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Historical Arlington War Stories

Civil War – In 1865 nineteen-year-old John E. Best signed up to fight the Southern Rebellion with his older brother, James. They were placed in the 95th Regiment of Illinois Volunteers. Both boys survived the battles but a bout of measles killed John’s brother. John also suffered the disease, the conditions of the wartime hospitals had a tremendous effect on his thinking. After the war, John Best graduated from Rush Medical College in 1870. He returned to Arlington Heights (then called Dunton) to practice his craft.
WWI – The attitude towards Germans in the U.S. at the time was of course negative. Nonetheless the community continued to print its newspaper in both English and German editions during the war, even writing articles in defense of the German originated families residing there. 4 days before the war actually ended, resident Nathaniel Banta (original owner of Banta House on the Arlington Heights Historical Museum property) received faulty news by telephone that the war was over. He proceeded to rouse the entire town in the wee hours of the morning. Schools were closed and a holiday was announced. 4 days later when the official announcement of victory emerged, town officials cautiously doubled-checked the information before again closing schools and celebrating. In all 133 men enlisted from Arlington Heights. Two boys, Theodore Heismoth and David H. Hodges failed to return.
WWII – A unique effort to other support to servicemen during World War II was by Lil and Mar Johnson. Lil and Mar owned the Park View Tavern, a popular social establishment. Every Saturday throughout wartime they would leave a toy ambulance bank on top of the counter to gather loose change and donations. At the end of the night whatever was in the bank would be turned into a money order and mailed off to an Arlington Heights serviceman. At some points the amount in the jar amounted to as much as $100. This community effort demonstrated to the servicemen that they were being kept in the community’s thoughts.
There are many more stories that we wish we had time to share. The Arlington heights Historical Museum thanks all Veterans for their incredible sacrifice and service.
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