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Charles E. Fell, Adam Guthrie & Benjamin Bunn

In 1898, C.E. Fell was looking back on his boyhood and remembering the town that had been his home. Fell was living in Umatilla County, Oregon and began drawing a map of Bloomington, Illinois as he remembered it from his earliest days. He shared the map with his old friend Adam Guthrie, who was still living the good life in Bloomington. Adam was a storyteller and repository of the history of Bloomington. He would hold court in The Ark, his cigar store at the corner of Main and Jefferson, while men smoked and told tall, tall tales of the days gone by. Charles and Adam must have felt they needed a third opinion while drawing this map, or perhaps they just wanted to talk more over old times, and they asked Benjamin Bunn of Tillamook County, Oregon for his opinion about the map. 

Each of these men had been brought to Bloomington at its very start by their fathers, Joshua Fell, Robert Guthrie and Lewis Bunn. They observed the town as it grew and cherished each of these memories. This map was published in the Pantagraph for the perusal of the proud citizens of Bloomington, for everyone was proud of what they had made of a lonely spot on the prairie, nestled in a grove of trees they called Blooming Grove.

John E. McClun

John McClun's description of Bloomington is one of the most picturesque and evocative:

“It was even then, young and new as it was, a beautiful little city set upon a hill. It contained about three hundred inhabitants. The houses were small, plain, and cheaply built, yet they were painted white, which gave to the place an air of neatness and beauty. The improvements were then on Front Street and south of that. There was nothing on the public square but the old brick courthouse then being built. The slough north of the bridge where Bridge Fork now is was wide as a marsh. Pone Hollow was also a marsh, even wider than the other. The grove extended in a scattering manner up to Grove Street. The prairie came up to town in a state of nature, except a few farms. The deer roamed at large on the prairie, and the wolves howled in a chorus in what is now the heart of town. Quails and prairie chickens were plenty. Rattlesnakes crawled through the town, and now and then the bull snake, the monster of the prairie, would crawl into the very heart of the city. One single buggy, and only one, was in the County of McLean. We had no gold watches or gold chains. We had no sidewalks, and when the roads became muddy we put our pants in the tops of our boots and launched fearlessly into the great deep.”

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