This column will give a glimpse into every day life rather than a history of one specific item. Things that happened in Hoopeston as it grew and people’s memories from those earlier days.
The first person sent to jail for nine months for selling intoxicating liquors in 1873 was a saloon keeper. William Moore, then a Justice of the Peace, in conjunction with G.C. Davis convicted him. (Source: Hoopeston Chronicle)
The first sweetcorn packing operations were described by Joseph A. Park who worked at the Illinois Canning Company in 1878.
“At harvest time, the sweetcorn was gathered in bushel baskets, dumped very carefully into the wagons and hauled from field to factory. At the cannery, the ears were husked by hand and the company issued tokens for each bushel husked by hand workers. Tokens were redeemed weekly, but at the same time, were accepted by the town’s merchants for food and other merchandise in lieu of cash.
After hand-husking, hand-cutting and preheating operations, the corn was poured into pans and the handmade cans were filled by hand-spooning, then weighed, carefully wiped clean and the lids applied. Men with soldering irons completed the sealing operations and the cans were hoisted in the cooker.
After removal from the cookers, the cans were dumped on a cooling floor and left overnight. Next morning, each can was tested by striking one end on the floor. If the can did not bulge, it went to the labeling department. Otherwise thrown out.” (Source: Hoopeston Centennial Booklet)
The Horse Thief Detective Association was first organized in Vermilion County as the Newell Horse Company in 1854 and was an arm of the Wabash General Association of Detective Companies. It’s job was “to shield us from the depredations of horse -thieves, counterfeiters and swindlers and in apprehending thieves.”
Each town must have had their own organization since Frank W. Bird was selected for the constable position in Hoopeston in the 1903 election. The Hoopeston Chronicle stated, Thursday, January 22, 1903:
“Frank W. Bird is this week announced by Hoopeston Detectives, No. 44, for the Republican nomination for the office of constable. According to the constitution of the Horse Company, it is necessary to have a legally-elected constable, and Mr. Bird is one of the best men in the township for the place. He has had considerable experience in public affairs, and has never been found wanting wherever he has been placed. It is not likely he will have any serious problems.”
This next tidbit is from a family history written by Annette Y. Feldman, daughter of Ruby Yonkelowitz.
“An incident that happened while my grandparents were in Hoopeston remains vivid in my mind. My grandmother and I watched a parade of the Ku Klux Klan. They were dressed in white robes. Even at the age of nine, I had a strange feeling about it all. Later I heard that many prominent citizens, even the local pharmacist, belonged to the Ku Klux Klan. I never went into his store again. The year was 1925.”
Other items from the Hoopeston Chronicle: July 27, 1906: Water system was installed at Floral Hill.
March 1, 1910: Road paved to the cemetery in the Spring and Nov. 24, 1910: Paving of the road to the cemetery was completed.
March 17, 1910: a new church at Antioch commences on April 1; July 14, 1910: Corner stone laid including a short history of the church; and May 15, 1911; Antioch Church dedicated.
May 18, 1911: Hoopeston Can Company buildings to house transients — one for white men and one for Negros.
August 17, 1933: Chief of Police George Cook ordered the Hobo jungle evacuated. The jungle was located just north of Thompson Avenue, on the west side of the C&EI tracks.
May 26, 1911: New USO Center to be located in former Miller-James Store building on Main Street; Sept 29, 1944: Local USO room close.
October 24, 1913: the Chautauque Panthion Associatation