Lewis University Adele Fay Williams Collection of Drawings and Prints (Lewis University)
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Bridge over Railroad
Bridge over Railroad
TitleBridge over Railroad
CreatorWilliams, Adele Fay
Date of the DrawingJune 27, 1926
DescriptionDrawing of a bridge over railroad tracks. Within the picture, there is a 300 year old elm tree by the railroad viaduct. This drawing is a part of the Robert E. Sterling Collection.
Title of ArticleRecall fight to save tree 300 years old : artist sketches historic elm alongside railroad viaduct.
Date of ArticleJune 27, 1926
Transcript of the ArticleFrom the Joliet Herald-News Sunday June 27, 1926 "This famous tree has a history which is more than a poem. It is epic, a veritable odyssey. Massive and ponderable as it appears to the passerby, it looks for all the world as if it flung defiance in the teeth of the world, like Rhoderick Dhu, conqueror, with his back against the rock. And why not? An ancient tree that has outgeneraled a railroad, outfaced a bevy of highway commissioners and enlisted the sympathies of an entire community may well claim supremacy. This majestic elm, sturdy buttressed pioneer of the wilderness, was distinguished for its size even in 1837, when the first title deed to the property was made out on yellowed parchment. Historic Landmark. Always has it been a historic landmark held in veneration by Joliet citizens, almost as the Druids worshipped their sacred groves. This historic elm it is said, must have begun its struggle against wind and storm on the highlands of Hickory Creek, as early as 1600, when it was but a twig. Willard N. Clute, botanist, states that it is his opinion that this gigantic elm is more than 300 years old. It is a fine specimen of the white elm, which is the distinct American type, he says. It is fitting that the noble tree should stand proudly as it does today, its life preserved for years to come, among a host of sympathizers who appreciate the intangible beauty of trees. But its safety was not achieved without struggle by the friends of the tree. When the ‘cut-off' railroad, the Michigan Central—in 1916, made plans for a viaduct to obviate the dangers of the steep declivity on each side of the crossing at East Washington street, a road was planned straight across the path of the venerable elm. This was two years after the Davison homestead had been bought by Mr. and Mrs. Edward Hurd whose family had already conceived affection for the beautiful old tree, as it stood in front of their dwelling. And then and there sentiment spread thru the city, the Women's club was interested, and many appeals were made to save the tree. The late L. H. Hyde, and Mrs. Hyde, Mrs. R. J. Barr and others appeared before the various authorities, and Mr. Hurd, retained O. R. Laraway, attorney, to protect the interests. Mrs. Myra Ingalls Pale also championed the cause of the tree. Tree is Spared. As a result of these combined activities a law suit was averted, and the railroad agreed to spare the tree and to build a retaining wall around the property. But the angle at which the viaduct was placed across the chasm created a double curve which while similar to Hogarth's ‘line of beauty'—is the bane of motorists. Miss Bertha Hurd lives with her mother in the dwelling set like a gem in the midst of a flowery garden expanse. Her sister, Mrs. A. W. Baumgarten lives in a pretty home on one end of the grounds. Mrs. E. G. Cornish, another sister lives on Richards street. There are also two brothers, Clarence and Sydney Hurd, who live in Joliet. As seen in the sketch there is a view of the west side of the viaduct, showing the curve of the road as it turns in front of the dark ancient elm. With its many buttressed trunks. A tall, graceful slender tree, of the few left on the bank is in a contrast to the massive elm. The famous tree stands today on Hilcrest road before the old Davision home, bought in 1914 by Edward Hurd on what was once called Washington street way to the Red Mill, of Joliet's early history. The tree was mentioned in an issue of the Herald-News when a very old deed was filed in the office of the county recorder, August 4, 1916. The deed bore the signature of President Martin Van Buren, by his secretary, A. Van Buren, and was the first deed that gave to the early settlers the property on which stood the famous elm, a giant among its fellows in 1837. It was in 1849 that Jonathan Munsey acquired the tract which he sold on June 10, 1872 to George Davison, according to John E. Morrison, head of the People's Abstract company. At that time there was a quaint old frame house on the property noted for its black walnut interior paneling. This old house became a portion of a more modern dwelling built by George Davison. At this time it was discovered that an industrious colony of bees had taken possession of the space between the outer and inner walls, and had filled it with honey combs. The Davison family lived there until 1907 when it was sold to L. E. Ingalls, another famous pioneer of Joliet. At that time Mr. and Mrs. Davison had conceived the idea that they wished to live in town and to be free of the cares of the large country home. Sell, Then Rent Place. No sooner was the place sold, however than the ties of attachment to the old home asserted themselves and they rented it with two or three acres of ground, from Mr. Ingalls. But even this change of ownership irked the couple, when Miss Jessie Davison, their devoted daughter noting this very natural home sickness, cut the gordian knot by rebuying the home, and announcing it to her delighted parents. They lived there until 1914 at the death of Mr. Davison when the home was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Edward Hurd."
SubjectWilliams, Adele Fay
Joliet (Ill.) -- History
Physical Description34.5 cm. x 27.5 cm.
TypeDrawing
FormatImage/TIFF
Identifier2011-8-ste-afwa-0067
SourceClick this link for more historical information on the Joliet area - http://lewisu.edu/imcanal
LanguageEnglish
Publisher (Digital)Lewis University
RightsAll rights held by Lewis University. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this image, please contact the Howard and Lois Adelmann Regional History Collection at Lewis University at 815-836-5665.
CollectionAdele Fay Williams Collection of Drawings and Prints (Lewis University)
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