Tazewell’s unincorporated communities: Parkland

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Tazewell County’s westernmost township, Spring Lake Township, is the largest township in the county – but is also among the most sparsely populated. In fact, Spring Lake Township is one of the few townships in the county to have no incorporated communities – no incorporated cities, towns, or even villages.

Spring Lake Township today has a number of unincorporated communities or subdivisions, including Parkland, Talbott, Lakewood Terrace, and Smith-Rakestraw. The oldest of them, Parkland, has the smallest population of the four, having dwindled to a farm and a few homes.

Hainesville, later renamed Parkland, is shown in this detail of an 1864 wall plat map of Tazewell County. The village was established as a railroad station on land owned by Benjamin S. Prettyman, and therefore was originally known as “Prettyman.”

The plat of Hainesville, showing a store, school, and nine homes, was published in the 1891 atlas of Tazewell County.

John Drury’s “This is Tazewell County, Illinois” (1954), page 297, offers this description of Parkland:

“Only community of Spring Lake Township is Parkland, which in 1950 had a population of 20. It is located southwest of Pekin on the Chicago & Illinois Midland Railroad and is served by the post office in nearby Manito (Mason County). Among the first settlers of Spring Lake Township were the McLeashes, Hibbards and Claytons. Another early settler was Joseph Offut, who built a log cabin on the border of Spring Lake in the southwest corner of the township.”

In this detail of an 1873 plat map of Spring Lake Township, Hainesville is shown to be the location of Spring Lake School House No. 6.

By 1891 the former land of Benjamin S. Prettyman had passed to the ownership of A. Bateson, as shown in this detail of an 1891 plat map of Spring Lake Township.

Parkland started out in the 1800s as the small pioneer farming settlement of Prettyman, named for Benjamin S. Prettyman on whose farmland the settlement had been established. However, on Sept. 7, 1860, the settlement, which by then was designed as a railroad depot, was formally platted as “Hainesville.” Both the Prettyman and Haines families were early pioneer settlers of Pekin, and Benjamin S. Prettyman, who held great swaths of land in Tazewell County, served Pekin as city attorney and was later elected mayor of Pekin.

Even though the community’s name was Hainesville, the settlement’s Post Office address throughout the latter 1800s continued to be designated as “Prettyman.” In 1899, however, Hainesville was renamed “Parkland” – and this time the U.S. Postal Service went along with the name change. Parkland had its own post office until 1918.

Hainesville was renamed Parkland in 1899. This plat of Parkland from the 1910 atlas of Tazewell County two grain elevators, a train depot, a post office and general store, and the old Hainesville school house.

Parkland, formerly Hainesville, and its environs are shown in this detail of a 1910 plat map of Spring Lake Township.

The official plat of Hainesville (Parkland) resembles a checkerboard, with four streets going northwest to southeast (Prairie, Main, Highland, and South) and four intersecting streets going southwest to northeast (First, Second, Third, and Fourth, with the numbers starting at the street along the railroad). There is no trace of most of those streets today. Third Street is today called Parkland Road, while Prairie Street is Spring Lake Road. Aerial photographs today show evidence of a faint trail along what was, or would have been, Fourth Street, and an unpaved footpath exists today along the track of South Street.

The railroad on Parkland’s southeast border still operates today, but it has been long since Parkland has had a depot.

Parkland and its environs, from a 1929 Spring Lake Township plat map.

Parkland, shown here in this 1954 aerial photograph, is the oldest unincorporated community in Spring Lake Township. Originally named Prettyman, it was formally platted as a railroad depot in 1860 and named Hainesville, then renamed Parkland in 1899.

Parkland today, shown in this Google Maps satellite view, has only two streets, a farm, and a few homes.

#benjamin-prettyman, #hainesville, #parkland, #prettyman, #spring-lake-township, #tazewell-county-unincorporated-communities

The first railroads of Tazewell County

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

On Friday, Sept. 7, at 11 a.m., in the Pekin Public Library Community Room, the library will have a showing of a video about Pekin trains, featuring footage of the old Chicago & Illinois Midland Railroad. The video, which is about 30 minutes in length, is a part of the library’s Illinois Bicentennial Series.

During the first few decades following Illinois’ admission to the Union in 1818, the new state’s growth in population and wealth was in large part driven by steam power. Initially, as indicated in last week’s From the History Room column, men and goods were transported along the waterways and canals of Illinois using riverboats, whether steamers or packet boats.

But steam-powered rail (invented in Britain in 1804, three years before Robert Fulton’s first steamboat) would soon challenge and then eclipse steamboats as the preferred means of long-distance transportation of good and people. While Illinois’ steamboats were restricted to rivers, railroad tracks could be laid across long stretches of country, crossing rivers and streams and even climbing through mountain passes.

The early rail lines of Tazewell County are highlighted in yellow on this county map from the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County.”

The groundwork for the railroad’s eclipse of riverboat transportation in Illinois was laid at a time when river transportation was preeminent. In Tazewell County, interest in laying down a rail line had already arisen by the mid-1830s, but the first attempts to build a railroad in our county were abortive. Here how those efforts are described on page 732 of Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County”:

“Among the very first charters granted to railroads, perhaps the second one, by the State of Illinois, was the one granted to the Pekin & Tremont Railroad. This company was incorporated by the Legislature, Jan. 13, 1835. Madison Allen, Harlan Hatch, J. L. James, John H. Harris, George W. Brodrick and Aronet Richmond were constituted a body corporate, with capital stock of $50,000, for the purpose of building said road. It ran, according to the charter, from Pekin to Tremont, in this county. The company was given the power ‘to erect and maintain toll houses along the line.’ The road bed was graded and track partially laid, but the hard times of 1837 and the failure of the grand internal improvement scheme of the State put a stop to further progress on the P. & T. road. About a year after the P. & T. road was chartered a grander scheme was undertaken, and the Legislature incorporated the Pekin, Bloomington & Wabash Railroad, Feb. 16, 1836. This was a continuation eastward of the P. & T. road. Considerable enthusiasm was at first manifested in regard to the matter, but, like many other railroad schemes, it was never carried out.”

Pekin’s pioneer historian William H. Bates told of continued efforts to get a railroad line to Pekin in his narrative of Pekin’s early history that was included in the 1870-71 Sellers & Bates Pekin City Directory. The following excerpts from Bates’ narrative demonstrate that Pekin’s city officials were willing to commit great sums of public funds to railroad projects, which were necessarily massive and expensive undertakings.

“On the 3d of June, 1853, the City Council ‘engaged to use its means and credit to the amount of one hundred thousand dollars to co-operate with the city of Canton, Fulton county, to secure the construction of the Mississippi and Wabash Railroad,’ provided said road was located so as to pass through the city of Pekin.” (Bates, page 32)

“On the 8th of September [1856], the Council ‘Resolved, That the city of Pekin, as a stockholder in the Mississippi Railroad Company, give their consent to the consolidation of the Mississippi and Wabash Railroad Company with the Pekin and Bloomington Railroad Company.’ . . . On the 23d of October the city decided by a vote of three hundred and one votes for and five against, to subscribe one hundred thousand dollars to the capital stock of the Illinois River Railroad.” (Bates, page 36)

For all that trouble, it wasn’t until 1859 – less than two years before the Civil War – that Pekin finally saw rails being laid. The city’s leaders thought that was worth celebrating, so Pekin’s Fourth of July celebrations that year included a joyous – and hopeful – inaugural ceremony of the driving of the first spike, as Bates tells:

“On the 4th day of July, 1859, the first rail was laid and the first spike driven on the prospective Illinois River Railroad. This was a gala day, full of momentous events for the future, and the birth-day of unnumbered hopes and anticipations yet to be realized. The leading citizens participated in celebrating the new enterprise on such an auspicious day as the Fourth of July.

“The road was never really completed until it passed into the hands of the present company, when the name was changed, and it is now the flourishing and well-managed Peoria, Pekin and Jacksonville Railroad.” (Bates, page 38)

Not only because it cost so much to build and operate a railroad, but also due to the interruption of the Civil War, most of Tazewell County’s railroad companies did not become fully operational until the latter 1860s. What had begun as the abortive Pekin & Tremont Railroad Company in Jan. 1835 later was taken up as a part of the Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western Railway in Aug. 1869, a road that stretched 202 miles from Indianapolis to Pekin (later being extended to Peoria).

Similarly, the Illinois River Railroad Company, whose first spike in Pekin was driven on July 4, 1859, eventually became the Peoria, Pekin & Jacksonville Railroad Company. Chapman’s Tazewell County history includes historical accounts of that company as well as the Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western Railway and five other railroad companies that had lines through Tazewell County: the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis Railroad, the Pekin, Lincoln & Decatur Railway, the Toledo, Peoria & Warsaw Railroad, the Illinois Midland, and the Chicago, Pekin & Southwestern Railroad.

The investors, directors, and employees of these railroad companies were among the preeminent men of Tazewell County and central Illinois – such as Benjamin S. Prettyman, Teis Smith, John B. Cohrs, James M. James, Gordis R. Cobleigh, or Columbus R. Cummings. A review of the names on the boards of directors of the early railroad companies will, not surprisingly, show many of the same names showing up on the lists of city mayors, aldermen, and successful businessmen and local attorneys.

#benjamin-prettyman, #columbus-r-cummings, #gordis-r-cobleigh, #illinois-bicentennial, #james-m-james, #john-b-cohrs, #pekin-railroads, #railroads, #tazewell-county-railroads, #teis-smith, #william-h-bates

Looking back at Pekin’s police department history

Here’s a chance to read one of our old Local History Room columns, first published in March 2013 before the launch of this blog . . .

Looking back at Pekin’s police department history

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

In the Pekin Public Library’s Local History room collection is a copy of Pekin Police Chief William Grant Jr.’s annual police department report for the year ending Dec. 31, 1941, submitted to Pekin Mayor J. Norman Shade and the Pekin City Council in January of 1942.

This was the police department’s second annual report. What makes the 1942 report of special interest is that it includes a 12-page year-by-year history of the city’s police department – apparently the first time anyone had attempted to draw up a resume of the department’s history. The records on which the history was based were compiled by Charles Schermer, officer in charge of the department’s records and identification bureau. Following are a few highlights from Schermer’s history:

“It is almost impossible to give much information about the early Law Enforcement officers of the city. It seems that the first record of a Police officer came the year the citizens of ‘Town Site’ voted to change ‘Town Site’ to an incorporated city. That was in 1849, and they elected the first Mayor and Aldermen. Bernard Bailey was elected Mayor, and he appointed Thomas Cloudas as the City Marshall, also the street Commissioner. According to the records the duties of the first Marshall was to catch and impound all the hogs and cattle running the streets, as they had been declared a nuisance. The first calaboose was built in this year, and cost the sum of $49.00. This calaboose stood till the summer of 1868 when it was destroyed by fire. So, Thomas Cloudas is the first mentioned Police officer of this city.”

In those days, Pekin had very much the character of a rough frontier town, and the city marshall had much more to do besides rounding up stray hogs and cattle. Perhaps most of the criminal offenses in Pekin from the 1850s through the 1870s involved alcohol-fueled violence. One such incident was Pekin’s first riot on July 4, 1851, when a steamboat’s drunken deck hands ran wild throughout the city. Cloudas rapidly collected a force of Pekin citizens who engaged in a battle with the deck hands in the city streets and finally, after a hard fight, managed to subdue and arrest the offenders.

The office of city marshall was filled annually by mayoral appointment. In 1850, the city marshall was Benjamin S. Prettyman, a prominent figure in Pekin’s early history whose life story was featured a few months ago in this column. Then in 1851, William Snider was appointed third city marshall, “and he was authorized by the Council to put all the prisoners in custody at the time to working on the streets to pay out their fines. They were fitted out with a ball and chain and put to work on the streets and alleys,” Schermer wrote.

Snider resigned in March of that year and Cloudas returned to his former post. Cloudas was reappointed as city marshall in 1852, in which year a new and larger calaboose was built at a cost of $7,000. According to Schermer, the city council that year decided the marshall would not be paid a salary, but would instead receive “all the fees that are established by Law as pertaining to his office.”

This photograph shows Richard William “Uncle Bill” Tinney, who served as Pekin city marshall from 1854 to 1855. Tinney was a Mexican War veteran and later served as Tazewell County Sheriff and operated hotels in Pekin.

On April 30, 1854, the mayor appointed the Mexican War hero Richard William Tinney as city marshall, a position he would retain until March 5, 1855, when Tinney was relieved of his duties. As we have previously noted in this column, the ever colorful “Uncle Bill” Tinney later served as Tazewell County Sheriff, and afterwards owned and operated a hotel near the Pekin riverfront.

In 1854, the city had elected Charles Turner as its first Police Magistrate. “During this year the first Night police were named by Mayor M.C. Young, they being Thomas Shapard and N. C. Flood, their salaries being $45.00 per month.” So, for many years the city had both an elected police magistrate and an appointed city marshall. The marshall and the city police force were subject to annual reappointment by the mayor and city council.

Turner served a four-year term as police magistrate and then was re-elected in 1858. However, on Nov. 17, 1858, Turner was also appointed to the newly created post of “Chief of Police.” In succeeding years, however, the city police force would be headed by the city marshall.

In 1888, the office of city marshall was renamed “Superintendent of Police.” The same year, the city council proposed cooperating with the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors to construct to new and larger jail that would house prisoners for both the city and county, but Schermer notes, “No further mention is made as to whatever became of the idea.” Instead, the council decided to replace the old city calaboose with a new city jail on the east side of city hall.

The head of Pekin’s police continued to be known as the “Superintendent of Police” until the early 1900s. In 1903, Anthony Larkin was appointed police superintendent. There is a gap in police department records from 1905 to 1908, but by the latter year the head of the police department had become known as the “Chief of Police.” On May 4, 1908, Pekin Mayor Henry Schnellbacher appointed Charles Charlton to the post of police chief, while John Beetlet was named assistant chief. From then on, the Pekin Police Department’s head has been known as “Chief of Police.”

On this point, two errors should be noted in the summary of police department history found on pages 150-151 of “Pekin: A Pictorial History.” That account mistakenly says the title of superintendent of police was changed to chief of police in 1905, and that Charles “Charleton” was appointed in that year. Those mistakes appear to derive from misreadings of Schermer’s history of the Pekin Police Department.

#benjamin-prettyman, #charles-charlton, #pekin-history, #pekin-police-history, #preblog-columns, #thoms-cloudas, #uncle-bill-tinney

Who was Benjamin S. Prettyman?

Here’s a chance to read an updated version of one of our old Local History Room columns, first published in July 2012 before the launch of this blog . . .

Who was Benjamin S. Prettyman?

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

On the shelves of the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room is the 1864 edition of the “City Charter and Revised Ordinances of the City of Pekin, Ill.,” a relatively slim volume that comes to only 154 pages counting the index.

Perhaps most people would say the 1864 city charter generally makes for some dry reading, since it is only a collection of laws and regulations, with no narrative or characters or plot. In all its pages, this book mentions but one person by name, on page 29, at the start of the section on the charter’s amendments.

The first amendment to the charter was approved by the Illinois General Assembly on Feb. 10, 1849, a few months before the town of Pekin would be incorporated as a city. The amendment ratified the town board’s decision granting and confirming title to “the ferry across the Illinois river within the corporate limits of said town of Pekin” to “Benjamin S. Prettyman, his heirs and assigns.”

Who was this Benjamin S. Prettyman who had the distinction of being the only individual named in the 1864 Pekin City Charter? The answer is readily available in another book in the Local History Room collection, the 1893 “Portrait and Biographical Record of Tazewell and Mason Counties,” pp.457-461. Prettyman’s biography which appears in that volume is longer than most, indicating his prominence in the early history of Pekin and Tazewell County. An even lengthier biography of B.S. Prettyman was published in the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County, Illinois,” pp.30-31, and his portrait adorns the title page of the atlas.

This portrait of Benjamin S. Prettyman was printed in the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County.”

Benjamin Stockley Prettyman was born Nov. 21, 1819, in Smyrna, Delaware, the only son and second child of Lewis and Harriet (Mason) Prettyman. Lewis brought his wife and five children to Tazewell County in 1831, “journeying up the Delaware to Philadelphia, thence to Pittsburgh, and from there down the Ohio and up the Mississippi. The boat upon which they journeyed from St. Louis to Pekin was the second that made the passage up the Illinois.”

Lewis Prettyman settled on land by the Mackinaw River that had never been broken by a plow. He built a fort at the river bank – this was the year before the Black Hawk War – and later built a log cabin at the forest’s edge “and broke the prairie soil with the first wooden mold-board plow introduced into the neighborhood.”

His son Benjamin was intellectually gifted, but had the common experiences of growing up in a pioneer family on the American frontier, which including being mostly self-educated since there was little access to formal schooling. Benjamin’s father served twice as County Surveyor, which led Benjamin to serve four years as Deputy Surveyor. It was during those years that Tazewell County, which formerly extended from the Illinois River to Sangamon County and included the city of Chicago, was reduced to its present boundaries. As deputy surveyor, Prettyman was one of the commissioners who divided the smaller county into townships around 1841.

Prettyman’s duties led him to begin legal studies in 1844 under Judge Robbins of Springfield. “He went to the office of Logan & Lincoln, but it was crowded with law students, and Logan advised him to get some legal books, adding that he would loan him such volumes as he desired. In March, 1845, he was admitted to the Bar of Illinois, at Springfield, and afterward settled in Pekin, which then had a population of four hundred.”

Prettyman’s connection to Pekin dates to as early as April 1840 – it was in Pekin at that time that he married Sarah A. Haines, daughter of William Haines, one of Pekin’s founders. He and Sarah had a large family, and one of their sons-in-law, Daniel Sapp, later became mayor of Pekin. Benjamin’s father-in-law “owned a mercantile establishment, a distillery, as well as the ferry and other important interests here.” That is how Prettyman came to be mentioned in connection with the Pekin ferry in the 1864 city charter.

Besides the family interest in the ferry, Prettyman also played a prominent role in bringing the railroad to Pekin and helping to extend rail lines throughout central Illinois. In addition, Prettyman was elected Mayor of Pekin in 1862. His 1893 biography says, “During the war he was twice elected mayor of Pekin, and served in the same capacity several times afterward.” Other published lists of Pekin’s mayors show only his 1862 term in office – during the other times he apparently served temporarily as acting mayor.

Prettyman’s 1893 biography notes that he then had “the distinction of being the oldest attorney in Tazewell County.” He died April 8, 1895, and is buried in Lakeside Cemetery in Pekin. His home in the 1100 block of North 11th Street still stands today.

Benjamin S. Prettyman’s home on 11th St. as it appeared in 1872 is shown in this lithograph from the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County.”

Last month a descendant of Prettyman’s daughter Nellie donated to the Pekin Public Library Prettyman’s own copy of “Pekin and Environs,” a late-nineteenth-century compilation of photos of Pekin homes and locales. Prettyman signed his name in the book twice. Some of the images from “Pekin and Environs” appear in Rob Clifton’s 2004 “Pekin History: Then and Now.”

Shown here is Benjamin S. Prettyman’s signature from his copy of “Pekin and Environs,” a compilation of photographs published circa 1890.

#benjamin-prettyman, #pekin-history, #william-haines

Daniel Sapp’s life and times

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

In a previous column, we told of the popular horse race track and fair grounds that used to exist in the area where the Pekin Housing Authority residences are now located. For much of its existence, the race track was owned and operated by a prominent local farmer, land owner and public official named Daniel Sapp, popularly known in the area as “Uncle Dan Sapp.” This week we’ll turn a spotlight on Sapp’s life and times.

Though he was probably best known for his race track, Sapp also enjoyed success in agriculture and as a breeder of horses. He also held several public offices in Tazewell County. His biography was included in the 1894 “Portrait and Biographical Record of Tazewell and Mason Counties, Illinois,” pages 335-36, which enumerated his record of public service up to that point as follows:

“A Democrat in politics, Mr. Sapp served for twelve years as Supervisor of Spring Lake Township, and was the Chairman of the County Board for some time. In 1886 he was nominated for County Treasurer, and was elected by a majority of two hundred, he and one other candidate being the only Democrats who secured election that fall. Entering upon the duties of the office in December, 1886, he served with efficiency until December, 1890.”

Three years after the publication of his biography, Sapp went on to run successfully for mayor of Pekin, serving a two-year term. He later ran again for mayor in 1905 and served a second two-year term. In memory of his service and achievements, Sapp Street in Pekin was named for him.

No doubt one of the things that helped him achieve the success and prominence he enjoyed were her personal connections – he was related by marriage to the important Prettyman family of Pekin. Sapp was married twice, both times to members of the Prettyman family. His first wife was Elizabeth (Prettyman) Offutt, who passed away in 1887. He remarried in March 1893 to Nellie (Prettyman) Smith, who was his first wife’s niece – Nellie was one of the daughters of Pekin pioneer and attorney Benjamin S. Prettyman, who had held several public offices and had himself served a term as Pekin mayor.

Here are excerpts from Sapp’s published biography from the “Portrait and Biographical Record”:

“Daniel Sapp, proprietor of the Spring Lake Stock Farm, and one of the successful stockmen of the Illinois Valley, was born in Fleming County, Ky., May 18, 1842. When a mere child he was left an orphan and thus thrown upon his own resources. At the age of fourteen years, in 1856, he accompanied a stock trader to Bloomington, Ill., where he worked on a stock farm at Randolph Grove for two years. As may be imagined, his school advantages were necessarily very meagre, and all the knowledge he now possesses has been practically acquired by self-culture.

“The year 1858 witnessed the arrival of Mr. Sapp in Spring Lake Township, Tazewell County, where he assisted in breaking prairie and doing farm work, being for three years in the employ of one man, and receiving as compensation for his services forty acres of land in Peoria County. Of this property he was naturally quite proud, as it was the first he had ever owned and had been gained through his unaided exertions. In 1861 he entered the employ of the Memphis Ice Company and went south for them, having charge of the ice barges. He also attended to the unloading and sale of ice, and the securing of the collections. In May, 1861, when travel was especially dangerous on account of the war, he went south as far as the mouth of the Arkansas River with two barges, and on his return to Memphis Dr. Smith, of that place, gave him a letter to Gen. M. Pope, which secured his passage through the lines. He then returned to Spring Lake Township.

“In 1863 Mr. Sapp was united in marriage with Mrs. Elizabeth (Prettyman) Offutt, a native of Delaware. After that event he settled on his present farm and engaged in raising grain and stock. From time to time he has added to his original purchase until his landed possessions now aggregate two thousand acres, for the most of which he paid $40 or $50 per acre. This farm is pleasantly situated on the Mackinaw River seven miles south of Pekin. Here he built a substantial residence, 72×36 feet in dimensions and two stories in height, which was the most elegant rural home in Tazewell County. Unfortunately the dwelling burned to the ground, but it was afterward replaced by another attractive and conveniently arranged house, a trifle smaller than the first. . . .

“After the death of his wife, in 1886 (sic – 1887), Mr. Sapp came to Pekin, and during the following year he purchased two hundred and thirty-two acres within the corporate limits of the city. Here he has a one-mile track, as fine as any in the state. The farm in itself is well improved with a barn, 100×36 feet in dimensions, with two wings 36×36 feet, and two large sheds outside. On the place are usually about one hundred horses. . . .

“In 1887 Mr. Sapp began breeding standard horses, commencing with ‘Billie Wilkes,’ which he still owns. . . . Mr. Sapp is one of the most extensive breeders of standard horses in central Illinois, and his reputation in that line is not limited to Pekin or Tazewell County, but extends throughout the state.

“The second marriage of Mr. Sapp occurred in March, 1893, uniting him with Mrs. Nellie Smith, a daughter of B. S. Prettyman; she is an accomplished lady, and was born and educated in Pekin. . . [Sapp] has traveled extensively throughout this country, and has been in every state except Florida and Washington.”

Just two years after completing his second term as mayor of Pekin, Daniel Sapp died July 13, 1909. He is buried in Lakeside Cemetery, Pekin, where his second wife Nellie is also buried. His first wife, Elizabeth, is buried in the old Prettyman Burying Ground near the former site of Circleville.

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This lithograph engraving of Daniel Sapp’s residence on his stock farm south of Pekin was published in the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County.”

#benjamin-prettyman, #circleville, #county-fairgrounds, #daniel-sapp, #horse-racing, #pekin-history, #uncle-dan-sapp