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October 29, 2008

Olof Krans Birthday Party November 2 to feature Civil War program

BISHOP HILL - The 170th birthday celebration of Bishop Hill’s resident painter, Olof Krans, will be held Sunday, November 2 at the Bishop Hill Museum from 2 to 4 p.m. and will feature a special Civil War program. The event is free and open to the public.

Dan Dauw of Colona, Illinois will present a 3:30 p.m. program on the daily life of the individual soldier during the Civil War. Dauw is a re-enactor with the 8th Kansas Co. H. The November 2 event will also feature cake, coffee and punch in the museum that showcases Krans’ special contribution to preserving Bishop Hill’s heritage.

Olof Krans was born November 2, 1838 in Salja in Nora Parish in Westmanland, Sweden. Reportedly during his young days in Sweden he showed an aptitude for sketching and drawing with accuracy. Krans immigrated to Bishop Hill with his parents and siblings in 1850 and was one of the Colony Ox Boys.

In 1861 Krans joined with other Bishop Hill Colony men and mustered into the Union Army in Company D, 57th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He served until June 1862 when he was discharged for health reasons. Later Krans painted portraits of his fellow Bishop Hill Swedes who served in the Union Army. He returned to settle in Bishop Hill, then Galesburg, and finally Galva. It was in Galva where he established his painting business. Krans painted buildings, numerous commercial signs, stage scenery, and various decorative treatments in buildings. Eventually he moved to Altona and died there on January 4, 1916. He is buried in the Galva Cemetery.

What elevated Olof Krans above other small town painters of the nineteenth century was the contribution he made to preserving the story of the Bishop Hill Colony. His paintings depict the Colony life that Krans remembered from his youth. His work scenes show the Colony’s communal work force laboring in the fields plowing, planting and harvesting. He also painted the buildings that the Bishop Hill Colony had constructed and that are being preserved today.

The Bishop Hill Museum is part of Bishop Hill State Historic Site, administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The Colony Church, Colony Hotel and Village Park are also part of the Site. All are open Wednesday through Sunday for free public tours. For additional Krans birthday party information, call (309) 927-3345.


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