In the second ten years of the Willing Circle, A Record of the First Fifty Years, 1900-1910, read, "The sunny month of May found the ever Willing Circle on board the (then new) Inter-urban car bound for the home of Mrs. Dodd of Decatur. The committee consisted of Mrs. Hardtner, Mrs. J. M. Palmer, Mrs. Dodd and Mrs. Blackstock. Unfortunately, the elder ladies were neither one able to chaperone the occasion, and from the hilarious report of our secretary which I have been almost tempted to transcribe, they had a lively time, but I presume the deserted husbands and children found waiting, supperless, were sufficient punishment"!
The Interurban as we knew it in central and southern Illinois can be traced to one person, William B. McKinley. He was born in Petersburg, settled in Champaign and was a leading businessman and politician. The Interurban was an electrified railroad with tracks laid down the center of the streets it served. One to three passenger cars with an occasional freight car went through and linked towns like Decatur where our ladies went as well as Danville, Champaign, Bloomington, Peoria, Lincoln, Carlinville, Staunton and Edwardsville. In 1910 it was tied to St. Louis with the completion of the McKinley Bridge. It is commonly assumed that the bridge was named for President William McKinley; but in reality, it was named for the builder, William B. McKinley. The present local bike trail from Springfield to Chatham, the Interurban Trail, runs along a line of the Interurban.
As an interesting note, the summary of the second ten years of the Willing Circle ends with: "And we are here, in this "Home for Women", for the success of which so many "King's Daughters" have labored, and so many prayers been offered. Can we realize what is comprehended within this score of years?
More than two-hundred meetings have been held, and more than two-thousand dollars contributed that here, in this lovely Home, sweet peace and rest might fall as a benediction upon these dear old people".
Sharing these clips of minutes throughout the 125 years of history gives us an idea of how things were in years past. Thanks for joining us for this ride each Thursday, and thanks for the women that took the time to make such a rich history for us to follow. Please check out the links for more, very good information on the Interurban!
Thanks to the Sangamon County Historical Society, Walt Zyznieuski and the Illinois times for their articles (links) on the Interurban, and Barbara Burris for the picture and the zeal for this article. (Photograph by Paul Slager, Taken July 3, 1944 during a passenger Stop at Girard, Illinois). When I last saw Barbara, the Friday night before her passing, we discussed the Interurban and she was so excited to hear that it went more places than just Decatur. She was wanting to know more about that and everything I had found. This one's for you, Barb!