Gardens were necessities for families prior to the mid-twentieth century. Without refrigeration it was uncommon for food to be shipped long distances as is done today. As a result, most households had a garden located very close to the kitchen to provide a supply of fresh produce for the table. Climate and personal tastes dictated the contents of vegetable gardens that might include corn, beans, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers and varieties of leafy greens and herbs. In the Midwest staple crops like potatoes, carrots, cabbages and turnips were grown and held for year around use in root cellars.

A greater variety of vegetables were under cultivation in 19th century gardens than is common today as we have the convenience of well stocked grocery stores. Seeds from open pollinated plants were saved for the following year’s garden. Neighbors, friends and family shared seeds among themselves. Newlyweds might receive seeds as a wedding gift for beginning their household. A benefit of the vast varieties grown was inherent resistance to disease and pestilence that is lacking in today’s monocultures.

In the past gardens were effectively organic since there were no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Tables were laden with vegetables unadorned by the cadre of pesticides that are used today in commercial growing. Companion plantings helped maintain vigor and insect resistance. The garden was kept fully productive at all times through succession planting. Gardeners maintained the health of their soil by scrupulously rotating crops and amending the soil with green and animal manures and winter cover crops. Portions of the garden were allowed to lie fallow in order to regenerate.

Anyone familiar with current organic gardening practices will recognize the wisdom of these earlier gardeners. We are re-discovering the value of heirloom seeds, food that is locally grown, managing water resources, and good soil practices including crop rotation and composting.

Start thinking about your garden for 2019. Why not consider a historically themed garden? Victory Seed Company in Oregon has a website, that has ideas for an 18th century themed garden. Master gardeners maintain an interesting 19th century vegetable garden at the Historical Museum in Union during the gardening season. Plan to visit often next summer.

The Marengo Indians varsity volleyball team. Photo courtesy of MCHS athletic department


It didn’t look good for Marengo, at the start, punting from their 43-yard line on the first possession, and fumbling the ball away at Chicago Sullivan’s 1-yard line on the next. But, by halftime, it was all over and the offensive juggernaut had piled up a 47-6 lead. As they say in Colorado, “No worries.”

Marengo (8-2) opened the IHSA Class 4A playoffs Oct. 26 with a 47-20 firstround win over Sullivan at Rod Poppe Field. The 5th-seeded Indians, who carried a perfect 6-0 mark to take first-place outright in the Kishwaukee River Conference, returned to the post-season in a big way, after going 2-7 last year, and staying home.

Marengo’s Finn Schirmer seemed to carry a pile of defenders, from the 5-yard line, for the first of his four touchdowns on the night, with 3:32 left in the first quarter. Two minutes later, Cole Davis (4 reception, 51 yards) snagged a 21-yard TD pass, from quarterback Travis Knaak. In the second quarter, Schirmer (13 rushes, 86 yards) scored TD’s on runs from 4, and 7 yards out, within minutes of each other.

The Indians’ defense then closed ranks on the 12-seeded Tigers (6-4), with Colton Lohff breaking into the backfield, and knocking the ball out of running back David Toney’s arms, with Willy Arriola recovering the fumble. Marengo worked the ball downfield, as Schirmer picked up his fourth rushing TD, from the Tigers’ 4-yard line.

A little more than one minute later, Knaack threw a 21-yard TD strike to Lohff. Knaak passed for 83 yards, completing five of thirteen passes, and rushed for 78 yards. Sullivan’s Dave Roberts caught a 26-yard TD pass, from John Dishman, to put the Tigers on the scoreboard. Marengo’s Aaron Shephard received the ball at the 10- yard line on the kickoff, and proceeded to run 90 yards for a TD, with 0:39 seconds left in the half. His PAT kick brought the tally to 47-6, with a running clock.

Sullivan’s Matt Granderson picked up two TD runs in the fourth quarter: a 7-yarder, with Dishman running for a 2-point conversion, and one from 5 yards out, with a second 2-point try failing with an incomplete Dishman pass. Marengo moves on to face the 4th-seeded Chicago Urban Prep-Bronzeville (9-1), which defeated Elgin-based St. Edward (5-5) in its first-round playoff game, by a score of 24-14. St. Edward had gone 5-0 in the Metro Suburban-Red league, and the CUP-Bronzeville Lions also went 5-0 in conference play.


The Marengo Indians won straight sets against the Woodstock North Thunder, during an Oct. 17 Kishwaukee River Conference away tilt.. The Indians won 25-17 in the first match, and took the second 25-22. The Indians also traveled to Rochelle to play the Hubs Oct. 24. They split the first two sets, winning 26-24, and dropping the second, 25-14. The third set was a hard-fought 25-23 win. Photo courtesy of MCHS athletic department.

Today the holiday that we observe every November 11th is called Veterans Day; it’s a day when we celebrate all of the women and men who served in the armed forces of the United States. The holiday finds its roots in what was originally called Armistice Day; the day that hostilities ceased between the forces fighting in World War I. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson called for the commemoration of the first Armistice Day. This day was to be observed with parades, small ceremonies, and a brief cessation of business at 11:00 a.m.

It wasn’t until 1926 that the Congress of the United States formally recognized the end of World War I, and in a resolution declared that the 11th of November “should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations…” In 1938 Armistice Day became a legal national holiday, and in 1954 Congress amended the Act of 1938 by taking the word “Armistice” out of the law and replacing it with the word “Veterans,” making it a day to honor all veterans.

As November 11, 2018, approaches I thought that it would be fitting to write about a local Civil War veteran who left a legacy not only to our community, but to the whole nation in the form of his Civil War diary. This soldier’s name was Lucius Barber, and his home was on a farm in Riley Township on modern-day Hartman Rd. The Barber family settled in the township in 1851 when Lucius was about 12 years old. Little (if anything) is known about Barber’s life from age 12 to the time the Civil War broke out.

At the start of the war, on April 27, 1861, Barber joined a military company that was being organized in Marengo by Harley Wayne of Union. At the time of his enlistment Barber was 23 years old. His state military record listed his occupation as farmer, described him as being 5’10 with hazel eyes, and a light complexion. His place of birth was given as Java, Wyoming County, New York.

After Barber enlisted he kept a diary of the regiments activities and whereabouts, and in 1894 his family published the diary in a book titled Army Memoirs of Lucius W. Barber, Company “D,” 15th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, May 24, 1861, to September 30, 1865. In actuality, Barber started scribing in his diary on April 27, 1861, the day he enlisted in a military unit that would eventually be designated as the 15th Illinois. Initially the regiment was a state military unit formed in anticipation that President Lincoln would call for additional troops. The April 27th entry reads, “…we held ourselves subject to orders and in readiness to march when called upon.” The recruits didn’t have long to wait, Governor Yates soon sent orders for Wayne’s company to report to Freeport, Illinois, on May 11, 1861, and go into “camp of instruction.”

Barber described the scene of downtown Marengo on the morning of May 11th. He wrote, “… the usually quiet streets of Marengo were thronged with spectators, friends, and relatives of the soldiers who had come to witness their departure.” Before the recruits boarded the train, a short ceremony was held where the ladies of Marengo presented the new unit with a regimental flag, and the soldiers “made a solemn vow never to disgrace it or bring it back until our flag could wave in triumph over all our land.” Soon afterward the Company left for Freeport, and it was the first step of a journey that spanned more than four years and covered 10,897 miles.

As early war events developed the federal government realized that the war probably would not end quickly. Lincoln made another call for troops, and on May 24, 1861, Harley Wayne’s company was sworn into federal service and designated as Company D of the 15th Illinois – thus the date discrepancy in the book’s title.

The 15th Illinois clashed with Rebel troops in places like Shiloh, Vicksburg, Davis Bridge, Atlanta, and Bentonville. But it was on October 4, 1865, that the course of Barber’s life changed from a fighting soldier to a prisoner of war. On that day a portion of the 15th Illinois was captured by soldiers from General William Loring’s Division of Hoods Army outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Barber was incarcerated in the infamous Andersonville Prison in Georgia from October 10, 1864, to November 20, 1864.It was in Andersonville during his captivity that Barber contracted tuberculosis that would eventually take his life. After his release Barber returned to the regiment and served for the remainder of the war and then some. The regiment was finally mustered out in September of 1865.

Barber returned home, but the tuberculosis had taken its toll. Barber died at age 32 on March 12, 1872, and is buried in the Barber family plot located in a field on Hartman Rd.

For readers who are interested in learning more about Barber’s war experience his diary is still available today. An original copy of the book will cost you hundreds of dollars, but a more recent reprint was published by Time-Life Books and can be found for under twenty-dollars. A free electronic version can also be downloaded at armymemoirsofluc00barb/ page/n5.



An ambitious sidewalk and parking lot improvement plan that will encompass most of the downtown area, including the historic district, was approved by the city council, during its Oct. 10 session. The city of Marengo will apply the remaining balance in its Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) amounting to $321,620.93, to pay for the projects. The RLF was closed out last Jan., in accordance with state law.

The Mc Henry-based City Engineering firm of HR Green supplied estimate totals to the council for the upgrade plans that are pegged at $328,839. The separate components are: Route 23 sidewalk ($137,734), Side Street sidewalk ($133,807), Taylor Street sidewalk ($26,452), Parking Lot A-Old Library Parking Lot ($24,779), and Parking Lot B-off Washington Street ($6,067). The parking lot behind Marengo City Hall was estimated at $99,123 and not considered as part of the improvement package.

In a letter to council members, City Administrator Josh Blakemore noted that good construction bids could bring the overall effort in line with the remaining balance taken from the RLF close-out. Should project overruns arise, the additional monies could be used from contingency or capital improvement funds.

The improvements are tentatively slated to begin this spring.


Marengo City Administrator Josh Blakemore received an update from the Illinois Tollway Authority on the progress involving the remaining phases, as well as a projected timetable for completion. City council members were apprised last month, and “Everything is full-steam ahead, and really cooking,”  he said.

“They’ve basically acted on the intergovernmental agreement to outline how the construction costs will be broken down,” Blakemore said. “They approved it….and the right-of-way acquisitions that surround the access are being handled by them, so, we’ve distanced ourselves from that aspect. The ITA is very quick, and moving ahead with this project. It’s expected to be completed by Aug. 2019.”

The outlined schedule indicated that project job order bids would be opened in late Nov., and contracts awarded by late Dec., with the close of the calendar year. A “Notice To Proceed” is anticipated in Feb. 2019, with “contract mobilization” expected in Apr., with access construction. The Route 23 Bridge widening and overpass were completed earlier this year. Commercial and industrial properties are planned to surround the access, and benefit the city of Marengo with additional revenues. In past years, the municipality has steadily annexed properties along Route 23 into its jurisdiction.

When finished, it will be the sole access point along the Route 90 Jane Addams Tollway in McHenry County. The project has been on the county’s “Wish List” for more than two decades.


The solar farm project, encompassing the area around the intersection of Route 20 and Johnson Road, cleared another hurdle as two separate motions were executed by the Marengo city council, during its Oct. 22 meeting. Marengo Solar Farms LLC, listed as the beneficial owner, had entered into annexation agreements with the city to become enfolded within their boundaries. A Letter of Credit, a contingency item to the agreement due Sept. 7, was not submitted.

The company returned to the city council with an offer to place funds in an escrow account as collateral from the cash value of the agreement on two parcels that make up that commercial venture’s site, until letters of credit are secured. They further offered to deposit the amounts Oct. 23, should the motions be approved. The city council members voted 6-1 on two motions, one for each parcel, with one alderman absent.

An option to purchase the parcel from Nelligan Investments LLC in the amount of $60,400 and an option to purchase a parcel from Richard Johnson and Judith L. Feddma that carried an amount of $57,362 were accepted as equal to the cash values as escrow collateral, in lieu of the letters of credit, until such time as they are presented to the city

The Marengo Park District is asking voters in the far western Mc Henry County community if they want to investigate re-opening the shuttered “Starfish Waters” outdoor pool through a non-binding referendum question on the upcoming Nov. 6 general election ballot. The pool, a big summertime draw for the area, and a popular part of the district’s holdings, was shuttered six years ago amid financial considerations and mounting debt.  

The advisory question was first considered by board members last July, and the text is rather lengthy albeit concise with it purpose. “Re-opening the pool within the Indian Oaks Park…wil require a significant property tax increase in order to pay the costs of investigating the current status of the pool, repairing and rebuilding the pool and maintaining it in the future.   

“Do you support investigating the re-opening of the pool…and if so, would you approve a significant increase to your property taxes to acquire monies not to exceed $150,000 to pay for the investigation of the current state of the pool?” Voter response is being used as a gauge, and the election result is not an implemented decision. 

“The park district is not advocating raising property taxes on the community, it is simply putting the question in the hands of taxpayers, as it should be,” said Marengo Parks and Recreation Superintendent Joe Vallez. “The pool’s closing was a financial decision made six years ago. Now, the next question is if it’s still operable, what will it take to get it back up to speed? Remember, it’s been sitting there all these years…what will we find?  

“People have asked, when will it be opened, if it will be opened…the board continually gets these inquiries, so they decided to put the issue to rest and move forward by putting the decision to our taxpayers,” he said. “The referendum is two-fold: should the park district investigate re-opening the pool, and if so, are you willing to have a tax increase to do it?  

The park district has changed greatly, since coming into existence through a public referendum in 1938. Indian Oaks Park was added in 1973, along with plans for buildings and other amenities requested by the community. Budgeting was always premised on population growth and the resultant economic growth of the area, both of which fell short of expectations and financial concerns have continued to dog the park district and other governmental agencies.   

The 2008 recession and decline in residential properties contributed to budgeting issues. The 2014 closing of the “Starfish Waters” pool was expected to save approximately $32,000 that year in operational costs, while the park board secured a $75,000 loan to fill a gap in expenses for its Fiscal Year 2015 budget, which runs from May 1 to Apr. 30.  


A statement from the park district said bonds issued for contractors and materials would be offset by resident usage and annual tax levies revenues would offset the bond obligations. 

“Some projects went over budget, and more money was borrowed. Expected revenues were not seen. The bonding capacity of the park district was maximized. Marengo home values declined significantly, and so followed a decrease in the tax levy…scheduled bond payments still needed to be paid. Some bonds were restructured and payments have been stretched out years, even decades into the future. 


The statement also said, “The park district is itself facing over $4 million of debt. There is a bond with payment due in 2020 that must be restructured as the current combined tax levy and revenues of the park district will not cover the payment. Defaulting is not an option…by cutting costs and making conservative choices, an investor will be willing to purchase a restructured version of the bond.” 


Vallez entered the picture in 2014, with a history of “turning around” failing park districts. The pool was closed. The Skate Park and the two-decade old Indian Oaks playground were later deemed safety hazards, and dismantled. Repercussions from a failed bond referendum in 2013, and the subsequent sale of bonds by board members had stunted the district’s finances. 


A community victory came with the replacement of playground equipment and upgrades at Indian Oaks Park. The price tag and costs of $30,000 price tag were eventually met through a consensus-building effort that resulted in funds and materials being donated from residents and commercial entities.  

A volunteer work crew of 50 residents and trades people met at the park site May 13, of last year, and spent the day erecting a new playground and landscaping the surroundings. The Union-based firm of INTREN was heavily involved with erecting and putting together the new park’s components, and the installation was celebrated the following month with a June 3 ribbon-cutting ceremony. “That was a very good day,” Vallez said. “Everyone came together. A park, and a park district should reflect what the community wants.” 


Vallez also noted that while the pool is only used four months during the year, like outdoor golf courses, and operational costs are factors for consideration, the advisory referendum will provide a direction for the closed pool, “put in the hands of taxpayers.” 


There’s no question about it – human beings put an emphasis on firsts. Being the first to cross the finish line in a race makes a person a winner. The first team in a sports league division is looked upon with honor – for example as I write this both the Bears and the Cubs lead their divisions in their respective sports, and make their fans proud. Well history is the same! We have Delaware the first state to join the Union, George Washington our first President; Wright Brothers - the first to make a powered flight, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin the first men to walk on the moon; I could go on until I run out of paper, but I believe that you’ve grasped my point. Well Marengo isn’t any different, and it has its firsts too. As October 2018 approaches so does Marengo’s 47th annual Settlers’ Days, and in the spirit of the celebration I’m going to list some of Marengo’s firsts.

There are two sources that I’m using for this article; the first is the History of McHenry County Illinois: 1885, and the September 12, 1935, edition of the Marengo Republican News. This particular issue of the newspaper featured 114 pages packed with local history, and was published leading up to the Marengo’s Centennial Celebration – probably the first event that celebrated the settlement of our community. So here we go!

First Settler: Calvin Spencer came to the area known today as Marengo in 1835. Spencer was from Seneca County, Ohio.

First Death: Calvin Spencer’s mother is believed to hold this distinction; she died in November of 1835.

First Physician: Dr. Ward Burley who settled in Marengo sometime in the winter of 1835 and 36. He operated a dry goods store in conjunction with his medical practice until his death in July of 1847.

First Birth: This is somewhat disputed, but the history book gives this distinction to the son of Dr. Ward Burley. The child was born in 1836, and passed away at the age of two. History is mute on the names of the other persons competing for this distinction.

First Marriage: M.B. Bailey and Miss Lydia Hance were married on January 14, 1838.

First Male Teacher: According to the McHenry County History O.P. Rogers was the first teacher. No date is given in the history of when this was supposed have occurred. According to the Marengo Republican News Rogers didn’t teach a term of school until 1838.

First Female Teacher: The Marengo Republican News gives Caroline Cobb the distinction of being the first teacher who taught a term of school in Marengo in 1837.

First Religious Service: Officiated by Reverend Southworth on March 20, 1836, in the home of Calvin Spencer. First Religious Organization: The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in the fall of 1837.

First Election: Was held at the home of William Sponable on April 23, 1838.

First Grist Mill: Built in 1846 about one and half miles northwest of Marengo. The first flouring mill was built in Marengo in 1861.

First House: Built by Joseph Bryton in 1835.

First Store: Operated by Moody Bailey in 1837.

First Hotel: Built in 1835, and operated by Calvin Spencer in the area of the current intersection of East Grant Highway and South State St.

First Post Office: Established in 1841. The first Postmaster was Alfred King, and the post office was located on his farm about one mile west of Marengo. Prior to 1841 Marengoans received their mail through the Coral Post Office which was established on July 6, 1837.

First Railroad: On October 18, 1851, the first tracks of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad were laid through Marengo.

First College: The Marengo Collegiate Institute was built in 1856 becoming Marengo’s first (and only) college. The school operated for two years.

First Town Charter: Marengo was incorporated as a town and the charter was granted on February 9, 1857.

First Newspaper: The Marengo Journal published the first issue of the newspaper on August 16, 1856.

First Telephone Line: In 1883 the first toll line was established to Marengo by the Chicago Telephone Company. In 1895 the first local telephone exchange was established.

First Fire Department: The Marengo Fire Corps was established in 1883 as the first real fire protection organization.

First Automobile: Purchased by A.A. Ryder in 1901.

First Electric Railway: On January 19, 1907, the first round trip on the Elgin and Belvidere Electric Line was made. On February 1st the first passengers were transported on the line.

First Electric Streetlights: On September 11, 1914, at least 30 electric street lights on State Street were lit for the first time.

As you can see from this list our community has come a long way from the open grass prairie that Marengo was when Calvin Spencer and other settlers first arrived. Institution by institution, and organization by organization Marengo has progressed. When you celebrate this years’ Settlers’ Days activities enjoy yourself and have a great time, but somewhere in the midst of your fun take a moment to ponder the settlers and the people of the past who contributed to build this great community. Also, take a moment to reflect on the future of Marengo, and how we can make it a better and stronger community


As I walked into the Glob-Bowl Party room on Saturday, September 22, a little girl was standing near the door, her eyes wide. “I’m waiting for Nona,” she told me, pointing to a lovely gray-haired lady. “She’s my great-grandmother,” the child explained proudly.

I asked her if she knew what all these people were doing here in the party room. She knew it was a class reunion, but wasn’t clear on the particulars. She told me she’s in fourth grade and is definitely going to graduate from high school and college and then become a doctor.

“Well think about the other kids in your fourth-grade class today,” I remarked. “Can you imagine all of you coming back to see each other 65 years after you leave high school?”

“We’ll be really old,” she said thoughtfully.

What I can tell her and all of us after spending some time with these twenty remarkable people is that they may be “really old,” but they are all really happy to be celebrating another milestone anniversary. Unlike most classes that mark ten, twenty-five and fifty years, the class of 1953 began holding reunions in 1958 and have continued to hold one every five years.

Of course, everyone has not been able to attend every year. Since 1953, 40 class members have died. This year, several sent regrets due to poor health or other commitments. 14 did not respond at all. Leaving these twenty to enjoy a few hours and a dinner together.

I asked them, “Who was the smartest?” and they all pointed to Florence Danielson Gray, who was Valedictorian of the Class of 1953. Did she remember anything she said in her speech? “Not a word,” she laughed. No one else did either (a lesson to all who will agonize over their speeces in 2019), but one classmate announced, “She probably told us all to get out there and get to work!”

And that’s what they all did.


Pictured left to right: Christine Conkling, Superintendent of Riley School, David Engelbrecht, Superintendent of Marengo Community High School and Lea Damisch, Superintendent of Marengo-Union Elementary School

Recognition was given to the Marengo School Districts for exemplary intergovernmental cooperation in the state of Illinois for their successful shared service achievements. The core of this effort is the firm belief to help provide more effective and efficient services while saving taxpayer dollars. The area school districts share personnel in areas of high demand, including professionals such as speech pathologists, school psychologists, IT coordinators, bus drivers and custodial personnel. Because of the location of the three districts, they share facilities, including the gym, auditorium, buses and personnel as needed, to ensure cost effectiveness for all three districts. Despite the small sizes of these districts and their other partners, they offer a full range of services to students.

Ever leave soul cakes on your doorstep, during Allhallowtide? They’re offerings for the dead, the only thing they can eat …a partial forerunner to our own “Trick n’ Treat” traditions. While the interest in things going bump in the night elevates during All Hallow’s Eve, or “Hallowe’en,” the Oct. 31 date has its share of scary stories, many with no logical explanation. Both McHenry and Lake counties offer no shortage of places associated with paranormal activity year round.

Those incidents bear investigation. The McHenry County Paranormal Research Group has a mission to identify paranormal issues in attempting a resolution of conflict between spirits and living persons by helping those spirits cross over to the light. Its founder is Tony Olszewski, a beloved figure in the local law enforcement community with 21-year tenure including stints as a McHenry County Sheriff ’s Department detective and Holiday Hills police department chief.

“As I’ve said in many instances, our group is here to help those who have passed, and those who are still here,” said Olszewski. “It’s not a sport, so our focus is different from other groups, making us somewhat unique. Spirits are all around us, everywhere. It becomes a haunting when they interact, or bother, the client, and the term ‘ghost’ is by connecting with a person, place, or thing. Most spirits want to be undetected and unnoticed.”

Olszewski provided a thumbnail index for the three types of contact: intelligent (active interaction), poltergeist (noisy and purposely disruptive), and residual (a repeating imprint, similar to a tape loop.) Spirits also require energy to “feed” on, and interact, whether from electrical sources or individuals.

Those forms of energy manifest themselves as orbs (luminous and non-luminous with their own energy source), ectoplasm (a visible mist, or fluid form), shadow people, partial or full-body apparitions, rods (streaks of light), and psychic blur (energy between the object and a camera.)

“Spirits know your heart and intent…our group has learned much, and come far since starting in 2006,” he said. “We’ve always had a revolving group of people that are empaths, investigators, mediums, and empirical data researchers. We use multiple forms of evidence-gathering data that’s layered, and time-coded for a specific point referral in the investigation. We use a single-blind approach, where the investigators aren’t aware of what’s there, or the historical narrative.”

Olszewski related one incident, from his sheriff ’s deputy tenure involving the Stickney Mansion in Bull Valley. George and Sylvia Stickney built the two-story home in the secluded rural area in the mid-1800s, and the house itself was designed to have rounded corners in place of traditional 90-degree angles to prevent spirits from becoming trapped. Both were spirtualists.

A second-floor ballroom was used for spiritualist gatherings and séances. George Stickney died in a corner of the second-floor. His wife continued with her spiritualist activities until her death and the dwelling came into the possession of residential owners. Stories began to circulate about disembodied sounds, voices, moved furniture, and apparitions.

“We were told the owner hung himself,” said Olszewski. “The couple that lived there had complained of vandalism on the second floor, moved furniture, part of the tin ceiling pulled back. So, we staked it out one night, with four detectives. The couple went out to dinner, and we checked everything, before they left. When they returned a few hours later, they showed us where the ceiling had been peeled back again.

“No one could have gotten in, or gotten out. This is one of those things unexplained conventionally.” The home is now owned bythe Stickney House Foundation, which is attempting to restore the house to its original state. The basement area is occupied by the Bull Valley Police Department, and they will not discuss the matter of hauntings.

Another unconventional explanation suited the former Grant Township Hall on Washington Street in Ingleside. It was also home to Joe Tancl, a retired member of the Fox Lake Fire Protection District, who lived upstairs and acted as the building’s caretaker until his passing in Dec. 1968.

“He was a well-liked man, a well-respected man, and was the caretaker for the place,” said the district’s current chief, Ron Hoehne. “We lived in Ingleside for a long time, and I knew him, when I was young. He had served under the previous chief, and my father, Stu, took over from him in 1981. I heard the stories about the hall, and you wonder.”

Stories about noises and bumps being heard in the upstairs areas during township meetings were common, along with other occurrences. In 2009, the current occupants, the Fox Lake-Grant Township Historical Society, invited Olszewski’s group to investigate, and see what they could find. Meters, used for temperature readings, indicated cold drops in certain areas precisely where magnetic meters honed in on a presence.

The most startling piece was delivered during a reveal to the society. “Remember, when you take a digital picture, that’s it,” he said. “You can’t double-expose it, or alter the original results. We had detected a presence, and a team member snapped a picture of me. It showed another individual somewhat superimposed. One society member said, ‘That’s Joe!’ He produced a photo of Mr. Tancl… amazing. Not a harmful spirit, either.”

The group continues with site investigations and remote readings, still seeking to help resolve conflict between the departed and the inhabitants living with them.

“Spirits are all around us, getting them to cross over and go to the light can be difficult,’ said Olszewski. “In 2017, we had sixteen investigations, and in all, but three cases, we got everyone to cross over. Many times spirits are fearful of leaving, or have done something they feel God will not forgive them for. We want to help them get to the light, and it’s a way to find peace.

“After they’ve crossed over…they can still come back.”  


It is time to think about fall garden tasks and preparing the vegetable garden for winter. A thorough clean-up is essential to the long-term health of garden soil.

A good place to begin is by removing cages, trellises and other plant supports from the garden and clean and disinfect them. Cleaning and disinfecting are two distinct steps. Cleaning involves physically removing soil and debris and is the first step prior to applying a disinfectant. Soil and other organic residues reduce the effectiveness of disinfectants. Some disinfecting agents can be caustic and need to be rinsed from surfaces.

The garden area should be cleared of all plant material, especially any diseased debris, old fruit and vegetables. The best time to do this is before the ground hardens. Remove any weeds to eliminate overwintering sites for insects and disease. Healthy material can be composted but diseased plants should be disposed of to avoid contaminating the compost pile, thus re-infecting the garden with the same disease next season.

After the garden area is cleaned up, organic amendments may be added. Leaves are an excellent amendment and in abundant supply this time of year. Rather than disposing of all of them, apply a layer to the garden and lightly till into the soil. This lightens heavy soils, helps sandy soils retain moisture and adds trace minerals and food for beneficial organisms.

Do not forget to pick up all the hoses, drain them of water and store in a dry place. Store emptied outdoor containers upside down to avoid cracking. Cover the compost pile with plastic or a thick layer of straw. If there are hopelessly weedy areas, they can be covered with plastic or cardboard left in place over the winter to kill sprouting spring weeds. This is also an excellent method to prepare a new bed for the next season.

As tempting as it may be to forego the effort to do a fall garden cleanup and defer the job until spring, it is a good idea to start on this work effort now. Our hope is that these tips will help your garden survive winter and thrive next spring




   This year, four Vietnam Veterans, Dale Carpenter, Larry Dochterman, Jim Erbstoesser, and David Lutes, visited with senior students in English IV classes...

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Memorial Service Gave Fitting Tribute to Slain Officer

Memorial Service Gave Fitting Tribute to Slain Officer

    Following a service that commemorated the life of McHenry County Deputy Sheriff Jacob Keltner, a procession of vehicles containing law enforcement...

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Marengo News Briefs

Marengo News Briefs

MARENGO POLICE CHIEF ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT     After a nearly three-year tenure as Marengo police chief, and 24 years with the municipality’s department, Rich...

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