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White Squirrels

There are two different accountings of how the white squirrels came to Olney.  Both hypotheses are well documented and have been substantiated by interview with eyewitnesses who saw the squirrel at the time. It seems possible that both discoveries occurred in 1902. 
 

    
squirrel music
 
     
 The William Yates Stroup Hypothesis:

White Squirrel Olney ILWhile William Yates Stroup was hunting squirrels in the woods near his home in the southeast Olney Township he saw a gray squirrel run into a nest and shot the den killing the mother and knocking out two pure white baby squirrels. He put them into the pockets of his game bag and took them home with him, turning them over to his sons, George and Era Strop who raised them by hand feeding them milk by a spoon. The little squirrels lived, thrived and grew well. That fall farmer Stroup brought the squirrels to Olney and presented them to the Jasper Banks Saloon and displayed them in his window. They attracted attention and were a fine drawing card for what was called "JAP's Place." 
     The albinos were finally released when the Illinois legislature passed a law prohibiting the confinement of wildlife, which included squirrels. The squirrels were taken to Oakwood, the home of Thomas Tippit commonly called Tippit's Woods and released. The Tippit residence was located at 802 N. Silver Street, but has since been torn down.

The George W. Ridgely Hypothesis:

White Squirrel Olney IL 2George W. Ridgely moved to a farm about six miles southeast of Sumner, In 1899 George discovered a cream-colored squirrel and a white squirrel playing on his farm near Sumner. He tried to capture them but was unsuccessful. Finally he asked his neighbor John Robinson to help him, but they were unsuccessful. Finally the men constructed a box-like trap and a cage eight feet by six feet. They captured them and were able to raise several litters before bringing a pair to Olney in 1902. Mr. Ridgely sold the pair to Jasper C. Banks for $5 each. Mr. Banks made a green box for his albinos and displayed them in his saloon window, hoping they would attract customers and cause them to go inside and get a better look and have a drink. 

When the state legislature passed a law prohibiting the containment of wild animals, Mr. Ridgely released all his squirrels from his cage near Sumner. They wandered in his woods and neighboring lands, and the squirrels were no longer to be found. 

Jap Banks also disposed of his squirrels, giving the pair to the sons of Thomas Tippit Sr., a former mayor of Olney. Thomas Tippit had a woods near his home then located at 802 Silver Street His sons placed the open green box in one of the nearby trees, liberating the squirrels. 

Thomas Tippit Jr. and his brother watched the male white squirrel leave the cage. Just then a large female fox squirrel attacked the male albino, "tearing him to shreds" and dropping him to the ground. Tom threw something at the fox squirrel and drove her into her den. They he ran to the house and got a shotgun. His father had allowed him to shoot it for the first time the day before. Fourteen-year-old Tom drew aim and shot the fox squirrel as it approached the white female. The albino produced a litter of all white squirrels establishing the Olney albino colony.