August 2 Illinois History Minute
It’s August 2nd, and Illinois Governor Joel Matteson was born on this day in 1809. Although a popular and respected Democrat, Matteson is remembered today for a scandal.
In 1856, shortly before his term as governor ended, Matteson took about a quarter million dollars’ worth of canal scrip ---payments made in lieu of cash to workers on the Illinois and Michigan Canal --- and cashed it in for himself.
Matteson was out of office when his misdeed was discovered. A grand jury voted against an indictment, and Matteson never admitted guilt. But family property was auctioned off to partially pay for the state’s losses.
Also on this day in 2001, Governor George Ryan signed a bill establishing Drummer Silty Clay Loam as the official state soil of Illinois. It’s named for Drummer Creek in Ford County.