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!

May 9 Illinois History Minute

It’s May Ninth. Illinois Republicans held their state convention in Decatur on this day in 1860, and endorsed Abraham Lincoln for president. The convention introduced Lincoln’s “Rail splitter” nickname, with his cousin, John Hanks bringing two fence rails that he said were among thousands the two of them had split in their youth.

May 6 Illinois History Minute

It’s May Sixth. And on this day in 1856, the steamer Effie Afton collided with the Rock Island Railroad Bridge, spanning the Mississippi River at the Quad Cities.

May 4 Illinois History Minute

It’s May Fourth, the anniversary of the 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago’s Haymarket Square. Police were breaking up a labor rally in support of an eight-hour workday when someone threw a bomb. The explosion and gunfire that followed killed at least four civilians and seven police officers. Eight people were convicted in connection with the riot, four of whom were executed.

May 2 Illinois History Minute

It’s May 2nd, the day that Columbia Pictures released the movie “Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling”, directed by, and starring Illinois native Richard Pryor. Pryor based the movie on his own turbulent life and filmed the childhood scenes on location in his hometown of Peoria.

April 29 Illinois History Minute

It’s April 29th, and on this day in 1959, Governor William Stratton signed a bill making summer daylight saving time uniform and mandatory throughout Illinois. Illinois joined a small but growing number of states pushing their clocks one hour ahead from mid-spring to mid-fall. Some downstate legislators had opposed mandatory daylight saving time. They accused Chicago lawmakers of pushing them around.

April 28 Illinois History Minute

It’s April 28th, and on this day in 1941, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Illinois Congressman Arthur Mitchell, in a case involving Jim Crow laws and interstate travel.

April 27 Illinois History Minute

It’s April 27th, the day in 1790 that St. Clair County was organized in what was then the Northwest Territory of the United States. The county originally took up most of present-day Illinois. After Illinois became a state, a much smaller St. Clair County became one of its first organized counties. Today, it’s part of the Metro East suburbs of St. Louis, and includes the cities of East St. Louis and Belleville.

April 26 Illinois History Minute

It’s April 26th, the day that Quad Cities settler David Benton Sears was born in New York State in 1804. Sears is considered the founder of Moline, which is one of the Illinois Quad Cities. He came to the area in 1837, after the Sauk and Fox tribes had been forced out in the Black Hawk war.