Containing The History of Bradford, Its People and Surrounding Area
This online transcription by Nancy J. Piper with permission from the Bradford Republican
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Dorgan Girls Visit Henry Ford at Detroit - 1938
Are you familiar with the "Silver Streak" in which several Bradford girls took many vacation trips totaling up to over 71,575 miles? The famous "Silver Streak" is a 1926 Model T. Ford which is still owned by the Dorgan girls. They took their first trip in 1935, when they ventured only as far as Devil's Lake, Wisconsin. In 1936, they vacationed again in Wisconsin and also Michigan.
In 1937, six Bradford girls, Darlene Dorgan, now Mrs. Charles Bjorkman, of Riverside, Calif.; Ruby McDonald, now Mrs. Lloyd Nutter, of Peoria; Helen Feurtges, now Mrs. John Hickey, of Camp Grove; Clare Breen, now Mrs. Francis Russell, of Tiskilwa, the late Miss Eleanor Butte, and Miss Marge Dorgen took off in the "Silver Streak" mainly to visit the home of the famous Dionne Quintuplets in Ontario, Canada. While on this trip, the girls were entertained at dinner at the home of Dr. Allen Roy Defoe, in Callendar, Ontario, Canada. Dr. Defoe was the doctor who delivered the Dionne quints.
In 1938 Darlen and Marjory Dorgan, Rosemary Moran, now Mrs. Walter Randolph, of Peoria, Winnie Swearingen, now Mrs. Ray Hays of Peoria, and Ruby McDonald went to Detroit, Michigan, where they made the acquaintance of Henry Ford. Through Mr. Ford's hospitality they were shown the city of Detroit by Mr. Ford's personal chauffeur. They were later entertained at dinner in Mr. Ford's private dining room, where only his immediate friends dined. They spent that night at one of Ford's luxurious farms.
In 1939, the "Gypsy Coeds" started out this time for a longer destination - the New York World's fair. The group this time included the Misses Marge and Darlene Dorgan, Winnie Swearingen, Rosemary Moran, and Regina Fennell, now Mrs. Don Butte, and Miss Anne Holland. They were again greeted at Dearborn, Michigan, by Henry Ford, given a place to camp and shown through the Ford Plant. While attending the New York World's Fair all expenses were taken care of by the Ford Motor Co., through some of the efforts of R. L. Breen. They also visited Niagra Falls on this trip.
In 1940, Dar and Marge Dorgan, Ruth Gustafson, a former teacher in Bradford, Rosemary Moran and Patricia Moffitt, of Galesburg, started on their journey west to attend the San Francisco World's Fair. On this trip, the girls had a letter from Henry Ford to his representatives in California and another letter from Darryl B. Zannuk, director of 20th Century-Fox Film Colony inviting them to be his guests while in California. Again they had passes to all shows and entertainments at the Exposition.
In 1941, the Bradford Coeds took their last long trip in their "Silver Streak". Accompanying Marge & Dar Dorgan were Miss Zo Dailey, a teacher in Bradford at that time, Rosemary Moran, Margaret Burnett and Murial Cunningham, of Wyoming. They visited New Orleans, La., Memphis Tenn., Richmond, Va., Montgomery, Ala., and many other interesting and historical places in the South and the East. They again visited Niagra Falls, New York City and Henry Ford, who was pleased to see that the Model T was still running.
It took a lot of courage for these girls to start out in this 1926 Model T. Ford which on their first trip was nine years old and on their last long trip was 15 years old. But they were young and adventurous. No doubt, if they were going to do the same thing today, they would think about it quite extensively before taking off.
The Dorgan girls with their "Silver Streak" have been in 44 states besides Canada and Mexico. One incident that will remain permanent in the minds of the girls is when they ran out of gas on the Golden Gate bridge. The policeman was going to issue them a ticket but decided their car wasn't worth that much. No doubt he also decided that the girls were young and pretty and he'd let them off easy!
Elmira School Dates Back 1838
The question of organizing Elmira Township for school purposes was decided January 10, 1838. Ten voters, all that were in Elmira Township assembled at Robert Moore's house and voted in favor of incorporating Township 14-6 for school purposes.
Robert Moore, Mathias Sturm, Robert Hall, Thomas Watts, M. G. Brace and James Buswell were elected School Trustees. No report as to the number of schools in the Township was made at the time.
In 1845, 49 legal voters petitioned for the sale of schools lands. A few lots were sold but the section was not entirely sold till 1852. The number of legal voters in Elmira Township in 1851 was between 60 and 70.
A called meeting was held at the home of Zebulan Avery, May 3, 1851, for the purpose of levying a tax to build a school house. Nicholas Sturm was President and Soloman Gear Secretary. The question for and against building a school was decided by Ballot: result 13 for, 5 against the question.
It was then decided to levy a tax of fifty cents on the dollar for the year of 1851. The total school tax collected that year was $95.53. The first school house was built of brick on the site of the school building now standing by the Wilson Garage and owned by them. The grounds were a portion of the original Fuller estate. In 1856 there were 150 pupils in the district which included much more land in the district than it was in 1940. By 1856 there were 5 districts in Elmira township.
The Elmira Library Association was organized at the school house January 18, 1856. At the meeting Adam Oliver was President and William Moffitt secretary. January 25 of the same year W. M. Fuller, Andrew Oliver, and William Moffitt constituted a committee to draft a constitution and by-laws for the Library Association. Dr. Boardman, W. H. Turnbull, and Adam Oliver were the committee to secure lists and prices of books. February 8th committees reported and permanenet organization was made. President, Adam Oliver, Vice president, William McBride, Secretary, William Moffit, Treasurer and Librarian Walter M. Fuller.
In 1862 Miss E. L. Lyman taught the school for $25 a month - the enrollment was 47. In 1863 James Turnbull, Daniel Hudson, and Charles Brace were the directors. Miss Jennie Sargenat, the teacher.
In 1867 a contract for building a new school house was let to Daniel Clark for $1428. The old brickbuilding was torn down and a large frame building took its place.
At one time in the history of the school the school term was divided into 3 separate terms - Winter term and Spring term. Just how these were times the history failed to state but it was considered a wise arrangement because of the severity of the winters and the deep snows which kept the girls and younger pupils at home. A different teacher was employed for each term.
In 1902 this 2nd building was moved off the school grounds and a two room frame building took its place. The old building was not destroyed but moved a few rods west. The blacksmith shop of Wm. Welch for many years used this old building. The district number was now changed to 39. It is now used and owned by Marian Field.
After building the new building, high school studies were offered till about 1915. Some of the subjects were Algebra, English, Latin, Physical Geography, Civil Government and Ancient History.
Two teachers were employed until 1918 when the graded were combined in one room. But in 1928 two teachers were again employed but combined again in 1940. In 1937 a director of music for the school was employed.
May 20, 1946 the Mound School District, Jack Creek school district and Lowell school petitioned to join the Elmira district. June 1, 1946, an election was held for the four school districts were then known as the Elmira Community Consolidated Grade School, district 39. This was during Mr. C. E. Griffiths term of office as County Superintendent of Schools.
In March of 1952 Osceola school district petitioned to join the Elmira Community Consolidated Grade school district. Elmira and Osceola voters, in April of 1952 approved plans for a new $110,000 School building which was to be erected at the north end of Elmira. An all-steel Butler building was erected with four classrooms, a kitchen and dining room for a complete lunch program and a gym. Four teachers were employed. At present there are three teachers employed.
109 Year Landmark Stands As First School Building
Still standing in Bradford are three of the old schoolhouses used in past years. (The first schoolhouse is the oldest building in the village at this time. The second and third, altered considerably however, are still serving the community today, though in entirely different capacities.
There had been a school in Bradford as early as 1854, conducted for the ten to fourteen pupils of the village, which at that time had not yet been incorporated. This school being in a building called the Foster Hotel building, near the corner of main and School (now called Park) streets, and taught by Eliza Foster and later Mrs. Thuse Bevier, supported by contributions as first, and then by public school money. The Foster Hotel, original home of B. S. Foster, founder of Bradford, later burned down. School District No. 4, or Bradford, was originally established in 1851, and in 1856 the first school building was built - its location indicating the reason for that particular street being named School Street at the time.
An old 1873 Atlas of Stark County, published by Warner and Beers, and containing a plat of the Village of Bradford in 1873 shows the location of this school building exactly where it stands today, so it has evidently been over 90 years since the building served as a schoolhouse for the children of the village, as described so well in Mrs. Jane Peterson's Recollections, her beautifully written article about the early schools of Bradford, which appears elsewhere in this issue of our 75th Anniversary Edition.
The old school building was purchased back in 1870 by the Universalists for use as their chapel, and moved at that time from its former location (constructed during the late 60's and a fare more pretentious building) near the two story school building, on School Street, to the location where it has been for the past 95 years.
Following use by the Universalists of Bradford as their house of worship, it next became a Methodist meeting place used temporarily during the five years that their first church was being finished on East Main Street. Later the Episcopalians of Bradford made this their church, and as late as 1900, the Episcopalian Church is listed as being located at 234 W. Arbor street.
The two-story white school building, second school building to be constructed in Bradford, is described in Mrs. Shallenberger's 1876 History of Stark County as a "substantial two-story wooden building, pleasantly situated upon a large and beautiful lot (1 3/4 acres) and convenient to all the pupils in the district. The principal Mr. J. W. Smith is fairly entitled to be called one of the most successful educators in the county," and a resident is quoted in this book as saying "In Miss M. L. Smith, we think we know that we have the best primary teacher in the country. Our directors believe it is impossible to make thorough scholars out of pupils who have not received proper training and instruction in the primary, that there the foundation is laid upon which they may build their future intellectual edifice, and that it is highly important that the foundation contains no imperfections. They will emplay none but the very best teachers, as well in the primary room as in the higher departments. They pay their primary teacher sixty dollars pe month, and will not employ a teacher who is not worth the money. Pretty sensible conclussion!"
Area Farmers Organize Stark Farm Bureau - 1919
The Stark County Farm Bureau was organized in the year 1919. The first meeting on record was held on Monday evening, September 29 of that year. It would be well to note that the I.A.A., statewide Farm Bureau, had already been organized in 1916 and that many counties had already been formed.
The first farmers in this county were concerned about "the high cost of living." It is interesting to not that even then they were concerned about the manner in which farmers seem to carry a lot of the burden of our nations economy. The first Farm Bureau members felt that by organizing farmers, farmers as a whole would stand to gain.
One of the problems that had to be solved was a more uniform price for hand picking corn. It was decided at their October 3, 1919 meeting that they would pay 6c a bushel for picking corn, and if the man had to shovel it also they would pay 7c a bushel.
By October 22, 1919, Stark County Farm Bureau members totaled near 600. W. W. Wright was elected President; W. H. Jackson, Vice-President; Arthus Shinn, Secretary and Mills D. Dewey, Treasurer. The first board members were O. L. Hatch, Dave Turnbull, Otis Montooth, J. A. Buswell, Ben Leadley, Harry Loper, Walter Finley, Bert Smith, Robert Galbraith, Gerald Snyder, William Gill, P. V. Colgan, John I. Colgan, Eugene H. Rennick, George Wilson, and Geo. Scott.
On November 26, 1919, the Stark County Farm Bureau took up office in the east room of the Packer Building's first floor. A Farm Advisor was hired on the 17th day of December, 1919. He was E. E. Brown from Newport, Indiana.
It was in the early 20's that a few of the Farm Bureau members felt that they needed good automobile insurance. It was at this tiem M. Ralph Cox and others started writing insurance for Pekin Farmers in their spare time. O. L. Hatch in the early 30's started as a full time special agent and remained on the job for 10 or 12 years. Country Companies Insurance is recognized as being a front-runner in the insurance field today.
It was on February 12, 1945, that Stark County Service Company, as we know it today, was organized. Previous to this date the company was in partnership with Henry County Service Company. The incorporating directors were John Armstrong, Robert Moran, Warren Hall, F. L. Dutton, Harry Morse, O. V. Blair and Harvey Price. On April 19, 1945, Marvin Kottman was hired as Service Company Manager.
Masonic Lodge Chartered 1867
In 1876 History:
August 3rd, 1866, James B. Doyle, Bradford F. Thompson, Harmon Phenix, Samuel A. Davidson, Chas. B. Foster, George W. Longmire and William H. Doyle obtained a dispensation for a Masonic Lodge. On Oct. 1st, 1867, the lodge received its charter as Bradford Lodge No. 514, A. F. & A. Masons.
The officers of the lodge for the first year were James B. Doyle, W.M.; Bradford F. Thompson, S. W.; Harmon Phenix, J. W.; Goe. W. Longmire, Treasurer; Samuel A. Davidson, Secretary; William H. Doyle, S.D.; Charles B. Foster, J.D.
The masters of the lodge have been James B. Doyle, Bradford F. Thompson, harmon Phenix and Alonzo B. Abbott. Present membership (as of 1875) is about sixty. Last year the lodge moved into its new hall, in the brick building of Messrs. W. F. Patt & Co.
The lodge expended $1,000 for new furniture, and it is safe to say that no better lodge room can be found in the state of Illinois, in any town less than one thousand inhabitants. The officers for 1876 are H. Phenix, W.M.; W. H. Hall, S.W.; A. S. Thompson, J.W.; W. P. Dator, T; A. B. Abbot, Secretary; B. F. Thompson, S.D.; D. F. Fate, J.D.; and George Cushing, T.
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