Small, local, dirt
racing tracks can probably be traced back to the chariot races held in
the Roman coliseum. Horse races were held in Sycamore in the
1800’s on a dirt track just west of the intersection of Borden and
Somonauk streets. Sycamore Speedway (a dirt track) has been in
operation for 50 years. Its history, according to
www.nationalspeedsportnews.com, began as Bob-Jo Speedway where
go-carts raced. The name originated from the brothers-in-law who owned
the track, Bob Oksas and Joe Fabrizius. In 1963, stock car races
began to be held there. In 1970, the brothers changed the name
to reflect the proximity to Sycamore. It remains one of the most
popular dirt racing tracks in the area.
Prather Speedway (aka
Prather’s Track, Prather Field) was a half-mile dirt track Marvin
Prather built in a field he owned in DeKalb near where he had built a
popular baseball field. In 1948 it was his idea to
bring racing to DeKalb. Unfortunately two racing deaths, plus
complaints from his neighbors, closed the track about two years
Local Racer Russell "Breezy" Breese
True Republican dated April 20, 1948, reported he had signed a
contract with the Chicago Racing Association to provide midget racing
cars for the track. The inaugural race was held Sunday, July 11,
1948. On June 18, 1949, the field became a boxing venue.
DeKalb Daily Chronicle reported that the bout between Jerry
Heath and Ray Bloyd brought the approximately 300 people in attendance
to its feet when the boxers fought the final two rounds displaying
“wild slugging and not-give-an-inch attitude.”
The first racing
death occurred on Sunday, June 19, 1949. Nineteen-year-old
George Frank of Elgin, IL died when, during a collision with Glen
Taylor of Rochelle, Frank’s safety belt snapped and he was thrown 50
feet into the track infield. Newspaper accounts reported that Frank
seemed to be having difficulty straightening out after a curve and
Taylor was unable to avoid the crash.
Later that same year,
54-year-old hot rod driver Bill Seaman of Lockport, IL, was killed.
Jim Korbin of Killen, AL, described Seaman’s death on
www.kalracing.com. “Bill Seaman was lapping the field and some
green horn kid kept cutting him off. They flagged the kid over and
Bill I guess thought all was well for a pass. Just as Bill went
around, the kid cut him off again and they jumped wheels. Bill’s
car went up on end and went into a row of railroad ties buried on end.
He was smashed down into the cockpit and killed. The guy had
buried the ties to keep the race cars out of his orchard! I
remember Bill as a nice guy who had been around and had nothing to
In March 1950, the
area received 7.41” of snow and 1.71” of rain. Melting and
runoff resulted in a five acre “lake” just north of the racetrack.
Property owners sought a permanent injunction to prevent future
flooding of their property alleging that when the racetrack was
constructed, drainage tile was destroyed. That lawsuit was
followed about 45 days later by a second one filed by seventeen
neighboring property owners seeking a perpetual injunction to stop all
race activity citing noise, dust, damage to their property, crowd
parking on private property without permission , and depreciated
property value. Nevertheless, the racing season opened in May.
After the July 4th racing event Prather announced the track would
close because he was unable to get it properly watered to reduce dust.
Prather Field became the premier baseball venue when it enlarged and
added lights. The park is now part of the DeKalb Park District and is
named after Marvin Prather.
Past Website Articles
Movie Has DeKalb County Connection
Chicago and North Western Depot
Letitia Westgate and the 1902 Smallpox Season
The Lincoln Statue
First Jury of Sycamore Women
Sycamore Electric Company
Sycamore Wagon Works
Obituary of Phyllis I. Horton Kelly
In Grandmother's Attic
The Own Your Own Home
Fairdale Train Accident
Pictures Show A Sad Time In
Images of Sycamore
The Mighty Maroons
The Mighty Maroons boys' baseball team had this
formal portrait taken at the local M. F. Carlson studio, circa 1900.
Mascot Raymond Branen is front and center. Team members, from
left to right, are (second row) Will Sell and Rex Shield; (third row)
Doug Langhorn, George Murray, Captain Charles B. Townsend, Earl Branen,
and George St. Dennis; (back row) Harry Cornwell, Jim Branen, and
Picture and historical information used with permission of Sue Breese and
the Joiner Room Staff.
See More Like This In
Images of America-Sycamore
Available from Barnes and Noble, Amazon and at Local Stores
|The DeKalb County Clerk's office has put online
birth, marriage, death and naturalization records that meet
genealogical guidelines. You can print the
document image for $3.00. Their website is
New Malta Obituary
“A Scrapbook of Obituary
Collections, People with a Connection to the Community of Malta, IL”
Compiled by Dorothy W. Stoddard, December 2012. 3,274 obits.
These obits are not part of our online database. If you are
looking for an obit on someone from the Malta area contact the Joiner
This collection is also for sale
in printed ($80) and CD ($20) formats. All proceeds go to the
Malta Historical Society.
Announcing a New
Publication From the DeKalb County Historical Genealogical Society
and Order Form
New Book Acquisitions
James Madison Hood, Lincoln's Consul to the Court of Siam
by George C. Kingston
The Misadventure of an Old Saddle Tramp
by Robert Schweiger
Joseph A. Faivre & Mary Ann Montavon
A Family History of Faith and Fortitude
by Roger Steimel
American Yeoman: A Wood Family History
By Julia W. Kramer
Sycamore City Council Minutes
mayor Ken Mundy is a history buff. He has compiled a brief
description of each meeting held by the city council during the years
1858-1949. By reading his work, you get a
historical sense of the important issues for this growing city.
It is an ongoing project. The manuscripts are available for
review at the Joiner History Room.
Adoptee Law Passed By Illinois Legislature
Excerpts From the Chicago Tribune 10 June 2011
Since last year when the bill was signed, about 645 adoptees born in
Illinois before 1946 have been issued their birth certificates.
Starting November 15, 2011, those born after 1946 will be able to do
the same thing. The law also allows birth parents to have
their names redacted from any released birth certificate by filling
out a form by Nov. 1. For more information see
JHR Adoption and Juvenile Court Records
Database Updated February 2012
Home Records 1891-1943
Funeral home records are often overlooked as a source of genealogical
information. Joiner History Room volunteer Fran Besserman
diligently compared a hand-written list of Burkhart burials with obits
available from other sources in our collection. This may be the
only record of a death. Click
here to see list.
This database still under construction but is available
now by clicking on the icon above.
We are working on putting
approximately 40,000 obits into an online, searchable data base. When completed, you will be able to search by name, year of death and
cemetery name. Also available will be the ability to view all
the obits in order of name, and in order of death date. Each
obituary is being scanned and you will be able to print a copy of the
obit. If you don't find the obit you are looking for,
contact the Joiner History Room.
We thank the Douglas C. Roberts
Family for making this possible.
Sycamore True Republican Newspaper Is Online and
The Joiner History Room, the DeKalb County
archive, announces the completion of a year long project to digitize the
Sycamore True Republican. The Joiner History Room along with the
University of Illinois and Shaw Media, parent company of the DeKalb
Chronicle, has worked to digitize the
Sycamore True Republican from 1868 through 1968. Funded by a grant from
the Douglas C.
Roberts Family, the newspaper is fully
searchable for those years and available online, free for everyone. The
Sycamore True Republican was one of DeKalb County’s longest published
newspapers, recording our early history. It is the hope of all involved
that this digitization will help preserve the rich history that was
reported in the newspaper and make it accessible for everyone who wishes
to use it for genealogy or historical research purposes. The newspapers
can be accessed from the website at the University of Illinois through
their Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection (IDNC) at
New Index Available
The Midweek, a current DeKalb County area
publication, has a column called "Looking Back" that has small snipits
of local news dating back to the late 1800's. Most items are one
or two lines long, just enough to give you a flavor of what was
happening at the time. This index covers publication dates from
the start of the column, mid-2010, through December 2012. If you
find an item of interest, e-mail the Joiner History Room with date of
publication and page number.
September 2013 Issue of the
Joiner Room Journal is Online
Can You Help?
Joiner History Room is seeking to add to its archives pre 1960 telephone
books and city directories for the cities of Dekalb and Sycamore. We are
also interested in historical documents pertaining to DeKalb County. You
don't have to send the original historical document, copies will be just
as good. If you have such an item to donate, please email the Joiner
History Room. In the subject line enter "Item to Donate." Thank you.
Joiner Room Honored To
Be Part Of The DeKalb County
Joiner History Room Endowment Fund was established in 2008 to honor Ralph
Joiner and the first appointed DeKalb County historian, Phyllis Kelley.
If you wish to donate to our Endowment Fund, click on the DCCF logo or
send a check directly to The Joiner Room at the address above.
$ .25/page......Photocopy by patron at JHR
.50/page......Photocopies by JHR staff
2.00/scan......By JHR researcher
2.00/each......Photo quality prints
Scans will be emailed. To keep your costs down, we will try
to get as much on one scan as possible. Photocopies by JHR
staff and photo quality prints are sent U.S. mail only.
Postage is also charged.
Sycamore True Republican, 1893