Posts tagged ‘history’

Guest Columnist Reflects on Black History Month

undergroundrailroad[1]193616Born and raised in Chicago Heights, I wanted to share a little, since black history
month is here. As a child I was able to visit Canada to see places and trails on the Underground Railroad.
My parents, both being African American, wanted me to see what African Americans had to
experience to achieve freedom. Recently, I have learned that the Underground Railroad was also
here in Chicago Heights.
The “Underground Railroad” became a major force leading to the
elimination of slavery. Runaway slaves called passengers, usually traveled to their
destinations by night either alone or in small groups. Whenever possible black and
white abolitionists provided food and shelter at stopping places known as “stations”
or served as “conductors” providing transportation between stations. The Underground Railroad remained active until the end of the Civil war as black bondsmen continued to use the system to flee the horrors of slavery.
The Bacheldor and McCoy homes in Thorn Grove, later Chicago Heights, were stops on the Underground
Railroad. When I found this information out, I became admirable of Chicago Heights.  How brave my ancestors were to
travel North, knowing that they might have had to travel this way for freedom.  It makes me realize how much America as changed since that time. I agree American still needs more growth change. But what I can say, I am glad to be an American. Land of the free and home of the brave.

Belinda James

Belinda James is a member of the Chicago Heights Historic Preservation Advisory Committee

A few notes: Sauk Trail is one of the early, highly traveled Native American trails used heavily between 1849 and 1853 by those traveling West for gold, to Iowa for land, or to Kansas or Canada to escape slavery. The Bacheldor farm was located at the intersection of what is now Sauk Trail and Western Avenues, the McCoy’s about a mile east near Thorn Creek. These families hid slaves from Missouri between Joliet and Dyer on their way to Canada. – Chicago Heights; At the Crossroads of the Nation by Dominic Candeloro & Barbara Paul800px-Undergroundrailroadsmall2

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Driving the Dixie 2012

If you didn’t make it out to Chicago Heights for Driving the Dixie, you missed a wonderful event.

Over 300 people enjoyed the Gallery’s amazing art, our own Mike Bonhart’s fascinating display of Chicago Heights memorabilia, and all the cool CARS!

We gave away these great magnets to all that participated. –>

There was even a great display put up and staffed by the Park Forest Historical Society & Museum’s president, Michael Gans.  If you haven’t visited their museum, you really should get over there!  They also have an archive. Check out their website, and donate to keeping history alive.

Additionally, a hearty “Thank You” goes out to the Union Street Gallery for hosting the Driving the Dixie stop in Chicago Heights. It serves as a wonderful spot for people – many not from our area – to see what a wonderful art community we have, and some of our fantastic architecture. If you haven’t been to the Gallery yet, you really need to go, and go often. New shows are opening all the time. I see something new and wonderful each time I am there.

Call me crazy – you won’t be the first – but the  Elks Building/Union Street Gallery looked, well,  happy. If a building could smile, I think it was. Beautiful, used, cared for, and all the people enjoying it.  Well, it made me happy to see such a great building in its most recent incarnation so loved and vibrant.  And the Star building across the street made a nice backdrop for all the sweet rides that parked in front of it.

Check out some of the photos:

Bloomvale Cemetery – The Visit!

Many of you will remember the story of our long forgotten cemetery encircled by landfill. If not, find it here.

Well, today many of our committee went for a visit along with a couple of city officials. They helped us find our way back through the 12 foot reeds and we were able to uncover some headstones. The area is very over-grown. Very. And soggy.

The photos below are from today’s visit and of an earlier visit (when there was actually snow on the ground). The photo credit for those go to Anne Coffey who was our first scout.

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The good news is that the City is very willing to help reclaim this area. Our shared goal is to make it visitable once again. It is a large endeavor we have before us. Between the landfill, soil erosion, the invasive reeds (did I mention they are 12 feet tall?), rogue trees, and general neglect, it is going to take a village – or an entire city – and time to bring this story a happy ending.

We are planning organized outing(s) this spring and summer to clean and recover any stones that have sunk or are hidden in some way. We will keep you posted and hope you will be involved.

Here is the link to Find A Grave where you can see the list of known burials in the cemetery, that is, those interred after they started issuing permits in 1902. You may also find this list at our library.

**UPDATE**

SAVE THE DATE
Bloomvale Cemetery Clean-up Event Saturday June 7th 2014 10:00am – click link to sign up-
http://midwestcemetery.weebly.com/bloomvale-cemetery.html
**However, if you have mobility issues, this is not the event for you. Once this work day is complete, subsequent work days will be available for you to be involved and see this site.