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story.lead_photo.caption Col. John Paegelow, who married local girl Elia Wood, is featured in this 1974 history column from the Scott Air Force Base, Belleville, Illinois, newspaper. He was commander at Scott Field, 1923-33. Photo by Courtesy of Scott Air Force Base

Work continues on an exhibit which will highlight a California adopted-son at Scott Air Force Base, Belleville, Illinois.

"Up Ship! Scott Field's Army Airships, Balloons, and Aeronauts during the Lighter-than-Air Era (1921-1937)" has been researched by Mark Wilderman, 375th Air Mobility Wing historian.

The stories, photos and artifacts are being assembled now. A scale model of Scott Field Airship Hangar is in production.

Col. John Paegelow (1870-1944) will be featured prominently in the completed exhibit, which will hang in the base's headquarters. Before leading the brief airship program, he was wounded during the Spanish-American War's Battle of San Juan Hill, Cuba; brought peace to the Filippino Insurrection; and was hand-picked by Gen. John Pershing during World War I to pioneer the balloon corps.

Paegelow married teacher Elia Wood, a descendant of one of Moniteau County's founding families, in the Phillipines in 1901. After he retired from the military, the couple retired to California. Their estate helped create the Wood Place Library, now the Moniteau County Library.

During Wilderman's research, he has discovered interesting stories about Paegelow.

One such story was captured in a 1974 base newspaper article talking about Paegelow's pet bulldog, Old Bill.

The pet was a constant companion during Paegelow's tenure as commander at Scott Field, 1923-33. The column noted one of Old Bill's services was to serve as "an accurate emotional barometer, or if you prefer, a mood indicator.

"The colonel often walked from home to headquarters. If Old Bill was prancing ahead, the boss' attitude was sunny. If Old Bill marched at heel, the word was quickly passed: Watch out!"