THOSE WERE THE DAYS: THE “ROUNDHOUSE” CIRCA 1908

What is that little white round building? Over and over again that question is asked by strangers and newcomers.

The “roundhouse,” preserved near City Hall.

The “roundhouse,” preserved near City Hall.

Joyce Wagner, editing the Warrenville News during the summer of 1960 from the castle-like structure, decided to do an investigative piece on her headquarters.  Her “Tower Topics” column reporting her findings was somewhat less than sensational. All she could dig up was the unromantic spectacle of a bunch of pipes.

It has been asserted that the profusion of living springs in Warrenville drew the first settlers here. Years later William J. Manning discovered an artesian well on his farm, and he announced even before subdividing that he intended to pipe the water from his overflowing springs to all the houses. The 12-foot diameter circular lot was indicated on his survey recorded in November 1906, and assuredly the purpose of the site was already designated.

Perhaps the Michigan Avenue water tower that survived the Chicago fire inspired him; whatever his reasons for building the elaborate camouflage for his water works will have to remain with him and the Hotchkiss Concrete Stone Company.

The intriguing tower, which William Manning deeded to his son, Ralph in 1915, has seen a few side lines within its confines over the years. Matt Moran and his half brother, Alex ran a thriving business in “the Tribune Tower” for several years, vending candies and tobacco as well as magazines and newspapers, and operating a film service.  Mary Singleterry’s short-lived confectionary shop occupied the place in 1946, and then George Soukup sold bakery goods there before opening his grocery store on Warren Avenue.  Earl Brogie bought the building in 1970 for a gift shop, but it was closed in a dispute with the city fathers.

Most of the time the roundhouse has been vacant.  Sometimes it is cursed as a safety hazard, or sneered at as a worthless nuisance; other times it is pointed to as a not-to-be-tampered-with historical monument.  At all times, it is a conversation piece.

Many residents stop by the Museum and tell us their memories of this community icon.  Do you have a story about the roundhouse? Email the Historical Society at info@warrenvillehistorical.org or stop by the Museum and record your memory to add to the history of this interesting structure!

Taken from Leone Schmidt’s In and Around Historic Warrenville

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Hiram E. Leonard Diary, January 28 – February 3, 2013

28th Wednesday  rather a fine day & evening, I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ nearly sick.”

29th Thursday  rather a fine day & evening.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ by Hoyts & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard & nearly sick.”

30th Friday  rather a fine cold raw day & cold, I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ by Hoyts & went to bed about 9 ½ nearly sick, Mrs. Charles Gary died verry suddenly this afternoon about 3 oclock, while Wm Gary at Warrenville getting taxes, Bucanon got home from the Army.”

31st Saturday  a fine day & evening.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 10 tiard & nearly sick.  Mr. McNelly came hover with his wagon & left it to bed fixed & he went home, Wm McNelly & wife came & stayed all night.  Elizabeth Potter came & stayed all night.”

February 1st Sunday  A fine morning but some cloudy, we had a quite a snow squall about 9 & 11, grew cold & was windy a pretty cold afternoon & night, I did my choars went to the office about 10 & came back about 11 choared round, Frank was here about 2 to supper, Wm McNelly started home between 2 & 3, I was at Hoyts in evening came home about 8 & went to bed about 9 not verry well.”

2nd Monday  rather a fine day for winter I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home about 8 & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard & nearly sick.”

3rd Tuesday  fine cool weather for winter, I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home about 8 & went to bed between 9 & 10 nearly sick.”

Artifact of the Month: Joseph B. Munk Photograph

Joseph Munk

Joseph Munk

Joseph B. Munk was born on May 24, 1840.  At the age of 21, he joined the 15th Cavalry Company H on September 23, 1861.  Sadly, Joseph was one of 17 Warrenville men killed in the Civil War.  He is buried in the Warrenville Cemetery.

Join the Historical Society at the Warrenville Library this Sunday, January 27th at 2:00 p.m. for “1863 in 48 Minutes” to learn more about the brave men who left our community to fight in the Civil War.  Please see our post on the program here https://warrenvillehistorical.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/1863-in-48-minutes/ to learn more.

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, January 21 – 27, 1863

21st Wednesday  rather a fine warm day but some cloudy & muddy.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home by Hoyts about 8 got home before 9 & soon went to bed sick Caroline & Eliza went home started in the stage about 9 & went on cars to Babcocks Grove, Ed Brown killed hogs today.

22nd Thursday  rather a cloudy muddy disagreeable day & rained at night I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 by Hoyts, got home at 9 & went to bed before 10 nearly sick.  Dr Wellman & Col Warren went to Chicago started about 12 from store Henry Pollard got to Chicago.

23rd Friday  A damp muddy disagreeable day & night.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 by Hoyts got home at 9 & soon went to bed sick.  Dr Wellman got home from Chicago.

24th Saturday  a damp cloudy morning but cleared off & was a pleasant night & froze some.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home by Hoyts about ½ past 8 & soon went to bed about sick.  Henry Pollard or Wyman got home about 8 oclock tonight from Bowling Green Hospital for the Army.

25th Sunday  A fine pleasant day some hasey towards night was froze to the morning but thawed out before noon & was all muddy, I did my choars was round home all day called at Hoyts in evening came home at 8 & went to bed at 9 nearly sick.

26th Monday  rather fine weather for the season, I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ by Hoyts & went to bed about 10 nearly sick with a cold.

27th Tuesday  rather fine weather for January but bad going  I did my choars was at the office all day & in evening came home about 8 ½ by Hoyts & went to bed about 9 ½ nearly sick.  Caroline came home today about her Father came with her & went to James Browns.  She was about sick & cross.”

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, January 14-20, 1863

14th Wednesday  Some muddy & damp  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 9 & went to bed about 10 nearly sick.

15th Thursday  more cool & freezeing  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 9 & went to bed about 10.

16th Friday  rather a cold raw day & rough.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 9 & went to bed about 10 sick.

17th Saturday  rather a cool raw day did not thaw.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 9 & went to bed about 10 sick. Charles Bartholomew died in the army at the tunnel this side Galetine Tennessee.

18th Sunday  rather a fine pleasant day & thawed some.  I did my choars went to office about noon came home ½ past one & found Wm McNelly & wife here, & they started for home ½ past 4 Frank started for home about 5.  I went to office & Hoyts in evening came home a little after 8 & went to bed a little after 9 nearly sick with a cold etc.

19th Monday  rather fine weather for winter, I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home by Hoyts about 8 got home about 9 & went to bed about ½ past 9 nearly sick  H Pollard left bowling Green for home.

20th Tuesday  rather damp muddy disagreeable weather.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home by Hoyts about 8 got home about 9 & went bed before 10 about sick.”

1863 in 48 Minutes

On Sunday, January 27th, at 2:00 p.m., at the Warrenville Public Library, the  Historical Society will host “1863 in 48  Minutes,” a program detailing the historic third year of the Civil War, month-by-month, highlighting local and national events.  Aided by a visual presentation, presenters will detail life in Warrenville and the events facing  our country during the War.

As our nation continues to honor the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, this multi-media talk is part of the Historical     Society’s four year  program “Warrenville & The  American Civil War.”

The program is free to the public and light  refreshments will be served.  To register for the program, contact the Warrenville Library through their website http://www.warrenville.com or at (630) 393-1171.  Please contact the  Historical Society with any questions.

 

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Hiram E. Leonard Diary, January 7-13, 1863

7th Wednesday  rather a fine day & evening but cool.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 10.

8th Thursday  rather a fine day but cloudy.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 & went 10, C Noonen & Rusequi killed Wrays piggs & Charley & Jerry helped fetch them in.

9th Friday  rather a fine cloudy winter day.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 cut up the piggs & went to bed about 11 ½ George Potters wife came from Boyds & stayed all night.

10th Saturday  rather a fine day for winter.  I did my choars was at the store all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 10 nearly sick.  Elib went back to Boyds.

11th Sunday  A fine pleasant day & evening.  I did my choars was at home most of the day salted down the pork went to Hoyts about 2 & store came back eat supper.  S. Willson & wife were here & & called at Hoyt came home about 8 & went to bed at 9.

12th Monday  rather fine weather for winter no snow, I did my choars was at the office all day came home about 9 & went to bed about 10 nearly sick.

13th Tuesday  rather fine weather but sometimes muddy & then froz up rough  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home at 9 & went to bed at 10.”

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, 1863: January 2 – 6

Hiram Leonard, born in 1810, was from the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts and arrived in Warrenville in the fall of 1835.  His diaries are an almost continuous record of his Warrenville residency.  More than likely, he kept diaries prior to the March 1843 entry, but it is doubtful that they were preserved.

Hiram was a farmer, druggist, broom manufacturer, merchant, a justice of the peace, and Warrenville’s Postmaster from July 1, 1861 until his death November 6, 1878—a man of importance in the village.  His home at 3 S 381 Winfield Road still stands; the Leonard Store was located at 28 W 180 Warrenville Road.

Over the past two years, in honor of the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War, the Historical Society have been presenting Hiram’s diary entries to highlight the daily life of a Warrenville resident during this historic time in our country.  Hiram’s diary entries will be continued on this blog on a weekly basis.  As we divert from our daily postings of Hiram’s experiences, many have asked why Hiram was so often ill.  We hope this answers some of your questions.  Please feel free to contact us at info@warrenvillehistorical.org or (630)393-4215 with any further questions.

Hiram turned 53 in 1863, so although it is unlikely that his age accounted for his constant illness, he lived a hard life and his sickness was most likely caused by the large amount of stress in his life.  He was running multiple businesses in the growing community of Warrenville, including his position as postmaster, and for many years took care of his sister, who was mentally unstable.  There have been a few entries about his sister being “sick” or “unwell.”  She was generally irrational and oftentimes violent, which was a lot for Hiram to deal with by himself as no other family lived in the area.

Hiram also took on other taxing responsibilities in his personal life.  He had a live-in housekeeper, Mary Wray, who was divorced with two children.  Hiram was not married at the time and helped Mary with her two kids and subsequently the William Wray Jr.’s (Mary’s son) family as well.  Hiram was most likely completely exhausted each night from fulfilling all of his duties.

William Wray Jr. left Hiram to care for his family when he went off to fight in the Civil War.  William Jr. died in battle in 1864 and his 34 year old widow, Caroline, later married Hiram in 1874.  Hiram was 64 at the time of the wedding and died 4 years later.

2nd Friday  A cloudy damp muddy day & rained till after 12, they all went home about 3 ½  I did my choars was at the office the most of the day came home at 8 & soon went to bed.

3rd Saturday  rather a cloudy day & rained amost all night.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½.

4th Sunday  rather a fine day but mudy.  I did my choars was at home the most of the day went to office in morning & after supper & called at Hoyt in evening came home about 8 & went to bed, Dr Wellman & Frank were here at supper.

5th Monday  rather a fine cool day & evening.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 & went to bed between 9 & 10 nearly sick.

6th Tuesday  rather a cool raw day & evening.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 10 nearly sick.”

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, January 1, 1863

1st Thursday  A damp cloudy day & began to rain towards night & rained in evening & all night.  I did my choars was at the office all day came home about 8 & went to bed a little after 12 nearly sick, Wm McNelly & wife came David & the girls & Levi Van hassleman Henry Gould & family were to New Years & stayed all night & set up till after 12 oclock.”