As I was growing up in Paris, Illinois, in the 1950s, our family had the usual things inherited from relatives — furniture, books, pictures, documents, quilts, etc. In the living room was an oak library table. Dad had his small collection of treasured items on top of the table. There was a s…

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After the end of World War II, radioactive nightmares disrupted the sleep of Americans. Hiroshima was in the news with horrific photographs of the impact of an atomic bomb and of the long-term medical effects of radiation.

Effingham County always has had more than its share of visionaries; people who can see beyond “what is” to “what can be;” people who recognize the magic of “thinking big.”

I hope that all of you have a “bucket list”. I know that I do. In August, I was able to visit the beaches at Normandy, France, where the D-Day invasion took place. It is a trip I will never forget and it definitely filled a part of my “bucket list”. I share this story of my trip so that you …

The School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSNDs) have a long record of service in the Teutopolis community. The words Notre Dame are derived from Latin, which is the root of the French language, and can be translated to English as Our Lady. The Order's founder had been educated by French Sisters, bu…

In the 1866 two-volume work "The Patriotism of Illinois. A Record of the Civil and Military History of the State in the War for the Union," author T.M. Eddy, wrote:

Any student in the world who was serious about becoming a professional photographer sought out photography colleges in the United States. Some photography schools were located in New York and St. Louis. One that gained worldwide attention was the Illinois College of Photography in Effingham,…

Longtime local physician Henry Taphorn was not an Effingham native. Originally from the Carlyle area, he was born on a farm there on Aug. 1, 1871. He was one of the seven children of John Gerhard Taphorn. John and his wife came to Illinois around 1855 to settle in Clinton County, intending t…

During the early years of Decoration Day (Today we call it Memorial Day) in the last part of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century, in small towns and large cities, long lines of men in their dark blue dress uniforms adorned with bronze buttons proudly wore their black wid…

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EFFINGHAM — Through the 1949 tragedy of the St. Anthony Hospital fire, significant nationwide changes were made to fire safety at the medical institutions.

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I was in high school when the hospital burned. I lived with my family across the road from the hospital, on St. Anthony Avenue. My name then was Gaddis. I had an older sister and brother. My bedroom was toward the back of the house, so I didn't hear or see it while it was happening. Some of …

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I was born in Lucas Township, Effingham County, Illinois, and was 20 years old at the time of the hospital fire. My parents were William Everett Poe and Mary Ellen (Workman) Poe. In 1949, I was living in Effingham and had worked at the Illinois Glove Factory, although I was not working at th…

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My name is Maxine Dehn. My husband was an attorney; we moved to Effingham earlier in the year of the fire.

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I wasn't in Effingham at the time of the hospital fire, because I was in my second year at St. John's Hospital School of Nursing in Springfield. I worked at St. John's for about a year and a half after graduation in 1952. When the new hospital opened in the spring of 1954, I came back to Eff…

I was 10 years old when the hospital burned. My family lived on Franklin Avenue, so we were just a couple of blocks away. I was very familiar with the hospital grounds. The area west of the hospital building wasn’t developed at that point; it was essentially a vacant lot. My friends and I pl…

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I was born in the old hospital in May of 1946, so I was almost 3 when it burned. My parents didn't talk about it in front of me. There was a worn copy of the April 6, 1949, Effingham Daily News in my mother's keepsake trunk. But it wasn't nearly as interesting as Josephine Hatke's 1930s jewe…

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My name is Anita Sidener and I was at the hospital when it burned. I am 92. My family lived south of Altamont. My husband brought me to the hospital because I was getting ready to have a baby. I already had a 2-year-old daughter at home. At the end of the day, my doctor went home because he …

Seventy-six people died as a result of the St. Anthony Hospital Fire of April 4-5, 1949. Some were active duty employees, while others were off-duty hospital workers sleeping on the third floor. This arrangement was not uncommon in an era where many front-line workers did not have daily acce…

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My parents were Hilary and Shirley Clements, and they were from Granite City and Belleville, Illinois. They left there and came to Effingham to start a new life and raise a family, because there was too much negativity back in their hometowns.

Even the casual visitor to the Effingham County Museum notices the number of displays focused on agriculture. In the first floor corridor, for instance, there is a John Deere plow; in Gallery 5 on the train table, there are scale models showing an early 20th century farm and a more contempor…

Within the artifacts which are part of the Effingham County Museum’s collection are numerous things which give insight into the schools of yesteryear. The visitor can view diplomas, yearbooks, graduation announcements, and other physical reminders of both the similarities and differences bet…

I've loved this two-story house in Watson for a long time. Many years ago I went to Watson Homecoming with my Dad, Richard Loy. Dad ran into Agnes Martin, the sister of one of his classmates from Watson High School, Merle Martin. Dad and Agnes started visiting and reminiscing.

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A local historian looking back at turn of the 20th century is struck by the high number and transitory nature of local health care practitioners. The city of Effingham was home to 15 physicians over the span of 1895 to 1903, but only five of them persisted for the the entire eight years. The…

Visitors to the Effingham County Museum entering from Jefferson Avenue walk between two red granite pillars on the south side of the building. Those pillars, in effect, provide a portal to the county’s past and a physical reminder of Effingham High School’s football heritage.

In this article, I'm taking a look at Jefferson Street in Effingham circa 1898. This would be the block just east of the railroad tracks. The people featured are Gustave Naporra and Dr. John N. Groves. Both owned businesses on Jefferson Street. You will also see pictures of the wallpaper and…

High school classes became available in Teutopolis at St. Joseph's College during the Civil War era, but that institution barred women. Citizens of Teutopolis expressed the need for a co-educational high school in 1916. At first, there was plenty of talk, but not much action.

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In the beginning of Effingham county history, Ewington was the seat of government. At that time the town was booming; while today it is but one of countless dozens of Illinois ghost towns. The first courthouse in the village was completed in 1838; the second one was built by 1844. Because ar…

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Nearly from the time of its beginning, great crowds of people have thronged to the Effingham County seat to attend political, military, religious, and business conventions, reunions, or institutes. Being a town where highways and railways cross has, of course, been the reason for the attract…

Lake Sara is an important part of Effingham County. I have many memories from there. First, let's look at why and how Lake Sara came into existence. This information is from the book "Effingham County Illinois — Past and Present" published in 1968 by Effingham Regional Historical Society (pp…

Postcards were first legally permitted in Austria on Oct. 1, 1869. The United States passed postal regulations allowing the cards in 1872. Most of the picture postcards collected today date after 1910. The amount of postage can help to date a card. The rates are 1872 (1 cent), 1917 (2 cents)…

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Local women aspiring to nursing education in the 1950s-1960s era usually opted for a secular school such as Decatur-Macon County or a Catholic facility like St. John's in Springfield. Those wanting education with a metropolitan flavor traveled to Mercy or St. Ann's in Chicago. All these scho…

The Effingham County Museum’s intent is to make people aware of the rich heritage of the area. That heritage is found in old photographs, clothing from yesteryear, formal documents, historic cookware, and a thousand other types of artifacts stored in basements and attics. When such items are…

Our first mystery at the museum came to us literally from the floor above. When our volunteers took down part of the tin ceiling during the remodel on the second floor courtroom, these checks came tumbling down. They were from the Bank of Von Gassy and are dated from the 1880s. Here is the r…

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The Illinois College of Photography in Effingham was started by Lewis H. Bissell. He owned and operated Bissell photographic studio on the southwest corner of the courthouse square. Lewis published many cabinet cards which are real photos of people mounted on heavy card stock. The college be…

Many people in the Effingham area contributed to the war effort in World War II. The prolonged conflict brought government contracts for military leather gloves to Illinois Glove Company, which had plants in Effingham and Champaign at the time.

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