Cameron Swallow, wife of new Carthage President John Swallow, is on a “Welcome Home Tour” as she gets to know Kenosha. Read her newest blog post below.
It was a long drive to Carthage, Illinois. But the time travel felt even longer.
Back in October, John and I traveled to Carthage, Illinois, for the weekend to see the old campus and meet local alumni and others who remember having the College in town. We shared a concert and a worship service at Trinity Lutheran Church with all of them, as well as our own Wind Ensemble students, who arrived by bus shortly after we did on Saturday afternoon.
We ate lunch at the Mexican restaurant on the square, where we were pleased to see the poster advertising the Carthage Wind Ensemble concert that night. We also walked around the courthouse and learned from historical markers that Carthage — as the county seat of Hancock County — had not only hosted Abraham Lincoln when he was a young lawyer on the circuit, but it was also the site of the trial for the 1844 murder (or martyrdom, depending on your point of view) of Joseph Smith, leader of the Latter Day Saints.
We met other Carthage staff members in the afternoon for a tour of the buildings that remain on the old campus, which is now occupied by Carthage Veterinary Service Ltd. More than one Carthage alumna called them “the pig vets,” and everyone spoke very highly of the way they had kept up the buildings and particularly the grounds since moving there in 2010. We had an informative tour in which we learned more than we ever imagined knowing about pig breeding and feeding and care!
My favorite part of the day was standing on Evergreen Walk in the middle of the quad while Jim Unglaube ’63, director of planned giving at Carthage, pointed out landmarks, some visible and some invisible in a full circle from our position. I was able to see tall fir trees on either side of me, Old Main in the distance, the women’s dorm lit up across the way, and the library (which is still standing) beckoning me to come study. I saw the students of yore crossing the quad in pairs and groups on their way to class, freshmen in beanies yielding the path to seniors, athletes hurrying to grab a pre-game meal in the dining hall where Jim worked as a student, and where he met his wife, LaRue, through a last-minute worker substitution.
The evening concert — held in the old Carthage auditorium, which the town has converted into a concert venue that hosts traveling shows year-round — was a good way to show the local community what Carthage students can do. The music was beautiful, and the audience was impressed. The alumni and church congregation combined to host all the student musicians in their homes that night, and we left with plans to meet again at the church service the next morning.
Trinity Lutheran Church is a vibrant, multi-generational congregation in an age of declining church attendance, particularly among the young. With the Kenosha visitors present, the sanctuary was filled to overflowing. The Carthage Wind Orchestra sat in one wing and filled the church even more fully than they had filled the hall the night before with beautiful music. And this time, they were not playing for strangers. They had all been hosted by a family from the congregation, and the service felt like a gigantic family reunion homecoming celebration — which, in a sense, it was.
A lunch in the parish hall and a visit to the Kibbe Museum, built in honor of Carthage professor Alice Kibbe and to house her many collections, finished off our visit. It was my birthday — my first as a Midwesterner — and I felt very fortunate to be celebrating it with Carthaginians old and new.
Be a tour guide
Your turn! Want to show Cameron Swallow your favorite part of Kenosha? Be a tour guide.