Category Archives: Amusements-Events

1908 Fish Fry & Carnival

Looking east, toward the corner of 2nd and State, August 21, 1908 –


Fish Fry, long looked forward to, long remembered, dawned bright and clear, and the early morning brought a line of teams from every road leading into town. By ten o’clock the streets were crowded, and the noon trains brought added thousands to spend the day.

The Beardstown Cadet band rendered excellent concerts during the day, and the different places of amusements did a rushing business. It was estimated that 6,000 people were served fish at noontime.

The usual scenes attending the serving of the fish and bread were re-enacted this year and it was one grand rush from the time of serving of the fish until the last bit had been disposed of.

Miss Mazie Link, a young lady very popular among the younger set, was elected queen of the Carnival, after a contest of about two weeks’ duration. A great deal of interest was manifested in Miss Link from the first and her success was no surprise. Miss Blanche Hagerstrom was second. The vote stood: Miss Mazie Link, 7,997; Miss Blanche Hagerstrom, 5,500; Miss Gertrude Evans, 3,198; Miss Chloe Miller, 2,100.

The queen crowning ceremony will take place in the Wild Animal show at 9 o’clock this evening.

The Cosmopolitan Shows have demonstrated their ability to entertain the crowds, and a cleaner, more agreeable and acceptable Carnival company never visited the city. All the shows are good, and are well worth the price of admission. The Wild Animal show in particular is a feature attraction, and draws large crowds. The three free attractions are well worth seeing and are given twice daily. One is at the corner of Main and Jefferson, another at the corner of Main and Lafayette, and the third at the corner of Third and Washington.

During the early part of the week not much interest was manifested, but Thursday the usual Carnival conditions prevailed, and the people commenced to arrive from everywhere. The weather is ideal and barring Wednesday, has been good all the week. The mayor by his warning as to confetti, has removed one of the most objectionable features of the Carnival, and tonight, the big night of all, will undoubtedly be one of the best ever given here.

Kennedy’s Window the Best
It was the decision of the judges that had been appointed, that the window of C. F. Kennedy’s store was the best in the city. The window in purple and white was the one awarded the prize, and the attractive display of the goods for sale was the basis of decision.

Confetti Warning
L. W. Pilger, Chief of Police:
I hereby ask you to instruct all police officers under you to arrest any one found or caught throwing confetti or other articles in people’s faces or at them in any way.
R. H. Garm, Mayor

LOST – A purple crochet money bag trimmed with beads. Finder can have money if purse is returned to Mrs. C. J. Baujan.
The Illinoian-Star – Friday, August 21, 1908


With the closing performance of the different carnival attractions the Cosmopolitan Company, like the silent Arab, will quietly fold its tent and steal away in the night, bound for Burlington, Iowa, where they will hold forth next week.

It has been a good week taking all things into consideration, and the attractions furnished by the Cosmopolitan Company have been morally clean. The streets this morning were quiet as compared with yesterday, but during the afternoon the crowds increased in size. But after all, there is only one banner day in a week’s celebration, and that is Fish Fry day. This one day in Beardstown history has become familiar to people residing for many miles in all directions. It was established years ago, away back in Aug. 1891, when the first public free fish fry was given on Thursday, August 27, under the direction of the Illinois Rivermen’s Protective Association and attracted some 2,000 or 3,000 visitors from nearby towns. The fish and bread were served from 10 o’clock in the morning until 1 o’clock in the afternoon. The Browning Band furnished the music.

In 1892 there was no celebration, but in 1893 the business men gathered together and had a rousing celebration on the twenty-third of August. The next year it was held at what was then known as Woodland Park, near Wood Slough, but the following year the business men again took a hold of the affair and it has been an annual event each year. . . . .
The Illinoian-Star – Saturday, August 22, 1908

The Zephyr Visits Beardstown

The first of the Burlington railroad’s famous Zephyr passenger trains made a stop in Beardstown on June 6, 1934. The streamlined, stainless steel diesel was in the midst of a 222 city, 31 state promotional tour at the time.

zephyrpostcardLess than two weeks earlier, on May 26th, the train set a speed record by traveling the 1,015 miles between Denver and Chicago in 13 hours and 5 minutes. After the historic run, the Zephyr was briefly on display at Chicago’s Century of Progress world’s fair.

The Zephyr arrived in Beardstown at 4:20 p.m., greeted by the Beardstown City Band and the release of 127 homing pigeons by the Beardstown Pigeon Club. Ramps were set up to allow people to tour the train.

Sixty policemen were on duty to help handle the well-behaved crowd. 3,476 people filed through the train before it departed, though several thousand disappointed rail fans did not have the chance.

zephyr2Loren Stanley, manager of the Princess Theater, Fred I. Cline, and other Beardstown businessmen hired a Springfield cameraman to film the arrival of the Zephyr in Beardstown and the crowd in front of the C. B. & Q. Depot. The film was shown at the Princess on June 20th and 21st. I wonder what became of it?

Carloads of people parked along the road beside the railroad tracks between Beardstown and Arenzville caught a glimpse of the aerodynamic train as it left for St. Louis.

The Zephyr entered regular service Nov. 11, 1934, on a route between Kansas City, Missouri and Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska.

With more Zephyrs being added to the Burlington fleet, the original train was renamed the Pioneer Zephyr on the second anniversary of the Denver to Chicago run. On the 26th anniversary of that famous trip, May 26, 1960, the Pioneer Zephyr was taken out of service and donated to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, where it can be seen today.

Bridge Dedication


John Glenn, Beardstown businessman and former mayor, was master of ceremonies during the festivities celebrating the opening of the new bridge over the Illinois River at Beardstown on September 13, 1955. In the photo above, an entourage including Illinois Governor and Mrs. William G. Stratton, C. R. “Butch” Ratcliffe and Mr. Glenn walk across the bridge after ribbon cutting ceremonies on the east (Beardstown) side of the river on their way to repeat the process on the west end of the bridge.


The governor cuts a ribbon officially opening the new bridge to traffic. Left to right – State Representative C. R. “Butch” Ratcliffe, looking over the shoulders of Rep. Ratcliffe and Governor Stratton, well-known and esteemed BHS history teacher Adele Hegener(?), Lt. Governor John Wm. Chapman, Secretary of State Charles F. Carpentier, Gov. Stratton, Beardstown Mayor Glenn Tillitt, Mrs. Stratton, and John H. Glenn, and an unidentified fan of Davy Crockett.


Citizens and officials walking up the approach to the William H. Dieterich bridge during ceremonies that officially opened the span on September 13, 1955.

Click on an image twice to view enlarged sections of the photo. You may recognize some of the people:

Above images courtesy Illinois State Archives – “Doc” Helm Collection


A piece of ribbon, signed by Gov. and Mrs. Stratton, Lt. Gov. Chapman, and Sec. of State Carpentier.


John Glenn was good friends with a U. S. Congressman from Michigan.

1898 Rock Concert

111British rock bands invaded the United States in the 1960’s, but long before that, in 1898, a group of Beardstown ladies sponsored a performance by some English rockers, at the Methodist Church.

The Rock Band Concert, by the Till Family of London, England, will be given in the M. E. church Thursday night, May 12, under the auspices of the young ladies of the church. The Till family have a renowned reputation, owing to the fact that they are the only musical organization who play upon rocks. The novel instrument upon which they produce the most charming music is composed of stones from 6 inches to 4 feet long, arranged on a frame 12 feet long. It has a scale of five octaves. This will be a rare treat and our music loving people should make it a point to attend.

The Tri-Weekly Beardstown Enterprise – May 10, 1898