Saturday, September 25, 2010

Normal Nuggets of History

Time for a trip to the Normal Library's book sale! This time, I got three books about the history of McLean County and one old map/brochure of Illinois. I've already discovered a few interesting items in the books.

One chapter in The Way It Was In McLean County 1972-1822 by H. Clay Tate (1972) describes the infamous incident of a mob of locals breaking into the jail, dragging horse thief/murderer Charles Pierce out of the building, and hanging him from a tree "at the northwest corner of Market and Center streets." Oddly, there were no witnesses to identify anyone in the mob so no one was charged for this murder.

Another chapter describes recreational activities over the years in McLean County. Regarding baseball: "Indoor baseball held at the Coliseum often drew crowds of 1,000. Bloomington joined the Three Eye League in 1898. The league disbanded around 1940." Maybe they couldn't find enough three-eyed players to participate??

And it's hard to believe the variety of businesses in this area: 20 cigar manufacturing plants, a caramel factory and 150 other candy factories, an overall factory, four woodworking businesses, six brick yards, a brewery, a pork packing company, two flour mills, two feed mills, a canning factory, coal mines, etc.

It will take me quite a while to go through these books and learn more about this area. The pictures are also interesting -- Eastland Mall being built, Veteran's Parkway (nee the Belt Line) being constructed. I really appreciate people who take the time and effort to record this information so it's available for those of us who want to know what this area was like in the past.

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