The March  2010 issue of the Historico is now online as a pdf. 

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(posted February 27, 2010)

    It was just 200 years ago that Illinois became a state.
     Getting there wasn't easy, as scholar David Scott will show on Tuesday, March 16, when he speaks to the Society on "How Illinois Became A State."
     The presentation, part of a series of free monthly program meetings that are open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Public Library, 326 S. Seventh Street, Springfield.
     Dr. Scott is a past president of the Illinois State Historical Society, vice-president of the Sangamon County Historical Society and chair of its Long Range Planning Committee. In his presentation, he will look at the key players in the drive toward statehood as well as their motives, and how their efforts shaped the way Illinois would be governed in the future. He intends to illustrate his talk with maps that will be distributed to audience members "to indicate when the current boundaries of Illinois were put in place."
     A retired university professor and educational policy consultant, Dr. Scott has had a long running interest in the structure of government, underscored during the six years he spent as a full-time faculty member at Northern Illinois University, where he taught courses in state and local government.
     A more broadly focused article he authored on "Illinois: From Territory to State," appeared in the November-December 2009 issue of Illinois Heritage, a magazine published six times a year by the Illinois State Historical Society.
     In a profile last year in Historico, Dr. Scott pointed out that his teaching experience at Northern Illinois University had al-lowed him to become "very familiar with the development, structure and functions of state and county governments."
     The great-grandson of the president of Ohio State University, Dr. Scott has had a life-long interest in history and historic preservation. He is a former president of the Historic Preservation Association of Springfield and served on the Mayor's Historic Sites Commission.

(posted February 27, 2010)

Salute to Barringers Set

"Soiree" Marking Ilesí 214th Birthday
In March 27 Iles House "Fun Raiser"

     Melinda Iles would have loved it!
     Which is why it seems appropriate that on behalf of the Elijah Iles Foundation, she's the one issuing the invitation to a 214th birthday "soiree" in honor of her husband, an event that's bound to be full of fun, great food, entertainment and more, promises an energetic chair Bette Franke, who with former Foundation president Dick Hart, is handling all the details.
     Expect lots of surprises, says Franke, who is keeping the wraps on what's in store for guests who will be paying $100 per person to attend the March 27 event at Iles House.
     "Since it's March, there will be lots of daffodils [the traditional March flower] in the decorations, and there will be live music by the River Ramblers Prairie Grass from Pawnee, but that's all I can tell you!" she says. "But everyone can expect to have a great time!"
     One of the highlights of the event will be a Silent Auction, but it won't be your typical fare. Bidders will get a chance to take home elegant antiques, furniture, paintings, jewelry, crystal and more, all contributed by Foundation members and supporters. "We're calling it a "fun raiser," she explains. Proceeds from the Auction and the event will help maintain and restore what is Springfield's oldest house.
     The evening will also provide an opportunity for the Foundation to honor the late Floyd S. Barringer and his family (photo at right), who have donated much of the period furnishings that are in the house. Dr. Barringer, a Springfield neurosurgeon with a life-long love of history, was instrumental in the restoration and preservation of Iles House and other historic buildings here. He was the author of numerous books about local history and played key roles in several history organizations including the  Sangamon County Historical Society of which he served as president from 1963 to 1964.
     "Floyd and Winerfred Barringer were the sparks that have fired the dreams and efforts of many in preserving Springfield and Sangamon County's historic structures. Just look around Springfield and you will see the successful results of their efforts: the Iles House and the exhibit of their wonderful collection of early Sangamon County furnishings, the Lincoln Law office, the Old State Capitol, the Freeman Hughes House, their Spring Creek farmhouse," Hart points out.
     "Floyd also left an unmatched legacy of written materials on local history--Historic Houses of Springfield, A Walk Through Oak Ridge Cemetery, an inventory of all of the Cemeteries of Sangamon County. Today, Floyd and Win's wonderful family continues their spirit of service and contribution to the Old Sangamo Country," he adds.
     Tickets are going fast, the organizers say, so if you'd like to attend, send a check to the Elijah Iles Foundation, Box 144, Springfield, IL 62705. Reservations close on March 22. And if you'd like to donate an appropriate Auction item, bring it to Paris Cleaners, 1013 East Ash, from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays. They'll store it till the auction and you'll get a receipt for the donation.

(posted February 16,2010) 
February 16 Audience Tops 100! 

Railroad Historian's Power Point Show
Details Rich History of Interurban Here

Railroad Historian Dale Jenkins speaking to the Society on Tuesday, February 16. 

        More than 100 people turned out for a Society-sponsored talk and power point show Tuesday, February 16 that traced the rise and fall of Illinois Traction System, once this area's most popular commuter and freight rail service.  The meeting was held at the Lincoln Public Library in Springfield. 
          In his opening remarks, railroad historian Dale Jenkins--who grew up about a block from the Illinois Traction Systemís Springfield terminal off Clear Lake Avenue-- recalled that as a very young child, he enjoyed watching the Interurban trains go by. Then he discovered he could stop an oncoming train "just by sitting on the tracks. " That prompted a visit from a railroad detective, Jenkins said, who issued his mother a stern warning to keep her son away from the rails. 
           It didn't work out that way.
           After high school, Jenkins joined the Illinois Traction System as a rail road police officer, eventually succeeding the very railroad detective who admonished him as a child.
            Throughout the hour-long presentation, the audience sat in rapt attention, occasionally oohing and ahhing as Jenkins projected dozens of historic photos showing the rich interiors of the passenger cars that took commuters back and forth between cities, towns, and small villages across Central Illinois. He also showed photos of passenger terminal buildings and rail lines that ran through Springfield as well as a map of the route of a sister freight line that looped around the outskirts of the city to avoid local regulations that would have otherwise hampered its operations. 
             Passenger service on the  550-mile electric interurban rail line operated here from 1895 through the mid 1950s, bringing back memories for some audience members who, in a question-and-answer session that followed his talk, asked Jenkins about specific sites they remembered seeing as children riding on the Interurban. That prompted Jenkins to show an additional set of then and now photos, including one of a large garden at Starnes, where several rail lines crossed. "They had gardens and walks, even a band," said Jenkins, pointing to the spot now fenced and covered with underbrush that had been remembered by the Interurban traveler. 
           In its heyday, the interurban was the most convenient way to travel and ship freight at at time when Central Illinois had dirt roads that disappeared in winter storms, turned muddy in spring rain, and dusty in summer.  But the growth in automobile ownership and paved roads signaled the end of commuter service, Jenkins explained. By the time it ceased operations in 1981, it had become a completely diesel powered freight-only service.
             Jenkins,  who now lives in Decatur, worked for the line for 40 years, 37 of them as a rail road police officer. He is founder and president of the Illinois Traction Society, a group that is preserving the history of the Illinois Terminal Railroad and its predecessor lines including the Illinois Traction System and has also written a book about the line. He and his wife Judy are volunteers at the Monticello Railway Museum which features displays of rail cars and other equipment as well as steam-powered train rides on weekends and holidays from May through October. Though he normally serves as a conductor, Jenkins and his wife both hold engineer licenses.
           On behalf of the Sangamon County Historical Society, director and program committee member Roger Whitaker presented Jenkins with a year's membership in the organization. 

  • Abraham Lincoln Funeral Train Monument Unveiled February 9 (posted February 9, 2010)

Station Ceremony Draws Crowd, Media, Despite Snow

FROM LEFT: Spindell listens as Mayor Davlin makes his remarks; Mayor Davlin looks at the monument; Spindell gets a close  up  the honor guard fires to the roll of the drums. BELOW: Local media were out in force to cover the event.   

     An unveiling ceremony for the new Lincoln Funeral Train Memorial Monument at Springfield's Amtrak Station, drew a large crowd of onlookers as well as the media Tuesday morning, February 9, despite snow that blanketed the area overnight and continued into the day. 
      The site, on the west side of the stationhouse at Third Street and Washington, marks the spot where the funeral train arrived in Springfield on May 3, 1865, ending a 14-day, 1,700 mile journey from Washington, D.C.
     In a brief ceremony that started inside the building, Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin praised Katie Spindell who drove the effort to have some type of historic marker placed at the station that would show where the train made its final stop. Spindell thanked the Mayor "for having enough faith in me and saying yes" to the momument project.
        Another speaker, James Cornelius, curator of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, noted the relationship between Lincoln and railroads, on which Lincoln frequently traveled. As a lawyer, Lincoln handled many cases involving Illinois railroads, serving as both a prosecuting and defense attorney, he said. As President, Lincoln recognized the importance of  the railroads to the Northern cause, creating the Military Rail Road in 1862 to support the war effort. By the end of the Civil War, the United States had the largest rail system in the world, he noted. 
      Led by two units of Civil War reenactment groups in full uniform, the ceremony then moved outdoors where Mayor Davlin and Spindell unveiled the monument followed by a ceremonial volley of rifle fire.

                                                                        * * *
     Spindell, a Sangamon County Historical Society member, designed the three foot wide by five foot high black polished granite monument that was assembled by Arnold Monument and includes an etched illustration of the Chicago & Alton rail-road Engine 58 that pulled the funeral car from Union Station in Chicago to Springfield. Engine 58 was draped with flags intertwined with crepe and bunting and other symbols of mourning. Illinois artist Elizabeth Mattingly Thacker hand etched the drawing onto the monumentís granite base.
      Spindell, a member of the board of the cityís International Visitors Commission, had for the past several years provided tourists and dignitaries with information about Springfield. She frequently found herself being asked about the location of the funeral train arrival site at what is now the Amtrak station. "Over the years, thousands--and I do mean thousands--of tourists asked me where the funeral train arrived and were disappointed to discover it wasnít designated with some type of monument or marker," said Spindell in recent Historico interview.
      The Lincoln Funeral Train attracted some eight to 10 million mourners along its route from Washington D.C. through Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Indiana, and into Illinois. Markers and memorials along the route can be found in every state.
             Spindell, who spent months researching the funeral trainís route, had sought a memorial that she said would be "elegant, simple, dramatic, and somber." The monument was installed at the site in December, awaiting for its unveiling..

           Beaumont, Springer, Catlin Tapped as Directors for Society's Board
      Three area residents have been appointed directors of the Sangamon County Historical Society to fill vacancies on the board. They are James H. Beaumont and Don Springer, both of Springfield, and Donna Catlin of Sherman.
       Beaumont, who retired as vice-president of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce in 2002, has long ties to this area. Born and raised in Decatur, his father, James, was born and raised in Springfield in a house on Eighth Street, south of the Lincoln Home.
       A graduate of Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, Beaumont earned a masterís degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City, and a masterís degree in public administration from the University of Illinois at Spring-field. Following graduation from Columbia, Beaumont worked as a reporter for the daily Des Moines Register, Iowaís largest newspaper, the first of what would be three separate vocations.
       When a family friendís job offer provided an opportunity for him to move back to Decatur, he took it, even though it meant switching careers and going back to school--to Northwestern--to receive training as a stock-broker. Beaumont began his third career in 1972, this time as an Illinois State Chamber of Commerce exec, moving to Springfield 
with his wife, Mary, and children. Family members of the Society, today the Beaumonts    have two married sons and five grandchildren.
       In 1994, he was named outstanding chamber executive of the year by the Illinois Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. The award recognized long-term professional career achievements of the candidate including experience, training and education, and service to IACCE and other professional organizations.
A self-admitted history buff, he is particularly interested in the Civil War Era, his desire to learn more piqued by a course he took at UIS taught by the late Phillip S. Paludan, a leading authority on the life and presidency of Abraham Lincoln. "I was fortunate to take Dr. Paludanís course on the Civil War Era as a senior learner at UIS the last time he taught it, and Iím still reading books to follow up on topics raised in that class." 
       Beaumont will serve as a director until 2012, filling what remains of a three year term vacated by Bill Minder.
                                                                                             * * *
       Springer, a descendant of the famed Donner family of Springfield, whose ill-fated journey west 164 years ago, has become an integral part of the history of Americaís western migration, has been a Life Member of the Society since 1966, serving on the board from 1998 to 2001.Abraham Lincoln lived across the street from Springerís great-great grand-father, the Reverend Francis Springer, who founded both Trinity Lutheran and Grace Lutheran churches in Springfield and was the cityís first superintendent of schools. 
       Springer will be discussing the Donner Familyís Trials of the Pioneer Trail, 1846 as guest speaker at the Societyís April 20 program meeting.
       Springer is currently a director of the Center for American Archeology and is a member of Sons of the American Revolution. He is also a member of the American Business Club, the Springfield Film Commission, and the University of Illinois Foundation. He and his wife Karen have two children, a daughter, Paula. and a son, Douglas.
       A financial advisor with Edward Jones, Springfield, he has been in the field for 36 years and is a founder and charter president of the Illinois Securities Industry Association. His hobbies include travel, hunting, and bridge.
       Springer will serve as a director until 2011, filling what remains of a two year term previously held by Jack Nevins.

                                                                               * * *
       A native of Springfield, Catlin was raised in Sherman, attending local schools there and in Williamsville before marrying in 1961 and moving to Normal, Illinois. 
        Before moving back to Sherman 20 years ago, she and her husband Carl, a career Navy man, traveled extensively around the world and lived in several states. But her love of local and Sangamon County history never left, says Catlin. 
       When she returned home, Catlin began what she describes as "my quest to find what history I could for the growing village of Sherman," a time-consuming project. The communityís village board and mayor have designated Catlin the honorary "Sherman Historian." 
       Catlin will serve until 2012, completing the three year term previously filled by Sarah Thomas.


Society Gives Springfield, Pleasant Plains Schools Funds for History Projects

PROJECTS--ranging from buying books about Illinois and Sangamon County history for students at the Lincoln Magnet School to support their research for the Illinois History Fair to acquiring National Endowment for the Humanities reports on 19th Century Farming that will aid Pleasant Plains Elementary School sixth graders working on projects associated with the Pleasant Plains Historical Societyís restoration of the Clayville and Broadwell Inn--were awarded $250 grants from the Society to support their efforts. Checks were presented to teachers from each school at a special ceremony January 19 at the Chatham Public Library, held prior to the Societyís monthly program meeting. Society treasurer Paul Mueller (left) and Project Committee chair Elaine Birtch (right) share the moment with (from second left), Scott Morey, treasurer of the Pleasant Plains Historical Society, Pleasant Plains Sixth Grade Teacher Debbie Green, and Lincoln Magnet School teacher Jodi Mitts.

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