I hope that author James Gilbert's conclusions about the "Burned Over
District" origins of Chicago businessmen are based on sufficient

The general path of westward migration to northern Ohio, Indiana,
Illinois and beyond was indeed through Upstate NY.  But what does
Gilbert mean by "an uprooting experience"?  This implies adversity, as
indeed was the case with Oscar Handlin's "uprooted."  But were these
individuals just passing through NY?  Were they reasonably well off
people moving west who would have succeeded no matter where they

Did these individuals reside here long enough to pick up a "common
geographical background" that "engendered a cohesion"?  When in NY were
they associated with each other as Masons, Mormons, Millerites, Shakers,
members of the Oneida Community, etc.?  Were they all merchants or
farmers?  Were they interrelated by birth or marriage?  Did they share a
common ethnic background, e.g., were they all Yankees or Germans?

The author should have some analysis in his book that connects these
individuals to a common origin, group or experience, or to each other;
otherwise the Upstate NY connection may only be a geographical

David Palmquist
NYS Museum

>>> [log in to unmask] 01/11/04 12:52PM >>>
2004 Greetings,

Just got the following query (I'm deleting the '&nbsp's ) from a friend
Cape Cod. Think I answered the first part adequately. As to the second
part, anyone care to speculate on the women and men's shared experience
a basis for their actions? I'll pass along any responses to my

David Minor

"I have just finished a (nonfiction) book by James Gilbert entitled
Cities: Chicago's Utopias of 1893. In its pages I ran across several
references to the origins of many of Chicago's 1893 elite as deriving
"the Burned-Over District" of upstate New York, including Oneida
Rochester, etc. Apparently this common geographical background
engendered a
cohesion that led to the massive cooperative effort which made possible
Chicago World's Fair. As Gilbert puts it: "Besides the uprooting
of moving from upstate New York and Massachusetts to Chicago, this
generation of embers from the Burned-Over District shared a similar
rise to
leadership In Chicago's business, social and cultural worlds. By 1893
had moved to the forefront of Chicago's new and raw elite: a second
generation of institution builders and city boosters but a first
of enormous fortunes.

Query: Whence came the name (what got burned over and when)? And if you
answer that, tackle this: what in these men's shared experience
them to rise to such heights?"

David Minor
Eagles Byte Historical Research
Pittsford, New York
585 264-0423
'dminor' 'at symbol' 'eznet.net'

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