Known as the home of the Prohibition-era Shelton Brothers Gang, the true heritage of Wayne County, Illinois, is the collective life of its ordinary citizens--their surroundings, activities, and challenges. In 1819, settlers named the county seat Fairfield because there was "no fairer field" than the broad prairie between the timberlands. Villages scattered across the 715-square-mile county attracted families, teachers, doctors, blacksmiths, ministers, and merchandisers. The railroad brought prosperity. Fairfield's opera house, college, woolen mill, stately churches, elegant homes, and packed business district made it a social hub. In the 1900s, Sexton Manufacturing added a massive factory complex, including Cambridge Court cottages for unmarried female workers. On farms, poultry production reached industry levels. By the 1920s, the county had over 100 one-room schools. The discovery of oil in 1937 relieved Depression-era woes and fueled Fairfield's civic expansion after World War II. These photographs show generations of shopkeepers, students, farmers, musicians, builders, barbers, teachers, merchants, and factory workers in the heart of the rural Midwest.