Local History and Genealogy Blog

Greetings from Chanute!: Maharishi Yogi’s Attempt to Buy Chanute Air Force Base

The Beatles with Maharishi Yogi in India, 1967

In 1967, the British pop sensation known as The Beatles were on top of the world. They were one of the most popular and successful bands in the history of music and released critically and publicly acclaimed albums that reflected their changing style and attitudes. One of the biggest influences on the group was their trip to India in 1968 to meet with the leader of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The group met Maharishi Yogi in 1967 during a TM seminar in Wales. This meeting was cut short due to the untimely death of The Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Throughout the remainder of 1967, group members George Harrison and John Lennon promoted TM and the teachings of Maharishi Yogi. Hoping to find spiritual guidance, The Beatles traveled to Rishikesh, India in early 1968, with Harrison and Lennon arriving first with their families, followed by other members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. The visit ended in controversy, with The Beatles denouncing Maharishi Yogi and his teachings. Some ultimately blamed this visit on the eventual breakup of the band, but it was also one of the most productive songwriting periods in their career, with the band writing nearly every track for the infamous White Album. Read more about Greetings from Chanute!: Maharishi Yogi’s Attempt to Buy Chanute Air Force Base

The Illinois Blue Books

Illinois Blue Books in Archives stacks, 1941-1958

The Illinois Blue Book, which was first published by the Secretary of State’s office in 1900, although it has predecessors that go back to 1861, is a vital reference source for state government. The modern Illinois Blue Book contains reports and information on state government, state agencies, universities, and local municipalities, while the Blue Books in the past often included original articles about Illinois government, politics, and history. Read more about The Illinois Blue Books

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?