I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
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each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
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Passing on the history of Hinckley
By Barry Schrader.................................November
At the age of 93, Dorothy Phillips has decided its
time to pass on her unofficial town historian role
to the newly formed Hinckley Historical Society. So this month
she and her son Dan turned over the sheets from her 1976 book
on the history of Hinckley to the local society.
first became interested in history when researching her family
tree. In 1975, the Hinckley Public Library asked her to organize
the files on the towns history. She took the material home
and decided there needed to be one comprehensive history all
in one book.
As she stated in her introduction
then: Generation after generation come and go like the
leaves on the trees. My aim
is to preserve local history
for future generations. She wrote later in the same preface
that, Time is ever moving on. Nearly one and a half centuries
have passed since the first white man settled in Squaw Grove.
More important events and progress have taken place (during those
150 years) than all the rest of history. ... It is important
that this marvelous change in history be recorded for future
The 180-page book was bound
with a plastic spiral spine and included photocopies of many
pictures collected from Hinckley library files and local people.
It has gone through several printings, and in 1995, she updated
it with an appendix, listing all the high school graduating classes
since 1976, plus clergy and business changes, school administrator
hires and even a general category of village happenings.
Asked about her own life in the Hinckley area, Dorothy
said her grandfather had immigrated to the U.S., and in 1873,
bought a 160-acre farm in Pierce Township, the same place where
she was born in 1917.
Dorothy Phillips peruses her book on Hinckleys history,
first written in 1975-76. Behind her on the wall is the prized
Northern Pike she caught at age 79. (Barry Schrader photo)
When her parents married, her grandfather split the farm into
two parcels, so they had 80 acres to themselves. She and her
four younger brothers were Depression-era children, but she said
we never went hungry, always had something to eat, but
didnt have any money. She recalls that the five children
shared a coin bank, and the parents had to use the change in
it to buy groceries. She met her late husband Herbert through
their parents who were friends. We gathered at the grocery
store on Saturday nights for a social time and also went to ball
games on Sunday afternoons.
married in 1939, she learned more about doing chores. With four
younger brothers, she had been mothers helper in the house,
but now helped milk the cows by hand. They did not have a tractor
at first, so they farmed with horses. She is proud of their five
children, who are scattered around the country, and also boasts
of seven great-grandchildren.
her home, I couldnt help but notice hundreds of salt and
pepper shakers that filled several shelves and knickknack cabinets.
This has been a lifelong hobby that just keeps growing, she explained.
Also prominent on one wall is a mounted 42-inch-long Northern
Pike. She caught that at age 79 while out fishing with her son
Dan on a lake in Hayward, Wis. She obviously holds the family
record for largest fish caught. And the proof is on the wall.
Asked about some of the highlights in her book, she
recalled the history-making event that took place in 1928 when
the newly organized Harlem Globetrotters played their first public
contest with the Hinckley Merchants town team, and lost to Hinckley
43 to 34. This was before the days when they became world-famous
hoopsters, accompanied with all their clowning around. She recalls
when the team stayed overnight they were offered floor space
to sleep in the office of Dr. A.L. Keyes, a local physician.
I hope the historical society will be reprinting
more of her booklets and manage to update that one-woman history
before too long.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115