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

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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.  

What’s New at the O’Fallon Historical Society – September 14, 2016

historical-society

(Submitted Photo)

Beni (Bernice Funk-Bowman) came in to purchase six of the OHS DVD’s and became an OHS Member for three years. She and I went upstairs so she could reminisce about the old Barber Shop.

Charles Bevirt also came in and dropped off his OHS Family Membership Dues. Afterwards, OHS Vice President Tom Schwarztrauber took Charles out to the O’Fallon (Tiedemann) Cemetery to look for his Great Grand Father Henry Schaefer, Sr.’s unmarked grave. Tom grave dowsed and found Henry’s grave, located in the row behind John Distler’s grave. Charles is pictured (at right)standing where Henry is buried.

Elizabeth Rauckman’s family spinning wheel is now on display at the O’Fallon Historical Museum. The wheel, which had been left to Curt Schildknecht, has been placed there for everyone to enjoy.

(Submitted Photo)

(Submitted Photo)

“I believe Elizabeth will be proud that the spinning wheel will be on display with the historical society,” Curt told the Historical Society.

Elizabeth Rauckman passed away on November 30, 2014, at Cedar Ridge Healthcare and Rehab in Lebanon. Elizabeth was born, raised, and remained a lifelong resident of O’Fallon. She worked as a Toll Operator for Southwestern Bell for 36 years, and retired from Illinois Bell. Elizabeth was also one of the last switchboard operators on the second floor of the OHS Museum building – she was there when they made the switch over to dial service.  Elizabeth was a member of the O’Fallon United Church of Christ and an avid bingo player.

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

centennial-covered-wagon-1954-resized

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 – August 3, 2016

(Photo by Whitney Wisnaksy-Bettorf)

(Photo by Whitney Wisnaksy-Bettorf)

The Cemetery Detectives were on the job last Wednesday, travelling to Oak Hill Cemetery, located just north of Old Vincennes Trail. Pictured from left, Babe Papproth, Kathy Dice, Vern Malare, Tom Schwarztrauber and Caroline Malare. Tom is holding a set of Grave Dowsing Rods over the Coal Miners Memorial Monument which he repaired with some of the group’s Injection Grout Mixture. Three unmarked coal miners’ graves were located in the area behind the monument.

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

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Annice Elizabeth Willard, daughter of Bill and Betty Willard, of Indiana stopped by the OHS Museum Wednesday afternoon with her daughter Josephine Dugger. This was their first visit to the museum. They are pictured touring the William Holden Room.

If you are interested in learning more aboutthe O’Fallon Historical Society, please contact Vice President Tom Schwarztrauber at the O’Fallon Historical Museum, located at 101 West State Street, or by calling (618) 624-8409. The Museum is open Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. and by appointment.  (Submitted Photo)

Cemetery Detectives

Tracking down the past: Cemetery Detectives locate long lost burial sites

Cemetery Detectives

The Cemetery Detectives: Tim Ogle, Vern Malare, Tom Schwartztrauber, and Babe Papproth (Submitted Photo)

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon Historical Society is home to a small group of volunteers that are making an effort to find long lost cemeteries and fix tombstones in disrepair. The group calls themselves “Cemetery Detectives,” and they began a few years ago by visiting cemeteries on Wednesday mornings before their volunteer time at the historical society building. The detectives, who also refer to themselves as cousins, are Tim Ogle, Vern Malare, Tom Schwartztrauber, and Babe Papproth.

Schwartztrauber said they use plat maps to see where old cemeteries were, and showed how they were marked with crosses. The properties have changed hands numerous times since some of the 19th century plat maps, and many property owners aren’t aware that the cemeteries even exist. Some are in the middle of overgrown woods. Once they get to about where they think the cemetery is, Schwartztrauber uses copper dowsing rods to locate graves. The rods cross and they know they have found a grave.

When locating the Beedle Cemetery, which is in a heavily wooded area with chest high weeds, and where the group eventually found three graves, Papproth noted that she saw a deer stand, and that’s when Malare came up with the idea for the shirts that the detectives wear.

“We were fairly camouflaged, and we needed to be visible to hunters as we were walking through the woods. So we chose orange,” said Malare. The moniker “Cemetery Detectives” was chosen after members of the group completed the citizens police academy with O’Fallon Police Department, and they had it printed on the shirts, which are available for purchase at the historical society building. “Now we feel more confident when we go out, knowing we stand out while we’re finding these graves,” said Schwartztrauber.

To make the graves stand out, the group places red flags and sometimes caution tape. At what he calls the Levi-2 Piggott Cemetery, family of Captain James Piggott and of the Piggott Fort and Piggott Ferry fame, Schwartztrauber notes that it was cleared out over several trips during 2015.

“I made and erected wooden Crosses, planted 100s of Daffodil bulbs for Spring 2016, had a Levi-2 Piggott Cemetery Sign made and installed. Most importantly, I found a few of the living Levi-2 Piggott family members,” he stated.

The group wants to make family aware, when they can, when the cemeteries are found.  When family isn’t found, the group keeps track of the cemetery and keeps it clean. Schwartztrauber tries to trace lineage as much as he can, and he has several familial ties to families in the O’Fallon area, an important factor for gaining access to the site.

“In Missouri, if you’re a descendant, you can visit your familial cemetery even if it’s on someone’s private property, it’s a guaranteed right. It’s not the case in Illinois. Descendants don’t have rights to their ancestors graves, and we’re working with lawmakers to help change that,” he notes.

Cemetery Detectives

Cemetery Detective and O’Fallon Historical Society Vice-President Tom Schwartztrauber poses with his copper dowsing rods next to a found grave. (Submitted Photo)

The detectives also conduct minor repairs to broken stones at cemeteries. Repairing the stones is what both Malare and Schwartztrauber call a learning process.

“I didn’t know how to do this stuff. I’ve watched videos and done searches online. We do what we can and fix it when we can,” says Schwartztrauber.

Using a mix of grout, the men then brace the stones with what they can, sometimes fallen tree branches, to help the grouting set. Several tombstones have been repaired at a cemetery at Rock Springs Park that the Cemetery Detectives visit and maintain.

“It’s hard but gratifying to see them repaired. We learn a little bit more with each one, and take that knowledge for the next repair,” Malare notes.

The group offers to help residents find their ancestors and trace their heritage.

“We hope people will reach out if they want to find their ancestors, and if they want help finding graves or repairing stones. We’re willing to do it, we want to help,” says Schwartzrauber. Malare echoed that statement, saying “This is the history of our lives. It’s important to find out who they are and what they did.”

For more information on the Cemetery Detectives, or to purchase a shirt to support their efforts, visit the O’Fallon Historical Society.