From the brochure: (dated 1899): "When released from the curse of rum by the Dickey Treatment, the patient begins to sing its praises. The renewal of family ties is but another sacred moment in their lives' history. The Dickey Remedy for opium and morphine has no equal, it having been tested in the most obstinate cases. After years of constant use of these drugs their effects have been totally destroyed in every patient treated. Remember that our remedy is guaranteed to cure any disease that we name and that all our work is strictly confidential."
The Sanitarium also advertised first-class accommodations for only $5.00 per week, hot and cold baths in connection, also first-class barber service, as well as a supply of musical instruments and many rare literary works for the enjoyment of the patients. They recommended that the book "The Devil's Mortgage Canceled" be read by all who had the drink habit in any form.
The Old Timer was surprised recently when he happily received a copy of the brochure from Thomas Berkshire of Springfield, Illinois (great grandson of James M. Dickey), who has been busy researching his family's history, including that of his grandparents, Pearl Dickey Berkshire (daughter of James M. Dickey) and Robert Berkshire.
The little brochure also featured photographs of the Shelby and Kankakee area including a picture of an old steam engine crossing the river near what was Ahlgrim's Park, one of a boat on the river, other scenes along the river as well as the photo (above) of the three story hotel-sanitarium building at Shelby, which was near the site of the old depot. Another photo shows three tired hunters with a large group of geese hanging on a cabin. In that same era the hotel business at Shelby was very busy accommodating crowds of hunters, fishermen and artists.
According to the small paper-back history book The Lake County Souvenir, 1906, James M. Dickey was also in the real estate business, for he advertised land for sale near Shelby in Lake County and also in Jasper and Newton Counties. He had begun his real estate business at Monon, Indiana, in 1887. To attract customers to come to the river area, of which he was very proud, he wrote about the wonders of the valley in the brochure:
"Historical Society Hears Early History of Shelby" was the headline of a newspaper clipping dated May 21, 1964. The story told about the historical meeting that was hosted by the Shelby Community on the occasion of the history group's 88th anniversary. Over 50 members and friends attended the enlightening and pleasant affair.
The history of Shelby was "ably prepared and presented" by the Misses Ruth and Mary Holton and Mrs. Neal Sirois, with assistance from townspeople. They told about the history and the beauty of the river and how it played an active part in the economy and development of the future Town of Shelby.
"Soon after the advent of the railroads (Monon, 1881 and the 3-I, 1883), an elaborate, three-story hotel was built near the depot, the Doty House was across the street, and Dick Fuller built the Fuller House south of the Three-I tracks. Besides the hunters and workers, many people (as high as 75 per day), transferring from one railroad to another, sought lodging in these hotels. Later, the three-story building was operated by James Dickey as a sanitarium for the cure of alcoholics." That is the only mention of the Sanitarium that had been found before the brochure was mailed to the Old Timer by Thomas Berkshire.
"Trapping, hunting, and fishing, of course, were important factors in the growth of business in the young town [Shelby], but there were natural resources that played an equally prominent role -- such lowly things as cat tails, frogs, turtles and mushrooms. The last three were taste luxuries in demand in the Chicago hotels. The cat tails furnished the silky down used in stuffing furniture and pillows. Marshall Fields sent crews each fall to harvest them. The cutting, pressing and storage of wild hay became big business, as the hay was shipped to the Chicago Stock Yards.
"The first school house -- one room -- was south of the 3-I tracks. Later a three-room wooden school was built on the site of the present school. These rooms were sold individually. One sits across the road and houses the Odd Fellows Lodge, the other two rooms were bought by Neal Sirois and made into what was known as Dickey's Store. [George Dickey, son of James, was a storekeeper there for many years.] The brick school building now in use was built in 1910. For a number of years there was a two-year high school, which was disbanded when the new high school in Lowell was opened in the fall of 1916." George W. Dickey wrote a story about the history of Shelby for the History of Lake County, Volume XI, published by the Lake County Historical Society in 1934. He wrote several pages about the early history of the Shelby settlement and about the early families, but did not mention his own family. In his last paragraph he bemoaned the loss of the "old river." "With the hope that we all may live to see the return of our 'beloved Kankakee Valley' to a partial restoration of its natural beauty and productivity, before its life giving waters were taken away, that future generations may find it an earthly paradise rather than a worthless desert.
"Today , Shelby is a busy town of 400 population, still unincorporated, having a lumber yard, a bowling alley, 2 stores, a hardware, post office, eating places and garages among the local business establishments."
A photo very much like the one of the Dickey Sanitarium is featured in the Shelby History-News, 1976 by Shelby Historian Pat Tilton . The caption reads "Hotel Sirois 1911." The brochure for the Sanitarium was printed in 1899, and James M. Dickey's photo in the brochure is the same as one that appeared in a 1906 publication -- facts that tell us that the Sanitarium was in operation for only a short time in the very early 1900's.
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