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Barry Schrader


I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website 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 30, 2010

At the age of 93, Dorothy Phillips has decided it’s 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.
Dorothy first became interested in history when researching her family tree. In 1975, the Hinckley Public Library asked her to organize the files on the town’s 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 generations.”
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 Hinckley’s history, first written in 1975-76. Behind her on the wall is the prized Northern Pike she caught at age 79. (Barry Schrader photo)

Hinckley’s history.

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 didn’t 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.”
After getting married in 1939, she learned more about doing chores. With four younger brothers, she had been mother’s 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.
Looking around her home, I couldn’t 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.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115