Kate F. O’Connor

  Kate F. O’Connor In honor of Women’s History Month, we thought it would be fitting to talk about Kate O’Connor, one of the most notable businesswomen, philanthropists and suffragists from the Rockford area. Here are some highlights from her life story.   Early Years If you lived in Rockford from the 1880s to the 1940s, you would know the name Kate F. O’Connor. Born June 1, 1863 in Rockford, IL to Irish immigrants Cornelius O’Connor and Mary O’Malley O’Connor, Kate was the youngest of 8 children. She graduated from Rockford High...

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Film Preservation Project

  The Collections at Midway Village Museum includes items of various materials, from wood to porcelain, fabric to paper, and I have the pleasure of taking care of all of these objects as Curator of Collections & Exhibits. We also have a collection of films, mostly 16mm, some 8mm, and most with minimal information on what is on the reels. Intrigued by these films, in 2013 I began doing some research on them. Not having that much experience with this media, I reached out to many archives nationwide to gain insight, as well as...

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Letters home from the Civil War

  In 2013 Midway Village Museum received a donation of items that included a collection of letters written mostly during the Civil War. Penned by 3 brothers Robert, George and Charles Sealy along with some from sister Mary and Christopher T. Dunham, the collection is now the focus of a transcription and online content project being undertaken currently by the Museum’s Collections Department. The Sealy siblings – Charles, George, Robert, and Mary Ann – were all born in Castle Cary, Somersetshire, England to Richard Sealy and...

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Rockford’s Courthouses

Rockford’s first court session  was held in the home of Daniel S. Haight on October 6, 1837. Haight was the sheriff and much of the county’s business took place in his home until the next year when a frame building was constructed to hold the Circuit Court. By 1874 the courthouse was too small and the city looked for an architect to design a new structure. Henry L. Gay of Chicago was chosen for the $165,000 project, and construction began. On May 11, 1877, with the new building close to complete, disaster struck. The 500 ton dome...

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Colonel Jason Marsh

Colonel Jason Marsh Born in 1807 in Woodstock, Vermont, Jason Marsh, Jr. came to the Rockford area in 1839 along with his family and wife Harriet’s brothers. Initially they arrived in Chicago, but finding the climate not to their liking, they continued on to Rockford. Jason passed the bar in New York and practiced law when he arrived in Rockford along with farming. He was involved in Winnebago County’s Whig party, along with different agricultural groups, and was a school inspector for a time as well. He joined the army in 1862, colonel in...

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