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George Wilcox diary #4

Pictured are Kankakee River sportsmen with George Wilcox, second from left, circa 1915.

In his 1916-17 diary, George Wilcox–Kankakee River guide and caretaker of the Pittsburgh Gun Club–notes the arrival and departures of the few remaining members to their clubhouse located at Baum's Bridge. Ira Brainard and Charles West were amongst those mentioned as regular visitors to the old Pittsburgh. Brainard and West were partners of the Westmoreland Glass Company. Brainard was one of the founding members and Captain of the Pittsburgh.

*March 15, 1916: Ned Brainard and C. H. West came on train 540. We took breakfast at Mrs. Trinkle's. Annie (Radilyack) came to cook for them. West and I went up as far as the ox-bow and back.

*March 17, 1916: Went back to see Section 7. Still too much ice. Lots of ducks. No gitter. West send Kate some odd glass ware, a big bulldog and an aquarium.

Ira Fitch Brainard was born on January 8, 1840 to Calvin and Sophia (Fitch) Brainard in Canfield, Ohio. In 1857 the Brainard family moved to Salem, Ohio. Ira married Frances Anna Heaton on September 2, 1862. Shortly after his marriage he joined the Commissary Department in the Union Army. Upon returning from the war Brainard moved to Pittsburgh, where he went into the livestock business. Ira sat on a number of cattle industry Boards of Directors and associated organizations. Later he went in the banking business. In the early 1900s Ira became a major stockholder of the Westmoreland Glass Company.

In the 1890s Westmoreland Glass was purchased by Charles and George West. Brainard funded the purchase and with his large share of stock was involved with its operations. In 1920 the business was divided, with George West taking the glass containers business. Charles West, together with his close friend Ira Brainard, owned and managed Westmoreland Specialty Company, which now focused on producing high quality hand-made glass tableware. The company had first started to make this kind of glassware as early as 1910 when Westmoreland's "Keystone" pattern was introduced. The Keystone was widely used as the Pennsylvania Railroad logo and it became part of the company trademark from that date for many years. The great depression forced Charles West to sell his interest to the Brainard family. Charles passed away in 1943.

Surprisingly, even at the advanced age of 76 when Brainard visited the Kankakee he was very active as evidenced by his diary entries.

*October 16, 1916: Went to Valparaiso with Brainard and Anderson in the morning. Brainard and I fished the balance of the day.

*October 19, 1916: Rained nearly all day. Brainard and I put in the day fishing. Caught one.

*April 14, 1917: We traded with George Knoll for a new Ford at $375. Mr. Brainard and Mrs. W. J. Best gave a dance at the club house. Had a large crowd. About 50 people.

Ira Brainard passed away on December 2, 1927. The Vidette-Messenger published remembrances from his friend, George Miller: "He was a splendid type of citizen, and well liked by everyone." And, so passed the last member of the famous Pittsburgh Gun Club.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.


Community Coordinator

Annette is Community Coordinator for The Times. She has been with the paper for two decades. A resident of Hobart, she graduated from Purdue University with degrees in English and German.