R. R. 2, Brandon, Wisconsin 53919
On the morning of August 22 my Mr. B and myself took to the road at 4:00 A.M. It promised to be a very hot day. We have had many hot days this summer, but this was going to be one of the hottest.
Our intended destination is the Threshermen's Reunion at Pinckneyville, Illinois. Neither of us has ever been there and the name fascinates me. I keep wondering, was there a Mr. Pinckney in the early days? Was the town named after him?
My husband is fascinated by the name Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. You don't need to ask where that got its name. Can't you just see one of those big old moosers chomping on the weeds in the marshes? We drove through Moose Jaw a few years ago. But Pinckneyville was to be a new experience.
However, we had a stop to make on the way Arcola, Illinois. Steam men have a way of accumulating friends in various states. Mr. B had sold a 28 H.P. Minneapolis engine to Fred Nolan.
Mr. & Mrs. Nolan had asked us to stop by sometime, and we did. Fred and Brenda are a pair of collectors par excellence. After a completely satisfying noon meal at the Dutch Pantry in Arcola we started for the Nolan place. Here we found 10 acres graced by a rambling old mansion that is something to see.
After being warmly greeted by our hosts we were invited inside. The first thing which caught our eyes upon entering was an elegant high silk hat perched atop an even more elegant marble-topped table, one of three they have among their furnishings. On the floor, beside this table stood the hat box in which the hat was carried, and inside the cover was a convenient strap to hold a gentlemen's gloves. We just knew this had sometime been carried in a stage coach.
On the same table rested a book, rather large, which told of the early residents of the area. Among them was a Jacob R. Moore who built this imposing house in 1873. He sawed all his own lumber from the larger acreage he then owned, and dried it from 3-4 years. He then hired a crew of 20 men who worked 6 days a week for a year in its construction.
Mr. Moore was a cattleman, plus farming, and his cattle were driven to Chicago for marketing down the early highways of Eastern Illinois. The round trip took 16 days.
But getting back to the house Mr. Moore built, we learned that all the main beams were hand hewn. The foundation is flagstone. Roomy porches run around its sides and a lookout tower sits atop its roof. The steps getting up to this are unbelievable as they circle to the top. But what a view! Suddenly I experienced a kinship with the birds. It seems so logical to fly at this height. From here it clarified the thought that this house is cited as a potential historical landmark by the State of Illinois.
The furnishing which stood out among all the other beautiful pieces is a German made Hepplewhite Grandfather clock, date 1810. A close second is the square Steinway grand piano, 1860. The love seats and carved chairs are all tastefully upholstered. And there is a second Grandfather clock as well.
The newest piece they have is a mantle clock which received a prize in the Paris Exposition in 1876. THE NEWEST, mind you!
The Preacher's Room is being restored but is in the planning stage. There is much work to do on this. They have a rope bed for this, and several other rope beds. This room was kept for the Preacher of those days when he came as a circuit rider.
Daughter, Pam Nolan who is about 13 has a charming bedroom with a four poster bed and canopy. Beside this is her own private sitting room. One very modern note is a big foot made of carpet material. With that size feet you would never make it to the lookout tower, I assure you. Her bathroom, to the right of the sitting room was formerly the schoolroom where the family children were privately tutored.
Rick, the Nolan's 16 year old son, was busily mowing an enormous lawn as we made our tour. But Rick is also fond of old furnishings, we discovered as we viewed his room. But it was typically a boy's room and one felt he fitted into it with ease.
Nothing has been done to the servant's quarters. This is also in their plans. They are really most ample and they have a large upstairs porch onto which the servant's rooms opened. Off of this porch the stairway descended to the kitchen and outside entrance. The contrast between these stairs and the imposing open stairway where we first stepped into the house was indeed marked.
I can visualize another visit here as a must on a future trip through Illinois. 'Maybe three years,' Mr. Nolan says hopefully. 'By then we should have it all restored.' We surely wish them well.
I must tell you of the dining room. It is equipped with transoms above all the doors. A harvest table of 18' boards graces this room now. It will later be moved into the kitchen. Extended, it measures 5x6 feet. A built-in china cupboard with rounded glass doors holds lovely pieces in Flow Blue and Blue Staffordshire china, interspersed by other charming dishes of that era.
I can see we aren't going to get any farther than Arcola today. I know you ladies are interested in this type of thing. Maybe Pinckneyville another time. I did find out that was a Mr. Pinckney. But more on that later.
One interesting thing in Pinckneyville was a young couple who were selling African Thumb Pianos. You can hold them in your hands and play them with your thumb nails. Yes....you guessed it. I came back to Wisconsin with a Thumb Piano, and am having a plunking good time.