Our History

About2We Take Pride in the Communities We Serve

Paris

Our beloved headquarters, it is said the town got its name from an old jack oak tree in the center of town that was found with the word “Paris” carved in the side.

  • 1869: Paris was chartered as a city.
  • 1871: Mark Twain visited Paris, where he met a young boy who is said to have inspired Twain’s “Sociable Jimmy.”
  • 1893: After two years and over $100,000 in construction costs, the Edgar County Courthouse was opened.
  • 1909: A new high school was opened on South Main St., which initially housed nine teachers and 250 students.
  • 1927: Betty Lou Hunter was named the first “May Fete” queen.
  • 1935: Paris native Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer began appearing in “Our Gang” comedies.
  • 1943: The Paris High School basketball team won its first State Championship.
  • 1956: The first International Thanksgiving Fellowship program was held.
  • 2010: Paris-native Brett Eldredge opened his first performance at the Grand Ole Opry with a song about his hometown.
  • 2015: A new 35-million dollar, state-of-the-art Paris High School opened its doors.

Ashmore

  • First settled as a township in 1826, Ashmore was incorporated in 1867.
  • Home to Ashmore Estates, a former psychiatric care facility that is believed to be haunted. Ashmore Estates is now a popular destination for ghost hunters from across North America.
  • Contains several rural township roads that were once frequented by Abraham Lincoln.
  • The Ashmore United Presbyterian Church will soon celebrate its 100th birthday.

Brocton

  • Famous Brocton natives include George Pullman, inventor of the Pullman Car and Brad Anderson, creator of the canine cartoon character “Marmaduke.”
  • Brocton’s annual Red Barn Market draws over 1,200 visitors annually.
  • Brocton was the first town in Illinois to host a “Jonah Fish Fry.” The first one drew close to 2,000 hungry guests.
  • Brocton was once home to the Draft Horse Show, which attracted attendees from across the country and rivaled the horse show hosted by the Illinois State Fair.

Champaign

  • Prospect Bank Champaign opened in 2008.
  • Champaign’s vibrant local economy is primarily driven by the University of Illinois, Parkland College, Carle Hospital and several agricultural, manufacturing and retail trade operations.
  • From museums and performing arts centers to a planetarium and botanical gardens, Champaign’s cultural resources are matched only by those in the nation’s largest metropolitan centers.
  • Champaign has been recognized as one of the country’s top-10 tech hubs is the third-fastest growing city in Illinois.

Gilman

  • Known as “The City of Crossroads,” I-57, US 24 and US 45 all run through Gilman.
  • Much of Gilman’s residential structures date back to the 1800s, including the famous Mann Estate.
  • Gilman’s local newspaper, The Gilman Star, has been published since 1869.
  • The Gilman Historical Society is located in the old city hall building and houses several significant artifacts.

Homer

  • Perhaps best known for the Homer Lake Preserve, the highway that border’s the preserve’s north end was once a horse trail traveled by former President Abraham Lincoln. Homer Lake Preserve is a popular sledding, fishing and boating destination, and contains miles of hiking trails.
  • Homer hosts the annual Krazy Daze Celebration, typically held in late August. The festival includes carnival rides, vendors, craft booths and live music.
  • Located in downtown Homer, the Homer Soda Company is a vintage soda company that hosts the Homer Soda Festival, which attracts thousands of visitors each year. Homer Soda Company has been featured on Good Morning America and written about by Country Living Magazine and Food Network Magazine.

Kansas

  • A once bustling railroad town, Kansas, formerly known as Midway, is now a peaceful slice of small-town America.
  • Home to several unique small businesses and shops.
  • Kansas touts a beautiful city park and hosts an annual city-wide rummage sale, Fish Fry and summer festival.

Sidell

  • The first settlers in Sidell were French missionaries and explorers, followed by fur trappers and traders.
  • Sidell is named after the man many consider most responsible for its development — John Sidell.
  • John Sidell, a cattle farmer, was so anxious to see the area develop that he once chartered a train full of settlers from Columbus, Ohio.

Watseka

  • Incorporated in 1865, the name “Watseka” derives from the Potawatomi name “Watch-e-kee,” which translates to “Daughter of the Evening Star.”
  • Watseka is home to the famous Roff House, which is considered by many to be haunted. The Roff House legend is told in a book titled, “Watseka Wonder.”
  • Watseka is the county seat of Iroquois County, the third-largest county in Illinois.