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Good Roads Day

Minonk, ILL.

October 14, 1916

This is an account of the opening of the Stoddard brick roads in 1916. One road ran west from Minonk for 3 miles and the other ran north from Maple Avenue past the cemetery. The text and pictures are taken straight from the book printed for this occasion. The book was provided by Donald Grampp, a former Minonk resident. Donna Rae Eilts typed the text from the book for this article.


The Stoddard Highway

Is in two parts—one starting at the north end of Maple Avenue in the City of Minonk extends east and north to the northeast corner of the city limits, a distance of one-fourth mile. This section is sixteen feet wide. The second part, stating at the north end of Chestnut Street in Minonk, extends west to the boundary of the Town of Minonk and continues two miles into the Town of Clayton. The length of this section is two and three quarters miles. All the road is of the monolithic type of construction.

This account of the exercises attending the formal presentation and acceptance of the Highway has been prepared to commemorate the occasion. It is presented to the friends of the family by


Bela M. Stoddard

Page 2

The Stoddard Highway was formally opened and presented to the public Saturday, October 14, 1916. The exercises herein described were planned and carried out by the following committee, chosen by the people of the community to represent them in accepting the gift:


Sarah Bell Stoddard

Page 3

Martha Wilcox Stoddard cutting the ribbon to formally open the road at the northeast corner of the City of Minonk.

Jane Margaret Stoddard opening the other extremity of this road.

Page 4

Sara Elizabeth Stoddard opening the road at the north end of Chestnut Street.

Mary Lita Stoddard opening the end of the road in Clayton Township.

Page 5


These exercises were held on a platform constructed at the intersection of the boundaries of the City of Minonk, and the Towns of Minonk and Clayton. It was so arranged that the City Council of Minonk was seated within the limits of the city; the Highway Commissioners of the Towns within their respective territories. At the time of the presentation of the road, each of these bodies in turn called a formal meeting of its members, a vote was taken, and an entry made upon their books—recording the legal acceptance of the gift.

Judge Kennedy, as chairman of the committee of arrangements, presided.

History of the Stoddard Road.……..Melita E. Stoddard

Presentation of the Road…….....…..….B. M. Stoddard


Mayor F. J. Simater for the City of Minonk.
Highway Commissioner Bert Ridge for the Town of Minonk.

Highway Commissioner Joseph Bucklear for the Town of Clayton.

Prayer…………………………………...Jesse M. Tidball


Hon. James P. Wilson, Member of the State Highway Commission

Short Talks…………………………………………..

W. T. Blackburn, of Paris, Illinois, originator of the monolithic type of brick road

A. B. Hurd, Superintendent of Highways of Woodford County

M. L. Mosher, Farm Advisor, Woodford County

Music for the program and during the opening of the road was furnished by the Bloomington Band.

Page 6

Judge Kennedy's Opening Remarks


We have met today to celebrate a notable event. A public-spirited citizen, wishing to encourage the movement in favor of good roads, acting on his own initiative, at his own expense, has donated three miles of monolithic brick road, the best type known, to the public. The sentiment of the day is crystallized around the donor and his munificent gift. The formal opening has taken place with appropriate ceremonies in which members of his family have taken part. The road, which Mr. Stoddard is giving to the public, happens to be within the confines of three political divisions and under the jurisdiction of three sets of officials; part is in the City of Minonk, part in the Town of Minonk outside of the City and the larger portion of the road is in the Town of Clayton. We have placed this platform at a point where part of it is in each of those localities, and the respective officials are not assembled in their respective jurisdictions and will hold special meetings at the proper place in the program for the purpose of accepting the road. It is always proper to have a history of a notable event, and Miss Melita E. Stoddard, the daughter of the donor has kindly agreed to tell us the story of the "Stoddard Highway." I have the honor and pleasure of introducing to you Miss Melita E. Stoddard.

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History of the Road
By Melita Stoddard

Ten years ago my father was firmly opposed to building hard roads through the country. Automobiling has changed his attitude on the subject. Convinced that it is a question, which is here to be solved, he has spent considerable time studying the different types of road, to determine which is most practical.

To even a casual observer, it is evident that no permanent road can be built of loose gravel or stone. With the heavy and wearing traffic to which highways are subjected in these modern days, gravel or stone roads are soon in need of repair. One highway of these materials over which my father has been traveling occasionally for twenty-five years, has been improved or repaired every year of that time. At the present more than enough to cover the cost of a permanent road has been expended on it. Twenty-five years ago a brick pavement was laid in the city to which this gravel road leads, this brick pavement is now the best in the city.

After this research, it became evident that the brick top pavement is without exception, the only one that will permanently stand heavy traffic. That it is possible to build permanent roads is proved by the fact that in Europe there are roads in good condition, built four hundred years ago.

Therefore the next question to be settled was—what type of construction makes the best and most permanent brick top road. In western New York two years ago he studied their roads, which are of very fine construction. The first of the monolithic type was observed by my father near Paris, Illinois, last April. He was shown over their roads by Mr. Blackburn, consulting engineer for good roads, and Mr. Parish, the contractor who did the work in that locality. My father decided that this was the very best manner of construction.

Previous to this time the decision had been made to build a stretch of road leading into Minonk from some section of our prosperous farming community. This locality was chosen as being the one most in need of improvement. Residents of this section will readily agree to the assertion that muddy roads made more trouble in this direction than in any other section around Minonk.

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The idea in building the road, as narrow as nine feet, is to make a longer road, providing accommodation for a larger number of vehicles—for the same amount expended. In a farming community such as ours ninety per cent of the heavy traffic comes toward town. This road—being built for the farmer—therefore lies on the right side of the center of the highway leading into town, giving the right of way to wagons hauling heavy loads to market. Ample room is provided on the dirt road for vehicles coming from town, to turn out for traffic on the brick pavement. Experience shows that where there is a hard road, the dirt road will be seldom cut up in the muddy season, therefore the upkeep on the dirt road will be very little.

A joint meeting of the City Council, the Highway Commissioners of the Towns of Clayton and Minonk was held April 15, 1916, at which time my father made the proposition to build this road as it is completed today. There are 16,322 square yards of pavement. The offer was accepted. Mr. I. D. Lain, of Bloomington, was engaged to do the work and the first ground was broken May 23, 1916, although the contract was not formally drawn up and signed until June 16, 1916. The last brick laid was by my father on Friday, August 18. As soon as the grading was finished the road was opened to traffic, except for the small stretch adjoining the city's new pavement.

A man near Paris, Illinois, built a piece of monolithic brick top road by the side of his farm, to prove to himself and his neighbors that it is a practical thing to do. That community now has seventeen miles of this type of road. The hope is in the mind of builder of this highway that it may prove so practical and serviceable that the taxpayers of Woodford County shall continue it in all directions.

It has been said that the best external test of the civilization of a community is the condition of its roads.

Page 8

Presentation of the Road
B. M. Stoddard


I wish to thank all of you for coming here at this time, which is evidence of your appreciation of this road. It has been suggested that a short sketch of my life might be interesting.

I was born in Chautauqua County, New York, 76 years ago and lived there until 17 years old. In the summer of 1857 my father sold his farm and bought 160 acres in McLean County, Illinois, near what is now the town of Cropsey, south of Fairbury, and about October 10, that year our family with others, making a party of 25, got ready to come west. Food enough was provided to supply the party for the whole journey.

The stock and goods were loaded at Dunkirk and came by lake to Toledo, O., then by rail to Chicago, and from there to our new home by teams and wagons.

It is a peculiar coincidence that just 59 years ago today and about the same time of the day, I started from Chicago driving a team of mules with a load of the family goods. We reached our new home late in the evening of the third day. Then our troubles really began. There were no buildings on the farm and we had all the necessary materials to haul from Lexington, 16 miles away. Cold weather came before we were settled in our new home. The town of Cropsey was organized in 1858, the first election being held in our house. There was no school building in that township. The Australian system was not in style at that time and the ballot box was mother's sugar bowl. The total vote was 17. There was not very much contest for offices as there was an office for almost every voter. The summer of '58 was very wet and it was almost impossible to do any farming. All the settlers were homesick and all who had means enough went back east. Our family didn't have funds enough to return if we had wanted to. The next year things began to look better and we raised a fair crop.

After the war began I enlisted in the 71st Illinois for three months and before I returned home my brother had also enlisted. He was killed during the siege of Atlanta.

Page 9

The 10th of the month has been quite an important date in my life. I was born September 10, came to Minonk February 10, 1865, and married March 10, 1868. When I entered the general merchandise business here in Minonk in '65 on the corner where Vissering & Kohl are now, the firm name was D. S. Thomas & Co. About a year and a half after that the firm name became Stoddard & Newton. This partnership lasted until '76. At that time I moved across the street and have remained there since in the grain business.

I remember that Mrs. B. M. Stoddard, Ben Maurer, Frank H. Goodrich, P. A. Martin, Mrs. Muchow, the Christians family, F. W. Holmes, J. A. Simpson, Ben Pope, George Foote, T. J. Taylor, Dr. F. W. Wilcox, H. C. Forney, Jacob McChesney, who are still with us, were here when I came to Minonk. No doubt there are others whom I do not recall. Jacob Stimpert, who passed away last evening, was among the number also.

To enumerate more than a few of the changes that have occurred during my life, in this vicinity, would require too much time. There are some worth mentioning. The first coal shaft had not been sunk when I came, nor the Santa Fe railway built. I have seen almost every business built and rebuilt, better. All the grain elevators except one were built and rebuilt during that time. There is not a man in business here today who was here when I began. In '65 more than one half the country in this vicinity was unbroken prairie. There was no drainage. Tile had not been suggested. Electric light, city water, sewerage, the public library, our fine school buildings and churches and pavements, all have come along in proper time. I hope and expect to live to see the saloon abolished from our city forever. The wonderful changes that have taken place during the last half-century make us wonder what the coming years have in store, but it is probable that there will be greater changes than I have seen. It is with a thought of the future that I have chosen to build this pavement. It is one of the things that these times and conditions demand. We have one of the most fertile soils known today. Our object should be to conserve that soil and make it more productive and make farm life more attractive.

Page 10

The fact that the younger generation is inclined to stay on the farm and to study ways and means for better farming is a hopeful sign.

It is not the purpose of this road to provide a speedway but rather to make heavy traffic easier.

I now present that part of this road within the city limits to the Mayor and City Council of the City of Minonk, that part within the Town of Minonk and outside of the City of Minonk, to the Commissioners of Highways of the Town of Minonk. And that part within the town of Clayton to the Commissioners of Highways of the Town of Clayton, all for the use of the public.

Bela M. Stoddard giving his speech

Page 11

Construction of the Road

W. T. Blackburn

The B. M. Stoddard road, built at Minonk, Illinois, 1916, by I. D. Lain, contractor of Bloomington, Illinois, is of the type now known as monolithic brick construction.

This road was built to one side, leaving earth road for summer traffic.

The paved portion was excavated to grade and width established by Mr. Elmer Folsom, of Bloomington, Illinois. The sub-grade was rolled with a six-ton self-propelling, tandem roller, after which eight-inch steel forms were set to line and grade.

The aggregate for the concrete base, consisting of combined sand and gravel, was deposited from side-dump cars on to the sub-grade. The concrete was mixed in a foot-batch mixer in the proportion of one of cement and seven of gravel, and deposited in front of a multiple steel template, the front member adjusted to cut the concrete to a true surface parallel with and four inches below the side forms.

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In front of the rear member of the template was kept a mixture of sand and cement in proportion of one of cement to four of sand; the template was drawn forward by the mixer, thus leaving the concrete base coated over with a thin film of sand and concrete, upon which wire-cut-lug brick, furnished by the Barr Clay Company, were immediately laid. The surface was then rolled with a lawn roller 24 inches in diameter and 30 inches in length, filled with water so as to weigh about six hundred pounds.

The interstices between the brick were then filled with grout composed of one part of cement and one and one-half parts of sand, after they had been thoroughly mixed in a Marsh-Capron mixer with sufficient water to bring it to such a condition as, when deposited on the surface, it would readily flow into the joints without separation. The surface was then finished with a heavier grout and cleaned off to a true surface.

The forms were removed and when the pavement had entirely set up, the earth berm and side earth road were completed.

The material used in the construction of this road was delivered direct from the cars to small cars on industrial railway and conveyed to the place where used by horses.

The bricks were unloaded from the small cars to the setters on gravity carriers.

Some of the advantages of the new type of brick construction are, the removal of the hazard of the sand cushion, the certainty of having a four inch depth around every brick for the cement filler; the support of the individual unit of paving block on the rigid base so as to relieve the condition of suspension where the bricks are solidly cemented together, and formerly supported by sand cushion which shrank away from portions of the under surface. In the country road especially this type is more easily constructed; every element entering into the construction of this type of pavement is positive. A true and uniform surface can be more easily obtained. This type of construction eliminates the necessity of an edging, and in the opinion of engineers this type will make a more durable and economical brick pavement.

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As Mr. Stoddard was not seeking the cheapest, but the best and most durable type of country road, the above was recommended.

The Stoddard Highway