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Columns

  • Steinhauer bird collection lands in museum

    Back in the mid-1960s, I was a member of the Junior Girls Auxiliary of the American Legion. Our monthly meetings were held on Saturday afternoons in the American Legion building on Seventh Street.

    The room used for the auxiliary meetings was the one now used for the museum of the Legion, to the left of the main entrance.

    Across the hall was another large room that held glass cases of birds. I remember the cases being positioned along the west wall and extending a short distance on the north wall.

  • It's all about appreciating what we have

    It's not uncommon for people to not fully appreciate their hometown ... and its people. Ed Taylor Jr. is not one of those people.

    Taylor was one of two people honored recently by the Vandalia Chamber of Commerce for community service. As he accepted the award, Taylor explained why he has given a lifetime of service to the Vandalia area and its people.

  • Lincoln Museum worth the wait

    “The luck of the third adventure is proverbial,” writes Elizabeth Barrett Browning. When translated, that means, "Third time’s a charm."

    Well, third time was a charm for me, recently, because along with my husband and son, I finally made it to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield.

    What an experience!

    The parking garage across the street makes access to the museum easy, and from the moment we entered the "gateway" or portal, we were greeted with smiles and knowledgeable volunteers and staff.

  • Stapp served state for most of his life

    James T. B. Stapp was born in Fayette County, Ky., (now Woodford County), on April 13, 1804, the youngest child of James and Sarah "Sally" Burbridge Stapp. His father, from Virginia, was a soldier of the Revolution, and at its end, moved the family to Kentucky.

    When James was 12 years old, his parents moved again, this time to Kaskaskia, Ill., and this is where we pick up their story.

  • L-U clipping identifies musicians on postcard

    It had been quite a while since I had logged onto eBay, the Web site where you can buy or sell just about anything.

    I collect Vandalia postcards, and one evening as I went on line, I decided to see what Vandalia items eBay had to offer.

    About half way down the list was a postcard of the "Vandalia Band." Knowing this could be Vandalia, Ohio, or Indiana, I was pleasantly surprised to see it for Vandalia, Ill., and the seller had dated it at 1905.

    The leader of the band, who was seated and holding a baton, looked familiar, although I couldnt put a name to his face.

  • Jack Ruby spent time in Fayette County

    I can remember this so clearly," Gene Etchason said. "My dad was reclining in his easy chair, while mom was in the kitchen getting dinner ready. We were watching the mid-day news, when, all of a sudden, dad sat up straight and said 'Jack Ruby!'

    "On the television screen was the scene where (Lee Harvey) Oswald was being taken from the Dallas jail when a dark-haired man holding a gun stepped forward.

    Within 15 minutes, there was a banging on the front door. There stood Wilson Hill, and he rushed in the room saying, Ruby! Jack Ruby!

  • Photographic plates a real steal at auction

    Several years ago, I attended an auction in Ramsey for the late Lois Stoddard.

    Among the treasures I carried home that day were three shoeboxes of photographic glass plates. As my bid was accepted, a man over my shoulder said, "You probably just got the best deal of the day." I had to agree.

    Lucky for me, Judy Stoddard Lampkin of Chicago was attending the auction. BJ Mueller introduced us, for which Im grateful, because Judy knew a lot about the plates. She told me they were most probably those of Frances Willis Mattes, who had been dead for many years.

  • Burtschis founded title company in 1890

    Burtschi Brothers Title Co. had its beginning on Aug. 5, 1890, when Julius Louis Burtschi acted as the go-between on a $700 loan from William Sonnemann to Katy Mayz.

    The next year, Julius opened an office on the second floor of a new Gallatin Street building, on the site of his birthplace. This second year, he made seven loans and built the first of 800 houses that he would build during his lifetime.

  • Christmas memories of a one-room school

    Nearly 20 years ago, I struck up a correspondence with a lady named Ruby Hearn from San Antonio, Texas.

    Ruby was the daughter of Selby and Laura Grandfield Hunter, and was born and raised in Fayette County. She lived away for most of her adult life, and always spoke of her old home with affection. She often told me she would like to return to Vandalia to live some day.

  • Old Johnson Store a Pittsburg landmark

    Named for William M. Pitt, Pittsburg is a crossroads community located at the junction of sections 16, 17, 20 and 21 in Seminary Township. Originally spelled Pittsburgh, the "h" was dropped from the spelling in 1889 when the post office was established.

    In a letter to the editor from Walter H. Evans, published in the Jan. 31, 1974, edition of The Vandalia Leader, Evans wrote that his earliest recollections began about 1890, when he was four years old.