I have been in communication this week with a distant cousin who lives in Danville, Illinois. I had intended to call him while we were there, but then we got busy photographing graves and time ran away with us. When I emailed him to bring him up to date on my cemetery project, I discovered that he had done extensive work in documenting the cemetery and I just never found the right bookshelf at either the Danville Public Library or the Illiana Genealogical and Historical Society.
I am so glad that I was wrong about the little Niccum Cemetery being overlooked by local historians. D.D. and I have been in on-again off-again communication for about 15 years and I knew that he was another fervent guardian of the family history. I should have known that he would have mapped out the family cemeteries. I did beat him to Find A Grave, but he has taken care of getting documentation pulled together on a local level.
And OUCH! I had forgotten my rather pithy dismissal on the blog of Danville's lack of exciting contributions to history. D. D. sent me the following list of people and companies that we can thank Danville for giving their start:
Western Brick Co. - Largest brick making plant in the world until it closed in the early 70s. Bricks were shipped to almost every major country in the world. All of the oldest buildings of the Univ. of Illinois in Champaign and Chicago were built with Western Brick.
Grab-it-Here Grocery stores - the former grocery chain began in Danville.
Gustavus Pearson - Discovered Yosemite Valley/now Yosemite National Park.
Dick Van Dyke - Actor (at least I got this one).
Jerry Van Dyke - Actor. (I knew this one, just failed to mention it.)
Gene Hackman - Actor. (You know, my favorite Hackman film is one that you never see rerun - Misunderstood. Tear jerker, yes, but good. Why isn't it out on DVD?)
Donald O'Connor - Actor/Broadway. (Singing in the Rain - one of my all-time favorite movies. O'Connor's "Make 'Em Laugh" is priceless.)
Bobby Short - Singer/Musician - Played the Hotel Carlisle in NY for 37 years.
Joe Tanner - NASA Astronaut.
Joseph "Uncle Joe" Cannon - U.S. House of Representatives 46 yrs. - Speaker of the House for 8 years.
Ward Hill Lamon - Law Partner of Abraham Lincoln in Danville. Lamon was his body guard during his presidency and at the Ford Theatre at time of his assasination.
Edward Telling - CEO/President of Sears Roebuck and Co.
Theodore Gilliland - Inventor - created the new ground to air transmission/radio for airplanes in the 1940s.
Angela Watson - TV actress. (One of the daughters in the TV show "Step by Step".)
Jim Marshall - baseball player/manager - managed the Cubs 1974-76 and the A's 1979.
Darrin Fletcher - baseball player - Toronto Bluejays.
Helen Morgan - Actress/Cabaret - Zeigfield Follies. (Played Julie LaVerne in Show Boat.)
Matthew Stover - Author. (Among his books are 3 Star Wars novels.)
L.P. Cookingham - In 1940, he became city manager of Kansas City, MO., a position he held for 19 years. Rebuilt it into a thriving metropolis after the corrupted years of Mayor Pendergast.
Gurdan Hubbard - left Danville to head north to Fort Dearborn - Was very instrumental in the creation and development of the City of Chicago.
Keon Clark - former major basketball player.
Kim Crockett - Journalist, has won 2 pulitzer prizes. (She was also lead reporter for Nelson Mandela’s 1990 visit to Miami.)
Margaret Jones Dugdale - Professional Violinist - has been in several broadway productions and with several orchestras across the U.S.
Irving Azoff - Music/Entertainment Agent - Manager of such as; the Eagles, John Fogerty, Christina Aguilera, Glenn Frey, Steely Dan and Jimmy Buffett.. Has produced the following films; Urban Cowboy, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Jack Frost and The Hurricane
P.Kevin Strader - Author. (His work includes serving as Associate Editor of Sesame Street Magazine.)
Reginald Weaver - President of the National Education Association.
Douglas Mathisen, M.D./Thorasic Surgeon - currently Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School
Scott Shaw - Photographer, Pulitzer Prize Winner - Won once with the photo he took of toddler Jessica McClure in 1988 as she was rescued from the abandoned well.
Daniel Olmstead - Journalist - Bureau Chief of United Press International (UPI).
Rear Admiral Joseph Taylor, U.S. Navy and WWII Naval hero.
Dr. David Morrison - Astronomer - Director of NASA Telescope Facility and Deputy Administrator for Space Science at NASA.
You can read more about most of these outstanding folks at the Danville High School Wall of Fame.
Okay, I readily admit when I'm wrong. Danville has made a lot of serious contributions to society. Pot ash being the least of them. I apologize for my flippant remarks and I appreciate cousin D.D.'s bringing my error to my attention.
Glad I can say my ancestors lived in around Danville for generations.