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Bill Thayer

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John Deere

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Old Illinois Houses

John Drury

reprinted by
The University of Chicago Press
Chicago and London, 1977

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

[image ALT: A photograph of a two‑story-and‑attic oblong brick house, with a gabled roof pitched at about 30° and a chimney at either end. We see the house end‑on: a porch can be seen dimly along the left side, under the shade of a large tree. It is the Jane Addams House in Cedarville, Illinois.]

Raymond Folgate

Jane Addams House, Cedarville, Built 1854.

 p184  Amid Unusual Rural Beauty

Recalling her girlhood days in northern Illinois, the late Jane Addams, founder of Hull House in Chicago and world-famous humanitarian, once wrote: "These early recollections are set in a scene of rural beauty, unusual, at least, for Illinois. The prairie around the village was broken into hills, one of them crowned by pine woods, grown up from a bag of full Norway pine seeds sown by my father in 1844, the very year he came to Illinois, a testimony perhaps that the most vigorous pioneers gave at least an occasional thought to beauty."

Continuing, she said: "The banks of the mill stream rose into high bluffs too perpendicular to be climbed without skill, and containing caves of which one at least was so black that it could not be explored without the aid of a candle. . . . My stepbrother and I carried on games and crusades which lasted week after week, and even summer after summer, as only free-ranging country children can do."

It was in this idyllic setting that Jane Addams spent her childhood and young womanhood. The house in which she was born, one of the oldest in the little village of Cedarville, some six miles north of Freeport, still stands in its grove of elms and has become a revered historic shrine, much visited by admirers of the great humanitarian.

When she grew to maturity Jane Addams remembered her happy, "free-ranging" childhood days at Cedarville, and it was in part this memory that caused her to become interested in underprivileged children of the foreign districts of Chicago. Deciding to help these children, to give them a place to play and an opportunity to develop into good Americans, Miss Addams founded Hull House in 1889.

Miss Addams was but two years old when her mother died and after this her father became the guiding star of her young girlhood. Eight years after the death of his wife John H. Addams married again, this time to the widow of William Haldeman, a Freeport businessman. The second Mrs. Addams was an educated, accomplished woman and her little stepdaughter, Jane, became attached to her. When she became mistress of the Cedarville house the new wife brought along her two sons, Harry and George Haldeman.

In these early years John H. Addams was an outstanding personage of northern Illinois. Honest, self-educated, idealistic, and a hard worker, John Addams had prospered as the owner of a gristmill adjoining his home at Cedarville. He was elected to the state legislature, helped to establish the Republican Party, was a close friend of Abraham Lincoln's,  p185 organized "Addams Guards" during the Civil War and helped to found the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad which was later consolidated with the Chicago & North Western Railway.

"By that time [in 1849, when Cedarville was platted] John Addams was on the highroad to prosperity," wrote the late Professor James Weber Linn in his Jane Addams: A Biography. Linn, who was a nephew of Jane Addams', tells us that "in 1854 he built for his increasing family a wide, two‑story-and‑attic, gray-brick house, in the simple, oblong architecture of the day." Here Jane Addams was born on September 6, 1860. And here she was living when her father died in 1881 at the age of fifty-nine.

Subsequently the old Addams homestead, in its grove of pines and elms at the base of the steep cliff on Cedar Creek, became the property of Marcet Haldeman, daughter of Miss Addams' stepbrother, Harry Haldeman, who had become a physician and banker of Girard, Kansas. It was in the Addams home that Marcet Haldeman was married to Emanuel Julius, a writer. Under the firm name of E. Haldeman-Julius, the two publish the five-cent "blue books" at Girard, Kansas.​a

Still in sound condition after almost a century, the old Addams homestead, now privately owned, retains much of the atmosphere of pioneer times. It has been furnished with many fine period pieces — articles of furniture and other household belongings contemporaneous with the girlhood days of Jane Addams.

Thayer's Note:

a Until not so long ago, these needed no footnote. For exhaustive details and links on this encyclopedic series for the workingman, see Haldeman-Julius: Pocket Series and the Little Blue Books.

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Page updated: 2 Dec 17