The Staley Museum
The Staley Museum opened its doors to the public during the summer of 2015. We are excited be a full-fledged member of our community. Here you will find updates and news about the museum and exciting events going on.
The Staley Museum and this web site are both works in progress. We encourage visitors to continue to check back with us and see how we are progressing. We would also like to encourage visitors to the site to share any stories or information they may have regarding Staley history.
Photos, documents, articles and memorabilia are all welcome and appreciated. Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the Staley museum may contact us through via the Artifact Donation Form found on this site. Also, for anyone in our area who wishes to be a Volunteer at the museum and offer their time and/or expertise, please go to the Volunteer Form and fill out your information so that we may contact you personally. We invite you to Contact Us.
The Staley Museum is open year round; Tuesday – Saturday from 1:00 – 4:00 pm, and on the last Sunday of the month (March – November) from 1:00 – 4:00 pm.
The Staley Story
A.E. Staley was a big man with big dreams and had the determination to make those dreams a reality. Although he did not arrive on the scene until the 1900’s, his impact of Decatur was such that he is counted as one of the founding fathers. The largeness of his dreams and of his civic minded generosity has contributed in major ways to the city we know today.
It was A.E.’s pioneering vision in the area of soy beans, both the cultivation and processing, that gave Decatur the name “Soy Bean Capitol of the World.”
In the period of one decade, 1920-1930, A.E. Staley made significant contributions to the community of Decatur, being the driving force behind the creation of Lake Decatur, the Staley viaduct, the Staley Office Building, and the formation of the Decatur Staleys football club, later to become the Chicago Bears.
The story of A.E. Staley is one in which the city of Decatur has the right to feel great pride. It is a story which forms a major part in the industrial and agricultural history of central Illinois. We look forward to sharing that pride and history as we work toward the opening of the Staley Museum.
The Staley Museum on Facebook
Saturday August 26th
A Happy 142nd Birthday to Mrs. Emma Staley! Emma was born on this day in 1875. It is to her we give credit for settling Mr. Staley down to start his own starch business in Baltimore, Maryland. No longer would he be a travelling salesman! They married in December of 1898 and had 5 children together (Ione, Ruth, A.E. Junior, Andrew Rollin, and Mary).
A recent donation of some of Emma’s journals have shown us that she was a prolific writer of poetry. She wrote page after page in notebooks, and we have many scraps of paper that prove she was constantly jotting down poems her entire life. Some were even on A. E. Staley Manufacturing Company stationery! Her topics range from the Illinois flora and wildlife, her family and husband, to the pain of a world at war. At the loss of her husband, Emma’s poetry shows her grief, the poems for her children and grandchildren show her hope for the future.
If you’re curious about the rest of Emma Staley’s life, come visit the museum! We’re open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 4! ... See MoreSee Less
Thursday August 17th
Happy 116th Birthday to Ruth Staley! Ruth was born on this day in 1901. She was the second eldest child born to Mr. and Mrs. Staley and was also their second daughter.
Did you know?
In 1929, Decatur was awash with a rumor that Ruth had traveled to Chicago to secretly purchase an airplane and learn how to fly it! The rumor was fierce and became so insistent that the Staley family had an article published in the newspaper to clarify her trip was simply to visit her sister, Mary, and rest.
Learn more about Ruth’s life by visiting our Staley Women’s Exhibit today! We are open from 1 to 4 this afternoon! ... See MoreSee Less
Monday July 31st
Saturday July 29th
The last known wedding at the Staley house was the marriage between Ione Staley (the eldest child of A. E. Staley Sr.) to H.P. Dunlap 90 years ago. Today, we are honored to celebrate another wedding between our beloved director, Laura Jahr, and her love, David Lee Allen. Laura and Dave, we wish you many years of happiness together! Congratulations! ... See MoreSee Less