One of my goals in my historical research of Hoopeston was to find when Honeywell Field was built and, thanks to Marilyn Tyler at the library, I am closer to my goal.
According to the 1939 yearbook, the first game played on Honeywell Field was against Watseka, September 23rd, 1939. Hoopeston lost 20-13. And the first time Hoopeston played under the lights was also against Watseka in the fall of 1941. Hoopeston won that game “with a 12-6 victory over a bitter foe, Watseka,” as stated in the 1941 Picayune.
It’s interesting who each generation’s sports foes were. Ours, the Class of 1961, was considered to be Rossville.
Honeywell School was the first school to be built in Hoopeston in the Fall of 1873 on the southwest corner of Honeywell Avenue and North Fourth St. This 3-story wooden building, which included “out-houses are of excellent construction, latticed and covered with a slate roof,” according to the newspaper of the period, with “”side-walks... laid around the building.... for convenience,” housed all grades, 1st — 12th.
Later the high school was moved to a three-story building which stood on the block of Maple School. Grades 1st — 8th stayed at Honeywell. In fact, the high school later became Maple Grade School for 1st-8th grades.
In 1873, for those that do not know, there was no indoor plumbing so all bottoms went to the out-houses regardless of the temperatures and in all seasons and weather.
The present building in the 600 block of East Honeywell Avenue, was built in 1927, the same year as the John Greer High School gymnasium, and dedicated in 1928. Honeywell is scheduled for demolition this fall.
In 1893, a family long associated with building the Pennsylvania long rifles moved to Hoopeston. Lewis (Louis) Fondersmith, his wife Fanny and son Lee. The Fondersmith’s family left Pfungstadt, Germany in 1750, according to Pennsylvania researcher Denny Donharl who collects the long rifles, and settled in Lancster, Pennsylvania. Originally the family name, he said, was von der Schmidt and many in the family were gunsmiths.
Louis Fondersmith, however, was a real estate dealer here in Hoopeston, while his son Lee Fondersmith became one of Hoopeston’s earliest jewelers. Lee Fondersmith died in 1910 and Louis, the father, in 1917.
Another early resident, Emmett Perkins was only two years old when he arrived in the area in 1868 with his parents. The parents bought land from Cyrus Hartwell to farm north of Hoopeston in Iroquois County but not far from the C & EI tracks. He said he remembered the railroads being built in that early time of 1871 -1872 and Mother Perkins dressing chickens to sell the men working on the C & EI railroad beds. These men cooked the chickens over an open fire which Emmett said he had never seen before and was fascinated by the concept.
In his words, “A postal route from Vincennes to Chicago by way of Danville had been established in 1832, the old Indian trail having been replaced by a wagon and coach road which weaved from one side to the other missing, as best they could, the duck ponds which dotted this area of prairie land. It was the same trail followed that year by a company of men en route from Danville to support the soldiers in northern parts of the state during the Black Hawk War. These men camped the first night at the ford on the North Fork River.”
Emmett also remembered the drainage ditch being built, which earlier generations called the “Stink Ditch,” that