Today in Morgan County History
January 2, 1882
On January 2, 1882 six young men, students of Charles Curtin Jeffries, decided to form a band to perform in the area. They named it The Juveniles and convinced Mr. Jeffries to be their director. The band was a great success and flourished, being renamed the Jeffries Concert Band in 1900.
January 4, 1830
The first classes at Illinois College were held on January 4, 1830 in Beecher Hall. Julian Sturtevant, assisted by William C. Posey, first took two hours to construct a stove and get it working. He then proceeded to find out what his nine students knew about various disciplines and began teaching them. Four out of the nine students would eventually graduate from Illinois College. Edward Beecher was President of the College at this time. The College was a joint effort between a group of young Yale graduates, the Yale Band, and several local men including John Ellis and Thomas Lippincott.
January 4, 1858
The village of Murrayville was laid out by the county surveyor, William McPherson, on January 4, 1858 for Samuel Murray. The first house was built by William Purcell, who was one of the contractors building the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis Railroad that would run right past the village.
January 4, 1911
The Farmers State Bank and Trust Company opened for business on January 4, 1911. The first president was Arthur L. French and the Bank continues to remain in the French family to this day. Their impressive seven story bank building was built on the Square in 1941.
January 6, 1810
John J. Hardin was born on January 6, 1810 in Frankfort, Kentucky. After training as a lawyer he moved to Jacksonville, Illinois and practiced law, served as Prosecuting Attorney, served in the Illinois Legislature, fought in both the Black Hawk War and the Mormon War, and served in the U.S. Congress. He knew Abraham Lincoln and it is said that he helped avert a duel between Lincoln and James Shield. When the Mexican American War started in 1846 Hardin recruited a regiment and became its Colonel. He died on February 23, 1847 at the Battle of Buena Vista in Mexico.
January 11, 1811
Joseph Capps was born near Louisville, Kentucky on January 11, 1811. He learned wool-carding as a young man and moved to Waverly, Illinois in 1838. He joined a small wool-card and cloth-finishing business owned by Judge George Waller. The following year he moved to Jacksonville and started his own company, Jacksonville Woolen Mills, later renamed J. Capps & Sons. The company evolved and expanded greatly by making clothes and blankets, most noticeably the Indian blankets that various Indian tribes bought and resold to tourists. Changing clothing styles and cheap foreign competition caused the Company to close in the 1970s.
January 13, 1915
On January 13, 1915 Vachel Lindsay gave a reading of his poetry at the Jacksonville Public Library. Lindsay was born in Springfield, Illinois and died in Springfield as well, but he did a lot of wandering in between. His distinctive style of poetry, which he called singing poetry, started getting national attention in 1914 and eventually he was famous around the world as the Prairie Troubadour. For his Jacksonville reading he might well have read two of his newer poems, just written in 1914 – The Congo and Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight.
January 15, 1849
On January 15, 1849 the Illinois Legislature passed a bill creating the Illinois Institution for the Education of the Blind. Samuel Lockwood was the first President of the board of trustees. Samuel Bacon, a blind man who had headed the Ohio School for the Blind, was the first Principal when classes started in April of 1850. The School opened with 23 students in the following fall semester. Buildings were constructed for the School for the Visually Impaired, as it is now called, at the School’s present site on East State Street starting in 1854.
January 15, 1966
At 2 am on January 15, 1966 a fire broke out in the Hockenhull building on the east side of the Square in Jacksonville. The fire was believed to be caused by a cigarette left burning in the apartment of Alice McCauslin on the second floor. Out of the 20 people living in the apartments above the Walgreen’s Drug Store, seven died in the fire, including four children. The building was built in 1892 and belonged to John Warga.
January 18, 1815
Richard Yates, Sr. was born on January 18, 1815 in Warsaw, Kentucky. His family moved to Jacksonville Illinois in 1831 and he graduated from Illinois College in 1835. After studying law he set up a practice in Jacksonville, served two terms in the Illinois Legislature and two terms in the U.S. Congress. He was elected Governor of Illinois in 1860 as a Whig and worked closely with Abraham Lincoln to support him throughout the Civil War. After the War he served a term in the U.S. Senate as a Republican. He died in 1873. His son, Richard Yates, Jr., was also an Illinois Governor.
January 20, 1920
On January 20, 1920 Lawrence D. Sibert started a book bindery at 220 S. Main Street in Jacksonville. Sibert, his brother-in-law William T. Suhy, and three employees operated the New Method Book Bindery in leased second floor space in the Degan Dance Hall, above the Purity Candy Company. The Bindery later moved to Kosciusko Street and then to West Morton Road. The company name changed to Bound to Stay Bound Books and it ships books to schools and public libraries all across the country.
January 23, 1900
On January 23, 1900 Booker T. Washington gave a speech at the Grand Opera House on the northeast corner of the square in Jacksonville. The title of his lecture to the packed audience was “The Progress of the Colored Race in America”. Two years later one of his students at the Tuskegee Institute, Alonzo Kenniebrew, was to found the first African American private hospital in America in Jacksonville. Washington died in 1915 at the age of 59.
January 25, 1892
On January 25, 1892 the Grand Opera House was opened on the northeast corner of the square in Jacksonville. Strawn’s Opera House across the Square had burned in 1887 and J.H. Osborne and Charles and William Routt built the four story building with a 1400 person auditorium to take its place. It opened with a six act play by Sammy Nichols and hosted speakers and performers through the years including William Jennings Bryan, W.C. Handy, Sarah Bernhardt and James Whitcomb Riley. The building also housed the Grand Hotel. The Grand Opera House was demolished in 1938 and replaced by the building that still houses the Illinois Theatre.
January 25, 1866
The Bank of Hockenhull, King & Elliott was opened for business on January 25, 1866. The three partners – Robert Hockenhull, Edward Rumsey Elliott and Samuel R. King – put up $70,000 in what was a very perilous business. Their first bank was in leased rooms on the east side of the Square. Edward Elliott was from a banking family in Kentucky and moved to Illinois because he opposed slavery. Robert Hockenhull was from England and had a drugstore in Jacksonville. Samuel King was born in Connecticut, came to Illinois to work in his brother’s dry goods store and eventually had a store of his own. Elliott State Bank was purchased by Mercantile Bank in 1998, went through several owners over the next decade, and is currently part of US Bank.
January 25, 1875
The writer Bret Harte made an appearance at Conservatory Hall on the southwest corner of the Square in Jacksonville on January 25, 1875. Harte was a well-known Western author of the time. His speech was entitled The Argonauts of ’49, and was about the California Gold Rush. Harte was best known for his short stories such as The Outcasts of Poker Flats published in 1870, not for his speaking skills, but he started out on this national speaking tour in 1872 to try to get out of debt.
January 26, 1846
On January 26, 1846 the Illinois School for the Deaf welcomed its first two students, Joseph Driskell, age 14 of Pleasant Valley and Susan Lovejoy, age 26 of Tremont. Former Governor Joseph Duncan was the first President of the Board of Trustees, which included citizens such as Judge Lockwood, Illinois College President Julian Sturtevant, and Colonel Dunlap. The first superintendent was Thomas Officer, who served for nine years.
January 29, 1845
George W. Brown was born on January 29, 1845 in Fairview, Illinois. He came to Jacksonville to become an instructor at the newly opened Jacksonville Business College, founded by Rufus Crampton, a professor at Illinois College. The Business College was sold in 1869 to Illinois College, who then sold it to G.W. Brown in 1878. From his flagship Brown’s Business College on Kosciusko Street in Jacksonville Brown expanded his schools to 29 schools in 22 cities around the Midwest. Brown died in 1917.
January 31, 1823
The Illinois State Legislature established the county of Morgan on January 31, 1823, less than five years after the State of Illinois had been established. The area had started out as part of Madison County and was later part of Greene County. At the time it was established Morgan County included what is now Scott and Cass Counties. The first county seat was at Olmstead’s Mound, near present day Lynnville. The County was named after Daniel Morgan of Virginia, a Revolutionary War hero.
February 1, 1841
The First Baptist Church was organized on February 1, 1841 by John Humphrey. The first meeting was held in the home of Moore C. Goltra on West State Street, on the site where the Grace United Methodist Church is now. Goltra’s house was moved to 830 West State in 1917. Goltra was a builder and was on the first board of trustees of the University of Illinois. By April 1941 the twenty four members of the Church had found their first pastor, Alvin Bailey, who was also pastor at a church in Winchester. A regular church building was built in 1845, a new one in 1858, and a larger church on West State in 1897, one of the churches on four corners. After that church was destroyed by an arsonist in 1966, a new church was built farther west on Mound Road.
February 1, 1869
Mark Twain gave a speech at Strawn’s Opera House on the south side of the Square in Jacksonville on February 1, 1869. This was a speaking tour describing his travels in Europe on which he later based his book, The Innocents Abroad. It was very early in his speaking career and he was only 33 years old at the time. He was also courting his future wife, Olivia Langdon, at this time and was to marry her at the end of this speaking tour in February 1870. The minister officiating at their wedding was Thomas Beecher, a graduate of Illinois College and brother of IC President Edward Beecher.
February 2, 1843
Robert Campbell Smith was born in Nairn, Scotland on February 2, 1843. His family arrived in Jacksonville in the 1850s. The family business was stonecutting and young Robert went to Chicago to apprentice as a marble-cutter and observed the famous sculptor Leonard Volk at work. He returned to Jacksonville and went to Illinois College for a couple of years and then started his own stonecutting business in 1865 at East and East State Streets. He continued his work doing gravestones and doing sculpture until he retired in 1910. You can see his bust of his soon-to-be wife, Mary Nelms, in the Strawn Art Gallery; his bust of Scottish poet Robert Burns at the Jacksonville Public Library; his paintings of Professor Samuel Adams, Richard Yates and William Jennings Bryan in the Sigma Pi room in Beecher Hall; and many of his works all over Diamond Grove Cemetery, including the Isaac Fort Roe monument, the Martha Amelia Strawn statue, and the Jacob Strawn Memorial.
February 3, 1840
The Illinois General Assembly passed a law on February 3, 1840 establishing Jacksonville as a town. The Act created a board of trustees to govern the town and set the town limits at one mile square. Jacksonville existed under these laws until the General Assembly passed a law on February 15, 1867 that made Jacksonville into a city. At this point the city was governed by a mayor as well as a council of aldermen. The first mayor was John Mathers.
February 5, 1855
Henry Cuthbert Tunison was born on February 5, 1855 in Tazewell County, Illinois. When he was one year old his family moved to a farm in Greene County which is located within the city limits of today’s Roodhouse. He became a publisher of atlases, maps and charts and, from his headquarters in Jacksonville, sent atlases and maps all over the world.
February 7, 1898
On a Monday afternoon, February 7, 1898, John Philip Sousa and his band performed at the Grand Opera House on the northeast corner of the Public Square in Jacksonville. Sousa was born in Washington, D.C. in 1854 and had built quite a reputation as a composer and the conductor of the Marine Corps Band for 21 years, ending in 1892. He had just composed his most famous piece, Stars and Stripes Forever, in 1896 so I am sure it was on the program in Jacksonville. His appearance in Jacksonville was probably a special treat for the descendents of the Portuguese immigrants to town because his father was of Portuguese descent. Sousa would also make an appearance in Jacksonville in October 1912. He died in 1932 at the age of 77.
February 9, 1841
Frank Haven Hall was born February 9, 1841 in Mechanic Falls, Maine. He served in the Civil War as a hospital steward. After the war he moved to Illinois and began a career of teaching and school administration. He became the Superintendent of the Jacksonville School for the Blind in 1890. He served in that post off and on, depending on who was in office in Springfield, until 1902. In 1892, with the assistance of local gunsmith Gustav Sieber, he developed the Hall Braille Writer. This device made the use of Braille so much more efficient and speedier that it revolutionized life for the blind. He did not patent the device because he did not feel he should profit from his position at the school. Helen Keller liked the machine so much that, when she met Hall at his booth at the Chicago World Fair in 1893, she hugged and kissed him. Hall died in 1911 in Aurora, Illinois.
February 11, 1859
Abraham Lincoln came to Jacksonville on February 11, 1859 to give a lecture on Discoveries and Inventions for the Phi Alpha literary society at Illinois College. The lecture was not held on campus but in a small building just off the Square. Attendance was apparently pretty light because Lincoln, finding that the society had not made enough money from admissions to buy any books for their library, told them they only had to pay him for his railroad fare and 50 cents for supper at the hotel and he would be satisfied.
February 12, 1784
Elihu Wolcott was born February 12, 1784 in South Windsor, Connecticut. In 1830 he moved with his second wife and two children to Jacksonville, Illinois. He was one of the founding members of the Congregational Church in 1833 and the early meetings of the Church were held in his house on the southwest corner of the Square. He was on the first board of trustees for the Jacksonville Female Academy when it formally opened in 1833. He was a very influential member of the abolitionist movement in Jacksonville, to the point where he ran on the Free Soil ticket for the 1846 congressional election against Abraham Lincoln and Peter Cartwright because he didn’t feel they were strong enough in their antislavery rhetoric. He died in 1858 and is buried in Diamond Grove Cemetery.
February 12, 1855
The Christian Church completed the Berean College building on February 12, 1855. The College was located in front of the old Hardin Home on East State Street in Jacksonville. Jonathan Atkinson was the first President of this religious, co-educational school. 58 men and 38 women were enrolled in the school by 1858 but the College shut down in 1860. In 1868, the College building was purchased by Eliza Ayers and torn down to make way for the first Passavant Hospital building.
February 13, 1925
On February 13, 1925 Alva Grimmett was executed by hanging at the Morgan County Jail. This was the first legal execution in Morgan County. Grimmett was convicted of the murder of William Steele in September of 1924. Over 300 people came to witness the hanging and apparently it took Grimmett 34 minutes to die.
February 13, 1857
The village of Alexander was laid out on February 13, 1857 in eastern Morgan County. It was surveyed on behalf of Edward S. Hinrichsen and named after John T. Alexander, a cattleman with very large holdings in that area. Much livestock and grain were shipped out of Alexander on the Wabash Railroad, headed east to Springfield and beyond.
February 16, 1850
Porter Clay died on February 16, 1850 in Camden, Arkansas. He was born in 1779 in Hanover County, Virginia, the younger brother of Henry Clay, the famous Representative, Senator, Secretary of State, founder of the Whig Party, and candidate for President who was so influential in pre-Civil War national politics. Porter started out in politics as a lawyer and the Auditor of State Accounts for Kentucky but he felt that his true calling was to emulate his father as a Baptist minister and he gave up his position after several years to be a minister. He was also known in Kentucky as a very fine cabinetmaker. His first wife died and he married Elizabeth Hardin, the widow of Senator Martin D. Hardin of Kentucky. Clay, his new wife, and her two sons, John J. and Charles Hardin, moved to Jacksonville, Illinois in 1831. John J. became an important political and military figure in Illinois. Porter Clay abandoned his family and became an itinerant preacher, wandering the frontier until finally settling in as a preacher for a church in Camden, Arkansas. Elizabeth Clay remained in Jacksonville until she died in May of 1861.
February 21, 1875
Luther Haden Taylor was born on February 21, 1875 in Oskaloosa, Kansas. Born deaf, he graduated from the Kansas School for the Deaf and became a Major League Baseball pitcher for the New York Giants and the Cleveland Bronchos from 1900 to 1908. Because he was deaf he was known throughout baseball as Dummy Taylor. He had a reputation as a comedian and once got thrown out of a game for cussing out the umpire in sign language. He became a coach and teacher after retiring from baseball, working at the Kansas School for the Deaf, the Iowa School for the Deaf, and, arriving sometime in the late 1930’s, at the Illinois School for the Deaf in Jacksonville. He died in Jacksonville in August, 1958.
February 22, 1929
On February 22, 1929 a fire broke out on the stage at the Illinois Women’s College Hardtner Gymnasium during a costume party in honor of Washington’s Birthday. The ladies were in large antique hoop skirts which made it difficult to move quickly to the exits. The organized retreat turned into a frenzied panic, with a couple of fatalities, numerous injuries, and several women who fainted and had to be carried out. Miss Eugenia Vannorman of Indiana died after jumping from a second story window. A college matron, Miss Winnifred Wackerle, died from severe burns. The wife of the college President, Mrs. Clarence McClelland, fractured a leg jumping from a window. The gymnasium itself ended up suffering very little permanent damage. In 1930 the college was renamed MacMurray College for Women.
February 22, 1794
Joseph Duncan was born on February 22, 1794 in Paris, Kentucky. Although young, he served with distinction in the War of 1812. After the War he settled in Jackson County, Illinois, where he was elected to the Illinois Legislature in 1824 and to Congress in 1826. He and his new wife, Elizabeth, moved to Jacksonville in 1830. Duncan was a Major General in the Blackhawk War. He was elected Governor of Illinois in 1834 without making a single campaign speech! He built Elm Grove, now known as the Duncan Mansion, in 1833 and it became the only Governor’s mansion in Illinois not located in the state capital. Duncan served only one four year term as Governor but remained active in Whig politics until his death in early 1844.
February 23, 1843
On February 23, 1843 there was a meeting in Jacksonville to form an Anti-Negro Stealing Society. This was a mainly symbolic gesture by some of the residents of Jacksonville that came from the South who resented some of the abolitionist and Underground Railroad activity going on in Jacksonville at that time. There is no record of further meetings but Morgan County abolitionists still knew that they had to be very careful of their activities.
February 23, 1903
The Jacksonville Public Library on West College Avenue was open to the public on February 23, 1903. Small libraries had served Jacksonville since 1871 but this was an entire building built specifically as a library. The building was made possible because $40,000 was received from Andrew Carnegie, along with a $4800 bequest from Hannah Welch and the purchase of a lot by the City of Jacksonville. The first librarian was Miss Mabel Marvin, formerly head cataloger at the University of Wisconsin Library.
February 23, 1946
The citizens of Jacksonville voted on February 23, 1946 to establish an airport authority. Up until this time the area was served only by a simple private airstrip operated by Fred Wharton south of town. The first chairman of the airport authority board was Bill Kurtz, an amateur pilot. Using state and federal money, the Authority bought 204 acres north of town, moved Sherman School out of the way, and built three runways and several buildings. The Jacksonville Municipal Airport was certified as a commercial airport in 1950.
February 24, 1828
Rufus C. Crampton was born February 24, 1828 in Farmington, Connecticut. A graduate of Yale, he became a Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at Illinois College in Jacksonville in 1854. Crampton led a group of Illinois College seniors off to the Civil War as captain of the 145th Illinois Volunteers. Crampton reached the rank of Lt. Colonel before returning to Illinois College. He built the unique Octogon House just east of the College campus and was President of Illinois College from 1877 to 1881.
February 28, 1896
Alexander Graham Bell visited Jacksonville on February 28, 1896 at the invitation of his friends Dr. Phillip Gillett, the President of Illinois School for the Deaf and President Bradley of Illinois College. He gave a lecture at the Illinois College Gymnasium on Radiophony and answered questions from the audience. Mr. Bell was known to visit Jacksonville numerous times because of his friendship with Dr. Gillett and his interest in the School for the Deaf. Bell’s first telephone demonstration was in 1876 and his first transcontinental phone call was in 1915.
February 28, 1867
On February 28, 1867 Illinois Governor Oglesby signed legislation establishing the University of Illinois and locating it in Champaign. Several other communities, mainly Lincoln, Bloomington and Jacksonville, thought they were in the running for getting this large institution in their town. But, unfortunately, they were out-lobbied, out-maneuvered and out-bribed by Clark Robinson Griggs, the Representative in the Illinois House for Champaign County. Jacksonville thought they had a really good chance at winning the contest because their efforts were being led by former Illinois College professor Jonathan Baldwin Turner, who started the idea of a state university with the State of Illinois.
March 7, 1882
On March 7, 1882 Oscar Wilde gave a lecture at the Strawn Opera House on the Square in Jacksonville. Oscar Wilde was an Irish author, poet, playwright and celebrated wit who lived in London. Only 28 years old at the time, Wilde didn’t become extremely famous until the 1890s. He was touring much of the United States for the whole year of 1882 and probably gave his standard speech on The Decorative Arts in Jacksonville. He had been in Aurora before Jacksonville, and went on to Decatur after visiting Jacksonville.
March 10, 1825
The city of Jacksonville was platted by Johnston Shelton on March 10, 1825 on land purchased from the government by Thomas Arnett and Isaac Dial. The location was chosen because it was right on the State Road laid out from the Illinois River to Springfield. At the time, the only occupant of the town was a hatter named Cox who had built a cabin just northeast of where the center of the Public Square is now. The town was named after General Andrew Jackson and by 1830 the census showed a population of 446 people.
March 10, 1914
The Rev. James Caldwell Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, based at the Duncan Mansion in Jacksonville, unveiled a tablet on March 10, 1914. The tablet was in honor of the 19 American Revolutionary soldiers buried in Morgan County. The ceremony was held in the Morgan County Courtroom and the address was given by Richard Yates, Jr. Representing the local DAR was Effie Epler and O.F. Buffe. Here are the names of the 19 Revolutionary soldiers: Ishmail Bobbitt, Martin Burris, Constantine Clarkson, Joseph Jackson, Samuel Jackson, Bourland Jolly, James Jordan, Samuel Jones, Lawrence Killebrue, David McPeeters, Edmond Moody, John Robertson, William Scott, Jarrett Seymour, Elisha Smith, Andrew Turner, William Willard, John Wood and Captain James Wright. The tablet is still near the front door of the current Morgan County Courthouse, although it has proved to not be entirely accurate.
March 14, 1900
On March 14, 1900 Eugene V. Debs gave a speech at the Grand Opera House on the Square in Jacksonville. Debs was born in 1855 in Terre Haute, Indiana and would be one of the founding members of the Industrial Workers of the World, a large labor union of the time, in 1905. In 1900 he was campaigning for President of the United States as the Socialist Party candidate. 1900 was the first of the five elections for President that he would run in as the Socialist candidate and he received 0.63% of the popular vote in 1900.
March 15, 1767
Andrew Jackson was born on March 15, 1767 somewhere on the unsurveyed border between the colonies of North Carolina and South Carolina. Orphaned at a young age, with very little formal schooling, he went on to become a successful lawyer, farmer, soldier and politician. His career culminated in his two terms as U.S. President, 1829-1837. It is almost certain Jacksonville was named after Andrew Jackson, despite some local legends to the contrary. When the town was started in 1825 Jackson had just run for President the first time and won the popular vote but the House of Representatives gave the office to John Quincy Adams. He was still idolized for his role in the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812 and for his role in the First Seminole War in 1817. Because “Old Hickory” was from Tennessee he would have been a particular favorite of many of the early Morgan County settlers who moved here from Kentucky and Tennessee. A lesser-known fact is that Jackson was one of the three investors who started the town of Memphis, Tennessee in 1819.
March 19, 1874
On March 19, 1874 Thomas Nast made an appearance at the Opera House in Jacksonville. The famous cartoonist for the popular magazine Harper’s Weekly was in town at the invitation of the Sigma Pi Literary Society at Illinois College. Nast is known for creating the elephant of the Republican Party, the donkey of the Democratic Party and the Tammany Hall tiger, among many other great caricatures. In 1874 he was 34 years old and at the height of his popularity. Attendance was excellent, over 800 people, and Sigma Pi made quite a bit of money from the lecture. In gratitude they made Nast an honorary member.
March 19, 1860
William Jennings Bryan was born in Salem, Illinois on March 19, 1860. He came to Jacksonville at age 14 to attend Whipple Academy and went on to graduate valedictorian from Illinois College in 1881. He practiced law in Jacksonville from 1883 to 1887 and then moved to Lincoln, Nebraska. He began a career in politics in 1890, serving as a U.S. Representative, eventually becoming the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for President in 1896, 1900 and 1908, and serving as Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson. He died in 1925, just days after the finish of the Scopes trial at which he had tried to help the prosecution in its case against a science teacher teaching evolution.
March 21, 1919
The 12th annual meeting of the Illinois State Academy of Science was held in Jacksonville on March 21st and 22nd of 1919. It was held a month after its scheduled dates because of an outbreak of influenza in central Illinois at the time. Professor Henry Ward of the University of Illinois presided over the meeting. Papers given by citizens of Jacksonville included Marion Miller of Illinois College on Kentucky Cardinals, Anne Jackson of Illinois College on Bird Songs and Dr. Josephine Milligan on the Red Cross in France.
March 21, 1920
Mabel B. Holle was born in Jacksonville, Illinois on March 21, 1920. She was very athletic and played as many sports as she could growing up. She graduated from MacMurray College in 1942. The following year she tried out and was one of the 60 original women chosen to play in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The League was started by Philip Wrigley, Branch Rickey and other key figures from Major League Baseball who wanted to keep baseball in the public eye while many of their potential male players were in the armed services. Mabel was assigned to the South Bend Blue Sox in Indiana. She spent three years playing professional ball at third base and the outfield for several different teams.
Mabel left baseball after the war and was a physical education teacher and women’s sport advocate for many years. She was included in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. in 1988. She died in 2011.
March 24, 1834
John Wesley Powell was born on March 24, 1834 in Mount Morris, New York. His family moved to Illinois in 1851 and young John explored the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. He went to Illinois College in Jacksonville in 1858 but did not graduate. He also took classes at Wheaton College and Oberlin College. He enlisted in the Civil War in 1861 and had a distinguished military career, despite losing an arm at the Battle of Shiloh. After the war Powell, who still had never earned a college degree, became a science teacher at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois, as well as being involved in the Illinois Natural History Society there. He became world famous with his expedition in 1869 that traveled all the way through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River. Powell became the second director of the Geological Survey and the director of the Bureau of Ethnology in Washington, D.C. Powell returned to give lectures in Jacksonville in 1870, 1874 and 1889. He died in 1902.
March 24, 1833
Dr. Philip Goode Gillett was born in Madison, Indiana on March 24, 1833. After teaching at the Indiana School for the Deaf and Dumb he was appointed Principal of the Illinois Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb in Jacksonville in 1856. This state institution had only begun operations in 1845 and, between 1856 and his retirement in 1893, Dr. Gillett built the School into a large and highly regarded institution. One of his sons, Charles P. Gillett, served as Superintendent of the School from 1903 to 1918.
March 24, 1978
On Good Friday, March 24, 1978 a terrible ice storm started in Central Illinois and continued for 60 hours. As a result over one half of Illinois Power’s customers were without electricity. The ice and 50 mph winds left thousands of trees broken to pieces. Over 82 linemen were called in just to Jacksonville to work on restoring power and it was reported that the storm caused $24 million in damages.
April 2, 1936
On April 2, 1936 Amelia Earhart spoke at a banquet at MacMurray College sponsored by the Jacksonville Business and Professional Womens Club. Earhart was born in 1897 in Atchison, Kansas and at this time was a world-renowned aviator, famous for being the first female to fly across the Atlantic Ocean on her own in 1932. Just over a year after her appearance in Jacksonville Earhart would disappear in the Pacific Ocean in July 1937 while attempting to fly all the way around the world. In a bit of dark foreshadowing, Earhart stayed at the Pacific Hotel just off the Square during her Jacksonville stay.
April 4, 1802
Dorothea Lynde Dix was born on April 4, 1802 in Hampden, Maine. She was a teacher but a trip to England impressed upon her the new theories regarding the treatment of the insane. She returned to the United States and spent the rest of her life campaigning for legislation and improved methods and institutions for treating the insane. She was successful in Illinois in 1847, in North Carolina in 1856, and in Pennsylvania in 1853. The Illinois Central Hospital for the Insane was of course located in Jacksonville. During the Civil War she became head of nurses for the Army, although she was not nearly as successful at this job. She died in New Jersey in 1887.
April 5, 1912
On April 5, 1912 Woodrow Wilson made a campaign stop in Jacksonville. He addressed a crowd from the steps of the Morgan County Courthouse. He was Governor of New Jersey at the time and this was his campaign for his first term as U.S. President. He of course had good things to say about his Democratic Party ally, William Jennings Bryan, a one-time resident of Jacksonville. After he was elected he would appoint Bryan his Secretary of State.
April 6, 1873
On April 6, 1873 Edwin Booth appeared at Strawn Opera House on the south side of the Square in Jacksonville. Booth was a very famous dramatic actor of the time who had the misfortune of being the brother of John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated President Lincoln in 1865. Despite poor weather, the reviews said that a large crowd attended the performance and Booth did a very good job. Ironically, Edwin Booth, a staunch Unionist, saved Robert Lincoln from getting run over by a train in 1863.
April 7, 1832
The village of Franklin was laid out on April 7, 1832 by William Woods, John Wyatt and Walter Butler. An early tavern in the County, owned by Colonel J.P. Wright, was started in Franklin in 1836 in a log cabin. At the time that it was platted, the town was going to be called Simpson.
April 10, 1903
Marjorie Best was born in Jacksonville, Illinois on April 10, 1903. After high school she went to the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, California. After graduation she worked in the wardrobe departments for several movie companies. By 1936 she was in the wardrobe department for Warner Brothers. She had advanced to lead costume designer for the movie Silver River in 1948. She then received the Academy Award for costume design in 1950 for the Errol Flynn movie Adventures of Don Juan. She was nominated for the Award for several other films, including James Dean’s Giant in 1956 and The Greatest Story Ever Told in 1965. She retired in 1965 and died in 1997.
April 11, 1811
Ben Henderson was born April 11, 1811 in Bourbon County, Kentucky as the slave of Will Henderson. He bought his freedom as a young man for $250 and came to Jacksonville in 1835. He settled in the section of town called Little Africa, married Julia Hayden of Kentucky, and earned his living as a carpenter. He was a conductor on the Underground Railroad from 1841 to 1858, often averaging two escaped slaves from the South per week. He would transport them by wagon to Farmington or Springfield as they worked their way North. Other Underground Railroad drivers in Jacksonville included Henry Irving and Washington Price. Ben Henderson died October 31, 1890.
April 13, 1874
On April 13, 1874 Buffalo Bill Cody made his first appearance in Jacksonville. Born in Iowa and raised in Kansas, William Cody was a real cowboy, buffalo hunter, Civil War scout, and Pony Express rider. He started his entertainment career in Chicago in 1872 as an actor in the play, “Scouts of the Prairie”. The next year he went on the road with his own “Scouts of the Plains”, including his friend Wild Bill Hickok. He created more and more elaborate shows and travelled around the world performing until his death in 1917. He was to visit Jacksonville seven more times through the years.
April 13, 1858
The village of Chapin was laid out on April 13, 1858 by two brothers Lyman and Horace Chapin. The location had been a stopping point for the Wabash Railroad for several years and the Chapin brothers had built a grain warehouse here in 1857. A north-south railroad, the Rockford, Rock Island and St. Louis Railroad, was completed in 1870 and intersected the Wabash Railroad at Chapin, making it a very important transportation center for central Illinois.
April 15, 1812
Jonathan Edwards Spilman was born April 15, 1812 in Greenville, Kentucky. Much has been made of the fact that future Governor Richard Yates was the first graduate of Illinois College in 1835. He was the first student given a diploma by Professor Julian Sturtevant, it is true, but the only other student in the class of 1835, Jonathan Spilman, was actually the top student and valedictorian. Spilman went on to practice law in Kentucky for 18 years, wrote numerous published hymns, and was later a Presbyterian minister for several decades. His second wife, Eliza Sara Taylor, was the niece of President Zachary Taylor. Rev. Spilman died in 1896.
April 16, 1846
Ensley Moore was born in Springfield, Illinois on April 16, 1846. His family moved to Jacksonville in 1857, he graduated from Illinois College in 1868, and he lived the rest of his life in Jacksonville. He was a bookbinder, a newspaper editor and was notable for his interest in researching and promoting local history. He was a Secretary of the Old Settlers’ Association of Morgan and Cass County, as well as being a city alderman for two terms, and held many other civic positions. He resided at 856 W. State Street, which remained in his family for over a century, from 1857 to 1974.
April 17, 1846
On April 17, 1846 the Donner Reed Party passed just south of Jacksonville on their way to Independence, Missouri and then on to California. This wagon train had set out from Springfield the day before to seek out new homes in California. An early snow trapped them in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Only 48 out of the 87 people in the wagon train made it to California. The Party is infamous because several of the survivors resorted to eating those who died in order to survive.
April 19, 1894
A special committee of the Jacksonville City Council was appointed by Mayor Schoenfield on April 19, 1894 to investigate the building of a municipal light plant. As a result, the Ft. Wayne Electric Corporation, for the sum of $19,650, installed the poles, generators and 125 street lights by July 8, 1895.
April 23, 1813
Stephen Arnold Douglas was born on April 23, 1813 in Brandon, Vermont. He came to Jacksonville in 1833 and found a job teaching in Winchester. In 1835 he became the State’s Attorney in Jacksonville, where he earned the nickname, The Little Giant, and briefly served the area in the Illinois Legislature. He was elected to the U.S. Congress from Illinois’ 5th District in 1843 and then became a U.S. Senator in 1847. He actually courted Mary Todd before Abraham Lincoln did. He found himself in the difficult position of owning slaves on a plantation in Mississippi inherited from his father-in-law while he was a U.S. Senator in Illinois. He died of typhoid fever in Chicago in June 1861.
April 24, 1785
Benjamin Pyatt was born April 24, 1785 in Pennsylvania. He came to Jacksonville in April 1843 and started Jacksonville’s first cigar factory. This became quite an industry in Jacksonville. By 1905 there were 13 factories putting out 200,000 cigars a week. In addition to Benjamin Pyatt’s factory, continued by his family and which put out the Lady Clare brand, other big factories were the L.S. Kent-McCarthy Company on the southeast corner of West North Street and North West Street, as well as Knollenberg Cigars and the Cassell Bros.
April 25, 1916
Carl Jerome Barber was born on April 25, 1916 in Woodson, Illinois. Jerry became a professional golfer and played the PGA Tour from 1948 to 1962. He had seven wins on the Tour, played on two Ryder Cup teams, and was the PGA Player of the Year in 1961. He holds the record for being the oldest player to play in a PGA event, playing in the Buick Invitational in 1994 at the age of 77. Jerry was only 5 foot 5 inches tall and was known for being a remarkable putter. For much of his professional life he was the golf pro at the Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles, California. He died in California in 1994 at the age of 78.
April 26, 1975
42 separate events made up the Jacksonville Sesquicentennial Celebration, featuring a parade over 3 miles long on April 26, 1975. This picture is of the comic Jonathan Winters performing in Central Park Plaza. To his right are Vern Fernandes, Chairman of the Celebration; State Representative Tom Rose, Congressman Paul Findley and State Senator Vince Demuzio. To his left are Mayor Milt and Mrs. Hocking.
April 26, 1866
The first meeting of the Morgan County Medical Society was held at the Courthouse on the Public Square in Jacksonville on April 26, 1866. R.E. McVey of Waverly served as chairman and was elected as the first President. There were 8 doctors, including David Prince and Henry Jones, present at the first meeting but by the end of the year there were 23 members. The Medical Society continues today, 150 years later.
April 26, 1823
The first church in Morgan County, the Diamond Grove Baptist Church, was organized on April 26, 1823. The founder was Jonathan Sweet, originally a New Yorker. Daniel D. Holmes was the pastor for many years, beginning in 1865. The Church was several miles southeast of Jacksonville, near the present-day Lake Jacksonville. The Church is long gone but you can still see the Daniel Holmes Cemetery that was next to the Church. Diamond Grove was a famous local landmark in the early days of Illinois, a five mile woods stretching from the Baptist Church to the Diamond Grove Cemetery, standing out from the vast prairie surrounding it.
April 27, 1925
The Centennial Celebration for Jacksonville was held on April 27, 1925 on the Public Square. Over 1200 people attended the event organized by the Centennial Commission chaired by Dr. Carl Black. Featured at the Celebration was a play reenacting the survey and platting of Jacksonville, a speech by Mayor E.E. Crabtree, and the local members of the Red Men’s Lodge representing the Indians of the area.
April 30, 1975
The last U.S. military forces in Vietnam were withdrawn on April 30, 1975, signaling the end of the Vietnam War for the United States. The United States entered the conflict quietly in 1950 with a small number of military advisors but by the end of the War it is estimated that about 1.5 million U.S. troops had served in combat and over 58,000 U.S. service members had died. 13 of those deaths were soldiers from Morgan County.
May 1, 1905
The Morgan County Anti-Tuberculosis Society was organized at a meeting of the Medical Society on May 1, 1905. Officers were Andrew Russell, Josephine Milligan, R.O. Post, E.E. Crabtree, and T.O. Hardesty. The State of Illinois began organizing against tuberculosis after an outbreak at Joliet State Prison in 1901 and this local organization jumped into the effort. The Society was instrumental in starting the Open Air School in 1914 and the Oaklawn Sanitarium in 1921.
May 1, 1939
Judy Collins was born May 1, 1939 in Seattle Washington. She was a very talented classical pianist but she became obsessed with folk music and left her musical studies. She enrolled in MacMurray College in Jacksonville as a freshman in the fall of 1957, the same fall that the first group of male undergraduates began living on campus. She dropped out of school in 1958 to marry Peter Taylor, a boy she knew in high school. They ended up in New York City, where she became one of the top female vocalists in the folk music scene centered in New York in the 1960s.
May 2, 1859
The village of Woodson was laid out on May 2, 1859. It was located on the proposed route of the Chicago and Alton Railroad and built to take advantage of grain being shipped out of the area to the Mississippi River. It was named after Judge D.M. Woodson, the President of the C&A Railroad at that time.
May 3, 1938
On May 3, 1938 Marian Anderson, an African American opera singer of great renown, performed at the Illinois School for the Deaf auditorium in Jacksonville. Her performance was part of the MacMurray College Concert Series. Miss Anderson was 41 years old at the time and her historic performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. was less than a year away, April 9, 1939.
May 3, 1900
A Dewey Day Parade took place in Jacksonville on May 3, 1900. The Parade was to celebrate the visit of Admiral George Dewey to Jacksonville. Admiral Dewey was a hero for his role in winning the Battle of Manila Bay in May of 1898 during the Spanish-American War in the Philippines. 5000 people turned out in Jacksonville to see Admiral Dewey arrive by train and take part in the Parade. Dewey was in the running to be the Democratic candidate for President in the 1900 elections, but later in the month of May he would drop out and declare his support for William McKinley.
May 5, 1882
The first Osage Orange Picnic at Illinois College was on May 5, 1882. It was actually a desperate ploy by President Edward A. Tanner to rid the campus of an overgrown group of osage orange hedges. He gave students and faculty a day off from spring recitations if they would acquire shovels and dig up all the osage orange hedges on campus. From this unlikely start, the Picnic has evolved into a big campus celebration that continues today.
May 5, 1875
Alonzo H. Kenniebrew was born on May 5, 1875 in Macon County, Alabama. He was a student at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama under George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington. He graduated from medical school and taught at Meharry Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee. He became the private physician for Booker T. Washington. He moved with his family to Jacksonville in 1902 and founded the New Home Sanitarium, a private surgical hospital in 1909. It is believed to be the first private African American owned surgical hospital in the country. While in Jacksonville he was also a captain in the Illinois National Guard, founded the local NAACP, and was a member of the first park board. In 1917 Dr. Kenniebrew moved to Springfield and, later, Evanston, to continue his medical career.
May 7, 1970
On May 7, 1970 Carnation Company started operations at their plant on the west side of Jacksonville. By November of that year the plant was fully staffed with 148 employees and making all of the Coffeemate creamer sold in the United States. The plant was later acquired by the Swiss company, Nestle, but has continued to make Coffeemate for over 40 years.
May 8, 1830
The first issue of the weekly paper The Western Observer was published on May 8, 1830. The paper was published by James G. Edwards, who ran it for eight years until he sold it to Josiah M. Lucas. The paper went through several names and owners/editors, including The Illinoian edited by John J. Hardin and The Morgan Journal edited by Paul Selby. It finally became the Jacksonville Journal Courier. Its humble start as The Western Observer in 1830 makes it the oldest continuously published newspaper in Illinois.
May 11, 1891
Louis William Rodenberg was born in Randolph County, Illinois on May 11, 1891. He was blinded by a childhood accident and started at the Jacksonville School for the Blind in 1903. He became the manager of printing operations at the school after graduation and served in that position for half a century. He developed a method of “Bar over Bar” musical notation for the blind that became the accepted international standard in the 1920s. In the 1930s he supervised the transcription of the Protestant and Catholic hymnals into Braille for the Library of Congress. In 1943 Helen Keller presented Louis with the Migel Award from the American Foundation for the Blind. Rodenberg retired from the print shop in 1963 and died in 1966.
May 12, 1868
The cornerstone was laid for the Morgan County Courthouse on West State Street in Jacksonville on May 12, 1868. General Murray McConnel was the speaker for the ceremony. Court was being conducted in the new Courthouse by November of 1869. The building was designed by G.P. Randall of Chicago in the Second Empire style and built out of limestone quarried in Joliet. Several well-known people practiced law in this Courthouse, including Richard Yates, Jr. and William Jennings Bryan. One mystery connected to the Courthouse is the Statue of Justice installed on top of the building when it was built in 1869 that disappeared sometime between 1903 and 1930.
May 12, 1921
A meeting was held on May 12, 1921 to reorganize and relaunch the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. The main speakers were Mayor E.E. Crabtree, industrialist H.M. Capps, and Illinois Woman’s College President Dr. J.R. Harker. Headquarters were quickly established for the organization in the Cloverleaf Insurance building across E. State Street from the Post Office.
May 16, 1958
On May 16, 1958 Bobby Watts, an African American senior at Jacksonville High School, won the state broad jump championship in Champaign. In beating Booker Edgerson of Rock Island, Bobby won Jacksonville’s first athletic state title in any event, in either an individual or team event. Watts’ jump was 22 feet and 3/8 inches in the broad jump. The event is now called the long jump and the current Illinois high school record is 26 feet 11 inches, set in 1976. Tragically, Sargeant Watts was killed in action at Da Nang, South Vietnam in February 1968.
May 18, 1836
The village of Waverly was laid out on May 18, 1836 by D.B. Salter, Alexander Twining and Joseph Tanner. The town was named by D.B. Salter for the Waverley Novels, a series of popular novels by Sir Walter Scott published in England in the early 1800s. The first things to be built were a brick seminary building and a frame boarding-house. Population growth was pretty slow and the village only contained about 200 inhabitants ten years later.
May 18, 1883
On May 18, 1883 a cyclone touched down and reduced virtually every building in Literberry to kindling. The cyclone started in Springfield, Missouri and continued northeast almost to Chicago, touching down at 40 points along the way. Ten people were killed and 24 injured by the storm.
May 18, 1923
Liam Sullivan was born on May 18, 1923 in Jacksonville, Illinois to the family that owned the Eli Bridge Company. The family “Big Wheel” business was not for him and he became an actor. He was in theatre at Illinois College and then at Harvard University. He started on Broadway in 1951 and went on to have a long career of supporting roles on TV in shows such as Lost in Space, Dragnet, Perry Mason, Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, and many others. He died in California in 1998 but he is buried in Diamond Grove Cemetery.
May 22, 1833
The Jacksonville Female Academy began on May 22, 1833 with an enrollment of 31 pupils. The Principal and main teacher was Miss Sarah C. Crocker of New Hampshire. The Academy is said to be the first school for the education of women in all of the territory laid out by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. The Academy was merged in to Illinois College in 1903.
May 22, 1869 The village of Literberry was laid out on May 22, 1869 by Jones Liter. The town was located on the line for the Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis Railroad.
May 23, 1980
On Friday May 23, 1980 Pat Woods won the shot put event at the Girls AA Illinois High School Track & Field State Meet. Her toss was 40 feet, 11 inches and this would make her Jacksonville’s first individual female state champion. She would be joined later by another state shot put champion from Jacksonville, Ashley Minner, in 2002. The current AA girls record in shot put for Illinois is 49 feet, 10 and a half inches, set by Daniella Bunch of Mahomet in 2009.
May 25, 1865
On May 25, 1865 the Asylum for Feeble Minded Children started in Jacksonville with three children enrolled. The institution was authorized by the Illinois Legislature after a decade of lobbying by Philip Gillett, the Superintendent of the Illinois School for the Deaf in Jacksonville. The State leased the Duncan Mansion in Jacksonville to house the experimental asylum. It was leased from Elizabeth Duncan, the widow of Governor Joseph Duncan, for $600 a year. Dr. Charles Wilbur was hired as the Superintendent and the Asylum grew as buildings were added to the Mansion over the next decade. However the Asylum was moved to Lincoln, Illinois by the State in 1875. This institution was the basis for what later became the Lincoln Developmental Center that the State closed in 2002.
May 25, 1861
The 14th Illinois Infantry Regiment was mustered into the Union Army on May 25, 1861 at Camp Duncan in Jacksonville. This included Company I from Morgan County under Captain Jonathan Morris. John M. Palmer of Carlinville, a future governor of Illinois, was elected Colonel by the troops of the 14th. The Regiment saw action in Missouri, Tennessee, the siege of Vicksburg, the taking of Atlanta and Sherman’s March to the Sea. Quite a few of the Regiment were captured during the Atlanta campaign and sent to Andersonville prison. During its 52 months of service the Regiment covered 11,670 miles, 4490 of it on foot.
May 26, 1904
It was Illinois Day on May 26, 1904 at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. Jacksonville’s famous Jefferies Concert Band played at the festivities in front of the Illinois Building, located next to the famous Ferris Wheel and just west of the Cascade Gardens. The World’s Fair, or Louisiana Purchase Exposition, ran from April 30 to December 1 of 1904 and was attended by almost 20,000,000 people from around the world.
May 26, 1976
Morton Avenue in Jacksonville was made a Blue Star Memorial Highway on May 26, 1976. This is part of a nationwide program started by the National Council of State Garden Clubs in 1945 to pay tribute to the U.S. Armed Forces. There is a marker with this designation near the Big Wheel in Community Park. Blue Star Highways can be found in 39 states and cover over 70,000 miles.
May 26, 1859
One of the most destructive tornadoes to hit Morgan County struck on May 26, 1859. Quite a few buildings were destroyed, a lot of livestock died, and a couple dozen people died and many more were injured. Two train cars on the Great Western Railroad were flipped over on the tracks. A horse was found south of town, dead, with a fence rail run through him from front to back.
May 27, 1919
On May 27, 1919 a tablet was unveiled at Illinois College in honor of three Illinois pioneers in education – Governor Joseph Duncan, Jonathan Baldwin Turner and Newton Bateman. The ceremony took place at the Jones Memorial Building and was presided over by Andrew Russel, the chair of Illinois College’s Board of Trustees. Also participating were Charles Rammelkamp, President of IC; Lt. Gov. John G. Oglesby; and Francis Blair, Illinois Superintendent of Public Instruction.
May 27, 1947
Eleanor Roosevelt attended the Commencement exercises at MacMurray College in Jacksonville on May 27, 1947. She received an honorary degree and gave a short speech. MacMurray at the time had a very large social work program and that was of course a major interest of the former First Lady. She took a quick car tour while in Jacksonville of the State Hospital, the School for the Deaf and the School for the Blind.
May 29, 1870
On May 29, 1870 a meeting was held in the Congregational Church to organize a Young Men’s Christian Association branch in Jacksonville. Professor W.H. DeMotte, President of the Methodist College, was elected presiding officer and J. A. Chain was made secretary. Very few activities took place until 1874 when the organization became very active in terms of classes, meetings and activities. The YMCA operated without a physical location until three adjoining lots on West Morgan Street just off the Public Square were donated by Mrs. William Thomas in 1879. $14,000 was raised and a building was ready to use in 1881. The building was sold to the Elks Club in 1920. The YMCA eventually moved into a building on West State Street and Fayette, across from where the High School Bowl is now. Finally, in 1963 a new facility was built between Mound Road and Morton, west of Illinois College.
May 30, 1836
William M. Springer was born May 30, 1836 near New Lebanon, Indiana. His family moved to Jacksonville in 1848. He was kicked out of Illinois College when he refused to take a political diatribe out of his speech for the Junior Exhibition oratorical event. He was not allowed to speak but he printed up his speech and distributed it at the event. His comments were in favor of repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 making it illegal to own slaves north of the southern border of Missouri. Springer went on to graduate from Indiana University, got a law degree, served 20 years in the U.S. House representing Springfield, and even got an honorary doctor of laws degree from Illinois College!
May 30, 1800
Jacob Strawn was born on May 30, 1800 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. He moved to Morgan County in 1831. Although born poor, he amassed a large fortune by raising and selling cattle from many acres of Morgan County land. At his highest point he owned 18,000 acres in Sangamon and Morgan Counties. He did particularly well selling cattle to the Army during the Civil War. After his first wife died he married Phoebe Gates of Green County and, between the two wives he had 13 children. He gave the impressive Strawn’s Opera House on the Square to Jacksonville in 1861. He died with an estate of around $1,000,000 in 1865.
May 30, 1812
John Alexander McClernand was born on May 30, 1812 in Breckenridge County, Kentucky. He moved to Gallatin County, Illinois, fought in the Black Hawk War, started a newspaper, and entered Democratic politics. He married Sarah Dunlap of Jacksonville, a close friend of Mary Todd Lincoln, in 1843 and was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1844. He and Sarah lived in Jacksonville from 1851 to 1856 and then he moved to Springfield to practice law. McClernand was one of Lincoln’s “political generals” during the Civil War. He and John Logan were Democrats from Southern Illinois who could recruit soldiers and keep Southern Illinois quiet politically but, McClernand particularly, was not thought to be much of a soldier by Ulysses S. Grant.
June 2, 1963
On June 2, 1963 Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson spoke at the MacMurray College commencement in Jacksonville. This was only five months before the assassination of John F. Kennedy would make LBJ the President of the United States. Men had begun attending MacMurray in 1955 but the College of Men and the College of Women wouldn’t be combined into one unified institution until 1969. This picture is of Johnson making an appearance in Florida in 1963.
June 5, 1843
At a Board of Trustees meeting of Illinois College on June 5, 1843 they voted to create a Medical School within the College. The School was created at the urging of an IC faculty member, Dr. Samuel Adams. The first members of the faculty were Dr. Adams, Dr. David Prince and Dr. Henry Jones and classes were conducted primarily in Beecher Hall. The first lectures began on November 1, 1843 with a total of 14 students that first year. It is unclear why the School was discontinued in the spring of 1848 because it was a profitable, successful, much-needed institution on the frontier. Rumor has it that it was closed because of what Dr. Carl Black calls the “Anatomy Question”, which is that the anatomy class was raiding the cemetery located where Jacksonville Middle School is now in order to have cadavers to practice on.
June 10, 1837
In the latter part of June in 1837 U.S. Senator Daniel Webster came to Jacksonville to visit his friend and political ally Joseph Duncan, who was then Governor of Illinois. Webster, accompanied by his wife and daughter, stayed at the Duncan Mansion. He gave a speech at a barbeque held on Duncan’s land under a tree that was located at what is now the northwest corner of Webster and Lafayette Street. He was introduced by Edward Beecher, then President of Illinois College. While in town he also visited Porter Clay, brother of Webster’s friend and ally Henry Clay. Senator Webster left Jacksonville and traveled to Springfield, where he met Abraham Lincoln.
June 14, 1928
Janice May Udry was born June 14, 1928 in Jacksonville, Illinois. She grew up there and then went to Northwestern University. After graduation she worked in a nursery and married Richard Udry. Her very first published book for children, A Tree is Nice, won the prestigious American Library Association Caldecott Award for picture books in 1957. In 1959 another book by Udry, The Moon Jumpers, illustrated by Maurice Sendak, won a Caldecott Honor. As far as I can determine she is alive and living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
June 15, 1904
The Jacksonville Labor Temple was completed on June 15, 1904 by the Jacksonville Trades and Labor Assembly. The cornerstone contains the names of 900 men whose volunteer labor helped build the Labor Temple. This building on South Mauvaisterre Street is thought to be the oldest standing structure associated with the organized labor movement in the United States. The building was about to be demolished until the Central Illinois Labor Council stepped in to lead a restoration effort in 2004.
June 15, 1800
Michael Huffaker was born on June 15, 1800 in Wayne County, Kentucky. He bought land on Mauvaisterre Creek east of Jacksonville in the spring of 1824. He was one of the earlier settlers in Morgan County and part of his first house can still be seen within the walls of the farmhouse still on the land where his farm was located. It is thought that Mr. Huffaker and his farm were secretly involved in the Underground Railroad movement of slaves from the South to the North. Mr. Huffaker, through his second wife Frances, was the grand nephew of President James Monroe.
June 15, 1869
Jacksonville’s first water system started when the public voted on June 15, 1869 to have the City issues bonds not to exceed $150,000 in order to build a water works. Key citizens in the drive to have a municipal water system were Joseph O. King and Samuel Nichols. It was estimated at the time that the city’s water usage might someday grow to 125,000 gallons daily. In reality the city’s water usage grew to over 3,000,000 gallons a day by 1953, shortly before the water pipe from the Illinois River was put into service as Morgan County’s water supply.
June 15, 1848
Sol Smith Russell was born on June 15, 1848 in Brunswick, Missouri but his family moved while he was very young to St. Louis and then settled in Jacksonville, Illinois. He ran away from home at 13 to become a drummer boy in the Union Army during the Civil War. He got sick and had to return home. He started his acting career with a role in the Defiance Theatre in Cairo, Illinois at the age of 14. He went on from there to have a distinguished career on the East Coast as a comedic and character actor. He returned to Jacksonville a couple of times to perform at the Opera House. He died at the age of 53.
June 16, 1920
The State Sunday School Convention was held in Jacksonville June 15-17 in 1920. 1500-2000 delegates were expected to attend. The main speakers were Dr. Henry Cope, Secretary of the Religious Education Association of America, and Mr. Maud J. Baldwin, Superintendent of the Children’s Division of the International Sunday School Association.
June 17, 1954
On June 17, 1954 the Hertzberg-New Method Book Bindery opened on Vandalia Road in South Jacksonville. This new company was a joint effort of Jacksonville’s New Method Book Bindery, Monastery Hill Bindery in Chicago and Hertzberg Craftsmen Bindery in Des Moines, Iowa. The bindery was formed to take over the rebinding work of New Method so that New Method could focus on their prebound Bound to Stay Bound Books. Hertzberg-New Method was soon a major rebinder of old books, serials and textbooks throughout the MidWest and, in the 1960s, they started producing their prebound Perma-Bound books for classroom use.
June 19, 1831
The First Presbyterian Church was dedicated on June 19, 1831. It was located at the northwest corner of State and Church Streets until 1847. Their first pastor was Rev. John M. Ellis, one of the people responsible for bringing Illinois College to Jacksonville. He was also instrumental in founding Wabash College in Indiana. The Second Presbyterian Church split off from the First Presbyterian Church in a nationwide schism known as the Old School and New School Assemblies. The two congregations later reunited and moved into a building on the northeast corner of State and Church Streets, one of the churches on four corners.
June 20, 1842
On June 20, 1842 Martin Van Buren visited Jacksonville. After a weekend in Springfield he spent an afternoon in Jacksonville and then continued by train to Meredosia and by steamboat to St. Louis. Van Buren was a Democrat and was President from March 1837 to March 1841. In 1842 he was maneuvering for the 1844 Presidential election but he lost the nomination battle to James K. Polk. James Dunlap and Murray McConnel arranged his visit to Jacksonville.
June 20, 1953
Passavant Area Memorial Hospital had its grand opening on West Walnut Street on June 20, 1953, presided over by Chester Colton. This building replaced the old Passavant on East State Street. The new building opened with 140 beds and was built on the donated farm ground of Charles A. Rowe.
June 21, 1816
David Prince was born June 21, 1816 in Brooklyne, Connecticut. He completed medical school in Cincinnati and came to Jacksonville in 1843. He was a professor of anatomy at Illinois College for a couple of years and then went into private practice. He spent 14 months as an army surgeon during the Civil War. He founded his Jacksonville Surgical Infirmary in 1867 on the southwest corner of the Square and became known as a pioneer in plastic and orthopedic surgery. He continued as a surgeon until his death in 1889. The Jacksonville 7th to 8th Grade building connected to the old High School was named after Dr. Prince.
June 21, 1853
The trial of James Dunlap for his assault on Paul Selby took place on June 21, 1853 at the Morgan County Courthouse in Jacksonville. James Dunlap was an influential businessman and Paul Selby was the Editor of the Morgan Journal. Selby had accused Dunlap of shady business dealings and Dunlap had responded by thumping Selby with his cane. The trial has become familiar to recent Jacksonville residents thanks to the wonderful play about it by Ken Bradbury and Bob Crowe, Shadow of Giants. David A. Smith was the attorney for Paul Selby and Abraham Lincoln was associate counsel for James Dunlap. Dunlap was found guilty and paid a small fine.
June 25, 1950
North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950 and soon U.S. military forces were sent to defend South Korea. An armistice was signed in July of 1953 that stopped the fighting but, technically, the War is still not over. The United States had over 33,000 troops killed in action during the Korean War. A Korean War Memorial for those from Morgan County that fought in the conflict is located near the soccer fields in Community Park.
June 26, 1837
Martin Davis Hardin was born June 26, 1837 in Jacksonville, Illinois. His father was John J. Hardin, a leading Illinois Whig politician who was to die in 1847 serving in the Mexican-American War. Martin became a protégé of Abraham Lincoln, who was to take over John J. Hardin’s seat in the Illinois legislature. Martin graduated from West Point, class of 1859, and served as an aide to Robert E. Lee at the hanging of John Brown. As a Union officer, Martin lost his left arm in the Mine Run Campaign at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run in 1862. After recovering, he continued to serve until another injury forced him to leave the service in June of 1864. However, he returned to the Union Army as a Brigadier General in July 1864 and commanded a division in XXII Corps during the Battle of Fort Stevens. After the Civil War, he became a lawyer in Chicago in the same firm with Robert Lincoln. He retired to St. Augustine, Florida where he died in 1923.
June 27, 1880
Helen Keller was born June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. She became deaf and blind at 18 months old but astounded the world by becoming the first deaf/blind person to earn a college degree. She traveled the world advocating for better opportunities for the deaf and blind. She visited the Illinois School for the Blind in Jacksonville in 1915. In October 1939 she visited the Illinois School for the Deaf by invitation of the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Jacksonville and addressed over 500 deaf children. Miss Keller died in 1968.
June 29, 1833
On June 29, 1833 John Barber became the first fatality in the horrible cholera epidemic that hit Morgan County, as well as most of the rest of the country, that year. He was a resident of Middletown Mills, near Exeter, but he actually died in Jacksonville shortly after contracting the disease. Over the next several months somewhere between 50 and 100 people died and over 600 people fled the area in fear, out of a population of 1300 in Jacksonville at the time. The cholera epidemic was used as one of the arguments for not locating the state capital in Jacksonville when that fight was going on in the state legislature in 1836.
July 1, 1943
James E. MacMurray died on July 1, 1943 in California. He was born in Missouri in 1862. He founded the Quincy Hardware Manufacturing Co., to make and sell barbed steel staples. The company later became ACME Steel and moved their headquarters to Chicago. He was elected state senator for Illinois’ 5th District in 1926 for one term. He was a trustee of Jacksonville’s Illinois Woman’s College for many years. The College was renamed MacMurray College in 1930 in honor of his contributions to the institution. He retired from industry in 1941.
July 3, 1861
William E. Sullivan was born on July 3, 1861 in Carrollton, Illinois. He became a bridge builder in Roodhouse until the fateful day in 1893 when he went to the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. It was there he saw the giant Ferris Wheel and became determined to try to manufacture portable wheels. His first Big Eli Wheel was completed on May 12, 1900 at the Jacksonville Bridge Company. His new company, the Eli Bridge Company, so named because his other stockholders didn’t believe the Wheel business would sustain the company and they would have to build bridges, went on to build thousands of rides and sell them to carnivals, amusement parks, and fairgrounds around the world.
July 3, 1922
The Morgan County Health Department was established on July 3, 1922. The Rockefeller Foundation was interested in funding county health departments in order to improve public health and the Morgan County Health Department was one of the first ones funded in the country. The Health Department was dissolved for a decade, starting in 1932, when Ayers Bank failed in the Great Depression. It was started up again in 1942 as part of the war effort for World War II.
July 5, 1861
Ulysses S. Grant was given his first command of the Civil War by Governor Yates in Springfield in July of 1861. Colonel Grant marched his 21st Regiment of infantry over the Old State Road and camped just east of Jacksonville. On the 5th of July his troops marched through Jacksonville and stopped for lunch at the Campgrounds before marching on through Exeter to Naples. Grant went into battle in Missouri and continued to fight his way through the Civil War all the way to Appomattox.
July 6, 1736
Daniel Morgan was born on July 6, 1736 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. At 17 he moved near Winchester, Virginia and became a successful farmer and teamster. He distinguished himself in the American Revolution as leader of “Morgan’s Riflemen”, a group of sharpshooters that pioneered the use of guerilla warfare against the British. Morgan played a key role in the Battle of Cowpens in South Carolina. After the Revolution he served a term for Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives. He died in 1802. Illinois and eight other states have counties named in honor of Daniel Morgan.
July 7, 1921
The local Kiwanis Club chapter in Jacksonville was organized on July 7, 1921 as the fortieth Club in the Illinois-Eastern Iowa District of Kiwanis International. The original officers were President – Felix E. Farrell, Vice President – Dr. Frank A. Norris, Secretary – Fletcher Hopper, and Treasurer – Charles E. Williamson. By the time their Charter Night was held on September 15, 1921 there were 52 Charter Members, all male. Their meetings started out being held at the Peacock Inn. The Jacksonville Kiwanis Club still operates and is well known in the area for their Pancake Day, held in the spring.
July 8, 1826
Benjamin Grierson was born July 8, 1826 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He became a professional musician and then, after moving to Jacksonville, Illinois in 1849, became a shopkeeper. In 1861 he became a major in the Sixth Illinois Volunteer Cavalry, despite the fact that a childhood accident left him hating horses. He became famous for leading Grierson’s Raid through Mississippi in support of Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign. After the Civil War he was the commanding officer of the Buffalo Soldiers, African American troops, out west. He retired to Jacksonville in 1890 as a Brigadier General.
July 8, 1917
James Farl Powers was born July 8, 1917 in Jacksonville, Illinois. His father worked for Swift and Company in Illinois and the family moved after several years to Rockford and then Quincy. The family was Catholic and James attended Quincy College Academy as a teenager. He moved to Chicago and had a patchwork of jobs and education. He finally became a well-recognized writer on Catholic themes and was an English professor at colleges including Marquette University, the University of Michigan and Smith College. We won the National Book Award in 1963 for Morte d’Urban. J.F. died in 1999.
July 8, 1904
Helen Cleary Foreman was born in Jacksonville on July 8, 1904. Her parents were both teachers at the Illinois School for the Deaf. She graduated from Illinois College in 1925 and then taught high school in Dixon, Illinois from 1925-1927, where one of her students was Ronald Reagan. She married an attorney, Oliver Foreman, in 1927 and moved back to Jacksonville. She served on many boards and voluntary organizations for many years. After her husband died in 1972 she ran as a Republican for city alderman and served on the City Council until 1984. When Mayor Milt Hocking died in 1984 she was appointed Mayor to serve out his term and then ran for another four year term and won. She was the first woman Mayor in Jacksonville and, in 1989, one of the oldest Mayors serving in the U.S. Mrs. Foreman died in 1991.
July 10, 1965
The Grand Opening of the Capitol Records Plant in Jacksonville was on July 10, 1965. The celebration in downtown Jacksonville drew 15,000 people and featured the music group the Lettermen. This plant was the third Capitol Records plant to be built in the U.S. The story is that Jacksonville came to Capitol’s attention because they bought the sleeves for their records at Roodhouse Envelope. The plant started with 45 employees and expanded over the years as it produced vinyl records, 8-track tapes, cassettes, and compact discs. Capitol Records, later part of EMI Music, produced the music of big stars such as the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, Garth Brooks and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Production was shut down and the plant handled only distribution in the 2000s and then the plant closed entirely in 2010.
July 12, 1965
July 12, 1965 was declared Boots Brennan Day in Jacksonville. Jacksonville native Terrance Brennan, nicknamed Boots, was a child prodigy and a fabulous self-taught musician who started performing with a professional band in 1926 at the age of 11 on the drums and continued entertaining crowds in Jacksonville until his death in 1966.
July 14, 1817
Andrew McFarland was born July 14, 1817 in Concord, New Hampshire. He became a doctor and became an experienced administrator at several institutions treating the mentally ill. He became the Superintendent of the Illinois Central Hospital for the Insane in Jacksonville in 1853, only the third superintendent since it began operations in 1851. Dr. McFarland was cast as the villain in Elizabeth Packard’s 1873 book, Modern Persecution, in which her husband wrongly committed her to the State Insane Asylum. In 1872 McFarland started Oak Lawn Retreat, a private facility for the treatment of the mentally ill, on 60 acres at what is now Morton Road and Country Club Road. After his retirement his son and granddaughter took over management of Oak Lawn. Unfortunately, Dr. McFarland’s mind began to fail him and he had to become a patient at Oak Lawn. He hung himself in his room in 1891. Oak Lawn went through many different uses, including becoming the Anti-Tuberculosis facility in 1917, until it was finally torn down in 1981.
July 15, 1842
In July 1842 the Morgan County Poor Farm was established by the purchase of 100 acres from Jesse Henry northwest of Jacksonville on the Beardstown Road. The Poor House and Farm was moved to East State Street in 1848. In 1867 it was again moved to the northwest of town on what would come to be called Poor Farm Road by the purchase of Cornelius Goltra’s 200 acre farm for $13,000. It would stay in this location until it was officially closed in December 1951.
July 21, 1838
On July 21, 1838 the Illini Lodge No. 4 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was the first “secret” organization formed in Jacksonville. Present at the founding was Thomas Wildey, an Englishman who founded the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in North America in Baltimore, Maryland on April 26, 1819. This benevolent and social organization is still in operation at 312 ½ East State Street.
July 26, 1803
Julian Monson Sturtevant was born on July 26, 1803 in Warren, Connecticut. He was raised on the frontier in Summit County, Ohio and graduated from Yale College and Yale Divinity School. As one of the Yale Band he traveled to Jacksonville, Illinois to become the first teacher at Illinois College in 1830. He became President of the College in 1844 and remained President until 1876. Throughout his lifetime in Jacksonville he played an important role in many of the important institutions in town, including the Congregational Church, the Anti-Slavery Society, The Club Literary Society, the Portuguese immigration, and many others. Sturtevant died in Jacksonville in 1886.
July 27, 1837
On July 27, 1837, at the home of William Dalton on Church Street, the Mount Emery Baptist Church was founded. This was the first Baptist church to be located in Jacksonville and was founded by African-American freedmen. The leaders at the start were Rev. John Livingston, Rev. Samuel Ball and Deacon Henry Duncan, with six other founding members. The Church moved to a new building at its current site on Church Street between College and Marion in 1866.
July 27, 1822
Newton Bateman was born on July 27, 1822 in Fairfield, New Jersey. His family moved to Jacksonville in 1833 and he graduated from Illinois College in 1843. He became an educator and became principal of the public Jacksonville School in 1852, then the County Superintendent of Schools for several years. In 1858 he was elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction and was re-elected to that post in every election through 1875 except for two years 1863-65. His office in Springfield was next to the office of Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln and the two became good friends. Dr. Bateman was President of Knox College in Galesburg from 1875 until 1893. An elementary school in Chicago is named after Newton Bateman, as well as the old Jacksonville High School on State Street.
July 29, 1935
On July 29, 1935 a Civilian Conservation Corps camp opened a facility two miles west of Jacksonville. It was officially designated the 2678th CCC Company. This New Deal program provided work projects to employ workers who couldn’t find a job due to the Great Depression. The workers at this camp primarily worked on local farms, improving roads, clearing land and repairing fences and barns.
August 1, 1801
According to the 1872 Andreas, Lyter & Co. Atlas Map of Morgan County, Colonel Joseph Morton was one of the very earliest settlers of Morgan County. He was born August 1, 1801. He mostly grew up in Kentucky. In the fall of 1820 he and John Bradshaw built a cabin just east of the present site of Jacksonville. He married Mary Odell in 1823 and started a farm about a mile and a half east of Jacksonville. He helped build many cabins in the area. He served in the state legislature for one term starting in 1836 and one term starting in 1846. He served in the state senate for one term starting in 1856. He served in the state constitution convention in 1861. He took the census of Morgan County in 1830. The Atlas claims that his daughter Minerva Morton was the first settler child born in Morgan County, and he and Mary went on to have 13 children. Morton Road, Jacksonville’s busiest commercial thoroughfare, was so named because it passed next to Colonel Morton’s farm east of town.
August 2, 1789
Samuel Drake Lockwood was born August 2, 1789 in Poundridge, New York. He studied law with his uncle and then decided to move to the new state of Illinois. He reached Shawneetown in December 1818 and walked across the state to the state capitol, Kaskaskia. He practiced law there, got into politics and in 1821 was elected Secretary of State of Illinois. He helped plan the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1823 and then was appointed a State Supreme Court justice in 1824. In that position he helped rewrite the new state’s laws by 1827 and was an important anti-slavery proponent in that process. He was assigned a judgeship in central Illinois in 1827 and that caused him to move to Jacksonville. He was instrumental in organizing Illinois College in 1828 and was the main early proponent of locating the college in Jacksonville. He was one of Morgan County’s representatives to the Illinois Constitutional Convention of 1847 and played an important role in the Convention, again pushing to keep Illinois as anti-slavery as possible. He retired from the bench in 1848 and his official role in developing the Illinois Central Railroad caused him to move to Batavia, Illinois in 1853, where he died in 1874.
August 2, 1911
The first election of officers for the new village of South Jacksonville was held on August 2, 1911. Elected were Herman Weber as President, Charles Boston as Clerk, and William Spencer, O.B. Heinl, J.H. Baxter, E.E. Beastall, James McGinnis and William Hembrough as Trustees. Those property owners south of Michigan Avenue had considered annexing into Jacksonville but were scared off by the heavy amount of debt the City of Jacksonville was currently carrying. The Trustees soon started meeting in Heinl’s Greenhouse and passed ordinances relating to the keeping of farm animals in the village, proper maintenance of privies, and the speed of locomotives through the village.
August 3, 1836
Greene Vardiman Black was born near Winchester, Illinois on August 3, 1836. He studied medicine with several doctors, including his older brother, Thomas Black. After serving in the Civil War as a Union scout, he moved to Jacksonville, Illinois to start a dental practice. Dentistry was extremely undeveloped at this point and Dr. Black did a great amount of research and developed numerous specialized tools to help develop modern dentistry into what it is today. Black was later the first dean of the Northwestern University Dentistry School and you can find a statue of him in Lincoln Park in Chicago.
August 5, 1863
Frank Parsons Norbury was born in Beardstown, Illinois on August 5, 1863. He studied at Illinois College and then pursued his medical studies elsewhere. He returned to Jacksonville in August 1888 as Assistant Physician for the Illinois Central Hospital for the Insane. After five years he went into private practice in Jacksonville. In 1901 Dr. Norbury was one of the founders of the Maplewood Sanitorium, later renamed the Norbury Sanitorium, in Jacksonville for the treatment of nervous and mental diseases. Dr. Norbury’s great grandfather, Heath Norbury, was in charge of the hospital service for the Continental Army at Valley Forge during the American Revolution. Dr. Norbury’s son and grandson, Frank Garm and Frank Barnes Norbury, were also medical doctors in Jacksonville.
August 5, 1818
Hiram Kinnaird Jones was born August 5, 1818 in Culpepper County, Virginia. His family soon moved to Missouri and he graduated with both a classical and medical degree from Illinois College. After teaching school and practicing medicine in Missouri he became Assistant Physician for the Illinois Hospital for the Insane in Jacksonville in 1851. He became Superintendent of the Hospital in 1855 but then resigned to start a medical practice in Jacksonville in 1856 that lasted until he died in 1903. He also lectured at Jacksonville Business College, founded the Jacksonville Historical Society in 1884 and was its first president, founded the Literary Union in 1865, and gave money to Illinois College to build a library in 1897. He was also a student of philosophy and was a member of the Concord School, along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, and Amos Alcott.
August 9, 1943
Ken Norton was born in Jacksonville on August 9, 1943. At Jacksonville High School he was a star player on the state championship football team in 1960. On the track team he would compete in eight different events and routinely win seven of them, which caused Illinois to implement the “Ken Norton Rule” limiting the number of events an individual could compete in. Norton started boxing in the Marine Corps and had an outstanding professional boxing career. He broke Muhammad Ali’s jaw in 1973, one of only two boxers to beat him. He was World Heavyweight Champion for a period of time. After his boxing career he starred in a few Hollywood movies, including Mandingo.
August 11, 1832
Trinity Church in Jacksonville was organized on August 11, 1832, the first Episcopalian church in Illinois. By June of 1833 they had their first rector, John Bachelder of Rhode Island. Their church was built in 1834 on land donated by Dennis Rockwell at the southeast corner of State and Church Streets. The Church has remained at that location, however a new building had to be built in 1918 when a spark from a fire at Jacksonville High School blew onto the Church roof and burned it down.
August 12, 1947
Creston Whitaker was born August 12, 1947 in Quincy, Illinois. His family moved to Jacksonville when he was seven years old and he became an outstanding multi-sport athlete at Jacksonville High School. He played football and basketball at Southern Illinois University, where one of his teammates was soon to be NBA superstar Walt Frazier. He then transferred and graduated from North Texas State in 1969. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams and then served in the military before returning and playing for the New Orleans Saints in the NFL as a wide receiver in 1972.
August 14, 1908
On August 14, 1908 a race riot broke out in Springfield, Illinois when thousands of white citizens went to the jail to demand two black prisoners arrested for alleged rape and attempted rape of white women. The sheriff had already sent the two prisoners to Bloomington so the enraged crowd rampaged through the black section of town. By the time the state militia had restored order 24 businesses and 40 homes were destroyed and seven people were dead, two blacks and five whites. The Springfield race riot resulted in the meeting in New York City that created the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and it also caused a significant portion of African Americans to move from Springfield to other cities, including Jacksonville.
The first Postmaster of Jacksonville, Dennis Rockwell, was appointed by President John Quincy Adams on August 15, 1825. He was also the Morgan County and Circuit Clerk and so the first post office was located in the first County Courthouse, located on the northeast corner of the Public Square. Postage for a letter at that time was 25 cents. Benjamin Franklin was the very first Postmaster of the United States.
The National Starch & Chemical Company opened a plant in Meredosia on August 17, 1955. They used their proximity to the Illinois River to ship large quantities of raw materials in and ship adhesives out to customers around the world. The plant was sold to the large Dallas-based multinational company Celanese in 2004. The plant was shut down in early 2016.
August 17, 1969
On August 17, 1969 WJJY-TV started broadcasting from their new station on West Walnut Street in Jacksonville. The station was an ABC affiliate and was one of the more powerful television stations in the country at that time, transmitting with over four million watts from a 1610 foot tower near Bluffs. Unfortunately, the station did not do well financially and went out of business in September 1971. The large tower remained but fell over in the ice storm of 1978.
August 21, 1912
Starting August 21, 1912, the Jacksonville Educational Festival and Chautauqua went for ten days at Nichols Park. There were more temperance-related Chautauquas in Jacksonville as early as 1906 but this was the first of a format that would continue until at least 1922. There were exhibits, speakers, and musical performers such as the local Jeffries Concert Band. Season tickets to the Chautauqua could be purchased ahead of time for $2, or $2.50 at the door. Dr. Carl Black was Chairman of the Chautauqua Committee. The Chautauqua reappeared in Jacksonville as the Prairieland Chautauqua thanks to the efforts of Wolf Fuhrig starting in 1999.
August 27, 1955
On August 27, 1955 a pipeline was opened from the Illinois River near Naples to Jacksonville to improve the area’s water supply. The well-based water supply in 1954 was proving inadequate and Jacksonville Mayor Hoagland appointed a Citizen’s Water Committee to study the issue. Ellsworth Black was the Chair of the Committee, which included Bob Fay, Grace Fitch and Harlan Williamson. As a result of their efforts a bond issue was passed in May 1954 that financed the construction of the pipeline from the Illinois to Jacksonville for about $3,000,000.
August 27, 1803
Edward Beecher was born in East Hampton, New York on August 27, 1803. Just like his father, Lyman Beecher, and his renowned older brother, Henry Ward Beecher, he became a Protestant minister. After graduating from Yale and becoming pastor at a church in Boston, he became the first President of the newly created Illinois College in Jacksonville in 1830. He served as President for 14 years, during which time he also helped Elijah Lovejoy form the Anti-Slavery Society in Illinois. His sister was Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. After leaving Illinois College he took positions at churches in Boston, Galesburg and Brooklyn until his death in 1895.
September 1, 1785
Peter Cartwright was born September 1, 1785 in Amherst County, Virginia. He grew up in Kentucky and became a circuit-riding Methodist preacher. He moved his family from Kentucky to Pleasant Plains, Illinois in 1824 because he could not get the Church to take a strong stance against slavery. Cartwright was very influential in the Methodist Church and instrumental in getting the Illinois Conference Female Academy started in Jacksonville in 1846. He also served several terms in the Illinois Legislature and fought numerous political battles against Abraham Lincoln. The house at 725 East State Street in Jacksonville is known as the Peter Cartwright House, although technically he just bought it for his daughter Maria when his son-in-law could not make payments on the mortgage.
September 1, 1790
Peter Akers was born in Campbell County, Virginia on September 1, 1790. He studied as a lawyer and graduated from Transylvania University. However, after a couple of years as a lawyer in Kentucky, he was so emotionally affected by the death of his wife that he became a Methodist Circuit Rider. After 11 years preaching in Kentucky he was so opposed to slavery that he moved near Jacksonville, Illinois in 1832. He donated the land for the Ebenezer Church west of Jacksonville and was instrumental in the founding of what would become MacMurray College. He also served as President of McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois for several years. He died in 1886.
September 2, 1945
The official surrender of Japan was signed by their Emperor on September 2, 1945, signaling the end of World War II. A World War II Memorial was placed in Nichols Park in.
September 2, 1862
The 101st Illinois Infantry Regiment was mustered into the Union Army on September 2, 1862 by Captain Charles Ewing at Camp Duncan in Jacksonville. This Camp was located on the county fairgrounds. The Regiment saw action mostly in Mississippi and Tennessee until it was broken up and formed into other units during the siege of Vicksburg. The Regiment was later reunited and participated in the Battle of Chattanooga, the taking of Atlanta, and Sherman’s March to the Sea.
September 4, 1837
The Howard Academy began classes on September 4, 1837. It was one of the earliest small private schools in Jacksonville that was designed to prepare students to go on to college. The first President was Rev. Horace Spalding of Massachusetts. The Academy was located in the basement of the Methodist Church. The Academy started fairly robustly with 30 students by the end of the first quarter. Miss Cynthia Ladd, Rev. Spalding’s sister-in-law, began an associated school for young ladies in 1838, also located in the basement of the Methodist Church at East Morgan and East Street. However, the whole Academy failed financially after only a few years.
September 4, 1936
President Franklin Roosevelt visited Jacksonville, Illinois on September 4, 1936. Earlier in the day he had given a speech at the dedication of the Mark Twain Bridge across the Mississippi River at Hannibal, Missouri. After a brief stop in Jacksonville where he made a very short speech from the rear platform of his train, he went on to Springfield later in the day to meet with Governor Horner. His trip through Illinois was billed as a Drought Inspection Trip. Later in the year, on October 14, he made a campaign tour from St. Louis to Chicago but did not stop in Jacksonville.
September 5, 1798
Murray McConnel was born on September 5, 1798 in Orange County, New York. As a young man he moved out to Missouri and was a farmer. However, when the Missouri Compromise of 1820 made Missouri a slave state he up and moved to West Morgan County (now Scott County) in Illinois. When the city of Jacksonville was laid out and began to develop he moved to Jacksonville and switched from farming to the law. He became a leader in the local Democratic Party and was a mentor to young Steven Douglas when he came to the area. He served in the Blackhawk War and in 1855 President Pierce made him the Fifth Auditor of the U.S. Treasury. In 1865 he was elected state senator but he was murdered the morning of February 9, 1869 in his law office, a murder that remains a mystery.
September 6, 1856
On September 6, 1856 Abraham Lincoln gave a speech on the Public Square in Jacksonville in which he gave his views on current political events and expressed his support for John C. Fremont, the first Republican candidate for President. Fremont lost to James Buchanan in 1856. However, President Lincoln appointed him Commander of the Western Army during the Civil War, a decision Lincoln came to regret.
September 7, 1896
The History Class was founded in Jacksonville on September 7, 1896 under the auspices of the University of Chicago. This educational group for women was originally called the University Extension Club until they changed their name in 1901. They received course materials from the University and gathered periodically to discuss what they had learned. One of the original members was Mabel Hall Goltra from one of Jacksonville’s prominent Portuguese-American families.
September 10, 1863
Several hundred armed men came to Jacksonville on September 10, 1863 in what came to be known as the Jacksonville Raid. They were Knights of the Golden Circle, a pro-slavery organization, who were demanding a fair trial for one of their members. John Husted of Beardstown had assaulted John Stokes at the Jacksonville Railway Station because Stokes had informed on the Knights of the Golden Circle to authorities. When Husted was bound over to the Circuit Court, rather than given to the military as they had feared, the Knights dispersed without any violence.
September 10, 1860
The Illinois State Fair was held in Jacksonville for the first and only time starting on September 10, 1860 and ran for four days. It was held on the Morgan County Fairgrounds where we still have races and the County Fair. The State Fair began in Springfield in 1853 and was held in various towns around the state until it was permanently located in Springfield in 1894.
September 11, 1973
On September 11, 1973 Neal Gamm, the self-declared Governor of Forgottonia, held his first press conference. Forgottonia was a tongue-in-cheek attempt by the west central part of Illinois to secede from Illinois because all the funding, economic development and attention was being given to the other parts of Illinois. Sixteen counties, including Morgan County, were to make up Forgottonia. Gamm, a Vietnam veteran and student at Western Illinois University, had started his college career at Illinois College in Jacksonville before he went off to Vietnam. Congressman Paul Findley of Jacksonville was one government official who supported Forgottonia. The official Forgottonia movement died out by the end of 1973 but the phrase is sometimes still used in central Illinois when the Chicago area gets invited to the buffet and our area just gets the leftovers!
September 13, 1825
Charles Louis Routt was born in Woodford County, Kentucky on September 13, 1825. His family moved to Morgan County, Illinois in 1834 and, after an education at Catholic College in Cincinnati, he returned to the family farm. He and his younger brother, William R., became very successful farmers. Charles was very generous to the Church of Our Savior and to Our Savior’s Hospital. After Charles’ death in 1894, his brother William became a Catholic as well and bought a pipe organ for Our Savior’s Church, as well as endowing Routt College.
September 15, 1895
The first horseless carriage appeared on the streets of Jacksonville on September 15, 1895. It was built and operated by Harry Ladlow Hall. Hall was the owner of Hall Brothers, the local John Deere dealer.
September 17, 1920
The cornerstone for the new Jacksonville High School was laid on September 17, 1920. There was a battle between those who wanted to name it Newton Bateman High School after well-known Jacksonville educator Newton Bateman, and those who wanted to make sure Jacksonville was in the name. They compromised by calling it Jacksonville High School but the Newton Bateman building. The building of this High School was necessary because the former building on the same site burned down. The ceremony was conducted by Grand Master Dan G. Fitzgerald of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Illinois. The building is now part of the High School Apartments on W. State Street.
September 17, 1861
On September 17, 1861 a meeting was held at the house of Illinois College Professor Sanders to form The Club, Jacksonville’s first male literary society. The founding members were a pretty even mixture of Illinois College people – Julian Sturtevant, Samuel Adams, Rufus Crampton, and William Sanders – and men from the town – Elijah Wolcott, Andrew McFarland, Marshall Ayers, and David Smith, among others. Their very first topic of discussion was “What should be the immediate policy of the government in respect to the slave proposition?” The Club continues to operate as a literary society today.
September 18, 1861
The 31st Illinois Volunteer Infantry was organized in Jacksonville, Illinois and mustered into the U.S. Army on September 18, 1861 in Cairo, Illinois. The unit served in Missouri, Tennessee and in Sherman’s March to the Sea. An early officer was Major Andrew Kuykendall, later an Illinois state senator. The Regiment, nicknamed the Dirty-first, was commanded by Colonel John A. Logan. This famous politician from Southern Illinois went on to become a General, a Congressman, a Senator and a candidate for Vice President in 1884. Over the four years of the Civil War the 31st lost 175 men in action and 294 to disease.
September 19, 1910
The Illinois State Convention of the Methodist Episcopal Church was held in Jacksonville September 19, 1910. The Methodist Episcopal Church was established early in Jacksonville’s history. The first Church was built in 1821. By 1841 it was located at 231 East State. Its name was later changed to Centenary United Methodist Church and it moved to its present location a block further east.
September 19, 1941
On September 19, 1941 the Jacksonville City Council leased 8 acres on Lake Mauvaisterre to the National Enameling & Stamping Company headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Local contractors Smirl and Gibson planned to work a 24 hour schedule to try to complete a factory costing over $75,000 by the end of 1941. NESCO already had a government contract to manufacture shell casings for the military and planned to hire several hundred people to do so in this new plant. This plant would go through a number of owners over the years and is currently where Reynolds makes plastic bags.
September 21, 1832
On September 21, 1832 Black Hawk, the chief of the Sauk tribe, signed a treaty of peace that ended the Black Hawk War. The treaty was signed at Fort Armstrong, near Rock Island. It was felt at the time that the ending of this War made Illinois safe from the “Indian threat” and it unleashed a flood of settlers into the territory.
September 25, 1908
Billy Sunday arrived in Jacksonville on September 25, 1908 to begin six weeks of revival meetings. The former baseball player was famous for his passionate sermons and temperance speeches. A special Tabernacle that would hold 5000 people was built for his meetings. Sunday also was umpire at a local baseball game while he was in town. It was reported that 279,459 people came to his meetings over those six weeks before Billy Sunday moved on to Ottumwa, Iowa.
September 26, 1823
William Henry Milburn was born September 26, 1823 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (His tombstone in Diamond Grove Cemetery says he was born on September 21 but most other sources say the 26th.) His family moved to Jacksonville, Illinois in 1838. William was partially blinded by a childhood accident before the move and was totally blind by his forties. He attended Illinois College but could not graduate due to his poor vision. At the urging of Peter Cartwright, he became a Methodist circuit rider in 1843. Due to a fortuitous encounter on a steamboat on the Ohio River he was elected Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives and held that post and later the same post in the U.S. Senate over the next 40 years, as well as serving as pastor of churches in Alabama and New York City. The blind preacher was a nationally known speaker. Milburn died in California in 1903.
September 27, 1891
Lawrence DeWitt Sibert was born in Jacksonville on September 27, 1891. He trained as a bookbinder and, in 1920, founded New Method Book Bindery to provide bookbinding services to libraries of all types. He later was instrumental in bringing the Hertzberg New Method Book Bindery to South Jacksonville and, between the two binderies, Jacksonville was declared the Library Binding Capital of the World by Governor William Stratton in 1954. New Method Book Bindery was later renamed for its slogan, Bound to Stay Bound Books.
September 29, 1830
An organizational meeting was held September 29, 1830 at the home of J.P. Wilkinson to create the Jacksonville Female Academy. Key individuals involved were S.D. Lockwood, Rev. John Ellis and Rev. Julian Sturtevant. Dr. Ero Chandler donated land for the school and classes started in 1833 with Miss Sarah Crocker as Principal. The Academy was absorbed into Illinois College in 1903.
October 1, 1877
Jim Hackett was born October 1, 1877 in Jacksonville, Illinois. After attending St. Patrick's School, the forerunner of Our Saviour's, Jim began playing minor league baseball all over the MidWest. In fact he was the manager of the team in Jacksonville in 1900. Then, Sunny Jim, as he was called, had a great season in the minors and he got called up to pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1902 season. His record was not great and he was playing first base for the 1903 season. Then he went hunting in the off season, October 1903, and contact with poison ivy messed up his eyes so bad he was never able to play baseball again. Jim had a younger brother Tom who also played around Illinois in the minors but never made it to the Major Leagues.
October 2, 1838
On October 2, 1838 the Potawatomi Indians passed through Jacksonville on their forced march called the Trail of Death. 859 members of the tribe were moved from the area of what is now Plymouth, Indiana to what was to be Osawatomie, Kansas, 660 miles away. The march took two months and over 40 Potawatomi, mostly children, died along the way.
October 2, 1842
Augustine James Frederick Prevost died October 2, 1842 and was buried in Diamond Grove Cemetery. This unassuming farmer was actually a close relative of one of the most famous, or infamous, characters in early American history. Prevost was born in 1766 on Long Island. His father, a British Army officer, died while Prevost was quite young and his mother married Aaron Burr in 1782. Burr sold a farm near Pelham, New York to his stepson in 1794, which was supposedly one move in one of Burr’s early convoluted sneaky land schemes. Burr became Thomas Jefferson’s Vice President and then killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804. Augustine Prevost was apparently a shy and quiet individual, who had nothing to do with his stepfather’s later adventures, such as his plot to create a separate country to rule in the center of North America. Prevost’s first wife died and he moved his wife and second set of children in 1834 to a farm just south of present day Concord to live out his days.
October 2, 1885
Ruth Bryan Owen was born on October 2, 1885 in Jacksonville, Illinois. She was the daughter of William Jennings Bryan. Owen was a nurse in World War I and then became the first female representative to Congress from the South when she won election in Florida in 1929. She then became the first woman to serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee during her term in Congress. After serving one term in Congress she became our first female ambassador when Franklin Roosevelt appointed her U.S. Ambassador to Denmark in 1933. She later served as U.S. delegate to the conference that established the United Nations. She died in 1954.
October 3, 1833
On October 3, 1833 the Ladies Education Society was founded in Jacksonville. Its mission was to “provide for the education of indigent capable young women, that they might be qualified for teaching, and the opening of schools in needy settlements.” The founding ladies included Mrs. John M. Ellis, Mrs. Edward Beecher, and Mrs. Julian Sturtevant. The first contribution was a five dollar goldpiece, given by Mrs. Joseph Duncan. The Ladies Education Society is said to be the oldest women’s organization in the United States. It is still in existence today, adding to the hundreds of female college students they have helped through the years.
October 4, 1925
Richard Moore was born in Jacksonville, Illinois on October 4, 1925. After high school he went to the University of Southern California and got a degree in cinema. He became a cameraman in the movies. Along with his colleague Robert Gottschalk, he founded Panavision in 1953, a revolutionary new camera system that took the movie business by storm. He returned to camera work for the movies and worked on many movies including Thunderball in 1965, Myra Breckinridge in 1970, and The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean in 1972. He died in Palm Springs in 2009.
October 4, 1841
Harmony Lodge No. 3, of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons was founded in Jacksonville on October 4, 1841. The first officers were John Gregory, Master; Matthew Stacy, Senior Warden; and George Hackett, Junior Warden. Their first lodge was located on the third story of the Goltra building on the southwest corner of the square. They moved around to many different locations until they built their current attractive Art Deco style building at 345 West College in 1920.
October 7, 1924
October 7, 1924 was Sammy Nichols Day in Jacksonville. Jacksonville honored Samuel W. Nichols, a newspaperman and philanthropist who gave the city the money to establish Nichols Park in 1903. Sammy was born in Quincy in 1844 and died in 1927. He helped the children of Jacksonville in many other endeavors, including a fund for Christmas gifts, a train trip to the Louisiana Exposition in St. Louis in 1904, and an annual burgoo for children.
October 8, 1826
William Jayne was born October 8, 1826 in Springfield, Illinois. He attended Illinois College in Jacksonville where he helped found and was the first president of Phi Alpha Society. He went on to receive a medical degree in Missouri and practiced medicine in Springfield. He was Abraham Lincoln’s personal physician and then became mayor of Springfield in 1860. President Lincoln appointed him the first Governor of the Dakota Territory in 1861 and he later became their first Representative in Congress. Jayne died in Springfield in 1916 and is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery.
October 9, 1939
Milton McPike was born in Jacksonville, Illinois on October 9, 1939. He was quite an athlete and played on the historic high school football team with Ken Norton. He was also a standout athlete at Truman State University in Missouri. He was picked by the San Francisco 49ers football in the 12th round in 1962 and played tight end for them for one season. He then went on to a distinguished career as an educator, serving as principal of Madison East High School in Wisconsin for 23 years and on the Board of Regents for the University of Wisconsin – Madison from 2004 until his death in 2008.
October 9, 1900
On October 9, 1900 Theodore Roosevelt visited Jacksonville. It appeared to be just a personal visit so that he could see his hunting partner James T. King. TR was governor of New York at this time but he would be elected Vice President on the ticket with William McKinley in the following month, defeating former Jacksonville resident William Jennings Bryan. McKinley’s assassination in September of 1901 would then make Roosevelt President of the United States.
October 10, 1846
On October 10, 1846 a committee of the Illinois Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church met for the first time to establish the Illinois Female College. The committee included Rev. Peter Cartwright, Rev. Peter Akers, Nicholas Milburn and Judge William Brown. The College started in the basement of the Methodist Church with N.S. Bastion, M.D. as Principal. In 1850 the College moved to a building of their own constructed on the south side of East State Street. The College went through several name changes before becoming MacMurray College in 1930.
October 11, 1907
The Illinois State Conference of Charities was held at Jacksonville’s Central Hospital for the Insane October 9-11, 1907. Chairman of the State Executive Committee was Dr. Frank P. Norbury of Jacksonville. Specific committees participating in this conference included ones for Tuberculosis, Epilepsy & the Insane, Children, Penology (Prisons), Public Care of the Poor, and Volunteer Agencies Serving Needy Families.
October 11, 1914
James Edward Day was born on October 11, 1914 in Jacksonville, Illinois. He attended the University of Chicago and then Harvard Law School. He served in the Navy during World War II. After the War he practiced law in Chicago and his friendship with Adlai Stevenson got him several state positions. In 1961 he was appointed the U.S. Postmaster General by President John F. Kennedy. He resigned in 1963, complaining that he wasn’t making enough money, and went back to practicing law in Chicago and Washington, D.C. for many years. He died in 1996.
October 15, 1919
On October 15, 1919 the annual national convention of the Anti-Horse Thief Association was held in Jacksonville with around 300 delegates attending. This organization was started in 1863 and was sort of the Crimestoppers of its day. Chapters still exist today although they primarily serve as social clubs.
October 16, 1916
On October 16, 1916 ten men met to organize the Jacksonville Savings and Loan. Their mission was to make it possible for more people in Jacksonville to own their own homes. The driving force behind the Savings and Loan was Dr. Alpha B. Applebee, a practicing dentist, and his father Dr. J.O. Applebee, also a dentist. The organization was run out of Dr. Alpha Applebee’s dental office for some time until finally an office was rented on West State Street in 1926. The old Farrell State Bank building on the Public Square was purchased in 1936 and a large office building was built on Morton Road in 1994. The Savings and Loan became a public company in 2010 and has been responsible for many new areas of Jacksonville, such as Grant’s Meadow and Northridge.
October 19, 1917
On October 19, 1917 Sarah Bernhardt and her company performed at the Grand Opera House on the Public Square in Jacksonville. Bernhardt was a French actress considered among the greatest actresses of her time, from her arrival on the stage in 1862 to her death in 1923. She was also involved in the nascent moving picture industry. In Jacksonville her company performed the Merchant of Venice with Sarah as Portia, and she performed the Death of Cleopatra. Tickets were $2.
October 20, 1832
Ellen Hardin was born October 20, 1832 in Jacksonville, Illinois, daughter of politician, lawyer and soldier John J. Hardin. She was educated at Jacksonville Academy. After John J. died in the Mexican War in 1846, his wife remarried and Ellen moved with her to Saratoga Springs, New York in 1851. She married her step-brother Mansfield Walworth and they had six children. Ellen Hardin Walworth was one of the four founders of the Daughters of the American Revolution on October 11, 1890. She received a law degree from New York University in 1896. Ellen passed away in 1915 and is buried near Saratoga Springs.
October 26, 1837
On October 26, 1837 the Lovejoy Convention was held in upper Alton. It was organized by the Rev. Elijah Lovejoy, a famous journalist and abolitionist. Several individuals from Morgan County were present – Edward Beecher, Elihu Wolcott, William Carter, A.B. Whitlock and Jonathan B. Turner. A State Anti Slavery Society was formed as a result of the Convention, with Elihu Wolcott as President. Rev. Lovejoy was assassinated by an angry pro-slavery mob in Alton several days later, on November 7.
October 28, 1825
William J. Wyatt was born on October 28, 1825 on a farm five miles southeast of Jacksonville. His father was one of the founders of the town of Franklin. William had quite the military career. In 1845 he was part of the force called out to “suppress” the Mormons in Hancock County. In 1846, as Captain of Company G, 1st Illinois Infantry under the command of Colonel John J. Hardin, he fought in the Mexican War. After many years of farming and trading, he was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the 101st Illinois Infantry by Governor Yates in 1862. He was disabled by the war and discharged in 1863 and returned to Franklin to be forever known as Colonel Wyatt.
October 29, 1831
John W. Hall was born on October 29, 1831 on a farm near Liberty Cemetery west of Jacksonville. He apprenticed as a blacksmith and started his manufacturing business John W. Hall at the corner of South Main and West College in Jacksonville in 1864. In 1859 he was a delegate to the Republican state convention and heard Lincoln’s “lost speech”. During the Civil War he manufactured walking plows and carriages. Later, he became one of the first John Deere dealers in the country. The business was renamed Hall & Sons and, later, Hall Brothers as his children became involved and took over the business. His son, Harry Ladlow Hall, built the first horseless carriage to appear on the streets of Jacksonville on September 15, 1895. Hall Brothers continued as a family business until it closed in 1969.
October 30, 1802
James B. Dunlap was born October 30, 1802 in Fleming County, Kentucky. He arrived in Jacksonville in 1831 and began a general store that became quite successful. He was the contractor for building the Southern Cross Railroad, the first railroad in Illinois. He also became very successful in farming and real estate. He became known as Colonel Dunlap for his service in the Black Hawk War. He was a member of the first board of trustees for both the Central Hospital for the Insane and the Illinois School for the Blind. His daughter Sarah was a close friend of Mary Todd Lincoln and married John McClernand, who became a Union General in the Civil War. Colonel Dunlap was a quartermaster in the Civil War and reached the rank of brevet major general. Colonel Dunlap opened an important hotel in Jacksonville in 1857, the Dunlap House.
November 2, 1909
In an election on November 2, 1909, Jacksonville voted 2058 to 1856 to stay a dry town while Meredosia voted 234 to 199 to go from wet to dry. The change in Meredosia marked the first time Morgan County was an all dry county, meaning no alcohol could be sold in the county. Dr. Edward Bowe, the chair of the Anti-Saloon Campaign Committee, led the campaign, a forerunner of the 18th Amendment passed in 1919 and Prohibition. This picture shows a temperance rally in Ohio in roughly this same time period.
November 3, 1866
Henry Eli Staley was born in Jacksonville, Illinois on November 3, 1866. Young Harry was quite athletic and got a contract to pitch for the St. Louis Browns in 1888 and went on to play in the Major Leagues for another seven years. In addition to the Browns, he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the wonderfully named Boston Beaneaters. On June 1, 1893 Harry had 9 RBIs, Runs Batted In, at the plate in one game, which set a record for pitchers that stood until 1966. Staley died fairly young, at 44, in 1910.
November 3, 1794
William Cullen Bryant was born November 3, 1794 in Cummington, Massachusetts. He became a very well-known Romantic poet and a long-time editor of the New York Post. He has been described as the first American poet to have an international reputation. However, he was not so popular in Jacksonville. He visited the town in 1832 to visit three of his brothers -- John Howard, Arthur and Cyrus -- who lived in Jacksonville at the time. He described Jacksonville as “a horridly ugly village, composed of little shops and dwellings stuck close together around a dingy square, in the middle of which stands the ugliest of possible brick courthouses”.
November 3, 1851
The first patient was admitted to the Illinois State Hospital for the Insane on November 3, 1851. This institution was established by the State at the urging of Dorothea Dix and with the lobbying of a group of prominent Jacksonville citizens. 160 acres were purchased for $3270 in 1847 and the first patient, Sophronia McElhiney from McLean County, was admitted in 1851. In the first 13 months of operation 138 patients were admitted. The name was later changed to the Illinois Central Hospital for the Insane, then the Jacksonville State Hospital, and it was called the Jacksonville Developmental Center when it closed in November 2012.
November 4, 1830
Gottfried Tendick was born in Germany on November 4, 1830. He came to Morgan County in 1850. Originally a shoemaker, in 1878 he learned brickmaking and started a brickyard on the site of the current Lincoln Square Shopping Center at the corner of Morton and Tendick Streets. Gottfried’s cousin, William, born in Germany in 1837, came to Jacksonville in 1878 to also become a brickmaker and his sons continued the business until 1922. With the Tendick brickyards producing bricks for 44 years, it is quite likely the vast majority of brick buildings and brick streets in Jacksonville contain many Tendick bricks in them. William’s great grandson, Ron, was mayor of Jacksonville from 1989 to 2009.
November 8, 1837
The abolitionist newspaper publisher Elijah Lovejoy was murdered in Alton on November 7, 1837. Several men from Jacksonville had met with Rev. Lovejoy the day before he was killed, including I.C. President Beecher and I.C. Professor Jonathan Baldwin Turner. The next day a protest was held on the campus of Illinois College. This tablet to commemorate the event was dedicated in 1933 and still sits on campus north and east of Beecher Hall.
November 8, 1920
The Civil War Monument in Jacksonville’s Central Park was dedicated on November 8, 1920. It took the place of a pagoda that had been in the center of the Park for a number of years. The statues were created by Leonard Crunelle and were meant to be a tribute to the soldiers of Morgan County who gave their lives in the Civil War, as well as the women who supported them at home. Crunelle was a Frenchman who immigrated to the U.S. and worked in the coal mines of Decatur, Illinois. His artistic talent was discovered by famous sculptor Lorado Taft and he became a student of Taft at the Art Institute of Chicago. His statue of Sakakawea is in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol Building and two of his statues are in Lincoln’s Tomb. The Civil War Monument had memorials added to it later for World War I and World War II.
November 8, 1838
The first locomotive on the Northern Cross Railroad, the Rogers, ran eight miles out from Meredosia and back on November 8, 1838. The Northern Cross was the earliest railroad in Illinois and eventually ran from Meredosia, through Jacksonville and on to Springfield. The Rogers was manufactured in Newark, New Jersey and reached Meredosia by riverboat. Passengers on that first ride included Governor Joseph Duncan, Murray McConnell, James Dunlap and Thomas T. January. James Dunlap was the main contractor on the railroad line. The Northern Cross was eventually absorbed into the Wabash Railroad.
November 10, 1849
On November 10, 1849, or within a few days of that date, 280 Portuguese refugees from the island of Madeira arrived in Jacksonville, where they would settle and become an integral part of the community. They were Protestants who had fled Madeira due to religious persecution, lived for a while in Trinidad, then New York City and finally both Jacksonville and Springfield Illinois. Instrumental in bringing them to Jacksonville were Augustus French, Governor of Illinois at the time; Rev. Julian Sturtevant, President of Illinois College; and the two Protestant churches in Jacksonville.
November 11, 1854
On November 11, 1854 the Morgan County Agricultural Association was chartered. The officers were Judge Stephen Dunlap as President, James Green and Col. Joseph Morton as Vice Presidents, Cyrus Matthews as Treasurer and Austin Rockwell as Secretary. The Association purchased 15 acres in the southeast part of Jacksonville from Col. George Chambers and used it to hold annual agricultural exhibitions for several years. They then sold that land in 1858 to Henry Saunderson and bought 30 acres from Col. James Dunlap. This is the land that we now know as the County Fairgrounds in the western part of Jacksonville. It was the site of a State Fair in 1860, a military camp during the Civil War and continues to serve the community as a racetrack, fairgrounds and concert venue.
November 12, 1988
On November 12, 1988 the Jacksonville High School girls volleyball team won the Illinois State Class AA Championship in Springfield. The girls, coached by Larry Sample, defeated Arlington Heights Hersey in the final match. So far, this has been the only JHS team to win a state championship.
November 15, 1976
An official ceremony was held on November 15, 1976 to open 89 miles worth of Interstate Route 72 connecting Jacksonville to Springfield, Decatur, and Champaign. The ceremony was conducted by Governor Dan Walker. The road would continue to be extended west to Hannibal and beyond after the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge was finished in 2000. In 2006 all of I-72 was named the Purple Heart Memorial Highway.
November 16, 1939
The City Lake Dam on the south fork of Mauvisterre Creek was completed and started collecting water on November 16, 1939. This was the start of what would eventually be the 900 acre Lake Jacksonville southeast of Jacksonville. The Lake was designed by Caldwell Engineering and was partially funded and built by the Work Projects Administration of the New Deal.
November 17, 1903
On November 17, 1903 James Whitcomb Riley made an appearance at the Grand Opera House at the northeast corner of the Public Square in Jacksonville. As he was advertised in the Jacksonville Daily Journal, he was a “Hoosier poet, humorist and dialect reader”. A very popular poet starting in the mid 1880s for poems such as “Little Orphant Annie” and “The Raggedy Man”, he was not to make too many more public appearances after 1903. He was in declining health and a stroke in 1910 forced him to stop traveling entirely. He died in 1916 at the age of 67.
November 18, 1904
On the evening of November 18, 1904 a meeting was held at the Jacksonville Public Library to bring the Morgan County Historical Society into existence. At that time the Jacksonville Public Library had only been open for a year and a half. 64 charter members signed the original proposal to organize. Key participants in the meeting were James G. Capps, Sammy Nichols, Dr. Carl Black, William F. Short, and Mary Turner Carriel. The forerunners of the MCHS were the Old Settlers of the County of Morgan from 1867 to 1895, and the Jacksonville Historical Society from 1884 to 1889.
November 18, 1819
James F. Jaquess was born on November 18, 1819 in Posey County, Indiana. A Methodist preacher, he became the first President of the Illinois Conference Female Academy in Jacksonville in 1848. During the Civil War he was asked by President Lincoln to secretly approach the Confederacy’s Jefferson Davis about possible terms of peace.
November 21, 1932
The Great Depression hit Jacksonville hard on November 21, 1932 when the Ayers National Bank failed. Ayers Bank, founded in 1852 by Marshall Ayers, was the largest and oldest bank operating in Jacksonville in the 1930s. In addition to the turmoil caused by the Great Depression there was also some criminal activity involved and the head of the Bank, M.F. Dunlap, and a state official, Andrew Russell, were sent to prison for their activities prior to the failure. The Ayers Bank building at the corner of the Public Square and West State Street was later sold to the Farmers State Bank and serves as their headquarters today. The Ayers name can still be faintly seen above the main door of the bank.
November 23, 1984
The Routt High School football team won the Illinois Class 1A State Championship by defeating Carthage on November 23, 1984. The team, under head coach Mike Brooks, won their final game with a score of 20-0 and that gave them a perfect season of thirteen wins, no losses.
November 23, 1971
On November 23, 1971 Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird visited Illinois College in Jacksonville to get an honorary doctor of laws degree. Laird served as Secretary of Defense from 1969 to 1973 for President Richard Nixon. His main job was to gradually disengage the U.S. from Vietnam. He was pleasantly surprised that there were no protests on the Illinois College campus for his appearance. Although he grew up in Wisconsin he noted that he had quite a few relatives living in Pike County, Illinois at the time.
November 24, 1875
On November 24, 1875 Elizabeth Ayers donated a five acre block on East State Street, the former Berean College, to the newly created Jacksonville Hospital. Mrs. Ayers, the widow of a bank owner, worked with the Rev. William Passavant, a Lutheran minister in Baden Pennsylvania, to start the hospital that would later bear his name. Jacksonville Hospital was only the 149th hospital created in the United States at that time.
November 30, 1868
On November 30, 1868 the literary society Sorosis was founded by Josephine Milligan. This was the first womens’ literary society in Jacksonville and it was patterned after a literary society that had recently been created in New York. Milligan was married to a teacher at the Illinois School for the Deaf and three out of the five other original members of the group were teachers at ISD.
December 1, 1870
Operations of the Jacksonville Street Railway Co. commenced in December 1870. The driving force behind the Company was Colonel James Dunlap. The streetcars ran east and west on State Street, and north and south on Main Street. The streetcars were electrified in 1892 when under the ownership of William and Fannie Hook, who later sold the Company in 1905 to the Illinois Traction Company. Streetcar service was discontinued in August 1930 due to competition from the automobile.
December 1, 1830
Starting in late November of 1830 and continuing until late January of 1831, the Deep Snow brought heavy snow and frequent 7 to 12 foot drifts to central Illinois. Snow covered the ground all the way through February. For many years you could not truly call yourself an “Old Settler” of Morgan County unless you had lived here through the Deep Snow.
December 2, 1952
On December 2, 1952 the Jacksonville High School Crimsons played their first game in the gymnasium on Church Street that would come to be called the Jacksonville Bowl. Coach John Chapman’s basketball team beat Pittsfield 55-39 before a crowd of 2300 fans. The Crimson team that season made it to the Elite Eight in the state basketball tournament, losing 58-57 to Pinckneyville. The Crimson High School basketball games are still played in the Bowl.
December 3, 1854
Peter Rabbitt was born on December 3, 1854, not long after his parents arrived in Jacksonville from Ireland. He became a Jacksonville policeman in 1880 and then he was appointed the city’s first chief of police by Mayor James Willard in 1887. The police force at that time was five men, including Chief Rabbitt. Rabbitt had several differences of opinion with the next mayor and was fired in 1889. He later spent some time in the Central Hospital for the Insane and then died at the young age of 41 in 1895.
December 3, 1818
On December 3, 1818 President James Monroe signed the Act admitting Illinois into the Union. Illinois was the 21st state to join the United States and Shadrach Bond was elected as the state’s first governor. The state capitol was in Kaskaskia although the next year, 1819, it was moved to Vandalia. The population of Illinois in 1818 was about 35,000 people. The name “Illinois” was the early French missionaries’ version of what they thought the Native American tribes of the area called themselves, although actually it appears the Miami-Illinois tribes called themselves the “Inoka”.
December 4, 1890
On December 4, 1890 the southbound Kansas City express train on the Chicago & Alton Railroad Line, while sitting in the station in Jacksonville, was crashed into by a westbound freight train on the Wabash Railroad Line. Two men in the sleeper car were killed -- Fred Smith, a banker in Pekin, and Judge James Rife of Kansas City. Three other men were severely injured. This is quite probably the worst train accident in Morgan County.
December 5, 1825
The first school in Morgan County started on Monday, December 5, 1825. It was taught by William Thomas in his log cabin at what is now 223 E. College Avenue. It was organized under the free school law passed by Illinois in January 1825, legislation that was introduced by State Senator Joseph Duncan, who was soon to become a resident of Jacksonville.
December 6, 1827
On December 6, 1827 the first Morgan County Courthouse burned to the ground. It was a very primitive affair, built in 1826 and located on the northeast corner of the Public Square in Jacksonville. It took several years but the community put up a large, two story brick courthouse on the southwest corner of the Public Square by 1830. This building served the county until 1868 and was frequented by prominent area attorneys such as Murray McConnel, John J. Hardin, Stephen Douglas, Richard Yates, Governor Duncan and even Abraham Lincoln. The second Courthouse was demolished in 1870 after the construction of the current Courthouse on West State Street.
December 7, 1805
Jonathon Baldwin Turner was born on December 7, 1805 in Templeton, Massachusetts. After graduating from Yale University in 1833 he joined the faculty at Illinois College to teach literature. He resigned from there in 1848, largely due to his controversial religious views. He was a passionate abolitionist, was influential in popularizing the use of the osage orange as a hedge for farms all across the MidWest, and was a key figure in the start of the University of Illinois and the federal Land-Grant Colleges Act of 1862. Turner died in Jacksonville at the age of 93 and is buried in Diamond Grove Cemetery.
December 10, 1835
It was in December of 1835 that the Ebenezer Methodist Church was started in the house of Dr. Peter Akers, a trained lawyer and traveling minister from Kentucky who had recently been the President of McKendree College. A church building was soon built on land Akers donated and in 1836 the Ebenezer Manual Training Labor School was established in the church to train men to work in the Indian missions of the time. Three young men from the Ojibwa tribe in Minnesota were sent in the first year to the School, as well as several non-Indian young men. Another church building was constructed on the same ground on what would come to be called Poor Farm Road northwest of Jacksonville in 1866. Ebenezer Church continued until November 1994 and many of the remaining members transferred to Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church. The Ebenezer Church building burned down in May 1996.
December 12, 1888
Richard Yates Rowe was born on December 12, 1888 in Jacksonville, Illinois. His great uncle was Richard Yates, the Civil War Governor. In May of 1937, Richard Yates Rowe started a life insurance company called the Valley State Protective Association in Jacksonville. Rowe continued the business despite his involvement in politics, becoming Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, Secretary of State and State Treasurer. The company grew steadily with several stumbling blocks along the way but incorporated as the Central National Life Insurance Company in 1959. Central National began offering more and more insurance products and began a series of acquisitions of other insurance companies throughout the Midwest. Then, in 1982, Deere & Company, the huge international farm implement manufacturer, decided to go into the insurance business and started by buying Central National Life. The Jacksonville based office of John Deere Life was closed in July 1995 after being purchased by Life Reassurance Corporation.
December 12, 1860
Richard Yates, Junior was born in Jacksonville on December 12, 1860. His father was Governor of Illinois during the Civil War. Yates Junior graduated from Illinois College in 1880, practiced law in Jacksonville, served as Jacksonville City Attorney and Morgan County Judge before serving as Governor of Illinois himself from 1900 to 1904. He later served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1919 to 1933.
December 15, 1833
The first services of the Methodist Episcopal Church were held on December 15, 1833 on East Morgan Street in Jacksonville. Julian Sturtevant, then a professor at Illinois College, presided over the first session and William Carter, another member of the Yale Band, became the first pastor. The 31 original members also included important Jacksonville figures such as Elihu Wolcott and Asa Talcott. The name was soon changed to The Congregational Church and, in 1859, the Church moved in to its present building at 520 West College Avenue.
December 16, 1811
At 2:15 in the morning on December 16, 1811 a tremendous earthquake shook the entire MidWest. It was named the New Madrid Earthquake, after a small town in the Missouri bootheel that was near its epicenter. There were actually four earthquakes, two on December 16, one on January 23 and one on February 12. The New Madrid Quakes were felt at least moderately over an area of about one million square miles, making them the most powerful earthquakes to strike the eastern U.S. in recorded history. The area where Jacksonville would soon be is 250 miles from New Madrid and had very little population to speak of at that time so there is no record of specific damage or injuries as a result of the earthquakes.
December 17, 1873
The Art Association of Jacksonville was organized on December 17, 1873, at the suggestion of Mrs. Ella O. Browne, an art teacher at the Woman’s College. Its mission of encouraging the study and appreciation of the fine arts was greatly aided in 1915 when the Association was given the elegant David Strawn home on West College to use as an art gallery. The organization started the Beaux Arts Ball as a fundraiser in 1957.
December 20, 1836
The morning of December 20, 1836 was reasonably warm in Morgan County but around noon the temperature plunged very quickly, quite likely 40 to 50 degrees in a couple of hours. Small animals were frozen to the ground and ponds froze over with the waves showing on the surface. There were a few human fatalities and this freak weather was very hard on livestock throughout central Illinois.
December 21, 1891
James Naismith invented the game of basketball and the first game was played on December 21, 1891 at the Springfield, Massachusetts YMCA. Among the players in the first game was Ernest Hildner. He was later to be a Presbyterian minister in Jacksonville for many years and his son was a professor of history at Illinois College. Unfortunately, Ernest’s team lost that first game!
December 21, 1866
Edward Capps was born December 21, 1866 in Jacksonville, Illinois to the family that owned the Capps Manufacturing Company. He had an outstanding academic career, graduating from Illinois College in 1887 and earning a doctorate from Yale in 1891. He taught Classical Studies at the University of Chicago, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Princeton. The president of Princeton, Woodrow Wilson, chose him to head the American Red Cross mission to Greece during World War I when Wilson was President of the United States. As a result of that experience, Dr. Capps was entrusted by the Greek government to head the archeological excavation of the Agora in Athens, a project that took decades.
December 23, 1805
Joseph Smith, Jr. was born December 23, 1805 in Sharon, Vermont. At the young age of 24 he published the Book of Mormon and began building what would come to be called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Smith led his followers to Ohio and then Missouri. The Mormons were kicked out of Missouri in 1839 and established the town of Nauvoo in Illinois on the Mississippi River. They began to create a number of satellite communities throughout central Illinois, including one near Jacksonville. Due to fear of the political power of the Latter Day Saints and some internal disputes, Smith was put in jail in Carthage, Illinois and was murdered by a local mob on June 27, 1844. Shortly after that, Brigham Young led the Church out of Illinois to Salt Lake City and their permanent home.
December 24, 1772
Barton Stone was born on December 24, 1772 in Port Tobacco, Maryland. He became a Presbyterian minister until, because of philosophical differences with the Church, he left the Presbyterians and became an influential preacher in what came to be called the Christian Church as part of the Second Great Awakening in American religion. He lived much of his adult life in Kentucky but, because he disapproved of slavery, he bought a farm south of Jacksonville, Illinois and moved there in 1834. He died at his daughter’s house in Hannibal, Missouri in 1844.
December 25, 1940
On December 25, 1940 the Times Theater opened at 231 E. State Street in Jacksonville. The building was constructed for $40,000 by Ken Childs of Streator, Illinois and had a capacity of 680 seats. Admission to the movies started out at a quarter for adults and a dime for children. After the Times was built Jacksonville had three movie theatres, since the current Illinois Theatre was built in 1938 and there was also a Majestic Theatre on East State Street. The 67 Drive-In Theatre would come to town in 1949. The Times building still stands but it is being used for other things besides movies.
December 26, 1832
The village of Meredosia was laid out by Thomas J. January on December 26, 1832. The town was named after one of the earliest European residents of the site, a French priest named Antoine D’Osia who was doing missionary work with the Indians living north of the current town’s site. The lake north of the current town was called Mere de Osia, or lake of Osia in French.
December 29, 1860
Charles Franklin Reaugh was born on December 29, 1860 in Jacksonville, Illinois, the son of George Washington Reaugh, a miner in the California Gold Rush. He moved to Texas at the age of sixteen and was to live there for the rest of his life, except for brief periods of study in St. Louis and Paris. He was a very talented painter, a significant member of the American Impressionist movement, and came to be called the Dean of Texas Painters. He ran a school of art in Dallas and was to create over 7000 works of art in his lifetime. Frank was also instrumental in starting the Dallas Museum of Art.
December 30, 1821
Samuel Willard was born December 30, 1821 in Lunenburg, Vermont. In 1831 his family moved to Carrollton, Illinois where a cholera epidemic killed his two brothers in 1833. Samuel graduated from Illinois College in 1843, where he was one of the co-founders of the Sigma Pi Literary Society. Samuel and his father Julius were arrested for their activities on the Underground Railroad and took their case to the Illinois Supreme Court, where they lost and had to pay a fine. Samuel Willard earned a degree in 1848 from the Illinois College Medical School and was later a surgeon in the Civil War. After the War he settled in Springfield, where he helped found the Public Library. He then moved to Chicago in 1870 and survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Dr. Willard died in 1913.
December 31, 1897
Frank Chester Skinner was born December 31, 1897 in Meredosia, Illinois. He joined the Meredosia Concert Band in 1914, playing the cornet. He moved on to Chicago and then New York City, looking to break in to the big time. He became a very popular composer and arranger of popular music. It is thought one-third of all the music to come out of Broadway between 1925 and 1935 was arranged by Skinner. He then moved on to Hollywood and was very successful composing music for film scores. He won five Academy Award nominations between 1938 and 1943 for his work in films. Mr. Skinner died in 1968 and is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Meredosia.
December 31, 1965
On Friday, December 31, 1965 the Harlem Globetrotters came to the Jacksonville High School Gymnasium to put on a show. As far as I can determine, this was their first visit to Jacksonville, although they were to come back many times, including 1971, 1974, 1978 and 2006. Despite their name, this team of basketball players started in Chicago in 1926. Since then, they have amused and awed crowds with their talents and antics in 26,000 games in 122 countries.
The game on New Years Eve in Jacksonville was sponsored by the Jacksonville Police Benevolent Association and would have featured some of the most famous Globetrotters, such as Meadowlark Lemon, Curly Neal, Geese Ausbie and Tex Harrison. At this point in time Wilt Chamberlain would have already moved on to the NBA and would not have been playing with the team.