MILLBURN CHURCH TO RECALL ITS CENTURY'S WORK
Three Day Celebration Starts on Friday
The First Congregational church and Religious Society of Milburn,
founded 100 years ago, will recall its century of work at a three
day celebration next Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Rev. Melvin
Lynn Frank, pastor, and Leslie Bonner, chairman of the centennial
committee, have announced the program.
Dr. Ernest Graham Guthrie, director of the Chicago Congregational
union, will speak at the opening dinner Friday night. The
centennial worship convenes at 11 o'clock Sunday morning and the
program will continue thru the day. Dr. Carter Davidson,
president of Knox college, Galesburg, Ill., will be the guest
speaker for the 8 o'clock festival service in the church
An Ancient Cavalcade.
Around 3 o'clock in the afternoon, young members of the Christian
endeavor society will drive up to the church in old surreys,
buggies and lumber wagons. They will be dressed in 19th century
gowns and suits dug out of old trunks in the attic or copied from
photographes in the family album. The young people will attend
the historical tea and take part in the program.
Inside the comparatively new church--it is the fourth structure
and it was built in 1937--there will be an exhibition of relics
and records of the church and the community. A complete story of
the church will be found in the clerk's books.
Scotch homesteaders who settled in northern Lake county in 1838
and 1839 started the church. As soon as they were able to set
their grist mills and saw mills to turning, they met informally as
Protestant freemen for prayer services. First they met in log
cabins and later built a log sanctuary among the trees along Mill
Aided Escaping Slaves.
In September, 1840, the Rev. Flavel Bascom, agent of the American
Home Missionary society, helped the homesteaders to organize a
church and obtain the services of the Rev. E. G. Howe as their
During the period preceding the Civil war, Milburn church was a
station on the underground railroad engaged in smuggling runaway
slaves to freedom in Canada.
The Rev. William Bradford Dodge, minister from 1844 to 1862, was
one of the church's outstanding personalities. A militant
abolitionist and abstainer, he was preacher, legal adviser,
arbitrator and educator for the frontier community. In 1857 the
Rev. Mr. Dodge helped to establish the Millburn Mutual Fire
Insurance company, which is still operating under a special
charter as the oldest mutual company in Illinois.
Assisting Mr. Bonner with centennial activities are Mr. and Mrs.
J. S. Denman, Thomas Harness, Miss Bernice Bauman, Mrs. J. G.
Bonner, and Mrs. Emmett King.
4 September 1940
TIME TURNED BACK IN OLD CHURCH FETE
Millburn Dons Costumes of a Century Ago
to Rededicate Church on 100th Birthday;
by Athlyn Deshais
Tourists on Highway 45 stepped on their brakes yesterday afternoon
at Millburn, and pressed trembling hands across dazed eyes,
wondering if the quaint picture they saw was the real thing."
Maids in plumes and shirred black bonnets. Wasp-waist velvet
jackets. Voluminous trailing skirts. Youths in silk hat and
frock coat. Forty, at least, all Christian Endeavor members,
riding blissfully in surries, buggies, carts and carriages, round
and round the First Congregational church, which spent the weekend
in celebration of the founding of the faith in the community, one
hundred years ago.
A near-tragedy was the upsetting of the phaeton in which Billie
Herrick and Don Truax were cantering, when the big brown bays in
the following cart danced out of control and crashed against the
phaeton, throwing Miss Herrick to the ground. She came up
smiling, and reported only the breaking of her eye-glasses and
slight bruises about the shoulder.
From Previous Era
Young people wearing garments dating from 1840 to the turn of the
century were Mildred and Bernice Bowman, Lois Bonner, Jean Culver,
Alice and Margaret Denman, Doris Jamison, Earl Bowman, Carol
Truax, Howard Bonner, Robert Denman, Clarence Hauser, Lyman
Bonner, Frank De Young and Lloyd Miller among others. Marion
Connelly, Lake county's young equestrienne de luxe, led the
parade, and this time the daring young stunt girl was riding side-
A note sweet and true was the solemn baby, Donna Kane, with long,
starched white dress, seated on the lap of her mother, the former
Grace Denman, in a family carriage. This, perhaps, was the
crowning tin-type of the lot.
The phaeton accident occurred on the way back from the cemetery,
where all Millburn and its roving brethren had been impelled by
nostalgia to return to the scene of serenity, and had gathered to
pay tribute at the graves of early ones: Mrs. Mary A. Thayer,
George Trotter, Victor Clark, Sheldon Harris and numerous
Here, accent was placed on thoughts of Father Dodge, the man who
made the first church meaningful, during his 18 years of rule, and
who, with New England Bradford blood coursing through his veins,
had carried forward the tradition in the new west as a Pilgrim
Father on a new frontier.
The three-day celebration which had started with dinner Friday
night was ended solemnly with services in the church last evening,
when the Rev. W. S. Hogevoll, First Christian church, Waukegan,
brought stirring greetings in the name of the spirit of
Protestantism. He told of his admiration for the Millburn
Congregational church for its freedom of worship and democracy,
and said, "I have a feeling of security as long as
From Dr. Carter Davidson, president of Knox college at Galesburg,
came the words, "Education needs religion. Religion needs
education. Jesus, in his sermon on the mount, looked forward.
For preservation, youth must look forward to the future with a
stout heart, and greet the church with a cheer."
Other appropriate expressions were given by the Rev. William I.
Cahghran, Rev. Otto Sheibe, Rev. C. Arthur Jevne, and the Rev. M.
L. Frank, pastor, offered prayer and benediction. Mrs. Edward
Druce-Hoffman was soloist.
Not Always Tranquil
Millburn is looked upon as a tranquil spot, but one who gave
indication that it wasn't always severely so was Mr. Leola Hughes
venerable seemed frightfully decorous until he murmured with a
great gleam, "what mischief I got into, here, as a boy, I could
tell about it if I wanted to."
Another who breathed happily with pleasure at being on home soil
was Dick Thain, a descendant of one of the early, early families.
And the Dodges, Miss Mary and Miss Lucy, and Mrs. Jessie Strang
Mitchell, for three days have been tingling with delight at being
back with friends and relatives, descendants of the founders.
To Richard Martin, Vivien Bonner, Alice Bowman and Beatrice
Anderson went sincere lauding for their miniature museum in the
Masonic Temple. For weeks they have been collecting genuine
antiques from the country-side, with the result that they had on
display two authentic rooms.
In the one patterned in simple early American style, many of the
pieces were brought in from Mrs. Sandmeyer's home. Also, a
handpainted snow shovel, a little wooden cradle that has rocked
many a Millburn babe to sleep. A dash churner, a bed-warmer, a
stove of 1850. Old dishes. And of course, candlesticks.
In the other room, redolent of the stuffy mid-victorian style, was
a typical table. The elaborate old lamp was surrounded with sea
shells, a stereoptican slide, and the musical album of the
Kennedys. here too was the portrait of the lovely Mrs. Robert
Then there was a low sofa, covered with Brussels carpeting. A
candle-mold. Many dishes. And here and there, assorted heirlooms
included a grain cradle, a buffalo coat, an ox yoke, and a
collection of Bibles from the Stuart, Bonner, Kennedy and other
families. One, with parchment leaves, dates back to 1707.
All day long, at the Ed Martin residence, there was open house
with the kind of food that recalled old-time Millburn hospitality.
And at the Jesse Denmans, and the Will Bonners.
Tea was served in the afternoon at church with Mrs. Ed Martin and
Mrs. W. A. Bonner presiding.
4 September 1940
COUNTY AIDS IN MILLBURN FETE
Centennial Exercises Start With Dinner Friday Night;
When Dr. Carter Davidson, president of Knox college, Galesburg,
Ill., is guest speaker at the 8 p. m. centennial festival service
in the Millburn Congregational church on Sunday, the
representatives of Protestant churches of Lake county who will say
a few words in greeting are the Rev. W. S. Hogevoll, pastor of the
First Christian church of this city; the Rev. C. Arthur Jevne,
minister of the Ivanhoe Congregational church; the Rev. Otto
Sheibe of the Congregational church at Grayslake.
Dr. William I. Caughran, minister of the Austin Congregational
church, Chicago, will deliver the invocation and bring to the
Millburn church the congratulatory message of the Chicago
Congregational union and the denomination as a whole. A highlight
of the occasion is the procession of ministers into the
The weekend of reverence to old memories really starts Friday
night, when Dr. Ernest Graham Guthrie, director of the Chicago
Congregational union, speaks at the opening dinner, before a crowd
estimated at five hundred.
Visit old Town
Saturday's activities will be informal, and the hundreds of
visitors returning to their native soil will wander about the
town, stopping at favorite doorsteps to give words of greeting to
At the church will be the relics on display; old candle sticks,
chairs, lamps, stoves, all valuable to those who possess them and
also for their antique worth. In the clerk's books at the
comparatively new church--it is the fourth structure and was built
in 1937--will be found a complete record way back to the time the
Scotch homesteaders settled in northern Lake county in 1838 and in
1839 took steps toward having a church.
A letter from Mrs. Elizabeth Sutherland Young, who lives at 3605
Llewellyn ave., Norfolk, Va., and has been reading the News-Sun
accounts of the coming centennial celebration, tells in part: "...
I went to school with Jessie Bonner Lowe in Scotland and I too was
a member of the Millburn church.
"I read their motto," Our Dear Church Was Built With the Prayer of
Long Ago. Yes, it was prayer with good works, and a big part of
Scotland is there. ....I hope Millburn won't forget the greatest
blessing of them all. Millburn in the past hundred years has
always been able to support a church and a masonic lodge, but
never tolerated a nafarious saloon or liquor traffic. This is a
history commendable for the coming hundred years. I pray and hope
the little children I see sitting in front of the church be taught
temperance. No Hitler bombs will ever destroy more homes than the
liquor traffic has done."
Sunday morning's service starts at 11 a. m. At 3 p. m. the young
members of the Christian Endeavor society will drive to the church
in old surreys, buggies and lumber wagons. They will be dressed
in nineteenth century gowns and suits dug out of old trunks in the
attic, or copies from photographs in the family album.
At 3:30 p. m. in the village cemetery, all will gather for a
simple service to honor the founders of the church and to pay
tribute to Father William Bradford Dodge, Rev. Victor F. Clark,
and Rev. Sheldon Harris, former ministers now buried there. The
graves of the founders will be marked by small white crosses, so
that visitors will identify them.
Members of the Millburn church troop of the Boy Scouts will lay
floral tributes on the graves of the charter members and the
deceased ministers. The Rev. A. R. Thain, native of Millburn and
frequent guest speaker at the church, will be given similar
In charge of the service will be the deacons, L. S. Bonner, J. S.
Denman, and D. H. Minto, Assisting them will be the Rev. Ralph
Harris, minister of the First Congregational church of Maywood,
and Mr. Glenn Strang.
5 September 1940
100 YEARS OF CHURCH LIFE AT MILLBURN
Drama of Living to Be Depicted in Ceremonies at Centennial
Which Starts Tomorrow at Community Church.
By ATHLYN DESHAIS
One hundred years ago, a group of Scotch homesteaders in the community
known as "Mill Burn" established their church, which throughout the
years, has been the focal point for all activity. Although four
edifices have been erected since that memorable day a century ago, the
occasion will be commemorated this weekend in inspiring services.
The curtain rises on real-life drama tomorrow night when Lace county
pioneers and the children of pioneers gather together at a supper which
stands for a harvest of spiritual blessings accrued during the century.
Dr. Ernest Graham Guthrie, director of the Chicago Congregational
church, will speak at the church whose pastor now is the Rev. M. L.
Saturday being "informal visiting day" and set aside for viewing the
relics of old, no planned events take place until Sunday, starting with
the 11 a.m. service. Early that afternoon, young women of the Christian
Endeavor society will drive around the village in old surreys, buggies
and lumber wagons, and decked in the plumage of grandmother's day. At
3:30 in the afternoon, visitors and natives will go to the cemetery for
services honoring the founders. Participating will be the Boy Scouts,
L. S. Bonner, J. S. Denman, D. H. Minto, Glenn Strang, and the Rev.
Ralph Harris, minister of the First Congregational church of
Other Churches Join
Sunday night will be solemn and beautiful with prayers, hymns and the
addresses of Carter Davidson, president of Knox college; the Rev. W. S.
Hogevoll, pastor of the First Christian church of Waukegan; the Rev. C.
Arthur Jevne, minister of the Ivanhoe Congregational church; the Rev.
Otto Sheibe of the Congregational church at Grayslake; Dr. William I.
Caughran, minister of the Austin Congregational church, Chicago.
For work on the centennial booklet, and for endless hours spent in
planning this occasion, credit goes to the following: Vivien Bonner, D.
H. Minto, Victor Strang, Alice Anderson, Richard Martin, Mildred
Bauman, Leslie Bonner, J. S. Denman, Mrs. J. S. Denman, Thomas Harness,
Mrs. Emmett King, Mrs. Gordon Bonner, Bernice Bauman, Kenneth Denman,
Emmet King, Mrs. Ralph McGuire, Carl Anderson, Clifford Webber, J.
Gordon Bonner, Robert Miller, Mrs. Victor Strang, Mrs. Ed Martin, Mrs.
Harry Herrick, Mrs. Theodore Engh, the Rev. and Mrs. M. L. Frank, Mrs.
L. S. Bonner, Ruth Minto, Frank Edwards and others.
The booklet, looking back across the past century, starts with the
arrival of the first immigrant settlers from Scotland; how the Rev.
Flavel Bascom stirred the breath of life into the infant religious
institution of the Millburn village, with the following rallying round
to be first members: William Abbott, Eliza F. B. Abbott, Mark Pitman
Jr., Harriet Pitman, Merrill Pearson, Lydia Pearson, Robert Pollock,
Elizabeth Pollock, George Trotter, Jane Trotter, Samuel M. Dowst, Mary
Thayer, Alexander Kennedy and Abigail Barry.
It tells of the first services in the village school house located on
the present site of the Victor Strang home just west of highway 45. And
on down through the era of Peter W. Stewart, treasurer of the Millburn
Insurance company; James Hugh Bonner, a stockholder in the old Millburn
Creamery company; James Pollock, one-time supervisor; Robert Strang,
one-time farmer and merchant; Rev. William Bradford Dodge, pioneer
preacher in the town of Avon; Alexander Trotter, for many years a
Deacon; "Silent Smith," who gave generously to the cemetery.
Hundreds of other names will be brought to light during these services
in the picturesque little community which, say rural sociologists, "has
a kind of stability which is unparalleled."
from the Waukegan Post5 September 1940
Millburn, Century Old,
Recalls Work, Success.
By GUSTAV MAHLER
Farm Editor of the Waukegan Post
"The first 100 years are the hardest," said Victor Strang as he
discussed the centennial celebration of Millburn Sept. 6 to 8, at his
grand old house on the homestead of Robert Strang. He added:
"When my grandfather and his brother settled here a century ago each of
them took 80 acres of land at the standard price of $1.25 an acre and
then had nothing left with which to stock their farm. They had to solve
their problem by grazing another settler's sheep on shares."
Stretching beyond these settlers' claims were unsurveyed expanses of
fertile land--land that had been inaccessible; land that had yet to be
cleared, and broken by the plow; land still populated by Pottawatomie
Indians, reluctant to leave.
The settlers at Millburn were part of a steady stream of people from New
York, Pennsylvania, the New England states and others, beckoned onward
by the prospect of securing lands of their own at the frontier.
Some came "around the lakes" and some of them traveled for a season by
oxcart to Chicago, Little Fort (Waukegan) or Southport (Kenosha). As
the land around those points was taken up, the "land hunters" followed
the Indian trails inland and picked their locations, usually near
streams or lakes, as desire or necessity moved them.
The farms at Millburn, as elsewhere, were started by falling a few
trees, plowing or digging a furrow around the claim, splitting a few
rails for a tiny enclosure perhaps no more than four rails square, and
notifying the nearest settler of the claim. Later when the land offices
opened up and surveying began, the land was paid for at $1.25 an
George Trotter, one of the first to arrive, paid $10 for his first
barrel of flour in Chicago and another $10 for transportation to
Millburn. At that time there was still no direct road to Burlington,
Wis., where the nearest flour mill was located. It was a time when ox-
teams with carts commonly got mired in the mud of Chicago's Lake st.
These pioneer farmers built their log cabins in the usual style. Only
rarely were daring architectural innovations found such as George White,
whose cabin near Loon Lake was built with the logs set on end.
In addition to their own shelters and log barns, all of the farmers
shared in the public work of drawing logs for and building the first
Before the soil could be farmed, the timber had to be cut. Choice logs
were taken to Jacob Miller's sawmill, constructed in 1834 near the line
that now forms the boundary of Newport and Warren townships. Farm work
included rail splitting, with farmers "hiring out" for such work at one
cent per rail.
Farm life was not without its lighter sides. The Scottish pioneers were
proverbial for their hospitality. Besides the neighborhood
merrymakings, the young farm lads, as well as old, satisfied their love
of hunting with plenty of game such as ducks, geese, prairie chickens
Deer were plentiful and occasionally in wintertime ventured into the
clearings to feed on the stacks of hay. Because of the menace to the
flocks of sheep, wolf hunting was more a duty than a sport.
Wheat was the most important grain crop of the Millburn farmers. There
came a time when the demand for wheat could no longer by met by the
slow, back-breaking method of harvesting grain with a cradle. Inventors
met the need with the four-horse, hand-rake reaper, which made its
appearance in Millburn in the 1850's. In succession came the self-
reaper, the machine which carried the binder, and then the self-binder.
The mower displace the scythe and the steam power thresher displaced the
old horse power thresher.
Sheep were the most important livestock of the Millburn pioneers.
According to Edwin Martin, local merchant of long standing:
"During the Civil war, the farmers got a dollar a pound for wool on the
Waukegan market, but after 1865 they were offered half that price. Many
of them refused to sell at that price and continued to ask for the
dollar they had come to consider as a fair price."
The little community was being swept into conformity with new conditions
determined by forces operating throughout the vast reaches of a growing
county. Millions of acres of wheat were being raised on the fertile
western prairies. Millions of sheep were grazing the foothills of the
Along Lake Michigan's shore and throughout the county, too, great cities
mushroomed into being; their growing populations demanded fresh milk and
dairy products. This was met by the giant strides of science in the
study of fermentation in milk and in the introduction of the Babcock
tester, and centrifugal cream separator, and pasteurization.
These advances, together with the improvement of railway service and the
development of graveled roads in the community in the 1880's, opened up
a vast new future for local agriculture . . .modern dairy farming came
into being in Millburn.
Wheat and sheep, which had already been giving ground, now began a rapid
retreat before the irresistible advance of the gentle dairy cow.
Today, amid century-old landmarks, the farmers of Millburn continue to
advance with the rest of the farm population of Lake county in the
conquest of new frontiers. They are aided in this by tremendous
scientific and technical gains, by splendid dairy herds, scientifically
developed, by modern farm electrification with its countless power
appliances, by combine harvesters, by windrow hay-balers, by modern
tractor-powered farm implements of every kind, and by swift farm-to-
Today a fourth generation is coming of age in the old community. This
new generation will furnish in its turn, as surely as their Scottish
ancestors did before them, the new pioneers to face the challenges of
the vaster horizons of the second hundred years.
7 September 1940
CHURCH HOLDS BIRTHDAY FETE
Millburn Recalls 100 Years of Struggle,
Sorrow and Joy in Community Life.
By Athlyn Deshais
Bromidic it is -- to report that "the first hundred years were the
hardest." But that's exactly what was brought to light at the
festival dinner last night in the basement of the First
Congregational church at Millburn, when two hundred members and
neighbors from Lake county and afar listened breathlessly to
reviews of "the march of faith" on the first day of the church's
The close relation between drama and religion was realized when
the lights were turned off. In the flower decked hall, in the
glow of tiny candles on the three-tiered birthday cake, the guests
sat--in hushed silence.
Pulses quickened. Eyes grew moist. Privately, thoughts raced
back over the pageant of the years in this village and adjacent
countryside which, it has been said, was a re-enactment of the
story of the middle western United States.
"In the settlement of the frontier," according to the recently
published booklet, "in the subduing of the land and in the rise of
an aggressive and hardy agrarian population in the middle-
nineteenth century, the men and women of Millburn had a role."
Cuts Birthday Cake
Candles were blown out and the honor of cutting the cake was
bestowed upon Mrs. Elizabeth Bonner, wife of the late James, and
considered one of the grand ladies of the village. When she had
finished her task she cocked her head at the Rev. Mr. Frank,
pastor, seated across from her at the speaker's table. At him she
directed the question, "would you like to lick the knife? All
Then came oral recitals of the past.
Vivien Bonner, who has guided the village infants along the path
of religious learning for 35 years, brought out the keynote of the
community when she said, "Millburn has never hurried things."
She touched another cord--deeply when she told of the way the
pioneers walked to their little church, the log church. "Of
course they walked. The horses needed a rest on Sundays. How
different today, when Sunday morning brings the sound of
fenderscraping and bumpers clashing, out here at the church
Dr. Ernest Graham Guthrie, director, Chicago Congregational
[missing the remainder of the article]
loose clipping, source unknown7 September 1940
`Grandma' Bonner Cuts Mammoth Birthday
Cake at Church Dinner for 170 Guests
Rolling back the curtain of a century, 170 guest saw something of
the beginnings of the Millburn Congregational church and
community at the dinner last night at the church. A cake with a
hundred candles placed at the center of the speakers' table was
cut by Mrs. Eliza Bonner, "Grandma" to most people at Millburn.
A piece of the mammoth cake, baked by Mrs. Theodore Engh, later
went with the ice cream to each guest.
After an evening full of greetings, music and reminiscences, Dr.
Ernest Graham Guthrie, director of the Chicago Congregational
union, began his very impressive address at 10:30 p. m., on the
subject "The Church in Three Tenses." He said in part:
"I like your past; it has the taste of the pioneer about it. I
like the greatness of the Christian lives, laymen and ministers
that have served here. Difficulties of the past are that many
people go to extremes, they live too much in the past, or they
disregard the lesson of the past. We need to reach into new
mystic way by drawing from the mighty past.
"The present gives to youth and adult alike the opportunity to
grapple with problems as they come today. Youth has been matched
for this hour. Another generation will come from Millburn to
help shape the destiny of the community and the nation.
"Looking into the future, never despair with youth, do not
despair of the church and do not despair of the world. Men will
stand up again. It is God's world. It seems like a partial
defeat just now, but He will come to victory. We still need the
marching line of men, the kind who have made this church in the
past 100 years."
Leslie Bonner, program chairman, presented the pastor, the Rev.
Melvin Lynn Frank, who was toastmaster of the evening. Greetings
were read from George C. Safford of Missouri, son of a former
pastor; the Rev. and Mrs. Evertt W. MacNair, Lakewood, Ohio,
former pastor and from Harry W. Bascom, grandson of the Rev.
Flavel Bascom, who organized the church.
Special recognition was given to Mrs. Jessie Strang Mitchell,
member of a Millburn family and wife of a former pastor; the Rev.
and Mrs. A. H. Pierstorff, pastor 1928-30; the Misses Lucy and
May Dodge, of Peoria, granddaughters, and Ralph W. Dodge, great
grandson of Father Dodge; the Rev. Samuel Pollock, Antioch; Miss
Marian Neprude, of the federal farm security administration and
H. C. Gilkerson of the Lake County Farm bureau.
Miss Vivien Bonner told of the beginnings of the church, even
down to the mode of transportation-walking-because Father Dodge's
oxen, Nebuchadnezzar and Tiglath-Pileser, needed rest on Sunday.
She pictured the teaching methods of Aunt Helen Strang, who
taught the beginners class for 50 years. Miss Bonner followed
her and for 35 years has taught the same age class.
Mrs. Carl Anderson told of the founding of the Sewing circle and
the report which showed a profit of $7.50 the first year. The
first record showed prices for suppers was a dime.
Miss Ruth Minto told of the organizing of the Christian Endeavor
society in 1887. Ice cream was popular back then for it is
recorded the society purchased a five gallon freezer in 1904. It
was a service of the young people to send flowers to Chicago, as
many as 15 to 20 boxes per month each summer.