Preserving the past


Group has plan to save historical records from damage

SIBLEY, Ill. (WCIA)– Leaders in one village are trying to save history, one document at a time. The documents housed in the Land Office date back to the 1800’s. The Sibley Historical and Business Association hopes to convince the village board to take action. Over a century worth of memories lie behind these walls. “There’s just a tremendous amount of history the building itself, but also the documents that have been contained in the building,” said Village Trustee Greg Brucker.

Some items are worn. “You can see how this picture is damaged,” said Derrick Babbs of the Sibley Historical and Business Association. Others give a glimpse into decades passed. “Mean it’s just a little bit of everything. I find stuff from the 60’s 70’s, 40’s 30’s,” said Babbs. The building itself dates back to the late 1800’s. It was owned by Hiram Sibley. He was the Co-Founder of Western Union Telegraph Company, and this building was one of his offices. “This is the only record of these people living here and working on these farms for Hiram Sibley,” said Babbs. Derrick Babbs is the Vice President for the Sibley Historical and Business Association. He says he’s on a quest to save some of these items before they’re too far gone to save. “In this building houses early records from tenant farmers here from 1880’s up to modern day and those books are being stored in this building which is becoming kind of damaged,” said Babbs.

A leaky roof, which has since been repaired, caused water damage to these books. Babbs says moisture in the air could cause molding to other records. His plan is to take about 15 farm books, blueprints to the old high school, farm photos and land records and house them in a newly renovated building. Village leaders say they’ve made repairs, but there’s not enough money to fully restore it yet. “Our resources are limited in our village. You know we don’t have a lot of sales tax,” said Brucker. Babbs hopes money won’t get in the way of salvaging pieces of the past. “It would be a big loss to this community,” said Babbs. The Sibley Village Board will likely vote at the next meeting to determine whether or not the documents will be moved.

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