Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Alice!

I've been working on a post about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (which is probably going to turn into two posts...) but couldn't let today pass without celebrating a very special occasion: It's Alice’s 151st birthday! Let's take a little tour through the life of our founder to commemorate the day.
A young and very serious Alice
Alice Trainer was born September 23, 1863 in Goderich, Ontario. She was the seventh child of Bernard and Louisa Saunders Trainer, and their fourth daughter. Louisa Trainer died in 1870, and Matilda, the oldest daughter, took on the responsibility of helping to raise her younger siblings.

Some time in the late 1870s or 1880s, Alice’s older brothers moved to Chicago for work, and in 1887 the rest of the siblings—Matilda, Bertha, Louise, Alice, and William—relocated there as well (Bernard Trainer had died in 1876).

Alice around the time she met Will Miner
While living in Chicago in the early 1890s, Alice met a young man named William H. Miner. How they met remains a mystery, but we know that they attended the Chicago World's Fair together and enjoyed “wheeling.” Alice and William were married in June, 1895.

At home in Chicago with one of her many canine friends
Alice and her fellow Kamby Mandolin Club members in
Jackson Park, Chicago

In March 1902, Alice gave birth to a son, William Henry Miner, Jr., but sadly the baby died when he was only two weeks old. Although they never spoke of it explicitly, it seems likely that William and Alice’s decision to embark on the ambitious project of creating Heart’s Delight Farm the following year was connected to this tragic event.

Over the following decades, Chazy and the surrounding area would come to play a very important role in Alice’s life as she and William expanded their activities beyond the farm to encompass the Chazy Central Rural School, the Kent-Delord House, Physicians Hospital, and of course, the Colonial Collection. Alice’s sisters eventually moved to Chazy as well, and after William died in 1930, Alice decided to live at Heart’s Delight year-round. 

Alice at Heart's Delight with a very small companion, 1934 
Alice presenting a new ambulance to Physicians Hospital, 1948
So, although it was William’s family ties that originally brought Alice to the North Country, she developed a close relationship with its people and places over the 50 years she spent here. Until the end of her life in 1950, she remained an active member of the Board of Directors of Physicians Hospital, the Women’s League of Physicians Hospital, and the Presbyterian Ladies’ Aid Society.

Alice also continued to add to the collection of the Colonial Home, turning it into the historical gem that it remains today! She wanted to make sure that local residents did not forget the history of their community, and I think Alice would be very happy to know how many people came to visit the museum during the Battle of Plattsburgh commemoration weekend.

Thank you, Alice, and a very happy birthday!

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