Sampler Lecture Series
The McHenry County Historical Society & Museum’s 32nd annual Sampler Lecture Series, kicking off March 5, spans a myriad of topics – from the historic ties that bind us as a state to arguably the most infamous shipwreck of the modern era.
• 3 p.m., Monday, March 5 – Binding Our State Together: 200 Years of Canals, Railroads, Postal Services and Roads. Presented by Norman Moline. Moline, a historical geographer from Rock Island, will provide a broad survey of the development of Illinois’ connections since 1818. After noting how our state’s shape was determined, learn about the Illinois and Michigan Canal and the Hennepin Canal, railroad expansion, significant highway connections and the evolution of postal service – including free urban delivery and then rural delivery. Moline earned his doctorate at the University of Chicago, focusing on the impacts of the automobile and good roads from 1900 to 1930. He taught for 45 years at Augustana College in Rock Island.
• 7 p.m., Monday, March 19 – The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Presented by Rochelle Pennington, a historical researcher from Kewaskum, Wis. and author of 10 books including “The Historic Christmas Tree Ship: The Story of Captain Santa.” No other Great Lakes shipwreck is more well-known than the Edmund Fitzgerald, which remains the largest shipwreck on the Great Lakes and among its most enticing mysteries. She disappeared into a stormy Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975, when wind gusts peaked at nearly 100 miles an hour and waves reached the height of three-story buildings. Pennington delves into the various theories and opposing views of dive detectives, who still are trying to determine what circumstances led to the deaths of 29 crewmen.
• 3 p.m. Monday, April 2 – From Our Own Back Yard: A Woman Empowered. Presented by Craig Pfannkuche, at retired history teacher and genealogical researcher from Wonder Lake. McHenry County was the home of a goodly number of women who made a difference in American history. One of them was Lillian Donovan, a Harvard resident who befriended Franklin Delano Roosevelt and later was appointed as a federal revenue collector in Chicago when Roosevelt became president in 1933. Learn about this interesting woman and her connection to one of the world’s most influential leaders.
• 7 p.m. Monday, April 16 – How Corn Changed Itself and Then Changed Everything Else. Presented by Cynthia Campitt, an author and food historian from Palatine. About 10,000 years ago, a weedy grass growing in Mexico that possessed a strange trait known as a “jumping gene” transformed itself into a larger and more useful plant: the cereal grass that we would come to know as maize and then as corn. Illinois is second only to Iowa, as an American corn-growing state. And McHenry County outpaces all other Collar Counties in corn production. Illinois and corn are inexorably linked, yet few realize its historic impact and why it remains so vital today.
All programs are at the Society museum, 6422 Main St. in Union. Series tickets are $35, $30 for Society members. A $10 donation is requested for individual programs. The bicentennial and maize programs are made possible through a grant from Illinois Humanities. For information or to buy tickets, call 815-923-2267 or visit www.gothistory.org.