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Lahti Family Collection (Sycamore)


Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Family History & Local History

Richard "Ric" Lahti

Alice Margaret Hitchcock Lahti

Jennye Lahti Fry

Rachael Lahti Donnelly





Finnish Connection

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Lahti Family Collection (Sycamore), 1913-1997 | Northern Illinois University

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Collection Overview

Title: Lahti Family Collection (Sycamore), 1913-1997

ID: RHC/RC/189

Extent: 11.75 Linear Feet. More info below.


There are ten series that divide the Lahti Family Collection. Series I contains both paper and electronic documents pertaining to genealogical history, some family ephemera, as well as Local historical information such as photographs and news articles about Northern Illinois University and DeKalb.

Ric Lahti’s manuscripts makes up Series II; it is divided into four sub-series. Sub-series A contains personal records and ephemera, while sub-series B contains financial material unrelated to family businesses. Account ledgers from both businesses are included in the series.

Series III contains both paper and electronic documents consisting of materials from Alice Margaret Hitchcock Lahti including scrapbooks and memory books from her school days at McMurry School.

Material from Jennye Lahti Fry make up Series IV. Included in this series are photo albums created by Jennye Lahti. An index to each photo album is provided in the folders containing the albums. Also included in this series are photographs and documents pertaining to Jennye’s husband, specifically his involvement with work with various agricultural companies and a photograph of himself on a basketball team.

Rachel Lahti Donnelly material make up Series V. This material includes groups Rachel Lahti Donnelly participated in including The Stagecoach Players.

Fraternal Organization material make up Series VI. This series contains information concerning the fraternal organizations in which "Ric" Lahti participated: Shriners and Masons, as well as material from Alice and Rachel’s participation in Job’s Daughters, an organization associated with the Shriners.

Correspondence comprises Series VII.

Series VIII contains information about the golfing careers of Ric and Alice Lahti. Much of the material relates to Ric Lahti’s time at the Kishwaukee Country Club, but documents from other clubs and tournament in which he participated are also included. Alice Lahti’s golfing career is highlighted.

Series IX contains more detailed information about the Lahti businesses. Sub-series A holds information about the Lahti Clothing Store of Sycamore. Included in this series is the history of the clothing store, information on the owners of the store before and after Ric Lahti, business and financial records, employee information, and promotional materials. Sub-series B focuses on other Lahti records, and includes ledgers from Ric’s Restaurant in Belvedere, as well as documents on Ric Lahti’s employment elsewhere.

The Lahti family’s private life and Finnish ties are located in Series X. Many of the correspondences that are contained in this series are written in Finnish to Jennye Lahti, Ric Lahti’s sister. Also in this series is funeral information from Matti and Sofia Lahti, parents of Ric.

Date Acquired: 00/00/1987

Subjects: Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, Clothing trade, DeKalb County (Ill), Finn Fest, Finnish Americans, Golf, Hitchcock Family, Hitchcock Plumbing, Job's Daughters International (Organization), Kishwaukee Country Club, Lahti Clothing Store, Lahti Family, Northern Illinois University, Order of the Eastern Star, Plumbing Industry, Sycamore (Ill.), Wagon Wheel Resort

Collection Historical Note

Richard "Ric" Mathew Lahti, was born November 26, 1904 in Rock Springs, Wyoming. His parents, Frans Matti and Sofia Uitto Lahti, immigrated from Finland. The family moved to DeKalb, Illinois, where Matti Lahti worked as a wire-drawer at American Wire and Steel. Ric Lahti dropped out of school after eighth grade. His sister, Jennie Lahti, received her diploma from DeKalb Township High School. Jennie Lahti, also spelled Jennye, and called "Jenks," was born April 14, 1904. She married Theodore Fry on May 3, 1941.

Ric Lahti began his golfing career as a caddy at the Kishwaukee Country Club. He learned to play golf with a makeshift club made from a broom handle at a nine-(soup can)-hole course designed in a cow pasture at the end of Eleventh Street. Lahti joined Kishwaukee Country Club in 1927 at the age of 22. He became president in 1942 and again in 1955. He also filled in as golf professional from 1950 through 1952. Lahti won the club championship three times and the Kishwaukee Invitational four times. Among numerous other awards he won the Lincoln Highway medalist title, and both the David Smart trophy and the McAllister trophy (Sycamore) three consecutive years.

Ric Lahti was a successful businessman. He owned Lahti Clothing Store in Sycamore and helped others set up businesses in Hampshire and Genoa. Formerly Miles Clothing Store, Lahti purchased and renamed the store, opening on March 29, 1941, with the motto "First with the Latest." Lahti sold the store in 1966, and, after changing hands again in 1972, it officially closed in 1975. Lahti later opened a gourmet restaurant in Belvidere, worked as a real estate agent, and in the late 1970s, worked as a bank security guard. He was a member of Sycamore Elks, was active in all branches of Masonry, and, as a Shriner, became Potentate of Tebala Temple in 1971.

Ric Lahti married Alice Margaret Hitchcock on July 28, 1935, in DeKalb. Alice, born on January 20, 1913, was the daughter of Edward Robert and Margaret Blair Hitchcock. Edward Robert Hitchcock owned Hitchcock Plumbing. Alice Lahti became a Licensed Practical Nurse and also had a successful golf career, playing at Kishwaukee Country Club, as well as others.

Ric and Alice Lahti had two children, Rachael Alyce Lahti, born on March 27, 1937, and Richard Edward Lahti, born August 31, 1939, both in DeKalb. Ric Lahti died on May 3, 1990, at home in Sycamore, Illinois. Alice Lahti died at Oak Crest Retirement Center in DeKalb on February 6, 2007.

Subject/Index Terms

Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine
Clothing trade
DeKalb County (Ill)
Finn Fest
Finnish Americans
Hitchcock Family
Hitchcock Plumbing
Job's Daughters International (Organization)
Kishwaukee Country Club
Lahti Clothing Store
Lahti Family
Northern Illinois University
Order of the Eastern Star
Plumbing Industry
Sycamore (Ill.)
Wagon Wheel Resort

Administrative Information

Repository: Northern Illinois University

Alternate Extent Statement: 6 digital files (2.04 MB)

Acquisition Source: Rachael Lahti Donnelly

Acquisition Method: Rachael Lahti Donnelly donated the Lahti Family Collection to the Regional History Center in several installments beginning in 1987.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series I.: Family History & Local History],
[Series II.: Richard "Ric" Lahti],
[Series III.: Alice Margaret Hitchcock Lahti],
[Series IV.: Jennye Lahti Fry],
[Series V.: Rachael Lahti Donnelly],
[Series VI.: Organizations],
[Series VII.: Correspondence],
[Series VIII.: Golf],
[Series IX.: Business],
[Series X.: Finnish Connection],

Series V.: Rachael Lahti Donnelly
Box 8
Folder 3: Fashion Show Lineup and Clothes Description, no date
Folder 4: Finn Fest, 1994
Folder 5: Our Babies, Manual for New Mothers, 1935
Folder 6: Piano Recital, 1946
Box 9
Folder 1: Photographs: Golden Tulip Barbizon Palace, 1994
Folder 2: Photographs: Del Monte, no date
Folder 3: Photographs: Grant's Home, no date
Folder 4: Wagon Wheel Envelope, no date

Browse by Series:

[Series I.: Family History & Local History],
[Series II.: Richard "Ric" Lahti],
[Series III.: Alice Margaret Hitchcock Lahti],
[Series IV.: Jennye Lahti Fry],
[Series V.: Rachael Lahti Donnelly],
[Series VI.: Organizations],
[Series VII.: Correspondence],
[Series VIII.: Golf],
[Series IX.: Business],
[Series X.: Finnish Connection],

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