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Barry Schrader


I currently write a column every other Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.


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The anatomy of a 2014 time capsule

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................November 11, 2014

Note to readers: Barry Schrader’s “DeKalb County Life” column will appear every other Tuesday.

Having been involved in five time-capsule projects over the years, it was fun to organize a sixth one this year for the Ney Grange members. They are observing their 85th anniversary and plan to have it opened during their 100th year in 2029.

It is sobering, though, when I realize the majority of the current Grange members, including me, will be deceased by then, with maybe a half dozen still able to witness its opening. Two of our youngest Grangers, Hunter and Madelynn Swanson, should remember where we stored it. They will be 27 and 21 years old respectively by then.

The 27 members were invited to write a personal (life history) letter to be shared in 15 years, then include a souvenir that would fit in this cylindrical stainless steel container about a foot long and four inches in diameter.

We used an old film developing tank, which is perfect for storing artifacts and paper in a temperature-controlled environment. We chose the Joiner History Room in Sycamore to archive it for us, since there is not a Grange Hall anymore. County historian Sue Breese is young enough, and so should be around to supervise the unsealing and sharing the contents.

Considering the size limitations, I wasn’t sure what to expect would be brought to the ceremony Nov. 1. It was done in conjunction with the unveiling of the 1835 Miller-Ellwood log cabin historical marker at the Hoppe Farmstead. We had mayors Les Bellah

The stainless steel 85th anniversary Ney Grange time capsule was displayed at the November 1 ceremony along with many of its contents in tray at left. The mortar and pestle in back will be used to mix the sealing compound. The brick was just to keep the cylinder from rolling off the table. (Photo by Curtis Clegg)

Ney Grange Lecturer Tom Rhoads, at left, presents a Lifetime Community Service Award to Forest Preserves Supt. Terry Hannan for his more than 30 years of preserving habitat and protecting wildlife and open space in DeKalb County. (Curtis Clegg Photo)

from Kirkland, Mark Vicary from Genoa and Ken Mundy from Sycamore, Village Trustee Jack Fischer from Kingston and State Rep. Bob Pritchard there, plus two DeKalb County Board members – Julia Fauci and Sally DeFauw. Also present were DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott and Forest Preserve District Superintendent Terry Hannan, along with 50 others at the gathering.

Some of the objects they will discover when opening the container: a 1940 Standing Liberty half dollar, a 2014 Lincoln head penny provided by Kay Shelton, who is national president of the Lincoln Highway Association, a 1960 Sycamore High School class ring, a journalist’s writing tool (pen) from Debbie Behrends who couldn’t fit her tablet or laptop into the capsule, a Linotype matrix from the old Genoa Republican backshop, a 125th Anniversary shavers permit pin and a Genoa Depot pin from Roger and JoAnn Watson.

One member brought a gold capped tooth extracted many years ago, adding some value to the contents. Several membership pins were included, such as 4-H, Rotary, Lions, Pork Producers, Belvidere Chrysler Assembly Plant, Shaklee Presidents Club and a Pierre Cardin 14-carat-gold stick pin.
Scott added a medallion depicting his sheriff’s badge, and longtime Ney Master Arden Awe contributed an early Grange pin from 50 years ago. A thimble, thread and needle were chosen by a longtime female member, the specifications and price of a new John Deere 8270R tractor were brought by a farming member, and an Experimental Aircraft Association “Young Eagles” flight pin came from pilot Jack Bennett.

Since we had two members in the hospital, Ney chaplain the Rev. Harlene Harden and one of three Grange Graces, Millie Drake, their offerings will be added later.

The Grange also added a few artifacts – documents and meeting minutes from Ney’s past, a sealed bottle of Kishwaukee River water provided by Peggy Doty, and a bottle containing 24 seeds from the Watson family heritage beans. They had just been picked by Dan Kenney from the pioneer garden at the cabin site.

Some historical photos were included of local events and places, plus a flash drive with photos taken at the 85th event by photographer Curtis Clegg. In case that thumb drive is obsolete by 2029, we also printed the photos for inclusion, as well.

Coincidentally, I mentioned our time capsule to Northern Illinois University archivist Cindy Ditzler and she said NIU has uncovered two time capsules recently, one when demolishing Douglas Hall (circa 1962) and the other during the remodeling of the Stevens Building (circa 1959). She expects to open them in the coming months, which should prove interesting.

The list of contents and exact GPS coordinates for the Ney capsule will be filed with the International Time Capsule Society at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, which maintains a registry of all capsules around the world.

Unfortunately, they report that more than 80 percent of all time capsules have been lost because of inadequate planning for their retrieval or loss of the markers identifying their location. We can only hope that the Joiner History Room still exists in 2029.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115