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  • Kari Kamrath

Looking Back: 2-28-24

130 Years Ago

February 24, 1894

During the blizzard last week the snow blew in through the roof of the M. E. Church, and when it melted, much damage to the ceiling ensued. The frescoing is damp and black, in fact, ruined.

Weston — Section Foreman M. Moriarity informs us that he had over six miles of ditching done on his section this fall and winter. Joseph Dawson moved to the G. A. Pulsipher farm Tuesday.

Cropsey — Andrew Terpening and Fannie Henshaw were married at the residence of the bride's father, south of Cropsey, last Wednesday.

Forrest — Evening services in the churches were in progress when the depot burned. All the congregations broke from the churches, and the preachers were left facing empty pews.


120 Years Ago

February 26, 1904

Wednesday, Feb. 24, 1858, was the wedding day of Mr. and Mrs. Phil Fisher. Wednesday a large number of their friends and neighbors dropped in on them unexpectedly and helped them to celebrate the event. They came before noon, but they brought an ample supply of provisions with them and after a fine dinner they had a good old-fashioned time. It was a pleasant party, enjoyable for Mr. and Mrs. Fisher and for the guests as well. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher were married in Indian Grove Township and have made their home in the township ever since that time.

Cropsey — Rev. Arthur Ward, well known in Cropsey, preached a splendid sermon last Sunday at the M. E. Church. He returned to his home in Frederick Tuesday morning. Miss Jessie Becker, who is attending school at Onarga, visited her parents over Sunday. Invitations are out for the wedding of Mr. Roy O. Meeker and Miss Cora Humphrey at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. F. Humphrey, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3.

Saunemin — Sherman Noel visited relatives at Wing the last of the week. A few from this vicinity attended the horse sale in Cullom Saturday. A large crowd attended the sale of Robt. Shields and sons Friday and things brought good prices. Mr. Shield and family will move to Pontiac soon. A. B. Chesbro sent out cards last week announcing that he had reengaged in the blacksmith business and solicited the patronage of both old and new friends.


110 Years Ago

February 27, 1914

John Beckley is making some improvements in his store building. A balcony is being constructed along the west side of the store and when completed will be stocked with a complete line of men's and boys' clothing.

The four Cook sisters of Pontiac, who have appeared here on several occasions, are appearing this week at the Colonial Theatre in Chicago.

Don C. Merit has accepted a position with the A. M. Legg Shoe Company at Pontiac as traveling salesman. He will have Michigan territory, and started this week.

The Lough & Ellis Shows of this city will again go on the road the coming summer, and exhibit under canvas.

M. Wills and family left for Sibley, Ia., Saturday, where they will make their home.


100 Years Ago

February 22, 1924

This part of the state was covered with a coat of ice last Saturday and Sunday and a part of Monday. It was of the very slippery variety and to navigate it without being in immediate danger of your life was almost an impossibility. It started to rain last Saturday morning, the rain freezing as it fell, and by night everything was covered with a coat of ice. Monday it started to thaw some which made the going less hazardous.

Walton Brothers Company opened their new store to the public Tuesday evening for their approval and during that time hundreds of people visited the big institution, which means so much to this community. They marveled at its beauty, its bigness and the fine stocks of goods carried in the various departments and enjoyed the pleasant evening that had been prepared for them.

Last evening at her home in Forrest, Miss Helen Kruger entertained at a charming bridge party and luncheon in compliment to Miss Marguerite Cook, of this city. Miss Cook expects to enter the Presbyterian Hospital, Chicago, to begin her nurse's training course, March 17.

In spite of the rough roads, this city entertained many people Wednesday, the occasion being the regular monthly sales day, the giving away of three fifty-dollar coupon books and the opening of Walton Bros. Co. store for business. Those receiving the coupon books were Mrs. Chris Ziller, of Weston and Wallace Ramseyer and C. C. Sullivan, of this city.


90 Years Ago

February 23, 1934

Much has been written about the love and fidelity of the dog to man. Yet a case has occurred here recently which threatens to seriously damage this belief. It concerns John Purdum and his nondescript dog, Pooch, who until a short time ago, were well nigh inseparable companions. John took up with the dog when it was just beginning the journey of life and developed him into a fine and fat, if not a handsome, creature. Yet for no reason known to Mr. Purdum, Poochie recently deserted his former companion flat and in Mr. Purdum's words, "He won't even speak to me on the street. When he sees me coming he'll turn off sharp rather than pass me."

The WLS Barn Dance troupe played to a full house at the Central Theatre all afternoon and evening Sunday. People were standing in line for tickets before the box office window was open, and as the day grew older, the crowd grew in size. On account of the snow storm and the fact that the lobby was full of people, many waited in the basement until they could get in. It is estimated that around 2,300 people attended the show.

The time limit for persons owning automobiles within the corporate limits of Fairbury to secure their wheel tax license has been set by the city council of said city, as March 10, 1934. Persons not securing their wheel tax license by the above date will be subject to arrest under the city ordinance governing the same. —Geo. H. Franzen, Mayor.


80 Years Ago

February 25, 1944

New ration tokens go into effect on Sunday, when the simplified plan for the food rationing program becomes effective, according to the local war price and ration board, and housewives are urged to familiarize themselves with the plan ahead of time in order to speed marketing. The dime-size tokens will be worth one point each, and they will be given in change for ration stamps. Red tokens will be used for meats and fats, and blue for processed goods.

Louis Shulman was over to Chatsworth Tuesday morning where he gathered up a truckload of magazines and old papers. This was nothing unusual for Mr. Shulman to do, but these old papers were out of the ordinary. For instance, there was a copy of the Weekly Inter-Ocean dated August 16, 1887, telling of the Chatsworth wreck. There was a copy of the Home Magazine, dated August, 1891. Another was a copy of the Youth's Companion July, 1893. A copy of the Christian Herald was dated July, 1884. The papers and magazines, totaling in all, 900 pounds, were purchased of James Bryden and had been in process of collection since he was a boy.

Matthew Schwarzwalder, aged 57, residing four miles north and a mile east of Fairbury, was so badly gored by a bull Tuesday afternoon that he passed away at the Mennonite Hospital, Bloomington, Wednesday morning. The injuries suffered by Mr. Schwarzwalder occurred at the home of a neighbor, Fred Ifft, who lives across the road and a little east of Mr. Schwarzwalder. Mr. Schwarzwalder was badly injured about the face and his skull over his left eye was caved in, the bull evidently striking Mr. Schwarzwalder squarely in the face with its head. Earlier in the day, Tuesday morning, about nine o'clock, Mr. Ifft had been attacked by the same bull and badly bruised about the arms, body and legs.


70 Years Ago

February 25, 1954

The barking of the family's pet toy terrier, "Tiny," saved the farm home of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Barnes from probable destruction last Wednesday evening. Giving in to the incessant yelping of the dog, Mr. Barnes went into the room to find smoke pouring from the floor. He and three neighbors, Howard Wells, William Freed and Harry Bodley, were able to get the fire under control by the time the Fairbury Fire Department arrived. It was necessary to chop a hole in the floor to get at the fire, which was issuing from a hot air pipe in the basement.

Mr. and Mrs. Jay W. Carter, vacationing in Phoenix, Arizona, for the past month, experienced one of the thrills of a lifetime a few days before leaving to return home, when they had the opportunity to be included in scenes of a new movie filmed in the capital city. The movie "Big Top," will star Zsa Zsa Gabor, Joanne Dru and the comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The scenes in which the Carters were included were of a carnival. They were among a group of about 75 persons who were handed balloons and stuffed dolls by the director, and told to "move around and look like you're having a good time."

Sonnie Smith received a diamond lapel pin and a letter of congratulations from Russell Coulter, president of the Toledo, Peoria & Western Railroad Company. In 1929 Mr. Smith started as a section hand. In 1933 he was made foreman and patrolman in 1937. During these 25 years he has seen many changes and improvements in the road. The biggest change has been in the locomotives from steam to diesel.


60 Years Ago

February 27, 1964

Old telephone numbers will be a thing of the past after Sunday, March 1, when the Fairbury exchange is converted to dial. One, two and three digit numbers will also be a thing of the past. From now on it will be a total of seven numbers. Fortunately, you will not have to remember all of them. The prefix "692" will apply to all Fairbury numbers and only the next four digits will identify businesses and residences. However, the last five numbers must be dialed.

The Family Fashion Forecast put on Thursday evening by the Forrest Woman's Club and Women's League was very much of a success, with an attendance of more than 275. Mrs. Luetta Cummins was narrator and special musical selections were by Eskimisses, the Knott Brothers and Kenneth Roseboom of Chatsworth. Door prizes and favors and samples were given. Fashions were furnished by Westall's of Pontiac and Huber's of Fairbury. Members of both clubs and their families served as models, Royalene Davis was organist.

Dave's Supermarket — Sealtest ice cream, 59c; Pepsi Cola, 6 12-oz. bottles for 23c; Smoked shoulder picnic hams, 27c a pound; Mild and tasty Longhorn cheese, 49c a pound; Tide detergent, giant box for 59c; Hills Bros. coffee, 2 pound can for 99c; Specially ground beef and pork for tasty tender meat loaf, 49c a pound; Certified Red Label dill pickles, kosher or plain, half gallon jar for 39c.


50 Years Ago

February 28, 1974

The First United Presbyterian Church of Fairbury has called Rev. Simon A. Simon to serve as pastor. Rev. Simon was born in Omaha, Neb. April 5, 1935. He graduated from Omaha University majoring in pre-law and minoring in English. He did graduate study in law at Creighton University. He then attended the Dubuque Theological Seminary. He was ordained June 20, 1962 in the Omaha Presbytery. Rev. Simon and his wife, Kristine, have two girls and four boys ranging in ages from five to fifteen years.

The Illinois State University band, under the direction of Dr. Edward A. Livingston, will perform a concert at 8:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, in the University Union Ballroom. University band members from Livingston County are Jane Haag, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lavern Haag, Cullom, trombone; and Russell Huette, son of Mr. and Mrs. Lyle Huette of Fairbury, trombone. The university band has a current membership of 150 members and is the largest band at ISU.

Former Fairbury photographer Wally Fergusen, who now lives in Albuquerque, N.M., had just arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii last week to visit his son, Leonard, who is a student at the university there, when he ran into Mrs. Bert Davis of Strawn, walking on Kolakaua Avenue. Later that afternoon Wally photographed the entire area delegation, which returned Sunday evening to the community. Posing for the picture were Messrs. and Mesdames: Glen Davis, Strawn; Lewis Haab, Forrest; Darrell Davis, Strawn; Bert Davis, Cropsey; Howard Moore, Saunemin; Donald Stephens, Forrest; Elvin Skinner, Forrest; Jim Guilliford Sr., Forrest; Weldon Benway, Strawn and Ivan Metz, Forrest.


40 Years Ago

February 23, 1984

Fairbury-Cropsey High School band director Bruce Hammitt made it official Monday night. Unit 3 Board of Education members accepted Hammitt's letter of resignation, freeing the Marching Tartars' boss to accept a new position in Monticello. Hammitt's pending resignation has been rumored for several weeks and the band director was expected to make a formal announcement at the Annual Pops Concert on Saturday night, which he did.

The "Tartardome" was rocking last Friday night after senior guard Troy Hale swished a pair of jump shots from the twilight zone to clinch a share of the Sangamon Valley Conference title for Fairbury-Cropsey. So it was probably only natural that the Green and Gold would have a hard time getting untracked Tuesday down at Farmer City, a place where the FCHS cagers always have trouble winning. But whatever coach Jerry Freadhoff said to his troops at the intermission must have worked. The Tartars came back onto the floor to outscore the Blue Devils 19-9 in the third quarter to grab the lead and went on to nail down an undisputed SVC crown with a 59-53 win. The victory added the basketball championship to the football crown won last fall, a dandy double dip.

Real estate broker Joe Keeley opened doors for the first time Monday morning on his new business, Keeley Real Estate. An eight-year area real estate veteran, Keeley brokered $1.5 million in residential, farm and commercial sales last year. Keeley is vice-president of the Livingston County Board of Realtors and is also a member of the county's multiple listing service. Keeley said his new business theme will be "A Step Into the Future."


30 Years Ago

February 23, 1994

For the first time in Prairie Central's nine-year history, a woman will administer at the principal level. In fact, two women have been named, along with Blaise DeMuth, a current teacher in the Prairie Central District, to fulfill the three elementary principal positions to be left vacant via retirements at the end of this school year. The appointments, made on the recommendation of superintendent designate Larry Copes, of Deborah L. Davis, Judy Kaye Engelbrecht and DeMuth were approved by the Prairie Central Board of Education Monday night following an hour-long closed session.

They've been shot at and threatened with being poisoned, but Fairbury's downtown problem pigeons got another reprieve, albeit temporary, when city fathers failed Wednesday night to make a decision on how to permanently get rid of the winged villains. A decision on exactly how to rid downtown Fairbury of pigeons is scheduled to be made at the council's March 2 meeting.

At around 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16, Chatsworth town employees were called to repair a water leak east of town. When they began digging, they found that the six-inch broken main north of U.S. 24 was 12 inches below the ground and too deep for the Chatsworth crew's equipment to dig. A call was extended to Kafer Tiling and Ditching in Fairbury, and with their help, the leak was repaired around 11 p.m., or almost 12 hours later. The people who were shut down due to the break were put under a temporary boil order. Water samples were to be taken periodically until they checked clear and okay for use.


20 Years Ago

February 25, 2004

Friday was a special day for Stephanie Wessels and her cousin Landon Wessels, as they celebrated their 11th birthdays together. The pair, fifth grade students at Prairie Central Upper Elementary, made the news with their births 11 years ago on Feb. 20. Their fathers are brothers, their birth dates are on the same day, and they were delivered by the same doctor a little over an hour apart. Stephanie is the daughter of Dean and Carol Wessels and Landon is the son of Dale Wessels and Tammy Slagel.

At the Granville Sectional semi-finals Coach Shelby looked for some of the late magic that had propelled the Prairie Central girl's basketball team the last few weeks. The magic came early, but not often enough for the Hawks as they dropped a seven point lead in the second quarter. Ottawa-Marquette, ranked 8th in the Class A poll, was stymied by the PC game plan early. Prairie Central went scoreless from the 6:43 mark of the 2nd quarter until 6:46 of the 3rd as Marquette built a 31-22 lead.

Prairie Central High School junior wrestler, Luke Taylor placed second in the Illinois High School Association Individual Wrestling Tournament held at the Assembly Hall in Champaign last weekend. The Hawk 140-pounder entered the state meet with a 23-2 record after qualifying with a second place finish in last weekend's Clinton sectional. Also joining Taylor at the state meet were Jake Davis at 130 lbs. and Caleb Rathbun at 189 lbs. Davis lost a close 3-2 match and did not place. Rathbun just missed pulling a come from behind match. Davis' record is 33-8 and Rathbun's record is 35-4.


10 Years Ago

February 26, 2014

Prairie Central Junior High School could soon be harvesting the wind. Science teacher Scott Saffer and his wife Carolyn appeared before members of the Prairie Central Board of Education Thursday night to announce that a grant application has been submitted for a wind turbine. The educational, small scale turbine would be partially funded through a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation worth approximately $40,000 which would cover the turbine cost. The turbine would be used together with a small solar array to generate a database for the study of renewable energy and energy cycles as part of the STEM curriculum.

Lloyd and Robert Aberle will celebrate their 80th birthday at an open house for family and friends on Sunday, March 9, at the home of Lloyd and Carol Aberle in Fairbury. Lloyd and Bob were born March 1, 1934 to Jacob and Julia Rieger Aberle. Lloyd is married to Carol Martin and they have four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Robert is married to Iola Yoder and they have two children and four grandchildren. Lloyd is retired from Nussbaum Trucking and is employed part-time at WDS in Fairbury. Robert is retired from Furrow Trucking and is employed part-time at Rieger Motor in Forrest.

There were telltale signs, but teenager Erich Fisher didn't notice. The Prairie Central boys' basketball team received a shipment of new warmup shirts last week and they were camouflage in color. Friday's junior varsity game against visiting Mahomet-Seymour was late getting started by about 10 minutes. The cheerleaders kept going out on the floor. As the game was winding down, they'd add a few more minutes to the clock. Another sign. Then there was the actual start to the game. Lineups were announced and each starter went to the other team's huddle to shake hands with the coach. Even the presence of a Peoria television station didn't arouse the suspicions of Fisher. When Erich Fisher went to shake the M-S coaches hand, the coach said, “you don't want to shake my hand.” And then another voice said, “I'll shake your hand.” Erich Fisher turned around to see who had been kept hidden in the M-S team huddle and saw his father, Steve Fisher, who had returned from a year's deployment in Afghanistan.

(Looking Back is sponsored each week by Duffy-Pils Memorial Homes in Fairbury, Chenoa and Colfax)

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