The Old Settlers' Picnic 9-23-1885
The Old Settlers' Reunion.
Originally Published in the Kendall County Record, September 23, 1885.
Edited and Compiled by Elmer Dickson.
During the first days of last week, Smith G. Minkler, who is the head and front of the Old Settlers' gatherings, was engaged with some assistance in preparing the Fair Grounds for the annual meeting of the pioneers of Kendall County. At the entrance gate was an evergreen arch with 'Welcome,' in big letters at the top. Further along was an agricultural, horticultural and pomological arch, gaily trimmed with rye, wheat, thorn apples, pumpkins, apples, corn and other products, making a beautiful tribute to nature. Fronting the implement building where the speaking was, an arch of evergreen had been erected sacred to the memory of 'Old Settlers Gone.' A sad memento of the work of a year, when so many of the pioneers had passed away.
Implement Hall had been provided with seats, a platform erected, and everything made convenient for the gathering.
Thursday was a beautiful day, and was enjoyed by all. In Yorkville, at an early hour, Sheriff Newton had the old flag floating from the courthouse staff. Brother Puderbaugh (William Allen Puderbaugh) had his fine flag stretched across Bridge Street, and Angus Carter flew the standard from his workshop. What a beautiful thing our national standard is!
By ten o'clock there was quite a gathering on the Fair grounds, and when the exercises commenced, the attendance was large.
The meeting was called to order by Lewis G. Steward, President, who made some appropriate remarks. There is nothing about Lewis that is inappropriate.
Prayer was made by that old man of God, Stephen Beggs, of Plainfield, who, like Enoch of old, should never die, but be translated.
The Band was not there. All the Bands of the county were invited, but as it takes money to run a band, and the receipts of the Kendall Band last year was $4.62, there was no brass bands there. If our people want music of that kind, something must be paid for it. However there was a martial band with a big drum, little drum and fife, and that pleased the crowd.
The Honorable George M. Hollenback, the first man in the history of Kendall County, he was a man-child then, made the following address of welcome.
'Our venerable friends have placed my name on the program to say a few words of welcome to the good friends here assembled who have come out to help them observe the day. I esteem it a pleasure to serve them in that capacity.
The surrounds are most admirable; the early autumn sun in his annual round has brought out the seasons of another year and is nearing his equinox, and we are enjoying the golden mien between summer's heat and winter's cold.
In the few moments allotted to me, while I would not say anything to call up an unpleasant or disagreeable thought or sentiment to mar the enjoyment of the moment, I cannot but feel that I am speaking of an almost departed class. Our society has been organized but 15 years, yet an examination of the list of those who were with us on that occasion, then enjoying a reasonable degree of health and strength will show that many, very many have passed forever away from us. While we have assembled here to pass a few hours in the friendly interchange of fact or fiction, to recount again the pleasures and trials of the long ago, the fact will force itself upon our mind that each succeeding meeting some familiar faces and forms are absent and that we will see them no more.
It is said in our philosophy that when motion is given to an inert body the impulse is continuous, and the motion once acquired keeps on forever. The undulations produced by the falling of the smallest pebble in the great ocean are never ending. So while our departed friends have silently, one by one, passed away from us, we feel their influence remains to some extent with us.
A little more than a year ago we met many of you on a similar occasion on these grounds. Since that time, our eyes have grown a little dimmer, our steps a little more infirm, and our forms bending a little more as the weight of another year bears heavily upon us. While the locks upon our brows have whitened or fallen hopelessly away, our hearts are just as warm, the grasp of our hands are as hearty as they were a generation ago. It is with such feelings as these that we welcome all our friends and their children and children's children here today.
Let us then, friends, make the most of the opportunity which by the favor of a gracious Providence is ours; although years with its vicissitudes may not find us all here. The numbness of age is creeping over our limbs, but with a firm reliance upon that power which has hitherto supported us, we will meet with resignation whatever the coming year may have in store for us, praying that health, prosperity and happiness may be yours. After the pleasures of this meeting are past, and we have repaired to our homes, we pray that we may feel that it was a good day to be here.
In conclusion, with 'Tiny Tim,' let us say 'God bless us every one.'
In the absence of Mr. Andrew W. Chapman, Reverend Nicholas M. Stokes made the response, and as he always does, he did it well. A Methodist preacher is always ready for a talk, and can do it without notes.
Edmund S. Seely, the Secretary, then read the roll of deceased members during the past year, as follows:
Those who have died since the meeting in September, 1884:
Big Grove Township: James Franklin 'Frank' Moore, Henry Long, John H. Henry and his wife Clarissa T. (Foote) Henry, James Denner, Mrs. Emanuel Gunsul, (Hester Marcellus (Gunsul), and Mrs. Samuel Bingham (Harriet H. (Gridley) Bingham.)
Bristol Township: James Greenacre.
Fox Township: Mrs. Henry Kugler (Mary Jane (Phillips) Kugler.)
Kendall Township: Mrs. David Sinclair, Marcus A. Fenton, Valentine Atherton, Robert Pim, Lizzie Johnson, Samuel Inscho, and Mrs. Sarah Gargraves.
Little Rock Township: Henry Parsons, George H. Steward, and James Griswold.
Oswego Township: John Sanders.
Seward Township: Leonard Harvey, Peter Riley
After this melancholy rehearsal of the names of those who have gone before, the Memorial Address was delivered by Mrs. Adelia Augusta 'Delia' Aldrich. She is probably better known to the masses as 'Galva,' and her address was listened to with attention. Whatever Mrs. Aldrich does, she does it well, and her address on this occasion showed the ability in the woman who, for nearly fifty years has been one of our most respected residents. She gave a history of the early coming into the county by sail and wagon, with many reminiscences of the early days. Her address is of so much value that we will omit all condensation of the same, and print it in full in next week's issue. It is of practical historical value, and worthy a printed page in the history of Kendall County.
Then came an adjournment for dinner, and President Steward, believing in sociability while partaking of the daily meal, gave until three o'clock for the important and pleasing pastime. Never was a picnic dinner more enjoyed. The friends gathered in groups about the beautiful grounds, spread the white cloths, and most bountiful and appetizing viands were soon tempting the appetite. It was a really sociable dinner hour.
The afternoon session was given to business and short speeches from friends present. The following officers were elected:
President: Smith G. Minkler.
Secretary and Treasurer: John A Newell.
Vice Presidents: Gilbert 'Denslow' Henning, Reuben W. Willett, John S. Seely, Sheldon Wheeler Johnson, John A. Newell, Mrs. Adelia Augusta 'Delia' Aldrich, Thomas J. Phillips, Ansel Reed, and Justus W. House.
Short addresses were made by Mrs. Galt, of Aurora, Mrs. Beggs of Plainfield, and several others whose names we did not get. The exercises closed about four o'clock, and all were pleased with the Old Settler's Picnic for 1885.
There was quite a number present from Aurora; among others were Aaron Goldsmith, F. B. Rice, A.K. Perry the Honorable William McMicken, J. G. Stolp, Lorenzo D. Brady, J. C. Goodale, Miss Whitney and two lady friends.
From Montgomery were Mrs. Filkins and daughters.
Perry A. Armstrong, of Morris, the historian of Blackhawk and Shaubanee, met his old friends. John S. Armstrong of Sheridan was also present.
A game of ball during the afternoon between Plattville and Yorkville resulted in a victory for Yorkville. Edwin Litsey displayed much ability as a pitcher. He throws a ball with terrific force. Henry Minster of the Yorkville club is also a lightning pitcher.
John C. Taylor and wife, of Sandwich, met many old friends on this occasion.
The Honorable M. B. Castle, Miss Louise Castle and Miss Cleveland of Cincinnati, enjoyed the day among acquaintances.
Mrs. Ludington of Winona, Illinois, who was born in Plano, was present with Mrs. Lewis Steward.
Four Hundred and fifty teams and vehicles entered the grounds during the day.
They all say it was a delightful occasion.