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       (posted August 26, 2010)

Fall Meeting Season Opener at Clayville September 21 With 
Tours, Optional Box Dinner, Talk by Historical Archeologist

    The Sangamon County Historical Society opens its fall monthly program season on Tuesday, September 21, with a first-hand look at Clayville and its remarkable---and ongoing rebirth—as an important historical attraction. 
     Historical archaeologist Annie Reiken (at right), who has been providing the profess
ional guidance for its renewal, will be the evening’s speaker. Her topic will be “Stewardship.”
     The presentation begins at 7 p.m. Starting at 6 p.m., you’ll be able to take a self-guided tour of the site plus enjoy a Carol Jean Fraase Fall-themed box dinner. (You must pre-order the box dinner by September 19. See ordering information below). The 7 p.m. program is free and open to the public. 

     Reiken has made a career out of rescuing historic sites. A former nurse mid-wife, youth counselor and school district wellness coordinator, she redirected her energies toward a career in historic archeology and architectural history in 1990. “Saving, recording, and on occasion, moving structures has been essential to my life style for the past 20 years now,” she says. 
     Employed by SCI Engineering, Inc., a St. Louis professional consulting engineering firm, she also handles contract cultural resources survey work for major pipelines coming through America from Canada. Her job has taken her across Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Montana. 
     “I believe in life-long learning and am here to be a student and teacher when invited. I love to help individual people or not-for-profit groups save money by utilizing my background in preservation—both won and lost—on their own endeavors.  I believe that the best preservation is prevention, in people, structures and social conditions.”
     To reserve a box dinner, call 522-2500. The Fall-themed box dinner, which includes a drink, is priced at $15 per person. Your check, made payable to the Sangamon County Historical Society, must be received by September 14. The box dinner will be $18 for reservations made past that date through September 19. No reservations will be taken after September 19. Mail checks to the Society at 308 East Adams Street, Springfield, Illinois 62701 and be sure to include the names and e-mail addresses of any guests. To download and print the PDF, click here.

More About Clayville: Colorful Past Filled With Ups and Downs 

     Clayville was established by Moses Broadwell, a Revolutionary War veteran from Elizabethtown, New Jersey who brought his family to the area around 1820. He and his son John, a veteran of the War of 1812, opened a tannery and built a brick kiln that allowed them to construct the first brick house in Sangamon County. The Broadwells named the area Clayville in honor of Henry Clay, a leading Whig politician. 
     Moses Broadwell built the large brick inn in 1824 on what is now Route 125, just east of Pleasant Plains. It became a popular stop through the 1850s for those traveling between Springfield and Beardstown. Until railroads re-shaped transportation patterns here, the Broadwell Tavern and Inn drew stage coach travelers, cattle buyers from the East who spent the winter in Illinois while they bought up livestock to ship the following spring; teamsters hauling dry goods, liquor, groceries and more between the two cities; and families of settlers who spent the night there before seeking property for themselves. 
     The original inn was partially destroyed by fire in 1834, but was rebuilt by John Broadwell within the year. (Moses Broadwell died in 1827). It is the oldest surviving brick structure in Sangamon County. 
     In its heyday, Clayville was the center of activities for the Whig Party. At one point, in fact, the Broadwell Tavern was renamed Clay’s Ville and served as home to an organization known as Clay’s Men, whose members included Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln also became the lawyer for members of the Broadwell family, a relationship that lasted for about 20 years. 

                                                    Rescued From Oblivion
     Eventually abandoned, Clayville was rescued from historic oblivion in 1961 by Dr. Emmet F. Pearson, (right) a Springfield physician with a deep commitment to local history. Dr. Pearson was a founding member
Pearsonof the Sangamon County Historical Society and served as president from 1966 to 1967. One of the Society’s first meetings during Dr. Pearson’s presidency , in fact, was held at Clayville.  At the time of his death in 1996, Dr. Pearson, was a professor emeritus in the internal medicine and medical humanities department at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield. SIU’s Medical Museum is named in his honor as well as its annual Medical History Lecture Series.
      In an interview conducted as part of a Sangamon State University oral history project in 1972, Dr. Pearson recalled that he and his wife Mary were attracted to the site after visiting many inns across the country and in Europe. 
     “We found this building was architecturally as interesting as many we'd seen in other places. It had wonderful woodwork, all walnut. Bricks were handmade on the grounds and the other features of the building indicated it’s a very early type of construction. We felt it was a must to restore it.” 
     “The architecture of Clayville is called Federal, which is a simple American style adapted to the frontier and did not involve great skill, although the workmen of
Clayville must have been fairly skilled,” Dr. Pearson observed. “The building looks very much like some buildings we have seen in Pennsylvania.” 
     When Dr. Pearson took title to the site in 1961, “great hand hewed exposed timbers” supported the house and “all the mantles, doors, jams, and all of the woodwork” was solid black walnut which is said to have been cut from walnut trees on the grounds. At the time, the original hand-dug stone well was still in operation. 
     “The furniture of the period for the inn came from houses and Sangamo Country,” he said, the decorative arts representing the transitional period between the frugal cabins of the frontier like New Salem and the more comfortable homes that were developing in Springfield before the Civil War. 
     “Some of the furniture was fairly good although much of it was primitive. Paintings of the period were mostly done by itinerant or unskilled painters and artists. The brick oven in the kitchen is the only brick oven we know west of the Allegheny Mountains that still can be used to bake bread and other baked goods.” 

       Dr. Pearson put time and money into the site, restoring its luster as a crossroads village by replacing several outer buildings that had decayed and were torn down with other authentic buildings. These included two log cabins that Dr. Pearson believed were built in 1817 and 1846 and two barns from the pre Civil-War period. 
     Members of the Clayville Folk Arts Guild, of which Dr. Pearson was a member, soon filled the site with local craftspeople that provided year around educational activities designed to preserve knowledge of arts and crafts of early Illinois. Their pottery, leather and knit goods and other handcrafts were sold at an on-site crafts shop. A blacksmith, a country-kitchen educator, a summer theater-in-the round, and a living “pioneer farm” to demonstrate farming methods before the Industrial Revolution were also part of the operation as were annual spring and fall arts festivals. 
                                                    A Gift to Sangamon State
         In 1973, Dr. Pearson donated the Clayville site to Sangamon State University which operated it as a Rural Life Center and Museum until the early 90s. In addition to displays and interpretive programs that drew thousands of school children and adults, the Center produced dozens of publications reflecting research on post-pioneer rural life in the Midwest two decades before the Civil War.  Sangamon State, squeezed for funds, closed The Rural Life Center and Museum 1992 when it said it could no longer afford to fund it. The property was sold to Dave Bourland, curator of the Illinois Executive Mansion. 
       In ensuing years, the property fell into disrepair, weeds, brush and fallen trees eventually blocking the site from public view, making it attractive to vagrants and vandals. In 2007, the Broadwell Inn and Tavern was listed by Landmarks Illinois as one of the state’s 10 most endangered historic places. At the time, Landmarks Illinois noted that the building had become “open to the elements, wildlife and vandals, and immediate intervention is needed to prevent further structural damage.” 
                                                             Saved by Community Action 
     That intervention happened a few months later when a group of local residents formed the Pleasant Plains Historical Society and led a community-wide effort to purchase and restore the site. Their successful on-going clean-up (in which volunteers recovered hundreds of antique items including blacksmith tools, looms, and plows) as well as a fundraising campaign continues. 
     Several major events have been held at the site and more are planned including a Fall Festival on October 2 and 3 that is expected to draw several thousand visitors; a Haunted House and Hayride on Friday and Saturday, October 22 and 23 and October 29 and 30 and on Sunday, October 31; and a “Clayville Christmas” on December 11. 
       Today Landmarks Illinois lists the site as “saved."

       To Read More About Clayville, Turn to the Web
Although it ceased operations in 1992, the work of Sangamon State's Rural Life Center and Museum at Clayville lives on in actual and electronic archives around the country.
     Copies of publications produced by the Center can be viewed on line and downloaded at . They include The Broadwells of Clayville and Their Roots," written by F. Kwedar and Kay MacLean and edited by Edward L. Hawes, A Sangamon State history professor who served as director of the Center from 1978 to 1980; "Clayville History: Tradition and Change in the Mid 19th Century” written by Hawes. They are also available on line from the University of Illinios Archives/Special Collections (www.uis/edu/achives) or from the Illinois Harvest (, a resource arm of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. 
A comprehensive history of the "Clayville Inn" written by Kay C. Watt that appeared in the Spring 1973 edition of the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society can also be viewed on-line at ).

        Bring a Collectible to Support Restoration Effort
     Members of the Sangamon County Historical Society can personally...and easily help with the Clayville restoration effort by donating a collectible that can be sold at the Clayville Fall Festival to be held at the site on Saturday October 2 and Sunday October 3.
     Proceeds from the "Treasure Flea Table of Collectibles" will go to the Pleasant Plains Historical Society to further their Clayville restoration work, says Bette Franke, who is organizing the sale. Bring items to the Society’s September 21 meeting and you will receive a receipt for your tax records. Donors should also include a written description of the item and its estimated value.

     Sign Up Now Underway for Society's October Tours
      Want to get a head start on the Society’s fall season?
      You can sign up now for two special events, both in October, that will give you an unusual opportunity to see local history, up-close. The events, for which there are fees, are in addition to the Society’s regular free monthly meetings that begin with a program on and at Clayville on September 21. To download a registration form, click here.
      Here’s what’s planned:
(Thursday, October 7, 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and repeated on Sunday, October 10, 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.). Here’s a rare opportunity to step inside and be among a limited number of visitors allowed to tour this charming, privately-owned 19th century home in Springfield that is listed on the National Register.  Built in 1878 by Clarkson W. Freeman, the house was eventually passed to a nephew, Arthur Freeman Hughes, whose widow sold the property to Dr. and Mrs. Floyd Barringer. Passionate about local history, the Barringers lovingly restored the Italianate-style home with its intricate Carpenter-Gothic trim. The current owner, Mary Ann Langston, has preserved its furnishings and antiques. At each room, volunteer docents will point out features and answer questions about specific features. Tea will be served. Each session is limited to 25 participants. Tickets are $25 for members, $30 for non members.

      FALL BUS TOUR ALONG SUGAR CREEK (Sunday, October 17, 1 p.m.). If you missed the first tour in June, you’ve another opportunity to take a bus trip back in time in a tour of the Cotton Hill District, Sangamon County’s birthplace. The area—in and around Sugar Creek—was home to the first generation of settlers here. Traveling in a comfortable, air conditioned tour bus, trip takers will hear stories and descriptions of Sangamon’s earliest settlement sites and view over five 19th century farm houses and early family cemeteries. At two of the cemeteries, actors will portray several of the early settles buried there.  The tour, expected to take about two-and-a half hours, will leave from the Meijer’s parking lot off Veterans Parkway (Route 4), Springfield, at 1 p.m. Sites and history along the route will be detailed by historian Dick Hart. He’ll do the same for the north side of Sugar Creek on the way back. Sign up early. There are only 45 seats available for this trip. Tickets are $40 for members, $50 for non-members. 

        The Who, What, When, Where and Why of "Rabbit Row": October 19
You'll have to wait until October to learn more about this little know Springfield neighborhood that author Ken Mitchell will describe when he speaks to the Society at its monthly program meeting on Tuesday, October 19. The 7 p.m. session will be held at the Lincoln Public Library, 326 S. Seventh Street, Springfield.
       It promises to be a fascinating story, as Mitchell describes how this north end neighborhood got its name, how political and social divisions shaped its growth and what important piece of history was lost as outside forces moved to change the area's landscape. As usual, the meeting is open to the public, so bring along a friend or neighbor!


   Busy Season as History Events Take Center Stage


     Like the Sangamon County Historical Society, other area history-based organization are revving up for what looks to be a busy season. Here's a rundown on the events and ways to find out more about them:


            Clayville Historical Site: The site will host a Fall Festival, Saturday and Sunday, October 2 and 3, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Artisans and craftsmen will be demonstrating pottery, coopering, quilting, outdoor cooking, willow furniture making, chair caning, corn milling, whiskey distilling, water color painting, and dulcimer making. In addition, there will be displays of guns and knives of the Old West and Civil War, and early 1800s reenactments including an old-fashioned “Revival Meeting” on Saturday after-noon in which real-life minister Ron Waltrip, pastor of Trinity Church of the Nazarene, will portray famed pioneer Methodist preacher and politician Reverend Peter Cartwright. In addition to his work as a traveling preacher, Cartwright was twice a member of the Illinois legislature and ran for Congress in 1846, only to be defeated by Springfield Whig Abraham Lincoln. Waltrip has performed with the Muni, the Jacksonville Theatre Guild and at New Salem. A clothesline art show, music by Mike Anderson, and a performance by Chris Camp, “The Whip Guy,” is also planned. The Clayville site will be the setting for Haunted House and Hayride Fridays and Saturdays, October 22 , 23, 29 and 30 and on Sunday, October 31 and “A Clayville Christmas” December 11. For more information, visit

       Elijah Iles House: A series of Fireside Chats from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday programs focusing on Springfield’s heritage begins September 22, with a presentation on “The Underground Railroad in Lincoln’s Springfield,” by Richard E. Hart. It will be followed on September 29 with a talk on Donner Family History by Don Springer, a Donner descendent. Farrell Gay discusses the history of the Illinois Watch Company on October 6. Gay will display and discuss time pieces and watches from his personal collection. Reservations are required. Call 652-7302 for information.

     Illinois Historic Preservation Agency: Dozens of papers on a wide range of topics focusing on history in Illinois will be presented on Thursday, September 30 and Friday, October 1 at a 12th Annual Conference on Illinois History to be held at the Prairie Capital Convention Center. The conference will feature topics that include politics, architecture, community studies, Abraham Lincoln, African American history, and the Civil War.  Conference registration fees are $80 for both days, $45 for one day, and $30 for students. Individual luncheon and banquet tickets are also available. For information and reservations, call 558-8934.


      "REAGAN COUNTRY BUS TOUR": The Illinois State Historical Society has extended the registration deadline from September 1 to September 15 for a two-day bus trip to “Reagan Country” to 100th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan. The tour--Friday and Saturday, October 8 and 9--will include visits to sites associated with the Black Hawk War and Abraham Lincoln; the John Deere Interpretive Center at Grand Detour; Dixon and the Rock River Valley; ISHS historical markers along the way; and the Laredo Taft monument to Native Americans on the bluffs above Oregon. It will also include a historical marker dedication in Tampico, Ronald Reagan's birthplace, approximately 15 miles south of Sterling. The marker dedication is being planned with the Tampico Historical Society and the Ronald Reagan Foundation of Simi Valley, California. Society member rates are $145 per person; non-member rates are $165, which include tour, all meals, and entry fees. Hotel reservations must be made separately. A block of rooms has been reserved at the Comfort Inn in Dixon, Illinois at the rate of $73 per night. For more information call the ISHS office at 217-525-2781.




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