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The Illinois State Historical Society Officers

President: Rand Burnette, Jacksonville
President Pro Tem: David Scott, Springfield
Treasurer: John Howard, Mount Vernon


Terms Expire in 2002
Marvin W. Ehlers, Deerfleld
Arthur Mead Martin, Chicago
Craig L. Pfannkuche, Wonder Lake
Shirley J. Portwood, Godfrey

Terms Expire in 2003

Michael C. Batinski, Carbondale
Janet D. Cornelius, Penfield
Mary "Happy" Dean, Peoria
Francis Even, River Forest
Warren D. Winston, Pittsfield

Terms Expire in 2004
Norman C. Berger, Chicago
Timothy Draper, Sugar Grove
Mark Sorensen, Decatur
Patricia J. Walton, Hanover
Park John Week, Sycamore

Tom Teague, Executive Director
William Furry, Assistant Director
Sallie Brittin, Membership Secretary

Advisory Board 2001-2002
Leah J. Axelrod, Highland Park
Dave Bartlett, Park Forest
Herbert S. Channick, Rockford
Stephen Gharry, Oglesby
Charles A. Chapin, Chatham
Alberta Conover, Springfield
Dennis H. Cremin, Naperville
James Davis, Jacksonville
Larry A. Douglas, Belknap
Redd Griffin, Oak Park
Stuart R. Fliege, Springfield
Charlotte E. Johnson, Alton
Gerald Lee Gutek, LaGrange
Russell L. Lewis, Chicago
Barbara Mason, Springfield
Ellsworth Mills, Highland Park
John K. Notz, Chicago
Richard I. Pate, Danville
Kay Marie Rippelmeyer- Tippy, Pomona
Ron Vasile, Downers Grove
Ray Winters, La Grange
Muriel Braxton Wilson, Chicago

Living Past Presidents

Irving Dilliard, Collinsville
Alexander Summers, San Diego, CA
Doris P. Leonard, Princeton
Robert M. Sutton, Urbana
Gunnar Benson, Sterling
Donald F. Tingley, Savoy
Victor Hicken, Macomb
Katie Fiene Birchler, Chester
Samuel Lilly, Downers Grove
David J. Maurer, Charleston
Wilma Lund, Springfield
Patricia Wallace-Christian, Durham, CT
Mark A. Plummer, Normal
John T Trutter, Northfield
E. Duane Libert, Lerna
Raymond E. Hauser, St. Charles
Patricia Grimmer, Carbondale
John Power, Jacksonville
Robert J. Klaus, Chicago Michael J. McNerney, Carbondale Robert McColley, Urbana Barbara M. Posadas, DeKalb

A Publication of The Illinois State Historical Society
July-August, 2002__________________________Volume 5 Number 4

4       Letters

5       News

12       Centennial Awards

15       History On-line

21       Collectibles

6       A tune of their own

8       Rough and Ready in Illinois

16      The Pleasures of Vintage base ball

20       Ben Reitman: Champion of the Outcast

14       Memories of the WPA

18       Okawville's Heritage House Museum

23       Highlights of the Annual Meeting

Cover Photo: Unidentified Aledo musician in the uniform of the Aledo Ladies Cornet Band.
Photo by "Root, Aledo, Illinois"

To our readers:

From my second-story window overlooking the historic downtown business district in Springfield, I watch the stars and stripes tango with a sultry breeze atop the Farmers State Bank. Around the corner, pinstriped bankers and hungry students barter for fresh vegetables with local farmers, while international tourists wander in and out of the Old State Capitol looking for a piece of Abraham Lincoln. It's summer again in the capital city.

In the July/August issue of Illinois Heritage, we explore the mysteries of summers passed in the Prairie State, from band concerts and ice cream socials with the Aledo Ladies Cornet Band to vintage base ball games with Decatur's Rock Springs Ground Squirrels. We'll take you to Washington County for an armchair tour of Okawville's unique museums, introduce you to six new ISHS Centennial Award winners, and explore the wonders of Hancock County via the Internet. We'll also share the highlights of the Society's memorable annual meeting in Quincy.

We offer a few surprises, too, including a pre-presidential portrait of Zachary Taylor, whose patriotism just after the War of 1812 earned him an indictment for assault and battery in Illinois. You read about it first in Illinois Heritage.

So put on your shorts, pour yourself a glass of mint ice tea, and dive into Illinois Heritage. The past was never more refreshing.

William Furry


High Mileage Gifts

In the shoestring financial world of non-profit historical organizations, success is neither formulaic nor assured. And expenses are like a beard—they have to be trimmed regularly and judiciously. I learned those lessons anew recently when I visited the museum on the grounds of the former Shell Oil Refinery near Wood River, Illinois. Ollie Schwallenstecker, the museum's co-founder and manager, proudly showed me the site's prize new acquisition—the car that had won Shell's 1951 mileage marathon.

"Its owner offered to sell the car to us several years ago," said Ollie. "It's beautifully restored. But we couldn't afford it. Recently, though, the owner retired and sold his house and garage. That's when he called us and said if we came to Florida for the car that we could have it for free."

Although the vehicle looks like a stock car of the era, it averaged 168 miles a gallon in the contest. Even its tires, whose tread consists of continuous ribs and grooves, were modified. Instead of having all five ribs hitting the ground evenly, the two outer ribs and two inner ribs of each tire had been trimmed down with a hand knife. This focused the vehicle's weight on the center ribs, thus reducing friction and improving mileage. This sounds like a minor detail. But when you're trying to get 168 miles on each gallon, even minor details count.

At the Illinois State Historical Society, it sometimes feels like we're going for 168 miles a gallon, too. From necessity, we must trim close to the rib. But as a result, we are entering our 103 year of continuous service to our state and its history. Membership dues produce considerable income, but more than 90 percent of that goes right back to members as direct benefits. What really make the difference for us are the annual gifts that many people make to the Society. Last year, these included $1,000 donations from several members. But they also included a $10 check every month from Henry Gordon of Patchogue, New York. No amount is too small. All gifts are appreciated and put to good use.

To facilitate this year's annual giving campaign, we've inserted a specially designed return envelope in this issue of Illinois Heritage. All you need to do is fill it out and return it to the Society with your donation. You can even make your gift by credit card. We guarantee all donors a high mileage return on their investments

Tom Teague Executive

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