O'Fallon Progress

O’Fallon barber receives letter and money from repentant chicken thieves in 1932

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

In October 1932, O’Fallon barber James “Bert” Brown received a curious letter with a Lawrenceville, Illinois postmark. It had the address of where he used to live in St. Francisville, on the Illinois side of the Wabash River, south of Lawrenceville, and was forwarded to him in O’Fallon.

Opening it revealed a single dollar bill and the following letter which read, “Dear Sir: I know you will be surprised to get this letter from me but I was with some boys that stole a chicken from you back in 1919. I am trying to make all my wrongs right so please forgive me and accept this money for the wrong I did you. I am, yours prayerfully.…”

The Progress didn’t reveal who wrote the letter, but did say that Brown remembered him “although he cannot recall the particular time when the chicken was stolen as thieves made his hennery quite frequently back in 1919.” What should he do with the money? Friends suggested he donate the “conscience dollar” to a good cause. Brown thought differently.

“No siree,” he replied. “This is one dollar that will not be spent by me. I’m going to keep it as long as I live.”

75 years ago: Aug. 12, 1943.

R. H. Braun, of Lebanon, assistant principal of schools in that city for the past eight years, was appointed superintendent of O’Fallon Township High and the grade schools at a special meeting of the Boards of Education of Districts Nos. 203 and 92 Tuesday night. He succeeds J. Emmett Hinchcliffe who held the post for 22 years, resigning to accept a position in the local defense plant (Independent Engineering).

50 years ago: Aug. 15, 1968.

The Rev. Walter P. Gerth has assumed the pulpit of the O’Fallon United Church of Christ. A 1963 graduate of Eden Seminary in Webster Groves, he was most recently pastor of Epiphany United Church of Christ in Chicago. He replaces Rev. A.E. Klemme.

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