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Preservation is Progress 

...may we be worthy stewards... 


uqua Historical Society 

Volume 4, Issue 1, Number 8 

Winter 2006 

• The Newsletter is 

published three times a year: 
winter, spring, and fall. 

• The Newsletter is a 
membership benefit at the 
Piasa Bluffs Assembly (PBA), 
Patron, and Regular levels. 

• PBA and Patron 

levels include a 
membership in the 
Chautauqua Network 

• CHS members are 

encouraged to submit articles 
to the editor for inclusion in 
the Newsletter. 


Inside this issue: 


The President 's Message 2 

Jot ham A. Scarritt and the 
"Pioneer" cottage 3 

^^^^^^BBfc ^m, 

A Seaside Chautauqua and 
the 2006 Network Meeting 4 

'^^^^^ J 

Update 5 


The Dinky Revisited 6 


The Great River 7 

We have 10 PBA. 

64 Patron, and 

7 Regular members, 

and will send this Newsletter 

to 125 households. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

CARLI: Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois 




Chautauqua's rich history gives us a sense of how we began as a commu- 
nity. People who came for the early Assemblies had several choices for 
lodging. There were a few cottages; the Piasa Springs Hotel was available, 
as were some rooming houses, and there were many tents, imagine renting a 
tent and furnishing it. We are considering an exhibit of a real tent site 
around this season's July 4th celebration. Helen Margaret Thatcher has 
given us three wonderful original photographs of tents at Chautauqua that 

we will feature. Beyond that, we need lots of help. Does anyone know where we can find a canvas tent? 
Our work preserving Chautauqua's photographs, postcards and program books is paying off. It is 

nice to go to the Ad building to sort thru the collection, have so much cataloged, all in one place. Before 

we were able to store things in the Ad Building the storage for important documents and records was 

under two beds - the bed at our house, and the bed at Judy Hurd's house. We have come a long way, and 

still have a long way to go. 

Much of the information about the daily life and programs of the early Assemblies is found in 

program books. We have run into a major problem in our research for the years up to 1904. We only 

have two early program books in our collection, 1 899 and 1901. 

We own no program book for at least 14 years of the beginning 

of Chautauqua. There are some program books in the Jacoby 

Collection, cared for by the Elsah Museum, and stored at 

Principia College. These books are all pasted in a big scrap- 
book, which makes it very difficult to research and copy. If you 

have any of these early books, we would really appreciate it if 

we could add them to our collection or perhaps copy them. 
Meetings have been held to plan Jersey Door activities for 

next season. We will emphasize Chautauqua art, and start with 

an Artist's Stroll on Friday night, June 15th. Several artists will 

be featured and their work will be on display at the Jersey Door 

during the season. The Historical Society will work with the 

LCIA on May 6th to get the Kentucky Home ready for the 2006 

season. I think of this building as a grand old lady with a very 

long history. She fell on hard times, but with the help of the 

community had a major face-lift. Let's get our grand old lady 

ready for another exciting season at The Jersey Door, the 

Indian Giver, the Pink Geranium, and the Library. _ _ , ^ 

Piasa Chautauqua, 1895 The woman at the front left 
IS Betsy Rogers, niece of Dr Silas Hamilton (the 
Hamilton School, Ottei^'ille) The furniture was 
probably brought from home 


....may we be worthy stewards... 

Address inquires and other communications to 

Tim Tomlinson 

Editor. CHS Newsletter 

Post Office Box 87. Elsah, Illinois 62028 

Phone: 618-374-1518: email: Trtl933'^«' 

Copy/Proof Readers: Kathy Brammeier, Gary Cooper, Susan Seiber 

Printed by Abbey Graphic & Design. Alton, Illinois; color printing fijnded in part by PBA members 

The mission and purpose of the Chautauqua Historical Society is the preservation and enhancement of the historic traditions 
and culture of New Piasa Chautauqua, Chautauqua, Illinois, the encouragement of historical research on the Chautauqua 
community and nearby historic districts, the publication of historical brochures, pamphlets, and other written material on 
New Piasa Chautauqua, remaining permanent assemblies and chautauquas in other parts of the United States and the 
national Chautauqua movement, and the establishment of an educational program to inform the Chautauqua community and the 
general public of the historical and educational value of New Piasa Chautauqua. 




A Chautauqua Biography 

From time to time we will introduce today's 
Chautauquans to those of yesteryear, especially the 
people who provided leadership in the early days of 
our community. So, let's meet Jotham A. Scarritt. 
Scarritt was a member of the Joint Conference Com- 
mittee (Southern Illinois Conference and St. Louis 
Conference) of the Methodist Church that was 
charged with the responsibility of founding the 
Western Chautauqua in 1 885. He was bom in 1 827 
in Madison County, near present-day Godfrey. His 
father was an itinerant preacher, and his parent's 
home was a way station for the Methodist circuit 
riders of the region. He and his two brothers, Nathan 
and Isaac, were educated at McKendree College in 
Lebanon, Illinois. All were Methodist ministers. 
McKendree, founded as Lebanon Seminary in 1 828, 
is the oldest college in Illinois and the oldest 
college in the country with a continuous rela- 
tionship with the Methodist Church. 

"Jotham" was named for a younger son of 
Gideon, an early king of Judah (2 Kings, 16:1). 
The name means "perfection of the Lord." 
Jotham's middle name was All. 

He was admitted to the ministry in 1 849 
at the age of 22 and married Rebecca Meldrum 
the same year. He was accepted in the Illinois 
Conference two years later. Scarritt was very 
active at McKendree College during his long 
life. He served on the Committee of Visitors 
and the Examining Committee for many years, 
and was on the Board of Trustees from 1 865 to 
1 882. He was the chairman of a committee 
responsible for the grounds and buildings of 
the college, and he made these comments in a 
report around 1 890: 

....we may record the best condi- 
tion of buildings and grounds ever 
known in the long and eventful life 
of this institution... The park, with its 
elegant fence, its neatly trimmed 
trees, and its carpet of green, has 
become indeed a 'thing of beauty,' 
and we may hope it may continue to 
be a 'joy forever.' . . .The citizens of 
Lebanon, the Executive Committee, 
the Faculty, and the Students, 
deserve your thanks. ... The veterans 
in the Board will doubtless call to 
mind some once familiar, but now 
not conspicuous... .The walls, doors, 
and ceilings are not covered with 
hieroglyphics... The background of 

the campus is no longer noted for its 
cast-off stoves, rusty pipe, old boots, 
and broken crockery... jimpson 
weeds no longer enter into the 
college bouquet. The ghostly mullein 
stalk no longer stands sentinel at the 

comerof chapel or hall All hail 

to the new order! And long live 

Scarritt was also the Superintendent of 
Grounds at the Piasa Chautauqua in the early 
1890s, a long-ago predecessor of Joe Laffler, 
Tim Tomlinson, Pat McBride, Bill Hobbs, 
Paul Hattery, Brad Westre, and others. He 
more than likely brought to the Chautauqua 
landscape the same fervor (and eloquence) he 
brought to the McKendree campus. 

The Scarritts owned one of the very early 
cottages, directly south of the Auditorium, at the 
comer of St. Louis Avenue and Third Avenue. 
Our leasehold records show he held Piasa 
Chautauqua Assembly stock certificate #47. The 
family lived in Cairo, Illinois at the time of the 
stock purchase. The cottage was probably built 
around 1 890. The earliest name on file for the 
cottage is Pioneer. The cottage today is owned 
by Buffy Griesedieck, and is still named Pioneer. 

The Methodist community honored Jotham 
A. Scarritt in 1902 when McKendree College 
conferred on him the degree of Doctor of 
Divinity. Dr. Scarritt retired in 1906. He lived in 
Alton and Chautauqua for the next ten years. 
Scarritt died in February 1916. The cottage was 
sold by his estate in 1 920. 




A Seaside Chautauqua 

If the early chautauquas stressed the family life 
and recreation aspects of the movement, the commu- 
nity at Ocean Grove, New Jersey was a wonderful 
example of location, location, location. Only 40 
miles from New York and northern New Jersey 

.\^t. Oaax^.&Tovr 

cities and around 70 miles from Philadelphia, the 
beginnings were simple. "..A few familiar friends, 
after protracted labors in the pastorate, felt that an 
annual respite of a few weeks from these toils was 
an absolute necessity. But where... could such rest 
be found?... The first crude thought was, is there not, 
somewhere along the sea, a convenient place where 
families of like mind can pitch their tents, and for a 
little while in the summer enjoy the sea air, bathing, 
fishing etc. having such social and religious exer- 
cises intermingled as convenience and inclination 
might suggest?..." 
(Dr. Ellwood H. Stokes, An Historical Sketch, 1919) 

Ocean Grove started in 1 869 as a Camp 
Meeting Association. Today. 137 years later, its 
mission "rooted in its Methodist heritage, is to 
provide opportunities for spiritual birth, growth, and 
renewal through worship and educational, cultural, 
and recreational programs for persons of all ages in a 
Christian seaside setting." 

Strictly speaking. Ocean Grove is not a 
"Chautauqua" It was founded six years before the 
first Sunday School Assembly at Chautauqua, New 
York, an exemplar of the camp meeting religious 
movement of the 19"' century. However, looking at 
its mission statement, we see quickly the strong 
relationship in purpose and intent between Ocean 
Grove and the other "chautauquas," including our 
own New Piasa Chautauqua. 

The Great Auditorium is the dominant 
structure on the grounds, with seating for 6500 
people. Community buildings and residences of 

different types are clustered around it. Ocean Grove 
is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, 
and is a wondrous spot for lovers of Victorian 

homes. In addition to these imposing structures that 
form an allee from the Great Auditorium to the sea. 
there is a marvelous "tent" community. 1 14 sites that 
are unique among contemporary chautauquas. 

Actually a combination of cottage and tent fa9ade, 
the buildings are owned privately and the land 
leased. Leases are often held for generations, passed 
down in families — sound familiar? 

The annual program is also familiar at some 
level to our own and to other chautauquas. Ocean 
Grove has a Summer Band, a Classical Music Series, 
and Saturday Night series that has featured Garrison 
Kiellor. The Kingston Trio. The Smothers Brothers, 
and so on. There are special religious programs in 
the Great Auditorium; preachers have included 
Norman Vincent Peale and Billy Graham. 
The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association will 
host the annual Chautauqua Network meeting, 
July 27-30. 2006. Think about a trip to the Jersey 
Shore! Piasa Bluffs Assembly and Patron members 
of the Chautauqua Historical Society are members of 
the Chautauqua Network and are invited to attend. 




An Update That's Upbeat 

First, the "'state of the Society" is very good. 
We are pleased with our membership program. Our 
renewal rate is strong. Earlier this year we sent out a 
complimentary copy of the Fall 2005 Newsletter to 
all Chautauquans not members of CHS. We had 12 
Chautauquans become new members as a result of 
our efforts. We now have 10 Piasa Bluffs Assembly 
level ($75) members. These members support the 
costs of printing some pages of the Newsletter in 
color. So, thank you Paul and Kathy Brammeier, 
Karen Foss and Jim Whiteley, Dave and Chris 
Hagin, Bob and Cynthia Hormell, Gerry LaMarsh, 
David McJonathon-Swarm, Tim and Rose 
Tomlinson, Phil and Dorothea Polster. Todd and 
Jenny Rausch, and Jack and Mary Ann Weyforth, 
We have generous gifts from Chris and Dave Hagin 
and Todd and Jenny Rausch to help with the 
Archival Restoration and Conservation project 
(ARC), and plans are in place for this season. Our 
Records and Documentation Book, Cumulative 
Newsletters, and IRS 1023 Application are on file in 
the community Library. 

That said, we have been an Illinois Non Profit 
Corporation since October 2003. We were told our 
application to the Internal Revenue Service for 
Recognition of Exemption as a 501 (c) (3) foundation 
might be an involved and complicated process, with 
the probability/possibility of having to revise and 
amend the materials as the review proceeded. 
Imagine our delight when we were informed 
(November 25, 2005) that our application was 
approved, and exemption status was granted, retroac- 
tive to October 16, 2003. We had incredibly good 
advice and counsel from Kathy Brammeier and Pat 
Miller, and we thank these two members (Pat is a 
director of CHS) for their assistance. As an exempt 
organization your annual dues (at whatever level) 
are tax-deductible, as are any contributions (special 
projects and so on), including gifts of articles for 
resale at the Jersey Door going back to October 16, 
2003. As noted above, a complete copy of our 
application, including the IRS letter of determina- 
tion, will be on file in the Chautauqua Library. 

We Ve teamed up with the Chautauqua Golf 
Classic and created the Chautauqua Scholars 
Prize, a cash award of $1 50 to eight selected 
(by lottery) college students. The 2005-06 award 
criteria were described in email messages to 
Chautauquans, and we have sent a letter to all lease- 
holder/cottage owners announcing the second round 
of the selection process. Four awards have been 

made: Andrew Deluca (Southwest Illinois 
College), grandson of Herb and Norma Milster; Ian 
Milster (Southwest Illinois College), also the grand- 
son of Herb and Norma; Cody Stevenson (Southern 
Illinois University, Edwardsville), son of Dave and 
Carol Stevenson; Carly Weinberg (College of the 
Atlantic, Bar Harbor, Maine), granddaughter of Tim 
and Rose Tomlinson. There were only thirteen 
names in our original lottery pool. We hope the pool 
will grow significantly for the next round, scheduled 
tentafively for April 2006. 

We re close to settling the final details on 
publication of a booklet containing the daily 
newspapers {The Daily Chautauquan) for 1 897 and 
1 898. We expect it will be on sale this season at the 
Jersey Door. The original newspapers are in the 
custody of Principia College, and we have 
permission to reprint 1 50 sets of the material. 

100 years old. Our research indicates that 
four cottages will celebrate a lOO**" birthday as a 
leasehold/cottage in 2006. Nancy Child's cottage, 
Glocca Mora, lot 1 50, was secured by Piasa Bluffs 
Assembly stock certificate #207, issued to Mary L. 
Wykoff. William and Emma Scott originally leased 

Gary and George Ann Cooper's place. Coop 's Coop, 
lot 104, and held PBA stock certificate #215. Helen 
Margaret Thatcher's cottage. Mine N Yours, was the 
leasehold of H. A. Tunehorst, a Jerseyville jeweler 
who also built the Kentucky Home. Lot 161 was 
secured by PBA certificate #217. This last one 
stretches the envelope, but it's too good to pass up. 
A Piasa Bluffs Assembly lease was issued to John 
Durston of Witt, Illinois, for lot 100, one of the lots 
that make up the present leasehold of Mark and 
Vicky Witt. So, there we have it — a short 1 00 years 
from Witt, Illinois to Witt's End. 




The Dinky Revisited 

The rail bus Dinky continues to interest folics in 
the Great River Road area. Last season CHS pre- 
sented a film about the Dinlcy's journey ft-om Alton 
to Grafton in 1941. Recently, Tim Tomlinson 
presented a version of that CHS program at Farley's 
Music Hall in Elsah. Tim is a director of the Historic 
Elsah Foundation, which sponsored the program. 
Artifacts, photographs, and memorabilia from the 
Elsah Museum were on display for the program, as 
was a painting of the rail bus, loaned by Principia 
College. The guests came "from far and wide," and 
included Dale Jenkins from the Illinois Traction 
Society and Bill Getschmann, a volunteer at the St. 
Louis County Museum of Transport. Jenkins has 
written a wonderful book on rail transportation in 
Illinois and an article on the Dinky for the Traction 
Society (1989). Getschmann was a lead volunteer in 
the restoration of the Dinky at the County Museum. 

Dewey McDow (shown below at the Chautau- 
qua station) was the first conductor/operator of the 
Dinky when it started its run in 1933, and he 


continued in that role until 1939. We learned last 
summer when we showed the film that many 
Chautauquans remembered riding the Dinky with 
McDow at the wheel. Nancy McDow, his daughter, 
was at the Farley's showing of the film, and told 
the audience that her father asked for reassignment 
in 1939 because he didn't like the "double shift." 

The Dinky had two runs per day, with significant 
down time between the runs. Dale Jenkins spoke 
of the importance of the Lockhaven station. The 
Chicago-Peoria-St. Louis line used Lockhaven as a 
"transfer" point with the main line running to and 
from Jerseyville. The line to Elsah, Chautauqua, 
and Grafton was a spur line. 

We learned the Dinky was one of three rail 
buses available for the line, and was the smallest of 
the three — hence its name. Prior to 1 933, more 
conventional trains served the Alton-Grafton line, 
and the new service reduced the number of 
employees from four to a single person. The Dinky 
was basically a financial decision during the 
Depression years. Only two persons in the audience 
at Farley's had seen the film before; thirteen people 

iik*.l {uD^fKHUliim iH'tnti'n : i%,in jfi, 

had ridden the Dinky many times. It was, we heard, 
a favorite method of travel for Principia College 
students, and some of these folk spoke of the ride 
as a good way to go on a "date." 

The next issue of Elsah History will feature 
the Dinky and CHS has plans to reproduce the film 
in some form, possibly adding still photographs and 
oral history interviews with folks who know the 
Dinky well, such as Nancy McDow, Dewey's 
daughter. We'll keep you informed. 

St. Louis Count> Museum ot I ranspon 




Tfie G^zat ZiveJi, 

Frederick Oakes Sylvester's book of poetry 
about the Mississippi was first published in St. 
Louis in 191 1, but Sylvester had already been 
painting scenes of the river he loved for many 
years. Sylvester (1869-1915) was bom in 
Brockton, Massachusetts in 1 869, and graduated 
from the prestigious Massachusetts Art Normal 
School in 1891. After a year of teaching in New 
Orleans, he came to St. Louis where he taught art at 
Central High School in the city and at the Principia, 
then located at Page and Belt. His early work 
focused on the city and the river, particularly the 
Eads Bridge. 

After the World's Fair (1904), at which he 
was a major exhibitor, Sylvester began to shift his 
attention to the world beyond the city, and espe- 
cially to the Elsah area. In 1911 eighty-three of his 
paintings were hung as an exhibition at the St. 
Louis Art Museum. His output was considerable! 
More recently, his works were exhibited May 27- 
September 3, 2005 under the sponsorship of the 
St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of 
Missouri, St. Louis, in collaboration with and at the 
Sheldon Art Galleries, 

The 1 9* and early 20"' centuries were great 
periods in American landscape painting, beginning 
with the Hudson River School and artists such as 
Thomas Cole, for whom the landscape evoked 
powerfiil ideas and feelings and also a sadness that 
the frontier was disappearing. Cole thought this to 
be "a regret rather than a complaint, such is the 
road society has to travel; it may lead to refinement 
in the end...." The movement and its focus 
spread ft"om New England and New York to the 
Mississippi and beyond. The young Swiss painter 
Karl Bodmer (1809-1893) was only 23 when he 
visited the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers in 1832 
and captured life on the river, the levees, and 
steamboats of that era. John Frederick Kensett 
(1816-1872) toured the river valleys in 1854 and 

near Hannibal, reminiscent of the river, as Mark 
Twain might have pictured it. Steamboats were 
often included in the river scenes of the landscape 
school, a part of the life of the river, the culture of 
the river, its music, and its stories. 

Whoever the artist, whether it be George 
Caleb Bingham (181 1-1879), John Caspar Wild 
( 1 804-1 846), or Frederick Oakes Sylvester, the 
theme and mood romanticized the pastoral setting 
of the land and the river, idealized the American 
principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happi- 
ness, and regretted the settlement of the West as an 
end to the wilderness. 

Sylvester bought a cottage along the Elsah 
bluffs in 1902, west of the village and close to the 
Piasa Bluffs Hotel, a small resort community 
located between Elsah and our own Piasa Bluffs 
Chautauqua. Elsah was a thriving riverfront 
community, with two industrial activifies: a flour- 
mill and a new plant for the producfion of paint 
products. Sylvester painted often, almost 
exclusively, in Elsah and brought Principia 
students to the area by rail from St. Louis. His 
paintings include pastoral scenes fi-om Notchcliff, 
the estate of Lucy Semple Ames, and Eliestoun. the 
country home of Henry Turner. Both properties are 
now part of the Principia College campus. 
Sylvester did not paint Piasa Chautauqua, and we 
are searching records to determine whether he 
visited or had any connection with the early history 
of the Chautauqua. Mostly his painting were of the 
river, the Great River as he described it in his 

I have come back, my river, 

I have returned to you. 

In my journeys, far and near, 

I have found no stream your peer. 

Nor found your equal in the whole world 


1868, producing a number of important paintings, 
including Low Water, a view of the Mississippi 

Sylvester, Riverscape (cl909) 

(Continued on page S) 




/Continued from page 7) 

In addition to his Elsah/River paintings. 
Sylvester became interested in the mural as an 
art form, and painted four large murals between 
1 902-1 91 2. The catalog for the St. Louis Art 
Museum exhibition of his work (1911) mentioned 
his interest in murals: ... When several years ago he 
essayed canvasses of mural dimensions, using his 
favorite theme, some thought he would be unequal 
to the task. ...Decorations .. last year for the large 
dining hall of the Noonday Club were a gratifying 
evidence that the technical capacity of the artist was 
growing up with his creative inspiration... 
(Jeanne Colette Collester, Frederick Oakes Sylvester: 
The Principia Collection, p.50) 

Two of the murals still exist. The Great River, 
originally created for the Noonday Club, is located 
in Cox Auditorium, Principia College. Elsah, 
Illinois. As the Sowing, the Reaping was done for 
Decatur High School, Decatur, Illinois, and is now 
on display at the Macon County Museum in 

Jeanne Colette Collester's study of Sylvester 
gives us important information and insights into 
Frederick Oakes Sylvester and the importance of 
our river area to his work. In her concluding 
remarks, she says. 

As a painter, Sylvester began by 
challenging the appropriate subject 
matter of art. His paintings of the St. 
Louis riverfront were daring in their 
depiction of what was thought to be an 
ugly, everyday environment. By the end 
of his career, Sylvester moved towards 
abstraction.... (he had) an active 
professional commitment to the newly 
established art organizations, especially 
the St. Louis Artists" guilds. 

Sylvester, untitled (cl 91 3) 

Sylvester's contributions to art in St. Louis, 
however, were quickly forgotten with the 
rapid acceleration of art movements in the 
twentieth century. The last decades of the 
twentieth century, in turn, have afforded us a 
slower, second look at the diversity of art 
produced at the turn of the century. 
We discover artists who deserve a longer look 
and firmer place in the history of art. 
Frederick Oakes Sylvester is one of those 
artists. (Collester, p.52) 
As a gift to Piasa Bluffs Assembly and Patron 
members, we have sent out a Historic Elsah 
Foundation booklet by Paul O. Williams, Fredrick 
Oakes Sylvester: The Artist 's Encounter With Elsah. 
Several copies of this booklet will be given to the 
Chautauqua Library for general circulation and we 
believe Chautauquans will find it interesting and 
informative. The Annual Chautauqua Platform 
Lecture for 2006 will be on Frederick Oakes 
Sylvester. The Spring 2006 issue of the Newsletter 
(sometime in May) will continue the theme of paint- 
ing and the river, featuring "contemporary" artists 
such as Ralph Osbom, Mark Hurd, Rosemary 
Towey, and Chris Hagin. Finally, we recommend 
American Sublime: Landscape Painting in the 
United States. 1820-1880 by Andrew Wilton and 
Tim Barringer (London, 2002), even though 
the period studied does not include Sylvester. 

Why landscape painting and painters? Our 
mission speaks of preserving and enhancing our 
cultural traditions, and we believe educating and 
informing about our communities and the river fits 
perfectly with the mission. While researching on the 
internet, we came across a quote that speaks well to 
this matter: 
As a river is born deep inside the earth in springs 
that gather into streams and Join to become a river, 
so people 's lives gather into families and communities 
and become part of the river of history. 

Wilma Dykeman, 2000 

Our cover painting, Sylvester's Gold Crowned fOil 
on canvas, 13'/2 x II inches, 191 1) was recently exhibited 
at the Sheldon Art Galleries in St. Louis (2005). Our cover 
may be the first time Gold Crowned has been used in this 
manner. Gold Crowned and Riverscape (Oil on canvas, 
I5'/2 x I9'/2 ft., cI909) on p.7 are used with permission, 
courtesy of TTie Principia. A private collector has given 
permission to use Sylvester's M«ft7/e(/ painting of the river, 
cl9I3, shown on this page. We appreciate their support of 
our efforts to illustrate visually our local history . 

The Sylvester poetry excerpt is from his book. The 
Great River (1911). 

,\ ,