Plainfield Historical Society

Plainfield Historical Society OFFICIAL page of the Plainfield Illinois Historical Society, Plainfield, IL USA
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Our mission is to preserve artifacts that represent an unfolding story of the Plainfield, Illinois area so our collective heritage continues to be relevant & embraced by present and future generations. We pursue & interpret our past with integrity and professionalism while inspiring and educating a broad audience.

The octagonal home - with owners Elisha and Hester Wood sitting on the front porch - once stood in the approximate area ...
12/07/2023

The octagonal home - with owners Elisha and Hester Wood sitting on the front porch - once stood in the approximate area of where the Tap House Grill is now located along Wood Farm Road. The home was destroyed by the tornado that swept through Plainfield in August of 1990.

How well do you know Plainfield?  Do you know where this photo was taken?
12/05/2023

How well do you know Plainfield? Do you know where this photo was taken?

11/30/2023

This little article was found in a recent donation to the museum - it was from the Aurora Sentinel, Who's Who, 1912 - 1917:

"Charley Reeves is the official Mayor of P (etc.), but Charlie Sontag is the man who runs the town. Charlie Sontag runs a drug store in the heart of P___ but the drug business is only a side line, his chief business being the running of information for inquiring friends. He is the local representative of the gas company, the traction company, the Columbia laundry and our hated rival, the Beacon-News. If anyone wants to take a car and has not time to come to the office for a ticket, Charlie will send it by the conductor. When the ladies run out of a topic for discussion over the backyard fence they phone down to Charlie for the latest news. His unfailing fund of good nature has grown out of the necessity of answering the divers and sundry inquiries of the traveling public, such as 'When does the last car go? What's the difference where I'm going - can't you tell me anyway? Not 'til then? Well, why don't it go sooner? I'm in a hurry. When does the one after that go?' etc., etc. etc. If a lady wants a stamp she runs into Charlie's even though the post office is next door. If a man wants a check cashed Charlie is the goat even though the bank is on the next corner. In fact, we could not keep house without Charlie."

From the November 25, 1992 issue of The Enterprise:
11/28/2023

From the November 25, 1992 issue of The Enterprise:

11/23/2023
From the December 1, 1913 issue of the Joliet Evening Herald:
11/21/2023

From the December 1, 1913 issue of the Joliet Evening Herald:

11/17/2023

Flying - the early years:

Following his high school graduation, John followed in his brother Joe’s footsteps by enrolling in the University of Notre Dame. After his experience with the Jenny landing in Plainfield, John had little exposure to anything aviation related. Although flying was still a dream, the idea of making it his life’s career was unthinkable. However, two years into his time at Notre Dame, the Army Air Corps provided information regarding their Flying Cadet Program, which reignited his dreams of flying. His mother, by this time a widow, had other plans for her son – she was determined that he finish college. Again, his dreams were put on hold.

In the next year, during a trip with his uncle Ed Blair and cousin Dick, to a South Bend, Indiana airport, John was finally able to take his first airplane ride at the age of 20. He was hooked!

Around this time, the government was offering their Civil Aeronautics Administration Pilot Training Program (CAA). At the end of his senior year, John had an instructor and had signed up for all the classes that were offered in addition to his required business major classes.

Finally, he was flying! There was only one problem. For the first five times in the air with his instructor, John threw up, having become airsick! In spite of this complication, John stuck with his training and eventually overcame his airsickness.

While taking his flight instruction, military planes became a more frequent sight. John was drawn to them and looked to begin his journey in the military. He was the only one of his class to take that path, “the only graduate to go into uniform directly from graduation.” He then applied to the Army Air Corps Flying Cadet Program only to have another complication emerge – excessive esophoria. This was a condition in which the eye muscles tend to turn the eye inward or outward when it became tired. This eye weakness caused him to fail his Army Air Corps examination. He then went for a consultation with Dr. Woodruff, a Joliet physician, who gave him several exercises to perform daily in order to strengthen his eye. When he was again able to take the Army Air Corps examination, he passed – Dr. Woodruff’s exercises had worked!

The day after his graduation in 1940, John reported to the Federal Building in Chicago, took an oath and became a member of the Army Air Corps. John stated that “my life as I wanted to live it really began for me that summer day in 1940.” He met other young men, some with varying degrees of college education, some who were West Point graduates and others with no college experience. “The college degrees did give a jump start to those who held them and I was grateful now to my mother, who pushed me toward graduation through all those years when all I wanted was wings.”

Continued tomorrow …

“Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man. Landing is the first.”

The Plainfield Historical Society Museum will be open tomorrow, 11/18, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.  We will then be closed...
11/17/2023

The Plainfield Historical Society Museum will be open tomorrow, 11/18, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. We will then be closed for the season, re-opening early next year.

If you have donations, would like to schedule a visit or would like help researching your family, give us a call at 815.436.4073 or send us an e-mail at: [email protected].

We enjoyed our visits with all who stopped in this year - Thank you!

Life after the war:In late June of 1944, John was called back to Washington.  He was now a full colonel and was just 26 ...
11/17/2023

Life after the war:

In late June of 1944, John was called back to Washington. He was now a full colonel and was just 26 years old. He was returning to the states to convey his attack group’s objections to the A-26B the military was testing for the final phase of the war. During the three months he spent stateside, John revisited Notre Dame … and got married on August 1st!

The new Mrs. John P. Henebry was the former Mary Elizabeth “Liz” McGuire. Her father, Walter, was a physician. Walter’s wife, Frances Elizabeth McCormick McGuire, was one of the co-founders, in 1921, of the Misericordia Home located in Chicago, Illinois. When her mother died when Liz was just 13 years old, a life-long devotion to Misericordia began – first with the auxiliary and then becoming a member of the board. John and Liz became the parents of five children: Patricia, John, Walter, Mary and Jeannine.

John returned to duty in October of that year, being stationed first at Leyte, then to Hollandia before returning to Leyte. By January of 1945, his group had moved north from Leyte on the east of Philippines to Mindoro on the west. He then received orders to report to the Halmahera Islands to assume command of the Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) at Nazdab. “Back to New Guinea for me. Out of the fight. This most drastic career change of my life was taking me out of active combat command. My days on the bomb line were over.”

It was here that John met composer Irving Berlin. With the large numbers of men stationed at Nazdab, John urged headquarters to route USO entertainers their way. Berlin stayed in John’s tent for the several weeks he toured the Pacific. John also met Dr. Charles Mayo, of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Dr. Mayo was heading a whole unit unofficially bearing his name – the Mayo Unit.

As the war was winding down to a close, John was reassigned to Atsugi, a Japanese air base near Tokoyo Bay. General MacArthur arrived there on the same day – August 28, 1945 – to accept Japan’s formal surrender in five days time.

Called to active duty in August of 1950, John commanded the 315th Div. (combat cargo) of the Far East Air Forces for almost two years during the Korean War. Along with other Air Force Reservists, he played a large part in the airborne assault drop in Korea in March of 1951.

In March of 1952, “Brig. Gen. John P. Henebry, retiring commander of the 315th Air Division, Combat Cargo, said goodbye to his wing commanders and staff officers.” Members of the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team were in attendance, in recognition of the Combat Cargo’s partnership with the paratroopers during assault operations in Korea. Together, they dropped more than 50,000 paratroopers during the Korean War.

Throughout his long military career, John crossed paths with not only Hollwood stars, but those who had their own place in history.

Richard B**g, of Poplar, Wisconsin, flew top cover (fighter plane es**rt) for John. Richard “went on to become the highest scoring ace in the Navy, being credited with 40 aerial victories.” John was later present when Richard was awarded the Medal of Honor by General MacArthur while both were stationed in the South Pacific.

In November of 1943, film stars Gary Cooper, Una Merkel and Phyllis Brooks were giving camp shows at all the Army and Air Force bases in New Guinea. There, they experienced a night-time Japanese attack, with bombs landing less than a half-mile from where they crouched in the trenches. The next day, they were “guests of a group of attack bombardment pilots headed by Majs. John Henebry of Plainfield, Il;, Richard Ellis, Laurel, Del. and Kenneth Rosebush, Iola, Kan.” The stars witnessed a dramatic 45-minute illustration of Lt. General George Kenny’s bombardment and strafing tactics. “Cooper asserted, ‘it’s the greatest thing I’ve seen in my whole life. Even Hollywood couldn’t reproduce what we saw this afternoon.”

In 1947, John Alison, Air Force General, WWII pilot and Deputy of Operations for the 5th Air Force, along with John and others started Skymotive at what is now O’Hare International Airport. Skymotive was an airplane maintenance service station. John predicted that within a few years business men would be flying their own planes between their offices and homes. Those people are going to need fast gasoline and repair services just like the drivers on our highways.”

John was given the rank of general, in 1948 - the youngest man in the Air Forces to be accorded the honor. In 1951, he was named a commander of the 315th Air Division in charge of the Korean Airlift. In 1957, he was awarded his second star, as major general, the rank at which he would retire in 1976.

His storied military career earned him numerous medals. (See photos). His commands included: 3rd bomb group of the 4th Air Force, Commander of the 3rd Attack Group, 437th Reserve Troop and the 315th Air Division.

After leaving active military, he first established a securities trading firm and later acquired operating manufacturing businesses.

In March of 1957, as a “distinguished Chicagoan of Irish ancestry,” John was chosen Grand Marshall of Chicago’s St. Patrick Day parade.

John’s flight surgeon, Col. John Gilmore, was his friend for 65 years. John Gilmore passed away just two weeks after John’s death. The two old friends, along with Pappy Gunn’s youngest son (and WWII POW) Nathaniel, flew up the coast of southern California in a WWII B-25 bomber on the deck as they had so many times before.” (John Gilmore, M.D., was one of the first to implant an intraocular lens following cataract surgery. Soon surgeons from came from around the world to learn this procedure.)

In the early 1970s, John piloted a twin-engine Beechcraft across the Atlantic and around coastal Africa for a book, “Africa by Air.” He continued flying into his late 70s.

Those who knew John had this to say about him:

“He was the best damn commanding officer to come out of the Pacific.” – Ken Rosebush, who succeeded John Henebry as Commander of the 90th Squadron
“He was unbelievable as a leader,” flight surgeon John Gilmore stated. “Jock helped win the war.”

“He was one of those people that when you met him, you knew he was going to do well,” exclaimed Thomas Cline, a co-pilot with John’s group.

John Alison, an Air Force General and WWII flier, was deputy of operations for the 5th Air Force said of John: “John was an excellent pilot, and he had great nerve. He was a tall, handsome young man with a lot of courage and a lot of good sense.”

When John’s wife, Liz, passed away in November of 2005, her sister said that “she was movie star material with really a halo on her head. She could also be a lot of fun. Her halo could be tilted, you know what I mean?” Following Mary’s passing, John made his home with his daughter, Patricia, and her husband, Patrick Callahan in Winnetka, Illinois for the last ten years of his life.

John Philip “Jock” Henebry passed away of heart failure on September 30, 2007. His final resting place is in the Bement Cemetery in Bement, Piatt Co., Illinois. News of his death appeared in newspapers across the United States and in Canada. “I had feared the unknown in the early days of the war. I had made some mistakes that I never repeated. I had survived. Throughout the original raid at Wewak, I experienced the most fear I have ever known. Fear is a part of war. Although courage seems to show no fear, it really only suppresses fear. But my solid combat experience had taught me well.”

Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man. Landing is the first.” - Part TwoIn early 1942, John was introduced t...
11/16/2023

Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man. Landing is the first.” - Part Two

In early 1942, John was introduced to Paul ‘Pappy” Gunn’s “engine of death,” named “Margaret.” Reconfigured to a strafer, the B-25 only required a crew of just three. By March, John’s Ninetieth Squadron was now trained in this exclusive weapon as specialized attack aviators. They found the strafing and delayed fuse bombing to be quite effective. Aviators would “launch bombs at almost water level. The bombs skipped along the water like flat rocks thrown side-arm across a lake and slammed into an enemy ship. While difficult to master, the technique increased the odds that bombs would hit their targets. Flying as low as we could go, we could see details on the trucks and tanks we were shooting up. We could get down on a warship using new tactics that had us hurdling ship masts as we dropped bombs.” (Henebry’s B-25 bomber group was called “The Grim Reapers.” His bomber, was first named “M & M” for his girlfriend (and future wife), Mary McQuire. He later renamed the plane “Notre Dame de Victoire” – Our Lady of Victory. Later in 1945, he changed the name to “Queen Mary.” At that time, he was named head of the Combat Readiness Training Center. Patrick Callahan, son-in-law of John Henebry, noted that the “transformation of the B-25 was the result of Pappy Gunn’s engineering and aeronautical brilliance. Bringing the B-25 down from a 10,000-foot elevation bomber to a water-skimming attack bomber changed the attack tactics, resulting in positive results for the United States in the Pacific Theater.”

Intelligence reports showed a large Japanese convoy was headed down the north coast of North Britain. An estimated 22 ships in the convoy were clearly visible. “Here for the first time, we were seriously about to employ a radical tactic with a newly converted weapon – tactics and weapons that had never been combined before.” They ran two bombing missions against that convoy over two days. The entire convoy was sunk. "No one survived. No Japanese troops, supplies or equipment reached their destinations. This was not only the beginning of a very successful phase of the Southwest Pacific war, but also marked a major turning point in the war that was acknowledged by General MacArthur.” (This was during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.)

In October of 1942, John was promoted to captain and by January was made squadron operations officer. “I could change my silver bars for doubles. But without a PX to supply my rank insignia to wear on my khakis, Major Ed Larner resorted to fashioning the bars from white adhesive tape, sticking them on my collar. My first set of Captain’s bars. By mid-summer, I would be a major.”

During December of 1942, approaching Hansa Bay, the Japanese opened fire, inflicting damage to John’s plane and wounding one of the crew. They left the battle, flying back the two hours to a field hospital, where they safely landed and the wounded man was delivered to the medics.

John was shot down at sea once during an air-raid over Rabaul in the fall of 1943. Rabaul was the “Japanese center that controlled Simpson Harbor at New Britain. It had four major enemy air fields, a harbor full of ships and munition warehouses. The harbor was protected by hundreds of anti-aircraft guns and radar. On November 2, 1943, Henebry led 11 bomber squadrons, 84 airplanes, on a raid over Simpson Harbor. There were 80 fighter planes covering them”.

John wrote … “how eager we were. The most important shipping target in the Southwest Pacific … the toughest target. The best protected harbor. The Japanese stronghold.” When John’s group reached the target, the enemy, having been fore-warned about the attack, was ready for them. John’s first run resulted in a bomb reaching its intended target. But pulling out of his second run, in which his bomb also hit a ship, John’s plane was hit by enemy bullets which tore into the bomber’s tail section. Failing to gain altitude, John’s plane was attacked by a Japanese fighter that knocked out his engine. With the nearest friendly airfield 300 miles away, John landed his bomber in the ocean. Luckily, the crew was able to get into a raft – the only injuries were a crewman’s dislocated shoulder and a scratch above John’s eye. They watched as their plane floated until the nose disappeared under the water. Soon they spotted a speed boat rushing towards them and quickly identified it as a U. S. Navy PT boat. They were transported back to land, jumped into a jeep and headed for their home base about 175 miles away. They arrived just an hour and a half behind schedule. “One scratch, one ache, one airplane. That was all. A bunch of lucky guys.”

In 1943, John flew in every big strike the Third made. “By year end, we had secured Australia, leapfrogged over New Britain and Papua New Guinea and were moving over Papua New Guinea, chasing the Japanese back to the Philippines. By the end of 1943, the Mitchell bomber had played out its part. Attack aviation had made history.” At the end of that year, “new aircraft was replacing the workhorse of the Southwest Pacific as designers created lighter, speedier aircraft, capable of delivering bombs and bullets on a waning enemy.”

Continued tomorrow … Life after the war

"Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man.  Landing is the first.”During John’s flying and military career, he ...
11/15/2023

"Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man. Landing is the first.”

During John’s flying and military career, he was to meet with his share of “near misses.” From being in the right place at the right time, to seagulls and crashing into the sea, John, at times, may well have thought landing surely was the greatest thrill of flying.

All of John’s flight instructors were civilians – he never had a military instructor. He went through four months of Primary Training where, of the approximately 250 trainees, less than half actually graduated. In September of 1940, those who had graduated were sent to Basic Flight Training at Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas. John recalled that “it was the happiest year of my life, I was 22 years old. I had 130 flying hours in the records. I was where I wanted to be, acquiring a skill from the best there were to teach it, training with the best, flying with the best. My primary purpose in life had been to fly. I was flying.”

March 14, 1941 brought the last day of flying school. John had graduated with 207 flying hours, silver wings and a second lieutenant’s gold bar. He and a friend had decided to apply for duty in the Philippines, based on what they had heard about their “top-notch airports, friendly people and exotic destinations. After handing in their applications, they stopped at a bar on their way back to their barracks. There, they struck up a conversation with an old Army Air Corps captain. In talking about their hoped-for assignments, the captain agreed that the Philippines had been pleasant duty, but if they were looking for the best flying experiences, they should look elsewhere. John and his friend rethought their decision, and the next day went back to the administrative office in order to change their application. The sergeant was reluctant to make any changes to the already typed assignment lists but eventually relented and made the changes. “Every cadet who had requested and been granted the Philippine assignment had been sent to Clark Field north of Manila. Every classmate sent to Clark Field was there when the Japanese staged their vicious follow-up attack on Dec. 8, 1941. Their fate is history. Ten thousand troops were trapped by the invading Japanese. Seven hundred Americans beaten to death, shot or beheaded in a forced 70-mile march to prison camp – the Bataan Death March.” In changing his chosen destination, John felt that the “good Lord was tending that bar, looking after me.” He was also grateful for that old captain and the accommodating sergeant.

Early in his military flying career, while flying over a freighter, John and his co-pilot felt a thud and a rush of air. Believing that the freighter was firing upon them, they flew back to their base at Hunter Field. Rather than taking a hit from the enemy, they had actually hit a seagull!

Robert Creed, a fellow pilot from the John’s attack group, said of Henebry … “Jock was a very competent pilot, he was a born leader and set a good example for all the pilots … except, maybe once.” On one of his visits to Sydney, Australia, John “committed an infraction of the rules when he took his plane low (which was his specialty) and flew beneath the famed bridge across Sydney Harbor. He was stiffly admonished by the commanding officer of the 5th Air Force, but not grounded. When asked why he did it, Henebry simply responded, ‘because it was there.”

The account of this incident from John’s book gave a few more details of this story … “As he roared down the harbor, the magnificent sprawling Harbor Bridge loomed before him – a challenging sight. With daredevil instinct and a nod to his co-pilot, Jock took the plane down to 50 feet and cleared not only the underside of the bridge but a loaded ferry boat carrying workers to their jobs in town.”

The B-25 he was piloting was the “Fat Cat,” a stripped-down Mitchell bomber, built from three wrecked B-25’s. Together, John and the “Fat Cat” had more than a year’s experience in “fierce and continuous” Southwest Pacific air battles. Brisbane, Australia (the general headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur), had been a gassing stop before Port Moresby, New Guinea, with John’s final destination to the north in Dobodura. Upon John’s landing at Port Moresby, Gen. George Kenney greeted him with a TWX from Gen. McArthur directing him to “destripe this pilot upon arrival.” Gen. Kenney “reluctantly announced to the emerging pilot, ‘I have this order from McArthur to break you – to take you down, down to buck private. Now, I’ve got to do something so I’m going to give you an administrative reprimand but you get that goddamn airplane across the mountains before any other messages reach me. Get the hell out of here. Get back into the fight.' There were no secrets in wartime Brisbane.”

On a later flight, John discovered that the two main landing gears and the nose wheel on their B-25 were not working properly. The control tower commander gave them a choice – to bail out or belly land the plane on the runway. (Planes were in short supply, so crashing one would be a tremendous loss.) The crew elected to stay with the plane, and while they were uninjured, the plane’s propellers were bent and the underbelly was damaged. In less than a month, the plane was back in service.

Flying in clouds over New Guinea, reaching an altitude that should have taken his plane above the mountains, John looked through a light cloud formation only to see an unanticipated mountain peak rising above his plane. He immediately turned around and from that point forward, climbed to altitude immediately upon takeoff. “For more than three and a half years, through 219 missions and some 2,000 hours of flying (including 750 bonus hours of combat), our B-25’s delivered us home. Fate. Luck. Durable aircraft. Good maintenance. Through three different belly landings on land and one in the waters off Kiriwina Island, this well-built machine hung together.”

Continued tomorrow ...

"Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man. Landing is the first." Part Two

“I hope you will honor all of the service men and women who dedicated their lives to the freedom of the United States an...
11/13/2023

“I hope you will honor all of the service men and women who dedicated their lives to the freedom of the United States and the rest of the world. Too many gave their lives so that we may remain free.”

These sentiments were expressed in the book, “The Grim Reapers - At Work in the Pacific Theater,” and were written by John P. “Jock” Henebry, a decorated WWII pilot who always referred to himself as a “Plainfield boy.”

This week, in honor of Veterans Day, we will tell the story of John’s military experiences as gleaned from local newspapers and from his own words. Many thanks to Patrick Callahan, Jr., the son-in-law of John Henebry, for his assistance with this series of articles as well as for granting use of each of the photos appearing in the telling of John’s story.

John Philip “Jock” Henebry was chosen to represent his unit to witness the signing of the surrender which ended World War II on September 2, 1945, aboard the USS Missouri. He later recalled that “it was an important meeting – there were so many brass that it was hard to realize. The whole time I was thinking: ‘Here I am a little boy from Plainfield … how did I get to this position?”

John was born on February 14, 1918 in Plainfield, where his father Joseph was manager of the Plainfield Grain Company. His mother was Hanna Blair Henebry and his siblings were Marcella Rose “Sally” and Joe, Jr. Joseph lost his life at the age of 58 when he apparently lost control of his automobile on Route 30, striking the side of Woodstock, IL resident J. T. Pratt’s car.

John later graduated from the Campion Academy in Prairie du Chen, Wisconsin. The academy was a Jesuit boarding school for boys which closed in 1975. Other well-known alumni included former president of Mexico, Vincente Fox, actor George Wendt, former owner of the Denver Broncos, Pat Bowen, and Patrick Lucey, one-time governor of Wisconsin.

John stated in his book, The Grim Reapers – At Work in the Pacific Theater, that “to say this thunderous aviation career started at age 12 in the bathroom of my Plainfield, Illinois home seems a dramatic simplification, but the fact is, it did. One summer afternoon, probably in 1930 as close as I can recall, I was upstairs brushing my teeth when I heard a sound I had never heard before in real life. I recognized it from movies and radio. Here it was, close by – an airplane. Sure enough.

I scrambled out the second-floor window onto the roof of our back porch and saw the plane as it turned to make a pass over the field behind our back property. We lived on the south edge of a farm town and the pilot evidently was looking over the newly harvested wheat field as a possible landing site.

My brother and some neighborhood kids were already in the back yard watching the phenomenon as I caught sight of it from the roof. None of us could believe it – an airplane in Plainfield.”

The pilot had landed a bi-winged World War I Curtiss “Jenny.” John never knew the pilot’s name, only that he had suffered previous injuries which had caused him to limp as he walked. The pilot stayed in Plainfield for a few days, and for five dollars per passenger, would give rides to those who were adventurous enough. Although John would have gladly paid the asking price, the fare was “astronomical to this newspaper carrier, delivering mornings and evenings, Mondays through Sundays, clearing $3.25 to $3.75 a week. But had it been only a nickel, judging from the discussions around the dinner table, my mother and dad were not prone to give me clearance.”

One morning the pilot and plane were gone. Where he had come from or gone to was unknown. To a young boy, the life of a pilot seemed a grand adventure … to soar through the skies like a bird, landing amongst strangers and making a little money along the way, “moving on to other pastures as spirit and necessity dictated stayed in my soul. I certainly would have traded my paper route for his life.”

Continued tomorrow …Flying – the early years

11/09/2023

A continuation of a letter from Albert Wheat, a one-time educator in Plainfield:

"I first lived at the hotel of Jim Beggs (at a dollar a day for board and room), and then at “Tommy” Thompson’s until his death early in 1892. Tommy was the town jeweler, a fine sweet character. He used a wooden leg. My last boarding place was the home of Tom Hays. Tom and his wife, and the organist, who lived next door, Mrs. Hall, were the musical stand-bys of the Methodist church.

U.S.G. Blakely was editor and proprietor of the Enterprise. Al Worst, Frank Snure, Grant Williams and later Miles Hartong had barber shops in the town, among whom I distributed my patronage. Doctor Jump and Doctor Perkins looked after the sick bodies, and three churches cared for the souls of the community. Jeremiah Evarts and his son ran the bank and did a good job. There was a general and genuine community sorrow at the funeral of the elder Mr. Evarts in the winter of 1892. (Mr. Evarts was a brother of U. S. Senator W. M. Evarts, famous statesman, lawyer and orator of post-rebellion times.) Charley Sprague ran a decrepit hack to and from the depot. A. Mottinger was the town photographer and John Sonntag’s brother (John was a harness maker) was Dr. Jump’s assistant in the drug store.

The winter of 1892 witnessed the big fire, in which most of the business houses along the main street, some of them dating from Civil War days, were destroyed.

My school board members after those named above were Dr. Jump and Mrs. Sennitt. (Mr. Sennitt was postmaster, poor man, he suffered with rheumatism, and the daughters, school girls, did much of the work.)

I have always looked back at my action late in the school year 1892-’93, before the close of the term, as regrettable and unprofessional. I had a chance at employment in a World’s Fair position which would last over the summer, and asked m y Plainfield board to release me from my contract. I heard later that the substitute I secured did not make good. Toward the end of the summer one of the Board members suggested that I come back to Plainfield and that they would pay me a thousand dollars a year! But I was bound for California and did not consider the offer.

During those years of the early ‘90s Plainfield was most hospitable to the young schoolmaster, and most considerate of his blunders while he was practicing on their children. I hope at some time to walk about the old town again, and to meet some of the old friends of forty years ago.

If any old residents of Plainfield recall me at all, they may be interested in my later activities; hence this possibly pardonable postscript. My apprenticeship at Plainfield resulted in my staying in the teaching profession. Here in California, I have been headmaster of two private schools. Then for nine years head of Alhambra City Schools, during part of which time I was president of Los Angeles County Board of Education, and since July 1, 1907 Assistant County Superintendent. My title is now First Assistant.

Los Angeles County, by the way, has a population greater than that of any one of twenty-five states of this Union.

Very truly yours,

A. C. Wheat"

Address

23836 W Main Street
Plainfield, IL
60544

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(815) 436-4073

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