Dr. Kathy Whitson, a professor of English at Eureka College in Eureka, IL was hostess for the 2013 gathering. She arranged for us to room on campus in Langston Hall. With graduation over, the campus was ours. I must admit, accommodations were much better than I expected. Kathy’s roots are primarily in Grainger Co., TN.
Kathy had assembled a packet for each of us containing all of the information necessary for finding restaurants, library, and the like.
I think for the most part the food in that part of the state was especially good. I did learn however, not to order catfish in Illinois, especially in Eureka and expect traditional (traditional in my state, at least) boneless fillets. My order came as a whole fish, bones and all. It was served minus the head and “innerds,” but not well seasoned, the fish fry coating was hard and brittle, but the fish had a decent taste.
Assisting Kathy was Nancy Scott, Director of the Eureka Public Library District. She arranged a private tour of the local library and an early peek at books, CDs and DVDs the library was selling to raise funds.
Eureka College, as most fans will know, was the Alma Mater of Ronald Reagan. He was graduated from this small midwestern college in 1932. The campus is beautiful with a mixture of older and more modern buildings for students and staff. Photos (better than I could take) of the campus are available at this website.
Kathy arranged for the group to take a private tour of the Metamora (IL) Courthouse Museum, which is centered on Abraham Lincoln artifacts that have been collected through loans and donations. The building is a state historical site and, one of only two original courthouses still existing from the time Lincoln rode the 8th circuit. The other courthouse is located in Mt. Pulaski, IL. The Metamora courthouse where Lincoln often worked as a defense lawyer is located on the second floor and, has been restored to its original 1845 appearance. Our guide for the tour was Mr. Jean Myers, superintendent of this state historical site.
The traditional banquet was held on our last night in Eureka. That event was held in the North Terrill Room of the Donald B. Cerf Center. This wonderful building not only contains a large dining room (the President’s Dining Room) but also the campus snack bar, bookstore, and a Ronald Reagan museum.
Our speaker for the evening was James. L. Fyke, a man of many disciplines. In addition to having been a teacher, he was a US Marshal, appointed by Pres. Reagan; served as committeeman for the Woodford Co., IL Republican Central Committee, President of the Woodford Co. Historical Society, founding member of the Harristown Historical and Genealogical Society and, member of several other similar societies. Mr. Fyke spoke to us about the Effects of the Frontier on American Character. This described how westward movement from the colonies shaped typical American characteristics, including a desire for independence.
We all had a wonderful time filled with laughter and fellowship. We learned and (hopefully) taught a bit to a new cousins. While helping Janet Coffey with her genealogy, we discovered that she and Donna Wolfe Hoy are cousins. How neat is that!?
Great job, Kathy! We all had a lot of fun with you and Nancy and hope to see you next year.