View of the Past – May 17, 2017

This week’s view is of the old O’Fallon City Hall at the corner of Lincoln and Washington, ca. 1935.  This is one of the last photos of the old steeple that towered over the front entrance and held the fire bell.  The steeple was removed in September 1937.  To the far right is the newly built American Legion hut — a log cabin constructed with electric poles from the streetcar that once traveled through O’Fallon along Second Street.  The City of O’Fallon and Enterprise Grange engineered the moving of the hut to Community Park in 1976 where it remains today.  The old City Hall, built in 1890, is currently being rehabbed by Brad McMillin.

(Contributed by Brian Keller, O’Fallon Historical Society)

For more, stop by the O’Fallon Historical Museum, located at 101 West State Street. The Museum is open Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. and by appointment.  

A View of the Past – November 2, 2016

carbon-mine-oct-1936-resizedThis week’s view is of Carbon Mine which was located west of the Venita Drive bridge in O’Fallon, near the railroad.  The coal mine was originally sunk in 1856 by the Gartside Coal Company and operated until March 31, 1937, closing the next day.  At the time it was the oldest operating coal mine in Illinois.  The photo was taken in early October 1936 after it had been newly remodeled.  (Contributed by Brian Keller, O’Fallon Historical Society)

For more, stop by the O’Fallon Historical Museum, located at 101 West State Street. The Museum is open Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. and by appointment.  

Historical Society hears from local paranormal expert

Len Adams speaks to a group of O'Fallon Historical Society members and guests. (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

Len Adams speaks to a group of O’Fallon Historical Society members and guests.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

O’FALLON – Former O’Fallon resident Len Adams has made a name for himself in the paranormal world and took time to share ghostly tales from around the world at the October Historical Society meeting.

Adams entertained meeting attendees with stories from several locations on his tours, and then spoke of other area haunts like churches and restaurants that he has had good and bad paranormal experiences in. He discussed his methods, saying “I’m really not a fan of Ouija boards. I’ve tried them and had horrible things happen. There are better ways, like divining rods. Those take a real skill to use, and you can ask the spirits yes or no questions. You can loosen the front of a Maglite to where if you hit it, it will go off. You can ask questions carrying that and the light will flash in answer.” He’s a big advocate of trusting your intuition and how certain places make you feel.

Adams currently hosts the Haunted Lebanon tours which feature the Mermaid House. The Mermaid House was built by a sea captain in 1830 and has hosted Charles Dickens, who referred to his hotel stay in one of his books.

“I never promise anyone experiences, but we’ve had some crazy things happen on the tours. Upstairs in the Mermaid House, in the

Len Adams (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

Adams described his ghostly encounters (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

bigger room, that is the most active location in the building,” he said. He mentioned chairs rocking when no one is near them, and said people accuse him of doing it, even when  he’s not near them.

Attendees asked questions and made exclamations over some of Adams’s tales, especially one where a particular entity followed him home and caused physical harm. Following that event, Adams took a break from paranormal tours and hunting, and is just now easing back into that world.

Adams reflected back on getting started in paranormal research, saying that while he had been interested for years before being active, “I really thought it was something that only happened in Hollywood. I’m open to everything, but looking for proof.”

He began taking the tours in Alton from Troy Taylor and became friends with him. “I started helping with the tours, and then started leading them. Troy told me that I was doing the tour from the back of the line anyway, so I might as well take over.” Adams also rose through the ranks of the American Ghost Society to be the vice president. He’s had his stories featured on multiple TV programs, but says “I won’t share some of them. I’ve been asked for shows to develop them and I won’t allow it.”

Adams has written two books that are available at the Lebanon Visitor’s Center and Legendary Creations. The first, titled “So There I Was….. More Confessions of Ghost Hunters”, is co-authored with Troy Taylor and talks about behind the scenes happenings in paranormal hunters’ lives. The second book is titled “Phantoms in the Looking Glass: History & Hauntings of the Illinois Prairie”. Autographed copies are available on the tours. Tours run through the end of October, since they are walking tours, but in the winter months, Adams does do overnight stays at the Mermaid House. Follow his Facebook page, Haunted Lebanon Tours/ High Spirits Investigations- Ill., for more information and to keep up with current events. The last Haunted Lebanon walking tours of the season will run the Friday, October 28, and Saturday, October 29.

O’Fallon History Museum basement flooded

(O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Jeff Egbert)

(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Jeff Egbert)

O’FALLON – Volunteers at the O’Fallon History Museum were shocked to find approximately eight inches of standing water in the basement on Friday afternoon.

According to Historical Society President Brian Keller, volunteers were working in the basement as recently as Wednesday afternoon and saw no signs of flooding problems. The museum was essentially closed on Thursday before reopening Friday when the mess was found.

City crews were on hand to assist the museum and pump out the water.

A number of old newspapers and donated items did get soaked in the flooding, including the newspaper seen at left, proclaiming the assassination of President John Kennedy.

Keller said the museum will attempt to salvage what it can and that they have a number of duplicate copies of papers on hand.

(O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Jeff Egbert)

(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Jeff Egbert)

(O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Jeff Egbert)

(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Jeff Egbert)

A View of the Past – October 26, 2016

evangelical-church-parsonage-resizedThis week’s view is of the old Evangelical Church parsonage, taken ca. 1900, which once stood on the grounds of what is now the O’Fallon United Church of Christ at Cherry and Adams Streets.  Standing in front in the street is Rev. Herman U. Rahn with his wife, Emma, and children (l to r) Herman, Emma, Thekla, Laura and Erwin.  Rev. Rahn served the congregation from 1892 to 1901.  To the right of the parsonage is the German schoolhouse with the steeple of the church in the background.  The O’Fallon UCC is celebrating the 140th anniversary of its founding on Oct. 29, 1876.

(Contributed by Brian Keller, O’Fallon Historical Society)

A View of the Past – October 12, 2016

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This week’s view is of the Dog ‘n Suds drive-in restaurant that once stood on Route 50 across from O’Fallon Community Park. The local franchise was operated by Ron Stein who opened it in 1961. The popular eatery closed in 1971.  After that, it was the site of Burger Queen and then Chuck Wagon.  The lot was cleared in 1974 to make way for Pizza Hut which occupies the space today.  Dog ‘n Suds is still remembered fondly by those who ate and worked there.

(Contributed by Brian Keller, O’Fallon Historical Society)

For more, stop by the O’Fallon Historical Museum, located at 101 West State Street. The Museum is open Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. and by appointment.  

A View of the Past – October 5, 2016

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This week’s view is of a sewer line being laid under Second Street in O’Fallon, probably in 1913.  The photo was taken in the middle of Lincoln Ave. looking north, toward the intersection with Second.  The brick building on the corner was the rear wing of the old O’Fallon House hotel and the building to the left of that, behind the trees, was Louis Allen’s department store which fronted West First Street.  Both were gutted by fire in 1953.  The brick walls of Allen’s survived and parts of them were retained and used when rebuilding that section of West First.

(Contributed by Brian Keller, O’Fallon Historical Society)

For more, stop by the O’Fallon Historical Museum, located at 101 West State Street. The Museum is open Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. and by appointment.  

A View of the Past – September 21, 2016

post-office-under-construction-29-oct-1937-resized

This week’s view is of a car parked in front of what is now O’Fallon City Hall near the corner of Lincoln Ave. and Third St. on Oct. 29, 1937.  Across the street is the “new” United States Post Office under construction.  To the left (north) is the Oliver C. Joseph building in which John L. Anheuser and Robert R. Ruth ran a Dodge and Plymouth dealership and garage.  Anheuser was also O’Fallon’s Postmaster.  The Post Office was dedicated Apr. 9, 1938.  The building was vacated in 1992 when the current Post Office was built.  It was razed in 1995 to make way for the parking lot that is there today.

(Contributed by Brian Keller, O’Fallon Historical Society)

For more, stop by the O’Fallon Historical Museum, located at 101 West State Street. The Museum is open Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. and by appointment.  

A View of the Past – September 14, 2016

sel-mor-1966-resized

This week’s view is of the interior of the Sel-Mor Garment Company plant in O’Fallon, ca. 1966. Sel-Mor (or Miss Elaine as it’s still known today) made all types of women’s lingerie and had plants in various locations, including O’Fallon. They operated in the hall in Community Park (today’s Katy Cavins Community Center) under a lease agreement with the City of O’Fallon beginning in 1953. In 1966 they employed over 150 women and had a payroll of $500,000. The O’Fallon plant in the park closed in 1987 due to, according to the company, a decline in business caused primarily by competition from imported garments.

(Contributed by Brian Keller, O’Fallon Historical Society)

A View of the Past – September 7, 2016

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This week’s view is of a covered wagon that was used to help promote the O’Fallon Centennial celebration in 1954.  In sheer size and scope, it was arguably the biggest party O’Fallon had every thrown, before or since.  And it’s still remembered fondly by those who were there.

(Contributed by Brian Keller, O’Fallon Historical Society)

For more, stop by the O’Fallon Historical Museum, located at 101 West State Street. The Museum is open Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. and by appointment.  

What’s New at the O’Fallon Historical Society – August 10, 2016

IMG_3773 RESIZED   Col. John B. “JACK” Moelmann, USAF Retired, became the newest OHS Lifetime Member on Wednesday August 3.  In 2008, Jack was inducted into the American Theater Organ Society Hall of Fame and into the Theater Organ Society International Hall of Fame. In 2009 he was officially appointed Staff Organist at the Fabulous Fox Theater in St Louis, and is also a Staff Organist at the Lincoln Theater in Belleville, in addition to being organist at St Michael’s Episcopal Church in O’Fallon.

On September 20, Jack will host O’Fallon Historical Society members at his home in O’Fallon to watch a Silent Movie and hear his in home organ that accompanies the film. He has many stories to tell our members. OHS Memberships as low as $12 per year – please join and support our work in preserving the history of our town.  Stop by the OHS Museum at 101 West State Street, O’Fallon, IL on any Wednesday Friday or Saturday 1-4 p.m. and fill out a membership application. (Submitted Photo)

A View of the Past – August 10, 2016

OTHS Marching Band 1966-67 RESIZED

This week’s view is of the first marching band at O’Fallon Township High School in the old gym at what is now the Smiley Campus.  The photo was taken during the 1966-67 school year.  Belleville native John Albert (bottom row, far right) was hired by the high school district in the summer of 1966 to be the director of bands and was tasked with organizing the first OTHS marching band.  Albert resigned in July 1972 to work for an investment firm in St. Louis.  He was succeeded by Edward A. Fulton.

(Contributed by Brian Keller, O’Fallon Historical Society)

For more, stop by the O’Fallon Historical Museum, located at 101 West State Street. The Museum is open Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. and by appointment.  

What’s New at the O’Fallon Historical Society – July 27, 2016

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2015 Miss O’Fallon Grace Blankenship, along with Emma Iler, stopped by the OHS Museum for a visit on Wednesday. While there, Tom Schwarztrauber, OHS Vice President, had Grace autograph her picture in the O’Fallon Weekly. She then took a picture of that signed page saying she was unaware her picture was in the latest edition. She said I’ve got to get a copy for herself. (Submitted Photos)

 

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IMG_3681 RESIZED

What’s New at the O’Fallon Historical Society – July 20, 2016

Arline Keller Magee and family RESIZED

Arline Keller-Magee visited the O’Fallon Historical Society Museum this month for a tour with her daughter, Cara Magee-Johnston, and granddaughter, Louise Johnston from Shreveport, LA. They were also joined by Arline’s niece, Lena Niebruegge-Bauer, and her family. Lena teaches third grade at Estelle Kampmeyer Elementary School and brings her classes each year to the O’Fallon Historical Society Museum for a tour. (Submitted Photo)

What’s New at the O’Fallon Historical Society #2 – July 13, 2016

A small group of residents from Cedarhurst Care Center of Shiloh came over to visit the O’Fallon Historical Society Museum recently. They enjoyed their time with us at the OHS Museum as you will see in the happy faces of Shirley and Elda below.

Shirley Busch-Mullett is having fun remembering when she and her OTHS friends cleaned the basketball court after a dance, as seen in the photo she's holding. They were all covered with black shoe marks on their clothes and skin. Note Shirley is wearing her old OTHS Letterman's sweater, as Dorothy Scott-Falk makes sure we can see the "O" Letter on it, which Shirley donated to the OHS Museum a few years ago for all OTHS students and graduates to enjoy when they visit the OHS Museum. (Submitted Photo)

Shirley Busch-Mullett is having fun remembering when she and her OTHS friends cleaned the basketball court after a dance, as seen in the photo she’s holding. They were all covered with black shoe marks on their clothes and skin. Note Shirley is wearing her old OTHS Letterman’s sweater, as Dorothy Scott-Falk makes sure we can see the “O” Letter on it, which Shirley donated to the OHS Museum a few years ago for all OTHS students and graduates to enjoy when they visit the OHS Museum. (Submitted Photo)

 

98 Year-Old Elda Viola Keck Scheibel (widow of Cyril Scheibel) stopped by the OHS Museum with other residents of Cedarhurst Care Center in Shiloh. At 98 years old Elda is one of the oldest visitors to the OHS Museum. Elda is pictured in the William Holden - Bernie Fuchs Area of the museum. (Submitted Photo)

98 Year-Old Elda Viola Keck Scheibel (widow of Cyril Scheibel) stopped by the OHS Museum with other residents of Cedarhurst Care Center in Shiloh. At 98 years old Elda is one of the oldest visitors to the OHS Museum. Elda is pictured in the William Holden – Bernie Fuchs Area of the museum. (Submitted Photo)