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  • Fairbury News staff

Frisby influenced 2 generations

Cathryn Frisby is 102 years of age and is one of the few surviving teachers who taught in both country schools and the Fairbury school system.

Her family's story began with Christian Wink's birth in 1830 near Marburg, Germany. His parents were Herman Wink and Margaret Eichenbradt. The Wink family liked to recycle the first names of Christian and Herman in subsequent generations.

 In 1833, Elizabeth Arnold was born near Marburg, Germany. In 1858, she emigrated from Germany to St. Louis when she was 25. Elizabeth left Bremen, Germany, on a ship named "Carl." It took 57 days to make the voyage to New Orleans. She arrived on October 13, 1858, and traveled up the Mississippi River to St. Louis.


Also, in 1858, Christian Wink emigrated from Germany to St. Louis. In 1859, Christian Wink married Elizabeth Arnold in St. Louis. He was 29, and Elizabeth was 26 when they married. Christian and Elizabeth Wink had nine children. They lived in St. Louis, Granville, and La Rose, Illinois. They settled in Eppards Point Township northwest of Fairbury in 1869. Christian and Elizabeth Wink saw the native prairies of Illinois converted into farmland.


Herman Wink, one of the nine children of Christian and Elizabeth Wink, was born in 1861. In 1889, Herman Wink married Marie Eichenlamb. Herman was 28, and Marie was 26 when they married. Herman and Marie Wink had four children.


In 1916, Elizabeth Wink, wife of Christian Wink, died at 82. Merkle & Son of Peoria made many of the fancier and more expensive gravestones in Graceland Cemetery. After Elizabeth Wink died, her husband hired Merkle & Son to create a unique stone for her burial location. The 1917 issue of Monument Reporter magazine noted the monument was made of rough-hewn stone and was one of the finest ever erected in the Fairbury Cemetery. This unique stone has a cross, an anchor, a Greek column, and various fauna. It is located southeast of the Mausoleum. In 1920, Christian Wink died at 90 and was buried with his wife in Graceland.


Christian Elmer "Bud" Wink was one of the four children of Herman and Marie Wink. Bud was born in 1892 in Eppards Point Township. America entered World War I when it declared war on Germany on December 7, 1917.


Bud Wink was inducted into the Army at Pontiac on April 3, 1918. After completing his basic training, he sailed from Boston to Tilbury Docks in England on Leicestershire. Bud went to Bordeaux, France, and trained from September 2 until the war ended on November 11, 1918. Bud sailed back to America and was discharged from Camp Grant in Rockford on March 6, 1919.


In 1920, Bud Wink married Florence Lorine Shepherd. Bud was 28, and Florence was 27 when they married. Bud and Florence Wink had two daughters. Cathryn L. Wink was born in 1921, and her sister, Mary Ellen Wink, was born in 1923.


America entered into the Great Depression in 1929, and it lasted for about ten years. Cathryn and her sister Mary Ellen Wink experienced the Great Depression from approximately age seven through seventeen, living on a farm northeast of Fairbury.


Francis Townsend was born in a log cabin east of Fairbury in 1867. He lived in Fairbury until he was about 18 years of age. Townsend later became a medical doctor. During the start of the Great Depression, he looked out the window of his house in California and saw three older women scrounging through the trash, looking for food. Francis Townsend got the idea of creating a national old-age pension plan. Under his program, citizens over 60 would receive a government pension equivalent to $47,000 in today's dollars.


Townsend began to promote his Townsend Plan for an old-age pension. It was wildly popular, and 3,400 Townsend Clubs sprung up overnight nationwide. His political movement put massive pressure on President Roosevelt to adopt some old-age pension plan. This political pressure caused President Franklin D. Roosevelt to sign the original Social Security Act into law in 1935. On January 31, 1940, the first monthly retirement check was issued to Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont, for $22.54.


Townsend returned to Fairbury nine times from 1939 to 1947. The city celebrated this native son’s return with events called Townsend Homecomings. Townsend usually gave a speech at the fairgrounds.


Bud Wink liked history and collected many historical items. According to his daughter Cathryn, Bud told his daughter that history was being made and, therefore, Cathryn would accompany him to listen to Francis Townsend speak in Fairbury.


In 1940, Cathryn Frisby started the two-year teacher training program at Illinois State Normal University. After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States declared war on Japan. Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S. a few days later, and the nation became fully engaged in the Second World War.


In 1942, Cathryn Frisby finished her college program and began teaching near Peoria. The Caterpillar Tractor Co. needed as many workers as possible to produce military goods for World War II. Cathryn took a part-time job working for Caterpillar. Company officials initially wanted her to work in the office since she had a teaching background. Cathryn insisted that she could run a machine tool in the factory, so she became a factory worker.


In 1942, George William "Bill" Frisby enlisted in the Reserve Corps Signal Training program. He served in the European theater and received many medals. He was discharged from Camp Grant on December 13, 1945, and was a Technician Third Grade. Bill Frisby's parents were Frank Frisby (1884-1947) and Iva E. Pool (1884-1951).


Herman Wink died in 1947 at the age of 85. One year later, his wife, Katherine Wink, died at 81. They were buried in Graceland Cemetery. Also, in 1948, Bill Frisby married Cathryn Wink. He was 28, and she was 26 when they married. Bill and Cathryn had three children.


Around 1948, all the country schools closed in Livingston County because there were no longer enough farm children to justify the country school system. Many teachers in the country schools switched to teaching in Fairbury schools. These teachers included Cathryn Frisby. Mrs. Frisby taught at Westview Grade School until she retired.


In 1983, Bud Wink died at the age of 91. His wife, Florence Wink, died in 1989 at 96. John R. Goold, husband of Mary Ellen Goold, died in 2007 at 88. Bill Frisby passed away in 2009 at the age of 89. Mary Ellen Goold died at the age of 99 in 2022.


Cathryn Frisby recently celebrated her 102nd birthday. Longevity runs in Cathryn's family. Her relatives who led long lives included her sister at 99 years, her mother at 96, and her maternal grandmother at 104.


Many local area citizens have fond memories of having Cathryn Frisby as their teacher, including students at country schools and Westview Grade School. Cathryn Frisby was a very positive influence on two generations of Fairbury area students.


(Dale Maley's local history article is sponsored each week by Dr. Charlene Aaron)


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