Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Photos of the 1913 Dedication of the Greeley School in Winnetka

I have written about my second great grandfather, Samuel Sewall Greeley, several times. (See The Great Chicago Fire and excerpts from obituaries at Samuel Sewall Greeley 1916.)

Recently a first cousin of my mother died. (See the wonderful obituary for Sally Whitcomb Keen at

Her daughter is going through her mother's family materials and scanning and sending me great things, including information about our common second great grandfather, Samuel Sewall Greeley.

There is a school named in his honor in Winnetka, Illinois, where my husband and I visited last September.

My second cousin sent me scans of photographs from the 1913 school dedication. She also sent a scan of a document about the 1938 presentation of a portrait of Samuel Sewall Greeley to the school and includes details of the 1913 dedication. Greeley had encouraged the community of Winnetka to build a school and the community recognized its prominent citizen by naming the school in his honor.

It is the oldest operating public school in Winnetka today. A brief history of the school can be found at the school's website and it implies that the design and configuration of the school was innovative for its day.

On October 24, 1913, Greeley was brought from his home to the school's entrance in a carriage decorated with flowers and flags and drawn and guarded by Boy Scouts. Here is a photo of that procession:

It appears that there was quite a crowd at the entrance of the school to listen to the singing of a chorus.

Our second great grandfather made a few remarks at this event. You can see him - the bearded man near the door looking like he's holding a piece of paper:

And here he is making a ceremonial dig with a shovel:

Here is a photo of Greeley in the midst of the school children. I wonder if the women behind him are teachers or family?

And presumably this portrait of Samuel S. Greeley hangs somewhere prominently in the school:

According to the 1938 dedication program, it "is a copy painted by Mrs. Taylor of New York, a portrait painter of considerable repute, of a portrait painted by Mr. Marriotti, a warm friend of my father's, some 40 years ago [circa 1898]." (Written by his son, Morris L. Greeley, who presented the portrait to the Winnetka Board of Education.)

Here are a couple of photos that we took when we visited the school last fall:


  1. Great photographs and ones I know you must be thrilled to have -- especially those showing your ancestor!

    1. I know a lot about this ancestor, but this was a fun addition to the collection. And it's been wonderful to connect with a second cousin!

  2. Hello Elizabeth. Finding your blog post was a gift. As the current principal of Greeley School, I find it incredibly important to honor our past and keep history alive! I am here as a resource should you ever need anything.

    1. How lovely to find your comment! I was thrilled to discover this school relatively recently in my genealogical research. If you explore my blog, you'll find out a lot about Samuel Sewall Greeley!

  3. It's lovely to connect our great-great grandfather with the school that bears his name! He wrote beautiful letters to his young grandchildren, encouraging their interests and learning.

    1. Hello cousin! Thanks for your comment and for all you have shared with me in recent years!