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  • Kari Kamrath

Looking Back: 7-20-23

130 Years Ago

July 15, 1893

The World's Fair received a baptism of fire and blood Monday afternoon, the cold storage building on the grounds proving a funeral pyre for thirteen firemen and four Columbian guards, and 24 persons received serious injuries. While trying to fight a blaze 30 feet above them the firemen were wrapped in flames that burst out 70 feet below. Every man jumped, some into a pit of fire, others onto the roof, from which maimed and bruised they were taken to the hospitals.

John McBride, one of the firemen who lost his life at the World's Fair fire in Chicago, Monday, was formerly a resident of this city. He later lived at Chatsworth, where he conducted a restaurant, and the remains were taken there for interment. His aged mother still resides there.

Contractor Tobin will this week finish his contract with the city for the extension of the water main. He still has about a mile and a half of main yet to put in, having made a private contract to take the water to the fair grounds and to Wade & Merit's addition. It is estimated that the number of patrons, mostly private residences, will shortly reach 250. If so, the plant will become a paying investment to the city from the very start.

120 Years Ago

July 17, 1903

The new coal shaft west of this city two miles, on the Dr. Johnson farm, is going down at a rapid rate. There are three shifts of men working and the shaft has reached a depth of about twenty feet. They will probably be down to coal in a couple of months.

The rest of the brick for the new M. E. Church arrived this week and the main tower is being finished. The plastering is almost finished and the church will be ready for occupancy by September 1. The work on the new Baptist Church is going ahead rapidly and the contractor is pushing things along. The brick work is about half completed and the other work is going along proportionately.

The Fairbury Steam Laundry changed hands this week, Mr. Danforth retiring. Mr. Danforth has run the laundry in a manner very satisfactory to the patrons and built up the business until it not only has the trade of Fairbury but of several other towns. The new proprietors will endeavor to retain this patronage and expect to do it by doing good work. Carl Garner, an efficient and capable laundryman, will manage the business and the people will at all times be given excellent and prompt service. Mr. Garner has been an employee of the laundry for several years past and understands the business thoroughly and you will find him a nice gentleman to do business with.

110 Years Ago

July 18, 1913

The Cumpston pasture south of town, caught on fire last Saturday afternoon, and before the flames could be subdued they had burned over an acre of pasture.

Joe Wenger purchased the farm north of Forrest, owned by his father, paying $215 per acre. The deal was made this week.

Dr. George DeMoss, of Pontiac, but who formerly resided here, has taken up his residence in Cropsey, and will practice medicine there.

Henry Hildreth has purchased a Cross-Country Rambler automobile of John Masterson.

The barn on the John Metz farm in Pleasant Ridge Township was hit by lightning Wednesday morning and burned to the ground.

100 Years Ago

July 13, 1923

A state automobile man was in town yesterday and had Llewellyn Price, one of the truck drivers for the I. D. Lain Construction company, picked up for driving the truck without a chauffeur's license. He was fined three dollars and costs.

Fred Lough left Monday for Aurora where he has a position as an electrician. He will also play in the Commandery Band at that city. Fred is a first-class musician as well as electrician and will be missed in the Fairbury Band.

A. L. Stuckey, of Wing, this week purchased the Payne residence property, corner of Seventh and Elm Streets. We understand the purchase price was a little over $3,000. Mr. Stuckey recently entered the employ of John Beckley at the Beckley Stores and will move his family here after redecorating and making some contemplated changes in the house.

About 150 books have been returned from the bindery, and are again ready for circulation. As the list is long it will not be published, but come to the library and see if the book you have been asking for for so long is among them.

90 Years Ago

July 21, 1933

As a result of the concert given at A Century of Progress in Chicago last Friday, Meeker's World's Fair Band has booked a three-day engagement at the Illinois State Fair, all expenses paid.

There were several tales told this spring about some vicious wild beast being loose in the timber west of Wing. The reports were first considered as the imagination of some of the young kids who had gone to the river fishing and came running home with a story of a roaring lion being lose in the woods. However, one evening a couple of Wing fishermen, well over 40 and as brave as the average, ventured down to the "big bend" to fish a while, and suddenly came driving into town at full speed, and after they had caught their breath, began telling about the "wild animal" which they heard and didn't wait to learn whether it had four legs or two. This went on for several weeks, but finally last Thursday, Thomas McKinley was down in the timber and he caught a big bullfrog and brought it up to town. After exhibiting the creature he dropped it in the tile pond at the north edge of town. That evening the usual crowd of youngsters went to the pond for a swim and had just about reached the water's edge, when burr-r-r-r, and believe it or not all records for getting back up town were broken. It has finally been decided that Mr. Frog's deep bass voice has been the cause of all this fright about "something wild" down in the timber. The frog was about the largest ever seen in this vicinity, measuring about 15 inches in length, and boy! what a bellow he puts out.

80 Years Ago

July 16, 1943

Members of the Honegger organization, their employees and members of their families to the number of approximately 125, enjoyed a picnic at Marsh Park Wednesday evening. The excellent picnic supper was followed by a social hour in which the many families connected with this rapidly growing organization got better acquainted.

Postmaster R. A. McAllister had up to Wednesday morning sold 1,104 federal auto tax stamps. There are still many around here who have not purchased these stamps judging from the stickers on the windshields. One Fairbury party who was in Pontiac last week was approached by a federal agent who was doing a little checking up, and "requested" to purchase a stamp.

Five students have completed a 20-hour course in Red Cross first-aid work, with Mrs. Hartford M. Price as instructor. Interest in a class was stimulated several weeks ago, when Mrs. Anne Kuntz, one of the students, ran her hand through a washing machine wringer. Immediate first aid care was given at the Price home. Although she carried her hand in a sling for three weeks, there was no pain after the first day. Mrs. Kuntz gives much credit to first aid for the continued used of her hand.

70 Years Ago

July 16, 1953

George Koerner, of Cullom, who is 96 years old, and the father of Mrs. Ella Morris, of this city, fell at his home Wednesday and broke his arm above the elbow. But he failed to take notice of the fact, and seemingly to prove the old proverb that what you don't know doesn't hurt you, continued his usual daily activities. He remarked to some friends in regard to the fall and said "tomorrow I suppose it will be pretty sore." The next day his doctor told him the truth – the arm was fractured.

Fairbury will have a new dentist in August or September. Dr. John R. McDonald, of River Grove, is planning to locate here, and was in Fairbury yesterday making arrangements for an office and home. With him were Mrs. McDonald and their two daughters and son. At present, Dr. McDonald is practicing at Oak Park, where he has been located for the year since he was released from two years of active service in the Air Force, as a dental officer, mostly in Japan. Dr. McDonald is also an instructor at the University of Illinois College of Dentistry, from which he was graduated. During World War II, he served as a pilot in the ETO.

Plans for five days of colorful festivities on August 3 through 7 celebrating the 25th anniversary of Honeggers' feed business have been announced. The Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the event, is planning to send up 1,000 balloons, give prizes, decorate the streets and sponsor an information booth. A feature attraction of the week-long birthday party will be daily tours of experiments and demonstrations at the Honegger test farm, located three miles south of Forrest. The 400-acre farm is the greatly expanded site of the Honegger brothers' original feed manufacturing operations.

60 Years Ago

July 18, 1963

Talented and beautiful Dorothy Kohlmann, Miss Livingston County 1963, is in East Aurora this week to compete in the Miss Illinois Pageant. The local 19-year-old will be among 50 beauty queens competing in swim suits and formal gowns. Miss Kohlmann, who lives north of Weston, uses a soft shoe dance in top hat and black tails in the talent division. She dances to the tune of "Once in Love With Amy." A graduate of Fairbury-Cropsey High School, Dorothy is a student at Illinois Sate Normal University.

Ivan Stoller, Howie Maurer and J. C. Ebach contracted to purchase the Forrest Hotel Monday. The trio will take over the reins September 14. The hotel has been under the operation of the Helen Whitfill family. It has 10 sleeping rooms upstairs, one master apartment, one sleeping room with bath and the lobby, all on the main floor. Plans are to continue to rent the hotel on an individual room basis with the possibility of converting the building to four or five apartments in the future, Ebach said.

Three Fairbury youngsters are receiving treatment after being bitten by dogs in separate incidents during the past week. Penny Denise Dionne, 18-month-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Donald H. Dionne, was treated at Fairbury Hospital Thursday. Also treated there was Keith Meints, 6, son of Elmer Meints. Three-year-old Laura McDonald, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. John H. McDonald, was bitten in the face last Friday, and four stitches were required to close the wound. She was also given a precautionary treatment of a recently-developed one-shot anti-rabies serum because of the nearness of the wound to the brain.

50 Years Ago

July 19, 1973

"The report of my death is slightly exaggerated" is a remark popularly attributed to humorist Mark Twain, regarding an erroneous story about his demise. It was resurrected – that's a pun – this week by Fairbury's Dave Kilgus, Fairbury-Cropsey High School science teacher, when he found his name in the obituary column of the Illinois State University Alumni News, from where he obtained his master's degree in 1972.

Earl Roth, of the Fairbury plumbing and appliance firm of Maurer and Roth, was injured about 5:30 last Wednesday evening when an outside stairway collapsed as he and two other men were moving a refrigerator to a second-floor apartment at the corner of Fifth and Walnut. Roth received a chipped knee cap in his right leg, and fractures of his left hand. Also on the stairway when it gave way were Eli Meister and Roger Bachtold, both of whom managed to jump to safety.

The meter is coming! Sometime within the next few years, Congress will very likely pass legislation designed to smooth the transition from our present system of weights and measures to the metric system, used by most of the rest of the world. Actually, the metric system has been legal for use in the United States since July 28, 1866. And its use here has been increasing rapidly in recent years. Scientists and medical personnel have long used metric measurements because it is much easier to calculate when everything is in multiples of 10. So the metric system is already being phased in. It's really a question of accelerating that process, while slowly phasing out our present system.

40 Years Ago

July 14, 1983

It took not one, but two rousing choruses of "Happy Birthday to You," several bucket of homemade ice cream and dozens of pieces of cake to appropriately celebrate Jake Ulfer's 104th birthday on Monday afternoon at Fairview Haven Nursing Home. As far as we know, Monday's milestone lists Ulfers as the oldest resident in Livingston County. Jake was born in rural Fairbury, the son of Rudolph and Sophie Ulfers. He farmed all his life before he moved to town where he lived on Ash Street for several years.

Members of Livingston County's Republican Central Committee were stunned Saturday morning when they received letters of resignation from their county chairman, Fairbury attorney Harvey S. Traub. Traub, who has served as committeeman from first Indian Grove Precinct Two, and then Precinct One when he changed residences, for a total of 20 years, has been county chairman for eight years, when he succeeded the late Wayne Patterson of Cornell. Traub's announcement, which was not anticipated even by his closest friends, cited the demands on his time, and the distractions from his family preferences.

Fairbury native Bruce Huber has been named Director of Marketing Operations for the giant Zenith Radio Corporation. Huber is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Huber of Fairbury. In his new role, Huber will be responsible for advertising, sales promotion, sales training and marketing planning. Huber joined Zenith in 1974. Since 1981, he has been director of TV product planning. Huber holds an MBA from Harvard University. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois.

30 Years Ago

July 15, 1993

Cliches be danged, when it rains in southeast Livingston County lately, it pours! Though the amount of pouring varied, creeks, ditches and low-lying fields turned to small lakes and rivers after Saturday's early morning and then early evening rains. Several cars on County Road 200 North and Illinois Route 47 hydroplaned into corn rows or found themselves waist-deep in ditches. In the Strawn area, the rain gauge read near five inches. The rain was accompanied with high gusting winds that blew in a blinding downpour and quickly sent water rushing off fields and across roadways.

Lydia Nussbaum, a lifelong Fairburian and a resident at Fairview Haven Nursing Home since February, of 1988, will celebrate her 100th birthday Saturday, July 17. She was born in 1893, the seventh child of Conrad and Katherina Munz and the last of her family to survive. Nussbaum grew up on a farm south of town near what is now the golf course. The towering chimney next to Indian Creek Country Club is a remainder from the sorghum factory that was located on her family's farm. Longevity appears to run in her family. Her father lived until age 93 and a sister, Annie lived into her 90s. Another sister, Katie, also reached age 100.

Rebecca Hertenstein, daughter of Rev. and Mrs. Richard Hertenstein, Chatsworth, is one of 20 college students selected to participate in the summer internship program at NASA. Selection was based on grade point average (both cumulative and major), area of interest, demonstrated research ability, faculty recommendations and desire to learn. The internship program takes place at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, near Washington, D. C. Hertenstein was selected for the Intelligent Data Management project, which uses her skills as a computer scientist and mathematician. Hertenstein, a 1990 graduate of Prairie Central High School, will be a senior this fall at Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa. She is double-majoring in computer science and mathematics.

20 Years Ago

July 16, 2003

Last Tuesday, the new K-9 officer, Robert "Mac" McCormick appeared before Fairbury's Rotary Club at McDonald's Family Restaurant over the noon hour. Before speaking to the audience, Officer McCormick was presented with a bullet-proof and knife-proof vest for the new canine dog, Gunnar, purchased by the Rotary Club. He thanked the club for the gift for Officer Gunnar and the Fairbury Police Department. He told the club that he and Gunnar have been called out six different times, mostly to Pontiac for drug duty.

Terry Vance of Fairbury is the new Veterans of Foreign Wars State Commander. Vance, who also serves as quartermaster of Fairbury VFW Post 9789, will serve in this capacity for a one-year term. Born and raised in Cropsey, Vance was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1966, medically retiring in 1969 after sustaining combat injuries while serving in Vietnam.

The 2001-2002 Prairie Central FFA Dairy Judging Team experienced the trip of a lifetime June 18 to July 1. Tara Davis, Rebecca Harms and Brian Munz, along with their coach Becky Meyer and parents, Elaine Davis and Norman and Karen Harms, visited Scotland, England, Belgium and Germany. The team was invited to judge dairy at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, Scotland after placing third in the National FFA contest last fall.

10 Years Ago

July 17, 2013

On Tuesday, July 9, the Livingston County Farm Bureau presented past president Dennis Haab with the 2013 LCFB Distinguished Service Award. Haab was elected to the board to represent Farm Bureau members in his area of the county in 1994 and served as the LCFB president from 2000 to 2011. He went above and beyond what was asked of him as a Farm Bureau president. Even though Haab is no longer on the Foundation Board, he works shifts at the Foundation Fundraiser booth during the 4-H Fair, as well as the “Pull for Ag Students” trap shoot fundraiser.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in Fairbury, Champion Fitness Physical Therapy will be hosting a “10th Anniversary Customer Appreciation Day” on Friday, July 26, including a complimentary lunch from at the clinic located at 902 E. Oak St. The general public is invited. Besides enjoying complimentary pulled pork sandwiches, drinks and desserts for lunch, visitors will have a chance to register for door prizes, pick up a few giveaway items, check out the facility and visit with the staff of the Fairbury clinic, PT Eric Saxton and PTA Sarah Janssen, along with members of the Champion Fitness Corporate team. Champion Fitness Owner and PT Jeff Schade has been very pleased with the image the clinic in Fairbury has.

(Looking Back from Kari Kamrath is sponsored by Dr. Charlene & Doug Aaron)

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