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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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Historical markers highlight county's heritage

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................June 29, 2015

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

DeKalb County has a rich history of agriculture and innovation, something that becomes more evident each time another historical marker is installed and dedicated.

Such was the case earlier this month, when the Marsh Harvester state historical marker was unveiled in Sycamore outside the brick building at Blumen Gardens on Edward Street that once housed the Marsh Brothers factory started here in 1869.

Speakers on that occasion lauded Charles and William Marsh for their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. State Rep. Bob Pritchard spoke of farmers always being great innovators and

Taking part in the Marsh Harvester historical marker dedication are (from left in front row): Norman Larson of the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association board, Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy, Ann Koski, DAAHA president Larry Mix, and State Rep. Bob Pritchard. In back (from left) are marker chairman Jim Stoddard, Illinois State Historical Society vice president Stuart Fliege, and co-owner of Blumen Gardens Joel Barczak.

expressed hope that this will continue with future generations. Larry Mix, president of the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association that sponsored the marker, said these historical plaques are meant to inspire the next generation to be innovators by showing them what has been done.

Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy took the time to research the past city council minutes from 1875 so he could share the history of the early days. He said, “If you weren’t on a river or a railroad line you probably didn’t survive.” Sycamore was fortunate to have an early rail line that ran right next to the Marsh Brothers factory. Mundy added that a contract was signed between the city and Marshes that created a city water system which would provide fire protection for their building and it was the first public-private partnership of its kind locally.

Other speakers included Joel Barczak, who owns Blumen Gardens, and Ann Koski, whose late father, Lauri Koski, donated money for the marker. Jim Stoddard, the chairman of the project, explained his ties to the Marsh family when he said he now owns the Italianate brick home of William Marsh on West State Street, which is on the National Register of Historical Places.

This is the fourth in a series of markers designed and dedicated by DAAHA, along with the Illinois State Historical Society that was represented at the event by ISHS vice president Stuart Fliege. They plan to erect two more later this year to commemorate the world famous winged ear advertising logo and the Jacob Haish barbed wire connection.

DeKalb County is fortunate to have more than 30 historical markers and monuments which each highlight a significant event, structure or person from our history. By perusing the book “Acres of Change” in your local library or purchasing one for you family, you can discover how to find each marker. It would make a nice summer outing to take a drive around northern, central and southern DeKalb County (on three separate weekends) to read each inscription and realize how much notable history exists right here in our area. Some sites even have picnic tables or nearby parks and forest preserves where you can enjoy lunch along the way.

How many Civil War cannons are located in local cemeteries, where is the log cabin built in 1835 still standing, and exactly where does the Kishwaukee River begin (a hint, it’s in two places)? During the remainder of summer you can drive to the Genoa-Kingston area, Cortland, Sandwich, Waterman and Shabbona to find the answers. Let me know when you visit them all.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115