Tuesday, November 21, 2017
From Community Connection
A free publication of greater Livingston County Businesses & Organizations
2018 Edition published in November 2017
CHATSWORTH TOUTS FIVE MUSEUMS
Sitting along US Route 24 in central Illinois lays a small town that truly punches above its weight. While Chatsworth may not have the population of other towns in the area, it truly has just as much to offer. The Town of Chatsworth has five museums to present to locals and outsiders looking to learn about the history of Chatsworth and central Illinois in its entirety. For an organized tour of these museums, please call Mayor Richard Runyon at 815-674-5497.
The Midwestern states have a rich history of the traditional one-room schoolhouse, and this is no different in Chatsworth. The "Little One Room School House" was in use from 1858 to 1942, at which point the students moved into two separate building separated by age. Amazingly, much of the school has been kept intact, and it looks remarkably like it is still in use today. The school house is now a museum and is one of the few old schools now serving as museums in the state of Illinois. The museum is located in the CAPS Park on First Street, but as of the printing of this paper, it is in the process of being moved to downtown Chatsworth. For those interested in the history of the one room school house and just experiencing what it was really like, this is certainly a must visit. Call Connie Dohman at 815-674-3694 to organize a group tour of the schoolhouse museum.
The Hangar Museum in Chatsworth is a must see if you are interested in farm equipment past and present. The name Hangar Museum comes from the fact that the museum is located in an old airplane hangar, which is a piece of history in itself. There are dozens of tractors with the earliest dating back to the 1930's, as well as featured Cast Iron Seats which date back to pre-1900. You can tour this building by appointment or on scheduled days during the summer. Call 815-848-3286 for more details on how to set up a tour.
If you are into old tractors and farm equipment, chances are that you are into old cars as well. Visit the McGathering! This collection of restored cars, known as "muscle cars", date back to the 1960's, and there is a very interesting "mechanic" constantly at "work". The museum goes beyond cars as well for those who may not have much of an interest in cars. There is also a wide assortment of Chatsworth history including old newspapers, bed sheets from the old Chatsworth Hospital and Chatsworth Train Wreck memorabilia as well. This one stop could certainly give you an idea bout what Chatsworth is all about, but to get the picture, you should visit all the excellent museums Chatsworth has to offer. The museum is on Sixth Street in Chatsworth. Call Jim McGreal at his home phone number to set up an appointment to tour the building at 217-202-6219.
Chatsworth has a caboose which sits on the side of the railroad tracks in Chatsworth. This caboose is meant to symbolize Chatsworth's history when it was a busy, bustling railroad town. Chatsworth has also had its share of terror on the railroads as well. In 1887, the event which would become known as the Chatsworth Train Wreck of 1887 occurred. On August 10, 1887 a train in route from Peoria to Niagara Falls crashe just east of Chatsworth. 81 to 85 people were killed with up to 372 people injured. This was one of the deadliest wrecks in railroad history. Today, a historical marker stands erected near the place of the accident along Route 24 east of Chatsworth. This is a great place to visit for those looking to a site where true devastation occurred, or those just interested in railroad history.
Bluebird Hall is the new community center in Chatsworth for meetings. It is also the home to a stunning display of history regarding Chatsworth, its old high school, and the Chatsworth train wreck of 1887. The building was founded as a community center because the city had a need for a center where organizations could meet. The building is named Bluebird Hall after the Chatsworth High School mascot, and after the Bluebird Project in Chatsworth which has gained a lot of attention. Locals in Chatsworth have been purchasing houses for the bluebirds in an attempt to be named the Bluebird capital of Illinois. On May 3, 2017, the governor declared Chatsworth the Home of the Bluebird and May 4 as the official "Bluebird Project Day". Other surrounding communities have jumped on board with the Bluebird Project. The buildings official opening was in June 2017. The building is a very interesting building to tour for a variety of reasons, including the unique history of the building itself. The building once served as a Sears catalog store, funeral home, post office, barber shop and Community Center. The building dates back to the early 1900's. Contact town hall at 815-635-3095 to tour this historic building. The building is at 200 Locust Street in Chatsworth, Illinois.
The museums may be what will bring you to Chatsworth. However, the town is much more than museums. It also offers a historic downtown district with building that facade which will truly give you a glimpse at what Central Illinois, and specifically Chatsworth is/was all about. Visit the retail shops- Corner Hardware, Kerbside Floral and Kurt's Fabrications and Wood Creations. Baltz Library dedicated in 2015 (2014 correct date) is one of the newest libraries in the area and features a modern design. CAPS Park includes a playground, pavilions, and the second largest pool in the state of Illinois. Throughout the summer and early fall, the Junk in the Trunk event and Kid's Fun Time occurs with its main purpose serving as a great place to bring the family and enjoy a garage sale out of the back of car trunks. The scheduled days are the fourth Saturday of the month. Don't miss vising Chatsworth for a fun time!
Fairbury – Edna Pearl Shelton, 100, of Fairbury, passed away at 8:30am, November 19, 2017, at McLean County Nursing Home, Normal. Her funeral will be held at 11:00am, Friday, November 24, 2017, at Duffy-Pils Memorial Home, Fairbury. Burial will be in Graceland Cemetery, Fairbury. Visitation will be held from 10:00am-11:00am, also on Friday at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to the donor’s choice of charity. Edna was born November 25, 1916, in Chatsworth the daughter of Jesse Howard and Sally Jane Garmon Crews. She married Charles Shelley on January 14, 1933, in Glasgow, KY. She then married in her later years George Shelton on October 20, 1993. They both preceded her in death. Surviving are her daughter, Virginia (Delbert) Morgan and son, Steven (Elizabeth) Shelley both of Bloomington; four grandchildren, Karen Salinas, Kimberly Hoffman, Michelle (John) Roosa, and Stephanie Shelley and 13 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by son, Danny Shelley, one grandchild, two brothers and two sisters. Edna was a nursing assistant in the Fairbury and Gilman areas for many years.
Monday, November 13, 2017
Sunday, November 12, 2017
From the Pantagraph:
CHATSWORTH — A piece of history is ready to roll down the streets of Chatsworth. Am 1858, one-room schoolhouse has been lifted from its foundation in Chatsworth Area Planning Society Park and will soon be set down on a new lot on Locust Street, about four blocks away. “At its current location, it wasn’t being well-maintained and was starting to deteriorate,” said Chatsworth Mayor Richard Runyon. “In order to properly care for it, we thought it’d be best to bring it to the center of town where it will get more attention.” The schoolhouse is recognized as The Little School Museum and is often visited by local students and history buffs. According to the Chatsworth Illinois Memories website, the schoolhouse was the first education facility built in the Livingston County town, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. The white building has a classic schoolhouse look, with a bell steeple, slim front porch and tall windows. There is an assortment of historic collectibles inside, rows of antique school desks, an original pump organ and wood stove.A larger school was built in 1870, but the smaller building was still used to teach children of the workers at a nearby beet factory. It was dubbed the “Beet School.” The one-room schoolhouse was used until 1942. Additions were made to the larger school building, including a high school wing. Eventually, those buildings were razed, but the small schoolhouse remained. The building was moved twice in the past before being restored and dedicated as a museum in 1976. The moving of the school is a community project, mostly organized by the Chatsworth Historical Society. Runyon said the move is being delayed "until the weather cooperates" and wind gusts die down.Once moved to the spot on Locust Street, the building will sit on a new foundation and heating and air conditioning will be added. Runyon said the schoolhouse will be one of four museums within walking distance on Chatsworth’s main street. Others include The Hangar Museum for agriculture equipment, The Caboose railroad museum and Bluebird Hall. “It will sit across from Bluebird Hall which was a total wreck when it was given to us, but we refurbished it and added a kitchen and bathrooms. The walls are coveredwith memorabilia,” said Runyon. The exterior of The Little School Museum probably will be upgraded with a fence and landscaping, added the mayor. “Having this many historic places and museums in town shows that we’re growing,” he said. “After we lost our high school the population declined, but things are getting better. Houses are starting to sell and we’re organizing a local police force which we haven’t had since the ‘90s." "We’re back to doing things right. Chatsworth is growing again.”
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Joyce Lee Wills Kraft, 81, of rural Downs, died at 11:20 a.m. Monday (Aug. 21, 2017) at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, Normal, after complications of a long illness. A memorial service will be from noon to 3 p.m. Sept. 17 at her former home at 19983 Wesley, Downs. Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association. Condolences may be sent to Kurt Kraft, her son, at 2704 Keystone Road, Bloomington, IL 61704. Joyce was born Dec. 8, 1935, in rural Chatsworth, the fourth of seven children of Orville and Elizabeth Cassity Wills. She was a graduate of Reddick High School, and obtained her teacher certification at Illinois State University. She later earned her bachelor’s degree at National College of Education (National Louis University), Chicago. She married Jimmy “Jim” Collins Kraft on Sept. 7, 1957, in Bloomington. Surviving are four children, Jeff (Frances) Kraft, Chicago; Jennifer (Joseph) Kolar, Libertyville; Kurt (Karen) Kraft, Bloomington; and Kile Kraft, Arrowsmith; nine grandchildren, Jarred Kolar, Chicago; Taylor (George) Gopinath, Bloomington; Kelsey (John) Venerable, Normal; Jacob Kolar, Chicago; Grace Kraft, Burbank, Calif.; Nora Kraft, Chicago; Collin Kraft, Denver, Colo.; Elle Kraft, Mason City; and Olivia Kraft, Bloomington; three sisters, Bette Richards, Salem, Ore.; Joan Pierce, Casper, Wyo.; and Marilyn (Jack) Rabens, Elmhurst; and two brothers, Jim Wills, Bloomington, and Patrick Wills, Largo, Fla.
She was preceded in death by her husband, parents and one brother. After teaching second-grade children for more than 30 years in Chebanse, she retired to the Bloomington area with her husband. She enjoyed water aerobics with dear friends at the YWCA and Four Seasons I in Bloomington.
Thursday, November 9, 2017
Janet Weakman, 84, of Forrest, passed away 9:20 p.m. Monday (Nov. 6, 2017) at Accolade Health Care, Pontiac. Visitation will be 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Calvert & Martin Funeral Home, Forrest. Her funeral will be 11 a.m. Friday at the funeral home with the Rev. Corinne Blissard officiating. Burial will follow at Pleasant Ridge Cemetery, rural Wing. Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Foundation.
Janet was born Nov. 7, 1932, in rural Chatsworth, the daughter of Lester and Myrtle Shockey Elbert. She married Earl Weakman on Nov. 25, 1978. He passed away May 17, 2007. She is survived by her children, Teresa “Terry” (Mark) Henry, The Villages, Fla.; Steve (Kathy) Barnes, Wing; Kris (Dave) Wenger, Bloomington; and Marci (Dino) Monterastelli, Pontiac; her grandchildren, Eric (Kimberly) Henry; Amber (Martin) Brady; Lea (Shane) Voyles; Michael Mann; Johnny, Laura and Al; Jennifer (Craig) Braaten; Bryant (Dolores) Fisher; Andrew Fisher; Faithe Wenger; and McKay Wenger; four stepchildren through Earl, Pat, Johnny, Karen and Sheila; 16 greatgrandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; one brother-in-law, John Nance, Forrest; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband; and two sisters, Rosemary Maurer and Lois Nance.
Janet was born, raised and educated in the Forrest area. She worked at Trainor Grain for many years. She enjoyed gardening, embroidering and her cats. Janet had a great sense of humor and liked to have fun. Most of all, she loved her family and spending time with them. She was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Forrest. This obituary may be viewed and condolences sent to the family at calvertmemorial.com.