Spent the weekend reading a history of my father’s family’s travels from Massachusetts in 1640 to Ohio after fighting in the Revolutionary War to Indiana after the War of 1812 to Illinois after the Civil War.
One wrote home to his parents that he and his comrades wept for the first time in that great conflict upon hearing that Lincoln had been assassinated.
My great grandfather settled in Watseka around 1904. My mom’s family was last to arrive to the US - from Germany - but first in Illinois, farming in Highland in the late 1800’s.
My wonder at the struggles and hardships of those who carved this frontier into a home for themselves never ceases.
Over the past 200 years, Illinois, along with the other states which formed the Northwest Territories, was seen as the place to create a new world without European ties. Settlers came across the Appalachians and down the Ohio River to establish new communities untethered by old wealth, with opportunities to create new wealth.
Utopian societies arrived in Illinois territory to recreate social order from new beginnings. Religious societies were established in Nauvoo, Bishop Hill, Jubilee, New Harmony and other wilderness outposts. Towns were named after famous world cities such as Vienna, Canton, Berlin, Athens, Bath, Havana and New Salem pointed to a new American beginning. France gave Illinois its name and first settlements. Illinois was where it was believed that a new world was to be built.
Illinois isn’t just an American heartland place geographically, Illinois is where the great new American experiment began. We celebrate 200 years of new beginnings in a place uniquely blessed with golden soil, deep peaceful rivers, bountiful rainfall and unbridled energy.
Many thoughts, but it really would have been something to see the land before the Deere plow and McCormick reaper transformed the wild country into today’s corn and bean fields.
Pere Marquette in his diaries described the Illinois River Valley as the most abundant and beautiful land he saw on his explorations with Joliet, an ocean of tall prairie grass as far as the eye could see, teeming with wildlife.
Our histories and roots are deep and varied. Taking the time to make connections between our past and present is its own form of time travel. What we learn from that travel will inform our futures. I just finished a couple of George Godfrey’s books about his family’s history, but not until today did I know how that history was connected to Watseka (want to learn more, use the Google).
Chicago has its own connections to the same past, as WBEZ posted last week-
This state’s abundance in every way still manages to overcome the man made challenges we saddle it with. Our state endures and inspires love at it’s best and it’s worst. Let’s resolve to celebrate her bounty.
Rabid, your post is simply false. Lincoln encountered no Native Americans in the Blackhawk War.
Your post also makes no sense — “driving native women and children off their reservation.” Give it a think.
The Blackhawk War is quite a yarn. You should read about it.
- Collinsville Kevin - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 10:26 am:
1818 saw our founding Illinois, Illinois
By the waters gently flowing Illinois, Illinois.
That’s all I remember from the third grade.
- NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 10:43 am:
In spite of the consistent and pervasive practice of government mismanagement, the people of Illinois have accomplished much that is good. It would be great if we all dedicated ourselves to throwing off the yoke of political bondage in the next election and instead start our next 200 years with elected officials who represent all the people and not just their cronies.
Remember when Governor Shadrach Bond threatened to veto the State Bank Act? Well of course the General Assembly went ahead and created it anyway and, sure enough, it failed, just as Bond predicted. Rumor has it that the whole State Bank imbroglio is what prompted Madigan to move the state capital from Bond’s home town of Kaskaskia to Vandalia, just out of spite.
That was back when Rich had to write the Fax by hand, walk it to the Capitol and post it on the board. I remember what a pain it was to travel all the way to the Capitol to comment, only to find that Wordslinger or Willy or someone else already wrote what I was going to say. The more things change, the more they stay the same. But those were good times.
I remember in grade school having to do a social studies report of the history of Illinois (fun) including listing every politician (not fun). My cover page was an Illinois map with a few pictures to signify areas (like tall buildings for Chicago). Far Southern Illinois was represented by a giant oil rig. You’d think it was Texas down there the way I drew it.
With the third pick of the 1984 NBA draft, the Chicago Bulls select Michael Jordan.
- Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 1:45 pm:
Never understood early descriptions of Illinois until I hunted in head high switch grass.
One of my great grandmothers walked here behind a covered wagon from Iowa. Central Illinois had been bypassed as swamp land. I still marvel at the work it took to tile and drain the fields using hands and horses.
Not sure how we got multi-member districts in 1870, but wish we still had them.
my mistake, driving women and children off to their reservation, Lincoln joined to wipeout the Indians. chief white cloud hangs in the whiteside county courthouse, overlooking white mans justice, or your can see him in the bath tissue isle. Home is worth fighting for