One of the highlights of interning at Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity Headquarters is the opportunity to visit The Stewart House Museum in Monmouth, IL. with Kylie Towers, Simpson, Archivist/Curator. Our purpose was to help with various projects around the museum, but we also had the chance to take in the local sights.
Our main project was doing an inventory of all the engraved bricks on the patio. We initially thought it would take two hours, tops, to catalog all the bricks by row, name, year, etc., but we were so wrong.
Over the course of three days, we spent about five hours logging the details into a spreadsheet, finishing up the last few rows by the light of our citronella candle and a flashlight. We have a greater appreciation for personalized bricks, and we’ve even decided to buy our own!
As much fun as we had counting the 600+ bricks, we really enjoyed all our local field trips. Our first day included a visit to the local cemetery, where we saw the graves of three of our Founders: Sue Walker, Anna Willits, and Minnie Stewart. Apparently, this really stirred the imagination, as one of us even had a dream that Minnie Stewart visited that night!
Our last day was spent at Monmouth College, just a block from The Stewart House. We first admired the Tradition of Leadership® – Education to Enfranchisement exhibit, on display in Monmouth College’s Hewes Library. Then we met with the president of the Monmouth College Panhellenic, who showed us around campus and gave us a tour of both the Kappa house and the brand-new Alpha Xi Delta house. We asked if either group needed a house mom, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
Back at the Stewart House, we took a break from our brick-counting to go on a tour with Jane Warfield, the Stewart House director, and visiting alumnae – one a Kappa and one a Pi Beta Phi. The entire tour was interesting, but we were giddy with excitement when we came to The Charter Room. Being in the same room where the Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity Charter and Constitution were written … even non-history buffs have to appreciate how cool that is.
That night, Kylie took us to one of the more unusual tourist sites in the area, the grave of Norma Jean, a circus elephant who was struck by lightning and died in the 1970s. We then stopped by the Mississippi River, taking a moment for the cool water to splash at our ankles.
Despite the heat and humidity, we had a great visit to Monmouth. We loved getting to know Jane, who is hip enough to listen to the same music we like and who is considering her own Twitter account. We enjoyed all of our sight-seeing, and we even learned something from cataloging all the bricks (not to name names, but one of us is still learning the Greek alphabet). We also discovered that it is possible to live, work, travel, and generally spend every waking moment with the same person and not go crazy. That’s what we call a successful trip!