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29 October 2016

The Story of Seneca, Illinois was compiled by the Seneca Historical Guild members. The published hard cover book was presented to the people during the 150th Seneca Sesquicentennial held June 24 - 28, 2015. The Seneca History web page announces, "A book about the community: written by the community." Written as a celebration and memorial to the people of Seneca, Illinois, this book achieves their mission.
The book is divided into 11 chapters covering the location, people, commerce, churches, government, transportation, and education. 
Chapter One introduces the reader to the historical and geographical facts of Crotty/Seneca. When and why was the name changed? The authors bring many documented theories together in an easy to read and understand format. Crotty, the village, was named for Jeremiah Crotty. Jeremiah Crotty, the founder, built the Illinois and Michigan Canal and the railroad in this area of Illinois. Did you know that Abraham Lincoln was a canal commissioner in 1856 and may have traveled through Seneca on the I & M Canal? 
Chapter Two includes 96 pages of family histories and memorials to service members. Seneca families have many bragging rights. Patrick W. Corcoran received patents for the Seneca Horse Collar and a weed cutter for cultivators in the late 1800s. In 1917, Carrie S. Couch received a patent for a flour sifter. Between 1942 and 1945, workers produced 157 Landing Ship Tanks. Winston Churchill waited for LSTs to be built and delivered for the invasion of Normandy. On page 10-20, Marshall Caulk shares his photos and memories of being the only known resident of the Seneca area to board and sail a LST out of the shipyards. How did the ships, built in central Illinois, find their way to the ocean? Interested in shipyards, shipbuilding and the effects of the families in the middle of America? Read The Story of Seneca, Illinois. Twenty pages provide a brief peek into the lives that were changed forever by the Seneca LST Shipyards.
Chapter Three offers a glimpse of the localities. Where Senecans lived, played, shopped and were buried. Some of the houses have both the "then and now" pictures.
Chapter Four tells about the commerce. Do you know that at one time someone could purchase a wedding ring or car to a piano on Main Street? This chapter includes photos of the businesses, the grain elevator, the I and M Canal and the railroad yard.
Following chapters include education, churches, government, organizations, transportation, and more.
Interested in finding out how come Seneca is in Illinois and not Wisconsin? Interested in shipyards, shipbuilding and the effects on the families in the middle of America? Interested in reading about life in rural America? Read The Story of Seneca, Illinois. In the Forward, Jeff Maierhofer, President of the Guild, writes "One of our goals with this book is to spur interest in further study of history, not only of Seneca, but of our world's history in general." Thank you to all our sponsors; without your support this historical research project would not have been printed. YOU - our commerce, educators, churches, government servants and service organizations - will write the future chapters.

The rating for this book is five stars for the quality and number of photographs both past and present, the narratives comparing the growth and changes, the formatting and publishing and the encouragement to continue our history. The Story of Seneca, Illinois provides an excellent resource for area history and an example for other areas on how to publish a quality book. 

For comments or questions, please contact Selma Blackmon.

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