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.
Most of us have pondered what things were like before we were born. Luckily for these people, we have city ordinances! This post looks at what the city laws were like for Urbana in 1898. I have chosen to feature ordinances that may be worded strangely, are oddly specific, or just seem like plain common sense.
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.
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.
If 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!
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 an 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 the 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.
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.
Sol Cohen was born on January 11, 1891, the youngest son of Nathan and Addie Cohen. Much like his father, he was enamored by music at an early age. He studied violin with Charles Foster in Urbana until 1903 when he began traveling on the weekends to study under violinist Emile Sauret at Chicago Musical College. Sauret had performed with Sol’s father, Nathan during his musical career in California.
Born on May 15, 1888, Julius Cohen was the second son of Nathan and Addie Cohen. From a young age, Julius studied music. He studied vocals with his great aunt Clara Bernetta in New York for several years. As a young man, he traveled to Budapest, Hungary, with his younger brother Sol, to study with some of the best vocalists in the world. When the United States entered World War I, Julius set aside his musical career and served with the American Expeditionary Force in France. Upon returning home, he resumed his musical career.
Sidney Cohen was born on June 26, 1885. The eldest son of Nathan and Addie Cohen, he was the only Cohen to not pursue a career in music. Instead, he studied law and spent time working first in his father’s cigar factory then at a local bank.
Addie Bernstein Cohen, a locally noted soprano often compared to Jenny Lind, was the daughter of Solomon and Fannie Bernstein, the first Jewish residents to permanently settle in Urbana in 1854. She married Nathan H. Cohen, former vaudevillian and cigar manufacturer, and had three sons: Sidney, Sol, and Julius. The Cohens were a musical family and were active in the local musical clubs and amateur theater circles entertaining Jewish and Christian groups alike.
One of the Chanute Collection’s strengths is its impressive photograph collection covering the base’s history. These thousands of photographs were gathered by base historians as well as donated by hundreds of former base personnel. One contributor was Dan Pearl. Pearl was seemingly present at all the major Chanute events during the 1970s and 1980s. After the base closed, a large number of his photographs were put on display in the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum and the Champaign County Historical Archives preserves these photographs today.
How did you celebrate Independence Day this year? For many people, the Fourth of July is a time to grab a lawn chair and watch the Champaign County Freedom Celebration Parade. For Overia Barringer it was a time to don an ornate patriotic costume and join the parade march. From 1949 to at least 1978, Barringer participated in the parade every year.
On June 24, 2019, the world lost the legendary bluegrass musician Jeff Austin at the age of 45. Austin was a founding member of the popular newgrass group Yonder Mountain String Band, and later the front man for his own group, the Jeff Austin Band. Austin was a singer, songwriter, and mandolin virtuoso. His fast and untamed style redefined what a mandolinist could do as a staple of bluegrass instrumentation. Austin’s fire, passion, and aura were ever present the moment he struck his first strings on stage. He was a rock star in a world of bluegrass and will be remembered as one of the most influential, profound, and impressive musicians in the history of the genre.
Summer is here, which has brought extra life to downtown Champaign. The warm weather means you can sit outside at bars and restaurants, see live music on the street, and attend a number of festivals. One thing you won’t find though is a pedestrian shopping mall. That version of downtown is a thing of the past, from 1975-1986 to be precise. This blog post is a walk down memory lane, or Neil Street rather.
Trees have been on my mind lately since I lost ¾ of a silver maple in my front yard during the overnight storms that hit Champaign and Urbana at the end of May. I knew the tree wasn’t in the best condition. There was at least one hollow section that housed a raccoon, but otherwise, the tree appeared healthy. Fully leafed out it provided shade to our hosta, mayapples, wild ginger and a home to several squirrel nests and possibly a possum in addition to the raccoon. Now however, the squirrels have moved to a red oak across the way, I haven’t seen the raccoon, and in a few weeks the remainder of the tree is scheduled to be taken down. I’m sad to see it go.
From 1983 to 1992, Donald Weckhorst worked tirelessly to complete an impressive pictorial history book about Chanute Air Force Base. Along with the over 300 people who donated records for the book, Weckhorst also reached out to a young self-taught artist named Norine Welk to do some drawings for the book. Welk drew ultra-realistic landscapes and portraits using ballpoint pens and colored pencils on cream-toned paper.
Among the many books in the Archives collection are some that were written or compiled by local residents. Animal Stories of Champaign County: Summer is a delightful book of selections from Champaign County newspaper articles that mention animals. It was compiled and donated by Chuck Fanakos of Tolono, Illinois.