Davis Trust

William Davis, center, is pictured at an event in 1962. Davis, who died in 1967, established a trust that now is valued at more than $20 million, with the City of Mount Carroll set to receive 50 percent of it for a community center. The photograph was provided by former Mount Carroll resident Greg Petty of Denver, Colo. Also pictured are Greg’s great-grandfather, Charles “Coxie” Petty, and his mother Georgia Petty.


The Mount Carroll City Council intends to thoroughly discuss plans related to Davis Trust funds in mid-January.

With the last surviving beneficiary of William J. Davis dying in September, the city will eventually receive 50 percent of his trust, now valued at $20 million, for "the erection and equipping of a community building for the use and enjoyment of the inhabitants of the City of Mt. Carroll, Illinois, said building to be called the William Davis Community Building.”

During the Tuesday, Dec. 10, council meeting, Mayor Carl Bates said he would like to see the council hold a public work session in mid-to-late January to begin the process of discussing exactly what type of structure can and should be built with the Davis Trust money.

Mayor Bates said he feels it is important to make sure the city ensures that it has enough funds set aside after the construction to keep the center running and not be a burden on the community.

"This is a really bid deal, this is an amazing thing for our little town," said Bates, adding the council needs to be a good steward.

Bates suggested the city hold the meeting on Jan. 20, before Ald. Joe Grim said Jan. 23, would actually be better for him. No official date has been set.

Ald. Mike Risko said he had submitted documents for a request for proposal (RFP) for a potential city planner to help with the process, asking if the city council would consider the request at the next meeting. Both Bates and City Attorney Ron Coplan agreed the council should not discuss an RFP until after the January meeting so they know just what the city is looking for in a city planner.

Coplan said he would be meeting with a planning company in the near future for his own information as an attorney. He also reported a petition has been filed by the Davis Trust attorney with the court to add a third trustee.

In response to a question from Ald. Risko, Coplan explained that after the new trustee is approved by the court, the next step by the trustees should be to seek guidance from the court to address if all the trust's beneficiaries are still eligible to receive funds.

A question remains on whether there is any entity to claim the 30 percent listed to go to "Shimer College, a non-profit educational corporation, having its campus and principal buildings in the City of Mt. Carroll, Illinois."

While North Central College in Naperville has assumed the Shimer College Great Books program and name, some question whether it is entitled to the funds as written in the Davis Trust.

It also is possible the Illinois Masonic Home in Sullivan (receiving 7 percent) and the Illinois Masonic Children's Home in LaGrange (receiving 6 percent) may no longer be in business.

Coplan said that once the trustees file with the court for clarification on beneficiaries, everyone listed in the trust will receive a notice. The court would first hear arguments and determine if anyone has sufficient standing to even represent Shimer College (as well as the other beneficiaries) in the proceedings. Then the court would make a decision.

Risko asked if this process would affect when the city gets its money. Coplan reminded Risko that the city will not get any funds until after the city has an official plan which must be approved by the trustees, according to the Davis Trust.

The next regular council meeting will not be on Dec. 24, but instead be at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19, directly following a Joint Review Board Meeting.