2019 Illinois Centennial Awards winners honored at ISHS luncheon in Jacksonville
On Saturday, September 14, the Illinois State Historical Society hosted its 35th annual Centennial Business Awards luncheon, this time at Jacksonville's Hamilton's Catering and banquet hall facility. The venue was most appropriate: "Doc" Hamilton started his business in 1913. This year more than 35 applicants sought Centennial status with the Society, and each received a Centennial certificate and a seat at the table.
"It is an honor and privilege to recognize and celebrate the achievement of these unique businesses and organizations that have achieved the centennial milestone," said ISHS executive director William Furry. "Fewer than 10 percent of all corporations survive 100 years, and those that do have done so with great sacrifice. They have also persevered economic downturns, recessions, personal losses, and enormous changes in the industry. Their resilience, and not a little luck, made all the difference. To each of them, we extend our best wishes for the next 100 years."
The luncheon fare included roast loin of pork carved at the buffet; vegetable lasagna; southern style green beans and romaine lettuce salad; hot rolls, wheat and white; and chocolate mousse for dessert, along with Centennial Awards cake.
Representatives from of each of the recipient Centennial Award businesses received a certificate with the ISHS Centennial Seal signed by President Dan Monroe and Executive Director William Furry.
In addition to this year's award recipients, representatives from Jacksonville's previous Centennial Award winners also joined in the festivities including: Rammelkamp Bradney Law Firm (Forrest Keaton, Amy Jackson, and Frank); MacMurray College (Rand Burnette); The Club (Dave Truesdell); Jacksonville Journal-Courier (Samantha Ogletree); Morgan County Historical Society (Sue Hackett).
This year's Centennial Award recipients are:
Schmale Insurance Company
Founding date 1919
Established by John Schmale and Herman Hartmann as Hartmann & Schmale in 1919, this Belleville-based general insurance company offered coverage for life, health, accident, fire and tornado, automobile, theft, liability, property, damage and collision, tractor, livestock, plate glass, boiler, and compensation loss through reputable companies, with “Farm insurance a speciality.” In addition, the company bought and sold farms, and loaned on farm and city property. John Schmale ended his partnership with Herman Hartmann in 1923 and ran the business with his son, William Schmale, until the former’s death in 1963. Donald Wilke became a partner in 1968, and William Schmale sold his interest in the company to American Savings Corporation in 1977. Wilke purchased all the shares back in 1987, and became partner with Richard Sedlak, creating a partnership that lasted until Mr. Wilkes death in 1995. Mr. Sedlak was sole owner of the company until 2019, when his son, Stephen Sedlak became a partner. Accepting the award for Schmale Insurance Company was Richard Sedlak.
Founding date 1912
A Jesuit ministry for more than 100 years, Loyola Press is a “publisher of books and multi-media projects that facilitate transformative experiences of God so that people of all ages can lead holy and purposeful lives with and for each other.” The task was no less challenging in 1912 than it is in 1919. Decidedly religious, religiously non-profit, with a corporate eye on heaven rather the bottom line, Loyola Press’s business model is not every CEO’s strategy for success. But the press’s mandate to publish books that are “transformative” is a mission to be prized. Independent of Loyola University of Chicago since 1940, Loyola Press publishes Chicago-related titles under the Wild Onion imprint, Jesuit studies titles under the Jesuit Way banner, and textbooks under the Loyola University Press imprint.
One Hope United
Founding date 1895
Operating under many banners in its 124-year history, One Hope United is a Chicago-based Human Service Provider whose motto is “For every child and family, life without limits.” It’s mission is to increase “opportunities for children and families by providing quality solutions that enhance lives, communities, and futures.” Founded as Chicago Baptist Orphanage in 1895, the name was changed in 1899 to Central Baptist Orphanage and then to Central Baptists Children’s Home in 1913. In 2004 the facility was rebranded as Kids Hope United and to One Hope United in 2010. The previous year the home served 2,900 children in foster homes, residential homes, or in adoptive care. That same year the agency provided 4,500 children and families with child abuse prevention services and another 1,600 with counseling. One hope also offers early child care at 10 centers throughout Chicago, as well as in Aurora and Waukegan. Accepting the award for One Hope United was Executive Director for Community Based Family Services, Tim Snowden.
American Legion Post 279
Founding date 1919
William Burrow, post commander, accepting the award.
Bound to Stay Bound Books
Founding date 1920
Lawrence D. Sibert began working for Ward Brothers, a printing and bookbinding company in Jacksonville, Illinois in 1908. He learned the trade and was a department foreman by 1913. In 1920, Sibert and William T. Suhy started their own library bindery known as the New Method Book Bindery in 1920, with Suhy as the traveling salesman and Sibert working inside the bindery. They had three employees. An industrial enhancement, the oversewing machine, was invented in California in 1920, and changed the way library books were bound. The story goes that after the company moved to the second floor of the Degan’s Dance Hall in Jacksonville in 1923, a box of books fell from a second-story lift to the ground. Only one book was damage, prompting one observer to comment, “Those books are certainly bound to stay bound!” Thus was born an enduring name and slogan. Bound to Stay Bound now operates out of 43,000 square foot facility on the western edge of Jacksonville. Lawrence D. Sibert’s grandson, Robert Sibert took over the company in 1992. His grandfather spent seventy-one years in the bookbinding business, a feat Bob Sibert is well on his way to matching. Here to accept the award for Bound to Stay Bound Books was Robert Sibert.
Founding date 1913
According to family history, Hamilton’s Catering began more than 100 years ago when “Doc” Hamilton, a candy maker by trade, bought out the Ehnie Brother’s Confectioners on East State Street in Jacksonville. Doc grew the soda fountain portion of the business and expanded to sandwiches and lunches. Hamilton’s first off-premises food service came during World War I as Doc fed troops on trains passing through Jacksonville. As time passed the business grew into a full major service restaurant located in what was the center of commerce for Jacksonville. In the early 1970s, the restaurant business shut down and the company focused on catering. The business model also allowed for food preparation for senior citizens through the Prairie Council on Aging and Senior Services of Central Illinois, organizations which still work with Hamilton’s. Although based in Franklin, Illinois, a town of fewer than 500 people, Hamilton’s Catering serves five Illinois counties, including Springfield, the largest market in Central Illinois. After 105 years, Hamilton’s Catering continues to grow and serve great food to hungry Illinoisans. Accepting the award for Hamilton’s Catering was Gina Hamilton.
Routt Catholic High School
Founding date 1902
The Routt brothers Charles and William Routt were not born in Jacksonville, nor were they born Catholic. According to an account published in the Jacksonville Journal Courier, Charles converted to Catholicism after attending a Catholic university in Cincinnati. It is said that the Routt did more for Catholicism than any other family in central Illinois, and there is plenty of evidence to support this. But it was the Routt Club, a social and intellectual organization for Catholic men in Morgan County, from which the first co-educational high school for Catholics was established in 1902. William Routt donated $20,000 to build a school, and upon its completion another $50,000 to endow it. The Routt brothers' gifts, and the inspiration and encouragement of Reverend Dean John W. Crowe and Fr. Francis Formaz, made the vision possible. 117 years later, Routt Catholic High School continues to provide a high quality high school education to students in central Illinois. Its mission—“to provide a faith-based environment which to promote spiritual growth, academic achievement, physical heath, and community service in each student”. Accepting the award for Routt Catholic High School was principal Nick Roscetti.
Western Illinois University
Founding date 1899
Established as the Western Illinois State Normal School, WIU, like many other public universities in the state, was organized as a teachers college. The land for the university was donated by Macomb’s Freemasons (Illinois Lodge #17), and Macomb vied with Quincy, along with other cities, to be the site for the state’s westernmost university. Sherman Hall served as WIU’s primary teaching facility for many years, and is now listed on National Register of Historic Places. During the University’s 100th anniversary celebration in 1999, the cornerstone of Sherman Hall was opened, revealing just how much the Freemasons had done to secure Macomb as the site. Today the campus consists of 53 buildings on 1,050 acres. More than 6,400 students enrolled for the fall term at WIU, and the university was named—for the fifteenth year in a row—among the top 33 “Best Midwestern Universities” by U.S. News and World Report, ranking 11th in the 2020 Midwestern rankings. It is one of just three Illinois public universities among top 70. Accepting the award for Western Illinois University is Jeanette Malafa.
Petersburg Monument Company
Founding date 1897
The origins of the Petersburg Monument and Stone Company begin with the family of Edmund G. Messett, who along with his descendants, ran the company for more than a century. Stone cutting and monument making can be noisy trades, but they are rarely explosive. The Petersburg Monument Company made local headlines in December 1937 when a pressure tank exploded in the plant, just across the railroad tracks from the C&I M. Train depot. The seven-foot high tank went through the roof and seventy-five feet in the air, the fell back through another section of room. Chester Messett, owner of the company, was in the building at the time of the explosion, but separated from the blast by two walls. Luckily, no one was injured in the explosion, and Mr. Messett lived to carve stone another day. That was fortuitous for Eric Creviston, who purchased Petersburg Monument Company on April 27, 2018, from the Messett family, and now operates the business along with its sister location, the Springfield Monument Company. The Petersburg Monument Company offers free consultation and the finest granite from all over the world. Accepting the award for Petersburg Monument is Eric Creviston.
Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Founding date 1891
Earlier records note that it was formally opened to receive patients in May 1875, and was officially incorporated in October 1893. From the 1912 Annual Report and Bulletin of the Blessing-Rieman College we learn that the Training School for Nurses was established in 1891 and, from that time until 1904 the school offered a two-year’s course of instruction during which 53 women were graduated. It was one of the very first accredited nursing schools in the nation. In 1904 the course was increased to three years with first year students receiving instruction in Ethics, Hygiene, Elementary Nursing and “Materia Medica,” with additional classes in Diet Cooking, Anatomy and Physiology, and Bacteriology. According to the August 1892 minutes of the college, during the month of July that year, 7 patients were admitted: 4 males of 3 females. Of the seven admitted, only 1, a male, paid for services. In 1929, the average daily caring cost per patient per day was $3.75. Times have surely changed in the health care industry, but Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing and Health Sciences remains tops in its field for Quincy and Adams County. Accepting for Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing and Health Sciences was President and CEO Brenda BeShears.
Rock Island Public Library
Founding date 1872
The Rock Island Public Library and Reading Room was established by city ordinance on August 12, 1872, assuming the “books, pamphlets, papers, fixtures, and other property of the Young Men’s Library Association.” The following October the Rock Island mayor appointed 8 gentlemen to serve as directors. The Illinois State Legislature had recently passed a law whereby municipalities having power to levy taxes could thereby raise money to establish and maintain free public libraries. Rock Island not only had a building, it already had a library, making it one of the oldest public libraries in Illinois. The first librarian was “Miss Gale,” who served for 64 years, the longest tenure of any librarian in Illinois. BY 1899, the library had 14,866 books its collection, including 1,070 children’s titles. In 1902 a new cornerstone was laid a new public library, which opened on December 15, 1903. When it opened it was called “Rock Island’s Temple of Literature.” In 2006, the Rock Island Public Library was closed for a makeover, which included new paint, carpeting, desk changes, and some necessary remodeling. In addition the library has two other branches that serve the community. Accepting the award for the Rock Island Public Library was Director Angela Campbell.
Founding date 1915
Carus was founded in 1915 by Dr. Edward Hegeler Carus, who first produced permanganate at the University of Wisconsin. The Carus Corporation, which opened its first manufacturing plant in 1918 in LaSalle, Illinois, is an environmental company that produces and supplies products for water treatment, soil remediation, and air purification. Permanganate is a chemical compound containing the manganate ion, which is a strong oxidizer and an excellent disinfectant and purifier. During the 1940s, the plant expanded operations to provide critical war needs in nylon production, as well as sodium and calcium permanganate products to propel torpedoes. In the 1950s the company developed municipal water treatment technology and marketed CAIROX for drinking water treatment and air purification. The company’s mission is to “provided innovative quality products to help our customers solve environmental concerns.” Its vision is to “bring customers, employees, and specialty chemistries to provide innovative solutions.” Accepting the award for the Carus Corporation was Kegan Pakula.
The Village of Rochester
Founding date 1869
The Town of Rochester, Illinois, was first incorporated on February 1869, under the provisions of the general town incorporation laws of the State, passed in 1831. The Village of Rochester was officially organized on June 3, 1878, with Munson Carter elected president for a two-year term, and trustees J.L. Firey, J.A. Richards, E.P. May, and C. Tracy also serving. The village was initially settled in 1819 along the South Fork of the Sangamon River and is a bedroom community of nearby Springfield, the capital city. The population of Rochester in 2009 was estimated to be 3,246. It is said that Abraham Lincoln delivered his first political speech in Rochester in 1832 during his campaign for a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives. This weekend the Village of Rochester is celebrating its 150th anniversary with an outdoor festival. Accepting the award for the Village was Rochester resident Cinda Klickna.
Illinois Education Association
Founding date 1853
Illinois State Teachers Institute was formed in December of 1853 to promote the cause of public education in the state and to raise the standard of teaching. The State of Illinois had only recently created the laws that established public schools in the Illinois, and guidelines were essential for effective teaching. On February 11, 1857, by an act of the Illinois General Assembly, the name was changed to Illinois State Teachers’ Association. On November 20, 1936, the current name, Illinois Education Association, was adopted. Over the years the IEA has expanded its efforts working to improve school funding, monitoring legislation that impacts schools and their employees, and providing professional development. After a 1970 constitutional convention, the IEA unified with the National Education Association and expanded its focus to include collective bargaining. With headquarters in Springfield and 22 field offices in the state, the IEA mission is to “effect excellence and equity in publish education and to be THE advocacy organization for all public education employees.” Accepting the award for the Illinois Education Association was immediate past president Cinda Klickna.
Cover Insurance Company
Founding date 1889
Established in 1889 by John Franklin Cover as the Cover Drug Store, this Toulon business originally sold pharmaceutical supplies, stationery, books, and sundries to the citizens of Stark County. When J.F. Cover died in 1906, his sons Augustus, who graduated from the Illinois Pharmacy School in Chicago, and Ralph Owen Cover continued the business into the second generation. Augustus ran the drug store and brother Ralph clerked and repaired watches in the original store. Ralph Cover added to the business interests when he became partner in the Garrison and Cover Insurance Company in 1937, then became sole owner in 1953 of the Cover Real Estate & Insurance Agency in 1953. Ralph Cover’s son, John F. Cover, worked in the business for many years, and grandson David Cover occasionally does today, although he is now an attorney in Peoria. The insurance business is now owned outside the family but retains the originally family name. Accepting the award was owner David Cover.
Stark County Old Settlers Association
Founding date 1877
It all began with a chicken dinner and a reunion of the early surviving pioneers of Stark County. The original gathering is now a four-day celebration that includes youth beauty contests, kiddie tractor pulls, fireworks, 5-K runs, parades, a wide range of award ceremonies, music, and more. But that first “Old Settlers” event almost didn’t happen at all. It took place in a December snowstorm and the local newspaper reported that despite the weather, it “was a decided success.” According to the account, “150 assembled at the Toulon House, many of them white-headed pioneers—men and women who were battling with frontier life before a majority of the present inhabitants of Stark Count were in existence.” Those in attendance resolved to organize the Stark County Old Settlers’ Association, which required as a minimum, 25 years of residency as a test of membership. Though the original Stark County pioneers have passed away, succeeding generations have ensured that their vision of a reunion of older residents would still be honored, and that the celebration of community and culture and business would continue for years to come. Accepting the award was modern day Stark County “Old Settler” Donald Schmidt.
Wyoming Monument Company
Founding date 1881
Established and operated by Mansfield H. Teets and his brother, Emerson, the Wyoming Monument Company has been in business continuously in Stark County for more than 135 years. Originally known as the M.H. Teets Company, the Wyoming Monument Company operated under the family name for three generations until 1960. Mansfield’s sons Clyde and Robert Teets, and later grandson Russell Teets, ran the company for 80 years until it was sold year to Louis Westefer. Early newspaper accounts of the company noted the quality of its “first class granite and marble work” and the beauty of the memorials and monuments placed in local cemeteries. Originally the company erected monuments and opened graves in 60 cemeteries throughout central Illinois, and engraved markers for customers in Chicago, Memphis, and Missouri. Later the business expanded to creating decorative stones for water fountains and entryways. Westefer continued to operate the stone engraving company until he sold it in 1988 to Robert (“Bebe”) and Mary Groter, who changed the name to the Wyoming Monument Company. Accepting the award for Wyoming Monument Company was Stark County historian Donald Schmidt.
Other businesses that received the Centennial Business Award for 2019 but were not able to attend the luncheon are:
Chisolm Boyd, & White Company, Alsip
State Bank of Lakes, Antioch
J.C. Schultz Enterprises, Inc. Batavia
Egyptian Workplace Partners, Belleville
U.A.S. Local 99 Plumbers and Pipefitters, Bloomington
Buena Vista National Bank, Chester
House of Glunz, Chicago
Fox River Grove
Mason County Democrat, Havana
Zenith Electronics, L.L.C., Lincolnshire
Roseview Flowers, Petersburg
H.J. Eppel and Company, Inc., Pontiac
Anderson's Candy Company, Inc., Richmond
Scot Forge, Spring Grove
Randolph Mutual Insurance, Steeleville