The Sappington House combine fun and history

It was a birthday trip.  My friend Janna took me to a brunch at the Barn, the lovely restaurant and gift shop located outside the historic Sappington House in Crestwood, Illinois, a St. Louis suburb.  After a wonderful and filling meal, in the tea room setting, we toured the beautifully restored home that is thought to be the oldest in St. Louis County.  Janna, who is from the area, knew of the site, but had never been before either, so this trip was a win/win for both of us.

Thomas Sappington built this beautiful Federal Style home in 1808 for his bride Mary Ann Kinkead.  Set on 2.5 acres, the home and garden are located next to the Grant Trail.  Construction was completed on the home that was restored in 1966 by the Sappington House Foundation.


At the time Thomas Sappington built his home, it was built with the help of slave labor something I admit I don’t thinking of happening so close to central Illinois.  The house is comprised of bricks made on site with wooden pegs used to secure the homes frame.

During the tour we learned the story of the Sappington family which was a very large one.  Our guide said that family members still stop by today.  I looked on Facebook ( and enjoyed reading posts about the house, many from family members!

While the furnishings don’t all belong to the Sappington family, the home is furnished with lovely authentic early nineteenth century pieces and the guides are able to tell how items in the house were used making this not only a beautiful home to tour, but an educational one as well.


While we had time to dine at the Barn and tour the house we missed the Library of Americana and the Decorative Arts that is also on site at the grounds.

I think this is a site that is often missed in the St. Louis area by visitors.  Janna and I really enjoyed our visit and I would like to go back and see the yard and garden if full spring flower.  Admission to the Sappington House is $3.00 for adults and $1.00 for children. Perfect for tours, school field trips, and special events.

Hours: Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays (except in January) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Located at 1015 S. Sappington Road,  St. Louis, Missouri 63126 call 314-822-8171 for details of this lovely home!  Log onto for more information.

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Civilized Cats, don’t travel without it!

I admit, I love cats and I love fun pictures with cats and I live on a farm so I am the perfect client for the pictorial book with perfect quotes titled Civilized Cats, an album in words and pictures.  Since I am the perfect client, I have pored over the pictures and smiled several times since it arrived on my doorstep this afternoon.

The pictures are from yesterday but they are finding new life in this compilation.  Taken by Nancy Hendrickson, the photographer was born on the family farm in 1886. The farm is near Heart River south of Mandan in the State of North Dakota.  She lived on her farm all of her 92 years and while there she took up to 4,000 pictures, many of them of her beloved cats.

Today several select pictures have been matched with quotes some from the well known and others not, but all quotes are purrfect, pardon the pun for the picture at hand.

While traveling as I have mentioned before, I like a book to keep me company when the scenery is nothing but the highway and this book will keep me turning pages.  The book is 48 pages and sells for  $15.00 with $5.00 shipping and handling.  Log onto for details.civilized cats

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A Servant’s version of Thanksgiving at Edward’s Place

Today I had a wonderful tour,  a servant’s tour if you would of the Edwards Place historic home in Springfield, Illinois as they prepared for the family Thanksgiving.  Through the Irish maid Mary, we saw the arduous preparation it took to “put on the Ritz” for the family and as “Mary” said, keep up the family’s standing.

Mary and a young servant girl, that was her cousin, explained all the things they had to do to prepare for the Thanksgiving feast.  While living in the Edward’s home was much better circumstances that they had back in Ireland during the potato famine. their jobs were still comprised of difficult work.  The servant explained that while having room and board was wonderful, it kept them at the family’s beck and call 24/7.

Edward’s Place is lovely and has so much history.  The website explains the Lincoln connection.  I just picked up their wording rather than taking a chance of botching this important Honest Abe connection  “When Benjamin and Helen Dodge Edwards made their home a center of Springfield’s early social and political life, they attracted Abraham and Mary Lincoln as occasional visitors. They met Mary soon after arriving in Springfield in 1840, because both were temporary residents at Mary’s sister’s home. Helen quickly established what would become a lifelong friendship with Mary. The Edwards’s were among the small group of friends who were present at the Lincoln’s marriage ceremony in 1842.”

The house was quite impressive and contains a couch that Lincoln courted Mary Todd Lincoln on as well as a piano that is being restored. The piano is one that Abraham Lincoln listened to music on.  A recital will be available after the piano is restored and they plan to create a CD of the music he would have listened to.

The Edwards house was a place where history unfolded and now serves as the Springfield Art Association’s home in the connecting building. 

The tour was so well done, it was eye opening that a celebration we take to be a chance to reflect upon and savor, through someone else’s eyes may not be so grand.  The servants said they only wished for the holiday to be over, the extra work and the fact that the Puritans that Thanksgiving celebrates had not treated the Irish so well offered insight into cultural differences that existed in the past and for some may still today. 



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The Beautiful Peabody Opera House

Last night I traveled to the beautiful Peabody Opera House to see Jackson Brown with a friend and family.  The acoustics and Brown’s voice was lovely, but I admit to being distracted.  Not by a person sitting beside me, not by talking, phones or anything off putting, my distraction was from the beauty of this architectural wonder.

Life for the  Opera House and its 3,500-seat main theater began after the theater was  completed in 1934.  The Opera House was originally part of the Municipal Auditorium complex that included the 9,300-seat Convention Hall that later became known as Kiel Auditorium.

This golden building was designed architects Louis LaBeaume and Eugene S. Klein, construction on the Municipal Auditorium began in 1932. According to the history portion of the website, “The Opera House is all that remains of the original complex and extends south approximately 250 feet, where it meets Scottrade Center, the arena completed in 1994 that replaced Kiel Auditorium. Its facade extends 322 feet along Market Street frontage on the Memorial Plaza as part of St. Louis’ most significant grouping of civic buildings.”

The distraction began from the minute I entered the two-story lobby created from Tennessee and Ste. Genevieve marble.  Wide steps and ornate gold décor are awe inspiring in this classically beautiful place.  In Bible study this week the discussion came up about beauty and whether or not seeing it makes you want to own it.  My good friend Janna made the comment, “I think seeing it is enough, I don’t have to own it, it just makes me feel better being in a lovely place or seeing something beautiful.”

I so agree, coming to the Peabody Opera House made me happy before I even sat down to hear a note of the performance.  History of the building declares that the “Inspiration for the design of the Municipal Auditorium was born out of the City Beautiful movement that reached its height of popularity in America with the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The City Beautiful movement sought to use beautification and monumental grandeur in cities to create moral and civic virtue among urban populations.”

While the municipal concert area had the largest venues, the Opera House had more during those early years.  They also became home to the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.  While George Strait is more my style, I can see the appeal

!In 1943, the Municipal Auditorium complex was re-named in honor of former St. Louis Mayor Henry W. Kiel after his passing.  Over the years an amazing array of performers and performances took place on the Opry stage, until  May 4, 1991, a performance by the St. Louis Philharmonic marked the final event. The Opera House was closed on May 7, 1991.

There were several tries to reopen the building that all failed.  In the mean time, the municipal building was torn down and Scott Trade center was set up.  One of the members of our group had some colorful stories about what happened and how the opera house was saved, but they are not in the history books.

Last night, we vied for parking and walked side by side with St. Louis Blues fans. While they were decked out in hockey apparel we headed to the more sedate and aged Jackson Brown concert.  The Opera House was thankfully renovated and reopened in  June 2010.  The Peabody name came asthanks to a naming rights partnership with Peabody Energy.  Today the Opera House is a remaining icon of the City Beautiful movement and it certainly moved this country girl that came to town.


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A marking reminding us of what went before – the Potawatomi Trail of Death – a march from Indiana to Kansas


Roadside historical markers reveal much about what happened in the past.  We see these signs and drive on by oblivious to the events that unfolded on the very ground we trod. On a recent glorious trip to view the Fall Colors on the Pike Color Drive, we pulled over for one of these markers and found it was a marker for the Potawatomi Trail of Death.

While the Trail of Tears is familiar, this was a story I was not familiar with.  The Citizen Potawatomi Nation website ( provided a synopsis of the history of this sad tale.  “In 1838, the Potawatomi Indians in the state of Indiana were forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands by order of the U.S. government. The 859 Potawatomi who started the journey travelled across Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and finally Kansas before finally arriving at their intended destination. The loss of life, 41 in total, resulted in the removal becoming known as the Potawatomi Trail of Death.”

Much of this history was documented by Father Benjamin Petit who traveled with the Indians and soldiers.

The story of this forced removal has been documented in an official trail and today markers like the one we saw commemorates the Trail of Death. Credit for this feat started on the 150th anniversary in 1988 when a group of historians and Potawatomi ancestors began to commemorate the event.  They formed the Potawatomi Trail of Death organization and contacted all 26 counties n the four states where the trail took place.

Through their efforts they were able to gett the Trail of Death declared a Regional Historic Trail.  Since 2003 markers have been placed at each camp site every 15 to 20 miles. The marker we saw along the Fall Color Drive was just one of the places where the group stopped in Illinois.

So much has happened, both good and bad along our roadways.  It is always eye opening to stop and take a look and learn who traversed the highways before us.

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Prairie tractors and a book made out of love wow visitors at the National Farm Toy Show

Sometimes it is the little things that make something special.  That extra thing that someone did or said. This year at the National Farm Toy Show, that little thing was a book that Richard Marcott’s daughter Julie Blegos made for her dad. Right before he left for the show that is held in Dyersville, Iowa each year, she gave her father a book with all of the prairie tractor models he had made for an exhibit.  Along with the pictures she included a description of the companies that produced the tractors and she added some family photos as well making this both an educational piece of Richard’s display as well as a .family treasureimg_5823

Richard’s display focused on prairie tractors, and prairie tractors have been receiving a bit of attention this past year. They were the featured event at the 2015 Half Century of Progress and now Richard Marcott brought their beauty to life with his amazing display of prairie tractor models at the National Farm Toy Show in Dyersville this past weekend.  The National Farm Toy Show is always held the first weekend in November and although Richard has been coming to the show since 1984, this was the first time he entered the farm layout contest.

Richard has been working on these models for years.  He said it takes him six months to complete one of the beauties.  His interest in the prairie tractor stems from his own 1926 Rumley-M25  that he has at home. After he retired from trucking Richard decided to make a model of his beloved Rumley and the rest is history.  At this year’s National Farm Toy Show Richard took home the 2nd place trophy for the adult large scale layout category.  His scratch built models are a labor of love and the visitors that stopped to see them, my husband and I included were blown away by their beauty and the handcrafted labor that went into each and every one

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The models he included in his display are a 1918 60 Twin City, a 1915 40-70 Flour City, a 1912 Big Four 30, a 1926 M 20-35 Rumley Oil Pull, a 1912 30-60 Aultman E. Taylor, a 1912 15-30 Rumley Oil Pull and a 1912 110 Case Steam engine.  His collection also included a 1916 30-60 Rumley Oil Pull, a 1911 30-60 Case, a 1912 35-70 Minneapolis, a 1912 40 Gas Tractor Case and a 1913 40-80 Avery.

While Richard’s display was special, to me what was so touching was the book that his daughter made for him.  Richard and his wife Joyce had a great time showing Richard’s amazing handiwork at the toy show and I noticed that he always directed visitors to the book to see the history of the models and some of the family photos as well.  Long after Richard has returned home to Spring Valley, Wisconsin and put his models on the shelf, he and Joyce will revel in the book and the memories from the show. They will turn pages that were made with one of the Ten Commandments in mind, Julie Blegos surely honored her father and mother.  The memories will live on.

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Styling it on the Road

The other day I went to town with my friend. She and I both had on awesome jewelry and she broke out into a hip hop, “We are stylin it!  Stylin it”.

We grooved our way as good as two middle aged divas can on our way into town.  By the time we reached my sister’s house we both had a smile on our face and we were ready to see how she was styling her outfit,!  That rendition got me thinking how fun it is to -style it -on the road, and watch others styling as well.

Yesterday in Bergners Department Store, a Senior Citizen gentleman had on a pair of bright red suede tennis shoes.  He didn’t break a stride as we watched him walk in with his woman to shop.  With his sliver hair gleaming and every strand in place, I am sure he was singing, “Whatever you do, don’t step on my red suede shoes” all the way into the mall.  I was singing to myself admiring his bravery to wear such a bold fashion statement.

At many of the events I attend, collectors are there.  A couple years ago at a Red Power Winter Show two gentlemen, I think brothers, had on some bright blue shirts. The shirts had yellow and red tractors embellishing the  shirts, the like of which I had never seen before.  When I asked about them, one brother proudly said, “My wife got the material and made them for us.”

We have friends that attend various tractor shows and he has a T-shirt or button down shirt and hat to accompany whatever the featured brand of the show is.  Many shows even offer show buttons that collectors wear to spruce up their outfits.

My grand daughter was styling it 1950’s for kindergarten this week as they had dress up day.  Dress up days is what it is all about.  It just makes you feel better to pull out the right outfit or bling that will put a smile on your face.  As you prepare to head out the door whether traveling down the road or to the grocery store today, own your look and “Style it!’

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Remembering a friend, an auction of a John Deere man

Verlan was a quiet man, a soft spoken man with always a kind word to say. Verlan Heberer passed away this past August in a farm accident and the bulk of his museum quality John Deere collection was sold at auction in Belleville, Illinois this  Halloween weekend by  Polk Auction company.

Keith and I went on Thursday the day before the auction to do an interview for an article I wrote for my column in Farm World.  Seeing all of Verlan’s things made me appreciate all over his dedication to the antique tractor collecting hobby, but most of all it made me remember.  The first time I met Verlan, he was driving a very cool Ford panel van.  We met up outside the Quarters Inn in Rantoul, Illinois for something or other.  He opened up the back of his van and he had a dog that reminds me of my Sherman. The dog  jumped into the back and the duo were ready to roll.  The Ford panel van was at the auction and I had to take a minute to look inside.  If I could have one item from the auction this would be my choice. I heard from Keith who attended the auction that this van was Nebraska bound.  I only hope the new owner has as many adventures as I am sure Verlan had.


At antique tractor shows you would find Verlan and his family making homemade icecream with an old two – cylinder as power.  My favorite memory of him is the story I did on him at the Penfield, IL show one year.  The story was about his collection, but what had the most impact to me was the loading and unloading of what seemed to be a million tractors on and off his car loader.  Friends and family gathered around him that day and I am sure many other days as well.

The auction brought people from everywhere to see his marvelous collection and maybe take home something that would be almost impossible to find.  Jeff Polk commented that it took Verlan sixty years of collecting to amass his John Deere collection and he said, “No one could do it again”.  As Mr. Polk said,”He had an eye and a vision.”img_5603

On Friday we had a previous appointment and on Saturday I used rain as my excuse not to go, but I think I would rather remember his collection amassed ready to sell, than see it sold and dispersed.  My admiration and affection runs deep for this man that always took a minute to say hello, shake my hand, and make me feel that I was a friend. He is a gentleman, a John Deere man, and he is missed


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A great read, Edisto Jinx, for a great ride!

edisto jinxBesides looking at the window at the scenery, when traveling, I love to read and immerse myself into a good book.  When C. Hope Clark was offering chances for writers and readers to review her latest book, Edisto Jinx, I jumped and was honored to get the opportunity to review it.

The island backdrop took me right away back to our family trip on Tybee Island this spring.  Is there any better setting than an island?  Not that I can think of!

This was the second Clark book I have read so I knew I already enjoyed her tone. This was true for this book as well.  Hope Clark’s Edisto Jinx is an Edisto Island Mystery that kept me turning pages until the end. Based on an island paradise, of Edisto Beach, the paradise becomes a dangerous place each August as year after year a woman dies and no one seems to care until Clark’s heroine Callie Morgan delves head first into what she calls the Edisto Jinx. A former detective, Callie Morgan stirs things up on the laid back island.  Clark does a wonderful job of weaving characters from her psychic neighbor, to her disapproving son, to the Chief of Police, into the story with the visual back image of the island as a tapestry.

Grab a copy and enjoy your next ride!

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Red Combines 1915- 2015 a great read while you ride

Hitting the road soon?  If so, consider Octane Press’s new book Red Combines 1915-2015 to take along while you wile away the miles!

Since I have worked with Octane Press before and author Lee Klancher on another product I had the opportunity to review his new book Red Combines 1915- 2015.  Loving farming and old iron, this was the perfect blend of coffee table book with the glorious pictures and history book of the machinery that I love.  Klancher along with Gerry Salzman, Ken Updike (who I know from Red Power magazine), Gregg Montgomery, Martin Rickatson and Sarah Tomac weave together the story of the harvest from the days of horses to present day.

My favorite aspect of this book is the way Klancher ties in stories of real people that farmed, you get a personal aspect that makes the history real in a way that just providing the production facts could never do.  Then there are the facts and they are quite interesting on their own with the harvester wars and the ads all brought to life in print and with many images from the Wisconsin Historical Society archives.  The pictures are the crowning glory to the book providing the machinery at work and sharing the technical story of how and why the machines are able to harvest the bounty that American farmers bring to the table.

Great read for the road or any other time!

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