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The Illinois State Historical Society Officers

President: David W. Scott, Springfield
President Elect: Marvin W. Ehlers, Deerfield
Treasurer: Arthur M. Martin, Chicago


Directors, Terms Expire in 2005
Leah J. Axelrod, Chicago
Herbert Channick, Rockford
Redd Griffin, Oak Park
Russell Lewis, Chicago
John Power, Jacksonville

Directors, Terms Expire in 2006
Larry Douglas, Belknap
Stuart Fliege, Springfieldd
Roger Bridges, Bloomington
Ellsworth Mills, II, Highland Park
Mary "Happy" Dean, Peoria

Directors, Terms Expire in 2007
Michael Bakalis, Chicago
Michael Batinski, Carbondale
Elaine Egdorf, Homewood
Shirley Portwood, Godfrey
Theodore Wachholz, Arlington Heights

William Furry, Acting Director
Mary Lou Johnsrud, Office Manager

          Advisory Board 2004-2005
Robert Adamson, Wheaton
David Badillo, Oak Park
Terry Barnhart, Charleston
John Craig, Springfield
Tim Draper, Sugar Grove
Lawrence Hansen, River Forest
Thomas O. Kay, Wheaton
Alfred Klairmont, Highland Park
Lindell Loveless, Gillespie
Jon Musgrave, Marion
Mark Sorensen, Decatur
Patricia Walton, Hanover Park
John Weck, Sycamore
Dennis Williams, Quincy
Robyn Williams, Harrisburg
Randall Witter, Springfield

            Living Past Presidents
Alexander Summers, San Diego, CA
Robert M. Sutton, Urbana
Gunnar Benson, Sterling
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 Elbert, Forrest
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
Rand Burnette, Jacksonville

Illinois Heritage
A Publication of The Illinois State Historical Society

September-October 2004                                                         Volume 7 Number 5


4     News

27   New members


8     Death before dawn
      The Norfolk and Western rail-yard
      explosion of 1974 and how it changed an industry

11   Talking graveyards
       Some of the best history is happening in your local cemetery this fall

17   Francis Grierson
       Beyond The Valley of Shadows to the halls of Villa Montezuma


22   Chicago vignettes

23   Caucasian by default

24   Past and presentation


25   Donald F. Tingley

To our readers:

Fall is upon us, the summer of 2004 now history. And the 105-year-old Illinois State Historical Society is striding into its second century with renewed purpose and mission to promote our state's rather remarkable story.

If you are a long-time member of the Society, we thank you for your continued support. If you are new to our ranks, we hope you'll feel welcome in these pages and will accept our invitation to join. We aim to delight and inspire our readers, and to share our prairie state's rich past with a new generation of potential historians.

In "Death before dawn," we revisit the Decatur rail-yard disaster, an explosion that took a town and an industry by surprise early in the morning hours of July 19, 1974. The story was researched and written by Laura Voyles, a student of Illinois history at Millikin University in Decatur.

In "Talking graveyards," Brian "Fox" Ellis, director of Prairie Folklore Theatre, takes us behind the scenes at two of the most successful cemetery walks in central Illinois, and tells how these autumnal events are helping communities reclaim their past.

And from our own past we resurrect Harold P. Simonsons 1961 biographical essay on Francis Grierson, a.k.a. Jesse Shepard, author of The Valley of Shadows and other memorable works, whose life and career as a musician and mystic took him from a log cabin in Sangamon County to the grand courts of Europe.

Don't wait for the first leaves to fall to enjoy your Illinois Heritage. We have many more stories to share before winter sets in.

—William Furry

Illinois Periodicals Online (IPO) is a digital imaging project at the Northern Illinois University Libraries funded by the Illinois State Library