,%20Paul%20Pic%202.jpgLogan County Genealogical & Historical Society honors Paul Beaver and Violet Scully for contributions to Logan County and Illinois

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[March 13, 2019]   LINCOLN - In 2017 the Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society had the opportunity to nominate two people from our community whom they felt had shaped the history of Illinois. This was to be a nomination that would bring to the forefront two of our finest people during the Illinois Bicentennial celebrations in 2018.

According to LCG&HS President Diane Osborn the Society members gave this a great deal of thought. They considered naming Abraham Lincoln but opted not to for a couple of reasons. They felt that while Lincoln was an integral part of Logan County history, he was not a Logan County native. Furthermore, the society felt that there would be many other communities who would also recognize Lincoln. This local organization wanted the opportunity to recognize that there were others who had a very positive impact on our county.

After discussing it thoroughly, the society decided that they would nominate Violet Scully and Paul Beaver. 

Though they were generations apart, the two had a common connection, William Scully and the Scully Estates.

William Scully was an Irish immigrant, who, long story short came to America and eventually Logan County. In this county, he purchased large quantities of land, much of which was considered by most to be worthless because it was marshy and appeared to be unusable for growing crops. Scully however had a vision and the ingenuity to come up with a plan to drain the land and make it a vital part of our agricultural history.

William Scully left behind his son Thomas and daughter-in-law Violet when he died, and those two are responsible for the construction of what we now know as the Scully Mansion, but they referred to it as “the big white house.”

Violet loved the mansion and particularly enjoyed her rose garden and the grounds of the mansion in general.

Violet also enjoyed serving in her community and she coupled her service with her passion for green growing things. Through her work, the Logan County community benefited greatly as was reflected in words spoken by H. Safford Peacock, a former Lincoln College Trustee. Peacock offered up these comments regarding Mrs. Scully when he was given an honorary degree at the college in 1974:

“Concern for the land and its use is evidenced by your interest in agriculture and in conservation and landscaping projects. Your involvement resulted in the formation of the Logan County Parks and Trails Foundation when you donated several hundred acres of land along Kickapoo Creek for a greenbelt park.

“Your green thumb is imprinted in Lincoln on landscaping projects around the County Courthouse, the post office, and in Washington Park.

“You were active on the committee to restore and remodel the historic Executive Mansion in our state capital. Though preferring to work unobtrusively, your quiet, but constant, efforts prompted the Salvation Army to give you its highest civilian award.

“Private colleges and universities have long drawn much of their strength from the support of friends like the Scully family.”

When making their nomination in 2017, Osborn said that the quotes from Peacock were submitted as a letter of recommendation for the LCG&HS’s nomination of Scully as one who had shaped our history.

Paul Beaver was a young man, still in college when he decided that a paper he would write should discuss William Scully and the development of the farmland in Logan County. This was a topic Beaver was familiar with because his own great-grandfather had been a tenant of the Scully Estates. William Scully was deceased but Thomas and Violet remained along with their two sons Michael and Peter.

Beaver often told the story that there were those who said he would never be permitted to speak with representatives of the Scully Estates. But, Beaver, being persistent, chose to ignore those warnings and sought an interview. He admits that he was surprised when he was granted that interview. But as he notes in the preface of his book “William Scully and the Scully Estates of Logan County” (which was also the title of his paper), he was granted that permission by Thomas Scully shortly before his death in 1962. Beaver wrote, “Mr. Stewart told me that Mr. Scully gave the permission for me to begin the study when he learned that my great-grandfather, John Schultz, had been an early (1870’s) Scully tenant.”

Beaver wrote his paper for his class, and would later evolve that paper into the book he self-published in 2009.

Beaver was an author, a teacher and a fine example of one who loved his community and loved sharing the rich history of Logan County with all who were interested. He served as an inspiration to many and also as a great source of knowledge.

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That was testified in the letter of recommendation that Lincoln College Professor Ron Keller wrote for the LCG&HS in 2017:

"It is my pleasure to write this letter in support of the nomination of Logan County, Illinois resident Paul Beaver to be a recipient of an Illinois State Historical Society distinction honoring those who have made a significant historical contribution to the history of Illinois.

"Mr. Beaver is professor emeritus at Lincoln College in Lincoln, IL. He started his lifelong career in education in the public schools but eventually rose to the collegiate professorship. During that time, he taught thousands of students in the discipline of history, and among those classes, he taught the history of Abraham Lincoln and Illinois. He became very versed in local and state history and Abraham Lincoln’s role in our state. 

"While at Lincoln College Mr. Beaver held for many years the position of director and curator of the Abraham Lincoln collection at Lincoln College. This is a significant body of artifacts, and he cared for those items, many of which relate to Abraham Lincoln and Illinois, and today those items live on in the Lincoln Heritage Museum in no small part because of the special attention which Mr. Beaver took to preserve them.

"Paul Beaver has become synonymous with local history. Whenever I have a question or anyone else has a question on our history, Mr. Beaver is the go-to guy. He has provided likely hundreds of presentations and talks through the years, most of them uncompensated.

"However, he does this because he enjoys and appreciates history, and wants others to appreciate it as well. He has written several books on history, and I have had the pleasure of working with him on one of those. For nearly a century, local judge Lawrence Stringer was the foremost historian on Abraham Lincoln’s role in Logan County. Mr. Beaver painstakingly researched what Stringer may have missed or incorrectly concluded. He poured over letters and sources and wrote in 2010 Abraham Lincoln in Logan County, which has supplanted Stringer’s masterpiece as perhaps the best authority written on the history of Logan County, Illinois and its connection to our great Abraham Lincoln.

"Mr. Beaver is not only a scholar, but a true gentleman. He has offered to help create landmarks, statues, kiosks, and other points of interest in our city, so those from all parts of the globe may appreciate our history. There is not a historic site for miles around which has not in some way owed its existence to Paul Beaver.

"For these reasons, I strongly recommend Mr. Paul Beaver for this prestigious and distinct honor for which he is truly deserving."

Osborn recently explained that the LCG&HS collected everything needed to submit Beaver and Scully for the historical distinction at the 200th anniversary of our state. They were of the understanding that both honorees would be listed in the Congressional record in Washington D.C. and would be named at some point as an Illinois Congressman during the 200-year-celebrations.

They didn’t hear anything else from the Illinois Society of Washington D.C.

Osborn said she recently spent three days searching the congressional records and couldn’t find any reference to Mr. Beaver or Mrs. Scully. She still believes it is there, but she hasn’t been able to find it.

When Mr. Beaver was hospitalized recently, Osborn said that the local historical society had determined that they would honor him when he came home again. However, that didn’t happen. Mr. Beaver passed away on February 26, 2019 at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield.

His passing has left a large gap in our local community. He was a husband, a brother, father and a grandfather. He was a mentor, a former coach, a former teacher, and beloved friend to many. He loved his community and he loved sharing his wealth of knowledge on many topics with anyone who sought him out.

And he was a friend to the Scully’s who also shaped the future of our county when our state was still quite young, and are yet today leaving a lasting impact on our county.

And, he shared the pleasure of attending the first Lincoln College Grand Soiree with his good friends Violet Scully and Scully Estate Manager James Stewart.

Violet passed away in August of 1976, and we have all confidence that the two are now together, chatting and remembering the history they shaped and recorded right here in Logan County.

Thank you to the LCG&HS for recognizing the value of these two great people and for making every effort to memorialize them both in the history of our state.

[Nila Smith with excerpts from Diane Osborn, Logan County Genealogical Society]