Prairie State Wire

Prairie State Wire

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

This week in Illinois History: Jan. 1-7

By S. Laney Griffo | Dec 17, 2017

Carl Sandburg was born in Galesburg in 1878. |

Here are some of the biggest events in Illinois history during the first week of the new year:

Jan 1, 1680 - La Salle County – Rene De La Salle and Henri Tonti explore the Illinois River. The two explorers built the ship, Griffon and sailed to Sault, according to American Journeys. On their way to the mouth of the Mississippi River, they helped established Fort Crevecoeur near Peoria. 

Jan. 6, 1878 – Galesburg - Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and historian Carl Sandberg was born. The writer was born in a three-room cottage. Sandberg also wrote for the Chicago Daily News. He died in 1967. 

Jan 2, 1879 - Rockford – The Northwestern League, a minor baseball league, is organized. It had four teams and was seen as the first official minor league, According to Baseball in Rockford. The league disbanded after the first season, but was reborn in 1883.

Jan. 4, 1896 – Perkin -  Everett McKinely Dirksen was born. Dirksen served as a U.S. House member from 1933 until he unseated the Senate Democratic majority leader in 1950, according to the Senate website. Dirksen served as party leader for 11 years. He died in 1969. 

Jan 2, 1900 – Chicago – The flow of the Chicago River is reversed. Human and industrial waste flowed from the city into Lake Michigan, contaminating the drinking water, according to American Public Works Association. With help from The Sanitary and Ship Canal, the river was reversed to prevent diseases. The project cost $70 million.

Jan. 7, 1901 – Cave in Rock – Cave in Rock is incorporated on the Ohio River. The cave on the river, which the village is named for, originally was home to Native Americans, then to river pirates, according to the Hardin County website. The village has the last operating ferry from Illinois to Kentucky.

 Jan. 1, 1905 – East St. Louis – Rep. Charles Melvin Price was born. Price served in the U.S. House from 1945 until his death in 1988. During his time, he served in many committees, such as the Committee on Armed Services and Joint Committee on Atomic Energy.

Jan 2, 1913 – Evanston – Composer Gardner Read was born. He composed more than 150 works before his death in 2005, according to his website. 

Jan 7, 1927 – Hinckley – The Harlem Globetrotters play their first game. The Globetrotters were started by Abe Saperstein who promoted having a majority African-American team when most teams were majority white, according to,  They won 101 out of 117 games their first season. In 1939, the team began adding in the comedic routines they are now known for. 

Jan. 1, 1947 – Pasadena, California – Illinois beats UCLA in the 33rd Rose Bowl. This Rose Bowl was known as the first “modern bowl” and it was also the first time the Fighting Illini played in any post-season game, according to Wikipedia. Illinois, ranked fifth, beat UCLA, ranked fourth, 45-14.

Jan. 1, 1964 – Pasadena, California – Illinois beats Washington 17-7 during the 50th Rose Bowl. The Huskies took an early lead, but the Fighting Illini scored in the second quarter and took the lead. Fighting Illini Jim Grabowski was named MVP and was later drafted by the Green Bay Packers.

Jan. 6, 1971 – Springfield - Cecil Partee is elected president pro tem of the Illinois state senate, the first African American to hold that position. He was first elected to the General Assembly in 1956 and was elected as president of the Senate in 1975, according to the Chicago Tribune. He was elected Cook County state’s attorney in 1989.

Jan. 3, 1985 – Jackson County – Sen. Paul Martin Simon begins his first term in the U.S. Senate The Democrat was known for wearing bowties and wire-rimmed glasses. Prior to being elected into the Senate, Simon served in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served two terms as Senator.

Jan. 5, 2004 – Chicago -  The Chicago Board of Trade transfers all activity to a state-of-the-art electronic trading platform. The Common Clearing Link was started after Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. signed an agreement with the Board of Trade to provide clearing services for its products, according to Elite Trader.

Jan 2, 2010 – Lake Forest - Actor Vince Vaughn (39) weds Realtor Kyla Weber. The two were married less than a year after Vaughn proposed. They married at the Arnour House at Lake Forest Academy in a private ceremony.

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University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign