September 2, 2014

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Leigh Morris
When it comes to ice, we’re tops PDF Print E-mail

All but the newest arrivals to Central Illinois are certain this region receives more than its fair share of tough winter weather. And they are right.
When it comes to ice, Central Illinois is second to none. That’s what the scientists at the Prairie Research Institute of the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) discovered.
“Central Illinois has the distinction of being in the nation’s primary area for severe freezing rain (ice) storms,” the ISWS stated. Of course, this is not something the tourism, real estate or chamber crowd care to acknowledge let alone brag about.

Virginia, there is a Santa Claus PDF Print E-mail

This is a story about faith, love, beauty and romance.
In 1897, little Virginia O’Hanlon wrote the following letter to the New York Sun:
“I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Pap says, ‘If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”
Virginia’s letter was given to Francis P. Church, a childless editor who wrote the following magical editorial response to Virginia’s letter.

Printed in lipstick: ‘I killed her’ PDF Print E-mail

After an evening of bar hopping, the Army veteran and prostitute entered the Park Hotel at 12:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 21, 1946.
Ivan DeSilva and Lucille Riff registered as “Mr. and Mrs. I.V. DeSilva” and were given the key to room 14 on the second floor. Riff, a prostitute, had been banned from the Park Hotel by owner Emma Fosgate, but night clerk Dan Fitzgerald was new and did not recognize her.

A war veteran’s path to murder PDF Print E-mail

Ivan DeSilva did not exactly fit the image of a killer, but as Beardstown residents would discover on Jan. 21, 1946, looks can be deceiving.
The 21-year-old DeSilva was of slender build, weighed about 150 pounds and had piercing grayish eyes. A world War II combat veteran with a good record, DeSilva was taken prisoner in Luxembourg during which time he suffered frozen feet. He was hospitalized for a time following his return to the United States and then was honorably discharged from the Army in August of 1945.

McClure receives a piece of aviation history PDF Print E-mail

With the end of World War II, interest in Russell and Francis Halligan’s planes began to wane.
Meanwhile, young Milton McClure’s father, Milton McClure Sr., returned home from military service. In 1948, the senior McClure, a Republican, was elected Cass County state’s attorney in a stunning upset over Democrat incumbent Chuck Colburn.

Beardstown’s Halligans take flight PDF Print E-mail

When Francis and Russell Halligan set out to build their plane, they did it all by the seats of their pants.

‘With solemn pride in heroism’ PDF Print E-mail

From New York and Chicago to Cass County communities, Americans went wild with celebration with the November 11, 1918 armistice that marked the end of the Great War.
The end of this most brutal of wars was reason for celebration, and rightly so. Nonetheless, President Woodrow Wilson wanted Americans to remember the tragedy of war.

A 144-year railroad story PDF Print E-mail

By Leigh Morris
For the Star-Gazette
A steam locomotive decorated with willow boughs pulled three flatcars fitted with chairs for dignitaries across the new Illinois River bridge on March 1, 1870. The first official train had arrived in Beardstown on the Rockford, Rock Island & St. Louis Railroad.

In search of a Columbia scapegoat PDF Print E-mail

When a disaster occurs, there seems to be an irresistible urge to lay blame at someone’s door, and so it was with the sinking of the steamboat Columbia that claimed 87 lives.

Steamboat Columbia begins a deadly trip PDF Print E-mail

With her brother John in tow, 18-year-old Lucille Bruder ran through the streets of Pekin to catch the steamboat Columbia.
Friday, July 5, 1918, had been a perfect summer day and for a few hundred folks from Kingston Mines and Pekin, the evening promised to be even better. An excursion aboard the Columbia would be the big event of the year for the South Side Social Club of Pekin.


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