SEATONVILLE — While some people are working hard to change the name of Bureau County’s Negro Creek, others think the name is just fine the way it is.
“I still think it’s political correctness gone a little overboard, but that’s the society we live in now,” said Chad Errio.
Last January Errio created a Facebook page “Leave Negro Creek Alone” in protest to Phillip Mol’s Facebook page “Lets Rename Negro Creek.” Errio found enough supporters to keep local politicians from changing the name of the creek, but now the other side is approaching the federal government directly. The United States Geological Survey can change the name if a petitioner shows the current name is offensive, there is historical precedent for the new name, and there is some local support.
Errio doesn’t believe there’s much they can do to stop the name from being changed.
“Unfortunately it may well end up being changed,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we’re not going to stop fighting for it.”
In the meantime, Errio and his supporters are moving forward with plans to erect a monument regarding the creek. One of his supporters is speaking with a lawyer about getting a non-profit status, and Errio hopes to be ready by the first of the year.
In addition to the legalities, Errio said they are determining just what they would like on the monument.
“We want it to reflect the true history of the creek and the area,” he said.
Errio said they have been working with the Bureau County Historical Society to determine the true history of African Americans in the Seatonville area, and why the creek received its name. Many believe the name was chosen for the Adams and Love families, early African-American settlers in the area.
Errio said there is a lot of incorrect information being disseminated regarding a labor dispute in Spring Valley in the late 1890s that resulted in the deaths of some African American residents.
“It was tragic and horrible, but it has nothing to do with race,” Errio said. “It just happened to be between blacks and Italians. If it had been Polish workers that came in to cross the picket lines, the same thing would have happened.”
Errio said there had been a lot of heated talk from both sides on the Internet regarding the issue. However, the debate with Cosmo Andoloro, who is now spearheading the name change, is currently halted.
Errio said he and Andoloro had a “civil” conversation on Sunday.
“He said, ‘We should sit down and have a beer some time. We have a lot more in common than you think,’” Errio said.
In addition to determining the wording on the plaque and raising funds, Errio said a location for the monument must be determined.
“The general opinion is probably in Seatonville because that’s where the creek is the widest and easiest accessible,” he said.
Errio said he believes the name might eventually be changed.
“If it happens, it happens,” he said. “You have to accept it. If it says Adams-Love Creek on the map, that’s what it’s called.”
Errio said the creek will always remain Negro Creek in the heart of supporters, which would be an ironic twist to those who want the name changed. Before the efforts to change the name, Errio said many people didn’t even know the creek had a name.
“It was the ‘creek,’ or the ‘crick,’” he said, adding if the name is changed, it will only affect local residents.
“It’s a 10-mile stretch of creek that nobody heard of before this situation, and it will be a 10-mile stretch of creek that nobody outside this area will ever hear of after this situation,” he said. “The government does what government’s going to do, and you live with it.”
Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.