Historical Tidbits

  • Carlock Fire Department

    In the early years in Oak Grove and Carlock the fire fighters used a bucket brigade.  A barn fire was usually a lost cause.

    In May 1924 fire destroyed three buildings in the heart of the Village of Carlock.  These buildings housed the Farmers’ State Bank, the Town Auditorium, Miller’s Restaurant, the J.K. Esh General Store, and the Post Office.  In June 1924 a second major fire in Carlock’s commercial district destroyed the Rupp Bakery and seriously damaged the Stutzman Garage.

    The Bloomington Fire Department was called for both fires.  The newly constructed “hard road” (Illinois Route 9) allowed the Bloomington firefighters to make the trip in about 20 minutes, but for one of the fires it took a full hour for the Bloomington department to receive official approval to begin its trip to Carlock in response to the call for help.

    The two 1924 fires caused Carlock area people to begin to discuss the need for local fire protection.  In 1926 two residents, W.S. Shelby and Jake Engel, took the lead in collecting enough to buy a $2,600 Model T firetruck.  A volunteer fire department to serve Carlock and farmers within a seven-mile radius was born with the purchase of this first Carlock firetruck.

  • Towns of Livingston and Oak Grove

    On November 1, 1939 John McGee obtained a patent deed from the USA for 80 acres in Section 28 of what two decades later would be named White Oak Township.  On July 24, 1837 Mr. McGee filed a plat for a town named Livingston on his property.  The actual plat of Livingston has not been found, but we know the town was laid out with a town square, and almost certainly would have straddled the Old White Oak Trail which bisected Mr. McGee’s property.  For unknown reasons, the Livingston plat was abandoned by a January 7, 1841 act of the State Legislature.  It may be that the only home ever built in the Village of Livingston was McGee’s farm house.

    By 1850 there began to be a cluster of homes along the Old White Oak Trail at the west boundary of Mr. McGee’s farm.  This settlement became known as the Village of Oak Grove.  In 1863 the first general store was built in the village, followed by an Oak Grove post office, a  blacksmith shop, cabinet shop, mill, town hall, and other businesses.  Oak Grove prospered until 1888. The Lake Erie and Western Railroad was built about a half mile away.  Beginning in 1888 most homes and businesses in Oak Grove were moved closer to the railroad.  The new village near the railroad was named Carlock.

  • Final Examinations

    In late April or early May during the 1930’s, the McLean County Superintendent of Schools (William Brigham) administered standardized tests to seventh and eighth graders.  The examination questions were sent to the principals of each grade school in the county with a common designated date for administering the tests.  The pupils in each school would begin writing at 8:30 a.m. on test day.  Those pupils receiving a score of 75 or above were ready for high school.

    In 1934, eighth grader Dorothy Hamilton of the Carlock Grade School received the highest score in the county of 99.5%. In 1937, the top two scores in the county were Donna Hartzler (99.75%) and Maxine Miller (98.25%), both Carlock Grade School pupils.

  • The Village Smithy

    Carlock had several blacksmiths.  One such smithy was William Claffey, born in Indiana in 1877.  Claffey learned to shoe horses as a small boy.  He left home early in life and worked in blacksmith shops, as he traveled across the United States.  He rode a freighter from San Francisco to China, where he worked to pay for his trip home.

    In 1907 while working as a smithy in Danville, he heard of a blacksmith shop for sale in Carlock.  He purchased the business from Sam Schad and did a thriving business in Carlock until his retirement in 1944.  Mr. Claffey married a local girl, Ida Stephens.  Their only daughter, Florence Claffey, married the son of another leading Carlock merchant and farmer, the Sam Maurers. Descendants of the Claffeys and Maurers continue to live in the Carlock community.

  • Carlock Presbyterian Church

    On July 22, 1857 Andrew McWilliams granted for $10 one acre of his farm to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Congregation of White Oak Grove for the erection of a house of worship and religious exercises.  This church was located at the current day address of 9279 East, 2100 North Road.

    On November 11, 1876 the original Presbyterian congregation conveyed the church and property to the United Presbyterian Congregation of White Oak Grove for a price of $1. On May 1, 1897 the Presbyterians conveyed for $17.50 their property back to the original farm and physically moved their church building and parsonage to the new Village of Carlock.

    The Presbyterian Church and parsonage were moved to adjoining lots in the 100 East block of Washington Street, directly across the street from the George Lippincott blacksmith shop and livery stables.

    When the Carlock Presbyterian congregation disbanded in 1912, some members joined the Christian Church and some became charter members of the new Carlock Mennonite Church in 1915.  The abandoned church building was used as a barn and a machine shed, before being razed in 1938. The Presbyterian parsonage continues to be used today as a private residence.

  • Carlock Firemen's Ball

    On Friday, January 3, 1936 there was a community Firemen’s Ball and supper as a benefit for the local fire engine fund.  The Ball was held in the Carlock High School gymnasium.  Entertainment during the supper hour was a German band.  A Bloomington orchestra played for the dance after the supper.  Admission was $1.00.

    Chairmen for the supper hour were Mrs. Ulysses Stutzman and Mrs. Robert Cottrell.  Chairmen for entertainment were John Stauffer, Robert Cottrell and Harvey Ropp.

    The Carlock volunteer department was not organized until 1926.  Community events like the 1936 Firemen’s Ball were the primary way of funding the fire department.

  • Carlock Electrification

    The Village of Carlock had no central source of electricity until 1918.  When the Carlock Mennonite Church was constructed in 1915, its electrical power was provided by a Dynamo generator.  The Dynamo cost the church $600 and it was likely powered by carbide gas (i.e., acetylene).

    Prior to 1918 lighting in Carlock’s private residences was likely provided by carbide gas lights or kerosene lamps.

    In 1918 local residents, primarily farmers living between Hudson and Carlock, organized the Carlock Farmers Light and Power Company.  An electric line was constructed from Hudson to Carlock, providing the Village of Carlock its first central source of electricity.  The Carlock Light and Power Company was sold to the Illinois Power Company in 1927.

  • The Origin of Illinois Townships

    The Continental Congress created townships in its 1787 Northwest Ordinance.  Townships were defined as six-mile by six-mile grids (i.e., Sections numbered 1 through 36) in the Northwest Territory, later to become the states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin.

    In Illinois the townships had no names and no form of township government until 1858.  In 1858 the Illinois legislature allowed each township to adopt a township government.  The debate leading to this legislation was intense.  Opponents argued that a township government was unnecessarily duplicative of the existing county government.  Advocates argued that township government would be more responsive to local issues.  The 1858 legislation did not replace county government with township government, but rather created a new, more local layer of government. 

    Residents of townships throughout McLean County met in the spring of 1858 to name their township and elect officers.  Residents of that portion of Township 25, Range 1 East lying in McLean County met on April 6, 1858 and named their township “White Oak”.  This prairie community had previously been referred to as White Oak because it was at the edge of the White Oak Grove.  Ironically, hardly any of White Oak Grove actually was located in White Oak Township.  The first White Oak Township officers were: B.J. Rowell, Supervisor; M.H. Knight, Clerk; Ellis Brown, Assessor; R.C. Brown, Commissioner of Highways.

  • Carlock Bank

    There has been a bank in Carlock since 1899.  The first bank building is today a private residence on Perry Street.  The Carlock bank has been robbed twice since 1899.  The first robbery was an inside-job. In 1971 federal auditors discovered that the bank’s president had been embezzling several $100,000 over a period of years, causing the Farmers State Bank of Carlock to be declared insolvent.  A new Bank of Carlock was immediately formed to replace the dissolved bank.

    The second robbery was by two armed bandits.  In August 1981 two armed robbers stole $17,332.  The robbers locked three customers and ten bank employees in the vault and escaped by stealing the bank’s car.  Bank employee Cleda Shindel used the phone in the vault to call her husband Charles and asked him to come to the bank and open the vault. Charles freed all vaultees with no injuries.

    The two bank robbers abandoned the bank’s car in about three miles and were picked up by a third accomplice.  One robber was convicted to eighteen years in prison in 1983.  The accomplice that drove the get-away car was indicted in 1986. As of 1986 the second robber had not yet been identified.

    The “Carlock lesson” to all bank robbers is that an inside-job is far more lucrative than an armed robbery.

  • Carlock Newspapers

    There have been three newspapers published in Carlock.  The Carlock Tribune was published from 1898 to 1908.  The paper published national, regional, and local news. On June 27, 1901 the Tribune reported that King Edward of England would follow his mother’s example and pay income tax.  Also reported that No.2 corn on the Chicago market was selling for 42 cents a bushel.

    The Goodfield-Carlock Times listed publication offices in Morton, Goodfield and Carlock.  One news article suggested that the chief editor was likely located in Goodfield and the paper was likely printed in Morton.  This paper was published in the 1920’s, but the actual years of publication are unknown.

    The Carlock Chronicle was published in Carlock from October 1962 through 1991.  The Chronicle emphasized local news for Carlock and nearby communities.  The Carlock Historical Society possesses a nearly complete set of Chronicle editions that are available to researchers.