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In the early morning of September 9th, members of the community gathered in City Park for the opening ceremony of Chrisman’s Sesquicentennial Celebration.
Chrisman’s Mayor, Danny Owen, began by welcoming everyone to the ceremony. “This town has been here for 150 years and it’s still a great place to live,” Owen said.
“Thank you to the Community Club and everyone who has helped us and made all this possible. I could stay up here for hours and hours and say how good it is here, but everyone knows it’s a great town. Thank you for coming out.”
Pastor Troy Warner of the Chrisman Christian Church led everyone in prayer. “Dear Lord, we thank you today for our town Chrisman. We thank you for the legacy that is ours as we celebrate 150 years. 150 years of community, family, faith and Chrisman tradition.
We don’t want to be any other place. We just want to be in Chrisman. A place of family, faith and fun,” Warner said. “Bless our activities this weekend and all the people that will come from across the street as well as those that have traveled many miles to reminisce of days gone by and time shared. Bring revival to our community.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, in our hearts, in our homes, in our generation and the generations to come here in Chrisman, where it is in Jesus name that I ask and all God’s people said Amen.”
Nancy Harper led the crowd in singing ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ as the Chrisman American Legion Post #477 members raised the American Flag along with a flag representing the thirteen original colonies with thirteen stars. Once the flags were raised, Harper led ‘The Pledge of Allegiance’.
Chrisman Area Community Club President, Dan Moore, spoke up saying that the American Flag with the thirteen stars was originally donated in 1972 by Governor Ogilvie.
The family that is in possession of the flag donated it to the town to use for the weekend.
Caroline Heath, who along with other members of the Sesquicentennial Committee, provided the history of Chrisman in the book that was being sold during the duration of the celebration.
Heath took time to speak in the opening ceremony. Heath’s family members were some of the first to come into the area.
“My great grandpa Drew Lewis came over from Parke County, Indiana and my mom told me stories that he swam his cattle across the Wabash River.
He went on and settled in Cherry Point,” Heath said. “In the historical center, the ladies’ dress was from his wife and it’s from the 1860’s. So they made the trip and the dress did too.”
Once Illinois became a state, that allowed people to come in to claim land and settle.
Edgar County was formed in 1823 and Ross Township was a separate precinct until 1857.
The problem was the land was swampy and full of prairie grass. The new pioneers were used to the forest, so it took time for them to get the hang of this kind of land.
In the 1830’s and 1840’s, people began coming in from Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio to settle, making this a new frontier for those coming in.
In 1832, a man named Abraham Smith came from Tennessee and claimed the first land grant for himself, then other families followed suit.
Mr. Smith sold his ground to John Chrisman in 1851. At the time, around twenty families were in the area.