Willow Bugs

Many summers during the last century Beardstown residents and business owners had to contend with swarms of may flies, also known as willow flies. These insects, that only live for a few hours, were drawn by the hundreds of thousands to street lights and the display windows of downtown stores.

In July of 1907, five wagon loads of the dead insects were hauled away. A two and a half-foot pile of them stood at the corner of Main and State Streets, the location of the above, undated, picture postcard.

Other items of note in the image – S. L. Von Fossen‘s row of businesses is seen in the white buildings at the end of the block. His monument works, music store, and “Big Store” sold everything from pianos and and groceries, to grave monuments, one of which is visible in front of the stores, beyond an early automobile.

Further along, toward the wagon bridge and the river, there is a “Garage” sign. In 1913 R. C. Schell sold Ford and Moline automobiles at 116 N. State, and Cannon and Billings ran an auto livery service at the same address.

Wm. Comerford’s saloon can be seen nearest the edge of the photograph, in the building that was torn down prior the the construction of Beardstown’s U. S. Post Office. Information about Comerford’s saloon has been hard to find, but it was the scene of a murder. On July 25, 1914, Thomas Ratcliff was shot three times by the jealous former husband of a woman he had been seeing.