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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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Updating the county's history book

By Barry Schrader.................................June 8, 2010

It will soon be 50 years since the book "From Oxen to Jets, A History of DeKalb County 1835-1963" was published, and the DeKalb County Historical-Genealogical Society has decided to do an update.
Compiled by Harriett Wilson Davy back in the early 1960s, the first edition was a hardcover book with 270 pages, covering the years from the county’s beginnings in 1835 up to 1963. The book project was funded by the DeKalb County Board then, but this time the historical society plans to seek other funding and private donations to complete a new edition. Full disclosure: I am a member of the society's board.
After two meetings of the book committee, headed by recently retired Kishwaukee College educator Terry Martin, several people have come forward to offer help in writing some of the chapters which will carry the county’s story forward 50 years. People such as Joan Hardekopf from Sandwich, Sherrie Martin from Waterman, and Ron Klein, Sue Breese, Jerry Smith and Al Golden from DeKalb have indicated a willingness to focus on their areas of interest. But more volunteer writers and researchers are

From Oxen to Jets book cover. (Schrader photo)

needed, and Martin invites those who might be interested to contact him.
A professional editor will be required to serve as the overall project coordinator and an interview panel has been assembled to interview those prospects who have been identified so far. There is also discussion about employing a business manager. The historical society has voted on a preliminary budget to begin work once an editor is hired. I would hope that the book will be ready for sale by late 2012 so people can order one for Christmas that year.
Chapters will be similar in most cases to those in the "Oxen to Jets" edition, such as agriculture, county government, industries, medicine, law and the courts, education from elementary through college level, churches, the local news media, townships and cities, organizations, historical sites and outstanding public servants.
For those who have an interest in local history, some prior books are also in libraries that have portrayed DeKalb County and its residents over the years, but most are out of print, including "Oxen to Jets." You may be familiar with the "History of DeKalb County" by Henry Boies, published in 1868, the "Past and Present of DeKalb County," written by Lewis Gross in 1907 and the more recent publications produced by Steve Bigolin.
The $64,000 question in my mind is what to name the new book: Just "Oxen to Jets – Volume II," "Beyond Oxen to Jets," or the mundane title "DeKalb County History from 1963 to 2013." Martin hopes for some better ideas. You can offer your suggestions or other help by contacting him at 815-756-4030.
When returning to DeKalb County in 2006, I was so impressed with the historical society’s book that had just come out: "Rural School Journeys: A Legacy of Learning," which covered the history of the one-room country schools and the early years of education in DeKalb County. It will be hard to top the quality of that product, but let’s hope it can at least be matched.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115