Monday, June 27, 2016

Just another Hodge Podge

I didn't make it out last week (Probably because of that big presentation I did at the library) so here is an assortment of photo's that I didn't post from past expeditions. Either there wasn't enough photo's, or I couldn't find any documentation on them, etc. I'm going out again this week though so there's going to be fresh material for your 4th of July weekend. Promise! Until then enjoy these.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Just how Odd are You?

Recently in our travels we made our way up to Lee Center. We had heard of an old hotel/stage coach stop that way and we wanted to see if we could find it. ( We did ). But as it turns out there's a few more interesting buildings in Lee Center besides the hotel so we went Exploring.

Dedicated on Wednesday, September the 10th, 1913 the Odd Fellows lodge # 1004 was installed in a brand new building donated by Ninety three year old Abigail Haskell in remembrance of her husband. Though elderly and frail she attended the dedication ceremonies and the Grand Ball that occurred that evening.

The lodge held their meetings in the upper floors of the structure while downstairs it was used at first for storage but later turned into a grocery store. I couldn't find the date the lodge folded, perhaps one of my readers might share that?

The day we stopped the current owner of the building graciously allowed us to come onto the property and snap some photo's and gave Lil' Nick a brief history of the building. Of particular interest to Tom were the two cornerstones on either end of the building which according to the owner contained time capsules. He made a couple remarks, purely in jest I'm sure, about coming back one dark night and making off with them!

This is just one of several intriguing spots up in Lee Center to go and see. So if you ever want to get out of the house and decide on a road trip you might consider meandering up that way.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

He survived thru a twist of fate.

The year was 1929 and Chicago was a hotbed of gangster activity. Rival gangs fought amongst themselves for control of the city's lucrative underworld market's. Prohibition was the law of the land and illegal sales and distribution of alcohol built empires and made ordinary mobsters Kings.

Two of the most notorious were the North side Irish gang of Bugs Moran and the South side Italian gang of Alphonse Capone. On February 14th  a meeting had been set up to supposedly purchase liquor stolen from Al Capone's gang. The men were surprised by four men, two dressed as policemen and two in plainclothes posing as an undercover raiding party. But far from actual law enforcement officers they were members of the Capone gang who lined seven men up in a garage on North Clark street and executed them at point blank range. Seven men cut down in the prime of their lives.

But there was supposed to be Nine.

In 1929 Leo Mongoven of Lee county was described as a Dangerous public enemy and a top machine gunner for Bugs Moran. He and his boss were supposed to be at that garage with the others. But in an ironic twist of fate Mongoven stopped to buy a pack of cigarettes. They arrived in time to see police cars at the scene and immediately turned around and left.

In time prohibition was repealed and gang activity was sharply curtailed. Al Capone ended up in prison and the gangs broke up, reformed, and broke up again. Bugs Moran died in prison in 1957.

The garage on Clark street is gone, now a parking lot for a nursing home. The bricks from the wall where seven men died went thru a number of owners before being donated to the Mob museum in Las Vegas.

And Leo Mongoven? He lived a long life, dying in 1980 at the ripe age of 84. To find this marker go up to Amboy to the Catholic cemetery. Go in the first entrance and it will be on the right side of the lane about 100 feet from the entrance.

A big thank you to William Eckberg for passing along this story to us.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The forgotten Mormon cemetery

Just outside of Amboy, past the Catholic cemetery is a turnoff to the Left called appropriately enough Mormon road. Take that and go down a mile or two and off to the right side and nearly invisible from the road is a forgotten and abandoned Mormon cemetery.

The Mormons arrived in the Amboy area around the 1830's and settled down to an uneasy existence which was only made worse by the death of  Joseph Smith in 1844. The church split off into several splinter groups one of which was the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ. This was the group in Lee county.

The cemetery was organized in the middle of the 19th century with the first burial in 1854. All told there are only about twenty one graves there that have been found. The day that we visited we only found two headstones, both in severe disrepair. It's clear that in another couple of years there will be nothing left that's legible.

If there's any genealogists out there that want to go take some tracings of these headstones my advice is go soon. To find it drive down Mormon road and look for a modern house on the left sides of the road. The cemetery is on the opposite side of the road. There's a short drive up a hill to get to it but it was easily navigable. ( Once we found it ).