.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Opinion

  • From the first moment that Jerry Jones of Ramsey handed me this photograph of Thomas C. Grandfield at a genealogical society meeting, it captured my attention.

    To begin with, it is a nice picture of an elderly gentleman. He looks straight into the camera lens, his strong hand resting on the head of the cane. His beard is neatly combed and his jacket is made from a nice material, although a few years old.

  • It's fair time in Fayette County!

    Beginning this Saturday, the sights and sounds and smells will return to the Fayette County Fairgrounds in Brownstown. And until the gates close a week later, the fair is THE place to be.

    Haven't been to the fair for a while? You'll be surprised at the variety of events and activities there. There are beauty contests, livestock judging, carnival rides, tractor pulls, 4-H project judging, a rodeo, musical performances, and races for motorcycles and ATVs. And don't forget about the food stands that offer a variety of delicious treats.

  • On Saturday, we will celebrate the birth of our nation.

    This year marks the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. As usual, it will be observed across our nation with celebrations and fireworks displays.

    In Vandalia, the festivities take place on Saturday night, when the Vandalia Lions Club once again will sponsor the fireworks display at Vandalia Lake. Check our calendar on page 2 for other events in the area.

  • As a result of revisiting the history of St. Paul’s two village merchants, John Boye and my great-grandfather, Jacob Yund, in my April 30 column, I received a packet in the mail from Roger O’Dell of St. Peter.

    Included with newspaper clippings he had saved over the years, mementos from St. Paul Church and assorted information, Mr. O’Dell included a photograph of the Boye house in St. Paul. This was a photo I had never seen before, although I remember the bright red brick structure from my visits to this Wilberton Township village.

  • An organization that has given the developmentally disabled individuals of this area a higher quality of life for more than 33 years is being threatened by the infighting at our state capitol.

    FAYCO Enterprises stands to lose much of its state funding as a result of the budget battle between Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly.

  • Any assessment of Vandalia’s first National Road Bluegrass Festival is, for the most part, subjective.

    Some people say that the crowds weren’t that big, and there wasn’t a lot to see or do.

    Others would say that the festival was a big success, and that it’s worth repeating.

    In reality, it would probably fall somewhere between the two.

  • Uncle Wilbur Meyer of Bingham was a self-described “moon man.”

    Those were the words he used when he told his doctor that he would return in a couple of weeks to have a spot removed from his cheek. The moon signs were not right that day for removal, but the following week, anything that was cut would not grow back.

    Uncle Wilbur used the same sign for cutting fence posts. If you cut under the wrong moon sign, the posts would rot. Cut them at the right time, and they will last for years.

  • It’s been nearly a month since the Vandalia City Council signed an agreement with a Michigan firm that could bring a $300 million sports complex to our community.

    The 2-million-square-foot development is to be located on 150 acres south of Wal-Mart. The developer – Motown Technology & Sports Facility Inc. – told the city that the project will create about 2,000 temporary construction jobs and nearly 900 full-time jobs, once the facility is completed. Those are big-time numbers in a county with double-digit unemployment.

  • One of our community’s biggest festivals, the Grande Levée at the Vandalia Statehouse, has been lost for at least this year, due to state budget cuts.

    But local volunteers have been working feverishly over the past few months to organize a substitute festival, one that includes both a number of the popular attractions from the Grande Levée and new, unique activities.

  • It is Saturday evening and I am sitting here reliving the events of earlier today.

    Amidst the tombstones in Liberty Cemetery near Bingham, the honor guard from Ramsey’s American Legion Post #460, along with members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, 22nd North Carolina Infantry and 15th Northwest Arkansas re-enactment groups, stood at attention, their muskets and rifles in mourn position.

  • The educational crown jewel of Vandalia – the Kaskaskia College Vandalia Campus building – stands as a testament to our community’s commitment to education.

    It’s a beautiful structure that combines functionality with an architectural theme that’s a throwback to the lines contained in the Vandalia Statehouse.

  • Each year, the people of Fayette County gather to remember relatives and family members who have been touched by cancer.

    That gathering also has as one of its goals to raise money to help wipe out that disease.

    It's the Fayette County Relay for Life. And it is scheduled for this weekend.

  • This story started out as a history of the Okaw Valley Opry, with my timeline beginning around 1962.

    Bill Oliver and I had spoken on the telephone several times before an appointment was made to visit him at his Bluff City home to talk in-depth about how it all began.

    It was not until our second visit that it came to me – Bill Oliver, with the influence of his wife, Evelyn, was the Okaw Valley Opry.

  • Two weeks ago, we ran a feature story in The Leader-Union about two local men who traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of a program called Honor Flight.

    In that program, veterans – particularly those who served in World War II – are treated to a free one-day trip to see our nation’s capital and the war memorials there. Organizers want it to be a way to say thanks to those men for the sacrifices they made for their country.

  • I was working on an article about some of Fayette County’s settlements and villages when my sister Jane telephoned to tell me that Mary Burtschi had passed away.

    It was then that I decided my column this week would be about my friend and mentor, Mary Pauline Burtschi.

    I first met Mary on July 5, 1981, at “The Little Brick House” on St. Clair Street in Vandalia.

  • The two photographs pictured with this story absolutely captivated me from the first moment I saw them. Why? Both pictures are of the same house.

    Home and business of tailor, Louis Schutz, and his seamstress sister, Anna, the address was 215 S. Fourth St., across the street from Gloria’s Christian Supply.

    The one-story structure is very old, probably older than Louie Schutz, who was born 1877 in Vandalia. This photo dates to the early 1900s.

  • If you've driven in downtown Vandalia recently, you know that the enhancement project there is clearly under way.

    For now, the work is confined primarily to upgrading the city's storm sewer system on Fifth and Sixth streets. Though not as visible as later portions of the project will be, fixing the storm sewers is vitally important in making the downtown area attractive for current and future businesses. We must fix that system if we're to end the basement flooding and other problems that have plagued the antiquated existing sewer system.

  • From the beginning, it was a decision that didn’t even meet the state’s own criteria for closing offices. The client base was higher than the minimum set by the agency for closure and the driving distances to alternative Department of Human Services offices were greater than the standard set by the agency.

    It just didn’t make sense.

  • A couple of weeks back, my friend, Joyce McClary, was showing me photographs taken on one of her walks.

    Joyce was scrolling through the images, telling me where she had taken the shots when all at once I stopped her. The next photo was of the statue in South Hill Cemetery of a seated woman.

    The previous week, I had searched newspaper microfilm at Evans Public Library, looking for a story about four statues, sculpted in Italy, unveiled during a Memorial Day ceremony in 1952. The seated woman was one of the four.

  • Recently, I contacted my friend, Roger Boye, of Evanston, to tell him my exciting news! My name appeared among the acknowledgments in Edward Callary’s new book, “Place Names Of Illinois.” This was a first for me, and I knew Roger would appreciate what it meant.

    I met Roger early in 1995 through a genealogical query. He was interested in family information on the Rheiner and Boye families of St. Paul. I copied what I had and sent it to him.