November is Native American Heritage Month, and we’d like to take some time to acknowledge the woodland tribes that once lived where our bustling city sits today.
Before the 1700s, Northern Illinois was primarily populated by the Illinois and Miami tribes. As Europeans pushed further inland, many tribes were forced to relocate. What we now refer to as Northern Illinois became home to a variety of tribes, including the Winnebago (Ho-Chunk), Sauk, Shawnee, Potawatomi, Fox, Kickapoo, and Dakota Sioux.
While each tribe had its own subset of languages, religion, and customs, we know that the tribes of this region flourished due to the climate, natural resources, and land in which they were located. Northern Illinois provided them with plenty of opportunity for both farming and hunting, due to the prairies and woodland areas. These areas also provided them with various plants, trees, and animals which they used for clothing, food, shelter, medicine, and ceremonies. Northern Illinois is also host to numerous rivers, creeks, and lakes – opening the opportunity for fresh water, fishing, and transportation.
Western Expansion forced these tribes to relocate to federal reservations; however, traces of their presence can still be found in the names of counties, towns, and sports teams. There are also many conical and effigy mounds remaining throughout Illinois, including places like Cahokia, Galena, and Rockford.
On your next trip to Tinker Swiss Cottage, you’ll be able to visit a conical burial mound, which has remained virtually undisturbed since approximately 1100 AD (other than one archeological core sample test). After your visit, be sure to stop by Beattie Park near the Rock River to visit three effigy mounds dating from the 7th to the 12th centuries.
Have you heard? Tinker Swiss Cottage has opened its latest exhibit in the Cottage: From Rockford with Love: Postcards of the Victorians. Between the Red and Yellow rooms, you will find a fun collection of various postcards sent to the Tinkers from around the world and ones of our own Rockford area as well! Before you come to take a look at the beautiful Tinker postcards, here’s some more information on the history of the postcard for you.
The History of Postcards
Postcards were first introduced in Britain in 1870. To begin with, the Post Office issued pre-stamped, plain cards. Because there were no images on the card, one side was used to address it, while the other side was used to write out a message to the receiver. It is believed that the first picture postcards were sent out in 1894. These cards required the sender to add a halfpenny adhesive stamp before mailing. In 1902 the British Post Office officially allowed divided back postcards on which senders could include both the address and message on the back of the postcard, while the face of the card contained an image.
Before postcards became widely available in the United States, during the early- to mid-19th century many envelopes would depict small images on their exteriors. While many displayed holiday images, thousands of patriotic pictures were printed on envelope exteriors during the Civil War. It is believed that these images on the envelopes in some part led to the creation of the postcard.
Records indicate that a copyright on a private postcard was issued as early as 1861. However, these were privately sold, non-pictorial cards. The first governmental postcards issued in the world came in October of 1869 in Austria; whereas, the United States issued the government postal card four years later in 1873. It wasn’t until 1907 that the U.S. Government permitted the use of divided back postcards. This development ushered in what is known as the “Golden Age” of the postcard. This era reigned from 1907-1915 where millions of postcards were printed and sold throughout the United States and Europe. The first “high-speed” photo printers were invented in 1910 and allowed real-photo postcards to be mass produced throughout the world. This invention shifted the emphasis of handmade postcards to large scale commercial printing.
What Purpose Does a Postcard Serve?
Postcards served a variety of purposes in the Victorian era. One of many reasons postcards became popular is due to the fact that it was a cheaper way to send messages; whereas, letters would take more postage to send, especially when they were a few pages long.
The first postcard printed with the intention to be sold as a souvenir debuted in 1893 at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. During the following years, the private printing of pictorial postcards boomed throughout the United States and Europe. Before 1893, many postcards contained advertisements for various businesses. However, after the Columbian Exposition, many saw the potential for producing other types of souvenir cards for tourists. By 1895, many postcards were printed with images depicting larger cities or famous tourist attractions of both natural and historic interest.
Advertisements on postcards were widely distributed, imploring one to buy this product or another. However, postcards could be used as propaganda as well. During times of war, the government issued postcards depicting images and advertisements convincing civilians to join the military and serve their country. Politically, postcards were used as a means to show who was running for office and who people should vote for.
The surge in souvenir postcards opened a new hobby for many people. Collecting postcards from one’s travels allowed one to revisit locations and bring back memories of their trips. It also allowed many people to see parts of the country, and even the world, that they would not have been able to visit for one reason or another. Collecting postcards also assisted in learning about new locations or the history of various places, such as our very own Tinker Swiss Cottage.
Postcards were used to not only write to family or friends from one’s vacation, but also as a means of showing off various tourist points of interest. By this means, postcard senders became a means of advertisement and propaganda for various industries and cities. These postcards became a means to draw in new and repeat visitors to locations across the world.
Themed postcards became widely popular as well, especially around the holidays. One of the most popular themes was Christmas. These Christmas postcards would be colorful and captured the Christmas spirit. As such, postcards would be used as decorations during the holidays – such as Christmas greeting cards are today. Throughout the year, in order to add colorful decorations throughout their homes, many would place the postcards they received from family and friends on tables, mantels, and shelves.
In the early 1900’s, cameras with the ability to print photographs directly onto the backs of postcards were invented. This development allowed people to photograph and share their images of their families, homes, and surroundings.
Our postcard exhibit will run through mid-January, so hopefully everyone will get a chance to stop by the Cottage to see these exciting pieces on display! After your tour, don’t forget to grab a few postcards from our gift shop as souvenirs of your visit to Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens!
Spring is finally here, and that means that the gardens at the Tinker Swiss Cottage are in full bloom! If you take a stroll through our gardens today you’ll see various types of flower beds, including Mary’s beloved roses and Jessie’s prize-winning irises. The Tinkers, along with other Victorian families, embellished their homes with sprawling gardens. New inventions allowed more exotic plants to be cultivated, grasses to be trimmed, and rooms dedicated to gardening were added on to homes.
In the early 1800s, Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward invented the Wardian Case by accident. He discovered that ferns, and other flowers, could grow very well inside glass bottles. This allowed Europeans to import more exotic plants, because encasing them in these Wardian Cases allowed them to remain in a constant climate without the damage that the change of air and temperature could bring. Another invention sprouting from the early years of the nineteenth century, the lawnmower transitioned from a large, difficult piece of machinery to a smaller, hand-driven tool. Around 1840, Victorians began incorporating trimmed lawns in their garden designs.
Many Victorians embellished their homes with their gardens. Vines hung from porches, urns and containers were filled with flowers and greenery to be set throughout the property, and vines grew up walls and trellises. Cast iron fences wrapped around many Victorian properties, both in the city and country. Rustic fences could be used, but were generally hidden by bushes and shrubbery.
While Victorians planted bushes, trees, and shrubs throughout their gardens, colorful flowers made up a large portion of the gardens. Symmetrical gardens, flower boxes, and ornate arrangements decorated Victorian homes. Throughout the era, exotic plants could be found in both private and public conservatories. While there are far too many to list, some of the more popular plants of the Victorian era includes: Azaleas, Holly, Hydrangeas, Roses, Lilacs, Peonies, ivy, Wisteria, Honeysuckle, Morning Glories, Tulips, Violets, Lavenders, and Ferns.
Robert Tinker purchased approximately 27 acres of land, where he planted flower gardens, vegetable gardens, and had pastures for his horses and cows. Throughout his home and property, Robert crafted rootwood furniture pieces, which you can see on your next trip out to the Cottage! On the opposite side of Kent Creek, Mary Dorr Manny Tinker owned a two-story, limestone brick mansion. She had her workers surround it with orchards, vegetable gardens, and the fashionable flower gardens of the Victorian era.
While Mary’s mansion and its surrounding gardens may no longer be stationed across the creek, she did bring over her love of pink heirloom-roses to Robert’s Cottage. Besides the circular rose garden located in front of the Cottage, a conservatory was added on to the house in 1882 to assist in caring for the gardens during the winter months. Using flower in interior designs also allowed the Tinkers to show off their favorite flowers. Not only were fresh bouquets located throughout the home, but on your next trip to the Cottage you’ll notice the beautiful pink flowers painted on the boarder in the Parlor. Perhaps you’ll also notice the hand painted bouquets of flowers on the dining room dishware.
We hope you enjoy the Tinkers’ gardens on your next visit as much as we do!
*Remember: We’re always looking for new friends to help us work our gardens as well! You can find more information about how to Volunteer at Tinker Swiss Cottage under our “Volunteering” tab!*
All too often, we forget the beauty, history and culture that is in our own backyards. We frequently think of visiting these cultural treasures but regretfully do not. Lack of time or money seem to get in the way. Therefore, it is the job of institutions to connect with the communities that surround them. The biggest question is how? How do to provide access to these resources? How to create a memorable interaction? How do make a rewarding experience? Most importantly, how to make it affordable?
In 2013, a collaboration between organizations, museums and restaurants was born out of a desire to answer these questions and connect Rockford back to its history. Rockford was born on the Southwest side. Germanicus Kent, Thatcher Blake and Lewis Lemon arrived on the Kent Creek in 1834 and begin Rockford’s story. Today, South West Ideas For Today and Tomorrow (SWIFTT) along with Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum & Gardens, Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden and the Ethnic Heritage Museum will partner to offer tours for citizens and visitors to “Explore Rockford’s Roots.”
On May 31, these southwest Rockford attractions will open their doors to the public and offer food coupons that may be redeemed at eight area eating establishments. Admission is free to the three destinations, and patrons will receive coupons worth up to $8 each for lunch or dinner at participating restaurants: Zammuto’s, La Chiquita, Delicias Bakery, Las Palmas, Luichi’s Hot Dogs, Chiquita Food Market, Mi Ranchito Restaurant and Guanajuato.
We invite you to come and explore any or all of these locations:
• Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum & Gardens, 411 Kent St., was built in 1865 by former Rockford mayor Robert H. Tinker. It was modeled after a chalet-type architecture he saw on a trip to Switzerland. Tour this historic house museum and park. Guided tours of the first floor are given every 20 minutes from 1- 3 pm. Limit of 15 people per tour. The museum is not accessible to strollers and wheelchairs. Animals are not permitted inside the buildings. Info: (815) 964-2424 or http://www.tinkercottage.com
• Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 2715 S. Main St. Enjoy the beauty of spring on 155 acres as the flowers are blooming. A former tree nursery, Klehm has a century of horticultural development and features a combination of plants native to the Midwest and from around the world. Friendly dogs on leashes are welcome. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily (Memorial Day – Labor Day). All buildings and paved garden paths and trails are accessible to strollers and wheelchairs. Info: (815) 965-8146 or www.klehm.org.
• The Ethnic Heritage Museum, 1129 S. Main St., celebrates the cultures and heritage of southwest Rockford, the place where Rockford began. It houses six galleries: African-American, Hispanic, Irish, Italian, Lithuanian and Polish. Special exhibits are featured throughout the year. The museum is open Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Info: (815) 962-7402 or www.ethnicheritagemuseum.org.
Rockford’s creativity happens all year long, but it being highlighted this May through Rockford Lutheran School’s Out of the Box movement. This collaboration is only one of many happening in Rockford. As a participant, we are proud to see many organizations think out of the box every day. We celebrate these partnerships and their continuous effort to promote variety and depth in the creative opportunities given in our community. For more information on Out of the Box events and activities, visit the calendar of events at rockfordlutheran.org
We have a great Mother’s Day Tea this Saturday (May 12, 2012) from 2-4 PM. We still have a few tickets left, and if you would like to join us, call 815-964-2424 to reserve your spot. The price is $30 for non-members, $25 for members, and $5 for children.
Have a great Mother’s Day Weekend!
We are going to have special guests, TNT Paranormal Investigators here at the museum on Friday, March 30th from 7-10 PM. It will be for a special paranormal evening that is scheduled on the eve of our visit by author, Jeff Mudgett. The evening will start with a presentation by TNT and they will demonstrate some of the great evidence they have captured over the years. Then we will share with our guests some of the evidence that has been captured here at the museum, and we will do a night tour of the museum. TNT will be available for questions you may have about paranormal research. They are experts in their field, and their presentations are awesome. They have very impressive evidence to share!
The price is $15 for members of the museum, $20 if you pay ahead or $25 dollars at the door for everyone. Click HERE to see the payment information. Hurry to reserve your spot! We like to keep them at about 30 people, so make your reservation today! Thank you!
We had a visit from Illinois Gov. Quinn on January 17th to announce a grant to help build an Amtrak station across from the museum. We will once again have trains running from Chicago to Rockford. There has not been a passenger train between the two cities since the 1970’s.
We thank everyone that came out to the press conference!
Our Executive Director of Administration, Cindy Karnitz, was on a local news show called ‘The Morning Blend.’ She was also on WTVO a few days later. We are becoming quite popular!
We would like to wish everyone Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!
May 2012 be a prosperous year for you and your family, and we hope to see you here at the museum at one of our numerous events!
2012 will be the “Year of the Book” at the museum, and we will share some of the great events that we have coming up soon!
The lecture will be held at the museums Visitor Center on Saturday, January 14, 2012 from 2-3 PM.
Tickets are on sale now!
The price is $5 for non-members and $3 for museum members. If you would like more information on the event, give us a call at 815-964-2424 or email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support of the museum!
The museum is beautifully decorated for Christmas! Come out and see the museum before we close for general admission tours in January and February!
We are open the last week from Tuesday Dec. 27th through Friday, December 30th, with guided tours at 1 PM and 3 PM!
We will open again for general admission tours on Thursday, March 1, 2012!
We hope to see you soon!
This evening, so close to Halloween, we have special guests, The Society For Anomalous Studies. Here is a little bit about them: “The Society for Anomalous Studies is a cooperative of experienced paranormal researchers who have come together to conduct well structured and objective investigations into claims of ghosts and hauntings, psychical and parapsychological experiences, Ufology and Cryptozoology. The SAS’s mission is to seek out truths and facts as they are revealed through data collected following a scientific methodology.
Members of the SAS bring years of practical field and research experience to the table as well as professional diversity. The SAS is fortunate to have members who have military, aviation, electronic and engineering, computer programming, laboratory, writing, music, business, social work and education skills and experience. We feel this combination of research experience and professional skills puts the SAS in a good position to not only assist clients who may have had an anomalous experience but also make meaningful contributions to all these unique fields of study.
Covering both Wisconsin and Illinois, the society will consider serious investigation requests as well as offer free phone and e-mail consultations worldwide.”
It should be a great evening! Thank you to everyone for supporting our paranormal evenings!
This Friday, those who have an RSVP (sorry we are full) will get to meet the paranormal team Ghost Head Soup and paranormal guru Dale Kaczmarek of the Ghost Research Society. Ghost Head Soup is a group of dedicated local paranormal professionals that has done a lot of pioneering research in the field, but they also like to have fun. Dale Kaczmarek has been a paranormal researcher before it was “cool” in the 1970’s. Dale is an author who gives numerous presentations across the country to help budding paranormal researchers. Basically, Dale has forgotten more about paranormal research than many people know combined. We are glad and honored to have both Ghost Head Soup and Dale Kaczmarek at our museum. Since our paranormal tours have become popular (they filled up fast), we have added two more dates on Friday November 11th at 7 p.m. and Friday, December 16th at 7 p.m. The cost is $15 per person. If you want to make sure that you are on the list, give us a call at 815-964-2424 or email me @ email@example.com. Hope to see you then!
We will have another great paranormal tour this Friday, October 14, 2011. Our special guest’s will be TnT Paranormal Investigators. They will give one of their great presentations, showing audio and video evidence they have captured in the past. I will play some evidence that has been captured at the museum, then we will have a rare night tour of the museum. The tour will begin at 7 pm, and we will be finished between 9:30-10 pm. The cost is $15 per person, which is very reasonable. The tour begins at the museum’s visitor center. You can RSVP by calling 815-964-2424 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please RSVP before all of the seats are filled! Thank you!