July 30, 2014

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Leigh Morris
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.

Historical myth-busting PDF Print E-mail

Over the decades, H.J. Heinz boasted of its “57 Varieties,” and everyone assumed they offered all 57.
In fact, in 1896, company founder H.J. Heinz spotted a shoe store advertisement that declared it offered “21 Styles.” As it happened, Heinz was looking for a slogan and that shoe store ad was all the inspiration he needed. Though his company had more than 60 varieties at that time, Heinz decided to use “57 Varieties” for one simple reason – he liked the way it looked in print. In case you are wondering, Heinz now has more than 3,000 varieties.

When a historical fact isn’t PDF Print E-mail

Everyone knows that Benjamin Franklin invented the Franklin stove, and everyone is wrong.
This is just one example of the many things we accept as historical truths, but are in fact, erroneous.
Many a young student will tell you that Marco Polo was the first European to visit China. This mistaken notion springs from Polo’s popular book, “Description of the World” (now called “The Travels of Marco Polo”).

Illinois’ winter of the ‘Deep Snow’ PDF Print E-mail

As remote as it may seem, winter will return and this story serves as a blunt reminder of that inescapable fact. The autumn of 1830 offered ominous signs of things to come with snows accumulating in the second half of November. Settlers had never seen snow so early. On Christmas Eve, the state was hit by the first big snowfall of the season. The six or seven inches of snow deposited on Dec. 24 was but a precursor of the real havoc that awaited Illinois.


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