Yesteryear : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Compiled from articles published in the Ledger-Sentinel, 1980-present; Fox Valley Sentinel, 1974-1980; Oswego Ledger, 1949-1980; Kendall County Record, 1864-present; and historical information provided by the Village of Montgomery.
10 years ago this month...
About 75 residents of Oswego's Farmington Lakes and the unincorporated Boulder Hill Subdivision attended a public hearing on the proposed widening of Douglas Road held at Long Beach Elementary School in Boulder Hill. In general, most residents were supportive of the plans, but urged village officials to construct noise walls to separate their homes from the widened road.
Working was progressing on plans for a proposed bike-pedestrian bridge across the Fox River from Marina Park on the west side to Violet Patch Park on the east side, Oswegoland Park District Board members were told. The park district board had earlier obtained a federal grant to pay for the bulk of the bridge's construction.
Montgomery Village Board member Denny Lee urged village staff to step-up the village's enforcement of an ordinance governing lawn maintenance. Tim Brophy, village building commissioner, estimated there were about 25 regular ordinance violators throughout the village.
15 years ago this month...
The Oswego School District Board approved a new three year contract with the Oswego Education Association, the local teachers' union, in a unanimous ballot. The new contract called for an average increase of 15.94 percent over the three year life of the contract. Under the terms of the new contract, the annual starting salary (not including benefits) of a new teacher with a bachelor's degree increased to $25,283 in the first year of the contract, up from the $22,500. At the top end of the scale, the district will pay its most experienced teachers a maximum of $59,100 in the 1999-2000 school year, up from this year's $57,412. In the second year of the contract, that will increase to $61,228 and then to $63,816 in the final year of the deal.
Schaefer's Greenhouse on Ill. Route 31, one of Montgomery's oldest and largest businesses, was extensively damaged by a fire. Montgomery-Countryside Fire Dept. Chief Tom Meyers estimated the damage in excess of $1 million. A total of 131 firefighters from throughout the area battled the blaze.
A Hoffman Estates-based development firm proposed the construction of a Walgreens at U.S. Route 34 and Ill. Route 71 in Oswego.
20 years ago this month...
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union went on strike against Caterpillar, Inc. Picket lines went up at the heavy equipment manufacturer's plants across the country, including the firm's Oswego Township facility near Montgomery, workplace for an estimated 1,980 UAW employees. A key issue in the dispute were numerous charges of unfair labor practices filed against Caterpillar.
In a split ballot, the Montgomery Village Board approved an ordinance restricting the parking of recreational vehicles in village neighborhoods to side and rear yards only.
The Oswego School District Board of Education voted to approve a $2.6 million bond sale to finance the retirement fund for school district teachers. Approximately ten percent of the school district's teaching staff had chosen to retire due to the Illinois General Assembly's passage of a new teacher retirement program.
The old Oswego Dragway provided the theme for the annual PrairieFest community celebration in Oswego. Festival t-shirts commemorating the dragway sold out quickly, Oswegoland Park District officials reported.
25 years ago this month...
Oswegoland Park District officials pronounced the first-ever PrairieFest community celebration held over the Father's Day weekend a success. The park district took over sponsorship of Oswego's annual community celebration after Oswego Chamber of Commerce officials decided in early 1988 they no longer wanted to sponsor the celebration which was then called "Oswego Days."
The Oswego Village Board voted to grant a liquor license to the new Osco drug store that was then under construction at the Townes Crossing shopping center at U.S. Route 30 and Douglas Road.
An editorial in the Ledger-Sentinel urged the Oswego School District and Village of Oswego officials to study a proposal made by Police Chief Robert Wunsch to station a police officer at Oswego High School. Wunsch made his suggestion at a public meeting in response to concerns voiced by parents about drug and alcohol abuse among students at the school. Until that time, school officials had been reluctant to have a police officer on duty full-time at the school.
30 years ago this month...
Anticipating the scheduled August opening of the Dominick's and Eagle food stores on Douglas Road in Montgomery, village officials announced plans for the widening of Douglas Road from two to five lanes between Montgomery Road and U.S. Route 30.
A few nearby windows rattled and some irate residents called members of the Kendall County Board but, otherwise, Oswego managed to survive a controversial rock music festival held on unincorporated property along the east bank of the Fox River near the village's downtown business district. Jam The Box, event promoters, staged the festival in conjunction with the Oswego Days community celebration. County sheriff's department officials estimated that between 75 and 100 young people attended the festival each of the three days it was held.
A total of 279 members of the Oswego High School Class of 1984 received diplomas during commencement exercises at the school.
35 years ago this month...
Construction was progressing on an addition to the Oswego Fire Station on Main Street in the village's downtown. The addition was the first expansion of the building since it opened in 1952.
Oswego Village Board members approved a real estate tax levy $10,300 lower than the one they approved in 1978.
The Illinois Department of Transportation announced plans to install traffic signals at Ill. Route 25 and Ashland Avenue on the Aurora-Montgomery border.
40 years ago this month...
A public library was being operated out of a room at Montgomery's Village Hall. The library was staffed by a group of local residents who were seeking to establish library service in the village. Village board members were notified during their monthly meeting that the library would be open during the summer months.
An era in local businesses ended when Hall's-formerly Carr's-department store at 74 Main Street in downtown Oswego closed. Among the marked down items for the store's final sale included men's suits, normally priced at $59 to $100 for $19 to $39.
Tornadoes ripped through northeast Kendall County, damaging several homes on Rickard Drive in the Lynwood Subdivision, west of Oswego.
45 years ago this month...
The Ledger reported: "Our new policeman, Mr. Reed, put in 206 hours last month, the Oswego Village Board learned at their meeting Monday night. He had hoped to be able to hold down another job to supplement his salary but the hours he works makes this impossible. Motion was made and approved that we raise his salary from $475 to $525 a month. Raise hands every householder who has to run his home on this or less a month. But the risks? If you don't think our policemen have to contend with some wild stuff, you ought to listen to the police reports. A real near thing with a gang from Aurora and our own little angels in a stand-off at the Dairy Boat. Repeated fights there. Dairy Boat management has requested special police supervision (reimbursing the village) and Foxy's, although not yet open is planning supervision too."
A proposal by Oswego Township to sell a portion of the old Red Brick School site at Jefferson and Madison (U.S. Route 34) streets just east of downtown Oswego to the Oswego Community Bank for construction of a new bank was the topic of a public meeting at the Oswegoland Civic Center. During the meeting a total of 56 township residents voted in favor of accepting the bank's offer of $35,000 for the property while just 13 voted against the sale.
50 years ago this month...
In a bid to increase Montgomery's share of state per capita tax revenues, P.O. Douglas, village president, proposed a special census be taken in the village in early 1965. In other business, board members, in a split vote, approved the construction of a ten unit apartment building at 55 Montgomery Road.
Oswego residents voted "yes" on the proposal to enlarge and modernize their sewer plant. The State of Illinois had demanded the improvements, which were to cost $100,000. The vote was 245-12.
Books and other materials from the old Oswego Library building at 64 Main Street in Oswego were moved to the new library at Jefferson and Main. The library closed June 27 for the move and was scheduled to reopen in early July.
Organizers announced the annual two-day Oswegoland Festival was to be held Friday and Saturday, July 31 and Aug. 1, according to committee chair Chuck Shuler.
55 years ago this month...
"It was recommended by the (Oswego) police committee that one police officer be released from duty due to lack of funds in the police department," the Ledger reported. "The decision was left up to the law and order committee to act on the recommendation."
With the start of summer, the Oswegoland Park District was offering a variety of programs for local children, including weekly swim trips to the Batavia swimming pool, and play groups for pre-schoolers at the White School playground in Oswego and at the playground at the Neighborhood Church of the Brethren in Boulder Hill.
The Oswego Ledger reported that new baseball backstops had been installed at East View Elementary School. The backstops were purchased with funds donated by the Oswego Lions Club.
60 years ago this month...
On the screen at the Hi-Lite 30 drive-in near Montgomery was "Tarzan's Magic Fountain."
The Oswego Village Board unanimously passed a referendum resolution calling for a tax levy to provide for police protection in the village limits. The Ledger reported: "The rate requested is 1.5 cents on each $100 of assessed valuation full cash fair value as stated by Illinois State Statutes. It is estimated that the income from this tax would be between $2,000 and $3,000 a year and would make it possible to keep a full-time police officer on duty as well as a night watchman, also to provide a car for the officer."
The Oswego Fire District came to the rescue to provide lights for Oswego's eighth grade graduation. A sudden storm wiped out power lines "and left Oswego in darkness," the Ledger reported. The fire department lit the gym at Oswego High School with their auxiliary power plant.
75 years ago this month...
A class of 26 graduated from the Oswego High School on June 15. The class colors are blue and white; the class motto, "Don't stare up the steps, but step up the stairs"; class flower, the white carnation.
Grading work started on the new highway between Oswego and Yorkville on the east side of the Fox River (now Ill. Route 71). Members of the Kendall County Board voted to approve an interim zoning ordinance to be in effect until the full ordinance went into effect, set for 18 months in the future. The ordinance was designed to regulate the construction of all types of buildings and land uses, and established a zoning commission to regulate such practices.
80 years ago this month...
"At the mass meeting held June 5 in regard to connecting Route 34 with Route 65 (now Ill. Route 71) through Oswego, a committee was appointed to confer with the highway officials. The opinion of the people was to build a new bridge where the old one now is, but to route the heavy traffic around the town," the Record's Oswego correspondent reported.
Merchants in Oswego were sponsoring free movies outdoors every Wednesday night in the village's downtown. The Record reported that more than 600 people attended one screening in June.
85 years ago this month...
The Record reported: "Rev. J.G. Feucht gave an excellent baccalaureate address to the fifteen members of the Oswego High School graduating class Sunday evening at the Presbyterian Church. Graduation was held June 6. Valedictorian was Ruth Shoger and salutatorian was Carl Hafenrichter. Other class members included Bernard Brown, Frank Clauser, T. Maxwell Collins, Donald Gengler, John Minich, Warren Norris, Fern Olson, Melvin Parkhurst, E. Henry Pierce, Irene Schlapp, LaVerne Shoger, Merrill Wolf, and Gordon Wormley. Hafenrichter was neither absent nor tardy during his four years of high school."
90 years ago this month...
The Record reported: "Members of the Ku Klux Klan from Aurora, Elgin, and Joliet staged a big picnic and demonstration at the big woods east of town [Yorkville] Friday. It was a perfect day for the outing and several thousand visitors took advantage of the day to visit Yorkville, the beauty spot of the Fox, and take part in the events of the organization. During the day there was a steady influx of cars and people, basket dinner, viewing the scenery along the river, and attending the ball game. In the evening, the Yorkville band gave a concert for the visitors which was much enjoyed and the members of the Klan expressed their appreciation.
"As darkness fell a large fiery cross was displayed on a prominent hill south of the ball park and several speeches were made by Klan enthusiasts. The weird light of the cross, reflecting on the strange costumes of the members of the order made an impression on the visitors never to be forgotten and the words delivered from the speakers' stand left an indelible impression.
"Later in the evening the members of the Klan exemplified the work of initiation on some 30 novitiates, showing the visible work of the degrees to the large concourse in attendance. It was wonderfully effective and interesting.
"The crowds who visited Yorkville during the picnic were an asset to the good name of the Ku Klux Klan. They were pleasant people to meet and the conduct of the picnic was such that made friends."
The Record published this editorial comment on the ongoing trial of Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold who were suspects in the kidnap and murder of a 14 year-old Chicago boy, Bobby Franks: "'The Franks case,' as it is called, is on everyone's tongue and the horror of this new Chicago crime is of such revolting nature that the general public can but think deeply of the causes of such criminal tendencies in the minds of supposedly normal young men.
"Parents, do you not realize that a more careful supervision of the habits and hours of Loeb and Leopold would have saved this terrible crime? It is not meant that young men should be permitted to haunt the places of vice and to have unlimited means at their disposal. These liberties lead to a lack of respect for restrictions and law."
100 years ago this month...
The Record's Oswego correspondent reported; "Among those to purchase new automobiles is James Pearce."
Another report: "The highway commissioners of Oswego have about finished grading that portion of the Lincoln highway from the end of the gravel road to the NaAuSay line and it is now ready for the top dressing. During the heavy rains recently, several automobiles were stalled and had to be pulled or helped out."
The Record reported tragic news from Yorkville: "Ignorant of the force of the current of the Fox river above the dam at Yorkville, four young men from North Berwyn were carried over in a boat Saturday morning, May 30, and three were drowned. The three victims were Harry Tomaske, Benjamin Frederick, and Ernest Nesvacil, all of South Oak Park. Jerry Lavicks, also of South Oak Park was the only occupant of the boat who saved himself. He jumped as the craft neared the edge of the dam and swam to safety. The four were a party of seven young men who live in a Bohemian settlement at North Berwyn who came out Friday night for a fishing trip."
110 years ago this month...
"The Socialists will hold a district convention in Aurora July 4 to nominate candidates for the legislature--Senate and House," the Record reported.
Commencement ceremonies were held for the Oswego Class of 1904. The Record described the event as follows: "Oswego's attractive Congregational church was packed Friday night long before the hour for beginning the program of the 18th annual high school commencement. At 8:30 six young ladies and one lonesome young man filed out of the lobby room and were seated in a semi-circle while Miss Nettie Mae Rieger played the march on the piano.
"Salutatorian was Ora D. Woolley. Miss Angie Varner spoke on Martin Luther. Karl Young, the only boy of the class, spoke of 'Things Worth Knowing.'"
120 years ago this month...
Bicycles were becoming increasingly popular in Oswego. The Record's Oswego correspondent filed this report: "Nearly every morning and evening for upwards of a week one or more of the Aurora cyclists would be seen humped up and spinning through here as if Satan was after them; the same being preparatory for their road race Wednesday, down the east side, across the river here, and back on the west side."
Another report from the Record: "Jim McCabe, a young man of NaAuSay, while in Aurora one day, mixed himself up with so much of that city's whisky as to become altogether subject to it. Whisky is iniquitous, especially Aurora whisky, and when getting the cinch on, a fellow is apt to get into trouble. Jim was found about 11 o'clock that night with his head somewhat bruised, lying in the road near this place with a horse tied to one of his wrists. Some of our men went and laid him away somewhere else and put the horse in the livery stable. The next day an Aurora man came and claimed the horse and of course was told that Jim was with it when found. When having returned home, he procured a warrant and two officials came down and put Jim under arrest. The next day he was bound over to the grand jury for horse stealing--the bail, $500, was subsequently given. Jim says he has no recollection whatever how he came to that horse or what transpired after a certain time."
130 years ago this month...
Commercial development was in the news in June of 1884. According to the Record's Oswego correspondent, "The new outdoor bake oven, 8 ft. x 10, is now in operation and the first baking was that of a cake. A bakery is welcome and the people should patronize it."
The Record reported June 12 that a newspaper had started in Oswego. "It was born last week, is a beauty, and christened the Kendall County Press, Charles A. Campbell of Lockport is its Editor. Oswego now shall no longer be the stepchild in the family of the towns in this neighborhood. Audacity, Adroitness and Brilliancy will be in the future her motto," according to the Record.
The Record's Oswego correspondent offered this assessment of local business: "In the long ago this place was quite intimate with Plainfield and Lockport-farmers were hauling their grain to Lockport and go through Plainfield where they would stop and rest-there was much intercourse by the people in these villages, but in the course of time Aurora became aggrandizing and absorbed all of what Oswego and vicinity were concerned in. There had been no intercourse with Will County for many years and Plainfield, though but nine miles distant by a straight road and over level country, had become to appear like a strange place away off over the mountains. Our newspaper, the "Press," is undertaking to restore the acquaintance by having a corps of correspondents in Will County writing for the paper and by supplying it with more or less other Will County news."
135 years ago this month...
"A lawsuit last week caused somewhat of a sensation," the Record reported from Oswego on June 19, 1879. "A peddler, in going through the German settlement [along Wolf Road], made himself quite free with the women he met, and at one place his actions were taken as an attempt at rape upon a newly married lady. The peddler was accompanied by one of the prominent farmers of the neighborhood and apparently they had been drinking too much hard cider. Justice Newton decided the evidence was insufficient for the crime charged."
140 years ago this month...
The Record's Oswego correspondent reported:_"A quartette of our ladies went to Joliet to visit some friends last week. They went over land with their own conveyance, namely with a team of M.L. Ashley's. Coming home Saturday they found the bridge over a run partly washed away, some distance this side of Plainfield which, in crossing, the horses jumped thereby breaking the coupling of the wagon, spilling the ladies and other contents promiscuously about; the horses with the front wheels, ran as far as Gaylord's where they were caught. Mrs. Judson, and baby, were entirely uninjured. The others were all more or less bruised."
The Record's Oswego correspondent offered this update on life in the village: "Things are quieting down again and are running in the same old ruts, no change has taken place recently; the same pane of glass is still out in the upstairs window of the brick store, the same big burdock plant is flourishing on the same old corner, as it has for years; the same business is transacted by the same men, the same men amuse themselves evenings with the same game of dominoes, the old grumblers are grumbling yet, and the braggarts are bragging still. Susan, the old maid, has retired, the hotel building question is ignored, the cheese factory project is feebly supported, and the cremation scheme has few friends; but still a number of new institutions have sprung up. The band is making very rapid progress; they occupy the third story of the Cooke building; then there are the two windmill manufactories now in operation; also a new medicine man, Dr. W.T. Putt, has established his office over Sutherland's boot and shoe store."
150 years ago this month...
The Civil War was still being fought on June 16, 1864 when the Record reported that "Yorkville is the bona fide capital of Kendall County. Last Thursday, just after our paper was 'off,' we had the intelligence that the records were to be moved immediately. Two of the offices were finished and the Treasurer and Circuit and County Clerks were to take possession. And at it they went... and the teams started for the borough of Oswego and in a few hours that village ceased to be the County Seat. All county business will now be done at the new Court House in this place. Oswego will lose nothing to speak of, and we hope the citizens will stick together, be enterprising, and keep their village ahead of anything in the county. They have a splendid water power, and with a little go aheadofness, they can make a smart, manufacturing village. They are near the railroad, and have every facility for doing a thriving business."
The Record also reported that "on Tuesday morning (June 2) between one and two o'clock, the barn of Mr. F. [Frederick] Coffin was discovered to be on fire. The neighbors on turning out found a pile of wood against the same gentleman's house across the road, which was also burning the barn was a total loss. The intention of the incendiary was evidently to burn both house and barn."