Local History and Genealogy Blog

From the Mailbox: The Underground Railroad in Champaign County

Illinois Central Champaign depot, undated

Central Illinois history is often intertwined with that of railroad history. The city of Champaign, along with several other Champaign County towns and villages, were formed when the Illinois Central Railroad line was constructed in the 1850s. But, what about the secret railroad network without trains or tracks that existed in the 19th century? Before the abolition of slavery in America, the Underground Railroad was a network of safe routes and houses in the United States and Canada used by African-American freedom seekers and allies to help enslaved individuals escape to free states, and sometimes to flee the country. Abolitionists and other individuals with anti-slavery sentiments provided Underground Railroad “passengers” with food, shelter, and guidance to other “stations.”

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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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