O'Fallon Progress

Traveling show troupe created found memories for early O'Fallon

Brian Keller is the O’Fallon Historical Society president.
Brian Keller is the O’Fallon Historical Society president. rkirsch@bnd.com

J.A. Simon’s Star Comedy Company finished off its one-week O’Fallon run in the fall of 1877 with “The Gilded Age” on Wednesday, “Oliver Twist” on Thursday, “Fanchon, the Cricket” on Friday and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in six acts and 12 tableaux for the “grand farewell” on Saturday.

For the last play, the hall on the second floor of Jack Shinton’s saloon was packed. There must have been some fraternizing with the locals by band members, because the “sporty young bass fiddler” was seen “marching in with one of the belles of the town and getting her a seat near him, in the orchestra chairs.”

One scene called for a young child, which apparently wasn’t part of the troupe. So, the manager “captured a boy about 12 or 13 years old.” The boy, Henry Reno, did his best, especially with what you might call encouragement from his friends in the audience.

The week certainly made an impression on play-goer John Lienesch. He recalled it in 1935 as one of his fondest memories of early O’Fallon.

75 years ago

March 4, 1943

The Progress is in receipt of a new supply of service stars for homes with men in the armed forces. They are free and obtainable by applying at this office. If a member of your family is in the service of his country, you are entitled to one of the stars for display in the window of your home.

50 years ago

Feb. 29, 1968

Both school bond issues failed to pass here Saturday with fairly heavy voting. The High School District sought $1,075,000 and the Grade School District bond issue was for $550,000. Included in the high school plans were 22 new classrooms and improvements in other facilities such as a larger cafeteria, new library and seating for the proposed lighted playing field. The grade school plans called for a new building of 11 classrooms on a site owned by the district on Shiloh Road and extensive improvements to the Marie Schaefer school.