Albert and Max at Chicago World’s Fair - 1893
The 1893 Fair in Chicago was also known as the World’s Columbian Exposition to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in the new world. It was dedicated in 1892 and was opened to the public May 1, 1893 through October 30, 1893. My sister Olive Galbreath and their oldest son Merritt (11) convinced Max (8) and me to go with them to the Fair. Merritt and Max always enjoyed playing together at family gatherings. It had been two years since Rosco, Alta May and our new infant had passed and this was a nice break from the farm at the end of a great harvest.
Merritt was helped through college and dental school by his parents with the understanding that he would help his brothers (Roger, Joe, Clyde and Otto) with their college expenses, but he did not. This became quite a sore spot in that family. One of his brothers did, however, also become a dentist. After training in Spokane Merritt and his wife, Bess, settled in Chicago where he had been so impressed in 1893 by the Fair.
We started our trip on Saturday October 7, 1893 by having Sam Galbreath take all four of us to stay overnight with my sister Ida and her husband Charlie Osborn. They lived 3 miles to the West on a 40-acre farm. Ida always had a kind disposition and loved to serve others. She did not have much use of her withered right arm but did become a teacher and was able to control the kids. When she was 4 she was playing near where we were clearing some land and a large falling branch hit her right arm. After that she started using her left hand for everything and her right arm stopped growing. She always wore a black glove on her tiny hand and pinned it to her dress. Her handicap did not slow her down. She did it all: cooked, washed dishes, canned, and made her own clothes. She and Charlie were very active members of the McDowell Church a mile West of their farm.
Well, back to our Fair trip. Sunday morning Charlie took us to South Haven to board the Lorain L. steamer to travel across Lake Michigan to Chicago. On the boat, which was very crowded, we got to talk with Chief Simon Pokagon. I had met him once before. The boys were fascinated. The Chief lived in Lee Township to the east of us. He was traveling as a special “Chicago Day” Fair guest to give a speech, ring the Bell of Liberty for the first time and be in the parade on Monday the 9th. He told the boys about his new pair of pants that he had purchased for $1 at the Locota store. This was the same price for each of our round trip boat tickets. The Chief’s father (Chief Leopold Pokagon) sold the Chicago area to the US Government in 1833 for 3 cents an acre. The Chief said he had spent his whole life trying to get paid for that land and met with Presidents’ Lincoln and Grant pleading that his people get paid.
We stayed in Chicago Sunday and Monday nights returning home on Tuesday. What an eye opening experience. We got to see the latest inventions, newest products, and experienced the “Midway” area. We all enjoyed the amusement and carnival area with its sideshows. Rides included the very first Farris Wheel that was 264’ high. Each of the 36 cars held 60 people. One of the cars carried the John Phillip Sousa band that played daily. We read that 1.5 million people rode the Wheel the first month of the Fair.
I was most impressed with the Westinghouse electric building. There were several displays showing different methods for generating electricity. I thought the Dynamo electrical generator might be used at our farm. Some of the new products included: Cracker Jack, Juicy Fruit Gum, the hamburger, Quaker Oats and Shredded Wheat. Could not help but think of the 1871 Chicago fire and all the smoke we experienced at the farm. We did not see any evidence of the fire, only new and modern buildings and facilities. What an uplifting experience for all.
Note – Martin O spun the above tail based upon facts and some speculation. Want more information about the 1893 fair and take a “virtual tour” go to this website:
At the Farm February 1, 2010
The farm family is traveling lots this winter to and from the Fennville schools as the kids are in several activities. Inside the paper work is being worked on and tax returns prepared. Trying to loose less each year is Allan’s goal on the farm. That is an old, old story with farmers. They always hope to make some or more next year. On the expense side of the equation, Allan has added a chain saw that is at the end of an extension device for trimming. So here is how they trim: hedge most trees with a huge power hedger, thin out the bigger branches with the chain saw and then do the hand trimming. Trees need to be thinned out in the middle so sunlight gets to the fruit.
Question- what do you do if you see a blue peach? Try to cheer it up!