Lecture series to tell the story of the 'Mistress of Cantigny' Oct. 28

Submitted by Cantigny
Posted10/23/2019 1:13 PM

The McCormick House Lecture Series continues with "Amy Irwin McCormick: Army Brat, Debutante and Mistress of Cantigny" from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, in Freedom Hall, 1S151 Winfield Road in Wheaton. The program is for age 14 or older. Registration is required due to limited space. It free with the $5 weekday parking fee. Register at cantigny.org.

This lecture will tell the fascinating story of Col. Robert McCormick's first wife who is buried alongside him at Cantigny. The daughter of a famous army doctor, Amy was born into the frontier army at Fort Riley Kansas in 1872.


Amy's mother and father were close friends of George and Libbie Custer, and her brother was a West Point cadet who became a general in the First World War.

As teenagers, Amy and her sister, Ida, were debutantes into San Francisco society, and later frequent visitors to West Point's social "hops."

In the 1890s Amy was a prominent member of Chicago's Social set when she met, and then married Colonel McCormick. A gifted artist, Amy exerted great influence on the evolution of Cantigny as cultural centerpiece in the Chicago area.

John Fahey, M.D. retired from the Navy after a 30-year career and is currently in private practice in Decatur, Illinois. He has lectured extensively about 19th-century military medicine and has given talks at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, the Order of Indian Wars Symposium in Denver, and the Annual Symposium of the Custer Battlefield Historical and Museum Association in Montana.

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Fahey has had articles published in North and South, Military Medicine, New York History, and the Journal of Arizona History. He is currently at work on a biography of Amy Irwin McCormick's father, General Bernard John Dowling Irwin (1829-1917), who established the first full-service field hospital at Shiloh and performed the first action for which a Medal of Honor was awarded.

On Monday, Nov. 25, it will be "A History of St. James Farm." Kevin Davis, St. James Farm Forest Preserve lead researcher and volunteer interpreter, will offer an insightful and lively overview of the history of the St. James Farm. The presentation will include an overview of the buildings, farm life, and a brief insight into the lives of Chauncey and Brooks McCormick. Chauncey is a cousin to Col. Robert R. McCormick. Several historical photos and materials from Davis' collection will be highlighted.

For questions, call (630) 260-8222.

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