On Friday, May 4, the McHenry County Historical Society marks its 55th museum year with an opening soiree from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 4, at the museum, 6422 Main St., Union.

The opening will feature a wine tasting, light refreshments, live music by the Corner Boys from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and raffle baskets, as we celebrate the second year of "Waterways and Getaways: Resort Life in McHenry County" exhibit.

Experience a glimpse of resorting life in McHenry County from the 1870s through the 1950s. Guests will be welcomed into the Bald Knob Hotel by proprietor Sven Mellin. View murals depicting long lost summer resorts and leisure life along local lakes and the Fox River. Even the rare lotus flower scent will be wafting from lily pads.

Museum admission is free. Wine tasting by The International House of Wine and Cheese and The American Cafe. Wine Tasting Package with commemorative resort exhibit wine glass (while supplies last): $12. Tickets sold at door Pick up a 2018 program and events schedule and find out about the exciting exhibit renovation of Eckert Hall planned for later this year

The Illinois Railway Museum is pleased to announce that it has acquired an Amtrak AEM-7 type electric locomotive built in 1982 in nearby La Grange, Illinois. Amtrak number 945 is an AEM-7 electric passenger locomotive constructed specifically for operation on the “Northeast Corridor” route between Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. It was used in daily service on Amtrak’s busiest route for more than 30 years and was retired in 2015.

The AEM-7 was the first successful passenger locomotive design used by Amtrak, which was created in 1971. The design was based on a Swedish locomotive, which was imported in 1976 for testing. The AEM-7 was intended to be a general-use passenger locomotive on the Northeast Corridor and introduced high horsepower, high-speed, lightweight European electric locomotive technology to the United States. It was capable of a top speed of 125 miles per hour, making it the fastest locomotive preserved at IRM.

Number 945 was part of Amtrak’s second order for AEM-7 locomotives. It was ordered in 1980 and delivered in 1982, assembled in the historic La Grange plant of the Electro- Motive Division of General Motors. This and the other AEM-7 locomotives allowed Amtrak to retire its aging fleet of iconic GG-1 type electric locomotives inherited from the Pennsylvania Railroad. While Amtrak rebuilt some AEM-7 locomotives with newer AC traction motors, number 945 kept its original Swedish-built electrical equipment until retirement.

This locomotive is the first locomotive acquired by IRM that was built for Amtrak and it is the youngest passenger locomotive in the museum’s collection. It was designed for operation on the high-voltage Northeast Corridor electrification system and, as it is not compatible with IRM’s 600-volt overhead wire system, is intended to be a static display piece at the museum’s site in Union. Number 945 joins an example of a GG-1 locomotive, the design the AEM-7 replaced, in the museum’s collection.

Sunday, May 13, 2018 will find runners gathering at Betsey Warrington Park in the Huntley Park District for the 6th Annual Cooley Run 5K and Superhero Dash. Race time is 9:00 a.m. The day will include games, prizes and a raffle.

This event is sponsored by Cancer Kiss My Cooley, a 501c3 charity started by Joe and Cinnamon Kittner in honor of their son, Carter, who died of pediatric brain cancer at the age of six. Proceeds from the race go to provide “A Kiss of Hope” to local children with cancer—offering to help them fulfill a dream or reach a goal. They also provide funds for research into causes and cures for pediatric brain cancer.

For more information and to register visit http://ckmc.org/cooleyrun2018

Marengo citizens who glanced at the front page of the April 19, 1917, edition of the Marengo Republican News saw bold black capital letters underlined by small icons of American flags screaming “PRESIDENT APPEALS TO NATION.” The Great War was only ten days old; Congress had declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, about one month after the contents of the Zimmermann Telegram were made public and confirmed by Germany. In an effort to keep the United States military pinned down in North America Germany proposed an alliance with Mexico; the goal of the alliance was to bring on a war between the U.S. and its southern neighbor. The Mexican government nibbled on the bait, but after considering the proposal thought it to be fruitless. Nonetheless, the contents of this document and the beginning of Germany’s submarine warfare against American merchant ships swayed the public opinion towards war.

In the appeal President Woodrow Wilson outlined things the nation must do as it entered the First World War, and he concluded; “The supreme test of the nation has come. We must all speak, act, and serve together.”

Below Wilson’s appeal to the nation was a story about Fred Janke Jr., a Marengo man who on April 14th left his home for Chicago with the intent to enlist in the army. On the 18th Janke reported to his parents that he was successful in his efforts to become a soldier, and that he was stationed at the Rock Island Arsenal. The Republican News awarded Janke the “distinction of being the first to respond from this community to the call of the President.”

Over the next several weeks patriotism became contagious in our little community as young men left homes, farms, and colleges to support the war effort. One Marengo boy, Nebelow “Neb” Woleben “quit his school duties” at Marengo Community High School and headed for Rockford to enlist in the coast artillery service. School Superintendent E.A Gardner awarded Woleben full credit for his studies, and the young soldier eventually received his diploma. Marengo citizens had the opportunity to wish Woleben a good bye as he and other recruits passed through Marengo on their way from Rockford to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri.

On May 10, 1917, the Marengo Republican News front page headline blared; “MARENGO BOYS ON SEA, ON LAND, IN AIR.” The article provided an updated report on enlistments since the previous week. Ray Murley and Charles Kelley joined the army, and reported to Jefferson Barracks for training. James Woleben, Howard Lowe, Floyd Betts and Lorenzo Webb joined the navy, and reported for training at the naval training station in Lake Bluff, Illinois. At the time article was written several enlistments were pending with the officers corps; these included Glen Patterson, Carlton Robb, and Vernon Lowe. Another Marengo resident, Sherman Crissey, who was a student attending the University of Illinois in Champaign joined the aviation corps and reported for training in Houston, Texas.

On May 3rd a dance was held in honor of the enlistees at Riley’s hall on Prairie St. The Marengo Republican News reported that the event was a joyous occasion, and described the somber scene...”at the railway station the next morning when parents and friends of the young men gathered to see them off. What war means; how heavily it bears upon the hearts was there seen in the bowed heads and moist eyes of those near and dear to the boys who went bravely forward to render service to their country in its necessity.”

American involvement in WW I was approximately nineteen months. In that time approximately U.S. 4.3 million soldiers served, and out of those approximately 116,000 were killed or died of disease. The Marengo community provided 180 men to the war effort, and the following ten gave their lives; Horace Brotzman, Fred Boyle, Arthur Dunker, Arthur Dollman, Paul Gehrke, Ernest Kalbow, Walter Lind, Arthur Schultz, Willis Henshaw, and Herman Steinke. About 99 years ago when the names of these soldiers were still fresh on the minds of many, and their families still suffered in grief; the community memorialized them on a bronze tablet in Calvin Spencer Park - the tablet is still there today. This coming Memorial Day take a few moments out of your busy day, visit the park, pause for a moment and reflect in silence on the sacrifices of these heroes. These men and the many who served before and after them should never be forgotten

Connor Kasch, 23, was acceptedConnor Kasch, 23, was accepted into the Peace Corps and departed for Myanmar on January 23 to begin training as a secondary education English volunteer. Connor is currently living and working in a community to teach English to middle and high school students in small cities and townships in Myanmar.

“As an international studies major and Russian language minor, I have always been interested in working abroad,” Kasch said. “The Peace Corps presented itself as a great opportunity to explore a new part of the world while both supporting cultural diplomacy and helpingkids with their education.”

Kasch is the daughter of Jennifer and Brian Kasch and a graduate of Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora, Illinois. She then attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota,where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and international relations in 2017. “My high school really emphasized the value of giving back to the community(both local and global)and I think I am just learning now how important that is to me,” Kasch said.

During the first three months of her service, Kasch has been living with a host family in Myanmar to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. Once she’s acquired the necessary skills to assist her community, Kasch will be sworn into service and be assigned to a community in Myanmar, where she will live and work for two years with the local people. In addition to teaching students, Kasch will train local teachers on English language proficiency,producing teaching aids, lesson planning, classroom management, and various language-teaching methodologies.

“Personally, I hope to grow as a teacher and make connections with my students and coworkers,” Kasch said. “Following my service,I am interested in attending graduate school for public policy or international affairs and perhaps enter the Foreign Service.”

Kasch will also work in cooperation with the local people and partner organizations on sustainable, community-based development projects that improve the lives of people in Myanmar. 

This past March 8th was International Women’s Day, and the print, broadcast, and social media highlighted numerous examples of women who have contributed to our society in various ways. As I watched these stories I thought back to some examples of women’s contributions to the Marengo community throughout our history. For example, over the years several women ran successful businesses in Marengo; one being Henrietta C. Thayer who operated a Millinery, and the second was Miss Kate Bloodgood who operated a shoe store. Both of these enterprises were part of our downtown business landscape from the late 19th century and into the early 20th century. In the 1930’s Marengo’s Emma Van Alstyne Lanning, or Aunt Em as she was referred to, was a well-known radio personality who regularly broadcast shows on Rockford’s WROK, and Chicago’s WLS. But, these stories are for another time. This month I’m going to introduce our readers to DR. Arabella “Belle” Seward; a Marengo physician.

Belle was born in Coral Township on Christmas Day of 1849 to Ephraim Hewitt Seward, and Louisa Rogers Seward. Ephraim and Louisa were both from Middletown. Vermont, but did not marry until they met again in 1846 in the Marengo area.

Belle attended local schools, and afterward finished her studies at the Rockford Female Seminary, which is now Rockford College. Belle then continued her education at the Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital which was then located at 2809 Cottage Grove in Chicago.

Hahnemann was a homeopathic institution that opened its door in 1859 and in 1871 became coeducational. The institution shuttered its doors in 1922 after a merger with Northwestern failed. In February of 1882 Belle graduated with an M.D. Interestingly enough; the announcement in February 24, 1882, edition of the Marengo Republican News mentioned two other Marengo women earning their M.D.’s – Lida and Millie Peck; a topic that will surely be researched in the future.

A woman attending medical school is not unheard of today, but it was a different situation in the 1880’s. A biographical sketch in The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois (1903) stated this about Belle’s medical education; “She took her course in medicine and began practice at a time when the obstacles which barred the entrance of women into the professions in general, and to this one in particular were in full force and effect, and when popular prejudice excluded women, to a large extent, from employment as physicians in private families.” The sketch concluded, “And thus it was, that Dr. Belle Seward was entitled to be regarded as one of the pioneers in this new era of progress.”

After graduation Belle practiced medicine in Rockford for few years, but she could not be kept away from Marengo. In the early months of 1885 short announcements appeared in the Marengo Republican News informing readers that “Dr. Belle Seward will be in town for a few weeks. Any ladies wishing medical treatment from her can call upon her at her home. Neuralgia, headaches, and diseases of women a specialty.” By June of 1885 advertisements in the newspaper appeared that announced that Belle opened an office on the corner of Main St., and State St. But, Belle’s medical practice wasn’t limited only to the city limits of Marengo. According to the Encyclopedia of Illinois her practice “extended to the surrounding country, compelling her, at times, to take night rides in all sorts of weather and engage in treatment of all kinds of diseases.”

In mid- July of 1895, her night rides suffered somewhat of a setback when thieves entered her father’s pasture in Coral Township and removed her white-faced bay mare and road cart. Local police sent a “be on-the-lookout” for the horse and cart to authorities in a 30 mile radius of Marengo. Finally, 10 weeks later in late September the horse and cart were recovered by the Milwaukee Police Department in Wisconsin. The thieves were never caught.

In 1901 Belle married Loren Woodard, local business man and former Marengo city president (mayor). Woodard settled in Marengo in 1851, and engaged in the nursery business. He is also known for opening Marengo’s first pickle factory, as well as serving as the Director and Vice President of the Dairyman’s State Bank. The marriage was a short one; Woodard died on November 29, 1904, leaving Belle a widow.

Belle passed away on March 22, 1918, at age 68. The Marengo Republican News for the time of her death is not available in digital format, and the facts surrounding her death were not immediately available. Belle is buried in the Marengo City Cemetery. 

You cannot beat the taste of freshly dug potatoes from your own garden. If you do not have the space or believe it is just too difficult, there is a solution for you. Try growing potatoes in a container in a sunny spot on your patio, backyard, or balcony. Container grown potatoes are more disease free and easy to harvest.

There are two types of potatoes for the potato grower; determinate and indeterminate. Determinate potatoes are considered fast-growing and produce tubers at the soil depth just above where the seed was planted. Indeterminate potatoes are classified as slow-growing or late harvest and produce tubers all along the stem where soil exists. Indeterminate varieties are preferred for containers, so the yield is worth the effort. Indeterminate varieties include Carola, Nicola, German Butterball and Elba potatoes. If these varieties are not available, use any late season type.

Purchase seed potatoes from the local garden center or a mail order source. Do not use supermarket potatoes that may have growth suppressant applied to them. Seed potatoes should be the size of a chicken egg. Cut in half if necessary.

To get started you will need a container of at least 7-10 gallons. Covering potatoes as they grow is not necessary in containers. Fill the bag or container with good quality multipurpose soilless mix and compost to around 1" below the rim. Carefully plunge potato tubers into the container with the potato eyes and any shoots pointing upwards, to a depth of 5 inches from the soil surface. Plan on one seed potato for every three gallons of soil. Water them, place the container in a bright, frost free location and wait for them to grow. Feed potato plants every other week with a balanced vegetable fertilizer and water when the soil begins to dry out.

After approximately 10 weeks of growth the plants will blossom. You can harvest new potatoes usually about two to three weeks after plants flower. If the potatoes are too small, be patient and wait. After the plant’s leaves and stems have withered, the potatoes will be ready to harvest and enjoy.

Anthony (Tony) Diller, 32, approaches his fledgling business the way he approaches life, with what he calls a Warrior’s Ethos. “I will never quit until the job is done,” he explained. "Life is not easy. A lot of it is just pushing through.” Diller’s perseverance is what got him through high school, through his 4 ½ years in the military, and ultimately back to his hometown of Marengo.

A self-proclaimed late-learner, Diller gives credit to Marengo Union High School teacher Mr. Schermer. “I learn more from doing than from reading,” said Diller. “Mr. Schermer and his auto classes showed me that I could be successful.” During Hiller’s high school years, Mr. Schermer got an old clunker car for the class to rebuild for the Demolition Derby. “The class had to make it safe enough for Mr. Schermer to drive,” said Diller. “We got put to work as part of the pit crew at the Demolition Derby.” That experience cemented Diller’s goal to become an auto mechanic. When he joined the military, he became a mechanic as part of the 1st Calvary Division, 4th Brigade, eventually deploying to Tillil Air Force Base in Iraq.

After leaving the military in 2010, Diller started college. According to Diller, a government shutdowns that year resulted in his brief period of homelessness. Following his Warrior’s Ethos, he scraped together enough funds to return to Marengo and go to college by selling cans and wood pallets and by working on cars in parking lots. He graduated from Universal Technical Institute in 2012 specializing in auto repair, diesel repair, industrial equipment and Ford Fact. He is ASE Certified. He is licensed to service and recharge air vehicle conditioning.

Diller began working for other mechanics at dealerships and area auto service franchises. He became disillusioned with the pricing schemes of the larger corporations. He decided to establish his own business in 2017, Cowboy Auto Repair, Inc. He started in his mother’s barn, and moved next to NAPA Auto Parts earlier this year.

“I tell people the way it is,” he explained. “I want to give them the best price possible.” With simple things like an oil change, Diller does a thorough inspection that includes suspension, air filter, brake line, tire pressure and tire inspection. “It’s more than a simple drain, refill and go.”

Diller credits the Marengo community for his success. “If it wasn’t for the community, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said. “The community gives me the trust I need for a successful business. In return, I’m here to make sure they have safe travels to where they need to go at a price that they can afford.

This team of boys is made up of 7th and 8th graders from Zion Lutheran School in Marengo.

Our season was filled with many great accomplishments: Undefeated Regular Season Undefeated Conference Record and Championship Immanuel Lutheran Tournament Champions Concord Classic Invitational Champions Christ Lutheran Peoria 3rd place finish St Peter Arlington Heights Saints Shootout 2nd Place Finish Illinois State Championship 3rd Place Finish

As a result of such a great season, the Zion Boys have earned an invitation to the Lutheran Basketball Association of America's National Championship being held at Valparaiso University March 22-25. Only 32 teams from throughout the country are rewarded with an invitation, and Zion is proud to accept one of only three invitations to teams in Illinois. Throughout the season each and every player has contributed to the team's success. Along the way, a couple of our players have earned individual accolades as well. 8th Graders Evan Shepard and Matthew Volkening were both selected to the Christ Lutheran All Tournament Team, Saints Shootout All Tournament Team and the Illinois State All Tournament Team. Both would agree that without the support and hard work of their teammates, these individual awards would not be possible. 8th Grader Preston Bailey is the other returning starter from last year's team and leads both vocally and with his hard work and determination and does so many things that go unnoticed in the box score. Liam Keller (8th Grade) and Patrick Signore (7th Grade) round out the starting lineup for the Panthers of Zion. 6th man Nate Cieslak also played key minutes throughout the season. Others coming off the bench for Zion are Isaiah Taylor (8), Jericho Tynis (7), Mike Ashbaugh (8), Bryden Steele (8) and Brian Scholl (7).

As a coach, I could be not more proud of these guys. As deserving as they are for their success on the court, it is even more special to see such great young men work hard towards a common goal...and achieve it. This is a group of young men whose parents, church, school and entire community should be proud of...I know I am!

It is noteworthy to complete fifty years at any endeavor. It seems even a bit more remarkable to complete fifty years as a mortician. Tom Fashingbauer of Marengo, presently owner of McHenry County Burial and Cremation Society, has just reached this special milestone. He is reflecting back on ways he has been able to be of service in this profession.

It was April 27, 1964 that he suddenly thought, “Why don’t I become a mortician?” Just graduated from high school and working in a factory, he knew he wanted a career, not just a job. He looked up funeral homes in the phone book, called one and was invited to come over. There he met Donald Child. To Tom’s surprise Don put him to work that day, transporting a body and helping with an embalming. Tom gets teary eyed thinking of Don, Don’s partner Ken Breda, and others who have been his mentors and inspirations along the way.

After getting his required undergrad courses at Parkville College in Parkville, MO, Tom enrolled in the Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago (It is now in Wheeling) for the intensive 18 month course of studies that included everything from anatomy, to cosmetology to business management. While at Worsham he went after chances at every opportunity to help Childs and Breda at their funeral home. “It was a sort of pre-apprenticeship,” Tom remarked.

In January, 1968, Tom reported for duty in the Army and after basic training was deployed to Vietnam. As he arrived he learned that his base was one of the army’s collection points for the dead. Mentioning that he was a mortician, his orders were soon changed to work there. He spent his tour of duty processing the bodies of dead troops, documenting their effects and arranging for flights to transport the bodies to the actual military mortuary in Saigon where they were embalmed and prepared for transport to Dover Air Force Base in Maryland. He also filled in as an embalmer when needed. In fact, after his tour of duty was over he was asked to stay in Saigon for another year as a civilian doing mortuary work, which he decided to do. “You did your best and you did what you had to do,” Tom says of this difficult time in our history.

In 1971 he began a storied career as a mortician that continues to this day. For years at a stretch he owned funeral homes. At other times, he worked as a free-lancer for some of his many colleagues in the Chicagoland area. Now, he operates his burial and cremation society with the help of his wife, Carole. Tom reflected on how his trade has changed over his fifty years. “There’s a lot more interest in cremation now,” he remarked. He commented that now that the Catholic Church allows cremation he has had many questions from Catholics and offers a free brochure explaining the latest Catholic teaching.

Tom Fashingbauer’s goal is to serve the community by offering affordable services for those who want a full funeral with a casket or a cremation. He even provides free urns for cremations. “I will do this until I can’t anymore,” Tom states. “This is not a job to me. This is my calling.”


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