerly the Calumet Bank) 3501 E. 106th Street.  As a result, our new mailing address is the Southeast Chicago Historical Society, c/o Calumet Park Field House, the location of our museum, 9801 S. Avenue G, Chicago, IL 60617.  The East Side Chamber will continue to accept phone calls for the society and museum at 773-721-7948.  Please update your records and help to spread the word about this important change. 

Museum News
       Among recent donations to our museum are a number of digital photos and a brochure from Calumet Shipyards which was located at 9367 Harbor Avenue on the west bank of the Calumet River.  We also received a brochure from Calumet Lumber of Hegewisch.   Included are numerous views of ships under construction at this facility including many that were built during WWII.  Images from the shipyard are available for viewing at the IHACCR website:
We also received a brochure from Calumet Lumber of Hegewisch.  These donations were courtesy of the Rogan family.  
       Our scanning project to digitize all the slides and negatives in the Southeast Chicago Historical Project continues to make progress.  All slides have been scanned and eight of eleven negatives books are completed.  We have come across numerous images that have, up until now, been hidden from view.  Among the newly rediscovered treasures are several turn of the century views of the Baltimore and Brandon Avenue shopping district of Hegewisch complete with dirt streets and wooden sidewalks.  Many post card images are now available for digital viewing including a very interesting collection from Andrew Koval.  There are also numerous interesting streetscapes from throughout the Southeast Side, most of them from the early 1900s.
       In case you missed our recent art and photography exhibit, stop by the Vodak East Side Library where many of the items from the exhibit are on display in the lobby. 
       We have a copy of a newly released book, Steel Giants, by Steve McShane and Gary Wilk. The authors have used photographs from the Calumet Regional Archives at Indiana University Northwest to tell the story of Inland Steel in East Chicago, Indiana  and U. S. Steel in Gary, Indiana.  The photographs are reminiscent of the mills that flourished on Chicago’s Southeast Side. 

Burnham Plan Centennial
       Our celebration of the 100th anniversary of Daniel Burnham’s Plan of Chicago is well underway.  Rod Sellers has presented programs at our Annual Dinner, at the Vodak East Side Library, and at an event hosted by the Calumet Ecological Park Association.  All were well attended.  We also hosted the canoers and kayakers who braved the nasty weather on June 13 to participate in the opening of the Lake Michigan Water Trail.  The group made a “landing” at Calumet Park, ate lunch at the Field House, and visited the museum and our Burnham exhibit.  
       Our exhibit “The Burnham Plan and the Southeast Side” is open for visitors at our museum.  Because of our limited hours (1-4 pm on Thursdays)
we are going to open on two special days to facilitate viewing of the Burnham exhibit which is scheduled to run through mid October.  The special openings will be Friday, September 11 from 4 to 7pm and Saturday, October 3 from 11am to 2 pm.  Take advantage of these opening to see the Burnham exhibit and all the other wonderful materials in our collections.  Our thanks to Audette Garritano and the
MacArthur Foundation for their generous donation which helped fund our Burnham exhibit.     
       Thanks to Mike Shymanski who donated a copy of The Plan of Chicago @100.  The book is a collection of 15 essays looking at the Burnham Plan’s legacy for the next century.  Mike wrote one the essays “The Plan for Pullman and Its Influence on the Plan of Chicago.” 

Neighborhood Newspapers
       Local newspapers are  great source of information for genealogists, historians and others.  Our museum has a newspaper collection which includes the Daily Calumet, the Hegewisch News and other more recent publications like the Observer.  We have bound volumes of the Daily Calumet from 1960 to 1979 (we are missing April to June 1967 and October to December 1974) and we have additional  volumes from 1984 and 1987.  We also have many single issues of the Calumet.  Our Hegewisch News Collection begins in 1950 and runs through August 1989 (some issues are missing) when the paper was sold.  We also have copies of papers that succeeded the Hegewisch News like the Herald, the East Side Times, and others.
       The best place to find other, especially older, issues of the Daily Calumet is the Chicago History Museum (formerly the Chicago Historical Society) which has the Daily Calumet on microfilm dating back to 1903 and the Calumet City Library which has a collection from the 1970s and 1980s. 
       Some newspapers are accessible on-line in digital form .  The Hyde Park Herald, a weekly publication dating back to 1882, is available at:   The paper is searchable by subject and issue date.  Some issues, especially early issues, are missing.  This is an excellent source of information for our area because the communities of South Chicago, South Deering, the East Side and Hegewisch were part of the Village of Hyde Park until 1889 when Hyde Park became part of the City of Chicago. 
      Visit our museum on Thursdays to see our newspaper collections or any of our other wonderful resources.

Recent Gift Expands Our Knowledge of the Roby Family
    In an article in a 1960s-era Scientific American Magazine, the author commented on the volatile state of scientific knowledge at that time, opening with the comment that the physical sciences had been pretty much completely "known" until some troublemakers split the atom (nucleus, actually), opening up the realm of physical science to endless questions.  "Now, every question we answer seems to raise 100 new questions," was the scientist's conclusion. His complaint was really tongue-in-cheek, as his article went on to point out a fascinating process of discovery that had begun with the knowledge explosion triggered by the "splitting of the atom."  Recently, the SECHS museum staff has been subjected to a similar experience, albeit on a less cosmic scale.
At President Barney Janecki's request, my wife, Joann, and I acted on his behalf to accept a gift to the SECHS museum collection from Mrs. Carol Terpstra, of Valparaiso, Indiana, and her niece.   We met with them late on Saturday afternoon, May 23, 2009, at the SECHS Museum in the Calumet Park Field House, where they donated the Roby Family's "Loyal Hall Guest Book" in the name of Mrs. Terpstra's mother, Rosalie Bremer Benninghoff, whose parents had been good friends of the Roby family.   "Loyal Hall" had been the name of the Roby home, located at 108th Street and Avenue J.  
At that time, we knew very little about the Roby family, and I suspect that most of our co-workers were in the same relatively uninformed state, having only thin one folder about the Roby family in the museum collection.
What we already knew from obituaries and related articles was that Mr. and Mrs Edward Roby were both easterners, he originally from New York, she from Massachusetts.  Each came to Chicago independently.  Then, they met and married, building Loyal Hall which has variously been described as Chicago's "original bungalow" and "A Swiss Chalet."
Mr. and Mrs. Roby appear to have been social leaders in the community, both from the accounts in their obituaries, and from an examination of the content of the Loyal Hall Guest Book, which contains some impressive signatures and commentaries.
Because the guest book is not in a linear chronological form, it seems likely that the original may have been rebound, with the bindery losing track of the time sequence.   Yet, in at least one instance, a 1900+ page is followed by an 1890s date on its reverse side.   Clearly, that is not a bindery error.  So, the explanation for the inconsistent sequencing is not evident.
"The Loyal Hall" name for the Roby home no doubt derives from their keen sense of patriotism, which was evident both from the historical artifacts with which the Roby family furnished their home, and from the recurring themes and roster of visitors to the Roby home.  The very first entry in the guest book was made on December 22, 1894, "Forefather's Day," a date of special significance to people from Massachusetts, especially Plymouth, where the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock on that date.  Mrs. Roby was born in Boston, and claimed to be a direct descendant of John Alden and Priscilla Mullens, members of the Mayflower colony.   She was Member # 87 of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and one of the organizers of the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic.  The daughter and granddaughter of ministers, Lelia (Foster) Roby graduated from St. Mary of the Woods School, near Terre Haute, Indiana.  Accompanying her uncle to Chicago in 1867, she soon met, and subsequently married, Edward Roby, an Albany New York-educated lawyer who had moved to Chicago to become active in real estate development, especially on the East Side. In 1886, Loyal Hall was built for them, becoming a center for significant social gatherings for decades afterward.
Among the easily recognized notables who signed their guest book were "A. Alonzo Stagg," of the 1897 University of Chicago football team (which team the Roby family honored for a number of years), Ida E. S. Noyes, a fellow member of the D.A.R. for whom the University of Chicago's Ida Noyes Hall was dedicated, who stated in her guest book comments that her visit to Loyal Hall had been "the most meaningful event" in her life.   U. S. Navy ship captains who had fought in the Spanish American War were honored guests, as were years of Gallistel School graduating classes.
But despite such information, mysteries abound.  For instance, Lelia Roby was described as a writer, writing under the name of Miles Standish.   But the only writing that has survived her, as far as we can tell, is a work that she wrote as Lelia Roby, describing the raiment of Notre Dame University's Blessed Virgin icon, which raises further questions, given her family's religious history, her subsequent education at a Catholic college, etc.    Reading the pages of the guest book, one can easily get the impression of a 19th century trend toward ecumenism.   But what are the details?
       This thumbnail sketch of the Roby family is just that--a thumbnail--or, perhaps, a "split atom”?
by Kevin P. Murphy

SE Chicago Historical Society Calendar

Thursdays            1:00-4:00pm        Southeast Chicago Historical Museum
Regular hours of the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum.  Collections and exhibits focus on the history of Chicago’s Southeast Side including the communities of South Chicago, South Deering, the East Side, and Hegewisch.  Museum is located in the Calumet Park Field House at 9801 S. Avenue G in Chicago.   Check our web site for other events:
The Southeast Chicago Historical Museum is no longer open on the first Sunday of the month. 

New exhibit now open at the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum                                                              
 “The Burnham Plan: Impetus for Change on the Southeast Side”                                                                      
The exhibit portrays the aspects of the 1909 Burnham Plan that relate to Chicago’s Southeast Side and subsequent planning initiatives for the area.  Exhibit will run until October 2009.  See for more information. 

Southeast Chicago Historical Museum Burnham Exhibit special hours
Special museum openings will be Friday, September 11,  4 to 7pm and Saturday, October 3,  11am to 2 pm.

Calumet Heritage Partnership Annual Conference        October 10, 2009      Chicago State University
Tenth annual conference has as its theme the Burnham and its impact on the Calumet Region.  Check CHP web site for further details:

Teachers' Center
National Endowment for the Humanities
Illinois University