Looking Back: Fairbury area history from the pages of The Blade

·16 min read

130 Years Ago

June 25, 1892

A new bank was organized in Chenoa last Saturday afternoon to be known as the State Bank of Chenoa. The capital stock was taken by business men and farmers. The directors are R. G. Jordan, G. W. Jewell, Noah H. Pike, W. S. Haynes, C. J. Gillespie, J. E. Wightman, William A. Haynes.

Thomas and Steve Karnes were in Chicago this week in attendance at the Derby.

Miss Hattie Thornton visited with friends in Chenoa last week and attended the commencement exercises of the Chenoa high school.

Markets — hogs, $4.60; wheat, 75c; corn, 42c; oats, 31c; butter, 10c; eggs, 12c; lard, 6c.

120 Years Ago

June 27, 1902

The park committee request the people kindly walk in the paths in and around the new park. The grass has just started nicely and it has been started at a great expense. The ground is new and very soft and the grass could be very easily trodden out. All are requested to bear this in mind and be as careful as possible as well as reminding others to do likewise.

The business houses will close July 4th from 10 o'clock a.m. until 1 o'clock p.m.

Fully one tenth of the corn crop of Livingston County has been ruined by the great rains of the past weeks. It has been nothing uncommon to see farmers cultivating the drier parts of the cornfields, turning around at ponds and low lands just as they used to do in former years when the country was new.

Lodemia — Skunks seem to be quite plentiful around here. While taking up the floor of an old oat bin at the station, 27 were killed, and Jesse Ruff caught one in his cellar, and several have been complaining about them taking young chickens.

Forrest — A big crowd was in town Tuesday night to hear the band concert given by the Piper City band.

110 Years Ago

June 28, 1912

Otis Travis, the well known farmer in Belle Prairie township, is building a barn which is a novelty in this locality at least. It is circular in shape, 50 feet in diameter, 16 feet to eaves and 30 feet high in the center. The structure rests upon a solid foundation of cement and in the center is a silo 12 feet in diameter and 30 feet high, also resting upon a cement foundation. There is room for 51 head of stock in the barn and the box stalls are arranged on the outside circle.

The annual picnic of the M. E. Church and Sunday School met in Dominy's grove Tuesday, June 25, 350 strong, to enjoy a day's outing. No labor, pains or expense had been spared to make the event a "red letter day" for the children. A merry-go-round, a trolley and numerous swings gave the young people vent for their high spirits. A good band enlivened the day with many fine selections. Class No. 6 prepared the feast and lemonade.

Tired and weary, but everybody jubilant, 1,400 people who attended the T. P. & W. picnic here Saturday, returned safely home at 5:30, all declaring the outing the best ever given in the history of the company. It took fourteen coaches to carry the big picnic crowd which was the largest that ever attended the annual T. P. & W. outing. The weather was fine and there was not an accident to mar the festivities of the day.

100 Years Ago

Friday, June 23, 1922

The post office safe at Anchor was blown early Saturday morning and cash amounting to $150 and between $50 and $75 in money orders taken. Immediately following an explosion at 2:30 o'clock, an automobile going at a high rate of speed was heard by some of the villagers. Investigation showed that the robbers had entered the front door of the post office by using a pass key. No clue to the robbers has been found.

One day the first of the week when Mrs. C. L. Fitzgerald was being driven out into the country, the automobile hit a bump in the road and Mrs. Fitzgerald was thrown up against the top of the car. She struck against one of the top supports and received a bad cut over one of her eyes, it requiring fourteen stitches to close the wound.

Dr. R. B. Crawford this week installed an Englen X-ray machine to use in connection with his chiropractic work. The machine was put in operation Tuesday, C. G. Hammers, an expert from the factory, and Dr. E. L. Spencer overseeing the installation. The machine is one of the best and is not only adapted for the use to which Dr. Crawford will use it in taking pictures of the spine, but is also equipped for taking pictures of the teeth, and in fact, will X-ray any part of the body.

90 Years Ago

June 24, 1932

James Hartzell Langstaff, Jr., son of Dr. and Mrs. J. H. Langstaff, was signally honored at the seventy-fourth annual commencement exercises at Lake Forest Academy. James was awarded the Bateman prize of $20 in gold which is presented annually by Mr. Floyd Donald Bateman, of Barrington, Ill., a member of the class of 1921, to that member of the Upper Middle class who, in the judgment of the faculty, has made the greatest improvement in studies and general development in his class.

Two times within the past few weeks the automobile of the Rev. M. B. Van Leer has refused to function as it should, and on both occasions it was not the car's fault. On his way to Quincy some time ago the car stopped right in the midst of a big rain storm. A diagnosis of the trouble showed that it was out of gas. Sunday, Rev. Van Leer got into his car, turned on the ignition and stepped on the starter, but it wouldn't start. Believing that the trouble was somewhere in the starting mechanism he had the car taken to the garage Monday morning where the mechanic upon looking into the gas tank, discovered it was empty.

The elevator on the Illinois Central Railroad south of Chatsworth was burned Tuesday evening. The elevator had been operated a short while during the day, receiving corn which had been loaded into cars as it was received. F. L. Livingston, manager of the elevator, upon discovering the fire, climbed to the top of the structure and attempted to extinguish the fire by means of a hand fire extinguisher. The fire, reported to have started from an overheated boxing of some of the machinery at the top, had gained such headway that Mr. Livingston's attempts were unsuccessful.

80 Years Ago

June 26, 1942

The business houses of Fairbury will be closed all day July 4th. However, you will have until ten o'clock next Friday evening in which to lay in your two-say supply of groceries, meats, vegetables or anything else you may want, as the stores will be open until that time.

Hershel Blazer, of the Times-Record at Aledo, was a Fairbury caller last Friday evening and paid The Blade a visit. He was accompanied by Mrs. Blazer and son, Jimmie. Mr. and Mrs. Blazer and son arrived in Fairbury early in the evening and put in an hour or two looking over our town. They were especially impressed with our fine paved streets and homes, and Editor Blazer pointing to the Walton store said, "I would give five thousand dollars if we had that store in Aledo. We put in a half hour or more looking over their well trimmed window—and they are up to date." Then he added, "I wonder if the people here appreciate a store like that."

To comply with the permanent voters registration act House Bill 663, approved July 17, 1941, every voter must register to vote. Every applicant who is twenty-one years of age, or over, shall be permitted to register and qualify in order to vote at the next election. —Ira L. Boyer, County Clerk Pro Tempore.

70 Years Ago

June 26, 1952

The Fairbury area got another sizable taste of hot and rainy weather during the past week. A 1.40-inch rain on Friday and a 1.48-incher Saturday, again sent creeks over their banks, and filled low places in fields. The golf course, local barometer for most Fairbury people, had much water on it over the weekend. The temperature began rising Saturday afternoon, and on Tuesday 95-degree temperatures were reported.

Dr. H. C. Cantle, of Cropsey, was recently the recipient of an award which is indeed rare. The McLean County Medical Association last week presented the Cropsey doctor with a handsomely engraved certificate, an emblem of his 50 years of service as a doctor. Dr. Cantle, who is 82, began practicing his profession in 1902 at the age of 32. In March, 1950, the Cropsey community honored "their doctor" on his 80th birthday with a special dinner and reception at which 200 attended.

One of the most delightful domestic comedies to come out of Hollywood in many a moon, "Here Come the Nelsons," starring Ozzie and Harriet Nelson of radio renown and their two young sons, David, 14 and Ricky, 11, is showing at the Central Theatre, Sunday and Monday, June 29 and 30. The appearance of the four Nelsons, ably supported by Rock Hudson, Barbara Lawrence, Sheldon Leonard, Jim Backus and other popular favorites marks the first time in a dozen years that an entire family of players have been seen in one movie.

60 Years Ago

June 28, 1962

Gurid Torill Bjornstad, 17, of Brottum, Norway, is coming here in August to attend Fairbury-Cropsey high school for one year. She will be here under the American Field Service International Scholarship program. The young Norwegian beauty will be staying with the Erwin Wascher family. She will arrive in New York City on August 8 and in Chicago a few days later. The Waschers will drive to the Windy City and transport her to Fairbury.

The City Council voted to purchase a picnic shelter for Marsh Park at their bi-monthly meeting. The Fairbury Lions Club had already told city officials that their club would put the construction up. The new shelter will measure 50 x 64 feet. Lions club members recently installed a 22 x 48 foot shelter and park custodian, Mrs. Elmer Butler said that many reservations are coming in by phone. Honegger & Co., Inc., will furnish the materials at cost. The price will be $960. The smaller shelter cost the Lions Club approximately $500.

The Gene Hornsbys have arrived home after a two week vacation in the west. They visited 13 states and stopped at many points of interest including the World's Fair in Seattle, Washington. In Chico, California, they stopped to visit Jim French, who is a former Fairburian and is now lieutenant of the Chico Fire Department. He is the son of Ira French of this city. Jim has been gone for 12 years, and was happy to see someone from home, the Hornsbys said.

50 Years Ago

June 29, 1972

Work was started Monday on the foundation excavations for the expansion program which will double the floor space at Fairbury Federal Savings and Loan. Stoller and Maurer are the general contractors, but the preliminary work is currently being done by Kafer Ditching and Tile Service.

Aviation Maintenance Administration-man Second Class Steven M. Brucker received his discharge from the U. S. Navy on June 21, 1972. In his tour of duty, he was attached to Attack Squadron 46 embarked in the USS John F. Kennedy. He received the National Defense Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation and Good Conduct Medal. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Gene R. Brucker of Cropsey and 1967 graduate of Fairbury-Cropsey High school.

Julie Newlin, 14, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jim Newlin of Fairbury, was admitted to Fairbury hospital Tuesday evening for observation after she was thrown from a horse on the Jim Rathbun farm. X-rays reportedly revealed no fractures, but she was severely bruised. Julie was admitted just a few hours after her brother Jeff was dismissed after undergoing surgery on a knee.

40 Years Ago

June 24, 1982

The Fairbury-Cropsey board of education may seek a 75-cent tax increase via referendum in November to offset projected deficit spending which could reach $1.225 annually by the 1984-85 school year. "Our revenue has not kept up with our expenditures," Superintendent Calvin Jackson put the problem simply to the board members Monday night. Board members have until August 27 to formally adopt a resolution to have a tax increase referendum placed on the November ballot.

Fairbury Police are hoping that 80-year old Willis Harris Sr. will be able to make positive identification through photographs of two men and a youth who robbed him of $5,000 in a roof repair scam last Thursday. The photos were taken earlier last week by Pontiac Police, who had a band of gypsies under surveillance at the Fiesta Motel in that community.

Glen Hofmann, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Hofmann Jr. of Fairbury, left Tuesday evening for Lincoln where he will meet with Illinois delegates for an Odd Fellow's and Rebekkah's United Nation's tour. The clubs are paying all of Glen's expenses for a two-week tour of the eastern United States, the United Nations and New York City. Following his return, Glen will be available to present speeches to any groups that would be interested in his experience.

30 Years Ago

June 25, 1992

Grandparents always hold a special gleam in their eye for their grandchildren, and that is especially true for Lola and John Drew of Fairbury. Their first grandchild, Stacie, who is now 23 years old, the daughter of John S. and Sheron Drew of Dallas Texas, has recently qualified for membership on the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleading squad, and is grandpa ever proud. The 5'5", hazel-eyed honey blonde was in Fairbury visiting her grandparents for a few days last week, looking forward to going fishing with grandpa and just relaxing before winding up a two-week vacation, then heading back to the "grind" of dance/cheerleading practice.

Prairie Central CUSD #8 superintendent Dr. Calvin Jackson said today that a tentative agreement for a contract between the Prairie Central Education Association and the Prairie Central Board of Education was reached Monday, June 15. Jackson would not reveal further details of the agreement, but said all pertinent information would be forthcoming at the next scheduled board meeting Monday, June 29.

When Joyce and Chris Mattach of rural Chatsworth call the 'kids' in for dinner, all 30 of them come leaping and bounding in response. The Mattach's 'kids' are actually the four-legged variety – pygmy goats to be exact. The couple has raised pygmy goats for the last seven years on the farm, which is aptly named "Laughing Stock Farms." The name of the farm often gets laughs itself said Joyce. "We chose that name for a reason. No matter how low your spirits are sagging, if you go out and watch the goats, you will end up smiling," said Joyce, referring to the playful antics of the elfin creatures.

20 Years Ago

June 26, 2002

Kevin Roach, the grandson of Frank and Pearl Schmidt of Fairbury was named valedictorian for the Class of 2002 at Kankakee High School. He attained a grade-point-average of 4.70 on a scale of 4.0. His parents are Patrick and Patti Roach of Kankakee. Roach is an Illinois State Scholar and is eligible for an Illinois Merit Recognition Scholarship. Roach will attend Kankakee Community College and pursue studies in electrical engineering with plans to transfer to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In a unanimous vote of the Regional Board of Education Tuesday, the board approved the petition to put the Chenoa-Prairie Central annexation on the Nov. 5 ballot. Numerous students, graduates, board members and citizens of both districts spoke to the Regional Board of School Trustees of DeWitt, Livingston and McLean counties in support of the petition for the annexation at the meeting Tuesday night. Tom Kahle, president of the Chenoa school board, said the board members anticipated the petition approval and were very happy with the decision.

Demolition began Friday, June 21, on the old Cropsey High School. A1 Anytime Construction, Excavating, and Plumbing Incorporated was contracted by owner Richard Gilliam of Bloomington to do the demolition work. Owners of the company are Jim Beitz and Eric Gilliam, both of Colfax. Eric Gilliam, Supervisor of Operations, is the son of the owner of the school, Richard Gilliam. Eric Gilliam stated that in the future they hope to approach the township board with a proposal of a new subdivision for 4-5 houses. He stated that they had discussed putting in a park but would like to see Cropsey grow with new homes.

10 Years Ago

June 27, 2012

The Livingston County Public Heath Department and the Institute for Human Resources worked together to conduct a Public Service Announcement contest. Students from Prairie Central Junior High School and 5th through 8th grade students throughout the county who attended the 2012 Snowflake event participated in the contest. Students were asked to develop a radio Public Service Announcement using the theme of “Tobacco Free is the Way to Be.” Students submitting the four winning entries, all from PCJH, were Jodi Holland, Kaitlyn Mayr, Nathan Todd, Andrew Vaughan, Carrie Sargeant, Lexy Hudgeons, Dana Champlain and Becca Price. The public can hear winning public service announcements on WJEZ 98.9.

Nathan and Jill Waibel of Forrest are the parents of a baby girl born at 9 p.m. Saturday, June 9, 2012 at Gibson Area Hospital. Selah Joy weighed 7 pounds 3 ounces and was 19¾ inches long at birth. Maternal grandparents are Charles and Joanne Steidinger of Fairbury. Paternal grandparents are Eldon and Marge Waibel of Fairbury. The new arrival was welcomed home by her older brothers and sisters, Christin, Jonathan, Jeana, Laban and Bryn.

The Administrative Committee of the Livingston County Board met recently to discuss the fate of the Livingston County Proactive Unit. All three mayors from Dwight, Pontiac and Fairbury decided to pull their city's officers from the unit. The intergovernmental agreement stated that the three mayors and the county all needed to decide unanimously to suspend the agreement. “I hate to see it disband because I get the reports that show how much good they've done for the county. I hate to see it go, but if three different departments pull out, how can you continue?” Darryl Holt commented, with other board members agreeing.

Kari Kamrath

This article originally appeared on Pontiac Daily Leader: Looking Back: Fairbury area history from the pages of The Blade