My Father’s boyhood home (1918-1930)

WHAT WE SAW: Family stories had my father growing up in Alton. I went there to find his boyhood home and get a photo. But the genealogical library in Alton was closed for repairs to the building. A temporary dead end. I plan to be back in the area in 3 or 4 years. But right now I headed to the county courthouse in Edwardsville to search land records for the address. I was referred to the Madison County Historical Museum and Archival Library “where they keep all the old stuff.” 715 N. Main St., Edwardsville, IL 62025 (618)6567569

There I met Carol who modestly claimed to be an assistant, but who impressed me with her knowledge of what was in the books in her ‘little’ library. I told her that I wanted the address of my grandfather. Without hesitation, she said a city directory would be best, and gives me a choice of 3 years. I chose 1924. In ten minutes I had the address I wanted AND the name and address of my father’s aunts, uncles and his grandfather (my great grand father!) That solved another mystery. My grandfather was a junior, which untangled some confusing stories since there were two men with the same name.

Carol suggested several other books. To my surprise I found another paternal grandfather. My father’s mother had 3 husbands. No family story had him living in Alton. But there he was running the Illinois Glass Company. I got his address, too.

The family story is that we made most of the patent medicine bottles in the US because my great uncle patented a way to make a smooth mouth bottle like all bottles today. Before his invention all bottles had a sharp edge where they broke it from the blowpipe after the glass cooled which left a sharp edge that had to be smoothed with a stone. If the smoothing was not done well, a person could cut their lip or tongue and bleed profusely. Which is why they said (and we still say) you should not drink directly from a wine bottle (because you could cut your lip). Beer bottles and soda bottles started production after this invention, so we don’t have this prohibition.

HOW TO GET THERE: Madison County Historical Museum and Archival Library, (38.816698, -89.961752), 715 North Main Street (IL-143), Edwardsville, IL 65025 Open Wed-Fri & Sun. Street parking for RVs, parking in back for cars.

Beaver Dam State Park

WHERE WE STAYED: We stayed at the Beaver Dam State Park while doing my genealogical research in Alton and Edwardsville. This is a nice park in the forest. It has cabins, RV, tent and youth group areas. It has a lake for fishing and boating, and a café (closed for the season). It has a baseball field, playground, archery range and hiking trails. The RV sites are gravel and slope a little with electricity only. Water and hot showers are centralized. There is a dump station.

TO GET THERE: (39.206619, -89.971814) Take I-55 to exit 60 toward Carlinville, drive west on N. 19th Street (County Rd 1900N) for 13 miles, in Carlinville follow the road thru town, where the road ends at the railroad turn left onto Alton Road, drive 7 miles to Park entrance.

It can happen, with His help.

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