top of page
  • Kari Kamrath

Looking Back: 4-17-24

130 Years Ago

April 14, 1894

The two frame buildings on West Main Street, between Swing & Steidinger's implement house and Babcock's livery stable, were burned Sunday morning and both are a total loss. The east building was a one-story frame structure and belonged to T. A. McKenzie and was occupied by himself as a blacksmith shop, the back part being rented by A. H. Birch for a wagon shop. The other building was a two-story frame, owned by O. P. McDowell of Ogden, Utah, and occupied by John Weber as a living place for his family and as a second-hand store.

Rev. W. L. Riley has a new bicycle. He was particularly bashful about practicing before folks and chartered the fair grounds for that purpose. We notice part of the fair ground fence has been knocked down.

W. H. Bartlett  is erecting a blacksmith shop on his lot north of Parson's drug store to be known as the Bartlett Farm Forge. G. W. Westervelt will swing the hammer.


120 Years Ago

April 15, 1904

The Perlee Produce Co. received another car of oranges and lemons direct from California today. This makes the sixth car this season. This is the finest car yet received by them, and that is saying a great deal, as they have all been fine. Some of those received today are as large as pumpkins, nearly, thin skinned, ripe, juicy and sweet as can be. They are an elegant lot of oranges and no mistake.

Mrs. John Dieteker met with a severe accident Monday about noon. She started to go down into the cellar when she slipped and fell from the top step to the cellar floor, striking on her head and shoulder. A gash about three inches in length was cut in her head and her shoulder bruised very badly. She was rendered unconscious and the blood flowed in a stream from the cut in her head. Help and medical aid was summoned by Mr. Dieteker and the wounds dressed. At present the patient is resting easily and getting along as well as can be expected.

Payne Bros. now have their new fountain in operation in their drug store. The fountain is an elegant one and during the hot sultry days of the coming summer (if it ever comes), every kind of a cooling soft drink imaginable will be served in an artistic manner.


110 Years Ago

April 17, 1914

War with Mexico is imminent. Even now every war vessel in the Atlantic and Pacific squadrons is en route to Mexico ports and unless Huerta has, previous to their arrival, made due reparations for the insult to the U. S. flag, a blockade will at once be established. While this does not positively mean war, it is the first step in that direction.

Mike Nicholas has purchased the old Smith Olney house on the corner of Sixth and Elm Streets and will move it to his lot on the north side of this city.

Walton Bros. Co. are putting in a new drinking fountain and a new ice box and larger coils, so the thirsty man can get a good cool drink. It is situated at the old stand on the corner.


100 Years Ago

April 11, 1924

The tie in the vote on the office for commissioner of highways in Belle Prairie Township between Will Schade and F. A. Hall, was decided last Thursday morning by lot and Mr. Schade, who had previously held the office, won. It will be remembered that at the election Tuesday of last week each of the gentlemen received 77 votes. Just who should have the office was decided by the placing of ten cards in a box by the judges of the election. Nine of these cards were blank and the tenth one had the word "Commissioner" on it. Each gentleman was to draw one card at a time until he drew the one with the word on it. Mr. Hall was the first to draw and he drew a blank. Mr. Schade on his first draw pulled out the card with the magic word on it, and the office was his.

There has been tried in a number of cities a unique institution known as the farmers market. Where they are in operation they are considered distinctly successful and especially profitable to the farmer, the consumer and the community at large. Fairbury, through the efforts of the Association of Commerce, is to have such a market. The plan will be started and given a trial Saturday, April 19. To begin with, the office of the Association will be open to give the farmer a place to bring and display such farm products as butter, eggs, cheese, fruit, etc., for sale. It is to be hoped that both the farmer and consumer will take advantage of the market.

Several days ago Ted and "Chuck" Williams, sons of Oscar Williams, south of town, killed 27 snakes, which they found in an old well on the Jack Thompson farm, where they probably spent the winter. There are still quite a number more which the boys were unable to get out of the well.


90 Years Ago

April 13, 1934

The Walton store will continue to be one of Fairbury's business concerns. Monday afternoon a transaction was consummated whereby the store became the property of a new corporation and will hereafter be known as the Walton Department Store. While the personnel of the new corporation has some new faces in it there will remain with the present organization three of the old firm, namely Hugh W. Pence, who heads the new corporation; Marshall Gordon and Will C. Schmidt. Their years' of experience in the business will be a valuable asset to the Walton Department Store Corporation.

Paul Johnson, farmer, living northwest of town, was quite painfully burned last Saturday morning when he mistook a gasoline can for kerosene and threw some of the contents into the kitchen range as he was starting the morning fire. When he lit the match the gasoline exploded and set the kitchen on fire. Mr. Johnson fought the fire and finally extinguished it but not before he had received first degree burns on both his hands, both feet and across the back of his neck and shoulders. He is now resting easily and able to come into town for treatment of his burns.

W. H. Wilson, who has operated the Phillips 66 oil station and lunch room on Route 24 in the west part of town for the past couple of years, transferred his interests therein to Levi Hoffman, Monday, and the latter gentleman is now in charge. It is understood that Mr. and Mrs. Wilson will go to Pontiac, where they will operate a lunch room.


80 Years Ago

April 14, 1944

The Rev. W. C. Chapman, former pastor of the First Christian Church here and one-time mayor of Fairbury, will have been in the ministry fifty years on Sunday, April 16. In honor of the occasion the church in Harrisville, N. Y., of which he has been pastor for several years, is having a celebration for him. A letter was received here last week by J. F. Ross from one of the Harrisville church members telling of the plans. In reply, Mr. Ross, an elder of the church, and Mrs. Herndon, church clerk, each sent a letter of congratulations from the church and a gift which will be given to Rev. Chapman at the anniversary dinner.

Miss Mary Sharp, foreign language teacher at Fairbury Township High School, has been elected to Delta Kappa Gamma, national honorary teachers' fraternity. A formal initiation and dinner will take place Saturday, April 22, at Eureka College.

Strawn — This vicinity had a heavy rain Sunday night and a heavy rain Monday night accompanied by a strong wind. Fields were flooded and most basements had some water in them Tuesday. There was no school here Tuesday on account of water in the furnace room.


70 Years Ago

April 15, 1954

Earl Gadberry, of Weston, was painfully burned in a garage at the rear of his home at 7 p.m Tuesday, when a blowtorch exploded, spraying burning gasoline over him. His brother Jay extinguished the flames on his clothing, and brought him to the Fairbury Hospital. The burns were worst on his leg and shoulder.

Ben Zehr and Eugene Smallwood were elected in Saturday's Board of Education election. Mr. Zehr, who was re-elected to his second term, received 257 votes at Fairbury and 40 votes at Cropsey. Smallwood, who replaced James Goold on the board, received 407 votes in Fairbury and 78 in Cropsey. William Orth received 225 votes in Fairbury and 51 in Cropsey. Because Orth and Zehr are both residents of Indian Grove, only one of them could be elected. There were 514 votes cast in Fairbury and 89 in Cropsey.

"Alert Today – Alive Tomorrow" was the topic of the winning speech given by Dean Broquard, of the Section IV FFA Public Speaking Contest. The contest was held Wednesday evening, April 7 at El Paso. The theme of Dean's speech was Farm Safety. Throughout his talk he stressed the importance of safety on the farm. As a sectional winner, he will now participate in the District II, FFA Public Speaking against winners from four other Sections.


60 Years Ago

April 16, 1964

A write-in campaign defeated all three incumbent Democratic committeemen in Indian Grove Township in Tuesday's balloting. In the first precinct, the name of Alpha Ferguson was written in 15 times to elect him over R. A. McAllister, 15-8. In precinct 2, Robert Walter was a 15-11 victor over Reuben Bradley. And in Precinct three, Harold Ward was named committeeman by a 47-38 count over Joe Reis.

A complete power blackout struck the Fairbury Industries plant of International Nikoh Corp, at 4:13 Monday afternoon, and service was not restored until late Tuesday evening. Transformers in the company's outdoor substation failed, blowing over-head fuses and bringing the plant to a grinding halt. The trouble, from an unknown cause, blew back along the transmission line from Gilman, causing a series of temporary outages at Forrest, Chatsworth and Piper City.

The Post Office Department has announced that after July 1 this year, the postal patrons of the United States will only receive parcel post deliveries 5 days per week instead of 6. This is part of the Post Office Department's giant economy drive to reduce costs via decreasing man hours, manpower and curtailed service to the public. If this is done with no complaint from the postal patrons, it could and very likely will, lead the way to the curtailment of all types of postal service in the very near future. Not too long ago the postal patrons received two deliveries of mail per day and this was reduced to one delivery per day.


50 Years Ago

April 18, 1974

Harley Martin, 58, Fairbury, was injured about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night when a barn that Martin, his son and son-in-law were tearing down on the Wm. Aberle farm near Chatsworth collapsed, partially burying Martin under the debris. He was admitted to Fairbury Hospital with a broken leg, ankle and ribs. He is reported in fair to good condition. Martin, who works at Pittsburgh International Corp., went to Chatsworth after work to help his son-in-law, Doug Aberle, tear down an old barn.

Announcement was made last week of the sale, by Haley brothers, Donald and Merle, of their business building at the corner of Hack and Oak Streets, Cullom, to Pafco, Inc., manufactures of electrical components, whose principal office is at 127 E. Krack Street, Forrest. Owners of the Pafco Company, which include Leo Palen and Harry (Spot) Austman, of Forrest, and James Fisher, of Dwight, plan to remodel the rear of the building into a factory for manufacture of small electrical components, similar to an operation they now have going at Forrest. Opening of the factory is entirely contingent upon a change, by the county zoning board, of the zoning for this property into a light manufacturing category.

Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Davis, observed their 25th wedding anniversary Tuesday, April 9. The former Verla Bahler and Wayne Davis were married April 9, 1949 in Cropsey. Their parents are Mrs. Ida Bahler and the late Emil Bahler, and Mrs. Ethel Davis and the late Bert Davis Sr. They have three children, Dennis, Forrest; Mary, Peoria; and Mark, Kewanee. The couple vacationed two weeks in Hawaii and a family dinner for 28 was held in their honor Sunday at the Ralph Bahler home.

Dominy Memorial Library, is one of the 17 local structures cited as historical monuments by Illinois Historical Society. The building was built in 1904 in memory of Hazel Dominy who died at age seventeen.


40 Years Ago

April 12, 1984

The Fairbury-Cropsey bands will present their annual Spring Concert Saturday, April 14 in the FCHS gymnasium. The high school, junior high and fifth-sixth grade bands will all perform Saturday evening. When the high school band takes center stage, band director Bruce Hammitt, conducting his final concert for the Unit 3 school system, will continue his long-standing Spring Concert tradition of turning over the baton to senior band members.

There is no inkling as to how 700 gallons of diesel fuel showed up at the Fairbury city sewage treatment plant over the April 1 weekend. But there seems to be little doubt that it originated from the ruptured fuel tanks on two of the three locomotives on Santa Fe railroad Westbound train No. 1174 which derailed on Saturday morning. Approximately 1,500 to 1,750 gallons of fuel were lost. The nearest known sewer tile is parallel to the railroad tracks and a half-block south on Walnut. At about 7 p.m. Saturday, the fire department received reports from people in the area southeast of the accident who reported diesel fumes in their homes.

For the students and faculty at Westview Grade School, next year won't be the same without first grade teacher Audrey Honegger. Audrey is retiring at the end of this school year after 39 years of teaching, 24 of them in Fairbury. Audrey, who lives in Forrest, began her teaching career in 1943 near her hometown of Omega. Her first two jobs were at country schools in Marion and Livingston Counties where she taught all grades. "I was my own janitor, doctor, nurse, pill pusher and even carried my own kindling in a gunny sack," she laughs.


30 Years Ago

April 13, 1994

Livingston County Sheriff's Sergeant of Detectives Ron Tjarks reported they have concluded an investigation into an alleged attempted child abduction which reportedly occurred in Chatsworth on March 31. Detective Tjarks said that further investigation into the matter revealed the alleged suspect was in fact a grandmother of two other children who had been sent to the park by their mother. "There was no foul play in the incident," said Detective Tjarks.

Rebecca Hertenstein, daughter of the Rev. Richard and Patricia Hertenstein of Chatsworth, has been recognized as one of 29 outstanding seniors at Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa. The seniors were selected by academic departments and cited at the Honors Convocation April 5 at the college's Neumann Auditorium. Hertenstein, a mathematics and computer science major, has done research during her career at Wartburg, spending one summer in the Visiting Student/Scientist Enrichment Program at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington, D. C. Hertenstein, a 1990 graduate of Prairie Central High School, plans to continue her academic career in graduate school, seeking a PhD in computer science.

Retired businessman, Clarence "Haddie" Hadaway, 92, died April 7 at Marjorie Fulton Skilled Care Unit of Fairbury Hospital. He is remembered as "lighting up a room with his smile," and once gave the reason for his longevity to never getting mad. Hadaway owned and operated the Texaco Service Station along U.S. Rte. 24 from the 1930's, when he first came to Fairbury, until July 1950, when he sold to Harold Ward.


20 Years Ago

April 14, 2004

The village of Forrest was represented by board member, Don Wills at the Annual Tree City USA Conference in Springfield on March 25. He was presented with a three-year Tree City USA award in recognition of Forrest's third year in the program. This is a national recognition, with 177 Illinois cities and villages participating in the program. The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service.

Jordin Leigh Greenwell and Timothy Eugene Hornickel, both of Fairbury, are announcing their engagement and upcoming marriage. The bride-to-be is the daughter of Brian and Dina Bobbitt of Fairbury. She is employed at Fairview Haven Nursing Home. The prospective bridegroom is the son of Don and Cindy Hornickel of Fairbury. He is employed at Culkin Automotive. The couple is planning an Aug. 28 wedding. They both are 2004 graduates of Prairie Central High School.

Bradley Wilson and Tyler Studebaker, were recognized with special awards following completion of the eighth grade wrestling season. Wilson received awards for most improved, most pins, quickest pin and most wins, while Studebaker was awarded Most Valuable Wrestler and best win percentage.


10 Years Ago

April 16, 2014

Fifth grade students at Prairie Central Upper Elementary recently composed an original piece of music with lyrics in music class with Mrs. Nagel. Students could work in a group or individually. The components of the assignment were: 16 measures, 4 beats in each measure, using a minimum of nine different notes or rests somewhere in the music, as well as creating lyrics for school spirit. Math was heavily involved when adding up the different notes. When all compositions were handed in, all classes had the opportunity to vote on the piece they liked best without knowing the composers. The winners were Tess Ward, Ryan McBride and Natalie Austman.

Dr. Terri Rieger, of Forrest, has joined a growing community of optometrists in the nation by becoming board certified by the American Board of Optometry (ABO). Dr. Rieger passed the ABO's Board Certification examination administered in January 2014. To attain this honor, Dr. Rieger completed a series of rigorous postgraduate activities and then passed a challenging examination on issues spanning the scope of practice of optometry. This achievement earned Dr. Rieger the title of Diplomate, American Board of Optometry.

With the sunshine of a real spring morning, 70 enthusiastic volunteers planted 975 tree and shrub seedlings along the stream bed of the Vermilion South Fork at Fugate Woods. Trees Forever awarded the plants to Prairie Lands Foundation/Fugate Woods in support of a long-term effort to improve the riparian habitat. Water quality/flow, as well as wildlife, will benefit from a rich diversity of re-established plant life. Similar efforts are planned for Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 with an eye to the future. Foundation officials are grateful for the generosity of volunteer support from all, including trees Forever, the Illinois Department of Natural resources and Illinois Grand Prairie Master Naturalists.

("Looking Back" from Kari Kamrath is sponsored each week by Duffy-Pils Memorial Home with locations in Fairbury, Chenoa and Colfax)

103 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


DAVES LOGO larger.jpg
bottom of page