September 3, 2014

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Winter of the ‘Big Snow’ cripples Illinois

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

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

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

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

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.

More Good Rules For Life

It’s only January 2nd, but how many of your New Year resolutions are already broken? Well, cheer up! Here are more good rules for life from Charles J. Sykes, “50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School.”
Rule 26: A moral compass does not come as standard equipment. People do not always naturally know right from wrong, and your feelings are not a reliable guide to moral and ethical conduct. H. L. Mencken once described conscience as “the-mother-law whose visit never ends.”

From Kaskaskia to Springfield via Vandalia

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.

Some Good Rules For Life

With New Year resolutions fast approaching, I’ve finished reading a most useful book, Charles J. Sykes, “50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School.” These rules aren’t entirely for school kids as yours truly falls short on a number of “rules.”
On January 31, 1986, Ronald Reagan spoke to the nation at the memorial service after the space shuttle Challenger disaster. He reminded us that: “All human progress is a struggle against the odds. We learned again that this America, which Abraham Lincoln called the last best hope of man on Earth, was built on heroism and noble sacrifice…. We think back to the pioneers of an earlier century, and the sturdy souls who took their families and their belongings and set out into the frontier of the American West. Often, they met with terrible hardship. Along the Oregon Trail you can still see the grave markers of those who fell on the way. But grief only steeled them to the journey ahead.”

When it comes to ice, we’re tops

All but the newest arrivals to Central Illinois are certain this region receives more than its fair share of tough winter weather. And they are right.
When it comes to ice, Central Illinois is second to none. That’s what the scientists at the Prairie Research Institute of the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) discovered.
“Central Illinois has the distinction of being in the nation’s primary area for severe freezing rain (ice) storms,” the ISWS stated. Of course, this is not something the tourism, real estate or chamber crowd care to acknowledge let alone brag about.

Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

This is a story about faith, love, beauty and romance.
In 1897, little Virginia O’Hanlon wrote the following letter to the New York Sun:
“I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Pap says, ‘If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”
Virginia’s letter was given to Francis P. Church, a childless editor who wrote the following magical editorial response to Virginia’s letter.