#SmallTownSaturday – Farmer City, Illinois


Welcome back to Small Town Saturday! This week, we’ll be looking at Farmer City Illinois.

Farmer City, a small town in DeWitt County Illinois, had a complicated early life. The first town in the area was founded by a man by the name of Dennis Hurley, who arrived in 1830. He named the area “Hurley’s Grove,” though this name would not last long. Hurley would severely injure himself with the ramrod of his gun shortly after settling in the region. He was followed by Nathan Clearwater and Richard Kirby, with 9 families living in the area by 1835.

By 1837, 19 families lived in Hurley’s Grove.… Read More

The Danville Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers

In March of 1865, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill establishing the National Asylum (later renamed National Home) of Disabled Volunteer Soldiers into legislation, just three months before his assassination. Due to the severe impact of the Civil War, the idea of homes for disabled veterans had begun gaining favor in Congress. The war had a severe impact on the population of young men in the United States, with approximately two percent of the US population losing their lives and thousands of soldiers returning home injured.

A black and white portrait of an older man with a short white beard, wearing a suit jacket and bow-tie.
Joseph Gurney Cannon portrait by Hartsook Photo, 1915

After the bill establishing the National Home was signed into law, the federal government began selecting locations for branches.… Read More

#SmallTownSaturday – Princeton, Illinois

After a few short years of hiatus, #SmallTownSaturday is back!

This month, we are looking at the town of Princeton in Bureau County, Illinois. The county was established in 1837, with Princeton as the county seat.

Figure 1: Bird’s eye view of the city of Princeton, Bureau County, Illinois circa 1870s

Princeton was formed in the early 1830s as a transplant colony for the Hampshire Colony Congregational Church of Northampton, Massachusetts. It became a stop of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad in the 1850s and began expanding quickly. Abraham Lincoln himself stopped in Princeton in 1854. Lincoln gave a well-attended speech in Bryant Woods on the Fourth of July 1854.… Read More

From Free Soil to Free Silver: US Political Parties of the 19th Century

The 19th century was a period of substantial party instability in American politics. New parties emerged, vanished, merged, and succeeded, altering the shape of the American political discourse. The Illinois Historical and Lincoln Collections has a special pop-up exhibit on display that highlights some of these political parties. Drawing on several of our archival collections and cataloged material, the exhibit contains pamphlets, election tickets, broadsides and other items produced by the parties of the 19th century, their partisans, and their opponents. The exhibit will be on display for the remainder of the Fall 2022 semester.… Read More