The Meharry Correspondence: University Sports

Throughout the month of November, we’re focusing on sports in Illinois history. Follow along here and on our social media to learn more about the games, athletes, and teams that have made an impact on Illinois. 

The C.L. Meharry correspondence in the Meharry Family Collection offers a unique look at university life and its sports in the early 1900s. Charles Leo Meharry attended the University of Illinois and graduated from the Agricultural College in 1907. During his time there, he wrote many letters to his friend and future wife, Clara Esther Burghardt (referred to as Esther in the letters) who attended Purdue University and went on to become a teacher.… Read More

#SmallTownSaturday – Macon, IL

Illinois Central Railroad #14713, a ventilated fruit car dating from 1893.

Today we’ll visit Macon, IL (pop. 1,204) for #SmallTownSaturday!

Located in central Illinois within Macon County, the city of Macon is nine miles south of the county seat Decatur. Situated in the famous corn belt of Illinois, Macon lies midway between Chicago and St. Louis. The low and level prairie was thought unfit for agriculture around its early settlement, but has since become a major producer of corn, along with hay and oats.

The foundations of Macon, and the county itself, are rooted in the development of the railroad in Illinois. In 1834, Governor Joseph Duncan proposed a train line to run through Decatur.… Read More

Arthur Sewell: Minor League Baseball at the Turn of the 20th Century

Throughout the month of November, we’re focusing on sports in Illinois history. Follow along here and on our social media to learn more about the games, athletes, and teams that have made an impact on Illinois. 

The Arthur E. Sewell Baseball Scrapbook and Photographs consist of a compilation of newspaper clippings along with loose postcards and photographs that document the minor league baseball career of Arthur Sewell during the early twentieth century. A native of Huntley, Illinois, Sewell was born in 1885 and played catcher for several teams between 1909 and 1915.

The scrapbook of Sewell’s baseball career is within the pages of a bound music book, Brainard’s Melodic School for the Violin.Read More

#SmallTownSaturday – Bishop Hill, IL

Jansonist Colony, Steeple Building, Main and Bishop Hill Streets, Bishop Hill, Henry County, IL

The story of this Western Illinois village begins across the ocean in Sweden. There, in the early nineteenth century, a Landberga farmer and flour salesman named Erik Jansson claimed to have experienced two extraordinary events. The first came when Jansson – a sufferer of rheumatism for much of his life – was plowing a field in 1830 and collapsed. Lying on the ground, he began to pray and was miraculously cured. The second event occurred during a visit to the market where Jansson, in his own words, heard the voice of Christ instructing him to “take up my cross and preach my gospel to all who will listen.”… Read More