Local History and Genealogy Blog

Resistance and Dissent at Chanute

Photograph taken of protesters at the demonstration on September 19, 1970. Vol.2 No. 8 of A Four-Year Bummer

On Saturday, September 19, 1970, a series of events led to what was hailed as a militant demonstration at the front gate of Chanute Air Force Base, leading to police engagement and general unrest. In the preceding weeks, an African American airman from Chanute was arrested on false charges in Rantoul. This arrest sparked an uprising form the 47th Student Squadron, a predominantly black squadron. The uprising that week coincided with a boycott of Dining Hall P-23. In July of 1970, 600 airmen signed a petition to improve the quality of the food at the dining hall. After the petition was ignored, a rumor circulated that hepatitis was being spread through the food served in P-23. This culminated in a boycott of the dining hall. The boycott saw three civilians and two airmen join forces to successfully dissuade the majority of the evening diners from subjecting themselves to the food. Military Police were called, and the three civilians were escorted from the base and given a strong verbal warning not to return, while the two airmen were arrested and held for two days. Read more about Resistance and Dissent at Chanute

Greetings from Chanute!: Remembering Lucy Jane Goff (1909-2002)

Lucy Goff receives achievement awardAs an archives intern, I have worked with the Chanute Collection over the last nine months processing records from the former Air Force Base and aerospace museum. In my work, I regularly handle records and documents I find of great historical interest and importance. However, due to the large amount of work that needs to be done with the collection my time is limited. These artifacts are in my hands for only a moment, yet many are worthy of more investigation and attention. Read more about Greetings from Chanute!: Remembering Lucy Jane Goff (1909-2002)

How Can You Find a Farm's Name?

The State of Illinois approved the Farm Names Act providing for the registration of farm names on June 25, 1915. It went into effect on July 1, 1915. A farmer who wanted to name his farm could register the name and a description of the land with the County Recorder for a set fee. This name could only apply to one farm in the same county. If the land was sold or divided, the name of the farm did not transfer with the deed unless stated in the transfer. A certificate with the farm name was printed for the owner. An owner could cancel the name of the farm by paying a fee and filing a notice of cancellation with the recorder. Read more about How Can You Find a Farm's Name?

From the Collection: The Counties of Great Britain - A Tudor Atlas

Book cover of The Counties of Great Britain - A Tudor Atlas by John Speed, printed 1988

Have you ever searched in Local History Online and discovered a book with a “Q” as part of the call number? The “Q” in the call number alludes to the book-sizing term, “Quarto.” Our oversized books are housed separately from the rest of our print collection, along the southwest corner of the reading room.

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Halloween at Chanute

Winners of the costume contest, Mrs. Hill and M. Sgt. R. L. Jackson pose for a photograph. Published in Chanute Field Wings on Friday, October 31, 1941.On Halloween in 1941, the Chanute Air Force Base (CAFB) saw a spooky night hosted by the Non-Commissioned Officer’s (NCO) club. “Ghosts, goblins, and broom riding witches cavorted beneath a bright harvest moon as the Chanute NCO club staged its annual Halloween Hop Saturday evening.” The event featured an award for the best costumes. The award was presented to Mrs. Hill, the wife of master sergeant Joe Hill, for her costume as Annie Oakley. Mrs. Hill’s western dress, prop gun and holster, and large ten gallon hat made for a quite compelling costume. Mrs. Hill shared the spotlight with master sergeant R. L. Jackson who humorously presented himself as “a professor of Science.” Bespectacled by horn-rimmed glasses, a professorial overcoat, and a long wig, Jackson inspired laughter amongst his fellow party goers. Read more about Halloween at Chanute

From the Mailbox: the Original Alleys of Urbana

Crane Alley, Urbana, spring 1997If you’ve spent much time walking the streets of downtown Urbana, you might have noticed that there are a few alleys with their names displayed. Crane Alley is well known not only because of the restaurant of the same name, but also due to ornate wrought iron arches at each end. There is an arch for Cherry Alley featured prominently in the landscaped walkway outside the Urbana Free Library. Lastly, there is also an iron arch with the name Fish Alley located on Race Street, between Main and Elm. You may have asked yourself: What is the story behind these alleys? Where do they get their names? These are the kinds of questions you can ask us in the Archives!

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Chanute Air Force Base Closure: 26 Year Anniversary

On this day, September 30th, twenty six years ago Chanute Air Force Base closed its doors along with several other Air Force bases across the country. Even though Chanute witnessed many changes in the United States, from the Great Depression to the technology boom in the 1980s, 1988 was the beginning of the end of an era for Chanute. It was a transition period in the United States as the Cold War came to end and Americans were encouraged to look forward to a time where military force was no longer necessary. As plans unfolded, many people feared the effect Chanute’s closing would have on the Rantoul community. For those who are just learning about Chanute today, it is difficult to imagine how much an impact the Base had on the day-to-day life in Rantoul. However, when you compare the photos here, one from 1917-1930s and the other from the 1990s, it is clear to see that when Chanute Air Force Base evolved so did the surrounding area. When the Base grew and expanded its influence so did local businesses, schools, and community groups.

Aerial photo of Chanute AFB and Rantoul, 1917-1930s   Aerial photo of Chanute AFB and Rantoul, 1990s Read more about Chanute Air Force Base Closure: 26 Year Anniversary

The Barling Bomber

Barling Bomber

Only one Wittemann-Lewis XNBL-1 “Barling Bomber” was ever built. At the time, the Barling Bomber was the world’s largest plane. According to the November 15, 1923 issue of the Rantoul Weekly Press, the plane was powered by six Liberty motor propellers (four tractor types and two puller types), 2,000-gallon gas tank, and had a top speed of 75 mph. Read more about The Barling Bomber