Prior to the creation of the publicly accessible Banner Marsh in Fulton and Peoria counties, what is now over 4,300 acres of lakes and marsh land, used to be farm land and a privately owned coal mine.  This wildlife area is bordered by US Route 24 and the Illinois River.  For the longest time, only certain people were allowed access to this land.  Of those, most included employees of the mine or those associated with the mine.  Anyone familiar with this area knew of the excellent fishing spots that existed and often times those living around this area would try sneaking into this site only to be chased out by mine employees or have the local police called down upon them for trespassing and poaching.

When it came to Monte’s environmental activism, he chose to play roles mostly behind the scenes.  Though he did enjoy debating people, Monte was not one who enjoyed being out in front of particular issues.  Frequently, he would use his artwork to create parodies involving local environmental issues and public officials.

Below are a series of pencil sketches Monte created to ridicule and bring attention to local politicians regarding their battle over the development of the Banner Marsh from privately owned land to that of an area open to the general public.

Monte created a fictional organization called “YECH” and based this parody on the resistance at the time of the members of the Fulton County Board to allow progress on the development of the Banner Marsh.

In Monte’s left behind notes, he emphasized at one point only a single member of the Fulton County Board voted in favor of the Banner Marsh.

There is a good chance if a person were able to obtain photographs of members of the Fulton County Board during this time, individuals in Monte’s parodies could probably be recognized.



March 8, 1962

March 8, 2011

On March 8, 1962, Kathy Angela Ellis was born.  She passed away on December 21st, 2005 at the age of 43.  Kathy was born premature and Sharyl was known to tell people she was so small she could hold her in the palm of one hand.  From early on, Kathy was a generous and caring person who tried too often to please others before herself.

One time when the Ellis children were quite young and the Ellis family were living down at Big Lake, Kathy and Eric found a bottle of baby aspirin.  Thinking the aspirin were just like candy, Kathy divided them up and between the two of them, gave Eric the larger share.  Even though both had to be taken to the emergency room, everything turned out well.

Before her own passing in 2007, Sharyl never fully recovered from the loss of her daughter.

Unknown Origins

March 5, 2011

Below are a series of pieces by Monte with unknown origins.

The first is a pastel drawing of a sad faced lion (possibly a rendition of the lion from The Wizard of Oz).  This may have been a drawing done for the benefit of one of Monte and Sharyl’s children.


Below is a painting of a man on a safari with a long gun.  This possibly could have been a painting Monte did for some sort of art class assignment.  If one looks close, there are odd items pertaining to the firearm.  The firearm has a barrel and aiming sites suggesting it is a rifle, but then has two triggers and a lever to break open the firearm as if it is a shotgun.

Below are two ink drawings of possibly a coyote.