By Jared Olar
This week we’ll revisit a subject that we first covered a little over two years ago – the history of Pekin’s neighbor to the south in Cincinnati Township, the village of South Pekin.
In a column published in the Pekin Daily Times on Dec. 28, 2013, From the Local History Room reviewed the memories of South Pekin’s origin and founding that were recorded in a 48-page book entitled, “The Whirlwind History of South Pekin,” compiled Ann Fisher Bradburn and Betty Metroff Robinson for the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society.
The Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room collection includes another memento of South Pekin’s past – a 28-page booklet entitled, “Scenes of South Pekin Past + Present,” which was prepared for South Pekin’s Golden Jubilee celebration in 1967. Within the booklet’s covers are an essay on South Pekin’s history, a sketch drawing of an aerial view of the village, and a few reproductions of vintage photographs from the village’s early history.
As we previously noted, South Pekin got its start as a railroad town on the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, and many early inhabitants in fact made their homes in “Box Car Village” in McFadden Flats, where the homes were old box cars and sleeping cars converted into residences, with the rail wheels still attached and functional – something of an early “mobile home.” Two of the photos reproduced in this booklet, and reprinted here, show the “houses on wheels” where many of South Pekin’s original inhabitants lived.