Skip to content

St. Elmo News

Monday, June 22
• Fayette County Board of Home and Community Education will meet at 1:15 p.m. at Vandalia Senior Citizens Center. 
• Fayette County Republican Women’s Club, 7 p.m., National Road Interpretive Center, 106 S. Fifth St., Vandalia. Take a lawn chair in case it is needed for social distancing, if the club needs to meet in the parking lot.
• The St. Elmo Board of Education will hold a budget hearing at 7:15 p.m. and a regular June meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the unit office.
Avena Township St. Elmo Community Park Board
The board of the Avena Township St. Elmo Community Park met for their regularly scheduled May 5 meeting at 6 p.m. in the Centennial Building, with five of the six members present – Kim Baron, Daryl Calvert, Brad Davis, Danny Tish and Karen Wegscheid.
The members practiced social distancing, and some wore protective masks. There were no visitors present. The April meeting was not held due to COVID-19 Virus and governor’s stay-at-home order.
Since Secretary Rebecca Werner was absent due to employment, board members who were present at the March meeting refreshed each other’s memory of the old business.
The Easter bunny costume arrived on April 3, but unfortunately, due to social distancing, the activity planned for pictures in the park with this Easter bunny had to be canceled.
This event will be placed on the calendar for next year.
The porta potty that has been appropriated was still to be placed in the park, close to the basketball court under the pole light.
The porta potty will be unlocked in the morning and locked by 10 p.m.
A new piece of playground equipment that has been placed in the budget and discussed and voted on at early meetings, along with the pricing of fall work zone, was entertained and it was decided to commit to the pricing quoted, thinking that it might increase, and that when restrictions were lifted, the park would be inviting to the public.
Treasurer Tish presented the financial report for March and April, and little discussion was held regarding lack of deposits, with Calvert mentioning that several rentals had been canceled even into June, and it was noted that the insurance company had issued a small goodwill check for the hardship of the park having to be closed.
Other planned activities that had been canceled included the social after the American Legion’s Memorial Day program, which also was canceled.
The butterfly release calendared for Saturday, June 13, would still be held in the park and people could pick up their butterfly, with respect to social distancing, and could proceed to an area of choice for the honor of their loved one.
More information will follow regarding this activity on the park’s Facebook page, St. Elmo Community Park District, as President Baron irons out the logistics of the event.
Officers elected: Baron as president, Calvert as secretary and Tish as treasurer.
Two bids for mowing were received and discussed. The board stressed that they were not displeased with the previous lawn care service, but opted to award the bid to an Elmonian, Jack Hopper, who presented the lower bid and met all of the necessary criteria.
Tree removal was tabled at this time, although it had been a serious consideration and discussion for some time.
The bills were discussed and paid.
Calvert relayed a telephone conversation that she had with an Ameren rep regarding lighting, including a dusk-to-dawn light that was already installed and could be rotated on the pole and a double-bracket light that would be affordable and a reasonable expenditure that would also assist with much-needed lighting of the basketball court for evening play.
The annual Labor Day plans were mentioned, and, of course, can’t be ignored, but the quandary of how many people, set now a 250, could be a dealbreaker to step out and attempt such a feat. Therefore, Labor Day activities were tabled until more information could be gathered.
The AFR will be due to the state comptroller by June 30, so Tish will copy his reports and Baron will deliver then to the accountant.
It was reiterated that the meetings will be scheduled on the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m., and that the Friends of the Park group will hold their meetings on he second Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m.
Rhodes-Side Gleanings on Rattlesnake Cave
Richard Freeman of Salem has sent the following information on the Rattlesnake Cave:
A local attraction in Effingham County is located on the east side of Ill. Route 128, about five miles north of U. S. 40 (Cumberland Road).
Property containing the cave was donated into a nature conservatory.
The property was from the most recent owner and is located on 10 acres in the extreme SW corner of Section 30 of Township Eight North, Range East, of the Third Principal Meridian.
This article is a collection of Freeman Family History and related researched information.
It started with great-grandfather Edward Freeman, who left New Jersey, traveling to New Orleans. There, he married and had a son, William Hawthorne Freeman. After many stops together and separately, Edward settled in Kinmundy in Marion County and William settled on 40 acres in the extreme NW Section 31, adjacent to the 10 acres of Rattlesnake Cave in Effingham County.
My connection to Rattlesnake Cave starts long before I was born.
Just before 1900, great-grandfather William H. Freeman purchased 40 acres from his father-in-law, Thomas Doty Force. He built a two-story house and barn just off Illinois Route 128.
A dry creek ran behind the barn north into a valley with steep banks.
An exposed vein of coal was discovered, and Williams’ family and other neighborhood families cut a wagon road from the barn down into the valley.
He added 40 acres to the east end of the first 40. They are not sure when the 10 acres were added.
The first coal vein was quite thick and was mined until the danger of the ceiling collapsing and was closed. Several small coal veins were mined along both sides of the valley.
The height of the veins were smaller. Miners had to crawl in with a bucket to pick.
By the mid-1950s, the mine openings were sealed with metal gates.
No folklore is evident of miner deaths.
My father told me that during those early days, the mouth of Rattlesnake Cave was quite large and the creek flowed through the cave.
The creek ran west under Route 128 and emptied into a larger creek to the north.
That creek flows from east to west, turning north to Wright’s Corner in Fayette County.
To date, I’ve not discovered the outlet from the cave. Silt has managed to seal the creek flowing through the cave and turned the creek into valley floor.
The valley floor now is several feet higher than it was in 1900, due to silt deposit.
Rattlesnake Cave ownership was William F. Freeman from sometime around 1900 and was sold to pay medical bills. Sale of the 10 acres occurred sometime before 1920.
The cave’s 10 acres in the SW corner of Section 30 has a 330-foot front along Route 128 and extends 1320 feet to the east.
Postscript: Rattlesnake Cave might have been co-opted from an earlier business, Rattlesnake Inn, which was in the area. It was a traveler’s place to stay overnight, meals and a tavern.
Locals north of there, around Moccasin Road, who visited the tavern referred to the tavern as “Miles End.” It was about a mile from their settlement.
The place I was shown for this tavern was on the west side of Route 128, in Fayette County and about 300-600 feet north of Fayette County road 2500N.
If you readers have any suggestions/corrections you can email Freeman
Cunningham Children’s
Home Quilt Show
The Cunningham Children’s Home in Urbana has an annual quilt show to help raise funds for the home.
Because of COVI-19 this year, the show could not be held in April at the CCH, but was held June 1-5 as a virtual festival on the Internet and was a success.
To support the programs and the more than 731 youth, adults and families served, the $55,160 in net proceeds were from the following: $21,844 from online store sales (110 quilts and also gift shop items), $17,050 from sponsorships, $14,000 from Arby’s Give Hope promotion, $5,850 from monetary donations, $2,116 from unbake sale and $2,700 in expenses.
Since the festival was virtual this year, the annual bake sale with treats make by United Methodist Women and Cunningham supporters was not held, but festival committee chair Marge Stout had her own “bake sale” – she made 84 dozen cinnamon rolls and 23 dozen dinner rolls, and sold them to family and friends, with the proceeds benefitting Cunningham.
In addition to the health and safety of the community, another advantage to having the Festival of Quilts online was the outreach of viewers and patrons from all over the country, and items were shipped to Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
One of the amazing quilts sold was made by CU Mask Makers. Thirty-five members of the croup made squares out of scraps of fabric left over from making masks. Those squares represent about 8,000 masks made by the 34 participants.
The person who purchased the quilt for $600 is a member of the CU Mask Makers and here are her words – “I am a CU Mask Maker.
“Although I was not able to contribute a block, I feel and emotional attachment to this quilt and I think it has historical significance. It commemorates a collective effort by our community to protect our community in a time of great hazard.
This quilt stands as a memorial to that undertaking and to the love of humanity at the heart of it.”
All are thanked for their support of the Virtual Festival of Quilts.
While it may have looked different this year, those involved in the Cunningham Children’s Home feels blessed to have had the opportunity to continue this event which represents a tradition that has offered warmth, safety and love to Cunningham kids for 125 years.
The 17th annual Festival of Quilts is scheduled for April 9-10, 2021.


Leave a Comment