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Mystery Photo
We don't know much anout this photo and need your help to determine the Who, What and Where. We are somewhat sure it was taken in circa 1939 or 1940. One possible hint may be the people seated at right are wearing coats. Several names of the principals have been suggested. These include #14 may be Harry Hartman, #16 is likely future Mayor John E. "Doc" Lee and the #8 young lady could be Lena (Ferro) Georgeff. Also, the little girl at right, in front 'C', is Billie Jean (Bess) Bosworth. Place your mouse over the photo to see the ID numbers. If you click on the photo a larger version will appear and you can enlarge it by clicking on it, then use the scrollbars to move the photo. Send names and information to:

Venice Memories Bottle Herald

    WHAT IF... You could go back in time and stand at Second & Granville streets in, let's say, 1885 to see the first St. Mark Church built in Venice. Place your cursor on the photo above (there may be a slight delay the first time) to see what it may have looked like then. The two-story parsonage was built next to the small brick church. A school, not pictured, was also built on the property.

Swamper Tales
A job that defined 'dirty'

Roger Peach, formerly of Venice, has written a book about how he spent his teen summers back in '60s.

    If you haven't bought a copy yet, you're in luck, one farming related website has a limited number of first edition copies of Peach's book at a handsome discount, while they last. Click HERE to visit the Hoard's Dairyman website to get a copy. You can also get an autographed copy directly from Peach. His contact information is below.

He graduated with the Class of 1968 at Venice High School and he and his classmates were honored on their 50th anniversary at the 2018 Venice reunion.

Roger's book "Swamper Tales - Life and Times of a Fair Circuit Cow Boy" is a non-fiction work about his teenage summers helping to show cows and bulls at county fairs. "Swampers" refers to the people who perform the most menial tasks connected to showing cattle.

Signed copies of “Swamper Tales” are available for purchase by contacting the author at prpeach99@yahoo.com or via U.S. mail at 216 Glendale Drive, Columbia, IL 62236. Price of the signed, first-edition book is $30, which includes all shipping and handling fees.

Roger, who currently lives in Columbia, IL, donated the profits from up to 10 copies of his book sold at the reunion, which he autographed, towards the costs involved in producing the annual reunion.

He worked as a newspaper reporter and professional writer until he retired. He said this book was in his head for a while and upon his retirement he decided it was time to put it on paper.

Here is how PrairieFarmer.com explains the book:

Do you remember this?
Venice library home to large mural

When a visitor enters the Venice Public Library, and if they turn to their right, they can't help but see the large mural painted high above the shelves of books lining the building's walls.

It is a fanciful depiction of children's book and fairytale characters including Alice and her friends from Wonderland, Humpty Dumpty and the brothers Tweedledum and Tweedledee, to name a few.

The mural is quite apropos as it is in the children's area of the library. The mural measures 7.5 feet high and is 12.8 feet wide.

The painting is the work of artist Miriam McKinnie ( 1906-1987) and is dated 1952. Born in Evanston, IL, several of her paintings are displayed in the Smithsonian. Four of her murals in the Edwardsville Public Library which she donated to the library in 1958 after a fire destroyed some of its interior.

During her long career as a painter, muralist, and lithographer, she was one of the few women artists who painted murals for the WPA effort between 1934 and 1943.

Unfortunately, there is some minor damage to the mural caused by water leakage, that has left some white spots on Humpty Dumpty's head (Photo at right).

Research is underway to see if a college or university art conservation class may be able to conserve the artwork back to it's full fairytale glory.

  Venice connection to the Civil War

      Information in a recent obituary that was placed on our website led to research which has uncovered a connection between Venice and the Civil War.

Unfortunately, the information found does not distinguish if a particular soldier lived in Venice or Venice Township, but at least there is a list of men who served in the Union Army during the Civil War from the area.

      When the Illinois Archives webpage is accessed from the link below, a soldier's name can be clicked on to see specific information about him - his physical description, where he was born or "nativity", his residence, and where he mustered into the service and and where he separated from the service. Many appear to have went to Alton to join the Army.

Unfortunately, at least two died, one was killed in a railroad accident and another died of what was termed "consumption", which was tuberculosis. There was also one listed as Missing In Action and at least three are described as deserters, all shortly after joining.

      Of course their ranks are also given, but interestingly enough when one man separated from service, it was noted he "mustered out as a musician" with no reference to his rank.

Here is the link to the Illinois Archives page: ILLINOIS ARCHIVES

Near the top left, click on the SEARCH button. To search for the Venice list, scroll down near the bottom of the page and type VENICE in the "Residence" box and then click the SUBMIT button.

      Searches can also be done using names or other locations in Illinois on this website for genealogy purposes.

There is also a page to search for Civil War participants who served in the Navy, but unfortunately, searches can only be done by name. NAVY SEARCH

When searching by name on either page, the entry should be in this form: Doe John - with no comma.

You can CLICK ON THE PICTURE  above to see a larger, complete version of the list.

How Venice looked in 1941...to a bird

From Kerr Island on the west to the then-three-year-old viaduct on the east and from the southern end of Main Street to the edge of where the Dow Chemical/Conalco plant would be located on the north, all of Venice was photographed on one negative in the fall of 1941 during a U.S. Department of Agriculture aerial survey of crops.

The whole of Madison County was photographed during the survey using a camera loaded with 9-inch by 9-inch negatives. Each negative shows an area of approximately three by three miles.

If you click on the aerial photo at right, you will be taken to the full story and larger versions of this photo and a very large mosaic of the Tri-City area in 1941.

The large mosaic includes all of Venice, Madison and most of developed Granite City all the way to the Nameoki and Pontoon Roads intersection near the top right corner. Since the photos were taken on different days and at sligthtly different angles, some of the frames used to make the mosaic do not mesh perfectly, but what's visible (or not) in the overall image is still remarkable.

How long will reunions continue?

If you've been putting off attending the annual Venice Reunion, you may want to plan for the Aug. 3, 2019 reunion because we may be facing the inevitable end of the annual event - sooner rather than later..

The Venice History Committee has been producing Venice reunions since 2010.

We want the reunions to continue and we want more people to attend, but if attendance keeps dropping it cannot continue like it has been.

Understandably attendance fluctuates as not everyone can attend every year, but unfortunately the trend shows a slow, steady drop in attendance for various reasons.

From documentation available for the last seven reunions, from 2012 to 2018 - except for two years - we have not been able to pay all connected expenditures with the money we collected.

When expenditures exceed income for a reunion, we have to pay the difference out of the committee's treasury and our only sources of income are dues and DVD sales.

Over the last seven reunions, more than $1,800 has been taken from the VHC treasury to make up shortages.

Changes have to be made. The well will run dry.

      We do not want to make money producing a reunion, we just want to pay the bills incurred.

As the president of the committee, I feel compelled to explain our situation.

This year's reunion faced a new obstacle, the Elk's "Queen of Hearts" drawing for a large jackpot. They started this after the 2017 reunion and have picked Saturdays at 8 p.m. for the drawing. The parking lots were full as were lots across Maryville Road at several churches.

Lack of parking likely negatively affected the number of people who may have walked in for $10, thus affecting income to pay the bills.

Many members of the committee believe that the Elks' facility is the best location for our reunion.

We have obvious choices or options that we can take, which include, but are not limited to:

      • Raise reservation prices, walk-in charge
      • Eliminate the dinner and lower prices
      • Change the time of the reunion
      • Cut the D.J.
      • No free beer or soda
      • Don't have reunions annually

Some of these options and others would save money and some of the options could end up causing more problems by resulting in less people attending the reunions. The fewer the attendees, the less money to pay expenditures.

So you can see that the work of the history committee and the reunion sub-committee is going to be anything but easy before the next reunion.

We have to walk a fine line to be able to offer the reunion to the largest numbers of people, but not lose money every year.

We always know our expenditures in advance, but we don't know how many people will show up. And with the passing of so many former residents over the past years, the number of potential attendees is dwindling steadily.

Combinations of options mentioned above and others options will also be explored.

Please, don't wait any longer to attend a Venice Reunion. Help us keep producing the event so you can see and talk with your old friends from Venice.

Patrick Foley, president VHC

        THE VENICE HOMECOMING.   In what was probably similar weather to what we're experiencing ourselves, Venitians and friends celebrate the Venice Homecoming in Lee Park 70 years ago this week. We have Harry Fechte to thank for this aerial photo which shows much of the park as well as a portion of the business district. Along Broadway, from the left, can be seen old St. Mark Church and School, Cavner's, a brand new Tri-City Grocery with a streetcar in front, Joe Goodrich's tavern, the Junction tavern, City Hall and Miller's junk yard. What you don't see is John's Drive In, Ritz's Auto Sales or the car wash, the Sinclair gas station, the public library and the recreation center. To view a larger photo you can zoom in on and see things better, CLICK HERE. If you lived on Klein Street you might see your house. On the photo in the bottom right corner is written "50th Anniversary held", but what it refers to is unknown.

  Hurry!   Hurry!    Read All About It!

A new feature begins today that will allow readers a glimpse into how life was in Venice 90 years ago.

Front pages of {The Venice Herald}, which was published from 1926 to 1928, will be available periodically for your perusal.

If you want to read entire (four pages) issues of the weekly newspaper, all three years of the papers are available on our set of Venice History DVDs. The newspaper files can only be accessed using a computer. You can find ordering information for the DVDs HERE .

CLICK ON THE NEWSPAPER at left to read selected pages and a story about Fr. John Brockmeier who was its publisher.

Donations of Venice memorabilia
gladly accepted for archiving

The Venice History Committee is given various items from time to time and we are happy to archive just about anything related to Venice for posterity and share with the Venice community.

The types of items that could be donated to the committee include (but are not limited to) yearbooks, anything Crippled Childrens Ball related, high school play programs, graduation and baccalaureate programs, graduation diplomas, sports or music letters, Red Devils sports memorabilia, Venice Homecoming or St. Mark's Bazaar related, anything related to Venice politics or any old photos or negatives. Each item will be apporpriately marked and attributed to the donor, if the donor approves. Anonymous donations will also be accepted.

Recently, we were excited to receive a beer bucket from a Venice Crippled Childrens Ball and a program booklet from the 1983 Ball. These items were donated to the committee by Phil and Lynn Daniels.

Please let us know if you have anything you may want to donate to the committee. The easiest way is to send an email to: venicememories@yahoo.com. You can also contact an officer to arrange a donation or to ask questions about donating. You may also leave a message at (618)917-4316 and someone will contact you.

We can also photograph or scan items to share with our Venice community, if you don't wish to part with your Venice memorabilia. Contact us at the above email address to make arrangements at your convenience.

More information is available on our "Submissions" page by clicking HERE..

Hall of Fame bound
Henry brothers to be inducted

TWO Venice High School basketball stars will be following their high school coach into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Brothers Ron (Class of 1974) and Mike (Class of 1975) Henry are among the players being honored as 2018 Hall of Fame inductees. Their coach at Venice High School, Rich Essington (VHS Class of 1967) is himself a 2014 inductee as a player to the Hall of Fame. He was the first inductee to the HoF from Venice.

"I wanted to share the news that Ron and I have been blessed to be inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame. Of course, it couldn't be possible without God, family, coaches, teammates and great support from the people of Venice and surrounding areas. It is the climax of a wonderful career of playing basketball," Mike Henry said.

THE Hall of Fame inducts players, officials (referees), media members and friends of basketball in addition to basketball coachs, both high school and college levels. All Illinois championship teams, both high school and college, are automatically inducted into the HoF.

Mike Henry played center for the first Red Devils team to win the Illinois High School Association state basketball championship in 1975. That team and the 1987 VHS championship team are both in the HoF.

AFTER high school, Mike played basketball at Lincoln Trail Community College and McKendree College; Ron played at Kansas State and he also played at McKendree.

The second HoF inductee from Venice was Erwin Claggett (VHS Class of 1991), who was inducted in 2016 and who also coached the last season of Red Devils basketball in 2002-03.

The Henry brothers will be inducted during ceremonies on Saturday, May 5, in Redbird Arena at Illinois State University, Bloomington-Normal. The event is open to the public and tickets are $40 per person. If you are interested in attending, you can contact Mike Henry at mikesgr8ful@aol.com to make reservations no later than March 15.

A Hall of Fame museum is being planned for Pontiac, IL, sometime in the future.
Dues for 2019 gladly accepted now

If you are not a Lifetime Member and have not yet paid your dues for 2018, they are now being accepted. Your membership will run through the end of 2019

Please send your check for $5 (for a single person or a couple) made out to the Venice History Committee to: Venice History Committee, 917 Washington Ave, Madison, IL 62060-1344.

There is also the option of paying $50 for a Lifetime Membership, which also covers a single person or a couple.

Is it "DUCK" or "DUKW" ?
Keep watching here!

The latest Newsletter and minutes for the last meeting are available- click HERE.

We have missing rings

We are looking for VHS class rings for classes 1963, 1965, 1975, 1976 and 1977. If we are able to photograph rings from these years, it would result in a continuous string of rings from 1957 to 1978. Of course, any ring from any year is very much appreciated. If you have a ring from these years, please contact us at venicememories@yahoo.com

Photos of the Fatima shrine dedication are available for viewing, click HERE.

Farewell Mass booklet now available
The booklet handed out at the Farewell Mass at St. Mark Church on Sunday, October 30, 2016, is now available for viewing and download. Click HERE.

Membership dues DEAL!

If you pay your $5 annual dues now, you will be paid up until Dec. 31, 2019. Pay now and your covered, all for ONLY $5. You can also eliminate the hassle of paying annual dues by becoming a LIFE MEMBER for only $50! Memberships, both annual and LIFE, are for yourself and your spouse (if applicable). As a paid member of the Venice History Committee, you are not only supporting the group's work to preserve the history of Venice, but you are able to vote on all matters that come before the group at regular and annual meetings.

Click on the MEMBERSHIP link on the next page to get the form to send with your dues check. Please make out checks to "Venice History Committee."