Wednesday, August 26, 2009

89th Anniversary of 19th Amendment

Today's the 89th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution giving women the right to vote.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Many states had already allowed women to vote in state or local elections, including Illinois, which was the first state to ratify the 19th.

One of the earliest, if not the first, woman elected in Southern Illinois was Emma Rebman, county superintendent of Johnson County. Her 1912 biographical sketch in the G. W. Smith's History of Southern Illinois tells the story.

On her return to Illinois in the spring of 1910, Miss Rebman's large circle of acquaintances were glad to take advantage of the opportunity of offering her an important office of public trust. She was elected superintendent of Johnson County schools, by the largest majority any nominee of the county had ever received. The heavy duties of her office have been discharged with exceptional efficiency and a rare quality of discrimination which is the result of her wide experiences, keen pedagogical instinct and her logically practical mind.

In addition to her educational expertise, she's probably better remembered today for her homeplace. She operated Ferne Clyffe as a private campground which she later sold to the Greater Egypt Association following World War II to hold until the state could purchase it for a state park.

Monday, August 10, 2009

New Book, New Human Remains at Cahokia Mounds

The idea that the residents of the ancient metropolis at Cahokia Mounds were somehow more civilized than their blood-thirsty cousins south of the border takes a major hit in a recent new book as the Chicago Tribune reports

Exhibits at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site near Collinsville have shown ancient peoples as hunters, fishers and pottery makers.

But Tim Pauketat's new book highlights a darker side, saying it appears they also practiced large-scale human sacrifices.

The book is Cahokia: Ancient America's Great City on the Mississippi. The link above is to a much longer story in the Belleville News-Democrat.

Meanwhile in related news, construction crews uncovered 800 to 900-year-old human remains last week while digging a foundation for a new home in Collinsville. Experts believe them to be from the Mounds civilization.

IHPA To Remain Free, Independent & Improverished

Gov. Pat Quinn signed House Bill 88 into law last Friday which represents a legislative pardon for plans to merge the financially-strapped Illinois Historic Preservation Agency with the Department of Natural Resources.

The bill was titled the "Lieutenant Governor Vacancy Act" and mostly dealt with issues from the elevation of Quinn to the governorship. Under Illinois' Constitution, no replacement is named for the lieutenant governor's seat when it becomes vacant. However, by statute certain programs are assigned to the office.

The bill also transfers the Illinois Main Street program from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity back to the lieutenant governor's office.

Now we'll wait to see what happens.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

1905 Boeheim House Recognized in DuQuoin

The DuQuoin Historic Preservation Commission recognized Jane Minton last week with its historic preservation award for her home her grandfather grandfather built in 1905.

The DuQuoin Evening Call as the story.

The home is located at 223 E North Street in DuQuoin, Illinois.

Congratulations Minton and the DuQuoin Historic Preservation Commission.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Bloody Williamson Firepower Returns

Two keys pieces of the firepower used during the days of Bloody Williamson have returned to Southern Illinois for the first time in more than 80 years.

S. Glenn Young was famous for his Thompson machine gun, his World War I era rifle, and his pearl handed revolvers. As head spokesman and gunman for the Ku Klux Klan in this area from 1923 to January 1925, Young ranks was one of the leading figures of that violent era.

Two of his weapons were recently bought from his daughter and grandson, the latter I had the opportunity to meet in June. Look for an announcement or two in the next few weeks as to what museum will take them on display.

I know the answer of course, but it's not my place to make the announcement. The revolver was last fired on the night Young was killed.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Lincoln's Breakfast in Southern Illinois

In the process of cleaning up my office I found a couple of Springhouse magazines I had set aside for the articles inside.

One dealt with "Bloody Herrin", a pro-Klan pamphlet by Rudolph Lasker published in 1925 shortly after the great European Hotel shootout that killed Klan gunman S. Glenn Young, anti-Klan leader Ora Thomas (who was also the chief deputy sheriff at the time), and two of Young's gunmen.

As a journalist you always want to get both sides. The same is true as a historian, but I have to admit it's been a bit strange for me this summer to talk with the grandsons of both men, at least one of whom killed the other (the grandfathers, not the grandsons). As to which one killed whom, that's debatable as both sides published their version of what happened that January night in 1925.

As to what I think happened, you'll have to read my new book coming out this fall, War in Egypt: Southern Illinois in the Days of Bloody Williamson.

As to the second issue of Springhouse I found in my stacks of books and articles, it was Gary DeNeal's, "My Very Own Lincoln Discovery" from the Vol. 2, No. 6 issue in 2005. What I found interesting was a Lincoln in Southern Illinois story Gary thought he'd seen no where else, which I agree with him.

The story came from J. W. Watson, an artist and writer who told his story to the North American Review, the first literary magazine published in the United States back in 1815. Watson's recollections were printed in November 1888 under the headline "With Four Great Men".

...[Lincoln] related how, when he was a young man, after traveling all night, cramped up in a stage, in southern Illinois, he stopped at a small wayside Inn, where he had fried chicken, buckwheat cakes and coffee for breakfast.

"Such coffee, sir I have to say nothing of the buckwheat cakes and chicken, I had never before tasted. It was delicious, and as I found out afterward was simply made from parched rye."