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Edith (Motzkus) Baumhardt was born in the Ruhr Valley of Germany in 1924 and came of age in Hitler's Germany while living in Cologne. Her father was a police officer and an administrator. Edith was forced to join the Hitler Youth, and survived the Allied bombing of Cologne. At the end of the war the family fled to the Allied lines. She immigrated to the United State in 1958, settling in Rochester, where she spent the rest of her life. She married Walter Baumhardt in 1967 and instantly became the step-mother of five young children. She held many positions, including translating and teaching German, but also French, Polish and English.
Lyle N. Behl, a former president of the Rochester Historical Presidential Society, was born in 1942 and grew up in Cotton Hill Township of Sangamon County, Illinois, where he continued to live at the time of the interview. Although Lyle is retired from a career as a medical technician, he runs a livestock operation on the family farm. Behl shares stories about his family and his insights on the Cascade area near Rochester, Illinois.
Jerry Campbell grew up in Rochester, Illinois on the very same property that his great great grandfather purchased in 1858. The Campbell family has been a part of the Rochester community ever since. The family is very proud of their connection to Abraham Lincoln, that he purportedly delivered a speech on their property in 1832 when he was running for the state legislature. The speech took place in front of what was later the home of Nelson Campbell in front of a walnut tree.
Carolyn (Cari) Carlson shares stories from her childhood in the Chicago area, many of them based on her parents’ Swedish customs. After her marriage to Clayton Carlson in 1947, they moved to Rochester, Illinois. Ninety-one at the time of this interview, Cari also shares many memories of Rochester. She has been in several groups over the years that celebrate the community’s history.
Evelyn Conboy grew up on the farm, and married William Conboy in 1953. She partnered with her husband as they farmed in rural Rochester. She moved to Rochester around 1958 following her husband’s death. She is the mother of seven children; her husband died when her youngest child was six years old.
Jane (Brubaker) Fairchild was born in 1932 in Litchfield, Illinois, and grew up in Waggoner and Farmersville, Illinois. She discusses her experiences at a one-room school and other childhood and young adult experiences. She received a bachelor’s degree in education/home economics from the University of Illinois in 1953, and married Meryl Robert Fairchild on October 24, 1954. Since Meryl was a lifetime third generation farmer, most of Jane’s life was tied to farming as well.
Meryl Robert Fairchild, like several generations before him, spent a lifetime farming in the Rochester, Illinois area. He attended Rochester schools, graduating from high school in 1949. He attended University of Illinois briefly, but his time there was interrupted when his father needed help on the farm. He never returned to college. He married Helen Jane Brubaker on October 24, 1954. Bob and Helen had two sons and a daughter.
David Jostes grew up on the family's dairy farm near Rochester, Illinois. As an adult, he drove a school bus for thirty-one years and also operated the Jostes Garage in Rochester from 1976 until he turned the business over to his son. He was in the Naval Reserve from 1953 to 1971. One of his passions is a 1970 Malibu Chevelle that features hand paintings by the legendary Bob Waldmire, a local artist who spent his life chronicling stories about life on Route 66.
Fay Ann (Burton) Jostes was born on July 27, 1943 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Shortly after her father’s military service ended, the family moved to Berkeley, Michigan, where she grew up. Fay's mother was a descendant of a long time Rochester, Illinois family (the Baileys), and she spent many summers in Rochester, Illinois as a child. Fay graduated from Berkeley High School in 1961. She married David Jostes of Rocherster in 1963. Fay worked for J. C. Penney’s for eight years, then worked for the Rochester State Bank for twenty-eight years.
Toby McDaniel obtained his first camera when he was in seventh grade, and by high school he was chasing after news stories in Advance, Indiana, turning his photos in to local newspapers. He continued to hone his skills as a journalist while serving in the U.S. Navy from 1958 to 1963, including a tour on the carrier USS Hornet. After earning a journalism degree from San Diego State University, Toby settled in Springfield in 1967 and spent his next thirty-seven years working for Springfield papers, writing a newspaper column on his observations of Illinois politics and the Springfield social scene.
David Ramsey, born in 1953, grew up in Rochester, Illinois and has farmed for over fifty years. Ramsey shared his own family’s history during the interview, and also discussed the role that James McCoy had in the founding of Rochester, Illinois, and the McCoy family story during the early 19th century.
The Waldmire family's story, who hail from Rochester and Springfield, Illinois, is part of the culture of the capitol city. The family operated the Cozy Dog restaurant on south Sixth Street beginning in the 1940s. Bill eventually became a photographer for Illinois's governors. Brother Bob was a “hippie” artist who traveled historic Route 66 in his VW van promoting the fabled "Mother Road." In the process, Bob, and his art promoting Route 66, developed a national and international reputation.
Harold Weaver, from Rochester, Illinois, was drafted into the U.S. Army in January 1943. He was assigned to the 172nd Infantry Regiment of the 43rd Infantry Division and saw action with the unit in the North Solomon Islands, New Guinea and by January 1945 on Luzon Island in the Philippines. It was there that Weaver was injured in the leg, which ended his combat experiences. Following the war Harold worked at Sangamo Electric for thirty-two years, then at Camp Lincoln, the National Guard camp in Springfield. At age 67 he began working part-time at the Wilson Park Funeral Home in Rochester.
Thomas Wright was born October 25, 1926 in rural Sangamon County outside Rochester, Illinois. Tom was one of nine children. He graduated from Rochester High School in 1944. During the 1940s, Thomas worked with his brother, James, delivering ice to rural areas around Rochester where his family owned an ice house. He served in the US Navy from 1944 to 1947 and was assigned to USS Sarita (AKA-39), an attack cargo ship, finishing the war in the waters off Japan. He spent his working life with the Chicago and Illinois Midland Railway as a railroad detective.
Mary Helen Yokem began her life in Springfield, Illinois, graduating from Feitshans High School in 1966. She then headed for Chicago, and over the decades lived in various cities across the United States. She shares her stories about he relatives, the Walkers of Rochester - African Americans in a largely white community. She discusses the history of the family and their farm, dating from 1863, and their life in Rochester over the years.