July 24, 2014

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Leigh Morris
Alert conductor foils payroll car robber PDF Print E-mail

By Leigh Morris
Our Place in History
As Southern Illinois’ coal fields were developed in the 19th and early 20th century, numerous short line railroads were built to haul the black diamonds from mines to major rail lines.
One such short line was the Eldorado, Marion & Southwestern. Completed in 1908 by the Ernest Coal Co., the 12.5-mile railroad ran from Marion to Scranton Junction, Pittsburg, Keystone Junction and terminated at Paulton. The line was reincorporated as the Marion & Eastern on Dec. 31, 1913, and sold in 1917 for the tidy sum of $60,000.
Few gave this little journeyman railroad a second thought until the spring of 1924. That’s when Jesse James wannabes robbed the M&E’s payroll car.

 
When a lynching isn’t a lynching PDF Print E-mail

By Leigh Morris
Our Place in History
After years of gathering dust in my “story ideas” file, I finally decided to check out the veracity of two published reports about Beardstown’s one and only lynching.
According to those reports, Adam Baker was a proprietor of a Beardstown saloon. Apparently, Baker was a pretty popular with everyone. Well, everyone except the fellow who murdered him. Or perhaps it was two fellows who murdered him. A gent named Wilcox and another named Charlie Blohm were together one evening in 1873 or 1874 when Baker lost his life. No one seemed to know exactly how Baker met his demise or at least it wasn’t mentioned.
When Baker was murdered, Blohm decided the time had come to make a hasty retreat from town. He fled by wading and swimming the Illinois River. Once across, he hoofed it all the way to Galesburg. Supposedly, Blohm later became a railroad conductor.

 
Lippincott: Civil War hero, political leader, perjurer PDF Print E-mail

By Leigh Morris
Our Place in History
Though Charles Lippincott considered volunteering for the military in April of 1861, the thought of leaving his wife and two children caused him to hesitate. Perhaps the war would come to a swift conclusion, erasing any need for his service.
A few months later Union forces suffered a humiliating defeat at the Battle of Bull Run. Both North and South realized this would be a long conflict. For Lippincott, his course became clear. The doctor would form a company and volunteer for duty.

 
Lippincott fights a duel that scars his life PDF Print E-mail

By Leigh Morris
Our Place in History
It didn’t take long for Charles Lippincott to establish himself in California. Within a year he was elected to the California State Senate.
Then trouble began to brew in the summer of 1855. The Democrat party, of which Lippincott was a leader, had procured two columns for its use in every edition of the Downieville newspaper, the Sierra Citizen, with Lippincott as the editor. The sharp witted Lippincott decided to take aim at young attorney named Robert Tevis, an outspoken member of the American (Know-Nothing) party.
In early July 1855, Lippincott roasted Tevis in print. A gifted writer, Lippincott used his pen to lampoon Tevis and the xenophobic Know-Nothings. Lippincott’s prose caused a great deal of amusement in town while angering Tevis. For his part, Tevis published a vitriolic response that labeled Lippincott “a liar and a slanderer.”

 
Charles E. Lippincott adopts Cass County PDF Print E-mail

By Leigh Morris
Our Place in History
Once hailed as a Civil War hero and a rising political star, few today know the name Charles Ellet Lippincott, M.D. Ah yes, fame can be fleeting.
The son of a minister, Lippincott was born on Jan. 26, 1825, at Edwardsville, Ill. Lippincott was a bright, creative lad who at an early age developed an unquenchable thirst for education. He also displayed a puckish sense of humor, a quick temper and an exaggerated sense of honor. As an adult, he was described as a handsome man, clean shaven with a fair complexion. He was short in stature, stocky and quite strong.

 
A most curious little Illinois railroad PDF Print E-mail

By Leigh Morris
Our Place in History
When electric interurban railway fever swept the country at the dawn of the 20th century it often would transform otherwise shrewd men into irrational and even giddy investors.
Such seems to have been the case with Charles V. Chandler of Macomb. A civil war hero, philanthropist, political leader and respected banker, Chandler was not the sort of man who would jump into a highly speculative venture. Then he caught interurban fever.
Chandler decided to build a 20-mile railroad from Macomb south through the small town of Industry to the settlement known as Littleton. Chartered on Oct. 26, 1901, the Macomb & Illinois Western Railway officially opened for business on Jan. 1, 1904.

 
Interurban fever burns hot, then fizzles PDF Print E-mail

By Leigh Morris
For the Star-Gazette
Among the most ambitious interurban schemes never to get off the ground was the Springfield & Western Railway.
Organized on Nov. 13, 1905, to build an electric interurban from Springfield through Beardstown to Quincy, the company reorganized the following March with even grander plans. It now would go from Springfield to Pana to Decatur to Vandalia as well as the Springfield-Beardstown-Quincy line.
Electric utility and interurban magnate William B. McKinley built what was arguably the nation’s greatest interurban railroad – the Illinois Traction System (later renamed the Illinois Terminal Railroad). At its zenith, the IT ran from St. Louis to Springfield to Peoria. Another line ran from Springfield to Decatur and up to Champaign and then into Danville. A third main line went from Decatur through Bloomington and on to Peoria.

 
Wow! Electric interurbans in Cass County PDF Print E-mail

By Leigh Morris
Our place in history
Our story begins in Richmond, Va., on Feb. 2, 1888 – the day Frank Sprague’s electrified city streetcar system went into operation.
An immediate success, Sprague’s creation spawned a public transportation revolution from the Atlantic to the Pacific. In just seven years, a total of 900 electric street railways were operating on nearly 11,000 miles of track.

 
‘One flag, one land, one nation evermore’ PDF Print E-mail

By Leigh Morris
Our place in history
Perhaps Beardstown’s most significant Memorial Day observance took place in 1891.
A monument “in memory of our deceased soldiers and sailors of the War of the Rebellion” had been erected in Oak Grove Cemetery the previous September. This fine monolith was crowned by the statue of a Civil War soldier and stood surrounded by the graves of those who died in that grim war.

 
America was built on a foundation of tobacco PDF Print E-mail

By Leigh Morris
Our Place in History
It is no exaggeration to say that to a great extent America was built on a foundation of tobacco. Native to the Americas and a relative of the potato, it is estimated that people in the Andes began cultivating tobacco as a crop 5,000 to 8,000 years ago. Most likely, people first used tobacco by chewing green leaves. In time, they learned to cure the leaves to prepare a product akin to today’s smokeless tobacco. At some point, cured tobacco was ground into a powder and taken into the nose through a special pipe. This was known as a snuffing.

 
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