The Village of Forrest

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In 1893, the year of the World's Fair at Chicago, the Forrest depot burned. It was a very cold winter day, I cannot remember the month, at about 12:30 p.m. when the fire was noticed. The Forrest fire Department was called immediately and then the one from Fairbury was brought over on a flat car. Despite the heroic efforts of everyone, by 4 p.m. there was not the slightest vestige of the building left. While the new depot was being erected, there were two passenger coaches backed up on an especially made track just north of Carmon Brothers hotel, and these were used for station purposes. The new depot structure was finally furnished and moved into, and in just one year from the date of the first fire, the second depot burned. A third structure was then erected to replace the second which still remains intact.

In 1894 occurred the big A. R. U. strike on the Wabash. The engineers and firemen were all ordered out and obeyed the command with but few exceptions. Most of the men never returned to work because their jobs were taken by strikebreakers who remained with the road permanently. I think it was in 1891 when Mr. H. W. Ballou came to Forrest as the Wabash train master to succeed Mr. I. L. Hibbard, who resigned and went with the Santa Fe Railroad and became officially located in Los Angeles. K. H. Wade, who had been with the Wabash was general manager of the Santa Fe and took Mr. Hibbard with him as an official. From 1891 until 1898 Mr. H. W. Ballou served the Wabash is train master, Mr. O. F. Clark as chief dispatcher, Messrs. Safar and Lomison as first-trick train dispatchers, William Halstead and C. F. Handshy as second and third-trick dispatchers respectively; and Mr. Dimmick was supervisor, and Mr. F. R. Stewart was ticket agent. Frank L. Kruger and Charles L. Corneau were day and night yard masters; Thomas H. Murphey and J. M. Peyton were day and night telegraphers during a portion of this period, both of whom later became train dispatches at Decatur. Mr. Peyton later passed to the great beyond, and Mr. Murphey is now dispatcher for the Illinois Central at Champaign, Illinois. Harvey Button came to Forrest as Roundhouse Foreman in 1880 and was succeeded by George Smith, who in turn was succeeded by Frank H. Payne. Mr. Payne was succeeded by W. C. Bewley William Kirk was night Roundhouse Foreman during the nineties. Mr. Button, recently celebrated his 92nd birthday in Los Angeles. The latter part of 1896 I believe it was, Mr. J. S. Goodrich, superintendent of the Wabash at Decatur, was replaced by W. A. Garrott. In 1898, Mr. Garrott succeeded in having the Wabash freight division moved from Forrest to Decatur, thus relieving Forrest of more than 50 families who were compelled to move to Decatur.

The drugstore operated by Frederick Ducket was finally sold to a Mr. Pauley, who in turn sold it to Nathan Hurt who sold the store to David T. Torrence. I may not be exactly correct as to the succession in these proprietorships, but I know the personnel is correct.

The Corn Belt News, then known as the Forrest Rambler, was started by Mr. Stickney in the year 1883. Later the paper was owned by Mr. Bovard, who was formally superintendent of the Forrest public schools and who finally sold out to Mr. E.A. Eignus. I think Mr. Eignus sold the paper to Mr. Wingfield, who finally sold it to its present owner and editor Mr. A. D. Fansler.

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