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Roosevelt High or Elgin High? Board member wanted a change in 1910
By Jerry Turnquist | Daily Herald Columnist

As workers were getting ready to place the name "Elgin High School" on the school - now the district's central office - a century ago, one board member had a different idea. It's a plan most alumni are probably glad never caught on.


Courtesy Jerry Turnquist

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Published: 5/10/2010 12:14 AM

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Tour Elgin's 'Holy Hill'2

As part of Elgin's Preservation Month activities, Elgin historian and Daily Herald columnist Jerry Turnquist will lead a tour of Elgin's "Holy Hill" on Wednesday, May 12

Sponsored by the First Congregational Church, the walk will feature various church exteriors and other points of interest in the "Holy Hill" area and allow participants to learn more about Elgin's reputation as a "City of Churches."

This leisurely-paced tour will begin and end outside the newly renovated exterior of the First Congregational Church. An optional tour of the interior of the church and light refreshments will follow.

Participants should wear comfortable shoes and clothing. This 90-minute tour is also handicap accessible and begins at 6:30 p.m. at the First Congregational Church, 256 E. Chicago Street, Elgin. For details or to register, call Pat Calvin at the church at (847) 741-4045.

It's time to change the name of Elgin High School, said one school board member in 1910.

Plans were announced for Elgin to join a professional baseball league, and a new schedule of fees for doctors reminds us that medical costs in the "good old days" weren't as low as we might have thought.

Here's a look at those and others stories that made Elgin area headlines in May 1910.

New school name: As workers were getting ready to carve a stone sign for the new Elgin High School building - now the district's Educational Services Center - one board member had a rather unconventional idea: change the name of the school to Roosevelt High School.

The new name would be more "metropolitan" and give the impression that Elgin has more than one school, he explained.

If the name was not chosen for the high school, then it should be used to rename the Oak Street School - now Lowrie Elementary - which was the only building still named for the street on which it was located. While several trustees were supportive of the idea, the plan never gained favor.

Higher doctor fees: It's time for a rate increase, said Fox Valley doctors.

Mutually agreed-upon fees would now see residents pay $3.50 plus 50 cents mile for any nighttime house calls. Those wanting a physician's visits during the day would pay only pay $2. Obstetric cases would be handled for $15, while the change for most operations was $25 or higher.

Lest these sound like a bargain, the cost of a doctor's visit equaled more than a day's wages for many.

Play ball: Elgin geared up for some top notch baseball as the "Elgin Kittens" launched its inaugural season.

Organized by local attorney Frank McCarthy, the "Class C" Northern Association team was coached by former National League catcher Malachi Kittredge - the man from whose last name they took their name.

Others cities in the league included Freeport, Joliet, Kankakee, Decatur, and Jacksonville in Illinois, and Clinton and Muscatine in Iowa. The Kittens, which played home games near the current Trout Park, would have one player, Fritz Maisle, who would go on to the Major Leagues, notes Elgin historian Jeff White.

Hiring discrimination: In other school news, two female teachers at Elgin High School resigned after charging the Board of Education with discrimination in its compensation and promotion practices.

Men are made department heads even though there are females employees who are more capable and have been in the district longer, they argued.

"If the people knew the truth in regard to the situation, the cause of the women teachers would be championed," one added.

"It just happens to be that way," responded a board member who added that female clerks earn only half of what a man does and that a women would rarely be considered as a college president because they lack the necessary qualifications.

Memorial Day flowers: Finally, the shortage of flowers caused by unusual weather conditions led to some rather contentious arguments among the members of the Elgin Patriotic Memorial Association which planned the city's Memorial Day programs.

Placing artificial flowers on the graves will be fine this year given the flower shortage, suggested some.

"Using artificial flowers violates the spirit of the occasion," argued a vocal opponent who had the support of others.

Members finally compromised by allowing evergreen clippings on graves and encouraging schoolchildren to find as many wildflowers as they could for the holiday.