History exhibit looks at Sycamore in the Gilded Age

SYCAMORE – Pioneers, war, and riches – it sounds like a blockbuster movie.

It actually describes the new exhibit at the Sycamore History Museum, “General Dutton’s America,” opening April 26. Visitors will be surprised by the drama of Dutton’s life, history museum executive director Michelle Donahoe said.

The exhibit includes interactive displays, letters, period dress and authentic historical pieces illustrating an important period in the history of Sycamore and of the nation.

The exhibit was created by curator Rob Glover as a class project while he was a student at Northern Illinois University, Donahoe said.

“We are very excited to share this exhibit with the public,” she said. “The stories highlighted are all engaging and surprising. What started as processing a collection of family letters turned into a great opportunity to tell the early history Sycamore, the Civil War, and what life was like afterwards. ...We are all happy to see the exhibit evolve and become a first-class display that will engage people of all ages.”

The exhibit is an example of microhistory – an interpretation of individual people and places in the broader context of the time period. Through Everell Dutton’s letters, photographs, maps, artifacts, and newspapers, visitors will gain insights to his challenges, work ethic, and vision.

The exhibit includes a hands-on tent for visitors to gain a better sense of a soldier’s daily life. There will also be an online exhibit that complements the real exhibit.

The museum is at 1730 N. Main St. in Sycamore, and admission is $5 for adults and free for members and children younger than 14. For more information, call 815-895-5762 or visit

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