Village of Prairie City
From 1937-1950, Prairie City was home to the Decker Press, which in the mid-1940s was the largest publishing house in America devoted exclusively to putting out poetry. The press began gaining attention after James Decker obtained permission to print two of Edgar Lee Masters’ collections: Illinois Poems, published in 1941, and Along the Illinois, published in 1942. However, the business was not financially successful and its founder, Prairie City native James A. Decker, sold it to a local lumber dealer, Harry M. Denman, who in turn sold it several months later to Ervin Tax, a poet from Chicago. Decker left town, but his wife, Dorothy, remained.
Tax tried to make the business more efficient and profitable—buying new presses and binding equipment and hiring an artist, sales promoter and other employees. But The Decker Press came to a tragic end in May 1950 when Dorothy, who had fallen in love with Tax in a one-side relationship, shot Tax in the head with a rifle and then killed herself.