Legends – History Lesson

Posted: August 23, 2021

Do they have Flat Stanley projects in school anymore?

A few years ago Shawn, a young friend from Waterman, asked my husband and me to help with his Flat Stanley project; we eagerly accepted. What a wonderful way to explore your environment and learn the history of the area. Being the County Historian at the time, it was a fun project to help with.

Flat Stanley examined an 1871 plat map of Clinton Township, but he was required to wear white gloves to protect the historic document.

For one week we took Flat Stanley everywhere we went. We attended a meeting of the Board of Directors of the DeKalb County Historical Genealogical Society. The Society consists of people interested in the history and genealogy of DeKalb County. It serves as an umbrella organization of museums and historical resources in the county to facilitate various programs and activities. The quarterly publication Cornsilk features DeKalb County history and is a great source of information on DeKalb County.

We visited the DeKalb County Community Foundation building in Sycamore. This building was built as a train station. It was a spur line of the Chicago & North Western Railway that traveled to Cortland. The Community Foundation restored the building into a wonderful office building retaining the original beauty and history of the building.

We strolled around Sycamore, the seat of DeKalb County government. We stopped for photos of the DeKalb County Courthouse which was completed in 1905. The Sycamore Public Library, across the street from the courthouse was completed in 1904 and is a Carnegie Library as is the Clinton Township Public Library in Waterman. We walked by the buildings that once held the Illinois Thresher Company which produced several hundred threshing machines and tractors annually and sent them all over the world.

Flat Stanley appears in front of the DeKalb County Courthouse.

Since Flat Stanley attended Waterman Elementary school (in 2012), we examined an old plat map of Clinton Township. Because of the age of the map, Stanley wore white gloves to protect the document from the oils in his hands.

Flat Stanley attended a meeting of the “Acres of Change” book committee. “Acres of Change” is a 50 year history of DeKalb County, as a sequel to the last history book “From Oxen to Jets.” The book chronicles the changes, growth and important events of the previous 50 years. Perhaps Shawn, Flat Stanley and their friends in Waterman will be available to take on the task of writing the next 50 year update in 2063.

Information provided by Sue Breese