September 3, 2014

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Leigh Morris
Virginia’s perfect day spawns an ugly storm PDF Print E-mail

It had been the perfect Indian Summer, and the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year promised to be the best day of the entire season.
In Virginia, the optimism ushered in by dawn began to change as the warmth of morning gave way to intense afternoon heat accompanied by an exceptionally strong southerly wind. Concern only grew when the wind abruptly stopped.
The eerie silence caused women to leave their kitchens and men to put aside their tools so they could look toward the heavens. The sky was blue, but the heat was oppressive. Instinctively, they knew something was wrong, very wrong.
Small groups gathered at the city’s two railroad depots, hoping the telegraph would bring some news about the strange weather. Nothing.

1883 tornado leaves death, destruction in its wake PDF Print E-mail

May 18, 1883, had turned into a day of horror as evidenced by this account in the Jacksonville Journal of May 20:
“No one reading these hastily written lines can conceive, or form but little idea of the desolate and heart-sickening sight that is presented to all who visit the scenes in and about Liter (now called Literberry). Men, women and children standing about, their homes all gone, carried away by the stormy elements, nothing left but the clothing on their backs.

A devastating tornado strikes Cass County in 1883 PDF Print E-mail

Though numerous tornadoes visited the land we call Cass County over the centuries, the county’s first verified tornado struck in May of 1845 (like many historical events, the exact date is up for debate).
It was born in Morgan County, where it destroyed a number of barns and fences. Moving into Cass County, the twister smashed a few houses and leveled  the Walnut Grove School near Princeton. Though the storm did considerable property damage, there was no loss of life.

Pioneers discover Illinois is tornado country PDF Print E-mail

Few things in nature are more terrifying or sudden, and none more violent than a tornado.
A tornado, which is part of a thunderstorm, consists of a dark funnel-shaped cloud in which rotating winds can reach speeds in excess of 300 mph. About half of all tornadoes are classed as F1 on the Fujita scale with wind speeds of 73 to 112 mph. By comparison, an F5 tornado has wind speeds of 261 to 318 mph.
The first recorded tornado in Illinois history occurred on a Sunday, June 5, 1805, racing through what would later become known as Tornado Alley.

Winter of the ‘Big Snow’ cripples Illinois PDF Print E-mail

Long before the prophets of gloom and doom predicted climate change will usher in both severe and extreme weather, Illinois experienced both severe and extreme weather.
The autumn of 1830, for instance, offered ominous signs of things to come with snows accumulating in the second half of November. Settlers had never seen snow so early. Later they would remember it as the “Winter of the Big Snow.”
On Christmas Eve, the state was hit by the season’s first big snowfall. The six or seven inches of snow deposited on Dec. 24 was but a precursor of the real havoc that awaited Illinois.

Everything changed for the worse in 1982 PDF Print E-mail

Like most industries, Schultz, Baujan & Company struggled through the Great Depression. Prosperity began to return in the late 1930s with the sales records being set during the World War II years.
The post-war years brought massive change to the nation and the milling industry was not exempted. A wave of milling industry consolidations swept across the country. Employees and townspeople alike nervously wondered whether Schultz, Baujan & Company would be a buyer or would be bought. The answer came in 1953 when Colorado Milling & Elevator acquired the firm, changing the name to Beardstown Mills Co.

Schultz, Baujan & Company: an industry giant PDF Print E-mail

A year after Thomas Beard and Enoch March platted the original town, Beard did a little boasting in a letter to his father: “We now have three large stores and a steam flour mill capable of producing 75 barrels of flour a day.” From that beginning, Beardstown would grow to international fame as a miller.

Rebirth of an Illinois treasure PDF Print E-mail

Standing in the center of downtown Springfield is a building that once heard the voices of Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, Richard Yates and many others.
Sangamon County acquired the Old State Capitol building to serve as its county courthouse after the state moved out in 1876. Over the years, the county made significant changes to the building’s interior. In 1899, the county began construction of a new first floor. This would significantly alter the building’s appearance.

Illinois builds a magnificent Capitol PDF Print E-mail

It proved easier to select Springfield as the capital city than build a suitable Capitol building.
Architect John F. Rague, who moved to Springfield in 1831, designed the new Capitol and directed its construction. This building would become the crowning achievement of his career.

From Kaskaskia to Springfield via Vandalia PDF Print E-mail

When Illinois was admitted to the Union on Dec. 3, 1818, a small frontier settlement on the Mississippi River became the first capital city.
It was the French who settled Kaskaskia in 1703. It then passed to the British, who fortified the place. George Rogers Clark and his intrepid Virginia militiamen captured Kaskaskia in 1778. Clark immediately declared Illinois to be a county of Virginia with Kaskaskia as the seat of government. The name “Kaskaskia” was taken from the American Indian tribe which had been the principal member of the Illinois confederation.


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