Historical Journal Recovered
The Fullersburg Historic Foundation received a surprising email message in late June, 2020 from a collector of old "stuff" in Texas who came across the journal of the Brush Hill Debate Club in a storage unit. This worn, leather-bound book contains the records of the club's meetings from its organization in 1857 to 1860, right before the Civil War. With a leap of faith and a bit of negotiation, Foundation President Don Fuller secured the purchase and the special delivery return of the journal to the Hinsdale area. (Brush Hill became Fullersburg, named after Benjamin Fuller, Don's great, great grandfather.) The journal proved to be authentic, with candle wax dripping marks on its gilded pages as well as handwritten script produced by fountain pens dipped into black ink. The journal's contents also reveal the high regard for education among the members as well as their deep concern for their fellow man.
"This Debate Club Journal from the past brings this community's thinking into an incredible perspective," observes Don Fuller. The highly diverse topics that were chosen by the members for their weekly debates range from deciding if "works of nature are to be admired more than works of art" to the abstract determination of whether or not "love is a stronger incentive to action than hate." Many contemporary issues also were debated, such as the building of a Pacific Rail Road and women's suffrage. At one meeting, the plight of both Native Americans (who had been relocated) and African American (who had been forced into slavery) was discussed. Several citizens of Fullersburg who participated in the debate club were also local "conductors" with the Underground Railroad at a time when those assisting fugitive slaves were subject to prosecution; the actions of the settlers also demonstrated the sincerity of their words and their personal resolve.
You can read more about the journal in our blog section; this interesting primary source topic will be highlighted in our future posts, as well.
Ben Fuller Farmhouse
The Fullersburg Historic Foundation supports the restoration of
the Ben Fuller Farmhouse, originally built around 1840 and possibly the oldest example of a balloon frame structure in existence. Ben Fuller lived in this house until his death in 1868. You can help to preserve a unique aspect of the settlement era of Fullersburg through your donation, which will be greatly appreciated; we are a 501 (c) (3) organization. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more about the Ben Fuller Farmhouse at: www.dupageforest.org/blog/forest-fave-fullersburg-woods.
On Monday, May 25, 2020 we paid a special tribute to our veterans by opening Historic Fullersburg Cemetery for quiet reflection. We are deeply grateful to all of our dedicated servicemen and women, past and present. The cemetery is the final resting place for many of our area's Civil War soldiers. The words of Abraham Lincoln in a letter to Mrs. Bixby of Boston, MA (who lost five sons in Civil War battles) is an appropriate message to anyone who has suffered loss on behalf of our country:
"The solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom." The Board of Directors of the Fullersburg Historic Foundation and the Fuller family wish you a peaceful and meaningful Memorial Day and a safe summer.
Memorial Day 2020
Civil War Gravestone Dedication
The Fullersburg Historic Foundation held a ceremony for dedication
of gravestones for many soldiers who fought in the Civil War. This
service was conducted with the cooperation of the Philip H. Sheridan Camp #2 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and a starting point for a joint project of locating headstones
for unnamed soldiers as well as to clean and maintain historic headstones. (7/23/2016)
Among those who received new grave markers was John J. Andre, a Marylander whose sympathies were with the Confederacy. He served with the 1st Maryland Infantry, 12th Virginia Cavalry and the 2nd Maryland Cavalry. Harvey A. Cooper, a New Yorker who served in the 85th New York Infantry and the 4th United States Artillery, also received a new headstone. Finally, Illinois native Malchom J. Palmer, who served in the 156th Illinois Infantry, was also honored with a new headstone.
During the ceremony, Don Fuller spoke of some of the experiences of those who fought in the Civil War and some specific stories of those buried. Pastor Jay Klein of Zion Lutheran Church provided the invocation and an inspirational message. A rifle salute was conducted by the Hinsdale American Legion Post #250. The Cemetery is located at the north end of Garfield Street, between Fuller Road and Maumell Street in Hinsdale. (Below, the grave of Confederate soldier of John A. Andre.)
Rotary Club Presentation
On 1/22/21, Fullersburg Historic Foundation President Don Fuller and Director Sue Devick were honored to speak at a Hinsdale Rotary Club meeting (by Zoom) about the history of the Settlement Era in Fullersburg. Rotary Club International is an impressive organization that advocates positive change and service above self; its members observe a four-way test of the things that they think, say, or do, asking: "Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?" The civic-minded pioneers who participated in the Brush Hill Debate Club would have approved of the visionary Rotarians, who set an example through their leadership. (See "Debate Journal," above.)
Foundation Gives Back
Don and Kathy Fuller
On December 19, 2020, Fullersburg Historic Foundation sponsored a benefit to collect donations for the food pantry managed by HCS Family Services in Hinsdale. Don and Kathy Fuller, Sue Devick, and Erlo Roth unloaded almost 1,000 lbs. of food and paper items donated by FHF directors and members, friends, and generous neighbors. As stated by Don and Kathy (above), "Fullersburg Historic Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to assist the food pantry in their efforts--thank you." Donation can be made at the red bins by the Maple Circle side of the Memorial Bldg. in Hinsdale any day of the week.
4th of July, 2020--Save the Dam!
On the 4th of July, 2020, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War were our guests at historic Fullersburg Cemetery. The honor guard performed a rifle salute to pay tribute to our country's birthday while remembering the veterans who fought for our freedom. Don Fuller also spoke of his great, great grandfather, Benjamin Fuller, who first came to this area on horseback in 1834 and convinced his large family in New York to join him in settling here the following year. The family's first cabin was about 25' by 15', and during winter blizzards, snow blew through the openings in the logs. Ben taught the local native American Pottawatomies how to shoe horses, and in turn, they gave Ben's son John a pony named Ninoldi. Ben was a creative inventor as well as a thoughtful planner for the community, setting aside land for a school and a cemetery.
Frederick Graue, another enterprising pioneer of Fullersburg, took over the dam at its current location in 1850 and joined Ben in a leadership role in Fullersburg. Pottawatomies who remained in the area lived east of current York Road and visited the mill when maple syrup was made, and the Graue family always gave them biscuits with syrup. The mill also was a stop on the Underground Railroad; several Civil War local veterans are buried at historic Fullersburg Cemetery.
Don Fuller warned the visitors that plans are being made to demolish the Graue Mill Dam. The Officers and Board of Directors of the Fullersburg Historic Foundation feel strongly that this would have a very negative impact on the historic nature of beautiful Fullersburg. We encourage you to contact the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County with your questions and your reservations or sign a petition to keep the dam at http://chng.it/8hC2FYHm8D. See Don's 4th of July address below.
Fullersburg Historical Light Show
A colorful and entertaining light show about the history of Fullersburg was projected on to the Ben Fuller house on August 16, 2019. This creative production was compiled by Matt Stockmal of Hinsdale.
Memorial Day Traditions at Historic Fullersburg Cemetery
On Memorial Day, families have traditionally gathered at the historic Fullersburg Cemetery to remember their relatives who were buried there. The cemetery is the final resting place of many of the founders of Fullersburg and Hinsdale. As the population grew it became a private cemetery and was enclosed by a fence in order to protect the fragile headstones. Many of the area’s WWI and Civil War soldiers are buried there along with a Confederate soldier in an unmarked grave. The Grand Army of the Republic held Memorial Day services at this cemetery from 1882 to 1920. Fifty to one hundred Veterans would gather to recall events of that great American Civil War. Today, the cemetery’s flag is replaced in a simple ceremony each Memorial Day. (In consideration of our first responders, we will postpone the ceremony in 2020, but the cemetery will be open for quiet reflection.)
A walk through the cemetery takes one back to the early days of settlement of the area. The large group of Fuller family graves includes that of Jacob Fuller and his wife Candace, whose stone marks the oldest grave. Their son, Ben, who donated the land for the cemetery in 1851, lays nearby, along with Morell Fuller, a drummer in the Civil War. John Coe, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and his son Samuel, another Civil War veteran, are buried there. The graves of Barto Van Velzer, the first toll road keeper, and his wife Mary (Fuller), the first schoolteacher can be found there. Other names that evoke the past are Fox, Franke, Ruchty, Walker, and Wegener.
Through the efforts of the Fuller family and the Fullersburg Historic Foundation, the cemetery will be opened to the public each Memorial Day from 11 approximately 11 am to 2 pm. The cemetery is located at the North end of Garfield Street, between Fuller Road and Maumell Street in Hinsdale.