Looking Back

Looking back at 10 years of Looking Back

The first photo from the Joiner History Room for the Looking Back column in 2010 was of concert pianist Rex Larson and Denis Hall from the Pianola Institute in London, England. They came in search of history of the Melville Clark (later Wurlitzer) piano factory.
The first photo from the Joiner History Room for the Looking Back column in 2010 was of concert pianist Rex Larson and Denis Hall from the Pianola Institute in London, England. They came in search of history of the Melville Clark (later Wurlitzer) piano factory.

June is the 10th anniversary of the Joiner History Room contributing the Looking Back column. We’d like to take this month to celebrate the Joiner History Room volunteers and their hard work on this column. The photos for June will be from our staff collection and the stories in the column will be ones that didn’t make the original column. We hope you enjoy this as much as we do.

1867: Somonauk is a smart little village situated about three miles west of the county of Sandwich. It has seven fine churches, but two saloons; three good grain elevators; a fine agriculture depot; two lumber merchants, one of whom sold over one million feet of lumber last season. There is a fine large brick block; a good hotel kept by the well-known landlord, John M. Goodell. We noticed some drunkards in town but they were Half-Shire men who had come over to buy up votes and not meeting with good success had drunk up their own whiskey and were too drunk to get home.

1878: Quite a sensation was created in Mayfield lately by the novel mode of transportation adopted by a visitor from Dixon and one from Batavia. The Dixon gentleman and the Batavia lady made a series of calls in the neighborhood, the gentleman conveying the lady from one place to another in a wheelbarrow. Whether this trip was performed under a wager, or purely for the convenience of the thing, the parties have not stated. At any rate, it was something out of the usual order, and worthy of notice.

1877: Fifteen or 20 young gentlemen and ladies of Sycamore went to school or college last week, and 15 or 20 parents are receiving letters this week saying “Send me a little more money, father, it takes more money than I thought it would.”

1877: Valentine’s Day sent 500 Sycamore children crazy, last Wednesday. The amount of foolishness sent through the mail was enough to sicken the stomach of a dog. The glory of Valentine’s Day has departed.

1878: There were some amusing novelties at the sociable. The pound party of the Episcopalians made a good deal of fun. Each guest bought a pound of something and at nine o’clock the 40 or 50 packages were sold at auction. When Wilkins gave 40 cents for a pound of meal and Filkins 10 cents for a pound of tea, when Pillicoddy got his pound of candies for a dime and Mulligatawney gave a half dollar for a pound of sand the fun was prodigious.

1878: Constable Hoyt started from Sycamore for Shabbona last Saturday noon, took a prisoner and drove back again arriving home by eight o’clock. Fifty miles in half a day: great driving that for these rough roads.

1878: Capt. Whittemore asked a man from the south of the county what was the news down there and learned that “half of our people have been sun-stuck, and the rest are running for sheriff.”

1878: Drs. Nesbitt & Brown have taken the contract to doctor the poor of Sycamore next year. That includes pretty much all of us, don’t it? What’s the use of paying anymore doctor bills?

1878: You can sell your cat for ten dollars in the Black Hills. It will cost you eighty-five dollars to get out there with the cat and get home but you will be rid of the cat and that is worth one hundred and twenty dollars to anyone.

1881: The city of DeKalb has created a Board of Health consisting of three members, one of whom shall be a physician. They are authorized to establish a pest house to which infected persons shall be removed in case of danger.

1882: A young man in moderate circumstances wished to correspond with a young lady with a view to matrimony. No Irish need apply.

1882: The new fashion of bright, glowing colors in place of somber, neutral tints for houses, is metamorphosing Sycamore mansions. Mr. George Marsh led off this summer with a deep, dark red for the main body of his handsome new house, with olive green trimmings and black sashes. Hon. Reuben Ellwood reversed that, and painted his elegant new house with a green body, brown trimmings and scarlet sash. Maj. Brown gives us a specimen of light-green body, red roof and crimson sash. The new Shippee mansion is of a creamy green. All sorts of gaudy colors: blue, scarlet, yellow, pink and red: are now considered in the best of artistic taste, and the handsome country houses about Chicago, and at Geneva Lake, Evanston and other abodes of wealthy and cultured people, are decked out in such bright array.

1883: There was some commotion at the Sycamore Preserve Works last Monday over the double discovery that, under the new superintendent, the hundred women and girls at work must stick to their posts and not talk; also, that their wages were cut down some thirty percent from last year’s rates. From thirty to sixty cents a day is all they can earn at present prices. Last year they had a kind of picnic there and lots of fun; this year they say it is serious work and pretty poor pay. Quite a number quit work at noon and other at night. Next day there was a slight advance in wages.

1883: The old “VanBuren” post office, established some forty-five years ago, is soon to be discontinued. It is the only post office in the town of Victor, and the old pioneers of the early days regret very much to see the old landmark go. But they must submit to the inevitable, as no one can be found to perform the duties of the office. J. E. Davis, the present incumbent, says that his ambition for being a public office holder, where it is “all work and no pay,” is fully satisfied.

1887: It may be well to state for the benefit of some who may not know it that since July 1 the marriage of first cousins in this state is incestuous and void.

1887: Rev. T. B. Arnold, who was arrested for cruelty to little Robbie Ferguson, was discharged last Tuesday. It was proven that Robbie was an unusually bad boy, and that although Mr. Arnold confined his with shackles, the boy had been well fed, clothed and cared for, and the charge of cruelty was not sustained.

1887: The post office is now established at the Clare station. We hear of no business going on there, except a dance occasionally. Poor beginning for a should-be enterprising town.

1889: Two carloads of Sioux Indians with their squaws, papooses and other traps passed through DeKalb Wednesday en route to the Paris Exhibition. They will come back in the fall with a French accent and a barrel of money.

1890: If anyone asks: “Is it warm enough?” shoot him on the spot.

1888: Floyd Givens was injured quite severely in a threshing machine this week, being caught in such a way that he was carried three times around the tumbling rod.

1890: DeKalb’s main street looks like a back alley in old Pompeii that was deserted 2,000 years ago. Old Pompeii has one advantage on us, however. Its old mummied mayor don’t smell as bad as ours.

1891: Horse thieves have learned that the members of the horse protective association in DeKalb are wide awake and active, and for that reason this section of the county has enjoyed immunity from their predations. In August 1879, a handful of farmers got together and organized the DeKalb and Afton Detective Association.

1894: The World’s Fair buildings are being removed to Sycamore: that is, part of them. Messrs. George Safford and James Dayton have bought two big warehouses which stood in the south part of the fair grounds and are removing them to Sycamore, where they will be utilized as sheds for sheep and other livestock. Each of the structures was 112 by 270 feet in size.

1895: A pretty girl who kisses everybody she meets is stirring up a Pennsylvania town. Queer what methods some towns adopt to stimulate immigration. Just wait until Sycamore hears about it.

1895: Wonder if it can be true? Some envious Sycamore people claim that just before the commissioners to locate the new Normal school visited DeKalb, the citizens of that enterprising town, thinking the visitor would enjoy the sight of a running stream, skimmed the skum off and turned the city water into the little creek, which, in seasons not so dry as this, meanders near the site proposed for the new Normal school. 

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