Manny’s reaper, from the Official Retrospective Exhibition of the Development of Harvesting Machinery for the Paris Exposition of 1900

Source: Official Retrospective Exhibition of the Development of Harvesting Machinery for the Paris Exposition of 1900.

Grand Army of the Republic

Postcard  Logan Fife and Drum Corps Rockford, Illinois leading the parade at the National G.A.R. Encampment, Des Moines, Iowa September 1922

Source: Postcard property of Rockford Public Library Patron


Life of Lincoln, by John Carroll Power, c. 1872, pub 1889


Lincoln - 1

Lincoln - 2

Lincoln - 3

Lincoln - 4

Lincoln - 5

Lincoln - 7

Lincoln - 8

Lincoln - 9




Illinois Historical Markers – Rockford

Source: Illinois Historical Markers; a Guide   R 917.73 G946

The book covers the entire state. This is the page on Rockford.

Illinois Historical Markers


Black Hawk War, The – Thomas S. Johnson

Black Hawk War

Black Hawk War 2

Story continues. Issues of Nuggets of History are available to Rockford Public Library’s Local History Dept.

Source:  Nuggets of History, Vol. 45, No. 4, December 2007

Illinois Central Railroad

Illinois Central Railroad

The wages were $1.25 a day to build the railroad

It was completed September 27, 1856, taking five years to construct

705 mile railroad

Connected the northern, southern and central parts of the State

The city of Centralia was named after the Illinois Central Railroad

Later, four additional railroads were built east to west

It expanded the social, political, and economic climate of the State

The 1836 legislature granted a charter to build a railroad from Cairo to Galena

$3.5 million was set aside from the State for the building of a central railroad

The work was halted by the financial panic of 1837

The concept was kept alive by Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas

The 1850 Douglas Act was signed by President Fillmore

The bill called for Illinois to receive Federal land to build a central railroad

4000+ miles were made available

The State granted the charter to the Illinois Central Railroad Company

2.5 million acres were transferred to the company

The railroad would have to pay 7% shipping tax

The groundbreaking was at Cairo, IL on 12/23/1851

By 1852 funds were raised via bond sales in England to build the railroad

The chief Construction Engineer was Col. Roswell Mason

Hundreds of German and Irish immigrants were recruited from Europe to work on the railroad

Iron rails at $45 per ton were floated from England via New Orleans and Chicago

The line crossed the Great Western Railroad

The state hired Andrew Carnegie’s company to build a bridge across the Mississippi River

The state of Illinois’ population grew 2.5 million from 1850-1880

Illinois Central’s income in 1861 was $4 million, and in 1865 it was $8 million

Illinois Central hauled 291 million tons of goods in 1870, and 1,302 million tons in 1890

In 1877, Illinois Central bought the Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans Line

Illinois Central purchased the Havana, Rantoul and Eastern Railroad and the Iowa Line in 1887

In 1888, Illinois Central built a line from Chicago to Freeport

Illinois Central built a huge bridge at Cairo over the Ohio River; it was completed in 1889

The Illinois Central headquarters was in Chicago, IL

Illinois Central installed telegraph lines, and the telegraph operators could signal station masters up and down the line

Illinois Central built the first sleeping cars, three years before Pullman

They were the first railroad to establish Post Office cars

Illinois Central was the first railroad to develop refrigerated freight cars

They were one of the five largest railroads in the U. S. by 1900

By 1926 the suburban line trains converted from steam to electricity


Source:  “Historic Illinois”, Vol. 29, No. 4, December 2006, Pages 3 – 7, Rockford Public Library’s Local History Collection

“Carrie Spafford, ” – Kathi Kresol

“Carrie Spafford, a life of sorrow – the tragedy of one of Rockford’s founding families”

by Kathi Kresol

Source: The Rock River Times, Oct. 8 – 14, 2014, Vol. 21, No. 51


Carrie’s romance with Elmer Ellsworth and his death, and the very closed deaths of her father, her husband, Frederick Brett, and their son, Charles Brett, are included in the article.


Americanism Week Observance

Americanism Week Observance

11 day, statewide intensive Americanism program

Starting on the 133 anniversary of Lincoln’s birthday

Concludes on Washington’s birthday, February 22nd

To give every citizen the opportunity to appreciate the defense efforts of the state government


Source:  Rockford Morning Star, 02/01/1942

Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth

Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth

“The Civil War Fifty Years Ago”

“Fifty years ago Thursday the body of Colonel E. E. Ellsworth, the boyish commander of the New York Fire Zoaves, lay in the east room of the White House and Lincoln, standing beside it groaned: “My boy!  My boy! Was it necessary that the sacrifice should be made?”  Young Ellsworth was Lincoln’s friend, a former student in his law offices.  His high character and winning personality had made him a favorite in Washington, where he had been less than a month.

He had died, struck down by the hand of a Virginia hotel keeper at Alexandria, in the advance of the Union forces from Washington on the 24th. When Lincoln heard of the tragedy he ordered that the body of the young commander, the first officer to fall on either side of the war, be brought to the executive mansion, and there be given every honor in the power of the President to bestow.

North and south alike were profoundly stirred by the death of Ellsworth, though not in the same way.  In the north his taking off was termed assassination and charged to ‘southern treachery”.  It was the first vivid and fatal flash of its kind out of the lowering cloud, to show the north the horrible side of civil strife.

In the south the slayer of Ellsworth was hailed as a hero and a martyr – for he paid for his act on the spot with his life – and his name was exalted for what was termed and sincerely believed to have been, his defense of his home and fireside.

Both sides were too much blinded by passion to view the tragedy in its true proportions, and treat it as one o the accidents of war  In it were crystallized for each the appeal to flame emotions that were to last throughout the year.

All of the circumstances of Colonel Ellsworth’s death contributed to this appeal. There had flown for some week from the staff of the Marshall House in Alexandria, a Confederate flag, that on clear days would be seen in Washington, eight miles up the Potomac, and was visible even from the business office of the President in the White House.  Standing at a window, Lincoln had studied it more than once through a glass.

On landing with his regiment in the early morning from the steamer that had brought him from Washington, Col. Ellsworth was on his way to the telegraph office when he discovered that a Confederate flag was flying from the staff of a hotel. It was the same flag that Lincoln had seen.  Sending back an order for a company to come up, Col. Ellsworth entered the house, accompanied only by his military secretary, H. J. Winser; Rev. E. W. Dodd, his regimental chaplain, three soldiers and a reporter of the New York Tribune, who this described what followed:  “On entering the open door, the Colonel met a met in his shirt and trousers, of whom he demanded what sort of flag it was that hung upon the roof.  The stranger, who seemed greatly alarmed, declared that he knew nothing of it, and that he was only a boarder there…”


Source:  Rockford Morning Star, 07/09/1911