Newspaper Clippings for
loose clipping, source unknown July 1940
Century Old Millburn
Looks to homecoming.
Millburn, settled more than 100 years ago by a band of doughty Scots,
will have a homecoming on July 30. Special services will be held at the
Congregational church which has been the nerve center of the community's
life since its founding in the autumn of 1840 by men and women pledged
to honest devotion and sincere piety.
Yellowed records that tell the story of the community which took its
name from gristmills and the sawmill on the "burn" or creek, will be
displayed at the homecoming being arranged by the Rev. L. H.
There will be pictures of the first meeting house with its small window
and stick-and-dirt chimney, of the second and larger meeting house built
in 1867 and remodeled in 1887 and again in 1905 with its spire which was
admired from afar by the members whose farms dotted the countryside.
The building, so proudly erected and so lovingly cared for, was
destroyed by fire in 1935 and was replaced the following year by the
Third Congregational church of Oak Park, moved piece by piece to
Millburn after it had been given to the members by the Chicago
Congregational union--not a coffee pot nor a dish was left behind as
members loaded windows, pews, pianos and chairs on trucks to set up
church-keeping again in the little community near Waukegan.
The Rev. Norman Rice, pastor from 1923 to 1925, will come from his home
in Grand Forks, N.D. for the celebration. He was pastor at the church.
Following his ordination, he went to South Africa where he served two
seven-year periods as a missionary.
Through the years, the country church played its part in the nation as
the story of the middle western United States unfolded around it. From
the time the glowing "America" letters and handbills brought immigrants
to the new world and to Illinois and Wisconsin, through wars, through
years of plenty and years of depression, the little church at Millburn
played its part.
There were whispers that Millburn was a station on the underground
railroad and that the trustees or deacons may have opened the church to
runaway slaves traveling "underground" toward Canada and emancipation.
Some have linked Millburn with the Galesburg Congregational church, now
respectably well known, as a depot on the underground. That the church
had very definite convictions of the slavery issue is shown in the
resolution passed on Feb. 7, 1853:
"Whereas, there exists a great system of slavery in the republic, a
great system of oppression which deprives millions of our fellow beings
of the civil, social and moral rights and privileges which God granted
to all the human family--therefore, be it firmly resolved that as the
church of Jesus Christ we feel by a sense of duty to our Divine Master
and the love of both masters and slaves, to withhold all acts of human
fellowship from those who live in the practice of this sin till they
manifest repentance by undoing the heavy burdens, breaking every yoke
and letting the oppressed go free."
LIFE WAS STERN
Repentance was stern business in Millburn in those days. The church
chastised members who strayed from the straight and narrow path. Woe be
unto him who used spirits or bad language!
A record of June, 1860, sets forth the fact that a committee of deacons
had called on a member whose conduct had attracted the attention of the
church. The first report stated that he received them kingly and
"acknowledged that he drank and gave away spirits and used profane
language." After an admonition, he was visited again in an effort to
bring him to repentance. This failed, and on July 2, 1860, "it was
moved and carried that he should be cut from communion till he repent
and acknowledged his fault to the church."
Singing was purely a congregational function in the early days of the
church, although records show that a few citizens had been asked to
superintend the singing and choosing of hymns. "Ungodly" and
sacrilegious" were some of the terms used by the stern pioneers at the
suggestion of using a flute or other instrument to lead the singing.
PERMIT ORGAN USE
However, there were some stout souls who leaned toward an organ and
their triumph was recorded tersely in 1867 when the minutes stated "It
was moved and carried that the choir be allowed to use an organ at the
dedication service." In 1888, a ponderous Steinway was acquired by the
Ladies' Aid society, with the help of all organizations of the church.
This was replaced in 1901 with one which survived the fire of 1934 and
is still in the church.
The coming of the railroad--with milk trains of the Milwaukee-Chicago
market--the telephone, automobiles and highways brought their changes to
the rural community.
The office of Dr. Homer Jamison became the "central" of the village
telephone system and "Mrs. Doctor," who guided the musical life of the
community for several decades, relayed the messages.
CHURCH LIFE CENTER
That the church has been active in the social and economic as well as
the spiritual life of the community is shown by the fact that in 1936
and 37 the Federal Security Administration of the department of
agriculture located the Lake county subsistence homestead project
largely within the parish of the Millburn church. Over 20 families with
young children, seeking the advantages of rural life began to become a part
of the community.
Many residents who have moved away will return for the home-coming which
will begin with a special service at the church, followed by a potluck
dinner provided by members of the congregation. The rest of the day
will be spent in visiting old friends, viewing the exhibits of pictures
and records and living again some of the experiences of a wealthy past.