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Peasley: Woodstock's history celebrated in May

A new two-year exhibit featuring Woodstock in the early 1960s will open at 1 p.m. May 5 at the McHenry County Historical Society Museum in Union.

The exhibit will focus on two significant anniversaries in the 1960s – the 50th anniversary of the Historical Society (first established in Woodstock) and the 50th anniversary of Woodstock’s All-America City Award.

A timeline of events (supported by photos and memorabilia) focuses on Woodstock’s nomination and presentation in front of the All-America City jury in Detroit. It recalls Woodstock receiving the award and formal dinner celebration. A replica of a merchant window on the Woodstock Square decorated for the All-America City celebration will be on display.

John Strohm and Dan Andrew were instrumental in planning the presentation. They encouraged community support and generated enthusiasm for the project. I chose eight blockbuster 50” x 70” photos to illustrate the points of their presentation. The photos were titled: “A Safer City,” “Better Health,” “More Jobs,” “Better Education,” “More Fun,” “Expanded Culture,” “Better Living,” and “Better People.”

A special exhibit will feature the early history of the Historical Society and its founder, Mrs. Dorothy McEachren. Early items donated to the museum will be on display including the first donation, an 1885 Spring City Band uniform from Woodstock. The exhibit also includes volunteerism, new amenities, shopping, cultural touchstones and industries.

People highlights include Chester Gould, Emery “Tiny” Hansman and Mayor Frances Kuhn. Event highlights include industrial growth with the Borden’s milk factory, opening City Park swimming pool, Woodstock’s agricultural heritage and the Dutch elm disease destruction on the Woodstock Square. Agricultural events include the opening of the new Farm Bureau building in 1962.

I will be a featured speaker, along with Jo Smith, Alice Nulle, Sherry Anderson, Jim Keefe and Alan Belcher. Join us at 1:15 p.m. May 5 for a roundtable discussion about life in Woodstock 50 years ago.

Admission is free and light refreshments will be served. For more information, visit

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Congratulations to Matthew Wormley, who joined his father, Jim Wormley, and his brother, Ryan Wormley, as a financial consultant at Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. in Woodstock.

For the past 11 years, Matt worked with a major consulting firm relating to financial service companies. He lives in North Barrington with his wife, Alexis, and two sons.

Ryan and Jim are senior vice presidents of investments at the firm, along with Sandy Shay, senior registered financial associate.

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Woodstock District 200 student works of art from all grade levels will be on display from April 22 to May 10 during normal business hours at the Woodstock Public Library, 414 W. Judd St.

• Don Peasley has been an editor, columnist and historian in McHenry County since October 1947. He began his association with Shaw Publications in 1950. He is a frequent contributor of articles and photos. He can be reached at 815-338-1533.

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