Ronald Reagan Story
Lee County Style


Reagon Home We all know about Ronald Reagan our 40th President. He has the distinction of being the only President ever born in Illinois, a fact that we are especially proud of. So I'm not going to be talking about that area of his life at all. You can go to a dozen different places and find his biography, and his life in the White House. What I do want to present - is the Ronald Reagan of Dixon, Lee County Illinois and the boy who grew up here, blessed with good parents and a wholesome upbringing. Whiteside County & Lee County, and most especially the town of Dixon, can be very proud of this man - the entire community helped to form the character and honesty of Ronald Reagan.

This home, located at 816 S. Hennipen Street in Dixon, is where Ronald Reagan lived for about three years of his young life (December 6, 1920-1923). The home has now been restored, painted white and has been spruced up for visitors to tour. The furniture and accessories in the home are not those owned by the Reagan family but are pieces respective of the times. In recent days there is controversy going on concerning this home between the government and the present owners. If he could, Ronald Reagan would probably be standing in the middle of the issue and saying "Shame On You".

Family Ronald Reagan was actually born in Tampico, Whiteside County, IL on February 6, 1911.

He first saw the light of day, early in the morning, in a small apartment, on the second floor over the local bakery.

Here Ronald is pictured with his Father, John (Jack) Reagan, his mother, Nellie Clyde (Wilson) Reagan and his older brother Neil Reagan.

Ronald was about 10 years old when the family left Whiteside County and moved to Dixon in Lee County IL.

Ronald Reagan in the 4th Grade. Photo contributed by Diana Alm our Rock Island Co-Ordinator


"Reagan Had Cute Way Of Getting Off Work Early"

Lifeguard "Quite a boy that Reagan"
an old time Dixonite reminisced today.

He used to have a way of getting the girls out of the river when he was lifeguard at Lowell Park so he could attend the second show in town. Long about dark, the time the second show was due to start, he'd flip a couple of rocks in behind the girls. When the girls asked "Whats That?", Reagan would tell them "just river rats. They always come out about this time. "Swimming ended and Reagan headed for the movie.

Reagan will be back in the theatre here today, appearing in "Louisa" at the Lee. He'll also be here personally combining his homecoming with the "Injun Summer" festival, August 20-24.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 17 August 1950.


"Dixini's Report of Movie Stars Visit at School Recalled"
"High School Pupils Welcomed Ronald Reagan"
In 1941 the student body of Dixon high school welcomed Ronald "Dutch" Reagan back to his alma mater for a one day visit. "Dutch" was in Dixon with Louella Parsons, Bob Hope, Jerry Colona, Joe E. Brown, Bebe Daniels, Ben Lyons, Ann Rutherford, George Montgomery, and other dignitaries for one of Dixon's biggest celebrations, "The Louella Parsons - Ronald Reagan Days".

The September 26,1941 edition of the Dixini presented the following story of "Dutch's" appearance at the Dixon high school.

Students of Dixon High School experienced a rare thrill on Monday morning, September 15th, when they were greeted in the auditorium by Ronald Reagan, movie star and ex Dixon high school student. Yes its true, Dutch did graduate from the old North Central High in 1928 where he starred in a number of successful high school plays under the direction of Principal Bernard J. Frazer.

In his talk to the students Dutch spent much of his time telling of his experiences in school and after he graduated. Although you might have been led to believe differently, Ronald was just an average student, occassionally bluffing his way through an assignment as every student has done at some time or another. He gave an example or two as he reminisced before the auditorium stage microphone.

"Dutch" was perhaps unusual in the fact that he had a natural "gift of gab" which he could use advantageously to pull himself out of embarrassing situations at critical times. His most embarrassing moment came in Hollywood, however, when he was filming his latest picture, "International Spuadron." Ronald was required to sing two verses of "The Man On The Flying Trapeze". Ronald claims that he doesn't sing; and when he had finished his solo selection the electricians and technicians on the movie lot just about laughed him off the set.

When Mr. Frazer asked him backstage what kind of introduction he wanted, "Dutch" being a good sport and possessing a keen sense of humor replied, "just don't tell the truth aboutme".

Ronald was quite a football player in his time, and when asked to make a comment on this, he stated jokingly, "Some people called me the best football player on the worst team Dixon ever had." He was really quite interested in sports, nevertheless, and told of his experiences in the radio sports announcing field.

Dutch thoughtfully stated that he contributed much of his present ability as an actor "to his first director", B.J. Frazer, and told the students that many of the fundamentals he now uses were taught to him by Mr. Frazer. "What you learn in high school", said Ronald, "is what really counts later on.".

"Dutch's" eyesight is not as good as it might for the reason that he read a lot when he was rather young. In fact when Ronald was five years old, his father caught him reading a newspaper aloud and correctly. After his entrance on the high school stage, he put on his spectacles and exclaimed to the students "Oh there you are."

Before leaving the auditorium Ronald said, "What a thrill this is. Its something everyone dreams about - coming back home".

Dixon Evening Telegraph 6 June 1947.


"Dutch Reagans Parents Of A Son"
Dixon friends of movie stars Jane Wyman and Ronald "Dutch" Reagan will be glad to learn they are the parents of a son Michael Edward. The Reagans have another child, a daughter, Maureen.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 30 March 1945
***Some reports indicate that Michael was an adopted child.


Air Force "Ronald Reagan Is Released From Army Air Force"
An early return to pictures was on the program today for Ronald Reagan formerly of Dixon, and Robert H. Sterling, Hollywood film actors just out of the Army, according to a story from the movie capital.

Both had been in the Army Air Forces since the spring of 1942, Reagan as a Captain and Sterling as a 1st. Lieut., and both were discharged at the army separation center in San Pedro yesterday.

Reagan, who spent his youth in Dixon, attended high school there, and served as a lifeguard at Lowell Park, near the city, was an honored celebrity at "Louella Parsons Day" held in Dixon a few years ago. He is married to actress Jane Wyman. The popular couple are the parents of a daughter.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 13 September 1945


Townspeople will be interested to know that Ronald Reagan and his wife Jane Wyman were interviewed over the air on Bob Elsons 20th Century Limited program at 10:45 WMAQ last night.

"Dutch" mentioned Dixon as being his home town and told of his early career of broadcasting sports over station WOC in Davenport Iowa and then to WHO in DesMoines. Dutch spent several summers working as an announcer with the Chicago Cubs at Catalina Island. He stated that during one of those summers there he met Joy Hodges, movie actress, who he had known at WHO. She induced him to go to the movie studio with here and they gave him a screen test. A short while after he returned to his work with WHO he was called back to Hollywood to sign a movie contract they were offering him

At the end of the interview he remarked that he hoped many of his friends in the middle west were listening as he thought it was a good chance to say "hello".

Dixon Evening Telegraph 7 February 1945


A radio newscaster on WMAQ last night reported that film star Jane Wyman, wife of Ronald Reagan, gave birth to a baby girl in a Hollywood hospital, weighing only 1 1/2 lbs. which the attending physician said was born 3 to 3 1/2 months prematurely. The baby placed in an incubator was "doing quite well", and Miss Wyman was in satisfactory condition, the report said. Reagan received word of the infants arrival in another Hollywood hospital where he is recovering from an attack of influenza. They have two other children, Maureen 6 and Michael 2.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 27 June 1947. ***
This was either a false report or the baby died - as nothing else is ever reported on this child.


Forrestion Sauerskraut Queen
Ronald Reagan, star of Warner Bros. pictures and a native of Dixon, on 23 miles from here, will chose the 1947 Queen of Sauerkraut Day from the five finalists in the competition, all of whom are members of the senior class of Forreston High School. Those remaining in the competition for queen of Sauerkraut Day are Eleanor Ihm, Barbara Garman, Violet Diehl, Marian Faist, and Donna Hiteman. The later is a niece of a former queen. Photos of the finalists have been forwarded to Reagan in Hollywood and his decision is expected at any time.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 26 August 1947


Football Reagan at Eureka Festival Tomorrow

Governor Green will lead the marching band of Illinois State Normal University onto the field.

Movie actor, Ronald Reagan, a Eureka graduate, will crown Miss Joan Snyder of Eureka as "Pumpkin Queen".

Dixon Evening Telegraph 25 September 1947


Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Wolfe and daughter motored to Eureka today where they attended the Pumpkin Festival and visited with Ronald "Dutch" Reagan, a former schoolmate in Dixon High School.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 27 september 1947


Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Wolfe and daughter Nancy Ann enjoyed a two hour visit with Ronald "Dutch" Reagan at Eureka College, Eureka IL., Saturday. The occassion included a personal visit at the Collins estate where he was staying, a ride to the College and the Dixionites were guests at a luncheon with the movie star, who inquired about many of his former acquaintances in Dixon and conveyed his regards to all of them.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 29 September 1947


"Mrs. Reagan At Reno"
The associated press reported from Reno, Nev. Saturday evening, that Jane Wyman, actress wife of Ronald Reagan, formerly of Dixon, who also has attained stardom in the movies, had arrived in Reno and had taken up residence in a hotel. Her agent Olive St. John said the actress had already retained divorce counsel and will stay the required six weeks at the hotel. Miss Wyman and her husband have two children, Maureen 7 and Michael 3.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 23 February 1948


Arguments over politics drove a marital wedge between actress Jane Wyman 32 and her actor husband Ronald Reagan formerly of Dixon, she testified in obtaining a divorce in Hollywood Monday.

She said it wasn't so much that she disagreed with her husband but that she couldn't generate the interest he showed in politics and in the Screen Actors Guild, of which he is President.

Finally there was nothing in common between us she said, nothing to sustain the marriage.

Miss Wyman was given the decree yesterday. They had been married 8 years. The court approved a settlement giving her custody of the children, Maureen 7 and Michael 3, and $500 a month for their support. The agreement also provides an additional $500 for Miss Wyman if illness or disability prevents her from working. The couple divided $75,000 in community property.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 29 Jun 1948


Mr. and Mrs. Utley Noble have returned from Chicago where they spent a few days at the Ambassador East. Ronald Reagan of Hollywood was also a guest and inquired after many of his Dixon friends.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 12 May 1950


Engagement The announcement of the date of marriage of screen star Ronald Reagan, formerly of Dixon, and Nancy Davis, Hollywood, is expected soon.

The wedding probably will take place before March 9. Reagan known as "Dutch", is the son of Mrs. Jack Reagan, Beverly Hills Calif. He is a graduate of Eureka College.

Miss Davis is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Loyal Davis, Evanston. She attended the girls Latin school and Smith college. She made her debut at a tea dance in the Casino Club in Chicago several years ago and made her first stage appearance in "Lute Sont".

Dixon Evening Telegraph 22 February 1952


Its wedding bells next Tuesday for actor Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis.

The couple announced yesterday they will marry at "some small church" as yet unselected and honeymoon for two weeks in Phoenix Arizona.

It will be Miss Davis' first marriage. Reagan is divorced from actress Jane Wyman. They have two children.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 28 Febraury 1952


Ronald Reagan, formerly of Dixon and Nancy Davis are honeymooning today. The film couple were married yesterday at the Little Brown Church in the Valley. Reagan is divorced from Jane Wyman. It was Nancy Davis' first marriage.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 05 March 1952


Dixonites will be interested in hearing of the birth of a daughter on Tuesday to film starts, Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Reagan. "Dutch" is formerly of this city.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 24 October 1952


Mr. and Mrs. John Cahill, 1002 Galena Ave., returned Sunday night from a trip to Los Angeles where they attended the Elks Convention. Cahill is Exalted Ruler of the Dixon lodge. While in Los Angeles, Mr. and Mrs. Cahill visited the Edward Nagles, and Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Reagan as well as Mr. and Mrs. Pat Egan. The Egans are former residents of Dixon, where he was connected with the Rockford newspaper. The Cahills made the trip by auto.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 20 July 1954


Mrs. Ronald Reagan, popular wife of the famous movie star, is a winsome socialite of Pacif Palisades, Calif.

Golden Blue Bonnet Margarine has the table quality I like. It is so smooth spreading and always tastes sunny-sweet. As for nutrition, Blue Bonnet, unlike most margarines, furnishes both vitamins A & D. So naturally I choose Blue Bonnet on all three counts - Flavor, Nutrition, Economy.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 11 August 1954


Mrs. Emory Countryman, 604 First St. is in Hollywood California visiting Mrs. Nell Reagan, mother of Ronald Reagan, movie and television star. Mrs. Countryman left Dixon about a weeks ago and expects to be in California for another two weeks.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 28 June 1955


Mr. and Mrs. Grover Hoberg 204 Lincoln Ave., have returned from New York City where they visited with Ronald Reagan while attending the Ed Sullivan television show. The television and motion picture actor, who formerly lived in Dixon, asked to be remembered to his friends here. The Hobergs also visited two world series games.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 10 October 1955

Ronald Reagan

Louella Parsons Day 1
Louella Parsons Day 2
September 7, 1941

Ronald Reagan Tribute
February 6, 1911 - June 5, 2004

What the 4th of July Means To Me
By Ronald Reagan 1981

Remembering Ronald Reagan

Genealogy Trails

Feature Story on Ronald Reagan