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  • Kari Kamrath

Looking Back: 5-17-23




130 Years Ago

May 13, 1893

At a special meeting of the city council last Saturday evening an ordinance was passed granting a franchise to the Chicago & St. Louis Electric Railroad to construct a street railroad in the village of Fairbury.

The hotel known as the Sherman House closed its doors to the public Wednesday noon and the place is now for sale. Mr. Archer, the proprietor, contemplates moving to Nebraska.

The membership of the Christian Church is now more than one hundred, over thirty additions having been secured by Evangelist Sharpe. Seven candidates were baptized in Indian Creek last Sunday. The young people of the church have organized an Endeavor Society with over forty members.

T. D. Karnes and Thomas Langabeer spent a few days in Chicago this week taking in the world's fair.


120 Years Ago

May 15, 1903

A new band has been organized in Fairbury and the boys are putting in several evenings each week practicing. The band is composed of 22 musicians. There is no reason why the band should not be a success and the boys should receive the encouragement of the business men and citizens of Fairbury. They will furnish music for the Decoration Day exercises in this city and will also go to Pontiac with the Fairbury Post June 3. The band is equipped with fine new uniforms and will make their first appearance in them Wednesday, May 27, at which time they will give a grand benefit ball at the opera house.

Jas. Hilsabeck was tearing down a house for Dennis Glinnin on that gentlemen's farm in Avoca Township last week when he discovered a hen's next containing two eggs. The peculiar part about it is that, according to Mr. Glinnin, the eggs must have been laid in 1859 when the house was first built as they were found just under the roof of the structure on the joist and the place had not been open since the house was built 42 years ago. One of the eggs rolled out and falling to the ground was broken. The yolk was as hard as a marble and looked something like one. The other egg is brown and bears every evidence of age.

John Ballard who cut his foot with an ax a couple of weeks ago was able to come to town Thursday for the first time. He gets around pretty well on his crutches.


110 Years Ago

May 16, 1913

At the meeting of the school board last Friday evening it was voted to raise the grade teachers' salary, the minimum wage to be $55 per month.

The Gamma Delta Tau Sorority entertained a number of their lady and gentleman friends last Friday evening at an informal dancing party. The grand march was led by Mr. and Mrs. R. C. Huntoon, Jr., assisted by Miss Leona James and John Purdum. The guests were received at the door by Percy James and James Churchill. During the evening William Henry Bartlett and James Churchill served the dancers with frappe.

This city and vicinity was visited by a bad wind, rain and electrical storm Tuesday evening about eight o'clock. The brick chimney at the A. Milne greenhouse was struck by lightning and damaged considerably. Kring Bros. greenhouse was damaged by glass being blown away. The rain came down in sheets and flashes of lightning came in quick succession. The barn on the B. W. Danforth farm, tenanted by his son-in-law, Ira Brown, was struck by lightning and the barn together with four work horses and a pony were burned. Another pony was so badly burned it had to be killed. The flames jumped from the barn to the corncrib, chicken house and coal house, all of which were burned to the ground.


100 Years Ago

May 11, 1923

Coach Harms, of Forrest Township High School and also an instructor there, goes to Vernon, where he has accepted the position of Superintendent of the schools. The Forrest Board of Education has been negotiating with Osborn of Galesburg, to take his place. Mr. Osborn is the world's champion high jumper. Supt. Merrill has been retained as Superintendent of the Forrest schools.

This vicinity was visited by some real winter weather on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Tuesday it would snow a few minutes, then the sun would shine for a while. Early Wednesday morning it snowed quite hard and when the natives woke up it looked more like Christmas than the 9th of May. It also froze Tuesday night, but it is not believed that it did a great deal of damage to the fruit or grain.

The fast Wing baseball team, which cleaned up everything in this neck of the woods last year, will open the season of 1923 on their home grounds next Sunday at 2:30 o'clock. They will have as their opponents their old rivals, Sibley.


90 Years Ago

May 19, 1933

A real honest-to-goodness wedding was held on the stage at the Central Theatre between shows Wednesday evening. The whole town had been waiting to find out who the mystery couple were! Martin A. Hacker and Mrs. Nellie Hayden, of Forrest, were married on Wednesday evening at Central Theatre, thereby clearing up the mystery wedding. The setting was a pretty one, with baskets of flowers banking the altar, which had been erected on the stage. There were six honorary ushers, two flower girls, a best man and bridesmaid. As Mr. and Mrs. Hacker were leaving the theatre they were showered with rice. Attorney Clyde Thompson, Dwight, was Master of Ceremonies and gave a brief talk before the ceremony.

The residence on the lot at the northeast corner of Oak and Second Streets and known as the Brownson property, has been torn down during the past week. The house was bought by Dr. O. P. Hamilton, Forrest, and it was the original plan to move it intact to the doctor's farm, south of Weston, but this, it seems, was found to be impractical, so the house was taken to pieces and will be rebuilt on the farm.

Notice to golfers — Owing to the littered condition of the course, it will require considerable labor to get it back in shape. All golfers who can spare the time are therefore requested to furnish the necessary tools such as pitchforks, rakes, wheelbarrows, carts, etc. and report to Caretaker Suter for instructions. This should be done as soon as possible.


80 Years Ago

May 14, 1943

Twenty-eight army trucks and jeeps in charge of 31 soldiers and officers passed through here last Friday. They were on their way from Ft. Riley, Kan., to a point in Michigan. They arrived here shortly before noon and the officers and men stopped at Decker's East End Cafe. Mr. Decker had been apprised of their coming only about two hours before and it required a little more than ordinary effort to take care of them.

Oddity of Naval Dress — Every enlisted navy man has 13 buttons on his trousers, one for each of the 13 original colonies.

Through the services of the American Red Cross, Cpl. James Lindsay, North Africa, sent his mother, Mrs. Edward Lindsay, a bouquet of red roses for her birthday, which occurred early in May. This is just one of the many offices performed by the Red Cross for the men in service.

Leo Wissel, a farmer living north of Saunemin, would like to locate the party who lost his or her false teeth on his farm. Leo plowed up a set of perfectly good teeth. They were in a good state of preservation although they must have been lost some time ago.


70 Years Ago

May 14, 1953

Herschel Leffingwell escaped injury Saturday night when his truck collided with an automobile near Plainfield, as Mr. Leffingwell was driving to Chicago with a load of limestone. The automobile had stopped on the hard road without signaling, in front of the truck. The occupants of the car were taken to the hospital and released after treatment for cuts and bruises. The truck was damaged in the front end, while the car was demolished.

The Fairbury-Cropsey Unit Grade School band Saturday reached the top of the ladder. The 80-piece group, under the direction of William Wagner, won a first place rating in the state final competition at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington.

The Chamber of Commerce has been continuing attempts to obtain a theatre for Fairbury. Roy Taylor, chairman of the theatre committee, and other members, met Sunday afternoon with an out-of-town businessman, who left the meeting with the promise to investigate building costs before returning for another meeting Saturday night.


60 Years Ago

May 16, 1963

Livingston County's Chief Deputy Sheriff Ed Rapp, formerly of Fairbury, is recovering from wounds received Saturday night when a tear gas grenade exploded in his hand. Rapp was preparing to hurl the grenade into a house in Pontiac where a man had barricaded himself with a rifle after a domestic quarrel and was standing off police officers. Rapp was treated at St. James Hospital, as was a Pontiac policeman, standing next to Rapp. Meanwhile, the barricaded man was extricated from the house and charged with disorderly conduct.

Only an eyelash separated the three top students of Fairbury-Cropsey's Class of 1963, and in fact, there wasn't even room for an eyelash between two of them, resulting in Co-Valedictorians for the group of 61 seniors. Posting perfect 5.0 records for their four-year high school careers, with straight "A" grades, were Miss Suzanne Anderson, daughter of the Keith Andersons of Fairbury, and Miss Bonnie Bach, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Bach of rural Fairbury. And salutatorian, only .04 behind them, is Miss Diane Turnage, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Turnage, Fairbury. Her grade-point average for the four years is an equally enviable 4.96, meaning that somewhere along the way she had one "B" in one subject for one quarter!

Harvey Schieler received notice this past week that his entry had been selected as a state winner of the efficient milk production award. This award is based on proficiency and the use of good practices in the dairy production enterprise. Harvey will be presented a plaque and a check for $100 at the State FFA Convention in Champaign in June.


50 Years Ago

May 17, 1973

More than $3,500 was donated by area residents to the Rennon Elliott benefit fund, it was reported today by John Drew, who headed the campaign on behalf of local C. B. (Citizen's Band) radio fans. Elliott, a long-time CB buff and Fairbury's city street superintendent, is still unconscious in St. Francis Hospital's Trauma ward in Peoria after his car was struck from the rear by one from the Livingston County Sheriff's Department on Saturday, March 31. CB radio users have long aided law enforcement officials in severe weather watches, and both he and the sheriff's deputies were responding to a tornado watch at the time.

Joe Singer, rural Fairbury, displayed a large-mouth bass he caught Saturday at the Howard Arnold pits south of Fairbury on First Street. The fish tips the scales at an even five pounds, a double rarity, since very few fish of that variety have ever been found in that location. Singer said he used night crawlers for bait, adding that he was only using six lb. test line and "thought sure" he would lose it before the fight was over.

Dr. Norbert A. Kokotek, 48, of Skokie, who has been on the staff of St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, for 20 years, will become associated with Fairbury Medical Associates, Inc., effective July 1, along with Dr. Nik Kothari and Dr. T. F. Mauger. Born Nov. 29, 1925 in Chicago, Dr. Kokotek was raised and educated on Chicago's north side. Following his graduation from high school, he enlisted in the U. S. Army and served 3½ years as an infantryman with the 86th Division during World War II. Following his military discharge, he took three years of pre-med at Loyola University in Chicago, and after another four years graduated from medical school there in 1952. After passing his state boards in 1953, Dr. Kokotek established a general practice in Skokie which he has maintained on a solo basis for the past 20 years.


40 Years Ago

May 12, 1983

Preliminary round talks are over, leaving the Fairbury-Cropsey and Forrest-Strawn-Wing school boards ready June 6 to take a serious look at the financial and academic specifics concerning consolidation of the two districts. If both boards want to keep working toward merger, a series of public hearings will be held in late summer, then Livingston County Regional Superintendent of Schools Wayne Blunier will send his recommendation of consolidation to the State Office of Education. The state office would have 30 days to consider the merits of such a consolidation, and then the question would be placed on the ballot for the general election Tuesday, Nov. 8. If the consolidation is approved, board members for the new district would be elected next spring with the new school system beginning operation on July 1, 1984.

Amy Walker, daughter of Ron and Jane Walker of Fairbury, was recently initiated into the Chi Omega Sorority, Omicron Chapter at the University of Illinois. She is a freshman studying the liberal arts and sciences.

The National Bank of Fairbury is one of the nation's top banks in terms of financial performance, based on an analysis conducted by Bank Administration Institute (BAI). The institution is one of only 1,300 top-performing banks cited from among those in the United States with assets ranging from $25 million to $175 million.


30 Years Ago

May 13, 1993

An apparent unattended trash fire behind an implement shed is believed responsible for destroying a shed and a barn and milk house over 100 yards to the north of the shed. The fire, at the David Steidinger residence south of Fairbury, was called in to Fairbury's Fire Department as a "shed fire" at 1:50 p.m. Saturday. But southerly winds recorded at a top of 34 mph, fanned the flames into what one fireman said was a "ball of fire" at the barn site. Sixteen Holstein steers ran from the milk house into the fields and onto the road, before they were rounded up and loaded into a livestock trailer. One calf suffered a broken leg, that Deann Steidinger said would be put into a cast.

A retired Fairburian, Dr. John R. McDonald, known to his friends as "The Doodlin' Dentist," has just published a collection of his cartoons, titled "Dental Daze." The 96-page paperback contains 92 selected panels, all relating to his 36-plus years in the practice of dentistry, 33 of them in Fairbury. Through the years he has become famous for the impromptu sketches and commentary showing up on every paper napkin he encounters. For several years, his work has illustrated the weekly bulletin of the Rotary Club of Fairbury, and in CAL, the publication of a dental supply firm, with world-wide circulation.

Four Prairie Central High School students have been selected to attend the 53rd Session of Illini Girls State at Eastern Illinois University, Charleston. The honor and educational opportunity is sponsored by the Forrest J. A. Folwell American Legion Post Auxiliary, the Fairbury John Joda American Legion Post Auxiliary and the Chatsworth Walter Clemons American Legion Post. Valerie Davis, daughter of Dennis and Kathy Davis, was selected by the Forrest Post. Kristel Monroe, daughter of Ron and Sharon Monroe, was chosen by the Fairbury Post. At Chatsworth, dual delegates, Erin Gillette, daughter of Gail and Dale Gillette, and Misty Perkins, daughter of Richard and Terri Perkins, were selected.


20 Years Ago

May 14, 2003

Virgil and Patricia Sinnett, of rural Strawn, celebrated their golden anniversary on May 2 with a family dinner. Sinnett and the former Patricia Liming were married May 2, 1953 at Forrest. Allen Nussbaum and Pat Winstead were their attendants. They are parents of Kenny, Bob, Theresa Kemnetz and Brenda Henry. There are six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Sinnet was an over-the-road truck driver for 49 years before his retirement.

David Kilgus, Jack Sinnett, Maurice Steidinger and Greg Hish were sworn in and re-seated as councilmen at Thursday's meeting of the Fairbury City Council. Street Superintendent, Martin Steidinger reported that the baler for recycling should be delivered and operable by June 1. The baler was purchased with a $50,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. It was purchased from Thompson Equipment and Repairs, El Paso, for $51,000, costing the city only $1,000.

Prairie Central High School senior Joseph Hinrichsen is the winner of the $500 Vina Miller Scholarship sponsored by the GFWC Fairbury Junior Women's Club and the Illinois Federation of Women's Club. Hinrichsen plans to attend Heartland College for two years, and then transfer to a four-year college, after which he will attend law school. Hinrichsen is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Keith Hinrichsen of rural Fairbury.


10 Years Ago

May 15, 2013

Prairie Central High School junior Jacob Wessels has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout after completing his habitat project of building duck houses for Fugate and James Woods along the South Fork Vermilion River. Wessels, the son of Dean and Carol Wessels of Fairbury, has been in scouting since fifth grade and is currently a member of Chenoa Boy Scout Troop #822. His leader is Chris Wilder. He will be awarded his Eagle Scout badge in the near future during a formal ceremony. At Prairie Central, Wessels is a member of FFA. He is also a member of 4-H and enjoys hunting pheasants and quail and fishing.

Terry and Judy Steidinger Bachtold celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on May 6. They celebrated the occasion with a trip to the Kentucky Derby. They will also enjoy a family vacation to Rend Lake this summer. The couple was married May 6, 1973 at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Forrest. Their attendants were Till Rieger Johnson and Bob Decker. The couple has four children, Holly (Randy) Holland, Kristofer (Amy) Bachtold, Emily (Houston) Jones and Evan (Rachel) Bachtold. They also have nine grandchildren. He is employed by the Livingston County Soil & Water Conservation District and she is a rural mail carrier. They also raise grass-fed Angus cattle.


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



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