4th Annual Cruisin’ Through Cumberland Co. Historical Tour

All vehicles are welcome to the 4th Annual Cruisin’ Through Cumberland Co. Historical Tour for Jeeps & Automoblies.  Hosted by: Cumberland Co Historical Society.

Saturday June 24th, 2017   Sign up: 10:30am at the Historical Society building in Greenup IL.   Ride will leave at Noon (12pm).

The route will be a historical cruise of Neoga Township & a stop at the Aldrich House.

50/50 drawing will be at the Toledo American Legion after the run, you do not have to be present to win.

T-shirts can be pre-ordered for $10.00 by contacting Kristan Scott 217-232-3166 or Linda Matherly 217-232-8078 or by email at historic@rr1.net or by person at the Museum building/depot.  T-shirts orders need to be no later than Saturday June 17th.  There will be a few T-shirts the day of the run.

The 3 Cumberland Co. Historical buildings in Greenup are non-profit Organization.  We depend on donation/fundraisers to keep our doors open.

For more information about the ride or to make a donation, contact Kristan Scott 217-232-3166 or Linda Matherly 217-232-8078 or Cumberland Co. Historical Society 217-923-9306.

August 1935 postcards to Cumberland County, Illinois

Written & Submitted by Dennis Edward Flake

The dream of leaving your cares behind and traveling out west for an adventure in the great National Parks is still very appealing today. In 1935, a trip to Yellowstone, Black Hills, Big Horn, and the Badlands was more of a pipe dream for most Americans than reality. Fortunately for my great-grandfather, Joseph Marion Flake, of Cottonwood Township, Cumberland County, Illinois, his dream came true on August 21, 1935. Family legend has it that he and a couple of other men from Cumberland County packed a car and departed Toledo for the Dakotas and Wyoming.

Joseph or commonly known as Joe was fifty-two years in August 1935, and he had been a farmer his whole life. He was certainly not a young man, but he still had a sense of adventure. By August 21, 1935, the Cumberland County Fair was over, and his crops must have been in good shape. The harvest was several weeks away, so this was the perfect time for a trip. He probably had a little extra money in the bank because his boys, Golden and Berlen, were grown, and there was less need to save money for tuition at Eastern Illinois. Finally, he had to get permission for the journey from his wife and my great-grandmother, Pearl Alumbaugh Flake.

I was able to locate seven post cards from this 1935 trek in the old papers of my great-grandparents. The post cards corroborated family legend that the trip was authentic. The dates on the post cards ranged from August 22 to August 25, 1935. The post cards that I found were probably not comprehensive, but they provided a very good overview of the outing. Unfortunately, I was not able to determine who also went on the vacation with Joe.

The first post card was dated August 22, 1935 from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The time stamp was 1PM. The post card contained a photograph of the “Memorial Building and Island Plaza” in Cedar Rapids. The post card required only a one cent stamp for postage. It was addressed to my grandfather, Golden Flake, in Lerna, Cole County, Illinois. My grandfather had graduated from Eastern Illinois in 1933. Due to the Great Depression, he had to make a living on a rented farm near Lerna. The post card, in the hand writing of Joe, stated “stayed last night at Rushville, ILL.” Rushville is located northwest of Cumberland County and is a distance of approximately 160 miles.

The second post card was also from Cedar Rapids, Iowa dated August 22, 1935. It had the same 1PM time stamp. The post card was addressed to “Mrs Joe Flake, Toledo, ILL.” The card said very briefly “arrived here at 11A.M. Joe.” The mileage from Rushville to Cedar Rapids is approximately 175 miles. The post card had a photo of the “El Kahir Shrine Temple and Iowa Consistory No. 2.”

The third post card was also dated and timed, August 22, 1935, 1PM, from Cedar Rapids. The card had a photograph of “St. Paul’s Methodist Church” on the front. The post card was addressed to Joe’s other son, Berlen Flake, in Toledo. Joe stated to Berlen that “I needed a new pair of feet last night.” Like most travelers, Joe had most likely done an excessive amount of walking, and his feet were extremely tired. There is no way to know why Joe selected these post cards of Cedar Rapids.

The fourth post card was dated August 24, 1935 or two days later from Custer, South Dakota. The time stamp was 5PM. It is about 740 miles from Cedar Rapids to Custer, South Dakota. The post card was addressed to his son, Golden, in Lerna. Joe succinctly wrote that it was “Saturday noon just out of the Black Hills Joe.” The front of the post card had a beautiful photo of “Among the Needles, Black Hills, S.D.”

The fifth post card was also dated August 24, 1935, but there was no time stamp on the back of the card. The post office was Wall, South Dakota or approximately 90 miles from Custer, South Dakota. The post card simply said “8 P.M” in the space for writing messages. The post office must have been closed by the time Joe had arrived in Wall. He probably wanted his family back home to know that he was fine and was spending the night in Wall, SD. The front of the card contained an impressive photograph entitled “View From Tunnel, Bad Lands, SO. DAK.”

The sixth post card was dated August 25, 1935 and timed at 12PM from Worland, Wyoming. The post card was addressed to Pearl or “Mrs Joe Flake Toledo ILL.” Joe said that it was Sunday morning and that he stayed on the “long horn.” He described an unseasonably “big frost last night.” He went on to say that he was only “150 MI from Yellowstone.” He was referring to the Big Horn Mountains, which are about 26 miles east of Worland. The front of the card contained a photo of “Angels Stairway to Leigh’s Monument, Ten Sleep Canyon.”

The seventh and final post card was also dated August 25, 1935. The time stamp was 6:30PM from Cody, Wyoming. The distance from Worland to Cody is about 90 miles. The card was addressed to Golden Flake in Lerna. Joe wrote his message on the post card at 5PM. During the day, he had seen the home of Buffalo Bill. He planned on spending the night in Cody. He stated that he was going to “…take in the Big Park tomorrow.” Cody, Wyoming is located just east of Yellowstone National Park. The beautiful photograph on the front of the card was the “Great Falls of the Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park.”

In the old papers of my great-grandparents, there were no other post cards from this journey to the west. Based on the seventh post card, we know that Joe did explore Yellowstone National Park on August 26, 1935. We do not understand how long he stayed or where he visited in this large and spectacular park. We also do not know if he toured any other parks or sights in the west. Was Yellowstone National Park the end of his western excursion? Finally, we do not know when he returned to Cumberland County, Illinois. Regardless of this lack of information, his adventure to the west had to be extremely exotic and stunning to a middle-aged farmer from Cumberland County, Illinois even by today’s standards and frequency of travel.

World War II letters to Cumberland County

Written & Submitted by Dennis Flake.

Normally when we think of World War II letters being sent back home, we think of uniformed servicemen serving their country somewhere in the world and writing letters to their loved ones. However, there were other ways to serve your country during World War II. My late grandfather, Golden Alumbaugh Flake, of Rural Route 3 in Toledo, Illinois served his country away from home during World War II very differently.

In September of 1943, my grandfather accepted a teaching position in physics at Louisiana Polytechnic Institute or Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana. He previously taught high school science in southeastern Illinois. The new position offered him a chance to teach at a college level and to serve his country. He was a graduate of Toledo High School Class of 1929 and of Eastern Illinois State Teachers College in 1933. His wife was the late Rita Nay Flake. She had graduated from Eastern Illinois State Teachers College in 1932. While my grandfather was teaching physics at Louisiana Tech, she maintained a temporary household in Ruston and raised my father, Franklyn Edward Flake.

The teaching position at Louisiana Tech was part of the War Department’s V-12 program. The V-12 curriculum provided future Navy and Marine Corp officers with a foundational college education in physics, mathematics, engineering, English, Naval organization and history, and physical training. The Naval Academy and Officer Candidate Schools simply could not provide enough officers for the war effort. My grandfather taught physics in the classroom and the laboratory and had over 100 V-12 Navy and Marine candidates assigned to him.

Recently, I discovered twelve letters in old family papers which were sent from my grandparents in Ruston, Louisiana to my great-grandparents, Joe (Berry) Flake and Pearl Alumbaugh Flake, in Toledo, Illinois. The letters were dated from the fall of 1943 to the fall of 1945. Most of the letters were written on Louisiana Tech stationary. The majority of the letters were written by my grandmother, Rita. Based on the gaps in the dates of the letters, there were probably more letters sent back home that were lost over time. The letters portrayed a different type of sacrifice and service during the war years.

The first of the twelve letters was dated October 26, 1943. It was written mainly by my grandfather. He said that Tech was on a short semester break, and the second sixteen weeks semester was starting next week. The only students left on campus were the ones who failed to pass all subjects. He pointed out that the candidates who passed their required subjects would proceed to officer training, whereas the ones who failed headed to Navy or Marine Corp boot camp. There were 580 V-12 Navy and Marines on campus, and Tech was expecting a significant increase during the next semester. He wrote that the candidates were under “strict regulations” and were under constant review by their company officers. He was also anticipating an improvement in the quantity and quality of the equipment in his physics laboratory.

In the same letter, my grandfather told about missing Illinois and wanting to come home during the semester break. There was not enough time during the break to make the trip north. In addition, gasoline and tires for his car were rationed. He said that Louisiana was very different than Illinois and that it would take some time to get use to “here.” He did point out that the people had been nice and friendly and that they had met many people. My grandmother was busy with household duties and attending faculty wives functions on campus. My father, “Eddie,” was fascinated with the V-12 students marching on campus. His eyes would bug out every time he saw them marching in formation.

The second letter was dated November 21, 1943. My grandfather wrote the letter. He stated that they wanted to come to Cumberland County for Christmas, but he was unsure of the trip because he had limited time off. He really liked his job teaching physics to the V-12 candidates and said that his boss had given him good reviews. He described the potential to get a bigger and better apartment only one block from the Tech campus. There was a shortage of rental units in Ruston, and their current apartment was small and in a high rise. The new apartment was above a garage and had a garden plot in the backyard. Eddie, who was five years old at this time, had received a real sailor hat from a neighbor who was in the U.S. Navy.

The third letter was written by my grandmother only a day later on November 22, 1943. She said that she was sorry that my great-grandparents, Joe and Pearl, had been sick. She pointed out that several teachers at Tech had also been sick. She wrote that Eddie really missed the “pullets” eggs and fried chicken from his grandparent’s farm in Toledo. Eddie had also started to like steak. The problem with the better cuts of beef like steak was that it was rationed during the war years. My grandmother asked her in-laws if she could receive some ration points from them to help put beef on the table in Ruston. Since my great-grandparents lived on a farm, they raised their own beef and had less need for a ration book.

The fourth letter was dated December 12, 1943. Rita gladly informed her in-laws that they were coming to Cumberland County for Christmas. She and Eddie were leaving Ruston on December 15, and Golden was following them on December 21. Instead of driving, they were taking a train to Jackson, Mississippi and then to Mattoon, Illinois. The trip by railroad took twenty-four hours, which was considerably longer than by car. The rationing of gas and tires made automobile travel very difficult. All three of them were scheduled to leave Cumberland County and return to Ruston on December 27, 1943.

Two weeks after returning to Louisiana, Rita wrote a letter to Joe and Pearl Flake on January 12, 1944. She detailed Golden’s status with the Draft Board of Edwards County, Illinois. My grandfather had registered in 1940 with the Draft Board in Edwards County since he was teaching high school in Grayville and then in Carmi. According to the letter, Golden had received from the board a 1A classification on Christmas Eve, which meant he was available and fit for military service. An administrator from Louisiana Tech responded to the draft board with an appeal letter stating the crucial and critical nature of Golden’s occupation at Tech. The draft board granted my grandfather a six month deferment to a 2A classification, which was based on the type of occupation. My grandmother wrote that “He will probably be deferred again and again as long as the V-12 program continues.”

In an undated letter from February or March of 1944, my grandmother wrote to Cumberland County about the mundane details of her life in Louisiana. Golden and she had moved into the garage apartment in Ruston, and she was cleaning the entire house. She really liked the hardwood floors in the house. Golden had been cleaning the backyard of the apartment for a garden plot. Rita was preparing Eddie for Kindergarten and working with him on his writing skills. In the same letter, she told Joe and Pearl that Golden wanted them to sell the hogs that they had been keeping for him. He wanted them to put the earnings into war bonds. Rita was still asking them to send meat ration stamps.

On July 2, 1944, Golden wrote to his parents back home. He informed them that he had gotten back safely to Louisiana Tech from a visit to Cumberland County during a short semester break. Eddie and Rita were traveling back separately from him. He had started a new semester for the V-12 students on July 1. Since automobile travel was still rationed for gasoline and tires, he had taken a bus via Jackson, Mississippi. He had to compete for a seat on the bus. According to the letter, railroad travel was also restricted because of the high number of wounded servicemen being transported to hospitals.

Golden typed a letter on Tech stationary to his parents on August 5, 1944. Rita had been sick and unable to write. He described the oppressive heat and humidity in Louisiana in August. The vegetables in his garden were shriveling up, but an opportune heavy rain was bringing them back to life. Golden told his parents in Cumberland County that he was concerned about his future at Tech. At that time, the funding for the V-12 program was only until February 1945. He wanted to stay at Tech, but his outlook was unknown. The V-12 program had 378 candidates for the semester. He stated that if the work “folds” that he would have to deal with it at that time. He had too much teaching to do to worry about it. Confidently, he said to Joe and Pearl that if worse comes to worse that he knew how to be a farmer or that he could finish his graduate education.

The next letter of the twelve was not written until November 1944. There was not a specific date on the letter. Obviously, there are missing letters during this three to four month time frame. Rita said that they had had a quiet Thanksgiving dinner at the house of Dr. Ruff who was the Head of the Physics Department at Tech. They had a baked hen for dinner. Golden and Rita had wanted to come to Cumberland County for the holiday, but Golden had limited time off.

There was even a larger time gap for the next letter, which was dated April 19, 1945. The letter by Rita gave the impression that regular correspondence had occurred, so there are probably more missing letters. The February 1945 end date for the V-12 program had come and past. Golden was teaching physics to V-12 candidates for another 16 weeks semester which ended on June 30, 1945. Golden was optimistic that he would have a teaching position at Tech until March 1946. Dr. Ruff was helping Golden stay at Tech. The letter talked about a summer trip to Cumberland County. Golden thought that if he brought a couple of V-12 students with him on the trip north that the candidates could contribute gas and tire ration coupons for Golden’s car. On a sad note, Rita stated that “It was such a shock about President Roosevelt dying.” They had listened to the tributes, mourning, and music on the radio.

The next letter was undated from May 1945. Rita was planning a birthday party for the seven years old, Eddie. Recently, Eddie had taken an airplane ride from the Army Air Corp in Monroe, Louisiana. Based on his position at Louisiana Tech, Golden had known several pilots at the airfield. Rita wrote in the letter about a problem with her landlord. The landlord wanted to take the modern refrigerator from her apartment and replace it with an icebox. She was very mad and wanted a reduction in the rent. There was such a shortage of rental options in the area that she could not protest or move.

The final letter of the twelve from Ruston to Cumberland County was undated from the summer of 1945. Rita wrote that “…it was so hot we could hardly live.” In the evening, they stayed outside on lawn chairs for as long as they could. It was so hot inside the apartment. Rita was complaining about the shortages of cloth and gasoline. Since the end of World War II was approaching, the amount of V-12 candidates at Tech was dropping dramatically. According to the letter, Dr. Ruff wanted Golden to stay until the end of February of 1946, but the status of the V-12 program was out of Dr. Ruff’s control. Rita mentioned that Golden had received an indefinite 2A status with the Edwards County, Illinois Draft Board. Rita also detailed in the letter a farming job offer for Golden from her father in Robbins, California. Her father, Sylvester Nay, had left Illinois years earlier and owned a successful farm north of Davis, California.

The World War II V-12 teaching position at Tech ended for my grandfather at the completion of the semester on October 30, 1945. The war had been over for almost three months. The War Department probably did not want to end the V-12 program at Tech mid-semester. Officially, some universities had funding for the V-12 program until June 30, 1946.

Approximately 125,000 Navy and Marine Corp candidates had entered the V-12 program during the war. Many of the candidates became junior officers in the Navy and Marine Corps and contributed greatly to the war effort. After the war, the graduates of the V-12 programs used their foundational college education to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees under the GI-Bill. This highly educated workforce helped the post-World War II boom in the American economy. Although most of the professors and instructors in the V-12 programs never served in a uniformed service during the war, they contributed deeply to the American victory. Like the servicemen and servicewomen during WWII, the V-12 faculty and their families made sacrifices for their country.

My grandfather did accept the farming job offer from my great-grandfather Nay in California. By mid-November 1945, Golden, Rita, and Eddie had arrived in Robbins, California directly from Ruston. There was a general belief at the end of World War II that the American economy would revert back to the lean depression years with high unemployment. My grandfather realized that he had to support his family, and he knew how to farm. His dreams of being a college professor were put on hold.

Shortly, the post-war American economy was thriving. The enactment of the GI-Bill created a demand for college instructors. Following some additional graduate education and teaching high school science again, my grandfather was able to locate a teaching position in physics at the Purdue University campus at Indianapolis. He was now able to pursue his dreams but still be able to return home to Cumberland County, Illinois in only a few hours’ drive from Indianapolis.


As May comes to close we have been reminded of the power that mother nature holds. As I sit here writing our city crews are out repairing power lines that were damaged in this afternoons storm, numerous people are out cleaning up the aftermath of the strong winds, and some are still scratching their heads trying to figure out where to start.

Last Saturday I spent the afternoon at the Johnson building welcoming a family from the Newton area if my memory serves me correctly. The spent the better part of two hours looking through all 3 museum buildings to see what unusual things could be discovered. I think the highlight for the two young boys with them was the train layout in the depot. They circled it for nearly 45 minutes pointing out things they were finding in it. Can’t forget the daughter that found it terribly funny to give the old train horn a yank and scaring her mother nearly to death. The boys also enjoyed checking out the different eras of military uniforms that we have on display at the Military Museum. It was a joy listening to their father telling them about each one and about members of their family that had served in different branches of the military.

Again this week has just been another round of adding to the school listings. I’ve added information for Brown, Brushy Ridge, Buchanan, Buck Branch, Burge, and Butterfly schools. Take a look at them and travel through time as we continue our journey of the history of schools within Cumberland County. If you have any information about a school that I haven’t shared I’d be happy to include it in the listings. Just send it to kyle@cumberlandcountyhistory.org and I’ll add it in when time allows.


From work life to home life, it sure has been a busy week for me. I haven’t got as much done around the site as I had planned for the week due to work hours, helping a neighbor with tree removal, and of course the kids keeping me on my toes, but somehow I still manage to squeeze in just a few additions to the schools, so stop in and check them out.

I hope you all enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, be safe and have fun.


Some times the desk can become quite disorganized and cluttered simply due to the vast amounts of information that must be sorted through and placed where needed. This week has been no exception as I start getting things added to the site. There has been some major updating going on with our newest section being added for the history of schools that have called Cumberland County home. It has been a fascinating journey thus far digging through all the data on some places that I personally never knew existed. I hope you enjoy looking through it as much as I have, stay tuned for more updates as I add more and more information to the site.

This weeks updates and additions

  1. Added the following pages to the school listings: Aleshire, Antioch, Apperson, Baumgartner, Block, CumberlandPioneer, Silver Leaf
    • Started working on Neoga Unit #3
  2. Restructured the cemetery listings to allow for future updates to them in a more organized manner. This change is something that was needed on the backend structure of the site. From a viewers standpoint it will still cosmetically appear the same as it always has.
  3. Added post about the history of the Ettlebrick Shoe Company that was complied by Kay Ettelbruck Ziegler in 2002, daughter of August Ettelbrick.
  4. Added post from scanned article about Lincoln, Needham, Gibbs – 1832
  5. Updated the location & contact page.

Last weeks “From The Desk” post was quick and to the point on what I wanted to say about some changes I was making to the site. Thinking back to it over the past week I realize it was rather vague on what the changes meant. As I said last week I had created a couple new sections of the site with future development planned for them.

From The Desk” is a category I have added to the blog as a means to organize my writings about site development. From time to time I may post some personal interest work in it but for the most part it will contain items such as what you are reading now, updates and information relating to changes made to the site. All postings in this category will be made solely by me. If and when the time comes that others decide they would like to write weekly articles for the site I will create categories for them to assign their writings too. Thus keeping things a bit more organized.

Community Corner” is another category I have added to the blog with the intention of opening our site up for the local community to share stories, photos, events, etc. Submitted items will be reviewed by a member of the site staff before being posted. In the event that a submitted item is rejected, you will receive an email in regards as to why your item was rejected, along with steps you may need to take to have it approved. See below for some general guidelines for submissions:

  • Contact Information is required for all submissions (Your name will be included on the post but contact information will be for our records in the event it is needed)
  • Event listings must include location, time, cost, description of event, a contact name/info for event (this will be posted)
  • submissions must be made via email to cc@cumberlandcountyhistory.org


Special Announcement

Over the past year I have allowed people to register an account on our website as a means to receive updates via email however over the past 2 weeks I have seen an significant increase in malicious login attempts and creation of spam accounts, along with verification that the system was not sending emails out when it was updated as intended. As a result I have made a few drastic changes to the backend system to increase security of the site, while still giving visitors an option to receive updates via email.

  1. User registration has been disabled. All accounts going forward must be approved and manually created by the developer.
  2. All current non-administrative accounts have been deleted from the system.
  3. User accounts will only be created for site moderators, contributors, administrators, and members of the Historical Society.
  4. A new email subscription system has been tested and implemented to allow viewers to subscribe to updates via email.
  5. Commenting has been set to require name and email. The first time you leave a comment, it must be approved by an administrator prior to showing on the site.


Ettelbrick Shoe Company

Nicholas Ettelbrick, SrFounder – Nicholas, Ettelbrick, Sr. 1876-1947

On November 4, 1947, residents of the Greenup and Casey area were saddened to hear of the sudden death of Nicholas Ettelbrick, Sr., age 70 years. For the past 20 years Mr. Ettelbrick was active in manufacturing and community affairs in the area. In 1926 he became the founder of the Ettelbrick Shoe Co. in Greenup and later expanding into .the communities of Casey and Robinson, Illinois.

Born in Shamokin, Pennsylvania on December 6, 1876, he migrated with his parents of German descent, August and Annamarie Wasserman Ettelbrick, to Springfi.eld, Illinois. After leaving school, he entered the business world and for several years thereafter he operated a retail shoe store in that city. On June 7, 1899 he was united in marriage to Miss Emma Link of Springfield. Children born to this marriage were August V., Alma (Mrs. Ernest Hiltebrand), Nicholas Jr., Joseph (Rev. Rene), Albert (Rev. Albert) and Marie (Mrs. William Willenborg). In 1912 the family moved to St. Louis and eventually he entered the manufacturing business in the production of the ”Soft Sole” shoe. However, Mr. Ettelbrick could not pay his workers as much as workers received at the larger Brown and International companies. This resulted in losing the good workers he had trained to the higher-paying competitors.

In the summer or 1926, Mr. Art Van den Ende, General Manager of five tanneries in nine states and a son-in-law of Mr. Ed Elstun of Greenup, Illinois took up the need for a manufacturing business with a group of Greenup businessmen. Mr. den Ende was also acquainted with Nicholas Ettelbrick and suggested persuading Mr. Ettelbrick to relocate from St. Louis to launch a shoe factory in Greenup.

After several meetings, a committee composed of Barry Jenuine, Fred Wylde, J.D. Green, Arthur Jobe, Charles Greeson, Ross Greeson and Charles Stanford, worked with untiring efforts to raise the amount of funds necessary to finance the factory. Next they raised money for the building to house the factory. These men were backed by Gar Borden and Ernest J. Bancroft. As a result of their negotiations, $20,000 was raised to begin the process of locating a factory in Greenup.2

On Monday, October 4, 1926 at 2:00 p.m., the contract was let for the erection of a building to house the shoe factory in Greenup, Illinois.

While the building was being constructed, machines were installed in the corner building, which later was the location of a coffee shop. There the first employees were trained in the manufacturing of baby shoes. The plant represented an investment of $50,000 and employed 75 persons, with a payroll of $800 a week.

The Directors for the factory were: Arthur Jobe, Fred Wylde, and Art van den Ende.

Mr. Ettelbrick’s oldest son, August (Gus), a 1925 graduate from St. Louis University School of Law, had joined a St. Louis law firm when his father asked him to come to Greenup to help get the project underway. Once he became a part of the business and the community, he never left.

About 1927-28 a decision was made to establish a factory in Casey, Illinois with Gus as the President. The enthusiasm for the new industry and the involvement of the community were expressed in a Tag Day. The high school students were dismissed and marched in a parade from the school to town selling tags for $1.00 apiece. Funds raised were contributed towards the necessary financing. Local businessmen also made individual contributions. A building on East Main Street, used as the Ford Garage by Charlie Peirson and Dr. Lester Johnson, was rented. The $75 a month rent was to be applied toward the purchase price. With added space, shoe production readily expanded from infant sizes to include children’s sizes.

Later, son Nicholas, Jr., also took an active part in the management of the Greenup company, as did two sons-in law, Ernest Hiltebrand and William Willenborg.

For the first 15 years of Ettelbrick Shoe, business was devoted to sales to chain and volume accounts. Then on July 15, 1941 a decision was made to create a branded line of shoes to service the independent retailer. A female factory employee suggested the name, Step Master, and the line became an immediate success. Marie Ettelbrick was named as the first President. Since women were not accepted in the executive ranks of businesses in the mid- 1940’s, they decided to identify her on all of the corporate documents as M. J. Ettelbrick. She remained as President until Step Master became a subsidiary of Ettelbrick Shoe Company in the late ’60’s.

Eventually, Step Master surpassed ESCU in size and production. Step Master was the fourth largest manufacturer of children’s shoes in the country in the late 1960’s and early 70’s.

During World War II, appropriate conversions were made to manufacture nurse’s oxfords to aid in the war effort. At the end of the war, about 1946, a plant was built in Robinson, Illinois with August Ettelbrick as manager.

Under the direction of Nicholas Sr. and sons, August and Nicholas Jr., the company progressed well. Upon the death of both Nicholas Sr. in November, 1947 and August in January 1948, the reins were placed in the hands of Nicholas Jr.

On August 24, 1964, Nicholas Jr. was promoted to Chairman of the Board and his brother in law, William Willenborg, became President. A factory was opened in Newton, Illinois in 1965 but closed five years later due of lack of business volume. Following the death of Nick, Jr. in 1974, William Willenborg became Chairman of the Board.

On November 26, 1976, the Ettelbrick Shoe Company celebrated its 50th Anniversary with Nick Eltelbrick III, grandson of founder Nicholas Sr. serving as President, grandson Tom Elttlbrick as Vice-President, grandson Jerry Willenborg, as Purchasing Agent and granddaughter Judy Ettelbrick Cochonour as Head of the Payroll Department. The Board also included two other grandsons, Bob Ettelbrick and Ernie Hiltebrand, Jr.

By 1984, three great-grandsons of the founder were working at the company. Nick Ettelbrick IV was Step Master salesman for Southern Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Kentucky; Eric Ettelbrick worked nights in the Data Processing Area and Joseph Ettlelbrick was the assistant to Tom Ettelbrick in the areas of Production and Quality Control Jerry Willenborg was the Secretary and Treasurer of the company. ,

From its beginning, the Ettelbrick Shoe Co. provided a strong influence on the area communities. In one way or another it affected the lives of many either through employment by the company or from the financial benefits it provided to other businesses and to the community. There was scarcely a family who did not have some association with it during the years of its existence. The company’s tremendous impact was especially felt during the difficult years of the Depression and World War II. At Christmas time, there were always new shoes for the school children of families who had fallen on hard times.

The company expanded into three factories, one main office building and a warehouse with a production of 2-3 million pairs of shoes a year. It formed its own subsidiary company – Step Master Shoes. At its peak, over 1000 people were employed; at the lowest point, just before closing, it had about 150 employees.

On January 1, 1984, Ettelbrick Shoe Co. closed its doors, partly due to the impact of imports and partly due to the difficult times for small businesses.

Ettelbrick Shoe Company-Manufacturer of Children’s Shoes-A Three Generation Family Owned Business

57 Years of Serving Greenup, Casey and Robinson, Illinois

Compiled by Kay Ettelbruck Ziegler, daughter of August Ettelbrick-2002



Lincoln, Needham, Gibbs – 1832

In 1843 part of Coles County was organized as Cumberland County. Elias Needham and his son, Daniel Parkman Needham, took an active part in organizing Cumberland County. Elias Needham served as an election judge in the Woodbury precinct that year. Part list of the children of Elias and Elizabeth Needham: Elias Wells Needham; Daniel Parman Needham, b. August 18, 1804; Rachel Ann Needham (Mrs. Daniel Edson); Laura, Angeline, and William B. Needham.

Several of Rachel Edson’s Needham cousins lived around Neoga, Illinois. A cousin, Elias Parkman Needham of New York City, brought forth the reed organ, invented the up-right action and originated the idea of a perforated sheet passing over a reed chamber and held fifteen patents, there-on. (Ref. Who’s Who in America)

The Edsons and Needhams soon after arriving in Illinois became acquainted with the Gibbs family, one of the very first to settle in Coles County. The following year the Abraham Lincoln family settled nearby. Rachel Edson’s brother, Daniel Parkman Needham, Elijah Elias Gibbs, and Abraham Lincoln became firm friends and did many things together.

Elija Elias Gibbs, on February 7, 1832, married Angeline Needham, sister of Rachel Edson. Their first home was in Springfield, Illinois area. Abraham Lincoln helped Gibbs in splitting the rails which fenced the Gibbs property. Elijah and Angeline (Needham) Gibbs attended the wedding of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd.

Daniel Needham purchased land (Section Sixteen), south of Daniel Edson’s home place in Coles County, Illinois, from Abraham Lincoln’s father. There is a Lincoln marker on the property. Need ham served as Justice of the Peace in 1839 and 1859. He took a leading part in organizing Cumberland County in 1843 and in 1844 he was County Commissioner candidate.

Later he moved to Effingham County and settled two and three quarters miles northwest of Montrose. He was a large land owner. He was buried in the pioneer Needham cemetery diagonal across the road from his home (d. February 16, 1876, age 71 yrs, 5 mo, 28 days). He and his wife Julia A. ___ were born in Penn.

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From The Desk

It has now been over a year since I took over management of the Cumberland County Historical & Genealogical website. I started my tenure with a complete redesign of the site which started with a new name, an evolution of looks, and the implementation of a content management system. With all the bugs worked out it is time to get this project revved up and expanding. So lets get on with what is currently in the works…..

  1. From The Desk
    • Blog category created as a means to keep viewers updated on what is going on around the website
    • Planned for bi-weekly updating
    • Will include links to the newest articles, updated articles, and future plans
  2. Community Corner
    • Blog category created to feature viewer submitted content
    • Updated as needed
    • Will include stories, photos, news, events, etc from viewer submissions
  3. Cumberland County Schools
    • Created under the “Sections” heading of the main menu
    • Will feature information about schools that once existed within Cumberland County
    • Goal is to add information for 2-3 schools per week until all are added to the site

If you would like to have something featured in the Community Corner it may be submitted via email to cc@cumberlandcountyhistory.org

Questions/Comments regarding CumberlandCountyHistory.org may be submitted via email to kyle@cumberlandcountyhistory.org

News Releases – April 2, 2015 Meeting

What happened at the April 2 Historical Society Meeting? – published in local papers

The Cumberland County Historical and Genealogical Society meeting began with a visit from Phillip Green. He dropped off the original 1898 charter from the Greenup Chapter of the Improved Order of Red Men. Thanks to Kent Howell for donating the historic charter and to Philip Green for presenting it to CCHGS. Come by the Johnson Building Saturday, Sunday, or any day you see the “OPEN” sign to have a look at the charter and the other IORM paraphernalia that we have.

The other highlight of the evening was a video on How to Clean a Gravestone. It was great for genealogy buffs who like to get out in the graveyards and clear things up. Von and Ruth Blankenbaker demonstrated a simple procedure that doesn’t damage the stone and is capable of revealing a lot of information hidden by the ravages of time. Jerry Brown filmed the steps they suggested to follow. The video can be seen on our facebook page in Jerry’s entry from March 23. Or the DVD can be viewed at the Johnson building.

The regular meeting, conducted by president Kristan Scott, included the usual discussion of building visitation and maintenance. In the past three months, visitors have come to all three museum buildings, the main displays in the buildings have been cleaned as necessary, and Larry Kemper repaired the pipes damaged by the cold weather.

Thanks to Kenny Shook for helping to carry the remaining Christmas decorations from the Johnson Building and Depot across the street to the Military Building for storage.

The memorial stones for Bobbi Goodman and Ina Dillier have arrived and been placed in the park in front of the depot. The flowers are starting to come up; visit the garden soon for a pleasant place to sit and enjoy the spring weather.

Also, CCHGS members made initial plans for participation in Toledo Springfest, Neoga Days, and other activities in Greenup later in the year. Everyone was especially excited that we are planning once again planning to have the Cumberland County Historical Society’s Jeep Run during Toledo Freedom Days. This time we are looking for interesting new sites and routes. Different routes for jeeps and for cars to reach the designated points will ensure that everyone can enjoy part of the day outdoors with history.

The next meeting of the Historical Society will take place at 6:30 on Thursday, May 7 at the Military Museum in Greenup. Remember, current hours for the museums in Greenup are Saturdays 11-3, Sundays 1-3, and by appointment. Call 923-9306 for information or special tours. Check out our website at www.cumberlandcountyhistory.org and our facebook page.