Oral Histories

Disclaimer: The views expressed in these oral histories are those of the individuals, and not of Decatur Public Library.

2016 Oral Histories:

Shirley Kistler:

Jim Chiligiris:

Betty Turnell’s Oral Histories:

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Leslie T. Allen – City Manager for the City of Decatur for 16 years (1972-1988).

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Dorothy Austin – Former Principle of Ullrich School.  From a prominent Decatur Family featured in History of Macon County by O.T. Banton (1976).

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Hugh Baker – Mechanical Engineer with the Mueller Co. for 43 years.  Involved in various civic activities as a board president.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Mrs. Marie G. Baker – Early prominent member of the African American Methodist Church at the College St. Chapel.  Officer with the Niagara Movement.  Wrote articles for the New Republic.  Brother was the first African American man to work the rail line between Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Mr. and Mrs. William Bankson – Machinist for the Wabash Railroad.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with O.T. Banton – Decatur historian. Author of History of Macon County (1976).

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Ira Barnes – Member of the prominent Barnes family who were early bankers, entrepreneurs, and doctors. Interviewed in February 1983.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Jane Conklin Bering – Wife of W.N. Bering, who was instrumental in Lake Decatur, and a civic leader.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Loren Boatman – Meteorologist for WAND

Betty Turnell’s Interview with A. Webber Borchers – State Legislature. Member of the City Council of Decatur.  Member of the prominent Borchers family.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Howard E. Brown – President of Richland Community College (retired 1989).

Betty Turnell’s Interview with R.E. Burket – Vice-President and Assistant to the Chairman at ADM.  Interviewed on June 10, 1987.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Dr. H.J. Burnstein – prominent Dermatologist.  Interviewed in February 1979.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Mrs. H.F. Carmichael – Member of the Decatur Art Class.  Her husband and she once owned a house with a garage built with lumber from Billy Sunday’s tabernacle.  Interviewed on December 1, 1977.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Dr. C.R. Cassity – Ph.D in Mathematics.  Member of The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).  Interviewed on May 19, 1989.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Mrs. Eloise Clark – One of the early residents of the Orlando Apartments.  Executive Assistant to Dr. McKay, long-time president of Millikin University. Interviewed on June 23, 1987 and July 10, 1987.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Mrs. Erma Wait Cook – Long-time resident of Decatur.  Interviewed on August 14, 1985.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Byrd L. Davis, Jr. – Early member of the Decatur Fire Department.  Chief of the Decatur Fire Department until 1967.  Interviewed in June 1979.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with John Day – Worked for the Wabash Railroad.  Interviewed on November 29, 1977.  Corrections in document were made by Mr. Day himself.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Robert Dumas – City Librarian for Decatur Public Library (1966-1986).

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Robert Emmons – Interviewed in June 1982.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Mildred England – Interviewed on June 18, 1979.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Mrs. Mayme Foster – Pillar of the First Methodist Church.  Formed the Wesleyan Service Guild.  Long-time resident of Decatur.  Was 103 at the time of this interview.  Interviewed on May 8, 1987.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with William Franklin – Life insurance salesman with some sound advice.  Interviewed on March 18, 1986.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Oma Gardner – Director of Nursing Care at Decatur Memorial Hospital from June 1953 to November 1978.  Interviewed on May 23, 1984.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Ethel Garman – Long-time resident of Decatur.  Sat on the library board.  Talks about the Carnegie Library, Study Class, and the YWCA.  Interviewed on March 31, 1983.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Ruth Gibbs – Prominent member of the United Methodist Church.  Member of the Ladies’ Aid Society.  Served on the Jurisdiction Woman’s Society, the National Board, and the World Board (Methodist).  Interviewed in November 1983.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with R. Wayne Gill – Business Manager Emeritus of Millikin University.  Associated with James Millikin and Millikin University for most of his life, as a neighbor, student, and employee.  Member of the Student Army Training Corps during World War I. Interviewed in March 1980.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Orv Graham – General Manager of radio stations WSOY and Y103 FM.  Interviewed on September 17, 1987.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Lester J. Grant – Served the Decatur School System for 30 years from 1937 to 1967.  Was the Superintendent of the Decatur School System from 1950 to 1967.  Interviewed on March 28, 1988.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with George and Dorothy Hall

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Dr. W.D. Hatfield

Betty Turnell’s Interview with James E. Henson

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Mrs. Charlotte Wait Holder 

Betty Turnell’s Interview with J.C. Hostetler

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Lindley W. Huff

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Edwin L. Huntley

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Mrs. Corwin Johns (Eugenia Ewing)

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Robert H. Kramer

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Don Lawson

Betty Turnell’s Interview with W.T. Layton

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Charles E. Lee

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Mrs. Jeanne Lindquist

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Sam Loeb – Owner and operator of Loeb’s Men’s Clothing Store.  Interviewed April 29, 1986.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with John Luttrell – President of the First National Bank of Decatur.  Interviewed June 4, 1987.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Mrs. Will McKee – Reminiscences of life in Decatur in the early 20th century. Interviewed January 23, 1978.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Mrs. L.C. McNabb – Associate Professor of Speech Emeritus at Millikin University, Community Information person at Decatur Public Library, Film Director for Rolling Prairie Library System.  Started a radio program called “Music in Making”, and produced a television series for Channel 17 in Decatur and Channel 3 in Champaign. Interviewed April 1980.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Dean Mesnard – Metropolitan Life Insurance agent in Decatur.  Interviewed April 9, 1986.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Dr. Jere Mickel – Professor in the Speech Department at Millikin University.  Chairman of that department for 17 years.  Interviewed May 1980.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Wilfred Miller – Long-time postal worker in Decatur.  Interviewed June 28, 1985.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Donald E. Minton – Retired Chief of the Decatur Fire Department.  Interviewed November 14, 1988.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Martha A. Montgomery – Former rural school and Lakeview High School teacher.  Reminiscence of life in Decatur in the first half of the 20th century.  Great-great-granddaughter of the first tavern owner in Decatur. Interviewed in November 1976.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Frankye Morgan – Elementary science teacher in the Decatur Public Schools system.  Interviewed January 10, 1986.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Dr. E.J. Muffley – Prominent principal in the Decatur Public Schools system. Muffley School is named after this individual! Interviewed September 14, 1977.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Donald Muirhead – Long-time farmer in Macon County.  Interviewed November 11, 1985.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Mrs. O.L. Myers – Reminiscences of life in Decatur in the first half of the 20th century.  Interviewed August 1981.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Sr. Eugenia O’Laughlin – Retired Ursuline teacher and freelance writer.  Interviewed May 1979.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Donald Oppedal – Retired Master Chief Hospital Corpsman in US Navy.  Interviewed May 24, 1985.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Mrs. Robert D. Owen (Mary Elizabeth) – Millikin Alumna (1934-1938).  Reminiscences of her time at Millikin University.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Ralph Owen – Built the Lake Shore Condominiums on Lake Shore Dr. in Decatur.  Interviewed January 6, 1987.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Florence Palmer

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Anthony J. Perry

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Lee D. Pigott (1978) – Former Principal of Decatur High School.  Interviewed on January 30, 1978.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Lee Pigott (1982) – Interviewed in June 1982.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Richard E. Reeves – Prominent member of the First United Methodist Church of Decatur, member of UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief).  Interviewed on April 19, 1988.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Richard Rodgers (1984) – Reminiscences of old Decatur.  Interviewed on February 8, 1984.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Richard Rodgers (1988) – Early streets and transportation in Decatur.  Interviewed on December 12, 1988.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Emanual Rosenberg – Prominent lawyer in Decatur, member of the board for the Boys’ Opportunity Home and Webster-Cantrell.  Interviewed on April 6, 1979.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Thomas W. Samuels – Reminiscences of old Decatur.  Author of Lawyer in Action, prominent lawyer in Decatur.  Interviewed in November 1980.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with David Satterfield – Vice President of Corporate Relations for the A.E. Staley Maunfacturing Company.  Interviewed in January 1983.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Edward J. Seymour – Reminiscences of early life, World War II, and life in Decatur.  Investment Councelor and Broker for the A.G. Edwards Company.  Interviewed on October 23, 1986.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with James Siburt – Worked for the Railway Express Company for 33 years.  Interviewed on January 31, 1984.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with Dr. Arthur C. Simon – Prominent doctor in Decatur.  Interviewed in August 1982.

Betty Turnell’s Interview with R. Lee Slider – One of the founders of the Macon County Historical Society and the Macon County Conservation District.  Interviewed on January 1984.

Robert Williams’ Interview with Al Dobbins – Started Progress Day School and the Green Thumb Operation through the American Red Cross.  Interviewed on January 24, 1990.

Robert Williams’ Interview with Amherst Hardy – Well known reporter for the Herald and Review.  Discusses his experiences in Decatur and World War II.  Interviewed on February 28, 1990.

Robert William’s Interview with Mrs. Jane Lee – Worked for the Red Cross, established the Macon County Newsletter for the Red Cross, prominent member of the DAR, and prominent board member for the Governor Oglesby Mansion.  Interviewed on January 31, 1990.