Note to readers: Barry Schraders 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 werent on a river
or a railroad line you probably didnt 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
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, its 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.