Sandburg's Hometown

May 6, 2013

Lombard College photo - Knox College Archives

Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College

By Barbara Schock

In his youth Carl Sandburg explored the buildings and grounds of Lombard College. It was located a few blocks from the Sandburg home on Berrien Street. He and his pals went into the main building and discovered a museum on the second floor at the east end. It contained rocks of all kinds, stuffed birds of many species and a skeleton in a glass case. At first glance, the skeleton seemed to be grinning at the boys. They ran for the door and closed it when they reached the hallway. Of course, they had seen skeletons of smaller animals, but this was a human skeleton.

After a short discussion, the boys went back into the room to look at the skeleton more closely. They wondered if it had been buried before it was put in the glass case. What would the person have been like? Where did she/he/it come from? Why was it in the museum? It was a curious thing.

When there were programs in the chapel on the third floor, the boys would climb to the gallery. They watched commencement exercises, always held on the third Wednesday in June. The words “commencement” and “exercises” were new to the boys. They figured out soon enough the graduates were commencing their life of work as adults after finishing their studies at Lombard. The long program illustrated the exercises provided quite a number of people, including the graduates, an opportunity to talk or read a paper. An important person from some distance gave the last and longest speech.

The Lombard campus was located on East Knox Street and occupied thirteen acres of land. There were many kinds of trees on the property. Sandburg especially liked the pine trees in the southwest corner and the big elm tree near the entrance to the main building. There was a well with a pump handle for water. A cup attached to the pump served as a receptacle for drinking water. Later, some people called them “death cups” because of the germs that could be passed from one person to another.

Farm wagons hauling produce passed by the college and there were pastures nearby. The southeastern section of Galesburg was mostly open land in the 1880s.

The young Sandburg never dreamed that he would one day have a chance to study at Lombard College. When he did begin his studies, he was very familiar with the college buildings and grounds.

Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity