Art & History

Women Serving and Preserving History

The Peoria Historical Society is dishing up a second helping of tasty treats, tantalizing tidbits, and historic fashion for its Salute to Women November 5. “Dishin’ Up History” will provide a look at three centuries of Peoria women in fashions modeled by today’s Peoria women, followed by a luncheon inspired by recipes of the past using present-day ingredients.

The first Salute to Women program took place in 2003 and was a sold-out success. This year’s event, again chaired by Channy Lyons and Amy Kelly, also will present a Guardian Award to honor an area woman who’s made an outstanding contribution to the preservation of local history. The first winners, named in 2003, were Gloria LaHood of Peoria and Alice Roffey of Elmwood.

Food will be a focus of this entertaining event. Narrator Rebekah Bourland will tell not only about the historic Peoria women, but also about their clothing and appropriate foods of their day. A Native American, an early settler, poets, writers, educators, organizers, leaders, artists, and healers will come alive, portrayed by women who share interests and involvements with the women they portray. Models include Kim Armstrong, Sharon Atteberry, Cheri Beever, Terry Bibo, Suzette Boulais, Jo Lakota, Nicki Haschke, Theresa Heidrich, Cyd Henrikson, Lisa Hoerr-Grandstaff, Edwina Jordan, Kristan McKinsey, Gina Morss, Amy Paul, Tori Phelps, Dorothy Sinclair, Pam Schubach, Deborah Totten, Macey Trimble, Barbara Van Auken, Betty Woolsey Schlacter, and Christine Zak-Edmonds. Kirk Bradshaw will provide piano accompaniment with music from the different eras.

Fashioning the costumes has involved the collaboration of numerous individuals and groups, led by Ann Marie Dunn of ICC’s costume shop and costume supervisor for Opera Illinois and Bonnie Larsen of Peoria Players. Free to Bead of Peoria Heights is creating an 1899-era necklace for the event, while others are loaning items from personal collections. PHS Executive Assistant Duffy Nieukirk is among the seamstresses contributing creative talent, while PHS Curatorial Assistant Judy DeVore has helped with arrangements.

With the 150th anniversary of newspapers in Peoria, the show features several women whose families were associated with the papers. Mildred Sidney Baldwin eschewed her first name for her column byline and other publishing credits. The author of several children’s books, she started her writing career at 12 on the Peoria Star, founded by her father. Her column, entitled “In My Opinion,” ran for many years in the Peoria Star and later in the Journal Star, “giving vibrance to things of the common place,” according to a contemporary. A former vice president of the Journal Star, she received Bradley University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1965. She died at 92 in 1978.

The wife of transcript editor Enoch Emery had served as county superintendent of schools for three years before she married him at age 33 in 1877. After he died in 1882, Mary Whiteside Emery ran again for superintendent and won.

Helen Chubbuck’s father was one of the investors who bought Peoria’s Herald Transcript in 1913, renaming it The Transcript. Her wedding is being recalled using a gown made for Margaret Winters and loaned by her daughter, long-time Historical Society supporter Elizabeth Belcke. As a wedding gift, the former Miss Chubbuck received funds from her father to build her dream castle—complete with a moat—on Grand View Drive.

The Peoria Public Library still holds the volume of her poetry, titled simply, Frances Brotherson’s Poems. Her daughters compiled and distributed the work of Frances McReynolds Brotherson after her 1879 death. Easily overlooked are the southside streets—McReynolds and Brotherson—that commemorate her family, along with such nearby streets as Charlton and Saratoga that recall her husband’s home community and county in the state of New York. He served several terms as Peoria mayor. Their daughter, Lucie Brotherson Tyng, was the first woman to serve on Peoria’s Board of School Inspectors and for whom Tyng School is named, while Martha Brotherson Reynolds married into the family of Jean Reynolds Morron, whose family possessions furnish the Pettengill-Morron House owned by the Peoria Historical Society.

A feast of interesting stories, along with a taste of old Peoria. Come enjoy Peoria history being served, preserved, and celebrated in this year’s Salute to Women November 5. Activities begin at 11 a.m. at the Hotel Pere Marquette in downtown Peoria. Tickets are available for $25 from the Peoria Historical Society at 674-1921. AA!