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home : millennium edition : area town histories October 14, 2019

History of Pana: a timeline
This postcard provides an overview of the city of Pana as it looked around the turn of the century. (Photo courtesy of Chris Yucaneer)
This postcard provides an overview of the city of Pana as it looked around the turn of the century. (Photo courtesy of Chris Yucaneer)

Pana Township

The precinct of the Township of Pana was originally called Stone Coal Precinct. At that time, Stone Coal was part of Shelby County. When Christian County was organized in 1839, Stone Coal was included in the new county.

The name of Stone Coal Precinct was changed to Pana Township on September 2, 1856.

The first election in Pana Township was held at the house of Andrew Hanson on Aug. 2, 1845.

The first marriages in Pana Township were William Pryce to Mary Jane Edwards on Feb. 15, 1844, and William Buzan to Jane Gordon on Sept. 1, 1845.

In 1854 Stone Coal Post Office was established, with Milan S. Beckwith appointed postmaster.

The first school trustees were elected in 1848 and were Henry H. Bond, Jacob Hanson, and Ignatius Butler. In that year, only 18 students attended school. After the advent of the railroad in 1954 the population increased, and three school districts (with a total of 256 students) existed.

At one point, an effort was made by citizens of Pana Township to succeed from Christian County and re-enter Shelby County. This act was passed on Feb. 15, 1851, with an election to be held on the first Monday of July of that year to decide the issue. Votes in Christian County were: 17 for secession and 220 against; and in Shelby County 109 votes to receive Pana and 3 votes against receiving Pana.

City of Pana

March 24, 1855 -- Trains begin running through Pana on the Illinois Central Railroad.

Oct., 1855 -- Pana's first sermon was preached from a boxcar by a Presbyterian minister.

Sept. 2, 1856 -- Mason French petitioned Christian County to name this area "Pana". (There are several theories as to the origin of the name.)

1856 - 1857 -- Pana was chartered as a village.

March 10, 1857 -- The first election was held. Town officers elected were: President A. Monroe, and Trustees James Martin, W.H. Glassgow, L.F. Shepher, and W. B. Little.

June 13, 1857 -- A tornado swept through Pana and the southern part of Christian County, destroying nearly one-half of Pana and damaging crops.

1857 -- Pana's first school was organized.

Dec. 23, 1857 -- The first newspaper in Christian County was established by M.S. Beckwith in Pana.

1858 -- A two-story school building was constructed on the corner of Second and Poplar St.

Feb. 3, 1858 -- The first steam mill was operated by Slack & McCoy.

1866 -- The Door, Sash Factory, and Planing Mill was opened by Wood and Laton.

July, 1866 -- The first bank in Pana and Christian County was opened for business. The bank was owned by J.C. Helmick.

1867 -- The City of Pana was chartered under a special charter.

The Turnbolt House was opened by D. Turnbolt.

Linwood Cemetery was organized.

W. E. Hayward opened a bank at the corner of Second and Locust St.

S.M. Haywood opened a grain elevator in Pana. The business handled 2,000 bushels of grain and employed 10 to 12 men.

1870 -- Pana City Hall (a three-story building) was erected.

1872 -- The Pana Branch of the Alden Fruit Preserving Company was opened. The building was destroyed by fire in July of 1876.

1873 -- The B&O SW Pana division point maintenance headquarters opened. This facility included a machine shop with a power plant, 16-stall roundhouse, transfer table, 2-story car shop, turntable, blacksmith shop, and offices.

1876 -- H.N. Schuyler opened a bank.

May, 1877 -- The City of Pana is chartered under general city and village law.

Nov., 1878 -- Hayward's bank closed.

1879 -- F.W. Stockbridge served as Pana's first Mayor.

1880 -- Citizens of Pana raised funds to bore a coal test hole.

1883 -- The test hole results indicated a seam of coal.

1884 -- The first coal shaft was sank by David Harts and Frank Frorer.

1887 -- Father Ferdinand Stick constructed a four-room building to be used as Sacred Heart School.

1889 -- Three Dominican Sisters from Springfield assumed teaching positions at Sacred Heart School. Enrollment was 150 students.

1890 -- The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) was constructed on the corner of Second and Poplar streets. Today, the building houses the Moose Lodge.

1892 -- A public water and sewer system was installed under the direction of Eugene Hayward.

1895 -- First telephone exchange in Pana was installed.

Pana's population was reported at 7,000.

1897 -- Pana High School was established and housed in the YMCA building.

1898 -- Pana Iron Store opened for business.

April 1, 1898 -- Pana Coal Strike began.

June, 1898 -- Coal mine operators announced plans to open Pana coal mines with non-union labor.

Aug. 24, 1898 -- The first African-American non-union coal miners arrived in Pana.

Sept. 28, 1898 -- Several African-Americans and one white person were wounded during gunfire related to the strife between union and non-union coal miners.

Sept., 29, 1898 -- Captain C.C. Craig, commander of Battery B in Galesburg of the National Guard, was ordered to report to Pana. Ten officers and 176 men were sent to assist law enforcement and prevent rioting. All armed people were to be disarmed, and firearms dealers were asked to halt business temporarily.

Nov. 12, 1898 -- Martial law was declared in Pana.

March 23, 1899 -- Troops were withdrawn.

April 10, 1899 -- Approximately seven people were killed and 15 wounded by gunfire as a result of tensions between union and non-union employees of the Pana coal mines.

Oct. 10, 1899 -- The Pana coal mine strike ended.

May 20, 1901 -- The first Pana Library Board was established with John W. Kitchell serving as president. The library was housed in the YMCA building.

May 12, 1902 -- A volunteer fire department was organized in Pana.

July, 1907 -- Pana Chautauqua began.

1908 -- Voters in Pana Township voted to establish the Pana High School. The school was completed in 1909, with W.E. Andrews named as principal. An addition was added in 1922.

The Deaconess Hospital, located on Orange St., opened to care for the sick. The facility was supported by churches and Pana's social clubs.

J.W. Kitchell deeded 40 acres for Kitchell Park to the City of Pana.

1909 -- Pana Township School is built with 176 students enrolled. Cost of the building was $80,000.

1912 -- Pana Post Office was completed. The first postmaster was W. H. Alexander.

1911 - 1913 -- The Illinois Central and the C.C.C. & St. L. railways combined to build a new depot. (This depot was razed in 1967.)

1912 -- John T. Downs and Sons, Buick dealer, opened at 105 E. Second St.

The Carnegie-Schuyler Library was completed at a cost of $25,000, with Andrew Carnegie donating $14,000. The library moved to the new building in Jan. of 1913.

George's Candy Shop opened in downtown Pana.

1913 -- John T. Downs and Sons, Ford dealer, opened at 8 South Locust St.

May 12, 1913 -- Groundbreaking ceremony was held for Huber Memorial Hospital on South Locust St.

1914 -- George's Candy Shop opened for business.

May 10, 1914 -- Huber Memorial Hospital opened. Contractor for the project was Joseph McCarthy.

Dec. 26, 1914 -- Pana resident John Kitchell passed away.

1915 -- The Progressive Manufacturing Company quit business. The company was located on Poplar St. and manufactured novelty items such as footwarmers used in buggies.

1916 -- An addition to Sacred Heart School was constructed.

Sugar Creek Creamery opened.

1917 -- The first class graduated from Huber Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Pana.

1918 -- C.R. Nielson constructed a large greenhouse. In 1919 and 1920, six more greenhouses were added.

1920 -- The census in Pana was reported at 6,000.

1921 -- Amling Brothers Walter, Martin, and Herbert constructed four greenhouses and a power plant. The Amlings added more greenhouses in 1922, 1923, and 1924, with a total of 28. The greenhouses contained 490,000 square feet of glass and were used exclusively to grow roses.

1922 -- The present Post Office in Pana opened.

Lincoln and Washington Grade Schools were built.

1923 -- Edward, Clarence, and John Asa constructed a group of seven greenhouses.

High school courses were added to Sacred Heart School. Enrollment totaled 300 students.

Wadley's Poultry Co. was established.

1924 -- An addition of classrooms and a gym was added to the Pana Township School. In 1958, a new high school building was established, with the old facility serving as a junior high.

Lincoln Grade School opened.

Pana's population is reported at 8,000.

1925 -- High school classes were discontinued at Sacred Heart School.

Jan. 1, 1925 -- The Purity Baking Co. opened for business in Pana. At peak production, 17 truck routes served the surrounding area. The name of Purity Baking was changed to Miss Sunbeam in 1951. The Pana plant was later closed.

Memorial Day, 1925 -- Bintz Swimming Pool (the elevated pool in Kitchell Park) opened.

1925 - 1926 -- Spanbauer and Webb built a range of greenhouses totaling about 800,000 square feet of glass.

1927 -- The Amling Brothers sold their interests in the greenhouses to the Maton Brothers.

1928 -- The Amlings construct a total of 32 greenhouses west of Pana. The greenhouses totaled 780,000 square feet of glass. The 180 foot tall smoker stack was noted as the tallest structure in town.

June 5, 1928 -- Equity Creamery & Produce Co. opened.

1929 -- The Asa Brothers added seven greenhouses, doubling their range.

1930 -- Schuyler Bank closed.

First National Bank of Pana opened for business.

1931 -- National Greenhouse Company was formed by P.L. McKee with three employees. McKee sold his interest in the company in 1948. By the 1960's, National Greenhouse occupied over 50,000 square feet of factory and lumberyard. Greenhouses made by the company have been shipped to every state in the Union and internationally.

1939 -- The Pana Refining Company opened. The refinery was located on 32 acres south of Pana on Rt. 51. (Additional acreage was purchased later.) Crude oil was furnished to the refinery by a 25-mile long pipeline from Louden Township field in Fayette County. The refinery was built by dismantling and moving a complete refinery plant from Gladwater, Texas, to Pana. At this time, the capacity of the Pana refinery was 2,000,000 barrels of gasoline per month. (This located was the site of a massive environmental cleanup in 1999.)

The Pana Country Club opened for business.

Oct. 11, 1939 -- The Schuyler Bank was razed.

Feb. 14, 1940 -- The Roseland Theater opened. The first film shown in the theater was "I Take This Woman" starring Spencer Tracy.

Feb., 1941 -- A dress factory in Pana opened. This factory employed 100 people and produced 30,000 dresses per year.

1942 -- The present Pana City Hall was completed.

1943 -- Lecas Candy Co. was organized.

Nov., 1943 -- The Illinois Glove Company opened.

1945 -- Illinois Roses, Ltd. was formed by a group who purchased the Amlings' greenhouses.

1946 -- B.C. King Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge dealership opened in Pana.

1948 -- The Pana Airport, located east of town, opened.

Feb. 19, 1948 -- The Pana News-Palladium reported that Sugar Creek Dairy paid $1,943,126.78 to local producers in the year 1947.

1949 -- A skating rink was opened in Pana.

Pana Lake was constructed.

March 3, 1949 -- The "Old Mine" in Pana was sealed. The Old Mine was believed to be the oldest producing mine in the United States.

1950 -- Brummett Field (at Pana High School) was dedicated.

The Rosebud Cafe & Motel opened for business.

Tanner Drive-In Theater opened.

The last class graduated from Huber Memorial Hospital School of Nursing.

Jan., 1951 -- The glove factory opened and employed 138 people at their new location at the corner of Main and South Poplar.

1954 -- Illinois Glove Company closed.

Peoples Bank and Trust of Pana opened.

1956 -- The Switch Division of the P.R. Mallory Company occupied the Illinois Glove factory facility. Approximately 300 people were employed in the factory.

Dec. 30, 1957 -- Peabody Coal Co. mine closed.

1958 -- Pana High School (located on Eighth St.) was build.

Jan. 25, 1959 -- The Decatur Herald and Review reported that 13 million roses are grown annually in Pana.

1960 -- Peabody Coal mine is sealed.

The Dutch Mill opened for business.

Oct. 2, 1970 -- Pana Community Hospital was dedicated.

Jan. 2, 1973 -- Essex Manufacturing Co. began producing wire at the Pana plant.

1975 -- The elevated swimming pool in Kitchell Park was demolished.

July 31, 1975 -- A $300,000 federal grant for a firehouse was received by the city of Pana.

1976 -- The firehouse was built.

The present Pana Swimming Pool opened.

June 9, 1977 -- P.R. Mallory Co. closes after a 14-week strike. The factory manufactured electronic timers.

March 8, 1980 -- The Decatur Herald & Review reported that Pana residents Eugene and Barbara Newberry camp at Pana Lake in their teepee.

Oct. 25, 1982 -- The Pana News-Palladium reported that log cabins would be placed at the Pana Tri-County Fairgrounds by the Pana Pioneer Heritage Guild.

1983 -- Pana Wal-Mart opened for business.

The Dutch Mill closed.

Feb. 9, 1983 -- Pana Missouri-Pacific railroad tower was closed by the railroad at 3 p.m. The tower is located near the intersection of Oak and Main St.

May 30, 1983 -- The Armed Forces Memorial was dedicated in Kitchell Park.

1984 -- McDonald's Restaurant opened for business in Pana.

1985 -- Bob Ridings purchased the B.C. King Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge dealership.

1994 -- George's Candy Shop closed.

Oct., 1997 -- Pana Junior High was consumed by a fire suspected to have been caused by arson.

1998 -- Essex plant closed.

1999 -- Construction on the new Pana High School began.

Construction on the new emergency wing of Pana Community Hospital began.

Oct., 1999 -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched a $3.5 million cleanup of the South Central Terminal site located on South Rt. 51 in Pana. The cleanup included dismantling, decontamination, and off-site disposal of more than 50 above-ground storage tanks, disposal of 250,000 gallons of petroleum and agricultural chemicals, corrosive liquids, and sludges, and disposal of asbestos-containing insulation material from tanks, processing pipes, and electrical transformers.

2000 -- Construction on the Lincoln Prairie Bike and Hike Trail, located on the railroad right-of-way along Rt. 29, began.


File entitled "Pana: A Written History" available at Carnegie-Schuyler Library, Pana.

Illinois Sesquicentennial Edition of Christian County History, Production Press, Inc., Jacksonville, IL.

Pana Centennial 1856 - 1956, Pana News-Palladium, Pana, IL.

Pana Dates, Decatur Herald and Review, Feb. 22, 1985.

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