Was there a real man named Uncle Sam?  Has it always been a fictitious persona for our great nation of states?  Could the nickname possibly have anything to do with agriculture?


1860-first-uncle-samIt just makes sense that the image of the U.S., “Uncle Sam” would have his origination in agriculture because at the time of his birth, agriculture was the main industry of the U.S.  In the late 1860s and 1870s, political cartoonist Thomas Nast began popularizing the image of Uncle Sam and the USDA reports that 58 percent of the labor force were farmers.  Many more were employed in the industry off the farm.

Nast continued to evolve the image, eventually giving Sam the white beard and stars-and-stripes suit that are associated with the character today.  And as the image evolved, farmers were already beginning to move off the farm.  By 1880, 10 percent of the population has found other employment.

UnclesamwantyouThe real person behind “Uncle Sam” is Samuel Wilson, a meat packer from Troy, New York, who supplied barrels of beef to the United States Army during the War of 1812.  He would stamp the barrels with “U.S.” which stood for United States, but employers and soldiers began calling the food “Uncle Sam’s.”

And the rest is history!

Checkout images of Uncle Sam from every decade here!



Summertime is definitely upon us! And what is one of the most wonderful things about summers in Illinois? Fresh strawberries! Whether you are able to go to a local strawberry patch or pick some up at your local grocery store, strawberries are always of far better quality during the summer.

To celebrate strawberries (and America, of course), here is an easy but DELICIOUS recipe for you to try out this weekend! I hope you all have a fun and safe holiday!

Red, White and Blue Strawberry Shortcake



  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix

  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed and drained

  • 2 pints fresh strawberries, rinsed and sliced


  1. Prepare cake according to package directions and bake in a 9×13 inch pan. Cool completely.
  2. Frost cake with whipped topping. Place blueberries in a square in the corner, and arrange sliced strawberries as stripes to make an American flag. Chill until serving.

Source: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Red-White-and-Blue-Strawberry-Shortcake/Detail.aspx?evt19=1

rsandersonRosalie Sanderson
Membership Administrative Assistant