Illinois History Minutes

As WILL-AM celebrates a century of being on the air, we are sharing a minute-long snippet of Illinois history every weekday in 2022. This daily feature includes memorable people, places and events of that helped shape the prairie state.

Hosted by Illinois Public Media reporter Jim Meadows, the minute of Illinois History will air on WILL-AM/FM at 7:42 a.m. during Morning Edition and 5:32 p.m. during All Things Considered; as well as on WILL-AM in the 1 o'clock hour of Here & Now and at 8 o'clock in the evening. We've also made them available below for all of you history buffs!

September 27 Illinois History Minute

It’s September 27th, and Blackstone the Magician was born in Chicago on this day in 1885. Born Henry Boughton, the man who became Harry Blackstone gained fame as a magician and illusionist, not only on stage, but also in comic books, on the radio, and even in TV commercials.
 

September 26 Illinois History Minute

It’s September 26th, the day in 1833 that the second Treaty of Chicago was signed by the United States and the Potawatomi and related tribes. It required the Potawatomi to move west to new reservation lands in the Kansas Territory. The actual removal happened five years later, and by this day in 1838, more than 800 Potawatomi members were traveling on what came to be known as the Potawatomi Trail of Death.

September 23 Illinois History Minute

It’s September 23rd. And more than a hundred-thousand people filled Chicago’s Soldier Field on this day in 1927 to watch the rematch between heavyweight boxers Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney. This was the fabled “long count” fight, in which Dempsey’s delay in staying in a neutral corner gave Tunney five extra seconds to recover from a knockdown. Tunney went on to win the bout, ending Dempsey’s prizefighting career.
 

September 22 Illinois History Minute

It’s September 22nd, the day in 1952 that the University of Illinois put its ILLIAC One computer online. The two-ton computer --- powerful for its time --- was the twin of the ORDVAC computer the U of I had built for the U-S Army. ILLIAC One was the first computer built and owned by an American educational institution.

September 21 Illinois History Minute

It’s September 21st, and on this day in 1901, a University of Illinois freshman resorted to gunfire to ward off a hazing attack. E. Clyde Conard fired a gun when upperclassmen threatened to cut off his mustache at the campus Dining Hall. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

September 20 Illinois History Minute

It’s September 21st, and on this day in 1901, a University of Illinois freshman resorted to gunfire to ward off a hazing attack. E. Clyde Conard fired a gun when upperclassmen threatened to cut off his mustache at the campus Dining Hall. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

September 19 Illinois History Minute

It’s September 19th, marking the start in 1813 of the Peoria War, a month of fighting during the War of 1812, between U-S Army troops and Potawatomi and Kickapoo tribes living in the area of modern-day Peoria. The Potawatomi and Kickapoo defeat was one step in the U-S push to move native tribes out of Illinois.

September 16 Illinois History Minute

It’s September 16th, and on this day in 1836, Free Frank McWorter platted the town of New Philadelphia in Pike County, becoming the first African-American to found a town in the United States. New Philadelphia was built on 80 acres in western Illinois that McWorter bought from the federal government for 800 dollars. The town had close to 160 inhabitants by the end of the Civil War. But after being bypassed by a railroad, New Philadelphia gradually reverted to farmland.

September 15 Illinois History Minute

It’s September 15th, a day when some 1500 people turned out in the southern Illinois town of Jonesboro for the third debate between U-S Senate candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. The two continued their arguments over whether to allow slavery in new territories. Douglas called Lincoln an abolitionist who opposed letting voters in each new state decide the slavery question for themselves.  Lincoln said Douglas’ views ran counter to the founding fathers’ expectations that slavery was on the road to extinction.

September 14 Illinois History Minute

It’s September 14th, the day in 1812 when Gallatin County was formed in what was then the Illinois Territory. Gallatin once covered a quarter of southern Illinois, although its territory shrank during the 19th century, and its population is now below five-thousand. It’s a county where slavery was once permitted. The first Illinois constitution made allowed the temporary use of enslaved labor at the salt works near the Gallatin county seat of Shawneetown.