'Czech' this out!

Czech National Hall in Edwardsville, John Deere's legacy     Send a link to a friend

[DEC. 27, 2003]  SPRINGFIELD -- The Czech National Hall in Edwardsville and John Deere's legacy in Illinois are featured in the latest issue of Historic Illinois, a publication of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

The 1906 Narodni Sin was built in Edwardsville to preserve the native language and traditions of Czech immigrants who had settled in the area since 1851. The first Czechoslovak Protective Society was founded in St. Louis in 1854, and Jan Kalal opened an Edwardsville chapter in 1875. The lure of coal mining drew so many Czechs to the area that in 1881 a two-story building was purchased for a lodge, but that was soon outgrown as well. Society members raised funds to buy property and construct a new building, which was dedicated in 1906. The Edwardsville Narodni Sin was used as a sort of ethnic YMCA, with physical fitness and cultural activities, meeting space, and educational areas.

Society membership declined as coal mines closed, resulting in the sale of the building in 1971. However, it was purchased by the granddaughter of the Narodni Sin's builder, who has renovated the structure and opened it for commercial use.

The article was written by Jacob Baska, IHPA publications intern.

John Deere's legacy

The amazing success story of John Deere, a Vermont blacksmith who moved to Illinois with only $73 in his pocket and established the world's largest agricultural equipment firm, is the subject of another article.

Taking an old saw blade, Deere fashioned it into a steel plow, tested it at a nearby farm and found the device worked like a charm. He began to produce more of these steel plows in 1837. In 1840 he made 40 plows selling for $10 each; six years later, his business produced 1,000 plows, and Deere found it necessary to move to Moline to accommodate the rapidly expanding industry he started.

He was elected mayor of Moline in 1873. Never forgetting his humble beginnings, Deere made many charitable contributions later in life.

Deere's home and shop in Grand Detour and his home in Moline may still be visited, and the company he started now sells green and yellow farm machines to more than 160 countries.

The article was written by Andrew Cheatham, IHPA publications intern.

Historic Illinois is a bimonthly IHPA publication that features historically significant sites in Illinois. Subscriptions are $10 per year, which includes six issues of Historic Illinois and a full-color calendar. To subscribe, call (217) 524-6045, or write to:

Historic Illinois
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
1 Old State Capitol Plaza
Springfield, IL 62701-1507

[Illinois Historic Preservation Agency news release]


Previous article

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor