Looking Back

130 Years Ago

March 18, 1893

At the regular meeting of the board of trustees Wednesday evening, the contract was let to Charles T. Tobin for the extension of the present water works system at his bid of $1,093.69.

The Fairbury house changed hands again this week, and has now become the property of Fred Thomas, of Lacon, he having purchased it of Mr. Hill for a consideration of $3,200. The house was closed Monday and a force of carpenters put to work rearranging the interior. The house will be lighted with electric lights and next fall will be heated with steam.

Pat Rowan, collector of Pleasant Ridge Township, returned his book to the county treasurer Wednesday. His collections were $3,249.37, leaving only $308.63 as delinquent.


120 Years Ago

March 20, 1903

Old tax receipts will give one a good idea of the value of land in this locality in an early day. T. A. Beach has every tax receipt for all taxes he ever paid and the earliest dates back to 1855. On 1,017 acres of land located in McLean County Mr. Beach paid taxes to the amount of $38.84. One would naturally suppose that it would be easy to pay taxes those days, but such was not the case as Mr. Beach informs us that he eventually had to sell land for $1.25 per acre so that he could meet the taxes.

The Walton mines have been leased this week to Davis, Beggs & Co. and the lessee have taken charge. The new managers are all practical coal miners and men of experience and they propose to increase the output. The lease runs for five years.

Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Dillon were married 46 years last Saturday and Post 75 G.A.R. and their ladies and the members of the Woman's Relief Corps gave them a good old fashioned surprise party. The surprisers took with them baskets well filled with eatables and proceeded to make themselves at home and show Mr. and Mrs. Dillon one of the best times of their lives. They stayed until the wee small hours and ate, drank and made merry.

110 Years Ago

March 21, 1913

The ladies of the Presbyterian Church will serve a 15c supper Thursday evening, from 5 to 8 o'clock. Menu: Creamed chicken, hot biscuits, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, fruit, jelly, cake, tea or coffee.

Charley Miller found the hog which he advertised in The Blade as lost, about a month ago – under a straw-stack. The animal was first missed 33 days before its hiding place was found, and it would not have been found then had not Mr. Miller's horses eaten away the straw which had fallen down over it. The hog was still able to walk when found and was feeling so good the next day it could not be caught in the lot.

Francis, the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Olmstead, fell from a delivery wagon Thursday morning and fractured the big bone in his right arm.

Thomas Salmon left Wednesday for Hot Springs, Ark., where he will join the billposting crew and advance car of Miller Bros. "101 Ranch," a western show.

100 Years Ago

March 16, 1923

The work on the new coal chute which the T. P. & W. will build east of this city will start just as soon as the weather conditions will permit. I. D. Lain, the road contractor, has the contract for leveling the ground where the chute will be built.

At the regular meeting of the board of directors of the business men Tuesday, the publicity committee was authorized to purchase at the best available price, 500 road signs to be placed about the country for the purpose of pointing the way to Fairbury. The signs are to be made of thoroughly seasoned, bone dry, 7/8-inch white pine lumber, face and edges painted with heavy lead and oil. They will be made in the shape of an arrow and will bear the words, "Try Fairbury First." At the pointed end of the arrow there will be space for the miles to be indicated.

The average annual salary of school teachers in Illinois is $1,343.14, according to a statistical report issued by Francis G. Blair, state superintendent of public instruction. The average salary for men is $1,556.74 and for women $1,298.52. There are 32,748 women teachers and 6,842 men teachers in the public schools of the state, making a total of 39,590.

90 Years Ago

March 24, 1933

One of those accidents that are termed "lucky" occurred Sunday evening about 6:30 o'clock, on Route 8, three and a half miles west of Weston, when two Fairbury cars side-swiped each other and both went into the ditch, one of the cars turning over on its side. One of the cars was driven by J. A. Patterson and the other by C. A. Beer. Outside of numerous bruises and a few minor scratches, no one was injured. Both cars were badly damaged.

George Cuddeback, residing west of town, who 19 weeks ago yesterday was badly injured when caught in a tractor and who since that time has had one of his legs in a cast, was able to have the cast removed yesterday.

Wing — The Vermilion river is nearing the flood stage following the heavy rains of last week. Since the completion of state road No. 47 with its high grade and the new bridge, the high water during flood season does not cause so much concern as it did a few years ago when the roads were under water and it was impossible to get across for several weeks at a time. Most of the low land near the river is overflowed and will no doubt cause late planting of crops. Perhaps this land could be leased to the government under the new Roosevelt Farm Relief plan to reduce crop acreage, and just farm the hills where the danger from loss to the farmer would be a minimum risk.

80 Years Ago

March 19, 1943

Up to last night the War Fund Drive was progressing at the rate of $100 a day. But with most of the subscriptions already reported it seems that it will be necessary for all of us to dig a little deeper to carry us over the quota of $3,050. Your contribution is helping to win the war by relieving sickness and suffering; by minimizing many of the hazards of shock and wounds; by helping to secure tender care; and by giving understanding assistance to your son or brother, whether he be in this country or abroad.

Miss Leona Dean, teacher of the sixth grade at the Isaac Walton School, has joined the Woman's Auxiliary Army Corps, and was inducted into the organization at Peoria Saturday after having successfully passed the examinations. Miss Dean plans to finish the school term here before beginning her duties with the WAACs. This is her first year with the Fairbury schools. Her home is at Cooksville.

Forrest — Last Saturday while R. E. Beattie had his Ford car parked in front of his residence on Route 47, a loaded truck driven by Mack Davis of Assumption, ran into it and damaged it to the amount of about $200.

70 Years Ago

March 19, 1953

Marilyn Bach, baritone saxophone solo; Donald Hish, cornet solo, and the Saxophone Quartet, Helen Abey, Jim Smith, Kay Ferguson and Marilyn Bach, received first place ratings at the High School District contest at Flanagan last Saturday. Second place ratings were given to the Brass Sextet of Donald Hish, Bob Hoffman, Leonard Rabe, Jackie Hacer, Dorrence Brucker and Fred Feldman; also to the Brass Quartet of Marilyn Wagner, Bob Wince, Terry Elliott and Ronnie Steidinger.

Activities of the recently organized hospital auxiliary continued this week with the announcement that a snack and coffee bar will be ready for use by visitors in about ten days. Located in the lower floor reception room, the snack bar has already been built of knotty pine and moved into the hospital. The bar has been stocked with essentials through donations by several local merchants.

Members of the Fairbury Fair board will attend the American Automobile Association racing meeting at Indianapolis April 8. The AAA in January voted to include the Fairbury speedway as a part of their circuit, along with tracks in the larger cities of Chicago, Milwaukee, Indianapolis and others. It is expected that about five races will be held here during the summer, beginning in May.

60 Years Ago

March 21, 1963

Weather conditions have limited workmen of the Mohr Construction Company on the Fairbury Industries, Inc., building as Foreman John Grdinich observed today that his crew has "worked only 15 out of the last 30 days." Despite this, the construction work is on schedule, although the project completion date has been moved back because of changes in specifications for the 260 by 532-foot tubing plant.

A strong gust of wind ripped the rack from Leroy Grace's pickup truck Tuesday, hurling it onto Route 24 just west of Weston. Fortunately, no motorists were following closely, and damage was limited to the rack, loaded with wool, and the tarpaulin. The wool, fortunately in sacks, was not scattered, and the scales and shearing equipment was not damaged. Damage was estimated at $200.

For the first time in over 30 years, an attorney outside of Pontiac has been elected president of the Livingston County Bar Association. At the group's Tuesday night meeting in the Chief City, Neale Hanley, Fairbury attorney for the past 32 years, was elected to the position. There are about 24 lawyers in the organization. Hanley has been a member of the group for 30 years.

50 Years Ago

March 22, 1973

April 7, Fairbury-Cropsey A.P.T. will hold their first carnival from 3 to 9 p.m. in the new gymnasium. Featured will be six carnival booths, lunch stand, cake walks and a big jail with a sheriff and jailers. Arrest warrants may be purchased at the carnival. The person holding the warrant may jail whoever he pleases. The person jailed will have to pay to be released. Youngsters usually love buying tickets to put their teachers behind bars, an APT representative said today.

An 80-year-old Fairbury insurance firm, Keck's Agency, Inc., this week announced still more growth, as John Wade, their president, revealed the purchase of the Taylor Insurance Agency from Roy E. Taylor, Fairbury's mayor. Keck's will henceforth represent clients insured with the Hartford Insurance Group, the Union Insurance Group and the Aetna Insurance Company, formerly represented by Taylor. Taylor, who has been writing insurance for 43 years, said he would continue to operate a real estate brokerage from his office at 126 West Locust street.

Monday evening, there will be a meeting of church and civic leaders, and other persons interested in implementing and participating in a "hot meals program" for Fairbury. Several months ago a committee from the First United Methodist Church was appointed to study the need and possibility in Fairbury. Their report recommends an advisory committee to direct the program and volunteers to deliver the meals five days per week.

40 Years Ago

March 17, 1983

Consolidation of the Fairbury-Cropsey and Forrest-Strawn-Wing school districts is back on the front burner. A similar approach was narrowly defeated in June, 1970. But the tightening financial squeeze afflicting both school systems as federal and state monies dry up has convinced administrators and board members in the two districts the time has come to re-explore the question. FSW superintendent Darrell Fulton and his Unit 3 counterpart, Calvin Jackson projected a possible vote on the issue next November. If approved, the new district would then elect a board of education next spring, paving the way for the school system to become operational.

President Ronald Reagan and vice president George Bush hosted about 190 newspaper publishers and their spouses from across the country at a White House reception Thursday evening. Among the guests were Mr. and Mrs. Jim Roberts of Fairbury. The event was a feature of the 22nd annual Government Affairs Conference sponsored by the National Newspaper Association, of which Roberts is vice president.

Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Righter of Forrest are announcing the engagement of their daughter, Lori Lynn to Randy Weber of Fairbury. He is the son of William Weber, St. Petersburg, Fla. and Gloria Weber of Fairbury. She attends Parkland College; he is employed at K & S Body Shop in Fairbury. They are planning a July 30 wedding at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Forrest.

30 Years Ago

March 18, 1993

A fire built in a basement wood-burning stove Thursday afternoon is believed responsible for a later chimney fire at the home of Henry and Marge Friedman of rural Fairbury. Mike McGuire had driven by the home on the Avoca road around 2:30 p.m. and reported seeing very black smoke coming from the chimney. A little later, the Friedman's saw flames coming from the chimney and Henry said he attempted to cool the chimney with water. Damage to the home was contained to the attic, an upstairs store room and bedroom and a main floor bedroom and living room.

The Hawks Nest Restaurant in Forrest has a new owner, effective March 14, as Emil Balazhi sold the business so he can return to Macedonia and his wife and two little girls. Balazhi said he will go back to the southern Yugoslavia province and await word that his citizenship for the United States has been accepted, and then he will return to the Forrest area, bringing his family. New owner, Phil Elezi has been in the restaurant business for nine years, most recently at the Chenoa Family Restaurant.

All good things must come to an end, and Coach Tom Posey and the Prairie Central Hawks boys' varsity basketball team were hoping the "good thing" could end on the Assembly Hall floor in Champaign. Unfortunately, the University High School Pioneers had the same aspirations heading into last Tuesday's Super Sectional contest at Illinois State University's Redbird Arena. U-High's goal was realized as they downed Prairie Central 48-43, ending a superb season and a magnificent tournament run for the 1992-93 Hawks.

20 Years Ago

March 19, 2003

Alan Dunahee is the new head boys basketball coach at Prairie Central High School. He replaces Tom Posey who will retire from teaching and coaching duties at the end of the current school year. Dunahee was named to the position following an executive session at Monday night's meeting of the Prairie Central Board of Education. Dunahee compiled an 85-14 record as sophomore boys coach during the past five seasons. He teaches Industrial Tech at the high school, where he also is department chairperson in the Industrial Tech Department.

Pete and LaRae Walter of Forrest announce the engagement of their daughter, Jenna, to Matt Kilgus, son of Lisa Kilgus of Fairbury and the late Jeff Kilgus. The bride-to-be is a graduate of Prairie Central High School. She will graduate from Parkland College in May with a degree in Dental Hygiene. Her fiance graduated from Prairie Central High School and Joliet Junior College, where he earned a degree in Ag Production. He is a partner in Kilgus Dairy and Kilgus Tree Spade. The couple is planning a June 21, 2003 wedding at Trinity Lutheran Church, Fairbury.

Three Prairie Central High School wrestlers have been named to the Chuck Murdock Central Illinois Class A All-Area Wrestling Team. Luke Taylor, a sophomore with a 43-2 season record; Jordan Broquard, a senior with a record of 41-2; and senior Aaron Rathbun, who compiled a season record of 43-4, were selected to the team. Head wrestling coach, Joe Cliffe was named all area Class A coach of the year.

10 Years Ago

March 20, 2013

The Livingston County Farm Bureau Young Leaders kicked off a promotion to highlight how agriculture is going to touch a baby's life everyday. March is Illinois Farming Month and to commemorate the event the Young Leaders provided an “Ag Baby Bundle” to the first baby born in March at OSF St. James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center in Pontiac. Katrina Stoller, Gridley, and Mary Faber, Pontiac, members of the Young Leaders' Committee, presented an agriculture baby basket to Kristen Rodrich and Anthony Gargo, of Dwight, parents of Karson Ryan Gargo, to commemorate Illinois Farming Month. Karson was born on Monday, March 1, 2013 at 7:59 a.m. He weighed 8 pounds and was 19½ inches long. Karson was welcomed home by a brother, Kaiden, age 5.

“Contemplations of Dinner,” written by Gabriel Beyers and narrated by Lillian Rathbun of Fairbury, is now available at, iTunes and Bloomington, Ind. Author Gabriel Beyers writes novels and short stories in the genres of Dark Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal Thriller and Science Fiction. Rathbun lives in Fairbury with her husband and son, and has a background in radio as well as camera and voice-over commercials.

The “Be a Balanced Reader” reading contest culminated on Friday, March 1 with a pizza party and prizes. Seventy-two junior high students “balanced their scales” in order to participate. Each student read three fiction books and three non-fiction books and passed an AR test on each book over a six-week period. Not only did each student get pizza and pop for lunch, but they also had time to visit or play basketball, volleyball or badminton. Every student was presented with a prize bag and six students received $25 Best Buy gift cards.

This article originally appeared on Pontiac Daily Leader: Looking Back at Fairbury history through the pages of The Blade