Sandburg's Hometown - The Lost Wallpaper Legend

Sandburg's Hometown

March 25, 2013

4th Sandburg Home, 809 E. Berrien, Galesburg, IL 

The Lost Wallpaper Legend

By Barbara Schock

Dr. Richard Sandburg was a nephew of Carl Sandburg. He enjoyed writing about his own childhood in Galesburg and some of the family stories as they had come down to him.

August Sandburg had a difficult time earning enough money to support his wife and seven children. Sometimes, especially after the Panic of 1893, there was barely enough to eat. Making repairs to their home was sometimes necessary, but a large amount of ingenuity was required to accomplish the task.

Mary Sandburg Johnson would tell her nephew about some of the struggles of the family. He reported that she had said “the rooms of the house at 809 East Berrien Street were kept spotlessly clean, but over the years, the wallpaper became soiled and torn, and the cost of new paper was beyond their means.

“Fortunately, the manager of a local wallpaper and paint store became aware of their plight and would sneak them into the back room which contained supplies and discarded, out-dated catalogues.

“Each page of the catalogues bore a different design; one showed two boys playing catch; another bore a dish of assorted fruit; and another displayed multi-colored vertical or horizontal stipes. One even depicted a dog and a cat in a playful mood.

“The Sandburgs gratefully accepted the free, outmoded catalogues, and after stripping or cleaning the old paper, they set about measuring, cutting, pasting and hanging the new pages next to or above the others.

“The completed project revealed a fresh, bright and clean appearance despite the incongruous mismatched patterns, but which enabled them to stretch their budget.”

Many years later, Dr. Sandburg visited the old house on Berrien Street. The residents kindly allowed him to see the entire house, but there was no catalogue wallpaper to be seen.

Sandburg’s Hometown

March 25, 2013 - "The Lost Wallpaper Legend" 
March 18, 2013 -"Martin G. Sandburg"
March 4, 2013 - "The Edison Talking Machine"
February 25, 2013 - "Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran"
February 18, 2013 - "Remember the Maine..."
February 11, 2013 - Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 -- Curiosity