She listened to former slaves and their descendants and recorded those spirituals on paper to be translated to song when she returned to New York. She took notes and also memorized the melodies that were "crooned by the mammy to the babe in its cradle, and carried on by the growing youngsters.
Brown was one of Burleigh's top researchers, and her work on Southern trips was a great resource. The Quincy Daily Herald documented some of her work in a article. Helen fell in love with urban life in New York and made a home there. As a young woman she relished living in the cosmopolitan area where she could attend plays and concerts, as well as read and do research at libraries and bookstores.
She worked for a time in a Long Island factory, and one day traveled alone to Carnegie Hall in Manhattan to get tickets for her co-workers to attend a performance there. Some of her Long Island friends had never heard of Carnegie Hall. Brown became a member of the famous Harlem church, Abyssinian Baptist, a house of worship that appealed to many black Americans moving to the city. She worked in a Harlem bookstore for a black businessman, a unique job for an black woman when many had domestic and cleaning jobs.
During the early s, Martia Goodson, a professor at Baruch College in Harlem and a member of Abyssinian Baptist Church, held interviews with elderly members of the church. Helen Brown was in her 90s then and told some exciting tales about her early life in both Quincy and New York. She said she and the other children did not realize Wells' importance at the time. Brown and other church members recalled picketing stores in Harlem that would not hire black employees.
They also boycotted bus companies that refused to hire black drivers. They developed a controversial summer program to create exchanges with white families in Vermont during the s, when such a blend of races was rare. These working women fought for decent jobs and opportunities for black people in New York. They also worked in the church together, teaching Sunday school, singing in choirs and ushering during Sunday services. The Brown siblings came of age in Quincy, and their achievements are remembered years after leaving the city.
Heather Bangert is involved with several local history projects. Arrington, Austin. Goodson, Martia G. After high school graduation, she moved to Adams County to live with her grandmother. Other than a brief stay in Mattoon, she lived in Quincy for most of her life. Graduation exercises were held just a block away at the Temple B'Nai Sholom. The three new graduates all went to work at Blessing Hospital after the ceremony and reception. Trained nurses were in such demand, they often switched jobs at three or six month intervals. Trained nurses also worked in private duty. In , Fitzgerald and her roommate, Jessie Cline, had a telephone installed so they could receive calls for private duty work, usually in the home.
Fitzgerald valued education and went on to complete postgraduate work at Wesley Hospital in Chicago and the School of Civics and Philanthropy now part of the University of Chicago in nutrition. Fitzgerald, as a previous graduate, was allowed to register without taking the licensure examination. She was now a registered nurse. After years of working private duty at Blessing Hospital and at the Soldiers and Sailors Home, she took a hiatus to raise chickens with her friend, Edith Hall.
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At the same time, her fellow nurse Emily Moore left nursing. The June 26, , Quincy Daily Journal said they "were two of Quincy's most popular and successful trained nurses and during their professional careers gained enviable reputations and established a high mark of efficiency in their calling.
Perhaps raising chickens was the break she needed as the rest of her working life was spent in nursing and welfare work. In the summer of , Fitzgerald was back at Blessing, and when the visiting nurse at Cheerful Home left to take a graduate course in New York, Fitzgerald took over that position temporarily.
The concept of a visiting nurse was first mentioned in Quincy in an speech by Mrs. She talked about Blessing Hospital and the need for a visiting nurse to care for patients in their homes. It was only because of a lack of funds that the program was not started until when the Humane Society joined with the hospital to support that position for the community.
Unfortunately, the project ran out of funds and having a visiting nurse in the community was only sporadically supported until March , when a Visiting Nurse Association was formed in Quincy. The job of a visiting nurse was to give bedside care and teach hygiene, sanitation, nutrition and disease prevention in the home. The program proved to be such a help to the community that by there were three visiting nurses in Quincy.
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Cheerful Home started in with the goal to provide a safe place for children to play and to learn useful things such as gardening, sewing and cooking. Later the home offered day care and meals for children of working mothers, a kindergarten, a gymnasium, mother's clubs, tutors, well baby clinics and a visiting nurse. The home also offered classes in household skills and crafts, and held dances for young people.
From until her retirement in , Fitzgerald worked for Cheerful Home. The newspaper frequently reported her speeches on nutrition given to mother's clubs, women's organizations, churches and school associations. She spoke of the need to keep babies and children healthy with good sanitation, proper foods, clean water, milk and fresh air.
In an Oct. Fitzgerald was active in local and state nursing organizations. The Jan. Let's go is the slogan of Quincy. Why not make it ours? During Fitzgerald's career at Cheerful Home, her special interest was in public welfare work with children. She was "ever faithful, untiring in her devotion to the unfortunate, the ill and the needy. For the last few months of her life, Leona Faber, the Class of and one of Fitzgerald's Cheerful Home "girls," took care of her.
She died of arteriosclerosis on Aug. Her obituary stated, "In Quincy, her name was synonymous with mercy, human understanding and help. The group chose to honor Fitzgerald because of her exemplary career, her activities in state and local alumnae associations, and because she was in the first graduating class.
Arlis Dittmer is a retired medical librarian. During her years with Blessing Health System, she became interested in medical and nursing history -- both topics frequently overlooked in history. After when Dr. It culminated in ratification of a Prohibition Amendment to the U. Constitution on Jan.
The local movement began auspiciously. Quincyans formed their first temperance society in , but it abruptly folded when bystanders spotted its president drinking in public. Soon, though, other groups formed: Sons of Temperance, Quincy Washingtonian Temperance and a branch of American Temperance Life Insurance, which sold policies only to abstaining men. Newspapers started publishing articles beseeching drinkers to denounce debauchery. Aligning itself state-wide, this local movement led to an Illinois law in prohibiting sales of alcohol in quantities less than a quart to anyone under the age of The law also limited consumption to places of purchase.
The legislature, though, repealed this law four years later. The Civil War brought a standstill to the temperance movement as the nation struggled with its greatest crisis.
Soon after the war, though, prohibitionists formed the Illinois Temperance Party to place candidates on state and national ballots, and Quincy established a charter. An Anti-Saloon League also formed here to go "from congregations to ballot boxes. More than 2, local children attending church-sponsored Sabbath Schools signed a temperance pledge and Quincy Public Schools began teaching scientific temperance.
Sir George Williams had founded the nondenominational Young Men's Christian Association in London on the principle of "muscular Christianity"-- the effort to build healthy bodies for fighting off temptations of drink and other evils, and a Quincy chapter began in Three years later, with many Civil War veterans suffering from drunkenness, Quincy's Soldiers and Sailors Home formed a Bible-based temperance league.
After the census, workers documented that Quincy had saloons -- as many drinking establishments per capita as Chicago and St.
Louis -- the city's 12 Protestant churches began "white ribbon" campaigns. Parker Shields of Vermont Street Methodist Episcopal Church delivered a sermon reprinted in the Quincy Daily Whig on November 26, , stating his stance and that of many other clergymen: "We have driven the saloons out of respectable society and next we shall drive it into the sewers and hell where it belongs.
Prior to Shields' condemnation of alcohol, his church had qualified its embrace of abstinence. The Quincy Daily Journal of Nov. Quincy Catholic churches included many members of Italian, Irish and, especially, German descent, traditional drinking cultures. These churches distinguished between "true temperance" and "prohibition. Father Arsenius Fahle voiced this position in a speech delivered in German at St.
In fact it is the most virulent form of intemperance. By Missouri had become a temperate state with 38 dry countries and Illinois had towns which did not sell alcohol. Four years later, Quincy rep. George H. Wilson introduced a bill in the Illinois House to give counties the option to prohibit the sale of alcohol. After the bill passed, Adams County placed a referendum before voters. Despite concerted church and organizational efforts, voters turned down the referendum. The temperance movement continued relentlessly, though, and wary alcohol distributors began touting beer as a healthy alternative to hard liquor and spirits.
Pabst Blue Ribbon made its marketing debut advertising itself as "the most nutritious beer brewed" and a "Budweiser Spells Temperance" campaign began. Even The Rev. John C. Orebaugh, a prominent clergyman and temperance advocate, distinguished between drinking and the medicinal use of alcohol in proclaiming Duffy's Pure Malt Whiskey a "God-given medicine.
After the United States entered World War I, the temperance movement made giant strides when, to conserve them for military use, President Woodrow Wilson limited beer brewers to 70 percent of the grains they had previously used. Later he banned the sale of alcohol to American troops. Many citizens at home seeking vengeance against the war's enemy, Germany, with its longstanding drinking tradition, further propelled the cause.
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The temperance movement climaxed two months after the war ended with the Volstead Act and the 18th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquor. After the celebrations, though, a backlash swept over the city. A speaker at Quincy Presbyterian Church charged that brewers had been German agents working to spread propaganda for the Kaiser. Intemperance became a valid reason for divorce. Police raided the Old Missouri Saloon at Hampshire, a drinking establishment for 60 years, and poured out over barrels of beer onto the streets.
They later turned it into a makeshift temperance hall. Dwight, Ill. Local drugstores began selling "Keeley Cure" and other "medicines"--usually containing alcohol--for drunkards trying to stay on the wagon. Joseph Newkirk is a local writer and photographer whose work has been widely published as a contributor to literary magazines, as a correspondent for Catholic Times, and for the past 23 years as a writer for the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project. He is a member of the reorganized Quincy Bicycle Club and has logged more than 10, miles on bicycles in his life. The Cyclopedia of Temperance and Prohibition.
Merrick, George Byron. Monahan, M. A Text-Book of True Temperance, 2nd ed. New York: United States. From the arrival of Abraham Jonas and his family in through the end of the 19th century, Jews -- despite their tiny numbers -- were essential in laying the foundations of the city of Quincy. They established businesses that made the city prosper and played a large role in civic and charitable affairs. Jonas was a lawyer and state legislator and held the highest Masonic position in Illinois. His wife, Louisa, replaced him as postmaster after his death.
The Jonas family was British and highly literate, and Abraham's brother Samuel was instrumental in the Quincy Public Library's first years, lecturing there and serving as president. Abraham's nephew Lewin Cohen, also a library trustee, was a prominent physician on the faculty of Quincy Medical College and an early officer of the County Health Department. Other Jews who settled in Quincy in the midth century were from present-day Germany and western Poland and encountered some discrimination.
Some in Quincy shared the common belief that Judaism should be respected for its foundational beliefs but had become an archaic, outmoded religion superseded by Christianity. Over time, Jews earned respect, and some became leading citizens. Most Jewish newcomers began in a small way as peddlers or clerks, and then became shopkeepers. Some became successful wholesalers, retailers and manufacturers -- big employers that helped Quincy thrive. Jewish merchants led efforts to pave sidewalks; improve access to the city by water, rail, and road; electrify the city; and host citywide fairs and parades.
Isaac Lesem gave the city a boost in when he hired people, mostly women, to sew Noxall overalls and work shirts. His modern factory featured fire escapes, good lighting and proper ventilation. Public-minded, Lesem was one of the city's top promoters. In , he lobbied in Washington to improve Quincy's wharf. He served on statewide boards, including the Board of Education. Gustav Levi personally made good on all deposits after his bank failed. Morris Goodman, cigar manufacturer, instituted the eight-hour workday in Quincy.
In , J. In , for instance, one-third of those who graduated from Quincy High School were Jewish. Tobacconist Samson Kingsbaker was on the Quincy school board. The first from Quincy to attend normal school, Rebecca Lesem, taught in Quincy. Not only did Jews look after their own through their benevolent and fraternal organizations, they also spearheaded local efforts to fund civic improvements and charities. They were motivated by religious imperative and enthusiasm for their new hometown and its opportunities.
In , the Woodland Home admitted its first Jew to the orphanage's board of directors. From , the orphanage was to be governed by women from each church, "that they contribute to its funds. Isaac Lesem's wife, Kate, was selected from "the Hebrew Society," to broaden the orphanage's financial base. Jews were major backers of Blessing Hospital from the start, particularly Gustav Levi, who was one of its incorporators.
As a young doctor, Sarah Vasen headed the obstetrics department. Quincy's rabbi, like the city's Protestant ministers, urged congregants to support citywide charities. Through the city's Minister's Council, Quincy's rabbi was involved in helping the indigent, and his female congregants helped him. Directed to "help the poor to help themselves," the Associated Charities was a nonsectarian citywide voluntary effort established in Levy and Ben Vasen were among the group's top leaders and contributors. Fannie Wolf visited needy families to offer counsel.
Working closely with the Associated Charities, Alderman Harry Swimmer formulated a plan to canvass neighborhoods for funds. Swimmer ceaselessly promoted the city and ran unsuccessfully for mayor. His wife, Lena, led the successful drive for women to serve on the school board. Jewish women joined Christians in to create the Woman's Council through which Lena Swimmer promoted public parks, street signs and drinking fountains. Jewish women led the council's philanthropic work, with Julia Vasen raising funds to purchase pairs of shoes for school children.
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Julia's husband, Ben, established the city's savings and loan industry. Most 19th-century Jews left Quincy for large cities. Julius Jonas, like many others, moved to Chicago, where he secured the vote to locate the Soldiers' Home in Quincy. When I. Lesem was criticized for having box seats at Quincy's Empire Theater in , he responded by saying that he had just donated 1, loaves of bread to the poor. On Herman Hirsch's death, a newspaper editorialized, "[I]t may be doubted if according to his means there has ever lived in Quincy a man who gave more of time and money for the relief of the poor Cynthia Francis Gensheimer is an independent scholar.
She holds a doctorate in economics and is writing a book about the history of Quincy's Jewish women's benevolence. Cohen, Lewis H. Dulles, ed. Frolick, David A. Gensheimer, Cynthia F. Frolick, "Dr. Minutes of the Board of Lady Managers , Apr. The synagogue's roots can be found in the few Jewish pioneers who began to worship together in , formed a traditionally inclined Congregation B'nai Abraham Children of Abraham in , and when a small band of congregants broke away in because they wanted to practice Reform Judaism.
By , as the result of funds raised by women in a "monster fair," the members of B'nai Sholom purchased a plot of land on Ninth Street between Broadway and Spring on which to build a synagogue. They employed Robert Bunce, a Scottish-born architect to design the building, and he incorporated Byzantine design, including two wooden minarets about eight stories high, to reflect the Oriental roots of Judaism. After an impressive public procession of sacred objects, which also included the Masons, the members of the two congregations, and other clergy, none other than Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, the founder of American Reform Judaism, was the featured speaker when the cornerstone was laid in July Two months earlier, the wooden structure of B'nai Abraham caught fire.
A new brick building and the fire were enough to start congregants from B'nai Abraham to move to B'nai Sholom. By the two congregations had merged. Quincy's location made it an extremely attractive place to live and work, and as a result, more Jews moved here. What would be the apex of the Jewish population of had been reached. When B'nai Sholom was dedicated in , all its pews were spoken for, and it could seat people, it employed a full-time rabbi, and it took its place alongside the religious institutions in the town.
Not only that, its minarets were easily visible alongside the various church steeples. Equally important, while B'nai Sholom followed Reform rites, because of its size and being the only Jewish house of worship, the congregation adopted an unwritten policy of tolerance of practice among its members. Little did those pioneer members know that this time of great joy would be the exact moment when Jewish life in Quincy would begin its decline.
Forces beyond their control began to impinge on the congregation's survival. Opportunities elsewhere, including the expansion of their businesses to other cities and towns, and the attraction of opportunities in the West, caused people to move on. Furthermore, the children of the founders wanted to marry, and opportunities to find a spouse were much greater in cities such as St. Louis, Chicago or Philadelphia. By the mid s, the congregation was looking for ways to attract Quincy's unaffiliated Jews to bolster the membership, such as no dues for young women. From that time until , even with the services of some brilliant young rabbis, the congregation was stretched to its financial limit.
The Hon. Isaac Lesem, who held the presidency of the congregation from to , almost singlehandedly kept the group alive through financial support and willpower. Almost from its founding until the early 20th century, Christians would come to B'nai Sholom to hear the rabbis expound on various topics.
Rabbis and ministers would speak from one another's pulpit, and Jews also would attend some church services. The thirst for intellectual stimulation and hearing another viewpoint was great. The various Jewish observances always received stories in the local papers, along with comings and goings of the important Jewish figures of the city. Just before the death of Rabbi Elias Eppstein, who served from to , a trickle of Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe and Russia began arriving.
Thus, it was assumed that they would give the congregation new lifeblood. However, they were Orthodox in worship and found Reform practices obnoxious.
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Beginning in the congregation went through an especially difficult period, not unlike that which occurred when the Reformers seceded from B'nai Abraham. They had no permanent rabbi from until Budgetary constraints may have also played a part. This was also a signal that rabbis might no longer see B'nai Sholom as an attractive pulpit. The congregation struggled, and the arguments were often fierce, so fierce, in fact, that the "old-timers, as the Orthodox-followers were labeled, began to hold their own high holiday services with their own rabbi.
Despite this schism, the children continued to be educated, and the community socialized with one another. After all, everyone knew that one congregation was the only viable solution. Another small population infusion occurred with the arrival of German Jews escaping from Nazi rule. Most of them were doctors who knew one another as students in Germany, and they attracted one another to come here. The architecture of the building underwent a major change when the two tall minarets were blown down by a tornado that struck Quincy on April 12, They were never replaced, probably because of prohibitive costs.
When Sidney Rothstein was rabbi to , he led an extensive renovation and renewal of the sanctuary in an attempt to re-create its original look. The interior needed refreshing and modernization with new carpeting, rearrangement of the lights, etc. Subsequently, as a sign of an aging population, an interior stairway from the sanctuary to the lower level social hall was installed, and the sanctuary was made accessible for those with disabilities. Until now, Temple B'nai Sholom had always managed to stave off the fate suffered by many other small-town Jewish communities such as Hannibal, Mo.
It seemed that new people would move to town and restore the congregation's hope for the future. But, alas, the situation has reached the point where its few members can no longer manage the building. No doubt, Temple B'nai Sholom has been a gem to the Gem City, but it now gives up its place as the second oldest continuously used synagogue in the United States west of the Allegheny Mountains. David Frolick is a Quincy native who obtained most of his education here. After receiving a Ph. He now lives in Columbus, Ohio, and continues his research on the history of life in Quincy. Landrum, Carl.
Twenty-six-year-old Willard Keyes rafted down the Mississippi River in May and passed the wooded bluffs that would become Quincy on May Congress would soon pass the Missouri Compromise, and the new law would play a role in Keyes' life and in Quincy's early history. Slavery was expanding, and anxious abolitionists such as Keyes were moving to Western Illinois and other border states. The Missouri Compromise of was supposed to keep a balance between free and slave states by admitting Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state.
Willard Keyes was born in Vermont on Oct. He worked with his father on a farm but as a young man decided to explore the west. Willard Keyes was a well-read frontiersman. He lived in Wisconsin for two years running a mill and teaching school. He wasn't done exploring. He and a friend assembled a raft and left Prairie du Chien in April They floated down the Mississippi River ending eventually in St. In February , Keyes visited the federal land office in Edwardsville, Ill. The two men joined a group of men who were exploring the bounty lands. The group traveled up the Illinois River Valley until the Beardstown area and then turned west, camping near the present day Camp Point, before continuing west to what is now Pike and Adams counties.
Although unalike in character, Wood and Keyes developed a lifelong friendship beginning with their detailed exploration and settlement in southwestern sections of military tract land; land given to veterans of the War of Wood and Keyes farmed in Pleasant Vale Township in Pike County for two years before settling at the promontory Keyes had passed three years earlier.
They arrived in , when the confusing state of slavery in Illinois was threatening to overturn its original admittance as a free state in Most of the early settlers in Illinois were from slave states or were French, who also had slaves. These settlers were hoping to pass a referendum for a constitutional convention to change Illinois to a slave state.
The referendum was defeated Aug. Edward Coles, and literal trailblazers like Wood, Keyes and other young settlers. They helped counterattack pro-slavery forces with discussions and voting campaigns, reaching out to the sparsely populated Illinois frontier. John Wood was the first to settle in Quincy, building a cabin in , while Keyes remained in Pike County.
He came to Quincy in , building the second cabin near Vermont and Front streets. The cabin was later used as a courtroom. Adams County was founded in , and Keyes became one of the county commissioners.
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He was integral to the early organization of the city and county, holding several positions in the fledgling government. Another brother and founder of Atlas, Col. William Ross, knew them well. They had speculated and surveyed many acres of Pike County land together, and Ross had accompanied Keyes and Wood on an exploration trip 40 miles north of Atlas to Quincy's future site.
Keyes' first wife, Laura Harkness died in leaving three children. In , Keyes married Cornelia Burgess, who died a few months later. He then married Mary C. Folsom in , and they had five children. The s also brought a deeper involvement with the anti-slavery movement. Elijah Parish Lovejoy. Keyes also became an Illinois agent for the Philanthropist, a new abolitionist paper in Cincinnati founded by James Birney.
Keyes knew and supported Illinois abolitionists the Rev. David Nelson of the Presbyterian Church. Keyes also was recognized for his contribution to "American Slavery As It Is," with his name appearing in this controversial book published by Theodore Dwight Weld. Weld was a national leader in the abolition movement, and Keyes' association with him and the Philanthropist invited criticism from his slave-owning neighbors across the Mississippi River.
The co-founder of Quincy also was secretary and treasurer for David Nelson's Mission Institute, a missionary training school in Quincy that secretly shuttled fugitive slaves to Canada. In he and other trustees from Quincy purchased land near 24th and Maine streets to build an Institute campus. They also bought a acre tract in Melrose Township that was bogged down with marshes.
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