Many Fayette residents were familiar with the late Vivien Ford, known as the community’s official historian.
A collection of her historical records is now available for viewing at Normal Memorial Library through the recent donation of three albums created by her daughter, Kathleen Fix.
The collection includes a comprehensive timeline of Fayette history.
“The document is about 30 pages long and is still growing,” Fix said.
There are numerous other documents on the history of Gorham Township, the history of Fayette, the Normal University, the Fayette Opera House, the Fayette Area Schools, a family history document based on Vivien Ford's final diary, collections of copies of photos and articles from the local newspapers and from books.
The albums include photos and articles about the early history of the town, the people, homes, fire department, railroads and other transportation in and around Fayette and Harrison Lake State Park.
Ford wrote several documents about the history of the town in her book, “The First 100 Years,” and she provided information for various news articles from local newspapers. She also wrote about the Fayette Opera House and the Allen family. The documents were transcribed onto a computer.
Ford’s collection was compiled into 10 albums located at her home. The three albums donated to the library represent a compilation of the 10.
“Through research, we are obtaining a much greater understanding of historical Fayette,” Fix said. “For example, we now have more than one source for Fayette’s incorporation in 1873, thanks to the deed records, presented by Dale Pfund, of Fayette’s hardware store.
“We have a collection of obituaries that gives us a microscopic look into the lives of early Fayette citizens, thanks to Grace Sly's gift of old obituaries to the Fayette Historical Society.”
Obituaries tell a lot about the village’s past citizens, Fix said.
People have stories to tell and Fix enjoys hearing the stories shared.
“Learning about our shared past gives us hope for all the tomorrows of Fayette” she said. “Perhaps we can build a future by keeping our past alive.”
She envisions a downtown Fayette with a museum and gift shop, several antique shops, and an old parlor style ice cream emporium.
“Fayette needs a committed effort to advertise our positive aspects that would foster new businesses and industry in Fayette,” Fix said.
And she promises to deliver additional historical albums to the library in the future.