Bernard Cigrand moved to the Fox Valley in 1913. He was 47 at the time, a prominent dentist who relocated his successful practice to Aurora in 1920.
Dr. Cigrand died in 1932, before figuratively returning to the area 70 years later – the Fox Valley Park District’s Blackberry Farm, to be exact – where he remained until his still-unsolved disappearance in 2013.
But just this week he returned to his renowned, deserved status, properly stationed in Blackberry’s Early Streets Museum, adjacent to his replica dental office.
Perhaps we should explain.
Dr. Cigrand – universally known as the founder of Flag Day, which has been celebrated annually ever since President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day in 1916 – was memorialized with a bronze bust, which was donated to the Fox Valley Park District in 2002.
It was just one of three Cigrand busts in the world, one residing in the good doctor’s birthplace in Waubeka, Wisconsin, the other in Luxembourg, from which Cigrand’s grandparents emigrated.
However, during renovations at Blackberry in 2013, the FVPD’s bust vanished. To this day, District officials remain puzzled as to its whereabouts.
“Although the disappearance remains a mystery, perhaps one that will never be solved,” said Holly Wiggins, facility manager at Blackberry Farm, “our intent was to replace it and restore the showcase it deserves.”
In 2019, FVPD Executive Director Jim Pilmer commissioned a reproduction of the Cigrand bust, so it could make its rightful return to Blackberry Farm.
The new bust is the handiwork of renowned artist Erik Blome, well-known for his sculptures of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, James Jordan (father of basketball legend Michael), and “Mastodon Dig,” which stands at Phillips Park right here in Aurora, to name just a few.
“He’s back home where he belongs,” Plimer said of Dr. Cigrand. “Preserving the history of the Fox Valley, especially here in Aurora, remains a prioritized mission of the Park District. It’s our responsibility to keep our history and heritage relevant for generations to come.”
For more information about Blackberry Farm, visit https://www.blackberryfarm.info/.