County Kicks Off Bicentennial Celebration

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“Montgomery County’s Bicentennial is a time to celebrate, not just in a festive sense but in a more profound sense of renewal and re-commitment,” began a proclamation read by Montgomery County Board Chairman Evan Young during a ceremony kicking off the county’s bicentennial celebrations on Saturday afternoon, April 10, at the Historic Courthouse in Hillsboro.

Inclement weather once again caused the Montgomery County Bicentennial Committee to think on their feet as Saturday’s rain showers necessitated the event to move from the courthouse steps into the County Board Room. The original celebration, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 13, the day after the 200th anniversary of the county’s founding on Feb. 12, 1821, was postponed to last weekend’s date due to snowstorms.

Prior to the formal event descendants of the county’s early founders and elected officials from the 20 municipalities that make up Montgomery County braved the rain to take photos on the steps of the Historic Courthouse, courtesy of Ken Meade Photography.

After a brief welcome from Montgomery County Bicentennial Committee Co-Chair Donna Yeske, Dave Strowmatt, the superintendent of the county’s Veterans Assistance Commission, led those gathered in the Pledge of Allegiance. Young then read a proclamation drafted by the committee, before committee members Patsy Bourdoumis and Dave Beal recognized the descendants of early settlers of the county by asking each to briefly take the floor and presenting them with a certificate. Pictures of the descendant families will be on display at the Bicentennial Celebration on Saturday, June 5.

Montgomery County Queens Miss Brielle Martin,Junior Miss Morgan Hampton and Little Miss Tilly Fergurson, and Illinois Teen Miss United States Agriculture Elaan Bader were in attendance. The Montgomery County Queens passed out commemorative wooden nickels to attendees of the event.

Committee Co-Chair Dr. Patty Whitworth took the podium to recognize the elected officials from each of the 20 municipalities, as well as the Montgomery County Board members that were present.

“I have been honored to serve Montgomery County for 26 years,” Sheriff Rick Robbins stated during his tribute to the county’s founding 200 years ago. “It is a good place. People have done a lot of great things in this county and we hope to continue doing great things.” He shared a brief, humor-filled history of the sheriff’s office which was founded in 1822.

State Representative Avery Bourne expressed gratitude to the committee for organizing the celebrations. “It is a huge privilege to have grown up in Montgomery County and to now have the opportunity to represent the county and work alongside the leaders in this room to build upon our history and make the next years our best years,” Bourne stated.

“It has been more than 25 years since I first started coming to this courthouse,” said Congressman Rodney Davis. “When I think about the relationships I have built and the changes that have taken place within the county, in just the last 25 years, it is overwhelming. Everyone that is a part of the county’s history should take a moment to step back and realize how special that is. I am grateful to have been given the chance to play a small role in the long history of Montgomery County and look forward to the history we will make together in the next few years.”

Whitworth thanked all in attendance and encouraged everyone to visit each of the municipalities to view the Montgomery County Birthday Cakes that will be on display throughout the summer, including the cake created by committee member Jeff Dunn that is currently on display on the grounds of the Historic Courthouse in Hillsboro.

Rev. Stefan Munker, pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Hillsboro, ended the ceremony with a benediction, on behalf of the Greater Hillsboro Ministerial Alliance. “Bless us with a spirit of community and bestow safety, prosperity and harmony to the residents of Montgomery County,” Munker prayed.

Following the ceremony refreshments were served to those in attendance.

Montgomery County’s 200th birthday celebrations will continue on Saturday, June 5, at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Butler. The festivities will include historical displays, reenactments, kid’s games, antique tractors, live music, food booths and a vendor fair, as well as a car show.

Keepsakes commemorating the Montgomery County Bicentennial are currently available for sale at Evrglo Neon Signs, located at 110 East Wood Street in Hillsboro.

Descendants included those of early settlers Henry Briance: David Ballowe, Violet Ballowe, Delbert Ballowe, Danny Ballowe, Billie Ballowe Catalano, Brenda Ballowe Bryant, Donnie Ballowe, Dillon Ballowe and Chuck Rimmel; Peter Cress: Max Cress, Melanie Irvine, Chloe Irvine and Emily Irvine; Israel Seward: Christine Norman, Brett Seward, Tucker Norman, Jackson Montes and Dakota Seward; Jacob Baker: Gary Todt and Larry Todt; Philip Corlew: Anita Swick and Alisia Swick Moore; Jacob Baker: Barbara Pope, Maggie Rovey and Kenden Rovey; Newton Coffey: Patsy Smith and William Jones; Henry Briance: Dawn Painter Pezold, Kevin Painter, Lisa Painter Montgomery and Paul Painter; Phillip Corlew and Colbert Blair: Patricia Washburn Bourdoumis and Catherine Bourdoumis Gabeau; Newton S. Coffey and Cleveland Coffey: Bea Sellers, Beverley Ernst and Lila Sellers Criswell; James Walker and Charles Wright: Deana Dugan Reeves; Phillip Corlew: Ross Lay; John Beck: Mary Meyers Lay; Henry Hill, Sr.: Janet Lewey Carlyle, Brian Lewey and Kevin Lewey; Joseph McAdams, Sr., and Luke Lee Steel: David Beal; Israel Seward: Georgia Bramel Hull; William Griffin and Travis Forehand: Judy Keith Dalhaus; Stephen White: Doris Yeske; Philip Corlew and Colbert Blair: Lynn Boyd Renner and Rhonda Renner; David Killpatrick: Jane Killpatrick Hart and family; Stephen White, John Casey and Henry Hill: James, Madeline and Layla May; and Melchoir Fogelman, John McAdams and John McPhail: Grace Booth and family; as well as other members of the descendant families.

Elected officials reconized included President of Butler Rickey Lane, President of Coalton Rick Cearlock and President-elect Mike Havera, Mayor of Coffeen Sheila White, President of Donnellson Pamela Short, President of Farmersville Joe Tischkau and President-elect Douglas Orr, President of Fillmore Rex Boliard, President of Harvel Cathie Downie, Interim Mayor of Hillsboro Katie Duncan and Mayor-elect Don Downs, President of Irving Bill Jurgena, Mayor of Litchfield Steve Dougherty, Mayor of Nokomis Michael Holliday, President of Ohlman Jackie Rakers, Trustee Amy Mattox representing President of Panama Joe McCario, President of Raymond Dennis Held, President of Schram City Albert Oberle, President of Taylor Springs Elwin Saathoff and President-elect Harry Jackson, President of Waggoner Ronald Eliason and President-elect Ronald Seaton, President of Walshville Joy McDonald, President of Wenonah Jeff Sanders, and Mayor of Witt James VanOstran. 

County officials recognized were State’s Attorney Andrew Affrunti, County Clerk Sandy Leitheiser, Circuit Clerk Holly Lemons, County Treasurer Nikki Lohman, Regional Superintendent Julie Wollerman, County Coroner Randy Leetham, Sheriff Rick Robbins, as well as Montgomery County Board members Earlene Robinson, David Loucks, Donna Yeske, Doug Donaldson, Russell Beason, Gene Miles, Sandra Johnson, Jim Havera, Jeremy Jones, Megan Beeler, Connie Beck, Evan Young,Patty Whitworth, Bill Bergen , Richard Wendel,Ron Deabenderfer, Mark Hughes, Bev McCoy, Tim Fogle, Andy Ritchie and Bob Sneed.

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