Saturday, March 10, 2007

Dad's Birthplace

Crossed the Mississippi for the last time this morning and said goodby to Missouri. Hello Illinois! Illinois is a very bland State - flat and agricultural like so much of the land that we have seen. We're thinking this must all have been prairie before the western expansion - how boring for the Indians!

At Vandalia we saw the Madonna of the Prairie statue - very nice indeed - a Mom and small children facing the West with courage. Vandalia is the western terminus of The National Road established in 1806 by Thomas Jefferson. Vandalia also boasts the one-time capital building - It was the capital of Illinois from 1836 to 1839. Abe Lincoln got his law license here and also served in the legislature.

But the best adventure of the day was getting off the highway to find Arthur, Illinois where Dad was born. I expected a wide place in the road with an old broken down gas station and that's about it. What we found was a vibrant, colorful small town full of activity. The most interesting thing is that Arthur is the center of the Amish culture in Illinois. The Amish farms are everywhere, and buggies are going up and down the roads, and into town regularly. The town has special "parking places" for the horses and buggies - plenty of space for the horses to be under cover while they wait. There is a disadvantage to having so many horses around - think Mackinac Island. I can't help but wonder how they manage to clean it all up every day.

We knew that not all Kanitzes had moved to Michigan from here, so on the off chance that we might find a gravestone, we went to the Arthur cemetery. Dick spotted the first gravestone from the car - it turned out to be my great-grandparents, William (Wilhelm) and Caroline.

Altogether we found and photographed 6 or 7 Kanitz memorials - it was quite satisfying and exciting. I googled this:

This village was laid out in September, 1872, by M. H. Warren and William Kanitz. These gentlemen laid out twenty acres each, and donated half to the Paris and Decatur, now the Illinois Midland Railroad. The line dividing Moultrie and Douglas counties, ru ns north and south through the centre of the plat, and the railroad through from east to west. It was re-surveyed and platted September 1, 1873, by Abraham Jones, county surveyor, and filed in the office of county recorder September 2, 1873.

We found 2 Illinois caches today. Later on, we plan to go take a look at the campus of the University of Illinois - we're spending the night in Champaign.