|Newsletter Volume 3, Issue #1 January 30, 2003|
|Lake Senachwine, Vanished Resource|
It is "the duty of all Christians in this country, in all places, and at all proper times, to bear testimony, both public and private against the sin of slavery"!
In August of 1912, these grandchildren and great grandchildren of Marshall and Peoria county Galena Trail pioneers spent a memorable week at Lake Senachwine, along the Illinois River in Putnam County. They camped, fished, boated, swam, rode horses, and played.
Ruth Greene maintained a journal of the trip, and many photographs were taken. The photos were then assembled into albums and distributed to interested campers. The record is priceless. Whether formal, candid, or just plain zany, the photos record some of the happiest and most carefree days of their lives.
The Galena Trail Committee thanks
(Photo at right: Andy Trunbull, left, and Carl Leigh with unidentified girls at camp)
"August 1. Pretty cold start for Aug. Makes us shiver to think of camp."
The trip to Lake Senachwine was a long awaited adventure for the campers. According to Ruth's diary, the group held several organizational meetings in the weeks before the trip, arranging for the camp rental and other details. Finally, the big event arrived, and, with it, a flurry of activity:
"Aug. 15. The day before. A grand rush this A.M. to finish baking and
packing in order that I might make the 12:18 from Edelstein to
Chillicothe. Father took me in the auto, then I went thru town to Gladys'.
From there we went to Margaret Hunter's and sewed for Mary Belle Weaver.
Most of the town girls were there & we surely spent a most enjoyable
afternoon. Glenn was down for an hour in the evening while Gladys finished
packing at Trella's." That night, "Gladys and I tried to see who could
lose the most sleep".
|We are still identifying the campers. If you have any suggestions, please contact either Rodger or Jim or Mildred Pollack @ 274-3174 or Pat Goitein @ 637-0460.||
"Aug. 16. Awake at five and up at six to get a good start for camp."
"Everyone was at the depot in plenty of time to get acquainted with the bunch. Everyone appeared in either rain coats or winter coats on account of a rain that started at six. Clarence, Myrtle and Mina (Stowell) were on the train. Before we reached Putnam the rain was over and so our spirits were lighter."
The Rain Cleared & Spirits Brightened
"The boys soon appeared with the wagon at Putnam and one buggy. Paul, Mina and I went in that and the rest in the wagon. Four shacks had been reserved for the bunch and we at once took possession and began that most delightful process of unpacking."
"Aug. 17. A new day begun by seeing who could tell the biggest mosquito yarns! Carl (Leigh) and Andy (Turnbull) drove up about nine o'clock and Bob and Ruth came on the midnight and Bob woke the entire crowd up with his war whoops!"
The lunch crew sets up "Cafe Senachwine" The menu featured eggs served hard boiled, scrambled, poached and up over. Sandwiches included hog's thigh, hen fruit, beef heart and "butter that never saw a cow". Coffee was black or white.
"Nearly everyone went in the water and had a good time. Earl had to go home to thresh, but came up on the evening train. Ross (Carter) and Cliff (Marshall) drove in during the evening. Off on the lake again to get away from mosquitoes and all went to Undercliff for ice cream. But mosquitoes were worse there than anyplace, so our exit was speedy. Glenn has his mouth harp along, so we all got together and drifted and sang."
"The day seemed a bit long, but the evening longer as the mosquitoes held full sway, so we went out on the lake to get rid of them. It helped some, but guess there was no getting entirely away from them."
"Aug. 18. Everyone went up to the beach to watch the boys swim…Quite a bit of excitement prevailed when one boat load was set adrift without oars. But all was healed over by midnight nearly - helped by the three guilty boys going to Henry for cream. Again the mouth harp accompanied us on the lake, then the boats were all tied together lengthwise and the boys in the first boat towed us all in."
But Mosquitoes Nearly Ruled the Camp at Night
"Aug. 19. Dutch didn't want to go home this A.M. so he ordered a rain so he wouldn't have to - and we all got full benefit. Tables and provisions were all carried into the pavilion and our breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, bread, and butter - contributed by the boys. Sugar held a prominent place in the menu for some as they got it in place of salt on the eggs. But the rain continued until about one P.M., so nearly everyone played cards…About 12:00 I accompanied Cliff & George to the trout line. We ran it about 4 times, got some lilies and watched the seines brought up by the Rineharts [commercial fishermen, Ed.]….Then the day's swimming lesson took place."
"Supper was late and pennyroyal, skeeter-scoot and cigars were in evidence shortly."
"Aug. 20. Again Dutch lost his nerve for starting home - got up -
shut off the alarm and continued sleeping. Nothing of special interest
today I guess except Mrs. French and Mrs. Fleetwood arrival. They were
taken to Henry to go home on the 9:00 PM.
"Myrtle told us stories after we went to bed to keep us quiet."
"Aug. 21. Glenn and I took a decidedly light lunch and rowed down past the club house and there found a lot of lilies." [Glen & Ruth are using Illinois' well known double bowed hunting skiff, probably locally made by Walter "Tube" Dawson. Source: Don Clark, Henry]
"A marshmallow roast at night a mile up the shore - then several of us nearly lost our happy homes by tearing around until two so the rest couldn't sleep either."
TALLEST GUY IN CAMP!
(Alcohol was not allowed at camp, but soda was.)
"Aug. 22. A record breaking breakfast served by the boys breakfast Committee. And the poor kids had stayed up nearly all night to get it ready - but they were sure game. It was so good the dinner gang balked on getting dinner until forced to get a lunch at least."
"Aug. 23. The last day so we had to have a good early start with a long boat ride. Myrtle, Cliff, Glenn and I were the guilty parties. The others were just going in swimming when we returned…After a hurried dinner and loading the wagon and getting Cliff & George started, there was a mad rush to finish packing and dress for the train. And even then several things were left behind."
There was lots of time for making friends at camp. In the
coming years, several of the couples were married.
The children of the Galena Trail pioneers quickly learned to love their automobiles. Campers used them for quick trips between camp and home, as it was threshing season & they were needed at home. Ruth Greene sits behind the wheel of the family car, while sister Mildred sits directly in front of her on the hood. Trella Fleetwood sits next to Ruth.
The LaPrairie and Chillicothe campers fished, went horseback riding, swam,played football, and enjoyed target shooting. Some campers were skilled marksmen,and here show off ther trophy playing cards.
The beaches and swimming areas along Lake Senachwine disappeared within the lifetime of our intrepid young campers. They may be gone forever.
The campers rented camping platforms at Walnut Grove, a privately owned recreational area that featured a club house, pavilion, boating, swimming, and possibly horseback riding. Just north of Walnut Grove, our campers visited Undercliff, a popular resort hotel featuring a spectacular slide into the water at the bathing beach, and a dance hall. Guests arrived at Putnam by rail, car, or carriage, and traveled less than 2 miles to the resorts for their vacations.
Undercliff is now part of the Putnam Conservation District. A picnic area has been cleared at the top of the bluff, and although there is no view of the lake, visitors can take stairs down to the old beach. Once at the beach, however, strangers are not welcome. Duck hunting enthusiasts and fishermen have built cabins on leased land and prominently post no trespassing and "we call the police" signs. Adjoining the beach is an unused gravel pit, a left over from the 1950's. Walnut Grove is now a private beach area favored by duck hunters, who have cabins on the property. During the summer season, the public is warned that it is private property, no trespassing.
According to Randy Edwards, district conservationist with the USDA, in 1912 Lake Senachwine was 12 - 15 Feet deep. Today it is no more than 12 - 18 INCHES. Where our campers found a lovely sand bottom, one now finds several feet of gooey muck bottom that is impossible to cross on foot. When the wind changes, boaters are marooned in the goo and must be rescued by the Putnam Fire Department Rescue Squad's Hydrofoil. Although the Illinois River has excellent fishing, Lake Senachwine does not. The near-stagnant backwater lake does not support the vegetation needed for a balanced Eco-system favored by edible game fish.
According to Edwards and DNR botanist Michelle Simon, Lake
Senachwine was an unexpected casualty of the Illinois Waterway's lock and
dam system. Because of the dams, the river water levels rose and
backed up into the lake, and as the water velocity slowed, the river lost
its ability to flush sediment and pollutants out of either itself or the
lake. Sediments and pollutants rested and settled in Lake Senachwine, and
no one seems to have any idea how to correct the problem without taking
out the dams. If the dams are enlarged (as is often discussed), Lake
Senachwine's problems will probably escalate, until the lake disappears
Mildred Greene and Ethan Wilmot boat through
Walnut Grove, Senachwine Lake is marked with a check. Undercliff is marked with an "X"
Recreational Opportunities at
The Abolitionist movement brought out the best and the worst in Americans. Marshall County historian Spencer Ellsworth in Records of the Olden Time (Lacon, 1880, pp. 565-7) relates the following 1840 incident told to him for publication by the participants themselves: (excerpts by Editor):
Early one cold, winter morning in 1840, a "dyed in the wool Democrat" and well-known Abolitionist-hater found a terrified runaway slave crouching by his cabin door. The man's first impulse was to roughly chase the slave away without further consideration. The terrified slave, however, was too cold and exhausted to run so easily, and he begged his reluctant rescuer to hear his story.
The gruff prairie pioneer impatiently listened to the man's tale of woe. The slave came from Kentucky, where, until quite recently, he had lived peacefully with his wife and two children in his master's household. After his master's death, however, the family was divided and sold. The wife's new master was violent and lecherous. Together, the couple formed a bold and desperate plan of escape. Leaving their children behind, they fled north, crossing the Ohio River and entering Illinois. They were alone and unaided. Without friends or guides, they hid in the woods and by day and traveled only at night.
As they approached Springfield, they thought that they were safe and ventured out onto the roads in daylight. Their owners, however, were in close pursuit, scattering handbills and offering liberal rewards the runaways' apprehension. As soon as the runaways walked into daylight, they were recognized, arrested and remanded to slavery. The man managed to escape his captors, but he had not seen his wife since their arrest.
As the slave's story unfolded, two riders were seen approaching over
the wild Marshall County prairie. In a quick decision that he would
remember for the rest of his life, the pioneer told the terrified slave to
get into the house and hide. He recognized the riders as small
pettifoggers and bullies from a neighboring town, now hunting for the
|They were well armed, and one carried a long
whip and handcuffs suspended from his saddle. The told him that their
"nigger" had given them the slip, and that they were going to take him
back-dead or alive.
Now this was an unpleasant turn of events so early in the morning. First the man's conscience was confronted with a cold and terrified runaway slave on his doorstep, and now these two thugs. Somebody then and there was about to break the law! The pioneer put on his best "abolitionist-hater grin" and told the bounty hunters that they were welcome to search his premises, but that first he would go inside and finish dressing. The anxious riders agreed, and he returned to his cabin desperately looking for a solution to this dangerous situation.
He found the slave crouching in a corner, while his wife [and probably children, Ed.] slept in the nearby family bed. He told the man to take his place in the bed, and quickly settled his family down to the desperate deception. No one moved, as the brutes at the door stomped and swaggered to get out of the cold and search the cabin.
Come in boys, the pioneer called, I don't want any niggers about me or mine. If the black rascal is hiding around my place, I hope that you find him and give him what he has coming!
Of course, the runaway was not found. After a close search of the cabin and farm, the riders left. The family fed and cared for the exhausted runaway, then sent him on his was to freedom.
"With the strength of a mighty and flaming obsession, Abolitionists shouted that all slave holders were thieves, robbers and man stealers, enemies of God and the Republic"*
In the 1830's anti-slavery appeals were based upon the religious and moral imperatives that slavery is sinful and a violation of the laws of God. Ministers such as Eliot and Cranch preached fiery anti-slavery sermons, and within a decade, Abolitionists across America were risking their lives and property to shelter slaves, and promote universal emancipation.
The Weston Sisters: Maria, Caroline, Deborah, & Anne organized the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1834. When threatened by an angry mod, Maria calmly replied: "This is the last bulwark of freedom, we may as well die here as anywhere."
Anti-slavery societies were organized almost clandestinely in parlors, cabins, and drawing rooms throughout the country. Close, personal appeals were made to small groups, with each "convert" encouraged to spread the word. The Grimke Sisters, Angelina & Sarah worked tirelessly in this manner, with rare public appearances.
How dangerous was this work? Our Sophia was so frightened of her neighbors that she wouldn't take the Liberator. Maria Weston Chapman spoke in public only once, at the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Convention of 1838. She introduced Angelina Grimke over the howling mob, which later burned to the ground the building where the inter-racial meeting had been held.
Too Many Abolition Fevers?
St. Louis, Missouri, Nov. 10th, 1836
"How can I thank you, my dear, dear Miss Weston for your kindness in writing me two such letters, and sending me those precious books too, they will be a feast for me all winter.
"I have looked over 'Songs of the Grace,' and admire them, what will Mrs. Chapman [Maria Weston Chapman, Ed.] do next for the good cause? I have read part of Thompson's debate with Breckenridge and am utterly astonished at Mr. B.'s insolence, and filled with admiration of Thompson's gentleness. He is receiving some compensation now for all his labor, but not the reward that he deserves, no that awaits him in the home to which he surely goes. Angelina Grimke's appeal I have looked over……..I have been thinking that it would be a good plan to get some copies of it to distribute in St. Louis. I shall ask Mr. Eliot about it. With regard to the Liberator, it is a sad disappointment to me, but I must be content without it, for it would be foolish in me to take it, if it would be dangerous to myself and friends, merely for my own personal good, without being of service to the cause.
"I feel as if I were not doing half so much as I ought to do here, and yet I cannot tell what to do more. I introduce the subject whenever I have an opportunity, that that is seldom, and you know that I am not a Miss Weston. I cannot talk and argue as she does. Edward made me actually jump out of my chair the other day, by asking me what I thought would be the prospect of a school here for you……..You could do a vast deal of good here, more than you can at the East, because there is so much more vice and ignorance.
"I hope you have a servant now, you were without when you wrote last. I know how hard it is to be without help, we had none for a week or two, and have only a little girl now, a slave, who is to be sold in the Spring. We find it difficult to get along with our large family. I must bid you good night and finish this another day………May good Angels guard you.
"I know it is not worth sending, but the gentleman whom I intend sending it [this letter, Ed.] by is going tomorrow, and I must send this or none at all.
"Our dear Mr. Eliot is going to New Orleans and Mobile this winter to remain until Spring. We shall miss him sadly, and I am fearful his absence will be an injury to the [anti-slavery, Ed.] society. He has labored so hard getting it up, and there have been so many drawbacks to its progress, and are still, though it is in quite a flourishing state now. While Mr. Elliot is here, he is so energetic and hopeful that all our difficulties vanish.
"Mr. Eliot has lately been preaching in Peoria and has succeeded in raising fifteen hundred dollars to build a church with. It is now in operation, and Mr. Cranch from Washington is coming out to preach both there and here.
"I hope if you find it necessary to break up your establishment in the Spring, you will write me and do tell me about your future plans.
"Give my best love to your sisters, tell Anne I shall answer her kind
letter the next opportunity I have, which will be soon. I hope her health
is better, I am afraid she has had too many abolition fevers.
[Above: Excerpts from letter dated November 10, 1836 from
Sophia------- to Miss Weston(probably Carolyn), Boston Public Library,
rare books and manuscripts dept., call # Ms.A.9.2.8 p 70]
Lundy Corners, 1150N & Yankee Lane, on the Galena Coach Road in Marshall County can't be seen on modern maps. In fact, all trace of Lundy Corners disappeared over 50 years ago. There never seems to have been much to it, just a store and blacksmith shop and a nearby church. Few remember Lundy Corners, and no one remembers how it got its name.
Lundy is located on a little known path of the Underground Railroad described by Marshall County Historian Spencer Ellsworth in Records of the Olden Time (pg. 555-573). This often overlooked route connected Lawn Ridge and sites in Henry, Magnolia, and Putnam County. We do not know if there ever was a safe site at or near Lundy Corners, but the name itself indicates that it is possible.
Benjamin Lundy (1789-1839) was a guiding light of the early Anti-slavery movement. He was one of the earliest nationally recognized anti-slavery agitators and published the groundbreaking "Genius of Universal Emancipation" the first national abolitionist newspaper. Lundy organized anti-slavery societies in Tennessee, North Carolina, Maryland, Washington DC, Ohio, and Illinois. In fact, wherever he went, he organized anti-slavery societies.
After the howling Philadelphia mob destroyed the Abolitionists' Hall in 1838, and along with it, all of Lundy's papers, the indefatigable Lundy announced that "I am not disheartened, though everything of earthly value (in the shape of property) is lost. Let us persevere in the cause. We shall assuredly triumph yet"! (Ellsworth, pg. 237).
Lundy moved from Philadelphia to the Quaker Settlement in southeastern Putnam County with his family in 1838. He immediately began his anti-slavery activities here and was in the process of establishing a newspaper in Lowell at the time of his sudden death August 22, 1839. He is buried near McNabb, Putnam County. (Ellsworth, pp 232-239).
After Lundy's death, his brothers in law, William and John Lewis carried on his work, taking a prominent position in the Underground Railroad in Central Illinois. Their home was the focal point of several "lines", including the line between the Nathaniel Smith & Charles Stone stops in Lawn Ridge in SW Marshall County, and Magnolia in SE Putnam County.
There were two known Underground Railroad routes in Western Marshall County, west of the Illinois River. According to Providence Congregational Church history, a line extended through Providence to Princeton, most likely coming north from Lawn Ridge. According to Spencer Ellsworth, the second extended from Lawn Ridge northeast to Putnam County.
The Underground Railroad is recorded in the oral histories of the communities along the various routes. If there were precise written maps or guides to the Railroad in this area, they are yet to be discovered.
The newsletter is published monthly and distributed free of charge to residents along the Galena Trail and other Trail enthusiasts. Copies of the newsletter are on file at the Illinois State Historical Library, the Peoria Public Library, and at libraries and historical societies along the Trail corridor from Peoria to Prairie du Chien, Iowa.
Contributions to defray expenses for this newsletter are
welcome, and may be sent to Mildred Pollack, 20004 Northampton Rd.,
Chillicothe, Illinois 61523.
Technical assistance: Dima Reshetar
© 2003, Peoria Pimiteoui Projects, Inc.