NEW BOSTON, Ill. — New Boston is a tight-knit community where many of the 600 or so residents have known each other since childhood.
And the community is coming together in grief and support for the family of Jesse Bullock, 12, and Nicholas "Nic" Bullock, 9, the New Boston boys who drowned Friday while swimming in the Edwards River not far from their home.
With the grief comes a story of heroism.
Obituaries for the two boys, sons of Jesse and Emily Foster Bullock, indicate a cousin, Jamie Vermast, saved Jesse and Nic's younger brother, Thomas, and "tried his hardest to save the other boys."
"The family thanks Jamie for his efforts," the brothers' obituaries state.
Mercer County Coroner Ron McNall said Saturday that the children were swimming in the river when the current became too strong for them.
"Most rivers are flowing very fast right now even though we haven't had much rain lately," McNall said. The rivers remain high from late spring and early summer rains.
New Boston is coming together to help the Bullock family with a benefit, said resident Lucinda Puckett.
"We don't have a time yet," Puckett said Saturday. "We just started working on it today. I think we're going to have it at the Fish Fry park, probably after the annual fish fry." The annual fish fry is Aug. 24.
"Any donations would be helpful," Puckett said. "Anyone who wants to provide items for an auction and raffle, or gift baskets or baseball tickets, it would be welcome."
One neighbor said the boys' deaths were a shock because they were doing an ordinary summer thing that just about every child that has grown up around New Boston had done time and again.
Jesse would have been in the seventh grade this fall in the Mercer County School District, while Nic would have been in the fourth grade.
Family members said Jesse was artistic and enjoyed drawing and music. He also loved riding on the four-wheeler or dirt bike.
Nic was described as a true "country boy." He loved to work on motors, shoot BB guns and be outdoors.
The brothers were members of New Boston Boy Scout Troop 406.
Funeral services will be 3 p.m. on Wednesday at Mercer County Intermediate School, Aledo, with visitation that day from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the school.