Closing the Bicentennial Year, remembering the Centennial

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

The state of Illinois’ Bicentennial Year draws to a close this Monday, Dec. 3 – the 200th anniversary of Illinois statehood – when concluding ceremonies will be held in the state’s capital of Springfield and in communities throughout the state. Pekin’s ceremony, during which Pekin’s Illinois Bicentennial flags will be lowered, will take place at 11:45 a.m. Monday on the Tazewell County Courthouse lawn.

Over the past year, local festivals in Tazewell County have incorporated the celebration of the state’s bicentennial, with members of the Tazewell County Illinois Bicentennial Committee displaying a bicentennial banner and flying the bicentennial flag in parades during events such as the Tremont Turkey Festival, Mack-Ca-Fest, the Morton Pumpkin Festival, the East Peoria Festival of Lights, and the Hopedale Celebration. The final local festival during the Bicentennial Year will be the Minier Celebration on Saturday, Dec. 1, where Bicentennial Committee members will again participate.

The official logo of the Illinois Bicentennial was officially unveiled at the Old State Capitol in Springfield on Jan. 12, 2017.

Displaying an official Illinois Bicentennial flag are (left to right) Christal Dagit, chairman of the Tazewell County Illinois Bicentennial Committee, Janna Baker, Tazewell County geographic information system coordinator, and Carroll Imig, Tazewell County Board member, all Bicentennial Committee members. The committee presented the flag to Baker at its final meeting on Sept. 25, in gratitude for her work on the Tazewell County Historical StoryMap, a state bicentennial project the committee had worked on throughout the year. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE TAZEWELL COUNTY BICENTENNIAL COMMITTEE

The Pekin Public Library’s celebration of the Illinois Bicentennial will conclude Friday, Dec. 7, when the 12th and final video in the library’s Bicentennial Series will be shown at 11 a.m. in the Community Room. Since that day is also Pearl Harbor Day, the 30-minute video will be an oral history project called “World War II POW Stories,” in which former World War II prisoners of war tell of their experiences of war and being held captive by the enemy.

Immediately following the video, at 11:30 am. in the Community Room popular local historian and writer Tara McClellan McAndrew will present “Becoming a State: the Illinois Way,” an informative and at times humorous program on Illinois’ road to statehood and the way Illinois’ legislators in Kaskaskia, the first state capital, crafted Illinois’ first state constitution and set up our first state government. Her program will last about an hour.

For the concluding “From the Local History Room” column in our Bicentennial Series, we will take a look back 100 years and recall the celebration of the centennial of Illinois statehood in 1918.

In December of 1918, Europe and the U.S. were holding Armistice talks in the aftermath of the end of World War I, and the Spanish Flu Pandemic was raging around the world and claiming the lives of anywhere from 20 million to 50 million people worldwide, including about 675,000 Americans. These facts cast a pall over Illinois’ Centennial celebrations – but the centennial was celebrated nonetheless.

The Illinois governor in 1918 – who presided over Springfield’s ceremonies marking the state bicentennial – was Frank Orren Lowden (1861-1943), a Republican. Lowden, a Chicago attorney, was the state’s 25th governor, serving from 1917 to 1921, and is remembered for taking action to end the Chicago race riot and restore order to the city in July-August 1919. The state population that year was about 6,275,000, about 260,000 of which lived in Chicago, then the nation’s second largest city, while Peoria’s population was about 70,000. (Today the state’s population is about 12.77 million, and about 21 percent of Illinoisans live in Chicago.)

Pekin’s own Illinois Centennial celebrations consisted of a public assembly at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 1918, in the old theater of Pekin Community High School (the former West Campus). The gathering included music and singing – including a collective singing of the official state song, “Illinois” – as well as addresses given by former Illinois Gov. Charles Samuel Deneen (1863-1940), who had served as the state’s 23rd governor from 1905 to 1913, and former Illinois State Rep. James Frank Gillespie of Bloomington (1869-1954), who served in the Illinois General Assembly from 1913 to 1914. The organizers of Pekin’s celebration evidently sought to make the event bipartisan – Deneen, who is best known for putting down the infamous Springfield race riot of 1908, was a Republican, while Gillespie was a Democrat and later became a U.S. Congressman.

The only mention of the Illinois Centennial in the Dec. 3, 1918 Pekin Daily Times was an inside-page brief. The centennial celebration was bumped from the front page by major news from Europe and Washington, D.C., regarding the Armistice talks at the end of World War I.

This photograph from the 1919 Pekinian yearbook shows Pekin Community High School as it was at the time of the Illinois Centennial in 1918. Pekin celebrated the state centennial with a community program at the high school theater on Dec. 3, 1918. The high school board members at the time were H. J. Rust, William Fair, A. Van Horne, F. C. Gale, and D. F. Velde.

Our knowledge of Pekin’s celebration of the Illinois Centennial is, sadly, very limited, because several issues of the Pekin Daily Times from that week are missing. The issue of Dec. 3, 1918, is available in the library’s microfilms in the Local History Room – but, remarkably, the issues of Dec. 2, 4, and 5 have not been preserved on microfilm.

Consequently, the only information on Pekin’s celebration on Dec. 3, 1918, that we can glean from the Pekin Daily Times comes from a single 26-line announcement, entitled, “Observe Centennial,” on an inside page of the Dec. 3 issue. That announcement makes reference to a published program of events that had appeared in the Dec. 2 issue, and no doubt a story about the Centennial program appeared in the Dec. 4 – but we cannot tell what was said about the Illinois Centennial in those issues.

Furthermore, the announcement in the Dec. 3, 1918 issue of the Daily Times is the only item in that issue regarding the Illinois Centennial. Bigger news overshadowed the centennial in the Daily Times. The front page of that issue was filled with news of the Armistice talks in Europe, including a report on how the office of the U.S. Presidency would continue to function during the months that President Woodrow Wilson was in France for the talks.

That issue of the newspaper also had a story on warnings from the U.S. Surgeon General’s Public Health Service regarding the persistence of the deadly Spanish Influenza – and, sadly, the paper that day ran a few death notices of infants and children who had succumbed to the flu – oh so common an occurrence in newspapers during those months.

A century later, the old Pekin high school building where the state centennial was celebrated is no more, and Chicago with a population of 2,687,682 is now only the nation’s third largest city (after New York and Los Angeles) – but neither is the world today grieving for millions of lives lost and nations ruined in the immediate aftermath of an unprecedented global war, nor harrowed by a worldwide pandemic, nor are Illinois’ major cities today racked and crippled by cruel race riots.

For all the troubles and challenges that the people of Illinois face today, life in Illinois in 2018 is still safer, healthier, and more prosperous than it was in 1918. As Illinois endured its troubles and faced its challenges in 1918, it can do the same in 2018. If Illinois is around for its Tricentennial in 2118, we may hope that generation will look back in gratitude and with wisdom for the state’s achievements and failures of the previous century.


#a-van-horne, #armistice, #carroll-imig, #chicago, #chicago-race-riot-of-1919, #christal-dagit, #d-f-velde, #f-c-gale, #gov-charles-samuel-deneen, #gov-frank-orren-lowden, #h-j-rust, #illinois-bicentennial, #illinois-bicentennial-committee, #illinois-centennial, #janna-baker, #pekin-celebration-of-illinois-centennial, #pekin-community-high-school, #pekin-daily-times, #spanish-influenza-pandemic-of-1918, #springfield-race-riots, #state-rep-james-frank-gillespie, #storymap-of-tazewell-county, #william-fair, #world-war-i

Joseph Irwin, founder of the Pekin Daily Times

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

Joseph Irwin, founder of the Pekin Daily Times

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Pekin’s hometown newspaper, the Pekin Daily Times, has a history that stretches back to Oct. 1873, when the Peorians Joseph B. Irwin and Col. W.T. Dowdall bought and renamed a failed weekly paper called the Pekin Register (1856-1873), the successor of the Pekin Weekly Plaindealer (1854-1856), which in turn was born of the merger of the Tazewell County Mirror (1836-1854) and the Pekin Weekly Reveille (1850-1854).

The Pekin Times remained a weekly until Jan. 3, 1881, when Irwin turned the paper into a five-column daily. Ever since, the Pekin Daily Times has been published Monday through Saturday. But rather than trace the newspaper’s history, let’s take a look at the life and career of the paper’s founder.

Irwin’s life story is told in Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County,” pp. 720-722, as well as the 1894 “Portrait and Biographical Record of Tazewell and Mason Counties, Illinois,” 1894, p.254. Additional details are found in Ben C. Allensworth’s 1905 “History of Tazewell County.”

This portrait of Pekin Daily Times founder Joseph B. Irwin (1849-1900) appeared in Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County.”

Irwin was born Oct. 11, 1849, in Circleville, Ohio, the son of John E. and Catherine (Tobias) Irwin, who were natives of Pennsylvania. He passed his boyhood days in Circleville, receiving his schooling at Circleville Academy. His lifelong interest in local politics began in Ohio, where he served a term as city clerk of Portsmouth. In Jan. 1872, Irwin married Inez M. Fifer, a cousin of Illinois Gov. Joseph W. Fifer (1889-1893). They had two children, but both had died before 1879.

Irwin moved to Peoria, where he worked for the Peoria Democrat until 1873. After moving to Pekin and founding the Pekin Times in partnership with Dowdall, Irwin also served as school inspector for three years, and was elected Pekin’s city supervisor in the spring of 1894. In his day, the founder of the Pekin Daily Times was one of Tazewell County’s prominent newspapermen and politicians. Back then, usually journalists were openly partisan – politically independent newspapers were rare.

“When the first issue of the Times appeared [in 1873] there was no subscription list, as the paper had changed hands so often that its reputation was well nigh gone and the outlook was extremely discouraging. But by much hard work, natural ability and perseverance, our subject soon placed the paper on a solid basis, and as a newsy and literary production it ranked among the leading weeklies of the northwest,” says the Portrait and Biographical Record.

According to Chapman, “Irwin soon bought Dowdall out, and by untiring energy and rare business tact, built up a larger circulation than it ever enjoyed before. In July, 1877, Geo. E. Schaumleffle purchased a third interest of the paper.” Schaumleffle, born in Pekin in 1854, often wrote the paper’s editorials.

B.C. Allensworth’s Tazewell County history supplies these additional details: ““Irwin soon bought Dowdall out, and the county having passed into the control of the Democratic party, the paper was recognized as the organ of that party and prospered from that time on, when in May, 1886, it was purchased from Irwin by A.W. Rodecker, F. Shurtleff, Thomas Cooper, and B.C. Allensworth.”

After leaving the Pekin Daily Times, Irwin joined the Post Publishing Company and was made editor and manager of the weekly Republican Post, formerly called the Tazewell County Republican. Irwin’s time at the Republican Post was financially successful, but politically it was controversial. Allensworth mentions that Irwin “antagonized republican interest to such an extent that Colonel Bates” – Pekin historian W.H. Bates, who had retired from the Tazewell County Republican – “came back into the paper business with the Tazewell County Tribune.” Also in 1886, says Allensworth, Irwin founded the Pekin Daily Post, and he continued the publication of the Republican Post and the Daily Post until his death in Pekin on Jan. 13, 1900.

“There is perhaps no better campaigner among the politicians of the county than Mr. Irwin,” says the Portrait and Biographical Record, “who is well known to every prominent citizen in both parties, and being acquainted with all the main roads and byways in this vicinity, can get over and around Tazewell County and in every township and political center quicker than any other man. He has met with several business reverses, but his fine financial standing, business ability and honesty have never been questioned. Among politicians and newspaper readers generally he is conceded to be one of the best editors in the county.”

#col-w-t-dowdall, #george-e-schaumleffle, #illinois-governor-joseph-w-fifer, #j-b-irwin, #joseph-b-irwin, #pekin-daily-times, #pekin-history, #pekin-newspaper-history, #w-h-bates

Pekin wasn’t always a welcoming place

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

Pekin wasn’t always a welcoming place

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Included in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room collection is an extensive file on a dark period in Pekin’s history: the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. The KKK attained prominence and prestige throughout the Midwest in the early 1920s, and was established in Pekin by a vaudevillian and respected community leader named Oscar Walter Friederich, owner of the Capitol Theater. Friederich was a Grand Titan in the Klan, supervising more than 40 Illinois counties, and Pekin was his regional headquarters.

In September 1923, Friederich and two other Klansmen, Silas Strickfaden and E. A. Messmer, partnered to buy the Pekin Daily Times, which thus became an organ of the KKK’s racist and nativist propaganda. Consequently, much of the Local History Room’s file on the KKK consists of copies of Pekin Daily Times articles and advertisements from the first half of the 1920s.

Almost as rapid as its rise was the Klan’s fall in the mid-1920s, due not only to organized social opposition to the KKK across the country but also to several public scandals that made national headlines. The Klan’s local fortunes in Pekin followed its national fortunes, and when the Klan fell into disrepute, the Pekin Daily Times nearly went out of business and Friederich had to sell the paper in June 1925.

An image from a darker time, this illustration appeared in a Pekin Daily Times advertisement for a major Ku Klux Klan gathering in Pekin — the “Klantauqua” — that took place in late August 1924.

A few other articles in the Local History Room’s KKK file touch on the related subject of Pekin’s reputation as a racist community unwelcoming to non-whites. Given Pekin’s past and reputation, sociologist James Loewen included Pekin in his 2005 study, “Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism,” which explores the phenomenon of U.S. communities that made it known to blacks that they had better be out of town by nightfall.

Obviously, the history of the KKK in Pekin had a lot to do with that reputation, but a closer look at Pekin’s history reveals that the reputation predates the Klan’s arrival in Pekin. For example, on July 24, 1933, the Pekin Daily Times printed a curious story at the bottom left corner of the front page, with the headline, “Now it is Explained: Why Negroes Don’t Light in Pekin; Once Upon A Time There Were Balls and Chains.”

This story followed a news report of the preceding week, published at the bottom right corner of the Daily Times’ front page on July 21, 1933, about a black man from Chicago Heights named James Davis, one of two blacks who had been arrested in Pekin as stowaways atop a C. & I. M. box car. The news report, which utilizes the racially derogatory language common in those days (which we will not quote here), says Davis’ companion went quietly, but Davis allegedly resisted arrest and attempted to escape.

Davis was brought to court the next day, and the judge told him, “The court after carefully considering the case fixes your fine at $25 and costs, but fine and costs will be remitted if you get out of town. The court will give you one hour to get out of the best city in the state.” Davis replied that he thought he could make it out of Pekin in five minutes.

The follow-up story, which again uses racially derogatory language, shows an awareness of Pekin’s reputation, observing, “There have been other stories about Negroes getting out of town in a hurry – one about a man that left the city hall in such a rush that he even forgot to eat his dinner, other talks of Negro families moving in town one day and out the next – until it seems that there must be that indefinable something about Pekin that keeps her population almost wholly white.

“Illinois population bulletins show that there are few other cities the size of Pekin that have no Negro population.

“William Gaines, one of our two black men, who is porter at the Tazewell hotel and who has been here for 30 years, explains the non-existence here of others of his race by the fact that Peoria is so near, and that Negroes in general prefer to live in larger cities.”

The story then relates a personal recollection of Emil Schilling, “one of Pekin’s lifetime residents who remembers everything that has gone on here for the past 50 or 60 years.” Schilling attributed the absence of blacks in Pekin to an incident that older men of the town had told him when he was a boy.

“He was told that there had been a gang of levee Negroes working as the crew on a river boat back in the days before the Civil war, 30 or 40 of them, that had gotten too much whisky at 20c a gallon and had begun to carouse.” According to this tale, the blacks were arrested and clapped in iron, and were sentenced to six weeks of labor on the city streets dragging a ball and chain.

Schilling said word of that incident spread up and down the Illinois River. On a trip to St. Louis during the 1880s, Schilling encountered a group of black dockworkers, and he asked one of them if he would like to live in Pekin. According to Schilling, the man replied, “No, suh, boss, no suh, that town ain’t no place for a n—–.”

One of the most remarkable features of this 1933 Pekin Daily Times story is the complete absence of any reference to the Ku Klux Klan, even though the KKK’s popularity in Pekin during the first half of the 1920s is obviously relevant to this question. This is a glaring omission that was probably intentional on the writer’s part.

While it’s unclear how much weight should be placed on Schilling’s recollections, his tale would suggest that Pekin’s reputation as a community unwelcoming to blacks predates the Civil War. That would not be surprising, given the fact that until the Civil War Pekin was a Democratic, pro-slavery political stronghold. One of the important factors in shifting Pekin to an anti-slavery Republican stronghold was the influx of German immigrants around the mid-1800s.

However, while the German influence was crucial in the shift of Pekin’s politics, it also helped make Pekin less desirable as a place to live for non-German-speakers, both white and black. As a result, “The small black population and many of the older white families moved to Peoria,” according to an April 13, 1989 Peoria Journal Star column by retired Peoria Journal Star editor Charles Dancey of Pekin.

The practical results of these cultural and demographic trends can be tracked in the U.S. Census: in 1900, only four blacks lived in Pekin, in 1910 only eight, in 1920 (just before the KKK arrived) a total of 31, in 1930 only one – and in 1940 not a single black person was left in Pekin.

#e-a-messmer, #emil-schilling, #kkk, #oscar-walter-friederich, #pekin-daily-times, #pekin-history, #pekins-first-riot, #pekins-racist-reputation, #racism, #silas-strickfaden, #sundown-towns, #william-gaines

Two generations of tragedy and loss

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s another chance to read this old Local History Room column, first published on 18 May 2013 before the launch of this blog and then posted here on 16 Nov. 2016. We’re re-posting it here to help draw attention to our upcoming program on the riverboat Columbia disaster. At 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, local author Ken Zurski, who published a book in 2012 entitled, “The Wreck of the Columbia,” will come to the Pekin Public Library to talk about the disaster which claimed the lives of 87 of the boat’s 500 passengers. Most of the victims were from Pekin. For Mr. Zurski’s program, the library will display articles and photographs of the disaster, along with the 48-star U.S. flag from the Columbia which was salvaged the day after the wreck by Columbia survivor Roscoe Maxey of Pekin. The flag was donated to the Pekin Public Library in 1986 by Roscoe’s son Justin Maxey.

Articles and photographs pertaining to the 1918 wreck of the riverboat Columbia are currently on display in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room. Local author Ken Zurski will give a lecture on the Columbia disaster at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 30 March 2017, in the library’s upstairs Community Room.

Two generations of tragedy and loss

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

This weekend, the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society will conduct a cemetery walk remembering victims of the July 5, 1918, Columbia riverboat disaster. The cemetery walk will be from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, May 19 (with a rain date of Sunday, June 2), at Lakeside Cemetery in Pekin, where most of the 57 Pekin residents who died in the wreck of the Columbia are buried.

Local interest in the Columbia disaster was renewed last year [2012] with the publication of Ken Zurski’s “The Wreck of the Columbia,” the first book-length treatment of this tragic event that brought grief to a great number of families in Pekin and the surrounding areas. Eighty-seven people drowned when the Columbia struck a sandbar and collapsed and sank near Wesley City (Creve Coeur).

In his book, Zurski tells the stories of several of the victims and survivors, and of some who avoided falling victim to the disaster through unforeseen circumstances that prevented them from going on the fatal cruise. Among the stories not told in Zurski’s book is that of a Columbia victim named Hazel Marie Bowlby, who was 21 when she died.

The photograph of Hazel Marie Bowlby was taken the winter before she drowned in the wreck of the Columbia. PHOTO PROVIDED BY GAYLA ERLENBUSCH, LUCILLE'S GRANDDAUGHTER

The photograph of Hazel Marie Bowlby was taken the winter before she drowned in the wreck of the Columbia. PHOTO PROVIDED BY GAYLA ERLENBUSCH, LUCILLE’S GRANDDAUGHTER

In January, Hazel’s relatives supplied the Pekin Daily Times with copies of old photographs of Hazel, along with a copy of a letter that Hazel wrote to her sister about a year before the disaster. Copies of the photographs and letter have been forwarded to the Pekin Public Library to be added to the library’s Local History Room collection.

Hazel, born in 1897, was a daughter of John C. and Susie Wertz Bowlby. She had an older sister named Lucille and a younger brother named Elmer. “She was my grandmother’s only sister,” said Gayla Erlenbusch, Lucille’s granddaughter.

Shown are (back row) Lucille Bowlby and Hazel Marie Bowlby, and (front row) Susie Wertz Bowlby, Elmer Bowlby, and John C. Bowlby. PHOTO PROVIDED BY GAYLA ERLENBUSCH, LUCILLE'S GRANDDAUGHTER

Shown are (back row) Lucille Bowlby and Hazel Marie Bowlby, and (front row) Susie Wertz Bowlby, Elmer Bowlby, and John C. Bowlby. PHOTO PROVIDED BY GAYLA ERLENBUSCH, LUCILLE’S GRANDDAUGHTER

From the copy of the letter that Hazel’s relatives have supplied, we know that in the summer of 1917 Hazel worked for the Pekin Daily Times – writing to her sister Lucille, Hazel typed the letter on stationery bearing the newspaper’s letterhead, and mailed it in a Pekin Daily Times printed envelope. In her letter, Hazel says she may need to borrow $5 from Lucille, and indicates dissatisfaction that the Times’ general manager and managing editor Charles Utter had not given her any raises in pay.

Erlenbusch said that her grandmother Lucille could have ended up as one of the Columbia’s victims along with her sister, if it weren’t for a sisterly spat.

“Hazel and her sister were both supposed to go, but they got into an argument. Apparently they both wanted to wear the same blouse. So my grandmother got mad and decided to stay home,” Erlenbusch said. Hazel went alone, the last time any of her family saw her alive.

Hazel was one of the many victims who had been on the boat’s dance floor. Her body was one of the last to be recovered, according to Erlenbusch. “My great-grandparents sent my grandmother to identify her,” she said. Hazel was buried in Green Valley Cemetery.

Lucille Bowlby stands at the grave of her sister Hazel the day of her funeral, at Green Valley Cemetery. PHOTO PROVIDED BY GAYLA ERLENBUSCH, LUCILLE'S GRANDDAUGHTER

Lucille Bowlby stands at the grave of her sister Hazel the day of her funeral, at Green Valley Cemetery. PHOTO PROVIDED BY GAYLA ERLENBUSCH, LUCILLE’S GRANDDAUGHTER

We can well imagine how painful Hazel’s death was to her loved ones, but it must have been especially hard on her father, John C. Bowlby, as it was the second time death had shockingly struck someone close to him.

As told in Ben C. Allensworth’s 1905 “History of Tazewell County,” on Feb. 19, 1895, John’s first wife Belle Wallace Bowlby was shot to death by her own brother Albert Wallace, who was living with his sister and brother-in-law on the old Wallace homestead in Dillon Township. John and the Bowlbys’ hired man Lawrence Lyman also suffered very serious gunshot wounds in the incident.

What led up to the crime was the death of Belle’s and Albert’s father, Andrew Wallace, who was killed in 1890 by James Connell in self-defense. Andrew left his estate to Belle, which “led to bickering between Mr. and Mrs. Bowlby and Albert Wallace, who made frequent demands for money, and when refused, is said to have made threats against Mr. and Mrs. Bowlby,” Allensworth writes.

Finally, one night Albert took a shotgun and, aiming through a window, fired at John’s head. “Bowlby, whose hand was on his forehead, had several fingers blown off and a number of shot entered his head. Mrs. Bowlby sprang and opened the door, when she was shot in the stomach. Lyman was shot twice in the leg, and was badly burned in the face by the powder,” according to Allensworth. Belle died two days later, while Lyman lost an eye. John eventually recovered and remarried.

After the shooting, Albert borrowed a neighbor’s horse and rode to Pekin, where he surrendered to the sheriff. Asking why he was turning himself in, he said, “You will find out later.” He was convicted of murder on Oct. 28, 1895, and sentenced to death by hanging. He was executed on March 14, 1896 – the last legal hanging in Pekin.

#albert-wallace, #charles-utter, #elmer-bowlby, #hazel-bowlby, #john-c-bowlby, #ken-zurski, #last-execution-in-pekin, #lawrence-lyman, #lucille-bowlby, #murder-of-belle-wallace-bowlby, #pekin-daily-times, #susie-wertz-bowlby, #wreck-of-the-columbia

Cubs win takes World Series to seven games – in 1945

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

A dramatic Cubs victory in Game 6 of the World Series sets up a final showdown in Game 7. That wasn’t just the scenario this month in Cleveland, Ohio. It was also what happened 71 years ago, on Oct. 8, 1945, at Wrigley Field in Chicago, the last time the Chicago Cubs had played in the World Series. But instead of going on to victory in Game 7 like the Cubs did this year, in 1945’s Game 6 the Cubs beat the Detroit Tigers 8-7 in a 12-inning game, but lost Game 7 the next day 9-3 – as it happens, the same score by which the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in 2016’s Game 6.

This detail from the Oct. 9, 1945 Pekin Daily Times shows a portion of a report on pivotal Game 6 of the 1945 World Series by the newspaper's sports editor Dick Stolley, age 17. In that game, the Chicago Cubs beat the Detroit Tigers 8-7 in 12 innings, extending the series to seven games -- but the Cubs were defeated 9-3 in Game 7.

This detail from the Oct. 9, 1945 Pekin Daily Times shows a portion of a report on pivotal Game 6 of the 1945 World Series by the newspaper’s sports editor Dick Stolley, age 17. In that game, the Chicago Cubs beat the Detroit Tigers 8-7 in 12 innings, extending the series to seven games — but the Cubs were defeated 9-3 in Game 7.

1945’s Game 6 drew such interest in Tazewell County that F. F. McNaughton, publisher of the Pekin Daily Times, agreed to send his sports editor, 17-year-old Richard Stolley, to Wrigley Field to report on the game. The Daily Times had never sent a correspondent to a World Series game before. Stolley – who would later go on to a stellar career in journalism, obtaining the crucial Zapruder film of John F. Kennedy’s assassination for LIFE magazine and founding People magazine – had his report published on page 7 of the Tuesday, Oct. 9, 1945 edition of the Pekin Daily Times, where it was printed under the headline, “As Seen on the Sports Scene, By Dick Stolley.” Here is how Stolley told the story of Game 6 of the 1945 World Series:

Forty-one thousand, seven hundred eight shivering baseball fans from all over the United States, including this writer, yesterday jammed their way into Wrigley Field at 12:30 p.m. for the sixth and possible deciding game of the 1945 World Series.

And before they had left, three hours and 28 minutes later, each baseball follower vowed he wouldn’t have missed that game even if the temperature had been at sub-zero level.

Mass hysteria

The Detroit Tigers, by virtue of their 8-4 victory on Sunday, had the Chicago Cubs one up. It was do or die for the club that’s been the pride of the Windy City all season long. And they did.

It took the Cubs 12 length innings to accomplish the job, evening the series at three games apiece, but a whistling double off Stan Hack’s educated bat broke up the ball game with one run in the last of the 12th.

Meanwhile, those 41,708 fans bordered on the edge of mass hysteria.

The situation was this: Frank Secory, pinch hitting for Shortstop Len Merullo, lined out a single and arrived at first base in plenty of time.

Cub Manager Charley Grimm sent in Billy Schuster to run the bases for Secory. Detroit pitcher, and incidentally the fifth used in the game by the Tigers, Diz Trout, struck out Cub hurler Hank Borowy, making it two outs.

Then Stan Hack, ancient third baseman who had made three singles in five previous times at bat, teed off on one of Diz’ pitches and blasted the ball deep into left field.

The ball took a crazy bounce when it hit the ground, and the Detroit left fielder, Hank Greenburg, was left empty-handed. By the time the infield received the ball, Hack was on second and the speedy Schuster had galloped across home plate for the winning run 8-7.

The crowd was on its feet the minute Hack met the ball, and when Schuster crossed the last base, we thought the stands would crumble under the deafening roar.

It was the longest game in Series’ history, and the fans enjoyed every minute of it.

Series records fall

World Series shorts: Before yesterday’s action-jammed series even was over, six World Series records had either been tied or shattered.

The total receipts for the first six contests was $1,388,277, including $100,000 in radio receipts. That cracked a previous all-time high of $1,322,328.21 set in 1940 during the Detroit-Cincinnati series. The total take for the single game yesterday was $204,453 . . .

Both clubs employed 19 players in the 12-inning game, and thereby broke an old mark of 18, set by the 1936 Giants. The grand total of 38 used buried the old Giants-Senators record of 29, also in ’36. The Cubs and Tigers combined have used more players in the series than ever before, and Detroit has set a similar individual mark, 25 . . .

Yesterday’s battle-royal lasted 34 minutes longer than the lengthiest series struggle hitherto recorded. The new time is 3:28, the old 2:54, established by the Yankees and Dodgers in 1941 . . .

The Cubs sent in the 11th pinch hitter, and the old Giants record of 9 set in 1923, was erased from the books . . .

Other not so essential records were the most times at bat mark for Detroit, 49; most times at bat, one player in a game, Mayo, York and Pafko, six, tying the old mark; and a tying mark of nine pitchers used in the game by the clubs.

Flag bedecked field

Wrigley Field was all dressed up in its Sunday-go-to-meeting garb for the special event. Flags of all the United Nations fluttered atop the bleachers, and bunting was draped everywhere.

At first, Stan Hack was credited with a single and an error by the official scorers, but so much objection to that decision was heard from the 400 sports writers who jammed the press section, that they reversed themselves.

The ball evidently took a last-minute weird bounce, and Hank Greenberg never had a chance to snag it.
Claude Passeau, veteran right-hander for the Cubs, who started yesterday’s game, had the nail of his middle finger torn off by a hot line driver by Jimmy Outlaw, Detroit third baseman.

He returned after the accident, but soon was taken out of the game.

Charles Grimm, the bouncing manager of the Cubs, stole part of the show with his antics while coaching at third. When the Cubs were scoring two runs in the seventh in the inning that gave them a temporary 7-3 lead, Jolly Cholly staged an impromptu dance on third base.

He kicked his legs about, sang, and clapped his hands, and though not acting particularly bright, was entertaining himself. His strategy was working out better yesterday.

It really backfired on him in Sunday’s encounter. But for two consecutive games now, Cubs pitchers had intentionally passed a batter to fill the bases and have a better chance to trap runners, and then lost control and walked the next batsman, forcing in a run.

Hy Vandenberg did it Sunday, and Passeau was the guilty party yesterday.

Scalpers still scalp

Hank Borowy, who was credited with the victory yesterday, started Sunday’s game. He likes to be in “hot water” but found it a little scalding and had to be taken out.

Then a parade of four Cubs pitchers started, but Chicago lost nevertheless.

Big Hank Greenberg parked a homer over the left field wall and tied the two teams at 7-all in yesterday’s melee, making his second round-tripped of the series. Handsome Hank clouted out three consecutive doubles in the Sabbath victory, and scored three runs.

Despite the multitudes of uniformed police in and around Wrigley Field, scalping still exists. We were walking around to the pass gate when a little rat-faced individual sidled up to us, pulled up his coat collar, and asked us in a whisper, “Got your ticket, Bud?”

In addition to Charley Grimm and the ball game, one of the means of Series fun comes when a foul ball is tipped into the stands.

Conservative-looking gentleman look like young kids as they make mad leaps for the ball. Out of the hectic scramble comes one fellow, all smiles, with the ball in his hand, and he quickly pops it into his pocket. One young man hung around home plate during batting practice and before he left he’d collected at least three of the coveted trophies.

#1945-world-series, #chicago-cubs, #cleveland-indians, #detroit-tigers, #pekin-daily-times, #richard-stolley, #world-series-game-6

Historic Sanborn maps show daily life’s grid

Here’s a chance to read again one of our old Local History Room columns, first published in January 2014 before the launch of this blog . . .

Historic Sanborn maps show daily life’s grid

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

The resources available in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room include an array of vintage maps and atlases of Pekin and other communities in Tazewell County reaching back to the 1860s. Among those maps are three bound collections of Pekin maps that are noticeably different from most other kinds of maps, and that can provide details and information not usually found on a map.

These are the historic insurance or fire maps of Pekin that were prepared by the Sanborn Map Company. The Local History Room’s collection includes three sets of Sanborn maps, from Nov. 1903, Dec. 1909, and Sept. 1925.

The value and usefulness of these historic maps of Pekin are explained by the description included on the maps cataloguing label, which characterizes the Sanborn maps as showing “The Grid of Daily Life.” The label says:

“Sanborn maps are primary sources essential to researchers in history, urban studies, genealogy, architecture, engineering, and countless other disciplines. Originally created for fire departments and risk assessors, they show details such as the outline of each building, construction materials, windows and doors, street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, building use, water mains, and more.”

The Sanborn Map Company produced this particular sort of map in order to help insurance companies conduct risk assessments on buildings, so fire insurance policies could be suitably crafted. That’s why Sanborn maps include the above listed details. What was originally intended to be useful for risk assessors also proved to be very helpful for municipal fire departments – the information on the maps was often of great help to firemen battling fires, because the maps could tell them what buildings were made out of, or where windows and entrances were located.

With the passing of time, and the construction and demolition of structures in Pekin, the old Sanborn maps now help historians and genealogists to discover the locations of old buildings, or to find out how long a particular structure has been standing, or to learn what a building was used for in the past.

For instance, the Nov. 1903 Sanborn map of Pekin shows the old Zerwekh Building at the corner of Fourth and Elizabeth streets. In those days, as the map indicates, it was the location of a bakery and a Masonic Lodge. Among the fascinating details about the Zerwekh Building that one can learn from this map are that there used to be two bakery ovens beneath the sidewalks along Elizabeth Street, built into the basement foundation on the north of the structure.

Later, the Zerwekh Building became the location of the Pekin Daily Times. The newspaper vacated its building in Aug. 2012, and the former Times Building was demolished this fall. In the process of demolition, several bricked-up passages were noticed in the basement foundation on the north side. Thanks to the Sanborn maps, we know what those “passages” were before they were bricked up by F. F. McNaughton: They were the ovens where Albert Zerwekh and his sons baked their breads, cakes, cookies and pastries.

This detail from the November 1903 Sanborn map of Pekin shows the block of Elizabeth Street between Fourth and Fifth streets, including (at the top) the old Zerwekh bakery and confectionary that later would serve for many decades as the home of the Pekin Daily Times newspaper.

This detail from the November 1903 Sanborn map of Pekin shows the block of Elizabeth Street between Fourth and Fifth streets, including (at the top) the old Zerwekh bakery and confectionary that later would serve for many decades as the home of the Pekin Daily Times newspaper.

#f-f-mcnaughton, #pekin-daily-times, #preblog-columns, #sanborn-maps, #zerwekh-building

Appointing Sheriff Clay’s successor

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

A few weeks ago, this column recalled the death of Tazewell County Sheriff Robert Ingersoll Clay, who died Sept. 4, 1920, from complications of a gunshot wound to his knee that he suffered in a Sept. 2 gun fight with liquor bandits near Wesley City (Creve Coeur). Clay is notable in local history as one of three members of the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office to die from injuries received in the line of duty, and is the only Tazewell County Sheriff to die in office from such injuries.

Clay’s death was the occasion of a great outpouring of grief on the part of the community and sympathy for his family. It also raised the practical question of who would be chosen to serve out the remainder of Clay’s term. Somewhat remarkably for that time, community sentiment strongly was in favor of naming Clay’s widow, Mrs. Louie A. (Miller) Clay (1871-1954), to serve out the remaining months of his term.

Prior to naming Clay’s replacement, however, state law already provided for a “line of succession” to determine an interim sheriff – when a sheriff dies or becomes incapacitates, the county coroner automatically becomes interim sheriff. The Pekin Daily Times on Sept. 6, 1920, reported on the initial provisions for succession in the sheriff’s office as follows:

“With the death of Sheriff Robert Clay, Coroner L. R. Clary becomes the sheriff of Tazewell county and he has assumed charge of the duties of the office. The same deputies sreving (sic) under Sheriff Clay will continue in office, under the coroner and no change will be made in the conduct of affairs of the office until a successor has been appointed by the board of supervisors which convene September 14.

“The appointee of he (sic) board will serve until a successor to the sheriff has been elected, this election to take place this fall. The suggestion that Mrs. Claybe (sic) named to fill out the unexpired term of her deceased husband has met with universal favor.”

Though the proposal that Mrs. Clay be appointed sheriff was unusual, the people in the county felt strong sympathy for her as the widow of a well-loved sheriff, as can be seen in various articles and columns in the Pekin Daily Times that month. Along with letters of tribute and sympathy, the newspaper also reported on the establishment of a “testimonial fund” or memorial foundation to aid Mrs. Clay and her family.

Another thing working in favor of the proposal to name Mrs. Clay sheriff were some significant changes then under way in societal attitudes and laws regarding appropriate public roles for women. It was less than a month before Sheriff Clay’s death, on Aug. 18, 1920, that the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote was ratified. On Sept. 8, right next to a prominent report on the establishment of the “Bob Clay Testimonial Fund,” the Pekin Daily Times ran a story under the headline, “FIRST WOMEN JURORS IN THE COUNTY COURT,” telling of the first women’s names to be drawn from the Tazewell County rolls of registered voters.

“This morning in the county court, the first jury composed partly of women, to be called in this county, reported to Judge Schaefer. Those called to serve were Anna Hall, Ida Cooper, Belle Kunce, Emma Richmond, Ida Smith, Belle Smallwood, James Coggins, Frank Reise, W. H. Woost, Edward Conaghan, J. H. Shade and W. G. Fair.”

Those societal changes perhaps helped make the idea of a woman sheriff conceivable to many people in a county that had already seen women post masters in the 1800s and even – as this column recalled in March this year – a female sheriff’s deputy appointed in 1916. And after all, state law has never restricted the office of county sheriff to members of the male sex.

Indeed, one need not even have any law enforcement training or experience to hold the office of sheriff, though that is naturally to be preferred. And by the time the county board met on Sept. 14 to consider Clay’s successor, a few candidates with law enforcement experience had put their names forward in addition to Mrs. Clay, whose experience with the sheriff’s department stemmed from her job as matron of the Tazewell County Jail. With additional candidates to consider, the county board decided not to take immediate action on the question of the sheriff’s successor, as the Pekin Daily Times reported on Sept. 15, 1920:

“No action was taken by the board yesterday in the matter of filling the vacancy caused by the death of Sheriff Robert Clay. There are four applicants, Mrs. Clay, Harm H. Smith, J. L. Wilson and A. S. Whitmore. Herman Becker has been mentioned for the position and there may be others. No definite action will be taken though, until next week.”

Shown is a detail from the Sept. 15, 1920 issue of the Pekin Daily Times, reporting on procedures for naming a successor for Tazewell County Sheriff Robert Clay, who had succumbed to complications from a gunshot wound suffered during a gunfight with liquor bandits.

Shown is a detail from the Sept. 15, 1920 issue of the Pekin Daily Times, reporting on procedures for naming a successor for Tazewell County Sheriff Robert Clay, who had succumbed to complications from a gunshot wound suffered during a gunfight with liquor bandits.

Each of the four men worked in law enforcement, and in particular, Whitmore and Becker were two of Clay’s deputies. When the county board met again on Sept. 20, the majority of the board members decided against naming Mrs. Clay to complete her late husband’s term. One board member proposed at least granting her the salary her husband would have received, but that proposal was tabled and instead the board decided that Mrs. Clay would continue as jail matron. The Daily Times reported as follows on Sept. 21:

“The appointment by the board of A. S. Whitmore to fill out the unexpired term of the late Sheriff Robert Clay, met with general approval and it is the prevailing opinion that the supervisors acted wisely in their selection. Sheriff Whitmore will not asume (sic) the duties of his office until he has received his commission from the state and his bond had been approved by the supervisors.

“It is understood that there will be little change in the present efficient force of deputies connected with the sheriff’s office. Herman Becker will probably remain as office deputy and one deputy will be name to fill the vacancy made by the appointment of Whitmore. Under the arrangement as made by the board of supervisors, Mrs. Clay is to be retained as matron at the jail. She will have charge of feeding of prisoners and the use of the residence, with the exception of two rooms which are to be set aside for the use of a deputy who is to remain at the jail at nights. Mrs. Clay is to be allowed $100 per month and her living expenses by the board. . . .

“. . . but one ballot was taken on the appointment of sheriff. Whitmore received 14, E. O. Neef 5, and Herman Becker, Chas. R. Towne and H. L. Cales 1 each. A resolution which had been offered by Supervisor H. F. Johns of Pekin, to pay Mrs. Clay the salary which her husband, Robert Clay, would have earned had he survived the full term, was tabled on motion of Supervisor Wadsworth.”

#mrs-louie-a-miller-clay, #pekin-daily-times, #robert-clay, #tazewell-county-sheriff, #womens-rights