#SmallTownSaturday – Sullivan, IL

Little Theater on the Square, located in Sullivan, Illinois

*Originally posted on July 15, 2017*

Happy #SmallTownSaturday!

Sullivan, IL (population 4,440) has welcomed some big names in theater over the years thanks to its Little Theatre on the Square. Since its debut in 1957, the theater has brought Broadway-quality performances, along with actors including Mickey Rooney and Vivian Vance, to the heart of the Prairie State. Check out our copy of Beth Conway Shervey’s The Little Theatre on the Square: Four Decades of a Small-Town Equity Theatre to explore how the stage has shaped Sullivan, this weekend’s #SmallTownSaturday feature.

Photo credit: benjamin sTone. https://www.flickr.com/photos/benchilada/4778035614Read More

#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