From the McDonough County Voice newspaper:
Two More Trees Dedicated - The McDonough County Historical Society
Mary and George Hermann celebrated the installation of donor recognition plaques under the two trees they sponsored at the Rezab Family Prairie Meadow on West Adams Street south of the old Macomb Cemetery at Wigwam Hollow Road.
One of the trees and plaques is in Memory of Judy Hermann, George’s first wife. The second is in Memory of William Lakie, Mary’s first husband. Both trees are White Oak (Quercus alba).
The Rezab Prairie Meadow is an evolving tribute to the plants, grasses and foliage native to this area in the mid-1800s when the Old Macomb Cemetery was active. The McDonough County Historical Society cooperates with the City of Macomb in developing this meditative and contemplative entry to the Old Macomb Cemetery.
Help wanted! Locate missing grave marker.
The cemetery project committee of the McDonough County Historical Society seeks the help of county residents in an attempt to locate a missing grave marker.
The marker is very large and was last seen in 1968 or ’69. It marked the grave of the Civil War horse Chickamauga, who was buried in 1878 in the center of the racetrack on the old county fairgrounds south of Macomb.
When the fairgrounds was abandoned, the large stone monument was neglected and seemingly lost.
In 1968 and ’69, the land was being prepared for the Armory, MacArthur School, and a new, fourth, Macomb High School building.
A local contractor, John Brown, uncovered the buried monument. He offered to restore the engraving and set up the two large parts for permanent preservation and display.
But before he could move the huge pieces, someone else removed the grave marker.
The Historical Society calls on our county residents to help solve the mystery of where the monument to Chickamauga might be.
The horse was brought to Macomb in 1868, where the stories and legends of his Civil War service were spun. Chickamauga sired several winning trotters and reached celebrity status. When he died in 1878, he was buried at the fairgrounds.
If you have any clues to the location of the grave marker, please give a call to Gil Belles, 837-9441, or email: AG-Belles@wiu.edu
Historical Society Honors Tree Donors
The McDonough County Historical Society began permanent and public recognition of the people who sponsored trees planted in the Rezab Family Prairie Meadow at the corner of W. Adams and Wigwam Hollow Road.
Bronze plaques with the donors’ names have been attached to concrete pavers near the base of the sponsors’ tree. The popular and biological tree names are also attached.
Bill and Doris Burton were the first couple to offer sponsorship of a tree, which was the first one planted in 2013. It is a Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor).
The Rezab Family Prairie Meadow honors the community contributions of Don and Gordana Rezab, both deceased. The pioneer prairie will evolve into a reflective and contemplative area south of the Old Macomb Cemetery.
Margaret Ovitt, landscape architect, Tim Howe, Macomb Forester, and members of the historical society, work together to create a savannah prairiescape representing the native trees, bushes, and grasses growing in this area in the mid nineteenth century. It is a long-term process.
When the project was approved by the city, the historical society solicited sponsors for the 14 trees planned for the design. Thirteen other donors quickly followed the Burtons. Each will be honored with a similar plaque.
McDonough County Historical Society Meeting
Nov. 9 2015
7pm at Spoon River College Outreach Center
2500 East Jackson St., Macomb
Historian John Hallwas has written many outstanding books about McDonough County, and we invite you to attend the introduction of his latest published volume, On Community. Since Dr. Hallwas is known for his thorough research and riveting presentations, this evening promises to be both fascinating and entertaining. At the meeting, autographed copies of On Community will be offered together with Society Memberships at a special discounted price.
We encourage you to bring friends to our 7:00 pm meeting on Monday, November 9th, at the Spoon River College Outreach Center that is located at 2500 East Jackson Street in Macomb.
Also, the date for membership renewal is approaching and the meeting on November 9th is a good time to renew.
All McDonough County Historical Society members and ANYONE interested are invited to attend the October meeting of the
McDonough County Genealogical Society meeting.
The McDonough County Genealogical Society meeting will be on
Oct. 19 at 7:00 pm.
The speaker will be William Daniel Wilson,
Speaking on “Old Forts and Block Houses of the Early Illinois".
The location is the Western Illinois Museum, 201 S. Lafayette St.,
Macomb, IL 61455.
William Daniel Wilson of Albers, Illinois, received
the Illinois State
"Lifetime Achievement" award at the 2015 Annual Awards Ceremony,
held April 25 at the Old State Capitol in Springfield.
May 31. 2015 7:00AM
MACOMB — In the spring of 1830, McDonough County settlers had the numbers to separate from Schuyler County and pioneer the area.
Allen Nemec, president of the McDonough County Genealogical Society, gave his organization and the Historical Society a brief history of ensuing period entitled, "Pre-1870 Homes in Original
Town Macomb," during a recent joint meeting.
A filled room at the Spoon River College Community Outreach Center on May 18 allotted Nemec the space for his slideshow, which the The Carpenters’ song "Yesterday Once More" played
In addition, the crowd listened intently to stories of the well-known, antebellum homes scattered around town.
Built circa 1854, the home of the first mayor of Macomb at 329 S. Lafayette St. still stands.
The folk home belonged to John O'Conner Wilson. It is a two-story folk home, which has since been stuccoed and stone-veneered, covering the original wooden frame. In the recent decades of the
"eye-shaped" house, according to Nemec, it's been reconstructed into a four-apartment complex.
Nemec said one could easily identity the home, whilst driving down Lafayette Street, by its single window on the northern side.
After Mayor Wilson's failed farming attempt, he, his wife, Adeline, and their five children moved into the American Elm-lined Block 39 on the south side.
"My husband was a good hatter, and thought he would make an equally good farmer – I thought so too," a 97-year-old Adeline wrote to the local newspaper.
But 18 months had proved them mistaken. During this time, Wilson's endeavor to live off the land often times left his wife home alone.
In her early 20s, Adeline and her husband lived some four miles southwest of Macomb in the "wilderness of woods and prairies" that overcame the area then. She wrote that she lived in
"continuous dread" every time Wilson would left home. She was afraid, living in isolation where only smoke from far-off chimneys and rooster coos were signs of life, that stray bands of
Native Americans would threaten her.
"So we moved to Macomb, which even then didn't have over 50 houses in it, and this has been my home ever since," Adeline wrote.
To give his crowd more of a historical setting, Nemec drew its attention to the lot's property tax value.
"I only wish our taxes on our block remained at this level," he joked.
For the 39 block in Original Town Macomb from 1862 to 1869, John Wilson paid between $800 and $1,500 for the entirety of the southern half of his block, and in 1870 the taxes dropped to
Nemec showed, as his presentation continued, that property taxes of that time were in constant flux.
Just as 329 S. Lafayette St. was marked with a red star, which Nemec indicated as "Today's pre-1870 Homes," so was 341 S. Lafayette St., a home that was built for Elizatbeth Clark, the
Born in Macomb in 1834, Nemec called Lizzie a true early pioneer. In 1852, Mayor Wilson had the home built for his daughter and her husband Otto Frederick Clark. "Her husband is a mystery to
me, " Nemec said, "because 'Otto Frederick' I could not find anywhere in my research where he was born, and all I can find is that he died prior to her in 1900."
Strangely enough, Lizzie was listed as head of household at the age of 25 in 1860. Nemec also showed a census from 1870 showing Lizzie still in the home on the corner of South Lafayette and
"Keep in mind they married in '52, so there is only an eight-year span when he is gone and out of the picture," he added.
Reach Jacqueline Covey via email at jcovey@McDonoughVoice.com, or follow her on Twitter @jacquelinecovey.
THEY NEED MONEY TO FIX THE ROOF
Please watch this video and help now!
MOSES KING BRICK AND TILE WORKS
NATIONAL HISTORIC DISTRICT
May 17. 2015 7:00AM
From the McDonough County Voice newspaper
Attractive homes and residential upkeep: A meaningful tradition
by John Hallwas
A year ago, I mentioned that our town once had a reputation for attractive residential areas, and there was significant public concern about stylish, well-kept homes. As all long-time Macomb townspeople know, we have suffered some residential decline in recent decades.
So, I was especially pleased to see the spring issue of the “McDonough County Historical Society Newsletter,” edited by Kathy Nichols. Focused on homes and neighborhood pride during the 1940s, it reprints various newspaper articles and home images from that era. As one item points out, the “Macomb Journal” even had an annual “Better Homes Edition” back then, and generally, there was “intense interest in building, modernizing, and repairing houses.”
Along with articles on various local homes during that era, Nichols also reprints items on matters like “Macomb gardens and lawns,” “good sidewalks,” “elimination of [run-down] buildings,” and even a community-wide “Clean-up Week,” held in mid-April. That event featured not only volunteer efforts but a “Clean-up, Paint-up, Fix-up Parade,” filled with floats created by local organizations. As that newsletter issue demonstrates, community leaders were deeply committed to promoting home beautification efforts.
Under the leadership of former mayor Bob Anstine, the McDonough County Historical Society is now starting to focus on appreciating older buildings and encouraging preservation—in both our downtown, which needs renovation, and our residential areas, too. Anstine has a long record of leadership in local improvement—not to mention experience as a state official in community development. (By the way, annual membership in the Historical Society is just $10 per household, and of course, that includes the quarterly newsletter as well as the chance to learn about our town and county while interacting with committed people.)
The May meeting of the Historical Society is next Monday evening at 7:00, and it will be held at the Spoon River College Community Outreach Center on East Jackson Street. There is also a potluck dinner for all who come early, at 6:00. The meeting will be a joint gathering with the McDonough County Genealogical Society, and the latter’s president, historic home expert Allan Nemec, will speak about “Original Town of Macomb, Pre-1870 Homes”—illustrating his comments with photographs of those houses. Former mayor and AMTRAK official Tom Carper will also speak briefly on the current issue of Macomb’s railroad service. The public is invited to attend, and information about membership in both organizations will be available.
I should mention, too, that another group which continually presses for home awareness and upkeep is the Macomb Beautiful Association, currently headed by Penny Yunker. Their annual effort to recognize attractive homes, and businesses, through the Macomb Beautiful Awards program, is set to begin for 2015 this month. Signs at this year’s selected homes will go up in midsummer, and a fall banquet will be centered on those award winners.
Also, the MBA will have its first annual Macomb Garden Walk this year. That is set for Saturday, June 13, and will feature self-guided tours of ten outstanding lawn-and-garden areas. Advance tickets for that fundraiser are just $10, and various MBA members are selling them, including Penny Yunker and my wife, Garnette. The Yunker home, a modern brick building, set on several acres, at 1901 Riverview Drive, and our home, a 90-year-old Georgian Revival house, located at 404 South Edwards Street, both have yards on the Garden Walk, but there will be lovely lawns to tour in many areas of town. The starting location for that event will be the historic Macomb Railroad Station. For those interested, MBA membership information will be available there, too.
That Garden Walk will be a good opportunity for local people with an interest in home styles, lawn and garden areas, and neighborhood upkeep to interact with others who care about those matters—and about the long community tradition of residential beautification.
Of course, there is much more to our experience with homes than historical and aesthetic aspects. Various books deal with the significance that homes can have for individuals. In one of my favorites, titled “House as a Mirror of Self: Exploring the Deeper Meanings of Home (1995), author Clare Cooper Marcus asserts that the right kind of home “can protect, heal, and restore us, express who we are now, and over time help us become who we are meant to be.” Her insightful view reflects our desire for personal space, individual self-realization, and spiritual wholeness. But homes within a community can also foster social interaction and deep commitments. As health care worker and social activist Schylar Meadows says in another book, called “Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives” (2006), edited by John Edwards,
“Living in this house [for many years] has shaped my sense of community, responsibility, and character. Our home is not just the place we live. . . . I developed understanding, tolerance, and compassion for the human experience from being a neighbor—but more important, from taking stock in being part of a community.”
I believe that most people who cherish older homes, and who work to have attractive homes (whether historic or modern), feel that way. Too often, owners who don’t maintain their homes are also people who don’t care what happens to their neighborhood or their town. In short, our homes often speak volumes about our way of life, and our values.
And that’s why home and neighborhood upkeep efforts, by city leaders, Historical Society members, Macomb Beautiful members, and others, are not just economically beneficial for local homeowners but crucial to satisfying personal experience for all residents and to the long-term success of community in Macomb. It is indeed time to re-emphasize our tradition of home preservation, appreciation, and beautification.
Author and local historian John Hallwas is a columnist for the McDonough County Voice.
The McDonough County Historical Society is now on Facebook!
Program for the meeting
Monday, May 18, 2015
The McDonough County Genealogical Society
the McDonough County Historical Society
will hold their first joint meeting.
At 6pm both groups are invited to attend a potluck in Conference Room B
of the Spoon River Community Outreach Center on East Jackson Street.
Please bring table service and a dish to share.
At 7:00 p.m.,
Historical Society member and Genealogical Society president Allen Nemec
will present a program entitled
“Original Town of Macomb Pre-1870 Homes,”
illustrated with a PowerPoint presentation.
An authority on local historic homes and author of Macomb Homes with Names: A Look into Macomb, Illinois’ Historic Homes, Their Past Inhabitants and a View of them Today, Allen will talk about the early residents of each of these homes and their contributions to early Macomb.
In addition, former Mayor Tom Carper will provide timely updates on Macomb’s train service situation in a talk entitled
“Amtrak in Illinois 1971-Present: What About Tomorrow?”
and will welcome questions afterward.
After the program, the two societies will hold individual business meetings.
Colchester Area Historical Society will meet Tues. April 21, 2015 at 7 P.M.
at Colchester City Hall Community Room at Friendway Park.
West Prairie Supt. Jonathan Heerboth will present
“Two Hundred Years of Technology in School”.
All interested individuals are invited to attend.