DeKalb County Life for Nov. 14, 2016; Indepth look at county’s election; Craig ponders Thanksgiving; Doug celebrates Cubs’ victory; Steve finds more log cabins; guest column on the election


Overheard on the Party Line . . .

The UFO theory sounds about right

By Barry Schrader
DeKalb County Life Online editor (

Tom Brokaw, an icon in broadcasting, was interviewed on the Today Show just after the election. He called it the UFO theory, meaning the UnForseen is going to Occur. I thought he hit the nail on the head.
But in Republican-leaning DeKalb County voters with a turnout of 72.38 percent Election Day favored Hillary by 46.88 to Donald’s 43.89 percent, not joining the national trend. If you look at a blue versus red map of Illinois this election you will find DeKalb and Kane counties joining the blue Cook County and Chicago, while all the counties to the west voted red (Republican). But at the Congressional and state legislative levels the voters had no choices other than Republicans, as many ran unopposed here.
  Getting down to the county level the only lively contest was between Democrat incumbent Richard Schmack and Republican challenger Rick Amato. By now you know that Amato clobbered Schmack with 58.9 percent of the vote (24,663 votes) to the loser’s 41.02 percent (17,152 votes). Two reasons for this: Schmack was a lackluster campaigner who four years ago only defeated Clay Campbell because he was also unpopular at the time; secondly, Schmack spent a great deal of time, effort and money on the Maria Ridulph kidnap-murder case to get McCullough freed. This could eventually cost the county millions if a civil suit is brought by McCullough.
Amato had to defeat two other Republican lawyers in the primary before taking on Amato. He walked much of the county and his personality and face-to-face approach was a winning strategy. Spending nearly $50,000 of his own money on the campaign was also a big factor.
Despite a well organized and active Democratic precinct committee effort, Schmack just did not go over well with voters. But his wife Jackie is a tireless campaigner and could have probably gotten elected herself if she was an attorney. Longtime Republicans, like elephants, didn’t forget that Amato supported Democrat Ron Matekaitis for states attorney in the past so some were lukewarm in their support. This forced Amato to do most of the campaigning on his own. Now his win puts all the top six county offices in the Republican camp. It will be interesting to see which Republican incumbent(s) the Democrats will target in two years, when the county clerk, sheriff and treasurer will be up for election. The big question is: Will Sheriff Roger Scott run again or retire and back his chief deputy.
Looking at the county board makeup, Republicans gained two seats to create a 12-12 tie with Democrats. It would be wise for the Republicans to take over the chairmanship from the political-climber Mark Pietrowski. It has been suggested he has his eye on Rep. Bob Pritchard’s seat when that popular legislator steps down. Tracy Jones is the likely Republican successor if the GOP doesn’t trade away the chairman post for committee chairmanships, which don’t mean anything in the bigger political picture. Pietrowski tried to get a bigger Democrat student turnout at NIU, paying for a front page ad the last day in the Northern Star with his campaign funds and promoting last minute voter registration in the campus area.
Looking at the results shows the student area of DeKalb, Precincts 2, 4 and 5 did vote heavily for Clinton and Schmack. Precinct 2 at the Barsema Center showed 73.26 percent of the vote for Clinton and 76.61 percent for Schmack. In the combined polling place at Westminster Presbyterian Church the  4th precinct gave Clinton 84.3 percent of the vote and in the 5th it was 74.42 percent for her. In the states attorney race the 4th precinct gave Schmack 84.17 percent while in the 5th he got 75.38 percent. Three other DeKalb precincts favored Schmack: 1,17, and 22. The Republicans have a lot of work to do in the college community if they want more young votes next time.
An added burden was same day registration as election day. The NIU Holmes Student Center was an early voting location only, unless you wanted to register and vote the same day on Nov. 8. The county clerk’s office didn’t yet have those voting figures today. Last minute registrations were the heaviest in the NIU neighborhoods, making the polls stay open until all in line were registered and got to vote.
If you drove around the county anytime this fall you would see hundreds of Brad Waller signs. He had been appointed to the 23rd Judicial Circuit to fill out a term but then had to run again to keep his seat. So he decided to campaign big time with some 300 to 400 signs, plus walked many of the precincts. His token Democrat opponent Shannon Stoker did fairly well without spending much money. Waller won 56.99 percent of the vote and Stoker garnered 43.01 percent. I would venture a guess that Waller now has better name recognition than almost any other candidate in this election—possibly as high as Duckworth and Kirk.
For those who didn’t follow the election closely in Illinois, the state’s 20 electoral votes went to Clinton who won 54.94 percent of the popular vote. Trump got 39.09 percent. The Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson captured 3.77 percent while the Green Party’s Jill Stein got a measly 1.37 pct.
I didn’t get into the results for the three contested county board races. Two Republicans Laurie Emmer and Jon Schmarje won in their areas. I thought there was a chance for Democrat John Wett since he put on a tremendous campaign, but his physical disability (Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) probably contributed to the loss. Democrat Steve Faivre easily took the Sycamore board seat after he had been appointed to fill out a term. Faivre is so well known he could run for mayor, state representative or even state senate if he so desired and make a good race of it. But I doubt if he wants all the hassle.

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Prairie Ponderings . . .


Being thankful in the old Greeley homestead

 By Craig Rice (

   Despite the apprehension surrounding the results of the national elections, people find much for which to be thankful.
  At an AgriGold Seed Company customer appreciation dinner, Sales Representative Jerry Kastler was thankful for the Cubs becoming the MLB World Series Champion, the amazing fall weather, good family and friends and a great harvest. I’ll tell you! My wife and I were thankful for such great steak and chicken dinners served at Franchesco’s Ristorante in Rockford.
At a meeting of the Wild Cucumbers, a group of women my wife meets with once a month, one member, Sue Hipple, described a family thankfulness activity. Each family member receives a piece of paper with a Bingo grid on it. Each then lists things for which they are thankful, one item per square. On a set of cut out Bingo squares, they duplicate what they have written on their sheet.
  Each person would then place their squares in a basket with squares from each of the other family members. After mixing up the contents, someone would draw out a little piece of paper and read it. Like the Bingo game, if that item was on your paper, you crossed it off. First one to mark five squares in a row would exclaim “BINGO” or some other appropriate exclamation.
Some family members would get creative. Instead of being thankful for turkey, a person might instead write “stuffed turkey.” So, when that piece of paper was drawn, probably only that person could cross it off because no one else could perfectly match the wording. What fun!
Our daughter-in-law has been working with our four-year-old grandson on thankfulness. Each day in November, she cuts a piece of paper into the shape of a pumpkin and asks him to name something for which he is thankful. She writes it on the pumpkin and tapes it to the mantle above the fireplace.
Last year he was thankful for things like hands and feet. This year, he has expanded his thankfulness to include grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, whom he lists by name, and for delicious turkey.
Our daughter has been trying something similar with her children. The two-year-old said he is thankful for his toy tractor and toy combine and the six-year-old says she is thankful for her daddy’s silly jokes and her warm fuzzy pajamas. Our daughter writes the comments on handprint turkeys and hangs them on the walls in the den.
This Thanksgiving our daughter-in-law and son will host our immediate family gathering. It will be in a house built by our Greeley cousins. My mother was a Greeley. The Greeleys have gathered for Thanksgiving for many years and, through us, we continue the tradition. Below there is a photograph of a group of Greeley cousins meeting for Thanksgiving in 1904 at the Frank Greeley residence, where I live now!
  I’m thankful for the insightfulness of the framers of the U.S. Constitution: the checks and balances. Life in America has never been smooth—revolutionaries versus loyalists, abolitionists versus Knights of the Golden Circle, unionists versus confederates, pacifists versus warriors; those for free world trade versus protectionists; workers versus management. Sometimes politicians, courts and citizens get things wrong but eventually work things out right.

Photo cutline:
Where Craig Rice lives now is the former Greeley house: The boy sitting on the steps, second to the right, is Paul W. Greeley. He became one of the first plastic surgeons. His father, Dr. Paul E.N. Greeley, is in the back row just barely visible. His mother, Maud Webb Greeley, is sitting on the steps, second from the left in a group of women. Frank Greeley is sitting on the second step, all the way on the left, hands folded, wearing glasses. (Photo provided)    

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From the Doug-out


 By Doug Oleson (

Somewhere my late father – a tear in his eye – is smiling. It is the largest grin he will have until the rest of his family is ready to join him.

Not far away my uncle – as big a Die-Hard Cub fan as  my father – is leaning back in a lawn chair, his feet propped up on a cooler. In one hand, he is hoisting a cold Bud; in the other, a white flag with a blue W is waving.

Somewhere Jack Brickhouse is crooning: “Hey-hey, hey-hey, hey-h-e-e-y-y-y!” pausing only long enough for a raspy version of “Take Me Out to the Cubs Game” by Harry Carey.

Somewhere Ron Santo is dashing down an invisible left field line, leaping to click his heels one-two-three times.

Somewhere Ernie Banks is extolling a group of angels: “This was nothing. Wait until next year: The Cubs will be heavenly in two thousand seventeenly

Somewhere Grantland Rice and Red Smith are hunched over their typewriters, their once nimble fingers racing over the keys as behind them, Warren Brown, Jerome Holzman and Ring Lardner Jr. try to out-word each other.

Somewhere Steve Goodman is tuning his guitar as Charlie Grimm strums his banjo and Pat Pieper dusts off his megaphone.

Somewhere Tiniker to Evers to Chance are making room on their wall in the Hall of Fame for Russell to Baez to Rizzo; it is not as snappy, perhaps, but give it time and it will, it will.

Somewhere the ’69 Cubs have been forgiven, as has Leon Durham and – oh, what the heck – even Steve Bartman.

Somewhere Cardinal and White Sox fans are no longer snickering; let them find something else to laugh at, like Bill Murray’s t-shirt: “I ain’t afraid of no goats.”. This is one long, national joke that is finally over.

Somewhere there is sorrow and misery and heavy hearts, but not in Happy Cubville. Oh, no, not today. Today there is only joy and sunshine and happiness as the Mighty Cubs have finally won. The World Series belongs to them, and no one can take it away from them.

Say it again, say it loud and clear and proud, over and over and over until it comes natural and does not stick to your tongue or throat: the Cubs are the best baseball team in the world. They have just proved it.

And, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus; more importantly, there is also a God, and for today at least He is the biggest Cub fan there is.

And no, the world did not end and that dreaded place south of here did not freeze over: the Cubs are really the kings of baseball.

As that long ago sign proudly proclaimed:

Now our lives are complete.

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Steve Bigolin writes . . .

More log cabins existed around county


At left is the cabin of Russell Huntley, at right the Joseph Glidden cabin.    

 Although the Miller-Ellwood Log Cabin is DeKalb County’s only preserved structure of its kind, others that once existed are also known from historical sources.  Some are shown as actual photographs, and others as pen and ink sketches.  Two particularly well remembered cabins were at one time within the DeKalb city Limits.

Russell Huntley, co-founder of DeKalb with younger brother Lewis, erected what has been described as a double log cabin, upon his arrival in 1857.  A pen and ink sketch was included in the 1899 DeKalb Chronicle Illustrated Souvenir Edition.  It served as both Russell’s home and as a stagecoach stop.  A rail fence is shown surrounding it.  This stood on the northwest corner of the West Lincoln Highway and North First Street, now 105 North First.

Further West, in today’s 900 block of Lincoln Highway, was Joseph Glidden’s log cabin of 1842.  Much smaller than that belonging to his cousin Russell Huntley, it too sat behind a rail fence, based on its sketch in the 1899 DeKalb Chronicle Illustrated Souvenir Edition.  Windows tucked under the front eaves made it to appear to be two stories high.  A lean-to at the back may have been a later addition along with a slanted roof section extending from the other side.  This cabin was probably taken down after the brick farmhouse  was erected in 1861.  According to the late Jessie Glidden, it stood approximately where Burger King is located today.

Sycamore’s founding father Carlos Lattin settled there in 1835, two years before Russell Huntley.  His cabin was on the portion of the property where Stomp Shoes is located 302 West State Street in downtown Sycamore.  In 1934 to celebrate the forthcoming centennial of Lattin’s arrival, a bronze plaque was placed near the door into what was National Tea Company.  The image of the cabin on the marker was based on a surviving historical description, now known to be inaccurate.

The entrance into the Lattin cabin was depicted on one of its shorter gabled ends.  About five years ago, Lattin descendants who live in Arizona contacted Sycamore History Museum offering to donate memorabilia they had.  The Museum accepted the offer gladly.  Awhile later the Lattins drove to Sycamore with their many treasures in hand.  One of these was a small unframed oil painting of the Carlos Lattin cabin, done sometime between 1835 and 1845, while it still stood.  The entrance is seen on the long side, not shortened.  A lean-to projects at the rear, likely of late vintage.
(To be continued in next blog issue)

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After an angry presidential campaign, can America come together again?

Guest column by Nigel Hey
Editors Note: I have known and worked with Nigel Hey for many years when we were both affiliated with Sandia National Labs. He is a former newspaper editor, then a science writer for Sandia. After retirement he became a media consultant and independent writer.

Social, economic and political threats as great as those that made headlines in the just-concluded 2016 presidential campaigns would almost surely have started a bloody revolution if they had crashed into the public consciousness a century and a half ago.
     So much verbal vitriol was thrown by Donald Trump that I was much relieved when, in his acceptance speech as president-elect, he emphasized the need for reconciliation and national unity. I sincerely hope that he can put aside the poisonous persona of his campaign and, that done, his presidency proves to be a successful contributor to the American Dream.
  This time the National Guard didn’t need to be called out, but months before the election it was clear that irate people in the lower and middle income brackets, the unemployed and the veterans, had spoken. They had done so, loudly, by voting their enthusiasm for an angry-sounding and explosive showman who whipped up their wrath with his campaigns. It is now starkly plain that their anger was shared by a large segment of the population whose discontent had been glossed over or ignored by the usual political movers and shakers. Which was what they had done, in large part, until the campaign rhetoric woke them up.
  “The 2016 campaign has brought to the surface the despair and rage of poor and middle-class Americans who say their government has done little to ease the burdens that recession, technological change, foreign competition and war have heaped on their families,” the New York Times editorial board declared.
Trump’s successful campaign forced  affluent America to recognize the plight of these poor and middle-class families, and from the tenor of his speeches those in the war zones of American poverty could imagine that they had found a powerful advocate who would do something worthwhile to improve their lot.
   Clearly not enough of Washington’s influential elite took much interest when, a year ago, the Pew Research Center reported that among 6,000 Americans surveyed, “just 19% say they can trust the government always or most of the time, among the lowest levels in the past half-century.” That’s less than one in five!
Apparently government still didn’t get the message that public trust had been moving downhill since the onset of the Iraq war, when 50 percent  — itself hardly an encouraging percentage — expressed that much trust in government. It is a public disgrace that partisan strife in Congress has time and time again contributed to this mistrust while using up time that was sorely needed to solve greater problems. Ironically, Trump’s campaign benefited from public distrust of  established government; now he and his Party will have to take a leadership position in the job of earning and rebuilding it.
   It’s been recognized for a while that the biggest question facing America after the 2016 general election would be, “Can we get America together again?”  Both presidential candidates seem to agree that the answer is Yes. Clearly it will take time and will not be an easy matter, but sometime soon the country needs visible, transparent evidence that it has started. We must hope that Trump will mend fences with the rest of the GOP and be able to choose an expert cabinet and other advisers whose advice he will respect.
  Those burned by declamations made by the angry Trump worry about his career history and must hope that he can stick with the more amiable personality transformation he presented on election night. Though doubters ask me, “How easy will it be for a 70-year-old to change his ways?”
We have reason for optimism. Despite campaign rhetoric to the contrary, America is a great country. Now, with a rich heritage that has made it quite capable of healing fractures in its varied communities. Though some measure of unrest will continue, it will subside, and trust will gradually be regained, so long as a responsible government writes and carries out believable action plans that will germinate a new sense of well-being and greater confidence for the future.
  Positive change will happen as more thoroughly honest, future-conscious, action-oriented thought makes its way into the national debate through the action of honorable politicians who listen to the public voice and care enough about it to act. These leaders also need to foresee new issues that are on the horizon. And they must be possessed of an independent determination to drive forward toward lasting solutions, unfettered by special interests.
On the domestic front, transformation will require citizen support for worthwhile new legislation regardless of which political party is the sponsor. Importantly, it will grow with the increase of old-fashioned values like family togetherness, neighborliness, conversation, and a Golden Rule that is not soiled by racialism, prejudice, and bigotry. In this way the States, at the same time that they protect and encourage free and respectful speech, will become steadily more United.
    First, the challenges to government. It will take bipartisan agreement to reform the tax code, the medical, health care and welfare systems, subsidies, immigration, and unhelpful but entrenched political practices. It will also take serious discussion, and action, on other large-scale issues ranging from reforms in the banking system to the energy production/pollution control mismatch and the adoption of large-scale, connected employment and public works programs.
   Bipartisan agreement is a key term here. It must return to Congress after years of dogged, orchestrated refusals to cooperate. The federal government must no longer cripple itself with behavior – personal or institutional — that in another context would be childish but which in political context is both disrespectful and harmful to the nation.
    Likewise there are challenges to all the men, women, and youth who together form the nation’s core. In our democratic society, lawmakers and policymakers need support and communication from citizens (that means us) if they are to accomplish substantial change.
Within ourselves we will also need to cultivate more political understanding, coupled with patience — even if it means we have to moderate some of our taste for material assets and our distaste for officialdom. This will take optimism, hope, communication, patriotism, and a lot of compassion between social (including political) groupings. It will not produce a new American utopia. There can be no schedule for completion of such an initiative. But it will be a thoroughly good process that will become increasingly agreeable to its participants.
   I am not sure whether the first, legislative/organizational parts of this list are more difficult or less difficult than the more sociological/ethical parts. In fact the two are interleaved. The dream of blending them can be made to work. This would result in an America that is greater, happier, and more sure of itself, than it has been since the end of World War II. Let’s go there.
•    “We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us and with just as much apparent reason.” – historian and politician Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1830

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Sending food to the hungry with a prayer: This view looking down on a palette of packaged food, one of 1.2 million meals packed at Suter Foods in Sycamore this past week by hundreds of volunteers. Volunteers gathered around for a blessing before it will be sent around to the world under the auspices of Feed My Starving Children. (Barry Schrader photo)

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Jessi Haish-LaRue’s column will return next time after they have moved into their new home.

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This beautiful sunset was captured by Karen Grubb of DeKalb. She took this on Minnegan Road near South First Street  Camera settings: f/6.6, 1/1250 sec, ISO 80. This week we also got to see a bright moon much larger than usual.


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