Ogden Dunes Participants in the Great Pageant
In the October 5, 1940 issue of the Ogden Dunes Sandpiper, a periodic community newsletter, published by Ogden Dunes Realty, a short article appeared,
We plan someday to retell the story of the Great Pageant of the Dunes which was presented at Waverly Beach on June 3, 1917. In the meantime we think it worth mentioning that three of our Ogdenites were among the seven hundred plus persons taking part. Mrs. Ethel Durfee, then of Chicago, was secretary of the Dunes Pageant Association which had general control of the gigantic undertaking. Mrs. James Cassidy and Mrs. Jesse Thatcher, then Anita Bailey and Genevieve Michaely of Gary portrayed the Bailly sisters, daughters of fur trader, Joseph Bailly, who played so important a part in the early history of the dunes.
These three women are now close neighbors in Ogden Dunes, a town that had not been even dreamed of in 1917.
Of the three women, two played significant roles over a long period of time in the Ogden Dunes community, Ethel Munson Durfee and Anita Bailey Cassidy.
Ethel Durfee, born in Chicago in 1877 to Frank (1848-1940) and Emily Smith Munson, had married in 1910, Frank Durfee, an attorney, who died in 1918. Ethel, who had attended college, had worked for the Board of Education and lived and cared for her parents. She built one of the early French Country style cottages on Sunset Trail in 1927. She was an avid gardener and active in the Prairie Club. She named her cottage “Columbine Hill.” Her father, who died in 1940, was celebrated as one of the last survivors of the Civil War in the 1939 Memorial Day Parade down Michigan Avenue in Chicago. When Ethel sold her cottage in 1942 to Harry Sheckles family. In the May 12, 1944 issue of the Ogden Dunes Sandpiper reported in an article, “Au Revoir”,
When Mrs. Ethel Durfee moved to California in February an era in Ogden Dunes history came to an end. Only those who were here in the early days can appreciate how much her being here affected the community’s development.
As one of the pioneer members of the Prairie Club colony near Waverly Beach, she became secretary of the Dunes Pageant Association which was formed to promote the great historic Pageant of the Dunes in 1917. The purpose of this spectacle was to focus public attention for a park. So successfully was the undertaking that the State bought several hundred acres, including the tract occupied by the Prairie Club, and the Indiana Dunes State Park became a reality.
Coming to Ogden Dunes in 1927, Mrs. Durfee infected her friends with her enthusiasm for our little town. Before long many of them followed her and built homes here.
She loved and understood the dune lands with their flora and fauna. A hike with her was always interesting as she saw and heard so much the untrained eye and ear missed. No one can quite take Mrs. Durfee’s place in Ogden Dunes. The best wishes of her many friends are with her in her new life on the West Coast.
The September 28, 1946 issue announced the July 15 wedding of Mrs. Ethel M. Durfee and William Charles Hoffman “came as a delightful surprise. Mrs. Hoffman, a pioneer Ogdenite, has been living in California for about three years. She died in Carmel, California on April 15, 1974 at the age of 95.
Anita Bailey Cassidy was born in Chicago to James B. and Julia Cassidy on June 30, 1890. James B. was involved in banking in Chicago and moved to Gary about the time of World War I to become Cashier, Gary State Bank. Anita, who graduated from the University of Chicago, became a teacher at Froebel High School in Gary. In 1924, she married James Cassidy (1885-1955), an owner of a very successful wholesale bakery. Not long after their marriage, they became an early land owner of a large lot in Ogden Dunes. They built a large brick home on Beach Lane, overlooking the lake, in 1928. There they raised the family of three children. After her husband died in 1955, Anita sold their home and moved into a smaller home in Ogden Dunes. She died in June of 1976 at the age of 85. She and James are buried in Cavalry Cemetery.
We know relatively little about Genevieve Michaely. She was born in Michigan City in 1896, the ninth of ten children of Peter and Margaret Michaely. Peter was a County Commissioner of La Porte County for many years. Her mother and brothers, who were involved in a lumber yard, moved to Gary by 1930. Between 1930 and 1940 she married Jesse Thatcher and in 1940 they had a cottage in Ogden Dunes. Genevieve was one of the charter members of the Woman’s Club when it was formed in 1939, along with Anita Cassidy and Ethel Durfee. In 1941 she is listed as 1st alto in the Women’s Choral group in Ogden Dunes.