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Columns

  • National Road: History in every mile

    Imagine covered wagons pulled by plodding oxen, dusty trails and arched stone bridges. In your mind’s eye, picture the weary travelers, the men, women and children walking the 1,000 miles beside the wagon as they headed west…to the unknown.
    The National Road, also known as the Cumberland Trail, was the first federally funded road in the country. Beginning in Cumberland, Md., the road was completed  to Vandalia by 1836.
    The financial panic of 1837 would stop construction at Illinois’ 90th mile – at Vandalia.

  • Banks of the Okaw

    This week’s Mystery Banks Photo: These two brothers, pictured in 1949, both served in the military and later both became doctors.

  • The Way We Were

    15 Years Ago

    1997 – A fire that apparently started in the kitchen area destroyed the home of the David Smith family in Vandalia.
    The Leader-Union placed third in the annual advertising and marketing contest sponsored by the Illinois Press Association.
    Sandra Leidner won six of nine precincts to become the first woman elected mayor of Vandalia.
    Betty Anne and Duane Luallen of Vandalia were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary .

  • Depew family cemetery finally located

    On Sept. 15, 1995, with my sons, Aaron and Ethan, I accompanied the late Agnes Grubaugh on a cemetery hunt. We were looking for the burial ground of Agnes’ ancestors, John and Mary Seagraves Depew, who settled in Fayette County around 1821.

  • Banks of the Okaw

    This week’s Mystery Banks Photo: This young lady, pictured when she was a student nurse, graduated from St. John's Hospital School of Nursing and is celebrating her 40th year as a registered nurse.

  • The Way We Were

    15 Years Ago

    1997 – The Vandalia City Council was closer to hiring the first city administrator for the town. The field of 43 applicants was narrowed to four finalists, and they were interviewed by aldermen.
    The Deb Keeling family was chosen as the first partner family for a Fayette County Habitat for Humanity house.
    Rebecca and Jack Hill of Ramsey were celebrating their 40th anniversary.

  • Harner family still calls Avena home

    The Harner family came to Fayette County by covered wagon from Rockingham County, Va., in 1860.

  • Banks of the Okaw

    This week’s Mystery Banks Photo: This young lady, who was 18 at the time this photo was taken, will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of her graduation from Vandalia High School this year.

  • The Way We Were

    15 Years Ago

    1997 – Wanda Walton retired from First Bank in Vandalia after working there 44 years.
    A reorganization of the Vandalia School District’s central office was approved. The reorganization included the reassignment of Jeff Endres, the district’s business manager for 13 years, to a teaching position.
    The city of Vandalia was still working to get rid of the odor spreading from the city’s sewage treatment plant.
    The Vandalia Main Street Executive Board began the work necessary to get a program manager hired.

  • Mayor thwarted plan for KKK parade

    In May 1923, The Ramsey News-Journal newspaper reported that seven hooded Knights of the Ku Klux Klan entered the Christian Church at Herrick and presented the pastor with $50 for the church building fund.
    It was generally believed they were members of the Ramsey Klan, although it had been reported that there was a goodly number of the Klan in and around Herrick.