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The spot for Jacksonville’s new PetSafe Dog Park used to be the MacMurray Cabin, and before that the Kiwanis Hut. Hobie Hinderliter, historian of the Jacksonville Kiwanis Club, passed on a book of the club’s history.

Kiwanis started a campsite for girls and boys of the city in 1923, at a location about 6 miles east of town. The camp was later moved to Jacksonville parkland on the south shore of Mauvaisterre Lake, and a cabin was constructed by the club. Hobie said the Kiwanis Hut was used for family picnics for club members, burgoos for area schoolchildren, and an annual hamburger fry with memorable servings of watermelon. The cabin was later passed on to MacMurray College, and was used by their students and community before being transferred to the city of Jacksonville.

The foundation of the old MacMurray Cabin/Kiwanis Hut was recently cleared by Jacksonville Parks & Lakes workers as they prepare the site for the new Jacksonville dog park.

The foundation of the old MacMurray Cabin/Kiwanis Hut was recently cleared by Jacksonville Parks & Lakes workers as they prepare the site for the new Jacksonville dog park.

 

Here’s some excerpts from the History of The Kiwanis Club of Jacksonville . . .

1923
June 12th brought the first activity looking toward the construction of a Kiwanis Over-night Camp. Bricks were hauled to the site six miles east of the city. This movement, handled successfully by the Public Affairs Committee, headed by Dr. Bill Duncan and in absence by Lee Sullivan. This project was inaugurated by the Club on August 9th by the presentation of a perfected plan for the building of a Camp House.
On September 1st initial work was started and on September 3rd, Labor Day, building began in earnest. This work was carried forward successfully by the committee to the most minute detail including the establishment of comprehensive Camp Riles.
A report showed they had successfully built and paid for a splendid camp at a cost of approximately $1,000.00. It was turned over for the use of the boys and girls organizations of the City — a camp which, constructed privately, would cost as least $3,000.

1927
In the year 1927 the main project for the year was the moving of the Kiwanis Camp from the site East of Jacksonville. During the three years of its existence it was impossible to keep it in a fit condition for use. Break-ins, vandalism and the general destroying of the property made it imperative that we move it.
Ted Beadles, Secretary-Treasurer of the Illinois Steel Bridge Company, was a member of our Board of Directors; he was also President of the Park Board. He suggested that we move it to a site on Lake Mauvaisterre. After some time a dollar a year lease was made with the Park Board for a site on the South side of the Lake and the North side of Vandalia Road.
It was ecided we could build an all-year Cabin, fitted with bunkbeds, furnace, complete kitchen and toilets. Vets Chumley, a building contractor and an active member, was Chairman of the committee that supervised the work, most of which was done by members. At one meeting, we were served at the camp sire and we had a regular Cornerstone laying with all the ceremonies and placing papers in the stone. When the building was completed a committee handles its use.

1928
During the year we inaugurated the Family Picnic. This picnic was held at Kiwanis Hut. We had 78 in attendance, but that has grown and has become one of the most popular entertainments during the years.
The Sammy Nichols Burgoo Picnic was given for all school children in all schools up to the Fifth Grade. That also was held at the Hut. All transportation was furnished by the club members by trucks and cars.

1930
During the year 1930 the undersigned, Hugh Green, was president of the Jacksonville Kiwanis Club.
According to my recollection, that was the year in which the debt on the hut was finally paid off. The construction of the hut had been financed by issuance of bonds or notes which were held by various members of the Club. The finances were carefully guarded in order to meet the obligation. During that year the Hut was used considerably for various activities of the Club. It was found to be an excellent place to entertain the families of the club membership.

1933
We had our Family Picnic at the Kiwanis Hut, which was a very successful event.

1934
Another worthwhile project for the year for Underprivileged children was the “Burgoo” sponsored by a special committee headed by Pete Bonansinga. This picnic was held at the Kiwanis Hut and 400 gallons of soup were prepared and consumed by the children of the city.

1937
Back in November 1927 we laid the cornerstone for the Kiwanis Hut on Lake Mauvaisterre, which was operated successfully for several years. It finally became a “thorn in the flesh of Kiwanis“ and almost a “house of ill repute.“ Something had to be done — your president (A.B. Applebee) conceived the brilliant idea of selling it – literally to MacMurray College, and Hayden Walker, Hut Chairman, signed a sigh of relief when the deal was closed. Sense than hundreds of McEnery girls have transferred out too it’s beautiful setting for wiener roast and beefsteak bats (cq).

Edited — New information from MacMurray College Historian Lauretta K. Scheller . . . MacMurray College leased the cabin from the city until May 1986. College catalogues listed the cabin as part of the recreation areas for the students. A couple that worked for the college and tended to the cabin’s care retired in 1973.

The area known for the MacMurray Cabin and Kiwanis Hut is being cleared by City of Jacksonville Parks & Lakes workers, in preparation for transformation in the new Jacksonville Dog Park. A worker said the old cabin foundation is in good shape, with just one crack that can be repaired and reused for a new shelter. One Kiwanian still has the cornerstone of the hut, which was destroyed in a fire. Find out more about the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Office of Recreation and Park Resources planning process, with initial plans to be presented at a committee meeting 4-6 pm Monday February 8 at City Hall, in this previous blog post. Use the blog post’s contact form to send suggestions for the new dog park to the U of I team. Posted by Steve Warmowski/Jacksonville Park Foundation President.

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The Jacksonville City Council Monday approved $60,000 for a Mauvaisterre Creek watershed project spearheaded by the American Farmland Trust.

Mike Baise, of the Trust, previously announced an EPA grant to help reduce soil erosion upstream from Mauvaisterre Lake. The grant is a 60/40 match, so the city’s contribution could bring up to $90,000 in matching funds. The city’s contribution in 2015 may be cash, or in-kind work/services. Volunteer time spent on approved projects may also count towards the local match.

Baise leads a team meeting with farmers and landowners to identify projects to slow water and reduce runoff from farms. The team hopes to identify projects like ponds, berms, buffer strips and other erosion control devices. Besides the benefits to the farmers in preserving their topsoil, Mauvaisterre Lake (a source for drinking water for Jacksonville and surrounding homes on rural water networks) would have less siltation and the phosphorus which comes with the silt.

Along with the dredging Mauvaisterre Lake, reducing soil load into the lake will help bring back a recreational resource for Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Parks Foundation looks forward to helping with projects – like paddle-boat, rowboat or sailboat rentals; or other ideas – to encourage more use of the lake. The Town Brook is a tributary of Mauvaisterre Creek, so successful projects elsewhere in the watershed could attract funding for our urban section of the watershed.

You can help — Baise is looking for old Mauvaisterre Lake photos, to document the takeover of the lake by sediment over time. Know of any aerial photos of Mauvaisterre Lake, or other images showing where recreation used to be possible on the lake? Contact American Farmland Trust or the Jacksonville Parks Foundation with any leads.

Congratulations to the winners of the Town Brook History Contest! The Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Parks Foundation held the contest in an effort to reconnect the community to its waterways.

The Jacksonville community has a long history and a myriad of connections with Mauvaisterre Creek and its urban tributary the Town Brook. The town grew up near its banks; the creek was used as a byway for travelers on the Underground Railroad; its waters were dammed to provide a water supply to support development; generations of kids grew up playing in the brook – hunting for snakes, looking for crawdads, exploring its banks.

Ken Bradbury is writing a play, Brook Tales, which will explore this history and the characters associated with our waterways. Performances will be Saturday & Sunday May 17-18, 2014. Performed by Ken’s Lincoln Land Community College actors.

Winning stories were from:

  • Cora Lee Lacey, who would catch snakes at the State Hospital Farm and tie strings around their “necks” so the snakes wouldn’t get away during lunch.
  • Sarah Angleton, recalling at 8 years old was stuck with her brother in the basement during a storm, with their parents cut off from the house by flooding.
  • Sue Ann Hackett, who recalled story of friend finding pop bottles floating in the Town Brook with notes pleading “Help! Help! Captured. Let us out!” from men working at the State Hospital Farm.
  • Dan Moy, for memories of playing baseball near Franklin School and having to clamber down into the Town Brook to retrieve home run balls.
  • Roger Deem, who sought shelter from bullies at Franklin School at the edge of the Town Brook, later organized a cleanup of the waterway as an Eagle Scout project in 1975, and felt the connection of critters living along the brook.

The contest was sponsored by Our Town Books and Dr. Jerry Osborne of MacMurray College, and each winner received a $25 gift certificate to the book store. The entries were judged by Jim & Sally Nurss of Our Town Books; Chris Ashmore of the Jacksonville Public Library; and Trina Meek of the Eclectic Art Gallery. The full stories were published The Source.

Did you or someone you know grow up playing in the Town Brook? Have any family history along Mauvaisterre Creek? Or do you know a really good yarn? You can submit your story by clicking the history tab.

By Roger Deem

No matter how inflated one’s ego might be, it is impossible not to have a touch of humility forced upon one’s self the first time the Pacific Ocean comes into view. The sweeping majesty of the world’s largest expanse of water makes a first impression like the impact of a wrecking ball.

And curiously, I experienced a similar greeting from Jacksonville’s Town Brook one Spring day in 1975.

I had reached the Life rank in Boy Scout Troop 107 at an early age and then languished at that level for three-and-a-half years as other distractions (i.e. girls, sports, etc.) commanded my interests. I never, ever doubted that I would become an Eagle Scout eventually but in my mid-teens, hormones had definitely replaced ambition as the central motivator in my life.

Then one day, Scoutmaster Joe Grojean gathered all of us with the Life rank and one by one began to question where we were on the path to Scouting’s highest honor. When his inquiring gaze turned my way, he glanced down at the papers in his hand, then back at me. The stern expression which crossed his face was the same he had worn the time he caught me and John Heinzman teaming up to swipe half of Wilbur Spink’s breakfast.

Bypassing the gory details of his ensuing harangue, the basic thrust of his message was to get off my padded backside and get to work! Fearing retribution through the paddle which was usually sitting nearby, I decided to get to work.

The biggest test which still awaited me was the Eagle Scout Service Project. While the benefit to the community was a primary purpose, the main goal of the project was and remains to test the leadership and organizational skills of an Eagle candidate. I was 16 years old and was really rolling now through my swelled-headed teenager phase. I wanted something big, something dramatic for a project. I wanted to show the world I was all growed up and could take whatever it dished out.

I was directed to Col. Vern Fernandes who was chairing the Jacksonville Sesquicentennial event the following year. In the first minute of my meeting with him at Elliott State Bank, I felt very much like Beetle Bailey in his first encounter with Sgt. Snorkel.

Vern started reading from a list of projects the city wanted completed in time for the celebration. One by one, I dismissed the suggestions because none measured up to the level I was seeking. Vern was becoming more irritable by the minute at this young whippersnapper who was poo-pooing his recommendations. I did not yet realize that only a person blinded by immeasurable youthful ignorance would have deliberately thrown gasoline on the fire that was Col. Vern!

Finally, he reached the end of his list and informed me this last project was too big for a boy–cleaning garbage out of the town brook. I nearly jumped out of my chair in my haste to say, “Yes! That’s the one I want!” Vern resisted the idea until I convinced him that anything I accomplished couldn’t make it any worse and there would still be time for the city to complete the job after I totally botched it.

I had no idea how much I had just bitten off. My only prior exposure to the brook was during my years at Franklin School when I used to hide down near the water during recess so the school bullies couldn’t find me.

I went out to make a preliminary inspection of the task that lay before me. I had traversed the roads adjacent to the brook all my life but had never noticed the litter. That day, I saw it all and it was depressing beyond belief. In particular, the stretch that ran parallel to Hoagland Boulevard between Diamond and Lincoln was so trash-covered it looked like the garbage room in Star Wars. It seemed as if 90% of the county’s population had been using the waterway as its own personal rubbish bin.

Fast forward to the end of the project: With a LOT of guidance from my father and the good will and support of five local Scout troops and one Cub Scout pack, we got the job done. I have to say the letter of recommendation Vern wrote to my Eagle Scout Board of Review remains one of the high points of my life. But the brook was still waiting to make its real impact.

I took and developed my own photos in those days. The day the project concluded, I was in my darkroom (which everyone else called the leaky basement) processing the “after” photos showing the project’s results. As one picture sloshed around in the developing fluid and began to fade into view, I noticed there was a pile of garbage bags stuffed to the gills sitting on top of the hill. I realized with dismay that those bags were still out there–I had forgotten to take them to the dump!

So I went out to the site and loaded the bags into my car. I stopped to take a final look at the finished project. As I surveyed the scene, I saw a pair of critters dashing through the now-cleared grasses. Though I did not recognize the breed that day, the image of what I saw is still vibrant in my mind and I suspect they were badgers. They looked like they were running free in a natural paradise, kind of like a happy couple in a margarine commercial charging through a pristine meadow towards each other.

It was the first time I saw the Town Brook as something besides an excuse to build bridges. For those happy, scampering critters, it was home. It was their paradise which so many of us had trashed like a teenager’s room. It was one of those life moments when one first perceives a world larger than the one he or she has occupied.

As I rapidly approach codger status, my appreciation for the natural world has grown and flourished through the years. I took my very first steps on that journey by the waters of the Jacksonville Town Brook.

The Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Parks Foundation held a Town Brook History Contest in an effort to help reconnect the community to its waterways. The Jacksonville community has a long history and a myriad of connections with Mauvaisterre Creek and its urban tributary the Town Brook. The town grew up near its banks; the creek was used as a byway for travelers on the Underground Railroad; its waters were dammed to provide a water supply to support development; generations of kids grew up playing in the brook – hunting for snakes, looking for crawdads, exploring its banks. The stories, along with others, will be part of Brook Tales – a play written by Ken Bradbury and performed by his Lincoln Land Community College class. Performances May 17-18 (Saturday & Sunday) will benefit the Town Brook Initiative. Click the History tab to find out more, or to submit your story to the history project.

By Dan Moy

Ebey Alley was the street in Jacksonville that produced some of the finer young athletes that were students of Franklin school. The alley runs past the old post office and the Production Press company and ends at the Town Brook. Ebey Alley is still there, but most all of the homes are gone as well as the athletes. There were cousins that enjoyed playing sports on the MacMurray college campus and the playground of Franklin school. Joe was a cousin to Milt, Ed and Ronny, and they enjoyed playing baseball on the Franklin school playground. The biggest problem was that they all could hit the baseball further than the limits of the field and that limit was the brook. As a neighborhood schoolmate from college Avenue, I was always invited to play ball with them as an outfielder. That always produced a problem since any of them could hit a home run that would end up in the brook and the outfielders always had to go into the brook to retrieve the ball. You always hoped that it had not rained two or three days before the games so that the field would not be muddy or the swift moving water would take the ball under the Clay Street bridge.

My parents could never understand how I would come home or a warm summer day with muddy shoes. All I have to mention was that I was playing ball with the McPike’s from Ebey Alley and they understood that one of the guys had hit a home run into the brook.

The Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Parks Foundation held a Town Brook History Contest in an effort to help reconnect the community to its waterways. The Jacksonville community has a long history and a myriad of connections with Mauvaisterre Creek and its urban tributary the Town Brook. The town grew up near its banks; the creek was used as a byway for travelers on the Underground Railroad; its waters were dammed to provide a water supply to support development; generations of kids grew up playing in the brook – hunting for snakes, looking for crawdads, exploring its banks. The stories, along with others, will be part of Brook Tales – a play written by Ken Bradbury and performed by his Lincoln Land Community College class. Performances May 17-18 (Saturday & Sunday) will benefit the Town Brook Initiative. Click the History tab to find out more, or to submit your story to the history project.

By Sue Ann Hackett, as told by Carson Steinheimer

I was talking to one of my childhood/lifelong chums tonight and asked him if he had played by the brook, had any stories. Yes! Carson Steinheimer, son of Ray Steinheimer who had a drug store on the corner of State and Court where the Journal office is now, and his buddy Tom Lukeman, son of George Lukeman who had a car dealership (I think) east of the old High School on State Street, lived on Woodland Street.

Carson related that when they were about 10-12 years old they would take their bikes and load their lunch — a bottle of cream soda pop and a peanut butter sandwich — in their baskets. They pedaled down Woodland and east to Lincoln. [Morton Avenue was not built out there in this period of the 1940s.] There was a small bridge over the brook which connected to the State Hospital “Red Farm” where they raised hogs. They would eat their lunch by the brook and fool around. Sometimes they would ride south on the narrow road out to Diamond Grove Cemetery and eat their lunch there. Tom’s grandmother lived in that area.

One time they saw pop bottles floating in the brook with paper notes inside them. They took the cap off one bottle and read the note which said: “Help Help! Captured. Let us out!” They put the bottles in their bike baskets and rode downtown to the Police Department. The policeman read the notes and told the boys that they were probably written by men from the State Hospital who had been working at the farm, but he complimented the boys for bringing in the evidence.

[Carson became a dentist and lives in a Chicago suburb; Tom has homes both on Woodland and I think in Havana, Ill. Not sure of his work. Carson and Tom were in the famous Boy Scout troop at Grace Church (Carson attained Eagle rank) and have remained friends.]

[Side observation, nothing to do with the brook. Children of our youth in the 1940s-50s were “surrounded” by the three State Institutions and had interaction with the families, teachers and workers at them. We learned the Deaf signing alphabet and would practice short messages with each other. When in Junior High or early High School and starting to date, we might secretly sign “I Love you” to our favorites.]

The Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Parks Foundation held a Town Brook History Contest in an effort to help reconnect the community to its waterways. The Jacksonville community has a long history and a myriad of connections with Mauvaisterre Creek and its urban tributary the Town Brook. The town grew up near its banks; the creek was used as a byway for travelers on the Underground Railroad; its waters were dammed to provide a water supply to support development; generations of kids grew up playing in the brook – hunting for snakes, looking for crawdads, exploring its banks. The stories, along with others, will be part of Brook Tales – a play written by Ken Bradbury and performed by his Lincoln Land Community College class. Performances May 17-18 (Saturday & Sunday) will benefit the Town Brook Initiative. Click the History tab to find out more, or to submit your story to the history project.

By Sarah (McClintock) Angleton (Sarah Angleton currently lives and writes in Missouri, but is proud to have been born and raised in Jacksonville. Her short fiction has most recently been appeared in the anthology Coffee & Critique. She blogs at sarah-angleton.com.)

Tiny hairs rose on the back of my neck as I listened to the crack of thunder outside my bedroom window. It was one of this early springtime days that wasn’t quite warm, but which carried within its dense atmosphere the promise of hot sticky days to come.

I’d always liked storms. I found a certain comfort in the rhythm of the raindrops, in the low-lying clouds drawn close over my world like a worn, hand-sewn quilt. Rainstorms meant my busy family gathered together, taking shelter in our cozy, South Jacksonville home, wondering if the lights would go out, or if the tondo siren would wail. In heavy rains, our basement would begin oozing trickles of water that flowed to the drain in the middle of the concrete floor. In response, we would quickly work together making sure boxes of family keepsakes were removed from harm’s way.

But there are a dew storms I remember less fondly. One I vividly recall occurred when I was eight, old enough to think rationally, but still young enough to be easily frightened by my own wild imagination.

The school day had ended and I was home with my older brother, Robb, who was thirteen at the time. Mom was still at work, teaching a class at Illinois College. My older brother was already away at the University of Illinois by then. My sister, a senior at JHS, would arrive home later with dad, who taught at the school.

I played happily by self, dressing my dolls, occasionally pausing to look out the window at the swaying and bending trees in the increasing wind. The knock on my door came only a second after I heard the siren. I didn’t have time to answer because Robb burst into my room, his face a pale mask of panic.

“To the basement. Now!” He barked his order, as insistent as a drill sergeant, though he didn’t need to. I was an old hand at tornado alarms, coached from birth that my stuff wasn’t as important as my safety. I dropped my dolls and ran out of the room past my brother.

We were in the basement in under a minute, leaping over the rivulets snaking across the floor and hunkering down in the windowless area behind the stairs that Dad used as a kind of indoor workshop for helping with school and Scout projects.

Then the phone rang.

Robb looked at me, his eyes wide with fear. “Should I answer?”

That he might expect his little sister to know what to do this situation both surprised and frightened me. All I could think to say was, “Well, I’m not going to answer it.”

Robb gave the slightest of nods, and raced back up the stars, tracking water from the basement floor as he went. I heard him answer and talk for what felt like an eternity before he came poising back down the stairs.

“It was Mom,” he said, breathless, as he wriggled into our safe space, much closer to me than either of us would have found acceptable under normal circumstances. But, this wasn’t a normal circumstance. This was a full-fledged emergency.

“What did she day?” My voice sounded small and I had begun to shiver.

“The brook is flooded. She can’t get across town.” He paused, emphasizing his next words. “We are on our own.”

His words echoed in my head, dread seeping into me, threatening to flood my thoughts with terror. I knew heavy rains often caused the brook to flood and become impassable, effectively dividing the town into north and south. I also knew that it sometimes took hours for the water to recede.

“What else did she say?” My voice was tinged in not just fear, but anger at the injustice of the situation. I might lie for hours in the rubble of our splintered home with only my dopey brother for company as we awaited rescue.

“Well,” he said, “I told her that the siren was going off and she yelled at me to hang up the phone, grab you, and get to the basement.”

That sounded sensible to me, and it calmed me to know that my mother understood the desperation of our situation. I told myself we’d be okay and this would all be over soon.

“I just hope she doesn’t drown.”

That was exactly the kind of thing Robb would say. One afternoon, when I had been playing at a friend’s house in our neighborhood, my mom walked over to tell me it was time to come home. She and my friend’s mom started chatting. I guess she was away from the house for fifteen or twenty minutes. While she was gone, Robb came home on his bike and found the doors unlocked with no one at home. He panicked, grabbed his Red Ryder and searched the house. When my mom and I walked in, he met us a gunpoint, livid because we had worried him so.

I knew he had the tendency to let his imagination get the best of him. And so when he said, “I just hope she doesn’t drown,” I should have been able to shrug it off.

Except I was eight.

Instead, I asked, “What do you mean? Why would she drown?”

His voice was eerily calm, very matter-of-fact, as if he’d already worked out the whole scenario in his mind and knew how we would survive it. “Floods are dangerous. If she tried to drive across to us, she could get swept away. They might not even find her body for weeks.”

Suddenly I was no longer nervous about the raging tornado or angry to be stuck in the basement with my brother. All I could think about was my mother being sucked out of her car and dragged miles and miles through the raging current of the swollen brook. I just knew they would discover her mangled body thrown onto the muddy banks when the rain finally stopped.

As if reading my mind, my brother thoughtfully offered, “I bet she ends up in the parking lot of Jolly Tamale. Maybe Dad will find her on his way home.”

I punched him.

The sirens had long since died down and when we peeked through the high half-windows on the other side of the basement, we saw blue sky. Our house still stood, as did all the houses in our neighborhood. The funnel cloud never touched the ground and aside from a few downed branches and a little muddy cleanup, the town was unaffected by the storm.

It was another couple of hours before the flood waters receded enough for my dad, and sister to make it across town. On their way, they did spot my mom pulling out of the parking lot at the Jolly Tamale where she’d picked up dinner. She followed them south on Main Street and into our driveway, completely unharmed.

“Robb,” I said, looking at my brother, who I’m happy to report is now a very responsible adult, who put his vivid imagination to much better use than terrifying small children, “Next time there’s storm, I’m in charge.”

The Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Parks Foundation held a Town Brook History Contest in an effort to help reconnect the community to its waterways. The Jacksonville community has a long history and a myriad of connections with Mauvaisterre Creek and its urban tributary the Town Brook. The town grew up near its banks; the creek was used as a byway for travelers on the Underground Railroad; its waters were dammed to provide a water supply to support development; generations of kids grew up playing in the brook – hunting for snakes, looking for crawdads, exploring its banks. The stories, along with others, will be part of Brook Tales – a play written by Ken Bradbury and performed by his Lincoln Land Community College class. Performances May 17-18 (Saturday & Sunday) will benefit the Town Brook Initiative. Click the History tab to find out more, or to submit your story to the history project.

By Cora Lee Lacey

You want stories about “THE OLDE TOWNE BROOKE”? I’m 85 years old and the neighborhood kids and I played down there. I lived at the end of south Prairie St & Chambers. My grandpa was head dairyman at the State Hospital when they had their own cows.

This day we were catching little garter snakes. Since I was the only girl I got to carry the jar with the snakes in it. Once I stepped on one to keep it from getting away. It turned around & bit me on the ankle. We went to a near-by house & asked for some medicine to put on it. There were tiny tooth makes on my ankle. We took them home with us for lunch and would tie strings around their “necks” and tie them up so they’d be there after we finished lunch. Were they still there? I forget!!

The Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Parks Foundation held a Town Brook History Contest in an effort to help reconnect the community to its waterways. The Jacksonville community has a long history and a myriad of connections with Mauvaisterre Creek and its urban tributary the Town Brook. The town grew up near its banks; the creek was used as a byway for travelers on the Underground Railroad; its waters were dammed to provide a water supply to support development; generations of kids grew up playing in the brook – hunting for snakes, looking for crawdads, exploring its banks. The stories, along with others, will be part of Brook Tales – a play written by Ken Bradbury and performed by his Lincoln Land Community College class. Performances May 17-18 (Saturday & Sunday) will benefit the Town Brook Initiative. Click the History tab to find out more, or to submit your story to the history project.