In his entertaining book "This Day in
Illinois History," author Jeff Ruetsche writes, "There's much to learn in
the wondrous state of Illinois." Here's a sample:
January and February
On Jan. 23, 1818, the Illinois territorial delegate to the United States
Congress convinced the legislative body to change the territory's northern
border by an additional 40 miles. Although the Illinois border was described
as part of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, Nathaniel Pope pushed for
approval of the border change. The reasoning? To give Illinois a presence on
Lake Michigan for trade and commerce.
On Jan. 28, 1922 -- almost 50 years after the fact -- Spring Grove farmer
Fred Hatch was credited with inventing and constructing the nation's first
vertical silo. Built in 1873, the silo measured 10 feet wide by 24 feet tall
and was filled 46 times before its demolition in 1919.
On Feb. 8, 1910, William D. Boyce of Ottawa founded the Boy Scouts of
America. Boyce's inspiration came as a result of a London, England, trip
during which an anonymous British Boy Scout guided him safely through a bad
patch of the city's notorious fog.
March and April
The legendary Wyatt Earp was born in Warren County on March 19, 1848.
Earp is best known for his participation in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Less known is the fact that Earp's father was convicted of bootlegging and
tax evasion in Monmouth in 1859 and the family was run out of town.
A pivotal moment in the state's Native American history occurred on April
7, 1832, when the Sauk warrior Black Hawk invaded Illinois to reclaim lands
he believed to be stolen from his people. The episode became known as the
Black Hawk War and was the final conflict of the old Northwest territory.
On April 24, 1886, Pope Leo XIII ordained Augustus Tolton of Alton,
making him the first African-American priest in the United States. He later
established St. Monica's Church in Chicago, the hub of the city's black
May and June
The rock 'n' roll era began in Chicago on May 21, 1955, when Chuck Berry
recorded his classic hit, "Maybelline." The session at the Chess Records
studio gave rise to the formula for rock success -- sizzling guitar work,
teenybopper lyrics, and a big-beat sound from a great backup band.
On June 12, 1924, one of the biggest train robberies in American history
took place at Roundout. The Newton gang was the perpetrator of the $2
million robbery and was captured a few days later. The robbery was later
immortalized in the Steve McQueen movie "The Getaway."
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July and August
July 14, 2001, marked the airing of the final episode of "Bozo's
Circus." The show featured Bozo the Clown, Cooky the Cook and
Ringmaster Ned and was the longest running children's show in
American television history. At one point Bozo's Circus had a
10-year waiting list for tickets.
On Aug. 30, 1924, a bitter rivalry in southern Illinois
culminated in bloodshed -- the shootout between the Shelton gang and
members of the local Ku Klux Klan. Despite the Klan's vow to "clean
up the area," the Prohibition-era gang war resulted in five dead
Klansman and an escalation of bootlegging-related violence.
September and October
Before there was Beatlemania there was George Harrison's
impromptu performance at a birthday party in Franklin County. On
Sept. 29, 1963 -- five months before the band's appearance on "The
Ed Sullivan Show" -- Harrison jammed with local rockers The Four
Vests while visiting his sister in Benton. While in Illinois
Harrison purchased his Rickenbacker guitar in a Mount Vernon music
On Oct. 25, 1917, a landmark case of the Supreme Court ended
legalized residential segregation in Illinois and the United States.
Hansberry v. Lee reversed the practice preventing African-American
citizens in Illinois from owning residential property. The case was
the inspiration for the play "A Raisin in the Sun" (author Lorraine
Hansberry was the defendant's daughter).
November and December
The debut of one of America's most popular newspaper comic strips
occurred on Nov. 15, 1907. Mutt and Jeff was the creation of Chicago
cartoonist Bud Fisher and was syndicated in William Randolph
Hearst's newspaper; the comic duo also inspired more than 300
Hollywood short films.
Scientific history was made on Dec. 2, 1942, when the atomic age
was born in a nondescript laboratory below a Chicago football field.
Physicist Enrico Fermi and his research team successfully tested the
world's first controlled nuclear chain reaction. Their research led
to the development of the atomic bombs used to end World War II.
"This Day in Illinois History" is a fascinating book and is
recommended to history buffs, students of all ages and anyone
wishing to increase their knowledge about the state of Illinois.