Museum Moments

Museum Moments


Program Book Elgin High School Graduation 1879

There were only 11 people who graduated Elgin High School in 1879. In this segment, Mrs. Teresa Winters, the Principal of Hillcrest Elementary, features the program book from that graduation, and introduces you to Maggie Oates – the first African American graduate of EHS, who was also the valedictorian.


1872 Wedding Dress

Historian Linda Rock shows a wedding dress owned by Margaret Jane McCornack for her wedding to Myron Gage on May 13, 1872. This dress is in remarkably good shape for it’s age, and it is also special because Margaret and Myron met here at Old Main when it was Elgin Academy!


Woodruff & Edwards promotional elephant and bulldog

Founded in 1879, Woodruff & Edwards made metal cast products for over 100 years. The large red coffee mill in the video is on view at the Museum as part of the “Made in Elgin” permanent exhibit. Woodruff & Edwards would remain a leading employer of Elgin’s Hispanic community until the factory’s closure in 1987.


Wendell Moseley paintings and graphic designs

Moseley was a talented commercial artist producing business cards, ad copy, and promotional items for firms in Elgin and around the country. He was also a Well-respected landscape painter with exhibits at the Art Institute of Chicago.


Photo of Louis P. Andrews

Lewis P. Andrews was a lifelong Elgin resident. In 1926 he was appointed Elgin’s first African-American mail carrier. Lewis was among the leading Black citizens who worked to establish the Fremont Recreation Center. Elgin City Councilman, Corey Dixon, will tell you more about his accomplishments.

Elgin Watch College Jacket
Just like any other college, the Elgin Watch College organized teams to participate in various sports, and offered swag to purchase to show school spirit. In this video, Elgin collector, Jeff White will present an Elgin Watch College jacket.


Channing Cemetery Plat Map

Before Bluff City Cemetery, Elginites were buried at Channing Street Cemetery. From the map, you will see that some of Elgin’s founding families were laid to rest here. Judy Van Dusen, past president of Elgin Genelogical Society will tell you what they found when they started to build the school.

Elgin Sweeper Tin Toy
Nick Bruski from the Elgin Public Works department will tell you all about the Elgin Sweeper Company tin toy manufactured c. 1945. He will also tell you a little bit about how the sweeper was invented.


Elgin’s First Car
Purchased in 1900, the first locally owned automobile in Elgin belonged to Mr. and Mrs. George B. Richardson, superintendent at the David C. Cook Publishing Company. The photo is from the Howard Gusler collection donated in 1992.

Broadnax Shoe Repair Calendar
Daniel Broadnax came to Elgin in 1925, working 11 years for the Saxe Shoe Rebuilders before opening his own shop at 450 Dundee Ave in 1936. This wall calendar was given to customers as a promotion for Broadnax Shoe Rebuilders.


Remembering LeeWards
LeeWards Creative Crafts was an American crafts and fabrics retailer. It was founded in Elgin in 1947. Many of us have fond memories of beaded Christmas ornaments, crochet topped dish towels or embroidered pillow cases at Grandma’s house. Chances are many of these came from kits sold by LeeWards. Among these kits were embroidered baby quilts. Here we have a hand quilted applique baby quilt made from a LeeWards kit.


Dick Peck’s Pocket Watch
This watch belonged to Elgin aviator Dick Peck, son of George Peck who owned the Peck Department Store. It was found by the donor at the plane crash site where Dick Peck died in 1931.