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
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
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
“Your green thumb is imprinted in Lincoln on landscaping projects
around the County Courthouse, the post office, and in Washington
“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.
[to top of second column]
That was testified in the letter of recommendation
that Lincoln College Professor Ron Keller wrote for the LCG&HS in
"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
"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
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
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]