A Drive through Huntley's Past Historians' Research Gets New Streets Named after Early Village Residents

Article excerpt

Byline: Elizabeth Harmon Daily Herald Correspondent


CORRECTION/date 12-14-2005: The Huntley Farmside has closed one office and opened another in Huntley. The weekly newspaper is now published out of offices at 10436 N. Route 47, Suite 103A, Huntley. Information about the paper was incorrect in a story on the front of some Friday Neighbor


Mary Beth Manning and Nancy Bacheller set out to preserve history, not make it.

But the efforts of the two women to organize and archive Huntley's printed past, as well as commemorate early Huntley residents through a street-naming project, have earned them a place in the town's 150-year history.

"We're archivists, as there is no Huntley historical society," Manning said.

"People coming here may not realize this was a vibrant community, not just open land," Bacheller said.

Bacheller, a newspaper columnist, and Manning, a retired elementary school teacher, share an interest in local history and a concern for preserving the past, especially in light of the sweeping changes in their community over the last decade.

Bacheller has lived in Huntley for about 20 years. Manning is a lifelong resident whose great-great-grandparents settled in the area in the 1850s.

In 2001, the women worked on Huntley's sesquicentennial celebration and served on a committee which created the book "At Home In Huntley," a collection of articles on Huntley's business community and civic organizations, and interviews with long-time residents.

After the sesquicentennial, the women were contacted by the Huntley Area Public Library to organize a box of donated items, which included old newspapers, photos and other items.

"We thought we'd organize the box in a couple of months and be out of here, but the collection kept growing and is still growing. We never get ahead of it," Bacheller said.

Since 2001, the library's collection of historical documents has grown to fill two file drawers, a large closet and two display bookcases that flank the library's fireplace.

The collection includes a melange of printed matter from the past: everything old issues of the now-defunct Huntley Farmside, copies of Huntley high school newspapers and yearbooks, maps, an 1878 ledger from a general store, family Bibles, church records, school report cards and more.

"We get items through donations and estate sales, but we only accept paper things. The collection is for research; it's not a museum collection," said Manning.

While the collection has obvious value to people researching their family history, it has found other uses as well.

Recently, a Huntley resident in a Northern Illinois University master's degree program used the collection to research when local schools began offering physical education classes.

"She looked through yearbooks going back to 1906, 1925 school newspapers and report cards from the 1930s to find proof of that type of instruction," Bacheller said.

Bacheller and Manning work one day a week on the historical collection and are grateful for the support they have received from the library.

"The library has been so supportive of us and of local history," Bacheller said.

Scott Lindsey, the Huntley library's research assistant, said the collection fits with the library's mission.

"People need a place to go where they can find information about the community, and we've always felt that it was natural for the library to be that place," he said.

This past summer, Bacheller and Manning's work took them outside of the library - right into the thick of Huntley's booming residential development, as the two worked with the village to have the names in the new 627-acre Talamore subdivision named after early Huntley residents.

The 2,000-home development by Huntley Ventures LLC will be located northwest of Huntley, at Route 47 and Reed Road. …