A New PAPER
In January of 1917, the Oakwood Band decided to form a theoretical group. Actors were Alfred Meade, Ernest Seymour, Keith Finley, Oral Longstreth, Grace Meade, Sylvia Trimble, Edna Dalby and Minnie Doran.
Oakwood Township High School got electricity from Fithian.
In February, the old Henry Oakwood home, south of Oakwood, burned to the ground. OTHS trounced Homer High 34 to 22 in basketball and Oakwood had a new newspaper, the Oakwood Township Review. It was a four page, six column, weekly paper with Oscar F. Miller as editor and only employee.
NEW ViLLAGE ORDINANCES
At the February, 1917 Village Board meeting, permission was granted for Standard Oil to purchase a lot in Carpenter’s Addition for a station and storage tanks. This was at the east MAin Street where Tim Wolfe now lives.
The Board passed the following new ordinances:
Section 1. No trains or interurban may go faster than 8 miles per hour.
Section 2 No trains or interurban may block a crossing for more than five minutes
Section 3 All trains or Interurbans shall construct, repair and maintain good or safe crossings, culverts and bridges wherever and whenever needed.
Section 4 Whenever the above is needed the village president or attorney will give 15 days notice. Failure to comply, 10 to 50 dollar file.
Section 5 The village may do the construction at the railroads expense
Section 6 Railroad violations of a fine, up to $200 fine.
The Funeral Home
Collings and Burke opened the first undertaking store in early April, of 1892. They did not have a Hearse, using an open wagon instead. Prior to this, people took care of their own and some probably continued to do so.
The next undertaker was John Redman, probably about 1895. He lived on the southwest corner of Oakwood and South main Streets in a house facing the railroad. Just west of his home John had a Buggy House where he kept a horse drawn hearse. Some people say they have seen this old hearse in a barn in Oakwood as late as the 1940’s. Some time after 1910 John Redman north of the present Library. During World War I, the Funeral purchased the General Store of C. C. Young on Scott Street and turned it into a funeral home. This would have been about 50 feet Home doubled as a Red Cross Center. A 1918 picture shows a gas pump in front of the funeral home. By this time John had purchased a combination Hearse & Ambulance to use in his business. John N. Redman died in 1919 at the age of 55. Vernice L. Redman, who had been assisting his father, took over the business and ran it until 1929 when he died at the age of 33. It was probably Vernice who purchased the big two story house on South Main Street where the present Funeral Home sits. James H. Cawthon (1891-1967) came to Oakwood in 1914 and later went into business with his father-in-law, Harry Cramer as they turned the old Livery Stable in to a Garage. Later he went to work for Redman’s Funeral Home. After the death of Vernice Redman, James purchased the businesses from the widow, Goldie Redman. James Cawthon then ran the business until 1946 when he sold to Harlan Johnson. Harlan Johnson, who was born November 16, 1907, still owns the Funeral Home. He hired Fred Barnes from Flatrock, Illinois to come and run it for him. Fred ran the Funeral Home for 3 years and then went to work in Harrison Rogers Grocery Store. Fred and Harrison became partners in 1951. Later, Hank Neff ran the Funeral Home for Mr. Johnson. In 1978 the big two story James H. Cawthon building was torn down and the modern Funeral Home we have today was erected. About ten years ago, Mr. Johnson purchased the home next to the Funeral Home and moved there from Danville. Although he is now 87 years old, he is still working.
WORLD WAR I
By April 1917, World War 1 had started. As in all wars, patriotism was running high. Oral Longstreth joined the army. Pudge Wilson climbed to the top of the elevator and erected two American Flags, one at each gable. A Red Cross Chapter was formed with 113 members. Officers sworn in were C. C. Andrews, President; Z.S. Sailor Secretary and W. D. Rogers, Treasurer. Dr. W. T. Wilson tried to join the army but was rejected because of flat feet. In August the draft was started. The first to go were Alfred Meade, Elmer Carpenter, Wilbur Thompson, Edgar Cassell and Leo Moore, F. M. Harris, a Civil War Veteran and sill running his shoe shop at an advanced age, did his part by raising a large garden. C. C. Andrews was appointed Township Food Director by Herbert Hoover, the National Food Director. A patriotic duty with lots of work and no salary.
NEW VILLAGE OFFICERS
In April of 1917 the following officers were elected. Mayor-E.N. Longstreth; Trustees-Oscar Miller, G. B. Snider and R.W. Crawford. Marshall-P. A. Downing, Police Magistrate-Ira Peters.
One of the mayor’s first acts was to roll up his sleeves and along with Perry Wilson of the local elevator help the farmers shock oats and put up hay to help preserve the nations crops. It was said that he put many a younger man to shame.
AN INTERPRISING town of 650 inhabitants situated in Eastern Illinois on the big Four Railroad and the Illinois Traction System between Danville and Champaign. The town is located in the best agricultural section of the Central stated in the best agricultural section of the Central States. A four year township high school, good churches and a live bunch of Business Men are to be found here. Come and LOCATE IN
TWO BASEBALL TEAMS
All was not work, in the summer of 1917. Oakwood had two baseball teams that year, The “flunks” were the mens team and the “Wide-Awakes” was a newly formed team of young boys They met on June 20 and the boys won 23 to 11.
MOTORCADE TO CHANUTE
In October of 1917 George Peak and family, James Van Allen and family, Uncle John Van Allen, Mr. & Mrs. Z. S. Saylor, Mrs. Margaret Barkman, C. F. Steiner and family, and Mr. & Mrs. Tom Saylor motored to the new airbase at Rantoul and watched the birdmen fly. They saw several machines in the air at the same time and much enjoyed their trip.
MAYOR CRACKS DOWN
Mayor Longstreth vowed to enforce the village ordinance against those that were using the large storm sewer that ran through town, for sanitary reasons. The mayor also warned those who were driving in town with their cut-out or muffler open and especially those two who were racing on Scott Street Saturday night. And woe be it to the person who has been using the Mayor’s pond for dumping trash.
During the summer of 1917 a new hard road was put in north out of Oakwood. The Big Four was given permission to lay tracks up Oakwood Street to furnish supplies to the road builders. The Oakwood Cemetery Association to gravel or cinder their lane through the cemetery.
The Oakwood Family Reunion was announced for September 16, at the old Indian campground. It was hoped that the Honorable Jacob H. Oakwood would be able to attend. At age 89, he was the last of the original Oakwood family. He had served two terms in the Illinois State Legislature. He was presently living with his daughter, Mrs. Anna 0. Hess at Martinsville, Indiana but he did not make it. He died at the age of 90.
The Spanish Influenza peaked in October 1918 in Vermilion County. Eighty-seven people perished in Danville and numerous others perished in the county that month. In the state, it was reported 18,000 had died by Nov. 1 and hundreds of thousand had fallen ill. The epidemic continued to claim lives after the deadliest month of October. The majority of the victims were under the age of 40.
Dr. Snider of Oakwood became somewhat of a local legend during the epidemic as he worked day and night caring for victims. One of his rural patients recalled his family used a lot of Vicks and home remedies to relieve the flu symptoms. He missed three weeks’ work, but remarked things were back to normal by the end of November.
He remembered when Dr. Snider visited during the epidemic, he prescribed rest and advised the only cure for the influenza was to “wear it off.” He recalled he “always felt better after a visit from Doc.” Perhaps that was because the physician also delivered compassion and hope to his patients. (Source Commercial News: Doc brought hope to flu victims 4/5/2020 Don G Richter)