Illinois History Minutes

March 18 Illinois History Minute


It’s March 18th, the day that Jacob Bunn was born in New Jersey in 1814. Jacob and his younger brother John Whitfield Bunn moved to Springfield where they opened a wholesale grocery business, as well as many others, from insurance to pocket watches. They were close friends and political supporters of Abraham Lincoln. The Bunn-O-Matic coffee machines seen in convenience stores and office breakrooms were spun off from the Bunns’ original grocery business.

That’s singing cowboy Gene Autrey harmonizing with sidekick Smiley Burnett, who also wrote that song, and hundreds of others. Burnett, original name Lester, was born on this day in 1911 in rural Fulton County. He was nicknamed Smiley while performing on the radio in Tuscola – before moving on to Hollywood.