Local History and Genealogy Blog

A Reunion at Chanute

The 714th Bomb Squadron in the 1940s

On August 16, 1984, Chanute Air Force Base was selected, thanks to its central geographic location, as the venue for reuniting the 714th Bomb Squadron’s Crew 66. The reunion brought together nine out of ten of the original members. Crew members traveled to Chanute from Massachusetts, New York, Hawaii, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Champaign, Illinois. Eldon “Red” Preisel of Champaign was a technical sergeant at the time of the crew’s combat missions and served as a point person for planning the reunion at the base. Read more about A Reunion at Chanute

Bettye Krolick's Contributions to Braille Music Transcription

Bettye Krolick transcribing music

Bettye Krolick transcribing music. Photo by Robert K. O’Daniell for The Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, August 30th, 1976.

Bettye Krolick (1926-2011) changed the world from her home in Champaign through her service to the national and international blind and visually impaired community - effects of which are still felt today. 

I came across Krolick’s story as I researched The Tuesday Morning Musical Club (TMMC), a women’s-only music recital club in Champaign-Urbana. (You can learn more about this club in the archives’ new exhibit, “From Homemaking to Municipal Housekeeping: Twentieth-Century Women’s Clubs in Champaign County.”) Krolick was very involved in the C-U music community even beyond the TMMC. A violinist by study, she played with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony (where she was first violinist) with her husband Edward Krolick and worked with multiple orchestras, including as “concert master of the Danville Symphony” as stated by the News-Gazette. Krolick eventually moved to Colorado after living in the Champaign-Urbana community for many years, continuing to play music there. Read more about Bettye Krolick's Contributions to Braille Music Transcription

Dorothy Gertrude Bentley and the 1918 Flu

Dorothy Gertrude Bentley Photograph Reverse of a photograph of Dorothy Gertrude Bentley

A recent donation to the Champaign County Historical Archives is this picture of Dorothy Bentley. She was a junior at Sidney High School when she died in 1918, from pneumonia after having influenza.
Small snippets of information can be found about her life and her death by searching newspapers in the Illinois Digital Newspaper collection. Some of these include her 1st place standing on school examinations, performing a duet for a program, moves made to attend school in Sidney, a bout with typhoid fever and various moves and business undertakings of her father, H. M. Bentley. Small articles on her death and funeral, that appeared in various Champaign and Urbana newspapers can also be found online.  However, the most glowing tribute is not online but can be found on the Sidney Times microfilm at the Champaign County Historical Archives.

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Greetings from Chanute! The Envelope Art of Ladd Canney

Envelope Art

In 1983, Chanute Commanding Officer Major General J.D. Moore hired Chief Master Sergeant and Chanute alum Donald O. Weckhorst to be the Chanute Air Force Base historian. Moore’s first order to Weckhorst was to create a pictorial history book of the base and Weckhorst immediately went to work on the project. From 1983-1992, Weckhorst contacted former and active Chanute students, instructors, civilians, and more from throughout the entirety of the base’s history seeking sources for the book. In his efforts, he contacted over 1,000 former Chanuters and received donations from approximately 300 people in the form of photographs, documents, maps, and other materials. Our collections at the CCHA not only include these donations, but also the correspondence between Weckhorst and former Chanute personnel concerning these donations. The correspondence often included information about the records being donated, stories from the base, updates on life after Chanute, and personal stories unrelated to Chanute. Weckhorst made personal connections with the people he contacted and developed friendships with them through the records they donated and their shared experience as Chanuters.  Read more about Greetings from Chanute! The Envelope Art of Ladd Canney

Another Installment of "Newspapers, Get Your Newspapers Here!"

Sidney Times newspaper, August 28,1908, front pageIn our last newspaper post, we presented you with some exciting and off-beat campus area newspapers from the 1970s and 1980s. There are more of those to examine, and we'll get to those in upcoming blog posts but for now, let's look at some of the early small-town papers, starting with the August 28, 1908, Sidney Times. This edition of the Sidney Times is ten pages long and has a LOT of information packed into those ten pages. The front page starts right off with advertising, perhaps not much different than newspapers of today. The remainder of the front page provides commentary on weddings, social club events, funerals, stories about the Sidney Horse Show and Corn Carnival, and the Illinois State Fair. This publication came out in the morning and cost a reasonable 5 cents. There is a pleasant announcement right on the title banner that you should get one of your own if you are reading a borrowed copy of this paper, no word on whether the good citizens of Sidney heeded this demand. Read more about Another Installment of "Newspapers, Get Your Newspapers Here!"

In Memoriam: Robert K. McCandless (1928-2020) and Raymond Bial (1948-2021)

Champaign County lost two prominent community photographers over the holiday season, Robert K. McCandless and Raymond Bial.

Robert McCandless with former Archives Director Anke Voss, 2013Robert (Bob) K. McCandless was the owner and photographer of McCandless Photography, a studio in Urbana and Champaign, Illinois, specializing in portraits. Born in Hershey, Pennsylvania, McCandless worked at the Evening Standard in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and in the Air Force from 1951-1953 (in Korea from 1952-1953) as a public information officer. In April 1956, he joined the Urbana Courier as a photographer. In 1965, McCandless left the Courier and opened his own photography studio at Washington and Race Streets in Urbana. He moved the studio to 113 W. University Avenue in Champaign in 1974 - 1975 and moved to Lincoln Square Mall in 1983. He closed the studio in 2011. Read more about In Memoriam: Robert K. McCandless (1928-2020) and Raymond Bial (1948-2021)

The Battle of Seattle and Founding of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center

 WTO protests in Seattle, November 30, 1999 Pepper spray is applied to the crowd.On the morning of November 30, 1999, an estimated 10,000 protesters gathered around the Paramount Theatre and Convention Center in Seattle, Washington.[1] They were protesting the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Ministerial Conference. They were a small part of approximately 40,000-60,000 protesters gathered in Seattle, along with another 400,000 online, from November 28 to December 3. The 10,000 protesters at the Paramount Theatre were engaging in peaceful protest, which ultimately resulted in the cancellation of WTO events. Seattle police responded with tear gas and other riot gear, while a larger crowd of 25,000 marched toward the Convention Center from the Memorial Stadium, creating a massive conflict. The Seattle Protests of 1999, also known as the Battle of Seattle, concluded after the WTO decided to end the conference early in lieu of the backlash. 

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Retiree Activities Program at Chanute Air Force Base

Chanute Air Force Base was the key starting point for many service members' careers throughout its 75 years of existence. Men and women began their education, professions, and families at the base and were supported by the Chanute and Rantoul communities. The Chanute Collection has many examples of community groups coming together to help one another and positively impact the Rantoul area. From the Officer's Wives Club that supported the local nursing homes to the YMCA's children programs, there was a place and activities for all.

Retiree Activities Program Group Photograph Read more about Retiree Activities Program at Chanute Air Force Base

First commercial airline delivery of clothes

In 1919, Isaac Kuhn took a risky decision and became the first retailer to receive a shipment of clothing via commercial airplane. In 1919, passenger planes had only been invented eleven years earlier, and commercial airlines were just beginning to establish themselves. These planes flew without air routes, ground navigation, or regulated licensing.

People assembled after the plane landed, Isaac Kuhn is fifth from the right, 1919. Read more about First commercial airline delivery of clothes

Soldiers Monument in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Sidney, IL

Soldiers Monument in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Sidney, IL. (abt. 1902)

The Soldiers Monument in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Sidney, Illinois, is just one of many memorials erected by city, township, county, and state governments or organizations in the latter part of the 1890s and early 1900s. The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) and the Woman's Relief Corps (W.R.C.) were behind many of the efforts to raise money and erect the monuments that served as memorials to the men who fought for the Union during the Civil War. Read more about Soldiers Monument in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Sidney, IL