The Lanark Gazette by E.J. Barklow

Joliet, Ill., Jan. 27, 1927
My Dear Wild:

I wonder if you'll mind my using this "copy" paper. Somehow it seems more natural, since reading several clippings from the Gazette, sent me by my sister, Mrs. Charles Shidler, for they certainly brought back vivid memories of the day when I wrote the high school "items" for the Gazette when Burrows was the owner and you were foreman, and later when you and I published the paper. Let's see! That was back in 1892, thirty-five years ago. My, how time does fly. You know on the rare occasions when I visit Lanark, I feel as though it were a strange place - there are so few of my old friends still living there. But when I read those clippings I began to realize that there are still a good many, if not in Lanark, yet within the range of the circulation of the Gazette. When I saw the familiar, if somewhat grizzled, face of our old friend, Peter Horner, the house-mover and cider-maker, I could hardly believe it is almost 44 years since that kindly good-natured boy, Fred Horner, came to cal on the strange boy that had moved in from the country and offered his friendship that was more than welcome. Fred and I don't see much of each other in these later days, but we were close chums during my brief period in the Lanark High School under Prof. Oldt. We graduated in the same class and later went west together to seek our fortunes. I was greatly interested, too, in the letter from Mrs. Dilley, a former neighbor, and Cal Sleer's reply. You see the Sleers were among my very earliest recollections. Cal's mother grew to womanhood in the neighborhood where I was born and spent my childhood, over near what is now Pearl City, but was then called Yellow Creek, and at an earlier date, Andrew's Mill. The Sleers, on their occasional visits to the country, used to visit at our home, and Cal's sister Nettie sometimes spent her summer vacations with us on the farm. The account of Lafe Penticoff's death carries me many years back of my Lanark experiences. It was in 1873 that my grandparents, with whom I lived moved to a farm three miles south of Pearl City in what was known as the Hershey school district, where I went to school for more than eight years.

Among my schoolmates were Frank and "Hi" Penticoff, and I can well remember when little roly poly Lafe came to school with his sister Rosie. And that reminds me of the custom, in those days, of designating individuals by descriptive or exclamatory prefixes to their names. There was quite a settlement of Penticoffs in the district, all related more or less closely, and sometimes there was a duplication of names. Lafe's father was "Red Jake," from his reddish hair and beard; "Prairie" John lived on the prairie, "Little" George wasn't really so very small, but he was shorter than most of the others; "Black" John was a stalwart fellow with coal black hair and beard; "Old" Rube wasn't so old, but he had a venerable and dignified appearance. Even the women didn't escape, for I recall a dark browed, dark skinned husky housewife who was known to us children as "Black Jane". All of this tribe contributed pupils to Hershey's school, and they had some school in those days, believe me. The enrollment was sixty or more and they ranged from the toddlers of five or six (I started when I was three, But in an adjoining district) to young men past twenty-one, and when that gang took a dislike to a teacher he, or she, didn't have a chance in the world. One of the most successful teachers of that school, at least in my experience, was a little cross-eyed Vermont Yankee who taught the school during the winter of 1872-73 and once or twice after that. Any of the big boys could have broken him in two, but there was an irresistible twinkle in that cross eye of his and he seemed to be able to see out of the back of his head, so that he never had the least bit of trouble in maintaining discipline. His name was C. M. Hotchkiss, and he is the father of Mrs. Will Garner - and my uncle. If you could get Uncle Matt started he could tell you stories of the experience of early country school teachers which would be quite as interesting and sometimes more exciting than the tales in "The Hoosier School Master." But here I go, rambling all over memory's back lot. First thing I know I'll be writing my memoirs, and since it would be just like you to go and print this in your paper, you would have to crowd out a lot of good paid advertising. Anyhow, I've enjoyed a pleasant half hour reminiscing, and if you do print this, I hope not only the old timers but some of the younger generation as well will find it interesting.

Back to Carroll County Illinois