Tag Archives: Fred Dornback

Dornback appointed Blackberry Township Supervisor

BLACKBERRY TWP.—Blackberry Township Cemetery Sexton Fred Dornback was appointed Blackberry Township Supervisor on Tuesday in a 3-1 vote by township trustees. The one ‘no’ vote came from trustee Jim Feece, who had nominated himself for the supervisor position.

Dornback was sworn in following the vote. He said that he would continue his responsibilities for the cemetery on a volunteer basis until someone else was found to replace him, and asked that his stipend for the cemetery position be terminated.

Trustee Jim Michels, who had taken over discussions from former Township Supervisor Dennis Ryan regarding the township’s lease for McNair Field for use by Elburn Baseball and Softball, received a draft lease on Wednesday morning from owners TRC.

The previous lease negotiated between Blackberry Township and Burr Ridge, Ill., company Transmission Relay Corporation had lasted 10 years. The lease granted local athletic leagues the use of five of the corporation’s 20 acres located south and east of the intersection of Bateman and Rowe roads. The original lease expired April 30, 2013.

Michels said the dates of the lease are to be determined, but that it would probably be made effective sometime in March and go through the end of 2014. He said the township will attempt to negotiate a longer-term lease over the next nine months. The lease spells out that the field is to be used only for baseball and softball.

Blackberry Township Supervisor

Two candidates will challenge for the seat of Blackberry Township supervisor on April 9

Fred Dornback
Fred Dornback, by his own account, hasn’t been active in partisan politics, but has donated to state representatives and Kane County Board members. He believes that local government races should be non-partisan, which is one of the reasons why he announced his candidacy for Blackberry Township supervisor prior to the Republican caucus.

Dornback, 73, holds Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees from Illinois State University, and has over 60 additional advance degree credits in psychology and administration. He has been a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of Illinois since 1975. And as an administrator in both public and private schools, he feels he’s successfully managed both budgets and people.

Dornback and his wife, Mary, are active in assisting neighbors and friends with medical needs, snow clearance, meals, general handyman work, etc. Fred is also a founding member and current board member of LivingWell Cancer Resource Center in Geneva, and has volunteered at Hessed House in Aurora for many years.

Fred served as a volunteer for the first three years of his appointment as superintendent/sexton of Blackberry Township Cemetery. He now receives a stipend to serve as sexton, but the majority of time he spends sorting cemetery records and updating the database is still on a volunteer basis.

Fred defines the role of supervisor as the chief executive office of the township—someone who chairs the board of trustees.

“The supervisor also administers the general assistance program, and is the treasurer of all town funds,” he said. “I intend to be a good steward of township resources and be available to learn about township needs, and work to respond to those needs within the resources of the township,” he said.

Fred decided to run for township supervisor because he believes he offers the combination of professional training and experience that the township “needs and deserves.”

“My day-to-day participation in the township affairs allows me to have a unique perspective,” he said. “I observed the position of supervisor being influenced by partisan politics rather than listening to the wishes of the people. I think the supervisor should be available on a regular basis to encourage the public to share its views.”

Fred has attended every Blackberry Township meeting since 2007, and has been elected the township moderator at the annual township meeting for over 10 years.

If elected, Fred’s priorities as supervisor would include working with the board, highway commissioner and public to develop a long-term solution to deteriorating roads.

“I see the issue as the people’s roads and the people’s choice,” he said.

Fred also wants to create a series of education sessions at board and town meetings to learn the community’s priorities, and hopes to improve the efficiency of the supervisor’s office by depositing all checks on a daily basis and having regular hours, as well as hours by appointment, to encourage community participation.

“I plan to offer the public, at little or no cost to the township, a series of program options, particularly for seniors,” he said.

He plans to achieve his goals through a tried and true method.

“Listen, ask, discuss, propose, plan, implement and review,” he said.

Dennis C. Ryan
Dennis C. Ryan will challenge for the seat of Blackberry Township supervisor on the April 9 General Election ballot.

Ryan, 66, is currently the chairman of Western Kane County Republicans. He has served as Republican committeeman of Blackberry Pct. 3, and secretary for the Western Kane County Republican Organization.

Ryan’s community involvement includes service as president, vice president and board member of the Elburn Town and Country Library. He’s also assisted with Elburn Ambulance Service and served as a volunteer firefighter for Kaneville.

Ryan said he wants the seat of township supervisor in order to be of further service to his community.

“I have experience from operating two small businesses (to) various jobs in the working world and community service,” he said. “My life has been one of practical experience and problem solving in many situations.”

If elected, Ryan’s top priorities as township supervisor would include continuing the policies that “have kept Blackberry Township government within its budget, as those before me have done.”

Ryan would also seek additional funding from outside sources to maintain and repair township roads, as he said the township only has funds to repave a mile of road per year and remain within its budget. He will also look into the possible future expansion of Blackberry Cemetery, as more space will be needed as the population of Blackberry Township grows.

Ryan plans to achieve his goals via investigation of alternative solutions to get the jobs done without adding to the property tax burden of Blackberry Township residents.

“This includes cooperation with other governmental bodies whenever possible,” he said.

Ryan said his ideal ordinance would be one that requires all new subdivisions located in unincorporated areas of the township to have names after local geographic features, and “all new streets established within them to be named for families or persons with local historic significance, as Elburn is currently doing.”

Letter: Congratulations, Nick Albano

We at Blackberry Township want to congratulate Nick Albano on the completion of his Eagle Scout project at the Blackberry Township Cemetery.

Nick and his family, as well as his many fellow Scouts, installed a beautiful garden in the southwest corner of the cemetery.

Nick did an outstanding job of planning, organizing and implementing the project. We encourage all Elburn area residents driving along Route 47 or Keslinger Road to take a look.

This is another excellent project that makes us proud to live in the Elburn area.

Job well done, Nick.

Fred Dornback
Cemetery Superintendent
Rodney Feece
Highway Commissioner

Headstones honor World War vets

Photos: Two of the recently installed tombstones on formerly unmarked graves at Blackberry Cemetery. All Photos by Sandy Kaczmarski

Graves of two veterans no longer unmarked after two-year effort
by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—“I still have 42 people that I know are buried in the cemetery, but I don’t know where,” Fred Dornback said.

He ought to know. He’s the sexton of Blackberry Township Cemetery at the corner of Keslinger Road and Main Street.

As he put it, “that’s a story by itself.”

But Dornback was successful in locating two soldiers who were previously buried in unmarked graves and got headstones installed just in time for Veteran’s Day. The grave sites of military veterans Oscar E. Lundblad and Frank L. Wilson now are marked with white marble stones.

“They’re beautiful,” Dornback said of the stones that are similar to those at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. He purposefully chose a little different marker since most of the military markers are bronzed.

“These stand out beautifully, just like I wanted them to,” Dornback said.

The search took nearly two years to complete.

“We had a (burial) permit for these two gentlemen from way back when, but didn’t know where they were buried at that time,” he said.

Dornback, with the help of local historian Helen Johnson, 83, poured through old issues of The Elburn Herald searching for some clues. They also worked closely with the Kane County Genealogical Society, and they even use a lot of online sources these days, too.

One obstacle was a major fire in 1973 at the National Archives and Records Administration in St. Louis, where all military records were stored. There were no duplicates, no microfilm copies, no indexes. About 80 percent of the information on veterans discharged between November 1912 and January 1960 were simply gone.

Dornback said he at least had the service numbers, which are equivalent to a military dog tag, so he was able to verify their service.

“I found his (Lundblad’s) obituary in the paper,” Johnson said. “I went through The Elburn Herald because we knew the year he died, but there was no family. He came from Sweden.”

Local historian Helen Johnson (right), joins friends at the Kountry Kettle every morning to catch up on news. This morning she chats with Bill Mack of Elburn (left to right), Cindy Clausen of Maple Park, Gene Godfrey of St. Charles, Fred Proctor and Lois Mack, both of Elburn.

With almost 3,000 people buried in the cemetery, Dornback and Johnson have been trying to categorize each grave since taking over in 2007. Dornback suggested they take photographs of each grave so they could continue their research using the computer when the weather doesn’t cooperate, but it also provides a visual record of each grave site.

The cemetery originally was established in 1860, but Johnson said some people were buried there before then. The earliest “born” date is 1772. Johnson said they have three veterans buried there listed as far back as the War of 1812.

Dornback is very pleased that the graves of veterans Lundblad and Wilson are finallly properly marked.

“They’re beautiful markers,” he said again. “I’m sure they’ll get a little more attention next Memorial Day when we have the ceremony at the cemetery.”

Neighbors split on possible Pouley Road closing

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—About nine people, including two township trustees, showed up at a public meeting to express their opinions about possibly closing the at-grade crossing at Pouley Road, if requested by Union Pacific once the Anderson Road bridge is complete.

Lisa Hodge lives on Denali Road in Native Prairie and said she’d like to see the crossing closed not only because of the increased traffic from the train station, but because of the train whistles.

“The issue is they (train engineers) totally lean on the horn when they’re coming by Pouley Road,” Hodge said. “So we’d like to see it closed for the sound.”

The Bergquist family lives just north of the tracks on Pouley and disagreed with the idea of closing the roadway. They want it to stay open.

“I just don’t like having one way out,” Joan Bergquist said. “I hate to see it closed.”

She said in the winter, the drifting snow often closes the north end of Pouley, forcing them to travel south across the tracks. Despite living right alongside the tracks, she said the train whistles aren’t a problem.

“We don’t even hear the whistles any more,” she said. “You get used to them.”

Her daughter Vicki said that safety is her main concern.

“Getting onto (Route) 38 sometimes is impossible in the wintertime,” she said. “Pouley Road to the north drifts shut and you can’t get through.”

Joan’s brother Norm and his wife Diane also said they wanted to see the road remain open.

Jan Jorstad, who lives on the old part of Pouley Road south of Keslinger, wants to see the crossing shut to preserve the historic heritage of the Compton farm. She and her neighbors formed the Pouley Road Preservation Society to protect the area.

“When I moved here, I fell in love with Pouley Road,” Jorstad said. “We’ve tried to preserve this wonderful country feeling we have around here because of all the development. We are all for that closing.”

She said closing the crossing would reduce the volume of traffic on the unpaved portion south of Keslinger Road.

Denny Hawks lives just north of the Bergquists and is concerned about how he’s going to move his farm equipment if the crossing is shut down.

“I farm, and moving machinery down Route 38 is just a pain, so we take everything down Keslinger Road,” he said.

Fred Dornback, Blackberry Cemetery sexton who chaired the meeting, emphasized that the meeting is just a preliminary effort to gather public input.

“There’s no known agency or group saying we need to close Pouley Road,” Dornback said. “If and when it happens is contingent on the completion of the Anderson Road bridge.”

That’s something Dornback doesn’t expect to happen for a while.

“In my opinion, we’re looking to the middle of this decade before a car crosses that road if all the stars align,” he said. “There’s a lot more to do.”

Despite plans for the Elburn Station development that begins with the completion of the Anderson Road bridge, there remain unresolved issues regarding easements and right-of-way between six landowners that would be affected before the bridge work would begin.

Highway Commissioner Rodney Feece explained that the process for closing the crossing would start with Union Pacific filing a petition with the Illinois Commerce Commission, which ultimately would make the decision. The township successfully stopped such an effort in 2004 when the railroad petitioned to close the crossings at both Pouley and Brundige roads. He said in case the issue comes up again, he wants to have public comments available to present.

Blackberry Township will accept public input for the next 90 days. Comments can be e-mailed to roads@blackberrytwp.com or mailed to the office at 43W390 Main Street Road, Elburn.

History Detectives: Where is the body buried?

Pair try to unravel a century of history at Blackberry Cemetery
by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—On any given day you’ll find real life History Detectives hard at work, looking for where the bodies are buried. From discovering that one woman was issued two burial certificates 10 years apart—only to uncover that one certificate was for her amputated leg—to finding records from early years of unidentified bodies being pushed out of the train and crushed, Fred Dornback and Helen Johnson find it all a great challenge.

“We took it on with the intention to bring order to the records. Our goal was to create a database and who was buried where,” said Dornback, sexton of Blackberry Cemetery in Elburn. “That’s the way it started, but it soon got a wee bit more complex. It got exciting and overwhelming.”

The confusion began with the way the records had been kept. From 1905 to 2007, when the Blackberry Cemetery Association surrendered responsibility to the township, the numbering and system of recording who is buried where varied by the person keeping the records.

“Sometimes they recorded who paid the bill. Sometimes it was who owned the grave site. Sometimes it was the name of the person who died,” Dornback said. “You don’t know.”

At present, Dornback and Johnson have 41 “unknowns.” One veteran of both World War I and II is known to be buried in the cemetery, but they cannot find a marker for him. Other people are listed on FindaGrave.com as being buried here, but someone with that name is not on any records.

“We start hunting down a name: ‘Do we have this person? ‘You get excited because it looks like you have them. The dates match. Then it says, ‘location unknown.’ This is the confusion we have. You don’t know until you match it with the obituary,” Dornback said.

Searching obituaries and genealogical resources isn’t the only way the pair have hunted down who’s buried where: they have walked the cemetery and taken a picture of each of the 2,700 graves.

“We used shaving cream when we were walking the cemetery. It would go in the creases and make the marker more readable,” Johnson said. “We had to remember to wash it off.”

Add to that the sorting-out process of old ledgers, envelopes, scraps of paper that fill several attache cases, along with three maps-each with different and conflicting information. They might work six months hunting down one name.

“We started to sort by decades—from 150 years-before we looked at individual stuff,” Dornback said. “We could have enjoyed ourselves, but we had to be prepared to sell grave sites in the meantime.”

Radar used by University of Illinois archeologists indicate that bodies may be buried underneath what are now paths. With not all graves marked, it’s not always clear what spots are safe to sell. On the site of the Memorial Day service, they think it is actually a “Potter’s Field” for the poor or those passing through who died.

Since 2010, the state of Illinois requires that 10 days after a person is buried, their name must be registered in the state database, including the location of the burial.

“We hope this will help future generations,” Dornback said.