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A & E

A dramatic history of Plainfield

Presenters of "Along the River." are, from left Jan Novotny and Nicki Alander (sitting). Randy Kinley, Philip Buchanan, Sue Hasenyager, Tom Novotny, Tom Mulcahy, Butch Keene, Linda Keene, Chris Klen, and Peter Piane (standing), and Riley Mulcah and Matt Reavill (back row).
Presenters of "Along the River." are, from left Jan Novotny and Nicki Alander (sitting). Randy Kinley, Philip Buchanan, Sue Hasenyager, Tom Novotny, Tom Mulcahy, Butch Keene, Linda Keene, Chris Klen, and Peter Piane (standing), and Riley Mulcah and Matt Reavill (back row).

On April 7, the Louis Joliet Chapter NSDAR was treated to a presentation by the Plainfield Riverfront Foundation at the Riverfront Center in Plainfield.

The presentation titled, "Along This River" was written by Nicki Alander, a member of both the DAR and the Riverfront Foundation.

Twelve actors portrayed historical individuals in the history of Plainfield beginning with a French Canadian Fur Trader named Vetel Vermette (Chris Klen) who traded in the Plainfield area in the 1820s.

James Walker (Tom Mulcahy) built a saw mill on the DuPage River in 1828 and so began the development of the Walker’s Grove settlement. The first white settler child, Samantha Flagg (Linda Keene), was born in Walker’s Grove/Plainfield in 1830 and was cared for by the Potawatomi women.

She was sad to see her Native American friends leave when the government offered them new land out west. The town blacksmith, William Sanford Keene (Butch Keene) talked about his idea for making ice skates to provide amusement on the Dupage River in the 1940s. F. E. Fisher (Peter Piane) shared his brilliant development in 1904 of a twenty acre camping resort in Plainfield known as Electric Park.

The park included a restaurant, bowling alley, dance pavilion, auditorium, and water fun on the banks of the Dupage. Cabin renters (Sue Hasenyager and Matt Reavill) provided a wonderful example of the summers spent at Electric Park.

Albert Worst (Randy Kinley) of the Worst Barber Shop in Plainfield was quite a fan of baseball and shared his experiences playing ball at the Electric Park Baseball Diamond.

During this same time period, Estella Lockwood (Jan Novotny), a widowed mother of two young boys, started her Lockwood Dairy with a single cow. Her young boys delivered the dairy products to the Electric Park renters.

In 1923, Electric Park closed with the introduction of street cars and the bad business dealings of Butch Crowley (Philip Buchanan). Some years later, the Electric Park Auditorium would be used as a teen dance/music club as told by Riley Mulcahy.

Harry Countryman (Tom Novotny) provided information about the Public Works building that is now the Plainfield Riverfront Center.

The center is operated by the Riverfront Foundation and includes a museum exhibit showing the history of Plainfield on the second floor. The Plainfield Riverfront Foundation is a charitable, not-for-profit corporation that was established in November of 2009.

For more information, visit www.plainfield-il.org/pages/riverfront.

For more information about the Louis Joliet Chapter NSDAR email iscardar@ymail.com.

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