Posts Tagged With: Patricia Lynch

A Portal to the Past

Hilda and Emily Demuth signing copies of Plank Road Winter

Back in the 1970s when Emily and I attended Yorkville 4-H meetings in the old schoolhouse we knew as the Clover Center, we never dreamed that someday we’d be signing books in that very building.

On a glorious Sunday afternoon in September our families and friends and neighbors gathered for the Plank Road Winter launch party.

Dancing at the Plank Road Winter launch party in the Yorkville 4-H Clover Center

The doorway into that 1886 schoolroom was a portal to the past as the musicians played old tunes and the dancers circled and stomped on the sturdy wood floor.

John and Susan Nicholson of Frogwater

Some of those in attendance wore period attire, and these visitors from the nineteenth century mingled easily with our twenty-first century guests.

Our caller, Patricia Lynch of the West Side Soldiers’ Aid Society, taught the figures of each dance.  Members of her Victorian Dancers group ably helped beginners of all ages and also demonstrated several Civil War dances.

Nineteenth century and twenty-first century guests mingling on the dance floor at the 1886 Yorkville schoolhouse

Around three o’clock when the Packer game was about to start, which meant that nobody was in line to have a book signed, Emily and I were able to take a few turns on the dance floor ourselves.

Many thanks to everyone who attended the launch and to all who share our delight in preserving traditions such as old-time dancing, especially in places like that beautiful little Yorkville schoolhouse.

Categories: Plank Road Winter, Yorkville, Wisconsin | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Introducing Plank Road Winter

On Sunday, September 30, 1:00-4:00 pm, Emy and I look forward to welcoming the public along with old friends and neighbors at the Plank Road Winter launch party.  The celebration will be held at the 4-H Clover Center, 17640 Old Yorkville Road, a few miles north of Union Grove,Wisconsin.  This 1885 schoolhouse stands at the very heart of the original Yorkville settlement.

Set almost twenty years after the adventures of Katie and Florence, Plank Road Winter features thirteen-year-old Sophie Caswell, who longs to escape the dull farming community of Yorkville. Sophie’s plans are thwarted when the Chicago Fire leads to the arrival of twelve-year-old Hans Hoffman and his family at the nearby McEachron farm. While Sophie stubbornly pursues her dreams, Hans struggles to adapt to a world very different from his bustling Chicago neighborhood.

In the spirit of nineteenth-century community gatherings, the entertainment at the Plank Road Winter launch party will include traditional music provided by John and Susan Nicholson of the Milwaukee band  Frogwater and old-time dancing called by Patricia Lynch of the West Side Victorian Dancers.

We hope to see you there!

Categories: On Writing, Plank Road Winter, Racine County, Yorkville, Wisconsin | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Old-Time Dance in Yorkville, Wisconsin

This morning Patricia Lynch, Civil War dance instructor in Milwaukee and president of the West Side Soldiers Aid Society, emailed me a wonderful treasure–a PDF of a page from a dance tunebook used by Yorkville settlers in the plank road days.

According to the file description listed for this example of “Pioneer Dance Music” in the Racine Heritage Museum, the handwritten notebook of tunes and dance notations was “brought from the east by Rubin Waite in 1837 and used by three generations of the Waite family:  Rubin Sr., his son Lorenzo,  and his grandson Menzo, who donated the book to the Racine Co. Historical Room.”

The page is marked “3d Sett” and contains a reel and two jigs.   Neatly-inked quarter- and eighth-notes caper above a swirling script:

First 4  R & L/ Bal – 4  Swing/ Ladies chain/ All promenade //

These figures are familiar to square dancers and contra dancers today.  Old-time dance communities still flourish in the Midwest, following in the footsteps of the Yorkville settlers who promenaded in the Waite’s Corners schoolhouse or the ballroom of the Mather Inn.

Click here to see the 3rd Sett

If you attend the Plank Road Summer book launch at Yorkville Elementary School (see the Events page), you can join in old-time dancing with caller Dot Kent and the Hoosier Recruits, a contra dance band.  The Recruits may well be playing a dance or two out of the Waite family tunebook.

Categories: Racine County | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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