The village of Philo and the surrounding area, located in Champaign County, Illinois, in celebrating its Centennial year, looks back upon its history, its first settlers and the many who over the years, through hard work and perseverance, have made this county one of the richest and most progressive in the state, also looks forward to greater challenges and opportunities in the future.
Champaign County is a part of what the early French explorers called the Grand Prairie of the West, which they described as extending from the headwaters of the Mississippi to the Wabash River.
In the beginning the pioneer generally stayed close to a wooded area, along the course of a stream. There they would have wood to build a home, for fires to keep warm and for cooking, and plenty of water. As a result of this the more fertile, easily cultivated prairie stretches were long neglected.
Localities Designated By Groves
Before the county was divided into townships, many of the localities outside of the villages were designated by groves and fords and other natural features. "The Big Grove" was the large grove of natural timber just north of the city of Urbana, partly in Township 19 and partly in Township 20. The Salt Fork was a general term which designated the land covered by timber along that stream and the neighboring farms. Homer and Sidney are villages along this stream. The Sangamon ncluded the neighborhood along both sides of the river from its headwaters to the Piatt County line. Others were the Okaw and Ambraw settlements, the Middle Fork (of Salt Fork) was understood to mean the timber, sometimes called Sugar Grove, in the northeast part of the county. Sadorus Grove was the name of the isolated grove of timber at the head of the Kaskaskia River, where Henry Sadorus and his family settled in the spring of 1824, when they came to this county.
Nearer Philo were Bowse's Grove which referred to a small grove of natural timber on the east side of the Embarrass River. This was later called Shaeffer's Grove and is in Crittenden Township, which is just south of Philo Township.
Lynn Grove, generally spelled Linn Grove in the oldest records, was the name attached to a beautiful eminence which was crowned with trees of Nature's planting in the southwest corner of Sidney Township. There were other small groves in Champaign County.
About one mile north of the village of Philo, in the early days there was a tuft or small patch of timber and brush along the margin of a small pond, which protected it from the annual prairie fires, less than one acre, which from the earliest settlement of the country, was a noted landmark for travelers and which was known far and wide as the Tow-Head. It was called the Tow-Head because of its resemblance of a human head, due to the clump of trees situated on a high knoll. Its position upon a very high piece of prairie made it visible for miles around.
Tradition has it that many years ago before the settlement of the prairies, a band of regulators from an Indiana settlement, having found the trail of a horse thief, who had successfully come with the stolen animal as far as the TowHead, found him fast asleep in the shade of this little grove and, without even the form of a trial, hung him on one of the trees. (Note: For this reason this little clump of trees was also known as "Dead Man's Grove.") The Tow-Head was near the road which led from the Salt Fork timber westward to Sadorus Grove and the Okaw. The Tow-Head has long since yielded to the march of improvement and the pond is no more and now yields each year either a fine crop of corn or soybeans.
A Distinct Watershed Divide There is a distinct watershed which divides the Wabash system from that of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. The Kaskaskia empties into the Mississippi and the Sangamon, flowing into the Illinois River, are a part of the system of the "Father of Waters" which drains the western third of the county. The Salt Fork of the Vermilion, the Middle Fork of that stream and the Little Vermilion, and the Embarrass are portions of the Wabash system and drain the remainder of the county. Generally speaking the Sangamon River and its branches drain Mahomet, Condit,
East Bend and Brown Townships and the Kaskaskia, with its tributaries drain Scott, Champaign, Tolono, Colfax, Sadorus and Pesotum Townships.
The Embarrass rises south of Urbana, on the University of Illinois farms and drains the southwestern part of Urbana Township, and Philo, Crittenden, Raymond and Ayers Townships. North of the Embarrass the Vermilion system spreads over the eastern townships of South Homer, Sidney, St. Joseph, Ogden, Stanton, Comprimise, Rantoul, Kerr and Harwood Townships.
The Effect of lce-sheets and Glaciers No other single agent has been so effective in the modification of the surface of the earth as have glaciers and ice-sheets. These ice-sheets or glaciers were hundreds and possibly thousands of feet thick, and hundreds of miles in width and length. The debris which they brought from the Laurential mountains of Canada was distributed over Illinois, generally; much to the enrichment of the soil. Much of it was pushed along in front of the ice-sheet, so that when the forward movement began to be retarded, this material was left scattered along the edges of the advancing body. Much material was carried along under the icesheet and was ground and distributed over the glacial area. The material which these glaciers brought into the State of Illinois, as the basis of her vast material wealth, goes under the general name of Drift. The Illinois ice-sheet is believed to have covered almost all the State of Illinois.
These great ice-sheets moving down from the north, scouring off the land, its successive onward stages are indicated by ridges or, geologically speaking, moraines, which rise above the surface of the surrounding country to heights varying from twenty to a hundred feet. These ridges or moraines were formed by a mass of rocks, dirt, etc., which was deposited at the side of the glacier as it moved from the northwest to the southeast of the county.
Neighborhoods There were neighborhoods in the county which for some peculiarity or other in their early settlement took upon themselves some peculiar names, many of which are now forgotten or are no longer used. One of these settlements was located in Philo Township, along the ridge which divides the waters of the Salt Fork from those flowing into the Embarrass (Ambraw), which, about 1853 to 1856 and for several years later, became the home of a colony from Massachusetts and other Eastern states. Some of the group were E.W. Parker and his brother, G.W. Parker, who brought the first piano to this area; David, Lucius and T.C. Eaton; Asa Gooding; Dennis Chapin and J.P. Whitmore and others who gave the neighborhood the name of Yankee Ridge, which it bears to this day. It was named for the place they came from and for the ridge which was on higher ground and had better drainage for that day.
The Black Prairie Soil At one time almost the entire valley of the Mississippi and its tributaries was covered with water, which gradually receded to the present water courses, and left the prairie in the condition of alternate wet and dry places, with a black, mucky soil. The prairies later became drier and was adapted to the wants of men and animals.
The black, friable mold of which the prairie soil is composed, is due to the growth and decay of successive seasons of the coarse swamp grasses which covered a great part of this area. The grass would start growing in the spring, grow luxuriantly during the summer and fall and decay during the winter, to be added to the annual accumulation, which over the years became from one to as much as five feet in thickness.
Drainage Necessary For years the swamps and lowlands were considered to be worthless. There was a great deal of sickness from malaria and other diseases. The great work of drainage was begun during the 1850's. In 1878 the State Constitution was amended by the addition of the drainage section, which authorized the formation of drainage companies, the digging and tiling of ditches and for reasons of regulation and systematic work it divided the submerged lands into districts, with supervising officials. The tile factories came into being and many a rod of tile was laid. The lands reclaimed are now some of the most productive and valuable in the county.
Native Wildlife and Vegetation When the first explorers came to Illinois they mention many animals that they saw as they traveled, among them deer, moose, all sorts of fish, turkeys, wild cattle and small game. In Champaign County toward the end of the nineteenth century and even later, prairie chickens, quails, squirrels, rabbits and other small game were plentiful.
There were many flowers native to Illinois to be found among the tall grass and along the streams and among the trees.
One man writing about his first sight of the Grand Prairie said, "The grass waving in the beautiful sunlight of June and all the wild flowers indigenous to the prairies bowing their heads to the breeze, presented a sight that I thought the most beautiful I had ever beheld, the remembrance of which, notwithstanding seventy years have passed and gone since then, is still as vivid to my mind it seems, as the day when I first viewed the beauties of the grand old prairies of Illinois."
Under Spain, England and France The State of Illinois has been under four flags. The whole western hemisphere was under Spain after Columbus' Discovery in 1492. The Continent of America was under England with Cabots' Discovery in 1498.
The North America south of the Great Lakes and the region on the Mississippi River and its boundaries was again under Spain with De Leon's Discovery of Florida in 1513 and De Soto's landing on the Mississippi in 1541.
By a charter in 1603 all North America was under the French flag. By the Patent for Virginia in 1606 and 1609, the Massachusetts' Bay charter in 1629 and the Connecticut Colony Rights a large part of the country was under the English flag.
Treaty in 1671, the Discovery of Illinois, etc., by Marquette in 1673, and the La Salle ceremony at the mouth of the Mississippi in 1682 and the Crozat Patent in 1712 this region was again under France.
By the Treaty of Paris in 1763 England owned all of the French possession east of the Mississippi except New Orleans.
Virginia by the capture of Clark in 1778 claimed all the land northwest of the Ohio River.
The United States The United States with the cession from Virginia in 1784 claimed the country northwest of the Ohio River; and from the cession from Massachusetts in 1785 claimed west of New York to the Mississippi River; and from the cession from Connecticut in 1786 claimed all west of Pennsylvania to the Mississippi River; the Northwest Territory, by the Ordinance of 1787 claimed the country northwest of the Ohio River; the Indiana Territory, by Act of Congress, 1800, included Indiana, Illinois, etc.; the Illinois Territory, by act of Congress 1809, included Illinois, Wisconsin, etc.; Illinois Territory, Second Grade was the same and the Indian cessions by various tribes.
Northwest Territory Divided In the session of Congress in the winter of 1899-1900 there was a proposition to divide the Northwest Territory into two territories. The westem part was to be known as Indiana Territory, with its capital at Vincennes and the governor was William Henry Harrison. The eastern division was called the Northwest Territory. Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan now became the Indiana Territory.
Illinois Territory Illinois Territory came into existence in 1809. On December 3, 1818, the State of Illinois was admitted to the Federal Union, with its first capital at Kaskaskia. Two years later the capital was moved to Vandalia. On February 25, 1837, the Illinois Assembly passed a bill providing that the Capital be nearer the center of the State and three days later Springfield was chosen as the new Capital City. Abraham Lincoln was influential in obtaining Springfield as the capital.
The Illinois Indians The Illinois Indians meaning "men of people" formed a loose confederacy of about a half dozen tribes, mainly the Metchigamis, the Kaskaskias, the Peorias, the Cahokias and the Tamaroas.
The Metchigamis were found along the Mississippi River and also lived in the vicinity of Lake Michigan, to which they gave their name. They were allies of Pontiac in the War of 1764 and some perished with other members of the Illinois Confederacy on Starved Rock in 1769.
The Kaskaskias were originally along the upper Illinois River and moved to the mouth of the Kaskaskia in 1700 and founded the old city of Kaskaskia, which became the center of French life in the interior of the continent. During the next century the Kaskaskias lived at that region and after nearly being exterminated by the Shawnees in 1802, the Kaskaskias moved to a reservation on the Mississippi and eventually went to Indian Territory. The Cahokia and Tamaroa tribes merged with the Kaskaskias under one chief.
The Potawatomi and Kickapoo The Potawatomi and the Miamis were familiar with the early settlers, not so much that they were settled here but rather that they made their appearance here as warriors or hunters. The Kickapoos were associated with the two above named tribes in Indian campaigns in other regions and especially at the battle of Tippecanoe. They were scattered throughout the Illinois country and for fifty years before the Edwardsville treaty of 1819 held strong sway over the eastern part of the State of Illinois and were here in the late '20's and early '30's, when the first white settlers were arriving in Champaign County.
The Potawatomi, "People of the place of fire," and the Kickapoos, "he moves about," had migrated south into the land vacated by the Illinois Indians beginning about 1765. The battle fought in 1811 was to remind the Indians of the wisdom of peace. In 1812 William Henry Harrison was victorious. The Indians of the northwest supported the British in the war of 1812 and some were led by the great Indian leader, Tecumseh.
Edwardsville Treaty of 1819 At Edwardsville, Illinois, the Kickapoos signed a series of treaties on July 30, 1819 and ceded their grounds along the Sangamon which means 66plenty to eat." They honorably observed their contacts and moved to western lands, although weak remnants of their tribe lingered until the early '30's on several of their camping grounds.
The Black Hawk War was to clear the State of Illinois from the Potawatomi and the Kickapoos who sought land in the west.
Remnants of Indiana tribes migrated westward as late as 1832-1833.
Champaign County was a favorite region for the Kickaooos and the more migratory Potawatomi as it abounded in game, the climate was less rigorous than the northern sections and the soil yielded plentiful of cereals and vegetables. Favorite camping places were near Urbana, and in the wooded areas along the Okaw, the Sangamon and the Salt Fork and wooded areas.
Corn-hills of the Indians Judge Cunningham wrote "But a few years since, and plainly to be seen until the white man's plow had turned up the sod and effaced the evidences of their occupation, were many Indian trails across the prairies; and it is well within memory of many now living, as well as attested by the well remembered statements heard from early settlers, that the corn-hills of the Indian occupants were found not far from the site of the Public Square in Urbana, as late as 1832."
Shemanger Shemanger, a friendly Potawatomi chief, also known as "Old Soldier," was known by many of the first white settlers. Shemanger often visited the site of Urbana after the whites came and for several years after 1824. He claimed it as his birthplace and told many of the early settlers the family home of his birth was near a large hickory tree near a spot north of Main Street and a few rods west of Market Street.
It is remembered that Shemanger would sometimes come in company with a large group of his tribe and sometimes with his family only, when he would remain for months in camp at points along the creeks.
Shemanger told early settlers of a very heavy fall of snow, the depth of which he indicated by holding a ramrod horizontally above his head and said that many wild beasts, elk, deer and buffalo and other animals perished under the snow. This was, no doubt, the great snow that fell in 1830-1831.
Shemanger was remembered as a very large, bony man, always kind and helpful to the early settlers. He attended the cabin raising of the early settlers and assisted them in the completion of their homes. It is also known that he helped Mr. Sadorus at his bam raising.
In 1830 Shemanger was about 75 years of age. The Kankakee Valley was the home of the chief during his last years in Illinois, and he was seen by many who made trips to Chicago to sell their grain and obtain supplies.
Following the Black Hawk war his tribe, or what remained of it east of the Mississippi River, went west and then were seen no more.
Told to "Puck-a-Cheell In the summer of 1832 before the organization of the county, a large number of Indians came and camped near a spring. It caused some apprehension among the early settlers and a committee was formed, composed of Stephen Boyd, Jacob Smith, Gabe Rice and Elias Stamey, to talk to the red men. The committee went to the camp and told them they must "Puck-a-chee," which they understood meant "to git." The Indians gathered their ponies, papooses and squaws and left, greatly to the relief of the settlers.
Indian Legends Near Salt Fork, Sidney, in 1828, one of the Indian chiefs died just as they were about to move west and the other Indians asked William Nox and Mr. Hendricks to manufacture a white man's coffin for him. They did and the Indians gave them a nicely tanned buckskin. The Indians took the coffined body with them on their trip west.
Isham Cook, who probably was the first white man to die in this area, came in 1830, bought out a squatter and built a home and then returned to Kentucky for his family. In the dead of winter, on their way back to their new home, upon arriving at Lynn Grove, Mr. Cook sickened and died, leaving a widow and four children who were grief stricken and bewildered. Joseph Davis took the remains to Big Grove, where Mr. Cook had erected his home and dumped the body on the ground, and returned to his home. Indians heard the family's crying and came to help. The deceased was rolled in a wide strip of bark, their tribal custom, and they buried him according to the white man's custom.
The Kickapoos of the Vermilion were the last of the Illinois Indians to leave. In 1833 the last of them oined the main body of the tribe in their reservation west of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and were soon afterward moved to Indian Territory.
In 1832-1833 remnants of the Indiana tribes migrated westward.
Champaign County Early Settlers The first white men who were here were probably hunters and trappers.
Surveyors divided the country into townships in the summer of 1821. Townships 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21, range 9, including the town of Crittenden, Philo, Urbana, Somers, and part of Rantoul were surveyed in 1821 by deputy surveyor Benjamin Franklin Messincer.
It is generally belie"ved that Runnel Fielder, in 1822, was the first white man to build a house and break sod in Champagin County. William Thompkins was a close second. Between 1826 and 1832 there were about two dozen families at Big Grove, most of them from Kentucky. William Sadorus had settled at the head of the Kaskaskia in the spring of 1824. William Nox was an early settler of Sidney and Mathew Busey settled there in 1842.
Philo Named for Philo Hale
Philo Hale, an eastern land speculator, bought the first land in Philo Township in 1837, in Section 15, Township 18, Range 9 from squatters Gilliland and bought other land later from Vandeveer, expecting the railroad to cross near Yankee Ridge. The proposed "Northern Cross Railroad" which was to be built from Danville to Springfield failed to materialize.
He also bought the west one-half of Section 23 in Philo Township, which contains virtually all the present village from the United States Government, by Patent, dated October 13, 18389 and signed by President Martin Van Buren, by M. Van Buren, Jr., Secretary H.M. Garland, Recorder of the General Land Office.
He also by certified copy of Patent, dated November 1, 1839, obtained E 1/2 SW of Section 14, containing 80 acres.
Mr. Hale, at the time of his death, owned 1360 acres in this area. He died October 29, 1847, at Decatur, in Macon County.
Hale Township Changed to Philo
Up until 1859, Champaign County was governed by a County Court. In the year 1859 the township plan was adopted. Original townships were East Bend, Hale, Middletown, Middle Fork, Newcomb, Pleasant Hill, Peru, Rantoul, St. Joseph, Sidney, South Homer, Sadorus, Tolono, Urbana and West Urbana.
In 1861 changes were made. Middle Fork was changed to Kerr, Hale township was changed to Philo, Pleasant Hill to Somer and West Urbana to Champaign. Some of the others were changed later, in 1868 Peru was changed to Ludlow; in 1871 Middletown changed to Mahomet.
In February 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln made his last speech to the people of Illinois and became president a month later. That brief address was given in Tolono, where a boulder marks the spot.
The Land Grant of 1862 made it possible to have the State Agricultural College in Urbana. Jonathan B. Turner was the man who was influential in making the plans for the Illinois Industrial University. In 1867, Urbana offered the most and the state granted a charter for this university. It opened in 1868.
The struggle for the location of the University at Urbana was a long one, but was greatly influenced by the election of Clark R. Griggs, of that place, as a representative in the lower house of the Legislature and an enthusiastic contender for the Champaign County location. Mr. Griggs was a Massachusetts boot and shoe manufacturer, who came in the spring of 1859, purchased a farm on Yankee Ridge, but on an account of an accident had to quit farming. He had his right hand crushed in a corn shelter. He then moved to Urbana, became a merchant and land dealer, and was elected to the Legislature in the late '60's.
The Morrow Plots, the oldest experiment fields in America, located in Champaign, were laid out by the University in 1876. In 1885 during Peabody's regency the Urbana State Institution was changed to the University of Illinois.
Village of Philo
The Village of Philo was laid out by the son of Philo Hale, E.B. Hale, in 1864 and included 80 acres. The Wabash Railroad in Illinois was based on the Old Northern Cross Railroad, as a part of the Internal Improvement scheme in 1837. The first section was operated for a time by mules, but it was abandoned as an enterprize ahead of the times and was unprofitable.
In 1847 the line sold and the Sangamon and Morgan Railroad reconstructed the part of the road, which opened for business in 1849.
It wasn't until 1856, when several Ohio and Indiana companies were consolidated as the Toledo, Wabash and Western Railroad, that the railroad was built through southern Champaign County. Philo, midway between Sidney and Tolono, was originally called the Summit by the railroad, because of the elevation; it sometimes took two engines to pull the train. In 1858, Philo settlers petitioned that the railroad station stop be called Philo.
At the Philo Township election of 1859 or 1860, which was held at "Hale Bowses Grove, it was decided to hold future meetings at the Philo Station on the Great Western.
In 1860, the village is called Philo in records. Also in 1860, J.D. Johnson was elected the first Supervisor and the township was still called Hale. In 1861, the township was changed to Philo Township.
In 1889, the Great Western became the Wabash, famous for songs and cannon balls. Tle "Cannon Ball" would stop in Philo for passengers, originating at or going to St. Louis or Detroit.
During the early years, before the automobile, passengers could travel from Philo to Champaign (via Sidney and the branch line) three times each day, morning, noon and evening.
Some of the writers of this book can remember going to Tolono and riding the Illinois Central to Champaign to shop and returning that evening.
The village of Philo was incorporated April 19, 1875. The certificate of Incorp ' oration was issued July 10, 1875. Members of the first town council were president T.H. Metheny in 1870 and J. Bames was clerk in 1871.
Elam Elithrop built the first house in Philo, which stood where the home of John Cain now stands. Wright, the station agent, built the second house, the only one between Route 130 and the depot. The oldest house in Philo, now occupied by the Floyd Cross family, on the comer of Washington and Jackson Street was built and occupied by Michael Walsh, when there were only three houses on the present site of Philo.
The Mr. Wright mentioned above was the first agent for the Toledo, Wabash and Western railroad. The house which he built was used for a depot and passenger house. Elithrop's first house was later used for a harness shop.
From Lathrop's Champaign County Directory we read that in 1870 Philo had "a fine school house, two churches, one mill, eight stores, three blacksmith shops, two hotels, two grain dealers with warehouses, and one lumber yard." It also reports that Philo's citizens are energetic, go ahead and thriving people.”
It is said that after the railroads went through, and especially after the Civil War, that many people came to this region, taking up 40 or 80 acres, working it for a while, and sometimes, then selling it and going elsewhere, some to the Gold Rush in California in 1849. But many stayed and gradually added to their land, cultivating and improving it as much as possible.
In the beginning their small cabins had been made from unhewn logs. Then Joe Smith, who had come with Mr. Sadorus, erected his cabin, which, as quoted from Judge Cunningham in Stewart's History of Champaign County, "was built of split linn logs, sixteen by sixteen feet, covered by split oaken boards, with linn puncheons for a floor." In the fall the cabins were daubed, that is, the logs were filled with clinks, clay and mud to keep the cold out. A single sash window bought in Eugene, Indiana, several years later, gave the Sadorus family one glass window, the first in Champaign County. Later the settlers drove, often taking several days, to Indiana, where they purchased materials for their homes. Samuel Love in 1853 purchased poplar weather boarding from a sawmill in Covington, Indiana, for their first home.
The pioneers began with little patches of corn which they took care of during the summer, and had gardens to supply their needs. On some farins they only planted the high ground at first. It is said that some early settlers even grew flax and cotton, so they could make their clothing, which did not prove practical later when goods could be bought. They also hunted, and had hogs, cattle and chickens. Their nearest trading post was Eugene, Indiana, sixty miles away. We read that when they had a surplus of wheat, oats or corn, or when their animals were ready for market, they either made a trip to Indiana or to the trading post on Lake Michigan-Chicago. They would then return with needed supplies such as salt, coffee, sugar and other articles. At an early date it was said Mr. Sadorus and others got fifty cents a bushel for oats in Chicago. But in 1862, a Mr. Leigh of St. Joseph, said that during the winter they hauled corn to Champaign and got nine cents a bushel for it.
There was a great deal of cattle herding in the early days. Jesse Meharry herded cattle three years from Mattoon to Rantoul before he took up residence in 1865, on land entered by his father. The Love family drove or herded their cattle to Indiana before the railroads came. When the railroads came through, the Wabash in 1856, there was a great change. Cattle were still driven from the farms to the railroad until trucks came into use. Every town had a stockyard, for cattle and hogs, where they were kept until loaded on the train.
We have already mentioned the early settlers in the Philo area during the '50's. Besides those mentioned in an earlier chapter, Horace Arnold also came in the '50's, in 1857; as well as Samuel Brown, in Crittenden Township, in 1858, he later moved to Philo township; and there were also the J.C. Fords, Hoovers, W.G. Carson, and a William Martin Ellars, who was later postmaster in Philo. And there were probably more.
ORIGINAL TOWN OF PHILO
For the rural community the turn of the century found no immediate change of its life style. Oats and rye were raised in addition to wheat and corn. Some wheat was saved from the crop and carried to the miller for flour. Seed for the next year's corn crop was saved from the harvest and on occasion some ears of corn were exchanged with another farmer in hopes of improving the strain of seed corn.
Rural mail delivery began about 1903. Until then the mail was held at the post office until the patron "went to town". Any packages arrived at the railroad express office. Some of the early rural mail carriers were: James Bocock, Vernon Penny, Charles Stewart and Abbott Duell.
The Budget newspaper was being printed in Philo every Friday for approximately 400 patrons. It was a four-page 13x2O paper, subscriptions were $1.20 a year and Mont Robinson was editor and publisher.
The first telephone exchange in town was located in Father Barry's home about 1902. His housekeeper acted as operator for the service between the rectory and the families of the Bongard parish. Soon after, Mr. J.B. Carson had a telephone exchange service, operated until it was taken over by the Eastern Illinois Telephone Corporation.
The Commercial Bank was established in 1902, with Isaac Raymond as president.
When some of our older citizens were asked to recall the first automobile they saw and what makes they were we received quite a list of names. The earliest cars in Philo were: "Winston", owned by Mr. Weaver; "Buick" owned by Dr. Scheurich; and "Thomas Flyer" owned by Frank Cain. Mr. Martin Clennon remembers how he admired the new car owned by Jerry Horgan, store keeper in Philo. Jerry demonstrated the car to Mr. Clennon, allowing him to drive it around in a pasture. He took him to Champaign where Mr. Clennon bought a "Haynes" and drove it home. Most early cars were not driven in the winter because of the muddy roads and antifreeze had not been put into use. They "jacked" the cars up in the winter and left them in the garage. The operator's manual wasn't quite specific enough for some of the cars and it took ingenuity for the owners to realize that horses could pull it to get it started or sometimes pull it through a section of bad roads.
Independence Day in 1909 was celebrated at Lynn Grove. Music was furnished by the Sidney band. Tim Sullivan lined up the "Longview Invincibles" to play a baseball game against the "Philo Never Sweats". Some of the other amusements arranged and the prizes given were:
Fatman's race, box of cigars; Young men's 50 yd. dash, box of cigars; Young ladies race, box of stationery; Sack race-young boys, $1.00; Fat woman's race, parosol; Girls under 12 race, $1.00.
Five dollars was offered by John Daly for the best decorated car.
Mike Lowry offered $2.00 cash for the largest family present.
On Wednesday night August 17, 1909, there was a fire on the north side of Main Street in Philo. Here is a summary of the story of the tragic event and damages as reported in the newspaper. Fire was seen in the Rickey Office about eleven o'clock.
John Grothe and others ran about town giving the alarm. Soon all church bells were ringing and the town was thoroughly aroused. When flames reached the telephone exchange, connections with the outside world were broken for Agent Dixon was at Sidney and no telegraph service could be had. W.H. and Ed Rickey were at a banquet in Sidney and the building had not been occupied since 1 p.m. Wednesday (same day).
L.W. Michener was struck on the head by a bucket falling from the Reed Building and received a bad cut. Many others received injuries.
The businesses that burned were: Rickey Furniture Store, Melohn Poultry House, Grothe Shoe Store, Wimmer Grocery Store, Telephone Building, Reed Meat Market, Stearns Ice House and Warehouse, Michael Lowry Restaurant, Brelsford Barber Shop, Hazen and Franks Lumber.
John Wimmer rescued all of his goods with the exception of $75. worth of stock and fixtures. The Grothe shoe stock was saved and also the tools and fixtures in the Brelsford Barber Shop. There was no insurance on some of the losses, however many of them were rebuilt.
The Commercial Bank became a private bank in 1910, with C.A. Daly as president.
Sometime around 1910 two trains were stalled during a severe snow storm and blizzard. One was a short distance west of town "in the cut" and the other was about one half mile east of town. Lowry's restaurant provided coffee and sandwiches for the passengers and the food was taken out to the trains by volunteers for the two days the trains were stalled.
According to the "Philo Pilot" July 14, 1911. "The Village council turned down the application of Harve Baker of Tolono for a license to conduct a poolroom.
A committee of three aldermen was appointed to investigate the proposition of purchasing 10 gasoline street lights".
The town had not yet purchased the street lights in August when the "Pilot" reminded them that Sidney had had lights for over one year.
The town football team played in Penman's pasture and the town baseball team also used the pasture from 1912 to about 1917.
For the cultural improvement of the village the Chautauqua arrived in town for a week and the meetings were held on the school grounds in 1915.
The Prairie Farmer Reliable Directory of 1917 listed only one farmer who owned a tractor.
After Philo recovered from the fire on the north side of Main Street, fire struck on the south side in 1917. Four frame buildings, the post office, meat market, confectionery and another small shop were razed.
The first electricity in Philo was run by a gasoline generator. It was operated this way for ten years.
Between 1914 and 1918 bond rallies were held and Red Cross classes met in the "Red Front" building. Miss Sue Ennis, a tireless worker was in charge and Philo was justly proud of its Red Cross record.
VILLAGE OF PHILO
127 W. WASHINGTON
P.O. BOX 72
PHILO, ILLINOIS 61864