Sandburg's Hometown

May 27, 2013

Early Abingdon Illinois  Main Street Parade

Memorial Day, 1887

By Barbara Schock 

On May 6, 1887, Post 45 of the Grand Army of the Republic held a concert to raise money to cover their Memorial Day expenses. Instrumental and vocal selections were performed by the Mendelssohn Quintette Club of Boston. Thomas Ryan, a member of the musical group, played his clarinet. The newspaper reported that he had “lost none of his skill and power with advancing years.” Mr. Ryan was recalled by the audience for an encore.

 During the intermission a solid gold Past Commander badge was presented to General Philip Sidney Post. He had just completed his term as Commander of the Illinois Department of Grand Army of the Republic. He had been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 59th Illinois Regiment of Illinois Volunteers during the Civil War. He was breveted a brigadier general in 1864.

 General Post was surprised to say the least. The newspaper reported that the badge cost $100. The audience was delighted with the presentation to General Post. As evidence of his popularity he was elected to four terms in the United States Congress beginning in 1887.

 At 2 o’clock sharp on May 30th, the procession traversed Main Street from Kellogg Street to Hope Cemetery. The Galesburg Police Department, with buttonhole bouquets on their jackets, led the parade followed by the Galesburg Marine Band. The local unit of the Illinois National Guard, the Knox College Cadets, members of the G.A.R. and its affiliated organizations and school children carrying flowers to scatter on the graves. The Galesburg Fire Department paraded all of its equipment decorated with flowers. Mayor D.W. Aldrich, the city councilmen and the speaker of the day rode in carriages. Citizens in carriages brought up the rear of the procession.

 After the graves were decorated, a program was given in the Knox College Wigwam. Band and vocal music preceded the oration of the day by the Honorable E.C. Conger of Iowa. The Congressman had been born in Knox County in 1843 and enlisted in the 102nd Regiment during the Civil War. Afterward, the Post members conducted a ritual service at the Soldiers’ Lot in Hope Cemetery and fired a salute.

 According to the newspaper, throngs of Galesburg residents, dressed in their best clothes, were on hand to witness the parade on Main Street. All businesses were closed for the duration of the ceremonies. A shower had fallen late in the morning which cooled the air and settled the dust. Many members of the public wore white flowers on their breasts as a sign of respect.

 The August Sandburg family knew many veterans of the Civil War who lived in Galesburg. Perhaps members of the family were among those standing on Main Street watching the Memorial Day parade. Certainly a nine-year-old boy like Carl Sandburg could not have stayed away from such a spectacle.

Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
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