Last weekend’s Strawberry Fest featured lovely weather and a healthy attendance. The Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association generously pledged to donate a portion of the admission fees to help offset the costs of needed restoration for our Historic Covered Bridge. The happy result is pictured above, as Ryan Messner, President of the HDLGBA presents a giant check to Diane Trickey, Treasurer of the Long Grove Historical Society, during the June 27th Village Board meeting. It is exciting to see donations such as these–earmarked for covered bridge restoration–start to accumulate, and this is only the beginning. Stay tuned as efforts continue over the summer and into the fall as the residents, merchants, Historical Society, and other community groups work together in raising funds to “Save the Bridge.”
Longtime residents in the area remember fondly the combination smokehouse-restaurant-general store that was located on Rt. 83 and Gilmer Road in Long Grove, called the Country Smokehouse. Closed since 1999, the popular spot featured old-fashioned meats smoked in the historic smokehouse on the property (which is still standing), a deli, and a seven table restaurant serving up country breakfasts and hearty lunches daily. Owner of the business, Bernice Ann Tiffany, has passed away, and her daughter Jane recently contacted me to see if the Historical Society would like some donations of pictures, documents, and other antique items from the Smokehouse and Ferry Farms, the dairy farm and creamery that originally stood on the property. We were very excited to receive these items and happily welcomed the “pigs” back home today to live in our 1840 Historic Ruth Barn! We will be able to incorporate the signs into our field trip program for the local 3rd Graders when they visit to spend the day in our one-room schoolhouse and learn about local history and life in the pioneer and early farming days.
Ferry Farms was the home of Ferryhill Dairy in the 1930’s, and the Country Smokehouse was part of the original estate. It featured an original tin ceiling and shelving that dated back more than 50 years, chock-full of grocery items much like an old-time general store. Many of Bernice Tiffany’s regular customers shared their pig-collecting mania with her, resulting in hundreds of cute pink porkers on display in the restaurant along with the old-time memorabilia. We are grateful to Jane and Ken for saving many of these ties to the past, and for sharing them now with the Long Grove community.
Each year at this time, the Long Grove Historical Society holds an annual meeting. It provides a nice opportunity to gather and celebrate the accomplishments of the past twelve months, thank the retiring officers, start brainstorming for the year ahead, and install the new executive board members. Last fall when I announced my retirement from the Village Board, and talk was floated that perhaps I would consider coming back to serve as President of the Historical Society again, the current President (my loving husband) quipped that, “well, I don’t know, she’d have some awfully big shoes to fill.” Admittedly, he was joking, but the rest of the women in the room lost no time in setting him straight. So I could not resist the opportunity to prove to everyone at the annual meeting that yes, in fact I can fill his shoes, and in 4 inch heels no less!
Teasing aside, the Historical Society has enjoyed a very successful year under Aaron’s leadership with the October Ghostwalk event in the downtown getting even bigger and better, and it will be a hard act to follow. The partnership between the Historical Society, Downtown Merchants, and the Long Grove Community Church has now grown beyond the Ghostwalk to include collaborating on activities for Vintage Days and advocating for the preservation of our one-lane historic covered bridge. Look for all of these activities to continue into the remainder of 2017 and 2018, with some new ideas thrown in for good measure. I am very enthused to be working with our new and returning Historical Society board members to preserve, share, and celebrate our unique Long Grove history. We hope that you will join with us!
Today I have invited a guest to write a post for my blog–none other than Aaron Underwood, President of the Long Grove Historical Society. Aaron writes a regular column on Long Grove history for our local lifestyle magazine, and this favorite artifact of mine was the subject of a recent article. Wait, I mean the mousetrap pictured above is a favorite artifact–but I guess the author is a valuable treasure too! Anyway, enjoy the following story which recently appeared in Long Grove Living:
Of Mice and Men
One of the joys of living in Long Grove is being in such close proximity to a variety of living creatures. Unfortunately, all those majestic animals are far outnumbered by those little pesky ones, such as the humble field mouse. When seasons change, it seems our local mice prefer the sanctuary of our homes rather than the acres of open space where they belong. The earliest settlers of Long Grove fought the battle to rid their homes of mice just like we do. One of the favorite artifacts in our restored 1840’s farmhouse, is a wire mousetrap. We think it dates to the late 1800’s and likely was sold out of one of Long Grove’s general stores.
The trap is laid with bait in the center and lures mice through a levered flap that is angled such that the mouse can “nose through” to enter, but can’t raise the flap to exit. The trap works as good today as it ever did. If evolution ever decides to bless the mouse with opposable thumbs, the effectiveness of this trap will go astray. Come to think of it, mice with upgraded thumbs might doom all of us.
The classic wooden mouse “snap” trap that you find sold in Long Grove today was invented in 1898. Given the extremely fertile “mouse friendly” environment we live in, perhaps it’s not surprising that the classic “snap” trap was invented in Illinois, about 150 miles from Long Grove. It was noteworthy in that it didn’t rely on gravity, but rather was spring powered. Called the “Little Nipper”, the design remains virtually unchanged today.
Recently a brewery in Chicago received much publicity for the feral cats they use to patrol their grain stores. Our own Long Grove Village Hall occasionally does this as well. When I moved here almost twenty years ago, we employed a cat named Drexler, and he was succeeded by another feline affectionately known as Drexler II. Like many roles in our community, these stray cats are unpaid volunteers. The role of Village mouse catcher is currently unfilled and available for the stray looking for some community service. To apply, simply show up at Village Hall looking hungry, meow a lot, and get to work. Not to take issue with anyone who may have reserved the name Drexler III for any new recruit, but might we dub the new mouse antagonist “Little Nipper” instead?
— Aaron Underwood, President, Long Grove Historical Society
Reading the title of this post might cause you to ask, “What do these three things have to do with Long Grove?” On the Historical Society’s October 28th Ghost Walk, not only could you find zombies, wolves, and an evil doll residing in our village, but the Ghost of Cuba Road materialized as well to scare the nearly 300 children and parents who participated. The Halloween fun kicked off Friday afternoon with Trick-or-Treating in the historic downtown shops. It was delightful to see so many cutely costumed kiddos as I was purchasing embellishments to add to my own witch getup for later that evening.
Serving as a tour guide, it was my job to safely navigate families of willing “victims” through our haunted historic district. The route took us past the line of scarecrows on Towner Green, some of which were not quite dead. The zombie dancers at In-Motion returned again this year to entertain, as did crazy Jake Eisler and his stick of dynamite. Good thing Jake was a die-hard Cubs fan, coming back from the grave to listen to the world series game and give us updates on the score! The Long Grove Community Church welcomed us in for a tour of their 1800’s cemetery, featuring the real-life tombstone of one past Long Grovian named Fredriche Krueger. Yes, “Freddy Krueger” was indeed lurking about, as well as many other spirits of the past. A trip back to the safety of the village involved crossing our haunted covered bridge, and a journey through Red Riding Hood’s spooky, wolf infested woods. The tour concluded this year with perhaps the most spine-tingling story of the evening, as Mike Dvorack used sound and light effects to tell the tale of “Arabella” the seemingly sweet yet secretly sinister doll. One father of a 5 year old confided in me that his daughter would probably now be sleeping in Mom & Dad’s bed for the next night or two! Having fun scaring the children….accomplished.
Here’s hoping that your Halloween is equally thrilling and chilling!
Even though we enjoyed summer-like temperatures in Long Grove today, it also happens to be the Autumnal Equinox, which signifies the official first day of Fall. The blooming goldenrod in my conservancy is another sign, as are the leaves in the trees that are just starting to come down. I love the smell of burning leaves this time of year, and today was a perfect day to have the top down in my convertible and take in the scent of the season.
I’m excited about the many community activities we have planned for the Fall season in Long Grove, starting with the Apple Festival this weekend! Don’t miss all the fun kids activities, musical entertainment, and apple treats in this annual celebration in our historic downtown, September 23-25. I can already taste that caramel apple now! For a full schedule of events visit http://longgrove.org/
The Long Grove Park District is sponsoring a Build Your Own Scarecrow event (with prizes!) on Saturday October 1st at Reed-Turner Nature Center. Check out http://lgparks.org/ for more details.
Now through October 9th is Oktoberfest at the Village Tavern. The beer tent is up and running and for more information visit their website at http://www.villagetavernoflonggrove.com/
And I have to give a plug for my personal favorite community event of the Fall season, the Historical Society Ghost Walk. In it’s fourth year, this fun family event just keeps getting bigger and better. The spooks are planning another spectacularly scary event this year on Friday night, October 28th. To register your desire to be haunted, visit their website at http://longgrovehistory.org/
Long Grove is a beautiful place to be in the Fall. However you choose to partake of the season, I hope it creates enjoyable memories.
As part of the Vintage Days festivities last weekend, the Long Grove Historical Society hosted a Penny Carnival on the grounds of their restored 1860’s farmhouse. This was not a fundraiser, but rather an event to connect with the community in a family friendly way and participate with the downtown merchants in a lower-key, local festival. It was a huge success and a perfect result of residents coming together to make something special happen.
First off, you could not have asked for a more beautiful summer day–cool, clear, and comfortable. The girl scouts and Historical Society volunteers were ready and waiting, after spending the previous weeks concocting games to entertain our local families. For example, my household was home to the creation and construction of both the “More Cowbell, Baby” bag toss, and the “NASA Frog Launcher” game. Other vintage-inspired games included the penny toss, bottle rings, duck pond, and tin can knock-over. The cost to play was one penny, and the kids received tickets which could be redeemed at the end for prizes such as penny-candy, trinkets, and small stuffed animals.
As this was a first-time event, nobody knew just how many families to expect, if any. We were pleasantly overwhelmed with nearly 150 families spending their Sunday afternoon having old-fashioned fun on the farmhouse lawn. I was supposed to conduct tours of the museum, but instead was assigned to pitch in running a game and I served a constant line of happy children for two hours straight! I don’t know whether to blame Mike Dvorak, our “carnival barker” or John Kopecky, our “wagon driver” for bringing in the crowds, but at one point I looked up to a line of 30 strollers parked all in a row and knew our expectations had been exceeded. In a wonderful way!
When I look back at my years as Village President, there are some days and experiences that will be remembered as pure joy.
In one of my favorite movies, Beauty and the Beast, Lumiere delightedly sings his famous tune “Be Our Guest“ as he prepares the castle to welcome visitors. Recently, my official duties have included welcoming several groups of guests to our modest but beloved municipal “castle,” Village Hall. This post will highlight two of these spring visits that I’ve had the pleasure of hosting.
On May 23rd, 80 third grade students and their teachers from Country Meadows Elementary School in Long Grove made a field trip to Village Hall as a part of a unit they are studying on community and government. The students learned about our own local government, and how we fit into the layers of county, state and federal government. We discussed the types of things our staff and elected officials do for the community, and what my job of Village President entails. For show & tell I passed around my gavel and shiny, official Village President badge, which was a big hit. The kids were also highly engaged when we did some role-playing, with student volunteers sitting at the board table as Trustees to help debate and decide one of the actual issues on the Village Board agenda for the following night: Should we allow the addition of carnival rides to the downtown Long Grove Summer Fest scheduled for June 24-26? Despite some very good discussion on safety concerns, it will probably come as no surprise to learn that all of our young residents voted in favor of this proposal! I promised the students that I would share their input with the Trustees at the meeting the following night, and in fact our actual board members took the future board members’ advice as the agenda item passed. Following their time in Village Hall, the field trip continued with a tour of the Archer one-room Schoolhouse, Outhouse, Pioneer Herb Garden and Ruth Barn, with help from docents Amy Gayton and Aaron Underwood of the Long Grove Historical Society. It was a delight to host our students from Country Meadows and sharing in their enthusiasm and energy was uplifting.
Another equally dynamic and energetic group was welcomed to our Village Hall and historic buildings on June 2nd, when I hosted the quarterly meeting of the Women’s Leadership Council of United Way of Lake County. Over $60,000. in grant funds was presented to local agencies and programs with the goal of increasing early childhood literacy and kindergarten readiness in the most high risk areas of Lake County. Hearing directly from the educators about the impact these grants make in the lives of the children was meaningful, as was the giant, glittery thank you card the kids created for us! The women of WLC appreciated the charming and relaxed atmosphere of the entire evening in Long Grove, from the start at Village Hall and continuing with tours of the historic buildings until ending at Broken Earth Winery. A nice benefit of my job is being able to share with others some of my favorite places in our Village.
A school, a cemetery, a ball field, a restaurant…these are just a few of the things in Long Grove that have used the name Gridley. It all started back in 1835 when John and Nancy Gridley and their six children (Elisha, George, John T., Elizabeth, Mary Ann, and Louisa) boarded a steamer, then a canal boat, and finally a wagon to make their way to where Long Grove is today. Why move into the wilderness from their “civilized” home in New York? John had a leather tanning business out East, but due to the poor economy in the mid 1830’s thought he would try his hand at farming. So the Gridley family went to where good land was available–Illinois. John and his sons built a home from logs and began laying out roads. Hard to imagine Long Grove without any roads, let alone traffic, isn’t it? The Gridley School was built in 1838 and was the first in the area. Two of the school teachers eventually married into the family as brides to sons Elisha and George. Nancy and a few other women who had moved into the area started the first church (also a log structure) in Lake County, what is now known as Ivanhoe Church.
Sons George and John tried their luck in the Gold Rush of 1849 and relocated to California. When things didn’t “pan out” as they had hoped, the men returned to Long Grove. Son Elisha built a dramatic mansion near the intersection of Oakwood Road and Rt. 83 called Endwood. This was later turned into a resort called Oakwood at the turn of the century. The mansion no longer exists, as it was demolished in the 1940’s. Many of the pioneering family members are buried in the Gridley Cemetery, which is maintained by the Long Grove Historical Society.
Thanks to my friends in the Historical Society for helping me research and fact-check this. Our local group survives on donations and volunteers and is a great resource for those wanting to know more about our Long Grove history. Check them out at longgrovehistory.org.
As 2015 winds to a close it is natural to take a look back at all the changes one year can bring. Some things are gained and carry forward into the new year, and some things remain behind in our memories. Earlier this year we said goodbye to one of my favorite residents, Bob Borg, who was a member of our Conservancy & Scenic Corridor Committee, Park District Board of Trustees, and Historical Society. Bob donated countless hours of his time over the years to maintain the open spaces and historical buildings that give our Village some of its distinctive character. This Fall the bridge leading over the creek from Village Hall to the Archer one-room schoolhouse was renovated, a project that Bob had initiated. Our bridge is now safe for the students who visit on field trips and accessible for wheelchairs and riding lawnmowers, and yet it maintains the country charm. I know that Bob would be pleased. To honor his contributions and legacy to Long Grove, the Historical Society placed a monument stone at the entrance to the bridge on October 21st. The stone is large and sturdy (just like Bob) and set at a laid-back angle (he was a laid-back kinda guy!) and was christened with a toast and a sacrificial bottle of whiskey (don’t worry, the contents had been previously enjoyed).
So as we move on into 2016, let us remember those special people and memories that for 2015 marked a turning point. The new year ahead is certain to bring some changes, for our Village as well as in each of our own lives. I will close with a quote that I like from former President John F. Kennedy:
“Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”