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Today's Opinions

  • Old family photos spawn identity question

    Helen Luster, of the Pinhook community, and I have corresponded for several years now. In her occasional letters, she has shared with me old stories passed down through the Luster family, several of which I have repeated in this column.

    Last week, I received a note from Helen, accompanied by two pictures. She wrote about a mild controversy in the Luster family over the identification of a couple in an old photo.

  • Both sides win

    The agreement inked last week between the Vandalia Board of Education and the Vandalia Unit Teachers' Association marks a successful conclusion to an important negotiation process.

  • Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a hopeless addict. I get like this every four years.

    Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a hopeless addict. I get like this every four years.

    I mean, I can't make it even a couple hours without a fix.

    Maybe I need a support group where I could stand up and say: "My name is Dave, and I'm an Olympic junkie."

    In most sporting events, I've gotten sufficiently cynical that I can hit the remote after a quick progress check. I have too many things on my "to do" list to just sit in front of the tube for hours.

  • Landes stood guard over Lincoln's assassin

    Henry Landes (Lan-dus) of Pennsylvania, who mustered into the U.S. Marines during the Civil War, kept a diary.

    This diary became an important piece of evidence when stories surfaced of a man living in Tyler, Texas, named John St. Helen, who claimed to be John Wilkes Booth.

    St. Helen/Booth said he had escaped from the surrounded barn in Bowling Green, Va., and wasnt dead after all.

  • Party-lines votes not always the best

    It's not been unusual for the Fayette County Board to have tie votes on various matters, such as appointments, with board members voting along party lines. The current board chairman, Steve Knebel, said he would like to see that pattern change.

    Prior to the boards appointment of Mary Sue Ruot as the circuit clerk through the end of November, Knebel noted that he was going against the recommendation of numerous fellow Republicans in recommending Ruot.

    I know how its been done in the past. I know a lot of things have gone politically. I dont agree with that, Knebel said.

  • Greathouse descendant shares history

    It has been 12 years now since my first contact with John D. Greathouse of Missoula, Mont.

    A nephew of Vandalias Civil War hero, Col. Lucien Greathouse, he had written looking for additional information on the family. Johns father was Isaac Ridgely Greathouse, son of John Stull Greathouse and his second wife, Catherine Waring, and Luciens younger half-brother.

    It is through John that I was able to share with you photographs of John Stull Greathouse and his son, Col. Lucien Greathouse, in full military dress, in last weeks column.

  • Neighbors lend a hand in Bluff City cleanup

    The Good Samaritans began appearing shortly after the freight-train noise of last Tuesdays storm headed for the county line. And they didn't leave until the cleanup was complete.

    That very localized, but potent, storm roared through Vandalia, hit Bluff City with a vengeance and moved on to the east. In its wake, it left a path of downed trees and thankfully generally minor damage to houses.

  • Col. Greathouse was courageous warrior

    As you may know, the Fayette County Genealogical & Historical Society publishes a quarterly magazine under the title of "Fayette Facts." This 60-page book is chock-full of research help on Fayette County families through church and courthouse records and family histories.

    What you might not know is that the society exchanges publications with nearly 40 other genealogical societies around Illinois and beyond. One of these is the Genealogy Society of Southern Illinois, which publishes "The Saga of Southern Illinois," covering 28 counties in the southernmost part of Illinois.