Posts Tagged ‘Civil War’

There are two momentous occasions that are being commemorated  this month in the United States. Just a few calendar days from each other, they occurred 100 years apart. The first occasion, yesterday, was the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s  Gettysburg Address. The second commemoration, November 22, is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I hope to find time to write about President Kennedy’s assassination in a few days. This morning, however, I felt a need to share President Lincoln’s address.

Many of you, growing up in the United States and of a certain age, know of the Battle of Gettysburg. The devastation  that battle wrought. The lives lost on that battlefield. The carnage. Many of you were required to memorize the Gettysburg Address, especially if you lived in Illinois. Less than 300 words in length, it was probably spoken by Abraham Lincoln in less than three minutes. It remains burned in our minds, still, and I hope that students are still learning of it.

It is one of the most memorable speeches by any U.S. President.

The photo, as well as this version of the speech are from the National Portraits Galleries site, Face-to-Face. It is a wonderful website and can be found here.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. November 19, 1863


Winslow Homer


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I  love the romance of a gristmill, though I know they were (and sometimes still are) purposed for hard work: the grinding of wheat and corn. They just always seem so quaint to me, though they are sturdy wheels of labor that have survived centuries of toil. They are full of stories and secrets in amongst the harvests of grain. That they are largely built along streams and rivers only adds to my idealized notions.

I pass a pre-Civil War gristmill several times a week. It always beckons, though I rarely succumb to the lure. The Graue Mill is in Hinsdale, a mere 10 minutes or so from our life on the Cutoff. I wrote about it one winter’s day here. It sits close to the road and the woods around it hold plenty of paths to walk. The Graue Mill and its environs is a popular place for school field trips and wedding portraits.

Friday was such a glorious Autumn day with the sun illuminating the foliage to its best advantage. As I drove past the mill, it looked so inviting that I turned my car around, parked, and took a quick spin around the gristmill.

The mill was working on Friday; the massive wheel turning as the Salt Creek pushed through.

The Graue Mill provides fresh stone ground meal for purchase in season. There are also homespun goods, jams and jellies, books and cards for sale. I’m not overly fond of the meal for cornbread, but, some jelly caught my fancy.

The Graue Mill was a station in the Underground Railroad in the mid-1800’s, providing safe harbor to runaway slaves. Inside the mill are display cases and artifacts of this time in our country’s history and the part this site played in it.

The lull of the water turning the wheel on such a crisp and brilliant day had me imagining life in the 1850’s when this area was first settled. I am grateful for the visionaries who refurbished the mill and have kept it going all of these years.

As I entered the mill, I could hear the wheel working and feel its vibrations on the sturdy wood floors. Inside, one can climb several flights up to view artifacts from the 1800’s; children’s playthings, tools, merchandise, spinners and weavers. In the basement are the inner workings of the gristmill, and the whisperings in the walls of the Americans who sought shelter and freedom. Sobering moments to experience.

This picture is blurry, but, it gives you an idea of what a gristmill’s mechanisms are like. It is good to recall the history of an area and the Graue Mill does just that. I was glad I stopped in for a short visit.

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