For many years Palatine residents drove into Deer Grove to collect wood for their stoves. In 1911 Palatine veterinarian Dr. John Wilson developed a portion of the grove along Quentin Road into a recreational complex called Deer Grove Park. This park flourished with the coming of the Palatine, Lake Zurich and Wauconda Railroad. Fearing commercialization, far-sighted Chicagoans realized that the grove needed to be preserved for future generations to enjoy. A legal team under Palatine attorney Ralph Peck Sr. initiated condemnation proceedings against 300 defendants who owned 1200 acres in 102 parcels. It took many battles in court to create the jewel we call the Deer Grove Forest Preserve.
Indian Day, September, 1920, was the brainchild of the Indian Fellowship League and its sponsor, the Chicago Historical Society. Its purpose was to renew American Indian traditions and rituals and reacquaint America with Indian culture. Deer Grove was deemed an appropriate place for the encampment and it was a tremendous success. Siouan Chief Buffalo-Bear and Menominee Chief Oshkosh were among 200 Indians to take part in the celebration. 60,000 people viewed the spectacle over four days and the traffic jams on the skinny roads were horrendous. 200 Palatine Boy Scouts kept crowds a respectable distance from the guests of honor and Pathe Weekly caught it all on a newsreel.
Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum said yesterday that the movie Rule Sixty – Three is a “lost film”. Much of the early efforts at motion picture-making have been lost because of the materials that were used. Nitrate film proved to be extremely flammable. It would even burn underwater! Furthermore it decomposed over time. Another motion picture that is probably lost is The Two Affinities. A portion of this was filmed from a PLZ&W RR baggage car. Right Foot Forward was a two-reel comedy filmed in Palatine in 1920. The directors chose Palatine because we had no paved streets. But the biggest production of all was a Pathe Weekly newsreel shot that same year at Deer Grove on Indian Day.
Some Palatine residents were captured on film in 1915 by Essanay Studios of Chicago. They were used as extras in the two-reel drama Rule Sixty-Three. The film, shot at Lake Zurich, was shown at Seip’s Auditorium in Palatine and around the country in such places as Carbondale, IL, Coshocton, OH, Gettysburg, PA and Salamanca, NY. The drama was described as “showing cold reason trying to get the better of Dan Cupid and suffering ignominious defeat; with Bryant Washburn as one of the lovers.” A check of the Internet Movie Datebase gives further details. Is this a “lost film” or is it lying somewhere waiting to be viewed?
Chicago’s northwest suburbs had its share of daredevils in the halcyon days of aviation. Eight-year-old Palatine boy Verton Collignon was the world’s youngest glider pilot, staying in the air 16 seconds. He flew from a field behind Johnson Street. That same year of 1930 saw Arlington Heights Judge Homer Byrd trying to take off from a field at what is now Northwest Community Hospital. He gave the propeller a spin to get it going and lo and behold the plane began moving without him. Tracing a big circle the plane came back to its original spot and the judge leapt for the cockpit but was knocked down by the wing. On the fourth try he managed to subdue the plane!
Sometimes one wonders about the items we find in the newspaper. There are many references in the Daily Herald beginning in 1935 to something called ‘donkey baseball’. Apparently donkeys were trucked in to the games. A game might go like this: The pitcher throws the ball. The batter hits it and then mounts a donkey. The donkey walks toward first base. Meanwhile, the shortstop catches the ball, mounts his donkey and throws the ball to first base. The batter apparently is out because he fell off his donkey and then couldn’t get it to move any further. With a little beer the game soon devolves into a state of confusion and laughter. Did these games really take place in Palatine?
From Palatine drive south on Plum Grove Road sometime and turn right on Old Plum Grove Road. As you travel down the pretty winding lane take a look at the scenery on the left. What you are looking at is the western edge of an ancient stand of trees known as Plum Grove. We have a description of that part of the grove from 173 years ago. Mr. E. L. Berry surveyed this part of Palatine Township for the federal government in 1838. He described what he saw in a set of field notes attached to the survey: “Timber and prairie level, soil good and fit for cultivation. Timber: White Oak, Black Oak, Hickory, Elm, Walnut; Undergrowth: Hickory, Hazle, and Vines.” Is this description still correct?