Local History and Genealogy Blog

A Merry Christmas!

W. Lewis & Co. advertisement, ca. 1925


Eisner Food Stores

In 1870, 18-year-old Albert Eisner immigrated to the United States from his home in Hungary. Upon his arrival in New York City, he was robbed of his last $20, and so he began work, first at a tailor’s shop and eventually at a dry goods store. During the next 45 years of his life, he would make his way west, settling finally in Champaign, Illinois, where he would launch the multi-generational business that would become one of the largest food sellers in central Illinois.

Ice Scraper Workout

Well folks, it is offically ice scraper weather. Stay warm and safe this weekend. Need some cold weather preparedness tips? Here is a great list of local resources put together by the librarians in Adult Services.

Two women clearing snow off a car's windshield, 1959

Photograph by Charles Webster of Rantoul, IL, 1959, Archives 

- Sherrie, Archives Librarian  

'Grandma' Jane Patton and her Legacy

sign for Patton WoodsIn the far northeast corner of Champaign County lies a 19 acre tract of preserved forest land that has remained largely unchanged since the county’s formation in 1833. Patton Woods, or as it is formally known Grandma Jane Patton’s Timber Nature Preserve, is named after ‘Grandma’ Jane Patton (1824-1921) an early settler to east central Illinois.

Happy Thanksgiving from Local History and Genealogy!

In honor of Thanksgiving, here are some historical facts about to share at your dinner table. We hope you have a wonderful holiday, and we'll see you back at the Archives on Friday. 

  • This mayoral proclamation appeared in the Champaign Gazette and Union on November 18, 1868:

Champaign Gazette and Union, 18 November 1868, p. 1

Time for a Feast

Curious about how Champaign County celebrated food in years past? As we dive into a season of friends, family, and food, take a look at some culinary exhibits from the Local History and Genealogy department.


Peterson's Cafe, ca 1913; Champaign County Historical Society Photographs, Photograph 246a;

Champaign County Historical Archives, Urbana, IL.

Ice Skating on Crystal Lake, Urbana

Ice skating on Crystal Lake, Urbana, Illinois, February 1955


Waiting for Crystal Lake in Urbana to freeze over used to be a much anticipated winter activity in the Urbana-Champaign area, dating back to the late nineteenth century. The article below appeared in the December 12, 1898 edition of the Champaign Daily News:


Happy Halloween!

Do you recognize this smile?