Greenville marked its Bicentennial with a major celebration Saturday and Sunday, September 5 and 6th. The two days of festivities kicked off Saturday morning with an opening ceremony.
Mayor Alan Gaffner shared with us his remarks from that event. You can read them below…
Good morning, citizens of Greenville, residents of the area, and visitors.
As we begin, a special “thank you” to the Greenville Bicentennial Committee, a group of approximately 25 members. Rex Catron has served as the Chairman of the Committee. His leadership team has consisted of Pat Kious, Allan Davis, John Goldsmith, Randy Alderman, John Coleman, and Jenara Willman. Those on the leadership team have attended to tasks such as special event planning, publicity, fund raising, making arrangements for musical performers, and serving as Treasurer.
Please join me in a round of applause for the Bicentennial Committee members, Chairman Rex Catron’s leadership team, and City Public Works Crews, who have transformed the community into a Festivity Zone.
On behalf of the Greenville City Council, I offer a warm welcome to what has been described as “a celebration three years in the making.” This opening ceremony begins Greenville’s Bicentennial weekend.
Revising the description I shared, “Greenville is a city 200 years in the making.”
Imagine the year 1815. A nation formed in 1776 is expanding. Greenville was a western frontier.
A settlement on what would be known as the Old National Trail was founded on the major east / west route across a relatively new country, the United States of America.
Streets were not paved, but made of dirt. Hitching posts to tie horses carrying riders or pulling wagons were plentiful in the business district.
Farms were carved into a prairie that was plowed for the first time, and a mill on Shoal Creek was an important business, as well as the place to grind grain, a vital link in the food chain.
Greenville would become the County Seat. Bond County, which once covered much of the State of Illinois, would be established in a smaller size, and a courthouse built on the town’s square.
Abraham Lincoln would visit and speak. Today, in the front yard of a home in Greenville, a historical marker preserves this occasion.
The Civil War would call Greenville residents into service, a nation’s internal battle to preserve unity.
The decades move forward. Progress always finds Greenville, or more accurately, Greenville residents create and find progress.
Streets are paved, banks are chartered, and factories open, manufacturing gloves, lodge initiation furniture, steel balls, and canning evaporated milk. All of these products to be sold throughout the country.
An all – girls’ school becomes Greenville College, a distinctive community asset that remains priceless today.
Other wars break out around the world, each time finding Greenville residents who answer their country’s call to duty, or enlisting in the military. Young men and women from Greenville bravely, and with distinction, fight to protect freedom. Some make the ultimate sacrifice.
Through the years, and as life and society make progress, Greenville is a participant and on the leading edge. The dream of a hospital becomes reality thanks to the generosity of a Bond County native. Interstate 70 has two exits to Greenville. Other factories and businesses open. A Federal Correctional Facility is built near the interstate. An airport offers an asphalt paved runway.
Public school facilities are built, renovated, and adapted for the latest learning advances.
Agriculture, a foundation from Greenville’s first day, keeps pace and uses state of the art technology.
A park district is formed and swimming pool built.
A local newspaper, The Greenville Advocate, and radio station, WGEL, provide important news and communication for the public.
Greenville’s native sons and daughters, as well as individuals who moved to Greenville and made it “home”, have excelled nationally and internationally in business, medicine, ministry, education, and countless other professions. They have put Greenville on the map!!!
Grenville’s important features stand today with brick and mortar. Behind them and responsible for their existence, are talented, skilled, dedicated, generous, kind, and caring people. These people are the bedrock of the community.
It is no surprise. Greenville has long been known as a faith – based community. The inspiration and motivation for its trademark qualities and characteristics have been an unwavering belief in God, our Heavenly Father.
People helping their friends and neighbors in need, with charitable donations, often fueled by fund raising events, are living proof of Biblical principles, wisdom, and truths. Not only financial gifts, but helping hands report for work and service when sweat equity and work are required.
It is this spirit of compassion, cooperation, and love that we must both preserve and retain for the next 25, 50, 100, and 200 years within Greenville. Through the Great Depression and national recessions, challenges, and disappointments, as well as successes, victories, and successes, Greenville has both survived, and thrived.
Please join me today in making a personal commitment to preserve the values that are identified as the heart of Greenville. Take a moment during this Bicentennial Weekend to thank the Lord for 200 years of blessings in our community.
For the past, we are most grateful to our Heavenly Father.
We also thank you very much for the role each and every one of you plays in our community’s life.
May God Bless Greenville, Bond County, you, and your families for hundreds of years to come.
LISTEN AND WATCH FOR BICENTENNIAL COVERAGE AND PHOTOS ALL WEEK ON WGEL 101.7 FM AND ONLINE AT WGEL.COM!
IF YOU HAVE PHOTOS FROM THE BICENTENNIAL THAT YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR WEB READERS, SEND THEM TO RYAN@WGEL.COM.