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September 20, 1860: Baron Renfrew Begins His Visit to the US

 

When my bride and I moved to Dwight, Illinois, in 1985 we purchased a house located only a few blocks from a 20 acre park, Renfrew Park.  This was good planning on our part.  When our kids made their appearance in the nineties, they loved playing in the park, and we have many fond family memories of fun there.  We quickly learned that the name of Renfrew Park commemorated the visit of British royalty to our little town in September 1860, just before the Civil War.

Prince Edward had been carefully brought up by his parents, perhaps too carefully.  Kept from free association with people outside of tutors and family, he viewed his trip to Canada and America in 1860 as a great adventure.  It was.  Edward was the first Prince of Wales to visit the United States.  He made a great impression with his affability and his gift for speaking to everyone, high and low, with friendly interest.  Officially traveling incognito as “Baron Renfrew”, one of the lesser titles of the Prince of Wales,  on the eve of the Civil War, he charmed almost all Americans he encountered, north and south, drawing huge crowds during his 2600 mile tour of the country from September 20, 1860-October 20, 1860.

One of his minor stops was the Village of Dwight at the beginning of his tour.  He visited a corn farm and then went prairie chicken hunting where Renfrew Park is now located.  The Prince enjoyed himself immensely and relished the rest he had from the huge crowds that came out to meet him in larger communities. Continue Reading

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December 14, 1861: Death of Prince Albert

Prince Albert, husband and consort of Queen Victoria, died one hundred and fifty years ago.  Only 42, he died of typhoid fever, a mass killer in the nineteenth century in crowded cities like London.  In November of 1861 he had arisen from what would become his death-bed to tone down a British ultimatum over the seizure of two Confederate diplomats, Mason and Slidell, from a British mail steamer the Trent by the USS San Jacinto, in what has come down in history as the Trent Affair: Continue Reading