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The March issue of "The Wapsipinicon" is now posted.

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Tiskilwa Historical Society Presents "Theo's Journey: Rwanda to America" on March 13

The determination and courage of a young man from Rwanda will be featured on Monday evening, March 13, beginning at 7:00 in the Community Room of Tiskilwa’s Museum on Main.

The Tiskilwa Historical Society begins this year’s series of ten public programs by inviting Theo Nzaaranyimana to share the inspiring story of his escape from the 1990s genocide in Rwanda.  Equally amazing is the winding path that eventually led him to become a cherished member of the Todd and Joann Wright family in rural Tiskilwa.

In “Theo’s Journey: From Rwanda to America,” he will tell how his life began quietly on a farm in central-eastern Africa, raising animals and crops.  But when the Hutu began their quest to exterminate all Tutsi people, his family was suddenly on the run to avoid certain death. 

With the help of many kind souls, Theo found a way not only to endure but also to conquer most challenges through those years of heartbreak.  He said, “I never gave up.That’s why I’m here today and doing well.”  Theo is now completing his master’s degree in agriculture at Illinois State University in Normal.

Historical society members provide refreshments after each program, when a social time follows in the galleries of the museum.  As always, the presentation is free and community members of all ages are welcomed to attend.

The Board is sending out a special request for one or more members to volunteer to mow the museum lawn this summer.  If you can help, please call Ed Waca at 815.646.4016.

Jazz Guitarist to Perform on January 7 at Tiskilwa’s Museum on Main

On Saturday afternoon, January 7, the Tiskilwa Historical Society will host professional musician Eric Taylor in an hour of instrumental and vocal music to warm your hearts and chase away the winter blues.

Beginning at 2:00 in the Community Room, Eric will be playing his original compositions as well as covers of the music of The Doobie Brothers, The Band, and Elton John.  The setting will be a low-key, coffeehouse style, with Eric singing as well as playing the acoustic guitar.

A Chicago resident and graduate of Columbia College, Eric is the son of 1974 Tiskilwa High School alumnus, Joe Taylor, and the grandson of longtime Tiskilwa resident Barb Philpott.

As a goodwill gesture to the community, the historical society is continuing its tradition offering a free concert, with the “price of admission” being a non-perishable food item, paper product, soap or detergent to be donated to the Bureau County Food Pantry.  Just inside the entrance door, you’ll find a big red collection box waiting to be filled.

Following the program, the society will provide refreshments and host a social time in the galleries.  Everyone is invited to join us for this afternoon of soothing music.

Vietnam Vets to Speak November 14 at Tiskilwa Historical Society

Five decades ago, young men and women from Tiskilwa and all over our nation shipped out to the faraway jungles of Vietnam.  The Tiskilwa Historical Society will honor them, along with all our localveterans on Monday, November 14, in a special program beginning at 7:00 at the Museum on Main. 

The two featured speakers will be Greg Bowers and John Murphy, both Tiskilwa High School graduates, who will share of few of their wartime experiences.  John will also speak about his participation in an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

The first speaker, Gregory A. Bowers, graduated Tiskilwa High School in 1968. The next year, Greg enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served until 1972, attaining the rank of Corporal. He was deployed to Vietnam 1970 and 1971 and will be discussing some of those experiences as well as sharing photos from his service time.

John Murphy, a 1966 THS graduate, enlisted on April 17, 1968, in the United States Air Force. His time in Vietnam extended from April 1969 to April 1970.   John served four years in the Air Force and achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant (E5).  His photos will depict both his service time as well as his recent and memorable journey on the Honor Flight. 

As with many local families, military service is a proud tradition for both Greg and John. Their dads, Dudley Bowers and Allen Murphy, both served our country during World War II. 

The historical society is extending a special invitation to all veterans as well as those who wish to honor their service to attend this program.  A chair lift is available for anyone who might have difficulty climbing the stairs to the Community Room.

Following the program, the society will provide refreshments and host a social time in the galleries. 

Inviting Vietnam Vets to Special Program on November 14

In keeping with an annual tradition established by Tiskilwa Historical Society, our November program will once again honor the service of all area veterans. This year, the speakers for the November 14 program at  the Museum on Main will be Vietnam War vets John Murphy and Greg Bowers.

We'd like to extend a special invitation to all local veterans, and especially to those who served during the Vietnam War, to attend this  program to be honored and thanked for their service.  More details will follow soon.

Tiskilwa Historical Society Presents "L.A. to Boston on a Bicycle" on October 10

When a bicycle-riding buddy asked Tiskilwa Historical Society member Bill Wendle to join him in a ride across the continental United States, Bill surprised his friend – and perhaps himself – by saying, “YES!”

Beginning at 7:00 p.m. on October 10, Bill will share photos and stories of this adventure that started May 10 in Los Angeles and finished June 28, 2008, in Boston.  For those who’ve dreamed of completing a trek like this, even in a car, the details of their bicycle ride should be fascinating. 

Bill explains that they signed on with a company who organizes bike rides by arranging for hotels plus breakfast and dinner each day as well as transporting gear.  A collection of 35 riders from 20 states and four foreign countries pedaled through stunning scenery and intriguing places to visit in those seven weeks.

But the group also met with major challenges, including dangerously high winds, scorching heat in the Mojave Desert, freezing temps in the mountains, and illness when half of the group contracted Salmonella. 

Daily mileage ranged from 43 to 115 with an average of 81. Bill notes, “When you are burning 5,000 to 7,000 calories per day, you can eat anything you want, and we were always on the lookout for restaurants offering homemade pie!”

After the program, historical society members will provide refreshments during the social time that follows in the galleries of the Museum on Main.  As always, the presentation is free of charge and community members of all ages are welcomed to attend.  A chair lift is available for those needing assistance to the second floor.

Tiskilwa Historical Society Presents "The Gypsy Coeds

and the Silver Streak" on September 12

Have you ever ridden in a Model T Ford or even driven one?  If so, perhaps you can imagine bouncing across our nation on 1930s roads. But better yet, come to Tiskilwa’s Museum on Main on Monday, September 12 at 7:00 p.m. to hear John Butteof Dunlap present his popular program “The Gypsy Coeds and the Silver Streak.”

It’s quite a back-story: In 1934, a Bradford beautician named Darlene Dorgan began organizing summer vacations in her 1926 Model T, “The Silver Streak.” Over a nine-year period, several single 20-somethings, including a few with Tiskilwa connections such as Regina Fennell Butte and Clare BreenRussell, crisscrossed the nation from New York to California, with dips into Canada and Mexico.

At a time when most young women stayed very close to home, these young ladies, full of derring-do, sought and found adventure at almost every turn. Their Depression-Era travels involved sleeping through the night in schools, church yards and jails, and then by day, meeting celebrities such as the Dionne Quintuplets, movie stars like Don Ameche, and even old Henry Ford himself – twice!

In 2012, Regina Butte’s son John traced the old Ford to Portland, Oregon, transported it back to Illinois, and wrote the story of their amazing adventures: Darlene’s Silver Streak and the Bradford Model T Girls. John will be available for a book-signing after the program.

Henry Ford’s Model T is woven into the fabric of American history and culture like no other automobile, and the “Silver Streak” is a one-of-a-kind example.  As current owner and author John Butte is fond of saying, “It may not be the most beautiful Model T you’ll ever see, but it is an amazing piece of American history.” 

In fact, its historical significance and the program that John presents will tug on the hearts strings not only of antique car lovers, but also those interested in cultural change brought on by automobiles, women’s history buffs, and those who like to reflect on life in small town America.

Historical society members provide refreshments after each program, when a social time follows in the galleries of the museum.  As always, the presentation is free, and community members of all ages are welcomed to attend.

Museum on Main Hosting "Classic Rides" During Pow Wow Days

To promote the Classic Rides exhibit during the 2016 Pow Wow Days, Chuck and Neva Lucas drove over to Tiskilwa’s Museum on Main last Sunday in their shiny 1955 Thunderbird and 1968 Cougar. 


Tiskilwa Historical Society is inviting everyone who is proud of their “wheels” to show ‘em off on Saturday, August 6, between 9:00 and 1:00. 

All kinds of classic rides are welcomed to roll onto the shady west lawn:  automobiles, tractors, motorcycles, wagons, buggies, maybe even a tricked-out bicycle or riding mower. All will be there just for the fun of it and for all to admire before and after the 10:30 parade.


Historical Society Celebrates “10 on the 10th” with Concert, Picnic


On Sunday afternoon, July 10, the community is invited to join Tiskilwa Historical Society in celebrating the tenth anniversary of their founding with a concert and picnic at the Museum on Main. 


In the years since that summer evening in 2006 when several friends sat around a dining room table and decided to get the ball rolling, the organization has grown into a thriving, vital part of the community.  Ever since that date, the society has been focused on collecting, preserving, and displaying items from Tiskilwa and vicinity.  The collection now totals more than 5,000 Tiskilwa-connected artifacts all housed in the Museum on Main, the former Methodist Church building donated by the Methodist congregation in 2010. 


The festivities will begin at 4:00 p.m. with a hammered dulcimer concert presented by musician Ali Coyer and Friends.  The joyful bluegrass music of dulcimer and guitars will echo through the air-conditioned comfort of the museum’s Community Room.  By the way, an electric chairlift is available for those who might find the stairs a bit daunting.  As always, the program is free and community members of all ages are welcomed to attend.


Following the concert around 5:00, T-H-S board members will have the grills fired up and ready to serve a simple fare of hot dogs, chips, baked beans and dessert.  With picnic tables provided by Tiskilwa Community Association, there will be plenty of seating, but bringing along a lawn chair or blanket is a comfy idea, too.  The picnic is for everyone, members and non-members alike.   Anyone who’d like to help defray the costs can drop a few dollars in the handy blue coffee pot marked “Donations.” 


In case of rain or uncomfortably steamy weather, the museum’s neighbor, Tiskilwa Public Library, will be open for those who want to take their picnic fixin’s to the beautifully restored community room across the street.


Throughout the evening, those who have not yet seen the special exhibit “Glory Days” might want to spend some time in the Timeline Hallway and maybe even drift around the other galleries.  Seems there’s always something new to see, with donated artifacts arriving almost every Saturday.


Looking ahead to August, here’s a Pow Wow Days note of special interest to owners of “Classic Rides.” On Saturday, August 6, the Tiskilwa Historical Society will again host the popular display of vintage (or even brand-new) “rides” from 9:00 to 2:00 on the west lawn.  The society is encouraging owners to bring in not only antique cars, but also lovingly restored tractors, motorcycles, trucks.  Special additions this year may be a sulky and a replica of a 1920s Tri-motor airplane – or who knows what other Ride Surprises!

Memorial Day May 30 at Mount Bloom Cemetery

Tiskilwa’s annual Memorial Day Service will be held on Monday, May 30th, near the gazebo in historic Mount Bloom Cemetery just west of town, beginning at 10:30.

This year, the venue has been re-located to the cemetery in order dedicate the new military medallions, recently purchased by the Trustees of Mt. Bloom and installed at the gravesites of all veterans buried there. The program, organized by the Tiskilwa Historical Society, will echo Tiskilwa’s first “Decoration Day” program, held in exactly the same location at Mt. Bloom on May 30, 1868. 

Following the ceremony, the Tiskilwa Legion Auxiliary and the Friends of Mount Bloom will provide refreshments.  No matter the weather, the program will proceed as scheduled, with tents to shelter participants from rain or shine.

McQueen Publishing, Tiskilwa's Rural Book Company, to be Featured on May 9

On Monday, May 9, former Tiskilwa resident Maggie McQueen will share photos and reminiscences about her mother’s business, the writing and publication of reading and arithmetic books, in Tiskilwa more than fifty years ago.   Beginning at 7:00 at Tiskilwa’s Museum on Main, Maggie will share Priscilla McQueen’s passion for getting children off to a good start with “The Three ‘Rs.”


A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Priscilla Leutscher McQueen, authored several volumes of basal reading books and distributed them throughout the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. Many aspects of Priscilla’s approach were ahead of her time, such as producing a story collection entitled “Around the World in Twenty Legends” to introduce pupils to global cultures. Several of the fables are illustrated by noted Princeton artist, Mary Win Walter. 

Using these engaging stories as the foundation for an early reading program, Priscilla applied her customized system of phonics to help children embark on a life of reading for pleasure. The McQueen collection at the Museum on Main includes several hardcover books as well as paperbacks and giant flashcards, exhibited in a special showcase in the Timeline Gallery.

Maggie may also be sharing a few entertaining stories about family life, as Priscilla juggled her life as author, publisher, and agent with her roles as the mother of six lively children and the wife of a local doctor, Kent  McQueen.  Those were the days when Doc McQueen’s house calls might occur at any time of the day or night.

Maggie will also describe how, more recently, she’s found a way to use her mother’s books and methods in teaching English comprehension and fluency to adults in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Historical society members provide refreshments after each program, when a social time follows in the galleries of the museum.  As always, the presentation is free, and community members of all ages are welcomed to attend.


On Saturday, June 4, from 10:00 to 2:00, the Tiskilwa Historical Society and Plow Creek Farm will co-sponsor the Tiskilwa’s annual Artisans and Strawberry Festival.  There will be artwork and craft displays, fresh strawberries and other food for purchase, a painting table for children, live music, a face painting booth and other activities, all hosted on the shady lawn of the Museum on Main.


Artists and artisans interested in displaying and/or selling their work should contact Jan Lohaus at 815-437-2142 or  There is no fee for artists to participate.

"Saving Elephants by Helping People" Is April Topic at Historical Society

On Monday, April 11, Tiskilwa resident Jennifer Fisher will present details of her journey to far-away Sri Lanka, where she followed her passion to protect elephants from poachers.  In a program of photos and stories beginning at 7:00 at Tiskilwa’s Museum on Main, Jennifer will share her passion for protecting these exotic mammals.

In 2009, through a Western Illinois University program titled “Saving Elephants by Helping People,” Jennifer spent six weeks pursuing her degree in zoology.  To do this, she traveled half-way around the world to Sri Lanka, the island republic formerly known as Ceylon, just off the tip of India.  There, she studied elephant behavior in the wild in addition to assisting with their care in an elephant nursery at a wildlife preserve.


Her observations about the ivory poaching practiced by poverty-stricken people left her “devastated.”  At the same time, she was fascinated behavior and communities of the elephants themselves, as well as by the local people and their cultural traditions.  As Jennifer notes, “It was truly a life-changing experience.”

As cooperative follow-up to the society’s March program, Tiskilwa Public Library has made available a DVD of “The Way,” a 2010 fictional narrative, following the route of El Camino de Santiago described by Cal Zehr at last month’s program.   


Historical society members provide refreshments after each program, when a social time follows in the galleries of the Museum on Main.  As always, the presentation is free, and community members of all ages are welcomed to attend.

"Voices of Vets" Project Continues at Tiskilwa Historical Society

In December, the society launched a project to honor the service of men and women from our community as well as preserve their memory for future generations. 


So far, we have received 24 write-ups along with several photo, and we want to encourage residents to continue submitting information about their military family members and friends. At this point, we have details about veterans from the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and Vietnam.  


Forms are available at the Museum on Main, the Tiskilwa Library, Zig’s Station, and Dever’s Feed Store or here on our website on the Voices of Veterans page. If you have questions or need an assist in completing the form, contact Cecille Gerber at 815.646.4353 and we’ll set up your very own “help session.”

Join Cal Zehr on March 14 for a Virtual Walk Along "The Way" in Northern Spain

Ever consider setting out on a 184-mile hike?  That’s what Pastor Cal Zehr of Willow Springs Mennonite Church, Tiskilwa, did when he trekked “El Camino de Santiago,” an ancient route followed by pilgrims for centuries.  In recent decades, an estimated 200,000 people per year walk The Way, an adventure that Pastor Cal describes as “a unique journey of life.

On Monday, March 14, Cal will share his journey in a program of photos and stories, beginning at 7:00 at the Museum on Main.  With our clocks springing forward this week, this program aptly initiates the Tiskilwa Historical Society’s 2016 series of monthly programs from March through December.

The Way is also known as “El Camino de Santiago,” The Path of St. James.  Legend and tradition hold that the apostle’s martyred remains were transported by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain, and he was buried in what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela.

Although The Way can take dozens of routes, it is generally agreed that El Camino leads from the foothills of the Pyrenees in France to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.  In 2009, Pastor Cal walked a 102-mile segment of the route.  Then in 2013, he was joined by his wife Carol and daughters Melissa, Heidi, and April, to walk the final 82 miles together.

Many people are familiar with the touching and often amusing 2010 film “The Way,” featuring Martin Sheen.  As his character Tom walks The Way, he encounters gorgeous scenery as well as unusual people from all over the world who are on the same journey, but for wildly diverse reasons.

This year, many of Tiskilwa Historical Society’s programs are designed to expand the community’s historical perspective to the world beyond our own hills and valleys. The accomplishments and travels of many area residents range far beyond the borderlines of Bureau County, and the society is tapping that resource.  For example, on April 11, another Tiskilwa resident, Jennifer Fisher, will share her passion for “Saving the Elephants by Helping People” in faraway Sri Lanka, off the southern tip of India.

Historical society members provide refreshments after each program, when a social time follows in the galleries of the Museum on Main.  As always, the presentation is free, and community members of all ages are welcomed to attend.

Writing Workshop on Family Stories Begins February 10 at Tiskilwa Library

Ever consider that you have stories your family would love to hear and keep forever?  Not only about you, but also about family favorites – an uncle, a grandma, or maybe that weird third cousin once-removed?  Some memories are too valuable to drift away with time. The solution for getting started in writing down your family stories is at hand

On three Wednesdays, February 10, 17, and 24, University of Illinois Extension educator Karla Belzer will guide participants through prompts to get the creative juices flowing from 1:00 to 3:00 at the Tiskilwa Public Library, 119 East Main Street, Tiskilwa.

How does this sound?  Easy-breezy writing with no special worries about punctuation or spelling, no pressure, no grades. Karla sees her role as facilitator, helping participants dig into their memory banks and withdraw stories to share.  She’s on hand to kick-start memories with prompts and then assist  participants in finding a comfort zone for writing.

To answer other frequently asked questions:  no previous writing experience is required, there is no admission fee, and participants may attend one, two or all three sessions.


The U of I Extension offers programs to create learning partnerships that put knowledge to work and aim to make life better for individuals and their communities.  Recording life stories can also leave a special legacy for future generations.

As co-sponsors of the event, the Tiskilwa Public Library and the Tiskilwa Historical Society are once again collaborating to bring this free program to the community.  For more information, call Karla Belzer at 815.632.3611 or email her at  The library is handicapped accessible.

Writing Workshop Focuses on Life Story

Do you have treasured memories from your past you’d like to record?  Have you written down the special moments of your life to share with your family?  The University of Illinois Extension is pleased to offer the “Share Your Life Story” writing workshop on Wednesdays, February 10th, 17th, and 24th at 1 p.m. in Tiskilwa.  This writing workshop for all abilities will explore how to get started in sharing your life story and will include writing sessions and activities.  Previous writing experience is not required. 

University of Illinois Extension offers programs create learning partnerships that put knowledge to work and aim to make life better, healthier, safer, and more profitable for individuals and their communities.  Recording your life story, treasured memories, and special moments leaves a legacy for generations to come. 

“Share Your Life Story:  A Writing Workshop” will be held on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. beginning on February 10th through February 24th at the Tiskilwa Public Library, 119 East Main Street, Tiskilwa.   This writing workshop is open to the public. For questions or more information, call Karla Belzer at 815-632-3611 or email

During TCA's Country Christmas celebration on Saturday, December 12, the Museum on Main will be unveiling a new showcase display, "Toys for Tykes Through the Years," in the Timeline Gallery. 


Included in the display will be several Marx model train cars, a 1928 Steiff toy dog Treff, a 1970s hook-and-ladder fire engine, a 1850s china-head doll named "Mrs. Chase" and other toys of the past.  The display will feature a recent acquisition, a Ford tri-motor model plane with a 58-inch wingspan, designed and built by Art Schaefer of rural Tiskilwa in 1925.  

Salute to Veterans in Tiskilwa to Include Glimpses of Service of Four Local Vets


On December 2, 1942, Roger D. Magnuson, along with a group of buddies from the Senachwine River Valley, decided to volunteer for U.S. army and be part of the Allied effort against the Nazis.  The young men drove to Peoria and enlisted on the spot. Theirs could be the story of countless local veterans in numerous wars, and the Tiskilwa Historical Society wants to honor their courage and service.  


On Monday, November 9, the Tiskilwa Historical Society will present its annual “Salute to Veterans,” this year highlighting the service of four local vets who long ago passed away:  Roger Magnuson, Floyd Pruitt, Bill Waca, and Irv Thompson.  Their stories and photos will be shared by family members in a program beginning at 7:00 at the Museum on Main.


The society has plans to make this recognition part of a new program to honor and preserve memories of military service members for generations to come.  Ideas are still on the drawing board, but the society would like to build an archive to include a military-duty photo with caption, a short written account of the vet’s service, and perhaps an audio tape of one or more stories during their time of active duty.


Four speakers on November 9 will share stories to serve as a sample for the future project.  For example, Connie Magnuson Kauffman will relate a few details about the service of her dad, Roger, who joined the Army Air Corps on that winter day in Peoria in 1942. 


Roger was soon bussed to Florida for training as a mechanic.  Within months, he was shipped off to the European theater of war, assigned as a gunner on a B-27. His crew participated in the bombings leading up to D-Day. On one mission, their plane was hit and the pilot was badly injured. Thanks to the quick thinking of the co-pilot, the plane returned safely to base.  Roger Magnuson continued to serve courageously, flying 54 missions in total, until the war ended in 1945.


Members of historical society will provide refreshments after the program, when a social time follows in the galleries of the Museum on Main.  As always, the presentation is free and community members of all ages are welcomed to attend.