The Old Settlers’ Picnic.
Originally Published in the Kendall County News, September 24, 1885.
Edited and Compiled by Elmer Dickson.
Last Thursday morning before ten o’clock, carriages filled with people began to file through the gates of the fair ground. That day the old settlers, as well as a great many young settlers of Kendall County and vicinity were up and doing chores early in the morning, and before noon some four hundred and fifty conveyances had passed the gates, bringing from fifteen hundred to two thousand people to the grounds.
The exercises were to have commenced at 10:30 a.m. but as the Reverend Andrew W. Chapman, who was expected to respond to the address of welcome, had not put in an appearance, for some other reason, matters were delayed until twelve o’clock, when the meeting was called to order by the President Lewis G. Steward, followed by prayer by Father Beggs. This was followed by lots of martial music. This kind of music is just the sort for such occasions, as it is inspiring as well as old fashioned, and besides that, it is not expensive. Expenses ought to be considered in these gatherings, as it is desired that the people come together, and have as little expense as possible. There should be, more or less, no outlay which needs be shared by the gathering. As a matter of course the excellent bands throughout the county cannot be expected to give the day, without reimbursement of their expenses, so let us have fife and drum.
The Honorable George M. Hollenback gave the address of welcome. It was in his usual sensible and happy style, which was fully appreciated and loudly applauded. As Reverend Chapman had not yet arrived the Reverend Mr. Stokes, of Yorkville, was invited to respond and we feel free to say that he proved himself one of the “Minute Men.”
After the response, the Memorial address by Mrs. Delia A. Aldrich was supposed to follow. However the delay in the morning brought the address at one o’clock, when everyone was tired and hungry.
Considering the lateness of the hour, Mrs. Aldrich considerably abridged the address, speaking less than thirty minut4es, mostly upon incident and experience in her early life in a new country, with some ideas about the home. We are empowered by Mrs. Aldrich to say what most of the friends already know; that she is not a good public speaker, but in her homely bungling way, sometimes gets off wholesome truths.
The address was followed by dinner, which was all the more relished because of its lateness.
At two o’clock the meeting came to order and more music followed. The vocal music by a young lady and gentleman, whose names we could not learn, was most excellent.
Mrs. Galt, of Aurora, spoke a few minutes right to the point on the home and family. This was our first meeting with Mrs. Galt, who is yet a young woman, and as we listened to her words so well chosen, with the masterly manner in which she handled her subject, and so thoroughly at home on the platform we thought “what a field this gifted woman has before her; may she live to till it well and reach an abundant harvest.
Mrs. Beggs followed Mrs. Galt, but the hum of voices had become so loud that much of what she said was lost, but we gathered enough to learn that she too was speaking of home and the training of children, with meaning something like the following. If Mr. Smith wants his son to marry Mr. Brown’s daughter, then Mr. Smith should rear his son to be a fit companion for Mr. Brown’s daughter. Otherwise Brown might object, and with good reason to giving his carefully reared, lovely child to the man who has spent his early life “sowing wild oats,” as the chances are that he would have a frequent crop to harvest all the rest of his life. In short, sons should be brought up as carefully, and with the same good habits and principles that the daughter possesses, to make life’s journey a pleasant one. The subject is one of immense importance and was well presented by Mrs. Beggs.
Mr. Brady (Lorenzo D. Brady), now of Aurora spoke a few cheerful words to the friends assembled, after which the officers for the coming year were elected.
Smith G. Minkler was elected President and the previous Board of Vice-Presidents continued in office. It was decided to hold the annual picnic for 1886 on the fair grounds the time to be determined and publicized in our county papers.
These Old Settlers’ Picnics are not only good places to tell your experience but excellent places to get experience, which we might make some mention of in this report, which is prepared by request. Eleven o’clock is early enough to call the meeting to order, as many friends live at a distance and cannot arrive sooner. A short address of welcome with responses of five or ten minutes, and no other address of any kind, would close the forenoon’s exercises promptly at the noon hour. Then if appropriate, reconvene the meeting at two o’clock in the afternoon, and have a few toasts, followed by “short and spicy” responses.
Some such plan would give more time for visiting, which is the real object of these picnics, which is the meeting of friends to engage in pleasant interchanges of greetings.
The fair grounds are already a lovely spot for such meetings and doubtless will be greatly beautified and improve in the near future. Last Saturday, in company with several other ladies, your correspondent attended the meeting of the Board of Agriculture, and was pleased to listen to the discussions upon several proposals for improving the fair grounds, which are now under consideration and in all probability will be acted upon at an early day. President, Loucks, who is continuing in office, is the right man in the right place. This is true of the other officers as well. They are all working together for the best interests of the Society, and are heartily supported by a large attendance of the successful and enterprising men of our county. Certainly it cannot be long before these grounds will become all that the most fastidious could desire. When for at least one day in the year, there shall come together from far and near, a crowded audience, full of human life in all its stages of existence. It is your correspondent’s wish that they may spend the day in unalloyed happiness. Millington, Illinois, September 21, 1885.
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