#SmallTownSaturday – Cherry, IL

Crowd at the mouth of the Cherry mine shaft

This week we’ll be visiting Cherry, IL (pop. 461) for #SmallTownSaturday!

The village of Cherry was named after James Cherry, the superintendent of St. Paul Mining Company, and began primarily as a mining site. The mine attracted workers from around the world, and by 1909 more than 80% of Cherry’s mine workers were first generation immigrants.

On November 13, 1909 at around approximately 1:30 p.m., the Cherry mine became the site of the nation’s third most deadly mining disaster. The mine had three levels, or veins, although the first was inoperable. The second and third veins were only accessible to each other via wooden ladders.Read More

#SmallTownSaturday – Bishop Hill, IL

Colony Church in Bishop Hill, IL

*Originally posted on July 1, 2017*

Today is our first #SmallTownSaturday feature! Bishop Hill, IL.

In 1846, spiritual leader Erik Jansson guided a group of Swedish settlers in pursuit of religious freedom to Illinois, where they established a small communitarian society that came to be known as Bishop Hill. Although the colony disbanded fifteen years later in 1861, the cultural and historical legacy of the Janssonist community endures.

Bishop Hill (population 128), a National Landmark Village, celebrates its Swedish heritage with events like its annual Julmarknad (Christmas Market) and Midsommar Music Festival. Learn more about this #SmallTownSaturday feature from our collection of Bishop Hill Colony correspondence, or enjoy a piece of Bishop Hill’s cultural heritage by flipping through the pages of our copy of The Art of Olof Krans: A Prairie Vision.Read More

#SmallTownSaturday – Dixon, IL

1909 postcard of Front Street in Dixon

For this week’s #SmallTownSaturday we’re travelling to Dixon, Illinois (pop. 15,135)! This town is situated along the Rock River in northern Illinois in what is known as the Rock River Valley region.

Before white settlers moved into Illinois’ Rock River region, it was home to various indigenous groups, the oldest known being the Illini. Eventually the Illini were driven further south by a coalition of other indigenous tribes, mainly the Sauks and Foxes. These indigenous tribes lived along the  Rock River and prevented white settlers from fully inhabiting the region. It was not until the end of the Black Hawk War in 1832 that this region was truly open to settlement by non-indigenous peoples.Read More

#SmallTownSaturday – Introduction

1864 Johnson and Ward’s Map of Illinois

*Originally posted on June 28, 2017*

This Saturday, we are beginning our #SmallTownSaturday series!

When we think of Illinois history, we most commonly think of the Prairie State’s big cities, rife with big events: Chicago’s riots, rallies, fires, and fairs; Springfield’s Lincoln landmarks; Champaign-Urbana’s University scene. Often, we tend to overlook the equally significant cultural heritage, historical events, and notable figures of the small towns in Illinois.

Through our Small Town Saturday series, we hope to introduce you to some of the lesser known yet noteworthy stories from our state’s past while celebrating the small towns where they unfolded.Read More