UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
ILL HIST. SURVEY
UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
II I III
OLD OPERA HOUSE m .,
g^ l*& -OWTED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
ROBERTS HICKSGAS, INC
Bulk l!lU:dr|l-| Bottle
Water Softeners Rentals
30 Day Free Trial
PIPER CITY'S CENTENNIAL COMMITTEE
A Dramatic and Spectacular Pageant
8:00 P.M. Piper City High School Gymnasium
AUGUST 29-30-31, 1969
"Wagons to Wings" was written by Mrs. J. D. Somers
and is being produced by Mrs. James Stuckey. The Cen-
tennial Chorus is under the direction of Mrs. Glenn Gibb.
All local talent has been used in writing and staging
this historical pageant of ten dramatic scenes depicting
over 100 years of local history.
Mrs. Thees Sterrenberg, Piper City, III. 60959 is in
charge of advance sale of tickets.
T&ayattd fo Ti/wfyt
A HISTORY OF PIPER CITY
My first acknowledgments are going to be to the
last who made contributions to this history of Piper
City. First, to Amy Somers, for naming the pageant and
history Wagons to Wings and to Duane Hitchens who
did the art work in connection with the title. Duane
also did the sketches of the Opperman band chariot and
of Old Brenton House.
Another one of our young persons who is to be cre-
dited is Miss Nancy Stamm, who did the art work for
Gordon Downs did the sketches of the Fourth of
July picnic and herding the cattle across the Kan-
Many have helped in the research by loaning books
or newspaper clippings. The 1884 Atlas of Ford County
and the Standard Atlas of Ford County of 1901 were
used as references.
I was fortunate to have a scrapbook, kept by some-
one a long time ago whose identity has been lost, which
had clippings of obituaries, weddings and important
events to about 1918 or 1920.
Mrs. A. W. Opperman loaned me the two-volume
Ford County History of 1908. Mrs. Henry Chamber-
lain loaned me Illinois 1837 and Mr. and Mrs. Oscar
Stamm loaned me an 1891 Fair Book that was help-
ful in compiling the fair history.
Only two sources were used for the account of the
great train wreck of 1887 and they were the August
12, 1887 issue of the Piper City Pan Handle Advocate
and the January-February, 1969 issue of Illiniwek.
Valuable newspapers were loaned to me by John
Nordstrom of Loda and Harvard (Skip) Ficklin. D.
Earle Wilson contributed much to the Personal Glimp-
ses part of this history with his reminiscences and
vignettes of people of the 1900-1920 era.
Two histories written by young people were also
helpful. One was written by the junior class of 1941
and was loaned to me by Mrs. Duane White. The
other was compiled about five years ago by Mrs. David
Monk. Mrs. W. G. Raudabaugh loaned the material
that had been gathered in 1959 for the Ford County
I am grateful to all who have helped me or even
encouraged me in any way. I have also been assisted
in typing by Mrs. John Ark, Mrs. Thees Sterrenberg
and Mrs. Richard Alexander.
Mrs. Glenn Gibb wrote the original theme music
for the centennial and pageant.
June, 1969 Peg Johnston
R'pe.r C'ty deiffew/i/ I ft ewe.
We*/* + Music
H g 1 1
ni l ri MitJt j ii i i i i Tlm*
ifi i i 1 1 i il if I. I 1 1' 'in i~"1 TTrr^
*' j] j j p = .
| V \ 9 I /',
Mllllil l|l |/'|
— 5 A '»
^e/i wot stop it far*- "*"'* W<r art e^-c-kra-fo^-f&r -Sir Vthla-qls Wfo-*f c£ pro-5/essfe H<*p
h* — Ptpv
#H — ^
7iJay<M& ta Ti/wyt
THE EARLY DAYS
These are the Gardens of the West — these
The unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful,
And fresh as the young earth ere man had sinned,
The Prairies! I behold them for the first
And my heart swells, while the dilated sight
Takes in the encircling vastness. Lo! they stretch
In airy undulations, far away,
As if the ocean, in his gentlest swell,
Stood still, with all his rounded billows fixed,
And motionless forever, — Motionless? —
No — they're all unchained again. The clouds
Sweep o'er with their shadows, and beneath
The surface rolls and fluctuates to the eye:
Dark hollows seem to run along, and chase
The sunny ridges.
— Illinois, 1837
Nowhere, other than in Central Illinois, was
the early phenomenon of the prairie more in evi-
dence. We can only guess whether the hearts of the
early settlers swelled at the magnificence of the
"encircling vastness" or quailed in fear at the
trackless and heretofore almost unpenetrated
The first pioneers who pressed into Illinois fol-
lowed the streams and portages and only the state
surveyors and a few Indians had crisscrossed the
inland area around what is now known as Piper
City at the time of the coming of the first settlers.
The first to come were Mr. and Mrs. John R.
Lewis and Mr. and Mrs. Mark Parsons, in 1856.
The Lewises arrived first, and the Parsons only a
day later. From Mr. Lewis' obituary we learn that
there was no other house to be seen anywhere
and that one could ride 30 miles north without
coming across a settlement.
Another man, S. Standish, arrived in 1856, but
there is little recorded of him other than his arri-
val. Perhaps he did not stay long. Piper City was
extremely fortunate, however, to have two settlers
of the caliber of Lewis and Parsons and their
Both men lived to be what was considered
then a "ripe old age" and both filled many posi-
tions of trust and importance in the community.
Parsons was 76 when he died in 1899, and Lewis
died in 1901 at the age of 73. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis
moved to Chicago in 1871, where he sold real
estate, but returned in 1878, and they lived here
for the rest of their lives.
Lewis, especially, was a man of boundless
energy and of high intelligence. He had more edu-
cation than most men of his day. Born in Herkimer
County, New York, from Welsh stock, he attended
Whitestown Seminary for three years and taught
school for three winters before emigrating to
In 1850 he decided to go west and migrated to
Naperville, Illinois, where he farmed and taught
school until 1855. In 1851 he married Delia 0.
Johnson, a native of Vermont. Together they came
to this area in 1856. Their son, born August 4,
1857, was the second baby born in the community.
The first birth was Hattie B. Bartlett in June of
Mr. and Mrs. Parsons had the third child born
here when their son Jesse arrived August 26, also
in the year of 1857.
Mark Parsons was born in Sunderland, Ver-
mont, and in 1846 married Jane Crossett. In 1847
they moved to Will County, Illinois, and in 1856
settled about five miles south of what is now Piper
City. After nine years they moved to about one
mile south of town and just 100 years ago from
our centennial year — in 1869 — they moved in-
to town where he ran a store for several years.
He was caretaker of the Presbyterian Church
and his punctuality and fidelity left a lasting im-
pression on the early church-goers. He was recalled
as having paced back and forth in the vestibule
with watch in hand, awaiting the exact moment to
ring the bell for church services.
It was also his unhappy duty to climb to the
church belfry and toll the bell with a wooden mal-
let at the time of the death of any citizen. The
townspeople would stop what they were doing and
count the number of times the bell was tolled and
ARENDS BROS. INC.
John Deere Sales & Service
BEHLEN GRAIN DRYERS
Home Phone 388-7759
Home Phone 388-2213
in that way could sometimes surmise whose death
had occurred, for the bell was tolled once for each
year of life.
HERITAGE LIES IN PRAIRIE
But the beginning of our history lies in the
prairie, and if we are to understand and appreciate
our heritage we must understand and appreciate
the wild implacable land that beckoned with the
siren song of unbelievable fertility and yet threat-
ened darkly of swamps, reptiles, wild animals, and
The men who dreamed dreams of the future
of this land saw it crisscrossed with railroads, dot-
ted with little villages springing up so that the
grain from the fertile fields could be shipped to
market, and the things needed for trade could be
brought in over the railroad.
The coming of what is now called the Toledo,
Peoria, and Western Railroad in 1857 was a mo-
mentous occasion, but one fraught with some sur-
prise. The railroad was built in a line almost due
east and west across the north edge of Township
26. A long side track was laid on the north half
of Section 2. At this time there were no settlers
near the railroad, and a little to the west of the
side track there was a big slough that completely
cut off all communications from the west. East of
the side track there were no settlers within the
boundary of the Pan Handle. (Although Ford
County was not yet formed, this term applies to
the northern part of what later became the Coun-
ty, and in shape does indeed resemble the handle
of a pan.) The motive of the railway company in
building the side track in such a place was beyond
the comprehension of any of the settlers, but it
was soon learned that there was to be a town
there, called Brenton.
THE OLD HOTEL
A landmark long familiar to people of this area
was the "old hotel" that was razed with little note
or fanfare in 1962. Sometimes called the "Old
Brenton House" it was the first good, wooden
structure to be built on the virgin prairie in 1858
or '59 by Lyne Starling.
Starling was a young man who had emigrated
from New York and became a large land owner
in both Brenton and Pella Townships.
An old Ford County history suggests that he
may have been emulating his cousin, Michael L.
Sullivant, who in 1854 began to buy land north-
west of what was later the town of Paxton. Sulli-
vant's holdings became known as "the largest corn
farm in the World under one man's manage-
ment." Later, he sold much of his land to Hiram
The history reports that early settlers were
encouraged to see Starling's hotel as a mark of
progress in the new land. And well they should
have, for when the old hotel was coming down,
many expressed admiration for the care and pre-
cision of the pioneer builder. Walnut and oak
were used throughout the structure and the foun-
dation was of flat limestone rock.
The sills were scored and hewn by hand with
a board axe and foot adze. Two by sixes were used
throughout, and all corners were re-enforced with
six by sixes and storm braced by four by sixes.
The sills were morticed and pinned, and solid
sheeting one and one-quarter inch thick was used
under the weather-boarding.
There were nine rooms, with four fireplaces
— two upstairs, and two down.
The front door was of Colonial design made
of poplar wood, and had panes of glass around
the side and top.
The old hotel stood for over a century with
very little repair or upkeep and was so well con-
structed that it could probably have stood for
After its usefulness as a hotel was gone, the
structure was moved to a spot a quarter of a mile
north of its first location and was used as a farm
home until the 1930's.
In the early days the hotel was a stopping-off
place for travelers and pioneers who came to this
territory by railroad (and that was almost every-
body, in those days).
The railroad breathed life into the old hotel
in its early days when the nearest trading centers
were Chatsworth, seven miles to the west, and
Gilman, ten miles to the east.
A small center of trade developed around the
THE FIRST NATIONAL
Member F D I C
"THE BEST SERVICE ALL OF
WHOLESALE and RETAIL GROWERS
WEBER REALTY AGENCY
FRANK O. WEBER
Sales — Management — Loans
WEBER CARD & GIFT SHOP
Hallmark Cards — Selected Gifts
LOWERY BODY SHOP
Complete Truck and Auto
Repair and Refinish
Phone 635-3101 Chatsworth, Illinois
MARR OIL COMPANY
ROBERT A. ADAMS
railroad spur or side track. A small grain terminal
developed, and it was believed that a town would
grow up in this location. The spot was called
"Brenton" and later "Old Brenton."
PIPER CITY PLATTED
But less than a decade after Brenton House
was built, Dr. William Piper, of Philadelphia, and
Samuel Cross, of Chicago — both large land own-
ers — contracted with County Surveyor, H. J.
Howe, in 1867, to plat the village that later was
named Piper City, for Dr. Piper. This spot was two
miles west of Brenton and the new location was
at first called New Brenton.
Very soon the first general store was opened
by John Allen and W. C. Jones. John R. Lewis ser-
ved as the first postmaster, receiving and dispen-
sing mail from his residence.
Dr. Piper and his nephew, John A. Montelius,
also opened a general store and built a grain ele-
vator. Houses were built and the community be-
gan to grow. Incorporation papers were signed
Following the Civil War there was a land rush
and land buyers came pouring into town, getting
off with every train that stopped, many of them
coming from the east after reading pamphlets
put out by the railroad companies telling of the
great opportunities awaiting them on the virgin
prairies. These pamphlets were circulated in for-
eign countries and many foreign emigrants be-
gan arriving, too.
The railroads had bought vast holdings of land,
and their purpose was to get the country settled as
quickly as possible. Their informative pamphlets
traced step by step a bright future for prairie
JOHN R. LEWIS, LAND AGENT
John R. Lewis was uniquely able by intelligence
and aptitude to handle land sales. He was a sur-
veyor and had as good an understanding of law as
most. He later was admitted to the bar, but never
actively practiced law as it was not his "greatest
Lewis became land agent for the Illinois Cen-
tral in 1866 and was quite efficient in dealing with
the men who came in feverish excitement to vie for
a "stake" in this new community.
An old newspaper article refers to Lewis as the
"master spirit of the land situation", and in truth
he sold more than any other agent in Ford County.
For some it was the opening of a new world,
and many did make their fortunes in the new land;
but it was not always as easy as the pamphlets cir-
culated in the east would make one believe.
DR. WILLIAM A. PIPER
George H. Thompson, who settled in Lyman
Township, writes in the Ford County Atlas — 1884:
"The years 1857-58-59 were hard times for the new
settlers on the Illinois Central lands. Crops were short,
and the people all pretty poor. They often received re-
lief from their wives' relatives in the East, but the year-
ly interest on the lands purchased from the railroad
company could not be met, and many fearing they
would lose their little homes were troubled. S. K. Mar-
ston, the only man who had a respectable suit of clothes
to wear to Chicago, was sent to interview the land offi-
cials of the company.
"Arrangements were made to get the payments ex-
tended, and some seed wheat was forwarded and loaned
to those who needed, and by economizing in all things,
using peas and rye for coffee, red root for tea, sorghum
for sweetening, and then patching up old clothes, they
bridged over these bad years."
John R. Lewis set down some of his early re-
"The spring of 1857 was noted for the large influx
of new settlers, and carpenters who came on to build
their houses for them, among the latter I remember
Elisha and Nathaniel Sherman, of Onarga, and Mr.
Needham. These three had others helping them, and it
was with difficulty that they found boarding places.
Among the first of the new settlers who came were
Messrs. Samuel and Michael Cross. These began put-
ting up a house on the northwest quarter of the north-
west quarter of Section 4, Township 26, Mr. Needham
superintending the work.
"They boarded with John R. Lewis and traveled
four miles morning and evening to and from work.
BURNS IMPLEMENT COMPANY
YOUR IHC DEALER
MEYER DRYERS STIR-ATORS SPRAYERS
SERVICE — REPAIR
BURNS IMPLEMENT COMPANY
FARM SUPPLY DIVISION
Soon after these came, which was in April, it was disco-
vered that a house was being built on the northeast
quarter of northeast quarter of Section 20, for a family
from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, named McKinney.
The next house to be built was for Ira Z. Congdon on
the northeast corner of Section 32. Mr. Congdon came
from near New London, Connecticut, along with what
was known as the "Connecticut settlers," mention of
whom will be made hereafter.
"A little to the west of Mr. Congdon, on the same
section, Mr. Wallace W. Wicks commenced improving
a farm, but did not build on it. Mr. Aaron Schofield
built on the west half of the southwest quarter of Sec-
tion 30, and at the same time Mr. Conrad Volp put up
a house on the southeast quarter of Section 10. He
came from near Albany, New York, and brought with
him his three youngest sons, George, Henry and Chris-
topher, the oldest, Charles, having come out the sum-
mer before and taken up his abode with A. J. Bartlett.
"All these settlers were near each other, but a few
began to arrive and take up land in the northern town-
ships, which seemed to us at that time quite a long way
off. The first of these was Mr. Robert Hall, who came
from New York State. He had purchased a large tract
of land from the I. C. Railroad Company, and built his
house on the southwest corner of Section 28, Township
27, and soon after a young man from near Boston,
Massachusetts, put in an appearance, and commenced
to build a small house on Section 22. He had no family
and "kept bach." His name was Henry Atwood. A
little later in the summer, Mr. Joseph Davis, from Ohio,
settled on the northwest quarter of the southwest quar-
ter of Section 6, Township 26. Most of these settlers
arrived in time to break up some land and put it into
Mr. Lewis continued:
"I will now go back to the time the Connecticut
settlement, of which I have spoken, was organized.
"During the winter of 1855-56, an organization was
was affected by a few citizens in and around New Lon-
don in the State of Connecticut, under the name of the
Working Man's Settlement Association with the fol-
lowing named persons as members:
"W. A. Babcock, President; R. A. Hungerford, Sec-
retary; S. K. Marston, Treasurer; M. E. Morgan, E.
Marston, B. F. Field, Urbane Havens, Ira Z. Congdon,
R. R. Piersons, Rev. P. J. Williams, George B. Clark,
J. H. Lester, S. P. Avery, W. H. Bently, Sidney A. Mor-
gan, Theophilus Morgan, B. N. Marston, William Ap-
plery, James S. Maxon, C. A. Marston, E. F. Havens,
W. S. Larkin, Gil R. LaPlace, D. T. Hutchinson, James
Miller, Robert Eccelston, U. S. Bossie, H. C. Dennis,
E. C. Morgan, John lsham.
"In September, 1856, the first permanent settlers
belonging to the colony arrived. While passing through
Chicago, they purchased 100,000 feet of lumber for
building purposes, and had it shipped to Onarga, to
which place they all were bound.
"In April and May, 1857, all these settlers moved
onto their lands in the Pan Handle, and began making
"Some time in June, it was suggested by E. F.
Havens that we all take baskets on the Fourth of July,
go to School Section Grove, have a good time, and pro-
perly celebrate the birthday of our national liberty. All
were pleased with the idea, and each one did his best
to make it a success.
"The eventful day at last arrived, and we all as-
sembled at the grove. When the baskets were opened,
Mrs. M. F. Chenney created quite a sensation by pro-
ducing an immense pan of pork and beans. Others
brought roast turkey, chickens, frosted cakes and other
delicacies, but all these fine dishes were given the cold
shoulder, each one longing for a dish of the dear old
familiar, homely, baked beans.
"There were 110 persons present, men, women and
children, and everyone seemed surprised that there
were so many people near them, and rejoiced in the
feeling that they were not alone in the boundless wilder-
And boundless it must have seemed to the pio-
neer. He set his course by such things as a grassy
knoll, a lone tree growing on the prairie, or a
grove of trees if he was lucky to have such a land-
mark on his course of travel. No wonder travel of
the early settlers pretty much followed the paths
made much earlier by the buffalo herds and other
wild animals, holding for the most part to the high-
The wetness and impassability of the land in
this area in the 1850's is reflected in accounts of
how settlers to the south of us followed a route
DUTCH MILL SUPPER CLUB
The finest in Steaks, Panfried Chicken,
Sea Foods and Cocktails
Dine in the beautiful carpeted dining room
with Dancing every Saturday Nite
Make reservations now for Private Parties,
large or small
Phone 265-7370 — Gilman
DAVE HARRISON, Prop.
THE PEOPLE'S COAL AND
PIPER CITY, ILLINOIS
Building Specialist General Contracting
ROBERT VAN ANTWERP
Piper City, Illinois
"BOB AND CHARLIE"
THE ROBERT G. READS
OPEN EVERY DAY
Rt. 24 East of Chatsworth
Chicken & Shrimp Baskets
Orders to Go — Ph. 635-3012
WALT & VIRGINIA LEE
FROBISH FOTO SERVICE
LADY DE BEAUTY SHOP
First Door East of Coral Cup — Open Tuesday Thru Saturday
For Appointment — Phone 635-3108
from Danville to Paxton, to Oliver's Grove south
of Chatsworth, to Pontiac, to Ottawa, and finally,
to Chicago. This circuitous route was used partly
from consideration of the rivers and terrain, and
also because of the accessibility or lack of it, of
accommodations along the way. Sometimes just the
building of a home would change the route.
In 1853, a group of men decided to drive some
300 head of cattle from Ten Mile Grove in Patton
Township to market in Chicago. They decided not
to go the old trail by way of Ottawa and took the
more direct route by way of Kankakee. Arriving
at the Kankakee River, they undertook to ford it.
A mile up the river was a bridge, but the owners
of the cattle, in order to save the toll, had directed
the young men to avoid crossing at the bridge. The
cattle plunged into the river and soon the entire
drove was swimming in a circle in the middle of
the river. In a short time they would certainly
have drowned, but dashing in on horseback, the
men separated a large ox from the drove, and
swimming their horses, they directed this leader
of the herd across the river. Looking back, they
discovered the rest swimming after them, and
soon the entire lot were grazing on the north bank
of the river.
Arriving in the city of Chicago, they found they
had overstocked the market by such a large drove,
and were obliged to bring 100 head back again.
PRAIRIE BOTH FRIEND AND FOE
There are many indications in early writings
that the prairie was both friend and foe to the
early settlers. This description of the prairie is
given in "Illinois 1837":
"The grass which covers the prairies in great abun-
dance is tall, and coarse in appearance. In the early
stages of its growth, it resembles young wheat; and in
this state furnishes succulent and rich food for cattle.
Cattle and horses, that have lived unsheltered and with-
out fodder through the winter and in the spring, scarce-
ly able to mount a hillock through leanness and weak-
ness, when feeding on this grass, are transformed to a
healthy and sleek appearance, as if by a charm.
"From May to October, the prairies are covered with
tall grass and flower-producing weeds. In June and
July, they seem like an ocean of flowers of various hues
waving to the breezes which sweep over them. The nu-
merous tall flowering shrubs and vegetables which grow
luxuriantly over these plains, present a striking and
Badgers and wolves were among the unwel-
come wild animals that abounded in the swamps
and they seemed especially thick around what is
now called Sand Ridge, but was referred to then
as Mount Thunder.
Miss Nora O'Mara can recall her family tell of
the wolves coming right up to the houses and some-
times at night they would look in the windows at
the candle-lit room. Her grandfather, Peter Galla-
hue, arrived here in March, 1869.
Another hazard that beset the early settlers
were the prairie rattlers that infested the swamps
until cultivation drove them out. The men killed
them with shovels, hoes, pitchforks or anything
that came to hand. The men wore high boots for
protection and they often wrapped the legs of
their horses to protect them from this danger.
On the other hand, wild game and wild fowl
for the table were always in abundance, right at
the doorstop. Prairie chicken, quail, wild geese and
ducks were so plentiful that hunters came from as
far away as Chicago for the sport of hunting here.
In the early days deer roamed the area, but
according to John R. Lewis' History of the Pan
Handle, a great prairie fire occurred in September,
1856, and burned for months. This fire swept from
the Illinois Central tracks west to Indian timber
and north to the Kankakee River. He credits this
fire with causing ponds and basins where there
were none before, and reported the deer were
never so plentiful after that.
WES and JUNE'S
LONG BRANCH TAVERN
"GARDEN SPOT OF THE WORLD"
Spaghetti on Wednesday $1.25
Fish, Shrimp, Frog Legs and Chicken
Every Friday ----- Fish 95c
on Saturday Night
SERVING — 5 P.M. to 9 P.M.
SHELLING -- TRUCKING
Piper City, Illinois
Join the yield explosion . . .
This year plant FUNK'S G-Hybrids
THE "HOT LINE" FOR '/0
FIRST UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
EARLY CHURCH HISTORY
From the beginning, our pioneer ancestors
seemed to feel a deep need to establish churches
and to gather together for prayer meetings and
to seek the comfort and divine guidance of God.
Even before any of the churches were organiz-
ed, the Protestant settlers met together in the
homes for "Bible discussion."
Sunday school in the northern township was
held at the homes of Archibald McKinney, Robert
Hall and others. Mr. Hall was superintendent and
Mr. McKinney taught the Bible class. He was con-
sidered the spiritual leader and was like a pastor
As a rule Sunday was strictly observed by the
entire settlement and it was a rare thing to see
anyone doing any work on that day according to
the 1884 Atlas.
The United Presbyterian Church was organiz-
ed on May 14, 1867 with a membership of 32. Wil-
liam Thompson, who came here from Monmouth
in 1863, was considered the pioneer of the United
Presbyterian Church. R. N. Thompson and James
W. Holmes were the first elders. This little church
thrived for many years but disbanded in 1922.
This church is not to be confused with the pre-
sent United Presbyterian Church which when
organized in 1862 was the Brenton Presbyterian
Church and later became the First Presbyterian
Church of Piper City. In 1958, upon the national
merger of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. with
the United Presbyterian Church, the Piper City
church became the First United Presbyterian
Church of Piper City.
Organized September 19, 1862, it is the oldest
Piper City church still in existence. The first ruling
elders were Archibald McKinney, Robert Hall and
M. H. Hall. John McKinney and Henry Atwood
were made deacons at the first meeting.
MET IN PIONEER HOMES
Elizabeth Pope Brown at the time of the dedi-
cation of the new kitchen and dining room of the
Presbyterian Church in 1908, wrote of some of
her early recollections:
"The new kitchen and dining room should be con-
sidered living monuments to the struggles and sacrifices
of the early pioneers; our dear fathers and mothers
whose prayers were heard, and who formed that small
body gathered in a prayer meeting in dear old Father
McKinney's home. This large family with ours
(Pope's) would fill our small rooms. I cannot remember
the date of that first gathering in prayer, neither does
it matter — early in '58 — perhaps in '57 — or it
might have been earlier.
I well know we had been on the prairie long enough
to be very hungry for someone to propound the gospel
truths. The few who gathered were very willing to listen
to Father McKinney in his wholehearted, good spirited
way, lay out the way of salvation, and to me it was the
first awakening of a bright and beautiful life."
Perhaps her letter speaks for the Christians of
all faiths who served God and each other as best
they could in a strange and new environment.
In 1904 the Second Presbyterian Church of
South Brenton was organized with 32 members.
It was located six miles southwest of Piper City.
The first elders were Jacob Ehresman, Frank Stad-
ler and Elmer Huttenburg. It was dissolved in
Rev. W. C. Neely was the first pastor of the
Presbyterian Church and began his duties here
May 1, 1868 and served for 20 years. Under his
pastorate in 1873, the first church was erected
with a mortgage of $625. This church was re-
modeled and a kitchen and dining room added in
1908. On January 22, 1913, it burned to the ground
with very little saved other than a piano, organ
and a few chairs.
On April 19, 1914, just a little over a year
later, the fine brick church standing today, was
dedicated. This church had a fine pipe organ,
stained glass windows, a belfry and a bell, several
Sunday School rooms as well as a kitchen and din-
Although the mortgage on the first church was
only paid off with money from the fire insurance,
the disaster of the fire so challenged and united
this congregation that when the new church was
built it was mortgage free. The Ladies Aid pledged
$3,000 to be paid in two years and raised $2,000
the first year.
Mission work has been an important part of
the Presbyterian church's outreach and under the
pastorate of Rev. Samuel Johnson, the church gave
as much to missions as to its own budget. It was
under Rev. W. Z. Allen that the Presbyterians be-
gan the support of Miss Lena Fay Froese, who
served as a missionary in India, arriving there the
day before Christmas, 1920. She was there until
her retirement from the mission field in 1958. At
first the Piper City church furnished her whole
support, but during the depression years of the
1930's a church in Pasadena, California, helped
with her support.
METHODIST CHURCH ORGANIZED IN 1867
The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized
in October 1867 and among the first members were
Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, Mr. and Mrs. D. E. Middle-
ton, Dr. and Mrs. Burchard and Mr. and Mrs.
The Piper City Circuit at this time embraced
Piper City; Mount Zion School, seven miles south-
west; Mount Thunder School, seven miles north-
east. Mount Thunder soon became known as Sand
In 1874 the school house in Piper City was pur-
chased and moved to the site of the present United
Methodist Church. Up until this time they had been
worshiping in Clark's Hall, paying an annual
rent of $50. Clark's Hall was apparently used by
all denominations in the early days before any
of the churches were built.
During the pastorate of Rev. E. B. Bogges, in
the year 1881, the old school house they had been
using for a church was sold for $150 and plans
,were made to build a new church. Nicholas Sher-
man, Ira Hand, L. B. Kiblinger and William White
were apointed to make the plans. They, with other
elders of the church, proceeded to the bank and
borrowed $1,200, the necessary amount to begin
operations, and secured it with their note. The total
cost of the new church was $2,582.66 and it was
dedicated November 6, 1881.
Sand Ridge Chapel was always closely affiliated
with the Piper City Methodist Church and they
shared pastors for many years. The church at
Ridge Chapel was built at a cost of $1,500 during
the pastorate of Rev. A. M. Lumpkin who was here
from 1890 to 1892.
"Sand Ridge Day" was a tradition for many
years and the Piper City Journal carries this ac-
count of the 4th annual event held July 25, 1901,
at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Weakman:
"The lot and barn yard were filled with teams and
buggies while hitching room was at a premium. The
lawn was decorated with torches and Chinese lanterns.
Opperman's Piper Band discoursed its sweetest strains.
The program included a violin solo by Miss Estella
Woodruff, songs by Jennie and Lottie Thompson and
Leota DeMoure, a duet by Misses Edna Read and
Mable Hill, and a reading by Ethel Read."
On June 6, 1954, the last service was held in
the Ridge Chapel Church, after serving the com-
munity for over 60 years. The land on which this
church stood was given by Arby Read. The first
trustees of the church were John Weakman, Sr.,
Thomas Read, Arby Read and Henry Pettys. The
first stewards were John McKinney, Charles Read,
Henry Pettys and William DeMoure.
The first wedding to be solemnized in the church
was that of Hill Dickey and Addie Pettys. Within a
year Mr. Dickey died and his was the first funeral.
METHODIST CHURCH REMODELED
In 1941 under the pastorate of Rev. C. P. Bru-
ner the first plans for remodeling the Piper City
Methodist Church were made. In 1944 the building
fund was reactivated under the pastorate of Rev.
Merwyn L. Johnson. Clifford Orr was elected to
go ahead with plans for remodeling after $7,659.50
By October 1948, $23,722 was raised, and the
resulting building contained three times as much
floor space as before with additional Sunday
School rooms, a modern kitchen and rest rooms.
The remodeled church was dedicated February
Through the merger in 1940 of several branches
of the Methodist church and the union of the
Evangical United Brethren and Methodist Churches
in 1968, the present United Methodist Church
came into being.
John Sauerbier made this observation at the
time of the celebration of the 75th anniversary
of St. Peter's Catholic Church in November, 1962:
"If we are celebrating a 75th anniversary this month
it isn't because the Faith in this area is that young, nor
that the church building is that old. It was in November
1887 that the Most Reverend John Lancaster Spaul-
ding, D.D., first Bishop of Peoria raised Piper City to
the rank and dignity of a parish under the patronage
of St. Peter. He appointed Reverend D. L. Crowe as our
first pastor, and gave us St. John's in Cullom as a mis-
sion of Piper City."
Father Fanning of Chenoa was the nearest in
ST. PETERS CHURCH BUILT IN 1881
ST. PETERS DEDICATED IN 1917
OLD UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
DRS. RAUDABAUGH -- HAY -- FINNELL
PIPER CITY OILMAN
Congratulations to PIPER CITY on
100 YEARS OF PROGRESS
Reynolds Standard Bulk Plant & Farm Store
AMOGAS L.P. GAS
AMOCO HEATING & AIR CONDITIONING
FARM TIRE SALES & SERVICE
JACK REYNOLDS, Agent
Piper City, III.
OLD SOUTH BRENTON CHURCH
Pipe* Cty MeJAodUi (TiwicA ' ■„, ^^^faifeg^^^^^^^ Qu*enniaJL t/eaA (l86y.1^7)
UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
FS Dealers -- Staff -- and Personnel
-of the -
FS SEED DIVISION
-- salute -
IN THEIR 100th YEAR
Seed Corn — Seed Grains -- Field Seeds
the earliest days to serve families in this area. A
few years later Sts. Peter and Paul's parish of
Chatsworth came into existence and its pastors,
in effect, served Piper City's Catholic families.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was first offered
up on the second floor of what is now the City
Grocery, or Clark's Hall as it was called then.
In 1880 Matthew Soran went to Chicago and
purchased the site for the Catholic Church from
Samuel Cross. Because he was anxious to have
his family worship closer to home, he made a
gift of the site to the church. He also purchased
the lumber for the church building in Chicago
and secured it by his own note until such time as
the church could pay it off.
The first Catholic Church, a wooden structure
66 by 32 feet, was built in 1881.
The story is told that the one who was the
largest subscriber to the church fund would have
the privilege of naming the church and that Peter
Gallahue earned this privilege. It is not surprising
that the new church was named, "St. Peter's."
Many others gave generously and on July 4,
1881, the women of the church gave a dinner for
the benefit of the new building which netted $240.
In September of the same year they held a fair
in Clark's Hall which netted $1,300.
By about 1915 the old wooden church was being
outgrown by the growing parish and it was moved
back off the site where parishioners continued to
worship while a new brick church was being built.
This church which still stands today was dedicated
Tuesday, July 10, 1917. Rev. M. O'Conner was the
pastor from 1916 to 1918.
After services were being held in the new
church the old church was used for a time for
basketball games and community activities.
St. Peter's parish had the honor of having their
pastor, Rev. Aloysius Selva, raised to the rank of
Monsignor while serving here. This very impres-
sive ceremony occurred November 4, 1931, after
the Right Rev. Selva had served 13 of his 14 years
in Piper City. His was the longest tenure of any
priest in Piper City.
Three young people from St. Peter's parish
have gone into full time service to their church.
They are Rev. Louis Dougherty, son of Mr. and
Mrs. John B. Dougherty; Sister Elizabeth Ann of
the Franciscan Sisters, daughter of Mr. and Mrs.
John Miller, and Sister Sharon Rose, Our Lady of
Victory missionary, is the daughter of Mr. and
Mrs. L. E. Eshleman.
Both Brenton and Pella Townships, orginally
were a part of Stockton, and from 1861, when
Brenton was organized, up to 1870, Pella was a
part of Brenton.
With its organization as a Township, Pella be-
came the youngest of the townships in Ford Coun-
The 1884 Atlas says that Pella was unfavorably
located for early settlements, on account of its
being mostly a low, level prairie, and exceedingly
wet except in the driest times of the year. The
Vermillion swamps extend across the northern part
of the township, the South Fork of the North Ver-
milion River, a slow, sluggish stream, flows across
the center, and various marshes and sloughs are
scattered over the township, and much of the land
was long regarded as irreclaimable. But of late
years many Irish families have moved in and
bought the wet lands, and at once began the work
of ditching and tile draining, and such other
changes made as warrants the belief that Pella
will soon rank as one of the best townships in the
The first settler of this township was Robert
Hall, who bought land in Section 16 and 28; he
came in 1857. The next settler was Henry Atwood,
who settled on the southwest quarter of Section
22. Henry Mitchison came the same year and set-
tled on the northwest quarter of Section 22.
The first marriage in Pella was that of Henry
Atwood and Mary Wylie. She came by train from
Vermont to Onarga where he met her and they
were married by W. P. Pearsons in Onarga, No-
vember 16, 1859.
Piper City was so wet in the early days that
part of it was referred to as "the slough" and
many people expected to have their homes flooded
The water followed a course entering town at
the southwest edge back of Mrs. Emory Harford's
following an easterly course past the Standard
Service Station and the Presbyterian Church and
out of town at the northeast edge. This was the
site where the old slaughter house used to be in
the days when meat was practically all home but-
chered and sold direct by the butcher and his wife
to their customers.
A storm sewer of 30 inch pipe was laid in 1960
and this has completely prevented the usual flood-
ing that took place periodically before. In retro-
spect it is hard to understand why it wasn't done
One of the earliest tasks of the farmers was to
drain the soil so that it could be farmed at all. At
first small ditches were dug with teams of horses
and slip scrapers and as soon as a ditch was made,
A part of Piper City was referred to as the slough and some of the streets were
flooded almost every spring until the storm sewer was laid in 1960.
tiling was begun. Many, many hours of arduous
work went into the drainage of land in this area.
As more and more tile drained more and more of
the land, it became necessary to make the ditches
bigger so that they could carry off this excess
In 1900 the Vermilion special drainage dis-
trict had ditches cleaned and built and repaired
bridges. For this they paid $3.00 per day for man
and team, $1.50 and $2 for a man alone. Commis-
sioners were L. T. Bishop, J. W. F. De Moure and
STERNBERG CHANGES DRAINAGE PICTURE
This way of clearing ditches and improving the
drainage of the fertile soil looked rather old-fash-
ioned after the advent of the W. F. Sternberg Com-
pany, drainage contractors in 1917.
Promoted as "big brother to agricultural in-
terests," Mr. Sternberg's modern equipment and
methods did indeed extend the productivity of
the land and bring in a new era of farm prosperity.
By 1929, the company had grown to the place
where it was recognized as the largest and most
dependable drainage contracting concern in cen-
tral Illinois. In its first year it had excavated 22
miles of main line open drainage ditch and in 1928
it completed 71 miles of major drainage canals,
together with a large amount of smaller ditch
work. By 1929 the company owned six gasoline
driven dredging and ditching machines as well as
other necessary equipment to complete the most
exacting job in a satisfactory manner. Each oper-
ating unit was complete within itself, including
Ernie Walner, Les Spelbring, Gene Tucker and George
Kemnetz worked on the Sternberg drainage crew.
<AX BE F ;UNH AT TH.K l'RESKXT TIME THAN"
ILLINOIS FARM LANDS.
The Farms in our list are all situated in the great CORN and ARTEISAN BELT, and they are certain
to increase in price every year. T e value of these lands will assuredly never b£ less than at present.
"Arrangements have been made with Mr. John R. Levis and Mr. John A. Montelius, of
City, to ('how these and other lands to our customers.
- pa - — < H;o'r P^ - _^_ .
: ^^i jyx gt^ . eg .
A LISTING OF FARM LAND DATED SEPTEMBER I, 1883.
These big dredging machines changed the face of agriculture in the 1920's.
Faraday J. Strock
PIPER CITY, ILLINOIS
Father is proud of the car and Mother is proud of baby Dorothy. Picture shows
George and Anna Montelius and other members of the family with the Montelius'
camp wagons, cook houses and the usual mis-
cellaneous equipment, that permits a complete
self-sustained operation on the job, and to and
from the job.
Mr. Sternberg's first wife went with him on
many of these big projects throughout the central
states and did the cooking for the crews of men
who worked the big earth moving equipment. They
built up a sizeable fortune and Mr. Sternberg was
well known as a capable businessman. He was
president of the State Bank for many years and
was a trustee of the village board.
FIRST GAS STATION BUILT
In 1926, he built the modern Standard Service
Station which he sold two years later to George
Kemnetz who still operates it today.
This was the first station to be built in Piper
City for the express purpose of selling gasoline and
servicing cars. The station had three "positive mea-
sure" pumps. The hydraulic lift made it quicker
and more efficient to change the crank case oil
and lubricate the ever growing number of cars.
By this time it was obvious the car was here
to stay. It had been over 20 years since George D.
Montelius had gone to Chicago and purchased a
Studebaker touring car, the very first one to be
owned and driven by a Piper Cityan. Bringing the
car from Chicago took three days. A mechanic
accompanied Mr. Montelius home with the vehicle,
and also some cousins from a suburb of Chicago
made the memorable trip. Having learned of the
imminent arrival of this new wonder of the times,
a large delegation of Piper Cityans congregated at
the north end of town awaiting the arrival of Mr.
Montelius and his "new buggy".
Fred Kewley was the second man to be bitten
by the bug and soon the craze for motoring was
catching on and it was more necessary than ever
to get on with the drainage of the land and to build
Many years passed before all travel could be
The early rural mail carriers, C. B. Switzer,
Adolph Liebe, Ollie Johnston and others, used a
car when the weather was dry, but when it rained,
they hitched up a buggy, or if it was really bad,
just saddled up a good old dependable horse with
which to make their appointed rounds.
PIPER CITY, ILLINOIS
OPEN EVERY DAY — 5 A.M. - 12 P.M.
SUNDAYS — 6 A.M. - 2 P.M.
McKEE HOME SERVICE
HEATING and AIR CONDITIONING
FORREST McKEE & SONS
Piper City, III.
to all the fine people of Piper City
on their 100th Anniversary Celebration
CULKIN STAR MARKET
your neighbor in Chatsworth
Francis J. Culkins
To PIPER CITY
Congratulations on your Past and
Good Luck in your Future
GENE and CAROL FROELICH
Dan, Mark, Cathy, Cindy
Eugene E. Doran's General Insurance
Bonds, Real Estate, Auctioneer
& Notary Public
Piper City, Illinois
OIL ROADS USED
Some of the primary roads were oiled periodi-
cally and even though housewives hated the splat-
ters that showed up on children's clothes and else-
where, they didn't complain too much because
it meant the only passport into town or further,
and it was generally looked upon as a necessary
evil of the times. Later roads were treated with
gravel or blacktopped.
Len Small's term as governor of the state of
Illinois is remembered for the hard roads that
were built. U.S. 24, that runs a quarter of a mile
south of Piper City, was built in 1924. The decision
to put the new hard road there did not meet with
approval of all the people by any means.
It had been expected that the new road would
follow the old Corn Belt Route along the north
edge of town. The Corn Belt Route was a graded
road extending from Sheldon to Burlington, Iowa,
and was colorfully marked with a full sized ear of
corn with green husks painted on the telephone
poles. Piper City was then known as the "Corn
Center of the State."
This title was not a misnomer, as Piper City in
the 1920's, was one of the three largest primary
grain raising sections in the state. The Farmers'
Grain Company in 1928 did a daily business of
$835. It was shipping 400,000 bushels of grain
The same year the B. W. Cunnington Grain
Company shipped 500,000 bushels of grain and
both were thriving, prosperous businesses.
Artesian wells furnished most of the water for men and
beasts in the early days, but early in 1900 Mrs. George
Kemnetz' father, Art Cook, used this rig to dig many
wells in this area.
This picture was taken May 13, 1910 of the Mount Mellick Club at the home of Mrs.
Jacob Spera. Mrs. Erskine, who got the whole thing started, is standing on the sidewalk
in second row in white blouse with woman at her left in black blouse. Mrs. John A.
Montelius Sr. is immediately behind her.
KELLEY WILBERT VAULT CO.
REILLY FUNERAL HOME
have donated jointly the Wilbert Burial Vault
in which the mementos of the Piper City Centennial
will be entombed:
FOR OPENING SOME 50 YEARS HENCE.
DR. ENAMEL CRACKER
Performs every necessary operation
on the Teeth and Gums; fixes in Teeth
either natural or artificial, in many
different ways, some which are peculiar
Respectfully informs the Ladies and
Gentlemen of Piper City, that he will
with pleasure wait on those who may
please to honor him with their com-
Highest Prices Paid for
Sound Front Teeth
FORD COUNTY F.S. INC
Piper City, 111.
Feed & Fertilizer Salesman
Piper City, 111.
HARD ROAD USHERS IN NEW ERA
But to get back to the matter of where the hard
road was going to go, the citizenry of Piper City
was encouraged, when in 1922, the state sent its
surveyors to survey the Corn Belt Route and it
was reported in the Piper City Journal that it
appeared to be the intention of the state to stay on
the north side of the T. P. & W.
However, when the townspeople learned that
U.S. 24 was going to bypass Piper City and go a
quarter of a mile south of town, the businessmen
were "up in arms" and W. F. Sternberg led a con-
tingent of 75 to Kankakee where they pleaded
their case to Governor Small, himself. It proved to
no avail and plans proceeded as they were set. A
few years later Illinois 115 did, indeed pass through
the village running in a north and south direction.
This road never carried the amount of traffic that
passed over U.S. 24.
IT WAS A LONELY LIFE
Before the advent of the hard roads, the days
and years were often fraught with loneliness, es-
pecially for the women who lived on the farms, but
they kept very busy. If we were to visit a pioneer
home it would seem very odd to us, no doubt.
Usually the homes were small with only weather-
board on the outside, with no lathes or plaster on
the inside. Sometimes the only rugs were rag rugs
made by hand, and the homemaker usually made
all of the clothing for the family.
To keep warm the housewife spread the floors
with straw and covered it with carpeting and tack-
ed it down at the walls. Feather beds or straw ticks
were used for mattresses and everything on the
farm was used in some way.
Because there were not many trees there was
not much wood to burn. Coal was brought in from
mining states and that helped alleviate the cold
during the winter months.
The pioneers had many little forms of diversion
that meant a great deal to them. Children played
checkers and jackstraws, but soon they were doing
their share of the work along with their elders.
Women sometimes stayed home for months or
even years. Mrs. Catherine Stadler, who was called
affectionately "Grandma, Stadler" by everyone,
came to this area with her husband under the
Homestead Act and they later purchased 80 acres
of land in section 20 from the Illinois Central Rail-
road for $10 an acre.
In a newspaper clipping telling of some of her
reminiscences after she became an old, old lady,
she recalled that in the early days she had spent
10 years of such solitude as she had never known.
For four years she had never left home. After her
husband died in 1884, she raised their 10 children
and supervised their 360 acre farm. This was no
For a time they drove six miles to a natural
spring at Oliver's Grove for water for themselves
and for their stock. At first this was necessary be-
cause of a lack of equipment, but later they con-
tinued to do it because of a superstition that water
from artificial wells was deadly for both man and
IT WAS "WILD AND RAW"
Mrs. J. W. DeMoure who came with her hus-
band to the "Wilson settlement" in 1864, where
her husband was superintendent of Dr. Wilson's
large farm interests, once said:
"It was wild and raw in those early days. Few have
any idea of the hardships. I remember I didn't see a
woman for 18 months at one time, and then Mrs. Cap-
tain Mitchison came over to see me one day just for an
hour or two. It grew better with the settlement of the
country, and when we moved into Piper City in 1887,
we then left a well settled country and almost a section
of fine, well improved land of our own."
The women were made of strong and sensible
stuff, but occasionally to break the monotony, there
were Fourth of July picnics and small socials and
gatherings. In the winter the churches had oyster
suppers and mite society meetings. There were
little musical productions and debating societies
were quite popular.
FIRST FAIR IN 1882
The first fair was put on by the Piper City
Union Agricultural Board in the fall of 1882 and
this grew to be an annual event that everyone
looked forward to with great anticipation.
A premium list and fair book for the 10th
annual fair lists these officers of the association:
Joseph Burger, president; C. A. Cook, vice presi-
dent; T. J. Sowers, vice president; H. S. Carpenter,
secretary and Ira W. Hand, treasurer.
No intoxicating liquor was served on the fair
grounds and no intoxicated person was allowed
on the grounds. Races were held every afternoon,
except on the opening day, with purses ranging
from $30 to $100. Gambling on the races was
against the rules of the association, but interest
in the races was keen for most of the horses were
owned by local people. Many races were limited to
Ford County horses. The fair was closed on Friday
so that the moving out could be completed on
Saturday and no one would have an excuse to
"break the Sabbath".
Young people came in for special consideration
CITIZENS BANK OF CHATSWORTH
Gives Best Wishes to
Piper City Centennial
COME TO THE PIPER CITY
August 29 - September 1
TINY HILL CENTENNIAL BALL
8:30 to 12:30
Thursday — Aug. 28
PAGEANT at 8 P.M.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday Nights
Every Night at 8:30
BIG PARADE at 4:30
MANY OTHER ATTRACTIONS
PIPER CITY FAIR SCENE IN 1910.
by the fair board. School children were admitted
free on Wednesday afternoons and a two year
scholarship to Wheaton College was given to any
Ford County resident, between the ages of 16 and
24, who could deliver the best original oration of
not less than five minutes or more than 15. There
were also general school exhibits and awards for
the best equestrianship for young men and young
ladies under 15 years of age.
MANY CLASSES OF LIVESTOCK
The 1891 fair book from which this information
was gathered lists a wide variety of classes in live-
stock. In poultry, 34 classes are listed in the regu-
lar division and over 20 in the miscellaneous, ran-
ging from pea fowls to brown China geese.
The agriculture, horticulture and floriculture
divisions also reflect the variety of vegetables and
grain raised in those days. Over 40 varieties are
listed with prizes of 50 cents and 25 cents offered
for the best red wheat, spring wheat, white wheat,
clover, flax, rye, buckwheat, millet, sugar beets,
celery, pumpkins and many others.
Under miscellaneous farm products, awards
were offered for the best cheese, butter, smoked
ham, comb honey, extracted honey, bees in obser-
vatory, lard, maple sugar, beeswax, soap, sorghum,
hops, wool fleece and German carp fish. What a
contrast to the specialized products of today's
A display of leather work included a class in
harness and saddlery, boots and shoes, and trunks
and travel bags.
The women could vie for prizes and glory in
the domestic arts classes where they could show
their skill in the culinary or needlework divisions.
There were no lights at the fair ground so there
was no evening program. However, in later years,
at least, a good traveling dramatic company would
be engaged to put on plays at the Opera House in
the evenings. Children and adults saved their pen-
nies all year to have enough to attend the show
every night if possible. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was
one of the favorite productions.
There were four different fair grounds in Piper
City and at least two fair associations. The last one
which closed in 1917 was called the Ford County
Fair Association and was held in the soutnwest
edge of town on the land now owned by Mrs. A. W.
OLIVER GROVE CHAROLAIS
World's Finest Beef Cattle
WAYNE & EDNA SARGEANT
LUELLA C. OLIVER
PIPER CITY LANES
Piper City, Illinois
HOWARD & HARRIET MYERS, Managers
from PIPER CITY'S OLDEST BUSINESS
Under One Name
STILL GOING STILL GROWING
THE PIPER CITY JOURNAL
Mitchell and Margaret Johnston, Publishers
Charles Opperman, founder of Opperman's Band.
Underwood. The first fair was held at the east edge
of town where Mr. and Mrs. Otto Albrecht now
live and one was held just back of the north side
business district. Another site was where the school
After the fair disbanded in 1917, the buildings
were sold in February of 1918 for $3,000. There
was some hope that a new organization would be
formed and the fair would be started again at a
later date, but these hopes never materialized.
The buildings were torn down or moved, the land
soon was put into cultivation, and the fair was just
One of the chief attractions at the annual fair
was the performance of the "Opperman Band".
This group was a Piper City institution for many
years, entertaining at all patriotic, political, social
and religious functions throughout the area. They
did this without compensation other than the plea-
sure it gave them to share their musical talent
with an appreciative audience.
Charles Opperman, the founder and director
of the band, was born in Colbitz, Germany, August
23, 1857, and came to America in 1868 with his
parents, Mr. and Mrs. David Opperman. They first
settled near Chatsworth, moving from there to
Brenton Township in 1873. After his marriage to
Margaret Rehm, in 1874, they lived three and a half
miles southwest of town and moved into Piper City
about 1895. In 1897 he and his brothers, Ernest
and August, bought out Clark's general store
which they continued to operate until 1905 when
he invested in a cotton plantation in Mississippi,
moving there in 1907 with his family. There he
remained until 1915 when ill health and a home-
sickness for his former home prompted him to
come back to Piper City. Here he stayed until his
death in 1930.
He is best remembered for his muscianship,
although he was a profound lover of things of na-
ture, and spent much of his time in the culture of
trees and flowers, and even planted and tended
flower beds in the railroad and village parks.
Mr. Opperman's father, David Opperman, was
a vocal teacher and in 1878 became the leader of
a most successful glee club. From that beginning
a cornet band was organized by Charles Opperman
and his brothers, August and William, under the
leadership of Prof. Rebholz, in 1880. In 1887 he
organized a band at Thawville. In 1894 the Opper-
man Piper City Band was born and it was for years
one of the leading musical organizations in this
section of the country.
The band played regular weekly concerts dur-
ing the summer time and at various fairs, both
here, and at Fairbury, Pontiac and many other
Four of the Opperman brothers were charter
members of the band and it was later strengthened
by younger members of the family. In about 1915
or 1916 it was decided that the band needed new
uniforms, and since their services were generally
free, they held two or three public concerts to raise
money. They featured special soloists and instru-
mentalists. Mr. Opperman's daughter, Margaret,
and Miss Irene Flessner were two of the young
ladies who sang to help raise the money.
Custom Farm Services, Inc.
PIPER CITY PLANT
P.O. Box 237 Piper City, 111. 60959
Phone: (815) 686-2209
GLENN J. MOGGED, Mgr.
Complete Line of Dry & Liquid Fertilizer
Anhydrous — 21% Aqua — 28% Nitrogen
Limestone — Rock Phosphate
University of Illinois Approved Soil Testing
A Satisfied Customer
Is Our First Consideration
WESTERN AUTO ASSOCIATE STORE
DON and ROSEMARY DORNFELD
Piper City, Illinois
Piper City, Illinois
KEMNETZ STANDARD SERVICE
TIRES, BATTERIES & LUBE JOBS
We Guarantee Our Work — You expect
more from Standard — and You Get It!
GEORGE & LOTTIE KEMNETZ
ALLEN H. DAY
Auto-Life-Fire and Casualty
Piper City, Illinois
RUTH FAGAN, Owner
Mixed Drinks Schlitz on Tap
BOB'S BARBER SHOP
BOB & HATTIE ZORN
PIPER HARDWARE & VARIETY
Piper City, Illinois
DUANE AND BETTY WHITE
Plumbing & Heating — Hardware — Floor Covering
Electrical Appliances — Keymark Clothes — Houseware
Gifts — Greeting Cards
OPPERMAN'S BAND CHARIOT.
OPPERMAN'S BAND PLAYED FOR ALL PUBLIC FUNCTIONS WITHOUT PAY.
The First National Bank
of Cullom, III. 60929
Get acquainted with a Stanley Hostess Party
by calling your local dealer,
MRS. CHRISTINA BOMA
Piper City, 111. Ph. (815) 686-2566
FOXIE and ANNA
Piper City on Your First 100 Years
HAAG AND HAAG
Jl CASE FARM EQUIPMENT
Phone (815) 689-4461
K's FRIENDLY MARKET
This view shows Piper City's first general store in foreground. Built in 1867 it is
not much changed from the early days and has always been a grocery store. Upstairs
room was used by all three churches in the early days to hold services and was,
later used as a band rehearsal room.
An interesting view of the north side business section.
,rvy ff nr » re ■--'■--* ** ' Page Thirty-seven
FARMERS GRAIN CO.
of PIPER CITY, ILL
GRAIN STORAGE GRIND & MIX
GRAIN DRYING FEEDERS & WATERERS
SEED CLEANING GRAIN BANK
-SUPERSWEET FEEDS -
The carbide gas light at the far end of the street, the unpaved street and the horses
and buggies date this picture at around 1900.
This scene of Peoria Ave. with the "tin Liizies" and the paved street dates it after
1910. The State Bank building, now the home of the Journal, further dates it after
1913. Note the electric lamps instead of the gas lights as in the top picture.
A brick pavement was laid around the square in 1910 and raised Piper City's business
district out of the mud. Other streets were paved in 1919.
Bird's eye view of Piper City taken between 1895 when the Montelios Bank was built
and 1907 when the Opera House was remodeled shows water tank in foreground where
trains got their water and coal sheds near the tracks.
In the early days the band had a "bandwagon"
or "chariot" with curved sides drawn by four
horses, in which they used to travel to other towns.
In this way they publicized the fair and other
In 1870 there were 307 inhabitants in Piper
City and this number had grown to 750 by 1884.
The little village was steadily growing and there
were many signs of progress in the latter part of
the 19th century.
In 1884 Piper City had a two-story school in
the middle of the block on West Cross Street be-
tween Pine and Green Streets. There were four
churches, a hotel, two newspapers, a bank, four
general stores, two hardware stores, a lumber
yard, three grain elevators, a creamery, a livery
stable, an agricultural warehouse, two drugstores,
two wagon shops, three blacksmith shops, and a
The creamery, which was located at the east
end of Walnut Street, did a big business and about
20 tons of butter were produced per year. Most
of it was sold in New Orleans at 20 to 35 cents
a pound. They churned four times a day in the
summer and eight times a week in the colder
John A. Montelius, Sr., who came right after
the Civil War to manage the extensive land hold-
ings of his uncle, Dr. William Piper, was active
in much of the commercial development of the
village, primarily in banking and the grain busi-
The first bank was established in 1870 by
Charles M. MJontelius and his son John A. Monte-
lius, Sr. The bank was opened with a capital of
EXCURSION TRAINS POPULAR IN 1880'S
The "excursion train" was a product of the
times in the 1880's, meeting the need of the railway
companies to keep their otherwise idle passenger
coaches engaged in money-raising activity. Due to
the rapid expansion of the railroads, many such
as the Toledo, Peoria and Western Railroad Com-
pany, which had just gone through a costly re-
organization, were eager to do whatever they could
to make a little money.
Excursions were planned by the railroad com-
panies to such points of interest as the State Fair
in Springfield, the Rocky Mountains in Colorado,
homestead sites in Nebraska, and the world's first
skyscraper in Chicago. Public response was over-
whelming, and many church groups and other or-
ganizations rented trains and went as a group to
see these places. It was the era of excursions.
During the middle of July, 1887, handbills were
displayed prominently in Peoria and vicinity des-
cribing an excursion on the T. P. & W. to Niagara
Falls scheduled to leave Peoria at 7:15 P.M., Wed-
nesday, August 10. The price for a round trip tic-
ket, good for up to ten days, was $7.50 and the
handbill advised that you couldn't afford to miss
Many people took this advice to heart, and by
6:00 P.M., that fateful night, a large crowd was
already gathered on the station platform and the
final preparations were being completed on the
Niagara excursion train. It was made up of six
Palace sleeping cars, two reclining chair cars, five
day coaches, a combination baggage car, and the
General Superintendent, E. N. Armstrong's offi-
As the train came to a stop, the eager excur-
sionists rushed aboard carrying large lunch bas-
kets, diapers, and other provisions for the small
children that went aboard. There was no dining
car on the train.
GREAT TRAIN DISASTER
Little did the excursionists realize that instead
of a happy trip, they were really heading for one
of the greatest train disasters in history. So terri-
ble, in fact, that the editor of the Piper City Pan
Handle Advocate wrote:
"No pen is able to describe the scene, and to do so
would require human flesh for parchment, a flame of
fire for a pen, and human blood for ink."
The departure was delayed slightly by late-
coming passengers. From the first, things did not
go exactly as they should. After all were aboard,
the two locomotives slowly pulled the train out of
the station amid great bursts of waving and shout-
ing between the people on the train and the people
on the station platform.
The train crossed the bridge over the Illinois
River and proceeded eastward across Illinois. After
another hour's delay to repair a drawbar mishap,
the train continued on its way, making a few stops
to pick up additional passengers. Several got on
at Fairbury. It reached Chatsworth after 11:00 P.M.,
about an hour and a half behind schedule. After
leaving Chatsworth the engineer on the first en-
gine opened the throttle and at last it looked like
they could make up for lost time as they sped to-
ward slumbering Piper City.
BRIDGE BURNED OUT
Approaching a small bridge about two and a
half miles west of Piper City, the engineer caught
sight of a small blaze in the distance. The fireman
Ph. (815) 686-2373 Piper City, 111. 60959
Hitchen's Sinclair Service
TIRES — BATTERIES — ACCESSORIES
"Service Is Our Motto"
MARION BUTLER, Prop.
Homemade Donuts — Rolls — Pies
Home Cooked Meals
Phone 686-2285 Piper City, Illinois
PIPER CITY LOCKER ASS'N
A Complete Processing Service
Smoking, Lard Rendering, Curing
Phone 686-2727 Piper City, Illinois
CLARENCE E. PEARSON, Mgr.
Piper City, Illinois 60959
NEW and USED CARS
PHILLIPS SERVICE CENTER
TIRES — BATTERIES
Piper City, Illinois
TRIPLE "H" CO., INC.
Distributor Factory Representative
KILLBROS GRAVITY "SLIDE"
GRAIN BEDS Gravity Bed Wax
B-M-B- COMBINE BIN
ROTARY CUTTERS EXTENSIONS
WAGON RUNNING GEARS
OTHER ALLIED LINES
Office & Warehouse in
PIPER CITY, ILLINOIS
Ph. (815) 686-2434
SCENES AT 1887 TRAIN WRECK.
High- Yielding • Sure-Drying • Easy-Picking
CLAUDE KING, Dealer
Piper City Phone 686-2629
JOHN R. PENICOOK
Piper City, Illinois
0. L. WOODWARD & SON
Registered Spotted Swine
Sale Date - Sept. 2, 1969
Piper City, Illinois 60959
RHODE MOTORS, INC.
CHRYSLER — PLYMOUTH — VALIANT
Floyd and Harold Rhode
Piper City, Illinois 60959
ANOTHER SCENE OF TRAIN WRECK.
noticed it, too, and passed it off with a remark
about section hands being more careful in burn-
ing off the weeds along the track. But the words
were hardly spoken before both men realized with
shock that the bridge itself was on fire and that
they were headed toward it at high speed. The en-
gineer gave a desperate pull on the whistle rope
signaling "down brakes."
It was too late to stop and the first engine cros-
sed over the bridge and ran on east up the track
for some distance. The second engine leaped the
chasm. The tender of the first engine became de-
railed and broke loose from both engines. The ten-
der of the second engine was stripped of its trucks
and landed 100 feet east of the bridge, where it
was thrown into the ditch north of the tracks. The
engine was dumped into the ditch on the south of
the track opposite.
As soon as the second engine crossed the cul-
vert the cars followed, and leaving their trucks in
its ditch, were piled and mashed together like kind-
ling wood. The scenes of horror and confusion that
followed were frightful. There were about 700
people on the train, and of these fully one half
were in the coaches that now lay in a huge mass.
Seven cars filled with dead and dying people were
jammed into a space of two car lengths.
The car of General Superintendent Armstrong
was thrown across the track and the trucks knock-
ed from under it. The occupants had a miraculous
escape. Mr. Armstrong was thrown out of the car
and escaped with a slight scratch.
The engineer of the leading engine was unhurt,
but the second engineer was instantly killed with
his head crushed to a pulp. His fireman jumped
from the engine and was uninjured.
The accident was thought to have occurred at
11:49 P.M., since that was the time when the dead
engineer's watch had stopped. Almost immediately
two trainmen ran the first engine, without a ten-
der, into Piper City for assistance. On arrival the
fire alarm was given, which at that time was done
by striking the steel rim of a locomotive wheel with
a sledge hammer.
Soon the town was bustling with activities and
the tracks were covered with people going to the
scene of the disaster. The news was telegraphed to
other towns and soon help was on its way from
The ladies of both places prepared places for
the wounded and in short orde;r both Chatsworth
and Piper City looked like hospitals. Doctors were
rushed to the scene on hand cars and were among
the first to arrive.
FIRE THREATENS CRASH VICTIMS
The fire received the first attention of the early
arrivals, for if any of the cars had caught fire the
horrors of a holocaust would have been added to
the already frightful disaster.
The events of that tragic night had one more
ironic twist to make before the coming of the dawn.
The day had been a hot and searing one, and the
sun had shone down mercilessly on a parched
prairie. The Peoria Daily Transcript had carried
a front page story that very day on the great
drouth, calling it a disaster for the farmer. The
much longed for rain finally came at about 2:30
o'clock the morning of August 11. It may have
been a blessing to the farmers, but to the victims
of the train disaster and those working at their
rescue it was the final touch of horror.
The darkness was faintly illumined by lanterns
as the night was pierced with the screams of the
dying and injured. The pouring rain and lightning
and the roar of thunder added up to a scene that
couldn't be forgotten by anyone who witnessed
After the wounded had been handed out of the
cars and were being cared for as well as posible,
the work of removing the dead began. Strong
men began to take everything apart in the three
(bilkh Jik Qo., Qnc.
Manufacturers of High Grade Drain Tile
Retailers of Brick and Corrugated Culverts
This scene of Corn Day in Piper City shows the Opera House before it was remodeled
in 1907, the new bank building on the corner and the old bank building which was
moved back and was later used as the Journal office.
telescoped cars. As they progressed they came
across such scenes as these described in the Piper
City Pan Handle Advocate:
"Here someone would pick up a valise and uncover
an arm or leg without a body, and over there someone
would pick up a piece of linen to hand to the nurses
and when lifted up discover a child mashed to a jelly.
Such sights were common and made the bravest men
shudder. Ghastly bodies of both men and women hung
in grotesque fashion from the windows. In the midst
of all of this horrible mixture of legs, heads, arms and
mutilated bodies were to be seen frail pieces of glass
and wood as good and unmarred as before the wreck.
A small clock found in one car was keeping time as well
as if just wound.
"The maniacal scene became more agonizing as
husband sought wife, wife, husband, father or mother,
children, or children wildly clamoring for parents,
while brothers, sisters, relatives and friends kept up
the same frantic search, with their lost loved ones
sometimes so mutilated as to be unrecognizable. The
piercing shrieks of terror-stricken people suddenly be-
reft of those most dear to them, and under such awful
circumstances, mingled with the heart-rending groans
of the wounded and dying, etched the scene on the
minds of those who were there."
Piper City's two physicians were the first on the
scene and worked at their mission of mercy until
completely exhausted the next day. The Opera
House, the hotel and numerous private dwellings
were turned into emergency quarters for the injur-
ed. Food and medicines were procured as soon as
possible and all that could be done was done to
alleviate the suffering. Eighty-one lost their lives
that night and many more were maimed for life.
Piper City people acted with unstinting service
and performed some of the most trying duties that
can be required of a human being during the after-
math of the "great train wreck."
TRAINS BRING EXCITEMENT
It is hard to imagine the excitement of the
townspeople over the arrival or departure of the
trains. People came down town just to see who got
on and off and it was said that Caroline (Cad)
Beach met every train and was always dressed "to
the teeth." She was a reporter for her father,
Judge Beach's newspaper, The Pan Handle Advo-
cate, and it was said that nothing escaped her re-
The hotel was conveniently located just across
the street from the depot and the traveling sales-
men would display their wares in the lobby, and
We Have A Complete Line Of Products For All Your Grains
Liquid and Dry Fertilizers
in Plow Down Forms of Slurry and Blend
Also, starter fertilizer of liquid and dry nitrogen needs in anhydrous
ammonia, aqua ammonia and nitrogen solution 37%, and Spencer
We Also Carry Your Complete Line Of Herbicides and
Our Prices Include Applicator Rental
McMillan fertilizer co.
ANHYDROUS AMMONIA PLANT
Onarga - 268-4541 Thawville - 387-2425 Gilman - 265-4357
22 W. Market
We specialize in High Styling and
JOHN R. KEEFE
Piper City, Illinois
See: MAYANNA FROELICH
For Your Cosmetic
Needs in Piper City
This hotel was torn down in 1947 to make room for Cook's IGA.
the local merchants would come there to buy. The
proprietor of the hotel, about 1900, was Jim Jeffery
and it was called the Jeffery House. It was sold at
auction in 1906 and a modern brick building erec-
ted in its place.
Another hotel called the Central Hotel flourish-
ed after that on the corner where Cook's IGA now
stands. This was the scene of many suppers and
balls and was often used by the churches and civic
organizations to hold their dinners or meetings.
The Methodists held their Washington Birthday
dinners there for many years. This hotel was in
existence until after World War II, although its
commercial enterprise had been on the wane for
several years before that. It was torn down in 1947
to make way for the grocery store which was built
by George Cook and his son, Ronald after the lat-
ter came back from service in World War II.
Certain years stand out as notable in progress
and events. 1895 was one of those years as the little
frontier town of Piper City began to build and im-
prove. J. A. Montelius, Sr., made the greatest im-
provement by building a new brick building 40
by 80 feet. This building houses the State Bank
today. A newspaper clipping describes it thus:
MODEL BUSINESS STRUCTURE
"It is a model business structure, ornate in appear-
ance and most substantial in construction. The founda-
tion is of stone and superstructure of brick, with oolitic
stone trimmings. The facing of both north and west
fronts is of dark red pressed brick with terra cotta trim-
mings above doors and windows, and a wide expanse
of plate glass, while on the street corner is a graceful
tower which appropriately adorns the entire structure.
The interior finish will be in keeping with its outside
appearance, and when completed, which will be soon,
it will have cost $12,000. The corner room will be
occupied by the Piper City Bank which will certainly
have quarters unsurpassed in the county. In the rear
of the bank, on the west side, Mr. Montelius, Sr., will
have his grain office, which will be occupied by Mr.
Montelius' sons in conducting the Agricultural Imple-
ment and wagon carriage business, the second floor be-
ing devoted entirely to wagons and carriages. An im-
mense elevator will facilitate the handling of vehicles
and machinery and render the business which is usually
so laborious almost a pleasure. Mr. Montelius is en-
titled to highest commendations of the people of Piper
City for his enterprise as well as for the evidence thus
given of his faith in the future of his town. It is such
manifestations of confidence which encourage future
development along the same lines.
"But his is not the only improvement worthy of
CONGRATULATIONS DEAR NEIGHBORS!
May the next Century be as wonderful as the past one.
Such a fine Community can only become a prosperous and the
Best Place in the World to Live!
Kindest personal regards from
"LARRY" LaROCHELLE and JIM EDWARDS
MAYTAGS ROPER STOVES
ADMIRAL TELEVISIONS — REFRIGERATORS
*Sattj Sale* & Seivice
Joe & Evelyn Baltz
mention nor the only one which renders the growth of
the village remarkable. We found the Thompson Bro-
thers occupying a large double brick store two stories
in height and finished inside and outside in manner
which would reflect merit on a place of many times the
size of Piper City, while adjoining them on the west
and constituting part of the same frontage is the jewel-
ry store of Mr. Roberts, well stocked and equipped with
the finest of furnishings. The drug stores of D. A. Boal
and Dr. S. D. Culbertson, each 25 feet in width, are
constructed with the same view to adornment and dur-
ability and furnished with the most modern interior
"The buildings enumerated constitute a frontage of
about 165 feet, in front of which, and many other build-
ings, is laid about a block and a half of first class ce-
"On the opposite side of the railroad is another
brick building of about 27 feet frontage in which is
located the new Odd Fellows' Hall which soon will be
dedicated. The upper story is owned by the lodge and
they can soon be congratulated upon the possession of
one of the finest lodge rooms in the county and suf-
ficient for all their needs for many years to come.
"While these are not all the improvements of the
season, they are the principal ones, and when the elec-
tric light plant, which is now in the course of construc-
tion, is completed, Piper City will have taken a step
in advance of which will make the season of 1895 mem-
orable in her history."
ELECTRIC LIGHT PLANT
The electric light plant was built by A. A. Blair
and later sold to Dave and Charles White and Otto
DeMoure. This was quite a progressive step for the
village and constituted a big job for the owners of
the plant, as they had to wire the homes of their
customers before they could sell them electricity.
The generator for the plant, which stood on
the north side of Peoria Avenue across from what
is now Cook's IGA, was run with steam engines
and boilers to provide the electricity. They also
ran a line to Chatsworth and supplied them with
electricity for a time.
It was some time later that electric street lights
were installed. The village board was very frugal
with the use of electricity and at one of their board
meetings in 1900 they considered not turning on
the lights on bright moonlight nights.
FLAX, A POPULAR CROP
Flax was a popular crop with early farmers in
this area because it helped to prepare the sod for
cultivation. There was a flax mill in Jeffery's pas-
ture at the south edge of town near where Mr. and
Mrs. Clarence Pearson now live.
Sorghum mills were rather plentiful and there
were evidently several plants that took the sorg-
hum grown by local farmers and made rich, brown
sorghum molasses. This was an important staple
in the pioneer's diet and many a table was set with
nothing but corn bread and molasses. There was
a sorghum mill about where the Custom Farm
Services fertilizer plant is now located. This mill
was run by Mr. McLaughlin.
There also was a mill across from L. T. Bishop's,
or where the Edwin Bork family now lives, and
one north of town operated by "Molasses" Koerner.
Children used to follow the wagons hauling
molasses cane into town, chewing on the sweet
stalks that fell to the ground.
An ice plant was an important addition to the
early business section and there was probably
more than one ice house during the early history
of the town.
Nels Plank operated an ice house for many
years. They used to cut ice out of ponds in the
winder and store it for the summer. There was a
pond north of Robert Dehm's residence where
they used to harvest ice. Ice, like other crops, was
harvested when it was ready, and it was considered
ready when it was eight inches thick.
TURN OF THE CENTURY
The turn of the century was ushered in with
great plans by Piper Cityans to build a new $12,000
schoolhouse on a new site at the south edge of
town. To be forever left behind was the cramped
two-story frame school, heated by space heaters in
winter, and poorly ventilated in summer.
Gone, too, was the three-year high school that
had seemed more than adequate for the children of
the pioneers up to this time.
The new brick two-story school was the pride
of the citizenry, and furnished large and comfor-
table class rooms for all grades from first through
On August 27, 1900, the cornerstone to the
new school house was dedicated in an impressive
exercise in which almost all the townspeople took
part. The exercises were under the auspices of
the Masonic lodge. A committee was on hand to
meet Grand Master Hitchcock, who arrived on
the 9:45 A.M. train. At 2:00 P.M., the procession
formed at the lodge hall and marched to the school-
house site, headed by Opperman's Cornet Band.
The Reverend M. C. Long delivered the first
address — a history of the school. Grand Master
Hitchcock followed with the main oration, after
which the ceremony of laying the cornerstone
took place. The exercises concluded, members of
the lodge, friends and patrons, returned to the
lodge hall for various amusements and entertain-
ments, and at 6:00 P.M. refreshments were served.
School started October 1 in the old building,
This school housed the grade school and a three-year high school until 1900 when a
fine new brick building was built at the south edge of town.
with Miss Mary Hotzenpillar, principal; Miss Clara
Bishop, assistant principal; W. G. Cook, grammer
department; Miss Anna Ralston, intermediate, and
Miss Lizzie Dick, primary.
After the Christmas holiday, youngsters began
going to school in the new building and everyone
felt very proud to think that all grades from first
through high school could attend such a nice mo-
The old school was not completely abandoned,
but was used by youngsters who played basketball
and other games in it. Later it was moved to the
site where the Triple H Company now stands, and
it was used by Mike Kelly and his sons to store
implements and such. They were dealers of farm
implements for many years.
One small addition was made in 1920 to the
1900 school, then in 1937 the board of education
thought that it was time to enlarge the school and
local people responded affirmatively by voting the
referendum necessary to do it. A fine new gymna-
sium and several classrooms were built.
1940'S BRING MANY CHANGES
The 1940's ushered in many changes for the
schools. The country schools began to close one
by one and their pupils were amalgamated into
the town school. This was due to the economic
pressure of the rising costs of teacher's salaries
and the state government's upgrading of stan-
dards. There was pressure from many groups, in-
cluding the Illinois Agricultural Association, to
consolidate schools and to upgrade the rural
schools to a par with the town schools.
Many did not feel this way. In fact, they felt
that what the country school had to offer was super-
ior to the town school.
The trend continued, however, and the last of
the country schools to close was the Crandall
Some of the faithful country school teachers
moved into the town school system and others re-
tired. We still have some teachers who formerly
taught in the country schools. Among them are
Mrs. Frank Bouhl, Mrs. Merle Harford, Mrs. Don-
ald Schnurr, Mrs. Francis Boma and Edmund Col-
A bit of Americana passed from the scene
with the country schools. They had been little cen-
ters of community interest, the box socials in the
winter and the school picnic at the close of school
II II || v 1
L M j*.
Piper City was justly proud of this fine brick school built in 1900 at a cost of $12,000.
In 1911 the school staff looked like this. Left to right they are Miss Andrews, Miss
Warrick, , , Miss Grafton and Mr. Dolph.
Piper City, Illinois
D. K. and MABEL WALRICH
18 West Vine St.
Piper City, Illinois
On Your Centennial
WM. R. ZORN, Chatsworth
FRANKLIN LIFE INSURANCE
TRUNK AUCTION CO.
JIM TRUNK, Auctioneer
Chatsworth, Illinois 60921
Phone (815) 635-3553
Farm — Livestock — Real Estate
Household and Antique Sales
THOMAS A. BECK
FARM REAL ESTATE and
W. JEROME KILEY, Realtor
Ph. 689-4551 Cullom, III.
were events that the whole family looked forward
to with anticipation.
Being geared to the necessity of rural young-
sters working on the farms the country school was
usually in session for only eight months to the town
school's nine. At the end of April, or first of May,
the families of the district all gathered for a picnic
dinner to mark the close of school.
After the bountiful dinner, the men and boys
organized a ball game and the women exchanged
recipes and visited. The highlight of the day came
when the freezer of ice cream was opened in the
afternoon and everyone enjoyed this rare treat.
The teacher customarily furnished the ice cream
out of her meager salary.
The closing of the country schools presented
the problem of getting the children to town school
and on August 31, 1942, some parents from north
of town attended a school board meeting and asked
that the school obtain a bus and see that their
children got to school.
Shortly after that the school did get one bus
which shuttled back and forth as best it could.
Some of the students had to wait at school until
the others arrived for classes.
Ben Thompson was hired as the first bus driver.
The school now maintains four buses, a mini-bus
and one spare bus.
The country schools were disposed of in var-
ious ways. Some were moved away and remodeled
for homes. Others were bought with the idea that
they would remain as community centers for the
district, but this hardly ever worked out. Center
School is used for a town hall and polling place
by Pella Township, one of the few still used and
maintained. There is hardly a recognizable coun-
try school in the area.
In the fall of 1946 two country schoolhouses
were moved into town where one was used for in-
dustrial arts and the other for ag. They were used
for a few years until better facilities were built.
Hot lunches were also started in the 1940's and
the old dining room was the room under the stage
in the gymnasium. The pleasant, well-lighted din-
ing room in use today was built in 1952.
COOPERATIVE STARTED IN 1967
An experiment in education was begun in 1967
when Chatsworth and Piper City began the "co-
operative plan." In this plan, students are bused
from one school to the other and it has made a
more economical teacher - pupil ratio and has given
a wider choice of subjects to students.
It has been hailed by educators all over the
state as "the largest cooperative in the state of
Illinois." The two superintendents who worked
out the cooperative plan were Edward Gladish of
Piper City and Robert Stuckey of Chatsworth. Fur-
ther consolidation seems imminent in 1969, but only
the future will reveal just what and how much.
Our modern school with a staff of 22 teachers
and two administrators is a far cry from the first
humble beginning of education begun on the
prairie 110 years ago.
The first school in Brenton Township was in a
small lean-to beside the home of John R. Lewis
The offer of this rude building was gladly accepted
by the newly formed school trustees, as no educa-
tion had been "diffused" in the township up to
this time. Miss Annie Hobbis of Onarga was em-
ployed as the first teacher, beginning her duties
the first Monday in December, 1859 and continuing
four months. Mr. Lewis also furnished the fuel for
the school and boarded the teacher for the very
liberal sum of $24.
The Wagner school was one of the earliest coun-
try schools and was also used by the churches
to hold meetings and socials.
AAANY TEACHERS SERVED
Many Piper City teachers could qualify as out-
standing and we make no attempt to name them
all here, but a few stand out in length of service
and devotion and we would be remiss if we failed
to note their contribution to the youth of this
Clara May Powell was an early country school
teacher who taught in the Herr School. She also
organized a Sunday School there which she taught
on Sundays, making her attendance at school a
necessity for six days a week. This was quite a
bit of devotion when we note that it was the tea-
cher who did all the janitoring, fixed the fires, and
took care of all emergencies. Once in a great
while one of the school board members was called
in to "settle" one of the big boys.
Anna Ralston devoted most of her life to teach-
ing and exemplified the old-fashioned image of
a school ma'arm. She wore her hair in a bun on
top of her head and her mouth was drawn into a
tight little knot from which very little praise ever
escaped. She was there to teach, and teach she did.
Many were better off for her strict discipline and
devotion to learning.
Professor J. H. Francis was superintendent
here for many years, retiring in 1954. Not only did
he superintend both grade and high schools, but
he also was a very good math teacher and made
even the most unlikely pupils understand it a
little better. He taught here for 36 years.
TOM'S SHELL SERVICE
TIRES, BATTERIES and ACCESSORIES
MEN'S WEAR - - DRY CLEANERS
GILMAN, ILLINOIS 60938
Shop at Home by Phone
RIVA'S CATALOG SALES AGENCY
Gilman, Illinois 60938
KANE'S T.V. SALES
MIDDLETON & SON
Featuring Famous Names
in Furniture and Floor Covering
V. E. Middleton 1-815-268-4313
Best of Everything
on Your Centennial Year
THANK YOU FOR YOUR
CLIFFORD ORR AND SON
CUSTOM COMBI N ING
Piper City, Illinois
Local Homelite Chain Saw Dealer
Tree Cutting — Removal
MEMBERS OF VILLAGE BOARD
OF PIPER CITY — 1969
MERLE HARFORD, Mayor
M. J. SORAN
JOHN D. SOMERS, Clerk
District 35, a country school, was taught by Miss Hortense Blaine. In the back row
are Nina Decker, Verda Ehresman, Gladys Blaine, Ocie Ehresman, the teacher, Mary
Stuckey, Leota Decker and Angie Ehresman.
In the middle row are Herbert Zick, Roy Taylor, Kirker Hawthorne, Albert Brauman,
lona Decker and Hazel Stuckey.
In the front row are Orval Taylor, Delbert Ehresman, Vern Stuckey, Marie Zick and
Piper City school was integrated at one time when a Negro family lived here. This
is a picture of the 7th and 8th grades taken in 1921 with Miss Anna Ralston, the
teacher, in the back row.
Piper City, Illinois
HOMEMADE FOOD DAILY
— Specials on —
FRIDAY NITE — Fish — Shrimp and
SATURDAY NITE — Chicken and Steaks
BEA'S BEAUTY SHOP
Permanent Waving a Specialty
WEBER CAR WASH
Wash & Wax
ERNIE HAHN MERLIN WHITMAN PAUL DEANY
689-4850 689-8716 689-4860
SHOP PHONE: 689-6855
C ULLOM C ABINET C OMPANY
CUSTOM CABINETS AND MILL WORK
CONGRATULATIONS TO PIPER CITY
CULLOM CO-OPERATIVE GRAIN
Cullom, Illinois 60929
Morrison, Assistant Manager
: (815) 689-4771
F. E. Sterrenberg, Pres.
John Riebe, Sec. and Treas
L. E. Hack
This street scene shows the Opera House after it was remodeled.
Miss Dora Heavener was a first and second
grade teacher and introduced literally hundreds
of children to school. Later she became teacher of
the kindergarten. She was the second kindergar-
ten teacher. Mrs. Sylvia Guren taught the first
class in the spring of 1952, then Miss Heavener
started in the fall and taught kindergarten until
she was forced to retire because of her health in
1962 after devoting 46 years to teaching. Piper
City was one of the first schools in the area to have
a full time kindergarten.
The Opera House was an institution in the early
days. It superceded Clark's Hall as a center of all
civic activities. The churches held suppers, musi-
cals, and fairs in Clark's Hall in the earliest days,
but everything had to be carried up the stairs and
they were delighted to hold their meetings in the
larger and better equipped Opera House after it
Here every strata of the town's social life must
have passed at some time or another. The big
events of the year were the stock shows that
came to town and played to an audience starved
for entertainment. Basketball games were held
here so all school children frequented its halis
often and found special joy in watching the pro-
ceedings from the dark and sometimes hot and
stuffy gallery. The Mogul basketball team was well
known in the area before World War I and for a
long time afterwards. Their fame as an independent
basketball team was known all over Central
Illinois and some very important "name" teams
came and played the Moguls on the Opera House
In 1907 the Opera House was remodeled and
lost its distinctive cupola that marked the early
era of its architecture. It is not known just when
the Opera House was first built, but we know it
housed the Masonic Lodge on the second story.
The Lodge was chartered in 1868.
The Farmers Institute was held here for many
years and besides the exhibits of grain and pro-
duce brought in by the farmers, there were all
kinds of blue and red ribbons given in the culinary
arts to the farmers' wives. School children sub-
mitted hand work and themes to be judged and re-
sultant winners were published in the paper.
The afternoon and evening program con-
sisted of "pieces" and songs and entertainment
by school children with a "special" speaker brought
Congratulations Piper City!
IT HAS BEEN OUR PLEASURE AND OUR PRIVILEGE
TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH YOU FOR THE LAST
OF YOUR FIRST CENTURY
SHEPHERD FLOWER SHOP
MODERN AND DISTINCTIVE FLORISTRY
Phone 265-7342 GILMAN, ILL.
520 S. Crescent St.
HOME GUARANTY SAVINGS ASSOCIATION
Piper City, Illinois
in who could entertain and enlighten his farm
It was a time of fun and good natured rivalry
and families attended together and enjoyed ming-
ling with other families. Usually Farmers Institute
was held in February and bad weather often mar-
red the event, although they dared not hold it any
later in the spring for the mud roads became im-
passable after the spring thaw.
In later years dances were a regular event
and some people approved and others did not. The
dances usually drew a good crowd, however, and
Falletti's orchestra from Kankakee was one of the
most popular dance bands in the 20's and early
Other more staid events also took place in the
Opera House including the senior class's gradua-
tion and the eighth grade honor night.
After the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches
built dining rooms, their suppers and meetings
were usually held within their own walls. And
after the school built its gymnasium, the basketball
games, graduation and even the alumni banquet
were all held there. The Farmers Institute, like the
county fair that preceded it became a thing of
the past. Farmers could hear better speeches on
their radio sets and certainly the entertainment
was better than anything that could be mustered by
In the late 40's it became obvious that the use-
fulness of the old Opera House, as people had
known it for many years, was a thing of the past.
A group of interested citizens got together and
decided to put in a bowling alley in its place and
in 1947 the Opera House was razed.
AGRICULTURE MOST IMPORTANT INDUSTRY
Agriculture has always been the most important
source of income for Piper Cityans, and even 100
years after the beginning of our town, the econo-
my still responds to the pulse of the farm com-
One of the first businesses was the buying and
selling of grain and was begun on a very small
scale by Dr. William Piper and John A. Montelius,
Sr. The grain was stored in a small shed in bags
and then carried to the railroad tracks to be sent
to market. This was started in 1866.
The Montelius family remained in the grain
business until 1924 when Joseph K. Montelius sold
out to Bloice W. Cunnington, completing around
60 years in the business.
When the bank building was built in 1895, the
grain office was in the southwest corner with the
Another view of Corn Day.
scales on the west side, later used by Jesse John-
son as a cream station.
Since the Monteliuses owned a lot of land, es-
pecially north of town, it was nautral that their
tenants would bring their corn to the Montelius
grain elevator to be sold.
"Corn Days" became a by-word and some time
during the winter it would be agreed that a cer-
tain day would be "corn day" and all the tenants
would bring their corn to the elevator that day.
It was necessary to do this in the winter time,
otherwise the roads might be impassable if they
were not frozen. Usually the men walked beside
their wagons to keep warm and it was often a
severe hardship for both man and beast. It was not
unusual for the teams and wagons to be lined up
from the scales to the north end of town.
Fist fights sometimes broke out between men
waiting their turn to dump their corn and return
on the long cold trek home.
In 1914 the Monteliuses built the large cement
elevator which fronts on Green Street. At the
Piper City, Illinois
'Gas does it better — for less'
Northern Illinois Gas Company
When this large cement elevator was built by the Montelius Grain Co. in 1917 it
was the biggest and best in the state outside of some grain terminals.
Elevator owned by James Walsh from 1908 and later sold to Alvin Crede who sold
it to Farmers Grain Co. in 1918.
ANNE and MARTY
Where the fine people of Piper Meet
Shown is the Farmer's Elevator and the Electric Light Plant at around 1900 or later.
The occasion seems to be a horse sale.
In 1904 the bronze plate with 33 names of Civil War veterans was placed on the
soldiers and sailors monument in the village park.
ROBERTS GRAIN COMPANY, INC.
"The Complete Grain Handling Facility"
WE ARE PROUD TO BE A PART OF
THE CENTENNIAL ACTIVITIES
THE FARMERS' GRAIN COMPANY
Grain and Farm Supplies
CHATSWORTH, ILLINOIS 60921
BILL STERRENBERG, Mgr.
JIM FLESSNER, Asst. Mgr.
J. C. KELLY COMPANY
time this was considered the finest and the largest
elevator in the state outside of some terminal ele-
vators. This replaced a wood structure.
Mathew Soran, Sr., was another early grain
dealer, dealing in grain as well as general merchan-
dise at the site of the present post office. His scales
were on the east side of his building.
When Bloice Cunnington bought out J. K. Mon-
telius he leased the brick office on Main Street and
the cement elevator, at first from Mr. Montelius,
but later from the LaHogue Grain Company who
bought Montelius out.
Mr. Cunnington was killed in an automobile
accident November 22, 1938, and E. P. Wilson and
his sons, John E. and Edwin E. Wilson, effected a
purchase from E. H. Houk, executor of his estate,
and the Wilson Grain Company formally opened
for business December 2, 1938, with Edwin E.
(Chub) Wilson as manager. John E. was in the
First National Bank at the time.
Wilson Grain Company continued the lease
with the LaHogue Grain Company for the facilities
of office and elevator. The ground was leased from
the railroad company.
Both John and Edwin served in World War II
and while away in service the elevator was man-
aged by their uncle, John Elmer Wilson, with E. P.
The Wilson Grain Company was one of the
earliest grain companies to move into the trucking
of grain on a large scale and the initial step was
made through necessity. The TP&W Railroad Com-
pany was on strike and in order to move the grain
to the terminals and sub-terminals it became neces-
sary to move it by truck. This was done prior to
Chub's return from service in 1946.
The LaHogue Grain Company decided to sell
the office and elevator at public auction April 19,
1946. Both Farmers Grain Company and the Wilson
Grain Company were spirited bidders, but Farmers
Grain Company was the successful bidder and
Wilson Grain Company vacated the premises about
July 15, of that year.
Wilsons then moved to 17 East Peoria having
contracted with J. W. Hickerson, local carpenter,
to build an office and some storage space for feed.
They began to go into the trucking business in
earnest as they had no elevator in which to store
grain. They eventually owned four trucks and
sometimes supplemented with others that they hir-
ed for larger jobs.
Morris was the main market for the grain for
many years, although some of it moved to Kanka-
kee, Chicago and Gibson City as well as other
points. During the 1950's Lew Walker of Gilman
The water tower built in 1913 after several disastrous
fires made it easier to fight fires and also ushered in a
new era of indoor plumbing.
handled a lot of corn from Piper City. Mr. Walker
had prevailed on a Chicago company to build a
sub-terminal at Gilman and he did his best to give a
good market to his neighbors in the business.
Wilson Grain Company's direct handling of
grain from farm to the market was new to Piper
City and it created quite a stir, but it was not en-
tirely without precedent in the area. Herb Sterren-
berg of Crescent City had operated successfully
this way for a time, and his experience was the
incentive needed for Wilsons to go ahead.
This all happened back in a day when employ-
ees worked hard for their employers and a fine
group of men worked long hours and hard to suc-
ceed at this new venture in grain merchandising.
Sometimes Theron Boma, who operated a corn
sheller at that time, would start at midnight if
that's what it took to get the job done.
In 1958 Wilson Grain Company sold out to
Virgil and Ray Wilkey and it became known as the
Wilkey Grain Company and has been in business
since with Virgil Wilkey as the manager. This
grain company was sold at public auction June
ROBERTS STATE BANK
Stop in and See Our New Home
Congratulations to the Piper City Community
Cullom Junior Fair Association
The Junior Fair is to be held
AUGUST 15-16, 1969
The Steer Auction Sale will Start at
6:00 p.m. — AUGUST 16, 1969
C. B. SWITZER USED THIS RIG TO CARRY MAIL.
7, 1969 to Farmers Grain Company so for the first
time since Piper City was started there is only
one grain company in operation.
FARMERS GRAIN COMPANY
The Farmers Grain Company has been in opera-
tion over 50 years.
James Walsh built or acquired an elevator in
1908 at the west end of Main Street. He later sold
to Alvin Wrede.
In 1917 the farmers of this area organized a
Farmers Grain Company. Shares of stock totaling
$25,000 were sold at $50 each. The first meeting
of the shareholders was held February 16, 1918 in
the Masonic Hall. On the first board of directors
were Frank Reising, William Quick, E. E. Bishop,
Baltz Weber, James P. Glass, Hugh Hawthorne,
John Klehm, John Shaughnessy and J. A. Berlett.
C. T. Hupp was the first manager of Farmers
Grain. In 1921 C. E. Miller was hired as a manager
and served until his retirement in 1954.
Claire McClain was another individual who
gave years of service to the grain business. He
served as bookkeeper for Bloice Cunnington and
also for the Wilson Grain Company.
Agribusiness has grown to be a common ex-
pression in 1969 although our ancestors would not
have the faintest idea what was meant by the term.
Businesses related to agriculture have grown fast
in the past 10 years and one well known to area
farmers is the fertilizer and herbicide business.
Farmers have learned how they can boost yield
and control weeds and these products are much in
There are two fertilizer plants in Piper City,
and both have been built in the past five years.
What is now Custom Farm Services, Inc., began in
1964 as Schofield Soil Service. Glenn Mogged
started with them as manager and is still their
manager. He recently was named top manager of
Monsanto Agricultural Center was built soon
after the other fertilizer plant and Lon Ash was
their first manager. Howard Myers is now acting
as manager. Both plants do a big business and have
the confidence of the farmers as both managers
are local people and have farmed.
F/S SERVICES, INC., SEEDS DIVISION
Another business closely aligned with agri-
culture and one of great importance to Piper City
is F/S Services, Inc., Seeds Division. It is the larg-
est business in Piper City. It started back in 1937
when an organization known as the Ford County
Corn Growers was carrying on a seed testing and
germinating program in various parts of the county.
Hybrid seed corn had just begun to catch on and
farmers who had for years been saving a few bush-
els of their best corn for planting were beginning
to buy hybrid corn.
Nobody had ever heard of a seed company. If
a farmer needed seed, he bought some from his
neighbor. The development of hybrid corn changed
all that and the pollination and breeding of corn
was no longer left to nature and chance.
Seeing the need of area farmers, it was decided
at the annual meeting of the Ford County Corn
Growers on January 21, 1937 to organize a Ford
County Crop Improvement Association and to
grow hybrid seed corn.
On May 23, 1937 the Ford County Crop Im-
provement Association was incorporated and A. B.
Schofield was made the first business manager.
In March, 1938, it was decided that the corn
processing plant would be built in Piper City. The
name of the organization was then changed to
Producers Crop Improvement Association and it
became an important addition to the business and
commercial growth of Piper City.
In April, 1939, the association planned its hy-
brid seed corn production at approximately 700
acres. This was the first crop processed through
the Piper City plant.
L. R. Downs, present manager of the company,
came to Producers upon the resignation of Mr.
Schofield in January of 1940. In 1947, the Black-
hawk Hybrid Seed Corn Association of Polo was
merged with Producers and the company was re-
organized as Producers Seed Company in April,
On February 7, 1952, a fire destroyed all the
facilities at Piper City except for the office build-
ing. There was some talk, at first, about moving
to a different site at another place, but local people
worked very hard to persuade them to rebuild
here and soon plans were being made to build the
plant bigger and better than before. The new plant
was approximately three times the capacity of the
old one when completed a short time later.
In 1966 Producers Seed Company merged with
Farm Service and it is now called F/S Services,
Inc., Seed Division.
The company employs many Piper City people
and it has brought in many well educated, inter-
esting people to live in this community.
The Piper City Locker Plant was organized on
a cooperative basis in September of 1943. Two
hundred and fifty-six shares of stock were sold at
$25 a share. In October of 1943 the land and build-
ing on its present site was bought from Walter
Opperman. The locker was incorporated under
the Agriculture Act on February 22, 1944. Clarence
Pearson is the one and only manager the locker
plant has ever had.
The first officers of the locker plant were
George Ficklin, president; W. R. Crandall, vice
president and W. F. Weber, secretary and trea-
In 1969 the future of the locker plant looks a
bit dubious. Almost all the locker plants in the area
have closed due to stricter regulations by state
and national government.
HENALD'S MANUFACTURING CO.
Piper City's only factory, The Henald Manu-
facturing Company, was begun September 27,
1954. Previously it had been located at St. Anne.
The factory was begun in the back room of what
was then the David's Economy grocery store and
is now the Overacker Show Room. The employ-
ment rose from eight to 50 before it was moved to
its present site in February, 1956. At the present
time about 100 are employed. Sometimes employ-
ment has reached almost 250. Transformers for
radio and television are produced here. Chester
Kraft, Watseka, is the present manager.
PIPER CITY JOURNAL
The Piper City Journal is the oldest Piper City
business to have remained in continous operation
under the same name. At its beginning in 1897, it
had competition in another newspaper called the
Pan-Handle Advocate which was edited by Judge
H. P. Beach.
The Journal was founded in 1897 by B. W. Kin-
sey and continued under his management until
May 14, 1900, when it was bought by E. S. Pike of
Chenoa. Charles E. Gilpin moved to Piper City
from Windsor and was in charge of business and
editorial management under Mr. Pike. Later that
same year, Mr. Gilpin bought the Journal and co n- „.„
tinued as its editor until his death in 19e*r~when'"
his daughter, Mrs. George Perry, took over and
was editor until May 1, 1966. The Journal was then
purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell Johnston who
still publish it once a week on Thursdays.
Another early newspaper was the Piper City
Advertiser edited by Richard Alnutt and begun in
1876. The Advertiser went out of existence some
time between 1885 and 1900.
EMORY HARFORD AND SONS
Emory Harford and Sons is a business of long
-• • - th. fair was to load your family and friends into a wagon
One way of -MM the *£•-* ^e/wa.le is man in front.
The C. B. Switie
r family advertises the fair when they go for a ride.
A Symbol of
For Illinois . . .
Symbol Of The Electric Cooperatives - And
The Half-Million Illinois Citizens They Serve
SALUTES THE CITIZENS OF
in Their Observance of
A Century of Progress
May the Next 100 Years Be
:AsraM mluinods mwm £@@mMw\
PHONE: 379-2326 - 330 WEST OTTAWA, PAXTON, ILLINOIS
Owned And Controlled By Those Served
PROVIDING ADEQUATE, LOW-COST ELECTRIC POWER TO RURAL
FORD COUNTY AND ADJACENT COUNTIES OF EAST CENTRAL ILLINOIS
standing in Piper City. It still carries on business
under this name even though Mr. Harford died in
Emory Harford came to this area from West
Virginia in 1912. He engaged in blacksmith-
ing at the Dannewitz blacksmith shop in
South Brenton. When he was married in 1916, he
built a shop at the west end of Main Street which
is still the site of the business, although needless
to say, there is no more blacksmithing done there.
In 1931, Mr. Harford added an implement line
and after World War II his sons, Merle, Donald and
Wayne came in with him to run the implement
company and Harford's Oil Co.
PIPER CITY LANES
Piper City Lanes is the only business in Piper
City to offer recreation or diversion. There have
been movie theaters and pool halls, but at the
present time the bowling alley is the only business
of its kind. It is a nice modern center used by
young and old.
In 1947 when the old Opera House was to be
torn down, six men formed a board of directors in
order to build a bowling alley on the site with
Piper Lodge 608 A. F. & A. M. using the second
floor for its lodge hall.
The directors were Jesse McKee, P. L. Kelly,
Dr. C. E. Branch, Fred Weakman, Dr. W. G. Rauda-
baugh, J. J. Lyons and R. R. Roberts. Officers elec-
ted were Dr. Branch, president; Kelly, vice presi-
dent; Lyons, secretary and Dr. Raudabaugh, trea-
In 1967, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Myers, who had
been managing the alleys for the past 11 years,
bought out the business from the board of direc-
FOXY'S TELEVISION SERVICE
Mr. and Mrs. Reynard L. (Foxy) Hayslette were
for many years associated with the restaurant busi-
ness in Piper City and ran Foxy's Corner Cafe on
the north side.
In the 1950's, Mr. Hayslette began to branch
out by working at repairing television and radio
sets and in 1961 they sold their restaurant and he
concentrated on selling and repairing television
Mr. and Mrs. Hayslette have been very gener-
ous in catering for churches and organizations as
well as individual parties and dinners since retir-
ing from the restaurant business. They do much
of this without charge whether they are affiliated
with the church or organization, or not. This has
been an appreciated and worthwhile service to
The Piper City Home Guaranty Savings Asso-
ciation began business in 1956 with a state charter
and occupied the building the State Bank is now in.
On March 9, 1959, the Federal Home Loan
Board granted federal insurance which was an
important step in the growth of the Association.
They had offices in the Eugene E. Doran build-
ing for a time and in January, 1963, they moved
into their new building at 116 South Pine Street.
The original board of directors was made up
of Howard Stuckey, Samuel Martin, C. E. Miller,
L. E. Overacker, Harald Hemb, Karl Kielsmeier
and R. F. Goodyear. The first officers were Stuc-
key, president; Martin, vice president and Miller,
Stuckey and Martin are present president and
vice president of the Association. J. H. Francis
is the present secretary and treasurer.
Mrs. Howard Stuckey was the office secretary
from 1956 until April of 1969, when Drell Stuckey
became office manager upon her retirement.
L. E. OVERACKER
L. E. Overacker has been a Piper City business-
man for about 40 years. He started as a mechanic
at the age of 18, working for D. B. O'Donnell at
the Central Motor Co. He also worked for Gus Zar-
buck, Carl Lemons and others.
Mr. Overacker bought out Aloise (Alley) Reis-
ing at the present site of Overacker, Inc. in 1930.
J. W. Holmes is now the president and manager
of this enterprise.
Mr. Overacker has been a Pontiac dealer since
.1935 and has a large show room on Main Street.
He also has had the agency for the Chicago Motor
Club for 35 years.
He has lived during an era when selling cars
and servicing them was one of the biggest busi-
nesses in a small town, and each town had several
car dealers and garages, not to mention gas stations.
PEOPLES COAL AND LUMBER COMPANY
Since 1867 there has been a lumber company
on the corner where Peoples Coal and Lumber
Company now stands.
The business was started by John A. Monte-
lius, Sr. and Dr. Piper and employed John McKin-
ney. In a year or two, Mr. McKinney bought out
his employers and for over 60 years the lumber
business was in the hands of the McKinney family.
The first business under their ownership was John
McKinney and Brothers. In the beginning the com-
pany handled lumber and a little hardware. Later
furniture and undertaking were added.
The business later passed into the management
SCHMOHE GRAIN CO.
& LUMBER CO.
GULLETT & TREES AGENCY
INSURANCE IS OUR
BUSINESS, NOT A
Jim and Janice Shaughnessy
KUIPERS' SALES COMPANY
"AFTER THE SALE - IT'S THE SERVICE THAT COUNTS"
Phone: 265-7288 215-223 South Crescent Street
GILMAN, ILLINOIS 60938
SAUERBIER DRUG STORE
THE SAUERBIER FAMILY
A. L. JOHNSON
Pioneer Seed Corn
Tom fhon. 635.3371 Ken
CLOOS BODY SHOP
Piper City, Illinois
Wrecks Rebuilt and Refinished
DUANE CLOOS, Proprietor
of Mr. McKinney's son, W. 0. McKinney, and be-
came known as W. 0. McKinney & Company. Be-
sides lumber, they stocked tile, gravel, sand, con-
crete building blocks, fence posts and other items
reflecting the needs of the times.
H. G. Flessner was the manager for the McKin-
neys for many years and later for the Miller Lum-
ber Company. The business was owned for a short
time by "Red" Hubert of Bondville and in 1945
was sold to Peoples Coal and Lumber Company.
They have branch offices in Watseka, Kentland,
Indiana and Grant Park. Ray Martin, who worked
for the company for the past 14 years, has been
manager for the past three years. Managers be-
fore him were Ersle Quick and Ray Wilkey.
BRADBURY AND COMPANY
R. E. Bradbury, now retired, was a farmer be-
tween Piper City and Roberts who began plumb-
ing around 1918, as a side line to his farming, one
of the earliest farmers to do this. He had always
been inventive and ingenious about fixing and re-
pairing things. He had kept the country telephone
lines in working order and had also patented an
umbrella holder for tractors.
His son Herb started with him in 1925 and
worked for just 25 cents an hour. They built the
modern brick shop on Main Street in 1946 and
Mrs. Madge Ristow has worked in their office since
Herb's son, Ronald Bradbury, has been an
apprentice for the past four years and since get-
ting out of service has been actively engaged in
the work with his father for the past year.
RHODE MOTORS, INC.
Harold Rhode came to Piper City November 1,
1945, and opened an implement store in the bank
building. He moved to the north side in the shop
now occupied by L. A. Reynolds in January of
In May, 1953, he bought out the Joe Holmes
car agency and for a time ran both places. In March,
1954, he sold the implement agency and has since
been in business at 27 W. Main, where he sells aid
services cars. His son, Floyd, is associated with
TRIPLE "H" CO., INC.
Mr. and Mrs. Warren Hanna became affiliated
with the Triple "H" Company in 1958 as whole-
sale distributors of allied farm equipment with
a warehouse in Piper City.
Mrs. Hanna has been carrying on the business
since Mr. Hanna's death in 1968 and employs Mrs.
Andrew Froelich Jr. in the office. She has three
salesmen who visit dealers in the three states of
Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.
Triple "H" has been at its present location of
222 South Green since the early 60's. They incor-
porated in 1964.
M. J. (Jim) and Vera Soran have operated
Soran's Cafe for about 25 years. The combination
of Mrs. Soran as the "perfect cook" and Mr. Soran
as the "perfect host" has been hard to beat and
they have a large clientele of local and out of town
diners who look forward to dining at Soran's. Then-
Harvest Room is much in demand for wedding re-
ceptions, luncheons and meetings.
The Sorans also combine two pioneer families.
She was Vera Bishop before her marriage and is
a granddaughter of the L. T. Bishops, one of the
earliest farm families to settle here. Mr. Bishop
arrived here from New York in 1858. Mr. Soran is
a grandson of M. J. Soran, Sr., who arrived here in
Piper City was "dry" for many years and the
only way you could buy liquor in town was at the
Drug Store with a doctor's prescription. There are
now two taverns in operation. Citizens voted to go
"wet" shortly after prohibition was repealed.
Pat's Tap on the north side is owned and opera-
ted by Malcolm (Pat) Lionberger. The Office is
owned and managed by Mrs. Ruth Fagan, who
has been running the business by herself since the
death of her husband, Jack Fagan, in 1966.
There are a few stories that have been passed
down about the good old days when Piper was dry
and Chatsworth wet. It is told that many Piper
City men got on the evening train to go to Chats-
worth and then came back on a late evening one,
and almost all of the returning townsmen would
be carrying a shoe box. Of course, it was pointed
out that they could not be buying a pair of shoes
Then there was the man who got in the barber
chair to be shaved. When the barber was just half
done, the train, bound for Chatsworth, tooted into
town. The man jumped out of the chair, wiped off
his face and said he'd be back in the morning for
the rest of his shave.
Justin K. Reilly is the present funeral director
in Piper City, having bought out the business in
1951 following the death of Ernest H. Houk. He
and Mrs. Reilly and their three children lived in
Piper City until his father retired as funeral direc-
E. H. Hook was a funeral director here for over 41 years.
tor in Gilman. The Reillys then moved to Gilman,
but continued to operate the Reilly Funeral Home
in Piper City. Mr. and Mrs. James Gilvin are the
occupants of the home at the present time.
Mr. Houk had been Piper City's funeral director
for 41 years. In 1910 he began his mercantile ca-
reer by working for W. 0. McKinney and Daniel
Kewley. Mr. McKinney was the funeral director
and was also in the lumber business. In 1915 Mr.
Houk bought out his employers and was launched
on a long and successful career in the furniture
business. He also was a dignified and efficient fun-
eral director, kind and sympathetic.
He kept pace with the times and in 1929 was
operating a Studebaker DeLuxe Motor Funeral
Coach and Ambulance.
In the early days, perhaps a bit before Mr.
Houk's time, Fred Ristow had a team of matched
black horses that he used to pull the hearse to the
cemetery. They were trained to walk very slow
and when he drove by the men would remove
their hats and stand bare headed in respect to the
dead, a contrast to our modern motorized corteges
that are hardly noticed unless they interrupt the
flow of traffic.
The City Grocery has perhaps the longest his-
tory of any Piper City business. Certainly the
building is the oldest and most colorful. It was
built in about 1867 and housed a general store
operated by John A. Montelius, St., who took grain
and farm products in exchange for items in his
When the dress patterns came in, the women
would first lay the pattern on the material to see
how much "goods" it would take. They often cut
the pattern out right in the store and by this simple
little routine savored the pleasure of the new gar-
ment for several minutes where others might see
and perhaps envy them a bit.
Mrs. Montelius worked in her husband's store
and made millinery for the ladies.
In 1876 John Clark, from the very interesting
Clark family that had come here from Patterson,
New Jersey in 1867, purchased the store from Mr.
The Clarks were strong believers in education
and their children attended Wabash College at
Crawfordsville, Indiana. One son, Alexander, was
a railway attorney and worked out of Chicago until
his tragic death, of a heart attack, in an Evanston
station; another son, William J. Clark, worked with
a Grain Company in Chicago, but came back to
Piper City at the death of John in 1885, after which
he ran the general store, sometimes with the help
A daughter, Maggie, a teacher in the local high
school, married Ammon Coomes, a high school
principal, who stayed here for several terms in
about 1880. The Coomes moved to Paxton, where
they established Coomes Drug Store.
It was during the time that the Clarks were
the proprietors of the store that Clark's Hall be-
came the meeting place for all kinds of functions
and gatherings. The churches met here and this
was where the dinners and socials were held. It was
the forerunner of the Opera House.
Early history is sprinkled with many references
to Clark's Hall which was on the second story of
what is now the City Grocery.
The three Opperman brothers, Charles, Au-
gust and Ernest bought the store in 1897. In 1907
they traded the store for some land in Mississippi.
From that time until 1915 when Charles Opperman
returned, the store was operated by Perry Brothers,
the Walrich Brothers and others.
David or "Jerry" Opperman came into the busi-
ness as a young man and operated it until he sold
out to Mr. and Mrs. James Shaughnessy in 1956.
Mrs. Shaughnessy is a granddaughter of Charles
Opperman, one of the original owners, which
makes the Opperman family in ownership of the
store for 64 years of its long and interesting his-
The Cook family is another family that has
been in the merchandising business in Piper City
for many, many years. Ronald Cook owns and oper-
ates the modern supermarket of Cook's IGA on the
corner of Peoria and Pine Streets.
His father, George D. Cook, worked in the gro-
cery department of a hardware and grocery store
operated by Henry and Ed Strasma in a building
which was located where the Piper Hardware and
Variety is now. In 1920, Mr. Cook bought the gro-
cery stock and Joe Lundy bought the hardware
stock. Dudley Moore worked for Mr. Lundy and
Jack Rice worked for Mr. Cook.
After a short time Mr. Cook moved the grocery
store into a separate building where the Legion
Hall now is located, and later moved to about the
middle of the block where Soran's Restaurant
Some who worked in the store over the years
are: Fred Kemnetz, Ira Still, Frank Bouhl, Glen
Christian and Claude Hogan. Mrs. Cook, the former
Helen Bishop, also assisted her husband. The store
gave credit and also delivered groceries in the ear-
ly days before the streamlined cash and carry of
In 1947 the Central Hotel was sold to the Cooks
and the building razed to make room for the new
IGA Foodliner. Ronald had come home from ser-
vice in the Navy and went in as a partner with his
father. In 1960 he bought out his father and is now
the owner and operator.
PIPER HARDWARE AND VARIETY
Piper Hardware and Variety now operated by
Mr. and Mrs. Duane White is from the business
begun in 1927 by W. L. (Bill) Quick. After the dis-
astrous fire in 1926 that destroyed the Tayar Dry
Goods Store, the Overacker Restaurant and the
Berghouse Meat Market, Mr. Quick built the mo-
dern brick building that is there today, and opened
an outstanding store in this area.
One of the innovations that Mr. Quick adopted
was to display all merchandise on open waist-high
counters. There were no high shelves and every-
thing was in easy reach of customer and clerk. This
was an entirely new departure in stores of that day
and there was no similar store anywhere in this
section of Illinois, none even in Kankakee or Dan-
Mr. Quick was a life-long resident of Piper
City and had engaged in farming up until he went
in the store. Besides the thousand-and-one articles
of cutlery, gifts, housewares, electrical appliances,
crockery, toys, hosiery and notions, he also stocked
bigger items of hardware, farm implements and
The business was later sold to Bernard Hitchens
and Frank White. Hitchens sold out to White and
now it is operated by Frank's son, Duane and his
MANY BUSINESSES IMPORTANT
Each business in Piper City is important to it
and none should be slighted, but space does not
permit a long history of each one.
The Corner Cafe on the north side of Piper
City's square is operated by Mrs. Marion Butler,
who serves fine food and is well patronized.
Allen Day writes insurance and his company is
called familiarly Daisy's Insurance.
Robert Zorn is the local barber and is also the
Mr. and Mrs. Donald Dornfield operate the
Western Auto Associate Store and keep a nice
modern line of goods on hand.
Sauerbier Drug Store has been operated by
Mrs. Helen Sauerbier since the death of her hus-
band, John, in 1967. The Drug Store was run for
many years by F. A. Thomas and Mr. Sauerbier
was the druggist.
L. A. (Jack) Reynolds operates a Standard Oil
gas truck and also a farm store on the north side
where he sells tires, batteries and other farm needs.
There are several beauty parlors in operation.
Mrs. G. L. Switzer operates one in her home, as
does Mrs. Donald Jackson, Mrs. Ellis Martin, Mrs.
Charles Shoemaker and Mrs. Andie Evans. Mrs.
Ogreda Tammen and her daughter, Mrs. Bea La-
Voie, operate Bea's Beauty Shoppe on the north
Duane Cloos came here shortly after World
War II and established Cloos Body Shop where
the bodies of cars and trucks are straightened
The Pirate's Den, an antique and used furniture
shop, is owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. A. W.
Opperman. They also own Montelius Manor, the
home built in 1871 by John A. Montelius, Sr., which
is filled with many of the ancestral possessions of
the Montelius family and of that era. The Opper-
mans open the Manor each Sunday afternoon
through the summer for touring.
Eugene E. Doran runs a general insurance
agency and is an auctioneer and realtor. At one
time he worked for D. A. Klothe in his grocery
George Kemnetz owns and operates the Stan-
dard Service Station which has been mentioned
elsewhere in this history.
Marvin Hitchens operates the Sinclair Station
and also drives a Sinclair gas truck hauling gas to
the area farmers and also supplies them with var-
ious other agricultural needs.
Dan Rogers is owner of the Phillips Service
Center. This is on the corner of Main Street and
111. 115, where the old theater used to be in the
days of the silent movies.
C. E. (Patsy) Rice has long been associated with
COMPLETE LINE OF HERBICIDES
FERTILIZERS • ANHYDROUS AMMONIA
MONSANTO AGR. CENTER
Piper City, Illinois
HOWARD MYERS, Mgr
JAKE BARGMANN, Plant Opr.
1874 - 1969
FARMERS PIONEER MUTUAL
ONARGA, ILLINOIS 60955
SEE LOCAL AGENT
Piper City, 111.
Phone: (815) 268-7300
movies both inside and outside a theater. He and
iiis brother, John (Jack) Rice, operated the Ace
Theater in the 1930's where Pat's Tap is now loca-
They also went from town to town showing
"free movies" in the railroad park or some other
central location. These movies were free to the
viewers as they were paid for by the merchants,
who contributed as a token of good will to their
customers, or in the hope that those who came
in to see the movies would also "trade" in their
Jack has not been affiliated with the movies
for many years, but Patsy is still showing free mo-
vies on Saturday nights in the summer time in
Piper City, following a custom that must have been
started over 40 years ago. Each one brings a fold-
ing chair or a blanket on which to sit and the park
is soon converted into an outdoor theater.
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Delap are agents for the
Lyons Insurance Agency.
Floyd Donley is a dealer in scrap metal and
also is bus driver for the school.
W. D. Miller and Son are sanitary engineers and
clean septic tanks and drains. W. D., or Durell as
he is called, was injured in a truck accident in 1966
and his son Allen carries on the business. They are
descended from William Miller, one of the earliest
B. N. Stephens and Sons are painters and have
been in business for many years.
McKee Home Service is headed by Forrest Mc-
Kee and they sell and service gas furnaces.
John R. Keefe has a welding shop a mile west
McMillan Fertilizer has offices in the home of
Howard McMillan, Jr.
Ron Weibers is the agent for F/S Petroleum.
Robert Van Antwerp is a contractor and car-
Robert Mogged and Thees Sterrenberg are ce-
Walt Miller is chief of Miller Electric and they
wire homes and businesses and do other electri-
Floyd Stumph has an apiary.
Ivan Weber and Robert Hewerdine operate a
Raymond Mylcraine is postmaster.
Piper City, from the early days, has been bless-
ed with a high caliber of professional men. Dr.
R. J. Piper was one of the earliest physicians. Dr.
S. D. Culbertson was another early doctor and
druggist and was active in civic affairs. He was
reportedly the first doctor at the scene of the
tragic train wreck west of Piper City in 1887.
In later years Dr. Tieken was a faithful care-
taker of the health of the citizenry. He called on the
sick, driving a horse and buggy that became famil-
iar, and sometimes, a most welcome sight.
Dr. L. C. Diddy was another physician who serv-
ed the community in the early part of the 20th
Piper City has also had some fine dentists, in-
cluding Dr. Frederick Erhardt shortly after 1900
and Dr. R. E. Squires until his retirement in the
1950's. Dr. W. P. Mabry is the present fine dentist,
having come here 15 years ago.
Many present day "old timers" can recall the
colorful and highly respected veterinarian, Dr. P.
C. Ballou, who always seemed to be in a hurry,
hustling about with a big chew of tobacco in his
He was one of the first men in town to own an
automobile, and if you saw a cloud of dust on a
country road you might guess that it was "Doc"
hastening to the stable-side of one of his patients.
He was a connoisseur of fine horseflesh and kept
a stable of spirited and gaited thoroughbreds. He
also had a Negro trainer, Leslie Carpentier, who
came from Kentucky. In accord with the custom of
the day, Les ate and slept in the fine stable, and
was cordially accepted by Piper City town folks
because of his dignified and courteous manners.
Sometimes Doc and his step daughter, Effie Mil-
ler, would go out riding in the evening and Les
would usually ride with them, keeping a discreet
distance behind and people would murmur how
well he knew his place.
Piper City is now served by a veterinary clinic
with Dr. W. G. Raudabaugh, Dr. W. L. Hay and Dr.
James Finnell caring for the animal population.
Because of the changes in agriculture and the
sparsity of farm animals their practice is now
much concerned with pets and small animals.
Dr. Raudabaugh came here in 1938 and Dr. W.
L. Hay in 1950. Dr. Finnell, who resides in Gilman,
was the last to join the clinic staff.
Dr. Raudabaugh has been a Ford County Super-
visor for many years and it is interesting to note
that all have served on a school board, Dr. Rauda-
baugh and Dr. Hay in Piper City and Dr. Finnell
Dr. C. E. Branch came in 1934, buying the
practice from Dr. H. C. Sauer. Dr. H. A. Mcintosh
joined him in 1947 and their practice includes
many people from the outlying towns, as many
small towns do not have a doctor in 1969. Piper
City is unusually fortunate in having two fine
We Wish You A
BALTZ SALES & SERVICE
A. and J.
AL and JANET HONEGGER
WHERE FRIENDS MEET
SHELL BULK TRUCK
REPUTABLE SERVICE on
City Route 24 Chatsworth, Illinois
BOB & JUDY'S TAVERN
Fried Chicken Spaghetti $1.00
$1.20 Giblets $1.50
Friday — Fish and Catfish
Saturday — Steaks and Chicken
Looking forward to Serving You any nite
Craftsmen were proud of their work in the "good old days" and harness makers were
no exception A. A. Long worked in the Cooke Harness Shop for several years.
He left Piper City shortly after 1900.
Duffy Fortier used to drive a huckster wagon through the countryside. He is shown
in the yard of the Joseph Mitchinson farm. The Mitchinsons were grandparents
of Mrs. George Vaughn.
PIPER CITY, ILLINOIS
George Florence Skip
EAT HEREFORD MEAT, CAN'T BE BEAT
Peter Jensen, like other men of his day, was proud of his matched team and rig.
Some farmers liked mules better than horses for farming. H. W. Bargmann got a
lot of work done with this team of mules.
FOR A GOOD TIME
Known as PAT'S TAP
Until the death of John Sauerbier in 1967,
Piper City also had a druggist, which made a full
complement of professional men.
Marmion Scott was a native son who returned
to his home town as a lawyer and was acclaimed
one of the finest lawyers in the area. He was well
known for his accuracy and precision. He served
this community's legal needs for many years. His
death occurred August 13, 1959, at the age of 88.
He was the son of pioneer John A. Scott.
After his death Piper City was served by anoth-
er native son, Durwood Hummel, who made his
home in Paxton but had office hours in Piper City
once a week. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Earl
For several years Faraday Strock has been
coming to Piper City from Pontiac one day a week,
with his office in the State Bank.
THREE SERVE IN STATE LEGISLATURE
Three men have gone from here to represent
their district in the state legislature. John A. Mon-
telius, Sr., served in three General Assemblies,
being elected first in 1900.
A. C. (Abe) Thompson was another Piper Cityan
who had enough of the confidence and support
of his fellow citizens to send him to the Illinois
House of Representatives.
More recently Joseph W. Russell served sev-
eral terms as a state representative, retiring in
There have been many people living in Piper
City during the last 100 years who were outstand-
ing or interesting for one reason or another. We
cannot mention them all, but here are a few per-
One of the earliest druggists was John C. Cul-
ver, who was here in the 1870's after he had rid-
den the pony express from Fort Wallis to Denver,
served as an Indian Scout and had been chief scout
for William F. Cody, or "Buffalo Bill", as he was
called. In 1880 John went into the grain business
for a time and was also an early Ford County cor-
Captain Frank O. Walrich was a general mer-
chant in Piper City, after having served in the Civil
War. He was in charge of the prisoners at Fort
Donelson and also took part in Sherman's cam-
paign. Captain Walrich was drill sergeant for Com-
pany C, a section of the militia that met regularly
for drill in Piper City from after the Civil War until
after 1900. Mr. Walrich replaced William C. Baugh-
man, who moved from Piper City to Kansas.
One Piper Cityan was written up in "Ripley's
Believe It or Not" because of her unusual name.
1880 Miller was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. B.
Miller. The family lived in the north part of town
and Mr. Miller operated a corn sheller and other
machinery. 1880 attended the local grade school
until the family moved away. She was called
Bob Wolsey was a musician of some note; a
harmonica player and clog dancer. His greatest
accomplishment was playing the "bones" and in
the 1920's no public gathering was complete with-
out a few numbers by Mr. Wolsey.
John Thomison grew up on a farm just north
of town, but he could hardly wait to become a bal-
loonist. He was a great admirer of Ben Anderson
of Ashkum and when he was only 10 or 12 he rode
his bicycle all the way to Watseka to begin his car-
eer as a balloonist. He came back to his old home
town many times, later on, to appear as the fea-
tured attraction in the regular balloon ascensions
that highlighted almost every fair or celebration.
About 10 years ago he made his final ascension
to mark the 50th anniversary of his start in the
business. Unfortunately he did not get off to a
good start and drifted into some wires and the ride
was soon over. He was one of Piper City's sons who
had a long and successful career in a job that he
AL KOESTNER — BIG TIME BALL PLAYER
Piper City has had several athletes who have
stood out as "memorable", the most noteworthy of
whom is Al Koestner. He was the small town boy
who made good playing in the big leagues. He was
the idol of every small boy and even many of the
He pitched for teams around Piper City where
he was undisputed champion on the pitcher's
mound. No one in these parts could match him
or even come close. This was in a day when young
men loved to play ball for recreation, and one
team that had uniforms and played a regular sche-
dule with neighboring towns, was the Hills Indians.
Sand Ridge also had a team, the Swamp Angels,
managed for years by Frank (Spec) Lyons. Who-
ever had Al for their pitcher was usually the win-
G. S. CONIBEAR
SPORTING GOODS PAINT
Furniture and Carpet
CHATSWORTH, ILLINOIS 60921
GLENN and MARGARET HEMINOVER,
The Mogul basketball team had quite a reputation and was active before and after
World War I. Shown are seated, John Kelly, Fred Koestner, Al Koestner and Joe Burger.
Standing: Jerry Opperman, Walter Gibb, Pete Kelly, Elmer Chafey, Jim O'Mara, and
Al kept going up higher in the leagues until he
'as earning as much as $400 a month and expenses.
or his day and age (about 1910-11-12) this was
huge sum considering that farm hands were paid
20 a month plus board and room.
Al first pitched successfully for Los Angeles,
'hen he was brought up to the Cub's organization
l Chicago. He pitched several games for the Cubs
nd was later traded to Cincinnati.
After he retired from baseball he came back to
'iper City, where in the 1930's he ran a pool hali
nd sometimes on Sunday he earned some extra
loney pitching for a team that needed the ser-
ices of an ex-professional.
More recently Doug Harford gained consider-
ble recognition for playing varsity football at the
Iniversity of Illinois. Harvard (Bud) Johnson play-
d football at Bradley University at Peoria and
)avid Keefe was starred as a pitcher at Illinois
Vesleyan at Bloomington.
Don, Ted and Dave Read all pitched for college
NELS PLANK, AUCTIONEER
Not everyone has the gift of gab necessary to
e an auctioneer, but G. P. (Nels) Plank was one
f those rare souls. He was a distinguished looking
man with shaggy hair, heavy eyebrows and a flow-
ing mustache. Erect of bearing, he carried with
him an air of authority.
There was no one better with words when it
came to a farm sale or auctioneering off a yard
filled with household items. His words ran to-
gether in a singing chant that fascinated all lis-
teners and brought quick results. He was called
"Colonel" after the custom of the day.
He was also a justice of the peace, performing
marriages and hearing trials of a small nature that
would come up in a small town.
D. A. KLOETHE, MERCHANT
D. A. Kloethe was a Piper City merchant in
the early 1900's who is best remembered for his
"fire sales" and "line rings."
He himself had several fires and whenever there
was a fire in a nearby town, or even at quite a dis-
tance, Mr. Kloethe would often buy out the stock
and have a fire sale where people drove for miles
to get the bargains.
The line ring was given whenever fresh rasp-
berries arrived for canning or if something came
in that he wanted all farm ladies to know about.
The operator, who was called "central" in those
days, rang a series of long and short rings so that
everyone knew that they were to listen in on the
Eat Beef Every Day 7 '
GIBB ANGUS FARM
PIPER CITY, ILLINOIS
It's Better If It's Black
DEKALB POWER PLANT
JOHN T. KERBER
Piper City, Illinois
Piper City, Illinois
EV'S PRIM and TRIM SHOPPE
Lingerie — Jewelry — Hosiery
Phone 265-4301 Gilman, Illinois
ELECTRICAL WIRING and
WALTER H. MILLER, Proprietor
Neighbors enjoyed getting together for work or for fun. Sometimes they combined a
little of both. Pictured is a barn raising at the Abe Thompson farm.
Women sometimes got together for an afternoon of visiting as in this picture.
KUM TO KERBER'S
R. R. No. 1 Piper City, 111.
THERESA KERBER, Prop.
SEARS CATALOG MERCHANT
MR. KEITH D. MILLER 10543
Chats worth, Illinois
THE REDWOOD INN
"The Home of Homemade Bread"
Motel - Restaurant - Lounge
Color TV — Swimming Pool
Rt. 136 East - RANTOUL, ILL.
ROBERT & MAXINE CHAMBERS
Owners and General Managers
Phone (217) 892-2121
BRADBURY PLUMBING & HEATING
Fred (Mickey) Kemnetz retired in June 1969 after over 30 years in law enforcement
in Piper City. He and Mayor Merle Harford are shown with new police car in 1968.
Cook's IGA Foodliner was boilt on the corner where the Central Hotel had stood.
Eugene E. Doran built an office building next to it. Both were built in 1947.
lessage. When the operator had heard several
icks signifying that several receivers had been
fted off the hooks and that everyone on the line
as listening she would deliver a message some-
hat like this:
"A shipment of Michigan raspberries has just
[rived at D. A. Kloethe's. Red raspberries $2.75
case, and black raspberries for $1.75. There will
e no more until next Friday".
For this service Mr. Kloethe paid the operator
small sum and it was a cheap and effective way
Many have been called upon to enforce the law
I Piper City. Sometimes the high spirited farm
ands got ahold of some bottled spirits and would
ave to be locked up over night and fined.
There was a small "calaboose" down about
here the entrance to the junk yard is today and
was not unlikely for it to have one or more
ccupants almost every weekend.
Jess Barnstable was the village magistrate or
anstable about 1910-11 and 12. He was a tall, lean
lan with a friendly smile that didn't always seem
) go with his job.
He was the first police officer in Piper City to
rder a uniform from Sears, Roebuck & Co. Others
ad worn everyday work clothes and there was
othing to distinguish them from any other citi-
in except the star they pinned to their vest.
Not so with Jess. He dressed up in his uniform,
II spick and span, and wore it proudly and well,
specially Saturday nights when Main Street was
rowded. He would stroll quietly around the square,
uieting down rowdy young fellows, settling dis-
utes, and always took time to visit with friends.
Ie was always friendly, but strict, and was treated
Once he gave a leading citizen a summons for
riving his car up town without lights after the sun
ad gone down, which was forbidden by a city
rdinance. Jess enforced the ordinance even
tiough the leading citizen was furious. A small
ne was paid.
Fred (Mickey) Kemnetz, who retired July 1,
969, has been the village constable off and on
or over 30 years. Weighing over 200 pounds, his
ize and strength have helped him "speak with
One of the most exciting happenings during his
areer was the time the escaped robbers of the
tuckley Bank stalled their car four miles south
nd east of town and fled into a corn field. One of
he robbers had been injured in a gun battle at
hickley. This happened in July of 1931.
It was not long until ail the law enforcement
agencies of the area were represented here, but
since Mick was on the spot he organized the local
men and they armed themselves with whatever
weapons they had and proceeded to the abandoned
car and branched out from there.
Someone circled the field in an airplane in
hopes of sighting the fugitives.
They finally felt reasonably sure that the ban-
dits were in a small crib a half mile south of Alva
Mylcraine's and taking cover as best they could
the men pretty well surrounded the crib and or-
dered the robbers out.
The story is told that after the desperadoes
were ordered out that Mick called to a companion
to "turn that machine gun on 'em." The compan-
ion, not used to playing cops and robbers asked,
'What machine gun?"
Perhaps it was fortunate that the wounded man
was needing the attention of a doctor and the men
soon gave themselves up and were taken into Piper
City where the wounded man was treated and both
were placed in the village jail, one of the last, if
not the last time it has ever been used.
People simply poured into Piper City to get
a look at these men and men, women and children
filed by the jail and peered in through the bars to
see what manner of men these were, anyway.
THE GENERAL STORE
There have been several outstanding "mer-
chandisers" in the history of our town. One of the
most interesting merchants around 1910 was W. H.
(Bill) Roberts, who operated one of the finest and
largest department stores in Central Illinois. He
had clothing, shoes, drygoods and groceries all
under one roof — everything the family needed
to feed and clothe them. This was in the days
before the family had been "let out by the auto
and the world let in by radio." Shopping was all
done at home in local stores.
Roberts' store was the first in a small town to
install a system of overhead trolleys to carry bas-
kets filled with the items purchased to a balcony
where it was checked and wrapped. This was quite
a spectable and no doubt many items were pur-
chased just to see the conveyor work.
Bill was a bachelor and lived in the hotel at
the west end of Peoria Ave. which was run by the
Schuylers at that time.
Bill cut a fancy figure riding around the coun-
try in his red Rambler and made many hearts
flutter, but he remained single and after he sold
his store he worked by the hour as a carpenter.
MANY VETERANS HAVE LIVED HERE
Many have served their country from this corn-
munity in the little over a century since the first
settlers came. There is no evidence that any went
directly from here to the Civil War, but many vet-
erans settled here afterwards and for many years
there was an active unit of the Grand Army of the
James McBride, who was active in civic affairs
and president of the fair board, was a Civil War
veteran who marched in Grand Review before Pres-
ident Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D. C, be-
fore being mustered out of the Union Army. He
was a large landowner and a director of the First
Another young man who passed in review be-
fore President Lincoln, and later settled here, was
William M. Dick, grandfather of Mrs. John Ark.
A colorful figure, he ran away from home in Niles,
Mich, when he was 16 and joined the Union Army.
He served under McClellan, Burnsides, Grant
and Sherman. He fought in the battles of South
Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and took part
in the siege of Vicksburg and of Knoxville.
At the close of the war, he returned to Niles
and shortly thereafter came to Ford County. He
had read in the Chicago Tribune that land was
for sale in this area very cheap. He bought land
northeast of Piper City, and he and his wife, the
former Sophronia McLain, lived on the farm sev-
eral years before moving to Piper City. He sold
the farm to the Anderson family, who still own
In 1930 the American Legion Gibb Post No. 588
honored him with a banquet, he being the only
remaining Civil War veteran in Piper City. He
died Nov. 21, 1933.
John C. Wilson, who has many descendants in
Piper City, but few by the name of Wilson, died
in 1922 and was one of the last of the "old sol-
diers." There were many others.
WORLD WAR I
Many of Piper City's sons went off to war in
1916 when the United States joined the Allies in
fighting Germany to "Make the World Safe for
Democracy." One of the first to go and also one
of the first to get back was T. E. Jeffries, and
there were many who followed him. The only one
who didn't return was Waiter Gibb, who used to
play basketball on the Mogul team and was well
known throughout the area. Gibb Post of the Amer-
ican Legion was named for him.
MISS ANDREWS GOES TO ENGLAND
Miss Agnes Andrews caught the imagination of
the townspeople when she went into full time
overseas work for the Young Men's Christian As-
sociation. Her jobs were varied and one of them
was to sell cocoa, tea and cakes to the servicemen.
She traveled in England and on the Continent.
The Piper City Journal carried long letters she
wrote back to the townspeople telling of her ad-
ventures in a strange land.
She was overseas after the signing of the Armis-
tice and as the American boys were being mustered
back to the United States. In England she attended
the first Grand National held after the war and it
no doubt was impressive to a Midwesterner to see
the horses jump the hurdles and hedges in the
She also attended the big Peace Parade in Lon-
don with General Pershing leading the parade,
followed by a large band and troops of hand picked
soldiers in full dress uniforms from all the allied
countries. There were caterpillar tanks and guns
and, all in all, it was very impressive. Miss Agnes
wrote back to Piper City friends, "The U. S. men
were the best looking in the whole parade."
The end of World War I came with the signing
of the Armistice on November 11, 1918. This news
had been looked for for several days and even
weeks, and when it came everyone everywhere
In Piper City, Mayor Sowers announced early
in the day the expected signing of the armistice
terms by the German envoys, and said the cele-
bration proper would begin at four o'clock in Piper
City, giving the school children and the country
people a chance to get in and join.
At four o'clock everyone had turned out and
was armed with whistles, bells, pans and "clack-
ers." Automobile horns were kept going, whistles
were blown, bells rung, guns fired and anvils
struck — in fact about anything that would make
a noise was brought into use.
A parade was formed, headed by the Piper City
Cornet Band and marched through the streets and
many times around the "square." A feature of the
parade was a casket for the Kaiser hauled on Bob
Melvin's big truck and upon which were seated
a number of young ladies representing their friends
or sweethearts "Over There." After the parade an
effigy of the Kaiser was dragged through the streets
trailing an automobile.
With a short intermission for supper the cele-
bration continued. The band played several num-
bers, the Kaiser was burned in effigy in the Rail-
road Park, after which a huge bonfire was built
and the band, followed by hundreds of men, wo-
men and children, circled around it while hundreds
of others kept up an incessant noise, blowing horns
MEMORIAL DAY 1969
r whistles. About nine o'clock the festivities be-
an to subside and people started to leave for their
lomes, but still jubilantly happy over the termina-
ion of the great struggle which had caused so
auch bloodshed and anguish in the world.
Alfred Montelius, who was a small boy at the
ime, got a bullet in his shoulder from the gun
if a happy celebrant, so the day, though a joyous
ne, was not without its mishap. Fortunately Ai-
red was not seriously hurt.
Again when World War II broke out, there was
lardly a young man left to carry on the work of
he farms and businesses and many went overseas
o serve in the long hard struggle that ended in
.945. This time Piper City was not so lucky. James
Soma, William Williams, and James Delap never
eturned. There were others who were close to
*iper Cityans who died in service. It was a time
if great strain and sadness and when peace finally
:ame the victory celebrations were mild in com-
>arison to the frenzied reaction at the end of
Vorld War I.
In the early 1900's, Piper City, like many other
owns and villages, began to get organized for
elephone service and through the efforts of John
A. Montelius, Jr., Page Glass, J. A. Cooke and others
the Piper City Telephone Company was formed.
The first operator worked night and day and
although she may not have handled many calls,
the pay was small and the work confining.
For many years Miss Anna Hancock was the
night operator. About that time the operators re-
ceived just 10c an hour.
The office was in the corner of what was then
the First National Bank building or where the
State Bank is now located.
Early linemen and trouble shooters for the
company were J. C. Lampkin, James Steadman,
John Drilling and John (Pinky) Boyle. Mrs. Boyle
was also an operator and secretary of the com-
pany for many years.
Laura Moore Wilson was another early oper-
ator. Miss Esther Moore was a chief operator for
many years, following Miss Inez McClain. At the
time, in 1963, that the telephone company went to
dial service, Mrs. L. A. Reynolds was the chief
The telephone service has been under three
companies. The Illinois Commercial Telephone
Company bought out the privately owned original
company and later the General Telephone Com-
pany bought them out.
_ ' naif-'; *
T**iJK ■;1.\ '' -Ki.
virfs^tt ...» ,
Harry Hill operated several threshing
There is hardly a home in Piper City without
i telephone and every business probably makes
everal long distance calls every week. Several
lave talked to loved ones in service half way
iround the world and have been able to hear and
o be heard very well.
A far cry from the contrary instrument of the
;arly days that tried men's patience and cowed
nany a man into asking his wife to talk over the
'thing" when an important matter came up. His
vife would fearlessly (almost) engage the monster
vhile he stood beside her and told her what to
Women took to the telephone with more en-
husiasm than did the men. They soon learned
hat here was an excellent way to break the mon-
>tony of the long days and also to organize club
neetings and to do all kinds of planning and
EARLY FARM STYLE
One of the big delights for country kids was
he day when the threshing machine moved into
he yard for a few days of threshing.
The big steam engines belched black smoke
rom the smoke stack and as it came slowly up
machines and shelters. This is one of his
the road pulling its separator and water tank, it
was a sight to thrill young and old.
Threshing was not only a time of harvest, it
was also a time of feasting. All farmers had their
threshing ring. This meant that each man in the
ring helped every other man and if he had more
oats than the others, he furnished an extra hired
The men all ate at the place where they were
working that day and every meal was a banquet.
Farm wives "laid themselves out" to set a good
table. There was usually two kinds of meat, mashed
potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob, sliced toma-
toes, salads of all kinds and a choice of pie and
The combines that began to automate the har-
vests in the 1930's brought an end to the era of
the threshing ring where neighbor helped neigh-
bor and women helped each other in minding the
children and doing the cooking.
GRAIN AND CHAFF
A barn raising was another community effort
that was once common and is gone today. When
a man got ready to build a barn and many of the
farmers built them big in order to hold lots of
livestock, they got the lumber on hand, then sent
for all the farmers in the area to come with their
hammers and help build it. Huge barns were built
in almost no time as many hands made a quick
job of it.
When the barn was built and before the live-
stock was put in, they would have a barn dance
and everybody that helped would come back for
an evening of dancing and gaiety. The music was
furnished by several fiddlers and someone who
could chord on an organ or piano. Wilbur Gourley
was one of the most popular callers for square
dancing and many are the "do sa dos" and "alle-
mande lefts" he has called in his time.
Another harvest custom was that you should
have oyster stew for supper on the night you finish-
ed shucking corn. It was a treat that was looked
forward to and no one ever weakened and had
it before the harvest was finished, either.
A book in itself could be written about the
founders of our town and their descendants, some
of whom still live here, but we will have to satisfy
ourselves with a brief review.
Dr. William A. Piper, for whom Piper City was
named, has been somewhat a figure of mystery,
without very much known about him. I am in-
debted to Mrs. Robert Chambers, Sr., who through
family research has supplied us with a short bio-
graphy. She is the granddaughter of John A. Mon-
telius, Sr., nephew and close associate in the early
days of Dr. Piper.
Dr. Piper was born March 5, 1820, in Miiton,
Pennsylvania, the son of Frederick A. and Mary
Cubberly Piper. He died July 6, 1896 in Philadel-
phia. He is buried in Laurel Cemetery nearby.
He married Mary Bibighaus, a daughter of Rev.
and Mrs. Henry Bibighaus, December 21, 1844.
They had two daughters and a son: Elizabeth, 1845-
1876; Milton A., born 1847, and Emma Louise,
Elizabeth married J. D. S. Gast, a brother of
Mrs. John Montelius, Sr.
Two sisters of Dr. Piper married Piper City
men and figured in Piper City history. Rebecca,
born August 14, 1816, married Charles Montelius,
February 16, 1841. Their children were William
Piper Montelius, 1841-1865; John Augustus Mon-
telius, 1844-1920, and Harry Gast Montelius, 1858-
1900. Rebecca died May 1, 1866.
Another sister, Maria Louise, married James
Madden. Their daughter, Rebecca married Nels
Plank. Their children were Laura, who married
Elmer Lansdale (daughter, Mildred); Rebecca
(Reba) married Lester Sowers (daughter Margaret);
Esther married Phil Scott (son John and daughter
It seems clear that although the town was
named for Dr. Piper, he never lived here. He did
have large land holdings and he made large in-
vestments of capital in the early businesses with
his nephew, John A. Montelius, Sr.
There was a Dr. Richard J. Piper, who prac-
ticed medicine here for several years. He left in
the 1880's and some who have heard about him
believed him to be the Dr. Piper for whom the
town was named.
JOHN A. MONTELIUS, SR.
The town owes much to John A. Montelius, Sr.,
whose business acumen and ability made him one
of the founding fathers to be highly respected and
He came to Piper City after the Civil War in
which he served, even though at first rejected
because of his small stature. He came with only
$1200, but built a large fortune in land and other
He was engaged in the grain business, in bank-
ing, in the general store, in lumber and many
other businesses and made a success of every
venture. He and Dr. Piper were often partners and
it is supposed that Dr. Piper put up much of the
money in the early days and Mr. Montelius sup-
plied the management skill. He came to Illinois
originally to look after the large land interests
of his uncle.
He went back to his home in Mifflinburg, Penn-
sylvania, to marry his childhood sweetheart, Kath-
arine Gast. When they arrived in Piper City in
1867 there were just five houses. They at first lived
in a house owned by Dr. Piper that later was
known as the Culbertson house. They built their
fine home in 1871 which is known today as Mon-
Descendents of Mr. Montelius living here are
Alfred and Miss Ruth Montelius, Mrs. Robert Cham-
bers, Sr., Mrs. Edwin Read and her children.
Mrs. J. J. Lyons' grandfather, Hiawatha Davis,
was brought here at the age of nine months by
his parents, Joseph and Rebecca Davis. They came
from Ohio in a covered wagon in 1858. Settling
between what is now Piper City and Chatsworth,
their nearest neighbors were the L. T. Bishops and
On the night of the terrible train wreck in
1887 survivors made their way to the Davis home
where many lanterns lighted up the yard for a
Page One Hundred
summer party. The wounded were cared for in
the home and a baby was left there for some time
after the wreck.
Daniel Marble met an untimely and tragic death
in 1869, when he drowned while trying to ford the
Vermilion River. He was just 36 and left three
daughters. Mr. Marble probably has more de-
scendents in this area than any other early settler.
His daughters were Malvina Read (Aunt Viney),
Grace Perkins and Nettie Serene.
George Perry and Mrs. Margaret Brown are
descended from two pioneers, Archibald McKinney
and William Corey.
Robert Wells, great grandfather of Duane
White, settled north of Piper City.
Rebecca and Robert Chayer are living on the
same farm settled by their great, great grand-
father, Robert Hevener.
Notice should be taken of the Read boys who
moved onto land north and east of town. The 1884
atlas names five — Charles, Arby, Thomas, Butler
and Ed. There are still Reads farming land origin-
ally farmed by these so-called boys.
Thomas Cue, a native of England, came to
America in 1853, settling in . Woodford County.
He moved to Brenton Township in 1870. His de-
scendents include the Wayne and Dean Jensen
Debbie Kane, 12 year old daughter of Mr. and
Mrs. William Kane, is the fifth generation of her
family to live on the same farm. Some of the ori-
ginal house from her ancestor, W. Gardner, is
still in the present home.
Leslie and Greg Herriott are the fifth genera-
tion from Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Clark, who moved
here in 1890. At one time Mr. and Mrs. Herriott,
Greg and Leslie, lived on the family homestead,
which is now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Gene Froe-
lich and family, in Section 22 in Brenton Town-
ship. This is especially interesting because this
is the section to which John R. Lewis first came.
The Ronald Cook family is descended from
at least two early pioneers. Ronald's great grand-
father on his mother's side was L. T. Bishop, who
came here in 1857. E. E. Bishop, son of L. T., mar-
ried Dora Carpenter, who was the daughter of
H. S. Carpenter, who came here in 1867.
J. A. COOKE, HARNESS MAKER
J. A. Cooke, who came here from Pennsylvania,
was one of the leading pioneers. He was a skilled
craftsman in harness making and his business was
as important to the early settlers as the implement
shop is to modern farmers.
A fine team of horses was no stronger than its
harness and the farmers had confidence in Mr.
Cooke's work. A few families still treasure a bit
of harness that Mr. Cooke made in his shop for
their forebears so long ago.
Mr. and Mrs. Cooke were both prominent in
civic and church affairs and both served on the
They had two children, Delmar and Geraldine.
Dr. Delmar Cooke came back to the Cooke ances-
tral home in Piper City after his retirement as a
professor of English at the University of Texas.
Miss Geraldine is an accomplished musician and
photographer in New York City and spends quite
a little time here with her brother.
Dr. Cooke is Piper City's only author, having
written, "William Dean Howells" in 1922. The
book is a critical study of the life and works of
Joseph Miller worked for Mr. Cooke in the
harness shop and later bought him out. As tractors
replaced horses the shop was converted into a
shoe repair shop in the 1930's and now stands emp-
ty on Main Street.
JUDGE H. P. BEACH
Judge H. P. Beach has no descendents living
here, and perhaps none at all, but he was one of
the most interesting and influential of the pioneers.
He served in the Civil War and was a strong op-
ponent to slavery. For more than four and a half
years he served continously, in both the infan-
try and heavy artillery. He served successively
in about all positions from private to commander
of his company. He participated in some of the
most important military operations of the Missis-
sippi valley, under Grant, Sherman, Sheridan,
Banks, McClerndand, and others.
While in service he raised $715.30 for the
Lincoln monument at Springfield, and received
a personal letter of acknowledgment from Gover-
Judge Beach's grandmother was Mary Tomkins,
a near relative of Daniel D. Tomkins, who was
prominent in the early history of our country,
one time governor of New York and vice president
for eight years under James Monroe.
Judge Beach and his young southern bride
came to Piper City following the Civil War and
he resumed the study of law which had been inter-
rupted by his service years. He was admitted to
the bar in 1870, and for three years, was engaged
in private practice. In 1873 he was elected to the
County Board of Supervisors and in later years
was elected County Judge for three years.
He was considered one of the best orators in
Page One Hundred One
iUm« Cj^M^J. C»fA»A>%
tf3 JL U^Xy-v\
Page One Hundred Two
This picture was taken of several ladies from north of town. Shown at right of
picture are Mrs. Pat Gallahue (in dark dress with white scarf), just back of her is
Mrs. Pat O'Mara and just right of her is Mrs. John Pool, Sr.
Eastern Illinois and did much political speaking
and campaigning. He was editor and publisher of
the Pan Handle Advocate, a weekly newspaper.
It is a matter of concern to some people that
Beach Street, which was named after Judge Beach,
has somehow by the year 1969 got changed to
Beech Street, as though it were named for the
tree. This one mark of respect given the Judge by
the early townspeople has almost been erased ex-
cept for old maps and records. Done, no doubt,
through error and without malice.
Bi-County was a thriving little community that
flourished in pioneer days and then died out more
than 50 years ago. It was located in the Sand
Ridge area. It was said you could buy anything
from pins to a threshing machine at Bi-County.
Everything was hauled in by wagon, even the
mail which came from La Hogue. Albert Lamb,
father of Elmer Lamb, was the first mail carrier
and fixed up a one-horse cart so that he could
carry the mail bags.
Joe Bagley and E. E. Plummer drove a huckster
wagon around through the country with supplies
from the general store. There was also a black-
There were lots of young hired hands working
on the farms in this area and they had a baseball
team called the Bi-County Red Sox. Al Koestner
used to pitch for them sometimes when he was
just starting out.
Saturday night in Bi-County was always a big
night as many of the men preferred to gather there
than in Piper City where it was "dry." These men
worked hard and liked to blow off steam on Satur-
Will DeMoure, uncle of Ralph DeMoure, ran
the general store for many years.
PIPER CITY HAS MANY CLUBS
There are many clubs and civic organizations
thriving in Piper City, some of which go far back
into history. Piper Lodge 608 AF & AM is the
oldest organization. It received its charter October
1, 1868. The first master of the lodge was Wilson
Ong. There are six living 50-year members. They
are Victor Pearson, John Boyle, R. C. DeMoure,
J. J. Lyons, George Perry and Otis Kirkham.
Piper Order of Eastern Star Chapter 578 was
chartered November 12, 1906 and they have eight
Page One Hundred Three
The year was 1919. The Treaty of
Versailles was signed in Paris, the
18th Amendment became law, such
entertainment notables as Liberace,
Tennessee Ernie Ford and Nat King
Cole were born, the famous French artist Renoir died and Jack Dempsey
KO'ed challenger Carl Morris in the third round.
That was the year CIPS began serving Piper City with electricity.
In 1919, the average use of electric service by a Piper City home was
170 kilowatt hours. Today, the average is almost 33 times as much.
While the use of electricity in Piper City continues to increase year after
year, the unit cost has been going down. In fact, the average cost per
kilowatt hour of electricity is 24% less than just 10 years ago!
To meet the growing requirement for electric service . . . now and in
the future ... we at CIPS are constantly planning ahead so that ample
power will always be available to the homes, businesses and industries
in Piper City and other communities we serve.
CENTRAL ILLINOIS PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY
Page One Hundred Four
living 50-year members, Mrs. Margaret Brown, Mrs.
J. W. Hickerson, Mrs. Mae Rohrbach, Mrs. R. E.
Squires, Mrs. Jean Leiser Scott, Mrs. Jean Burger
and Mr. and Mrs. Otis Kirkham. The first worthy
patron and worthy matron were George Montelius
and Mrs. Mae Long.
In 1900 there were the Modern Woodmen of
America, Odd Fellows, Forresters, Royal Circle and
the Grand Army of the Republic, all of which are
MONDAY NIGHT CIRCLE
The first social club was the Monday Night
Circle organized October 4, 1899 with ten charter
members. Miss Clara Bishop, daughter of E. E. Bis-
hop and granddaughter of L. T. Bishop, was one of
the charter members. She was graduated from
Normal University, Normal and had come back
to teach Algebra, Physiology and Physical Geogra-
phy, the first that these subjects had been taught
She missed the stimulation of study and the
joy of shared knowledge so prevailed on some of
her friends to start a study club. The first year
they ambitiously covered the vast continent of Rus-
sia and for many years followed a prescribed
The club is still active, but is now a social group,
interested in literature and topics of interest. Mrs.
John Lyons is president of the club in 1969.
One of the club's major contributions to the
town is the founding of the library in 1927 which
later became tax supported. The club still contri-
butes to the library and often has a coffee hour to
raise money for its benefit.
MOUNT MELLICK CLUB
The Mount Mellick Club was started in 1903
and was primarily a needlework club. When Mrs.
S. M. Erskine visited Scotland, she saw some beauti-
ful embroidery originating on Mount Mellick. After
she arrived home she started a club with 13 mem-
In order to belong to the club, each member
had to make a piece of work and show the others
how to do it. They turned out some very fancy
Piper City Camp of Royal Neighbors of America
was instituted May 25, 1908. Mrs. Mary E. Carr of
Piper City is one of the 25 charter members who
is still living here.
Piper City has two service clubs which are very
active and have done much for the betterment of
Flying Farmers were much in vogue from 1949 to '55 and
several local people got their pilot's license and were
members. Among them were Durelle and Lorraine White
who once were hosts to a Fly In Breakfast. Bob Bradbury
is probably the most avid flying fan at present.
On April 6, 1939, 18 leading business and pro-
fessional men affiliated with Rotary International
and established the first service club in Piper City.
Some of the worthwhile organizations the Piper
City Rotary has backed and helped to develop are
the Parent-Teacher Association, the Community
Betterment Club which is now called the Council
For Progress, the Fire Protection District, the
Piper City Locker Association, the Piper City Fair
Association (which sponsored the Horse Show
for many years), the Home Guarantee and Loan
Association and the Pella-Brenton United Charities.
This year the Rotary has an exchange student,
Helen Ford, from Australia who has attended the
high school here.
Another student, Mesfin Mariam, of Ethiopia
Mrs. Harold Bork is local weather observer and keeps
records in 1969 for the United States Weather Bureau.
Page One Hundred Five
Page One Hundred Six
l ^ ^ *
/ ,r /
Mark and Danny Froelich wrote a letter to President
Richard M. Nixon inviting him to the Centennial Celebra-
tion and received a letter from the White House. Each
received a card with a facsimile of his signature.
The official start of the Centennial observation was held
in March with the ceremony of burying the razor. Taking
part were Mrs. Eugene Froelich, Mrs. Robert Zorn,
Mitchell Johnston, Mayor and Mrs. Merle Harford.
Piper City's Peoria Ave. as it looks in 1969.
Page One Hundred Seven
One of the worst storms to hit this area was the cyclone that demolished the buildings
at the S. E. Wells home and of others on April 21, 1912.
A 1969 view of the north side business section.
Page One Hundred Eight
came to Piper City under the American Field Ser-
vice plan and stayed with Mr. and Mrs. H. A. Mc-
intosh for the school year of 1965-66.
Helen Ford has visited the Everett Thorndyke
family and is now staying with the J. D. Somers.
She may visit other families before returning home
The Lions Club received its charter from Lions
International on January 24, 1956 and has been
very active in raising funds for the community in
its 13-year history.
It has put up street signs, trash receptacles, and
marked parking spaces on the main streets. Mem-
bers have helped in erecting the park pavilion,
have conducted auto safety checks, have had sev-
eral community sales and sponsored the Little
League baseball. It also helped with the Council
The Home Extension Clubs are popular with
Piper City women. They were at one time called
Home Bureau Units. The Pella Home Bureau Unit
met for the first time with Mrs. Howard Stuckey
in 1928. This unit sponsored the first 4-H Clubs,
and through their efforts the first hot lunch pro-
grams were served at the Piper City school.
The Brenton Home Bureau Unit was establish-
ed October 7, 1936. The first president was Mrs.
Clair Bishop. There is still a Brenton Home Ex-
tension Club and there is a Modern Mrs. Home Ex-
The 4-H Clubs and the Scouting program for
both boys and girls are flourishing in Piper City.
Some clubs have come and gone and some that
have gone are the Senior and Junior Woman's
Clubs, the Ever Ready Club and the Parent-Teacher
As we come to the conclusion of our account of
past events and move into the present, trying to
keep abreast of the "Now Generation" we cannot
foresee the future for our town or for our citizens.
The land is filled with great hope and great despair.
We can only savor the good of the past and
work toward a future here that seems to be filled
now with a bright promise.
This is a history, not of one person or of one
family, but of a community that has learned to
live in relative harmony with love and support for
each other. Couid we ask more for the future?
Page One Hundred Nine
Page One Hundred Ten
O m t?
State Bank of Piper City
Piper City, Illinois
A FULL SERVICE BANK