Najjar Abdul-Musawwir is almost finished with a mural to honor African Americans contribution to Pulaski County.
Abdul-Musawwir, an art professor at SIU, and his daughter began the project by collecting information from residents of Pulaski.
Once he collected some history and old pictures, he began sketching out the mural.
“I’m fascinated in the history of Pulaski…it is a sad and romantic feeling to me,” said Abdul-Musawwir.
Included in the mural is the Pulaski depot, the first African American postal worker, two women who began the grocery store and other buildings from the 1980’s.
The mural will be on display in front of the Pulaski Community Building where both the front and back sides will be exposed. Abdul-Musawwir decided to make the back of the mural a quilt pattern along with positive words, like love, faith and happiness.
Most of the mural was complete before his visit, save some colors on the mural and the quilted back. Abdul-Musawwir asked community members from Pulaski to come to help finish the mural. Several children decorated the quilted back while older kids helped fill in the colors on the front.
Legacy training, the Pulaski community and SIU helped sponsor and support Abdul-Musawwir in the painting of the mural.
Jerry Pat Thurston is the third generation to run his family’s centennial farm in Pulaski, Illinois and he is working to keep it relevant in the modern market, as well as to maintain the legacy his ancestors have built.
Located less than five miles outside of Pulaski, Spring Valley Farm, Jerry Pat Thurston’s family farm is nestled between patches of woodland and has fields stretching to the horizon. On the property is the original homestead his great-grandparents moved into when they purchased the original 120 acre lot in 1911 and in front of the house is the quintessential red barn and clean, pink pig roaming the barnyard. In the quiet of the morning the place feels idyllic.
“This is my favorite place in the world,” Jerry Pat said.
Since the original purchase 102 years ago, Jerry Pat Thurston and his father, Jerry Thurston, have grown the farm to more than 1000 farmed acres. However, the 30 acres of vegetables are still on the original plot of land.
While vegetables may not be the bulk of what is farmed, it is one of Jerry Pat’s favorite things to grow.
“Vegetables were something I always really enjoyed doing,” he said. However, until four years ago, the Thurston farm had not had any vegetables for nearly twenty years. It was only when Jerry Pat saw the growing interest in local food that he decided to start growing produce again. This decision also lined up with his ethos of supporting local farmers.
“I always have seen a value in it and I think it is good that the consumers are starting to look for that now,” he said.
Thurston said his vegetable farm is directly influenced by the garden his grandmother grew, which Thurston still plants in the same plot in front the house at the farm, though no one lives in it anymore. He said he is always reminded of the legacy he has been left and is constantly working to maintain it.
“It is … a challenge that you do justice to the history of the farm and the family that put in a lot of hard work before you,” he said.
While it may seem the Thurstons would be pushing their luck to think the farm will be around another generation, there is hope that it will see another centennial. Jerry Pat’s 17-year-old son, Andrew Thurston, has plans of continuing his family’s tradition after he finishes college.
“It’s already got 100 years under its belt, I might as well add another hundred under it,” Andrew said.
–Isaac Smith can be reached at (618)-734-4242
Right to left, farm foreman, Josh Provo, Gus Corbroth, Ozell Jones and James Hale fill a truck with collard greens May 16 at Spring Valley Farm in Pulaski. The 30 acre portion of the farm dedicated to vegetables sits on the original 120 acre lot, which Jerry Pat Thurston’s great-grandfather purchased in 1911. Since then, the farm has grown nearly 10 times that size. The vegetables grown on the farm are shipped to local markets as well as sold in Thurston’s own grocery store in Pulaski. Thurston, said local vegetables are often fresher than those shipped from out of state. “There are a lot of vegetables that we can raise right here in this area that are currently being brought in from either Calif. or Fla.,” he said.– Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
A farm worker bunches collard greens May 16 in the packing barn at Spring Valley Farm in Pulaski.– Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Tomatoes ripen on the vine in a high tunnel at Spring Valley Farm. Farm co-owner, Jerry Pat Thurston said the 102-year-old farm planted vegetables for the first time in nearly 20 years in 2009. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Customers leave the Old General Store May 30 in Pulaski. The store started as a way for Jerry Pat Thurston to sell the vegetables his farm was growing. Though he said it was never their intent to own a grocery store,The Old General Store has since morphed into a full service grocery store with an emphasis on locally grown meats and vegetables. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Andrew Thurston, 17, takes a break between hammering down steaks in a row of pepper plants May 31 at his father’s farm in Pulaski. Thurston, who just graduated from Meridian High School, said he plans on going to SIU for agricultural business and wants to return to someday run his family’s farm. “It’s already got 100 years under its belt, I might as well add another hundred under it,” he said. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
A pig grazes May 30 at Spring Valley Farm in Pulaski. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Returning Starters from Last Spring: Devante Johnson, Raquan Nelson, Bryce Gardner, Josh Jordan, Les Williams, Devin Menz, Lavonte Merrit
Cairo Head Coach Allen Pearman and assistant coach Julian Watkins said they are expecting a lot of good things from their squad this season. Cairo has seven returning starters on this year’s team and four seniors. With the amount of underclassmen that the Pilots have, they will be able to gain valuable experience going forward.
The Pilots have six pitchers on their roster which will help in a season with more than 25 games.
“This is the most athletic team I’ve ever coached.” Pearman said. Pearman is also very pleased with his 1st year assistant Julian Watkins.
“It will be fun to work with him,” Pearman said.
The Pilots first home game is March. 18 against Eagle Ridge Christian School. Cairo did not play fall baseball.
-Head Coach: Garret Wilson
-Assistant Coach: Richard Jones
-Last Year Fall Record: 10-4
Returning Starters from Last Fall: Brandon Jackson, Cordon Hight, Brad Wilson, Aaron Jones, Caden Hight, Collin Jones, Blake Crane, Adam Jones, Zach Sauerbrunn, Jeff Wright
Century has only two seniors on the roster: Brandon Jackson and Cordon Hight. Coach Garret Wilson said the core of his team is the junior high team that won state a few years ago.
Even with two seniors, Century is not an inexperienced team.
Century has several pitchers which will help when playing around 30 games this season.
When Senior Cordon Hight was asked about his team he said his team has what it takes to do well this season.
“We have all the tools to win a regional and this could be our year,” he said.
Century’s first home game is March. 15 against Massac County.
-Head Coach: Elmo Venson
The Pharaohs first home game is March. 14 against the Cairo Pilots.
-Head Coach: Mike Hileman
-Assistant Coach: Greg Harris
Last Year Spring Record: 13-10
The Meridian Bobcats return with eight seniors from a team that made the Regional Championship last spring. Seniors Tyler Hileman and Blaine Crow each made the all-conference team. Head Coach Mike Hileman said they have the toughest regional in Southern Illinois.
“Any five teams could win the regional,” coach said.
The key idea to senior Jammerio Moore is dedication.
“We have to come on the field each and every day ready to play,” Moore said.
Meridian will start their season March. 14 against the Gallatin County Hawks.
Stanley McClellan cannot remember a time when he was not in the fur house.
McClellan, said his father started McCllan Fur Company nearly 60 years ago in Pulaski and he can hardly remember a time when he was not involved. McClellan now runs the business with his son, Clayton.
During hunting and trapping season Stanley and Clayton purchase from hunters animal hides ranging from deer to raccoon and anything else in season. Once the skins have been stretched and dried, Stanley said he often sells them to the garment trade over seas. Of the animals trappers bring in, McClellan said he primarily buys raccoon hides. He said he annually buys an average of them.
Like his family business, McClellan said hunting and trapping is also passed down amongst families.
“It’s something families do and it’s just handed down from generation to generation,” Stanley said.
While there are not as many trappers now as there were when he his father started the Fur Company, Stanley said there has been an upswing for trapping in recent years.
“Prices are a little better than they have been in quite some time, so therefore there’s actually more people in the woods,” he said.
Trapping season for raccoons began Nov. 5 and will end January 20 2013 and Clayton said he anticipates the fur house in Pulaski will remain busy until after the season ends.
— Isaac Smith can be reached at (618)-734-4242