Genealogy Gems from the Mary Smith Fay Library

 by Barbara Hughes, White County Historical Society

Genealogy Gems from the Mary Smith Fay Library as they appeared in "The Carmi Times."

Copyright ©2002 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Barry Cleveland, editor, "The Carmi Times."

A Special Thanks
Glimpse of Corn Days Past

We want to extend to Charlene Shields and Janet Armstrong, two of our finest "genealogy gems," our utmost thanks for the many years they served the Genealogy Library. These two women have certainly benefited countless people both from our community and throughout the United States by contributing their assistance and abundant knowledge for those searching for their family "ties." We certainly have an immense appreciation for the tremendous efforts of these two ladies in behalf of the genealogy library.

The library is still "alive and well" under the direction of Lecta Hortin and the volunteers who are so very helpful and generous with their time. There is an abundance of books and other materials, including computer software, to aid in your search for your family history. The volunteer personnel freely share their knowledge to assist our patrons. Being new as librarian, I am often stricken with awe as I watch Lecta and the other volunteers labor at finding even the smallest pieces of information to help a patron in tracing family "lines" or perhaps something about an old school or church. It is truly an interesting and enjoyable place to work.

Saturday, October 12, Carmi will be participating in its another Corn Day Festival. I thought the readers might be interested in some memories of Corn Days in the past. From J. Robert Smith's book, Sixty Years of Service, Mr. Ted Matsel offered the information that William Appel was president of Kiwanis in 1928 when they had Agriculture Community Day. However, it wasn't until 1929 when Jesse Schoemann was president of Kiwanis, the festival was officially named Corn Day.

.In talking with Mr. Kent Boeger, he was ready with some clever responses. He really is a "master storyteller." He recalled a Corn Day when he was five years old. In those days Corn Day was in November. Also, that's when Main Street was paved with cobblestones. His dad held him so his feet wouldn't be so cold. Ladies back then wore hats with long plumes. There was one such lady standing near them with the prettiest blue plume on her hat, and he said that plume tickled his face all during the parade. Of course, he didn't remember a thing about that parade!

"Mr. Kent" did share his memories about two other unusual happenings in the Corn Day parades. One was when Louise Reinwald (great aunt of Bill Reinwald), a tall, stately woman with pretty white hair, portrayed the Statue of Liberty on one float. The parades were held at night and strings of light were strung across Main Street. It seemed that Ms. Reinwald had to bend in order to avoid the wires. Folks said that "this was surely the only time the Statue of Liberty bowed to anything." Another story was of a parade which occurred about the time the Great Depression was ending. One float consisted of a glass-enclosed funeral coach drawn by six white horses. About 10 women walked in front of the coach as flower girls, and men in their high hats and white gloves followed the coach. This was all to symbolize the demise of Old Man Depression. The coach stopped at mid-Main street, and they had a proper burial for Old Man Depression.

A local newspaper in November of 1949 reported that the greatest Corn Day celebration in the history of the county had "everything from the dance halls of the Old West to the stringing up of a horse thief in front of the Golden Nugget Saloon." The Rotary won first prize for their float that was a working model of the famous "Sutter's Mill." The men of Kiwanis were all to have grown beards, and the ladies were attired in old-fashioned dresses. It must have been quite a celebration!

Corn Day, 2002: The White County Historical Society would like to announce that the four museums: Robinson Stewart House, the newly refurbished Ratcliff Inn, the L. Haas Museum, and the Matsel Cabin will be open between 11:00 and 4:00. Bring your visiting friends and relatives and take a trip back through history. Society members, remember the annual Corn Day Bake Sale is to be held at Ratcliff Inn.

The Mary Smith Fay Genealogy Library is open from 11:30 - 4:30, Tuesdays through Fridays. Address letters to the Mary Smith Fay Genealogy Library, P. O. Box 121, Carmi, IL 62821.

Return to the Gems from the Mary Smith Fay Library  Page

Return to the White County ILGenWeb Page

The Coordinator for the White County, Illinois ILGenWeb page is Cindy Birk Conley

Copyright © 2002 by Cindy Birk Conley, all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercial use of the information contained in these pages is strictly prohibited without prior permission. If copied, this copyright notice must appear with the information.