The 1900s included WW I which led into the Great Depression (1929 Crash). , World War I broke out in Europe on August 1, 1914. The conflict dragged on until a truce was declared on November 11, 1918, leading to the controversial, one-sided Treaty of Versailles, which was signed on June 28, 1919. The 1920s were called the Roaring 20s or the Jazz period that included an economic boom after WWI.
The turn of the century was an affluent time for the area. Missionfield Coal Works were going strong as were the timber contractors. Everybody was working.
PROMINENT CITIZENS OF 1901
The April 11, 1901 issue of the Danville News stated that Oakwood now had 500 people and listed a few of the prominent citizens;
F.A. Affhouser, superintendent of schools and Miss Ethel Vance and Eva Hall, school teachers.
W.S. Seal who was born at Clinton, Willington County, Ohio and with his wife has been running the hotel in Oakwood since 1892. They presently charge one dollar a day.
George C. Rice who runs a General Store on North Main Street. This was on the site of the large brick building on the northeast corner of Scott and North Main.
S.C. Hillery, age 57, was interviewed while packing his “car” to move to Garden City, MO. The reporter did not explain what he meant by “car”.
Frank Peters was born in Rush Co., Ohio in 1836. He came to Champaign Co., Illinois with his parents. He came to Oakwood in 1894 and began dealing in coal, teaming and light farming.
John H. Young came to Oakwood in 1880, opening a General Store and Drugstore. He is presently the druggist while his son, C.C. Young, runs the General Store.
Reuben Rush was born in Rush Co., Ohio in 1830. A Civil War Veteran from the Ohio Inf. Co. G., he retired from the farm to live in Oakwood.
C.F. Stiner, a young man who had just erected a new barn in the fall of 1900 on Main Street with a 30 horse capacity. He conducts a livery, feed and sale barn.
J.N. Redman is a grocer and the village undertaker.
E.M. Snyder runs a restaurant and confectionary and sells cigars, tobaccos and soft drinks and does light job printing. He also directs the Oakwood Orchestra of eight pieces.
Mrs. Emily Howard was born near State Line City, Indiana. She lived all her life in Vermilion Co., Illinois. She lived on the farm until 1894 when she moved into Oakwood.
H.C. Wright was born in 1856 in Vermilion County, Illinois 4 miles southeast of Oakwood. He left the farm in 1893 and moved to Oakwood to work in the mines. He supported his mother after his father died in 1873.
Other citizens named in later issues in 1901;
Mr. Minor finally completed his elevator.
Joseph Truax sold all his real estate and will move to Oklahoma.
Charley Peterson, the best blacksmith in town, is building a new and larger shop.
Wymond Rouse, born in 1878, is engaged as a chambermaid at Mr. Peters Livery Barn.
(Chambermaid was a nickname for a stable hand). Wymond lived to the age of 90 and is buried in the Oakwood cemetery.
Octogenarians were John Desher 86, Rev. H.H. Gunn 85, Mrs. Mary A. Craigmyle 85, J.A.Saylor over 80, J.C. Jones 80, Mrs. Nancy Wright over 80, Mrs. Sarah Hillary 87, Alpheus B. Davis, Henry Musson over 80.
The summer of 1901 was very hot, so much that the Christian Church allowed men to attend without coat or vest. It had become a tradition in June that the Women’s group of one of the churches have a strawberry and ice cream social. It was the Christian Church’s turn in 1901.
On April 10, 1901, at 2:30 in the afternoon the big four depot in Fithian caught fire. It was susPected that sparks from a Passing locomotive started the fire. When the eastbound Passenger train arrived at 3:00 the fire was still going, the tracks were covered with embers and the air was full I smoke and flying bits of fire. The engineer seeing this, ran right on through it and headed on for Muncie and Oakwood.
The third Saturday night in June, 1901 a tornado hit and destroyed the CASS School House on the Old State Road one mile south of Muncie. The school house and coal shed were strewn all over the State Road_ The tornado caused a hail storm in Oakwood damaging the cherry trees. This was a blow to the local residents as the trees were unusually heavy with fruit
On April 10, 1901, at 2:30 in the afternoon the big four depot in Fithian caught fire. It was suspected that sparks from a Passing locomotive started the fire. When the eastbound passenger train arrived at 3:00 the fire was still going, the tracks were covered with embers and the air was full of smoke and flying bits of fire. The engineer seeing this, ran right on through it and headed on for Muncie and Oakwood.
The third Saturday night in June, 1901 a tornado hit and destroyed the School House on the Old State Road one mile south of Muncie. The school house and coal shed were strewn all over the State Road. The tornado caused a hail storm in Oakwood damaging the cherry trees. This was a blow to the local residents as the trees were unusually heavy with fruit
In June of 1901 the Danville Telephone Company began placing an exchange in Oakwood at E.M. Snyder ‘s Restaurant. E.M. Snyder was to be the ‘hello girl” and C.C. Young would be the local manager and collector. Previous to this there had been a toll station in C.C. Young’s Store and it would stay there.
RURAL FREE DELIVERY
Two Rural Free Delivery Routes were established August 1, 1902, with James Harrison and Robert Pinegar as the carriers. A third route was added October 1, 1905 with Delbert Meade as Carrier. At a later date part of the routes were given to Fithian and Delbert Meade was the only Oakwood rural mail carrier. He carried the mail for years.
Years later in the 1970s Rural Route 2 was still the address for many houses and box numbers were added at that time. Finally 911 addresses changed all the addresses outside the Village to be based on North, South, East and West Roads. Addresses included a house location and road number such as 123 N 800 East Road.
The interurban came through Oakwood about July of 1903. The Tractor Baron was William B. McKinley, II was building the Interurban from Champaign and had already built it through St. Joseph, Ogden, Fithian, and Muncie. Mr. McKinley had another crew corning west from Danville. The two met at the Possum Trot Section, with the hold up being the bridge over the Middlefork This was completed toward the end of August. The first Interurban car came through Oakwood from Danville about the first of September, however it could only go as far as Fithian. Here passengers had to disembark and board another car to go on west or visa-versa if they were coming from Champaign. The reason for the transfer was that work cars were on the track, as they were constructing switching facilities to the mid- point power plant and car barn. This building was an odd shaped brick building that sets along the south edge of U. S. 150 in Fithian. This building had a large engine and dynamo and was capable of storing four cars.
Danville and Champaign already had their power plants and when the Fithian Station came on line the cars could run much faster. On September 6 the first through cars made the trip from Champaign to Danville. The schedule showed cars leaving Champaign on the even hours, towit, 6, 8, 10 A.M., 12 Noon, 2, 4, 6, 8, & 10 P.M., and leaving Urbana 20 minutes after those hours. Cars left Danville at 5:45, 7, 9, 11 A.M., 1, 3, 5, 7, & 9 P.M. There were depots at St. Joseph, Ogden, Fithian, and Oakwood. Muncie was still trying to get a depot as late as 1920. Oakwood’s depot was on South Main Street near Olmstead. The line was actually in South Main Street with the poles carrying the power along the north edge of the street. This was necessary as the two railroads, the Big Four, and the C.& E.I. had control of all the right of way between North and South Main Streets.
As soon as the Danville – Champaign line was completed, William B. McKinley sent the big steam locomotive, that had been assisting in the work, west of Champaign where he was building a line from Champaign via Decatur to Springfield. Superintendent Smith, who built the line from Danville to Champaign, was assigned to build a line from Springfield to St. Louis. There was talk of building another line from Danville to Indianapolis, but it never materialized. A spur line was built from Ogden south to Homer, after the Danville – Champaign line was built. Homer had hoped that the main line would route through their village and that they would have the mid-point station.
The October 8, 1903 edition of the Champaign News Gazette had a large article on the formal opening ()law Danville – Champaign line of October 7. At 2 PM, Wm. B. McKinley left Champaign and Urbana, with those city officials and several of the McKinley syndicate of railroad officials and stopped in St. Joseph where they met a special train coming from Danville. The special trains then headed for Danville picking up officials of St. Joseph, Ogden, (including Homer) Fithian, Muncie, Oakwood, Missionfield, and Hillery. A lunch was served on all three trains before arriving at the Danville Plaza. They then continued on to the Soldier’s Home where Governor Clements and a large crowd welcomed the 150 dignitaries. They were shown around the grounds and another meal was served after which there were many speeches made.
FIRST HORSELESS CARRIAGE
The first automobile was believed to have been purchased by Dr. Hensley in 1908. It was a high wheel, steel tired.Kiblinger- At about the same time W.G. Green bought a Tourist automobile in California where he was spending the winter..- He brought it home on the train as there were very few auto roads.
In the swing of 1909 a traveling photographer came to town. He took at best 16 pictures of street scenes, school children and the elevator. He took his pictures and made them into Post cards- They can be identified by the writing on the back which says “Genuine Photo by C.V. Williams, Bloomington, Ill.” One picture at the old school on Scott Street (Ames from the Christian Church) shows a group of Youths. Two girls in front are holding sign which says -Oakwood High School 1909″.